Early Migrations to Sussex County NJ

Return to FYI

Early Migration Into and Out of Sussex Co., NJ

by Cathy DiPietro

The largest group to migrate to Sussex Co., NJ were the Dutch from Long Island/New Amsterdam. They came through Dutchess, to Ulster and then down through Orange County, NY to Sussex, NJ. There was a group of Loyalists and non-conformists who moved away from the contested east New Jersey – Elizabethtown, Hackensack (New Barbadoes) and the Essex county area in the 1770’s. Another group of settlers lived in Morris County but maintained iron mills (and saw mills and grain mills) in Sussex County as it was an important source of iron ore in the state. Some of these families like KINNEY, CARD and MARTIN eventually stayed in Sussex. There was a group of Quakers up from Philadelphia, part of William Penn’s group and also some Moravians up from Hope, NJ. I’ve also noticed second and third sons of Somerset and Gloucester counties in NJ moving northward to Sussex to farm and open merchant shops in the later 1700’s. Not to be discounted is a large group of Scots who were promised land in NY state until the Governor went back on the deal. A large group of these CAMPBELLs, McCOY, McCALLUM simply moved to the rich farmland of Sussex instead. A real melting pot indeed.

When researching in Sussex, do not discount Orange County, NY or Pike County in PA as the early settlers rarely regarded state boundries before marrying or crossing borders to have children. This combined region is called the Minisink.

Later periods of migration include the Polish, Slavic and Scandinavian workers who travelled up the railroad from Paterson, NJ newly off the boat in NYC, to work in the tin and zinc mines in Franklin and Ogdenburg in the later 1800’s.

There was a large Loyalist migration out of Sussex in the 1780’s, mostly followers of James Moody and some preachers moved whole congregations (especially in the Vernon area) northward to Quebec. Other migrations out of Sussex County seem to start in the early 1800’s and the settlers usually cross PA to settle in Ohio and states westward.

Some early names which remain prevalent in Sussex County to this day (right out of the phone book) include DUNN, DECKER, CLARK, LITTEL, WHITE, VAN ORDEN, SNOOK, MILLER, McCARTHY, McKENNA, MARTIN, LOSEY, GREEN, GARRIS, CARD and VANDERHOFF.


“History of Sussex and Warren Counties, New Jersey” by James P. Snell (1881)
“Old Sussex County Families of the Minisink Region” by Charles Edgar Stickney (1988)