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Barnegat Light is a borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 574, reflecting a decline of 190 (-24.9%) from the 764 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 89 (+13.2%) from the 675 counted in the 1990 Census. The borough borders the Atlantic Ocean on Long Beach Island and is home to Barnegat Lighthouse.
Barnegat Light was formed as a borough by the New Jersey Legislature on November 2, 1948, to replace Barnegat City borough, which in turn had been created on March 29, 1904, from portions of Long Beach Township.
The area surrounding the Barnegat Bay and Barnegat Inlet was described by Henry Hudson in 1609, as "...a great lake of water, as we could judge it to be ... The mouth of the lake hath many shoals, and the sea breaketh on them as it is cast out of the mouth of it." The name of the existing town was obtained from the Bay and Inlet, which were originally named in 1614 "Barendegat," or "Inlet of the Breakers," by Dutch explorers of the coastline, referring to the waterway's turbulent channel.
On October 26, 1782, a Belgian cutter traveling southward became stranded near the inlet. The ship was noticed by Captain Andrew Steelman, who recruited local men to unload the cargo. While at rest on the beach, the crews were attacked by Captain John Bacon, who was affiliated with the Loyalists. Almost all of Steelman's men were murdered in what became known as the Barnegat Light Massacre.
Caleb Parker, the first European permanent settler in the area, arrived to the Barnegat Inlet area in 1795. By the 19th century, the northern stretches of Long Beach Island were known among early settlers for the wildlife and subsequent hunting, as well as a tourist destination for vacationing farmers and campers. In 1814, portions of the lowlands and beaches were purchased by settlers Bart and Ruth Slaight, who built a small house and later, in 1825, a larger home to accommodate boarders.