8. Skunk Hollow, near the Palisades
Skunk Hollow was one of the free Black communities on the New York/New Jersey state line located about a mile south of the Palisades. New Jersey officially abolished slavery in 1846, but free Black residents inhabited Skunk Hollow for decades prior, starting with Jack Earnest in 1806. The community was relatively isolated due to its undesirable terrain for farming. Though residents were not financially well-off, they were still wealthier than other African American families in the region, most of whom owned homes. The Olivers and the Whiteheads, two leading families in Skunk Hollow, established burial grounds on their property.
William Thompson, a minister and community leader, was likely the richest man in Skunk Hollow in the 1860s. Thompson led the Old Swamp Church, which would later become the St. Charles A.M.E. Zion Church after relocating. 75 people lived in Skunk Hollow around 1880, though the community would shortly after decline and be abandoned by the early 1900s, perhaps due to Thompson’s death. However, some families nearby lived in their homes until the Great Depression.