The natural bounty offered by the land now known as the Abbott Marshlands has attracted humans since prehistoric times. Nomadic people hunted here as long as 13,000 years ago. Eventually, small groups of Indians settled on the bluffs, where there was easy access to food acquired by hunting, fishing or gathering plant materials and to fresh water and fuel.
Europeans first settled near the Marshlands in the late 1600s. Among the first was Thomas Farnsworth who settled along Crosswicks and Blacks Creeks (1682) on property that Joseph Borden subsequently bought (1724) and laid out as Bordentown. During the Revolutionary War, boats were sunk in Crosswicks Creek to prevent them from falling into the hands of the British.
From 1817 – 1839, Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon and exiled King of Spain, lived at Point Breeze near Bordentown. During the 1830s while Bonaparte was in residence, the Delaware and Raritan Canal and the Camden and Amboy Railroad were built near the west edge of the Marshlands; these provided for the rapid transport of passengers and cargo between Philadelphia and New York City. In the late 1800s, White City Amusement Park was built near what is now known as Spring Lake.