The first inhabitants of Shongum were the Lenni Lenape Indians who belonged to the Minsi tribe. They had six campsites and a rock shelter in the Shongum area and used the banks of The Den Brook as a pathway to a branch of the Minisink trail in Denville. The land was purchased by the Proprietors of West Jersey from the Indians in 1712. William Penn, one of the Proprietors, received 2500 acres encompassing the Shongum area as a dividend in 1715. Randolph Township was formed in 1805 out of the northern portion of Mendham, and was named after Hartshorne Fritz Randolph, a prominent Quaker landowner who owned land in Shongum. Early Randolph was largely populated by Quakers brought in to settle Penn’s land.
Shongum Lake became a recreation area in 1879 when a number of prominent gentlemen of piscatorial proclivities formed The Shongum Club.
Eight hundred acres of Penn’s land was sold in 1758 to a blacksmith named Robert Young. This encompassed the whole Shongum area. Young dammed up the Den Brook to form Shongum Pond, the forerunner to present day Shongum Lake. This 24 acre pond provided water power to operate the forge or “bloomary” that Young built to produce pig iron below the current dam. Traces of the slag from this forge can be found at the site today. This forge was operated under various owners from 1758 until 1823. Iron produced from it helped make war material for use in the Revolutionary War and War of 1812.
Shongum Lake became a recreation area in 1879 when “a number of prominent gentlemen of piscatorial proclivities” formed The Shongum Club. The lake was regularly stocked with fish and was noted for its abundance of bass, perch, pickerel, and bluegills. The club, using the present SLPOA clubhouse, became a gathering place for prominent politicians, who signed their names in the club register, which is now the property of the Morristown / Morris Township Public Library.
Of interest to property owners of today may be a quote from a newspaper article written in 1884. The lake is described as “being at an elevation of 700 feet and covering an area of 400 acres and is fed mainly from internal springs which furnish a never failing supply of the purest water without possibility of pollution from outside sources.”