Around 1609 Henry Hudson was sailing along the Jersey Shore and he came to an inlet which he named Barende-gat, a Dutch word meaning an inlet with breakers. This name was replaced by Barndegat by early mapmakers and later evolved into the present day spelling of Barnegat.
The first white settlers came into the area around 1720. By 1750 several families had established homes on lands near the creeks and bays. Early settlers were of Dutch, Swedish and English origin.
One of the first recorded land (Real Estate) purchases was in 1759 by two men who bought 500 acres. From that land, one and a quarter acres was deeded to the Quakers and in 1767 the Quaker Friends Meeting House was built. The Quaker Meeting House is still located at that spot and is most likely the oldest building in Barnegat.
During Barnegat's early days most of her men were whalers who built their whaling boats out of the cedars of the Great Swamp. Later, around the time of the Revolutionary War, Barnegat ships carried cargoes of cedar rails and pine wood to New York. With the advent of the steam powered ship in the beginning of the 19th century the demand for pine wood as a fuel kept the Barnegat seamen even busier carrying the wood to Virginia and other points along the east coast.
Between 1820-1840 the supply of pine wood diminished and Barnegat's seamen turned to the charcoal trade, then to transporting freight from New York to parts of New England to Virginia and as far south as Florida. The majority of Barnegat's men were either Captains of their own ships or sailors or crewmen aboard these ships. It was not unusual at the time for the captain, mates and crew to all be Barnegatters. Numerous two and three masted schooners, as well as some sloops, were built in Barnegat between 1860-1886.
In the early 1900's J.H. Perrine purchased the old Barnegat School (erected in 1867) and set up his boat-building business. His specialty was the Barnegat sneak box - a boat designed for hunters, but also sailed in races and for pleasure, not only on our bay but on waters all over the world. Due to the popularity of the sneak box the Village of Barnegat was known round the world.
The present day municipality of Barnegat is located in the southern half of Ocean County, New Jersey, along The Jersey Shore and covers an area of approximately 35 square miles. Barnegat is 60 miles east of Philadelphia and 90 miles south of New York City. It is bordered on the east by Barnegat Bay and separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the barrier island of Long Beach. Woodland Township is on the western border, Stafford Township is the southern border and the northern border is shared by both Lacey and Ocean Townships. As the Mate of the Half Moon wrote in his journal "....this is a very good land to fall in with and a pleasant land to see!" And most recently, Barnegat was named "one of the Best Places to Live in New Jersey."
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