Research Findings

I was only looking specifically at a few things. I was operating under the understanding that the Ramapough were exactly who they said they were and using 6 of the names I was given because they were given to me and I found them in the earliest parts of the census with frequency. From there, I deleted all the other families, except for the few that were clearly linked to these Ramapough families, in almost all cases as the master of a Ramapough Servant or in some of the cases as the landlord of a border. From there I took those preserved names and looked at some of the information in each of the columns, specifically the surnames and their popularity, overall and through the years and the races assigned to those with Ramapough. The data is a little skewed because of the aforementioned families that are not part of the Ramapough who are nevertheless involved with them, but that is not significant enough to make a marked change in the data. In fact, 68% of the people were black or negro and that number increases to 94% when mulattoes are included in the tally. Only 12 of the 1435 people included were marked as Indian and 76 as white.

This would indicate a strong leaning towards racializing the Ramapough as black, which is most likely a part of the census taker’s prejudice and, unlike the census today, was not a self assigned label. While it is difficult to know, it seems reasonable that they have always viewed themselves as Indian and were not allowed to declare their race for themselves, which is the position the Ramapough hold today. It does, however, point to them as an oppressed class either way. Whether they were viewed widely as Indian or as Black, they were still oppressed. That does not change, which is evident in other aspects of the census. I noticed when I was going through the census that the Ramapough names tended to be very clustered. They are all together, or at least in small groups of several families. The biggest group of them is almost all at the end of census, which would imply that it was the last place the census taker went. This would in turn subtly indicate that, in line with what is known about the Ramapough Mountain People, as they are sometimes termed, who were isolated in the mountains themselves for a long time. This would explain the abundance of Ramapough names close together at the end of the censuses.

Of the last names themselves, there was clearly a difference in the proliferation of certain families over others. Overwhelmingly, the Degroats, with 513 people with that name, and the Manns, with 444 named people in the census, were the most popular names for Ramapoughs to have. The next most popular name, Jennings, had 162 entries with that name in 80 years.

To understand why that it would probably require access to records that no longer exist from back in the days of the Dutch occupation of the area. The names themselves are based on Dutch names, and the spelling of the tribe as Ramapough rather than Ramapo is in defiance of the Dutch attempt to control them. According to Chief Perry, the penalty for using that term and spelling it that way was death and the Indians were required to take last names. Presumably, the names Degroat and Mann were taken by more than one nuclear family or a large extended family chose that name. To make a determination beyond that prediction would require lots of records and my main outside source, Edward Lenik, is not interested in how the names of the Ramapough came to be. Even if it was something he was interested in, finding the documents from the time to prove or disprove what I suspect would be nearly impossible, given how long ago it was and the difference in the approach to family and naming systems between the Dutch and the Indians from the contact period.

One of the things I did find that I thought was rather unusual was that the Ramapough numbers stayed relatively steady through the years. It never increased significantly, like what might be expected if a population keeps marrying and having children at a faster rate than people are dying. Nor did it decrease, which might be expected after World War I or the break-up of Hohokus Township from 1894-1906 when Ramsey finally left. Yet the overall numbers, and the groupings, of Ramapough stay essentially the same in the 8 censuses I used. I would assume that this means that the Ramapough were already mostly in Mahwah and those that were not, moved to be with family. Since the Ramapough in New Jersey today are primarily fixtures in Mahwah, which was originally part of Hohokus Township, and Ringwood, which never was, this seems a reasonable conclusion to draw, even if it would be difficult to prove.