All About Kinderkamack
A Journey into Oradell
It’s Oradell’s Main Street. In fact, it is the main thoroughfare connecting the County Seat to the Pascack Valley.
Kinderkamack Road today stretches from just south of Route 4 to the New York State border. It is also a name of the area that is now known as Oradell. The name goes back centuries.
Long before Europeans invaded the area, the road parallel to the Hackensack River had been a much traveled Indian trail. This and other trails became the foundation for the roads we travel today. The riverside trail was widened by the settlers as they established farms along the river banks from New Bridge to Old Hook Road in Westwood.
The name Kinderkamack comes out of this Lenape tradition, according to the most accepted historical version. It is one relayed in the 1940’s by Frank Morrison of the Bergen County Historical Society in an article on the Native Lenape culture in the area before the arrival of the Dutch, the English and French Huguenots.
This background, reprinted in the 1969 “History of Oradell” by J. Irving Crump, describes how the area was a destination for religious ceremonies and where councils affecting the lives of the people were staged. According to Mr. Morrison, the word Kinterkayemack was composed of two Lenape words “kintekaye”, meaning ceremonial dance or prayer of propitiation, and “ack” meaning place.
From this start came the name Kinderkamack, itself a corrupted form from the original Dutch Kinneckimack.
Another version is found in another history of the Borough, Oradell’s centennial book from 1994, speaks of a poetic legend that dates back to the time of the earliest European settlement to the area. It refers to “a party of Indians who had stolen some settlers’ chickens and hid them in the woodlands near Emerson”. An English poet, Thomas Dunn, wrote:
When the white man triumphed from the battle road ba
The Sanhicans, knowing the cause of the attack
Named the place of the battle, Kinderkamack,
Meaning “Here the Chanticleer crowed unbidden”
No matter the actual source of the word, we do know for sure that the two communities we now call Oradell and Emerson retained the name of Kinderkamack for many years.
Today’s Emerson became Etna and then later Emerson. Oradell and the original New Milford would become Delford in 1894.
The street today known as Kinderkamack Road was for many years called Linden Avenue. In River Edge it was called Riverside Avenue (In the 20th century River Edge would be called Riverside until 1930). It was only later that what is now designated as County Highway 503 would become known as Kinderkamack Road up and down its entire length from Hackensack to the New York State line.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Source Materials - Biography of A Borough: Oradell (1969), by Irving Crump; Oradell Centennial; 1894-1994…And, a special thank you to Borough Archivist, George Carter for his ear, his support generally and in particular his help in securing historic pictures from the Borough/Library Collection.