It had been a long time since we had heard the term Jackson Whites. A caller to our show mentioned that he encountered someone whom he called a "Jackson White" when he was recalling a story about selling stuff to strangers.

We used to hear references to this legendary group of people from time to time when people would tell stories relating to North Jersey. Younger people under 40 have probably never heard of the Jackson Whites.

It was considered a derogatory term by the group and in 1980 the state of New Jersey officially recognized them as the Ramapough Mountain People of the Ramapough Mountains of Bergen and Passaic counties.


The term Jackson-Whites was either derived from the name of the Jackson White heirloom potato or a distortion of Jacks and Whites referring to their mixed ancestry. Their DNA is a mix of African, Dutch and Native American.

How the group actually started has a variety of different versions. This passage is from a 1972 article on mixed-race studies by Daniel Collins of North Carolina State University, which noted the stereotypes believed by some North Jersey residents of those generations:

"Among local people of the Ramapo Valley, which crosses the New York–New Jersey border at Suffern, New York, the term “Jackson White” denotes a group of mixed breed persons who are held to have descended from the amalgamated issue of renegades, outlaws, and whores of various colors who at various times throughout the eighteenth century sought the sanctuary of the Ramapo Mountains. The name “Jackson White” connotes a racial anomaly spawned by inbreeding and intermarriage, born into ignorance and degeneracy, and condemned to poverty, feeblemindedness, and suspicion."

We've heard from some older listeners that they would take people up to Stagg Hill in the Ramapo Mountains just to see the people, much like people still do today with the Amish.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Another place where people would encounter these folks was Cupsaw Lake in Ringwood New Jersey. 

For people who've never heard of the Jackson Whites it's an incredible discovery of a group of people very rarely talked about these days.

Whether the population has blended into society or dwindled in numbers or people are less likely to talk about things like this in an ever more politically correct environment is anyone's guess.

You can still see some of the more prominent names in the community. They're Dutch surnames like Degroat, Defreese, Van Dunk, and Mann, and likely originate from Dutch slave masters as individuals were emancipated during the 1800s.


No one talks about encounters with the legendary Jackson-Whites in recent years. All of the stories are from 40 years ago or more. Now that they are known as the Ramapough Mountain people by the State of New Jersey, but they still do not have federal recognition as a Native American tribe. 

There are plenty of published pieces on the web for you to check out.

The state of New Jersey is so full of surprises that you can learn something new every day.

How the world saw New Jersey — 1940s to 1980s

This is how New Jersey saw the world from 1940-to 1980. All these photos are from AP and Getty publications, meaning they were used in a magazine or newspaper. There has been plenty of inventions and history made in New Jersey. Check the photos below.

Gallery Credit: Nicholas Damelio

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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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