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Native American influences in the Freehold area

Kathy Mulholland, MLIS, Freehold Public Library Director, was kind enough to provide some insights into Native American influences in our area.

The Lenni Lanape tribe was the nation that occupied this area (New Jersey) prior to European settlement/conquest. The Europeans called the Lenape "Delaware Indians."

The overwhelming story of Freehold (pertaining to place names) and much of North America is that of indigenous historical placenames overwritten by colonizers (particularly Dutch and British settlers in central Monmouth). So not many pre-colonial names have been preserved, and/or their meanings have been lost to history.

Native American History

The following is list of names and places in our area, but Kathy cautioned they be “taken with a grain of salt" as she has not done, and is not qualified to do, an actual linguistic analysis.

Kiawah Avenue (in Freehold Borough): Kiawah is an Indian (indigenous American) name but not really a "local" native American name. It refers to a tribe more in the present-day South Carolina area. I don't know how we got Kiawah Avenue named for that, unless someone just named it after Kiawah Island (SC). [So while this is "Indian," it isn't local Indian/km]


Manalapan Avenue:  "The name Manalapan translate from the Lenape Indian Words “manel” for drinking and “paune” for bread meant good land to settle upon, for the Native Americans." source material – click here


Manasquan River: from "Mënàskunk" meaning "Place to Gather Grass or Reeds" source material – click here

Metedeconk River (North Branch): Really more of a stream in this area, runs near Nomoco/Turkey Swamp Park in Freehold Township. Unclear what the name means per sources.


Squankum: means "place of evil ghosts" or "place where evil spirits dwell." In Howell (as in, Squankum-Yellowbrook Road) source material – click here


Lake Topanemus Park: "Topanemus is an old Indian name, when translated means 'an elk drinking from a cold stream, issuing from a spring.' We do know that Lake Topanemus was made from many cold springs. Swimmers there tell us the water is always cold, and many people have been drowned or nearly so in its waters by getting cramps from the cold. Clear spring water always attracted the Indians."  Excerpt from HISTORY OF RELIGIONS IN FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP Compiled By Father Edward Jawidzik, bottom of Page 19.  source material – click here 


Weamaconk Creek: is a bit of an odd stream, as it flows northwest, to Englishtown, but technically starts underneath Veterans Park on Schanck Street in Freehold Borough. [I can't find exact definitions for this name; however, after I wrote about how the stream flows northwest (most flow southeast) I found a possible Unami (an Lanape language) linguistic connection to "backwards" and "place" and a verb form of to be/is. So it might have meant something like "this is a backwards place/thing." Don't count on it/quote me on that but it seemed an interesting possibility. But it could also mean tree place, or something different entirely, but that's boring compared to backwards in my opinion /km.]


Wemrock Road (Brook): meaning unclear

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