Created By: Camden County Historical Society
Petty’s Island- Once prime fishing and hunting grounds for the Lenni Lenape Indians, Petty’s Island is a naturally diverse island. It is home to the water marigold, a rare plant found only on the Delaware River. Petty’s is currently in the process of being restored as a nature preserve for use by the public.
Islandt served as a place where people hunted, fished, gathered herbs, farmed, built and repaired boats, operated blacksmith shops and sawmills, manufactured wagons and chains, ran a drinking and dancing establishment, conducted lotteries, stored coal and petroleum products, refueled ocean-going vessels, refined oil, and operated a port.
The Lenni Lenape, called the island Aequikenaska (“where the panther ran”). When Elizabeth Kinsey (c. 1650-1720) purchased the island in 1678, the deed recording the sale described it as the “great island lying before Shaksemasen,” a reference to a former Lenape meeting place and the location of her plantation home on the west side of the river. Kinsey’s deed contained provisions that exemplified early Quaker policy for good relations with the Lenape: it spelled out their right to continue to hunt and fish on the island, their promise not to kill her hogs or set her fields aflame, and her obligation to make yearly payments of rum and powder to them. After William Penn (1644-1718) surrendered his claim to Shackamaxon Island in a 1684 patent issued to Thomas Fairman (c. 1650-1714), whom Kinsey married in 1680, map-makers and land owners referred to it as “Fairman’s Island.”
Fairman’s Island was part of Pennsylvania and a point of connection between the new province and West Jersey. From 1681 to 1683 Quakers crossed the Delaware for their monthly meetings, alternating between the homes of the Fairmans at Shackamaxon and William Cooper (1632-1710) at Pyne Poynt (later part of Camden) on the opposite shore. The island was a landmark for Delaware River boat travelers.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Lower Cooper River