Thursday, July 18, 2013

Scratching my head on Mankiller Bay

Every once in a while, I have to throw my hands up and admit to being stumped.

As you've seen, Hidden New Jersey is dedicated to shining light on lesser known (and often lesser noticed) aspects of history, culture and nature around the state. Much of the time, we've noticed these things in our travels, and sometimes I've got to do some reading or rooting around to get to the hidden story. Even when we talk about better known people and places, it's with an eye toward sharing an aspect you might not have known.

Then there are the things that even we can't explain.

Mankiller Bay seems to be one of them. Just northwest of Atlantic City, it joins Absecon Bay with the Inlet of the same name. It even has a namesake spit of land within it, the uninhabited and likely very marshy Mankiller Island.

This is one I've admittedly been hanging onto for a while. I jotted it in my notebook during a road trip, likely enroute to Brigantine Island to look for wintering shorebirds. But try as I might, I haven't been able to discover why these Mankillers deserve such an ominous name. Old sporting guides state that the island is good for hunting, and a bunch of fishing resources cite the bay's finned bounty, but its history? It eludes me.

Any ideas, folks?


  1. I just stumbled across your fascinating blog, and this entry had me hunting. Might it be from the Cherokee? Apparently the name Mankiller is the English translation of a Cherokee word that denotes a high military rank... Just a thought.

    1. Interesting! I believe Mankiller was the family name of a recent Cherokee chief. It makes me wonder if perhaps there was a similar term in the Lenape language.

  2. I have heard the legend that a sailing vessel ran aground there in the early nineteenth century and all aboard froze to death before they could be rescued. There is another version od a tugboat that sank there and all hands were lost. I am trying to confirm.

  3. Great flounder action there with Gulp or minnows......Red buoy side is best.


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