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THE WOMEN OF LISPENARD'S MEADOWS

One of the most intriguing and evanescent legends about the Lower Greenwich neighborhood is the tale of the Jackson Whites. When the British occupied New York during the American Revolution, they had to keep satisfied the thousands of British and Hessian troops billeted here. The story goes that military authorities turned to a man named Jackson, who sailed for England where he either enticed or kidnaped 3,500 British prostitutes. He then packed them in 20 leaky old boats and sailed for the American Colonies. One vessel sank in mid-ocean, so Jackson sent another boat to the West Indies where it picked up a load of replacements, all of African origin. When the prostitutes landed in New York, they were marched to Lispenard's Meadows, where they found a large stockade encircling a group of crude huts that would be their home. When soldiers were ready for fun, they repaired to Lispenard's Meadows and knocked on the stockade door for a few hours with the "Jackson Whites" or the "Jackson Blacks". In 1783, when the British hurriedly evacuated New York, somebody ran to Lispenard's Meadows and unlatched the stockade door, releasing the unfortunate women. About 500 of the prostitutes trekked north up the Hudson, while the remainder somehow crossed the river and, three-thousandstrong, marched west into New Jersey, finally settling in the nearby Ramapo Mountains. They were supposedly the ancestors of a group still living in those hills known as the Jackson Whites or the Ramapo Mountain People.

  Lispenard Meadows in the 18th century. The little stream is now roughly Canal Street.

James Brown House 
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Last Modified: August 12, 2006
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