Jackson Whites?

topic posted Fri, March 26, 2004 - 6:17 PM by  Unsubscribed
It's been a while since my NJ days, but does anyone know if the "Jackson Whites" are still around? Apparently some sort of degenerated hillbilly-type folks in Northern NJ(I may be getting the details/name wrong here)
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  • Unsu...

    Re: Jackson Whites?

    Fri, March 26, 2004 - 6:18 PM
    I was interested in that myself ever since I read about em in Weird NJ. I believe they still are. I would love to go see em one day
    • Unsu...

      Re: Jackson Whites?

      Fri, March 26, 2004 - 6:26 PM
      yeah, I grew up in Bergen County, hardly ever leaving the immediate area (well, I was mostly pathetically carless). Next time I'm up in NJ doing fambly shit, I'll have to hit a few places of interest. (maybe pay the Jacksons a visit with a nice Entenmann's coffee cake)
  • Re: Jackson Whites?

    Sat, March 27, 2004 - 7:25 AM
    Their culture had been getting very much influenced by Rap music icons and Karate movies when I hung out with them in Lakeland regional high school in the 1980's. They did an awful lot of break dancing when it was popular.

    The story is that they are of a mix of people enslaved by the Dutch to work in the iron mines of the Colonial era. The slaves to the dutch were local Ramapo Indian, African, and apparently the slave owners themselves or perhaps dutch indentured servants made their own "contribution" to the Gene pool.

    Most last names as a result are Dutch; VanDunk, DeFreeze, Mann

    Apparently with the british taking the territory some Irish mineworkers were added in, I know the "Milligan" surname is fairly popular.

    I hung out with them because they were actually LESS MEAN than your average redneck white kid living in those towns of Northern New Jersey. I don't know if they deserve the bad reputation they have, but I do remember teenaged white neighbors organaizing drives where they'd go into the area where the Jackson Whites lived and look for any walking alone that they could beat up. Apparently a few of these rednecks got beaten up while looking for trouble but told the equally redneck cops some lame story that they innocently stopped the car (or the car broke down) and they were attacked.

    Evidence of this racism comes from several aspects of town history. One is with the water fountains and bathrooms you might still find in middle schools like MJ Reyerson Middle school (was there when I was there but may have been remodeled). You find two sets of fountains, one with a different design, and before I went to school there I found out it was because the Jackson Whites had to use seperate fountains. Same with bathrooms, two mens rooms, two ladies rooms both with different door designs. In my day it was made into "Teacher's bathrooms" but actually they were once used as seperate batrhooms for Jackson Whites in the 1960's when the building was first built.

    Weird eh, not the deep south, Northern New Jersey bordering NY state and Jim Crow era type stuff were still going on here after schools down south were forcibly desegregated.

    One of the reasons why is because Jackson Whites didn't really want to be integrated, and didn't trust civil rights leaders from the black community. The attitude my freinds had towards school was that it was something to endure until they were sixteen and could drop out, and make reasonably good money in family owned landscaping and construction buisinesses. They were also given jobs readily maintaining natural parks, even historic manors where ironically their slave owners may have lived once. They pretty much keep all of these wonderful places as nice as they are, like try visiting Skylands Manor/Botanical Gardens in the springtime in full bloom and you'll appreciate what they do for New Jersey.

    Segregation continued "De-Facto" when I went to school there in the eighties. Jackson Whites were all channeled into "slow classes", in highschool they were all placed in "remedial classes" in a different part of the building and were actively encouraged to leave school at sixteen or they might be expelled for the many fights they'd have with the predominatly white students who didn't like them very much at all.

    I will say right now, the way I was beaten up for associating with them, called "Nigger Lover" every time I walked down the hall. It isn't the Jackson Whites that should give you the creeps, it should be the white townies who's parents have been there for generations... who live only an hour from NYC but never been there... who trap racoons for skin to sell... who were in "the Graveyard Gang" in Wanaque. These were the creeps.

    Jackson Whites had a status where they could hunt on park and resevoir land and fish as well in any season when no one else could (when I was there). It was because part of their lineage was Ramapo Indian which they claimed they still culturally are, I even doubt that because the "Indian Dances" and costume they used in the "Ringwood Festival" in late summer bears more resemblence to the stereotyped movie images of Native Americans from the Old West. Most of their folk tales were rich but about frequent sightings of "the Devil" reported in their community when one was drinking too much and behaving badly. For them he seems to be a figure that threatens and scares one straight rather than misleads and destroys souls. Perhaps this unique interpretation of the Devil's role has something to do with combining the Christian archetype on a native american spirit of fear and severity. I don't know, but it's different.

    They did try to use their status as "Native American" to apply for rights to have Casinos on their land. This went to many high courts and it was determined with great protests by Donald Trump in atlantic city using lawyers to raise objections that they were no longer properly Native American at all. Too bad, I would have liked to have seen their community become richer than the redneck white kids who's parents in my day lost their jobs when the Mahwah Ford plant closed. The casinos were wanted by the town actually, the Uranium mining companys we didn't want (lots of uranium naturally up there) the idiocy being that there are resevoirs there which supply paterson and most of Northern NJ with drinking water.

    Ringwood seems weird when I go back there now. The kids look different, the 287 beltway got constructed nearby and Condos mushroomed full of yuppies, Mc Mansions appeared as well around the area in the woods. Seems like not too many of the white kids there are really rednecks, I'd hope the schools there are allowing Jackson Whites to attend the same classes as everyone else and encouraging them to succeed and graduate. I hope as a community with many new neighbors that the Jackson Whites are not being harassed.
    • Re: Jackson Whites?

      Sat, March 27, 2004 - 10:08 AM
      Wow, very interesting history! Being from South Jersey and a Piney, I've never really heard much about the Jackson Whites growing up, until I read about them in WNJ. This is something you should send to be printed in the mag! I don't think I've ever heard of their relationship to the Ramapo.

      If you look at the general area of Northern Jersey/Pennsy/NY, it IS very mountainous and rural-foresty... I wouldn't doubt a few "Deliverance" types live there. *joke*
      • Re: Jackson Whites?

        Mon, March 29, 2004 - 5:35 AM
        Thanks for that historical detail of those people. They are given a tough way to go by every body else. If indeed that they ever fought back, it was because someone attacked them.

        By the way , Skylands Manor/Botanical Gardens is a really coooool place. I recommend everyone to see it in the spring or early summer when all the flowers are out!!!!!

        See the terrace with the 3 or 4 level water fountain. See the tree lined way. See the inside, if you can.

        • Re: Jackson Whites?

          Mon, March 29, 2004 - 3:36 PM
          If you can get a copy of Charelton Beck (great NJ writer of yore) book "The Roads of Home: Lanes and Legends of New Jersey
          " he has a whole chapter on the Jackson Whites.


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