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Gc M. Li 

9 , 1- . 702 





3 1833 01152 5059 

Cljromcle of a l5orDer Cotun 










No. 770 Broadway 


Entered according to Act of Congress, in tlie 3'ear 1871, by 

Charles W. Baikd, 
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

r. I V E R S I n K, C A M n R I D f : E : 



r^'^rpHIS book has grown out of a discourse prepared in the 
25^ J- year 1865, when the two hundredth anniversary of the organ- 
^ ' ization of the town of Rye occurred. The following letter, re- 
ceived soon after its delivery, may serve to account in a measure 
Y for the present publication : — 

^ Ete, December 8, 1865. 

^ Rev. Charles W. Baird : 

Dear Sir, — The undersigned, appreciating highly the very inter- 
esting discourse delivered by you on Thanksgiving Day, and beheving 
that the valuable historical information which by much careful labor 
and research you have collected, pertaining not only to the Presbyte- 
rian Church of Rye, but to the town itself, from its earliest settlement 
two hundred years ago, ought to be preserved, and will be prized by 
many in our community besides ourselves, respectfully solicit the man- 
uscript for publication, with such notes or appendix as you may deem 
necessary. Affectionately and truly yours, 

William Matheavs, Geo. S. Murfey, John Palmer, 
J. H. T. CocKET, A. P. CuMMiNGS, G. D. Cragin, 

D. G. Eaton, A. W. Parsons, Jr., W. H. Parsons, 
John Greacen, Jr., James H. Parsons, W. P. Van Rensselaer, 
Jasper E. Corning, C V. Anderson, A. W. Parsons, 

E. P. Whittemore, a. p. Carpenter, Jno. E. Parsons, 
E. P. Berkian, E. M. Clark, Jos. L. Roberts. 

The wish to comply with this flattering request, led me to pur- 
sue an investigation which had been commenced without a look 
beyond the occasion in question. This investigation has occupied 
many of the leisure hours of the last six years; and the result is 
a book much larger, certainly, than hearers or speaker contem- 
plated when the request w\as made. 

To the author, at least, the subject has appeared to justify this 
bestowal of time and pains. As a frontier settlement of New Eng- 
land, as a 'border town,' and as part of the ' neutral ground,' Rye 
possesses some distinctive claims to historical notice. The customs 
and adventures of the early settlers, their proprietary system, their 


political and religious differences ; the fortunes of the inhabitants 
under the colonial government, and during the Revolution ; the 
plantino; and growth of our ancient coufrregations, have seemed 
worthy of a full and exact recital. Apart, moreover, from details 
of purely local interest, several topics have fallen within the au- 
thor's plan, which invited research, and Avhich have not, to his 
knowledge, been elucidated fully elsewhere, at least in works ac- 
cessible to most readers. Some of these are treated in the chap- 
ters on ' Mails and Modes of Travel,' ' The Proprietors,' ' Harri- 
son's Purchase,' ' The Boundary Dispute,' ' The Boston Road,' 
' The Poor,' ' Schools,' ' Slavery,' ' The Indians,' ' The Parish and 
Vestry of Rye,' in the chapters relating to the Revolution, and in 
the part devoted to an account of the churches. It is not claimed 
that this treatment is exhaustive ; but it is hoped that some light 
has been thrown upon the subjects. These and other matters are 
treated in separate chapters, and under a threefold arrangement, — 
'The Town,' ' The Churches,' and 'The Families,' — with less 
regard to the order of time than to the connection of topics. An 
Index of dates, at the end of the volume, will be found useful for 
this reason.^ 

The material for this ' chronicle ' has been derived chiefly from 
the records of the town itself, those of the ancient ' Parish of Rye,' 
and those of Westchester County ; from the manuscripts in the 
State Departments of New York and Connecticut, and the histor- 
ical collections published by order of the legislatures of these 
States ; from the ' American Archives,' edited by Colonel Force, 
and the newspapers of the colonial period and the Revolution. A 
fuller mention of authorities would be unnecessary, inasmuch as 
abundant reference is made to them throughout the volume. It 
is with pleasure, however, that I acknowledge here the help re- 
ceived in the prosecution of this work from persons as well as 
from books. To Dr. O'Callaghan, State Librarian of New York, 
I am indebted not only for facilities in the examination of doc- 
uments in his care, but also for information and for suo-o-estions 
most kindly given, and exceedingly useful. My obligations to Mr. 
Charles J. Hoadly, Librarian of the State Library, Hartford, Con- 
necticut ; to Mr. George H. Moore, Librarian of the New York 
Historical Society ; and to Mr. Henry B. Dawson, Editor of the 
* Historical Magazine,' are similarly great. And my thanks are 
likewise due to Colonel Thomas F. DeVoe, of New York, for 

1 In this Index, some inadvertencies that occur in tlic body of the work, with refer- 
ence to dates, have been corrected. 


the contribution of several interesting items ; and to Mr. F. Saun- 
ders, of the Astor Library, and Mr. Samuel U. Berrian, Brook- 
lyn, for much friendly aid. 

Mr. Bolton's invaluable history of our county,^ contains with 
much other information gathered by dlHgent research, a number 
of extracts from the first volume of our town records. Tliis vol- 
ume is now lost ; and the extracts referred to are all that remain 
to us of its contents. Mr. Bolton's ecclesiastical work ^ has been 
of still greater service to me. In the correspondence of the mis- 
sionaries of the Gospel Propagation Society, I have found much of 
my material for an account of our churches before the Revolution. 
The labor of writing the history of a single town has enabled me 
to appreciate the patience, industry, and fidelity of our county his- 
torian. He has earned the thanks of every resident of Westches- 
ter County, and especially of any who may follow in the path 
where he has led as a pioneer. 

A considerable amount of information, supplementary to that de- 
rived from the sources mentioned, has been gained from local tra- 
ditions, personal recollections, and family records. The facts thus 
obtained have been available particularly for the tliird part of the 
book — the notices of Families. These notices, hoAvever, embody 
chiefly the facts gathered from our toivn ref?or£?s, relative to the set- 
tlers of Rye and their descendants. The list is designed to include 
every inhabitant named in our annals, from 1660 to 1800. 

Among the illustrations of this volume, I am happy to be 
able to give a map, copied from the original charts of the United 
States Coast Survey. As these charts extend to a distance of five 
or six miles from the shore, nearly the whole town of Rye is in- 
cluded. The remaining part, with the adjoining town of Harrison, 
is represented in the small map accompanying it, copied by permis- 
sion of the publishers, Messrs. Beers, Ellis, and Soule, from the 
' Atlas of New York and Vicinity.' 

With the hope that this humble chronicle may be found toler- 
ably complete and accurate," I submit it to my fellow townsmen, 

1 A History of the County of Westchester, from its First Settlemmt to the Present 
Time. By Robert Bolton, Jr. [now Eev. Robert Bolton]. New York, 1848. In two 
volumes 8vo. I am glad to learn that Mr. Bolton is engaged in preparing a re- 
vised and enlarged edition of this work, which has long been out of print. 

2 History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the County of ]Vestchtster. By Rob- 
ert Bolton, A.M. New York, 1855. In one volume 8vo. 

3 AVith all the care of author and printer, a few inaccuracies are noticed, hesides 
those already referred to. Page 61, lines 15, 16, for ' a large portion,' read 'a por- 
tion.' Page 290, line 40, for ' John Lane,' read ' George Lane.' Page 305, line 18, 


and especially to those whose desire for its preparation, so kindly 
expressed at the outset, has been my motive and encouragement 
in the work. 

The Manse, Kve, April 1, 1871. 

for ' countn',' read ' county.' Page 347, line I, for ' William,' read ' Charles.' Page 
406, line 27, for 'Joseph Budd,' read ' Underliill Budd.' Page 41 9, line 39, for 'sons,' 
read 'grandsons.' Page 432, line 8, for 'Peter Disbrow,' read 'John Disbrow.' In 
Chapter XXXVII., the account of the action of the people, October 6, 1727, — given 
on page 327, — should follow the letter of the trustees of Yale College, page 325. 




A Border Town, 1. — Area, 2. — The Dutcli in America, 3. — Westchester 
County, 4. — The Wilderness, 5. — The Old AVestchester Path, 6. 



Clearings near the Coast, 8. — First Purchase on Peningo Neck, 9. — Manus- 
sing Island, 10. — Second Purchase on Peningo Neck, 11. — Apawamis, or 
Budd's Neck, 12. — The West Neck, 14. — Land above Westchester Path, 
15. — Valuation of Lands, 16. — Extent of the Town, 17. — Vague Con- 
ceptions of the Country, 18. 



Gaining a Foothold, 19. — The Outlook, 20. — Planters of Hastings, 21. — 
Puritans, 22. — No Outlaws, 23.— Orders from Hartford, 24. — Letter to 
the General Court, 25. — Transfer of Lands to the Planters, 26. 



Improvements on the Main, 27. —Burying Hill, 28. — The Old Town, 29.— 
Mill on Blind Brook Creek, 29. — Rye, 30. — Hastings and Rye conjoined, 
30. — Removing to the Main, 31. — The Town Plot, 32. — The Town 
Field, 32. — The Plains, 32. — Home-lots, 33.— The Parsonage, 34. — Ab- 
sorption of Home-lots, 35. — Hastings in Sussex, England, 35. — Rye in 
Sussex, England, 36. — Derivation of the Name, 37. 



Differences at Rye, 38. — Unwelcome Neighbors, 39. — The General Court 
interferes, 40. — Intentions of the Court, 40. — Differences composed, 41. — 
Jurisdiction of the Town, 41. 




Troulilous Times, 42. — King Philip's War, 43. — Tidings of Disaster, 44. — 
Fort Hying the Town, 44. — Arrival of a SuflTerer, 45. — The Dutch again, 
45.. — Mr. Banks and Monsieur Colve, 46. — Rye supplicates for Help, 47. — 
Burning ol' Schenectady, 47. — Jacob Pierce, 48. — The Old Fort, 49. 



Ten Acres not enough, 50. — Lands in the Field, 51. — The Long Swamp, 
52. — Wolf-pit Ridge, 52. — Barton's Neck, 53. — The Settlement still 
compact, 54. — Byram Ridge, 55. — Lame Will, 55. — Eauketaupacuson, 
56. — Second Purchase from Maramaking, 57. — Free use of Lauds, 59. — 
Division of Will's Purchases, 59. — Proprietors, 60. — Tiie ' Layers out,' 60. 
— Brush Ridge, 60. — Branch Ridge, 61. 



Town Oflices, 62. — The Records, 63. — Admission of Freeholders, 63. — 
'Lists of Persons and Estates,' 64. — Town Meetings, 65. — Licenses and 
Grants of Land, 66. — Sheep Pasture, 67. — Trustees, 67. — The Commis- 
sioner, 68. — Litigation, 68. — The Stocks and the Whipping-post, 69. — 
Petition for a Patent from the Crown, 69. — Patent granted, 70. — Con- 
troversy about Manussing Island, 70. 



Travel on Horseback, 71. — Despatch of Letters, 72. — J\Ionthly Post to Bos- 
ton, 72. — Journey of Madam Knight, 73. — Weekly Post to Boston, 74. — 
Advertisements of Olden Time, 75. — First Stage-coach between New York 
and Boston, 77. — Stage to Rye, 77. — Communication by Water, 78. — 
Ferry to Oyster Bay, 78. — The House at the Ferry, 79. — Market Sloops, 



Proprietary System, 81. — First Proprietors, 82. — Increase of Members, 83. — 
'The Eighteen,' 84. — Transactions, 85. — Dissolution, 87. 



Connecticut Towns, 88. — Going up to Hartford, 89. — Orders of the General 
Court, 90. — Rye ceded to New York, 92. — Applies to be received back, 
92. — Request granted, 93. — ' Rie Pattent,' 93. — Dei:)uties to the General 
Court, 95. 



Harrison's purchase. 

Our Inhabitants bond Jide Settlers, 96. — Lavish Grants of Land, 97. — Harri- 
son's Pretensions, 97. — Vain Remonstrances, 99. — Rye secedes, 100. — A 
Visit from Colonel Heathcote, 100. — Patentees of the Purchase, 102. — 
Division of the Purchase, 103. — Brown's Point, 103. — Settlement of the 
Purchase, 104. 



Rye concerned in the Dispute, 105. — Irregular Course of the Boundary Line, 
106. — Differences with the Dutch, 107. — Agi-eement of Connecticut with 
the Duke of York's Commissionei-s, 108. — A Blind Treaty, 109. — New 
Settlement of the Bounds, 110. — Rye excluded. 111. — Dissatisfaction at 
Rye, 111. — Governor Dongan summons the Inhabitants to submit, 112. — 
Rye revolts, 113. — Feuds and Dissensions, 114. — An Armed Invasion, 115. 
— Governor Fletcher's Proclamation, 116. — Recriminations, 117. — The 
Town yields, 118. — A Border Fray in 1718, 119. — Collecting the Minis- 
ter's Rates, 120. — Boundary between Rye and Greenwich, 121. — Attempts 
to settle the Boundary, 122. — Meeting of Commissioners at Rye, 123. — 
The Old Surveys imperfect, 1 24. — A'New Survey, 125. — DiS'erences among 
the Commissioners, 126, — The Boundary Line not settled, 127. 



Housekeeping in the Olden Time, 128. — Primitive Houses, 129. — Price of 
Labor and Provisions, 129. — The Train-band of Rye, 130. — Investiture 
'by Turf and Twig,' 132. 



Indian Names, 133. — Names conferred by the Settlers, 134. — Localities along 
the Coast, 134. — Brooks, 135. — Ridges, 136. — Meadows, 136. — Swamps, 
137. — Family Names, 137. 



The Old Westchester Path, 138. — County Road laid out, 138. — Road from 
Plantation to Plantation, 139. — Highway from New York to Connecticut 
established, 140. — Gates across the Road, 141. — Doleful Accounts of our 
Roads, 142. — Turnpike Company, 143. — Changes in the Road, 143. 



The Square House, 145. — ' A Noted Tavern,' 146.— An Illustrious Guest, 
147. —Lafayette at Penfield's, 148.— Madam Knight at Rye, 149.- \\r.\ 
Sicklin's, 150. — Drinking Habits, 151. 




Qiiaioppas, 152. — Indian Treaty, 153. — Mr. KichljcH's Claim, 153. — Colonel 
I Ic athoote's Claim, 154. — Early Surveys, 1 50. — Road to the White Plains 
laid out, 15G. — Apportionment of Land.^, 157. — Settlement, 157. — Pres- 
byterian Chm-eh, 158. — Removal of the County Courts, 158. 



Hereditary Pursuits, 159. — Millers, 159. — 'JNIariners,' 160. — The Oyster 
Fishery, 160. — Fai-ming in Olden Time, IGl. — Washington's Description, 
162. — The Town Poor, 163. — Vagrancy, 164. 



Sending to Stamford, 165. — Dr. Devaney, 165. — Dr. Worden, 166. — Dr. 
Bowncss, 166. — Dr. AUeson, 166. — Dr. John Smith, 166. — Dr. William 
Hooker Smith, 166. — Dr. Hugeford, 167. — Dr. Bailey, 167. — Dr. Daton, 
167. — Dr. R. Graham, 168. — Dr. Willet, 168. — Dr. John A. Graham, 
168. — Dr. Downing, 168. — Inoculation at Rye, 168.;— Dr. Haviland, 169. 
— Dr. Sanford, 1 69. — Dr. Rockwell, 1 70. — Dr. Rogers, 1 70. — Dr. McDon- 
ald, 170. — Dr. E. Belcher, 171. — Dr. E. R. Belcher, 171. — Dr. Willson, 
171. — Dr. Close, 171. — Present Practitioners, 171, 172. — Lawyers, 172. 



School Laws of Connecticut, 173. — Efforts to procure a Schoolmaster, 173. — 
A School-house to be built, 173. — l"he Gospel Projiagatiou Society's School- 
master at Rye, 174. — Sunday-school at Rye, 175. — Mr. Avery's Advertise- 
ment, 176. — George Harris, 177. — School-house on Rye Neck, 177. — At 
Saw Pit, 177. — On Regent Street, 178. — Education in Olden Times. 
178. — Common School System, 178. — School Districts, 179. 



Introduced by the Dutch, 181. — Increased Number of Slaves, 182. — Treat- 
ment of Refractory Slaves, 183. — Fears of Insurrection, 183. — Mr. Den- 
ham's Slave Primu.s, 184. — Slaves landed at Rye, 184. — Religious In- 
struction, 185. — Manumission of Slaves, 186. — Negro Population, 187. — 
Action of the Friends in Harrison, 187. 



Their Condition when the Country was first settled, 189. — Regulations of the 
Colony of Connecticut concerning them, 190. — A Decaying Peojile, 191. — 
Visits to the Beach, 192. — Their Poivwotvs,ldS. — Relics along our Shores. 
103. — Mohegan Villages, 193. — Indian Mortars, 194. 




Burving-ground by Blind Brook, 195. — Fam% Burial-places, 197. Brun- 

dige, Bloomer, KnifSn, Merritt, 197. — Lyon, Theall, Purdy, Budd, Haisht, 
Anderson, Gedney, 198. — Burial-place of the Rectors of Christ Church, 

198. — Interments near the Church, 198. — Jay Cemetery, 199. Union 

Cemetery, 199. — Colored Cemetery, 199. 



Taxation in Connecticut, 200. — In New York, 200. — Under Governor Corn- 
bury, 201. — Expedition against Canada, 203. — Bills of Credit, 204. The 

Excise, 205. — Contest of the Assembly with the Governors, 206. 



Fire at Rye, 207. — Notabilities of the Town, 208. — Major Brown, Ro"-er 

Park, Philemon Halsted, Josiah Purdy, 208. — Jonathan Kniffen, 209. 

Mr. Peter Jay, 209. — Captain Purdy, Charles Theall, David Haight, Judge 
Thomas, the Wetmores, 210. — Fair at Rye, 211. — Rye Ferry, 212. — Rye 
Beach, 213. — Emigration to Canada, 213. 



The Neutral Ground, 215. — Policy of Great Britain, 216. — Claims of the 
Colonists, 216. — The Stamp Act, 217. — Popular Uncertainty, 218. — Pat- 
riotic Meeting at Rye, 219. — Protestation of Loyalty, 220. — Counter Dec- 
larations, 221. — The Crisis arrives, 222. — Companies formed, 223. — Pas- 
sage of Troops, 224. — The Tories grow defiant, 225. — Plot for the Capture 
of Judge Thomas, 226. — Spiking of Cannon near King's Bridge, 226. — 
Committee of Safety, 228. — Arrest of Disaffected Persons, 229. — Arrival 
of the British Fleet, 230. — The Militia called out, 231. 



Washington abandons New York, 232. — Retreats to the White Plains, 232. 

— Engagement at Mamaroneck, 233. — Battle of the White Plains, 234. — 
Affair near Horton's Pond, 236. — Burning of the Court House and 
Church, 239. — Foraging Parties, 239. — The King's Troops at Rye, 240. 

— Mr. Avery's Death, 240. — Cow Boys and Skinners, 241. — British Force 
encamped on Sniffcn's Hill, 242. — American Force at Saw Pit, 243, — _Brit- 
ish Fleet in the Sound, 244. — The Queen's Rangers, 245. — The Inhabit- 
ants plundered, 246. — Thomas Kniffen's Adventure, 246. — Sniffen's Hill, 
247. — Washington encamped at the White Plains, 247. — French Troops 
near Saw Pit, 249. 



(Jcneral Heath at Kin^ Street, 248. — Loyalists of Eye, 249. — Severities in- 
Hicted upon them, 250. — Suflerings in Westchester County, 251. — Capture 
of Judge Thomas, 252. — iMurder of Jonathan Kniffen's Daughter, 252. — 
The Wliak'-boat Service, 253. — Operations on the Sound, 254. — Repri- 
sals, 255. — Seizure of Colonel Thomas Thomas at Rye Woods, 256. — 
Incident near Men-itt's Tavern, 257. — Engagements at Sherwood's Bridge 
and Bvram Bridge, 258. — Frequent Incursions, 259. — Lawless Characters, 
260. — Shubael Merritt, 260. — Local Incidents and Traditions, 261. — 
Dr. Dwight's Description of the Neutral Ground, 262. 



Families coming Home, 264. — Departure of Loyalists, 264. — Return of the 
Soldiers, 265. — Town Meeting, 265. — Quitrent, 266. — Division of the 
Town, 266. 



Origin of the Name, 26 7. — Location of Old Buildings, 268. — The Haunted 
House. 270. 



Disadvantages of a 'Border Town,' 271. — Religious Views of the Early Set- 
tlers, 272. — Lay Preachers, 273. — Orders of the General Court, 274. — 
Land appropriated for the Ministry, 275. 



Rev. Eliphalet Jones, 276. — Rev. Peter Prudden, 277. — Rev. Thomas Den- 
ham, 278. — The Parsonage, 279. — Place of Meeting, 279. — Rev. John 
Woodbridge, 280. — Rev. Nathanael Bowers, 281. — A ' Meeting-house ' to 
be built, 282. — Tax for building the Church, 283. —The Minister's Rate, 
284. — ;Mr. Denham's Antecedents, 285. 



Early Provision for the ^Ministry, 287. — Liberty of Conscience secured, 288. 
— Scheme to introduce an ' P^stablishcd Church,' 288. — The Act for set- 
tling a Ministry, 289. — Governor Fletcher's Manoeuvres, 290. — Election of 
Churchwardens and Vestrymen, 291. — Mischievous Effects of the Act, 




The Parson's Point. 294. — Land in the Town Field, 295. — Survey of the 
Glebe, 296. — Trial concerning the Parsonage Lot, 297. — The Home-lot 
by Blind Brook, 298. — The Spot ascertained, 300. — ]\Ir. Jenney's Garden, 
301. — New Glebe on the West Side of Blind Brook, 302. — The Rectory 
Grounds, 303. 



Colonel Heathcote, 305. — Rev. Thomas Pritchard, 306. — Rev. George Muir- 
son, 306. — Building the Church, 307. — Unforeseen Delays, 308. — Mr. 
Muirson's Ministry, 309. — Rev. Christopher Bridge, 310. — Number of 
Communicants, 311. — Harmony in the Parish, 312. — Rev. Robert Jenney, 
313. — Rev. James Wetmore, 314. — Mr. "Wetmore's Ministry, 315. — Rev. 
Ebenezer Punderson, 315. — The Parish Church incorporated, 316. — Rev. 
Ephraim Avery, 316. — His Sufferings, 317. — Character of the Early Rec- 
tors, 318. 



Relative Numbers, 320. — Attempt to take Possession of the Church, 321. — 
Rev. Stephen Buckingham, 321. — Rev. John Walton, 322. — Memorial to 
the Connecticut Government, 323. — Petition refused, 324. — The Trustees 
of Yale College interpose, 325. — Request renewed, 326. — The General 
Assembly grants it, 327. — Collections throughout the Colony for Churches 
at Rye and the White Plains, 327. — Building Spot, 328. — The Churches 
built, 328. — Rev. Edmund Ward, 329. — Vacancy, 330. — Rev. John 
Smith, 330. — A Contrast, 331. — Mr. Smith's Ministry, 333. — Presbytery 
of Dutchess County, 335. 



Rev. Richard C. Moore, 337. — The Church rebuilt, 338. — Rev. David Foote, 
338. — Rev. John J. Sands, 339. — Name of the Church changed, 339. — Rev. 
George Ogilvie, 340. — Rev. Samuel Haskell, 340. — Rev. Evan Rogers, 
340. — Mr. Haskell returns, 341. — Congregations of Rye and the White 
Plains separate, 341. — Rev. William Thompson, 341. — Rev. John M. 
Forbes, 342. — Rev. W. M. Carmichael, 342. — Rev. Peter S. Chauncey, 
342. — Rev. Edward C. Bull, 342. — New Church, 342. — Rev. John C. 
White, 343. — Rev. Reese F. Alsop, 343. — The Church destroyed by Fire, 
343. — Rebuilt, 343. —Description, 343. 



Influence of Dr. Lewis, 345. — The Church rebuilt, 345. — Incorporated, 346. 
— Members, 346. — Feebleness of the Congregation, 347. — The Church 
alienated, 347. — Repossessed, 348. — Reorganization, 348. — Rev. W. H. 


Wliittemorc, 348. — Rev. David Remington, 349. — Rev. Thomas Payne, 
350. — Rev. John II. IIuntcT, 350. — Rev. James R. Davenport, 350. — 
Rev. Edward D. Bryan, 350. — Mr. Ebcnezer CLarke, 351. — New Chureh, 
352. — Description, 353. 



Methodism introduced, 354. — Mr. Ezekiel Halsted, 355. — Early Ministry, 
356. — Church built, 357. — Revivals, 357. — Later Ministry, 358. 



From Flushing, 3G0. — Settlers of Harrison, 361. — Purchase Meeting-house, 
362. — Rapid spread, 363. — Separation, 364. — Pi-esent State, 365. 



Religious Destitution, 366. — Occasional Services, 366. — Presbyterian Church, 
367. — Methodist Episcopal Church, 369. — Protestant Episcopal Church, 
370. — Baptist Church, 371. — Roman Catholic Church, 371. 


Act constituting the Present Town, 372. — Survivors of the Revolution, 372. — 
General Thomas and Robert Kennedy, 373. — Population of Rye at Different 
Periods, 373. — Joseph Bonaparte, 374. — Growth and Improvement, 374. — 
Thirty Years Ago, 374. — Academy, 375. — New Haven Railroad, 375. — 
Captain's Island, 375-377. 



Progress in Trade and Manufactures, 378. — Mr. Jared Peck, 378. — Mills, 
379. — Episode of the Last War, 3 79. — Lafliyette's Visit, 380.— Steam 
Navigation of the Sound, 380.— Steamboats at Rye Port, 381. — Port Ches- 
ter vice Saw Pit, 381. — Incorporation of the Village, 381. — Limits defined, 
381. — Census of 1870, 382. — Institutions, 382. 



Public Meeting, 384. — Union Defence Committee, 385. — Companies formed, 
386. — Provi.sion for Families of Soldiers, 387. — Roll of Honor, 387-391. 




' A Great Settlement,' 392. — The Prophecy fulfilling, 392, — Our Advan- 
tages, 392. — Blessings of Peace, 393. 



Ailing, Applebe, Banks, 395. — Barton, Basset, Bloomer, 396. — Boyd, 397. — 
Bowers, Brondige, 398. — Brown, 399. — Budd, 403. — Bullock, 406. — 
Church, Clere, Collyer, Coe, 407. — Coflel, Disbrow, 408. — Denham, Frost, 
409. — Galpin, 410. — Garnsey, Hart, Hyat, 411. — Hoyt, 412. — Hopping, 
Horton, 413. — Hudson, Jackson, Jefferies, 415. — Jee, Jenkins, Knap, 
Kniffen, 416. — Lancaster, Lane, 420. — Linch, Lockwood, Lounsbery, 421. 

— Lyon, 422. — Merritt, 426. — Miller, 428. — Odell, 429. — Ogden, 430. 

— Park, 431. — Pearce, 433. — Purdy, 434. — Roberts, Robisson, Rockwell, 
440. — Sherwood, 441. — Smith, Selleck, Statham, Stephens, Stoakham, 
443. — Strang, 444. — Studwell, 446. — Theall, 447. — Thomas, Thorne, 
Traves, Underhill, 448. — Vowles, Walters, 449. — Wascot, Wood, Wood- 
bridge, Wright, Young, 450. 


Abrahams, Adee, 451. — Anderson, Andrews, Armor, Armstrong, Ascough, 
Adams, Akerly, Baker, Burajios, Bayly, Barker, 452. — Barnes, Barrel, 
Bates, Bell, Besly, Bloodgood, Blakeman, Bird, 453. — Birdsall, Bishop, 
Bowne, Bridge, Brush, Burns, Burrell, Burchum, Bush, 454. — Carle, Carey, 
Carhartt, Carpenter, 455. — Cavalear, Chatterton, Cheesemau, Clapp, 457. 
Cleator, Cole, Coon, Cornell, Cornwall, 458. — Covertt, Crampton, Crawford, 
Ci'omwell, 459. — Crooker, Cue, Dusenbery, 461. — Daniels, Dcall, Delhing- 
ham, Deniilt, Dickinson, Dixon, Dow, Dodge, Doutty, Doughty, Eisenhart, 462. 

— Elsworth, Embree, Esmond, Eustace, Farrington, Fauconier, Feeuas, 
Ferris, Field, 463. — Flamman, Flood, Foreman, Fitzgerald, Fowler, 465. — 
Franklin, French, Gale, Gandal, Gibson, Gilchrist, Glover, Gorum, Graham, 
466. — Graham, Green, Griffin, Guion, 467. — Gediiey, 468. — Haddon, 
Hains, 471. — Haight, 472. — Hawkshurst, Hare, Hai-ris, Harrison, Hatfield, 
473. — Halsted, 474.^ — Haviland, 475. — Hawkins, Haj-s, Haywood, Hill, 
Hitt, Hubbs, Hosier, Howel, Hugford, Hicks, Hutchings, Huson, Hunt, 477. — 
Hunter, Ireland, Jacobs, Jagger, 478. — Jay, 479. — Janes, Kennedy, King, 
La Count, Lamson, Lawrence, Lewis, Man, McCollum, Marsh, Marselis, iVIar- 
vin, 486. — Mollinex, Morrill, Morris, Morgan, ]\laynard, Muirson, Mun-ay, 
McDonald, Moore, Mott, Neally, Xewman, Nichols, Oakley, Owen, Panton, 
Palmer, Peck, Pederick, Peet, Pine, 487. — Parker, Pinkney, Proboy, Pro- 
voost, 488. — Quimby, Quintard, Rickey, Ritchie, Reynolds, Robinson, 
Rogers, Roll, Roosevelt, Rusforth, Rusten, Ray, Sackett, Sawyer, Schofield, 
Scott, Seaman, 489. — Saler, Secor, Sears, Setton, Sexton, Seymour, Shaw, 


Slater, Smith. 4f>0. — Stevenson, 401. — Stringhani, Sutton, Talledy, Tay- 
lor, Tebowe?, Thackcr, Thomas, 492. — Thompson, Tilford, 493. — Titus, 
Tompkins, Totten, Tredwell, Turner, Varnell, Vail, Vickers, Virdine, Wal- 
ton, 404. — Warner, Weeden, Weeks, Wetniore, 495. — Weissenfels, Wil- 
cox, ^Villis. Willett. 496. — Willson, 497. — Wilson, 498. — Willy, Woolsey, 
Worden, Yeoraans, 499. 
Clark, 499. 



I. Records of Streets and Highways ....... 501 

II. Royal Patents 515 

1. Patent for Peningo Neck ....... . 515 

2. Patent for Budd's Neck 520 

3. Patent for Harrison's Purchase . . . . . . .524 

4. Patent for the White Plains 526 

III. Town Oflicers 530 


Index of Dates 535 

Inde.x of Persons 546 

General Index 556 


1. Map — XoRTiiERX Coast of Loxg Islaxd Souxd, from Delaxcey 

Point to Calves Island : including the Towns of Mamaeoneck 
AND Eve (U. S. Coast Survey). 

2. 3lAr — Towns of Harrison and Rye {Facing title-page). 

3. Diagram — Peningo, Apawamis, ]\L\nussing 1 

4. Fac-Simile — Declaration of the Inhabitants of ilANvssiNG 

Island, JCLY 26, 1662 Facing page 23 

5. Eye in Scsskx, England 27 

6. Land-Gate, Rye, England 37 

7. The Old Fort 42 

8. Old Fort, Gable End 49 

9. Strang's Tavern 71 

10. Diagram — The Boundary Line 105 

11. Great Stone by the Wading-Place 133 

12. Haviland's, or Penfield House 145 

13. Diagram — The White Plains in 1721 . . '. . . 152 

14. Rye Beach 189 

15. Rye Ferry 207 

16. Sniffen's Hill 215 

17. Byram Bridge 248 

18. Map — The Town of Rye in 1779. By Robert Erskine, F. R. S., Geog- 

rapher to Army of U. S. From the Original in New York Historical 

Societv .......... Facing page 256 

19. Halsted House 271 

20. Diagram — Parsonage Lot 300 

21. The Jay Cemetery. Rye 479 





' These settling themselves down would in a short time completely dislodge the un- 
fortunate Nederlanders ; elbowing them out of those rich bottoms and fertile valleys 
in which our Dutch yeomanry are so famous for nestling themselves. For it is noto- 
rious that wherever these shrewd men of the east get a footing, the honest Dutch- 
men do gradually disappear.' — Irving's Histori/ of New York, ch. ii. 


AMONG the numerous points 
of land jutting into Long 
Island Sound, and forming the 
lesser indentations of its north- 
ern shore, is one that may be 
said to mark the limit of the 
State of New York. From the 
jagged rocks that terminate this 
point, a tract of land nowhere 
more than two miles wide 
stretches northward about nine 
miles to a sharp angle upon the 
Connecticut border. This little 
territory, called by the Indians 
Penino'o, with the island of 
Manussing on the east, and a 
part of the neighboring shore 
on the west, constitutes the 
town of Rye. Lying thus on 
the confines of two States, 
whose boundaries from the out- 
set were but ill-defined, and remained for nearly a century in dis- 
pute, its history might in a measure be forecast. Throughout the 


earlier and forming; part of tliut liistorv, tliis \Yas ' debatable ground ' 
— a fact ver>' perceptibly bearing on the social and especially on the 
religious character of the community seated liere. 

The territory of this town was formerly much larger than that 
just described. It com])rehended also the present towns of Harri- 
son and the White Plains, until after the Revolution. These in- 
deed were theclioicest portions of the land originally acquired. The 
narrow tract along Byram River and the Sound was first occujned 
by the settlers for convenience and security, because nearer and 
more accessible to the older plantations of Connecticut. As soon 
as they could safely do so, they removed from the shore, wliere 
the surface is rocky and broken, to the more fertile inland ridges 
and plains. 

From this inequality of surface, however, the scenery of the 
town takes its varied beauty, and gains attraction as a place of 
suburban resort and residence. 

In tlie south and soutlnvest, towards the Sound and bordering 
upon it, the land is generally level. Near the Ej)iscopal Church 
rises a rocky rid";e extending northward, and dividino; the town 
in two nearly equal parts. This ridge gradually widens into a 
plateau of undulating surface, one fourth to three fourths of a mile 
wide, sloping on the northeast to the Byram River, and on the 
west to Blind Brook. Anotlier rido;e beffins at the lower end of 
Peningo Neck, or Brown's Point, and gradually rises toward Grace 
Church Street, where it breaks into a succession of hills that extend 
to the village of Port Chester. Along the shore of the Sound the 
j'ocks^ rise compactly, forming low bluffs, or are broken into large, 
irregular masses. Similar masses of coarse granite, below the 
Beach, form ' clumps ' or islands, curiously worn and perforated 
by the action of the water, and bearing names Avhicli were given 
them by the settlers, or by passing mariners, in remote times. ^ 

The date of the settlement carries us back more than two hun- 
dred years, to the time when the Dutch were still in possession of 
the province they called ' New^ Netlierland.' Half a century had 

1 These rocks, like those of tlie entire county, do not differ essentially from the gran- 
itic rocks of New England. Tiiey are 'crystalline, stratified generally, and metamor- 
phic; principally gneiss, mica schist, mica slate, syenite, steatite, silicious conglom- 
erate. There are no calcareous deposits. The gneiss not unfrcquently loses its 
stratification and becomes granite, or losing its feldspar, becomes mica schist. From 
the almost uniform dip of these rocks, and from the absence of fossils, we may safely 
refer them to the iizoir. age.' 

'^ Bar Rock is the clump which at low tide is connected with tlie Beach by a sand- 


elapsed since these shores were discovered by Hendrick Hudson. 
In virtue of that discovery, Holland claimed a vast domain, reach- 
ing from the ' Fresh ' or Connecticut River to the ' South ' River, 
or Delaware, and extending to the great lakes and the Saint Law- 
rence on the north, an area now covered by three States and part of 
a fourth. But her hold on those possessions was feeble and relax- 
ing. The progress of the colony had been slow. Little had been 
done toward the occupation of this expanse. Small towns, 
scarcely more than hamlets, had risen under shelter of the forts 
on the island of Manhattan, and near the present site of the city of 
Albany. Five or six villages were scattered on the south end of 
Long Island. A few plantations were to be seen along the banks 
of the North or ' Maurice ' River. Some show of a purpose to 
defend these possessions was made, by keeping up a military post 
at Hartford, on the extreme eastern frontier, and by the conquest 
of the Swedish settlements on the Delaware, at the south. But 
the policy of the Dutch government was not favorable to a co- 
lonial system. Though anxious to enrich lierself by foreign com- 
merce, Holland was slow to extend protection to distant depend- 
encies, or pledge herself to their defence. These settlements Avere 
usually left to be cared for and controlled by individual or associ- 
ated enterprise. Thus a board of merchants at Amsterdam, 
known as the West India Company, had obtained the exclusive 
right of trade with the western world, and the sole privilege of 
p-rantincr lands to those who miolit choose to remove thither. This 
Company ruled with a high hand over the traders and formers of 
New Netherland. Occasional etibrts were made to encourage emi- 
gration ; but the inducements were not strong. The Company's 
object was evidently not so much to reclaim the wilderness, as to 
drive a profitable business with its savage inhabitants.^ Settle- 
bar. On the south side of this chimp, the rock is strangely honeycombed in every 
direction. Humphrei/'s Rock is the next chimp south of Bar Rock, and is very 
simiLar in appearance. Black Tom lies east of Parsonage Point. Wrack Clump, 
southeast of Pine Island, is so called from the fact that many vessels have been 
wrecked at this point. It is said that not long before the Revolution, a ship came 
ashore on this clump, having been abandoned by the crew. Two or three men 
living in the neighborhood went on board, and from that time were well sui)plied 
with money. 

1 ' We have neglected to populate the land ; or, to speak more jilainly and truly, we 
have, out of regard for our own pi-ofit, wished to scrape all the fat into one or more 
pots and thus secure the trade, and neglect population.' — Vertoogk von Nieiv Neder- 
landand, etc., 1650. (Representation from New Netherland, concvrninfj the Situation, 
Fruitfulness, and Poor Condition of the same. Translated from the Dutcli by Henry 
C. Murphy : New York, 1854.) 


merits were made with a principal view to the monopoly of the fur 
traffic ; and New Amsterdam itself was little more than a trading 
])ost. The emigrants who had been temj)ted across the sea chiefly 
by hopes of innnediate gain, had little of the energy and public 
spirit of their New England neighbors, who had crossed it in 
search of an asylum from oppression, and an inheritance of free- 
dom for tliL'ir children. 

Westchester County,^ as early as this period of the Dutch 
occniiatldii, was already a scene of historic interest. For here the 
troubles of the Dutch with the Indian tribes of the interior com- 
menced. And here began those difficulties with the English, 
which, though less sanguinarj^, foreboded nnich more clearly the 
tei'mination of their rule. 

This region was as yet almost an unbroken wilderness. Except 
along the seaboard, no settlement had been effected by either 
Dutch or English. 2 A vast, limitless waste, teeming with vague 
perils, formed the background of some sparse settlements along the 
shores of the Sound. Deep forests, pierced by paths known only 
to the red man, stretched from the Hudson to the Connecticut.^ 
These forests consisted chiefly of oaks of various kinds, which, 
together with the walnut, chestnut, beech, and other trees, grew 
to a height that amazed Evu'opean eyes. Many of them were 
loaded with vines, whose profusion is noticed by early travellers.* 

1 The name was not bestowed until tlic year 1683, when tlie Provinee of New York 
was divided into twelve counties. Westchester County covers an area of 480 square 
miles, or 307,200 acres. 

2 The former appear to iiave explored it to some extent along the seaboard. ' The 
country on the East River, between Greenwich and the island Manhattans,' wrote a 
Hollander in 1G50, ' is for the most part covered with trees, but yet flat and suitable 
land, with numerous streams and valleys, right good soil for grain, together with 
fresh hay and meadow lands.' (' Information respecting Land in New Netherland ' : 
Dornmriits ret. to Colonial J/istonj of New York, i. 366 ) 

» ' The English have now (in 16,50) a village called Stamford, within six miles of the 
North Kiver [/. e., Dutch miles, equal to four English miles each], I'rom whence it 
could be travelled now in a summer's day to the North River and back, I/' the Lulicni 
jwth wfic onlji know)).' [Representation from New Netherland, etc., p. 29.) 

* "Van der Donck, Varazzano, and others. ' I have seen,' says Dominie Megapoliensis, 
'many pieces of land where vine stood by vine, and grew very luxuriant, climbing up 
above the largest and loftiest trees, and although they were not cultivated, the grapes 
were as good and as sweet as in Holland.' (Short Account of the Marjuaas, 1644.) 
Such doubtless was the character of the forest scenery here. In 1670, ten years after 
the settlement of Rye, we find mention of a ' place commonly called the Vineyard,' on 
Hudd's Neck. Eleven years later, the ' Vineyard Farm,' on the same neck, is named. 
(Town liccords, vol. B. pp. 34, 49.) Forty years ago there was a spot on Mr. B. 
Mead's farm, in the same region, noted for the profusion of these vines, overrunning 
the trees and covering the ground. 


' Almost the whole land is full of them,' they write, ' as well the 
wild woods as the mowing lands and flats ; but they grow princi- 
pally near and upon the banks of the brooks and streams.' Some 
portions of the country were cleared of underbrush, and presented 
the appearance of beautiful groves. This was owing to the Indian 
custom of setting fire, in the autumn, to the tall grass, for the pur- 
pose of starting their game from the thickets. Elsewhere these 
fires had completely destroyed the heavier timber, producing tracts 
of meadow land, a pleasant relief from the sombre shades of the 
forest. But much of tiie woodland was marshy, and densely cov- 
ered with a rank growth of bush and shrub. Extensive swamps 
overspread the valleys and lower plains, through which the brooks 
and streams, then much fuller than at present, made their devious 


Occasionally, however, there were traces of a rude cultivation. 
Near the rivers, and especially along the inlets of the Sound, por- 
tions of the land had long been appropriated by the Indians for their 
corn-fields and gardens. There are probably not a few spots on 
our Westchestei forms, upon which the red man's toil was expended 
before the coming of the white settler, who found his labors greatly 
licrhtened by the partial preparation of the ground, and who gladly 
availed himself of the Indian clearings, which were generally 
effected where the soil was the richest and the location the most 


The country lying between the Hudson and the Byram rivers 
was claimed by a part of the Mohegan tribe. Various independent 
families of this tribe had their villages here, and roamed through 
the surrounding forests in pursuit of game. These villages were 
most' numerous along the shores of the Sound. There the supplies 
of fish upon which the hunter depended, especially m the winter 
season, to eke out the scanty subsistence derived from the chase, 
could be obtained in its waters, and in those of the streams tliat 
empty into them. A Mohegan village stood near the beach, i he 
level .rounds along the shores of the creek north of the present vil- 
lage o'f Milton, we^re cultivated as Indian fields. Here and there 
clusters of wigwams occurred on the western bank of the creek, 
overlooking the salt meadows through which the Mockcpiams 
winds to the Sound. Some fomilies too, it would appear, had 
their homes on Manussing Island, oft^ the eastern shore oi the neck. 
The interior of the country retained all its primitive wildness 
Much of it, we have said, was overspread by swamps. One ot 
these extended through the valley, once perhaps the basin ot a 


lake, or the bod of a river, between Rye and Port. Chester. An- 
other, wliich the beaver freciuented, stretched along tlie valley of 
the ApaAvamis. Throun;h the woods adjoinino; this stream, the 
hnnter followed his prey ; ^ and near by, an Indian path, oblicpiely 
cuttin*j; this tract of land at its widest part, formed the rude thor- 
ouo;hfare connecting tlie native settlements, which was early desio;- 
natc'd by the English as ' The old Westchester Path.' ^ 

1 Indian arrow-heads have been found here in fircat abundance. 

'•' ' TIic oUl Wcstcliestcr Patli ' was originally an Indian trail, that led from Manhattan 
island to a ' wadini^- jjlace ' not far from the montii of Byram Kiver, and thence through 
the jtresent town of Greenwicli, perhaps to Stamford and beyond. It was used by the 
Dutch and En<;lisli, from the very first occupation of the country ; and long before 
any towns or jilantations apjjcared along its course, it formed a line of travel between 
New York and New England. For this reason it was probably that the earliest settle- 
ments were made upon this line. Motives of convenience and safety would induce 
the settler to fi.x upon a s])ot not remote from the only thoroughfare as yet existing 
through the forest. Accordingly we find that the original j)urchases of land were in 
many cases bounded by this path, as a well-known landmark, familiar alike to the 
red nian and the white. Many of the old farms in this town and in the adjoining 
towns, are described in deeds still extant as bounded by ' the old Westchester Path.' 
It is now the dividing line between the towns of Rye and Harrison. The first allusion 
to this path that we have found occurs in the year 1G61. Five years later, it is 
already spoken of as ' y" now known and common path coming up from Westchester.' 
Owing to such frequent reference in grants and deeds, the precise location of por- 
tions of the road has been preserved. Its course was long denoted like other bound- 
aries in early times, by means of ' marked trees ; ' and there are maps on record, 
exhibiting these landmarks, and showing the direction of the road. It is curious 
to sec how long even such rude and perishable monuments may serve their pur- 
pose. Some years ago it became necessary to ascertain more exactly the boundary 
between the towns of Rye and Harrison. A party of several of the ' oldest inhab- 
itants ' was made up, to accompany the surveyor, and assist him by their recollections 
in finding the marks indicated by the old maps and deeds. They had little difficulty 
in doing this, along the greater part of the way ; though the young saplings and 
' staddles ' marked a half century earlier and more, had like themselves grown* to a 
green old age. At length, however, the i)arty came to a staiul. The ' white oak stump ' 
which was designated as the next way mark could not be found. After some deliber- 
ation it was suggested that they should proceed to the extreme end of their survey, 
and then measure back to the last point ascertained ; and at the given distance they 
discovered, by digging under-ground, the mouldering renuiins of a 'white oak 
stump ' whose testimony completed the chain of evidence required. 

The Westchester Path in this town has been disused, probably for a hundred years 
past, excej)! in some few places, and as a way of communication between one farm and 
another. Tiuu-e is no proof indeed that it was at any time a graded road, travelled 
by wagons or stages. Such conveyances were scarcely known in those early days. 
For generations the bridle-path and the ' cart-way ' were the only kind of road 
known or needed. The ' marked trees ' which formerly indicated its course, arc 
now rejilaced by small granite posts, denoting the boundary line of the towns 
of Rye and Harrison. By means of this boundary, we may tr.ace the old path 
for about three miles from the vicinity of Mamaroncek River to a point on the 
bank of Blind Brook, near the house lately Mr. Allen P. Carpenter's. Beyond 
this, its course is not certainly known. I am inclined to believe that the Ridge 
Road is the continuation of the old Westchester Path, at least for some distance. 


This seems probable from the fact that it begins where that path, so far as it can now 
be traced, ends ; and pursnes for awhile the same northeasterly direction. Indeed 
there is a tradition, which confirms this view, that the Kidge Road is the oldest thor- 
oughfare in these parts. Bearing more to the eastward, perhaps, from a point 
above the Catholic Cemetery, the path ran to the wading-place, where Byram bridge 
now crosses the river, and thence followed apparently the course of the present post- 
road through the town of Greenwich. It is mentioned as a boundary in several 
ancient deeds of that town. 




' They arc gone, 
With then- old forests wide and deep ; 
Antl we have huilt our homes upon 
Fields where their generations sleep.' 


IT was in the last days of the Dutcli rule on this continent, that 
a little comj)any of New England men, from the neighboring 
town of Greenwich, ventured to establish themselves here. They 
came to plant another of those settlements by means of which, it 
is well known, the Connecticut colonists had resolved to encroach 
on the territory beyond them ; ' crowding out the Dutch,' whom 
they affected to regard as mere intruders. The spot these settlers 
had chosen was, in their own language, ' a small tract of land 
lying betwixt Greenwich and Westchester.' It was one of those 
' necks ' to which the Indian natives were so partial, on account 
of the facilities afforded them for fishing, and where they were 
accustomed to make their more })ermanent homes. Here stood 
the villages of several Mohegan families, and near by, undoubtedly, 
lay their gardens and corn-fields. These were much more exten- 
sive than we have been accustomed to sui)pose. There is evidence 
that a considerable part of the land along the shores of the Sound 
had been cleared and partially cultivated by the Indians, before 
the white race obtained possession of it. These clearings were 
made in the rude way so often practised by our Western ])ioneers, 
— through the agency of fire. But they greatly assisted the 
labors of the white settler in his improvement of the soil. Early 
writers inform us that the lands thus cleared were at once taken 
up. ' Those who first arrived,' says one, ' found lands all pre- 
pared, abandoned by the savages who here cultivated their fields. 
Those who have come since have cleared the lands for themselves 
in the forests.' ^ This was particularly the case near the coast. 
1 ' lis ont trouve' quclqucs tcrres toutes propres que les sauvages avoicnt autrcffois 


An ancient historian of Guilford, Connecticut, states that in that 
town ' some of the Points of Land adjoining the Sea were all 
clear'd by the native Indians ;' and that ' for a great many years 
the planters were chiefly confin'd to the Lands cleared by the In- 
dians near the Sea.'^ From the well-known custom of the settlers 
to avail themselves of these localities, as Avell as from the abundance 
of Indian remains in this neighborhood, we judge that Peningo 
Neck, and especially Manussing Island, had been thus in a meas- 
ure prepared for them. In all probability they found these shores 
comparatively denuded of the forest, and portions of the land under 
a tolerable degree of cultivation. 

The original purchasers of this place were thi'ee in number : 
Peter Disbrow, John Coe, and Thomas Stedwell. A fourth, John 
Budd, was associated with them in some of their purchases, and 
several others joined them in the actual settlement of the place ; 
but the earliest negotiations appear to have been conducted in be- 
half of the three persons we have named. They were all resi- 
dents of Greenwich at the time when the first Indian treaty was 
signed. Their leader was Peter Disbrow, a young, intelligent, 
self-reliant man, who seems to have enjoyed the thorough confi- 
dence and esteem of his associates. His name invariably heads the 
list of the proprietors. Whenever there was a treaty to be formed, 
or a declaration to be made, Disbrow's services were required. 
And from two of these documents, which are in his handwriting, 
we are led to conceive very favorably of the mental and moral 
character of the man. 

On the third day of January, 1660, we find Peter Disbrow in 
treaty with the Indians of Peningo Neck for the purchase of that 
tract of land. What negotiations had preceded this transaction, 
and what were the terms of sale, we do not know. Tlie deed of 
this purchase has long since disappeared. It was lost during the 
lifetime of Disbrow himself.^ 

preparees oil ils semen t du bled et de I'avoine .... Les premiers venus y ont 
trouve des terres toutes propres deserte'es autrefois par les sauvages qui j faisoient 
leurs champs. Ceux qui sent venus depuis ont dcfriclie dans les bois.' — Novum Bel- 
gium: an Account of New Netherland in 164.3-14. By Rev. Father Isaac Joques, of 
the Society of Jesus. New York: privately printed, 1862. (Astor Library.) 

1 Histori] of Guilford, Conn., a fragment, by Rev. Thomas Ruggles, 1769. Printed 
from the original manuscript in The Historical Magazine (Henry B. Dawson, Editor), 
vol. v., 2d series, pp. 225-233. 

- Town Records, vol. B. "We have however an account of this purchase written 
some sixty years later, tha't embodies facts relative to it which had doubtless been 
preserved by tradition. The petition of the people of Rye in 1720 for a patent from 
the Crown, recounts the measures by which they had acquired possession of their 


It is sinfjulur that this purchase sliould have been made in mid- 
winter, and — so far as appears — by Peter Disbrow alone. Was 
he the first to visit and expKn'e tliese sliores ? We have no means 
of knowing vvliere, and under wliat circumstances, on tliat Janu- 
ary day in IGGO, the bargain took phice. Not unlikely, it may 
have been at the Indian village that stood near the lower end of the 
Beach. Here, perhaps, ' Coko the Indian,' and others whose less 
juMnounceable names are aflixed to the ancient deeds, gathered 
about the white man, and received his coveted gifts of wampum 
and articles of clothing. 

This First Purchase on Pcningo Neck comprised the lower part 
of the present town of Rye, on the east side of Blind Brook. From 
the extreme end of the peninsula proj)or, or Brown's Point, as it 
has long been called, this territory extended north as far as the 
present village of Port Chester. A line of marked trees from 
east to west was the boundary of this tract, beginning a little 
l)el()w Park's Mill, where a branch of Blind Brook empties into 
that strean), and running in a southeasterly direction to Byram 

Nearly six months elapsed before any further step was laken by 
our planters. They had no intention of settling, as yet, on the 
land tlius acquired upon tiie main. But east of Peningo Neck, 
separated from it only by a narrow channel, lay an island about a 
mile in length, called by the Indians Blanussing. This island ap- 
])ears not to have been included in the first purchase. It offered 
manifest advantages for the commencement of the plantation. On 
the twenty-ninth day of June, 1660, Peter Disbrow, with John 
Coe and Thomas Stedwell, concluded a treaty with the Indian 
l)roprietors for the purchase of this island. The deed is as fol- 
lows : — 

' Be it knowen vnto all men whom it may concern both Indians and 
English tliat we Shanarockwell sagamore, Maowhobo and Cokensekoo 
have sold unto Peter Disbro, Jolni Coo, Thomas Studwell, all living at 
tliis present at Grenwige, to say a certain parcel of land the parcel of land 

lands, as follows : ' One Peter Disbrow many ycarcs since by authority from the 
Colony of Connecticut (under whose Government the Township of Rye then lay), on 
the third of January ICGO i)urchased from the then Native Indian Proprietors a Cer- 
tainc Tract of Land lyeinp on the mainc between a scrtaine place then called Kahon- 
nncss to the East and to the West Chester Path to the North and up to a River then 
called Moarpianes to the West That is to say all the Land lyeinj,^ betwcene the afore- 
said Two Rivers then called Penningoc extendinj,' from the said Path to the North 
and South to the Sea or Sound.' i 

' Land Papers, Secretary of State's Office, Albany : vol. vii. p. 171. 


which these Indians above mentioned have sold is called in the Indian 
name Manusing Island, and is near unto the main land which is called 
in the Indian name Peningo. This said island we above mentioned 
doe here by virtue of this bill doe sell all our right and title unto John 
Coo, Peter Disbro, Thomas Studwell, quietly to injoy from any molesta- 
tion of us or any other Indians to them and to their heirs, assigns and 
executors for ever, and farther we have given unto Peter Disbro John 
Coo and Thomas Studwell feed for their cattle upon the main called 
by the Indians Peningo and what timbers or trees that is for their 
use and not to be molested by us or other Indians : and we doe hereby 
acknowledge to have received full satisfaction for this purchase of land 
above mentioned to say we have received eight cotes and seven shirts 
fiftene fathom of wompone which is the full satisfaction for the parcel 
of land above mentioned and for the witness we have hereto set our 

Ipaavahun Siianarockwell 

Akamapok Aranaque 

wonanao cokow 

TopoGONE Wawataniian 

Matishes Cokinseco 

Richard Maowbert 


The sixth name may have been that of an interpreter, whose 
services would very likely be needed in the transaction. 

By these two treaties, onr settlers acquired the lower half of the 
present territory of the town, between Blind Brook and the Sound 
or Byram River; together with the adjoining island of Manussing. 
Nearly a year after, they bouirht the land lying farther north, 
between the same streams. This included considerably more than 
the present territory of the town. The deed of the purchase is 
dated May 22, 16(51 : — . 

' Be it known to all men whom it may concern both English and In- 
dians that I Cokoe and Marrmeukhong and Affawauwone and Nahti- 
meman and Shocoke and Wauwhowarnt do acknowledge to have sold 
to Peter Disbrow, his heirs and assigns, a certain tract of land lying 
between Byram River and the Blind Brook, which tract of land is 
bounded as followeth, viz., with the river called in English Byram 
River beginning at the mouth of the above said river on the east and 
the bounds of Hasting on the south and southwest to the marked trees, 
and northward up to the marked trees; which may contain six or seven 
miles from the sea along the said Byram River side northward, and so 
from the said river cross the neck northwest and west to the river called 
the Blind Brook, bounded northward with marked trees which leads 
down to a little brook which runs into the Blind Brook. The which 


tract of land I Cokoe and the above said Indians our fellows, heirs and 
assigns, do here promise and make good to the said Peter Disl)row, his 
lieirs or assigns, peaceable and cpiiet possession for ever without any 
molestation either from Duteii, Indians or English. We the above said 
Indians have also sold liiis tract of land above mentioned with all the 
trees, grass, springs and minerals, with fei'd range and timber north- 
ward twenty Knglish miles above the said purchase of land ; and do 
acknowledge to have received full satisfaction for the said land. In 
witness hereof we the above said Indians have set to our hands this 
present day and date above written. 

Marumeukhong his mark 
Affawauwone his mark his mark 
CoKOK his mark ' 

These tliree purchases completed the territory of Rye on tlie 
east side of Blind Brook. Indeed, they took in also a part of the 
town of Greenwicli — the tract of land between the present State, 
line and Byrani River. And we sjuill see that the claims of Rye to 
this tract, founded upon the Iiulian purchase just related, gave rise 
to not a little trouble in the subsequent relations of the two towns. 

Our planters next turned their attention to the lands lyino- west 
of Blind Brook — a much more extensive and important field. 
Eastward, they could not hope to extend their limits further than 
the bountls of the neighboring town of Greenwich, a member of 
the same colony with themselves. But westward, there were no 
rights which they considered themselves bound to respect, inter- 
posing a barrier to their spread into the unknown and limitless 
forest waste. And unquestionably, it was in this direction that I 
they chiefly ho])ed to secure a wide and valuable domain. Accord- 
ingly, witliin a little more than a year after the last purchase east 
of Blind Brook, tiiey had bought from the Indians the lands on 
the west side of that stream, extending to Mamaroneck River, 
and indefinitely beyond. Upon these purchases, the town of Rye 
subsequently founded its claim to tli^ territory now known as Rye 
Neck, and to the present townships of Harrison, and the White 

In these transactions John Budd takes the lead, instead of Pe- 
ter Disbrow. His first treaty with the Indians is dated Novem- 
ber 8th, IGOl, when he bought the tract of land called by the In- 
dians Apawamis, and by the white men Budd's Neck. This tract 
was bounded on the east by Blind Brook, and on the west by the 
little stream whose Indian name was Pockcotessewake, since known 


as Stony Brook, or Beaver Meadow Brook. Northward, it ex- 
tended as far as the Westchester Path, and southward to the sea. 
The land thus described constitutes now the southwestern part of 
the town. It has always formed a part of the territory of Rye. 
But, unlike the former purchases, it was claimed by a single pro- 
prietor, and for a period of nearly sixty years, was held under a 
distinct patent. 

' To all Christian people, Ingains and others whom it may concern, 
that we whose names are hereunto subscribed, living upon Hudson's 
river, in America, That we Shanarocke, sagamore, and Rackceate, 
Napockheast, Tawwheare, Nandervvhere, Tomepavvcon, Rawmaquaie, 
Puwaytahem, IMawmawytom, Ilowhoranes, Cockkeneco, Tawwayco, 
Attoemacke, Heattomeas, all Ingains, for divers good causes and con- 
siderations us hereunto moving, have fully and absolutely bargained 
and doe for ever sell unto John Budd, senior, of South hole, his heires, 
executors, &c., all our real right, tittell and interest we or eather of us 
have in one track of land lying on the mayn, called Apawammeis, 
buted and bounded on the east with Mockquams river, and on the 
south with the sea against Long Island, and on the west with Pockco- 
tesswake river, and at the north up to the marke trees nyeer Westches- 
ter path, all the lands, trees to fell at his pleasure, with all the grounds 
and meadow grounds and planting grounds, moynes and minerals, 
springs and rivers or what else lying or being within the said track of 
land, and also range, feeding and grasse for cattell, twenty English miles 
northward into the country, and trees to fell at his or their pleasure, and 
to their proper use and improvements of the said John Budd, his heirs, 
executors, &c., for ever to enjoy, possess and keepe as their real right, as 
also peaceably to inherite the sayd track of land with all thereone, and 
we the before named Ingains doe acknowledge and confesse to have re- 
ceived in hand of the said John Budd, the juste sum of eightie pounds 
sterling in full satisfaction for the aforesaid land with all the limits, 
bounds and privileges with hegrece and regrece,^ without lett or 
molestation of any one. Now for the more true and reall enjoyment 
and possession of the said John Budd his heirs, &c., we doe jointly and 
severally, us and either of us, or any by or under us, for ever assign and 
make over by virtue of this our deed and bill of sale, disclayme any 
further right in the sayd tract of land from the day of the date hereof, 
and all and each of us do promise to put the said John Budd or his into 
quiet, peaceable possession, and him to keep and defend and mayntaine 
against all person or persons whatsoever that shall directly or indirectly 
lay any clayme or former grant, or shall trouble or molest the said John 
Budd or his, be they English or Dutch, or Ingains, or whatsoever. We 
the aforenamed Ingains doe engage ourselves, heirs, executors, &c., to 

1 Egress and regress. 


make good this our obligations as aforesaid. I Shanarocke, Ivackeate, 
Mcpockhcxst, Tawwaheare, Nanderwliere, Toniepawcon, Kawmaquaie, 
Pawwaytahein, jMawinawytoni, Ilowlioranes, Cockkeneco, Tawwayen, 
Attoetuacke, Ileattoniees, have hereunto set our hands at time and 
times, and we doe approve of each of our hands to this deed to be 
good and firm. Witness this our hands this day, being the 8th of No- 
vember, IGOl. Signed, scaled and delivered. 

Thomas Revell Tiie mark of Shanorocke 
John Coe Nanderavhere 

Thomas Close Mei^ockheast 

HuMi'iiuKv Hughes Howhoranes 

cockenseco ' 

A second deed, executed a few days after the date of the above, 
related to the islands in the Sound, near the territory thus i)ur- 
chased. These were Hen and Pine islands, and the Scotch Caps. 

' Know all men whom this may concern, that I Shenerock, sachem, have 
bargained sold and delivered unto John Budd the islands lying south 
from the neck of land the sayd John Budd bought of me and other In- 
gains, and have received full satisfaction of Thomas Close for the said 
John's use, and doe warrant the sale above written in the presence of 
Thomas Close and William Jones. 

The mark of Shenorock, sachem. 

Witnesse Thomas Close 

William Jones his marke ' 

This transaction was followed, in a few days, by the ])urchase of 
the West Neck, or tlie tract of land adjoining Budd's Neck proper, 
and lying between Stony Brook and Mamaroneck River. 

' 11 month, twelfth day, 1661. 
' Know all men whom this may concern, that I Shenorock, Rawmaqua, 
Rackeatt, Pawwaytahan, Mawmatoe, Howins, have bargained sold and 
delivered unto John Budd a neck of land, bounded by a neck of land 
he bought of me and other Ingans on the south, and with IMcrrcmack 
river on the west, and with marked trees to the north, with twenty 
miles for feeding ground for cattle with all the woods, trees, manrodes, 
meadows and rivers and have received full satisfaction in coats and 
three score faddom of wompom of Thomas Close for the said John's 
use, and to engage myself to warrant the sale thereof against all men, 
English, Dutch and Ingans, and for the faithful performance hereof, I 


have set my hand in the presence of Thomas Close and William Jones, 
the day and year above written. The mark of Shenerocke 

Witnesse Thomas Close Rawmaqua his mark 

William Jones his marcke Hownis 

Pram his mark 
Razi his mark' 

The last of these purchases was made in the following summer, — 
on the second day of June, 1662, — by John Budd in company 
with the other three purchasers. It is the first occasion upon 
which these four names appear together. The settlers now bought 
the tract of land above the Westchester Path, and west of Blind 
Brook, or directly north of Budd's This was the territory 
of the present town of Harrison ; and the following deed exhibits 
the claim of the proprietors of Rye to that tract, whicli was wrested 
from them forty years later : 

' Know all men whom this may concern that we Peter Disbrow, John 
Coe and Thomas Studwell and John Budd have bargained and bought 
and paid for to the satisfaction of Showannorocot and Roksohtobkor 
and Powataham and other Indians whose names are underwritten a 
certain tract of land above Westchester Path to the marked trees 
bounded with the above said river Blind brook ; which tract of land 
with all the privileges of Avood, trees, grass, springs, mines and minerals, 
to the said Peter Disbrow, John Coe, Thomas Studwell, to them and 
their heirs for ever ; with warrants against all persons, English, Dutch, 
or Indians. To this bargain and sale we the above said Indians do 
bind ourselves, heirs and assigns to the above said Peter Disbrow, John 
and the rest above said, to them, their heirs and assigns for ever ; as 
witness our hands this present day and date, June the 2 : 1662. 

Showannorocot his mark 
RoMKQUE his mark ' 

To complete our series of Indian deeds, we here give the follow- 
ing, which is a confirmation of the last grant, for the land above 
Westciiester Path. Four years after the sale of this land to Budd 
and his three associates, the Indians confirm the tract to Budd 
alone, as included in the grant which they had already made 
to him individually, November 8, 1661, of a tract of land extend- 
ing ' northward into the country ' sixteen miles from West- 
chester Path. Thus by three distinct grants from the Indians, our 
eaa'ly settlers were secured in the possession of the territory, which 
was afterwards given to Harrison and his associates. It is not 
surprising that they should have felt this to be a most oppressive 
act, nor that they should have resisted its execution to their ut- 
most ability. \ 


' To all Christian people, Indians and others whom it may concern 
that we whose names are hereunto subscribed living upon Hudson's 
river in America, Shonarocke, sagamore, and Romackqua and Tathung, 
wliLMcas we iiavc formerly sold a tract of land unto M"^ John Bud senr., 
huuiuliHl on the sea on the sowth, on the north by Westchester path, 
and the name of the tract of land is connnonly called Apauamiss, and 
whereas we have sold unto the sayd W John Budd twenty English 
miles northwardes from the above sayd tract of land which is called by 
Apauanus, the above sayd twenty English miles we doe acknowledge 
that we have sold unto M^ John Budd for range, for feed, for timber, 
for graseing, to him and his heirs for ever, and now we doe acknowl- 
edge that we have bargained, sold and delivered, we and every one of 
us, from our heirs, executors or assynes jointly and severally unto 
John lUuld, his heirs, executors or assigns, a track of land lying within 
the compass of the above sayd twenty English miles, bounded on the 
south by "Westchester path, and on the east by the Blind brook, and on 
the west by Mamarranack river, and the north bounds is sixteen Eng- 
lish miles from Westchester path up into the country, for which land we 
received already in hand a certain sum, to the value of twenty pounds 
sterling, for the above sayd track of land, for which land we are fully 
satisfied by the sayd John Budd, for the above sayd track of land, for 
the which we doe acknowledge we have bargained, sold and delivered 
unto John Budd and hi^ heirs for ever, with warrantie against all 
men, English, Dutch and Indians, and doe give him full possession, 
and promise so to keep him, to the which bargain and agreement we 
have hereunto set our hands this day, being the 29 of April, IGGG. 

Witness, Joseph Horton The marke of Shanarocke 

Witness, John Rawls The markes of Romackqua Sachems both 

The mark of Coco the Indian The mark of Pathung ' ^ 

The valuation at which our settlers bought their lands from the 
Indians, deserves attention here. It has often been represented 
that such purchases were made at a merely nominal price : a few 
old coats and worthless trinkets. The deeds Ave have quoted 
show that this is far from being true of the purchases at Rye. 
The clothing given was indeed no trifle in those days. The ' eight 
coats and seven shirts ' Avhich formed part of the payment in the 
purchase of Manussing Island, had a considerable value in the 
eyes of the planters. l>ut in addition to these, they gave ' fifteen 
fathom of wampone,' or about four pounds ten shillings sterling.^ 

1 Col. lice, of Conn., vol. i. (MS.) p. 334. 

- Wamiuini, or wanipunipfa;,', wiis tlic Iiuliun currency. It consisted of cylindrical 
pieces of sliells, !i (piartcr of an inch loiij;-, and in diameter less than ii pipe-stem, 
drilled len;; so as to he strun;r n))on a thread. For the most jjart, it was made 
out of the shell of the hard clam ; that made out of the blue part or heart of the shell 


What were the terms of the first purchase on Peningo Neck, we do 
not know ; nor do we learn what the ' full satisfaction ' acknowl- 
edged for the second purchase was. But it appears that Mr. 
Budd paid for the land which he bought on the west side of Blind 
Brook, the value of about one hundred and twenty pounds. Pre- 
sumino; that the lands on the east side cost our settlers about as 
much more, we find that they must have expended nearly or quite 
two hundred and fifty pounds in their Indian purchases. These 
facts certainly confirm the statements of Dr. Trumbull, relative to 
the expenses borne by the early settlers of Connecticut. Their 
lands, he says, ' though really wortli nothing at that time, cost the 
planters very considerable sums, besides the purchase of their pat- 
ents, and the right of preemption. In purchasing the lands and 
making settlements in a wilderness, the first planters of Connecti- 
cut expended great estates.'' ^ 

We have anticipated the course of events, in the history of our 
settlement, in order to complete our account of these Indian pur- 
chases. They occupied, it appears, a period of two years and a 
half. Meantime, the three purchasers, who were living at Green- 
wich when the first two treaties were made, had come down with 
some others to the little island of Manussing, near the mouth of 
Byram Hiver, and were already preparing to cross over to tiie 
main. The account of this settlement we reserve for another 
chapter. Elsewhere, too, we shall consider the relation in which 
John Budd stood to the other colonists, and that of his claims to 
theirs. But it may be remarked here, that by the several pur- 
chases now recorded, the founders of this town acquired the title 
to a very considerable territory. The southern part of it alone 
comprised the tract of land between Byram River and Mamaroneck 
River, while to the north it extended twenty miles, and to the 
northwest an indefinite distance. These boundaries, so far as 
they were stated with any degree of clearness, included, besides 
the area now covered by the towns of Rye and Harrison, much of 
the towns of North Castle and Bedford in New York, and of 

having the highest Taluc. Wampum, or sewan, as the Dutch called it, continued 
long to be a part of the currency among the whites as well as the Indians, 'and was 
even paid in the Sunday collections in the churches.' The value of this cui-rency was 
determined by law, and was subject to occasional changes. At this period, wampum 
was reckoned at one farthing per bead or shell. (Palfrey, History of New Encjland, 
vol. i. p. 31.) The shell being a quarter of an inch long, 288 shells, making a 
fathom, would be worth 6s. 

The Indians who frequented the shores of the Sound were noted for the manufac- 
ture of wampum. 

1 History of Connecticut, by Benj. Trumbull, D. D., vol. i. p. 117. 


Greenwich in Connecticut : whilst in a northwesterly direction, 
the territory claimed was absolutely without a fixed limit. Indeed, 
we shall see that as the frontier town of Connecticut, Rye long 
cherished pretensions to the whole region beyond, as far as the 
Hudson. It is not surprising that our settlers should have enter- 
tained very vague conceptions upon this subject. Except along 
the seaboard, the country was almost utterly unknown. The 
vast wilderness that spread down to the very border of their fields 
upon the coast, remained for years a mystery and a terror to the 
few settlers who had ventured upon its outskirts. 



' Look seaward thence, and naught shall meet thine eye 
But fairy isles, like paintings on the sky, 
And waters glittering in the glare of noon, 
Or touched with silver by the stars and moon.' 

' Towards that smiling shore 
Bear we our household gods, to fix for evermore.' 


rilHESE dealings with the natives for the purchase of their lands 
^ were still in progress, when the settlement on Manussnig 
Island was commenced. The precise date we are unable to fix, 
but it must have been in the summer or the fall of the year 1660. 
Disbrow and his companions, it will be remembered, were ' all 
living at Greenwich ' when they concluded their treaty with the 
Indians for the purchase of the island. This was on the twenty- 
ninth day of June, 1660. But the next deed, — that for the pur- 
chase of the nortiiern part of Peningo Neck, — dated May 22, 1661, 
mentions ' the bounds of Hasting on the south,' showing that the 
lands previously bought had received a name, and implying that 
they were already occupied. It is unlikely, indeed, that the set- 
tlers would delay their coming, after securing the site which they 
judged to be favorable for the purpose ; and accordingly we pre- 
sume that they arrived in July or August, 1660. They came un- 
doubtedly in boats. It was but an hour's sail, and they could thus 
transport their families and household goods much more readily 
than by the Indian paths through the forest, and across the ford 
from Peningo Neck. 

It is easy to see why this spot should have been chosen. Here 
the settlers would be almost in sight of Greenwich, whither they 
could speedily retreat if molested. The}' were not likely to be 
noticed by the Dutch, though their island lay within the line des- 
ignated by the last treaty. From their savage neighbors they 
would be comparatively safe. And here, while exploring the ad- 


jacent shores, and completiiio; their purchases of land, they could 
quietly gain a foothold, and Avait for accessions to their numbers. 

But apart from these considerations, the planters could scarcely 
have lighted on a more inviting spot, had they sailed along the 
coast as far as the Manhattoes. Their island was about a mile 
long. It lay on the eastern side of Peningo Neck, only separated 
from it by a narrow creek. Westward, a broad expanse of sedge 
land, or salt meadow — much valued by the early settlers as yield- 
ing food for their cattle — intervened, almost hiding this channel 
in its winding course, and seeming to connect the island with the 
main. On the other side, toward the sea, a wide beach bordered 
its entire length. An Indian village had formerly stood on the 
southern part of the island ; perhaps some of the deserted wigwams 
yet remained ; and the upland, like the salt meadows, presented 
that appearance of cultivation, which, as Ave have seen, drew the 
white man to the places that had been improved in some measure 
by the natives before his coming. 

Looking southward, our planters had in prospect an almost un- 
broken wilderness. The only spot between them and New Am- 
sterdam, where Europeans had yet attempted to establish them- 
selves, was a point of land, ten miles below, known to the Dutch 
as Ann's Hook. Here, eighteen years before, the famous Mother 
Hutchinson had been slain by the Indians, in one of their risings 
upon the Dutch. This point had since been bought by Tliomas 
Pell of Fairfield, avIio was now endeavoring under authority of 
Connecticut to form a settlement there, in spite of Governor Stuy- 
vesant's remonstrances. Across the Sound, which is here about 
five miles wide, the shores of Long Island Avere already in great 
part possessed by the English. Hempstead,^ just opposite ; Oyster 
Bay and Huntington, to the east, had been settled some years be- 
fore ; the first with the consent of the Dutch themselves, the other 
two under patent from the New Haven Colony. It was at Hemp- 
stead Harbor, directly across the Sound, that the dividing line, 
agreed upon in 1650, between the Dutch possessions on Long 
Island and those of the English, terminated. 

Manussing Island ^ comprises about one hundred acres of upland 

1 The most distant point of land to be seen from Manussing- Island, looking np the 
Sound, is Eaton's Neck. West of this point is Huntington Bay. Oyster Bay is the 
next inlet ; and nearer still is Hempstead Harbor. 

^ Traces of several dwellings have been found on the southern part of the island, 
■where they appear to have formed a cluster, a few rods apart. The summer-house 
on Mr. Wm. P. Van Rensselaer's grounds, indicates about the spot Avhere this little 
village stood. Thirty or forty years ago, the walls of a small stone house were still 


with as many more of sedge or salt meadow. The first business 
of the settlers was to apportion the land among themselves, and 
erect some temporary habitations. A home-lot of two or three 
acres was assigned to each. These lots were probably contiguous 
to each other, and the houses built upon them soon presented the 
appearance of a small village. The first houses built were noth- 
ing better than log-cabins. The timber was cut on Peningo Neck. 
More comfortable dwellings soon replaced these ; the materials 
being brought down from the older settlements. 

The island villao-e took the name of Hastings. Thei-e is no 
reason to doubt that it was so called after the famous seaport on the 
British Channel. And it is fair to infer that some one at least of 
the settlers came from Hastings in Sussex, England.^ Part of the 
mainland received tliis appellation, togetlier with the island. ' The 
bounds of Hastings,' extended, we have seen, about as far north, on 
Peningo Neck, as the present village of Port Chester. But some 
time elapsed before any improvements were attempted in this direc- 
tion. For two or three years certainly, the planters confined them- 
selves to their insular home. 

The tln'ee purchasers of the island, Disbrow, Coe, and Studwell, 
were soon joined by other adventurers, if indeed they were not 
accompanied by them at the outset. The following are the 
names of all the planters of whom we have any record, as be- 
longing to the island settlement: — 

Peter Disbrow, Richard Vowles, Thomas Applebe, 

John Coe, Samuel Ailing, Philip Galpin, 

Thomas Studwell, Robert Hudson, George Clere, 

John Budd, John Brondish, John Jackson, 

William Odell, Frederick Harminson, Walter Lancaster. 
Two other names, which are undecipherable, stand connected 
with these, making seventeen in all. The last three do not ap- 

to be seen at this end of the ishind, — perhaps a part of the ancient house of Richard 

1 Old names were given to new places, in these early days, for reasons very different 
from those which have produced the absurd nomenclature of many of our modern 
towns. The feeling which prompted this custom is touchingly expressed in the pre- 
amble of an act conferring the name of New London, in the year 1657 : ' Whereas it 
hath bene a commendable practice of y" inhabitants of all the Collonics of these parts 
that as this Countrey hath its denomination from our dear natiue Countrey of England, 
and thence is called New England, soe the planters in tiieir first setling of most 
new Plantations haue giuen names to those Plantations of some Citties and Townes 
in England, thereby intending to keep up and leaue to posterity the memoriall of 
seuerall places of note there, as Boston, Hartford, Windsor, York, Ipswitch, Brantree 
Exeter, — This Court,' etc. (Public Records of the Colony of Conn., -^Yior to 1665; 
p. 313.) 


pear until the third year of the settlement. The others may not 
improbably have been associated with it from the first. 

Eight of these names are permanently connected with the his- 
tory of our settlement. We shall have occasion, further on, to 
trace the descent of several of the oldest families of the town from 
these persons. The other seven, in the list given above, were but 
transient members of the plantation. Tiieir names soon disappear 
from its records. Of Samuel Ailing, Thomas Applebe, and Fred- 
erick Harminson, we know scarcely anything. Robert Hudson was 
living at Rye some years later. George Clere remained long 
enough to obtain a home-lot in tlie new village, on the main. John 
Jackson and Walter Lancaster removed to the town of East Ches- 
ter, New York, of 'which place the latter became one of the pro- 
prietors and leading men. 

It may be interesting just here to pause and consider who these 
men were, and with what views they had come to this spot. With 
perhaps one exception, they were Englishmen by birth, and doubt- 
less also Puritans in faith. They were, most of them, the sons 
of men who had soujiht refuse on these shores, among; the ear- 
liest companies of emigrants to New England. There are grounds 
for believing that they were men capable of appreciating the ben- 
efits and obligations of civil freedom. Some of them at least, 
as we shall see, were men of religious principle and conviction. 
It is not unreasonable to suppose tliat they were in sympathy 
with the great movement which brought the Pilgrims to this hem- 
isphere, a movement influenced, as we believe, by the highest 
motives that ever led to the founding of a state. It is far from 
true, that all who came out with the early colonists of New Eng- 
land were men of this stamp. Unworthy and disorderly char- 
acters appear to have thrust themselves among them from the first. 
But there is presumptive evidence that the founders of tliis planta- 
tion were of a different class. 

The earliest document that has come down to us from these times, 
gives us certainly a very favorable impression of the planters. It is 
a declaration of tiieir purposes and desires, drawn up about two 
years after the commencement of the enterprise. A word should 
be said here as to the occasion of this document. The Restoration 
had just occurred in Great Britain. On the accession of Charles 
the Second to the throne, it was expected that the American 
Colonies would profess their allegiance in the usual form of an 
address and petition. The colonies were somewhat slow to do this. 
Connecticut, however, was the first to offer these professions of 







*^ v^' 



pear until the third year of the settlement. The others may not 
improbably have been associated with it from the first. 

Eight of these names are permanently connected with the his- 
tory of our settlement. "We shall have occasion, further on, to 
trace the descent of several of the oldest families of the town from 
these persons. The other seven, in the list given above, were but 
transient members of the plantation. Tiieir names soon disappear 
from its records. Of Samuel Ailing, Thomas Applebe, and Fred- 
erick Harminson, we know scarcely anything. Robert Hudson was 
living at Rye some years later. George Clere remained long 
enough to obtain a home-lot in the new village, on the main. John 
Jackson and Walter Lancaster removed to the town of East Ches- 
ter, New York, of 'which place the latter became one of the pro- 
prietors and leading men. 

It may be interesting just here to pause and consider who these 
men were, and with what views they had come to this spot. With 
perhaps one exception, they were Englishmen by birth, and doubt- 
less also Puritans in faith. They were, most of them, the sons 
of men Avho had sought refuse on these shores, among the ear- 
liest companies of emigrants to New England. There are grounds 
for believing that they were men capable of appreciating the ben- 
efits and obligations of civil freedom. Some of them at least, 
as we shall see, were men of religious principle and conviction. 
It is not unreasonable to suppose that they were in sympathy 
with the great movement which brought the Pilgrims to this hem- 
isphere, a movement influenced, as we believe, by the highest 
motives that ever led to the founding of a state. It is far from 
true, that all who came out with the early colonists of New Eng- 
land were men of this stamp. Unworthy and disorderly char- 
acters appear to have thrust themselves among them from the first. 
But there is presumptive evidence that the founders of this planta- 
tion were of a different class. 

The earliest document that has come down to us from these times, 
gives us certainly a very favorable impression of the planters. It is 
a declaration of their purposes and desires, drawn up about two 
years after the commencement of the enterprise. A word should 
be said here as to the occasion of this document. The Restoration 
had just occurred in Great Britain. On the accession of Charles 
the Second to the throne, it was expected that the American 
Colonies would profess tlieir allegiance in the usual form of an 
address and petition. The colonies were somewhat slow to do this. 
Connecticut, however, was the first to offer these professions of 








^- ^s^ 

i^f c5.^ 4^ ^ 

■ J 


•"■^ -^.w 





9 X^^" i 

t. ,» 




submission. The address of the General Court at Hartford to tlie 
King was ordered to be drawn up on the 14th of March, 1661.^ 
It had probably come to the knowledge of the settlers at Hastings. 
They unite in expressing their concurrence in tliat address. And 
they also take the opportunity to define their true position, as 
those who, though dwelling in the wilderness, ' remote from other 
places,' are loath to be viewed as outlaws. And while proclaiming 
their reverence for constituted authority, they reserve their rights 
of conscience and private judgment. They will yield subjection 
only to ' wholesome laws, that are just and righteous, according to 
God and our capableness to receive.' 

'Hasting, July 26 1662 

' Know all men whom this may concern that [we the] inhabitants of 
Minnussing Island whose n[ames are herej vnder writtne, do declare 
vnto all the true [th] we came not hither to live withovt goverment 
as pr[etended,] and therfore doe proclayme Charles the Second ovr 
lawful lord and king : and doe voluntaryly submit our selves and all 
ovr lands that we have bought of the English and Indians : vnder his 
gratious protection : and do expect according to his gratious declara- 
tion : unto all his subjects which we are and desiore to be subject to all 
his holsom lawes that are jvst and Righteous according to God and 
our capableness to receive : where unto we doe subscribe. 

Pktkr Disbrow, 
John Coe, 

' The mark of The mark of Thomas Stedwill, 

Sajiuell Alling, The mark of William Odelle. 

The mark of 

Robert Hutsone, 
.John Brondish, 
The mark of 

Frederick Harminsone, 
The mark of Thomas Aplebe.'^ 

It would appear from the language of this document that some 
suspicion had been cast upon the enterprise. The motive of these 
planters in going beyond the limits of previous settlements had 
been impugned. Hence their declaration that they 'came not 
hither to live without government.' There is evidence, too, that 
they felt themselves in danger from lawless and disorderly men, 
who were but too ready to join a new adventure. For at the same 

1 Public Records of the Colomj of Connecticut, 1636-1665, p. 361. 

2 For the fac-simile of this document which is here presented, I am indebted to 
Mr. Bolton, who made a careful tracing of tlie original. The volume that contained 
it is unfortunately lost. 
















time with the above statement, our settlers drew up the following 
compact, which they signed in the same manner : — 

' We do agree that for our land bought on the mayn land, called in 
the Indian Peningoe, and in English the Biaram land, lying between 
the aforesaid Biaram river and the Blind brook, bounded east and 
west with these two rivers, and on the north with Westchester path, 
and on the south with the sea, for a plantation, and the name of the 
town to be called Hastings. 

' And now lastly we have jointly agreed that he that will subscribe to 
these orders, here is land for him, and he that doth refuse to subscribe 
hereunto we have no land for him. Hastings, July 26, 1G62. The 
planters hands to these orders. 

****** Robert Hutson, 

****** John Brondish, 

Samuel Allin, Frederick Harminson, 

Thomas Applebe. 
'August 11, 1662. These orders made by the purchasers of the land 
with our names. 

Peter Disbrow, John Coe, 

Thomas Stedwell, William Odell.' 

While thus endeavoring to maintain good order in their little 
commonwealth, our settlers were anxious, as tliey had good reason 
to be, about their political situation. Great uneasiness was now 
felt throughout New England, regarding the designs of Great 
Britain. The king, whose restoration the colonies reluctantly 
proclaimed, was thought to be not a little inclined to curtail the 
liberties of his subjects across the sea, and to repress the spirit of 
independence for which they were already becoming noted. Con- 
necticut, however, by the skilful management of its agent, the 
celebrated John Winthrop, had obtained a royal charter confer- 
ring most valuable privileges : constituting that colony, in fact, a 
self-governing state, and reaffirming its claims to a wide extent of 
territory. The news of this success spread joy throughout the 
colony. The General Court at Hartford hastened to apprise the 
towns, and require their submission to the new order of things. 
Notice even was sent, to Governor Stuyvesant's great displeasure, 
as far as Oostdorp, or Westchester Village in New Netherland, 
wliere Connecticut men had settled some years before under 
grants from the Dutch. The Hartford government informed them 
that by the terms of the new charter they were included in the 
colony limits; and enjoined upon them, 'at their peril,' to send 
deputies to the next meeting of the Court. Perhaps it was the 


very same messenger, riding ' post-haste ' to the Dutcli village, 
who turned aside from his course along the Westchester Path, as 
he reached Peningo Neck, and came down to the little island 
settlement with the good .news of the charter. At all events, a 
message of like import reached the inhabitants of Hastings ; and 
they gladly took steps to place themselves at once under the pro- 
tection of the Colony, and seek the rights and privileges of a fully 
constituted town. A meeting was called, and Richard Vowles was 
chosen to go to Fairfield, and there be qualified as constable for 
the plantation. Shortly after, the settlers addressed the following 
letter to the General Court : — 

'From Hasting the 1 mth 26: 1663. 
'Much Honnored Sires, — Wee the inhabitance of the towne of 
Hasting whose names are heer vnder writne : being seted upon a small 
tract of land lying betwixt Grinwich and Westchester : which land wee 
have bought with our money : the which : wee understand doth lye 
within your patant : and where as you have allredy required our sub- 
iection : as his maiesties subiects, which we did willingly and red- 
ily imbrace and according to your desiour : we sent a man to Fairfield 
who have there takne the oathe of a Constable : we have now made 
choyse of our nayghbar John Bud for a deputi and sent him up to your 
Corte to act for us as hee shall see good : it is our desiour : to have 
[some] settled way of goverment amongst us : and therfore we do 
crave so much favor at the hands of the honnorable Cort: that whether 
they do make us a constable or aney other ofFesere that they would give 
him povr to grant a warrant in case of need because we be som what 
remote from other places : thus leaving it to yovr wise and judicious 
consideration we remayn yours to command : 

Peter Disbrow 
Richard Ffowles 
George Clere 
Philip Galpine 
John Coe 
William Odell 
John Brondig 
John Jagson 
Thomas Stedwell 
This is ouer desier his mark 

In the name of Walter Lancaster 

the Rest. his mark.' 

The modest request of the men of Hastings was granted, after 


some delay. At tlie session of the General Court in Hartford, 
on the eighth of October, 1663, — 

*Ln' John Bud' makes his appearance, and 'is appoynted 
Commissioner for the Town of Hastings, and is inuested with 
Magistraticall power within the limits of that Town.' Moreover, 
' Rich : Vowles is appoynted Constable for the Town of Hast- 
ings, and Mr. Bud is to give him his oath.' 

Connecticut at the same time reasserted its claim to the terri- 
tory west of this place, the General Court declaring that ' all the 
land betiveen West Chester and Stamford doth belong to the Col- 
ony of Connecticut.' 

Budd and Vowles had both been admitted, the year before, to 
the privileges of freemen ; the former as an inhabitant of South- 
old, and the latter as an inhabitant of Greenwich. Perhaps Hast- 
ings, which had not yet been recognized as a plantation, was at 
that date considered to lie within the bounds of the latter town. 

Our little village now rejoiced in something like a well-ordered 
social state. It had a magistrate ' commissionated to grant war- 
rants,' and also in case of need ' to marry persons.' ^ It had a 
grave and discreet constable, with full power to apprehend . . . 

' Such as are ouertaken with drinke, swearing, Sabboath break- 
ing, slighting of the ordinances, lying, vagrant persons, or any 
other that shall offend in any of these.' 

With these safeguards and immunities, our settlers remained for 
another year or two upon their island. Meanwhile, however, cer- 
tain changes had been going on, betokening the removal of some, 
at least, of the inhabitants from the island to the main. On the 
twenty-eighth of April, 1663, the four purchasers — Disbrow, Coe, 
Studwell, and Budd — by a deed of sale conveyed the island, to- 
gether with the land on the main, to the following planters : Sam- 
uel Allen, Richard Fowles, Philip Galpin, Thomas Applebe, Wil- 
liam Odell, John Brondig, and John Coe. According to the terms 
of this transfer, the planters were to pay forty shillings a lot, in 
cattle or corn, between the above date and the month of January 

1 Puhlic Records, etc., 1678-1689, p. 5. 
, '-^ Rye Records, vol. A., quoted by Bolton, History of Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 
19. The second of these names Mr. Bolton gives as Richard Lowe. As no such 
name occurs in any of our records now extant, I judge the above to be the correct 



• 1665-1672. 

' And now begins the toil 
The first loud axe alarms the forest's shade ; 
And there the first tree falls, and falling wide. 
With spreading arms that tear their downward way, 
Strips the adjacent branches. 

' Now marks each laborer his future home.' 

J. B. Reed, The New Pastoral. 

nnWO or three years passed over the island settlement, before 

^ an attempt was made to occupy the opposite shores. It is no 

nnlikely that the settlers meanwhile began to appropriate some part 

of their purchase on the Neck, dividino; it into allotments, and per- 

Rye in Sussex, England. 

haps beginning to clear and improve the soil. They continued 
however to make the island their home. There is a tradition tliat 
in those early times the farmer would spend the day in toil on his 
rough plantation, and then at sundown return, for safety from 
wild beasts and savages, to the village across the creek. 

But about the year 1664, the colony was joined by several new 


families. The names of Thomas and Hachaliah Browne, George 
Lane, George Kniffen, Stephen Sherwood, and Timothy Knap, 
first appear about this time in our Chronicle. Their coming 
may liave been due to an event whicli had long been anticipated 
and eagerly desired. In September, 1664, New Amsterdam was 
surrendered to the English, who soon made themselves masters of 
the entire province. This circumstance might lead some to seek a 
home here, who would hesitate to do so while the Dutch still 
claimed the soil. The new settlers brought considerable strength 
to the little colony. Thomas and Hachaliah Browne are known to 
have been men of substance ; and so perhaps were their associates. 
There was no room for them, however, on the island. Fourteen 
or fifteen families already occupied its narrow limits ; and indeed 
it no longer seemed necessary or desirable that the settlement 
should confine itself to this spot. It was now strong enough to 
push into the Avilderness. 

The new-comers, therefore, were appointed their home-lots on the 
coast. But they appear to have settled as near as possible to their 
comrades. The first houses were built at no great distance from 
the ford, at the southern end of Manussing Island. Hachaliah 
Browne — according to a family tradition — built his first house on 
the bank which overlooks the Beach, in a field now belonging to 
the heirs of the late Newberry Halsted. Others settled near by. 
' Burying Hill,' ^ an elevated point of land beautifully situated 
at the eastern extremity of the Beach, was doubtless occupied 
very early as a building spot.^ These houses formed a suburb, so 
to speak, of the village on the island. They were probably slight 
and rude habitations, — ' log-cabins,' — of which every trace has 

1 ' Burying Hill ' is supposed to have derived its name from the fact that the In- 
dians anciently used it as a burial-place. 

2 This conjecture is favored by the following deed. The persons who appear as 
proprietors of Burying Hill in 1715, had probably acquired the rights of early 
settlers, who had home-lots there : — 

'June 29, 1715. 
' We whose names are hereunder written do freely and voluntarily give to Roger 
Park and his heirs for ever all our right title and interest of or to a certain parcell of 
land commonly called the burying hill situated and lying at the northerly end of the 
flats or horse-race. 

R. Brundige 
Sam''. Kniffin Fr. Purdy 

Jo. Purdy Charlotte Strang 

Nathan Kniffin Daniel Streing 

Robert Bloomer 
Peter Disbrow.' 
The original is in the possession of the Brown family at Rye. 


long since disappeared. But tlie fact of such a settlement on the 
coast was long retained in memory. The inhabitants of Rye used 
to speak of ' The Old Town,' meaning the island, together with 
the neighboring shore. And the road leading to the Beach was 
anciently known as 'v* highway that goeth to y*" Old Town 

One of the first buildings erected on the mainland, was undoubt- 
edly the mill. It stood at the head of the creek, or the mouth of 
Blind Brook, on the opposite side of Peningo Neck, and within half 
a mile of the Beach. Mr. John Budd was the proprietor; and 
no doubt the inhabitants of Hastings felt themselves greatly in- 
debted to him for its establishment. A grist-mill was indeed an 
important institution in a new settlement. The Indian corn upon 
which the white man, like his savage predecessors, depended chiefly 
for food, must needs be ground into meal by some readier appliance 
than the stone pestle and the mortar. Hence great anxiety was 
always shown for the erection and support of the mill. Special 
grants and privileges were often conferred on the proprietor. He 
was generally regarded as a leading member of the community. 
And the mill itself was likely to be the nucleus of the starting 
settlement. The settlers would naturally prefer those locations 
which were of easy access to it. This would be the case es- 
pecially' while the means of transportation continued to be very 
rude, and the highways were mere paths through the forest, or 
among the stumps and decaying trunks of recent clearings. 

Mr. Budd built his mill on the west side of Blind Brook Creek, 
at a point where it would be convenient for the inhabitants of Pen- 
ingo Neck, whilst yet it stood on his own tract of land, known as 
Apawamis, or Budd's Neck. The spot is still pointed out. It is on 
the south side of the bridge over which the cross-road from Milton 
to the post-road passes. Part of the dam, indeed, still remains, 
and forms the road-bed ; and within the recollection of persons 
now living, traces of the mill itself were to be seen.^ This was 
probably the first building erected on the mainland. Hither the 
' men of Hastings ' came from their island villao;e, Avhile all around 
was still a wilderness. And hither their descendants for several 
generations continued to resort. 

Thus by the year 1665 there had sprung up two infant settle- 

1 Mr. James Purdy, an old inhabitant of Milton, informs me that a veritable mill- 
stone of this ancient mill was taken many years ago by Philemon Halsted, and 
placed as a door-step at an entrance of his new house then building. It is still to be 
seen there. 


' mcnts within ' the bounds of Hastings : ' the one on the island, 
the otlier on the shore of Peningo Neck, stretching across to BHnd 
Brook. The latter, we find, had begun to be known by the 
name of Rye. It is supposed that tliis name was given in honor 
of two prominent members of the colony, — Thomas and Hachaliah 
Browne. They were the sons of Mr. Thomas Browne, a gentle- 
man of good family, from Rye in Sussex County, England, who 
removed to this country in 1632, and settled at Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts. It is curious that the names of two neighboring seaports 
on the English coast. Rye and Hastings, should have been thus 
bestowed on this place. But the more famous of the two desig- 
nations was to give way to the humbler. On the 11th of May, 
1665, the General Court of Connecticut passed an act, merging 
these settlements under the name which the town has borne ever 
since. The act is as follows : — 

' It is ordered that the Villages of Hastings and Rye shall be for the 
future conioyned and make one Plantation ; and that it shall be called 
by the appellation of Rye.' ^ 

At the following session of the General Court, inquiry was 
made about the state and prospects of the new town. Perhaps the 
magistrates had their doubts as to the expediency of admitting a 
settlement so remote and so little known. 

' Mr. Lawes and Lt. Richard Olmsted are desired and appointed to 
view the lands apperteineing to Hastings and Rye, to see what there is 
that may be sutable for a plantation and to make returne to the Court 
the next session.' 

No report of this committee appears on record. But it was prob- 
ably favorable, since Rye was now enrolled on the list of persons 
and estates as a town paying its proportion of the public charge. 

Within the next five or six years, the village on Manussing Island 
ceased to be. Most of the planters who had remained there till 
now, came over and united with their new associates in building 
upon the present site of the village. They appear to have acted 
harmoniously in this, with but a single exception : Philip Galpin, 
one of the early settlers of Hastings, did not choose to remove from 
the island ; and preferring to remain, he felt sorely aggrieved that 
his neighbors should leave him behind. So he petitioned the 
General Court at Hartford, that they might be restrained from 

1 Pnhlir. Records of the Colony of Co7inecticut, 16Q5-1678. Edited by J. Hammond 
Tniinlmll : p. 15. 


taking this step. The magistrates took action upon tlie case on 
the 11th of May, 1671 : — 

' This Court haueing heard and considered the petition of Philip Gal- 
ping, as allso what return L"'- Richard Olnistead and Mr. Holly haue 
made to the Court concerning the affayres of Rye, they cannot see that 
the sayd Galping is oppressed by their remoue as is alledged ; but doe 
aduise the sayd Galping to comply w"' his neighboures and remoue 
with them. Yet if he remaynes his dwelling where he is, he is aduised 
to take care of damnifying his neighboures.' ^ 

A few planters, it appears, remained, notwithstanding the gen- 
eral migration. In 1668, John Coe sold to Stephen Sherwood his 
' house and housing and home-lot, upon the north end of Manus- 
ing Island.' ^ Tiie Goes, Sherwoods, and Vowles were the princi- 
pal owners in 1707, when Jonathan Vowles conveyed his share of 
lands in that locality to his son-in-law, Roger Park. As late as 
the year 1720, the island had a population sufficiently large to 
claim the right to erect a pound. For at the Court of Sessions in 
Westchester, that year, it was ' ordered, that y'' freeholders and in- 
habitants of Manussen Island within y^ township of Rye may erect 
a Pound upon said Island, and receive such dues and Perquisites 
as are due to other pounds in y^ County, and y' Joseph Sherwood 
be pounder for this year, and to choose another yearly by y*" free- 
holders of y*^ said Island as they shall see best.' ^ About the mid- 
dle of the last century, the families of Fowler, Carpenter, Dusen- 
berry, and Haviland appear as the owners. 

The village of Rye was now rising upon its present site amid 
the forest on Peningo Neck ; and here we may describe it as it 
appeared a little less than two hundred years ago. The new town 
plot lay at the upper end of the Neck, along the eastern bank of 
Blind Brook. Our Milton Road — once perhaps an Indian path lead- 
ing down from the old Westchester Path to the lower part of the 
Neck — was the village street, on either side of which the home- 
lots of the settlers were laid out. The Field Fence was the north- 
ern boundary of the village. This enclosure began where Grace 
Church now begins, and stretched across the Neck from Blind 
Brook to the mill-pond, near the present residence of Jaiues H . 
Titus, Esq. Somewhere, probably, in the neighborhood of the old 

1 Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, p. 149. It is not stated where they 
removed from ; but there can be no doubt that the reference is to the removal from 
Manussing Island. Galpin afterwards lived in Rye ' near the Field Gate.' In 1682 
he bouaht from John Budd a-tract of land on ' the neck called Opquamis.' 

'^ Eye Records. 

^ Records of Courts of Sessions, etc., in Liber B., Records Westchester County. 


district school-house, north of the Episcopal Church, was the Field 
Gate, of which we find frequent mention. 

The home-lots, which commenced here, were generally of two 
or three acres each. Some are represented as to size and position 
by the grounds of Messrs. Bell, Ennis, Budd, and others, near 
the Episcopal Churcli. They extended down the street as far as 
the road leading to the Beach. The lots on the west side ran 
across to Blind Brook ; those on the east side reached back to 
the ' town field.' 

The Town Field was the tract of land in the rear of the home- 
lots on the east side of the Milton Road. It comprised the whole 
space between Grace Church Street on the north and Milton ^ on 
the south. This area is now covered by the lands of Messrs. 
Greacen, Anderson, Downing, and others. Here was the com- 
mon pasture ground of the early inhabitants, where the cattle, 
bearing their owners' respective marks, were permitted to run at 
large during part of the year. Some of the settlers, however, had 
their meadow lots within this tract ; and in after years the whole 
of the Town Field was by degrees apportioned among the pro- 
prietors, till nothing remained of the ' commons.' 

A part of the town plot was known in early times as ' The 
Plains.' This name belonged to the level grounds bordering on 
Blind Brook, at the upper end of the village, and extending from 
the present stone bridge to the neighborhood of the railway sta- 
tion. It is not unlikely that this tract may have been originally 
cleared and improved by the Indians, thus offering a favorable 
spot for the site of the new plantation. Such clearings, we know, 
were considered by the settlers of other towns as very desirable 
for the purpose ; and they were wont to designate them by the 
same appellation.^ The home-lots on the Plains appear to have 
been held as the choicest part of the village grounds. They 
fronted on the street, or Milton Road, and ran back to the brook ; 
the post-road, which now passes through the village, not having 
been opened as yet. 

1 In 1714 ' there were brought before the Court ' of Sessions at Westchester, certain 
' articles of agreement concluded by the Proprietors of the Neck of land in the town- 
ship of Rye, which is separated from the town field by the fence that reacheth froiT 
Kniffin's Cove to the Mill Creek.' — [County Records, "Whm Plains, vol. D., p. 40.) 
Kniffin's Cove is the ancient name of an inlet on the eastern side of the Neck, in the 
rear of llev. W. H. Bidwell's residence. 

2 This was the case at Norwich and Guilford, and elsewhere. ' What is now calH 
the Great plain, ' writes the old historian of Guilford already quoted, ' this with Some 
of the Points of Land adjoyning the Sea were all Clear<i by the Native Indians, were 
Rich & fertile, and by the Skill and Industry of the Inhabitants afforded Quickly a 
Comfortable Sustinance for themselves and families.' (Hist. Magazine, v. 231.) 


Along this street, which was nothing more tlian a patliway, 
barely practicable for tlie ox-team, the only vehicle in use, a 
dwelling might be seen, in the year 1670, rising here and there 
among the trees that yet remained of the primeval forest. It 
stood with gable end close upon the road, and huge chimney pro- 
jecting at the rear, — a long, narrow bnilding, entered from the 
side. These houses, however, were not mere temporary struc- 
tures, as those on Mannssing Island had doubtless been, but solid 
buildings of wood or stone, some of which have lasted till our 
day. The timber used was hewn by dint of hard labor from the 
neighboring forest ; the boards and shingles brought from the older 
settlements, as there was yet no saw-mill here. For the houses 
built of stone, abundant material was at hand in the coarse granite 
of the region, and in the great heaps of oyster and clam shells 
which the Indians had left in many places, and which the earlv 
settlers found very convenient for makino; lime.^ Each dwellino- 
generally contained two rooms on the ground floor, a kitchen 
and a ' best room,' with sleeping apartments in the loft. 

By the help of the town records, and a few remaining vestio-es of 
olden time, we may form some idea of the village as it was consti- 
tuted nearly two centuries ago. A little way back from the lower 
end of the street, at the head of the creek, stood the mill, of which 
we have already spoken. Mr. John Budd was now dead, but his 
son-in-law. Lieutenant Joseph Horton, was the proprietor, and a 
very important person he was. His house stood near by, and in 
the same vicinity were the houses of George Lane, Jacob Pearce, 
Robert Bloomer, and others. Higher up the street, on the left 
hand, along the bank of the brook or creek, lived William Odell, 
John Ogden, Jonathan Vowles, John Budd, junior, and George 
Kniflin. Traces of some of these houses have been seen by per- 
sons still living. On the corner of the road leading to the Beach 
was the house of Timothy Knap. Beyond, on a knoll directly 
south of the old Clark mansion, stood the homestead of the Purdy 
family. The late residence of Hachaliah Brown is believed to 
occupy the spot where his ancestor of the same name settled 
when he removed from the ' old town.' Opposite the Episcopal 

1 ' All the early accounts,' says the editor of Novnm Belgium, ' speak of the immense 
accumulation of oyster and clam shells, and their use for lime.' (Page 46.) Mr. John 
F. Watson, the author of Historic Tales of Olden Time (New York, 18.32), mentions 
the fact, upon the testimony of an old resident of the city then living, that ' they used 
to burn lime from oyster shells in the Park commons.' (Page 99.) 


Church, on tlie site of the old houFe now o\Yned by Mr. Daniel 
Biukl, was the dwelling of John Boyd. The church itself stands 
on the southeast corner of ' Mr. Collier's lot.' 

Tiie old stone tavern, lately removed, known as Van Sick- 
lin's, was undoubtedly built at a very early day. There is 
reason to believe that it was for a time the homestead of Peter 
Disbrow. Mr. Isaac Denham, son of the first minister of Rye, 
lived here afterwards. The piece of ground upon which this 
house stood is perhaps the only one of the original ' town-lots,' the 
size and shape of which can be distinctly traced. It measured two 
acres and a half when bought in 1868 by the Methodist Episcopal 

The ' Rectory grounds ' adjoining, cover the space occupied by 
two of the home-lots. Several of them were included in what 
has been known as the Kingsland Place, now owned principally by 
Jasper .E. Corning, Esq., and the Presbyterian Church. 

During the first few years, our settlers continued to cluster in 
this tolerably compact village, and their improvements were limited 
to the territory thus defined. Outside the Field Fence, all was 
yet a wilderness of woods and swamps, secured indeed by pur- 
chase from the savage, but waiting to be appropriated and cleared. 
It was not long, however, before some houses were built a little 
way beyond this boundary, — outside of the Field Gate. Where 
the Penfield House, as it was formerly called, — owned lately by 
Mr. D. H. Mead, — stands now, Peter Brown, a son of the first 
Hachaliah Brown, lived. On the opposite corner, the pro})erty 
of the late WilHam Smith, was ' George Lane's old house-lot.' 
Above this, in the block bounded by the post-road and the Pur- 
chase Road, were the home-lots of John Banks, John Brondicre, 
Joseph Purdy, and others. And nearly opposite the Park Insti- 
tute, stood the homestead of Thomas Merritt, senior, mentioned 
as early as 1688. 

There was one house that deserves special mention, and the 
locality of which is well ascertained. This was the Parsonage, 
or minister's house. It occupied the southeast corner of the par- 
sonage lot, a piece of land comprising between three and four 
acres, on Blind Brook, south of the house owned by the late David 
H. J\lead. Here Mr. Thomas Denham was living at the time of 
which we speak. There was no church as yet. The little con- 
gregation met in private dwellings, notably in that of Timothy 
Knap, to whom the town awarded forty shillings, in 1682, 'for the 


liberty of his house to meet in, and for beatino- of tlie drum, for 
the time past.' i ixSoS^O 

Much of the land within the village limits was of course vacant 
as yet. Only a small portion had been divided among the settlers, 
while the rest remained unimproved and awaited a future par- 
tition. Some of the ' home-lots ' had been assigned to persons 
who left the settlement at an early day. These were bought up 
bv others ; and thus began the process of absorption which in time 
brought these lands on Peningo Neck into the possession of a com- 
paratively small number of persons. The process indeed was a 
very rapid one. It had been taking place in the other towns of 
Connecticut, to the great displeasure of the magisti'ates, who 
passed a law, in 1650, to arrest the 'great abuse ' then creeping in, 
' of buying and purchasing Home Lotts and laving them together, 
by means whereof,' they said, ' great depopulations are likely to 
follow.' Every person owning such a plot, not yet built, upon, 
was ordered, within twelve months, to ' erect a bowse there, fitt for 
an inhabitant to dwell in.' - This measure had probably little 
effect. In Rye, at least, as the country became open for settle- 
ment, and the population spread out into the wilderness, the minute 
subdivisions of the lands first occupied disappeared. A few farms 
comprised what had been a mosaic of petty allotments, the earlier 
ownership of which was almost forgotten. Thus the titles to 
most of the property in this region go back to the Browns, 
the Halsteds, the Parks, and others, who are commonly supposed 
to have purchased their lands directly from the Indians. The 
curious system of proprietorship, about which we shall speak soon, 
has passed completely out of mind. 

Hastinirs and Rye, whose names were successively bestowed upon this place, are 
two neighboring towns on the southeast coast of England, both of great antiq- 
uity, and both numbered among the Cinque Ports, or five privileged seajwrt towns 
on that coast. 

Hastings lies in a A-alley which forms a beautiful amphitheatre, sheltered on every 
side except the south, by lofty hills. Southward, this valley gradually expands to the 
sea. The town consists chielly of two parallel streets running nearly north and south, 
and separated by a small stream called the Bourne, which empties into the sea. Hast- 
ings formerly had the advantage of a good harbor, formed by a wooden pier project- 
ing in a southeasterly direction from the shore. About the year 1558, this pier was 
destroyed by a violent storm, and the town, which before had a considerable trade, 
lost its commercial importance. It now depends chiefly on its fisheries ; on boat-build- 
ing, for which the people of Hastings are noted; and on its advantages as a resort 
for sea-bathing, and a favorable abode for invalids. The sheltered position of the 

1 Town Records, vol. A. (now lost) p. 53. Quoted by Mr. Bolton, Hlstoni of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in the County of Westchester, p. 134, note. 
^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 562. 


town, and tlie many pleasant walks and rides in its vicinity, render it very attractive 
to visitors. In 1861, Hastings had twenty-three thousand inhabitants. 

On a high rocky cliff west of the town, there are extensive remains of a very an- 
cient castle. Here problibly stood a Roman fortress, before the days of the Danish 
pirates, who used to land at this place for plunder. As early as the reign of King 
Athelstan, a. d. 925 to 940, Hastings was a town of sufficient importance to have 
a mint, and was considered the chief of the Cinque Ports. These towns enjoyed 
peculiar privileges, on condition of providing during war a certain number of ships 
at their own expense. Hastings, with Eye, was required to furnish twenty-one shij^s, 
each manned by twenty-one able seamen. 

The famous battle of Hastings, fought October 14, 1066, took place about seven miles 
northwest from this town, on the site of the present town of Battle. Here William 
the Conqueror, in fulfilment, it is said, of a vow made on the night previous to that 
conflict, built an abbey. This building, at the dissolution of the monasteries in the 
sixteenth century, was sold to Sir Anthony Browne, the ancestor of the Montagu 
family, whose descendants resided here till the beginning of the eighteenth century. 

Eye is situated ten miles east from Hastings, on a rocky eminence near the mouth 
of the river Bother. Anciently, this hill must have been surrounded by the sea. In 
the course of centuries the waters receded from its base, leaving extensive flats or 
marshes, first on the north or land side of the town, and ultimately on all sides. 
This process was aided by artificial means, embankments being made from time 
to time for the purpose of excluding the waters, until now Rye stands at a distance of 
a mile and a half fi-om the shore. At the foot of this cliff, on the sands which the 
receding waters had already left bare, a cluster of fishermen's huts had found room, 
in the time of Edward the Confessor. That king, about the middle of the eleventh 
century, gave Winchelsea and Eye to the abbot and monks of Fecamp, a small sea- 
port on the opposite coast of Normandy in France. Henry HI. resumed the posses- 
sion of these towns in 1246. Some time before this date, Rye had been admitted to 
the same privileges as the Cinque Ports, besides which it was especially distinguished 
by the title of ' the ancient town of Eye.' 

Rye was strongly fortified during the reign of Edward III., and part of the walls 
still remain. Of three gates by which the town was entered, but one is left. This is 
the north or land gate, consisting of a Gothic arch, guarded on each side by a round 

This town has been the scene of numerous incursions and assaults by foreign foes, 
as well as of some singular visitations of Providence. In 893, the Danes, with a 
fleet of two hirndred and fifty sail, landed near Eye, in one of their descents upon 
the coast. In 1377, it was taken by the French, who landed from five vessels, and 
after plundering the place, set it on fire. It was again burned by the French in the 
reign of Henry VI., when all the ancient records and charters of the town are said 
to have perished. In 1287, a tempest which overwhelmed the neighboring town of 
Old Winchelsea, produced a considerable change in the situation of Rye. The river 
Rother had hitherto emptied into the sea at Romney, east of this point. But now, 
being choked up there, it opened for itself a new channel, close to the town of Eye. 
In the sixteenth century, its harbor, which had been gradually filling up, was restored by 
the violence of an extraordinary tempest, and still further improved by another. The 
commercial prosperity of Rye, however, has long since departed. A canal, cut through 
the sands for a distance of a mile and a half, permits vessels of small tonnage to come 
up to the quay ; but the trade of Rye is now inconsiderable. Its principal objects of 
interest are, St. Mary's Church, built before the year 1509, and said to be one of the 
largest parish churches in the kingdom ; and Ypres Castle, a strong square pile, with a 
round tower at each corner, built for the defence of the town, but now used as a prison. 
There are many old houses, some of which, built of wood, are believed to be nearly 
four hundred years old. A hundred years ago, it is said, no dwelling-house in Eye 
was of brick or stone. As late as the close of the sixteenth century, the whole country 



around for miles was a forest ; the exportation of timber Avas the principal business of 
the place ; so that in 1591 ' a man was ordered to depart the town of Eye for execut- 
ing tlie profession of a husbandman, that place not being fit for such an artificer.' 

Like other old English towns, Eve has preserved in memory, if not in use, many an- 
cient usages which, to an American especially, appear very curious. Its ' Customal ' 
or code of usages, is long and specific. One of these, relating to the admission of 
persons to rights of franchise, somewhat resembles the early practice of our own 
town. ' When any man, a stranger, came into the port of Eye, and dwelt there for a 
year and a day (being of good character, and desiring the franchise), he might go to 
the plaync common court, praying for the same, when it was awarded what he was to 
pay ; which being paid, he took the freeman's oath, and was duly enrolled.' 

The 'train band of Eye,' was the company of militia belonging to the town. Both 
the name and the institution were maintained by our early settlen-s. 

'Eye Ferry' was anciently the means of communication between the town and a 
locality known as Cadborough CIW'. We shall see that our settlers had their Eye 
Ferry at an early day. 

The salt marshes abounding along these shores might well remind those of our early 
settlers who came from that locality, of their ' ancient town.' The Eomney Marsh, 
which lies east of Eye, comprises forty -four thousand acres. This tract is now secured 
against the sea by an immense embankment, and constitutes a rich sheep pasture. 

Rye in 1851 had eight thousand five hundred inhabitants. With Winchelsea, it 
sends one member to the House of Commons, i 

Eye probably takes its name from the Latin word ' ripu ' — the bank of a stream, 
through the French ' jvye ' — the sea-shore. 

A small hamlet by this name existed on the coast of Normandy, near Bayeux, in 
the time of William the Conqueror, who on one occasion, in his youth, sought refuge 
there from his insurgent barons.^ 

1 History and Antiquities of the Ancient Town and Port of Rye, in the County of Sussex. By 
William lloUoway, London: 1847. One vol. 8vo : pp. 616. 
- Sir Francis Palgrave, History of Normandy and England. 

Land Gate, Eye, England. 



THE earliest notices of Rye tliat have come down to us, con- 
tain allusions to some serious difficulty among the people. 

The very act by which the town was constituted, May 11, 1665, 
refers to this subject. ' Mr. Gold, Mr. Lawes, and John Banks, or 
any two of them, are desired and appointed to take paines to goe 
down to settle and issue such diiferences as may be disturbeing to 
y^ inhabitants of those Villages of Hastings and Rye.' ^ 

There is a hint, soon after, that these troubles may have arisen 
out of some controversy about lands. October 12, 1665, ' Mr. 
Lawes and Lt. Richard Olmsted are desired and appointed to view 
the lands apperteineing to Hastings and Rye, to see what there is 
that may be sutable for a plantation and to make returne to the 
Court the next session.' ^ 

Three years pass, and these divisions are still unhealed. The 
inhabitants of Rye and one Richard Bullard have petitioned the 
General Court to interpose. October 8, 1668, ' This Courte sees 
cause to desire and appoynt L""' Rich'' Olmsteed, Mr. Tho : Fitch 
and Mr. John Holly to goe to Rye speedily, to heare and labour 
to issue and compose such differences as are amongst them respect- 
ing land or other matters, and make returne of what they shall 
doe, vnder their hands to the next Court.' ^ 

What were these differences ? One might imagine from such 
frequent orders respecting the new town, that its inhabitants were 
' all by the ears,' in some quarrel that threatened to break up the 
little settlement. But fortunately, we have the petition which 
explains the whole matter, and shows that these repeated orders 
related to one lengthened dispute. The following, dated October 
2, 1668, is — 

'The humble petition of the inhabitants of the town of Rye, to the 
llight Honorable the Governor and the rest of the gentlemen of the 
General Court at Hartford. 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 16. 

'^ Ibid. p. 25. a Ibid. p. 96. 


' May it please your Honor, with the gentlemen of the General 
Courte, to understand that about four years since, that John Budd did 
present a paper with several names to it, of inhabitants on his neck or 
island, so called and patented. It was for the settling of himself and 
children ; on which w'e conceived had it been performed it had done 
noe great injury to the towne ; but he noe ways pretended it, as doth 
agree, but hath and doth dayley let it and settle people upon it, ex- 
treamely prejuditiall to the towne, without the towne's approbation, 
which wee humbly conceave may be our injury if not speedily pre- 
vented ; Doe humbly request that neck of land may be delivered up 
to the town, we paying him by Indian purchases with interest, he abat- 
ing for what land he hath sold, if not prejuditiall to the towne. And 
them that are prejuditiall, may be removed, and that you would be 
pleased to depute two or three persones whom you shall think meet, to 
come and settell amongst us with what speed may be. Soe we rest 
your humble petitioners.^ 

Peter Dishroav, William Woodhull,^ Robert Bloomer, 
Richard Vowles,^ Johx Brondig, Stephen Sherwood, 

Timothy Knapp, Thomas Browne, George Lane.' 

The origin of this difficulty with Mr. Budd has been related in 
a previous chapter. About the time when he engaged with Dis- 
brow, Coe, and Studwell in the purchase of Peningo Neck, he 
bought from the Indians a tract of land on the opposite side of 
Blind Brook, whicli was subsequently known as Budd's Neck. 
This transaction seems to have been not altogetlier pleasing to his 
companions. Perhaps they were somewhat disappointed to find 
that he proposed to hold these lands in his own right. The other 
purchases had been made by the associates in common ; or when 
effected by one alone, liad been transferred to the body of proprie- 
tors. Perhai)s it was expected tliat like Disbrow, Mr. Budd would 
regard himself as an agent simply, and retain only his share of 
the purchase. 

No breach, however, occurred for a few years. In 1663, the in- 
liabitants of Hastings made choice of their ' nayghbar John Bud ' 
to go up to Hartford and urge their claim to be taken under tiie 
colony's care. In 1664, he was chosen as their deputy to the 
General Court. But a new grievance arose when this neighbor 
began to dispose of portions of his land without the consent of the 
town. The planters were exceedingly jealous of their right to 

1 This document is given as above by Mr. Bohon. History of Westchester County, 
vol. ii. p. 38. I have not learned where the original is to be found. 
- Richard Coiiles, in Bolton, an evident misprint. 
^ One of the variations of the name Odell. 


admit or reject strangers who came among them. The new set- 
tlers on Bndd's Neck were in close proximity to the village, and 
indeed they seem to have considered themselves as within the 
limits of the town of Rye. Yet they had never been formally 
admitted to the privileges of freeholders.^ 

We are not told how the visit of Messrs. Law and Olmstead 
resulted, nor what success they met with in the endeavor to ' com- 
pose ' these differences. But either their efforts were ineffectual, 
or a new controversy arose ; for in May, 1671, a large committee — 
' Capt" Nathan Gold, Mr. Tho : Fitch, Mr. Holly, L°* Richard 
Olmstead, and Mr. John Burr ' — are appointed. ' They, or any 
three of them, are desired to repayre to the sayd Rye as soone as 
may he, and to endeavoure a comfortable composure and issue of 
such differences as are among the people there,' and also to aid 
them in procuring a minister to settle among them.^ And finally, 
all these efforts failing apparently, more stringent measures are 
adopted. October 14th, 1672, the Court ' order that Mr. Bird 
[Budd] and those of Rye that have impropriated the lands of Rye 
to themselves shall appeare at the Generall Court in May next, to 
make appeare their right, for then the Court intends to setle those 
lands according to righteousness, that so a plantation may be en- 
couraged, and plantation worke may go forward to better sattisfac- 
tion than formerly.' ^ 

The person thus summoned to Hartford was John Bndd, junior ; 
his fixther having died in 1670. We do not learn how the con- 
troversy was ended, for the minutes of the next General Court 
contain no mention of the case. The folloAving order, however, 
seems to bear upon it, and implies that the matter was considered 
and determined at that meeting : — 

' This Court orders that all grants of land made to any perticuler 

1 Some of these transfers of land, com])laincd of by the people of Rye, are on 

In 1G65, 'John Budd of Rye in the jurisdiction of Connecticut in New England,' 
sells to John Morgan and John ConcUin of Flushing in the county of Yorkshire, Long 
Island, a certain tract of land in Rye. ( County Records, vol. B. p. 101 .) Samuel Linds 
was another purchaser. In 1670, ' shortly before his death,' Mr. Budd sold another 
tract to one Jonathan SeUeck: and in the same year another to John Thomas. 
(Rye Records, vol. B. pp. 9, 34, 150.) 

These are all transient names. 

On the other hand most of the lands conveyed by Mr. Budd to his family appear 
to have been held permanently. John Ogden, Joseph Horton, and Christopher Youngs, 
his sons-in-law^, with John Budd, junior, each had a tract of land on Budd's Neck. 

'■^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 150. 

8 Ibid. p. 187. 


person, not yet taken up and layd out, shall be taken up in one intire 
peice, in a comely form, except by special! liberty from this Court ; and 
that all former grants that are or shall be layd out by order shall be 
sufficiently bownded, and so mayntayned as to preuent all future 
trouble.' ^ 

The decision of the Court, -whatever it may have been, seems 
to have terminated the dispute relative to Budd's Neck. That 
territory was incorporated into the town of Rye, wliile the claims 
of Mr. Budd as proprietor were allowed. There is no evidence 
that a distinct patent for the tract was obtained from Connecticut. 
And it was not vuitil the year 1720 that Joseph Budd, grandson 
of the first purchaser, obtained a patent for his lands from the 
government of the province of New York. 

After the settlement of the dispute concerning Budd's Neck, the 
jurisdiction of the town appears to have been unquestioned. Local 
officers were sometimes appointed specifically for the ' east side of 
Blind Brook,' and the ' west side.' And in the year 1700 we meet 
with the following record : — 

' At a tovvne meeting held in rye august the 2, the towne in ienerall 
doth grant unto the inhabitaince of the neck of appoquamas the Liberty 
to haiie a pound and pounders and fence viewers.' 

1 Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 200. 

The Old Fort. 




OUR little town was founded in troublous times. It is not easy 
for us to realize now the anxieties and fears that must have 
occupied the minds of its early settlers ; nor to credit them with 
the degree of courage and resolution which they showed in establish- 
ing themselves here amid such discouragements. Let u^ briefly 
notice the events that, within the first thirty years of the settle- 
ment, brought alarm and even sufFerino; to the firesides of these 

The Indians dwelling along the shores of the Sound proved from 
the first to be pacific and friendly toward the settler ; and our 
inhabitants j)robably felt little aj)prehension from them until the 
outbreak of war, in the year 1675. But in that year, King Philip, 
of Mount Hope, a chief of the Pokanokets, succeeded in uniting 
the tribes of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in a desperate effort 
to exterminate the English. The conflict lasted about two years, 
and it did not actually spi-ead into the territory of Connecticut, yet 
every town in that colony shared in the anxieties and sorrows pro- 
duced by the fearful struggle. 


The news of the outbreak reached our town early in July, 1675. 
On the third or fourth of that month, we may suppose, the towns- 
men — Joseph Horton, Thomas Brown, and John Brondige — 
called the inhabitants together, and read to them the following let- 
ter, just received from the Governor and Council of the colony : — 

' Haktfoud, July 1, 1G75. 
' Hon"" Sirs : We have received intelligence by letters post from Ston- 
ington and New London that the Indians are up in arms in Plimoth 
and in the Narrogancett Country, that they have assaulted the English, 
slayn about thirty, burnt some houses, and still are engaging the Indians 
rownd about by sending locks of some English they have slayn, from 
one place to another. The people of Stonington and New London 
send for ayd ; and accordingly we purpose to send them forty-two men 
to-morrow ; and have given order to the several plantations here to put 
them in a posture of defence speedily ; and these lines are to move 
yourselves forthwith to see that the same care be taken in your parts 
for your security ; and that all jilantations have notice hereof, both Guil- 
ford and so on to Rye, that they also be compleat in their arms, with 
amnumition according to law. Here is inclosed coppys of some letters 
we have received from Stonington, &c. Please to peruse them, and 
hasten the posting of the letter to Governor Andross.' ^ 

The scene of the conflict soon removed from Rhode Island and 
Plymouth to the central and western parts of Massachusetts. By 
the first of September, all the towns along the Connecticut River 
were in danger. Deerfield and Hadley had been attacked, and 
Northfield, the uppermost settlement on the river, was abandoned 
by its inhabitants. On the ninth of that month, the commissioners 
of the three colonies now united met at Boston for the flrst time 
after the formation of the confederacy. They agreed to prosecute 
the war vigorously, and ordered ' that there be forthwith raised a 
thousand soldiers, whereof five hundred to be dragoons or troopers 
with long arms.' Of this force, Connecticut was to supply three 
hundred and fifteen men. Rye probably furnished its quota of 
seven or eight,^ wlio joined the Connecticut corps under brave 
Major Treat. 

In the latter part of this month, tidings came from the army of 
the sad affair of , September 18th, between Deerfield and Hadley. 
A party sent to convey provisions to the latter place had been sur- 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 332. 

2 The militia of Connecticut, in 1675, amounted to 2,250 men, according to Trum- 
bull, who reckons the population of the colony from these figures, supposing every 

• fifth man to have been a soldier. In 1677, Rye contained thirty-eight persons owning 
real estate, or about two hundred inhabitants in all. 


prised by a band of seven or eight hundred Indians, and ahnost the 
whole liad been slain. Reinforcements arrived too late, and these 
too would have been cut off, but for the timely arrival of Captain 
Treat, with one hundred and sixty English and friendly Mohegans, 
who put the enemy to flight. ^ 

Every week now brings tidings of alarm and disaster to our 
settlers. On the tenth of October, a messenger rides through the 
town, with a despatch from Governor Andros of New York to the 
authorities at Hartford, bearing the superscription, ' To be forth- 
with posted up to the Courte, — post, haste, post, night and day.' 
He stops only to give the warning, that ' an Indian has told, under 
pretence of friendship, that there is an extraordinary Confederacy 
between all your neighbouring Indians and eastward (in which 
your pretending friends to be included) and designed this light 
moone to attack Hartford itself and some other places this way as 
far as Greenwich.' At the same time comes the report that 
Springfield has been attacked and partly burned, by Indians with 
whom the planters had always lived on the most friendly terms. 
Distrust and anxiety prevail in every settlement. No Indian is 
allowed to approach the towns, and a strict watch is kept night and 
day. The first Wednesday of every month is observed, by public 
appointment, as ' a day of humiliation and prayer in view of these 
alarms and troubles.' ^ 

In the winter campaign that followed, the Connecticut force suf- 
fered more than any others. Forty men, out of three hundred, 
were killed, and as many more were wounded in the attack upon 
the Narrangansett fort, December 19.^ As the bitter and anx- 
ious season wore on, tidings came to our inhabitants of the ravag- 
ing and burning of town after town, in Massachusetts and Rhode 
Island. Although Connecticut continued to be spared, the fears 
of its inhabitants were vmquelled, and suspicion still prevailed 
as to the fidelity of the neighboring tribes of Indians. It Avas 
during this period of danger, — on the fifth of March, 1676, — that 
the town of Rye adopted the following action : — 

' Thomas Lyon and Thomas Brown are appointed to choose a house 
or place to be fortified for the safety of the town. Also the young 
men who come into the fortification, and remain during the troubles 

1 TriimbuU's History of Connecticut, i. 334. 

^ Colonial Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. 355. 

'^ I have surmised that among those who went from Rye, to join the expedition, 
was John Purdy, and that he lost his life in this or some subsequent engagement. 
The time of his death, and the manner in which it is referred to in various places in 
the town records, appear to me to favor this conjecture. 


are to have an equal proportion of the undivided lands ; provided they 
be such as the town approve.' ^ 

A few weeks after this divto, the severity of the conflict began 
to abate, and in the course of the following summer it was brought 
to a close. The exliausting effects of this savage war, liowever, 
were long felt. Though Connecticut had suffered little in com- 
parison with the other colonies, yet every settlement within its 
borders shared in the burdens which the struggle involved. 
'About a seventh part of the whole militia,' says Dr. Trumbull, 
' was out upon constant service, besides the volunteers. A large 
proportion was obliged to watch and guard the towns at home. 
The particular towns were necessitated to fortify themselves with 
an inclosure of palisades, and to prepare and fortify particular 
dwellings for garrison houses, which might, in the best manner, 
command the respective towns ; and to which the aged people, 
women, and children might repair and be in safety in the time of 
danger. For three years after the war commenced, the inhabit- 
ants paid eleven pence on the pound, exclusive of all town and 
parish taxes. After the war was finished, they had a considerable 
debt to discliarge.' ^ 

Just after the close of King Philip's War, there came to Rye 
one who had actually participated in tlie sufferings which the con- 
flict involved, to settle among the people as their first pastor. In 
October, 1677, the General Court at Hartford, heai'ing ' that Mr. 
Thomas Denham is likely to settle at Rye as minister there,' 
granted him the sum of ten pounds, to be paid out of the town 
rate for that year, ' for his incouragement to setle there, and in 
regard of his late loss hy the tvar.'' ^ 

Two years before the outbreak of King Philip's War, the in- 
habitants of Rye had been alarmed by danger from another quar- 
ter. Eno-land was at war with Holland : and the colonies had 
good reason to fear that the Dutch would embrace the opportu- 
nity to attempt the recovery of their North American possessions. 
On the thirtieth of July, 1673, a fleet of twelve Dutch vessels ap- 
peared in the bay of New York, and landed a force of eight hun- 
dred men. The town was surrendered to them with little show 

1 Eye Records, vol. i. p. 73 (quoted by Mr. Bolton, Histor/j of Wcstchesten' County, 
vol. ii. pp. 46, 47). 

2 History of Connecticut, i. 351. The disbursements for the war, by the three 
colonies, were estimated at more than one hundred thousand pounds. The portion 
raised by Connecticut was over twenty-two thousand pounds. (Palfrey's History of 
New Enijland, iii. 216, 217, note.) 

'^Records of the Colony of Connecticut, edited by J. H. Trumbull, vol. ii. p. 321. 


of resistance, and in a few clays Albany, and most of what was 
formerly New Netherland, came again under the dominion of 
Holland. The towns on Long Island were summoned to submit, 
and those nearest to New York did so without objection. The 
others were threatened with hostilities if they held out. For sev- 
eral weeks the inhabitants of both shores were kept in uneasiness 
by the appearance of a number of small Dutch vessels cruising 
along the Sound, and occasionally capturing ships belonging to the 
English. Connecticut, after sending remonstrances to the Dutch 
commander at New York, which were received with coolness and 
indifference, made preparations for war. The several towns of 
the colony were ordered to provide means of defence. 

Rye, as a border town, was all alive to the danger. It was ex- 
pressly excused from the requirement to raise men and arms for 
the emergency, on account of its ' being near ' ^ to the enemy. But 
doubtless every able-bodied man was on duty here. The adjoining 
town, Mamaroneck, had submitted to the Dutch. Four of the in- 
habitants had gone down to New York to present themselves be- 
fore the commander, and give in their adhesion to his government. 
Two of them, John Basset and Henry Disbrow,^ had been ap- 
pointed magistrates of the town under the new order of things. 
The people of Rye appear to have remained firm. One of their 
leading men, Mr. John Banks, took a prominent part in the events 
that followea. On the twenty-first of October the General Court 
sent him from Hartford to New York with a letter to the Dutch 
commander, Monsieur Anthony Colve, protesting against his course. 
Nearly a month elapsed before Mr. Banks' return. He informs 
the Council that Monsieur Colve, who had detained him under 
restraint fifteen days, ' is a man of resolute spirit and passionate. 
He is in expectation of strength from foreign parts, upon whose 
arrival he seems to be resolved to subdue under his obedience 
what he can. He saith he knows not but he may have Hartford 
before long.' 

A few days after Mr. Banks' return, news comes by a post from 
the town of Rye. Five vessels — supposed to be the Snoiv, and 
four ketches in company with her, — passed by here on Saturday, 
on their way westward. Two men were sent from Rye to Frog- 
morton's Point, ' to gayne a more certain knowledge ' of the mat- 
ter. They report that they well preceived one of the vessels to 
be a vessel of about eight guns, which they concluded to be the 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 209. 

2 New York Colonial MSS., vol. ii. p. 65.5. The names are given as John Busset 
and Henry Pisbrow. 


sliip Snou% liavino; four ketches under her command, to which at 
that point she made signs to come up to her ; and they came 
under her lee, and suddenly sailed away toward New York. One 
Loveall, a Frenchman, who came from Yorke, as he relates, Mon- 
day last, affirms that the Snoio had arrived there, bringing in 
four ketches, — prizes, — but what they were, and where taken, he 
knows not.'i All through that fall and winter, our people must 
have felt great uneasiness regardino; the designs of their unwel- 
come Dutch neighbors at New York. In December, Rye united 
with Stamford and Greenwich in supplicating the General Court 
in Boston for help. Till now, they say, they have kept silent, 
expecting that forces would come ' against this open declared en- 
emy.' But the long delay renders them fearful that this project 
has been laid aside. Should this be, they declare, ' we shall be 
much endangered if not ruined, if your honours do not by some 
speedy means relieve us: for we ave frontiers, and most likely 
assaulted in the first place.' 

This war-cloud was soon dispelled by the return of peace be- 
tween England and the United Provinces. In June of the fol- 
lowing year the Dutch evacuated New York, and all other places 
which they had regained in America, in accordance with tlie treaty 
which had been signed. The people of Rye could at least con- 
gratulate themselves that they were not to belong to the territories 
of Holland ; though the arrival of Major Andros, at New York, 
but a few weeks after, gave them new cause for apprehension, in 
view of the claims which, as we have already seen, were now set 
up by a new master, the Duke of York. 

Another wave of political trouble reached our town in the year 
1689. It is strange that this feeble and obscure settlement in the 
western world could feel the remote effects of the great contests 
and rivalries that were agitating Europe. But doubtless every 
colonist of Connecticut, in the seventeenth centuiy, had shared in 
the apprehensions that were caused by the policy of France. The 
designs of the French upon Canada and the valley of the Missis- 
sippi, and the progress of their plans for the occupation of so 
large a part of the continent, were topics of village and house- 
hold debate. But in 1689 France declared war against England. 
One of the earliest measures of this war, which lasted nine years, 
Avas an attempt to conquer the province of New York. In the 
dead of winter, a party of Frenchmen and Indians fell upon the 
village of Schenectady, and surprised its defenceless inhabitants in 

1 Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 565 (Appendix). 


their midnight slumbers. Sixty persons were cruelly put to death, 
and the rest fled in terror, half naked, to Albany. The New 
England colonies were called upon to raise a force to repel the 
invasion of the province. Connecticut was especially active in 
this expedition ; and among the volunteers that joined it Avere a 
number of the inhabitants of Rye. In a ' list of soldiers for y*" 
Expedition of Albany,' who left Fort "William on the second of 
April, 1689, occur the names of Jacob Pearce, Richard Walters, 
Jonas Stevens, and John Bassett, all ' of Rye ; ' together with others 
that are not so designated, but whom we recognize as persons 
from this town : John Boyd, Philip Travis, Philip Galpin.^ 

The weather was extremely severe when our soldiers set out for 
Albany. Captain Milborne received word as they were starting, 
that he must bring ' as many duffels as he could get.' ' Yesterday 
evening,' wrote the aldermen, ' the soldiers tormented us consider- 
ably for blankets, as it was very cold. We went everywhere and 
could not find any. Blankets are not to be had here.' ^ Whether 
from exposui'e or some other cause, one at least of the soldiers 
from Rye lost his life in this expedition. ' The inventory of Jacob 
Pierce's Estate (deceased) who dyed intestate at Albany, 1689,' 
is entered on our county records.^ 

An interesting memento of these troublous times in the early 
settlement, has lately disappeared from our village. The ancient 
stone house, known as ' Van Sicklin's,' was undoubtedly the 
' fortified place ' referred to in 1676. Many a visitor of Rye will 
remember the pride with which its denizens were accustomed to 
call attention to their single historic edifice — the '• old Indian 
fort,' with its round window in the gable end, said to have been 
the port-hole through which a beleaguered garrison had poured 
forth its volleys upon the enemy. It is true, our informants would 
differ as to the persons thus besieged — some supposing that the 
aborigines themselves had built the fort for their own protection, 
and others that the Avhite settlers made their retreat within these 
massive walls. The simple truth, however, appears to be that this 
house was fortified during the Indian troubles, as a precaution 
against an emergency which never occurred. The Indians in this 

1 Documentary History of N etc York, vol. ii. pp. 12-15. Their pay was to be 
25s. per month, which was paid partly in stores, as appears from the list: 'Jacob 
Paers [Pearce], of Rye; 9s. in money. Richard Walters, of Rye ; 9s. in money, and 
10s. in duffels [blankets]. Jonas Stevens, of Rye: 1 pr. shoes, and 1 piece of 
eight, and 9s. in money, and 12s. &d. in duffels. John Barsett [Basset], of Rye ; 1 pr. 
shoes and 9s. in money.' 

^ Documcnfary History of New York, vol. ii. p. 198. ^ Vol. B. p. 18.3. 


region, as we have seen, did not rise, like those of Rhode Island 
and Massachusetts. The building, nevertheless, stood associated 
with the dangers and apprehensions that called for its provision. It 
was torn down in October, 1868, the Methodist Episcopal congre- 
gation having bought the place for a parsonage. In the process of 
removal a circumstance confirming the old accounts of this house 
Mas ascertained. An inner wall, evidently built after the original 
construction, was found, extending as high as the beams of the 
roof. This agrees with the language of the act by which the town 
in 1676 appointed men ' to choose a house or place to be fortified 
for the safety of the town.' 

The Van Sicklin house was a curious specimen of the substan- 
tial structures of the olden time. The walls, as above intimated, 
Avere hollow, and of great thickness. The beams supporting 
the floors measured eight inches square ; all the wood used was 
oak, hewn with the axe ; the rafters were ' tenoned into plate ' 
without the use of nails ; and the timber supporting the mantel in 
each of the two rooms on the ground floor was twelve feet and a 
half long, and fourteen by nineteen inches thick. The old fort 
stood directly south of the present Methodist parsonage, and con- 
siderably nearer to the road. It measured twenty-four feet in 
width and forty in length. The ' stoop ' and door-way in front, 
or at the gable end on the street, were of modern addition. The 
main entrance, anciently, was at the south side. 

Old Fort, Gable End. 




'Partes fecit in ripa, nescio quotenorum jugerum.' 

CiCKUo, Ep. ad Atticum, 

NEXT to the cultivation of tlieir little plantations on Peningo 
Neck, — their ' home-lots ' on the village street, and ' meadow- 
lots ' in the ' Field,' — our first settlers seem to have been chiefly 
concerned about the occupation of the Avilderness beyond them. 
This, for a number of yeai's, was the great interest of the young 
community. Its members were tillers of the soil. Their ambition 
was to possess ample and productive farms. And though the al- 
lotments of land made to each at the outset might suffice for im- 
mediate use, probably none of them thought ' ten acres enough,' as 
a permanent investment. Hence, if we may judge from the rec- 
ords, an important theme, in 'town meetings' and by the fireside, 
was tiie disposal of the forest lands. Getting new grants from the 
Indians ; marking and laying out the latest acquisitions of swamp 
and salt meadow and woodland ; settling the bounds of each pro- 
prietor's share ; exchanging one allotment for another, — these 
appear to have been the most notable doings of those days. 

' The former inhabitants,' wrote a resident of Rye, some sixty 
years after the settlement of the town, ' possessed better estates 
than their children now. Their estates lay much in unimproved 
lands^ — all which belonged to a few men, and are now sold or 
divided among their children. I can't learn that they raised 
much, if anything, for the market, but what they trafficked with 
was chiefly wood and cattle.' 

How should we like to have a view of our village patriarchs, 
two hundred years ago, in council with some grave sachems of the 
tribes that yet lingered in the de])ths of the forest farther north, 
when they came down to smoke the pipe of peace with Peter Dis- 
brow and William Odell, and the rest — perhaps on the village 
green, the place ' where they usually train,' or at George Lane's 


house, where meetings were generally held ! And to see the little 
band of ' layers out,' with stout John Brondige or Deliverance 
Brown at their head, sallying forth after an Indian guide, to ex- 
plore a tract of land just purchased, ' above the first branch of 
Blind Brook,' or following the Indian path where North Street 
now runs, to Quaroppus, ' which the English call The White 

Failing of this, however, we can at least give some account of 
the process by which this region in which we dwell was converted 
from a w^ilderness into a fruitful field, and show what for a succes- 
sion of years Avere the transactions of leading importance in the 

The first treaties with the Indians^ in 1660 and the following 
year, had secured to the planters all the lands between Byram 
River and Blind Brook, for a distance of ' six or seven miles from 
the sea.' It seems to have been necessary afterward to repeat the 
purchase of certain portions of this tract by separate treaties. But 
the lower part, or that which was properly called Peningo, was 
held by virtue of the earliest deeds, and was occupied at once, and 
apparently without interference. For the first twenty years, — or 
from 1660 to 1680, — our sutlers appear to have confined them- 
selves to this part of their land. All the improvements made within 
that time were limited to Peningo Neck, or as it was sometimes 
called. The Purchase of the Eighteen. This, we have already 
seen, was the tract south of Westchester Path, or the mouth ot 
Byram River. These were ' the bounds of Hasting-s,' afterwards 
known as 


And within this tract tlie first divisions appear to have related 
to the lands ' in the Field.' Here new home-lots, of two or three 
acres each, and new 'meadow lots,' of ten acres each, were dis- 
tributed among the proprietors out of the common lands ' Avithin 
the fence,' which, as we have seen, ran from Blind Brook to the 
nearest inlet of the Sound, along the present line of Grace Church 
Street. In a short time, each settler had come to own several such 
allotments, — only one of which, we niay suppose, was as A'et built 
upon or cultivated, while the rest were reserved for his children, 
or for future disposal. Thus John Brondige owned in 1^0, a 
' piece of salt meadow ' of three acres, a ' neck lot ' of four acres, a 
' share of fresh meadow,' a ' part of Hassock Meadow,' a ' great 
lot,' a ' swamp lot,' and four different 'house lots.' ^ 
1 Town Records, vol. B. p. 6. 


There was, very early, a division of lands in the ' Long Sw^amp.' 
This was the low ground lying back of those town-lots which were 
situated on the east side of the ' street ' or Milton Road. It ran 
through part of the present farms of Messrs. Hals^ed, Greacen, 
and Anderson. Not unlikely, these were the very first lands dis- 
tributed, after the apportionment of home and meadow lots. It is 
well known that the early settlers had a strong partiality for these 
rich lowlands.^ They required little improvement, and could 
readily be made to produce the rank meadow grass, which was 
needed for the cattle. In fact, these lands were held in higher 
value than the uplands, which are now in so much better esteem, 
but where the soil was lighter, and more difficult of cultivation, 
being heavily timbered, and often encumbered with rock. It must 
be remembered that at that day there was much more of wet 
marshy land in this region than now. With the clearing of forests, 
and the decrease of streams, the swamps have greatly diminished, 
and in most places wholly disappeared. 

Somewhere about the year 1670, there was a division of the 
lands on ' Wolf-pit Ridge ' or Plain. This name was after- 
ward changed to Pulpit Plain. It designated the high lands on 
the road to Port Chester, embraced at present in the estates of 
Dr. J. T. Tuttle and Mr. J. M. Ives. The lands beyond this re- 
mained undivided till 1702. In that year there was a division of 
' building lots lying by the country road below the Steep Hollow.' 
This M'as the name given to the beautiful glen that lies on the 
north side of the road to Port Chester, and which forms the eastern 
boundary of the property of Mr. Quintard. In 1678, the first 
division of lands on the north side of what is now Grace Church 
Street occurred. These were called the Hassock Meadow lots, 
and consisted of about ten acres each. In this division, George 
Kniffin received an allotment of land which has continued in the 
possession of his descendants down to the present day.^ 

The division of lands on ' Barton's Neck ' began about the year 
1678. This was an important part of the territory comprehended 
in the first purchase on Peningo Neck. The name, however, is en- 

1 ' The Trees grow but thin in most places, and very little xxnclerwood. In the 
Woods groweth plentifully a course sort of Grass, which is so proving that it soon 
makes the Cattel and Horses fat in the Summer, but the Hay being course, which is 
chiefly gotten on the fresh Marshes, the Cattel loseth their Flesh in the Winter, except 
we give them Corn.' ( Good Order established in Pennsi/lvania and New Jersey ; 
printed 1685. Dcuvsoh's Historical Magazine. New York, vol. vi. p. 265.) 

^ The description fixes it upon the precise spot where Jonathan and Samuel Sniffin 
now live. It is ' bounded southward and westward with a highway which is marked 
out, and northward and eastward with the upper Hassocky meadow.' (Town 
Records, vol. B. p. 12.) 


tirely obsolete, and we shall need to go into some details to convev 
an idea of its location. Barton's Neck, then, comprised all the 
lands now bordering on Grace Church Street, north of the road 
leadins to Manussing Island, as far as the brook and inlet above 
Dr. Sands' house, near to Port Chester. It included, therefore, 
the lands now owned by Messje^JQitus and Brooks, the Provost 
estate and others, ending with what is now Lyon's Point. The 
western boundary of this tract was Hassock Meadow Brook, — now 
an insignificant rill, but then doubtless a much more considerable 
stream. This brook takes its rise in the valley behind the house 
of Mr. Jonathan Sniffin. It flows in a northeasterly direction, 
till it joins another rivulet, which the early settlers called Grunn 
Brook} The source of Gunn Brook is on the land of Dr. Tuttle, 
near the street crossing to the Ridge Road.'-^ It runs through the 
grounds of Mr. Webb and Dr. Sands, and empties into the cove 
already mentioned, known anciently as Gunn Brook Cove. In 
early times, the lands drained by these streams were mere swamps, 
partly covered perhaps with pools of standing water. It is not diffi- 
cult to suppose, what we infer from ^he frequent mention of these 
two brooks, that they were much larger than now.^ 

Barton's Neck was a tract about a mile long. It lay just out- 
side of the ' Field Fence,' along the shore of the Sound. This 
made it a very desirable section of land. In the first division, 
as in some subsequent ones, each proprietor of Peningo Neck 
received a share in this tract. The first occurred about or before 
the year 1678 ; and tlie shares appear to have been of six or eight 
acres each. In later divisions they seem to have been larger. 
New allotments were made from time to time down to the year 
1723, when the last of which we find mention occurred. It may 
be said that the first farms in Rye had their origin here. The al- 
lotments were on a larger scale than those ' in the field,' and were 
so arranged that each proprietor came in due time to have a con- 
siderable portion of land, not in scattered parcels as before, but in 
contiguous parts. The same process of absorption, however, which 

1 Pei-haps a man's name, — an early settler. Abel Gimn was at Derby, 1682. Con- 
nectiait Records, iii. 98, and elsewhere. The word is always written Gunn. 

2 There was a ' small plain' known as early as 1685 by the name of Gunn Brook 
Plain, which I judge to have been the land now bordered by the above roads, or 
the northeastern corner of Dr. Tuttle's estate. See Town Records, vol. B. pp. 48» 
56, 59, 71. 

3 ' Within the limits of human recollection,' say the authors of the Natural History 
of New York, ' changes of the same nature have been going on. Small lakes are 
gradually drained by the deepening of their outlets, or filled up by the accumula- 
tion of sediments.' {Nat. Hist., vol. xii. p. 359.) 


was going on in the Field, took place eventually on Barton's Neck. 
Some of the proprietors bought out the claims of others, and be- 
came the principal owners of the lands. Chief among these was 
John Merrit, who by tlie end of the century had acquired most 
of the upper part of Barton's Neck, and from whom this part re- 
ceived the name it bore for perhaps a hundred years, of Merrifs 
Point. The Sherwoods, Goes, and Ogdens also owned large por- 
tions of land here. 

Grace Church Street was not laid out through this tract until the 
beginning of the next century. There was a path or ' drift-way ' 
leading to the lots before this. But in 1701 the town appointed 
Jonathan Vowles, John Merrit, Sr., and Deliverance Brown, Sr., 
' to mark the road upon Barton's Neck, and the highway down unto 
the salt water' \i. e. the cove already spoken of ] ; ' that is to say, 
to mark out a good sufficient road and highway to the best of their 
discretion.' This undoubtedly was Grace Church Street, a name, 
however, which we do not meet with until the year 1736.^ The 
lower part of this street, below the corner of the road leading to 
Manussing Island, originated as we have already seen, in a path 
along the line of the Field Fence. 

Tlius by the year 1680 there seems to have been a tolerably 
thorough distribution of the lands embraced in the first purchase 
on Peningo Neck. Considerable spaces indeed were left of ' com- 
mon or undivided land ' between the allotments. But as the num- 
ber of settlers had now increased to forty-nine or fifty, there must 
have been some impatience to reach farther into the unoccupied 
forests that lay north of their present bounds. Doubtless a feeling 
of insecurity had thus far held them back. The recollections of 
* King Philip's War ' were yet fresh in their minds. The policy of 
New England settlers in those days of uneasiness was to keep to- 
gether as much as possible for mutual defence. They were slow 
to remove their families into the depths of the wilderness, however 
anxious they might be to own and subdue it. In fact it does not 
appear that the population of this place had as yet spread far from 
the spot of the first settlement. Their dwellings were still con- 
veniently near to each other, on ' the street,' or ' the Plains,' — not 
further off at all events than ' Wolf-pit Ridge ' at the northern end 
of the village, or the old mill at the south. So it continued to be, 
probably, until the early part of the next century. ' Their man- 
ner of living,' says the writer already quoted, in 1728, ' was at first 

1 The first mention of it, corrupted to Gracious Street, is in a deed from Joseph 
Sherwood to Joseph Bloomer (Records, vol. C. p. 136) for thirty-five acres of land. 


soniewliat more compact than it is now ; for as they increase, they 
move out into the woods, and settle where they can get good 

The next step tending toward this result, was the improvement 
of some of the lands comprised in the 


It will be remembered that our settlers in 1661 bought lands 
from the Indians, north of the bounds of Hastings, or the first 
purchase. Tiiis tract lay between Blind Brook and Byram River, 
extending back into the 'country six or seven miles from the 
Sound. Until the year 1678, however, no part of this tract 
seems to have been ajipropriated. And even then, the onlv lands 
laid out were those along the eastern line or Byram River. This 
region became known as Byram Ridge. About the time we have 
mentioned, a distribution of land occurred here, allotments y)f 
eighteen acres each being made to the proprietors, along the 
western side of Byram River, beginning apparently at the lower 
end of King Street, in the present village of Port Chester. These 
lots stretched across the colony line, being bounded on the east by 
the river. King Stz'eet is first alluded to in 1681, as a road 
recently laid out through this tract. Hither in the course of 
time many of the settlers removed, to what they evidentlv consid- 
ered the most eligible part of the domain as yet occupied. Here 
new distributions were made in subsequent years, one of which 
occurred in 1699 ; until the whole of this beautiful ridge, as far as 
the northern boundary of the toAvn, was divided up. 

About the time these lands on Byram Ridge were first divided, 
a fresh bargain was made with the Indians for the purchase of the 
adjoining tract on tjie west. This Avas really included in the 
bounds of the second purchase. But it appears to have been 
claimed as the peculiar property of a chief whose demands the 
settlers found it expedient to satisfy. Hence the acquisition of 
the territory which now constitutes the northern part of the town 
of Rye, or all that portion of it which lies above the present village 
of Port Chester. This our settlers were long accustomed to call — 


Lame Will, or Limping Will, was the very familiar name by 
which a certain Indian was known in the white settlements. His 
veritable name was Maramaking. He was one of the chiefs with 


whom the treaty of 1661 had been made, for the lands above ' the 
bounds of Hastings.' But he seems to have become displeased 
with his bargain. 

This was no uncommon occurrence in dealings with the natives. 
Their ideas of proprietorship were notoriously imperfect ; and the 
settlers of New England often found it necessar}^, in order to 
pacify them, to repeat the purchase of the very same lands. ^ So 
it was at Our planters in 1680 actually bought again, in 
two separate tracts, the whole territory to which they were already 
entitled under the treaty of 1661. 

In the fall of the year 1680, Robert Bloomer and others, in 
behalf of the Proprietors of Peningo Neck, bought of Maramak- 
ing or Lame Will a certain tract of land ' called by the Indians 
Eaukecaupacuson and by the English name the Hogg penn ridge.' ^ 

' To all Christian peopelle to whom these shall com greeting know 
yee that I Marramaking Commonly called by the English Will have for 
a valuabelle consideration by me allradi Recaifed of Robart blomer 
haccaliah Brown and thomas merit alinated and sould unto them the 
said Rob* blomer, Haccaliah brown and thomas merit them their heires 
executars administratars or asignes a certain trackt of Land Lyeing by 
a brooke commonly called blind brook which tract of Land is called by 
the Indians Eauketaupacuson bounded as followeth beginning at the 
southermost end which is betwene the above said brook and a branch 
thereof and from thence to the great swomp at the oulld marked tree 
which is now new marked with these Letters R B H T M and from 
thence by marked trees to a small Runn which Runns into the above 
said brook and there is marked with a mark the which tract of Land is 
called by the English name the hoggpenn Ridge to have and to howlld 
the above said trackt of land for ever and I the said Maramaking 
alice Will doe bind by sellfe my heires execators and administratars 
firmly by these presents to warrant and make good the above said salle 
unto the above said Robart blomer, Brown and merit their heirs ex- 
ceutars administrators or asignes without any Lett hindrance molista- 
tion or trouble from or by any person or persons whatsoever that shall 
from or after the date hereof make or lay any claim or claims tlieare 
unto In witnes here of I have set to my hand this 4*'' Day of Septem- 
ber in the yere 1680. 

Witnes the mark of Couko The mark of Maramaking 

the mark of Oavrowwoahak alis Will 

John ogden 
John Stokham 

1 Palfrey's Histon/ of Neiv Enfjland, vol. i. p. 605. 
- Town Records, vol. B. p. xiii. 


' JMaramaking alise Will hath acknliged this bill of salle before me in 
R\e this 28 of november 1680. 

Joseph Horton Comissoner 
' Know all men by these presents that wee Robert Blomer, Hacaliah 
Brown and thomas merit doe asigne over all our Right titel and Intrust 
of this within written bill of salle to the propriatars of peningo neck. 
as witness our hands this second day of march in the year sixtene 
hundred eighti one wee three above said Reserving our equall portions 
with the other propriatars above said. 

Delivered in presence Of us John Gee Robart Blomer 

His marke Joseph Gallpex Hackaliah brown 

THOMAS merit.' 

Lame Will's Purchase commenced at a point wliere the ' branch ' 
of Blind Brook joins the main stream. From thence the southern 
boundary ran eastward to ' the old marked trees ' at ' the Great 
Swamp.' ^ Northward, it extended along Blind Brook to certain 
other marked trees, where the line now divides the town of Rye 
from that of North Castle.- This was Lame Will's tract, and a 
very valuable one it was. But either the old Lidian fle^v ao-ain 
from his bargain, or he was anxious to effect a more extensive sale 
of lands under his sway. For a few weeks later, November 28, 
1680, we find the town appointing Peter Disbrow, together with 
the three men previously sent, ' for to go with the Indians to view 
some land lying between the Blind brook and Byram river, and to 
make a thorotv bargain with them if they shall see it best.' ^ 
Nearly a year elapsed before the contract was concluded. The 
second purchase from Maramaking was effected on the 8t]i of 
October, 1681. For the valuable consideration of '•three coats 
received,' Lame Will sold to the inhabitants of Rye a tract of 
land ' between Byram river and the Blind brook ' or ' Honge ; ' * 
apparently lying north of tlie preceding purchase, and within the 
present limits of North Castle. 

1 The Great Swamp extended over a considerable part of the region bounded on the 
east by King Street and on the west by the Ridge Road, north of the present Roman 
Catholic Cemetery. In 1705, Deliverance Brown sold to George Kniffin four or five 
acres of swamp land, bounded west or northwesterly 'by a branch of Blind Brook 
that runs out of the great Swamp commonly so called.' (Town Records, vol. C. p. 275.) 

^ In the papers relating to the patent of the town of Rye in 1720, it appears that 
the territory for which that patent was sought and granted, was coextensive with 
Will's Purchase. 

'^ Rye Records, vol. A. Bolton's History of Westchester County, ii. 24. 

* Town Records, vol. B. p. xv. The name Honge may have been applied to the 
upper part of Blind Brook, or to the branch already referred to. The Indians, it is 
well known, often had various names for the same stream. 


' Know all Christian People to whom these shall com greting know 
ye that I maramaking Comanly called by the english will have for a 
valuabell Consideration by the inhabitance of the towne of Rye allradi 
Resaived namely, three cotse In hand of the inhabitants of Rye 
by me Resaived I Maramaking doe acknolidg that I have aLinated 
covinanted souUd and deLivired unto them the inhabitants of Rye 
to them theare heirs Execetars administratars or asignes a sartain 
tract of Land Liing betwene Biram river and the blind brooke or 
honge : acording as it is allradi marked by the Indians and bounded : : 
to have and holld the above said trackt of Land for ever : and I the 
said maramaking or else Will doe bind my sellfe my heires execetars 
and administratars firmly by these presents to warant and make good 
the above said salle unto the above named Inhabitants of Rye to them 
thaire heires execetars asignes or administratars without any Let hin- 
drance moListation or trouble from ^or by any person or persons what 
so ever that shall from or after the date here of make or Lay any claim 
or claims theare unto In witness here of I have set to my hand this 
8^^ of Octobar in the yere 1681 

Witness the mark of Wessaconow The marke of maramaking 
the mark of CoAVWOws or elce will 

the mark of pummetum 

Joshua Knap 
Jacob pairs 

'Marmaking or else will hath acknowliged this bill of salle before me 
in Rye this 8 of October 1681 

Joseph horton Comissioner. 

'Recorded decem 20-1682.' 

The lands comprised in Will's purchases, along Blind Brook, do 
not appear to have been divided and improved until long after 
those on Byram Ridge. There Avas a manifest reluctance still to 
spread into the interior, and a strong preference for the neighbor- 
hood of the shore and river, especially in the direction of the older 
Connecticut settlements. We have, good reason to believe that 
those lands were mostly appropriated, and many of them cleared 
and partly cultivated, before much advance was made into the 
forests lying immediately to the north.^ Twenty years after the first 
division on Byram Ridge, we find the following entry in the town 
records : — 

' At a town meeting in Rye, February 14, 1699-1700, the town hath 
made choice of Lieutenant Horton, Benjamin Horton, Joseph Purdy, 
Justice Brown, Sergeant Merritt, and John Stoakham, [who] are to sur- 
vey and lay out the three Purchases of land ; that is to say, the White 
Plaines' purchase, and Lame Will's two purchases ; and the town doth 
* Town and Propiietor's-Meeting Book, No. C. p. 6. 


give them full power to call out such person or persons whom they shall 
see cause to have occasion of.' ^ 

Nothing however seems to have been done under this order. 
Will's Purchase was not actually laid out till ten years later. But 
meanwhile the town made a liberal offer of the free use of lands to 
any that would take them : — 

* At a town meeting in Rye, January the last day, 1699-1700, the town 
doth agree and give liberty that any person living in the said town that 
wants land to work upon, may take up lands and improve them the 
space of ten years, anywhere in the town bounds, provided it be not 
prejudicial to the said town or any particular person therein ; and to 
return it to the said town again ; provided they keep and maintain good 
sufficient fence about the lands they shall so take up during the space 
of ten years aforesaid ; and Hachaliah Brown, and George Lane, senior, 
are appointed to make out the lands to any person that shall take them 
up as aforesaid.' ^ 

Under this act, lands were taken by several individuals in the 
yet undivided tract of Will's Purchase. Robert Bloomer, in 
1701, took five acres, ' lying on the lower end of the Hogpen 
Ridge, being near the lower falls of Blind brook.' ^ Here was 
located the mill long known by his name. In 1707, ' the town 
granted unto Robert Bloomer jun. the stream of Blind brook at the 
falls of the said brook, to erect a mill or mills, with this proviso, 
that the said Bloomer does accomplish the said mill within th^ 
space often years; but if not, the stream to return unto the town 
again.' ^ 

In 1708, the town appointed a committee ' to search the records 
concerning Will's two purchases, and to bring their report in to 
the next town meeting.' ^ And in the following year the first 
division took place. ' This 11th day of April, 1709,^ the lots laid 
out in Will's purchases, were drawn for.' The division was on a 
liberal scale. Each allotment was of thirty-eight acres. February 
18, 1711, ' the second division of lots laid out in Lame Will's two 
purchases ' occurred. These were situated higher up, and on the 

- Town and Proprietors'-Meeting Book, No. C. p. 6. 

2 Ibid. p. 10. a Ibid. p. 14. * Ibid. No. G. p. 22. 

5 Ibid. p. 32. At the same meeting, the town granted to Timothy Knapp, who ap- 
parently had taken lands nnder the act of 1699, ' that he shall have his proportion of 
land in Will's two purchases on the lower end of Hachaliah Browne's wolf-pit ridge 
— when it shall be laid out.' 

^Rye Records, vol. B. p. 162. 


east side of the colony Hne.^ A third draught of seven-acre lots 

The proprietors of Will's purchases numbered thirty-four.^ 
The list comprises the names of nearly all the proprietors of Pen- 
ingo Neck, who were evidently interested in both these acquisi- 
tions.* But the companies were quite distinct ; and there were 
several of the proprietors of the more recent purchases who had no 
rights among those of the former. Occasionally, it seems, they 
met together to consult upon matters of common interest. Thus, — 

' At a meeting held in Rye by the Proprietors of the Neck of Ape- 
quamas and Peningo Neck and the purchasers of the White Plaines and 
Will's purchasers, June the 15th, 1715, Justice Browne, David Ogden, 
Justice John Hoyt, Richard Ogden, Samuel Purdy, George Lane, jr., 
are chosen to take the care and the whole management of surveying 
the town's bounds of their lands to the best of their discretion, and to 
call out any person or persons in managing of the same.' ^ 

At each division of lands, the shares were distributed by lot, the 
numbers commencing at the upper end of the portion divided and 
proceeding downward. 

The ' layers out ' of these lands appear to have had a laborious 
and responsible task. Their surveys were of course of a very gen- 
eral kind. The number of acres in the tract and in each allot- 
ment were rudely determined by the eye or by guess ; not by any 
exact measurement. But it must have been rough work to do 
this, in the wild forests and the tangled swamps, where as yet no 
path had been made. Some of the settlers were evidently regarded 
as peculiarly fitted for this business, and as eminently to be trusted. 
Isaac Denham, John Brondige, and the Justices, Deliverance 
Brown and Joseph Purdy, were repeatedly chosen.^ The ' lay- 
ers out ' received as their compensation an additional appropria- 
tion of land. In the division of the White Plains purchase, this 
amounted to one hundred and ten acres. ^ 

There Avas a tract of land adjoining the lower part of ' Will's 
first purchase,' but not included in it, which was held by the pro- 
prietors of Peningo Neck. This was the tract between Blind 
Brook and the Ridge Road, south of the road to Park's mill. The 
lower portion of this tract was called Brush Ridge, and the upper 

1 Rye Records, vol. B. p. 160 (back). "-^ Rye Records, vol. B. p. 66 (back.) 

8 Ibid. vol. B. p. 162. * Records of Town Meetings, p. 15. 

6 Records of Town Meetings, p. 15. ^ Records, vol. B. pp. ix., xxii., 80. 

7 Records, p. xiv. 


part Branch Ridge. The lots on Brush Ridge were divided 
about the same time that the first division of Will's Purchase oc- 
curred. The allotments were of eight acres each.^ Those on 
Branch Ridge, a continuation of the same tract, laid out in 1713, 
were of five acres each.'^ A considerable part of the land on these 
ridges was bought up, a few 'years after the divisions, by Samuel 
Brown, 'bachelor,' — a son of Deliverance Brown. He thus 
came into possession of a farm of over one hundred acres, upon 
which he lived, as it seems, in his lone bachelorhood ; for he desig- 
nates himself as ' Samuel Brown of Brushie Rido-e.' ^ The beauti- 
ful slope upon which these lands were located, — the eastern bank 
of Blind Brook and its branch, — is now a part of the farms of 
Messrs. Wilson, Minuse, Park, and others. 

The changes in the ownership of ' Will's first purchase ' have 
been fewer, probably, than in any other part of the town! A large 
portion of it which came at an early day into the possession of the 
Brown family is now the property of S. K. Satterlee, Esq. Repre- 
sentatives of the Merritt. Studwell, Sherwood, and other ancient 
families of Rye, are still among the owners of the upper portion 
of this tract. 

1 Records, vol. B. p. 20. 

2 Records, vol. C. p. 93, etc. Town-meeting Book, No. G. p. 20. 

'^ The pains taken in those days to spell badly, have an illustration in this nanie, 
which became corrupted from Brush to ' Brushshey's ' Ridge. Records, C. 99. 



' Each state' must have its policies. 
Even the wild outlaw, in his forest walk, 
Keeps yet some touch of civil discipline.' 

rflOWN offices, in the olden time, were posts of honor and rewards 
JL of merit. The good people of Rye appear to have had enough 
of these in their gift to gratify any reasonable number of aspirants. 
About the year 1700, when there were sixty persons paying county 
rates, we find them making choice of the following officers : a 
Supervisor : five Townsmen or Selectmen ; a Constable ; a Town 
Clerk or Recorder ; two Assessors ; two Listers ; two Pounders ; 
two Fence-viewers ; three Sheep-masters ; and a Collector. With 
a Justice of the Peace, besides two Deputies to tlie General Court, 
and any number of ' layers out ' of public lands and roads, to say 
nothing of the captain, lieutenants, ensigns, and sergeants, of the 
' train- bands ; ' there seems to have been official business of some 
sort or other, for nearly every member of the little commonwealth. 

The town clerk was perhaps the most important of these vil- 
lage worthies. Certainly his . office was of the most permanent 
tenure. Only two persons filled it during the first three qiiarters 
of a century. John Brondige was probably chosen to this office 
in the early days of the settlement. We find mention of him as 
town clerk in 1678. He remained in office probably till the time 
of his death, in 1697, and was succeeded by Samuel Lane, who 
was town clerk until 1736. Our most valuable records, there- 
fore, are in the writing of these two men. 

The town clerk, besides keeping a record of the proceedings at 
the town meetings, was required to enter in a book provided for 
the purpose a statement of the bounds and dimensions of every 
man's land. Each grant, sale, or mortgage of land must likewise 
be thus recorded, in order to be of force. ^ These records for the 
town of Rye were kept, prior to the Revolution, in three folio 
1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 552. 


volumes, wliicli are still preserved, in tolerably good condition. 
Our most important records, however, are those of the town meet- 
ings. These were kept, unfortunately, not in bound volumes, but 
in books composed of forty or fifty leaves perhaps, rudely stitciied 
together, and in material and aspect suggestive of the times when 
writing-paper was scarce and poor. The oldest of these records 
have within a few years past disappeared. They related to the 
doings of the first thirty or thirty -five years, — from the foundation 
of the town to the year 1697. Mr. Bolton, however, who had 
access to these documents when preparing his county and ecclesi- 
astical histories, has preserved many interesting facts which he 
gathered from them. Some accounts of town matters are also 
interspersed among the land records which fill the bound volumes. 
Here, too, the Indian deeds for all the territory purchased by the 
proprietors and the town are carefully engrossed.^ 

At the first town meetings, the number of freeholders was per- 
haps twenty-five or thirty. Eighteen of these were proprietors, 
and had exclusive control of the common lands within the first 
purchase on Peningo Neck. All other lands not yet distributed 
belonged to the ' town in general,' or the whole bod}' of inhabit- 
ants qualified to vote. These also possessed the right to admit or 
exclude new-comers into the settlement. All the plantations at 
that day were very careful to exercise this right. '"^ Our lost 
records are said to contain some curious examples of the mode in 
which the village fathers received applicants for the privileges of 
citizenship among them. The following extract, which occurs in 
tlie land records, illustrates the action of the proprietors and the 
town respectively, in making grants to new members: - — 

^ At a town-meetinff he\d in Rye November the 23, 1686, Benjamin 
CoUyer hath by grant from the proprietors of Peningo neck a certain 
house lot which was formerly Thomas Jefferies. . . . And the toivn 
doth further give and grant unto Benjamin Collyer a privilege of all 

1 One of our oldest documents is the Brander's Book, or Record of Ear-marks. 
This record was kept in conformity with an act passed by the General Court of 
Connecticut, in 1686, entitled ' An Act for preventing of fraud concerning horses.' It 
required that a place should be assigned in each plantation where horses should be 
branded ; and that a brander should be appointed, who should ' make, and keep the 
true record of all such horse kind whh shall be presented to them . . . entering the 
same in one book to each plantation.' A solemn oath to be taken by the brander, 
was prescribed. {Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. p. 205.) The Brander's Book 
at Rye consists of a volume of leaves stitched together (pp. 1-24), the entries run- 
ning from 1715 to 1796. The first seven pages are in Samuel Lane's writing. 
Earlier marks are scattered over the town records. 

2 The General Court ordered that' Intruders into Plantations ' should be put m the 
stocks. (Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 66.) 



out lands undivided which belongeth to the town in general, proportion- 
ally to an estate of fifty pound.' ' 

The value liere put upon an estate at Rye appears to have been 
the usual estimate of the property of a freeholder. The following 
statement shows the population, and the estimated property of the 
inhabitants for the time during which the town was subject to 
Connecticut. It is made up from the ' Lists of Persons and Es- 
tates ' kept by the General Court : — 



















































£1211 00 00 
1547 10 00 
1721 00 00 
2174 00 00 
2403 10 00 
1950 12 00 
1979 15 00 
2031 00 00 
1767 05 00 
1944 00 00 
1909 01 00 
1591 00 00 
1789 00 00 
2122 00 00 
2361 00 00 
2274 00 00 
2415 00 00 
2612 00 00 
2339 00 00 

3136 18 00 
3306 00 00 

1 Town Records, vol. B. p. 3. 

- From 1665 to 1675, the number of ' persons ' is not given in the Public Records of 
the colony, though the list is entitled a list both of ' Peisons ' and of 'Estates.' The 
figures therefore in the first column, for those ten years are conjectural ; but they are 
based on the proportion of .£48 to £50 to an estate, which is that observed in the 
complete lists for the subsequent years. From 1676 to 1683, and in 1698 and 1699, 
the lists contain the number of persons also. The average value of an estate in the 
years 1676-83, is about £48 ; in 1698-99, it rises to £50. 

The fluctuation in the population of the place is noticeable and significant. It 
rose to fifty 'persons 'within five years from the settlement, and then decreased ; the 
lowest figures being i-eached in 1673 and 1676. These were the years of the Dutch 
invasion and of King Philip's War. See Chapter VI. 

Reference is made in the third column of the above table to the Public Records of 
Connecticut, which have been published in four volumes from 1635 to 1706. 


The ' persons ' here enumerated were male inhabitants of adult 
aoje, payin<^ taxes upon an estate of fifty pounds each. Ministers 
of the Gospel, deputies to the General Court, and some others, 
were exempted. The foregoing figures may be taken to repre- 
sent approximately the number o^ families in the town. 

The town meeting of those days was a very different affair from 
that of our times. Besides electing officers, the inhabitants had 
a great variety of matters to talk over and determine. We give 
some examples, without attempting to classify the subjects. 

The prevention of damages by cattle was an important matter 
to be considered. Frequent orders were given concerning the 
building and repair of fences. ' At a town meeting held March, 
167:2, it was agreed that the first of April following should be 
taxed of all persons and young cattle and horses, unless it be such 
as are wrought, and that they henceforward should goe out on the 
first of April, and whatever person hath not his fence up by that 
time shall forfeit five shillings a rod.' ^ 

The town not only hel thed right to receive or exclude linhabit- 
ants, but it also regulated the disposal of lands belonging to per- 
sons removing from the town. 'All lands Avithin the township,' 
the law required,' shall be tendered to sale to the town before any 
other sale be made of them to any other than the inhabitants of 
that towne where they ly.' ^ The object of this provision was, of 
course, to prevent unsuitable persons from acquiring rights in the 
town by such purchase. 

On the fifteenth of December, 1689, a bounty of fifteen shillings 
was ordered to be raised by a town rate, for the killing of wolves.^ 
One mode of destroying these animals was by entrapping them in 
wolf-pits. Several of these existed in this neighborhood. The 
ridge overlooking the village, where Park Institute now stands, 
was known as early as 1690 bv the name of Wolf-pit Ridge or 

Persons were appointed at town meetings, to look after the 
boundaries of public lands. These were preserved, in a very rude 
and imperfect maimer, by means of marked trees. From time to 

1 Fuller i-egulatioiis were enacted at a later clay. At a town meeting held June 
3d, 1706, it was ordered that all division fences should be made four feet and a half 
high, ' being of pine Rayles well and substantially erected.' Walls or hedges, or any 
other partition judged sufficient by the fence-viewers, were to be considered equivalent 
to such a fence. It appears from this act that individuals were allowed to inclose por 
tions of land for pasture in the common field 

^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. p. 187. 

'"^ Town Records, vol. A., quoted bv Bolton, Ilistori/ of Wtstchesler Counfi/, ii. 23. 

5 " ' ' 


time the marks required to be renewed. As early as 1680 we 
read of the ' old marked trees.' As there were several such divid- 
ing lines that ran across the tract between Blind Brook and Byram 
River, and separated the several purchases from each other, it must 
have been no easy task to trace them and keep them up. 

In 1733, Samuel Purdy, Robert Bloomer, and Daniel Purdy were 
appointed a committee ' to regulate and renew the bound marks of 
lots in Will's Purchase, to the eastward of the colony line, begin- 
ning at Thomas Sutton's land and going northward along said 
line.' ^ This southern limit of Will's second purchase is the 
present boundary of the town of Rye in that direction. 

Public lands were sometimes given away by the town. Not 
however in the lavish Avay in which they were often disposed of by 
other towns ; but generally in small parcels and on particular occa- 
sions. Indeed, the town as such does not appear to have had much 
land to give away, so long as the proprietary bodies existed and 
kept the management of their large possessions in their own 

The town gave permission for the opening of taverns, erecting 
of mills, etc. 

March 3, 1696. ' Samuel Lane and Joseph Lyon, are, or either of 
them [is] permitted to build a fulling or grist mill upon Blind brook, 
above the town, provided they choose their location in three weeks, and 
build the fulling mill in three years.' 

' March 24, 1 697-8, Joseph Horton is chosen by the towne of Ry to 
keep a house of entertainment for travlers for the year insuing.' 

' At a town meeting held in Rye March the /)th day 1705 the town 
hath given and granted unto Samuel Hunt of Rye the streame of 
Memoranuck river at the falls of the said river above Humphery 
Underbills to erect and bould a grist mill or mills upon the said streme 
and the said Samuel Hunt is to grind the towns cornn for the fourteenth 
part and the said Sanuiel Hunt is to bould the said mill or mills within 
the space of two years from the date hereof. And if the said Samuel 
Hunt shall at any time [fail] to keep the said mill in repair fit to grind 
above two years together then the said streme is to return to the town 

April 16, 171 '2, 'the towne hath by a voat granted unto Richard 
Ogdin the priviledge of the strem in Byram river between the loiver 
going over and the country rode to erect and bould a mill or mills 
provided the said Ogdin doe bould a mill or mill [dam] in the space of 
one year from the date hereof 

The regulations concerning sheep and cattle were very frequent 
and particular. 

^ Rye Records, vol. B. p. 143. 


' At a meeting lield by the inhabitants of Peningo Neck in Rye, 
Februarv 24, 1703— i,' sheep masters are chosen ' to agree with a 
shepherd and to take care of the flocks to let them out if any pre- 
sents to hire them and to take care of the rams and to take care 
for yards for the flock when they are not let out.' Rams are not 
to be let loose on the commons from August 15 to November 5. 
In 1708 tlie proprietors agree to lay out a new sheep pasture, con- 
sisting of all the lands yet undivided below a line from the branch 
of Blind Brook to Gunn Brook. In 1714 the town orders that ' no 
sheep between Memoronuck river and Byram river shall have 
liberty for the year ensuing to goe upon the commons or upon any 
land belonging to any particular man unfenced from the first of 
May till the last of October but what shall be put under the care 
of a shepherd or shepherds which shall be chosen b}^ the said 
towne ; and every particular man whose sheep shall goe on the 
commons or upon unfenced lands as above said shall pay his pro- 
portion unto the shepherd or shepherds which shall be hiered as 
above said according to the number of his sheep.' 

Where the town meetings were held we do not learn, until the 
year 1738, when it is mentioned that the meeting took place ' at 
the school house near the Church in Rye.' The probability is that 
this had been the place of meeting for some previous years. As 
early as 1708, notice of a special meeting of the town was given 
by ' a warrant from a Justice of the Peace sett upon a signe post 
nere the Church four days before the meeting.' 

The Selectmen presided on these occasions. • At a lawful town 
meeting lield in Rye, April 1, 1713, the town hath past a voat 
that tlie townsmen liath and shall have for the futer liberty and 
full power to putt all towne voats to voat in all townings to the 
best of their descretion, only the choice of the towne men the 
justices are apointed to put to voat.' 

As early as 1705, the town chose Trustees or Overseers of the 
town, whose functions are thus described : — 

' To take care of the towns Lands and intrests rights priviledges in 
Land in the towns bounds of Rye and to doe their indeavour in defend- 
ing the said towns rishts and interests in Lands belonging to the said 
township of Rye and likewise to keep and secure our possession of our 
township in Lands by all lawful! means and ways whatever they, can 
devise or [execute] in Law whatsoever from time* to time as occasion 
shall require against any parson or parsons whatsoever claiming any 
right title or intrest against the towns intrest or any part thereof and the 
towne doth give these trustees over overseers full power to raise mooy 


in the said town as they shall have occasion in pursneance of their trust 
from time to time to sell or mortgage undivided Lands or other ways 
as they shall see best within their said year.' 

The charges that might arise the town agreed to ' disburse by 
equall proportion, and alsoe to have equall proportion of Lands 
thereby recovered.' 

This action was evidently taken in view of the serious encroach- 
ments upon its territory which tlie town had already suffered, and 
the danger of further losses unless vigorous efforts should be put 
forth to maintain its rights. 

Justice was administered by a magistrate, known at first as the 
Commissioner. In 1697-98, the General Court of Connecticut 
substituted for this office that of Justice of the Peace. Tiiese 
functionaries were alike appointed by the govei-nment. They 
were invested ' with magistraticall power within the limits of the 
respective Townes where they lived ; ' and were impowered ' with 
the Selectmen of the town, or any two of them, to hear and deter- 
mine any action that should be presented before them for tryall to 
the value of forty shillings.' The first Commissioner appointed 
for Hastings at Rye, in 1663 and 1664, Avas Mr. John Budd. He 
was followed by Lieut. Joseph Horton, in 1678. And in 1698, 
pending the return of the town to Connecticiit, the General Court 
appointed to the office of Justice of the Peace, then newly created, 
Mr. Deliverance Brown, who was continued in office by the pro- 
vincial government of New York, and remained justice till the 
year 1716.^ 

It is said that the early settlers of New England towns were 
fond of litigation. ' A case in conrt was, with some men, little 
more than a customary part of the year's business.' Rye, we 
presume, was not free from this weakness. Such at least is our 
impression, upon opening the earliest extant volume of records. 
The first half dozen pages of this book are taken up Avith records 
of' executions.' Several suits are referred to, of the date of 1678 
and after. These suits were tried at the County Court at Fair- 
field. Execution is granted to sundry persons, and levied by 

1 The nature of tfiis office, and its powers under the provincial government, are 
thus described by William Smith, tlie historian of the province : ' Justices of the peace 
are appointed by commission from the governors .... Beside their ordinary powers, 
they are by acts of Assembly enabled to hold courts for the determination of small 
causes of five pounds and under ; but the parties are privileged, if they choose it 
with a jury. They have also a jurisdiction with respect to crimes under tlie degree of 
grand larceny. Any three of them, one being of the tjnorum, may tiy the criminal 
without a jury, and inflict jmnishments not extending to life or limb. — Uistonj of 
New York, vol. i. p. 36!i, App. 


Lieut. Joseph Horton or by tlie constable. Kobert Bloomer appears 
as defendant in most of these cases, but in his turn enters a com- 
plaint for defamation. It was not all peace and harmony, we infer, 
in tlie small community on Peningo Neck. 

We are sorry to say also that an occasional entry upon our 
records makes known the connubial infelicities that prevailed in 
some dwellings ; the community is warned in set terms not to ' sell, 
barter or trade, directly or indirectly ' with the wife of the signer. 
These entries are probably copies of notices that had been duly 
posted to be read by the little public in the usual place. 

For the punishment of trivial offences, they had tlie stocks and 
the whipping-post. Our notices of these interesting objects are 
scanty, but sufficient. The town in 1739 and two subsequent 
years elected a ' public whipper.' Thomas Rickey and Samuel 
Bumpas were the persons chosen to this office. Thev do not 
appear to have distinguished themselves in any other capacity. 
Of the stocks, mention is made but seldom. In the records of the 
Vestry of Rye, wo find the following item, under the date of 
Marcii 6, 1770: — 

' Allowed, To John Doughty for fees of putting in y" 

Stocks, G shillings.' 

The supervisor of the countv in 1772 ordered an extra charge 
upon the town of Rye ' for Ca])t. Merritt's building stocks, and 
the money to be paid to Merritt.' ^ 

In the year 1720, the inhabitants of Rye took steps to ])rocure 
a patent for their lands from the British crown. It appears that 
they had delayed to seek such a benefit until then, though twenty 
years had now elapsed since their unwilling return to the province 
of New York. We might infer from this delay that the people 
were not yet wholly reconciled to their lot, or at least that some of 
them were indisposed to ask for a charter from the New York gov- 
ernment, inasmuch as they already held one from Connecticut. 
However this may be, the formal action of the town was not taken 
until a few persons, apparently without the general consent, under- 
took to write to the Governor and Council on the subject. 'The 
Humble Petition of Daniell Purdy Son of John Purdy deceased 
Samuell Brown and Benjamin Brovvn Inhabitants of the Township 
of Rye in the County of West Chester in behalfe of themselves and 
diverse other Inhabitants of the said Township of Rye,' is dated 

1 Proceediiiirs of the Board of Supei'visors of the County of Westcliester for the 
years 1772 to 1787 ; published with the Proceedings of the Board for 1869, p. 7. 


June 20th, 1720.^ They ask for letters patent for the tract of 
land lying between Blind Brook and the colony line, from the 
southern extremity of Peningo Neck to 'the Antient marked Trees 
of Limping Will's purchase.' 

The Governor and Council very properly referred this jietition 
to the people of Rye at large ; directing Joseph Budd, then super- 
visor, to ' call a town meeting of the inhabitants,' for the purpose 
of ascertaining their wishes on the subject. This meeting took 
place early in July, and Mr. Budd reports', ' New York y" 14th 
July, 1720, to the Hon. Peter Schuyler,' etc, ' in Council,' that 
the inhabitants of Rye ' unanimously have noe objection against 
Granting the said Lands to the said Petitioners, but only that the 
same cannot be Granted to them by the Express Limitts and 
Boundaries as pticularly Described by the said Petition by reason 
it would Interfere with Lands already Granted to other persons.' 
They suggest a somewhat different description, e. g.^ ' beginning at 
a certaine Rock lyeing on a point of Land c-^ known by the name of 
Town Neck point '....' together with a certaine Island Included 
known by the name of Monussing Island lyeing about Twenty 
Rodes from the maine Land.' ^ 

No little stir was caused in Rye by these measures relative to the 
patent. An old controversy which had been slumbering for some 
years, regarding the ownership of the southern part of Manussing 
Island, was revived. Samuel Odell, who claimed it, against Roger 
Park, remonstrated against the granting of a patent that should 
fail to secure him in his rights to that property.^ Depositions of 
various parties were taken on the subject before the Council. The 
Surveyor-general, Cadwallader Colden, surveyed the ti'act, exclu- 
sive of the island, and made his report August 11, 1720. And 
finally, July 28, the gentlemen of the Council to whom the petition 
of Rye had been referred, reported favorably upon it. 

Lettei's patent were issued August 11th, 1720, to Daniel Purdy 
and Samuel and Benjamin Brown, for themselves and the other 
mhabitants of Rye, exclusive of Budd's Neck, that tract being 
held by another patent granted the month before.* 

1 Land Papers, iri the office of the Secretary of State, Albany: vol. vii. p. 171. 
' To the honorable Peter Schuyler y« President of his Majesties Councill of the 
Province of New York and Territories thereon depending in America in Counsill.' 
^ Land Papers, etc., vol. vii. p. 190. 
^ Land Papers, etc., vol. viii. p. 5. 
* Both of these patents will be found in the Appendix. 

Strans's Tavern. 




' This folio of fom* pages 
Inquisitive attention.' 

that holds 

The Task. 

SITUATED so near the seaboard, and within thirty miles of 
the city, Rye has enjoyed from the earhest times whatever 
facihties existed for pubhc communication. But it is difficult to 
conceive how rude and inconvenient these must have been, until a 
comparatively recent date. For at least fifty years after the foun- 
dation of the town, all travel by land was performed on horseback. 
Deputies rode their hired horses up to the sessions of the General 
Court. It was seldom, however, that the inhabitants ventured so 
far as Hartford, except on public duty. Their journeys were gen- 
erally short, and limited to the neighboring towns of Greenwich 
and Stamford. The sympathies and interests of the people then 
turned eastward — not as now toward New York. 

In 1672, the government of Connecticut established a schedule 
of prices, to be paid to persons who should be employed for the 


conveyance of letters and otlier missives in the service of the 
colony. This was clone in view of the great extravagance of 
people thus employed, ' by profuse spending at the ordinaries and 
other places on the road upon the country's account, and also by 
great delays on journeys.' According to the schedule, the charge 
was to be as follows, from the first of May to the middle of Octo- 
ber : ' Fi'om Rye to Hartford, the horses hyer twelve shillings, the 
man and expences twenty shillings ; all is one pound twelve shil- 
lings.' From October to April, the charge was to be eight pence 
more 'for every night they lye out.' ^ 

Postal communication between New York and Boston was first 
established in the year 1672, during the administration of Colonel 
Lovelace, the second English governor of the province. The fol- 
lowino; order shows what facilities were thus afforded : — 

' A Proclamacion for a Post to goe Monthly from this City to Boston 
and back againe. 

' Whereas it is thought convenient and necessary in obedience to his 
Sacred Ma'ties Commands, who enjoynes all his subjects in the distinct 
Colonyes, to enter into a strict allyance and Correspondency with each 
other, as likewise for the advancem' of Negotiation, Trade and Civill 
Commerce, and for a more speedy Intelligence and Dispatch of Af- 
fayres, That a Messenger or Post bee authorized to sett forth from this 
Citty of New Yorke monthly, and thence to travail to Boston, from 
whence within that Month hee shall returne againe to this Citty. These 
are therefore to give notice to all persons concerned. That on the first 
day of January next, the Messenger appointed shall proceed on his 
journey to Boston : If any therefore have any Letters or small portable 
Goods to bee conveyed to Hartford, Connecticut, Boston, or any other 
parts in the Road, they shall be carefully delivered according to the 
Directions by a sworne Messenger and Post who is purposely imployed 
in that AfTayre ; In the Interim those that bee disposed to send Letters, 
lett them bring them to the Secretary's Office, where in a Lockt Box 
they shall be preserved till the Messenger calls for them ; All persons 
paying the Post before the Bagg be seal'd up. Dated at New Yorke 
this 10"^ day of December 1672. By order of y" Governor.' ^ 

According to the instructions to the post or messenger, dated 
January 22, 1672-3, he was to apply to the governors, especially 
Governor Winthrop of Connecticut, for ' the best direction how to 
forme the best Post Road ; ' to establish places on the road where 
to leave the way-letters, and ' to mark some Trees that shall direct 
Passengers the best way, and to fix certain Houses for your sev- 

1 Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, 1665-78, pp. 242, 244. 

2 Communicated by Dr. O'Callaghan. 


erall Stages both to bait and lodge at.' The messenger was to 
allow persons who desired it to travel in his company and to aftbrd 
them the best lielp in his power. He was to provide liimseU' with 
' a spare horse, a Horn, and good Portmantles.' 

Such was the mode of travel and despatch for the next thirty 
years. Madam Knight's account of her journey from Boston to 
New York, and back, in 1704, agrees precisely with this descrip- 
tion. It appears that she availed herself when she could of the 
company and ])rotection of the messenger riding post. Tiie fol- 
lowing extract gives us a life-like view of the good lady and her 
conductor : — 

' Tuesday, October y" third, about 8 in the morning, I with the Post 
proceeded forward . . . and about 2, afternoon, arrived at the Post's 
second stage, where the western Post met him and exchanged Letters. 
. . . Having here discharged the Ordinary for self and Guide, as I 
understood was the custom, about 3, afternoon, went on with my third 
Guide, wlio rode very hard : and having crossed Providence ferry, we 
come to a River which they generally ride through. But I dare not 
venture ; so the Post got a lad and Canoe to carry me to the other side, 
and he rid through and led my horse. . . . Rewarding my sculler, 
again mounted and made the best of my way forward. The Road here 
was very even and y^ day pleasant, it being now near Sunset. But tiie 
Post told me we had near 14 miles to ride to the next Stage, where we 
were to lodge. I asked him of the rest of the Road, foreseeing we must 
travel in the night. He told me there was a bad River we were to ride 
through, which was so very fierce a horse could sometimes haixlly stem 
it : but it was narrow, and we should soon be over.' Late at night, the 
traveller after all these adventures ' was roused from her pleasing imagi- 
nations by the Posfs sounding his horn, which assured me he was 
arrived at the stage where we were to lodge: and that musick was then 
most nuisical and agreeable to me.' 

In the same year that this memorable journey was performed, 
the governor of the province of New York wrote home, ' The 
post that goes through this phxce, goes eastward as far as Boston, 
but westward he goes no further than Philadelphia : and there is 
no other post upon all this continent.' ^ 

As late as the year 1750, letters were carried in this same way 
by messengers riding on horseback from stage to stage,^ and 
there was but one mail each w^eek for Boston and the intermediate 

1 Letter of Lord Bellomont, in Documents rel. to Colonial History of New York, 
vol. iv. p. 1113. 

2 On the twenty -fourth of January, 1755, the Post informed the public that ' he was 
obliged before he left Albany, to send his Horse upon the ice over to the opposite 


places. Indeed, from tlie following notices it would seem that 
these accommodations were even diminished during the winter 
season : — 

' March 26, 1750. The Boston and Philadelphia Posts set out on 
Monday next, at the usual Hours, to perform their Stages Weekly.' 

' Dec. 3, 1750. The Posts set out To-morrow to perform their 
Stages once a Fortnight during the Winter Season.' •■■ 

On the third of February, 1755, Alexander Golden, postmaster 
of New York, issues the following notice : — 

' It being found very inconvenient to persons concern'd in Trade that 
the Post from New York to New England, has heretofore set out but 
once a fortnight during the Winter Season : the Stages are now alter'd, 
by orders of the Post Master General ; ^ and the New England Post is 
henceforth to go once a week the year round, whereby correspondence 
may be carried on and answers obtained to letters between New York 
and Boston in two weeks, which us'd in the Winter to require four 
weeks. But to obtain this good end it is necessary, on account of the 
Badness of the Ways and Weather in Winter, to dispatch the Post 
some Hours sooner from New York : Notice is therefore hereby given 
that he begins his Weekly Stage on Monday next, being the 10 instant, 
and will be dispatched precisely at Nine o'clock in the morning, on that 
day, and every Monday following.' ^ 

The trusty messenger who made his weekly transit through the 
village of Rye, must have been very familiar to the inhabitants.^ 
A goodly number of them, doubtless, awaited his arrival at 
Haviland's inn, to receive not only their letters, but also the city 

shore; and that in the afternoon of the same day, the weather being extremely 
moderate and giving, he was obliged to cross in a Ferry boat, the ice having broke 
away,' etc. — Neiv York Gazette and Weekly Post-Boij. 

1 New York Gazette. 

- Benjamin Franklin, Avho had been appointed to this office two years before, and 
was vigorously endeavoring to improve and extend the postal system of the colonies. 
Five years later he surprised the people with a proposition to run stage wagons to 
carry the mail from Philadelphia to Boston, once a week, starting from each city on 
Monday morning, and arriving at the end of the route by Saturday night. Franklin 
was removed from this office in 1774. 

3 New York Gazette and Post-Boy. Communicated, with several other items in this 
chapter, by Col. Thomas F. De Voe. 

* 'Lately died at Stratford, of a Fever, Deacon Thomas Feet, in the 62 year of his 
age. He was employed as a Post-Rider between New York and Saybrook, for the 
last 32 years of his life, in which station he gave general satisfaction.' — New York 
Mercury, October 27, 1760. 

'Run away, from Ebenezer Hurd, of Stratford, the old post-rider, which has rode 
post 47 years, from New York to Saybrook, a negro man about 25 years of age . . . 
Five dollars reward. Ebenezer Hurd.' 

— Supplement to the New Yoi'k Gazette and Weekly Mercury , April 10, 1775. 


papers fresh from the press — the 'Gazette,' the 'Journal,' the 
' Post-Boy,' the ' Mercury ' — some or all of which had eager and 
interested readers at Rye.^ 

Besides the public post employed by the government, there 
were post-riders in the service of the newspapers. In 1762, the 
<■ New York Gazette and Weekly Post-Boy ' of March 18, boasts 
that its messenger ' brought the Boston papers a week later than 
the other post, who came in the Night before ' with letters for the 
governor, though he had been ' hinder'd by the Snow, which in 
some places was prodigiously deep.' The post not only carried 
the papers, but also received subscriptions for them ; and delin- 
quents were occasionally reminded of their duty to pay their sub- 
scriptions in this way. 

Our good people not only read the papers, but advertised in 
them occasionally. Here are some Rye advertisements of the 
olden time : — 

'Oct. 23, 1749. W" BuRTUS, Hat-Maker, Now living at Harrison's 
Purchase, in Rye, carries on the Hatter's Trade there, and makes and 
sells as good Hats as any in the Province, for ready Money, or short 
Credit. Wji. Burtus.' 

'July 3, 1775. Stolen out of the pasture from the subscriber at 
Rye the 21st June 1775, a sorrel mare, about 14 hands high, a natural 
trotter, marked with a ball face, her main hanging on the near side, 
four year old. Any person that will apprehend the thief and mare, so 
that the owner can have his mare again, shall be paid the sum of five 
pounds, and for the mare only three pounds paid by me. 

William Lyon.' 

'July 1, 1771. Capt. Abraham Bush, of Rye, in the province of 
New York, on a voyage from the eastward, bound home, coming out of 
Milford harbour, in Connecticut, Sunday morning the 14th day of last 
April, about three hours after his departure, saw (above half sound over 
towards Long Island) a wreck .... which he brought into Rye har- 
bour. Any person proving his property in said scow and boom, by 
applying to said Bush, in Rye, may have them again, paying him for 
his trouble and the charge he hath been put to. 

Abraham Bush.' 

'March 21,1774. For sale at public vendue, on the premises 1st 
April, a house and lot of land in Rye, situated by the water side, very 
convenient for a boatman or merchandizing or any water business : .the 
lot containing ten acres, a nice orchard and some meadow land. The 

1 The New York Gazette was the first uewspapcr issued iu New York, commencing 
October 23d, 1725. The New York Weekly Journal was published from 1733 to 1752. 
The New York Gazette and Weekly Post Boy was first issued in 1743. 


lioLise is large with five rooms upon a, floor. On the premises are also 
a barn, store house and dock. Apply to Ezekiel Flaster, [Halsted?] or 
Jonathan Budd.' 

Advertisements of stolen goods, at Rye, are frequent, the in- 
jured parties sometimes indulging themselves in the expression of 
their suspicions as to the persons who have committed the theft, 
naming and describing them. 

'July 14. 1760. Last Thursday (July 10) night the wash-house of 
Timothy Wetmore, of Rye, was broken open and stole out of the wash- 
tub, three liiinen shirts .... a considerable number of linnen cam- 
brick and lawn handkerchiefs and caps, a parcel of child's clothes, and 
sundry other articles too tedious to mention. It is supposed they were 
taken by Moll Rogers, and that she has or will make towards New 

' Whoever will apprehend the thief, that the person may be bro't to 
justice, shall have 8 dollars rewai'd, paid by the subscriber. 

' This wretch has been a general plunderer and disturber of the 
repose of the honest people of this province, particularly the country, 
for a long course of time, and has actually been in the hands of the 
authority time after time, and yet is as daring as ever in her villainy. 

Timothy Wetmore.' ^ 

Mr. Timothy Wetmore lived in the house now occupied by his 
grandfhiughter, Mrs. Buckley. His brother, Mr. James Wetmore, 
who proclaims his losses in the following advertisement, lived at 
the time in the ' Square House,' now owned by the family of Mr. 
D. M. Mead : — 

'March 31, 17G3. Stolen out of the house of James Wetmore, at 
Rye, on the 16th inst, in the night, by Mary Barrington, an Irish 
woman, three silver watches, and sundry other small articles. One of 
the watches is French make, and winds up on the dial plate : the second 
is an old-fiishion'd frosted dial plate: the other is a common China dial 
plate. A reward of five dollars will be paid &c. by 

James Wetmore.' - 

It was not until 1772, just a hundred years after the establish- 
ment of Governor Lovelace's post system, that a better mode of 
travel was introduced. In that year, the first stage-coach^ began to 
run between New York and Boston. The following advertisement 
appeared in Holt's ' New York Journal' of July 9 : — 

1 N. Y. Mercury. - N. Y. Gazette and WeeJdij Post-Boi/. 

^ It is difficult to believe that until the (hvtc here mentioned, no public conveyance 
of the kind existed on this route. Such however is the fact. Between New York 
and Philadelphia, stages had been running for some years. 


Ahiv- York, 2i^h June xiiz. 


B E T \V E E N ^ 


WHICH for the firft Time fets out this Day 
from Mr. Fowler's Tavern, (formerly kept by Mr. 
Stout) at Frelh Water, in New- York, will continue to go 
the Courfe between Bofton and New- York, fo as to be 'at 
each ofthofe Places once a Fortnight, coming in on Satur- 
day Evening and fetting out to Return, by the Way of 
Hartford, on Monday Morning. 

The Price to Paffengers, will be 4d. New-York or 3d. 
lawful Money per Mile, and Baggage at a reafonable Rate. 

Gentlemen and Ladies who choofe to encourage this 
ufeful, new, and expenfive Undertaking, may depend upon 
good Ufage, and that the Coach will always put up at 
Houfes on the Road where the belt Entertainment is pro- 

The Stage Coaches will next Trip arrive at New-York 
and Bofton, on Saturday the nth of July, and will fet out 
from thence to Hartford on Monday the 13th, meeting 
at Hartford on Wednefday the 15th, where, after ftaying 
a Week, they will fet out again on Wednefday the 23d for 
New- York and Boston, where they will arrive on Satur- 
day the 25th, and fet out to return on Monday the 27th, 

If on Trial the Subfcribers find Encouragement, they 
will perform the Stage once a Week only altering the Day 
of fetting out from New-York and Bofton to Thurfday in- 
ftead of Monday Morning. 28 — 


Tliis appears to have been the coiiiineiicement of travel by pub- 
lic conveyance between New York and Boston. In 1787, the 
stages made three trips every week in summer, and two in winter. 
They set out from Hall's Tavern, No. 49 Courtlandt Street, on 
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornino;s, arriving at Boston in 
six days. The fare was four pence a mile.^ 

In 1787, there was a stage every other day from New York to 
Rye, and the following advertisement, which appeared in the 
' New York Journal,' intimates that such a special conveyance to 
this place had been running before : — 

September 27, 1787. 'Stagk. — The subscriber informs the public, 
and his friends in particular, that he now runs the Stage from this to 
Rye, which Mr. Hail formerly run : which stage starts from Mr. (David) 
Osborn's at Peck Slip, No. loG (138 Water Street) on Mondays, 
Wednesdays, and Fridays, at five o'clock in the morning, and returns 
on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, at six o'clock in the evening. 
As the subscriber has furnished himself with a very convenient new 
Waggon^ and good horses, for the purpose, he flatters himself, that he 
shall be able to give those Gentlemen and Ladies, who please to favor 
him with their custom, universal satisfaction. 

1 Frank's Ntio York Directonj for 1787 (the first published in that city). 


' N. B. The subscriber likewise keeps a very genteel Coach, with a 
good pair of horses, to Lett: likewise, Horses and Chairs, and saddle 
horses. Any orders, left with Mr. Osborn, at Peck • Slip, or at his 
stable, Cortlandt-street, will be immediately attended to, by the public's 
most humble servant, Obadiah Wright. 

' New York, Sept. 27, 1787.' 

But tlie inhabitants of Rye had other means of communicating 
with the outside world, and they probably depended more upon 
water communication than upon that by land. The earliest men- 
tion of a dock or wharf at this place occurs under the date of 1679, 
when the town granted to John Ogden ' forty-eight or fifty acres 
of land by the water side at the Fishing Rock, for the purpose of 
building a house and wharf. The inhabitants of Peningo neck to 
have wharfage free.' ^ 

A great event for Rye was the establishment of Si ferry in 1739 
between this town and 03'ster Bay, Long Island. The charter 
issued in that year for this purpose, sets forth that ' the principal 
freeholders and proprietors of the lands in the two patents called 
Budd's Neck and Penning's Neck ' have made application for it.^ 
The inhabitants generally seem to have taken a deep interest in 
the enterprise. Messrs. John Budd, Hachaliah Brown, and Jona- 
than Brown were at the head of it. The list of subscribers 
toward the expense of obtaining the patent, embraces twenty-six 
names.^ Those who thus contributed were to ' enjoy a share of 
the privileges and emoluments of the ferry in proportion to the 
sums' subscribed. A meeting of the shareholders was appointed 
to be held annually, ' at some convenient place near the Church,' 
on the first Tuesday in April, when a committee was to be chosen, 

1 Bolton's Historij of Westchester Count ij, ii. 93. 

' Francis Purdy's landing' is mentioned in a return for the division of vacant lands 
in 1718. (Town Meeting Book, No. G.) 

2 Rye Records, vol. C. pp. J30-.32, 178-81. 
^ The list is as follows : — 

Samuel Purdy, £3 00 Tho^ Howcl, £0 11 3 Roger Park, £1 10 

Samuel Brown, £3 00 David Kniffin, £Q 1.5 Peter Tatlon, £0 15 

James Wetmore, £3 00 Henry Strang, £1 10 Joseph Sutton, £0 07 6 

The same, in trust for Dan'l Purdy, Esq.£3 GO Edward Palmer, £0 15 

Lavinia, daughter of Joseph Galpin, £1 10 Robert Palniei-, £0 15 

Henry Strange, £110 Thomas Lyon, £3 00 Hach. Brown, jr. £1 06 3 

Monmouth Hart, £1 10 Samuel Wilson, £3 00 Gilbert Bloomer, £3 00 

Sam' Crompton, £0 3 9 Benj. Kniffin, £0 11 3 Ebenezer Kniffin £1 10 

Andrew Mcrrit £1 10 Jonathan Horton,£0 15 Sami Graves, jr. £0 15 
John Coe, £0 07 6 


who should lease the ferry, and take charge of the profits that 
might accrue.^ 

This ferry continued in use till the latter part of the century. 
In 1786, Mr. Isaac Brown, of Rye? purchased the rights of the 
proprietors of Rye ferry.^ A map of Rye in 1797, shows the 
' house at the Ferry,' near the mouth of Byram River. This 
house, about a century ago, was kept by a German who after- 
wards attained some distinction as an officer in the Revolutionary 
War. Frederick De Weissenfels advertises in the ' New York 
Mercury ' of April 30, 1 759, concerning the 


' This is to give Notice, to all Travellers and Strangers, that at the 
place called Rye-Ferry, in the County of Westchester, and Province of 
New York, is a good regular and constant Ferry kept, from the above- 
mentioned Place to Oyster-bay, on Long Island, where there is good 
entertainment for Travellers : And by the subscriber hereof is also to 
be sold all sorts of Dry-goods, as Broad-Cloths, German Serges, Rat- 
teens, Half-thicks, Pennistons, Forrest-Cloth, mill'd Druggets, Bomba- 
zeens, Flannels of divers colours. Shalloons, Silverets, Burdoas, Irish- 
stuffs, Camblets, Everlastings, Worsted Damasks, Velvets, Taffaties, 
Persians, 3-4 and yd-wide Garlix, Irish Linnens, Checks, ]Millenets, 
Pistol and Tandem Lavins, Silesias, Ozenbrigs, Calicoes, Ribbands, 
Fans, Gloves, Necklaces, and other Dry-Goods too tedious to mention, 
as also an Assortment of Iron-mongery, Paint, Window Glass. Looking 
Glasses, Swords, Hangers, Guns, Powder and Shot, Nails, Lead, as also 
good West-India Rum, Molasses, Sugar, Cotton &c. by 

Frederick De Weissenfels.' 

' Rye Ferry ' must have been a place of frequent report for the 
inhabitants of Rye, to justify the keeping of such an assortment 
of goods. 

At the beginning of the present century, the ordinary and fovor- 
ite mode of travelling to New York and back was by sloop. Sev- 
eral market sloops ran regularly between this place and the city. 
Some of them started from ' Saw Pit,' noAv Port Chester ; others 
from ]\Iilt()n, and others still from Rye Neck. There was a dock 
below Milton, at Kniffin's Cove, and one known as Jonathan 

1 The tariff of prices for ferriage is curious. These are some of the items : For 
one person, Is. 6d. Man and horse, 3s. Wagon, cart or carriage, 7s. 6rf. Horned 
cattle over two years old, 2s.: under, Is. Fitch of bacon, or piece of smoked beef, 
\d. Frying jian or warming pan, 2(1. Looking glass of one foot, 6 J., and so in 
proportion, &c. (Records, C. pp. 131, 132.) 

^ This ajipears from a memorandum in the possession of Mrs. David Brown, of Eye, 
dated March, 17S6. 


Hortoivs, near the house of Captain Bouton. In 180B, nine 
' market sloops ' ran regularly from Rye to New York ; four from 
Saw Pit, and one from Rye Neck. There were also three 
' packet vessels ' carrying freight and passengers. 

In 1812, one sloop ran from Rye Neck to New York, and three 
from Saw Pit. 




OF all matters that interested the people of Rye in ancient times, 
their institution of ' Proprietors ' was perhaps the chief. The 
doings of this body fill a considerable part of our town records ; 
and from these and other sources we derive a tolerably com- 
plete account of a system which has long since passed away. But 
nothing that we have been able to learn on this subject has been 
gained from oral testimony. Since the period of the Revolution, 
the old proprietary system seems to have been consigned to oblivion. 
Of the many aged persons whom the writer has conversed with, 
and from whom he has gained much valuable information, not one 
has appeared even to have heard of such a body as ' y*" Eighteen 
Proprietors of Peningo Neck.' 

Yet the institution was by no means peculiar to this town. 
Indeed, it has afforded a theme of no little discussion to writers 
of local history. Many of the towns of Massachusetts and Con- 
necticut were founded like our own, by organized companies of set- 
tlers. Usually, these settlers Avould enter into a written agreement 
before starting from their homes. An agent or a committee would 
then be sent to purchase the lands which they designed to occupy 
from the Indian owners. Having obtained a formal release of the 
soil from the head men or chiefs of the tribe, they would then 
make application to the General Court of the colony for the con- 
firmation of their title. This request was generally granted, and 
the company became a kind of corporation, known as a ' Propri- 
etary,' in whom the right to the soil was vested. These propri- 
etors owned the land as tenants in common, until it should be 
divided and assigned for individual occupation. Each member of 
the company was entitled to a certain share of land for immediate 
use. He also possessed a right or share in the undivided or com- 
mon lands, by which he could claim his portion of any part of them 


that micrlit be distributed at anytime. These were called Propri- 
etors' Rights, and were handed down, in most cases, from father 
to son, as valuable privileges. Sometimes, however, a proprietor 
would sell his right in the undivided lands to a new-comer in the 
settlement, who would thus acquire all the privileges of an original 
member. More frequently, the proprietor would sell a part of his 
proprietarv right ; and then the new member would become joint 
owner with the seller, of any lands that might fall to him in future. 
Of course, in the origin of every town, this company of propri- 
etors would be likely to include all the actual settlers : for each 
person joining the enterprise would expect to share in its privileges, 
as he must in its dangers and hardships. But with the growth 
of a settlement, there would come to be a distinction between those 
possessing such privileges, and others. An individual might be 
admitted as freeholder in the towu, without becoming entitled to 
the rights of a proprietor. He might purchase lands which had 
already been divided, or obtain a grant of land from the town ; but 
this would not secure to him an interest in the undivided lands. 
So in the course of time the number of inhabitants might exceed 
that of the proprietors, yet the latter would still retain the exclu- 
sive control of whatever portion of the public domain remained 
undistributed and unimproved. 

At Rye, the first purchase of land was made, as we have seen, 
by Peter Disbrow and his companions. These were, at first, John 
Coe and Thomas Stedwell. Two others soon after a])pear as 
associates in the enterprise, John Budd and William Odell. It is 
doubtful whether they formed any such organized company as ex- 
isted in the settlement of other towns. The place was remote and] 
almost unknown to the authorities at Hartford, who were very] 
cautious in encouraging a new plantation. There is no evidence] 
that these proprietors sought or obtained a patent from the govern- 
ment of Connecticut at this period. They appear to have pro- 
ceeded without the usual formalities, hoping to be recognized in] 
their rights when once securely established in their new venture. 

But on the twenty-eighth of April, 1663, Peter Disbrow, John! 
Coe, Thomas Stedwell and John Budd, by a deed of sale, conveyed] 
the island, together with the mainland which they had purchased,! 
to a body of planters. These were seven in number, namely : — 
Samuel Ailing, Thomas Aj)plebe, 

Richard Vowles, William Odell, 

Philip Galpin, John Brondig, 

John Coe. 


Undoubtedly the four grantors of this deed retained their personal 
interest in the pro})ertv thus conveyed, so that the new body of 
proprietors consisted of eleven persons. Another was probably 
added before b^ng, making twelve. This v,e suppose to have been 
the original number of the company afterwards designated as The 
Eighteen Proprietors of Peningo Neck.^ 

It will be understood that the lands winch this body of men held 
at their disposal were only those comprehended in the first pur- 
chase on Peningo Neck. This, as we have said, was the lower 
part of the tract between Blind Brook and Byram River, south 
of the present village of Port Chester. All other lands yet un- 
divided were owned by the town or by other bodies of proprietors, 
as the White Plains purchase', and ' Lame Will's ' tract. 

We do not know with certainty when the number of proprietors 
Avas increased from twelve to eighteen. But the following circum- 
stance seems to indicate the time. On the fifth of March, 1676, 
when fears were entertained of an attack from the Indians, — 

' Thomas Lyon and Thomas Brown are appointed to choose a house 
or place to be fortified for the safety of the town. Also the young men 
who come into the fortification, and remain during the troubles, are to 
have an equal proportion of the undivided lands, provided they be such as 
the town approve.' 

This measure would of course require an increase of the pro- 
prietary body ; and in point of fact we find that several persons 
about this time begin to appear as proprietors. Meanwhile some 
of the first settlers leave the enterprise, selling their rights to 
others ; so that by the year 1690 the list of names has undergone 
material change. At that date it consisted probably of the follow- 
ing : — 

Peter Disbrow, Richard Vowles, John Banks, 

John Coe, John Ogden, John Purdy, 

Thomas Stedwell, Philip Galpin, Thomas Merritt, 

George Kniffin, Jacob Pierce, John Merritt, 

John Brondig, George Lane, Thomas Brown, 

William Odell, Isaac Sherwood, Hachaliah Brown. 

The company in due time took its permanent name, that of 
' The Eighteen Proprietoi's of Peningo Neck.' This title seems to 

1 In 1666, John Coe sold to Hachaliah Brown ' one half of a twelfth lot, with all the 
privileges thereunto belonging.' (Town Records, B. p. 3.) 

A list apparently of the proprietors in 1683, comprises fourteen names, namely, 
Stephen Sherwood, Jonathan Vowles, Peter Disbrow, John Boyd, Timothy Knap, 
George Knifen, William Odell, John Brondig, Thomas Brow-n, Deliverance Brown, 
John Merrit, Francis Purdy, George Lane, Thomas ]\Ierrit. (Records, B. p. 48.) 


have been abridged in ordinary jiarlaiice to that of ' The Eighteen.' 
And it remained unchanged h)ng after the name liad ceased to rep- 
resent the actual number of partners. For while there continued 
to be but eighteen full or entire shares, the number of persons hold- 
ing them increased considerably, in the way already described. 
Parts of shares were often sold, and the purchasers obtained a right 
to the specified proportion of the undivided lands remaining. 

These fractional shares were sometimes protiuced by the division 
of an estate ; two brothers, for instance, holding each one half of 
an eighteenth part of the common lands. Thus, in 1706, John 
Odell of Fordham sells to Geoige Kniffin his interest in the undi- 
vided lands ' below the marked trees, which belong to the Eight- 
een,' namely, 'a thirty-sixth part of said lands, which was his 
deceased father, William Odell's.' 

In 1717, Samuel Odell, Jr., of Westchester, sells to the same 'a 
full quarter part of three lotments of land in the Eighteen of Rye^ 
and one quarter part of all the undivided lands within the limits of 
the said Eighteen.' 

In 1736, Robert Bloomer and Joseph Kniffin convey to Caleb 
Wetmore, for the sum of twenty-five pounds, ' one five-eighths of 
a twenty-sixth part of all undivided lands 'in Rye, to which they 
' have any right by virtue of proprietorship, or grants made to them 
bv the ancient proprietors of Rye.' 

In the same year, the same parties, who seem to have made a 
specialty of this kind of traffic, *sold to John Disbrow for twenty 
pounds current money of New York, ' the one equal fifty-second 
part and share of all the undivided lands unto which we have 
right by virtue of our proprietorship,' etc. 

The purchasers of these rights laid much stress upon the fact 
that they thus acquired all the privileges of original proprietorship 
in the |)lace. Of this we find some curious examples. 

Thus, in 1726, John and Jonathan Brondig sell to Justus Bush, 
' Merchant of the city of New York,' for eight pounds, ' one eight- 
eenth part or proportion of undivided land in a certain purchase of 
land known by the name of Peninggoe neck purchase, now called 
Rye.' And in 1745, Anne, widow of Justus Bush, conveys to 
her youngest son Abraham, all the rights in Peningo Neck pur- 
chase belonging to his father, ' who was one of the eighteen pro- 

In 1745, John Glover, of Newtown, Connecticut, late of Rye, 
releases to Joseph Haight his right as a ' descendant of the ancient 
proj)rietors of the said town of Rye by purchase^'' as that right 
' was released to him by Robert Bloomer and Joseph Kniffin.' 


The pi'oprietors met for tlie transaction of business twice every 
year, usually in the spring and fall. The records of their proceed- 
ings that have been preserved, are contained in the same books 
with those of the town meetings, but are entered separately. The 
first of these volumes now extant, is entitled ' Town and Proprie- 
tors' Meeting Book, No. 3 or C Here are some of the earliest 
entries, which may serve as specimens of the transactions : — 

' At a meting of the Proprietors of penningo iiack doth agree to 
keep the feld intier while the least day of October in yere 1G08.' 

February 27, 1G98-9, ' the said proprietors doe agree and make choice 
of Hacaliah Brown, Deliverance Brown, John Merritt, Robert Bloomer 
and John Stoakham, to lay out what lands of theire propriety they shall 
see convanient, also to lay out high wayes or other out lets as they 
shall see good in the said propriety, and further wee doe inipower these 
aforesaid men to bargaine with and sell unto John Lyon a certain tract 
of land lying up Byram River if they shall see good and couvauent soe 
to doe.' 

The proprietors at the same meeting ' acknowlidg that they 
have formerly granted unto Thomas Merritt senior, a parsil of 
Land conmionly called the Pine island which land is joyning to the 
said Merritt's medow and all other wayes bounded with salt water.' 

They likewise confirm to John Lyon a parcel of land ' lying 
against the mill betwen the cartway down into the nack and the 
mill creak bounded up the said creek by John Hoit's meddow and 
to Run down the said Creek till it comes to John Boyd's maddow 
provided the said John Lyon doe not praiadice the carte way into 
the nack nor the way to the mill naither shall hee hinder any par- 
son from settin up tliare field fence if they have accassion.' 

At the same meeting ' the said propriators do grant unto the toicne 
of Rye a parcell of Land of four Rodd square for the said towne 
sett a house upon Lying as convanient as may be on that lott where 
the town hous now stands.' 

Thev also grant unto Deliverance Brown a parcel of land ' be- 
low his first parcel of meadow commonly called the Scotch Capps 

November 28, 1G99, the proprietors exchange a certain lotment 
belonging to them for one that Richard Ogden holds ' lying at a 
place commonly called the pulpitt.' 

September 14, 1700, they appoint Hacaliah Browne and Isaac 
Denham to lay out a home-lot for Francis Purdy, junior, and John 
Merritt, junior, each, ' above the Lotte of Thomas Merits iuner.' 

August 29, 1707, a committee is appointed by the proprietors to 


' view tlie records to see wliether Joseph Studwell has any grant to 
change tlie thh'd part of a Lott lying by the Steep Hollow for Land 
ioining to his home Lott and if there be no such grant found as 
above said ' then they are ' to give the said Studwell -warning to pull 
the fence down about what land he hath fenced in which has not 
bin Layd out unto the said Studwell.' 

From time to time, at these meetings, a new division of the com- 
mon lands was ordered. Persons were chosen as ' layers out,' to 
define and distribute the new allotments. Their office was one of 
some responsibility, and not unfrequently, though the wisest and 
discreetest seem to have been chosen to it, their decisions appear 
to have failed to satisfy the parties interested. A report of a com- 
mittee of 'layers out' in 1711, shows among other things what 
care was exercised to guard the rights of orphans and non-resi- 
dents, a precaution of which we find other proofs beside : — 

' Know all men by these presents that we whose names are here 
imder writtne haveing binn chosen by the proprietors of peninggoe 
neck to Lay out severall divisions of Lands within the bounds of said 
proprietors as by the records reletion thereto being had may apere we 
have accordingly so done and do make returne to said proprietors in 
maner as followeth we have Layd out four divitions and in each divi- 
tion eightteen lottnients and have takne care to lay out the said lott- 
ments in each divition all so good each as the other in quantity or 
quallity according to the best of our discretion the said proprietors 
haueing takiie care when said divisions of lottments were drawn for in 
respect of orphans and forrainers and did allow of severall parsons to 
draw for their lottments in their behalfs whose names are hereafter 
expressed to say George Kniffen were allowed to draw in the behalf of 
the Odills and John Stoakham in the behalf of Samuell Banks and Mr. 
Isaac Denhain in the behalf of the Pearses and John Meritt in the 
behalf of John Boyd and John Disbrow in the behalf of his brother 
Peter Disbrow deceased the said lottments so drawn for with the num- 
bers thereof may appear upon records as wittness our hands this oOth 
day of November anno domlni 1711.' 

The allotments were of eighteen acres each. On the same day, 
a division of the ' Branch Ridge lots ' were made, of five acres 

Various other matters besides the distribution of lands eno-aged 
the attention of the proprietors. In 1711, they 'agree to build a 
school house upon their own charge.' In 1706, they lay out a 
tract of land for a sheep pasture. In 1709, they grant to Isaac 
Denham ' liberty to make a woulf pitt on the pull pitt plaine, and 
to fence in half an acre of land about ' it. 


One of the last meetings of the proprietors, of which we have 
any full account, was held November 23, 1731. At this meeting, 
a committee was chosen to lay out and distribute the undivided 
lands remaining, and sell, and appropriate the proceeds of the sale 
for their trouble. Some small parcels are mentioned as still left. 
About this time probably the affairs of the company were wound 
up, and it soon ceased to be.^ There were common lands held 
and distributed long after this period ; but these belonged to the 
town, being outside of the proper limits of the first purchase on 
Peningo Neck. 

A 'last division of Peningo Neck ' is mentioned in 1751, as hav- 
ing occurred since 1744. Among the lands then distributed was 
a tract on the Boston road, above the house where Mr. Ezrahiah 
Wetmore now lives. In this division a parcel of land was laid 
out *■ to the Lyons.' ^ 

1 It was so in other places where the proprietary system had prevailed. At Nor- 
wich, about the same time, — in 1740, — ' the final division of the common lands was 
made, the accounts of the proprietors closed, and their interests merged in those of 
the town.' (History of Norwich, by F. M. Caulkins, 1866, p. 95.) 

■^ Eye Records, D. 33 ; comp. C. 188. 




AT tlie time when Rye was settled, in 1660, there were 
within the present hmits of Connecticnt sixteen plantations 
dignified with the name of towns. Each of these was ,a petty 
commonwealth by itself, maintaining, within a certain district, a 
government of its own choice. Tlie inhabitants of this dis- 
trict elected their own local officers, framed their own codes, 
cared for their own common interests. Assembled in town meet- 
ing, they discussed and determined all questions relating to local 
improvements and expenses ; they took action as to the opening of 
roads, the building of bridges, the levying of taxes, the support of 
the poor, and many other matters. Tliey exercised also the right 
to grant or deny applications for admission to citizenship. Two 
deputies, chosen by a majority of voters in each town, took part 
with magistrates also chosen by the people in the general govern- 
ment. The legislature thus constituted, known as the General 
Coiu't, met in the spring and fall of each year at Hartford. 
With this law-making body, and a governor and other high 
officials of their own election, the people of Connecticut were 
already, more than a hundred years before the Revolution, an in- 
dependent State. 

Our little island settlement of Hastings was never a ' town,' in 
the strict sense of the word, though honored with that title in the 
records of the General Court. It was not enumerated among the 
plantations of the colony, nor had it any deputy in the Court. 
The following is the earliest mention of the settlement : — 

'Hartford, October 8th, 1663. 
' Ln' John Bud is appoynted Commissioner for the Town of Hast- 
ings, and is inuested [with] Magistraticall power within the limits of 
that Town. Rich : Vowles is appoynted Constable for the Town of 
Hastings, and Mr. Bud is to g[iue him his oath.'] ^ 

1 Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 413. 


In tlie records of the next fall meeting, October 13th, 1664, 
Rye is mentioned for the first time : — 

' This Court orders that Ln* Bud continue in his place of Com"^ for 
Hasting and Rye, untill the Court order otherwise, or the Goun' and 
Gent" that goe to New Yorke.' ^ 

At the following spring session, we find among the deputies at 
Hartford, ' Peter Disborough,' who is admitted to a seat as repre- 
sentative of the town of Rye, now and henceforth recognized as 
one of the plantations of the colony. The order to this effect has 
already been quoted, ' that the villages of Hastings & Rye shalbe 
for the future conioyned and make one Plantation ; and that it 
shalbe called by the appellation of Rye.' ^ 

October 12, 1665, Richard Vowles appears as deputy. Rye for 
the first time has a place in the ' List of Persons and Estates.' 
The several towns are ordered, at their meeting, to have ' a towne 
brand for horses,' and to choose a person who shall keep a record 
of the marks, ' naturall and artificiall,' of each horse so branded. 
The mark for this plantation is the capital letter R.^ 

JNIay 10, 1666, Lieutenant Budd is deputy. Rye is now in- 
cluded within county limits. ' From the east bounds of Stratford,' 
the Court orders, 'to y* west bounds of Rye shalbe for future 
one County w""^ shalbe called the County of Fairfield. And it 
is ordered that the County Court shalbe held at Fairfield on the 
second Tuesday in March and the first Tuesday in November 
yearly.' * 

May 9, 1667, the Court confirms Joseph Horton as ' Lieuten- 
ant to the trayn band of Rye. Mr. Richard Lawes [Law] and 
Mr. John Holly are chosen Commissioners for the Townes of Stand- 
ford, Greenwich & Rye, and to assist in the execution of justice 
at the courts at Fayrefield for the yeare ensuing.' The constable 
of Rye is to take his oath of office before Mr. Lawes.^ 

October 8, 1668, Rye sends two deputies to Hartford, jNIr. 
John Budd and Richard Vowles.^ The General Court fixes the 
allowance to be made by each town for the expenses of its deputies 
in attendino; the sessions, ' leaueino; each severall town to their 
liberty to send one or two to euery session, according to charter.' 
Rye, as the remotest plantation of the colony, must pay three 
pounds for this object. 

1 Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, p. 436. '^ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 13. 

3 Ibid. p. 28. * Ibid. p. 35. 5 ii^icl. p. 63. 

6 Ibid. p. 93. 


Ricliard Vowles is again chosen deputy in 1669.^ 

May 12, 1670, Mr. John Banks and ' Peter Disbroe' appear for 
Rye.^ Several of the inhabitants are propounded at this meeting 
as freemen : 'Joseph Horten, George Snuffene, Hackalyah Browne, 
Jonath : Fowles.' At the October session this year, Timothy 
Knap is deputy. 

May 11, 1671, Mr. John Banks and Peter Disbrow are sent 
again. The several plantations are now ordered for the futiare to 
pay ' for the hyer of their Deputies' horses, which they ride upon 
up to the seuerall sessions of the General! Courte.'^ At this ses- 
sion and the next, important action is taken relative to the extent 
of the territory of this and the neighboring towns. ' Tiiis Court 
grants the towne of Rye's bownds shall extend up into the country 
northward, twelve miles.' * May 9, 1672, the Court ' desires and 
appoynts Ln* Olmsteed, Mr. John Holly, Jonathan Lockwood and 
L°' Joseph Orton, a committee to measure on an east northeast 
lyne from Mamorenack River to the west bownds of Fayrefeild, 
and to make report to this Court in October next, the distance 
twixt the sayd places and the quantitie of miles belonging to each 
of those plantations. This to be don at the charge of the townes 
of Norwalke, Standford, Greenwich & Rye;'^ A similar com- 
mittee was appointed in 1673, ' to consider of those lands between 
Stratford and Momoreanoke River, that are not allready granted 
by 'order of the Court to any plantation; and to proportion them 
to the seuerall plantations between Stratford and Momoranoke 
River, as they judge may be most equal and accommadating to 
the plantations as now they are setled.' ^ 

In the same year the General Court confirmed the report of a 
committee appointed to settle the bounds and dividing lines of the 
several towns in Fairfield County. ' The bownds between Green- 
wich and Rye,' according to this act, ' is to be from the mouth of 
Byram Riv^er, to runn up the River one quarter of a mile above 
the great stone lyeing in the cross path by the s*^ Riuer ; and from 
thence the sayd comons, upwards, between Standford bownds and 
the Colony line, is to be equally diuided between them by a par- 
alell line w* Standford and Norwalke, to the end of their bownds 
up in the countrey.' "^ 

October 12, 1676, the Court appoints a committee ' to put a 
value upon all the lands in the severall plantations,' determining 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 106. 2 /^^-^ p 127. 

3 /6/(/. p. 154. ^ Ibid. p. 151. ^ Ibid. ^.114:. 

^ Ibid. p. 195. 7 Jhid. p. 203. 


the rate of their valuation in the hsts of estates. Lands at Rye 
are to be estimated ' as Stonington,' namely, ' for one fowerth of 
their improved land by tillage, moweing and English pasture, to 
be listed twenty shillings p'' acre ; the other three partes at tenn 
shilhngs p"" acre ; and all other lands perticulerly impropriated by 
fence at one shilling per acre.' ^ 

May 9, 1678, Lieutenant Joseph Horton of Rye is ' commission- 
ated to grant warrants and to marry persons.' This appointment 
is repeated in the two following years, and in 1681 Mr. Horton is 
made commissioner, or justice of the peace, for the town.^ 

At the October session, 1681, Peter Disbrow is deputy from 
Rye. We learn that our little settlement has lately witnessed a 
calamity which in those days must have been peculiarly distress- 
ing. ' This Court considering the great losse that hath befallen 
Peter Disbrow by fver, doe remitt unto him his country rate for 
the year ensueing.' ^ 

May, 1682, Mr. John Ogden of Rye presents himself at the 
meeting of the Court, and obtains a grant of ' twenty acres of 
land to make a pasture, provided he take it up where it may not 
prejudice the colony's interest nor any perticuler persons former 
grants.' "^ He has, however, a more important matter to lay be- 
fore the magistrates. The people of Rye complain that sundry 
persons, and particularly Mr. Frederick Philipse, have been making 
improvements of land within their bounds. Mr. Philipse has been 
building certain mills, near unto Hudson's River ; encroaching 
thereby upon the town's territory, which is believed to extend in a 
northwesterly direction from the mouth of ' Mamorroneck River ' 
to the Hudson, and even beyond. Mr. Ogden, coming home, is 
the bearer of a letter from the General Court to the governor of 
New York, gravely remonstrating against such unneighborly pro- 
ceedings, and reminding him that by the agreement made in 1664, 
a line runnino; north-northwest from the mouth of Mamaroneck 
River to the Massachusetts line, was to be the dividing line be- 
tween Connecticut and New York.^ 

Timothy Knap is deputy in October, 1683, and obtains remit- 
tance from certain fines imposed upon himself and upon Caleb 
Hyat as constables of Rye, for failure to make up the payment of 
the country rate.^ 

This was the las't meeting of the General Court of Hartford, 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 294, 295. 

2 Ibid. vol. iii. p. 5. 3 Ibid. p. 89. ^ Ihid. p. 102. 
5 Ibid. pp. 100, 313. 6 Ibid. pp. 128, 129. 


at which deputies from Rye were present, until the revolt of the 
town to Connecticut some years later. In the following month, 
November 28, 1683, Rye was ceded to the province of New 
York, according to the articles of agreement then concluded for 
the establishment of the boundary line. It speaks well certainly 
for the town that during the twenty years of their connec- 
tion with the colony, from 1664 to 1683, the inhabitants should 
have sent up one of their number, and sometimes two, to the leg- 
islature every year. A long, weary, perilous journey on horse- 
back, over roads 'from plantation to plantation,' the neglected 
state of which is vividly described in an order of 1684, ' the 
wayes being incumbred with dirty slowes, bushes, trees and stones 
&c.' when wolves and ' panters,' not to speak of the red- 
skinned savages, were so numerous that ' for the encouragement 
of the good people to destroy those pernicious creatures,' the gov- 
ernment frequently offered a liberal bounty.^ Mr. John Banks, 
Peter Disbrow, and Timothy Knap served most frequently as 
deputies ; Mr. Banks, who lived part of the time at Fairfield, and 
so had a shorter distance to travel, attending sometimes two ses- 
sions or more in the same year. 

Rye remained unwillingly for some years beneath the rule of New 
York, until smarting under certain grievances, the story of which 
we shall tell further on, the inhabitants ' revolted ' back to Con- 
necticut. They were strongly attached to the colony, and it would 
seem that even while submittino; outwardly to the new oovernment, 
they made overtures to their former friends, asking to be received 
back. Thus as early as 1686, we find them applying for a patent, 
doubtless in view of an order which the General Court had issued 
the year before to all the towns within its jurisdiction, relative to 
the securing of charters for their lands. November 23, ' the town 
empowered Benjamin Colyer and John Brondige to treat with the 
governor for a general patent for the township of Rye.' The pro- 
prietors of Peningo Neck at the same time authorized these per- 
sons to obtain a particular patent in their behalf for the said 
Neck.2 The Court, it appears, however well inclined, did not 
see fit just then to grant either of those applications.^ Again, in 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. pp. 30, 157 ; vol. iv. p. 135, etc. 

- Bolton, History Westchester County, ii. 29. These facts were apparently derived 
from our lost volume of town records. 

3 Mr. Bolton says, ' The general patent appears to have been granted, for on the 
28th of Feb. 1686-7, occur certain " charges, arising from the business between Richard 
Patrick and the town of Rye, and all the expenses of procuring a patent, for the 
bounds and privileges of the said town." ' The inference is unfounded, as the charges 


1692, at the October session of the General Court, ' jSP Under- 
liill of Rve and Zachary Roberts of Bedford ' were in attend- 
ance, and the Court granted tliem an allowance for their expenses 
in coming, ' to be payd at Standford out of the country rate.' ^ 
But the time for this step did not arrive until five years later. At 
a meeting of the Governor and Council, January 19, 1697, Thomas 
jSIerritt and Deliverance Brown appear in behalf of ' tlie town of 
Rie,' with the i-equest that this plantation may be owned as in- 
cluded within the colony, and tliat a charter may be granted to 
them for their lands. The petition is granted, and a patent for 
the town is ordered to be prepared forthwith. It is now printed, 
we believe, for the first time : — 


' Whereas the Hon'^'^ Gen" Court of the Colonie of Connecticutt 
have on May the fourteenth day 1685 ordered and declared that every 
town within the said Colonie should take out Pattents or Charters for 
their several] grants of Lands Given them by the said Gen" Court Or 
derived by purchase or otherwise obtained, which Pattents they did 
order should be made and Given to them vnder the seal of the Colonie 
and hands of the Govern"' and Secretary. And that such Pattents 
shall be a sufficient Evidence for all and every township that hath the 
same to all Intents and purposes for the holding the said lands firme to 
them their heirs successors and assignes forever According to the 
Tenor ■^ given by his Maiestie Charles the second In his Charter bear- 
ing date the three and twentieth day of Aprill. in the fourteenth year 
of his Reign. And the said Gen" Court having granted and assigned 
to severall persons a certain township to be known by the Name of 
Rie bounded westward eight JNliles upon the Dividing Line be- 
tween the Province of Newyork and the Colonie of Connecticutt 
according as it was settled by his Maiesties Comissioners as appears 
by their act or Report thereupon. And Eastward on a line begin- 
ning at the mouth of Byrain River and Running up the said River one 
quarter of a mile above the Great Stone lying in the path by the 
said River and from thence Continued by a parralel Line eight miles 
into the Coun'trey and bounded southward upon the sea and northward 
upon the Wildernesse. Now know all men by these presents that I 
Robert Treat Esqr Govern'' of his Majesties Colonie of Connecticutt. 
have given granted bargaind enfeoffed and Confirmed. And by these 

might just as well accrue from an unsuccessful attempt. It is certain, moreover, that 
no patent was granted by Connecticut until the revolt of 1697 ; and quite as clear 
that the people of Rye never sought nor obtained a charter from New York until long 
after that escapade. 

^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iv. p. 83. '- Tenure. 


presents doe give grant bargain eiifeoffe and Coiifirnie unto Joseph 
Theale Thomas Merritt. Deliverance Brown, John Ilorton, Joseph 
Horton, Francis Purdie, Ileclialiah Brown, Tiniothie Knap, George 
Lane, and John Merritt, their heirs assignes and their Associates for-* 
ever. All that part or parcell of Land which lies and is Contained 
Avithin the bovuuls above-mentioned. ' With all and singular the Lands, 
hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever are thereunto belonging 
or any way appertaining to the same or any part thereof. As of his 
Majesties mannor of East Greenwich [in Kent] to Have and to hold in 
free and Comon Soccage, And not in Capite nor by Knight Service- 
Excepting and reserving for his Majeslie his heirs and successors the 
fift part of all the Oar of Gold and Silver which shall be found therein 
from time to time. In witnesse whereof the said Robert Treat with the 
Secretary of the Colonie have hereunto annexed our hands and afixed 
Our Colonie Seal, this two and twentieth day of January Anno Domini 
1696.-^ And in the eighth year of the reign of our Soveraign Lord Wil- 
liam by the Grace of God of England Scotland France and Ireland 
King Fidei Defensor : Always provided that nothing herein Contained 
shall Extend or be understood or taken to Impeach or preiudice any 
Right, title. Interest or demand, which any person or persons hath or 
have or claim to have, of into or out of any part of the said township 
situated within the Limitts above-mentioned according to the Laws and 
Gen" Customes of this Colonie but that all and every such person and 
persons May and shall have hold, and enioy the same in such maner as 
if these presents had not been Made. 

R. Treat, Gov'' 

Eleazar Kijiberly, ASecrer* ' ^ 

The dispute with New York regarding tliis revolt of the town 
of Rye will be related in another chapter. The town remained 
nearly four years connected with the colony. At the meeting of 
the General Court, May 13, 1697, ' Mr. Vmphrie Vnderhill,' and 
Mr. Deliverance Brown took their seats as de])uties. Tlie Court 
'did by their vote declare their approbation of tlie act of tlie Coun- 
cill Jan. the 19*' 1696 [1697], in undertaking tlie protection of 
the townes of Rie and Bedford as members of this corporation, 
and appointed John Horton Lieu' for the town of Rie, and John 
Lyon to be their Ensign.' ^ 

At the next spring session, 3Iay 12, 1698, Mr. Joseph Horton 
was representative from Rye. Captain Humphrey Underliill was 
sent to the Court in October of the same year. Deliverance 
Brown, of Rye, was appointed one of the Justices of tlie County 

1 1697, New Style. 

2 Colony Book of Deeds, Patents, etc. [MS.] Hartford : vol. ii. p. 251. 



of Fairfield.^ And in October, 1699, the deputies of this town ap- 
peared for the last time. Tiiey were ' M'' Tho' Merritt,' and 'Lieut 
Jn'^ Horton.' The following year, the king having decided the 
boundary controversy adversely to tlie claims of Connecticut, the 
Court gave order, October, 1700, that ' a signification thereof be 
sent to the inhabitants of Rye and Bedford, signed by the Secre- 
tary, that they are freed from duty to this goverm' and that they 
are under the governi* of Newyorke.' ^ 


GENERAL COURT, 1664-1700. 



Lut John Budd. 



Peter Disbroc. 



Richard Vowles. 



Timothy Knap. 



Lt. Bud. 



John Brundi^e. 



Mr. Jno Bud. 



Mr. John Bankes. 



Mr. John Budd, 



Mr. John Bancks. 

Richard Vowles. 



Timothy Knap. 



Richard Fowels. 



Peter Disbrough. 



Mr. John Banks, 



Mr. John Bankes. 

Peter Disbroe. 



John Braudige. 



Timothy Knap. 



Peter Disbroe. 



Mr. John Banckes, 



Timothy Napp. 

Peter Disbroc. 



Timothy Kuap. 



Mr. John Bankes, 
Mr. Jos : Orton. 



Mr. Vmphrie Vnderliill, 
Mr. Deliverance Brown. 



Mr. John Bancks. 



Mr. Joseph Horton. 



Mr. John Bankes. 



Capt" Vmphrie Vnder- 



Peter Disbroe. 




Mr. John Ogden. 


, 1699 

Mr. Tho^ Men-it, 



Mr. John Bankes. 

Lieu' Jno Horton. 



Mr. John Bankes. 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. 

iv. p. 261. 

•■2 Ibid. p. 335. 


Harrison's purchase. 

' Heathcote himself, and such large-acred men, 
Lords of fat Esham, or of Lincoln Fen.' 


FROM the facts already gathered, it is plain that the early 
proprietors of this town were bond fide settlers. They came 
hither with an honest purpose to remain, and cultivate the soil, and 
live by it, and establish homes for their children. Their land was 
owned in common till it could be parcelled out to advantage in 
equal shares, and in such quantities as might be speedily improved. 
This was the uniform ])olicy of the New England colonist. Rye, 
the last town of Connecticut, well represents, as to the spirit and 
the method of its settlement, the previous plantations of that colony. 

But it was quite otherwise in the province of New York, to 
which our planters soon found themselves unwillingly annexed. 
The little stream of Blind Brook separated them from a region in 
which land speculation was as rife as it has ever* been in the ' far 
West.' Under the rule of the Dutch, vast domains had been given 
away to wealtjiy merchants or gentry. ^ One of these estates had 
passed into the hands of Frederick Phillips, who now owned the 
whole of the western part of Westchester County south of Croton 
River, between the Hudson and the Bronx. 

The English governors of New York were quite as generous as 
their Dutch predecessors in giving away the public lands. Grants 
were made to individuals who succeeded in gaining their favor, 
of tracts that covei'ed in many places from fifty to one hundred 
tliousand acres, and in more than one instance, it is said, of as 
many as a million acres. Colonel Fletcher and Lord Cornbury 

1 The charter of the West India Company, in 1629, provided that whoever would 
within five years plant a colony of fifty souls above fifteen years old, was to become 
Lord of the Manor, or Patron, and should possess in absolute property the lands he 
might so colonize. These lands might extend sixteen miles in length, or if they lay 
along a river, eiglit miles upon cacii bank, and as far into the interior as circum- 
stances might require. 


were especially distinguished for the lavish way in which they 
squandered the property of the crown — not without suspicion of 
interested motives. So carelessly were the patents for these grants 
bestowed, that not unfrequently they intrenched upon the bounda 
ries of lands previously taken up, or completely absorbed them. 

The people of Rye were sufferers to a considerable extent from 
this abuse. Their principal troubles related to the tract of land 
since known as Harrison's Purchase. This tract was situated 
above Westchester Path, between Blind Brook and Maniaroneck 
River, and extended as f\r north as Rye Pond. It was, we have 
seen, one of the earliest purchases of the settlers of Rye. On the 
second of June, 1662, Peter Disbrow and his companions bought 
from certain Indians a territory ' above Westchester Path.' Four 
years later, John Budd bought a more extensive tract, including 
this, and reaching to a distance of sixteen miles north of West- 
chester Path. But like most otlu>r inland purchases of our 
settlers, these lands had remained hitherto unimproved. 

Meantime, an individual named John Harrison, in the year 
1695, disregarding these claims, bargained with an Indian who 
professed to be ' the true owner and proprietor,' for the purchase 
of the territory north of Westchester Path. In the same year, 
Colonel Fletcher, the provincial governor of New York, gave an 
order for the survey of Harrison's Purchase ; and shortly after, a 
patent was granted by the British government to Harrison and 
certain others whom he had associated with him, for the whole of 
this tract. 

By this summary measure, the people of Rye were despoiled of 
a most important part of their rightful possessions. It was a loss 
felt by each proprietor, for each had an interest in the undivided 
lands, to the distribution of which he looked forward as a provision 
for Ills children. The only show of reason for this act of spolia- 
tion was in the fact that the inhabitants of Rye were as yet with- 
out a patent for their lands under the government of New York. 
In 1685, Governor Dongan had issued a proclamation to the in- 
habitants of Rye and Bedford, requiring them to appear before 
him and prove their title to the lands upon which tliey were seated. 
This summons, it appears, had not been obeyed. The sympathies 
of the people were with the colony from which they came, and to 
which they yet hoped permanently to belong. Tiieir rights besides 
had been amply recognized bv Connecticut, and they doubtless saw 
no propriety in the requirement to obtain a patent from New York. 

But nothing could justifv the arbitrary measure by which these 


lands were wrested from the town. It was an act simply worthy 
of its perpetrator — one of the most unscrupulous of the bad men 
who with few exceptions were sent to fill the place of provincial 
o-overnor of New York. Colonel Fletcher was notorious for the 
extravaoance with which he disposed of the public lands.^ His 
course in this respect was so flagrant that his successor in office ap- 
j)iied to the British government for power to annul all the grants 
wiiich he had made. ' They are so extravagant,' writes Lord 
Bellomont, ' that the province can never be peopled.' ^ ' There are 
u'.any complaints,' he reports, ' against them, many people being 
violently stripped of their lands by these grants, supported by the 
I'avour of former governors.' 

The people of Rye, when they heard of Harrison's design, 
doubtless used every means within their reach to prevent its ex- 
ecution. One of their number, the grandson of the original pur- 
chaser of Budd's Neck, was especially earnest in opposing the 
grant, on the ground tiiat it conflicted with the rights acquired by 
his ancestor. Harrison's petition to the Council represented that 
he had bought 'a tract of vacant and unappropriated, uncultivated 
land in y" County of Westchester, bounded on the north by Rye 
Pond, on the east by Blind brook, on the west by Mamaroneck 
river, and on the south by the land of Joseph Budd.' ' At a 
Council held at his Majesty's fort in New York the 13th of Feb- 
ruary, 1695-96,' Harrison's petition was referred to the Attorney- 
General, Major Austin Graham, Surveyor-General, Justice Theale, 
Joseph Purely and Joseph Horton, or any three of them, ' to in- 
quire into the manner of circumstances of said land, and make re- 
])ort.' Their report, dated February 17th, states that ' Humphrey 
Underbill appeared in behalf of Josej)!! Budd, son and heir to John 
Budd deceased, and produced an Indian Grant dated December 8, 
1661, alleging that the same did contain tlie lands mentioned.' 

1 ' The most extraordinary favors of former governors,' wrote Cadwallader Golden, 
siuvevor-general of the province, in 1732, 'were but petty grants in comparison of 
his. lie was a generous man, and gave tlie lying's lands by parcels of upwards of 
one liundred thousand acres to a man, and to some particular favorites four or five 
times that quantity. But the king was not pleased with him, as I am told, and he 
was recalled in disgrace. This lavishing away of lands probably was one reason.' 
(Report on the State of the Lands in the Province of New York : Documentan/ His- 
torif of New York, vol. i. p. 380.) 

- Lord Bellomont to Secretary Popple, July 7, 1C98 : Documents relating to the 
Colonial History of New York, vol. iv. p. .327. In a subsequent letter to the Lords 
of the Admiralty, he instances some of them, — ' to let your Lordships see that man's ! 
fraud to the Crown. To Mr. Godfrey Dellius, a grant of land 86 miles in length, 20 1 
and some say 2.5 miles in breadth. To Col. Bayard a grant of about 40 miles long] 
and 30 miles broad,' etc. (New York Colonial MSS., vol. iv. p. 780.) 


The committee found the deed to contain a description of ' a tract 
of land called Apawanis, bounded on the east by Mackquam River, 
on the south by the sea against Long Island, on the west by Poce- 
cottsevvack River, and on the north by marked trees near West- 
chester Path ; together with range for feeding and range for cattle, 
and to fell trees tw-enty miles north.' This land, they say, is 
altogether disclaimed by Harrison ; the tract purchased by him 
lying north of said marked trees. Underbill was asked whether 
he had any other objection to advance, and replied that he had at 
home an Indian deed which justified Budd's claim to the soil for 
sixteen miles north of the marked trees; but he did not bring it 
along with him, for it was old and spoiled, being dated in 1666 ; 
but he had a copy of the deed, which he gave to Colonel Heathcote, 
who left it before the Governor and Council. The committee 
could not examine this paper, but humbly referred the matter to 
the Council.^ 

The document which Underbill thus unfortunately failed to pro- 
duce was undoubtedly the deed of April 29th, 1666, by which 
Shanarocke and others conveyed a tiact between Blind Brook and 
Mamaroneck River, extending ' sixteen English miles from West- 
chester Path up into the country.' And it was also, as Ave have 
seen, to all appearance the same tract which, four years earlier, 
June 2, 1662, the purchasers of Peningo Neck, Disbrow, Coe, and 
Studwell, had bought together with Budd. Both parties, the in- 
habitants of Rye in general and the proprietor of Budd's Neck, 
were now to lose a territory for which, had they claimed it jointly 
and without disjiute among themselves, they could certainly have 
made a stronger plea. As it was, no regard seems to have been 
paid by the Council to either claim. The lands were granted to 
Harrison, and the people of Rye 'revolted' back to Connecticut. 

The individuals to whom this grant was made, were William 
Nicolls, David Jamison, Ebenezer Wilson,'-^ John Harrison,-^ and 
Samuel Haight. Nicolls was a member of Colonel Fletcher's 
Council ; Jamison was clerk of the Council ; Wilson was sheriff of 
the city of New York, and a prominent merchant. All these men 
stood high in the governor's favor, and were largely concerned in 

1 County Records at White Plains, vol. B. pp. 259-261. 

2 The patent for Harrison's Purchase, as given hy Mr. Bolton {Ilistonj nf Westr 
rliesier County, vol. i. pp. 249-251), reads Ebenezer Williams — undoubtedly a clerical 
error. The name is Wilson in the partition deed as entered in the Records of the 
town of Rye, vol. D. pp. 280-283, and in the patent itself; see Appendix. 

'^ In his petition for a patent, he signs his name John Harrijson- Little is known 
about him. Mr. Bolton supposes him to be the son of John Harrison of Xcwtown, 
L. I., in 1655 — father of John and Samuel. 


the land grants wliicli lie niade.^ Of course the humble fanners 
of Peningo Neck had no influence to weigh against the interests of 
a company so powerfully manned. 

Under this grievance, the town of Rye seceded. It renounced 
the authority of the provincial government, and returned to the 
colony of Connecticut. We do not greatly wonder at the seces- 
sion. The provocation was great and the temptation strong. It 
is more surprising that the Connecticut government should have 
received the rebellious town. But there was much bitter feeling 
just at this time between the two colonies, growing out of the un- 
settled state of the question as to their boundaries. We shall see 
in the next chapter what passed between the colonial governments 
relative to this secession. Meanwhile, for four years Rye was a 
part of Connecticut. From 1C97 to 1700, inclusive, the inhabitants 
designated themselves as living in Rye, 'in the county of Fairfield, 
in tiie colony of Connecticut.' ^ They applied to the General 
Court at Hartford for the settlement of any matters in dispute, and 
the Court seems to have considered and disposed of such applica- 
tions precisely as in the case of any town east of Byram Rlver.^ 

We have a curious account of the state of feeling among the 
good people of Rye during this interval. It occurs in a letter of 
Colonel Heathcote, written after a visit to Rye, the object of which 
was to persuade the malcontents to submit with a good grace. 
Colonel Heathcote writes to the Governor and Council: — 

' Westchestei!, Ftby 19, 1G96-97. 
' Gkntlemen, — I had long ere this given you an account of my Rye 
Expedition, had I not at my coming here been kept Prisoner a Fort- 
night or three weeks by reason of the weather and a nimble distemper ; 
.... from which so soon as I was disengaged I proceeded and called 
a meeting of y*^ Inhabitants, taking particular care to have the Ring- 
leaders summonsed ; and enquired of them the reason of the Revolt. 
They told nie that the grant to Harrison and his associates was so great 
an Injury to 'em that their town was nothing without it, and that they 

1 Jamison is stated to have been ' first in Col. Fletcher's confidence and favour, 
above all others, and enriclied himself by the grants of land sold by Col. Fletcher, he 
having a share for brokerage.' (Documents, etc.. Colonial History of New York, vol. 
iv. p. 400.) He afterwards became Chief Justice of New Jersey, and later, Attorney- 
General of New York. Nicols, a man of great influence and highly connected, was 
an ardent supporter of Fletcher. Captain Ebenezer Wilson was a prominent 
merchant of New York, sheriff of the city at the time, and afterwards mayor. (Doc- 
uments, etc., vol. iv. pp. 377, 5.55 ; 25 stq. ; 769,783, etc.) 

■■^ Some twenty deeds on record, within these years, arc tluis dated. Those entered 
immediately before and after are dated ' in tiie county of Westchester and ])rovince of 
New York.' (Town Records, vol. B. pp. 72-168.) 

3 Sec the action on the bounds of Rye and Greenwich, given in the next chapter. 


had as good lose all as that ; and a great Deal of Stuff to that effect. 
I asked them why they did not take out a Patent ^ when it was tendered 
them. They said they never heard that they could have one. I told 
them that their argument might pass with such as knew nothing of y* 
matter, but that I knew better ; for that to my certain knowledge they 
might have had a patent had they not rejected it ; and that it was so 
far from being done in haste or in the Dark, that not a boy in the whole 
Town nor almost in the County but must have heard of it ; and that I 
nnist always be a witness against them, not only of the many messages 
they have had from the Government about it, but likewise from myself. 
At which thej' began to be divided amongst themselves, some saying It 
was true, others that those the Crown had employed had proved false to 
'em. After a great Deal of time spent in argument on this and other 
subjects, I endeavoured to make them sensible of y*^ risque they run in 
this affair. But they seemed Deaf to all I could say, arguing that the 
Government of Connectiticut had taken them under their Protection, 
and shewed me a blind sort of a Paper from under Kemblell's - hand to 
y* effect. When I found I could do no good with the herd, I talked sep- 
arately w''' some of y'' Hottest of 'em ; which seemed to take some Im- 
pression ; and I desired them to talk with their neighbours, and lett me 
know their minds against I came y*^ way again, that I might be able to 
serve them before it was run so far that it would be out of my Power. 

' I told them as to the last purchase, wherein I was concerned, if that 
gave them any dissatisfaction, I would not only quit my claim, but use 
my interest in getting them any part of it they should desire. Their 
answer was, they valued not that ; it was Harrison's patent that was 
their ruin. 

' I intend. God willing, before my return to Yorke, to throw one .Jour- 
ney more away upon them, tho' I despair of Successe therein. How- 
ever my utmost Endeavours shall not be wanting therein. I am. Gen- 
tlemen, in much sincerity, your most obed' and affect"" serv' 

Calkb Heathcote.' ^ 

1 The granting of patents was a favorite mode of raising money with the provin- 
cial governors of New York. New England men ever regarded it as a most unjust 
exaction. Sir Edmund Andros, who was made governor of New York and New 
England in 1688-89 declared, on arriving here, that the titles of the colonists to their 
lands were of no value at all. Indian deeds, he said, were no better than the scratch 
of a bear's paw. ' Not the fairest purchases and the most ample conveyances from 
the natives,' remarks Trumbull, ' no dangers, disbursements, nor labours, in cultivat- 
ing a wilderness, and turning it into orchards, gardens, and pleasant fields, no grants 
by charter, nor by legislatures constituted by tliem, no declarations of pretending 
kings, nor of his then present majesty, were pleas of any validity or consideration 
with Sir Edmund and his minions. The purchasers and cultivators, after fifty and 
sixty years' improvement, were obliged to take out patents for their estates. For 
these, in some instances, a fee of fifty pounds was demanded. Writs of intrusion 
were issued against persons of principal character who would not submit to such 
impositions, and their lands were patented to others.' (History of Connecticut, i. 37.3.) 

2 /. e., Kimherly's ; see page 94, ^ N, Y. Col. MSS., Albany : vol. xli. p. 36. 


The inhabitants of" Rye obtained no redress. For four years 
they enjoyed the happiness of belongino- once more to the ' land 
of steady-- habits.' And tlien in 1700, the king's order in Council 
placed them back witliin tlie jurisdiction they had renounced, 
' forever thereafter to be and remain under the government of the 
Province of New York.' The people acquiesced in this decision ; 
and the following action of the town is the record of the last 
protest made against an unrighteous procedure to which they were 
obliged in the end to submit: — 

'At a lawful towne meeting held in Rye, September the 29, 1701, 
Deliverance Browne, senior, is chosen to goe down to New York to 
make the town's aggrievances knowne unto the Governor and Council, 
and alsoe to make inquiry concerning the Claim that John Harrison 
makes to our Lands, and to use what methods he shall see good for 
securing the towne's interest.' -^ 

' At a lawful towne meeting held in Rye, February 1702-3, the towne 
hath by a major vote chosen Capt. Theale and George Lane, senior, 
and Isaac Denham, to forewarne any person or jDersons that shall lay 
out any Lands within the towne bounds without the towne's approbation 
or order: that is to say, within the township of Rye.' ^ 

The purchase was owned in common by the five patentees, who 
soon divided it up among themselves in equal shares.^ Harrison 

1 Town and Proprietoi's' Meeting;- Book, No. C. p. 20. 

■^ Ibid. p. 13. 

8 The following advertisement appeared in the New York Gazette and Weekly Mer- 
cury, Monday, Marcli 18, 1771 : — ; 

'If any Person has in his keeping the Partition Deed that was made between the 
Patentees of Harrison's Purchase, in the County of Westchester, and will notify 
where he may be applied to, by a Letter to the Printer hereof, he will aftbrd a great 
Pleasure to the Proprietors, and may expect a handsome Reward for his Trouble. 
The Patentees were Harrison, Nicolls, Haight, Wilson, and William Jamison. The 
Deed must have been made about the Year 1700, and is likely to be among some old 
Papers about Flushing, on Long Island.' 

The deed appears to have come to light hereupon with very little delay — an early 
proof of the advantage of newspaper advertisement — for on the twenty-eighth of June, 
1771, the recovered document was admitted to be recorded, and we have it in full in 
the Records of the town of Rye, vol. D. pp. 280-283. It sets forth that the tract of 
land in question was bought by John Harrison in 1695, with funds belonging to his 
four associates equally with himself, and that the purchase was made in their behalf 
also ' in a joint and equal right and interest, and not otherwise,' to be held by the five 
purchasers 'as tenants in common, without any right, claim or demand of survivor- 
ship by reason of joint tenancy upon the death of all or any of the said parties.' The 
deed is dated November 10, 1700, and is signed by W. Nicols, Ebenezer Wilson, David 
Jamison, Samuel Haight, and John Harrison. The following statement is prefixed 
to Harrison's signature : — 

' This may satisfy whom it may conccrne that I underwritten doth assign over all 
my right, title and interest of this deed to Major William Lawrence, his heirs and 
assigns forever; as witness my hand this twenty-third day of May, 1702. 

John Harrison.' 


sold his intei-est to William Lawrence in 1702 ; Nicols and Wilson 
probably parted with theirs soon after. The only one of the orig- 
inal patentees who retained his portion was Samuel Haight, the 
ancestor of a prominent family of the town, in whose possession it 
remained until a comparatively recent day. Samuel Haight, like 
Harrison himself and Lawrence, was a native of Flushing, Long 
Island. He belono;ed to the Societv of Friends. Indeed, nearlv all 
the settlers of this purchase came from Flushing and other towns 
of Long Island ; ^ and most of these were of the same religious 
persuasion.^ It appears to have been from the first a ' Quaker ' 
settlement, and from the fact that one of the original patentees 
was a leading member of that body, we are led to believe that such 
was designed to be the character of the enterprise from the first. 
A ' Friends' meeting house ' existed here as early as the year 
1727. A few of the inhabitants of Rye bought lands in this sec- 
tion, but in no such numbers as removed to the White Plains and 
other purchases." 

Brown's Point, now a part of the town of Harrison, but border- 
ing on AVhite Plains, appears to have been held at first as a tract 

1 ' John Harrisox, late of Flushing in Queen's County/ and ' Samuel Haight 
of riushing-,' are thus named in the partition de^d above referred to. In 1750, 
Samuel Harrison, supposed to be a brother of John, was living in the purchase. (Rye 
Records, C. 2.55.) William Lawrence, 'of Flushing,' is mentioned (Records, C. 
118.) The following persons, who were early settlers in the purchase, are also known 
to have come from the same place : William Fo^yLER (Records, B. 180, C. 45), 
William Marsh {Hid. C. 118), William Thorxe (Ibid.), Hexrt Fraxklin 
{Ibid. C. 255, 261), Asthoxy Field (Bolton, History of Westchester Count)/, i. 259). 

Thomas Tredwell and Johx Thomas were from Hempstead, L. I. So, proba- 
bly, was Richard Seaman. (Rye Records, D. 148.) Thomas was the son of a 
missionary of the Church of England settled in that town. Samuel Cheesemax was 
from Oyster Bay {Ibid. C. 14), Thomas Carpexter, ' of the island of Nassau,' 
probably from the same town {Ibid. T). 149). 

- ' The Humble Petition of Samuel Haight, John Way and Robert Field on behalf 
of themselves and the rest of the Freeholders of Queen's County of the persuasion 
and profession of the people called Quakers,' was addressed to Governor Nanfan, of 
New York, October .3d, 1701. They complain that in a late election of representa- 
tives in Queen's County, they and others were interrupted of their right and priv- 
ilege of voting by the justices. {Documentary History of JVew York, vol. iii. 1007.) 

The Society of Friends had numerous adherents in the towns of Long Island. 
Lists given in the Documentary History of New York, vol. iii. pp. 1027-.30, contain 
several of the names above given. Compare also Thompson's History of Long Island, 
vol. ii. p. 68, seq. 

^ Roger Park, of Rye, had acquired lands in Harrison's Purchase, which are owned 
by some of the name at the present day, as early as 1740. (Records, C. 170.) Rev. 
James Wetmore owned a farm in the lower part of the purchase. William Horton 
owned lands on 'Brown's point,' near St. Marj-'s Pond, in 1757. {Ibid. D. 116, 178 ) 
Gilbert Bloomer owned in 1743 a farm which lie then sold to Thomas Carpenter, 
situated where Mr. Charles Park has latelv bought. 


distinct from either purchase. The principal proprietors in the 
lower part of this tract were Obadiah and David, sons of Joseph 
Purdy, who owned lands situated liere at the time of his death in 
1709. Home-lots of fifteen acres each were owned here in 1725, 
by John Haight, Caleb Hyat, Abraham Miller, Francis La Count, 
and others. In 1749, Daniel Cornell sold his house and 130 acres 
on Brown's Point ' near Mamaroneck River,' to Daniel Merritt. 
In 1739, Walter Williams sold eighty acres at the same place to 
Eliezur Yeomans. In 1752, David Purdy sold sixty-six acres 
' on Brown's Point near the White Plains ' to Michael Chatterton ; 
bounded west by John Horton's mill-pond, and east by Mamaro- 
neck River. In 1757, William Hooker Smith, oldest son of the 
Rev. John Smith, of Rye, owned land on Brown's Point, and in 
1769, Thomas Smith, his younger brother, bought a house and 
thirteen acres of land, beginning at the bridge across the Causeway 
Brook, and lying between the brook and the road to John Hor- 
ton's mill. Here, in a house which is still standing. Dr. Smith 
passed the last years of his life. 

Harrison's Purchase was first settled about the year 1724. The 
earliest transfers of land in this tract are of that date, and the 
first local officers for this part of the town were appointed then. 
We find Samuel Field chosen as ' surveyor for haryesns pattne ' 
in 1724, and ' sheep-master ' in 1725 ; and Roger Park, chosen as 
'pounder' in 1729. Until the Revolution, the inhabitants of the 
purchase participated with those of Rye in the transaction of town 
business, without any other distinction than that of having their own 
bfficers for the discharge of these local functions. In 1773 the 
board of supervisors for Westchester County refused to recognize a 
supervisor for Harrison, as distinct from the town of Rye.^ Har- 
rison also formed one of the six precincts of the parish of Rye, 
under the semi-ecclesiastical system of which we shall speak in an- 
other chapter. Elsewhere we shall also give an account of the 
Society of Friends in the purchase, and of various interesting oc- 
currences within this part of the town during the Revolution. It 
only remains for us to add here, that Harrison was organized as a 
separate township on the seventh of March, 1788. 

1 Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Westchester for 1869 ; 
Appendix, pp. 9, 10. 











T has been tlie fortune of 
the town of Rye to be con- 
cerned from the first in a bound- 
ary dispute which has been 
l)ronounced ' one of the most 
remarkable on record.' ^ This 
controversy has referred to the 
hne separating the Dutch terri- 
tory of New Netherland, after- 
ward the British province of 
New York, from the coh)ny of 
Connecticut. The differences 
that arose in this connection 
were a fruitful source of un- 
easiness and strife to our inhab- 
itants for a period of seventy 
years and more. This prac- 
tical inconvenience ceased in 
the year 1731, when the line 
was at length virtually fixed 
where it is now considered to 
be. But, strictly speaking, the 
question is an open one even yet. Strange to say, after a lapse 
of two hundred years, the boundary between New York and Con- 

^ Report of the Commissioners appointed to ascertain the Boundary between the 
States of New York and Connecticut, April 9, 1856. Senate Document No. 165. 

Report of the Commissioners to ascertain and settle the Boundary Line between 
the States of New York and Connecticut. Transmitted to the Legislature February 
8, 1861. Albany: 1861. 

From these two documents chiefly the account here given of the controversy has 
been prepared. I have availed myself jiarticulai'ly of the historical sketch pre- 
fixed to the report of 1856, using the language as well as the facts where conven- 
ient. Other authorities will be referred to. 


necticut remains imsettled in 1870 ; nor is there any immediate 
prospect of its determination. 

Everj^ school-boy has noticed the singular zigzag course of this 
boundary line, as it approaches the shore of the Sound, Instead 
of proceeding directly southward, in continuation of the line (K I) 
Avhich forms the western boundary of Massachusetts, it diverges, at 
a distance of sixteen miles from the coast, to a southeasterly course, 
and runs for nearly seven miles in a straight line (I H) toward the 
Sound. Next, it strikes off at a right angle with this course, and 
runs for fifteen miles parallel with the Sound (H D) toward the 
Hudson River. At length it turns again to the southeast, and 
completes its way to the Sound (D C) in the same direction Avith 
the first deviating line. By this erratic course, five towns and part 
of a sixth, which would otherwise fall within the territory of New 
York, are cut off and inclosed within the limits of Connecticut. 
Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, and a part 
of Wilton, are the favored towns, while Rye just falls short of 
being thus included with them in that goodly land. 

This peculiarity of our border — as noticeable as the famous 
'Pan-handle' of Virginia — has its explanation in the history of 
the boundary dispute. It is a memorial not only of long and angry 
controversies which have been waged with reference to this line, 
but of the ignorance and uncertainty which in early times prevailed 
regarding the geography of the country, and in a great measure oc- 
casioned the whole trouble. It reminds us how utterly in the dark, 
respecting the form and character of the land we inhabit, were those 
w^ho laid claim to its possession but a couple of centuries ago. 
' The sources and directions of the Nile or Niger,' it has been truly 
said, 'have not in the present century been more shrouded in mvs- 
tery, or given rise to more absurd conjectures, than attached ' in 
those days ' to the St. Lawrence, the Connecticut, the Hudson, and 
the Delaware rivers.' 

The differences relative to this boundary question began, as we 
have said, in the times of the Dutch. We have already seen how 
conflicting were their claims and those of the neighboring English. 
Massachusetts and Connecticut professed a right to the whole ter- 
ritory beyond them, westward to the Pacific Ocean. Holland ad- 
vanced a counter claim to the domain of the colonies, eastward 
to the Connecticut River, if not to Cape Cod. The first proposal 
to adjust these differences came from Peter Stuyvesant, in the year 
1650. His conference with the English at Hartford resulted in 
an agreement on various matters in dispute, one of which was 


the vexed question of the boundary. It was resolved that the hue 
should ' begin at the west side of Greenwich bay, being about four 
miles from Stamford, and so run a northerly line twenty miles up 
into the country, and after as it shall be agreed by the two govern- 
ments of the Dutch and of New Haven, provided the said line come 
not within ten miles of Hudson river.' 

This agreement, which seems to have been entered into by the 
Dutch in perfect good faith, never acquired the force of law, as it 
was not sanctioned by the governments at home. The English 
practically disregarded it in their subsequent steps to plant settle- 
ments along the coast, even beyond the specified line. A second 
conference took place thirteen years after, on the thirteenth of 
October, 1663. 

The correspondence on this subject, preserved in the archives at 
Hartford, is ver}^ curious. The proposition made by Connecticut 
' to the Agents of the Dutch Governor that came from the Man- 
hadoes ' was, among other things, ' That West Chester and all y*" 
people and lands Between that & Stamford shall belong to this 
Colony of Connecticutt till it be other wise issued.' Governor 
Stuyvesant's agents refused this proposal, but made another, as fol- 
lows : ' Westchester with the land & people to Stamford shall 
Abide under the Government of Connectecute tell the tyme that 
the bounds and limits betwixt the Abovesaid Collonij and the pro- 
vince of new Netherlands shall be Determined heare [by our mu- 
tual Accord or by persons mutually chosen, margin^ or by his 
Royal Majesty of england and the high and mighty lords the estates 
of the vnited provinces.' ^ 

The Dutch, however, soon vanished from the scene; and now 
beo;an a conflict of claims amono; the Enfjlish themselves. On the 
twenty-third of April, 1662, King Charles II. by that famous char- 
ter, afterward so remarkably preserved, granted to the colony of 
Connecticut a territory described as follows : — 

'All that part of our dominion in America bounded on the east by 
Narraganset River, commonly called Narugonsit Bay, where the said 
river falleth into the sea, and on the north by the line of the Massachu- 
setts plantation, and on the south by the sea ; and in longitude as the 
line of the Massachusetts colony, running from east to west ; that is to 
say, from the said Narraganset Bay on the east to the South Sea on the 
west part ; with the islands thereto adjoining, ' etc. 

This grant not only covered the territory formerly in dispute 
with the Dutch, but included also the greater part of that claimed 

1 Colonial Boundaries Hartford (MS.), vol. ii. doc. 4. 


by the Dutch on the Hudson River, leaving them only a few miles 
at the mouth of that stream. ^ 

The remainder of the Dutch territory King Charles conveyed to 
his brother the Duke of York and Albany, on the twenty-fourth 
of March, 1663. The charter setting forth this conveyance gives 
him that part of the continent east of Massachusetts now comprised 
in the province of New Brunswick and the State of Maine, — with 
some variations of the boundaries, — and also the whole of Long 
Island, ' together with all the river called Hudson river, and the 
land from the west side of the Connecticut river to the east side of 
Delaware bay.' 

Comparing the two charters with the map of the country before 
us, we perceive at once that the king bestowed upon his brother 
not only the lands held and occupied by the Dutch, to which he 
had no shadow of a claim, but also the greater part of what by a 
solemn charter he had only a few months before granted and guar- 
anteed to the colony of Connecticut ! 

The Duke of York at once prepared to take possession of his 
royal brother's magnificent gift ; and for that purpose sent out an 
armed force under the command of Colonel Richard Nicolls, to 
whom the city of New Amsterdam was surrendered on the seventh 
of September, 1664. The whole of New Netherland became sub- 
ject to his government on the twelfth of the next month. The 
administration of the province devolved vipon Colonel Nicolls, who 
also held in conjunction with three officers under his command the 
power to settle questions respecting the contested boundaries of the 

Though the charter of Connecticut was of earlier execution, and 
consequently of greater authority than the patent to the Duke of 
York, the inhabitants of that colony naturally felt considerable 
alarm at his Majesty's disregard of their rights, and in view of the 
advent of so powerful a claimant to their lands. Accordingly the 
General Assembly of the colony hastened to appoint delegates to 
accompany their governor to New York, for the purpose of con- 
gratulating the duke's commissioners, and settling the boundary 
with them. 

On the twenty-eighth of October, 1664, these delegates met the 
commissioners, and without any difficulty agreed upon a settlement 
of the boundary between the province and the colony. It was un- 
derstood that the limit should be fixed at a distance of twenty miles 
east of the Hudson River, running parallel with that stream north- 
ward from Long Island Sound. An agreement to this effect was 


written out, but did not receive the signatures of the parties. The 
treaty actually signed a few weeks later, described an entirely dif- 
ferent line. According to this, it was ordered and declared ' that 
y^ Creeke or ryver called IMomoronock w"^ is rejjorted to be about 
thirteen myles to y^ East of West Chester and a lyne drawne from 
y^ East point or Syde where y^ fresh water falls into y*^ Salt, at high 
water marke Xorth North west to y* line of y^ Massachusetts, be 
y^ westerne bounds of y* said Colony of Connecticutt.' 

Little did the commissioners who agreed to this arrangement 
imagine whither a boundary thus projected would carry them. 
Manifestly, they supposed that a line drawn in a direction north- 
northwest from the mouth of Mamaroneck River, which was said 
to be about twenty miles east of the Hudson, Avould continue at the 
same distance from the river till it should reach the Massachusetts 
border. So far from this, however, a look at the map will show that 
such a line (A B) must intersect the Hudson near West Point, and 
even cut oft' a large tract of land on the other side of that river, be- 
foi'e reaching the southern boundary of Massachusetts, which at that 
time it was claimed ran across the continent to the seal Whether 
it was the design of the delegates from Connecticut to mislead in 
this matter or not, they certainly made the most of their advantao-e, 
and soon extended their settlements to the banks of the Hudson. 

The jieople of Rye were particularly interested in this construc- 
tion of the compact. Their town had been organized under the 
jurisdiction of Connecticut ; and as the remotest settlement of that 
colony, its territory would of course reach to the extreme Avestern 
boundary, wherever that might be fixed. A survey made about 
the year 1680 showed the inhabitants Avhat a wide extent of coun- 
try they could now legally claim. It appears that they actually 
tried to enforce this claim. Some inhabitants of Rye — who they 
were we do not know — attempted about this time to occupy and 
settle the lands along the Hudson, which fell within the line traced 
from the mouth of Mamaroneck River. Meeting with opposition 
in this attempt, they complain to the legislature of Connecticut, 
who gravely present the matter to the governor of New York as a 
grievance that requires redress. The letter stating these facts is 
dated Hartford, May 11, 1682. 

' May it please your Hon"" ', write the magistrates, ' We your 
friends and neighbours the Governor and General Assemblyof his 
Majesty's Colony of Connecticut ' having ' at our present session 
had infoi-mation and complaint made unto us that sundry persons 
under your jurisdiction, and particularly Mr. Fredei'ick Phillips, 


have erected, and lately and are erecting certain mills and other 
edifices, and making improvements of land, within, tlie limits of the 
township of Rye, and in the bounds of this his Majesty's Colony 
of Connecticut, near unto Hudson's river, alleging to such as have 
questioned with them thereabout, that they do it in virtue of a 
patent or patents or other allowances, from the Governor of his 
Highness' Territory of New York. And not only so, but some of 
the said improvers do give out threatening speeches, that if any of 
our Colony's cattle shall come there, that they will not suffer our 
people peaceably to have them away ; and also that others of your 
jurisdiction are purchasing or have ))urchased large tracts of land 
on the east side of Hudson's River, within our limits, from the In- 
dians, in order to planting there.' The magistrates remind his 
honor of the terms of settlement in 1G64, and inclose a copy of the 
agreement, wliich they would not doubt he will desire to hold, as 
they do, inviolable. 

Connecticut, however, was not really prepared to insist on the 
advantao;e o-iven her by the careless wordincr of a hastily written 
treaty. On the arrival of a new governor in New York in the 
following year, delegates were sent from Hartford to congratulate 
him and assure liim of the friendly disposition of the colon3\ Thev 
were empowered at the same time to treat with him for a new set- 
tlement of the bounds upon the best terms to be obtained. An 
agreement was soon reached. On the twenty-fourth of Novem- 
ber, 1688, the articles were concluded between Governor Donga:, 
and Council and the governor and delegates of Connecticut, by 
which the dividing line of their respecti\e territories was placed 
very nearly where it has remained ever since. 

It was agreed on both sides that the line should run as originallv 
intended, about twenty miles east of the Hudson River. But it 
became evident that to follow this measurement rigidly would be 
to inflict a serious injury upon Connecticut. Under the terms of 
her charter, she had long before planted several towns beyond the 
limits thus deflned. It was therefore conceded that these five towns 
should remain a part of Connecticut ; the boundary being so traced 
as to exclude them from the province of New York, though by so 
doing it must be made to approach considerably nearer to the Hud- 
son than the distance agreed upon for its o;f?neral course. Indeed 
the nearest of these towns — Greenwich — is actually within eight 
miles of the Hudson, at its northwestern corner. As an offset, 
however, to the tract thus surrendered (C D O N), New York was 
to gain an ' equivalent tract ' from Connecticut. A strip of land 


along the boundary, nortli of tlie excepted towns, was to be meas- 
ured off, just wide enough to embrace as many acres — 61,440 
— as they contained ; and this tract (E C KH), lying beyond the 
required distance of twenty miles, was to belong to New York, It 
measured two miles in width and over fifty miles in length, and 
was afterwards known very appropriately as ' The Oblong.' And 
thus the zigzag course of our frontier line is explained. 

In pursuance, then, of this agreement, the boundary was to be- 
gin at the mouth of Byram River, a small stream dividing the 
towns of Rye and Greenwich, at a point about thirty miles from 
the city of New York, This river was to be followed as far as the 
head of tide water, or about a mile and a half from the Sound, to a 
certain ' w^ading-place,' where the common road crossed the stream. 
Here a rock known as ' the Great Stone at the Wading Place,' was 
to be a boundary mark. From this point the line was to run north- 
northwest till it should reach a point eight miles from the Sound. 
A line twelve miles in length was then to be measured, running 
eastward, parallel to the general course of the Sound. From its 
termination, another line of eight miles was to be traced, again 
running north-northwest. Thence, and for the remainder of its 
course, the boundary was to run parallel to the Hudson River, in 
a northerly direction to the jNIassachusetts line, at a distance of 
twenty miles, besides the equivalent tract. 


This arrangement was of course highly pleasing to the towns 
that found themselves comprehended within the limits of the col- 
ony to which they had hitherto been attached, and toward Avhich 
all their sympathies inclined. But Rye and Bedford were as 
heartily attached to Connecticut as any of these ; and it was with 
deep sorrow that they saw themselves shut out from their sister 
plantations. The government of Connecticut seem to have an- 
ticipated some dissatisfaction from this quarter. On their return 
from the conference in New York about the boundary, the governor 
and his assistants wrote to the selectmen of Rye, acquainting them 
with the residts of the conference, 

' Fairfield, December 3, 1683. 
' LovixCr Friexds, — We had purposed in our passage to York to 
have called upon you, but the badness of the weather, and takii>g our 
passage by water, we missed the opportunity of seeing you in our going 
thither and in our return. And therefore we take this first opportunity 
to acquaint you that altho' we were loath to have parted with you, and 


would have been glad to have continued you in this government, yet 
the providence of God hath so disposed, that by our agreement with 
Governor Dongan we were forced to part with you, and could not help 

it By the agreement with the Governor Dongan, the west 

bounds of our Colony is now Byram river ; and it runs as the river till 
it comes to the road, and from thence it runs north-northwest till it 
hath run eight miles from the east point of said Byram River. Gentle- 
men, we do request you to be satisfied and content with this change, 
and to carry it suitably to the Government under which you are now 
stated, and apply yourselves to the honourable Governor, Avho is a noble 
crentleman, and will do what you shall desire in a regular manner to 
promote your welfare. Which with best respects is all the needful 
from your assured friends, 

Robert Treat, Governor. 
' These for Lt. Joseph Horton Nathan Gold, 

the selectmen of the town of Rye. John Allyn, Assistants.' 

It must have been a stirring time at Rye when this letter, con- 
veying perhaps the first intimation of the accomplished change, was 
read in ' town meeting.' Hard things were doubtless said of their 
Connecticut friends, who so readily consented to part with tliem ; 
and liarder yet of their undesired lieges at New York. Some 
earnest remonstrances too were not improbably sent up to the Gen- 
eral Court. But the course of matters could not be arrested now. 
On the eighth of May in the following year, the legislature of Con- 
necticut formally approved of the agreement made by the commis- 
sioners ; and in accordance with its terms appointed a surveyor and 
certain others to attend to the laying out of the line. These, with 
Governor Dongan's officers, met at Stamford in the following Oc- 
tober, and pei'formed their duties, ascertaining the amount of land 
conceded to Connecticut, as nearer than twenty miles to the Hud- 
son River. Their survey terminated, however, with the line drawn 
parallel to the Sound as far as a point twenty miles from the river. 
Beyond this, they simply indicated Avhat they supposed would be 
the extent of the oblong to be laid out as an ' equivalent tract.' 

The people of Rye were soon sternly summoned to make submis- 
sion to their new masters. We have a proclamation from Gov- 
ernor Donoan which implies that they had shown some reluctance 
to do this. Its tone certainly was not calculated to conciliate them, 
nor to justify the good opinion which the magistrates had expressed 
of this ' noble gentleman.' 

' Whereas I am given to understand that the inhabitants of Rye and 
Bedford are possessed of certain lands of which they seem to have no 


right and legal title, these are therefore to authorize and empower you 
to warn all the inhabitants of Rye and Bedford aforesaid to be and 
appear before me and the Council on the second [or] third day in Oc- 
tober next ensuing the date hereof, to show what right and title they 
have to their rights and possessions ; otherwise to be proceeded against 
according to law. And you are to make return thereof to me, and for 
so doing this shall be your warrant. 

' Given &c., this fourth day of June, 1G85. 

' Tho : DONGAN. 

' To Benj. Collier, High Sheriff for the County of Westchester.' 

This summons was not obeyed. The people doubtless felt that 
it was a grievous wx'ong to question the validity of their claims to 
the lands they held. These had been acquired in a manner rec- 
ognized by the Connecticut laws as valid and sufficient, — by pur- 
chase from the Indians and actual possession. They had held 
them for a quarter of a century under the Hartford govei-nment. 
It was manifestly unjust that they should be required to seek a 
new title to them, risking their forfeiture, and submittino- to fresh 
expense and trouble. The magistrates of Connecticut iiad been 
especially careful to secure the relinquished towns in their former 
rights. The delegates who treated with Governor Dongan relative 
to the boundary, were instructed, ' If you grant any part of the 
lands within any of the townships of tlie Colonj^ you are to en- 
deavour to preserve those lands to tlie town's proprieties, though 
as to jurisdiction they belong to his Higlmess.' Tliere was there- 
fore at least a tacit understanding that the rights of the inhabitants 
should be recognized under the one government as they had been 
under the other. ^ 


But besides, in their unwillingness to submit to the new order of 
thinos, the inhabitants took courao;e from the fact that the a^ree- 
ment by which they were set off to New York did not receive the 
sanction of the authorities at home. And for want of this ratifica- 
tion, the towns of Rye and Bedford now boldly declared the ar- 
rangement to be null and void, and asserted their independence of 
New York and allegiance to Connecticut. In this position, they 
were not, of course, without the sympathy, and quite probably the 
secret countenance of Connecticut, whose magistrates doubtless 

1 The state of perplexity in which the minds of men were kept abont tliis time, is 
illustrated by the language of a deed given 1682 by John Budd of Southold, ' in the 
limits of New York in New England.' Book B., County Records, p. 156. 


hoped that they miglit yet retain these unwilHiigly ceded towns. 
For ten years disaffection had smouldered ; the authority of the 
province was practically ignored ; taxes were paid but irregularly 
to either government ; and whenever possible, matters in contro- 
versy were carried up to Hartford, and Hartford magistrates came 
down to perform tlieir functions at Rye. These were troublous 
times in the town. Feuds and dissensions among themselves 
added to the perplexity of the inhabitants. Some of them, it 
would appear, sided with the province in the controversy ; and 
hence doubtless some of the actions for defamation and other proofs 
of disturbance which we find on record about this time. At length, 
the circumstance which has been stated in a previous chapter, led 
to the breaking forth of this spirit of discontent into actual rebel- 
lion. In 1695, John Harrison, of Flushing, on Long Island, ap- 
plied to the governor of New York for a patent of lands which he 
had purcliased from an Indian who claimed to be their proprietor. 
These lands were a part of the town of Rye, and had been pur- 
chased long before by some of its proprietors. Governor Fletcher 
granted them to Hai'rison and his associates, wholly setting at 
nought the just claims of the people of Rye. Upon this added 
grievance, they revolted. On the nineteenth of January, 1697, 
Rye, with Bedford, applied to the General Court of Connecticut to 
be taken back under its care, and was received.^ 

The Governor and Council lost no time in acquainting the gov- 
ernment of New York with their action. On the same day that 
Rve and Bedford were received, they wrote to Colonel Fletcher, 
giving the reasons for their procedure,^ and closing with the expres- 
sion of a benignant hope that his excellency ' will manifest such a 
compliance with his Maiesties dispose in the premises, as shall be 

1 See note at the end of this chapter. 

2 The letter is dated Hartford, January 19, 1696-7. ' The inhabitants of Rie and 
of the phmtation of Bedford applying themselves to us by their Messengers and 
asserting that their respective towneships are included within the Limits of our Char- 
ter and earnestly desiring that they may inioy the priviledges and protection of our 
Charter Governm' We being sensible of our obligation to preserve the extent of our 
Charter Governnit according to the Grant of his late Males''* Charles the Second 
and to protect all the kings subiects that lie Avithin our limits by the due administra- 
tion of Justice to them according to our Established laws, and finding upon Serious 
Consideration that both by the terms of our Charter and also by the act of his said 
M'^s Comissioners . , .a North North line from Momoronock River . 
should be the dividing line between the province of New York, and this Colonic 
.... and there doth not appear anything that doth vacate the said act of his said 
Majesties Comissioners .... doe therefore see Cause to own the inhabitants of the 
said town to be his maiesties Subiects imder the gover"^' of our Corporation.' 


consistent witli tlie preservation of tlie peace and properties of liis 
maiesties good subiects.' 

It does not appear tliat Governor Fletclier made any replv to 
tliis communication. Doubtless lie waited for instructions from 
England. But meanwhile an event occurred which precipitated 
his action. 

The eighth of April, 1697, was a memorable day at Rye. Mr. 
Benjamin Collier, high sheriff of the county, had come to the town, 
to superintend a meeting for the choice of a member of Assembly. 
Notice had been duly given to the freeholders of such election, 
under a writ from the Council at New York. The meeting was 
to bo held ' in the heart of the town, in the place where they usu- 
ally traine.' But to the sheriff"'s vexation, ' after all the pains he 
has taken to warne them,' not more than sixteen or seventeen men 
make their aj)pearance. The meeting however is opened, the clerk 
of the county in person reading the king's writ, which he does 
without much interruption ; when ' up comes Major Sellick of 
Standford with about fifty Dragones whom he called his life guard, 
with their arms presented, and demanded my business,' relates the 
sheriff. ' Whereupon I replied. By virtue of his Majesty's writ I 
came there ; and gave the writ to the Clerk again, who read it in 
person to the said Major Sellick and his life guard as he called 
them. For the writ being fully executed and the choice made. 
Major Sellick fell into hard words, and said he came there to pro- 
tect the Inhabitants of Rye under their government of Connecti- 
cut ; the wdiich I denied, and said was within my Bailywick. But 
after much banter he invited us into a house and withdrew himself 
from his Company, and did acknowledge his Excellency to be their 
Captain General ; and so I left him.' ^ 

Major Sellick's raid, however, caused great excitement at the 
seat of government. The Assembly of the province beino- in ses- 
sion at Albany, the governor addresses them in a message, appris- 
ing them of the defection of Rye and Bedford, and announcing the 
fact of an armed invasion at tlie former place. On the fourteenth 
inst., only six days after the occurrence, the representatives reply. 
They ' conceive that the late appearance of Major Sellick with a 
Troop of Dragoons armed to disturb the Sheriff in the execution 
of His Majesty's writ for the election of a member of Assembly, 
and to the terror of His Majesty's subjects there assembled for the 
service at the said town,' is ' a forcible invasion of His Majesty's 

1 Letter of Benjamin Collier, High Sheriff of Westchester County: New York 
Colony MSS., xli. 56. 


right and dominion of this His Majesty's Province.' They are 
'humbly of opinion, that the inhabitants of the said towns of Rye 
and Bedford oiiglit not to continue in tlieir defection, without in- 
curring the Pains and Penalties established by law upon such as 
rebel against His Majesty's Government.' They therefore petition 
the governor to ' address his jn-oclamation requiring the inhabitants 
of the said towns to return unto their faith and allegiance at a cer- 
tain day ; and assure them of His Majesty's grace and pardon upon 
that condition, — otiierwise that they may be proceeded against as 
the law directs.' They would also have his excellency to repre- 
sent unto the government of Connecticut ' the great evil they 
commit by protecting such of His Majesty's subjects that have 
revolted;' how they have thereby 'lessened the strength of His 
Majesty's govenuuent here — being a frontier province — and by 
that means given great advantage to His Majesty's declared ene- 
mies the French. And if they have any right or claim in the law 
to those towns of Rye and Bedford, that they may apply unto His 
Majesty, who is the sole Judge of extent and limits of his domin- 
ions in America, and submit the same unto his royal determina- 
tion ; and not by force of arms enter upon His Majesty's Domin- 
ions, to the evil example of those disaffected to His Majesty's 
government, and the disuniting of strength of His Majesty's sub- 
jects, now necessary to be employed against His Majesty's enemies 
the French.' 

Governor Fletcher issued his proclamation in all haste, on the 
next day, requiring the towns to return to their allegiance;^ and 

1 One of tlie original handbills is preserved in the State Library' at Hartford, — the 
only copy known to exist. It reads as follows : — 

' By His Excellency 
' CoUonel Benjamin Fletcher Captain General and Governor in Chief of His Majeflie's 

Province of New York &c. 


' Whereas sundry of the Inhabitants of the Towns of Pye and Bedford in the County 
of Westchester, in the Province of A^ezv York, have made Defeflion from their Alle- 
giance to His niofl Excellent Majefly, in the Government of this Province (to evade 
the paying of their Taxes and Arrearages) and have applyed themfelves to the Gov- 
ernment of Connecticjit Collotiy for Prote6tion. By which means the strength of the 
Province is much leffened, the Peace and Safety of His Majerties good Government 
diflurbed, the Fronteers weakened, and great Advantages given to the common 
Enemy, the Fre7ich of Canada, in this time of actual War. And the said Persons 
have thereby incurr'd the Penalty of the Law. 

' It being Resolved, by Advice of His Majeflies Council and Reprefentatives of 
this Province convened in Gen'l Affembly, to Reduce the said Inhabitants, who have 
made this Defection to their Duty. Neverthelefs I have, by and with the advice and 
consent of His Majefties Council of this Province, publilhed this my Proclamation 


sliortlv after addressed liis complaints to Connecticut.^ That col- 
ony rejilied promptly, disclaiming any intention to use violent 
measures, but referring the whole matter to the king, Avho, they 
declared, had never annexed those towns to New York.^ May 
10th, New York retorts, treating the reasons of Connecticut as 
mere subterfnges, and complaining that she makes a disturbance 
in time of war, assuring her at the same time that New York will 
use all lawful moans to reduce these people to obedience.^ May 
19th, Coiuiecticut rejoins. Her Governor and Assembly consider 
the arguments of New York weak and unsatisfactory, and are 
therefore determined to protect these people.^ May 31st, Gov- 
ernor Fletcher and his Council find 'just fault' with Connecticut 
' for using such a style,' and declare that Connecticut gave up these 
towns by arrangement in 1683, and made no claim to them for 
twelve years or more. New York is therefore determined to pur- 
sue her dnty.^ 

Here the correspondence rests, in consequence of the recall of 
Governor Fletcher to England. In April of the next year his 
successor Lord Bellomont arrives, and Connecticut sends a dele- 
gation to congratulate liim. Lord Bellomont soon writes, express- 
ing his thanks and good-will toward the colony, but denying their 
reasons for countenancing the towns of Rye and Bedford in their 
revolt. He also incloses a letter from the Lords Commissioners 
of Trade on the subject.^ In reply, the government of Connecti- 
cut ])rofess the kindest and most friendly feelings toward his ex- 
cellency, but cannot answer concerning these towns until Governor 
Winthrop shall return from England. ''^ 

Nearly two years more elapsed before this controversy was ended 

and I do hereby require the Inhabitants of the Town of Rye and Bedford in the said 
County, to return unto the Faith and Allegiance &c. 

' Given at Fort William Henry the 15th day of April, Annoque Domini 1697. 
' God save the King.' 

1 Colonial Boundaries (MS.) Hartford, yoI. ii. doc. 142. The governor ignores the 
real grievances of the town of Rye, and lays their defection to the desire to escape the 
payment of taxes. 

' Their remissness and neglect in the paym' of their taxes of late has made the 
arrearages amount to a considerable sume much wanted to answer the security of the 
frontiers (which is a defence to your collony) and to pay the soldiers there to avoid 
which pay' they have made application to you for protection,' etc. 

■■^ Jhkl. doc. 144. 3 Ibid. 145. 

* Ibid. 146. 'Our design is not (neither will it end in) any weakening of -your 
province or withholding any arrearages of taxes that may be due from that small peo* 
pie ; but it is the protection of the king's people committed to our charge.' 

^ Ibid. doc. 147. *^ Ibid. doc. 148 

7 Ihid. doc. 149. 


by tlie royal decree. On the twenty-ninth of Marcli, 1700, King 
Wilham III. approved and confirmed the agreement of 1683 and 
1684, wliereby Rye and Bedford were included in New York. 
And on the tenth day of October following, the General Court at 
Hartford released Bedford and Rye from all allegiance.^ 

Their revolt therefore had lasted nearly four years. At Rye, 
matters had gone on meanwhile pretty smoothly, the inhabitants 
holding their town meetings as usual, choosing their officers, and 
attending to the division and improvement of lands. Good Deliv- 
erance Brown, with Captain Joseph Theall, had been their justices 
before the separation, and retained their office for years after. 
They with the constables, Robert Bloomer and Caleb Hyat, and 
the townsmen, at the head of whom was Hachaliah Brown, kept 
good order in the little settlement. Mr. Nathaniel Bowers was 
the worthy pastor of the parish during this period ; at the close of 
which, however, perhaps imwilling to leave the colony of Con- 
necticut, he accepted a call to Greenwich. It was during these 
years that the inhabitants showed a greater diligence in their 
ecclesiastical matters. Now they appoint committees for carrying 
on the work of building a 'meeting house — thirty feet square ' and 
' a towne house for the use of the ministry — to be thirty foot in 
length, and twenty foot in breadth, and two-story in height, and a 
lean-to joining to it.' Now also they choose men to lay out land 
for a ' parsonage, not exceeding forty acres, and so to remain a 
parsonage,' or glebe. The rates are gathered for the salary of the 
pastor, and an outstanding debt to the former minister, Mr. Wood- 
bridge, is settled, without a trial at law, of which there has been 
some prospect. Altogether, the town presents during this space 
of time the aspect of a well-ordered New England village, and so 
would have continued to do doubtless, could the people have had 
their way. 

Nevertheless, it appears that they yielded without demur to the 
final decision of their case by ' the Crown.' So testifies Deliver- 
ance Brown, who has occasion very soon to petition the governor 
in their behalf for relief from oppressive taxation. His ' humble 
petition in the behalf of the inhabitants of the Town of Rye in the 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iv. p. 335. October, 1700. ' This Assembly re- 
ceiving an expresse from his Majestie that the line between New York Province and 
this Colonic be as the settlement or concession by our commissioners made November 
the 23, 1683, doe oixler that a signification thereof be sent to the inhabitants of Rye 
and Bedford, signed by the Secretary, that they are freed from duty to this govern- 
ment, and that they ai'e under the government of New York.' 

A BORDER FRAY IN 1718. ll'-> 

Comity of Westchester in this Province,' is dated New York, De- 
cember the 16th, 1701. Tlie worthy justice had come to town 
upon a difficult errand. 'At a lawful town meeting held in Rye, 
September the 'i^Otli, 1701,' he was chosen ' to goe down to New 
York to make the town's aggrievances known unto the Governor 
and Council : and also to make Inquiry concerning the Claim that 
John Harrison makes to our Lands, and to use what methods he 
shall see good for securing the town's interests.' ^ Poor success 
seems to have attended the latter part of this mission, as we have 
seen in the matter of Harrison's Purchase. The other ' grievance ' 
he thus relates: 'The Justices of the Peace of the County of 
Westcliester have lately sent their orders to y* said Town for the 
assessing and levying severall Taxes laid on the Inhabitants of this 
Province during the time of the luihappy Separation of the said 
Town from this Province : the which amount to considerable sums 
of money.' The inhabitants therefore ordered him to lay before 
their honors the following statement : ' That upon the first notice 
of His Majesty re-annexing them to this province they did heartily 
and readily return under the Government thereof, and are resolved 
with their lives and fortunes to serve His Majesty in the same. 
But so it is, that the Justices of the Peace of the County of West- 
chester, none whereof belong to the Town of Rye, have from time 
to time during the said separation been very partial in assessing 
the quotas of the town ; Avhen at the same time their representa- 
tives in General Assembly had the quotas of the County often les- 
sened by reason of the separation aforesaid, and so had a benefit 
thereby, and another by levying such a part as they pleased on the 
town. Your petitioner,' h(^ continues, ' is also instructed to acquaint 
your Honours, that the Inhabitants of the Town of Rye as good 
and liege subjects to y*" Kings Majesty, are Avilling and ready as 
much as lyes in their power to pay all such rates, taxes and other 
charges imposed by the Laws of this Government, as shall appear 
to be their just due.' He ends by asking that the assessing and 
levying of the taxes may not be insisted on until a more equal 
apportionment shall be made ; and promises that then the quota 
shall be collected and paid with all expedition.^ 


No further claim upon the territory of Rye was made by Con- 
necticut, nor do the people appear to have renewed their attempt 

1 Town Meeting Book, No. C. p. 20. 

2 New York Colonial MSS., vol. xlv. p. 38. 


to join that colony. Yet for thirty years more, till the comple- 
tion of the boundary survey in 1731, there was an unsettled feeling 
among them relative to their political state. Some petty annoy- 
ances residted from this condition of things, an instance of which 
occurred in 1718. Samuel Mills, the constable of Greenwich, went 
to the house of one of the inhabitants of Rye, living close upon the 
Connecticut line, and demanded of him the rates due to the minis- 
ter of the parish of Horseneck. Upon his refusal, the constable 
and his assistant 'took him into safe custody, and put him under 
keepers, in order to be committed to gaol, there to lye, till said Rates 
and charges were paid.' Elated by success, the constable was pro- 
ceeding to the neighbors' houses on the same errand, when, as he 
relates, ' There did meet us one John Clap, Elias Clap, Benjamin 
Clap, and Thomas Sutton, all with clubs in their hands ; . . . . 
and John Clap asked me where I was agoing ; and I said, To your 
house and your neighbours' houses ; and he and the other three 
run across the lots to his house and shut to the doors, and told me 
if I came in they would knock me in the head ; and then I went 
from them, and was coming home, about a quarter of a mile from 
the Colony line and within the township of Greenwich; and there 
came up to me Adam Ireland, Thomas Sutton, John Claj), Elias 
Clap, Benjamin Clap, all of the Government of Connecticut, 
and Tliomas Daniels, now of Rye, late of Connecticut, William 
Fowler, and Strange and Green, all of Rye, near neiglibours to 
said Daniels, with sundry others ; and said Ireland asked. Where 
is the constable of Greenwich ? and said he had a warrant to take 
me prisoner. Then the said company soon laid hands upon the 
deponent, and by force and violence pulled him off from his horse, 
threw away his constable's staff, and carried liim and the collector 
before Justice Budd of Rye, and there were obliged to give bond 
of three hundred pounds, for their appearance at the Court to be 
held at Westcheste4.' on the first Tuesday of June next.' 

Evidently constable Mills was somewhat astray as to the limits 
of his jurisdiction. He represents the families whom he visited as 
' living west of the west bounds of the township of Greenwich, and 
east of the dividing line between this government and the govern- 
ment of New York.' This very confused idea of the metes and 
bounds of the two territories was probably shared by many. The 
fact is that there had long been pending between Rye and Green- 
wich a boundary question upon a small scale, like that waged by 
the two governments to which they belonged. Their respective 
hmits were very indefinitely traced as yet. The early records of 


our town show this. Tlius at a town meeting held A])ril 1, 1699, 
a committee was appointed 'to agree with Greenwich men to run 
the preamble line.' At a similar meeting held November 1, 1707, 
Thomas Merrit, Deliverance Brown, senior, and Robert Bloomer 
were chosen a committee to agree with Greenwich men to settle 
and run the line between the town of Greenwich and tlie town of 
Rve.i In 1722 the inhabitants of Rye near Byram River again 
complain that they are assessed by the government of Connecticut ; 
some of them, who have not given in an estimate of their estates, 
have been assessed four times the value of the lands ; others have 
been imprisoned, and have had their goods distrained.'-^ 

In May, 1717, the inhabitants of Rye petitioned the General 
Court at Hartford to appoint persons to settle the disputed bound- 
ary between their town and Greenwich.^ The court summoned 
the inhabitants of Greenwich to attend their next session, and 
' show reason why the petition of Rye shall not be granted.' * At 
that session the following action took j^lace : ' Upon the Petition of 
the town of Rye contra the town of Greenwich, Resolved by this 
Assembly that the bound between them is already well settled, 
and that a parralell line with the line dividing between Stanford 
and Greenwich beginning a quarter of a mile above the great stone 
lying in the path by Byram river according to their Pattents given 
in 1()96 and in 1697 and bv each party rested in to this time shall 
remain to be construed and understood to be a good and sufficient 
Partition of the Comon Lands mentioned in the return of the 
Coiiiittee in 1673.' ^ Not even this decision, however, seems to 
have terminated the dispute. 

But the constable's mistake, though not unnatural, caused a deal 
of trouble. Another mimic war had been enacted in our little 
town of Rye, and the report thereof spread alarm and indignation, 
reaching even to the liigh powers at Fort William. Thomas 
Daniels of the town of Rye hastens to New York and there makes 
his deposition before the worshipful Council. 

Governor Hunter lost no time in transmitting to Connecticut a 
copy of these complaints from Rye. In his letter to Governor 
Saitonstall, he expresses his hope that there has been some mistake 
in the matter, as otherwise he must regard it as ' the most extraor- 

1 Town Meeting Book, No. C, p. 4 ; No. G. p. 23. Records of Town Meetings, 
p. 3.3. 

2 Colonial Bonndaries (MS.) Hartford, vol. ii. doc. 155. 

^ Petition of Rye about the line. May, 1717 ; Towns and Lands (MS,) Hartford, vol. 
iii. doc. 106. 
* Towns and Lands (MS.) Hartford, vol. iii. doc. 108, 
6 Jbid. doc, 109. 


clinary method of procedure in disputes about boundaries between 
two provinces under the same Sovereign, that lias been hitherto 

' You see,' he adds, ' the necessity of your having a law passed 
previous to the running the line, in your Colony as has been done 
in this, declaring the line which shall be so run to be forever here- 
after the true division line betwixt the two. The minute that is 
done, I shall appoint Commissaries and Surveyors Avho shall in 
conjunction with such as you shall appoint, forthwith set about it 
to prevent all future disputes. We have hitherto,' concludes the 
good-natured governor, 'at least during my time, lived together in 
good and friendly correspondence, and I hope nothing can inter- 
vene that shall be able to break it off.' ^, 

This episode at Rye may have had some effect in hastening the 
movement for the settling of the boundary line. In October of 
the same year, 1718, commissioners appointed by the two gov- 
ernments met at Rye, but failed to agree upon a method of proce- 
dure. The commissioners from New York refused to go on, be- 
cause those from Connecticut were not empowered to com])lete 
the line, and bind their government to its adoption. In 1719, 
Connecticut appointed new commissioners with larger powers ; but 
still without pledging itself that the survey should be final. New 
York, meanwhile, without taking any notice of this action, passed 
what was termed ' a probationary act.' It provided for the ap- 
pointment of commissioners on the part of that province, in con- 
junction with others from Connecticut. These were to run all the 
lines in accordance with the agreement and survey of 1683 and 
1684. But if no commissioners should be sent from Connecticut 
dul}^ empowered, those from New York were authorized to go on 
alone, taking every precaution to do justice to both provinces, and 
to conform to the agreement and former survey ; and the line so 
run was to remain forever as the boundary. This act was made 
conditional on the royal approbation. 

Four years elapsed before this proposition was responded to. At 
length, in October 1723, the General Assembly of Connecticut 
appointed commissioners with full powers, as requested by New 
York. A meeting was arranged to be held at Rye on the fourth 
of February, 1724. But tedious negotiations followed, and it was 

1 New York Colonial MSS. (Albany), vol. Ixi. doc. 11. A few days after, he writes 
to ask of Governor Saltonstall a true statement of the matter, adding, ' I have no 
great foith in the representations of these men.' Colonial Boundaries (MS.) Hart- 
ford, vol. iii. doc. 154. 


not till April, 1725, tliat the commissioners met liere. Tlieir first 
business was to agree upon the mode in wliich the survey should 
be made. This accomplished, they entered upon tlieir work, start- 
ing at ' the great stone at tlie Avading-place ' which had been des- 
ignated as the point of beginning, forty-one years before. Their 
survey was extended as far as that of 1684, to ' tlie Duke's trees,' 
at the northwest angle of the town of Greenwich, where three 
wliite oak trees had been marked as the termination of the former 
survey. Here the work was suspended for want of funds ; and it 
was not resumed until the spring of 1731. The survey was then 
completed to the Massachusetts line; the 'equivalent tract ' or 
' Oblong ' was measured, and set off to New York ; and the line 
dividing the province of New York from the colony of Connecticut 
was designated by monuments at intervals of two miles. 

This survey was ratified by both governments, and terminated 
all local differences and contentions i*especting the boundary. The 
town of Rye especially felt the benefit of the decision. During 
much of the time that this controversy had been waging, it was 
even doubtful to which territory the town belonged. And to the 
very last, its eastern limits remained uncertain, to the great annoy- 
ance and perplexity of the increasing population in that quarter. 
In 1729 the town appointed a committee ' to meet Greenwich men 
concerning running the preamble line between Rye and Greenwich, 
and to act in that matter to the best of their discretion.' ^ 

This boundary question has always been regarded with particu- 
lar interest by our inhabitants. For generations it must have 
been a theme of frequent discussion. Old men among us tell of 
the care that was taken in their boyhood to keep up the knowledge 
of its exact course. One of them remembers being taken, when 
a boy, to ' the great rock at the wading-place ' and led along the 
traditionary line for some distance, in order that he might be ac- 
quainted with it ; and though he denies any such experience in his 
own case, he testifies that it was usual to administer to some of the 
rising generation a sound flogging on the occasion, to insure their 
lasting remembrance of the localities pointed out. 

Whoever chooses to seek it may find the Great Rock, among 
other rude boulders, at the northeastern end of the bridge crossing 
the Byram River. The boundary line strikes across from this 
point to King Street, and follows the course of that road for about 
two miles. At the distance of five miles from the wading-place, 
it crosses Blind Brook near the head of that stream, at an ano-le 
1 Records of Town Meetings (Rye), p. 33. 


which terminates the territory of this town. The famous ' Duke's 
trees ' are about two miles north of this point. 

Since the year 17B1, there has been no dispute as to tliis part 
of the boundary Hne, nor indeed respecting the first thirty miles of 
its course. Nor was it extensively known until within a few years, 
that any part of it remained indefinite. The first public intima- 
tion of any difference was given by the legislatm-e of Connecticut 
in 1855. It then appeared that in the process of time doubts and 
uncertainties had arisen as to a considerable portion of the line. 
Tiiese'' resulted in part from tlie imperfect ciiaracter of the surveys 
made so long ago, and in part from the temporary nature of the 
marks which had been used to designate the lines. A century 
and a quarter had elapsed ; the troublous years of the Revolution 
had intervened ; the country had been gradually filled up and set- 
tled ; and in consequence, on some portions of the line all trace of 
the lines formerly established had vanished. ' Ranges of marked 
trees had long since disappeared. Many of the heaps of stone 
originally erected had been scattered. Traditions were found in- 
consistent and contradictory, varying the line in places to a con- 
siderable extent. Along the whole distance the greatest uncer- 
tainty existed, and a distrust and want of confidence in all the 
supposed lines rather than a disposition to contend for any. Resi- 
dents near the border refrained from voting in either State ; while 
ofiicers of justice and collectors of revenue from both liesitated to 
exercise their authority up to any clearly defined limit. These 
circumstances w-ere taken advantage of by those who desired to 
evade the payment of taxes or the severity of the law.' 

In view of these facts, the General Assembly of Connecticut, 
in May, 1855, took steps to liave the true position of the boundary 
line ascertained by means of a new survey and tiie erection of new 
monuments. Commissioners were appointed, to meet others from 
the State of New York, for the performance of the woi'k. This 
proposition Avas submitted to the legislature of New York by the 
governor on the twenty-fifth of January, 1856, and received its 
prompt concurrence. Commissioners were appointed as proposed ; 
and on the twenty-fifth of June in the same year they entered 
upon their duties. 

Mr. C. W. Wentz, of Albany, an engineer of established repu- 
tation, began the survey of the line, by direction of the joint 
commission. The line was run without question or difference of 
opinion, from ' the great stone at the wading-place ' on Byram 
River, to the ' Duke's ti'ees' at the northwest corner of the town of 


Greenwich ; tlience on the line parallel to the Sound to the Wil- 
ton angle, and thence to the Ridgefield angle. Thus far it would 
ai)pear that the commissioners were agreed. But with regard to 
the line from the Ridgefield angle northerly to the monument at 
the southwest corner of the State of Massachusetts, a controversy- 
arose. The commissioners from Connecticut were for adopting a 
straight line between these two extreme points, fifty-three miles 
apart. They urged this course on the ground that the old monu- 
ments and marks upon the intervening line were generally re- 
moved, and the original line could not be traced with any certainty 
by reference to them. The commissioners from New York, on the 
other hand, insisted that their duty was simply to ' ascertain ' 
the boundary as originally defined. They believed that most of 
tlie boundary marks could be found and identified, and that where 
they siiould fail to find them, other evidences of their original loca- 
tion might be discovered that would be sufficient. 

In this diversity of views the parties could scarcely fail to be 
confirmed bv tlie fiict which a survey of the ground revealed. It 
was found that the line originally traced was not straiglit, but in- 
clined considerably to the east of a direct line. This appeared suf- 
ficiently from the monuments that remained, and that were incon- 
testal)le marks of the ancient boundary. It was also seen, that by 
abandoning the original line and adopting a straiglit one in its 
place, the State of NeAv York would lose, and the State of Con- 
necticut would gain a tract of about two thousand eight hundred 
acres and between two and three hundred inhabitants, who had 
always been residents of New^ York. 

The commissioners on both sides adhered to their respective 
opinions in this debate,' and no agreement could be reached. In 
August, 1859, new commissioners were appointed on the part of 
each State. These gentlemen had their first conference at Port 
Chester, on the thirteenth of September in that year. The same 
difference of views manifested itself at once in the comnu'ssioners' 
minds. They agreed, however, as a preliminary step, to make an 
effort to trace out the true position of the original line of 1731. 
And on the twentieth of September, tiie two parties, each with a 
competent engineer, met again at Port Chester. After examining 
the localities at the mouth of Byram River, they decided, as there 
would probably be no difference about the line between the ' great 
stone ' and the Ridgefield angle, to proceed to that point, and ex- 
plore the line from thence to the south line of Massachusetts. This 
was done. Monuments were found without difficulty that enabled 


the commissioners to verify the ancient line. Some of the marks 
were wanting, but where this was the case, satisfactorv evidence of 
their original position was obtained from the location of line fences 
or from tradition. No space of more than eight miles intervened 
between the monuments found standing. The line was not found to 
be straight. The greatest divergence frou) a direct course proved 
to be ten chains and twenty-six links. This irregularity was owing 
to the fact that in the survey of 1731, the line was not run directly 
from point to point, but monuments to mark it were ])laced at the 
end of perpendiculars, run from the west line of the Oblong over 
surfaces often very uneven, and by a compass subject to constant 
variations, owing to the mineral deposits along its course. 

Notwithstanding the fact, however, which thus became apparent, 
that the original line could be accurately traced, the Connecticut 
commissioners adhered substantially to the position which their 
predecessors had taken. A straight line must be run, regardless 
of all existing monuments. As this, in the judgment of the com- 
missioners from New York, would be to establish an entirely new 
line instead of ascertaining the old one, the proposition was re- 
fused, and the conferences of the commission were ended for the 

The last step taken in this matter occurred in 1860. On the 
third of April in that year, the legislature of New York passed 
an act, empowering the commissioners formerly appointed ' to sur- 
vey and mark with suitable monuments ' the ' line between the two 
States, as fixed by the survey of 1731.' They were to give due 
notice of their purpose to the commissioners of Connecticut, invit- 
ing them to join in the duties imposed upon them. But in case of 
their refusal or neglect to do so, they were to proceed alone, and 
perform the work assigned. The commissioners of New York, 
actincT under these instructions, held several conferences with those 
of Connecticut. But the latter adhered inflexibly to the principle 
that the boundary to be established must be a straight line. The 
commissioners from New York therefore pursued the course en- 
joined upon them. They fixed and marked the boundary line 
between the two States, placing monuments along its course at in- 
tervals of one mile, from the Massachusetts line to the mouth of 
Byram River. This work was undertaken on the eighth of June, 
1860, and was completed in the autumn of that year. 

Since that time, nothing has been done to settle the ' vexed ques- 
tion ' of our boundary. The line indicated by new marks and 
monuments is recognized by New York, but not by Connecticut. 


It is to be hoped that some definite agreement may be reached be- 
fore the lapse of a third century over this singular dispute. 

Revolt of Rye and Bedford. — The patent granted by Connecticut to the 
town of Rye upon its return to that colony in 1697, has been given, pp. 93-94. The 
following record of the action taken with reference to those towns, shows the precise 
grounds upon which the Connecticut government based its decision in this case : — 

'At a Meeting of the Govern'- and Councill held at Hartford Jany y^ 19"' 1696 : 

' Thomas ]Merritt and Deliverance Brown in behalfe of the Plantation of Rie : 
And Zechariah Roberts in behalfe of the Plantation of Bedford Petitioning this 
Councill that the Plantations of Bedford and Rie might be owned as included within 
the Charters of this Colonic. And enioy the protection of the Goverm* and Lawes 
of this Corporation. The Councill considering that the said Plantations are included 
within the Charter granted by his Royal Maj''^ Charles the Second to this Corpora- 
tion, And also further Confirmed to this Territory by the Settlemt of the dividing 
line between this Colonic and the province of Newyork by the Solemne act of Com- 
mission'^fs for that end Comisionated under the broad seal of England by his said 
iMajestie. And assented to by Coniissoners appointed by this Corporation, which 
settlement bears date Novembf y^ 30'^ 1664 ; And was approved and Rattificd by his 
said Majestic as appears by his Majesties letters bearing date Aprill the 10"' : 1666 : 
And since the said Settlement whereby the said dividing Line was stated, And this ter- 
ritory so fiirre extended Westward as to include the said Plantations. No act doth 
appear whereby the said Plantations might be alienated from this Territory and be- 
come part or parcell of the neighbouring province : And the inhabitants of the said 
Plantation Claiming their right to and Interest in the Govement priviledges and jirotcc- 
tion, of this Corporation, and being willing to submit thereunto. The Councill doe 
therefore soe Cause and judg themselves obliged to own the said Plantations to belong 
to this Territory and to receive the inhabitants thereof under their Goverm' and 
protection. And doe hereby order that Pattents shall be granted to them for their 
Respective townships. And that they shall enioy all other priviledges in Coiiion with 
other his Majc''^'^ Subjects in this Corporation Acknowledging themselves obliged to 
submitt to his Majesties wise and iust determination in the matter appearing in our 
Charter and the Settlm* aforesaid. 

' Hartf'-'i Jany y^ 2P': 1696 : A true Copie 

' Test. Eleazar Kimberly SecreVV 
(Endorsed :) " A Copy of the Act of the Councill in refterence to the Town of 
Rye: 1696 'i 

J Colonial Boundaries (MS.) Hartford, vol. ii. doc. 1.38. 




' In a plaine habbit, according to the manor of a poore wildernesse people.' 

Address of Connecticut to Charles II., 1G83. 

HOUSEKEEPING in Rye in the olden time did not require 
a great variety of furniture. Eacli room, even the kitchen 
and tlie parlor, or 'best room,' was generally supplied with a bed. 
Beside tliis, a table or two, a cu})board and some chests, consti- 
tuted the heavier articles of ' household stuff.' Of chairs there 
were few, sometimes none. Philip Galpin's house, in 1684, 
boasted of three benches ; and rude stools, and the invariable 
coffer or chest, served our early inhabitants for seats. 

The cupboard displayed the choicer eating utensils of the family. 
They were of pewter ; the dishes in ordinary use were of wood. 
The value set upon these articles appears from old inventories and 
from wills, where they rank with important legacies, Richard 
Lounsbery, in 1690, leaves to his wife ' her bed and some small re- 
versions of Pewter ; ' and to his daughter Mary ' two Great Char- 
gers of Pewter, two pewter platters next to them, two lesser Plat- 
ters, and a flaggon, and a cow.' Peter Disbrow's widow, in 1688, 
relinquishes her thirds in favor of her sons Peter and John, who 
promise her a certain yearly allowance, ' only her wearing clothes 
with her bed and what belonged to it, and her pewter — those to 
remain to her, and to be at her disposal.' 

The apparel of our settlers was mostly of domestic manufacture. 
Samuel Hoit's wardrobe, in 1684, contained ' one pair of serge 
trowsers, one pair of linen trowsers, one ould serge coat lined,' and 
' one Kersye Coat.' Serge and kersey were woolen materials of 
different texture. Leather garments were much worn at this 
period. Deerskin and buckskin, raccoon and foxskins, wolf and 
bearskins, were much used for this purpose. ' Indian stockings,' 
or moccasins, were worn to some extent instead of shoes. 

The household linen with other valuables were stored away in 


the great ' cliests,' three or four of which appear to have been 
owned by every family. These were the only receptacles which 
the housewife had at her command for such domestic treasures. 
In these chests, also, important papers and other treasures were 
preserved. Sometimes a neighbor would intrust his valuables to 
be locked up with the family goods. Nathaniel Sherwood testifies, 
November 1, 1704, that some years ago he had charge of a deed 
from Richard Ogden to John Wilson ; but having ' lost the key of 
his chest, he did desir them to Secure it other where, but they neg- 
lecting that he cannot now tell what is be come of it.' ^ 

Few luxuries were to be found in these dwellings. The floors 
were generally bare. ' One rugg' is mentioned in the inventory 
of John Hoyt's estate, in 168-1 ; also 'one carpet or curtain^ — a 
hanging for the parlor wall, perhaps, — and ' one cushion case.' 
Feather beds and chaffe beds, feather pillows and bolsters, are 
specially noted. The ' warming-pan ' was considered indispensable 
to comfort. Every house possessed a loom ; a shop for weaving, 
frequently built of stone, would be found on nearly every farm. 
A huge fire-place, ten or twelve feet wide, and half as many in 
depth, occupied one side of the kitchen.^ The ' cross-cut saw ' 
of the early settler was needed, to prepare the great logs Avhich 
were rolled into this cavernous depth. ' In the kitchen, the high 
wooden settle was never absent — now used as a screen, and now 
receding to the wall. This was the principal sitting-room of the 
family. Blocks in the chimney-corners were used for children's 
seats ; the settle kept off' the air from the door ; a tin candlestick 
with a long back was suspended on a nail over the mantel. As 
fears of the Indians died away, and weapons of warfare were less 
used, occasionally a musket might be seen suspended transversely 
from beam to beam. A small open recess for books was usually seen 
on one side of the fire-place, a little below the ceiling. The family 
Bible was never wanting. It occupied a conspicuous station vipon 
the best table, and though much used, was well preserved.' ^ 

Labor was well paid in early times, at least that of the ivhite 
man. In 1680, a day laborer in Connecticut had two shillings, 
and sometimes two shillings and sixpence per day. Provisions 
were cheap. Wheat sold at four shillings a bushel ; peas at three 

1 Town ]Meetiiig Book, G. p. 4. 

'^ Old people tell us of these fire-places, where as children they would ensconce 
themselves, sitting on each end of an enormous log ; and where they could ' look up 
and see the stars ' through the vast chimney overhead. 

* History of Norwich, by Miss F. M. Canlkins, pp. 76, 77. 


shillings; Indian corn at two slnllings and sixpence; 'Porck'at 
threepence per pound ; ' Beif ' at twopence half-penny ; butter at 
sixpence. 1 

In 1681, Humphrey Underhill engages to pay seven hundred 
pounds for the Vineyard Farm at Rye ; payment to be made in 
provisions at the following rates : Beef at twopence and one far- 
thing a pound ; pork at threepence, one farthing ; winter wheat at 
five shillings, and summer wheat at four shillings sixpence the 
bushel ; Indian corn at two shillings sixpence the bushel.^ 

In 1700, the town orders Mr. Bowers's salary to be paid ' in 
specie as followeth ; Wheat at five shillings per bushel ; Indian 
Corn two shillings sixpence p'' bushel, and all other provisions pay 
equivalent.' ^ 

The week-day life of our early settler was one of hard and un- 
remittino- toil. No ' eio;ht hours' labor ' law would have suited his 
ideas or agreed with the requirements of his position. His acres 
of forest land must be cleared and fenced, his meadow and upland 
lots be tilled by his own strong arms, aided perhaps by those of his 
stalwart boys. Not less busy were the wife and the daughters, upon 
whom devolved not only the cares that now rest upon the humblest 
of their sex, but also the labor of preparing, througli every stage 
of manufacture and adjustment, the coarse but substantial gar- 
ments of the entire family. • 

The ' TRAYN BAND of Rye ' is mentioned in the Colony Records 
of 1667. This was the militia company of the town, such as 
every settlement in Connecticut was required to maintain.* It 
consisted of all male persons between sixteen and sixty years of age, 
ministers and magistrates only excepted. The officers of the train- 
band were a captain, a lieutenant, an ensign, and four sergeants. 
Not fewer than sixty-four, and not more than two hundred men, 
micrht constitute such a company. The arms of the private sol- 
diers were pikes^ muskets, and swords. These they provided, if 
able, for themselves. The muskets had matchlocks, or firelocks, 
and to each there was a pair of ' bandoleers,' or pouches for powder 
and bullets, and a stick, called a rest^ for use in taking aim. The 
pikes were poles, with a spear at the end, fourteen feet in length.^ 
B^or defensive armor, corselets were worn, and coats quilted with 

1 Puhlic Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. p. 300. 2 Rye Records, vol. B. p. 49. 

8 Town Meeting Book, C. p. 8. 

* Palfiey, Ilistonj of New England, vol. ii. p. 49, note. 

^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 45. 


cotton. It does not appear that any uniformity was attempted in 

' Trainino;s ' took place six times a year. These were great 
occasions, and were usually solemnized by prayer. The time of 
meetino; was eight o'clock in the morning. No man could be ab- 
sent unless excused, without incurring a heavy fine. Ministers, as 
well as magistrates, were exempted from training ; but they too, 
with every other male person above sixteen years of age, were 
required to ' bee allwayes provided with, and haue in readiness by 
tliem, halfe a pound of Powder, two pound of shott, and two 
fatliom of Match.' ^ Good Mr. Denham, at Rye, had his ' mus- 
quett ' and his 'two-edged sword,' which he could doubtless make 
use of, upon occasion. ' A pair of shot moulds,' is an item of 
frequent occurrence in lists of household effects. 

Convenient to the spot where these martial exercises took place, 
stood the village stocks. For here, in full view of the concourse, 
unhappy culprits were sometimes put, as a punishment peculiarly 
severe. Thus persons found guilty of cursing and swearing, were 
fined ten shillings, and were condemned ' to sit in the Stocks tAvo 
howers the next Travneing dav.' ^ 

. In Rye, there was a place ' in the heart of the towne, where they 
usually traine.' ^ This we conjecture to have been where the flag- 
staff now stands, at the junction of the post-road and the road to 
the purchase. Here, perhaps, in 1697, ' Major Sellick, of Stand 
ford, with about fifty Dragones whom he called his life guard,' 
made his appearance, ready to defend the town against the author- 
ity of New York, from which it had revolted. 

The train-band of Rye does not seem to have been completely 
officered for a number of years. Joseph Horton is confirmed in 
1667 as ' lieutenant to the trayn band.' The fact is, our town 
did not inimber persons enough, until near the close of the cen- 
tury, to entitle it to have a company under the law. ' Captain Jo- 
seph Horton ' is first heard of in 1690. Captain Theall, who is 
mentioned about the same time, had been ' the chief militarv offi- 
cer for the train-band ' of Bedford, and hence probably retained 
his title after coming to this place. 

The train-band was held to be a most important means of pub- 
lic security in every town. Rye, from its remoteness and its 
feeble condition, must have depended peculiarly upon this defence. 

' Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 544. 

'^ Thid. vol. i. p. 50. 

3 New York Colonial MSS., vol. xli. p. 56. 


In 1673, when there was a prospect of collision with the Dutch, 
who regained possession of New York for a short period, 'Rye, 
being near' to the enemy's position, was 'excused' from sending its 
quota, to form a company of five hundred dragoons, who were to 
be drawn from the train-Lands of the several towns for the pro- 
tection of any threatened part.^ 

Our early settlers had doubtless brought with them many old- 
world customs which are little known to us. One of these they 
observed in the conveyance of lands : it was called the investiture 
' bv turf and twig.' This was a relic of feudal times. It con- 
sisted in the delivery of a turf, a stone, a branch, or some other 
object, as a symbol Jf the transfer of the soil. Anciently, this had 
been practised by the feudal lord, in conferring a fief upon his vas- 
sal .'^^ We find it observed on Manussing Island in 1693, with all 
formality, and on Budd's Neck as late as 1768. In a dispute be- 
tween Samuel Odel and the heirs of Jonathan Vowles, about the 
' southernmost part ' of that island, John Frost testified that in 
1693 he went by request of Vowles to the said island, ' where he 
did see Jonathan Vowles upon the said southernmost part of said 
Island, (being in a manner Divided from y' other part of said Isl- 
and by a Sand Beach,) cutt a Turfe upon the same as also Cutt a 
Stick or Twigg thereon ; and the said Jonatlian Vowles did then 
and there del^rer the said Turfe and Twigg to the said Samuel 
Odel, who desired this Deponent to take notice that Jonathan 
Vowles did putt him in full and peaceable possession.' ^ 

^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 207. 

2 Hixllam, Middle Ages, vol. i. p. 170. 

3 Land Papers in Secretary of State's Office, Albany, vol. iii. p. 4. 



y n:"' 

^1 ''Si! 

Great Stone by the Wading-plaoe. 



rr^HE quaint nomenclature of our early settlers is rapidly passing 
-*- out of mind. Many of the names traced on our ancient 
records have become quite obsolete, and will be as novel to the 
descendants of those who used them as to those of us who dwell 
in places that know them no more. Yet it may be presumed that 
some interest will be felt in the effort to recall, and as far as possi- 
ble to locate them. 

The Indian names, Peningo,i Apawamis,^ Manussing,*^ Honge, 

1 Not Poningo, as Mr. Bolton [History of Westchester) writes it, doubtless misled by 
the resemblance of the letters e and o in the ancient style of writing. This name 
occurs several hundred times in our records, and usually as spelt in the text. Some- 
times it is written Peninggoe, and occasionally, in later times, Penning's Neck. Of 
course the derivation of the word from Ponus, the title of an Indian chief living at 
Stamford in 1640, becomes improbable. Wc have, however, no other to suggest. 

■•^ Variously spelt: Apawammeis (Ind. deed 1661 : Colonial Records of Connect- 
icut, i. MS. 3.34) ; Epauquammes (John Budd's will, 1669 : Indexes of Southold, 
L. I.); Epawamos (deed J. Budd, 1678, B. 9); Opquamis (deed J. Budd, 1682, 
B. 55) ; Apawquammis (Budd's patent, 1720 : Book Patents, Alb. No. 8, p. 375). 

3 ' Of two words meaning Island,' says Dr. Trumbull, ' Munnohan, or, rejecting 
the formative, Munnoh (Abnaki, menahan ; Delaware, menateij ; Chippewa, minis, a 
diminutive) is the more common, but is rarely, if ever, found in composition.' • Long 
Island was Menatey or Manati, " the Island " to the Delawares, Minsi, and other 
neighboring tribes. Any smaller island was menatan (Mass. munnohhan) the indefinite 
form, or menates (Mass. munnises, manisses), the diminutive. Campanius mentions .... 


Eaukecaupacuson, Qiiaroppas, Pockeotessen, Mamaroneck, Mock- 
quams, or Moaquaiies, Annonck, were carefully retained by the 
earlv settlers in tlieii- deeds, but most of them were never used. 
The Annonck was already known as Byram River, the Mock- 
quams as Blind Brook, wjien they came here. Eaukecaupacuson 
soon vielded to ' Lame Will's Purchase,' and ' Rye Woods.' 
Pockeotessen was called Stony Brook. Apawamis became Budd's 
Neck, and later Rye Neck. Quaroppas was re])laced by 'The 
White Plavnes.' Only Peningo, Manussing, and Mamaroneck 
remain in common use. It must be confessed that the aboriginal 
designations had little of beauty or euphony to recommend them. 

Homely as they were, the Anglo-Saxon names of these locali- 
ties were certainly more convenient. We begin our list where 
the settlers began when they crossed from Manussing Island to the 
main shore. 

' The Flats,^ and the ' Horse-race,'' were ancient names for our 
beautiful beach. ' Bunjing Hill ' was the point of land which 
terminates it on tlie east — now the site of a hotel. The channel 
or creek between the island and the main shore has always been 
known as ' The Gut.'' 

' H^e Feri'y,'' the ancient landing-place, was north of the present 
steamboat landing, at the end of a lane on the Provoost estate. 
The late residence of Mr. Jacobs was known as ' The House by 
the Ferry.' ' Fishing Rock,'' mentioned as early as 1699, and also 
called Ogden's Dock, is on Fox Island, at the mouth of Byram 
River. ' Chevalier,'' or ' Cavalier s Rock^ is within sight, just below 
the steamboat landing. 

" Manataanunr) or Manaates, a place settled by the Dutch, who built there a clever 
little town, which went on increasing every day," now called New York. New York 
Island was sometimes spoken of as " the island," Manate, Manhatte ; sometimes as 
" an island," Manathan, Menatan, Manhatan ; more accurately, as " the small island," 
Manhaates, Manattes, and " the Manados " of the Dutch. The island Indians col- 
lectively were called Manhattans; those of the small island, Manhatesen. . . . Manisses 
or Monasses, as Block Island was called, is another form of the diminutive, from 
munnoh ; and Manhasset, otherwise written Munhansick, a name of Shelter Island, 
is the same diminutive with the locative affix, viunna-es-et. So is " Manusses " or 
" Mennewies," an island near Rye, N. Y., now written (with the southern form of the 
locative) Mannssim^.' {The Composition of Indian Geographical Names, illustrated from 
the Algonkin Languages. By J. Hammond Trumbull. Hartford, 1870 : pp. 22, 23.) 

The earliest and usual form of this name in our records is that which Dr. Trum- 
bull gives as the correct one — Manussing. There are, however, some twenty varia- 
tions, the most extreme of which are Mounsons, Mounstimj, Man, and JVassau. 
' Nursin ' Island was common fifty years ago. 

' Minncwies ' or ' Minnewits ' was an early name of City Island I find no evidence 
that Manussing Island was ever so called. 


' Fox Island " was ' commonly so called ' as earlv as 1699. 

' Goose Island ' is to be sought not very far from Fox Island, 
about half a mile up the Byram River, and directly opposite 
Lyon's Dock, at the termination of the road across Lyon's Point. 

' Negro Point ' is the name of a locality on the west side of 
Byram River, just below Lyon's Dock. It was formerly indicated 
by a rock which ' has been blown off, but may yet be found at 
low water a few feet outside the dock.' ^ 

The ' Wading-j)lace ' across Byram River was at the point 
where the bridoe now crosses that river. Here, on the Connecti- 
cut side, close to the northeastern corner of the bridge, is the 
' Crreat Stone by the Wading-place,' which has been a boundary 
mark for two centuries past. There was another wading-place 
used in former days, about where the New Haven Railroad crosses 
the river. This was called the ' loiver going over.'' It is so 
designated in our town records in 1711. This came to be pro- 
nounced the ' Loginover^ a corruption that was familiar to the 
inhabitants fifty or seventy-five years ago. 

. The ' Scotch Caps ' are the rugged masses of rock that lie off the 
tapering point of land known as Brown's or Wainwright's Point. 
They received tliis name from the first settlers, who also called 
the southern part of the peninsula itself the ' Scotch Caj:) Neck^'' 
or ' Ox-pasture Nech.' 

' Parsonage Point ' is the next projection from Peningo Neck 
on the east. It is the site of the residence of Mr. Van Wagenen. 

' Kniffi.n''s Gove ' is a small inlet of the Sound, on the lower part 
of Mr. Underbill Halsted's land, in the rear of Mr. Bidwell's 
h.ouse. Here there was anciently a ' Avarehouse ' and a dock. 

'TFarg's Cove'' or Reynolds'' Cove^ is below this, opposite the 
north end of Pine Island. This island contains about eight acres, 
and lies within a few rods of the shore. ''Galpin's Cove ' was on 
Budd's Neck, below ''BallocFs Landing,'' at the foot of Mr. 
Geniii's land. 

We have on record the names of several brooks which are 
represented at the present day only by very insignificant rills. 
There can be no doubt that they were more deserving of the 
name Avhen the forests and the swamps were here to feed and 
shelter them. Besides Blind Brook and Stony Brook, there was 
Bound Brook, Gunn Brook, Hassock Meadow Brook, Horseneck 
Brook, Rattlesnake Brook, Blind Brook Branch, Crooked Gutter, 

1 Survey of road and landing, Negro Point, in Port Chester, 1852; Town Eecords, 
1815 to 1859, p. 336. 


and Causeway Brook. ^ These were noted boundary marks in 
other days ; and in our fall freshets they sometimes approach their 
former volume. 

' Before these fields were shorn and tilled, 

Full to the brim our rivers flowed ; 
The melody of waters filled 
The vast and boundless wood.' 

Our ancient inhabitants had names for the hills and slopes upon 
which their most eligible lands were situated. Some of these we 
have not succeeded in locating. Who can tell us where to find 
' Walks' Ridge,' 'Raccoon Ridge,' or ' Taffy's Plain ' ? ' Toyii Jeffer's 
Hill ' we have identified as the elevation upon which the Epis- 
copal Church stands. There are more permanent names, how- 
ever, which can be assigned without much danger of mistake. In 
the beautiful valley of the vipper Blind Brook, we have ' Branch 
Ridge,' and ' Brush Ridge.' These names were given to the east- 
ern slope, along which the present Ridge Street proceeds as far as 
the road to Park's mill, and perhaps some distance beyond. Above 
this the same street runs over ' Hog-i^en Ridge,' by which elegant 
term the settlers, as early as 1682, were pleased to designate some 
of their choicest lands.^ ' Byram Ridge ' was the tract of land on 
the west side of Byram River, from the junction of Ridge and 
King streets, or thereabouts, down to the neighborhood of the 
present village of Port Chester. ' Wo If -pit Ridge' or '' Pidpit 
Plain,' has already been described as the high ground north of 
Rye, upon which our district school, academy, and seminary are 
now situated. A modern name for the same region — itself more 
more than a century old, however — is '■the Cedars' 

' Steep IIolloiv ' was the name of a beautiful glen on the prop- 
erty of Mr. Quintard. It was so called as early as the year 1700. 
The ' Upper' and ' Lower Hassocky Meadoivs ' ■" lie in the valley 
between Grace Church Street and the post-road, through which 

1 Bound Brook was perhaps the rivulet flowing through Dr. Cockey's land. Gunn 
Brook begins on Dr. Tuttlc's land, and joins Hassocky Meadow Brook, which takes 
its rise near Mr. Jonathan Sniffin's. Rattlesnake Brook flows tlirough Mr. Brcvoort's 
land, from a spring known as Cold Spring on Dr. Jay's land. Horseneck Brook flows 
into the creek of the same name on Mr. S. L. Mitchill's land. 

2 ' Itt is ordered [March 1641] thatt all those thatt have hoggs shall drive them 
from the plantation about 5 miles*from the towne, and haunt them forth abroade, 
ncverthelesse every one is to endeavour to secure their corne by sufficient fences.' 
New Haven Colony Records, vol. i. p. 52. 

^ This has been considered an Indian word. Mr. Bolton [History of Westchester 
County, ii. 16) and Mr. Mead (ITistory of Greenwich, Conn.) mention ' Haseco,' as one 
of the aboriginal names of Rye and Greenwich. Our records speak of ' hassock ' and 


tlie railroad passes from Rye to Port Chester. '• Sniffins HiW 
is the rounded eminence since known as Bloomer's Hill, above 
Port Chester, upon which a house has lately been built. 

' Bartoyi's Neck"" is the ancient name of the tract through which 
Grace Church Street runs, from the neighborhood of the road to 
Manussing Island, as far as the entrance to Port Chester. 

' Saw Pit,' the ancient name of that village, occurs for the first 
time in 1732. Before that date we find mention of the ' Saw-log 
Sivamp.'' ' Merritt's Point ' is now known as Lyon's Point. 

The swamps, now happily disappeared, had each its peculiar 
designation. The ' Long Sivamp'' lay back of the home-lots, in the 
Town Field, east of the Milton Road and Grace Church Street. 
The ' Crreat Swamp,'' lav north of the present Roman Catholic 
Cemetery, and east of Ridge Street. ' Beaver Sivamjy ' was in the 
valley of Stony Brook, where the Union Cemetery is situated. 
' Timothg^s Swamj?,^ named perhaps after the old constable of Rye, 
Timothy Knap, was a part of the ' Saw-log Swamp.' 

Sundry persons or families bestowed their names upon certain 
localities. The land between Resent Street and Kino; Street, from 
the post-road to Purchase Avenue, was long known and is still 
remembered as ' Kniffiji's land J' The extreme eastern part of the 
Town Field, bordered by Grace Church Street and the road 
to Kirby's mill, Avas anciently ' Coe's land,'' since ' Bird's land.'' 
' Bloomer's Island ' is a tract of a few acres in the old Town 
Field near the creek or Sound, the waters of which surround it 
at high tide. ' Bullock's Meadoiv ' was a part of the farm now- 
owned by Mr. Stevens. 

' hassockj ' meadows in various localities ; in one place the language is ' fresh or 
hassocky meadow.' The word is obviously English. Wright's Provincial Diction- 
ary defines Hassock, '1. A reed or rush, a tuft of rushes .... 3. Anything grow- 
ing thick and wild. Sussex.' 



' Yon rujrgcd road which like a stream » 

Bursts through the shadowy forest to the west.' / 

The New Pastoral. 

IN a local history, some notices of the principal roads within the 
limits of the town will not be out of place. To the inhabitant 
this record will possess a certain interest, for it relates to our most 
enduring monuments of the past. The travelled highway, which 
retains the course of some ancient forest path, first worn it may be 
by the Indian hunter, then used by the early settlers, and grad- 
ually improved with the progress of the community, is often the 
link that most visibly connects the present with by-gone times. 

But a wider interest belongs to the great thoroughfares of the 
land, such as that which crosses the town of Rye. The post-road 
from New York to Boston intersects the lower part of our town, 
and forms the main street of the village. This road did not exist at 
the time of the first settlement. Tlie only avenue of communica- 
tion by land with other places was, as we have seen, the ' old 
Westchester Path.' An Indian trail originally, it was never laid 
out as a public highway, but was used for awhile by the inhabit- 
ants of the towns through v/hich it passed, as well as by occa- 
sional travellers to New York or Connecticut. In all likelihood, 
this for several years was the route of the monthly post on his 
way to the eastern settlements. Here, not far from the line over 
which the engine now speeds hourly, our settlers may have heard 
the shrill notes of the messenger's horn that announced his ap- 
proach to the village. 

The ' country road,'' as it was called, appears to have been laid 
out about the year 1672. In May of that year, the General Court 
of Connecticut appointed — 

' Mr. John Holly, L°' Jonathan Bell and John Green to veiwe the 
townshipp of Rye, and to consider what highways may be requisit and 
necessary fdr the use of the towne and Colony, and lay them out and 
see thera recorded in the town book ; and if the said highwayes shall fall 


in any man's perticuler proprietie, the sayd committee are liereby ap- 
poynted to order such person or persons reasonable sattisfaction for the 
same, which shall be allowed out of the common lands within that town- 
ship not allready layed out. Ami the sayd Gent" are desired to take 
care to lay out the highwayes so as may be least prejudicial! to the pro- 
prietors.' ^ 

The roads here provided for were for the most part neiglibor- 
hood roads simply. As yet there was no public thoroughfare 
through Connecticut or New York. But the convenience of every 
town would require that there should be at least a road to the near- 
est settlement. This, at Rye, was the road to Greenwicli or Stam- 
ford, wliich was probably one of the roads Wid out under the order 
of 1672. 'The Stanford road' — 'the path commonly called the 
Standford Road' — is mentioned in 1680, eight years after that 
order.^ We suppose this to be identical with our present post- 
road, leading from Mamaroneck River to Byram River, in the same 
general course as now. That portion of it which passes through 
the village of Rye along the bank of Blind Bi'ook, must have 
been opened before the year 1676.^ 

The ' country roads ' leading from one town to anotlier came in 
time to be considered as the inihlic higlnvay of the colony and the 
province. In 1679, the General Court of Connecticut ordered : — 

' That the present roades from plantation to plantation shall be re- 
puted the country road or King's highway, and so remayne untill the 
Court doe see good reason to make alteration of the same. And 
whereas the inhabitants of each plantation are by law required once a 
yeare to worke a day in cleareing of the brush, it is by this Court 
recommended to the townesmen of the severall plantations to improve 
their inhabitants in cleareing the comon roades, in the first j^lace, that 
lye between towne and towne, vntill the sayd roades are cleared at least 
one rod wide.' ■* 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 170. 

- A record of John Brondig's land in 1680, describes a meadow lot lying on the 
' Stanford road.' (Town Records, vol. B. p. 6.) Jacob Pearce, in 1683, had a meadow 
lot on the ' Stanford path.' [Ibid. p. 23.) In 1686, John Winter of Westchester sold 
to Francis Brown of Rye forty acres on the ' path commonly called the Standford 
Road.' (County Records, vol. A. p. 176.) This was on Budd's Neck. 

^ This I think is evident from the fact that the old house known as Van Sicklin's 
or Doughty's, and which is believed to be the building referred to in 1676 as a forti- 
fied place, stood fronting on this road. Two other buildings that front on this street 
— ' Strang's tavern' and the tenement house belonging to Mr. Joseph Kirb'y — are 
supposed to have been erected in the latter part of the seventeenth century. It would 
be difficult to account for their position without supposing that there was already a 
public highway along Blind Brook at the time of their erection, a fact which is 
abundantly proved by other indications. 

* Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii- p. SO. 


Tlie ' country road ' is mentioned as already existing in 1699, 
when a survey of it was ordered by the town : — 

* At a towne meeting in Rye aprell: 1 : 1699. 

' John Merrett Senior and Joseph Budd are chosen surveyors to run 
the contere Rode and Lay it out begining att Birriam River and so to 
Run to Mamoranock River.' 

This survey was ordered probabl}' with a view to the widening 
of the road, which prior to this may have been but one rod wide, 
as prescribed by the colony law.^ 

Rye was then claimed by Connecticut as still within the colony's 
limits. But in 1700 the town was returned to the province of 
New York. The towns of this province under the Dutch and Eng- 
lish governments, like those of Connecticut, had the superintend- 
ence and management of all their local affairs, including the lay- 
ing out of roads. In 1691 an act was passed 'to enable each 
Town to regulate its Fences and Highways.' By this law free- 
holders were impowered to meet in their respective towns and to 
choose annually three surveyors or ' ordrers ' to lay out and re- 
pair roads. Their ' orders ' were to be ' entered in the Town's 
books for that purpose and approved by the next Court of Ses- 
sions.' This law was in force until tbe year 1708. In that year 
an act was passed for laying out highways throughout the sev- 
eral counties of the province. Among other provisions, it directed 
that — 

' One Public, Common Highway be laid out and kept in repair from 
New York through that county and the county of Westchester four 
rods, English, wide, to be forever a Public Road to the Colony of Con- 

This was the first formal act establishing our present post-road. 
It had existed before, as we have shown, in separate links, from 
town to town, following very much the same general course as 
now. But it had never before been constituted as one road. 

Commissioners were appointed to carry out this act. Up to the 
year 1728 they were appointed for the whole county. From 
that time till the Revolution they w^ere appointed for the several 
towns. After the war, in 1784, an act was passed vesting in the 
freeholders and inhabitants of the towns themselves the power to 
elect at their annual meetings not less than three nor more than 
five persons in each town to be commissioners of highways. 

1 At the same town meeting, April 1, 1699, the road to White Plains, which had 
certainly been in existence for some years, was ordered to be surveyed and laid out 
' to be 3 Rods in breadth,' (Rye Records.) 


All this legislation, unfortunately, did not make good roads. 
Their condition indeed was a theme for lament and execration year 
after year. In 1684 the legislature of Connecticut complains that 
, ' There is a great neglect fownd in mayntaining of the higlnvayes 
between towne and towne.' The ways are ' incumbered with dirty 
slowes, [sloughs,] bushes, trees and stones.' The Court orders 
that ' each plantation shall forthwith take sufficient care that the 
highwayes stated between townes be well amended from such 
defects, and so kept from time to time.' Mention is made 
' especially ' of the ' road from Hartford to New Haven, and from 
New Haven to Grreemrich.^ Rye just then was ' out in the cold,' 
Connecticut having relinquished the town to New York a few 
months before. But we may suppose that in the matter of roads 
it was not much better off than its neighbor ' Horseneck.' 

' One peculiarity of the highway of that early day,' remarks 
Mr. Huntington, ' was the fact of a gate across the road wherever 
a side road entered the main one of the settlement — so that for 
several years, one could not probably have travelled a half mile in 
any direction from the centre of the town, without meeting one of 
these gates.' ^ Often, in the laying out of a new road, it was 
stipulated that the owner of some adjacent lands should have 
'liberty to hang a gate or make a draw-bars for his conveniency,' 
the said owner ' keeping said gate in good repair at his own cost 
and charge.' There was such a gate on the Milton Road near the 
present cemetery by Blind Brook, in 1719 ; and another on the 
road leading from the Great Bridge, near the spot where the Pres- 
byterian Church now stands, to Manussing Island. And as late as 
1779, on the fine road now leading from Harrison Station to North 
Street, there were ' bars ' at different points, as the reader may 
see by Erskine's 'Map of Rye,' a fac-simile of which we give else- 
where. Many such obstructions doubtless existed in the earlier 
part of the century, even on the Boston Road, where it crossed 
our town. 

In 1704 we have a doleful account of the highway through 
these parts. Our oft-quoted traveller. Madam Knight, groans out 
her complaint as from Norwalk she and her guide 'Hasted towards 
Rye, walking and Leading our Horses neer a mile together, up a 
prodigios High Hill, and so Riding till about nine at night.' 
Returning from her visit to New York, she passes again through 
our town to the limits of ' York Government,' and there ' Descend- 
ing the Mountainos passage that almost broke my heart in ascend- 
1 History of Stamford, Connecticut, by Rev. E. B. Huntington, p. 436. 


ino- before, Ave come,' she says, ' to Stamford, which we passed, 
and thro' many and great difficulties, as Bridges which were 
exceedingly high and very tottering and of vast Length, steep and 
rockv Hills and precipices, bugbears to a fearful female traveller.'^ 

Eio-lity-five years later, a more eminent personage describes our 
roads in terms not much more flattering than Madam Knight's. 
' The Road [from Kingsbridge to Rye] for the greater part, indeed 
the whole way, was very rough and stoney, but the Land strong, well 

covered with grass and a luxuriant crop of Indian Corn 

The farms .... are very close together, and separated, as one 
inclosure from another also is, by fences of stone, which are indeed 

easily made, as the country is immensely stoney After pass- 

incT Horse Neck, six miles distant from Rye, the Road through 
which is HILLY, and immensely stoney, and trying to Wheels and 
Carriages.' Pretty strong language this, for the calm and benig- 
nant Father of his Country. It is to be feared that our post-road 
tried his patience as severely as it tried his carriage. Indeed, on 
his way homeward from the same excursion into New England, 
Washington, as if unable to express his feelings on the subject, 
writes, while resting for the nigh.t at the ' widow Haviland's in 
Rye,' ' TJie badness of these roads having been described as I went, 
I shall say nothing of them now ! ' ^ 

Some comfort may be derived under these mortifying comments, 
from the fact that older countries than ours were suffering at 
the same period from the misery of bad roads. England, whose 
smooth and solid highways are now the special admiration of every 
American visitor, was not much better off than New England two 
centuries or even one hundred years ago. How was it with our 
venerable namesake, Rye, in Sussex, on the British channel? 
From the voluminous ' History and Antiquities ' of that ' Ancient 
Town and Port,' we learn that the first turnpike act, ' for repair- 
ing and widening the Road from Flimwell Vent to Rye,' was passed 
in 17G2. Before this the travelling was so bad that corn was fre- 
quently brought into the town on horses' backs. In the latter part 
of the previous century, coaches occupied ten and eleven hours in 
a trip of thirty miles. The ground was so rugged and full of holes 
that the traveller would often have to dismount and lead his horse. 
Tiie fords, where there were no bridges, could not be crossed in 
rough weather without extreme danger. 'Riding in a dark lane, 
towards evening, across a descent made by a rivulet of water, I 

1 Diary of Washington, from the first dai/ of October, 1789, to the tenth day of March, 
1790. New York, 1858: pp. 19, 47. 


was twice like to be thrown into tlie water,' writes a traveller in 
1693, who at another time states that wishing to return by a ford 
from a neifjliboring place, ' I could not get to Rye that night, nor 
next day till noon, after having waited in the wind and cold on the 
gravelly ground.' 

In 1775 an English clergyman writes to a friend, from Brigh- 
ton, in the same county, and only forty-seven miles south of 
London : — 

' If you should ever stand in peculiar need of very violent exercise, 
come down hither, by way of Eyegate, and before the present stage- 
coach is worn out. The road is the roughest, the country the coarsest, 
and the vehicle the uueasiest that can well be imagined, I never had 
so complete a shaking ; and, though much used to travelling, was liter- 
ally sore from head to foot for twenty-four hours after my arrival here, 
occasioned by such a series of concussions as I really thought it im- 
possible for any carriage to impart.' ^ 

Until quite recently the Boston Road was familiarly known to us 
as ' the turnpike.' It has in fact ceased to be a turnpike road only 
within two or three years past. In 1800 a corporation was formed 
by act of the legislature, by the name of ' The President, Direc- 
tors and Company of the Westchester Turnpike Road.' Messrs. 
Philip Pell, John P. Delancey, Cornelius Rosevelt, Peter J. Mon- 
roe, and Gabriel Furman, were the members of this corporation 
mentioned in the act.'-^ 

The general course of this road coincided with that of the old 
Boston Road established by act of the Assembly in 1703 ; just as that 
road followed in the main the course of the country road established 
in 1672. There have been several deviations, however, from the 
ancient line in the town of Rye ; and these we may here indicate. 

The first occurred where the turnpike road entered Rye, cross- 
ing Mamaroneck River. Here the old road ran about thirty rods 
north of the line adopted in 1800. The street now called Tomp- 
kins Avenue is the ancient highway. In 1811 the commissioners 
closed a part of 'the old Boston road, beginning at Mamaroneck 
River and extending eastwardly to the post set in the ground op-, 
posite Daniel Gidney's house, and thence to the land of William 

Another change was made between Dr. Jay's house and Mr. 

1 Rev. A. Toplady, Works, pp. 873, 874. 

" An act to establish a turnpike corporation for improving the road from East 
Chester to Eyram, passed seventh April, 1800, chap. cxxi. 
■^ Town lUeunls, vo!. 1). p. 3CA . 


Thomas IlavilancFs. The old road diverged from tlie hne adopted 
for the turnpike at a point a little south of Mrs. Bradford's resi- 
dence. It returned to its present course at the southeast corner 
of Mr. Haviland's lawn, forming a curve about fifteen rods at its 
greatest distance from the present road.^ 

Above Mr. Theall's house the road was straightened for a dis- 
tance of half a mile. The old road is that which passes Mr. Ben- 
iamin Mead's house. The stone bridge across Blind Brook, which 
has lately been demolished and replaced by a larger one, was built 
by the turnpike company. Before this, the road crossed the 
brook over a wooden bridge, which stood about half-way between 
the present bridge and the ford. Through the village of Rye the 
turnpike retained the course of the old road, except at the head of 
Grace Church Street, where a slight change was made.^ Between 
Rye and ' Saw Pit ' or Port Chester, there was no material change. 

A slight deviation occurred between R^^e and Port Chester, at 
the foot of Regent Street. A more considerable change was made 
in the village of Saw Pit. Here the turnpike company opened a 
new road between the old road and the water. This change be- 
gins where the road to Lyon's Point intersects Main Street. Be- 
yond this the back street now called Fountain Street represents 
the course of the old road as far as Mrs. Moseman's residence. 
Passing along the north side of that house, it ran about parallel 
with the present course of the railway, and very near it, to the 
spot where the turnpike crosses the railway ; thence as the turn- 
pike runs to a place not far from the railway embankment, indi- 
cated by bars ; and thence along the bank of Byram River nearly 
to the bridge. 

1 Information from Mr. T. Haviland, Rye. 

- Along the land now occupied by the residences of Mr. Augustus M. Halsted, 
Miss R. Bush, and Mr. Thomas Peck, the old post-road was straujhtened to some 
extent by the turnpike company. This land, as we shall see in another chapter, 
constituted the 'old parsonage,' and was owned by the Episcojial Church until within 
a few years. 



Tnat wie vViaow iiavuaiia was e,i4uai lo i. 
I occasion Is demonstrated by Washington's diai 
I of the trip wlilch he made into New-England 
this time. He wrote under date of October 1 


Haviland's, or Penfield House. 



' As ancient is this hostelry 
As any in the land may be : 
Built in the old Colonial day.' 


HALF a century ago, the old Square House on the post-road 
at Rye was the centre of life and intelligence for the whole 
neighborhood : and such it had been for at least as many 3'ears. 
Old inhabitants still speak of the times when the great, lumbering 
coach, with panting horses, and sorely-jolted passengers, would 
bring tap about sunset at Penfield's Hotel ; and when the chief 
exciting event of every evening throughout the village would be 
the approach and arrival of the eastern and western stages. For 
it was at Penfield's that these vehicles — the one bound for Boston 
and the other for New York — would usually meet and deposit their 
loads of travellers, to remain over night. 

But nearly a century ago, the Square House was said to have 
been ' a noted tavern for many years ; ' and before that, it was the 
goodly mansion of one of the leading men of the town. Here 
Peter Brown lived previous to the year 1731. After his death 
the house passed into the possession of the Rev. James Wetmore, 


rector of the parish of Rye. It was the residence of his son, 
Timothy Wetmore, in 1763 ; about which time probably it became 
an inn. 

As early as the year 1770, Dr. Ebenezer Haviland, afterwards 
a surgeon in the army during the Revolution, kept this tavern. 
The records of the Board of Supervisors, October 7, 1772, con- 
tain this item : ' To Doct. Ebenezer Haveland, for dining the 
Supervizors and liqure, £1. 11. 4.' 

The ' New York Gazette,' Monday, April 18, 1774, announces 
that — 

' The lottery for the benefit of a Clergyman is in such forwardness 
that the managers will be enabled to begin the drawing on Thursday 
the 28th instant, at the house of Dr. Ebenezer Haviland, in Rye.' 

About the same time the following advertisement appears : ^ — 
To BE Sold, at private Sale, 

A LOT of land in the town of Rye, Wefl-Chefter 
county, containing about 20 acres, moft of which 
is excellent meadow land ; on which is a large two 
ftory houfe, neatly finifhed, with a large cellar un- 
der the whole houfe ; a kitchen feperate from the 
manfion houfe ; a barn, ftore lioufe, flables, horfe- 
Ihed, and other out-houfes, all in good repair : The 
above has been a noted tavern for many years ; is a 
good flage upon the Boflon road, being 31 miles to 
New- York : it is a convenient place for a trader, as 
there has been a (hop kept there for twenty years 
pafl, and is within a mile and a half of the landing — 

A farm of about 50 acres of choice land, on which 
is a good dwelling houfe, a cyder-mill and houfe, 
barn, (tables, &c. an orchard containing near 400 
bearing apple trees, 100 of which are Englifli pip- 
, pins ; there are a large number of locult trees 
on faid land. The above farm is fituate in Harri- 
fon's purchafe, Weft-Chefter County, within two 
miles and a half of a landing ; affords an exten- 
sive profpect of Long-Ifland and the Sound. 


A houfe and four acres of land in the town of Rye, 
lying by the poft-road, fuitable for a tradefman ; either 
of the above may be purchafed at a reafonable rate, 
by applying to the fubfcriber in the town of Kye. 


To be fold at public vendue on the premises, on 
Wednefday the 6th of April next, 

A FARM containing 200 acres of good land, fitu- 
ate in Hai^rison's purchafe, Weft-Chelter county, on 
which is a new dwelling-houfe, a large barn, and 
other out-houfes, &c. The above was lately the 
property of James Haviland. For further particulars, 
inquire of the fubfcribers, who will give an indifputa- 
ble title for the fame. EBENEZER HAVILAND, 
RYE, March 5, 1774. 

1 Rivington's New York Gazetteer ; or, The WeeUtj Advertiser. Thursday, March 
10, 1774. 


The following year he advertises again : — 

' To be sold, the house where the subscriber now lives, in Rye, which 
has been a noted tavern for many years past There are three rooms 
with fire places on the lower floor, and two on the second, and three 
without ; a large cellar, a shop adjoining the house, and a kitchen at a 
little distance. There is a good barn,' etc., ' and about twenty acres of 
land of the best quality, through which runs a fine strean) for a grist 
or oil mill 

' Likewise a small farm of 50 acres, with a good house, barn, and other 
out houses, in Harrison's precinct. It affords a very beautiful prospect 
of the Sound and Long Island.' 

In 1774, John Adams stopped at ' Haviland's, of Rye,' on his 
way from Boston to New York.^ 

During the war, one Jotham Wright kept this inn. It appears 
to have reverted, after the war, to Mrs. Tamar Haviland, then 
the widow of Dr. Ebenezer, who for several years maintained the 
good repute of this ' ancient liostelry.' It was during her incum- 
bency that Rye had the honor of a visit from General Washing- 
ton, and that the Square House became invested with tiiat in- 
terest which hallows every spot associated with the Father of his 
Country. The hostess and the inn were immortalized by the fol- 
lowing notice in the President's diary : — 

'Thursday, Oct. 15th, 1789. After dinner, through frequent light 
showers, we proceeded to the Tavern of a Mrs. Haviland at Rye ; who 
keeps a very neat and decent Inn. . . . Friday 16th, about seven o'clock 
we left the Widow Haviland's, and after passing Horse Neck, six n)iles 
distant from Rye, the Road through which is hilly and immensely stoney^ 
and trying to Wheels and Carriages, we breakfasted at Stamford, which 
is six miles further, at one Webb's — a tolerable good house, but not 
equal in appearance and reality to Mrs. Haviland's.' 

The General made a longer stay at Rye on his way back to New 
York from New England. ' A little after sunrise [Thursday, Nov. 
12th] we left Marvin's, [at Fairfield,] and breakfasting at Stam- 
ford, 13 miles distant, reached the Widow Haviland's, 12 miles 
further : where, on acct. of some lame horses, we remained all 
night.' ' Friday, 18th, Left Mrs. Haviland's as soon as we could 
see the road, and breakfasted at Hoyet's tavern, this side King's- 
bridge ; between 2 and 3 o'clock arrived at my house at New 
York, where I found Mrs. W. and the rest of the family all well 

1 Diary, in President Adams's Works, vol. ii. p. 345. 


— and it beincr Mrs. W's night to receive visits, a pretty large 
company of ladies and gentlemen were present.' ^ 

The widow was succeeded by Peter Quintard, who was land- 
lord in 1797. Tlie town, whicli looked carefully after the taverns 
in those days, resolved that year that — 

' If Peter Quintard should not occupy the House he now lives in 
longer than the first of May next, then he shall pay no more Excise, 
Money than in proportion of time he has occupied said house.' 

One Peter William Marrener next kept the Square House for 
two years. But in 1801 it passed into the hands of Mr. Nathaniel 
Penfield. This gentleman is Avell remembered by many at the 
present day as a fine specimen of the ancient landlord ; a man of 
courtly manners and unblemished character. After his death, in 
1810, the house was kept for a few years by his son, the late Mr. 
Henry L. Penfield, a most amiable and estimable man, whose 
death occurred in 1867. Penfield's Hotel was still a noted place. 
Here the stages on the Boston Road stopped, until some forty years 
ago.^ Among its distinguished guests in later times was General 
La Fayette, when making a tour from New York into New Eng- 
land in 1824. 

' At Maniaroneck, the General was received with the same enthusi- 
astic welcome. A salute was fired by the inhabitants, the hells were 
rung, and an excellent band of music continued playing our national 
airs. At Rye, the General, his suite, and the committee of arrange- 
ments dined together at Penfield's HoteV ^ 

But ' Penfield's ' was by no means the most ' ancient hostelry ' of 
Rye. We must go back another half century at least, to speak of 
two other village inns, long known as ' Strang's ' and ' Doughty's.' 

The public house was an important institution of the olden time. 
Innkeepers were chosen by the town, and none but persons of 
good character and estate were considered eligible. 

The earliest notice of such an appointment in our records is the 
following : — 

'At a towne meeting in Ry, March 24, 1697-8, Joseph Horton is 

1 Diary of Washington, from the frt,t day of October, 1789, to the tenth day of March, 
1790. New York, 18.')8 : pp. 20, 21, 46. 

2 The Square House ceased to be a public house about 18.30. In 1835 Eaclicl, 
widow of Nathaniel and Henry L. Penfield, and his wife Mary, sold to David H. 
Mead this property, with 23 acres of land. (County Records, lib. Iviii. p. .358.) 

■^ Niles' Register, August 28, 1824. 


chosen by the tovvne of Ry to keep a house of entertainment for trav- 
lors for the year insuing.' ^ 

Lieutenant Joseph Horton, we have seen, was a leading inhabit- 
ant at that day. He lived on Rye Neck, and the house here 
referred to is supposed to have stood on the site or in the neigh- 
borhood of the old mill which has lately been renovated, opposite 
the house of Mr. Jonathan H. Gedney. 

In the village itself, ' Strang's tavern ' was the ancient public 
house. A portion of the original building is still standing, on the 
southeast corner of the post-road and Rectory Street.^ 

Madam Knight of Boston gives an amusing description of her 
entertainment at this inn, in the course of her journey on horse- 
back in 1704 from that city to New York : — 

' From Norowalk we hasted towards Rye, walking and leading our 
horses neer a mile together, up a prodigios high hill ; and so riding till 
about nine at night ; and there arrived and took up our lodgings at 
an ordinary, w*^'* a French family kept. Here being very hungry, I 
desired a fricasee, w*^*^ the Frenchman undertakeing mannaged so 
contrary to my notion of cookery, that I hastned to bed superless ; 
being shewd the way up a pair of stairs w"^** had such a narrow pas- 
sage that I had almost stopt by the bulk of my body. But arriv- 
ing at my apartment found it to be a little Lento chamber, furnisht 
amongst other rubbish Avith a high bedd and a low one, a long table, a 
bench, and a bottomless chair. . . . My poor bones complained bitterly, 
not being used to such lodgings ; and so did the man who was with us ; 
and poor I made but one grone, which was from the time I went to bed 
to the time I riss, which was about three in the morning. Setting up 
by the fire till light, and having discharged our ordinary, w"^^ was as 
dear as if we had had far better fare, we took our leave of Monsier, 
and about seven in the morn came to New Rochell, a French town, 
where we had a good breakfast, and in the strength of that, about an 
how'r before sunsett, got to York.' 

The Frenchman of whom Madam Knight speaks was undoubt- 
edly Daniel L'Estrange, or Strang, as the name soon came to be 
written — a French Protestant refugee who had removed to this 
country a few years before. His death occurred two years after 
Madam Knight's visit. The village inn was kept by his widow 
for several years. 

' Strang's Tavern ' was a place of note long after this. On a 
map of Budd's Neck in the year 1720, the bridge over Blind 

1 Town and Proprietors' Meeting Book, No. C. p. 5. 

2 A view of this house, taken before the recent alterations, will be found on page 71. 


Brook is denoted the King's Bridge ' nere Strange.' The Jus- 
tices and Vestry of Rye held their meetings here as early as 1734, 
and the town meetings may not improbably have been held here at 
a much earlier day. The old house was still a place of public 
entertainment thirty years ago, and was kept by a lineal descend- 
ant of the first ' Daniel L'Estrange.' It remained unaltered until 
within two or three years past, the ' lean-to ' chamber which 
Madam Knight occupied being quite distinguishable. 

Another noted inn was the old stone house known of late years 
as ' Van SickHn's.' In the early days of the settlement, this 
building, as already stated, was a fort or place of defence. After- 
wards it became the dwelling of Mr. Isaac Denham, son of the 
first settled minister of Rye, and one of the wealthiest and most 
influential persons of his day. Mr. Denham died in 1723, and 
in 1728 his executors sold his house and home lot to ' Francis 
Doughty, junior, of Flushing,' The ' New York Gazette ' of June 
20, 1748, contains the following advertisement : — 

FRANCIS DOUGHTY, who kept the Kings- 
Bridge, is now removed to the Sign of tiie SUN 
in Rye, where all Gentlemen, Travellers, and 
Others, may depend on good Entertainment for 
themselves and Horfes. 

Mr. Doughty, like his predecessors Horton and Strang, was a 
justice of the. peace for the town of Rye. The Justices and Ves- 
try met at his house from 1730 to 1734, and again at the same 
place from 1770 to 1776, when his son John Doughty kept the 
tavern. Another John Doughty, grandson of Francis, succeeded 
to the dignities and emoluments of the office, which seems to have 
descended from father to son as a matter of course. A map of 
the town in 1797, represents ' Doughty's ' house as still known by 
that name. An old lady of our acquaintance remembers well 
attending balls and parties, as a young girl, at John Doughty's, 
which was a favorite and quite respectable place of resort early 
in the present century. 

Under the old Connecticut laws, the regulations with regard to 
public houses were very strict. By the code of laws adopted in 
that colony in 1639, no innkeeper was allowed to sell ' more than 
half a pint of wine at one time to be drunk,' or to permit any 
guest ' to continue tippling above half an hour, or after nine 
o'clock at night.' ^ 

1 Colonial Records of Connecticut, edited by J. H. Trumbull, vol. i. p. 509. 


The earliest reference to the sale of liquor in this town occurs 
under the date of April 17, 1789, when David Doughty was 
' permitted to sell spirituous liquors without paying excise.' 

April 14, 1797, ' Samuel Travis was permitted to keep a Tav- 
ern in the House which David Doughty formerly occupied — the 
Town to refund back money he shall pay for a permit for the 
same.' ^ 

Of the drinking habits of our early settlers, we have other traces 
besides the maintenance of so many public houses. Even those 
who brought with them something of the rigidity of Puritan man- 
ners, had their drinking cups and tankards at hand.^ But there is 
reason to believe that they exercised a comparative moderation in 
the use of spirituous liquors. At a later day, we hear much of 
the prevalence of drunkenness in this community. The Rev. Mr. 
Muirson writes, in 1707, ' Swearing and drinking and Sabbath- 
breaking ' are the vices that are ' chiefly predominant.' ^ And 
Mr. Wetmore, schoolmaster at Rye, complains in 1765, that 
'many of our people are too much addicted to the taverns.'* 

1 Records of Town Meetings. 

2 The inventory of the estate of John Hoyt, 1684, mentions, among his scanty 
effects, ' one quart pot, two pint pots, one gill pot, one drinking cup, one old quart 
pot, one tunnil.' (County Records, vol. A. p. 80.) 

The last will and testament of Francis Brown, 1685, requires that his wife shall 
' pay Captain Silleck for the cider I bought of him this last fall, [outj of the gear, and 
take in my bill.' Rye Records, vol. B. p. v. (end.) 

3 Bolton's History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Westchester County, p. 181. 
* Ibid. p. 312. ' To the dissenting meeting, taverns, and slothfulness on the Lord's 

day,' is Mr. Wetmore's mournful language. 

The custom of furnishing liquor at funerals prevailed here a hundred years ago, 
as appears from the following entry in the Vestry-book of the parish : ' March 13, 
1759. To Ebenezer Kniffin, for half a Gallon Rum for y« Burying of Patrick Holo- 




rriHE tract of land known to the natives as Quaroppas, and 
J- called by our settlers ' The White Plains,' was purchased by 
them from the Indians in the year 1683. The treaty was as fol- 
lows : — 

* To all Christian peopell to hom these presence shall com greting 
Know yee that we Shapham, Cockinseko Orewapum Kewetoahon, Koa- 

wanoh Paatck Shiphattash 
Korehwewoiis panawok me- 
niishott pesekanoh oromah- 
qah pathunck hohoreis so- 
tonge wonawaking owhora- 
was nosband : : have for a 
vaUiabell sum of mony to us 
In hand paid by the towne 
of Rye that are inhabitance 
bargained Covinanted alin- 
ated and soulld unto the 
Inhabitance of the above 
said town of Rye A sartain 
tract of land Lying within 
the town bounds of Rye 
Bounded as followeth on the 
north east with mamarinek 
River and on the South- 
weast with a branch of the 
said River and marked trees 
till it corns to brunckes River 
and then to Runn by brunckes River till it Comes to the head of 
the whit plaines soe called and by marked trees from thence till it 
comes to the uppermost branch of marrinneck River which trackt of 
Land is commonly called by the English the whit plaines and called 
by the Indians Quaroppas which said tract of Land wee the above said 
shapham Cockinceeko orewopum kewetoakon koawanoh moahalice and 

The White Plains in 1721. 



the Rest of the above said endians have soulld as above said unto the In- 
habitance of the said towne of Rye them theire heires Execatars admin- 
istratars or asignes for ever and Doe hereby bind our selves our heires 
exectars Administratars and asignes unto the Inhabitance of the above 
said towne of Rye them theire heires Execatars administratars or asignes 
that they may att all times from and after the date hereof peasably and 
quieatly poses occupy and injoy the above said tract of land free from 
all former bargaines salles morgages or other incombrances what so 
ever and all soe to warrant and make good the above said salle against 
any parson or parsons what so ever that shall or will make or lay any 
claime or claimes theare unto and In teastimony there of wee have 
caused this bill of salle to be made and here unto haue sett our hands 
and sealles this two and twentieth of November one thousand six hun- 
dred Eighty three. 

Sealed signed and delivered the marke of 

in the presents of us shapham 


his marke This bill of salle is okowapam 

Joshua Knap acknowledged by the kewetoham 

the marke of granters to be their ackt koawanoh 

MOTEPEATEHON and deed before me in moahpoatch 

John Odell Rye the day and yere patthunk 

his mark aboue written hohornis 

Joseph Hokton sotonge 

Comissioner, oavhorawas 
oramapuah ' 

But the inhabitants of Rve were met at once bv an opposing 
claimant in the person of Mr. John Richbell, of Mamaroneck. 
This gentleman, a native of England, had bought of the Indians 
in 1660, about the same time that Disbrow effected the purchase 
of Peningo Neck, the lands adjoining the town of Rye on the 
west. His right to these lands was confirmed in 1662 by the au- 
thorities of New Netherland ; and in 1668 by the government of 
New York. Mr. Richbell's patent gave him possession of the 
' three necks ' bounded on the east by Mamaroneck River, and on 
the west by Stony Brook ; together with the land lying north of 
these bounds, ' twenty miles into the woods.' The claim tlms set 
up conflicted manifestly with the pretensions of the settlers of Rye. 
As the border town of Connecticut, they conceived that their bounds 
extended westward as far as the western line of that colony. This, 
we have seen, was ' a line drawn from the east side of jNIomor- 
onock river, north north west to the line of Massachusetts.' But 
negotiations were now pending between Connecticut and New 


York for a more satisfactory settlement of that boundary ; and on 
the twenty-eighth of November, 1683, the two governments agreed 
upon a line, to begin at the mouth of By ram River. Meanwhile, 
doubtless anticipating this decision, the inhabitants of Rye, on the 
twenty-second of November, only six days before the date of that 
agreement, concluded a treaty with the Indian proprietors of the 
Wliite Plains for the purchase of that tract. They describe it as 
* lying ivithin the town hounds of Bye.'' A week later the descrip- 
tion would have been incorrect. 

Long after this, however, we may observe by the way, the peo- 
ple of Rye clung to the indefinite right which the earlier boundary 
treaties gave them. ' The old colony line ' running from Mamar- 
oneck River, so as to include the White Plains Purchase and a 
good deal more, was often referred to in their deeds and town acts 
as the westei-n limit of Rye. It was difficult for them to come 
down from the large ideas with which their forefathers had com- 
menced the settlement, to the consciousness of their very moderate 

Mr. Richbell was not inclined to yield his claims upon a territory 
which he had now held for twenty-three years. On the twelfth of 
March, 1684, he petitioned the governor. Colonel Dongan, on the 
subject : ' Haveing a Desire to dispose of some Quantity of said 
Land which is Called the White Plaines,' and which was compre- 
hended in his patent, ' to severall Persons to settle thereon with 
themselves and familyes,' he is ' wholly obstructed and hindered 
by Rye men^ who have ' made a great Disturbance amongst them 
and Pretends a right to the same.' He cannot therefore dispose 
of any part of these lands until the governor ' will be pleased to 
grant an Order to clear the same.' ^ 

This complaint came before the Council at Fort James on the 
seventeenth of March ; and the inhabitants of Rye, or some to be 
deputed by them for that purpose, were summoned to show cause 
at the next Court of Assize in Westchester County, why the said 
lands do not of right belong and appertain to Mr. John Richbell.^ 

The dispute appears to have remained unsettled. Mr. Richbell 
died soon after this, and the greater part of his lands, including all 
the northern portion, came into the possession of the Hon. Caleb 
Heathcote. In 1701 Colonel Heathcote obtained a confirmation of 
his rights to the Richbell estate by purchasing again from the In- 
dians the ' necks ' formerly known as East and Great Neck, now 

1 Land Papers, Albany, vol. ii. p. 30. 

2 Council Minutes, Albany, No. V. 47. (Quoted by Mr. Bolton, History of West- 
chester Countjj, vol. i. p. 291.) 



called Orienta and Larchmont, with the lands lying north of them 
along Mamaroneck River to its source, and across to the Bronx.^ 

This tract included the Avhole of the present town of Scarsdale, 
for which Colonel Heathcote immediately obtained letters patent 
from the British crown, securing to him that territory, and constitut- 
ing the ' lordship ' or manor of Scarsdale. But his Indian grants 
included also the whole of the White Plains, which the inhabitants 
of Rye had purchased from the Indians in 1683, and where some 
of them were already settled, though no division of the lands had 
yet been made. This new encroachment on their limits occurred 
just at the close of their unsuccessful attempt to return to the col- 
ony of Connecticut. Having failed to recover the lands appro- 
priated by Harrison, the people of Rye probably had little hope of 
resisting these claims. Colonel Heathcote, however, seems to have 
been disposed to treat them with great fairness. In the charter 
which he obtained for his lands, exception was made of ' y* land 
called White Plains, tvhich is in dispute between y® said Caleb 
Heathcote and some of y^ inhabitants of y* town of Rye.' To that 
land the patent gives him no further title than he already pos- 
sesses. The followino; action of the inhabitants refers to this mat- 
ter : — 

' At a meeting held by the Properities of the White Plains purchase, 
Febeweary the 24, 1701-2, Hacaliah Browne and Deliverance Browne, 
and Himiphery Underhill, Thomas Merit sener, Isaac Denhani, John 
Stokham and Benjamin Horton are chosen a Cominitty in the be- 
half of the above said Proprietors to agree with Coll. Heatcoote con- 
sarning the runing of a line between said Coll. Heatcoote's patent and 
said White Plains purchase as they shall see good ; and what line shall 
be mutually agreed upon betweene the said Comniity and Coll. Heat- 
coote, the said Properities do ingage for themselves and their heirs and 
successors to stand and abide by forever ; and what else the said Com- 
mitie mutually agrees upon shall be held good by them and their asso- 
ciates for ever.' ^ 

The controversy was still pending in 1702, when ' the Rev. Mr. 
Christopher Bridge, Mr. Hacaliah Browne, Ensign John Horton, 
Capt. Joseph Bude, and Mr. John Hoytt are chosen to treat with 
the Honrble Conl. Caleb Hathcut about the White Plaine pur- 
chase, and to make returne to the Proprietors of their treat upon 
what termes the Hon. Coll. Hathcut will agree with them to acquit 
all his claime of the above said White Plaine purchase.' ^ 

1 Bolton, History of Westchester County, vol. i. p. 293. 

2 Town and Proprietors' Book, No. C. p. 20. 

3 Records of Town Meetings, p. 9. 


At the time of Colonel Heathcote's death, wliich occurred about 
four years later, this question was still unsettled, but it does not 
appear that any claim u])on these lands was made by the heirs to 
his estate. 

Owing doubtless to these uncertainties and differences, the White 
Plains Purcliase remained undivided for many years. Occasionally, 
from 1683 to 1715, we find in the town records entries like the 
followino;, which show that the inhabitants had their eyes upon 
this precious inheritance, and meant to keep it for future distri- 
bution : — 

April 12, 1694, ' Hachaliah Brown and Thomas Merrit are ap- 
pointed to go with the Indians and renew the marks of the White 
Plains purchase, agreeing with the Indians as reasonably as they 
can.' 1 

April 1, 1699, ' John Lyon and Isaac Denham are chosen to laye 
out a rode to the White Playnes, begining at the head of Capt. 
Theall's land, and so to run to the caseaway [causeway ?] brook.' 

April 17, 1699, ' The town hath past an act that the Rode shall 
continue ... up to the White Playnes where John Lyon and 
Isaac Denham have marked it out, and the said Road to be 3 Rods 
in breadth.' 

February 14, 1699-1700, Lieutenant Horton and others ' are to 
survay and lay out the three purchases of land, that is to saye, the 
White Plains purchase, and Lame Will's two purchases.' 

April 27, 1708, the town ' chose Ensign Budd in the room of 
Captain Horton [deceased] to lay out lands in the White Plains 
purchase and Will's two purchases, according to the town's acts.' ^ 

Finally, ' at a meeting held in Rye by the Proprietors of the 
White Plaines purchase, Febeuery the 11, 1714-15,' Captain Joseph 
Budd, Ensign John Horton, Mr. John Hoyt, Samyel Purdy, Caleb 
Hiat, and George Lane, junior, ' are chosen to rectify all mistakes 
that has been formerly made by the former layers out of the White 
Plaines purchase, and also has power to add or diminish the just 
and true proportion of all the lotments of land which is in dispute 
to be above or under the true proportion, and to lay out propor- 
siable all the remaining part of the abovesaid purchase ; and when 
so done to make return to the said proprietors.' ^ 

This committee appear to have completed their work in the year 
1720. The lands divided were apportioned to forty-one proprie- 

1 Records, vol. A. (Bolton, History of Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 340.) 

2 Town Meeting Books, C. and G. 
* Records of Town Meetings, p. 9. 


tors,^ all of Avliom were inhabitants of the town of Rye. It is not 
knoAvn what number of acres were contained in this division, 
which was soon followed by others." Nor do we know positively 
how far the lands thus divided Avere actually appropriated to the 
persons named. But in the following year, 1721, certain individ- 
uals who had already settled upon lands in White Plains, obtained 
from the British government a patent for themselves and their 
associates, for the whole tract of four thousand four hundred and 
thirty-five acres. 

These persons were Joseph Budd, John Hoit, Caleb Hoit, 
Humphrey Underbill, Joseph Purdy, George Lane, Daniel Lane, 
Moses Knap, John Horton, David Horton, Jonathan Lynch, Peter 
Hatfield, James Travis, Isaac Covert, Benjamin Brown, John 
Turner, David Ogden, and William Yeom.ans. Several of them 
were actual settlers. The diagram at the head of this chapter 
shows the location of their lands and houses. It is copied from 
the map accompanying a survey of the tract made before the 
granting of the patent.^ 

The settlement at the White Plains drew largely on the strength 
of the community at Rye. Several of its most enterprising inhab- 
itants removed thither about this time. Some branches of nearly 

1 The list is given by Mr. Bolton, who found it in the first volume of the Rye Rec- 
ords, now lost, to which he had access. [Hist. Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 341.) 
Joseph Horton, Caleb Hiat, Joseph Budd, Richard Walter, 

Isaac Denham, Samuel Hoyt, Philip Galpin, Andrew Coe, 

Francis Purdy, Timothy Knap, R'd Lounsbery, Thos. Jeffrey, 

Deliverance Brown, Jacob Pearse, John Galpin, Isaac Sherwood, 

Geo. Lane, Geo. Kniffin, John Horton, Jos. Sherwood, 

Thos. Brown, Joseph Purdy, Joseph Horton, Francis Brown, 

John Frost, Benj. Horton, Henry Disbrow, Wm. Odell, 

Peter Brown, Isaac Odell, Garret Travis, Jonas Sherwood, 

Peter Disbrow, Joseph Galpin, John Stoakham, Thos. Lyon, 

John Merrit, John Hoyt, Jonathan Fowler, John Brondig, 

Hachaliah Brown. 
'^ The 'Jifth or last division of the White Plains purchase' is mentioned in 17.51. 
Records, C. 267. 

2 The references in the diagram are explained as follows in the original drawing : 
— ' A, Caleb Hyat's. B, Joseph Purdy's. C, Humphrey Underhill's. D, Sam' Mer- 
ritt's. E, Sam' Hunt's. F, Sam' Hunt's Mill. G, Sanii Holt's. H, John Hoit's. 
I, George Lane's. K, Dan' Brundige's. L, James Travis. M, Moses Knap's. N, 
John Hyat's. O, Dan' Lane's. P, Sam' Horton's. Q, Christ"^ Yeoman s. R, An- 
thony Miller's. S and T, Dan' Brundige's Bound Trees. U, Beginning of Mr. 
Bridge's Patent. V, Y^ Bound Tree between Mr. Bridge and Sam' Hunt.. W, 
Ye Bound Tree between Humphrey Underbill and Sam' Hunt a, Y*^ road to Ma- 
maroneck. b, Road to East Chester, c. Road up to y* woods, d, Road to Hudson's 
Ferry, e, Road to Mr. Phillips' Mills, f, Road to Bedford, g, Road to California 
Patent [sic], h. Road to Rye. i, Road to Budd's Neck.' 


all the ancient families established themselves there, and indeed 
those families are now represented there more numerously than in 
the parent settlement. 

There was a Presbyterian church at the White Plains as early 
as the year 1727. It stood on or near the site of the present edi- 
fice. The land — three quarters of an acre — upon which it was 
built, appears to have been a part of the farm of the Rev. John 
Walton, the first minister who officiated here.^ In 1730 a ' high- 
way was laid out in the White Plains, beginning at the street near 
y* Meeting house, running four rods wide by marked trees till it 
comes to the Bridge over Bronckes' river near John Garritson's.' ^ 

In 1759 the county courts were removed from Westchester to 
the White Plains, and a building for their accommodation was 
erected on the site of what is now called the old Court House. 

Of the memorable scenes that occurred here during the Revolu- 
tion, we shall speak in the proper place. After the war, in 
1788, the White Plains became a town distinct from Rye, of 
which it had till then formed a part. 

1 Rye Records, vol. D. p. 188. 

2 Record of Highways, White Plains, p. 32 



* The spinsters, corders, fullers, weavers.' 

King Henry VIIT. 

OUR ancient inhabitants were wont to call themselves, for the 
most part, by the humble but honest name of 'yeomen.' 
They were farmers, living frugally upon the produce of the soil. 
Most of their wants were supplied by domestic industry ; and what 
they purchased was commonly procured in the way of barter. 
' They trafficked chiefly,' we are told, in ' wood and cattle.' 

By the middle of the last century, however, we find quite a 
variety of trades carried on in Rye : such as those of wheelwrights, 
cordwainers, carpenters, saddlers, tailors, hatters, weavers, rope 
makers, and the like. We are not to suppose that the persons so 
designated were employed exclusively in these occupations. They 
were generally farmers, who joined some kind of handicraft to 
their ordinary business, particularly in winter. The weaver's or 
wheelwright's shop was no unusual appendage to a farm-house a 
century ago. 

As in all old-time rural places, these occupations were very gen- 
erally pursued by the same families age after age. In one branch 
of an ancient family, for instance, the designation ' house-car- 
penter ' occurs through as many as four successive generations. 
Another family is said almost to have covered the lower part of 
Budd's Neck with its ' rope-walks.' And others of our inhabitants, 
even to the present day, show a long transmitted fondness for the 
fisherman's goodly craft, which their remote ancestors followed 
along the same shoals and shores. 

Rye, from early times, rejoiced in a considerable number of 
millers. Our numerous streams afforded excellent facilities for 
mills. Of these we find fifteen or twenty in operation before the 
period of the Revolution. The first established were grist-mills. 
John Budd's, afterwards known as Lyon's mill, on Blind Brook 
Creek, was built some time before the year 1669. Not long after, 
perhaps, the mill on the opposite side of Rye Neck was built by 


the same proprietor on Mamaroneck River. In 1696, Samuel 
Lane and Joseph Lyon received permission from the town to build 
a mill on BHiid Brook, — the location of which is supposed to be 
that now occuj)ied by Park's mill. This was long known as Bloom- 
er's mill : and there were at least two others, above it, on the 
same stream. What is now known as Davenport's mill, near the 
outlet of Stony Brook, -was owned in the latter part of the last 
century by Justice Gilbert Bloomer ; and that no\v known as Van 
Amrino-e's was formerly Deall's mill.^ In 1705, Samuel Hunt had 
leave to build a grist-mill on Mamaroneck River at the falls above 
Henry Underbill's. He must build wathin two years, and ' grind 
the town's corn for the 14th part.' In 1711, Richard Ogden was 
allowed to build a mill on Byram River, ' between the lotver going 
over and the country road.' Peter Brown's fulling-mill stood in 
1731 in the rear of the late ' Penfield House,' — now owned by the 
family of the late D. H. Mead. Kirby's mill was built about a 
hundred years ago, by one Wright Frost. Colonel Thomas' mill is 
indicated on our revolutionary chart of 1779 : it stood near the cross 
road from Harrison post-office to King Street. Kennedy's mill is 
marked on a map of Rye in 1798. 

No early mention is made of saw-mills at Rye. The first settlers 
built their houses without the aid of this useful instrument. Not 
only the beams, but even the planks and shingles, were hewn and 
shaped by hand. 

But beside these various employments, our inhabitants had abun- 
dant opportunities of making or eking out a livelihood by ' follow- 
ino- the water.' The title ' mariner' soon appears as an occasional 
substitute for ' yeoman.' Within a few years after the settlement 
of the town, there wei'e several docks or landings along our shore. 
From these, small fishing ci'aft put out into the Sound, and before 
long a few sloops or barges sailed to Oyster Bay and to New York. 
A century ago, most of the families composing the little village of 
Saw Pit derived their support from these pursuits. So too did 
many of those living on the lower part of Rye Neck. This famil- 
iarity with the water prepared them to engage actively, as they 
did, in expeditions of various kinds upon the Sound during the 
Revolutionary War. 

A hundred years ago, the oyster fishery had become quite an 
important business at Rye. In 1753, much excitement Avas caused 

1 This mill, however, is not as ancient as it is generally supposed to be. Permis- 
sion to build a dam across the mouth of the creek known as ' Horseneck creek,' was 
granted by an act -of legislature about the year 1790. 


by a ' great destruction of our oysters in Byram river.' Certain 
persons were ' getting great Quantities with Rakes, to Burn into 
Lyme.' A town meeting was called, and tlie inhabitants ' agreed 
and voted that no person or persons sliall hereafter during the said 
year presume to take and destroy said oysters,' under penalty of 
a fine of forty shillings for each offence. Half of this sum was to 
go to the complainant, and the other half to the poor. This act 
was confirmed yearly until the time of the Revolution.^ 

The 'New York Gazette' of July 3, 1766, records the sad 
end of one of our Rye fishermen. 

' On Tuesday evening, about eight o'clock, one Godfrey Haynes, who 
followed the business of Lobster Catching for this Market, and has a 
family in Rye — went into the water to swim near Burling's Slip ; but 
not appearing again, his son, a young man about 21, and another man, 
went in search of him, and found his hand above water, holding the 
edge of the boat, his body and head under water : but he was entirely 
dead. They tried all methods that could be thought of to recover him, 
but in vain. From the time he went into the water till he was taken 
out was less than six minutes. The Coroner's inquest brought in their 
verdict — Accidental Death.' 

Besides the market sloojis that sailed from Saw Pit, Rye, and 
Rye Neck to New York, there were some larger vessels belonging 
here, and sailing to distant ports. Mention is made in 1774 of a 
' Whaling Sloop belonging to Mamaroneck.' In 1771, Captain 
Abraham Bush, of Rye, advertises that ' on a voyage from the 
eastward, coming out of Milford harbour,' he discovered a scow 
and boom which he rescued and brought into port.^ The same 
Captain Bush, on the twenty-sixth of September, 1785, ' was cast 
away and drowned with all his crew, consisting of five persons, 
including himself,' in a violent hurricane that occurred off the 
coast of North Carolina.^ 

As to the farming; of olden times, thouo-h deficient in modern 
improvements, it possessed some advantages by no means to be 
despised. The sturdy yeomen of the Purchase and Byram Ridge 
seem not unusuallv to have been blest with numerous sons, con- 
tent to follow the plough over their paternal acres, and not yet 

1 The last entry in the Town Records before the Revolution relates to the recent 
discovery of ' a Bed of young Oysters on the East side of the old Colony line joining 
to Mamaroneck Harbour lying Between Gilbert Budd's Neck and Hog Island.' 

2 Hugh Gaine's Neio York Gazette and The Weekly Mercury, Monday, July 1, 

^ Family Record in the jiossession of Mr. A. Theall. 


possessed bv tlie longino; for city life. Land was plentiful and 
cheap, and the soil fresh and productive. 

' A Good Farm in the Toavu of Rye,' is advertised in the ' New 
York Weekly Post-Boy ' of March 5, 1743. It consists of ' a 
good house and barn, an orchard of five acres, with nearly three 
hundred apple-trees : about eighty acres of ploughed land : near 
fifteen acres of English MeadoAv, and about fifty acres of land yet 

We have a graphic description of the farms and the farming in this 
region, as they appeared in 1789, from the pen of General Washing- 
ton. Writing at Mrs. Haviland's, in Rye, he speaks of the land he 
had passed through (hiring the day, as ' strong, well covered with 
grass and a luxuriant crop of Indian Corn intermixed with Pom- 
pions (which were yet ungathered ^) in tiie field. We met four 
droves of Beef Cattle for the New York Market (about thirty in 
a drove) some of which were very fine — also a flock of Sheep for 
the same place. We scarcely passed a farm house that did not 
abound in Geese. Their Cattle seemed to be of a good quality, 
and their hogs large, but rather long legged. No dwelling house 
is seen without a Stone or Brick Chimney, and rarely any without a 
shingled roof — generally the sides are of shingles also. The farms 
are very close together, and separated, as one enclosure after 
another also is, by fences of stone, which are indeed easily made, 
as the country is immensely stoney.'^ 

The stone walls here spoken of had but lately taken tlie place 
of the rail fences which prevailed throughout this region before 
the Revolution. During the war these had all been consumed as 
fuel, and the whole country at the close of that period lay open 
and waste. In the great abundance of timber in early times, 
farmers made little use of stone for walls. The rock that cropped 
out of the soil in their fields was generally undisturbed, while 
smaller stones were gathered in cairn-like heaps, out of the plough- 
man's way. 

The Poor. — Under the Connecticut laws, the poor were ' to 
be relieved by the townes where they live, every towne providing 
for theire own poore : and so for impotent persons. There is seldom 
any want releife, because labour is deare .... and provisions 
cheap.' ^ 

1 The (late of this eiitr^' is October 15th. 

■■' Dimj of Washington, from the Jirst day of October, 1789, to the tenth day of March, 
1790. New York, 1858 : pp. 19, 20. 

8 Answers to Queries of the Privy Council, July 15, 1680 : Public Records of Con- 
necticut, vol. iii. p. 300. 


Tlie Vestrv of Rye, about whom we shall have more to say 
hereafter, had among other cares the charge of the town poor. 
This was made their duty by the Act of 1693, 'for Settling a Min- 
istry ' in the province of New York ; which provided for the main- 
tenance of the minister, and also of the poor, in each of the 
parishes constituted by that law. The sum required for both pur- 
poses was to be raised by a tax on the inhabitants ; the justices 
and vestrymen being required to lay the tax, which the constable 
was to collect. 

Nothing is said, however, of any appropriation for this purpose 
at Rye until the year 1725, when the Vestry agreed that there 
should be raised, besides the money ' for y^ Minister,' the sum of 
eight pounds ' for y* Poor.' This moderate amount appears to 
have sufficed for several years. But in time the duties of the 
Vestry accumulate. Bills come in for the boarding of paupers ; 
for medical attendance ; for funeral expenses, including the usual 
allowance of ' Rum ' ; for transporting vagrants to other parishes. 
These items bring up the sum required to forty or fifty pounds 
sometimes, and even to ninety or one hundred. 

Just before the Revolution, we find introduced in Rye the cus- 
tom of putting up the poor at auction. Before this, they had been 
taken in to board with families, whose bills, if approved, were paid 
by the Vestry. But in 1775, ' the Justices and Vestry agreed that 
the poor of the parish should be sett at vandue to the Lowest bid- 
der, and that the Clark of the vestry put public advertizement for 
the same.' And next year ' pursuant to the advertizement for the 
sale of the poor of the parish of Rye, the poor was at vandue sold ' 
at the house of John Doughty (lately Van Sicklin's). The four 
or five paupers thus disposed of were bidden off at various prices, 
from six to twelve pounds each ; and notice was given that ' who- 
ever takes them or any of them are to find him, her or them 
with comfortable Clothes, Meat, Washing and Lodging, and return 
them as well clothed as they receive ihem.' This transaction, 
however, was not as barbarous as it appears. The sale was simply 
a contract with parties who engaged to support the poor at the 
least expense to the Vestry, and the sums named represent the 
amounts they were willing to take for their board. ^ 

The parochial system ceased at the time of the Revolution, and 

the Vestry of Rye became a defunct institution. After the war, 

the care of the poor devolved in this county as elsewhere upon 

the county officers. In 1784, the board of supervisors had ' a 

1 Eecords of the Vestry. 


settlement with the late Church wardens and other persons con- 
cerned of the late Parish of Rye, for the arrears due for support- 
ing the poor, within the same.' They found that the sum of X397 
2s. Id. was due to the said parish. The money for this purpose 
was ordered to be levied from the several towns and precincts 
within the bounds of the late parish. i 

The care of the poor in olden times involved some preventive 
measures which have a quaint look to modern eyes. In 1716, 
Jonathan Haight of Rye informs the Court of Sessions at West- 
chester, that 'one Thomas Wright, an orphan in that town, hath 
no certain Place of Abode there, but lives like a Vagabond and at 
a loose end, and will undoubtedly come to Ruine unless this Court 
take some speedy and effectual care for y^ prevention thereof.' ^ 
Persons in a destitute condition who belonged to other places 
were summarily removed thither by the town officers. Worthy 
John Doughty, constable of Rye just before the Revolution, 
appears to have been kept busy in this way. The supervisors in 
1773 allow his charges 'for transporting of one Deborough Con 
sundry times, and her child ; and also for transporting Christian 
Fulday alias Christian Torner, <£1 5-s. 6c?.' Some other provisions, 
which are still carried out under the poor laws of England, were 
in force here for the prevention of pauperism. 

1 Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors, 1869: Appendix, pp. 33, 46. 

2 County Records, White Plains, vol. D. p. 68. 




RYE appears to have been without a resident physician for the 
first sixty years. Judging from the accounts we read of the 
medical profession in those days the loss may not have been very 
serious. * During the greater part of the colonial period,' that 
profession is said to have been ' totally unregulated. Quacks, said 
a colonial historian, abound like locusts in Egypt.' ^ 

Our people probably depended for medical aid, as they did for 
many otiier conveniences, on the neighboring town of Stamford. 
At Stamford there were professors of the healing art as early as 
the beginning of the last century. Twelve miles were quite a 
distance to ' send for the doctor,' but the circuits of old-time phy- 
sicians extended often to even greater lengths. Mrs. Sarah Bates, 
' a useful and skilful ' female practitioner of Stamford, was one of 
' several ancient dames of the town, in whose hands,' says Mr. 
Huntington, ' for the first hundred years, probably, was most of 
the medical practice known here.'^ A letter of hers, dated July 
30, 1690, to a patient in Rye, lies before me.^ 

Dr. Devaney is the fii'st physician whose name is on record 
here. It occurs in the Vestry Book, under the date of 1724. 
His charge of .£3 195. for attendance on 'a poor man that dyed 

1 Discourse of De Witt Clinton, quoted in The Bland Papers, p. 19, from The 
Independent Reflector. 

2 History of Stamford, Conn., by Rev. E. B. Huntington : pp. 360, 361. 

^ This letter is in the possession of Dr. D. J. Sands, Port Chester. We give it as 
a curiosity : — 

' Loveing freind my respects to you : I am sorry for your present sicknes I am not 
well [enough] to come to you upon your desire which I should be ready to doe if [I] 
were well : if god please I shall direct as I have sent you a potion of 

pills : take as soone as y"^ messenger returns in a litle honey : and if your vomiting 
still follow you : take about half a gil of brandy if you can git it two spoonfuls of 
salit oyle two sponfuls of lofe sugar nutmeg : mix it together and drinke it aply mint 
with rum or brandy to his stomocke : this I know hath been found good in 
y« like distemp-- . . . Sarah Bates. 

'Stanford: ;30ti» July : 1690.' 


at Joseph Horton's house,' is the only mention made of him or of 
his services. 

Dr. WoRDEN is the next on our list. He practised in Rye 
about the year 1738. The only person of this name then living 
here, so far as Ave have learned, was one Valefitine Worden, who 
in 1742 resided on King Street. Dr. Worden appears in the Ves- 
try records under circumstances which many of his professional 
brethren can appreciate. One Margaret Stringham, daughter of 
Peter Stringham, was his patient. She was sick and lame, and 
was chargeable to the parish. After some months' attendance 
from him she was removed to Bedford, to 'be placed conveniently 
where Dr. Ayers, who takes care of her, may readily attend her.' 
Next year she is carried to Long Island to be put under the care 
of Dr. Joseph Hinchman, who in due time brings a bill of X30 for 
his services against the Vestry, and upon their refusal to pay it 
as ' unreasonable,' sues them and recovers costs and damages. 
Whether the patient derived any benefit from this change of phy- 
sicians we do not learn. 

Dr. William Bowness ^ practised here in 1789, and Dr. 
William Alleson in 1747. Nothing further is known of either. 

Dr. John Smith was a practising physician at Rye in 1747. 
This was the Mev. John Smith, for nearly thirty years pastor of 
the Presbyterian Church of Rye and the White Plains. He was 
settled here in 1742, and died in 1771. According to some of his 
descendants. Dr. Smith was distinguished for his medical skill, 
particularly in the treatme)it of the insane. His recipes are said 
to have been kej)t in the family and followed with great success 
long after his death. The records of the Vestry of Rye contain 
the following notices of his practice : — 

'January 12, 1747. To Mr. John Smith for Doctering Widdow 
Merritt in y" long [lung] feavour £1. 0. 0.' 

'January 9, 1749. The Justices and Vestrymen present do order 
the Church wardens to pay out of the Money now raised for the Poor, 
. . . . to Dr. John Smith for Doctering Francis Parker £5. 0. U if Cured 
by the first day of May nexte : if then not cured then to have but £3. 
10. 0.' 

'January 15, 1750-51. The Justices' order payment ' to Dr. John 
Smith for Doctoring a sick woman at Benjamin Brown £l. 2. 0.' 

Dr. William Hooker Smith is mentioned frequently from 
1763 to 1771. He was the oldest son of Dr. John Smith, and 

1 'March the 23d 1763, Allowed to the Executors of Dr. William Bowness, etc., 
£8 0. 0.' (Vestry Book, p. 155.} 


a])j)('ars to have practised with his father, and to have succeeded 
him at Rye. Dr. William H. Smith entered the American army 
as surgeon at the outbreak of the Revolution, and remained in the 
service until the close of the war. He appears to have discharged 
the duties of his office with credit, serving for several years as the 
only officer of tlie medical staff at the post to which he was 

Dr. Peter Hugeford practised in Rye as early as the year 
1753, and continued until near the commencement of the Revolu- 
tion. He is last mentioned in 1772. He resided in the town of 
Courtland, and was probably, says Dr. Fisher, ' the first regular 
physician in the northwestern portion of Westchester County. 
He was an Englishman by birth and education, and was unques- 
tionably an accomplished medical practitioner. He was certainly 
a gentleman of the decided English stamp, as can be seen by his 
lull-length portrait which now hangs in an ancient parlor of his 
granddaughter, Mrs. Betsey Field, a widow of over eighty years, 
residing near the village of Peekskill. Dr. Hugeford had many 
students of medicine. Being a royalist, he retired to the British 
army when war was declared. His fine farm of two hundred 
acres was confiscated, and subsequently given by government to 
John Paulding, for his services as one of the three distinguished 
captors of Major Andre, the British spy. Dr. Hugeford was 
probably the most accomplished physician of his day in this 
country.' ^ 

Dr. Nicholas Bailey practised medicine in Rye for a number 
of years previous to the Revolution. He is first mentioned in 
1758. He lived about a mile above the village of New Rochelle, 
where his house, which is indicated on the map of 1779, was still 
standing a few years ago. He had an extensive practice, as I 
learn from Dr. Albert Smith, at the time that his father, Dr. 
Matson Smith, came to New Rochelle in 1777 ; he died two or 
three years after. Dr. Bailey was of French Huguenot extrac- 
tion. The name was originally Besley. 

Dr. David Daton practised medicine here about the year 1768. 
He was a resident of Newcastle, however, and his name occurs for 
several years previous to the Revolution as supervisor of that 
town. Once it is written Dayton, which is probably the more 
correct spelling. 

1 Biographical Sketches of the Distinguished Phi/sicians of Westchester County, N. Y.> 
being liie Annual Address before the Westchester County Medical Society, June 1, 
1858. By George J. Fisher, A. M., M. D. New York, 1861 : p. 52. 


Dr. Robert Graham practised here in 1771 and in 1775. 

Dr. WiLLET was a practising pliysician in Harrison's Purchase, 
where lie resided about the time of the Revolution. 

Dr. John Augustus Graham resided at the same period in the 
village of the White Plains, and was a leading patriot. His name 
appears very often in the records of the Committee of Safety for 
Westchester County. 

Dr. Nathaniel Downing resided here in 1763. His name 
occurs in connection with a subject which was just then agitating 
our community in common with others, that o{ Inoculation. Tiiis 
method of preventing the contagion of small-pox — by introducing 
into the system a minute portion of the virus, and thus communi- 
cating the disease in a mild and comparatively harmless form — 
was extensively used a hundred years ago. It awakened, however, 
the liveliest fears of the ignorant everywhere ; and in some places 
inoculation was absolutely forbidden, and physicians performing it 
were rendered liable to severe penalties. In Rye, it apjieai's to 
have been permitted under certain regulations, which betray the 
same prejudices and misapprehensions that prevailed elsewhere. 
April 4, 1763, James Wetmore, in Rye, on the post-road, 
' acquaints all persons that are disposed to be inoculated, that they 
may be well accommodated' at his house, 'where constant attend- 
ance will be given by Doctor Nathaniel Downing (as he boards at 
said house) who has inoculated a Number of persons there that 
have had the Small Pox uncommonly light.' ^ Se])teniber 23, 1763, 
' The pleasant situated house at Rye Ferry^ where inoculation was 
carried on last fall and Winter with great success,' is advertised as 
'now provided with genteel accommodations, for all those who are 
inclined to be inoculated for the Small Pox the ensuing season at 
a very moderate price : and as the greatest care and attention will 
be given by the Doctors and Nurses, provided for the patients ; it 
is hoped that the usual success and encouragement will be con- 
tinued.' 2 

But the inhabitants watched these proceedings with an evil eye. 
Their alarm and displeasure found vent before long ' at a lawful 
town meeting ' which was held at the school-house in Rye, April 
2,1765. They think it — 

'Nesecery that wharas sum persons have in said town in their own 
houses tackeu percons from other places into their familes and sum of 
the Inhabitents of said town and their hath ben anocelated with the 
Small pox whereby it hath put maney of the Inhabitents in fear of 

1 New York Gazette. 2 ^g^ York Gazette and Weekly Post-Doy. 


cetching of the same whereby the said town's people as well as straglers 
could not pass about their lawful] accasions, to do their Buisncss for 
Remedy whereof it is anacted by a vote in said town meting that no 
person or persons shall after the day of the date hereof tacke into their 
houses or family any person or suffer them to be inocleted in their said 
houses or nurse the same unless it shall be in such houses as any two 
of his maiestyes Justices of the peace and the Supervisor of said town 
shall thinck it a Convenant place and from a publick Road and not nigh 
to naighbours under the penelty of five pound Each person or persons 
as shall be inocalated and that in Case any docter or phision or other 
person or percons Shall assume to Inocalate unless at such places as 
said justices and Supervisor of said town shall premitt such docter 
phercion or other person so offending shall pay the sum of forty shil- 
lings for each percon or persons they shall Inocalate with the Smoall 
Pox and the fines and forfitures arising here from shall be Recovered 
in a Summorey way Before aney one of his maiestyes justices peace 
who upon proof to awoard Execution there on the one half to the Com- 
playnor that shall sue for the same and the other half to the poor of 
said town. The above was this day unamously voted at said meeting 
as law for the year Ensuing.' * 

Dr. Ebenezer Haviland was living at Rye in 1766, and ap- 
])ears to have had an extensive practice. He entered the army 
upon tlie outbreak of the Revolution, and served througli the 
greater part of the war as a surgeon. He died at Wallingford, 
Conn., about tlie close of the war. 

The Journal of the Provincial Congress of New York contains 
the following : ' August 4, 1775, A Certificate of D'' John Jones 
and D"' Bard was read and filed. Those gentlemen thereby cer- 
tify that they have examined D"' Ebenezer Haviland, respecting 
his knowledge of Pliysick and Surgery, and that they find him 
very competently qualified to act as Surgeon of a Regiment.' 
Upon this recommendation, he was appointed ' Surgeon to the 
Fourth Regiment of the Troops raised in this Colony.' ^ 

Since the Revolution, Rye has been favored with the services of 
a number of able and successful physicians. For the following 
account of them I am chiefly indebted to my esteemed friend Dr. 
J. D. Sands, now the oldest practitioner in this town. 

Dr. Clark Sanford, a native of Vermont, commenced the 
practice of medicine in the town of Greenwich, near the Connecti- 
cut State line, about the year 1790. As a large part of his practice 

1 Town Records. 

'^ American Archives, fourth series, vol. ii> p. 1817. 


was in the town of Rve, he may be properly mentioned as one of 
the physicians of this phice. Dr. Sanford was noted for his skill 
in the treatment of a fearful epidemic known as the ' Winter 
Fever,' which prevailed extensively from 1812 to 1815. He was 
widely known to the profession as one of the first who manufac- 
tured pulverized Peruvian bark. This preparation was sold under 
the name of ' Sanford's Bark.' He had a mill at Glenville for 
grindino; drugs, one of the first establishments of the kind in the 
countrv. Dr. Sanford was an eccentric man and a great smoker, 
usually to be seen with his pipe in his mouth. He died about the 
year 1820, aged over sixty years, leaving three sons, — Joseplius, 
John, and Henry, — and two daughters. 

Dr. Benjamin Rockw^ell commenced practice in Saw Pit, now 
Port Chester, about the year 1809. He was born in Lewisboro 
or Soutli Salem, N. Y., about the year 1786, and was a son of 
Judge Nathan Rockwell of that place. Dr. Rorkw^ell practised 
medicine here for twelve or fifteen years, and was regarded as a 
very skilful physician. He removed to the city of New York, and 
died there a few years ago. He had a son William, who was also 
a physician. 

Dr. David Rogers, after practising for^many years in Fairfield, 
Conn., removed to the town of Rye about the year 1808. He 
remained here until the time of his death. 

He was the father of Dr. David Rogers, junior, who commenced 
practice in Mamaroneck before the year 1800, and removed about 
1820 to the city of New York, where he died about the year 1844, 
aged nearly seventy. Dr. David Rogers, junior, had two sons, also 
physicians — Drs. David L. and James Rogers, — of New York.^ 

Dr. Charles McDonald settled in the village of Saw Pit in 
1808. He was already past the meridian of life. In his younger 
days he had served in his professional capacity in the army of the 
Revolution, and was a warm and devoted patriot. His professional 
career in this town covered a period of about a third of a century, 
and was highly creditable for its skill and success. He was a 
portly man, weighing not less than two hundred and fifty pounds. 
His countenance always wore a genial smile, and he was the par- 
ticular favorite of the juvenile portion of the community. Dr. 
McDonald died, respected and beloved by a large circle of friends, 
September 12, 1841, aged eighty-two years. 

These old men, observes Dr. Sands, have all passed away with- 
out leaving any written memorial of their early history, education, 
1 Biographical Sketches, etc., by Dr. Fisher. 


or professional career ; a fact generally true of country jiractition- 
ers ; the fatigue incident to their profession, together with other 
inevitable duties, leaving them little time to record the progress 
or the results of their experience. Hence what they learn, and 
what they learn to discard, is lost when they cease from their 

Dr. EiJSHA Belcher, a native of Preston, now Lebanon, 
Conn., joined the Continental Army, and was stationed as surgeon 
at Greenwicii, where he continued to practise medicine until within 
a year of his death. He died, December 1825, in his sixty-ninth 
year. He was eminent in his profession. Most of his practice 
was in this county. He had two sons, both physicians, one of 
whom — 

Dr. Elisha R. Belcher, settled in Saw Pit in 1816, and en- 
gaged partly in the exercise of his profession and partly in mer- 
cantile pursuits. He remained here about four years, and then 
removed to New York, where he practised medicine up to the 
time of his death, which occurred some four or five years ago. 

Dr. James Willson was a graduate of the College of Physicians 
and Surgeons in the city of New York. He practised in the city 
for some years, and removed to Rye about the year 1825. He was 
a man of fine professional education, marked and decided in char- 
acter, and successful in practice. He died in 1862. 

Dr. Thomas Close was a native of Greenwich, Conn. He 
commenced the practice of medicine in Port Chester about the 
year 1830. He was much esteemed as a physician. He removed 
to Bi'ooklyn in 1862. 

Dr. William Stillman Stanley is a graduate of Brown Uni- 
versity, Providence, R. I., and received the degree of M. D. from 
that institution in 1828. He became a resident of Mamaroneck in 
that year, and in 1837 removed to Rye Neck, where he has since 

Dr. D. Jerome Sands graduated at the College of Physicians 
and Surgeons in the city of New York in 1840. Soon after he 
came to Port Chester, and has practised here ever since. 

Dr. John H. T. Cockey is a native of Maryland, and gradu- 
ated at the University of Maryland in 1832. He engaged in the 
practice of medicine first in Frederick County, j\Id., then in Litch- 
field County, Conn. ; and after practising in New York for four 
years, came to Rye in May, 1855. 

Dr. Seth Stephen Lounsbery graduated in 1861 at the Col- 
lege of Physicians and Surgeons in the city of New York. He 


commenced practice in the city, and in 18G2 entered tlie army as 
Assistant-Surgeon of the ITOtli Regiment N. Y. Volunteers. He 
was promoted to be Surgeon of the 156th N. Y. V., remained till 
the close of the war, and was mustered out of service in August, 
1865. He commenced practice in October, 1865, in connection 
with Dr. Wm. S. Stanley, at Rye Neck. 

Dr. Edward F. Mathews graduated at the College of Physi- 
cians and Surgeons, and commenced practice in Port Chester, 
his present location, in 1856. 

Dr. Norton J. Sands graduated at the same institution in 
1868, and is now engaged in the practice of his profession in Port 

Dr. Granville C. Brown, homoeopathic physician, is a gradu- 
ate of the New York Homoeopathic Medical College, 1862 ; he 
commenced practice in Port Chester in 1866. 

Dr. Matthew McCollum, a practitioner of the same school of 
medicine, graduated at the same institution in 1863, and came to 
Port Chester in 1869. 

The legal profession was not largely represented in early times 
in the town of Rye. The single name of Timothy Wetmore 
appears as that of an attorney-at-law living in this place before 
the Revolution. Mr. Wetmore was licensed April 26, 1770.^ 
He was the son of the Rev. James Wetmore, and held a position 
of commanding influence in this community. 

Jonathan F. Vickers, who taught school at ' Saw Pit ' for some 
years toward the close of the last century, was familiarly known as 
'lawyer' Vickers, and was engaged to some extent in the practice 
of the law. 

Daniel Haight, Esq., attorney and counsellor-at-law in Port 
Chester, was admitted at the bar in 1850, and has pursued his pro- 
fession in this town since that time. 

Amherst Wight, junior, Esq., was admitted at the New York 
bar in 1849, and came to Port Chester to reside there in 1859. 
His father, Amherst Wight, Esq., is one of the oldest members of 
the bar in New York, having been admitted to practice in that city 
in 1816. He is still, though eighty years of years, in active busi- 
ness, going daily to his office in New York from Port Chester. 
Mr. Wight was born in Bellingham, Mass., where his father and 
grandfather lived and died. B[e came to this place in 1862. 
1 Information communicated by Dr. O'Callaghan. 



UNDER tlie old Connecticut laws, every town of fifty house- 
holders was required to ' appoint one within their Towne to 
teach all such children as shall resort to him, to write and read.' 
The wages of this teacher were to be paid either by the parents 
or by the inhabitants in general. When any town should have 
increased to the number of one hundred householders or families, 
' they shall sett vp a Grammer Schoole.' The instruction im- 
parted at this school must be such as would fit youths for the 
university. These provisions were made to the intent — in the 
quaint language of the times — ' that Learning may not be biaried 
in the Grave of our Forefathers.' ^ 

As the population of Rye scarcely reached the lowest of these 
figures while the town belonged to Connecticut, these regulations 
were never enforced here. If anything was done for the educa- 
tion of the young, it was by voluntary effort. 

The first mention of this matter that we find, however, implies 
that the people had not been very successful in such endeavors. 
At a meeting of the town held April 22, 1690, ' Captain Horton, 
Joseph Theall, and John Brondige, are chosen to procure a min- 
ister, and if possible a schoolmaster.^ 

Nothing more appears on the subject till January 29, 1711, 
when ' at a meeting held by the Proprietors of Peningo Neck, the 
said Proprietors agree by a vote to build a schoole house upon their 
owne charge and to sett the said house nere Tom Jeflfers hill ^ 
below Joseph Kniffens. Sarg' Merrit, Richard Ogden and George 
Kniffen is chosen to stake out the ground where the said school 
house shall be sett and allso to mark out a quater of an acre of 
Land to be ioining to the said schoole house to lye for a sarden for 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 554, 555. 

'^ ' Tom Jefff rs Hill ' probably took its name from one Thomas Jefferies, an early 
settler. November 22, 1686, the town gave to Benjamin CoUyer a certain house-lot, 
V. hicli was formerly Thomas Jefferies'. There are grounds for believing that this site 
is identical with that occupied until within twenty or thirty years by the district 
school-house in Rye, in front of the Episcopal Church. 


the use of the schoole master as the said Proprietors sliall see 

It was also agreed that ' any person or persons that will bear his 
or thtire proportion of moneys in building the schoole house shall 
have an equall privilege of the said house for schooling with the 
Projirietors.' ^ 

There were other schools about this time in different parts of 
the town, of which we know but little, and that little not greatly 
in their favor. In 1716, one Elizabeth Shaw appears before the 
Court of Sessions at Westchester, and complains that 'a travelling 
woman who came out of y^ Jerseys, who kept school at several 
places in Rye pai'ish, hath left with her a child eleven months old, 
for which she desires relief from the parish.' "^ 

' As to schools,' writes tiie Rev. James Wetmore in 1728, ' there 
are several poor ones in different parts of the parish. Where a 
number of families live near together, they hire a man and woman 
at a cheap rate, subsci'ibing every one what they will allow. Some 
masters get X20 per annum and their diet : but there is no public 
provision at all for a school in this parish.'^ 

There was no respect in w hich Rye lost so much by its annexa- 
tion to New York as in the matter of common school education. 
Connecticut, like Massachusetts, showed from the first great care 
for the instruction of the young. Hartford established a town 
school as early as 1642, and in 1643 a vote was passed that ' the 
town shall pay for the schooling of the poor.' In 1670, it was 
said that one fourth of the annual revenue of the colony was laid 
out in maintaining free schools. In New York, no provision was 
made for a general system of education before the Revolution. 
Whatever was done for this interest was done by individuals or by 
religious bodies. 

The society in England for the Propagation of the Gospel in 
Foreign Parts, supported a schoolmaster at Rye for a great many 
years. This was done onVinallv at the instance of the Honorable 
Caleb Heathcote, who was active in establishing a school here 
about the year 1706. In 1707, Mr. Joseph Cleator'* began teach- 

1 Town Records. 

'- County Records (White Plains), vol. D. p. 68. 

^ Bolton, Ilistorij of the Prol. Episc. Church in Westchester County, p. 250. 

* At a meetinj^ held April 27, 1708, ' the town granted unto Mr. Cleator ten acres 
of land in the White Plains purchase; that is to say, if any of the said Cleator's 
family come over, then the said land is to be the said Cleator's proper right, and if 
not, to remain to the school.' (Town Meeting Book, No. G. p. 32.) 

Mr. Cleator lived at one time in a house that stood south of the present Methodist 
Episcopal parsonage. (Rye Records, vol. D. p. 88.) 


ing and continued to keep a school until his death, which occurred 
in 1732. For the last eight or ten years of his life, liowever, he 
was bUnd, and could only give instruction in the catechism. 
' While he had his sight,' says Mr. Wetmore, ' they tell me he 
kept a constant and good school.' 

In 1714 a Mr. Huddlestone was also engaged in teaching, 
under the Society's care, in some part of the parish of Rye. The 
parish, it should be said, included Bedford and Mamaroneck as 
well as the town of Rye ; and the town itself comprised Harrison 
and the White Plains as well as its present territory. 

From 1734 to 1745 Mr. Flint D wight taught school under the 
same auspices at the White Plains. At Rye, Mr. Cleator was suc- 
ceeded in 1733 by Mr. Samuel Purdy,^ who continued in charge 
till 1749, when he removed to the White Plains, where he died in 
1753. Timothy Wetmore, a son of the Rev. James Wetmore, 
succeeded him at Rye, and taught the school till 1769. His 
brother James, after a short interval, took charge of it, but gave 
it up at the outbreak of the Revolution, being an active supporter 
of the Britisii cause.^ 

The number of children attending the Society's school at differ- 
ent periods is stated as follows : — 

In 1719, Mr. Cleator taught 50 pupils. v 

In 1739, Mr. Purdy taught 41 ; Mr. Dwight 46. 

In 1776, Mr. Wetmore's school numbered 71. 

The Society's schoolmasters at Rye acted as readers or assist- 
ants to its missionaries who were stationed here. They appear to 
have been humble but zealous and laborious men. Under one of 
them, Mr. Huddlestone, Rye may be said to have possessed a 
Sunday-school twenty years before the birth of Robert Raikes, the 
supposed founder of that useful institution. In 1714, we find that 
' on the morning of the Lord's days, not only his own scholars, but 
several of the young people of the town, of both sexes, come wil- 
lingly to be informed.' ^ 

1 Mr. Samuel Purdy was justice of the peace in Rye for more than thirty years, 
an(rt was a man highly respected. His ' home lot of five acres,' wiiich he conveyed in 
IV.'iS to his two sons Samuel and Caleb, comprised the present rectory j^rounds. 
(Rye Records, vol. D. p. 88.) 

'^ The facts here given relative to the Gospel Propagation Society's schoolmasters 
at Rye, are gleaned from Mr. Bolton's ecclesiastical history of the county, passim. 

"^ The common impression, however, that the Sunday-school originated with Robert 
Raikes about the year 1781 is a mistaken one. The germ of this institution appeared 
at the Reformation in every one of the great Evangelical Churches. Luther founded 
a Sunday-school at Wittenberg in 1527. Calvin, in 1.541, published his Catechism, 
divided into portions for each Lord's day, when the children were to be instructed and 
catechized in the afternoon. Knox, in 1560, carried out the same system in Scotland. 


This school was probably held in the building mentioned first in 
1738 as 'the school-house near the Church.' It stood close upon 
the cross-road, and a few rods back from the post-road, in front of 
the Episcopal Church in the village. Here, as we have already 
seen, the town meetings were held for forty years or more. As 
to the kind of instruction given, we learn from a distinguished 
visitor who spent a night at Rye in 1774, ' They have a school 
for writing and cyphering, but no grammar school.' ^ 

The year after John Adams's visit the Rev. Mr. Avery, minister 
of the Episcojjal Church in this place, announced his purpose to 
establish a school of a superior kind. His advertisement appeared 
in the ' New York Mercury,' of April 3, 1775 : — 

' Rye, 13 Ifarch, 1775. 

' Ephraim Avery, A. M.. Rector of the Parish of Rye — Intends 
opening a school the 18th day of April next, at his house in Rye ; any 
gentlemen in city or country, that will favour him with the care and 
instruction of their children, may depend upon the utmost dilligence 
and attention. He will teach the reading of P^nglish properly ; writing, 
arithmetic, the Latin and Greek languages, geography, surveying, 
trio-onometrj', &c. Particular care will be taken of their morals, and 
relio"ious education, as he proposes boarding in his own fan)ily eight or 
ten ; and in order to give them an acquaintance with the first principles 
of the doctrine of Christianity, he will set apart half a day in every 
week, to instruct them in tlie catechisms, and other fundamental 
branches of tlie Christian religion. 

' Board, washing, lodging and tuition will be 22£ per annum, and 
one guinea entrance : one load of wood will likewise be expected, and 
four pounds of candles, for the use of the scholars in the winter even- 


' He begs it as a particular favour of his friends to encourage his 

scheme, as they must be sensible a country clergyman, with a large 

family, can very indifferently subsist upon their small livings. " 

' Those that will be kind enough to promote the above design, will 

please to give notice of their intention before the day prefixed, that he 

may be provided accordingly.' 

The j)lace where Mr. Avery proposed to keep this school was 
probably the parsonage, across Blind Brook. It is uncertain 

1 President Adams's Works, vol. ii. p. 345. 

Rye was no exception among tlie towns of the province in the meagreness of its 
educational advantages. ' Our schools/ wrote William Smith, the historian of New 
York, about the year 1760, ' are of the lowest order — the instructors want instruction.' 
[History of New York, vol. i. p. 328.) 


wlietlier liis plan was carried into effect. His death, by violence, 
occurred November 5, 1776. 

Tiiere was a certain George Harris who taught the school more 
or less of the time from 1762 to 1776. He M-as not in the employ 
of the English Society, and the fact which tradition establishes 
that he here ruled the rising generation, would lead us to suppose 
that the school at that period was controlled by the town, and was 
no longer of a denominational character. This Harris is said to 
have been a man of a most violent temper, exceedingly harsh and 
cruel in his treatment of the scholars. Some of the punishments 
he inflicted ai'e described as truly barbarous. One redeeming 
trait he seems to have possessed, in his strong republican sympa- 
thies. According to his own account he stood in this respect alone 
at Rye, ' faithful among the faithless.' In 1776, he addressed a 
petition to the Convention of the State of New York, then in 
session at Harlem. 

He writes from prison, having been the victim, as he says, of a 
conspiracy to ruin him, instigated by one Wetmore, who had 
been a competitor with him for the school, and had done what he 
could to injure him in his bvisiness. He complains that his school 
has been taken from him, and the use of the school-house denied 
him, by James Wetmore, ' the brother of that arch tory, or enemy 
to his country, Timothy Wetmoi-e, who has and does yet keep up 
the spirit of toryism in Rye.' ^ 

On Rye Neck, or Budd's Neck as it was then called, there was 
a school-house as early as the year 1739.^ It stood not far from 
the spot where, thirty years ago, there was a little building which 
some of our citizens well remember as the place where they ac- 
quired the rudiments of knowledge. This was on the west side of 
the post-road, below the farm-house belonging to Dr. Jav. From 
this spot the school was removed a few years since to its present 
site on ^ivi'ry Lane. Tiiis is now one of the most flourishing and 
well managed schools in the town. 

There was a school in the neighborhood of Saw Pit some time 
before the Revolution. Tiie school-house stood on King Street, 
upon land now owned by Mr. Charles White. ' The flre-place 
and chimney were of stone, and occupied one entire end of the 
building. There was no school within its walls during the Revolu- 
tion. Jonathan Vickers, sometimes called ' lawyer Vickers,' 
taught the school during the closing years of the last century. He 

1 New York Revolutionary Papers, p. 159. 
'^ Rye Records, vol. C. p. 265 ; vol. D. p. 39. 


Avas succeeded by Henry Kelly about the year 1800, and be by a 
Mr. Chichester about the year 1802. In 1803, the old house was 
demolished, and a new one was erected in the course of the fol- 
lowing year, on the east side of the street. As there was no 
church in the place, this was intended to serve the double purpose 
of church and school-house. The house was removed to what is 
now called King Street Square, probably about the year 1810. 
The present house was built in 1853, remodelled and enlarged in 
1867 and 1868.' i 

There was a school-house a few years since on Regent Street, 
where a small office now stands, not far from the corner of Pur- 
chase Avenue. Here one Evans B. Hollis taught school, some 
fifty years ago. He was an Englishman, and is said to have been 
an excellent teacher. He came to Rye from Sing Sing, and taught 
first for a while at the school near ' Saw Pit.' The school on Re- 
gent Street had existed, I am told, long before Mr. Hollis's time. 

On the whole, we can say but little to the advantage of Rye in 
olden times, as to the vital interest of education. All we have 
been able to learn of the schools themselves, and the state of edu- 
cation among former generations, inspires us witJi the greatest sat- 
isfaction and thankfulness in view of the advantages which the 
town now possesses, in its numerous and generally excellent insti- 
tutions of learning. As to the i)ast, we fear that the remarks 
of President Dwight, early in the present century, relative to 
the moral and religious condition of tiie people of Westchester 
County, applied to Rye as much as to any other portion of the 
county : — 

' Neither learning nor religion has within n)y knowledge flourished 
to any great extent among the inhabitants. Academies have been 
established at New Rochelle, Bedford, and Salem, but neither of them 
has permanently flourished. The ancient inhabitants had scarcely any 
schools, at least of any value. A few gentlemen are scattered in vari- 
ous parts of this county, possessing the intelligence usually found in 
that class of men, but the people at large are extremely stinted in their 
information.' ^ 

Our common school syste^m, in the State of New York, has been 
in operation for less than sixty years. The first act which con- 
templated a permanent system of common schools was passed by 
the legislature in 1812. It created the offices of trustee, clerk 

1 Annual Report of the Port Chester Union Free School, DistricW No. 4 of the 
Town of Rye, for the Year ending October 1st, 1869, p. 5. 

2 Dr. Dwighl's Travels, vol. iii. j». 490. 



and director, for scliool districts, wliich were to be formed by the 
division of towns into convenient sections. Each town was re- 
quired to elect three commissioners of common schools, whose first 
business was to form the school districts. They were the financial 
officers of the schools, to whom was paid the public money for dis- 
tribution to the districts, and to whom the trustees were required 
to report. The office of State Superintendent of Common Schools 
was also created at this time. 

In 1814, certain amendments were passed. The former act had 
left it to the discretion of the inhabitants of towns whether they 
would vote for the appropriation of money for the support of 
schools in addition to the State school moneys. It was now made 
compulsory upon boards of supervisors to levy on each town a sum 
equal to its distributive share of the State scliool moneys. The act 
also authorized the levy of a like sum, in addition to this, if voted 
by the town. The act of 1812 required trustees to have a school 
kei)t for at least three months in the year. By the amended act, 
failure on the part of the board of supervisors to levy the requisite 
sum of money, wrought a forfeiture of the school money for the 

In tlie town of Rye, action was taken upon the subject at the 
first meetincr of the town after the passage of the school law. On 
the sixth of April, 1818, ' a vote was taken, agreeably to notice 
from the County Clerk that the School Fund was to be distributed ; 
and it was carried in the affirmative, to accept of the money allot- 
ted them.' At the same meeting, school commissioners and in- 
spectors were chosen for the first time. Messrs. Samuel Deall, 
Ezrahiah Wetmore, and Jared Peck were elected commissioners ; 
and the Rev. Samuel Haskell, and Messrs. John Guion, Charles 
Field, and John Brown, were chosen inspectors of schools. 

The division of the town into school districts was commenced in 
1814. Three districts and two ' neighborhoods ' were formed. 
A f)urth district was added in 1826. According to this division, 
Distiict No. 1, on Rye Neck, comprehended that part of the town 
south of the house of Sylvanus Lyon (now Mr. Benjamin Mead's). 
No. 2 lay north of this point, extending as far as Thomas Brown's 
house (Mr. Charles Park's, lately Mr. Allen Carpenter's). On 
the east side of Blind Brook, it included that part of the town 

1 I am indebted, through Mr. W. H. Smith, of Port Chester, to the Superintendent 
of Public Instruction at Alban}-, for these facts relative to the present common 
school system of the State. He refers to a Special Report on Education, by Super- 
intendent Rice, in 1867, pp. 80, 81. 


which lies soutli of Ezrahlah Wetmore's and north of Philemon 
Halsted's (now Mr. Daniel Budd's). No. 3 lay north of this, 
comprising the village of Saw Pit, now Port Chester, and the 
upper part of the town. No. 4 included the whole of Peningo 
Neck below Philemon Halsted's. This arrangement has been 
somewhat modified. At present, there are five school districts in 
Rye — the fifth comprising the upper part of the town, above Port 
Chester. Rye Neck, commencing at Dr. Jay's, forms a separate 
district (No. 1), and No. 2 includes Peningo Neck, below Mr. 
Anderson's, with the west side of Blind Brook, below Mr. Mead's. 




AMONG the institutions of the oklen time, slavery must not 
be left out of the account. It is in fact little more than forty 
years since this unhappy system ceased to have a legal existence 
in our State. The Dutch had introduced it during their possession 
of the province of New Netherland. As early as the year 1629, 
we find the West India Company complaining that their planta- 
tions could not compete with those of Spain, for want of slaves, 
and of means to obtain a supply of them.^ Before the year 1647, 
the slave-trade had been opened with Brazil ; ^ and by the time the 
English acquired New York, its villages and ' bouweries ' were 
amply stocked with black laborers. The English governors of the 
province gave all encouragement to the traffic. The Duke of 
York himself was at the head of a company chartered in England 
for the purpose of carrying it on. 

In New England, slavery never prevailed very extensively. 
Our first settlers appear to have brought a few negroes with them 
from Connecticut. But for a considei'able length of time the num- 
ber of slaves in Rye was very small. A census taken in 1712 — 
fifty years after the founding of the town — showed but eighteen 
negroes of all ages within its limits, which then included Harrison 
and the White Plains.^ 

The first mention of slavery occurs in our records in 1689. 
Jacob Pearce, one of the original planters, left among his goods 
and chattels — 

'A negro woman called by the name of Rose, which is not inven- 
toried, because 'twas proffered to be proved upon oath that her master 
Jacob Pearce did give her her freedom after his wife's decease.' * 

. 1 Documents relating to the Colonial History of New York, vol. i. p. 39. 

2 Ibid. p. 244. 

^ Papers relating to Westchester County, in Documentary History of New York, 
vol. iii. p. 949. 

* Records of Deeds, Westchester County, vol. B. p. 183. 


Ill the same year, James Mott of Mamaroneck sells, alienates, 
and makes over to Humphrey Underhill of Rye — 'A sartain 
neger named Jack aged about fortene yeres or thareabouts.' ^ 

' Slaves from sixteen years old and upward,' are mentioned in a 
rate of assessment, April 2, 1703. Tliey are valued at the same 
rate with 'all Christimi male persons' of the same age — at X12 
per head.^ 

The people of Rye were called upon in 1711 to pay taxes under 
' an act for raising one shilling on every chimney, and two shilHngs 
on every Negroe or Indian Slave.'' ^ 

With the growth of the town, the number of slaves increased 
very considerably. From eighteen, — according to the census of 
1712, — it had risen in 1755 to one hundred and seventeen. A 
list of the families owning slaves at that period,* shows that they 
were distributed very widely throughout the town. Neither lay- 
man nor ecclesiastic appears to have entertained scruples as to this 
kind of proprietorship. The names even of several members of 
' the Society of Friends ' are on the list. It is noticeable, how- 
ever, that few families owned more than two or three negroes. 
Mr. Jay, Colonel Willett, and Mr. Thomas^ were the largest 

A few passages from our town records may serve to illustrate 

1 Rye Records, vol. B. end. 

2 Town and Proprietors' Meeting Book, No. 3 or C. p. 3. 

^ The New Receipt Book, Westchester County, 1714-15, p. 75. 

* Documentary History of New York, vol. iii. p. 855. 

^ ' Run away from John Thomas, Jun'' at Rye, in Westchester County, about the 
middle of November last : A negro man called Joe, about thirty -fiveyears of age ; he 
is near six feet high, of a yellowish complexion, has had the small pox, but hardly 
visible, has some scars on his breast, was born in Jersey, but since lived with Messen- 
ger Palmer, near Stanford, in Connecticut : Had on when he went away a brown 
Cloath jacket, a woolen shirt ; a pair of leather breeches, a pair of white woolen 
stockings. Whoever takes up said negro and secures him so that his master may 
have him again, shall receive three pounds reward, and all reasonable charges, paid 
by me John Thomas Jun.' 

'Rye, January 9, 1765.' (N. Y. Gazette and Weekly Post-Boy, January 17, 1765.) 

® Cornelius Planian, one of these owners, had been in trouble about his slaves. 
The iVe?y York Gazette of Octobers, 1734, contains his statement concerning 'two 
negros, to wit, one negro man called Jack, and one negro woman named Rose,' belong- 
ing to him. These servants were claimed by Mr. William Roome, who had posted 
up a notice at Rye, to the effect that Mr. Francis Garabrant, deceased, father-in-law 
to Flaman, had made them over to him in June, 1731. Flaman denies this claim. 
From the advertisement, it appears that he had been apprentice, from 1707 to 1722, 
to Garabrant, who lived in New York, where he had a house and lot. Flaman lived 
at ' Saw Pit.' He had deceased in 1758, when Cornelius, his 'eldest son and heir,' 
sold his land to Daniel Hawkshurst. (Rye Records, D. 121.) 


some of tlie workings of the ' peculiar institution,' about tlie time 
when it had become so extensively prevalent here : — 

In 1739, George Kniffin gives to his loving and dutiful son 
David, fifty acres of land on King Street, ' together Avith two 
negro children commonly called and known by their names, viz., 
Abel and Doll' i 

In 1741, Benjamin Merritt appoints his ' true and trusty friend 
Joshua Brundige, to be my lawful attorney to recover all my debt 
due to me. in Connecticut, and likewise to bring back my servant 
George Egit, and dispose of him according to his discretion.' - 

In 1747, Ebenezer Theale, ' in consideration of the" love, good- 
Avill and affection which I have and do bear nnto my youngest 
daughter Hannah Theale,' gives her ' all that my negro boy called 
Jeffrey, my young black bald-faced riding horse,' etc., ' to have 
and to hold the said negro boy Jeffry and all the other above 
mentioned moveables.' ^ 

In 1739, we find the town making choice of Thomas Rickey to 
be the public Avhipper. In 1747, Samuel Bumpos is chosen to 
the same office.* Such an appointment implies the usual treatment 
of refractory slaves. The whipping-post and tlie public stocks are 
said to have stood on the open space west of the Episcopal Church. 
A small stone building in the rear of the house formerly occupied 
by Andrew Clark, Esq., was anciently a place of confinement for 
slaves. It was torn down only two or three years since. 

A chronic trouble under the system of negro slavery was the 
fear of insurrection. The citizens of New York during the last 
century Avere exposed to a series of panics relative to this dan- 
ger, the accounts of Avhich are truly surprising. In 1712, a sup- 
posed plot to burn the city was detected, and nineteen negroes 
Avere tried and executed on the charge of beincp concerned in it. 
In 1741, under suspicion of similar designs, one hundred and fifty- 
four negroes were committed to prison, of Avhom seventy-one Avere 
transported, eighteen Avere hanged, and fourteen Avere burned at 
the stake ! The inhabitants of Rye doubtless shared in these 
alarms. Indeed, Ave have intimations of trouble here connected 
with the first plot of 1712. In 1714, Mr. Isaac Denham of Rye 

1 Eye Records, vol. C. p. 286. 2 md. p. UO. 

8 Ibid. p. 207. 

* Records of Town Meetings (not paged). 

' Bumpus' old house ' is mentioned in the description of a highway laid out in 
1750. (County Records, lib. G. p. 407.) It stood near Rye Flats, on the Beach. 

'Deliverance Buuapus, Daughter of Thomas Bumpus,' is mentioned in the Brand- 
er's Book, ' April y" 10th, 1740.' 


petitions the Court of Special Sessions at Westchester ' to raise 
the sum of twenty-five pounds for satisfaction for One Negro Man 
called Primus, wlio was executed for his misdemeanours.' And in 
1719, Mr. Denham, and one Charles Forster, apply ' to be allowed 
the value of two negro men lately belonging to them and exe- 
cuted for crimes committed in this county.'' The men were ap- 
praised at X20, and payment was ordered.^ 


About the year 1698, some negroes brouglit from the coast of 
Guinea were landed at Rye, and there delivered to tiie son of Mr. 
Fredericis Philipse, of Philipsburg.^ The circumstance was of 
sufficient importance to be noticed in a report of the London 
Board of Trade. It was not, however, the importation of slaves 
that called for tliis notice, but the fact that the parties concerned 
were suspected of dealings with pirates. Piracy had long been 
infesting the seas of both hemispheres. ' No vessel was safe upon 
the waters, and the ocean commerce was almost destroyed. New 
York suffered especially from these depredations. Her merchant 
vessels were rifled and burnt within siglit of her shores ; and the 
pirates even entered her harbors, and seized her ships as they lay 
at anchor.' '■^ Under Governor Fletcher's administration, many of 
the merchants and even government officials of the province were 
notoriously implicated in this infamous business. The huge profits 
to be realized by trade with the pirates formed the inducement. 
Ships were sent out to purchase cargoes from the buccaneers, 
who were glad to dispose of them at prices much below their 
value. Lord Bellomont, who succeeded Fletcher, came with 
express orders to suppress this shameful traffic. But he found 
great difficulty in doing so. The merchants contended that what 
they did was in the lawful pursuit of commerce, that is, the slave- 
trade, in which they met with these opportunities of profitable 
purchase. Mr. Frederick Philipse, one of the richest men of that 
day in New York, was concerned in several operations of this 
kind. It was in the course of one of these, doubtless, that the cir- 
cumstance we have mentioned occurred. The landing of these 
slaves at Rye doubtless made quite a commotion among our quiet 
inhabitants. They were likely to be far more disturbed by the 

1 Kccords of Courts of Sessions, etc., in liber B., County Records, White Plains, 
N. Y. 

2 New York Colonial MSS., vol. xxxiv. p. 2. 

3 History of the CiUj of New York, by Mary L. Booth, p. 253. 


thouo-Iit of pirates in tlieir neighborhood than by the presence of 
slave dealers. Captain Kidd was then in the height of his career 
as a freebooter ; and the shores of Long Island Sound had been 
frequently visited by him and others for the purpose, it was 
believed, of burying their ill-gotten treasures upon its shores. 


Of the moral and religious condition of the slaves at Rye, we 
have but a sad account to give. The early regulations of the 
British government for its foreign plantations required that meas- 
ures be taken wliereby ' slaves may be best invited to the Christian 
faith, and be made capable of being baptized therein.'^ Governor 
Dougan, however, writes in 1686, res))ecting the inhabitants of 
this province, ' I observe that they take no care for the conversion 
of their slaves.' ^ The missionaries of the Gospel Propagation 
Society had special directions to look after the s]iiritual interests of 
the blacks. With what success they did so at Rye, we learn from 
their letters. In 1708, Mr. Muirson writes, ' There are only a 
few negroes in this j^arish, save what are in Colonel Heathcote's 
family, where I think there are more than in all the parish besides. 
However, so many as we have, I shall not be wanting in my en- 
deavours for their good.' '"^ Mr. Jenney reports in 1724, 'There 
are a few negroes and Indian slaves, but no free infidels [heathen] 
in my parish : the catechist, a schoolmaster from the Honourable 
Society, has often proposed to teach them the catechism, but we 
cannot prevail upon their masters to spare them from their labour 
for that good work.'* In 1728, Mr. Wetmore writes : — 

' The number of negroes in the parish is about one hundred. Since 
Mr. Cleator has been blind, and imable to teach school, he has taken 
pains with the negroes, so many as their masters would allow to come. 
But of late they have left coming altogether. Those that belong to 
Quaker masters, they will allow them no instruction. Some Presbyte- 
rians will allow their servants to be taught, but are unwillijig they should 
be baptized. And those of the church are not much better, so that 
there is hut one negro in the parish baptized. I had two of my own, 
which I baptized, but I have lately sold them out of the parish : and 
I have another, which I have instructed, and design to baptize very 
speedily.' ^ 

1 New York Colonial MSS., Instructions, etc. 1660, vol. iii. p. 36. 

2 Ibid. p. 415. 

^ Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Cluirch in Westchester Connti/, p. 180. 
* Ibid. p. 228. 6 Ibid. p. 250. 



The difficulties attending the religious instruction of the slaves 
are dwelt upon by another of the Society's missionaries. 

' The state of the negroes being servitude and bondage, all the week 
they are held to hard work, but only Sundays excepted, when they fish 
or fowl, or some other way provide for themselves. Their scattered 
positimi up and down the country, some distance from the church, but 
above all the prejudices of the masters, conceiving [them to be] the 
worse for being taught and more apt to rebel, .... are almost an 
invincible bar to their Christian instruction.' ^ 

Some of our inhabitants well remember the times when slavery 
still prevailed in Rye. At the beginning of the present century, 
nearly every family owned one negro ' hand,' or more. Generally, 
they were such as had been born and brought up in these house- 
holds, and in many cases the attachment between master and ser- 
vant was mutually strong. As a rule, the slaves were kindly 
treated ; but there were instances of inhumanity, here as every- 
where, under this atrocious system. One such instance an old 
inhabitant relates as having ' made an abolitionist of him,' from his 
youth up. The negroes of that day were greatly given to the 
observance of festivals and frolics. The state of morals among 
them was much the same as in slave communities elsewhere ; and 
as to their religious interests, they were little cared for. 


For several years following the period of the Revolution, the 
pages of our town records are occupied with certificates relating to 
the manumission of slaves.^ These declarations were made in 

^ Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church in Westchester County, pp. 62, 6.3. 

2 Eye Records, vol. D. The following is a list of these acts of mannmission : — 

In 1793, the executors of Miss Anna Maria Jay liberate her slave Hannah^ aged 28 


1799 James Pine liberates Ccesar aged 27. 1809 Mos. Crooker liberates Jack aged 30. 

1800 Samuel Dcall " 

Jacob ' 

' 34. 

1810 Wm. T. Provoost" 

Lew " 


1801 Joseph Wilson " 


' 24. 

" William Bush " 


" " ". " 

Kate ' 

' 22. 

" James Hart " 

Nan " 


" William Lyon " 


" Drake Seymour " 

Dinah " 


" " " " 


" John Guion " 


" Thomas Brown " 


" 50. 

" Ezekiel Halsted " 

Jerry " 


1804 Ezekiel Halsted " 


' 40. 

" John Brown " 



" Rachel Sniffin " 

Cuff ' 

' 56. 

1811 Roger Pnrdy 

Sylvia " 


1805 Andrew Lyon " 

Sylvia ' 

' 46. 

" Barthw Hadden " 

Gin " 


1807 Samuel Armour " 


1812 William Bush 

Hairy " 


(f a ii (( 


" Neh'i Brown jr. " 

Henry " 


1808 Thomas Tlieall " 

Andrew ' 

' 40. 

" William Lyon " 

Phila " 


1809 Phil" Halsted jr. " 

Rose ' 

' 36. 

" Joseph Stud well " 

Robm " 


" Gilbert Brown " 

Phomas ' 

' 27. 

1814 Mrs. Mary Jay " 



accordance witli the terms of an act of the legislature of this 
State, passed on the twenty-second of February, 1788, and of 
another passed on the twenty-ninth of iSIarch, 1799. The latter 
act provided for the gradual abolition of slavery. In 1817, another 
act was passed, declaring all slaves to be free on the fourth of July5 

In 1798 this town contained one hundred and twenty-three 
slaves.! Fifty years ago (in 1820) there were in Rye fourteen 
slaves, and one hundred and twenty-six free blacks. In Har- 
rison, there were twelve slaves, and one hundred and thirty-six 
free blacks. And in White Plains, there were eight slaves and 
sixty-three free blacks.^ Seven years later (in 1827) slavery 
expired in the State of New York. At that time tliere was a con- 
siderable negro population in Rye. Irish and German emigration 
had not yet commenced ; and scarcely any other than colored 
' help ' were employed in the kitchen or the field. Numbers of 
these were to be seen in the village and along the streets, at 
nightfall after the day's labor, and on holidays. Every family 
of means had some humble retainers, once their bond-servants, and 
still their dependants. Few of them remain at present. The 
European laborer has almost completely supplanted the African ; 
and whether by death or by removal to other places, they have 
been reduced to a mere handful. 

The Society of Friends, to its immortal honor, has always been 
the consistent and earnest opponent of negro slavery. The Friends 
of Harrison have a record on this subject not unworthy of that of 
their brethren elsewhere. It appears that about the time of the 
Revolution some individuals belonging to their body were owners 
of slaves. The following facts are gathered from the Society's 
books : — 

' Twelfth of Ninth month, 1776. This meeting appoints ' cer- 
tain persons ' a Committee to visit those that keep negroes as slaves 
— agreeably to directions of the Yearly Meeting — and report to 
a future meetino;.' 

'Tenth of Fourth month, 1777.' The Committee report, 'We 
have according to appointment visited nearly all those within the 

1818 T.M'CoUum liberates Henry aged 27. 1822 Tho^ Theall liberates Maria aged 25. 
" Henry Piirdy " Sail " 26. 1 824 Mrs. Mary Jay " Coisar 

1819 William Lyon " James " 21. 1825 James Hart " Jack "-28. 
1821 Thomas Theall " Lew " 22. 

1 American Gace«ee?-, by Dr. Jedidiah Morse. 2d edit. Boston, 1798. 

2 A Gazetteer of the State of New York, by Horatio Gates Spafford, LL. D. Albany : 


verge of this Monthly Meetinc; that hold slaves, and hereby hiform ' 
the meeting ' that a considerable number have been declared free 
under hand and seal since last year, and we have encouragement 
to hope that if the practice is kept up of treating with them that 
still hold them, that the good effect of such sincere labour w^ill not 
be lost, but turn to the satisfaction and comfort of others as well as 
of ourselves.' 

A committee was appointed to examine acts of manumission, 
and have them recorded if authentic. 

' Fourteenth of Fifth month, 1778.' It was resolved that 
' Friends continuing to hold slaves,' and ' who still refuse to free 
them, shall he dealt ivith as disorderly members.'' 

' Ninth of Twelfth month, 1779.' Three Friends were disowned 
for not setting their slaves free. 

'Seventh of Eighth month, 1781.' It appears by the yearly 
meeting extracts [Flushing] that the state of negroes set free by 
Friends was taken into consideration ; ' wliether Friends who 
had had their services during the prime of their lives, should not 
do something for their compensation and support ; and also inves- 
tigating into their temporal and spiritual condition, and the educa- 
tion of youth.' 

' Twelfth of Fourth month, 1782.' The committee appointed 
to make these inquiries [in Harrison] reported that the condition 
of most of the negroes set free was satisfactory ; but there was 
'great shortness in regard to instructing youth, though some 
appear careful on that account.' ^ 

1 Records of the Society of Friends in Harrison ; in the possession of Mollis S. 
Tilton, Recorder. 

Rye Beach. 



' And their mouldering cairns alone 
Tell the tale of races gone.' 

L. J. B. Case, The. Indian Relic. 

r INHERE Is a painful interest in gathering up the scanty knowl- 
-*- edge that has come down to us, about the aboriginal inhabit- 
ants of this region. Here as elsewhere throughout our land, they 
have faded away from sight and memory, leaving but few and faint 
traces of their sad history. 

It was sad enough before the coming of New England men to 
these shores. ' When the Dutch began the settlement of this 
country,' wrote William Smith in 1762, ' all the Indians on Long 
Island and the north shore of the Sound, on the banks of the Con- 
necticut, Hudson, Delaware and Susquehanna rivers, were in sub- 
jection to the Five Nations ; and within the memory of persons 
now living,' he adds, ' acknowledged it by the payment of an 
annual tribute.'^ 

1 History of New York, by William Smith, vol. i. p. 224. 'A little tribe settled at 
the Sugar Loaf Mountain, in Orange County to this day,' adds Mr. Smith, writing 
about the year 1762, 'make a yearly payment of about £20 to the Mohawks.' (Ibid, 


The Dutc-li, it is wull known, treated them with little kind- 
ness. Thi'v do not seem to have fared much better at the 
hands of the Connecticut people. The laws of the General Court 
for the re<;ulation of the Indians appear harsh, perhaps not more 
so than the fears and dangers of the settlers warranted. Com- 
plaint is made in 1040 that ' our lenity and gentlenes toward In- 
doans hath made them growe bold and insolent.' ^ No town, it 
was ordered in IGOO, ' shall suffer any Indians to dwel Avithin a 
(piarter of a mile of it, nor shal any strange Indians be entertained 
ill any Town."- An Indian 'found walking up and down in any 
Towne, after the day light shutting in, except he giue sufficient 
reason,' shall be fined — in 1663 — 'or else be seuerly whipt six 
stripes at least.' ^ Orders increasingly strict were made to arrest 
tiie (Ti-o\\inii evil of drunkenness among the Indians. White men 
were <niiitv, then as now, of selling liquor to the natives, an evil 
which the Court endeavored to repress. The laws for the Pequots, 
in 1675, provided that ' whosoever shall i)owotv or use witchcraft 
or anv worshi|> to the devil or any fals god shall be con vented and 
punished. AVIiosoever shall prophane the holy Saboth day by 
servill worke or play, such as chop]nng or fetching home of wood, 
fisiiin<% fowleing, hunting, &c., shall pay as a fine tenn shillings 
. . . . or be sharply whipt for euery such offence.'* Some per- 
sons were complained of in 1678 as ' frequenting the meetings of 
the Indians at theire meetings and dances, and joining with them 
in their plays by wagering of their sides.' This, it is declared, 
' doth too nuich encourage them in their devil worship. For some 
acquainted with their customes doe say their exercises at such 
times is a principal part of the worship they attend.' A heavy 
fine was laid on any who should be present at these meetings.^ 

Our old friend. Madam Knight, gives us her observations upon 
the state of the Indians in Connecticut in the year 1704 : — 

* There are everywliere in the Towns as I passed a Number of Indians 
the Natives of the Country, and are the most salvage of all the salvages 
of that kind tliat I had ever seen ; little or no care taken (as I heard 
upon enquiry) to make them otherwise. They have in some places 
Landes of their owne, and Govern'd by Laws of their own making. If 
the natives connnitt any crime on their own precincts among them- 
selves, y"= English take no Cognizance of it. But if on the English 

1 PMic Rprords of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 52. 2 ji;,i p_ 350. 

' /'">/. vol. ii. ],. 408. 4 ii,i^_ vol. ii. p. .575. 

' Iliid. vol. iii. p. 23. 


ground, they are punishable by our Laws. They trade most for Rum, 
for whicli they hazard their very lives.' , 

What we learn of the Indians at Rve, after the settlement of 
the town, agrees only too well with all this. Tlie fullest account 
of their condition is that given by the Rev. Mr. Muirson, the 
sec(md English missionary appointed to this place. In January, 
1708, he writes to the Gospel Propagation Society which sent 
him : — 

' As to the Indians, the natives of the country, they are a decaying 
people. We have not now in all this parish twenty families ; whereas, 
not many years ago, tliere were several hundreds. I have frequently 
conversed with some of them, and been at their great meetings of 
powowing, as they call it. I have taken some pains to teach some of 
them, but to no purpose, for they seem regardless of instruction. And 
when 1 have told them of the evil consequences of their hard drinking, 
etc., they replied that Englishmen do the same; and that it is not so 
great a sin in an Indian as in an Englishman, because the English- 
man's religion forbids it. but an Indian's does not. They fiu-ther say 
they will not be Christians, nor do they see the necessity for so being, 
because we do not live according to the precepts of our religion. In 
such ways do most of the Indians that I have conversed with, either 
here or elsewhere, express themselves. ^I am heartily sorry that we 
•should give them such a bad example, and fill their mouths with such 
objections against our blessed religion.'^ 

Long after the settlement of this town there were Indians living 
within its bounds ; some of them quite near to the village,^ but 
the greater number back in the ' wilderness ' that still overspread 
the northern part of Rj'e. This was the case in most of the Con- 
necticut towns. '■ Tiie laws obliged the inhabitants,' says Dr. 
Trumbull, 'to reserve unto the natives a sufficient quantity of 
planting ground. They were allowed to hunt and fish upon all 
the lands, no less tlian the English. The colonies made laws for 
their protection from insult, fraud, and violence. The inhabitants 
suffered them to erect wigwams, and to live on tlie very lands 
which they had purchased of them ; and to cut their fire-Avood on 

^ Bolton, Histoiij of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Westchester Counti/, pp. 180, 

- In the neighborhood of a spring on Mr. Thomas Peck's grounds, it is said* that 
two Indian families lived, perhaps not long before the Revolution. East of this spot, 
a field of twelve or fourteen acres was once pointed out to me by Mr. Josiah Purdy, 
as ' the Gammon Lot,' so called when he was a boy, because an Indian who claimed 
to own the land sold it to a white man for a leg of bacon. 


their uninclosed lands for more tlian a whole century after the set- 
tlements iK'^^an.' ^ 

The twenty families of wliom Mr. Muirson speaks were reduced 
bv the year IT'JO to 'four or five ; ' 'families,' writes Mr. Bridge, 
»'of Indians that often ahide in this parish, but are frequently re- 
moving, almost every moiitli or six Aveeks.' 2 After this date, we 
bear little more of Indians at Rye, except, shameful to say, as 
glaves. In 1724, Mr. Jenney reports, 'There 'are a few negro 
and Indian slaves in my ])arish, but no free infidels ' or heathen.^ 
In 17;54, Mr. Wetmo'ie mentions the baptism of 'one adult, an 
Inilian slave.' "* 

In our town records there is a copy of a decision of the Court 
of Sessions held at Rye, September 22, 1761, when one Freelove, 
an Indian woman, an apprentice to Dennis Hicks of the Manor of 
Philii)sburgh was brouglit before the court. ' It appearing upon 
oath to us,' say the magistrates, 'that the said Dennis hath beaten 
liis said apprentice Freelove, and otherwise abused her, we do 
therefore discharge the said Freelove from her apprenticeship, and 
do hereby under onr respective hands and seals pronounce and 
declare that the said Freelove is discharged from being any longer 
an apprentice to her said master.' ^ 

Tradition states that in old times a band of Indians used to visit 
Rve once a year, resorting *to the Beach, where they had a 'frolic ' 
which lasted several days. According to my informant, they ap- 
proached the village from the north, rushing down the road with a 
whoop which could be heard by the whole neighborhood. It is ' 
possible that their visit to the Beach had some connection Avith 
' Burying Hill,' where former generations of red men are sup- 
posed to have been interred. 

Another place which they frequented, as late certainly as the 
middle of the last century ,6 was a spot on Grace Church Street, at 

1 I/lstun/ of Connecticut, by Benjaiinu Trumbull, D. D., vol. i. p. 117. 

2 Bolton, I/islori/, etc., p. 196. 3 Jij^j p 228. 
♦ //»/>/. p. 2(14. 

fi Kfcords, ]}. xii. 

The Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors for 1773 contain the following 
charge : — 

'.John Doughty, Constable of Rye, for Transporting Mary Gordon and child, and 
Wiiliani Francis, an Indian, 9s. 6rf.' 

« About 1744, says Dunlap, ' the Indians, still residing in the lower parts of the 
State, at particular seasons of the year came to the city, and took up their residence ' 
— in the neighborhood of a wind-mill which then stood between what is now called 
Liberty Street and Courtlandt Street— ' until they had disposed of their peltrv, their 
brooms and shovels, trays and baskets. Dr. Abeel says, I have seen, in 1744, and 


tlie corner of the road now called Kirby Avenue, and nearly in 
front of the present residence of Mr, Jjiuies M, Titus. Here, says 
one of our oldest inhabitants, a troop of Indians would come every 
year and spend the night in a powu'oiv, during which tiieir cries 
and yells would keep the whole neighborhood awake and in terror 
for their lives. These drunken frolics, however, are said not to 
have been attended by any serious consequences. The next day 
the savages would go quietly back into the country, and be heard 
of no more for months.^ 

Many interesting relics of the Indian race have been found 
along our shores. Heaps of clam-shells, as usual, indicate the 
spots where their villages or solitary wigwams stood. These occur 
in great abundance on Manussing Island, on Parsonage Point, in 
the vicinity of the Beach, and near Blind Brook ^ and the creek 
into which it empties. Indian graves have also been frequently 
discovered. ' The former existence of Indian habitations on tiic 
great neck of Poningo,' says Mr. Bolton, ' is amply proved by 
the number of huntino; and warlike weapons found in that neigh- 
borhood. The site of the principal Mohegan village was on or 
near Parsonage Point. In the same vicinity is situated Burying 
Hill, their place of sepulture. The remains of six Indians were 

afterwards, several Indian canoes come down the East and North Rivers, and land 
their cargoes in the basin near the long bridge,' at the foot of Broad Street. ' They 
took up their residence in the yard and store-house of Adolph Phillips ; there they 
generally made up their baskets and "brooms, as they could better bring the rough ma- 
terial with them than the ready-made articles. When the Indians came from Long 
Island, they brought with them a quantity of dried clams, strung on sea-grass, or straw, 
which they sold, or kept for their own use, besides the flesh of animals, etc. Clam.s 
and oysters, and other fish, must have formed the principal food, together with 
squashes and pumpkins, of the natives of the lower part of the State.' {History of the 
New Netherlands, Province of New York, and State of New York, etc., in two vols. 
By "William Dunlap. New York, 1839 : vol. i. p. 353.) 

1 Mrs. Kirby, widow of David Kirby, who related these facts to me, had them from 
her grandmother, Mrs. James Bird, then a young married woman, living where the 
cottage on the northeast corner of Kirby Avenue and Grace Church Street stands. 
Mrs. Bird used to'say that she had often sat up all night with her infont in her arms, 
her husband being away at sea, prepared to fly for refuge to one of the neighbors, 
should her house be attacked. 

- On the property of Dr. J. H. T. Cockey the remains of seven or eight human 
skeletons were discovered in a sand-bank in 1855. A great quantity of oyster and clam- 
shells were found. In clearing out a spring on the same land an Indian pestle came to 
light. Among other implements, a spear-head six inches in length, and of unusually 
perfect form, was found. Several bodies were discovered in 1867, near the opposite 
bank of the creek, in the garden attached to one of Mr. Mathews's houses. The pos- 
ture, as elsewhere, showed that they were the bodies of Indians. 


discoverod on excavating the present foundations for Newberry 

Ilalsted's resiclence.' ^ ,, , • . x r mi 

]\l•unls^iM- Island was undoubtedly the site of an Indian village. 
A few years'^ago some laborers, excavating the ground on the east 
side of I^Ir. Van Rensselaer's garden, uncovered the skeleton of a 
body which had been buried in the manner customary with the 
Indians, in a slanting or sitting posture. The remains were of 
extraordinary size, and in a very perfect state ; but when exposed 
to the air soon crumbled to dust. 

In July, 1870, I went with Mr. Underbill Halsted to examine 
the traditionary sites of the Indian villages on Peningo Neck. The 
chief of these was in a field about seventy-five rods south of the 
road to Rye Beach. Here, about two hundred feet from high- 
water mark, there is a spring which is said to be unfailing. Near 
it is a flat rock, around which the soil for the extent of half an 
acre abounds in fragments of shells. The supposition that this 
was an abode of the Indians is favored by the situation of the spot, 
its exposure to the south, and proximity to the Beach. It is based 
moreover upon the statements of old men, who have had it from 
their fathers. 

' Samp Mortar Rock,' near by, is pointed out as the place where 
the Indian women used to pound their corn. It is on the south 
side of a clump of rocks, near what is known as ' Steep Rock,' at 
the south end of the Beach, on a line with the north side of Mr. 
Cornell's lane. Here are the remains of a circular basin cut in 
the rock, two feet and a half in diameter, and about as deep. One 
side of this basin is still perfect, but on the other the rock has been 
worn or broken away.^ 

Another ' Indian mortar,' more perfect but smaller, is to be seen 
on the shore of a cove called ' Ware's Cove,' on Mr. Gideon Rey- 
nolds' land, opposite the north end of Pine Island. 

Another spot, believed to have been the site of an Indian vil- 
lage, is in a field in the rear of Mr. Underbill Halsted's house. 
And a third, where still more abundant traces have been found, is 
in the neighborhood of ' Bullock's Landing' and ' Galpin's Cove,' 
on the opposite side of the creek, upon Mr. Genin's grounds. 

1 History of Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 17. 

2 Mr. Halsted bad in his possession, forty-two years ago, an Indian pestle, two feet 
and a half in len>;th, and about three inches thick. It had been carefully preserved 
in his family for a long time. 



' Where heaves the turf in many a mouldering heap, 
Each in his narrow cell forever laid, 
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.' 

npHE visitor on his way to our Beach may notice at the turn of 
-■- the road above Milton, the little burying-ground by Blind 
Brook ; not as differing from other country grave-yards in its aspect 
of seclusion and neglect, but for the quiet beauty of the scene in 
which it lies. Just here the outlet of the stream, whose meander- 
ings have proceeded through the low meadow lands, becomes visi- 
ble toward the south, and the waters of the Sound appear beyond 
the higher banks that skirt the creek. It is a spot well chosen for 
its sufTsestions of rest and of hereafter. 

The oldest' legible inscription in this cemetery is to be found on 
a tombstone near the entrance. It reads thus : — 

' Here Lyeth the Body of 

Nkhemiah Webb, 

Son to the Rev"* Mr. Joseph Webb of Fairfield 

Who Dyed at Rye April y^ 24 1722 in the 

28* Year . . . .' 

The preservation of this epitaph for so long a time is doubtless 
due to the fact that the face of the tombstone has become much 
inclined, so as to be sheltered from the weather. There are many 
time-worn slabs around it that are probably much less ancient, 
but their records cannot be deciphered. 

The oldest inscriptions that are legible on other graves in the 
Blind Brook Cemetery, are these : — 

' In Memory of M' Elisha Budd, who died Sept. y^ 21^' 1765 in the 
60th year of his age.' 

' In Memory of M" Anne Budd, wife of Mr. Elisha Budd, who died 
Dec. 6th, 1760.' 

♦ Mr. Joseph Lyon, who died Feb. 21, 1761, in the 84th year of his 

* Sarah Lyon, wife of Joseph Lyon, died Jan. 26, 1769.' 


' In :\roiiiory of Godfrey Ilains who departed this Life July 22, 1768, 
aged ".•-■> years.' 

' In Memory of Anne wife of Godfrey Hains who departed this Life 
Fcb^ 1'.', 17;J8, aged C8 years.' 

• III Memory of Jonathan Brown, who deceased June 15, 17G8, aged 

G2 years.' 

Four tombstones in this grave-yard bear the name of Ezekiel 
II.mstkd: — 

' In ;Menu)ry of Ezekiel Ilalsted who Deseased in Rye 30''' October 
1757 in the 40th year of his Age.' 

' In Memory of Ezekiel Halsted who departed this life Feb"^ 20*'^ 
1805 in the 67"" year of his Age.' 

' Sacred to the Memory of Ezekiel Halsted who died April 18 1829 
a"cd 08 years 2 months and 13 days.' 

' Sacred to the memory of Ezekiel Halsted jr. who died August 26, 
1828, aged 41 years and 13 days. Having been a member of the 
Methodist Episcopal Church 22 years.' 

One of the tombs in this cemetery was erected — 

' In Memory of Martha wife of D"" David Rogers and daughter of the 
Rev*^ Charles Teiment, who died April 12, 1813, aged 62 years.' 

Two of the rectors of Christ Church lie buried here. Their 
graves are near the entrance of the graA^e-yard. The Reverend 
Evan Rogers, who died January 25, 1809, in his forty-second year ; 
and the Reverend William Thompson, who died August 26, 1830. 

The earliest mention of this burying-ground in our Town Rec- 
ords, occurs in a deed dated 1753. It speaks of ' y^ boring [bury- 
ing] place in Rye neck,' opposite a certain tract of land on the west 
side of the mill creek, which Samuel Purdy conveyed to his sons, 
Samuel and Caleb.^ * 

In 1761, ' Jonathan Brown inner is aloud ' [allowed] by the 
town ' the priviledge of pastring the During yard upon the Con- 
ditions that he mackes a Geat and Cuts the Brush and Keeps it 
Clear.' 2 Tiiis permission was renewed yearly until 1770. 

It seems likely that the Blind Brook Cemetery was laid out 
about tlie year 1750. An aged person has informed me that the 
hind was given to the town for this purpose by Joseph Lyon, who 
lies buried here, and who died in 1761. The fact that older 
inscriptions, like that of Mr. Webb, are to be found, may be ac- 
counted for by the supposition that bodies were removed to this 

1 Town Records, vol. D. p. 88. 

2 Records of Town Meetings, April 7, 1761. 


place from other localities, after the opening of a common burying- 

For it is quite certain that in early times the practice of main- 
taining ])rivate or fimily places of interment prevailed here, as it 
did elsewhere. Fifteen or twenty of these cemeteries are still to 
be seen, and many others have doubtless been obliterated in the 
course of manifold changes and improvements. 

The earliest allusion in our records to a family burying-ground 
is in a deed of 1741, from Joshua Brundige to Gilbert Bloomer, 
conveying his house and farm of thirty acres, on the corner of the 
Ridge Road and the road to Bloomer's mill. This property is now 
owned by Mr. Thomas Lyon. The deed in question excepts and 
reserves — 

' The liberty of a burying place at the southwesterly corner of said 
premises for the burying of my family, where some persons are already 
buried.' ^ 

This plot was to be two rods square. It lies on the north side 
of the road, nearly opposite Park's mill, and contains a number of 
graves, with dilapidated head-stones, upon most of which only here 
and there a letter can be made out. One half-buried slab bears 
the inscription : — 

'R. B. 

This was probably Robert Bloomer, the third of that name, who 
lived in this neighborhood about the year 1765. Members of the 
Merrit family are known to have been buried here, and many 
others. One well-preserved inscription is — 

' In memory of Nathaniel Brown, who departed this life April 10"" 
1801 in the 70"" year of his age.' 

The burial-place of a portion of the IvNiFFiisr family was a plot 
of ground by the road-side, on the land now owned by Mr. Quin- 
tard. This property, a century ago, belonged to Jonathan Kniffin. 
A few years since some graves could be distinguished from the road 
at the top of the hill south of Mr. Quintard's gate. They have 
been removed in order to the grading of the land. 

The principal place of interment of the Merritt family was on 
L3^on's Point, now a part, of Port Chester. This spot is on the 
north side of the street across the point, and near the brii^o-e. 
Only the more recent names and dates in this cemetery are now 

1 Town Records, vol. C. p. 208; vol. D. pp. 130, 161. 


decipherable. The tomb of John Merritt, Avho died in 1759, is 
the oldest of those that can be read. 

The cemeteries of the Lyon family are situated on Bjram 
Point, and in the neighborhood of Byram Bridge. 

The TnKAi.L burying-ground is on the property of Mr. Abra- 
ham Tlieall. 

The PuRDY family have a burying-ground on the western bank 
of Bh"iul Brook Creek, opposite the public cemetery. This is prob- 
ably one of the oldest places of interment in Rye. It contains 
many antique memorials of past generations ; but the imperfect 
records of their names have been worn away by time, and none 
prior to the present century are now legible. 

The principal burying-ground of the Budd family is said to be 
situated near the shore of the creek, on the Jay property, which 
they formerly owned. Some members of this family are interred 
in a small plot of ground on the farm of Mr. J. Griffin, North 
Street. This spot is on the west side of the road, a short distance 
from the Mamaroneck River. 

Tiiere are several family burial-places on King Street. Mem- 
bers of the Haight, Merritt, Anderson, and other families, are 
interred here. Another branch of the Anderson family have a 
burying-ground in Harrison, on the cross-road to White Plains. 

The small cemetery on the west side of Blind Brook, opposite 
Christ Church in Rye, is well known as the spot where several of 
tire rectors of that church lie buried. This, however, as we have 
already seen, was not one of the more ancient places of sepulture 
in the town, having been set apart for the purpose probably about 
the year 1760. Previous to that time, the rectors who died while 
in charge of this parish were buried underneath the church. 

The Gedney burying-place is near Mamaroneck, on the west 
side of the river. It contains the graves of some of the oldest in- 
habitants of this town. Here lies Eleazar Gedney, the ancestor, 
we presume, of that family in Rye, ' born in Boston Goverment,' 
and deceased October 27, 1722. 

Interments were formerly made, it is said, to some extent in the 
grounds adjacent to the Episcopal Church. Mr. Bolton gives an 
inscription ' taken from a tombstone found in the wall on the west 
side of the church,' to the memory of ' Mrs. Martha Marven, late 
consort of Mr. Lewis Marven, of Rye,' who died February 5, 
1707, in her thirty-ninth year. It is not probable that many per- 
sons were buried here, as the nature of the soil would render it 
unsuitable for this use. 


One of the most beautiful and interesting localities in Rye is the 
cemetery of the Jay family, on their estate. To this spot, in 1807, 
the remains of various members of that flunily were removed from 
their vault in New York. Here a monument stands ' to the mem- 
ory of John Jay.' 

The burying-ground known as The Union Cemetery of Rye, 
originated in 1837. In that year, James Barker and David 
Brooks, of Rve, bought from Benjamin Mead three acres of land, 
which they gave to the authorities of Christ Church, Rye, ' with 
a view to secure to the said Church a suitable burial place.' This 
gift included the front part of the ground on North Street or the 
White Plains Road. In conveying this property to the church, 
the donors stipulated that certain plots should be reserved as 
burial-places for the ministers of the three churches of Rye, and 
their families ; and also that two strips on the eastern and western 
sides of the ground should be appropriated as a public cemetery.^ 
In January, 1855, the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church 
of Rye bought eight acres contiguous to this tract ; and in 1864— 
68, they added more than six acres, making fourteen and a quarter 
in all. The grounds thus owned by the two congregations have 
been graded, inclosed, and laid out uniformly, with no visible sepa- 
ration between them ; and they form one of the most beautiful 
cemeteries in this part of the country. To this spot many of our 
families have brought the remains of relatives buried in other 
localities ; and here, too, many a stranger is borne from the city. 
Among these graves, one that will long be visited with interest is 
that of Alice B. Havens, whose home for the last few years of her 
short life was in a pleasant cottage on Rye Neck. Her monument, 
a cross, has the inscription : — 

' Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.' 

To the southwest of the Union Cemetery lies the ' Colored 
Cemetery ; ' a plot of one acre, the title of which is vested in the 
Trustees of Public Lands. In olden times the colored people of 
Rye had a place of interment in the Town Field, on the property 
now owned by Mr. Anderson ; and another on Budd's Neck, nearly 
opposite the house of Mr. Benjamin Mead. The latter spot is no 
longer recognizable as a place of sepulture, having been for years 
ploughed over with the surrounding field. The former contains a 
number of humble, unchronicled graves. 

1 ' A copy of the Deed of the New Cemetery,' etc. 




THE revolt of Rye and Bedford from New York in 1697 has 
been rei)resented as a step taken to avoid the payment of taxes. 
We have already seen that this was by no means the only nor in- 
deed the cliief reason for that step. In the case of this town at least 
it was due, more than to any other cause, to the oppressive course 
of the Governor and Council, in alienating from the inhabitants of 
Rye a large part of their public lands. 

But the dread of excessive taxation may well have quickened 
the peoj)le's desire to escape from the government of the province. 
Under the laws of Connecticut, they had felt no inconvenience in 
this respect. With a frugal and honest administration, the public 
charges were light. Each man was taxed according to his ability, 
and each had a voice in the regulation of public affairs. When 
transferred against their wishes to New York, from 1683 to 1607, 
the inhabitants learned something of the exactions to which that 
province was subject from rapacious and unprincipled rulers. 
Under Dongan, Nicolson, and Fletcher, they might in a measure 
anticipate the way in which public business would be conducted by 
a succession almost unbroken of worthless or incompetent men.^ 

The refractory towns were brought back just in time to come 
under the sway of one of the worst of these. Lord Cornbury. Of 
this individual it has been said that he ' did more to bring disgrace 
upon the administration of the province than all his predecessors 
together.' ' We never had,' wrote William Smith, ' a governor so 
universally detested, nor any who so richly deserved the public 
abhorrence.' ^ Part of this odium was incurred by a shameless 
appropriation of the public funds. As one of the towns taxed 

' ' Wc know,' writes an Englishman in our own clay, ' how our American colonies 
were governed 100 years ago. Their highest posts were a refuge for the needy 
hangers-on or decayed footmen of great noblemen. There was no person so slow or 
base as might not hope to be appointed an American governor, if he happen'ed to 
posscR.s a patron in high station.' {London Press, June 28, 1856.) 

2 Histori] of New York, vol. i. p. 194. 


for his benefit, Rye has some interest in the history of these spolia- 

In the office of the County Clerk at White Plains there is a 
manuscript volume entitled ' The New Receipt Book.' Its con- 
tents are tolerably dry readinir : for thev consist of nothino; more 
than the acquittances of county and other treasurers for sums paid 
to them by the town collectors early in the last century. Some 
of these receipts, however, are significant enough when collated 
with certain historic facts. And by way of illustrating the state 
of public affiiirs in which our town was concerned during the 
period preceding the Revolution, we propose to take a text for 
some historic reminiscences from this once ' New,' now old, ' Re- 
ceipt Book.' 

' Rec"^ of Jofeph Budd CoU^ of Rye in Weft-Chefler County y^ Sum 
of two pounds on account of y'' ^1800 Tax witnefs my hand this 18'*^ 
March 1703-4 Thomas Byerley ColV 

' New York May y^ 21 1703 
' Rec'^ of Jofeph Budd y'' fume of twenty pounds feaventeen fliillings 
ninepence of y^ eighteen hundred pounds Tax for y*^ town of Rye I 
fay rec"^ / Tho : Wen ham.' 

'New York, Decemb^ lo"", 1703 
' Rec"^ from Jofeph Budd ColP of Rye in f County of Weft-Chefter 
in full of both payments for y^ ;^20oo Tax y^ furii of twenty one 
pound ten lliillings witness my hand Thom^ Byerley CoW ' 

Lord Cornbury, ' a reckless adventurer, profligate and unprinci- 
pled, who had fled from England to escape the demands of his 
creditors,' came to New York in May, 1702. He was, however, 
a near kinsman of Queen Anne, who had just succeeded to the 
British throne ; and he was received by her subjects in America 
with demonstrations of loyal respect. Shortly after his arrival, 
he made an address to the Assembly which greatly pleased them ; 
and at his recommendation they made several grants of money 
for various purposes. The sura of <£ 1,800 was voted for the sup- 
port of one hundred and eighty men to defend the frontiers. 
Another appropriation was made to fortify the harbor of New 
York. And as a special token of their regard, the Assembly 
voted ,£2,000 as a present to their new governor, to defray the 
expenses of his voyage. 

Lord Cornbury must have been delighted with the easy citi- 
zens among whom he had come to dwell. He took the £-2,000 
awarded to him as a present, and the other appropriations too. 


All went into his own private purse. The fortifications were not 
coniniLMicetl ; and as war, though proclaimed by England against 
France and Spain, had not yet broken out on the frontiers of Can- 
ada, the province continued in a state of peace. But Rye, like 
the other towns, paid its quota of the £2,000 and the .£1,800 tax. 
It was not made up without difficulty, we may well suppose. 
The town cannot have numbered many more than sixty fami- 
lies. Here were .£44 to be raised for special purposes, besides the 
ren-ular county tax, which that year was X25 10s. This was a 
heavy burden. Several town meetings were held with reference 
to it. The first meeting called was in view of the XI, 800 tax. 

* Ordered that the affeffors of the town of Rye doe call a towne 
meeting to aflefs their proportion in what the faid towne fhall agree 
upon to their fatisfaftion in the eighteen hundred pounds which is 144 
pounds for this county. 

'February the 18 day 1702-3. 

by order Beniamin Collier Clark.' 

* At a lawful! towne meeting held in Rye Feb. 21, 1702-3, the towne 
doth agree to raife this affeffment as followeth that is to fay that 
every man that hath a fon or more than one 16 years old and not 
rateable efteate to make up twelve pounds for himfelf and fon or fons 
that is under his command fhall be affeffed fo as to make the value 
of each a perfon accordingly and alfo evfery perfon that is free from 
his parent whether forgerans [sojourners?] or other that hath not 12 
pounds rateable efleate in the lift fliall likewife be affeffed twelve 
pounds for the raifmg of all the rates for this year infuing.' ^ 

1 Town and Proprietors' Meeting Book, No. 3 or C. p. 23. The following action 
was taken a few months later. What the assessment referred to included, does not 
appear. But the rate list is curious in itself, and deserves a place here. 

'At a lawfull towne meeting held in Rye April the 2 day 1703, the towne hath 
agreed to raise the assessment for this year insuing as followeth 

all crista! ne male persons from 16 years old and upwards per head 12 00 00 
all Lands and medow improved per eaker 00 10 00 

all pasture land clered within fence 00 06 00 

all wood Land pasture within fence 00 03 00 

•*" °^ per head 03 00 00 

a cowc Q2 00 00 

a 3 year old 02 00 00 

a 2 year old 01 10 00 

a 03 00 00 

^ "^"""O 02 00 00 

00 06 00 
00 03 00 

swine at 


all slaves from 16 years old and upwards 12 00 00 

all mills at 30 00 00' 


'New York Decemb^ io'A 1703 
' Rec"* from Jofeph Budd ColP of Rye in y* County of Weft-Chefter 
being y^ portion due from faid Town on y* ^1500 Tax y* fum of four 
pounds nine fliillings having allowed himfelf y^ nine pences as diredled 
in faid A61; witnefs my hand Thom' Byerley CoW ' 

When the Assembly next met, in 1703, the governor had new 
demands to make. War was now imminent, and the necessity of 
preparation for defence was apparent to all. The Assembly 
voted an appropriation of XI, 500 for the erection of two batteries 
at the Narrows. They took cax'e, however, to stipulate that the 
money must be used for no other purpose whatever. The amount 
was raised ; but Lord Cornbury paid no regard to the condition. 
He used it for his own personal expenses, and declined to account 
to the Assembly. Indignant at such treatment, they declared that 
they would in future make no appropriations until a person of their 
own choice should be appointed to receive and disburse the mon- 
eys raised. 

This sum of £1,500 was levied in a peculiar manner. A poll- 
tax was imposed, and according to the terms of the act it was 
graduated as follows : Every member of the Council was to pay 
forty shillings ; an Assembly man, twenty shillings ; a lawyer in 
practice, twenty shillings ; every man wearing a periwig, five 
shillings and sixpence ; a bachelor of twenty-five years and up- 
wards, two shillings and threepence ; every freeman between the 
age of sixteen and sixty, ninepence ; the owners of slaves, for each 
one shilling. 

' New York June 20, 1723. Rec'* from Sam^ Wilfon ColF of Rey in 
Wefl-Chefter County y^ fum of ^13. 13. ^}^ purfuant an A61 of Affem- 
bly for raifing y* quantity of ;^3ooo oz. Plate for the effe6lual fmking 
& cancelling bills of credit to that value I fay rec*^ by me 

A D Peyster Ju' Treasurer'' 

' New York June 20 1723. Rec^ from Sam" Wilfon Coll' of Rey in 
Weft-Chefter County sixteen ftiillings and seven pence tax and for y® 
treafurer's falary five pence being upon y® Arrears of y* two Expedi- 
tion taxes I fay rec^ by me AD Peyster Ju"" Treasurer ' 

Lord Cornbury was succeeded as governor of New York in 
1708 by Lord Lovelace, who died Avithin five months after his 
arrival. The government devolved, until a new appointment, 
upon Major Ligoldsby, who had been lieutenant-governor under 
Lovelace. During his short administration, an expedition was 


•gotten up against Canada. A certain Colonel Vetch, who had 
been in Canada, projected the enterprise. His plans were ap- 
proved bv the ministry. The New England colonies Avere per- 
suaded to join. The design was to penetrate into Canada by way 
of Lake Chauiplain. Though the province was greatly impover- 
ished, the Assembly entered heartily into the plan. ' It was at 
this juncture,' says Smith, ' that our first act for issuing bills of 
credit was passed — an expedient without which we could not have 
contributed to the expedition, the treasury being then totally ex- 
hausted.' There Avere high anticipations of success. A body of 
four hundred and eighty-seven men, besides independent compa- 
nies, was sent to Albany and thence to the ' wood creek.' Three 
forts were built there ; one hundred bateaux and as many birch 
canoes were constructed, and six hundred Indians were main- 
tained. This force remained encamped throughout the summer, 
but broke up in the fall without effecting anything. The whole 
enterprise fell through, and the expense to the province amounted 
to .£20,000. This sum was not raised until many years after. The 
receipts which we have quoted above are dated June 20, 1723, 
when, as it seems, measures were taken for ' sinking and cancel- 
ling ' the bills of credit which had been issued for the amount. 

' New York, June 13 : 17 15. Then Receiv'd of Samuel Hunt Col- 
lector of Rye by y« Hands of Jofiah Hunt Efq-- for y^ Town of Key in 
Wefl-Chcfter County y'' fum of five Pounds nine fliillings and two 
pence halfpenny and for y« Treafurer's falary two fliillings and nine- 
pence halfpenny being on y-^ firft Paym't of y*^ ;^ 10,000 Tax w^^'^ was 
Payable the Lafl; Day of May 17 14, I fay Received by me 

A. D Peyster, Treasurer.' 

The next English governor, Robert Hunter, w^as a better man 
than most of those who had been sent over to rule the province. 
But though personally liked, he was regarded with much of the 
distrust that the people had learned to feel toward the agents of a 
government jealous of their liberties. Between the Assembly and 
Inmself a bitter controversy was waged as to the public revenues. 
They would make no appropriations for the support of the govern- 
ment except year by year. The public debt, however, had 
mcrcased to such a degree as to demand some action. A whole 
session of the Assembly was devoted to its consideration. ' In- 
credil)le were the numbers of the public creditors : new demands 
were made every day. Their amount was nearly £28,000.' To 


pay tliis l:vrn;o sum, recourse was had ao;aiu to tlie circulation of 
bills of credit. The receipt oiven above lias reference to the first 
payment on this charge. Ten payments were made in all, the 
last of which was made by ' Jonathan Haight, collector of Rye,' in 
July, 1723, amounting to <£14 6s. 9t/. 

'New York 12 yan'J 1715-16 
' Then Rec'^ of M"- Jofeph Budd Commiff of VVefl-Chefler County 
for letting y" Accys [Excise] y^ Suiii of fixteen pounds two fhillings 
and twopence farthing being in full of lafl Years Accys w*^'' was feaven- 
teen pound eighteen fliillings and ninepence three farthing I fay rec^ 
as above by mee A D : Peyster treasurer ' 

' New York 12 June 1722. Received from IVf John Stevenfon for 
ace' of M' Jofeph Budd Deceafed late Commiff of Weftchefter County 
y" Sume of thirty pounds three Ihillings and eight pence, being on 
account of y** Excife beginning from primo November 1720 to primo 
November 172 1 I fay received by me 

A D Peyster Jun' treasurer ' 

The quarrel between the Assembly and the governor continued ; 
the latter insisting on the appropriation of a permanent revenue, 
the former refusing to grant money for a longer period than a 
year. In 1715 Governor Hunter achieved a partial victory over 
the popular branch of the government. He prevailed on the 
Assembly to grant a revenue for a term of three years. This 
measure made the administration, for the time being, independent 
of the people, an object which the English governors kept in view 
with unswerving pertinacity. At the same session the Assembly 
passed ' an Excise bill on strong liquors,' which continued in force 
until the Revolution, and which was said in 1762 to brino- into the 
public treasury an annual sum of about one thousand pounds. 
Mr. Joseph Budd of Rye, the patentee of Budd's Neck, and 
grandson of the original purchaser of that tract, was commis- 
sioner of the excise for the county of Westchester. 

' New York 2 April 1723 Received from Benjamin Heaviland Coll'' 
of Ry in Wefl-Chefter County y" fuin of nine pounds feven fliillings 
and one penny purfuant an a6f of y^ General Affembly of this Prov- 
ince entituled an aft for Raifing y^ suih of five hundred pounds to 
Encourage and promote a trade with y'' remote Nations of Indians and 
for fecuring y* five Nations in his M'""^ Intrefl As alfo y* funi of three 
hundred and twenty pounds three fliilling two pence farthing advanced 
by y* feveral perfons therein named for repairing y" fortifica"' on y^ 
Frontiers I fay received by me A D Peyster ju"' Treas'' '■ 


Governor Burnet, wlio succeeded Hunter, was by flir the best 
of the governors assigned to this province. And tlie measures 
referred to in the above receipt are among the most honorable of 
his achninistration. ' Of all our governors, none,' says the histo- 
rian WiUiam Smith, ' had such extensive and just views of our 
Indian afiiiirs. He gave attention to this subject from the first, 
endeavoring to alarm the fears of the Assembly in view of the 
dailv advances of the French, their possessing the main passes, 
seducing our Indian allies,' etc. To counteract their influence, 
he recommended the establishment of trading-posts along the 
northern frontier ; a measure that led to the opening of the fur 
traffic, which became a source of such vast wealth to the city 
and the State of New York. The appropriation of five hundred 
pounds above referred to, was another measure procured by this 
sajracious governor. 

We have not room to continue our extracts from the ' New 
Receipt Book,' nor to extend our notices of old provincial times.^ 
The contest of which we have had glimpses, between the Assem- 
bly or the people and the British governors, was waged from time 
to time until within a few years of thei Revolution ; the governors 
seeking to control the public reveiuies, the people, more and more 
watchful against all attempts to curtail their liberties, persisting in 
their refusal. 

1 A ])rcvious payment of £4 4s. 2d on this tax is acknowledged in 1722. 

- Ill the shigle year 1725, Rye paid £8 19s. &d. on the first payment, and £8 18s. Od. 
on the second payment of ' the 5350 Ounces of Plate tax.' Also £16 16s. 4d. on the 
first payment of 'the £6630 tax.' The county rate paid for the same year was 
£13 19s. Od. In all £48 12s. lOd. 

From 1721 to 1724 the town paid in addition to other taxes £43 19s. iKd- in five 
instalments, 'toward building a Court house and Gaol [at Westchester] for the 
County of Westchester.' 

The county rate was generally much higher than the above. In 1721 it amounted 
to £62 6s. 9}id. 

Eye Ferry. 

Uuiusu by the I'erry. 



ABOUT One of the Clock in the Morning of Sun- 
day the firfl of April Inflant, the Dwelling Houfe 
of Major Hachaliah Brown in Rye, took Fire, and burnt 
down ; the Family being afleep, before they awaked 
the Fire was fo advanced, that their Lives were en- 
dangered, and had not Time to fave but a very few Arti- 
cles above Stairs, and a Part of the Goods below. 
Major Brown had the Misfortune to have his Houfe, 
and almoft all his Furniture burnt about ten Years ago ; 
at which Time his Lofs was judged to be upwards of 
One Thoufand Pounds. Altho' his fecond Lofs is not 
fo great as the firfl, being about Five Hundred Pounds, 
a Circumftance attending it makes it more melancholly, 
viz. His fuppofing, and there being little or no Reafon 
to doubt, its being fet on Fire by fome wicked Perfon, 
who feemed to have a particular Malice at the Major, 
the Fire being fet to the Corner of the Houfe where he 
flept ; but had not the Smoke awoke him as it did, his 
two Sons and two Grand Children, and a young Woman 
in the Chamber, who were all in a found Sleep in that 


dead Time of Night, and with fome Difficulty, awaked 
by him, in a few Minuets must have all peridied in the 
flames, with a Number of Servants. It is a dreadful 
Coniideration not only to him, but to the Neighbour- 
hood, that there fliou'd be a Perfon in it, undifcovered, fo 
utterly loft to all Humanity, as to be guilty of an Attempt 
to deftroy not only the Eftate but the lives of Men, 
Women and innocent Children.-^ 

Tliis sad event was undoubtedly the great theme of comment 
for months in our village a hundred years ago. Major Brown's 
liouse stood on the site of the liouse where his grandson, the late 
Ilachaliah Brown, died in 18G1. The present building, now tlie 
residence of C. V. Anderson, Esq., is said to have been erected 
four years after the fire — in 1774. 

lloGER Park was one of the notabilities of this place a century 
ago. His farm of two hundred and forty acres lay north of Major 
Brown's, in the old Town Field. Part of it is now owned by Mr. 
Greacen, and a portion of his house is still standing in the rear of 
Mr. Greacen's residence. Mrs. Park was a daughter of John Dis- 
brow, and brought Iier husband a considerable fortune. She is 
said to liave owned one of the only two carriages — it was a two- 
wheeled chaise — that had yet been seen in Rye. 

Next to these gentlemen, perhaps tlie largest proprietor on 
Peningo Neck at this time, was Philemon Halsted. He lived 
in the house which is still standing on the corner of the Milton 
Road and the road to the Beach, and owned the farm on both 
sides of the latter road, now the Newberry Halsted estate. His 
nephew Ezekiel, who had lately sold this property to Philemon, 
bought in 1771 the land further south, now Mr. George L. 
Coi-nell's and Mr. Underbill Halsted's. South of this, the greater 
part of the Neck was owned by David Brown, third son of Hach- 
aliah. The little village of Milton had not yet sprung up. Lyon's 
mill had probably ceased to exist, and not more than two or three 
liouses stood along the creek below. Sloops landed on the oppo- 
site side of the Neck from the present dock, at ' Kniffin's Cove,' 
where there was still a dock, and where formerly there had been 
a ' warehouse ' or store. 

Another large proprietor, Josiah Purdy, had now^ been dead 
some years. His son, Seth Purdy, had succeeded to his estate. 
He owned the lands on both sides of the post-road, above the vil- 

1 The Nnu York Journal, or the General Advertiser. Printed and published by John 
Holt, nciuthc Exchange, Thursday, April 19, 1770. 


lage, from ' tlie Cedars ' to Blind Brook. Josiah Purdy's house 
stood a few rods north of the Park Institute, close upon the road. 

JoNATHAX Kxiffin's farm in 1770 bordered upon the post- 
mad above Regent Street, and extended northward to Purciiase 
Avenue. Regent Street was tlien called ' Kniffin's lane.' It led 
to his house, which stood on the west side of the lane, opposite 
Mrs. A. Slier wood's barn ; the old well still remains. This farm 
included the land now owned by Mr. Quintard. It was Jonathan 
Kniffin's daughter who was so cruelly murdered on the highway 
near Rye, in 1777. 

Mr. Peter Jay was living at this time on the estate which he 
had bought twenty-five years before, at Rye, from John Budd's 
grandson. The Jay mansion stood nearly on the site of the 
present house. It was a long, low building, but one room deep, 
and eighty feet in width, having attained this size by repeated 
additions to suit the wants of a numerous family. Here John 
Jay, now a young man of twenty-five, had spent his childhood ; 
going from this pleasant home when eight years old to school at 
New Rochelle, and when fourteen to King's College, in New York. 
He was now a rising young lawyer in the city, having been ad- 
mitted to the bar two vears before, in 1768. John was the eio-hth 
of ten children. Two of these, an older brother and sister, were 
blind, having been deprived of their sight by the small-pox. It 
was for the benefit of these children that Mr. Jay had removed to 
the country. Here Peter and his blind sister spent their days. 
She died in 1791 ;i her brother in 1813. When Dr. Dwight 
visited Rye in IblO he saw this gentleman, of whom, in his pub- 
lished Travels, he has given a most interesting account. ^ Some 
of our aged people retain vivid recollections of the wonderful in- 
genuity and sagacity which he displayed, notwithstandino- his 

Mr. Jay, the father, must have exerted a marked influence in 
our little community. He is said to have been a man of sincere 
and fervent piety, of cheerful temper and warm affections, and of 

1 The foUowiiif^ appeared in the Neiv York Daily Advertiser, September 9, 1791 : 
' On Sunday evening last (Sept. 4.), departed this life, in the 54th year of her age, at 
her brother Peter Jay's seat at Rye, Miss Anne M. Jay, a Lady whose excellent 
understanding, and nniforni beneficence and piety rendered her very estimable. 
AUho' she enjoyed a handsome income, far beyond her wants, and was frugal ; yet 
she never added to her estate, but constantly employed the residue in doing good. 
Among other legacies dictated by humanity and benevolence, she has bequeathed one 
hundred pounds to the Episcopal Church at Rye.' 

'^ Travels in New England and New York, by Timothy Dwight, S. T. D., LL. D, 
New Haven, 1822 : vol. iii. p. 487. 

210 A HUNDRED YEARS AGO. fjoocl sense; 'a slirewd observer and admirable judge of 
nuMi ; resolute, })ersevering, and prudent ; an affectionate father, a 
kind master, but governing all under his control with mild but 
:il)S()lute sway.' Mrs. Jay was a lady of cultivated mind. ' Mild 
and affectionate, she took delight in the duties as well as the 
pleasures of domestic life ; while a cheerful resignation to the will 
of Providence, during many years of sickness and suffering, bore 
witness to the strength of her religious f\\ith.' ^ 

The u])i)er part of Budd's Neck was owned, a century ago, 
chieflv by the Turdys and Thealls. Captain Joshua Purdy lived 
in the house now owned by Mr. William Purdy. He was highly 
esteemed by his fellow-townsmen. Like many of them, he 
adhered to the government side in the great struggle which soon 
followed ; and in 1776 was a prisoner at the White Plains. The 
chairman of the Committee of Safety wrote, August 20, recom- 
mendin(T his release, as ' a man of influence, toward whom lenity 
would be advisable,' though he had "■ never been friendly to the 
American cause.' '"^ Mr. Purdy lived until near the close of the 
last ceiiturv. At his funeral, the brief eulogy was pronounced 
over iiim, 'A kind husband, a faithful master, a father to the poor, 
a j)illar to the Church.' 

CnAKLES Theall was living at the time in the house now Mr. 
B. Mead's, where probably his grandfather, Captain Joseph Theall, 
had lived eighty years before. Charles owned a farn) said to have 
measured ' a mile square.' Tins he divided, before his death 
eight years later, among his four sons. Gilbert, the eldest, was 
living on the west side of the brook, opposite the house where Mr. 
Corning resides. North of his farm lay the new ])arsonage land, 
a part of the late Rev. James Wetmore's farm, which he had left 
eleven years earlier for this use. James Wetmore, his son, lived 
north of this, where Mrs. Buckley lives ; and Timothy W^etmore, 
now a leading man in Rye, lived in the old Square House. 

In Harrison's Precinct, as it was called, on the border of Budd's 
Neck, Mr. David Haight, one of the largest proprietors, was liv- 
ing in 1770. His house stood, its gable close to the road-side, on 
North Street, by the gate to Mr. Josiah Macy's place. He was 
now almost seventy, and lived to be nearly a hundred years old. 

In the northern part of the town, Judge Thomas was the 
most i)rominent personage. His estate in ' Rye Woods ' was large, 

' The Lifa of John Jay, by his son, William Jay. In two volumes. New York, 
1833 : vol. i. \)\i. 10, 11. 
■^ American Archives, fourth series, vol. i. p. 1524. 


and fiinilsliccl with a goodly number of slaves. His eldest son, 
John Thomas, junior, was at this time supervisor of the town, as 
well as justice of the peace, and farmer of the excise for tlie 
county. The dwelling of Judge Thomas — from which a few 
years after the venerable proprietor was to be dragged by a party 
of British troops, to die in prison in New York — was a home of 
comfort and hospitality. This family, with the Jays in the lower 
part of the town, held a commanding position among the inhabit- 
ants of Rye. Both families espoused the patriotic side in the con- 
test of the Revolution ; and during the earlier years of the war, 
at least, their influence was greatly felt in its behalf. 

Among the topics of village talk in 1770, perhaps the chief was 
the ])lan fur establishing a Fair at Rye. We have a striking proof 
of the chano;e that a century has wroucrht in men and manners, in 
the interest which this scheme awakened. An old English cus- 
tom, of which we know scarcely anything at present, was so highly 
appreciated by tlie Browns and Halsteds, the Parks and Purdys of 
those days, that they joined with many others in a petition on the 
subject, addressed, ' To his Excellency the Right Hon'*''' John Earl 
of Dunmore, Commander in Chief in and over the Province of 
New York.' This petition purports to come from ' a great Num- 
ber of the Princi[)al and other Inhabitants in the Town of Rye ; ' 
and it ' humbly shows ' that by an act of the Assembly passed 
many years before. Rye had been declared entitled to the benefit 
of holding a fair once in every year. It was to be held in the 
month of October, and the object was ' for selling of all Country 
Produce and other effects whatsoever.' The inhabitants represent 
that they have never before applied to have the fair held, as tliey 
had a right ; ' hut now, believing the keeping of a Fair as afore- 
said in said Town of Rye would be of general service to said 
Town,' they humbly pray his Excellency that he ' would please 
to appoint Doctor Ebenezer Haviland of said Rye to be Gov- 
ernor, and to have full power according to said Act of Assembly, 
to keep and hold a Fair in said R3'e in the month of October next.' 
This petition was signed by ffty-seven inhabitants, and was duly 
presented to Governor Dunmore in April, 1771. His Excellency 
graciously appointed Dr. Haviland to be governor of such a fair, 
to be kept at Rye on the second Tuesday in October, yearly, and 
to end the Friday next following, being in all four days, aixl no 

The act to which the petitioners referred was passed in 1692, 


and was entitled 'an act for settling Fairs and Markets in each 
respective City and County throughout tlie province.' It provided 
that in the county of Westchester there sliould be held and kept 
two fairs yearly ; tlie one in the town of Westchester on the sec- 
ond Tuesday in May, and the other at Rye on the second Tues- 
dav in October. Such fairs had been held from time immemorial 
in England, as in other countries ; indeed they are still maintained 
to some extent. We do not know how far the English custom 
was carried out here ; but there is reason to suppose that a con- 
siderable amount of traffic was carried on at these times. 

A hundred years have wrought great changes in the outward 
ap])earance of our town. But in the character of the population, 
their manners and customs, their habits, ideas, and convictions, 
a far greater change has taken place. A century ago the inhab- 
itants of Rye had few interests that reached beyond the limits of 
their own town. Most of them, probably, had never extended 
their travels further than the city of New York. The first stage- 
coach had not as yet made its appearance on our post-road upon 
its way to Boston, though doubtless the proposal to run such a 
vehicle next year was already the talk of the neighborhood. Rye 
Fekry was still in operation. The road leading to it past Strang's 
tavern, and up the hill by the church, was more frequented than 
any other. Oyster Bay and other towns on Long Island were in 
easy and frequent communication by this route. ' Friends ' from 
Harrison, and other fiirmers from King Street and the Plains, 
made use of it not unfrequently ; and the store kept at the House 
by the Ferry seems to have been the resort of their Avives and 
daughters- as well, in pursuit of ' Calicoes, Ribbands, Fans, Gloves, 
Necklaces, Looking Glasses,' etc., which were kept there for sale, 

A century aijo. Rye Beach was a favorite resort for pleasure- 
seekers of a different class from those who mostly congregate there 
at present. A New York paper of April 6th, 1775, contains the 
following item of news: — 

'On the nth day of March laft, there 
came on, before Peter Guion, Efq ; at Befley's 
Tavern, at New Rochelle, a trial about a dif- 
puted Horfe race that had been run on Rye 
Flats ; one of the parties demanded a Jury, 
and the Juftice accordingly iffued a Procefs 
for the Purpofe — A number of the inhab- 


itants were fuinmoned and appeared, but 
unanimoufly refufed to be fworn, declaring, 
that as Horfe racing .was contrary to the 
Affociation of the Congrefs, they would never 
ferve as Jurors in any fuch caufe, and that if 
the Juftice thought proper to commit them, 
they would go to gaol. — In fliort, the Juftice 
was obliged to try the caufe himfelf.' ^ 

A hundred years ago the events of the French and Indian 
War were fresh in the recollection of our people. That struggle 
had closed only ten years before. A number of persons from this 
town had served in it. The muster-rolls of companies raised in 
Westchester County in 1758 and 1759,^ contain the names of 
thirty-four or thirty-five men whose ' place of birth ' was Rye.^ 
Most of these were very young men, some of them mere boys. Un- 
doubtedly, many others went from this town in the course of that 
war ; but the muster-rolls for the earlier campaigns do not specify 
the place where the recruits belonged. Not a few of the returned 
soldiers afterwards settled in the neighborhood of Lake Champlain 
and Lake George. The conquest of Canada in 1760 was followed 
by a considerable emigration, encouraged by the large grants of 
land which the government made to parties applying for them. 
Among these applicants were some eighty families, mostly from 
Westchester County, New York. Dr. William Hooker Smith, 
son of the venerable Presbyterian minister of Rye, was among the 
leaders of the enterprise ; and several others were from Rye.'* 
How many of these petitioners actually removed 'to the northern 
frontier,' we do not know ; but it is a matter of tradition that sev- 
eral families from this town emigrated 'after the French war' to 

1 Holt's New York Journal, April 6, 1775. The Continental Congress had dis- 
countenanced horse-racing and gambling, with other practices conducive to extrava- 
gance and dissipation. 

'■^ Communicated by Dr. O'Callaghan. 

^ These were Ezekiel Brundage, aged 27 ; Abr. Lyon, 22 ; Jonath. Merrit, 23 ; 
Ezckiel Merrit, 23; Arnold Slaughter, 17; John Taylor, junior, 21 ; Thomas Tay- 
lor, 21 ; Sam. Lane, 22 ; Peter Rickey, 28 : Arthur Veal, 20 ; Isaac Brigg, 19 ; Silas 
Sherwood, 36 ; Jos. Dickens, 19 ; Jon. Loundsbury, 20 ; Val. Loundsbury, 21 ; Jas. 
Gue, junior, 31 ; Jacob Rock, 23 ; John Budd, 27 ; Thos. Daniels, 29 ; Alir. Hoight, 
17; Peter Dusenberry, 19;' Reuben Lane, 16; Nath. Hair, 17; Thos. Paldin, 20; 
Jer. Ricker, 28; Caleb Sherwood, 19; Jos. Haight, 20 ; Elisha Merrit, 18; Cato 
Thomas, 21 ; Jon. Merrit, 48; Peter Merrit, 19; David Kniffen, 44; Jos. Williams, 
18; Amos Quarters, 16; Jos. Merrit, 24. 

* Petition of Wm. Hooker Smith and others for a grant of 51,000 acres near Lake 
Champlain, March 5, 1760. (Land Papers in Office of Secretary of State, Albany, 
vol. XV. p. 163.) 


tlmt rorrioii. An old inliabitant remembers liearing in his youth 
that ' a good many went from Rye as recruits at the time of the 
French war, and afterwards settled about Lake Champlain.' He 
tells me also that when a boy he once accompanied a relative upon 
a journey on horseback, ' all the way up to Warren County,' to 
obtain the interest upon certain mortgages which he held on prop- 
erty tlu're. 

The French War constituted a mem.orable period in the history 
of our land. It brought upon the colonies a burden of debt which 
would seem to be one of the heaviest calamities that a new and 
poor country could experience. And the very exertions put forth 
bv the Americans to carry on that war, and to meet their liabiHties 
for its support, led the British government to impose still heavier 
burdens on a people whose resources appeared to be so great. But 
this contest also tauglit the colonies a most salutary and indis- 
pensable lesson. It inured many of our people to the scenes, and 
gave many of them some knowledge of the science of warfare, 
which proved invaluable to them in a time of need, now near at 




Siuftuis Hill 




' The hearts 
Of all his people shall revolt from him, 
-And kiss the lips of unactiuainted change.' 

King John. 

rnHE revolutionary history of Rye deserves to be written. Not 
-L a few events of interest occurred here and in the region 
round about. At several periods in the course of the war this 
place was occupied by British or American forces, while at other 
times it lay between the opposing armies encamped ' above ' or 
' below.' And from the fact of its proximity to New York, and its 
position on the highway to Connecticut, Rye was exposed through- 
out the whole war to inconveniences of which we can but faintly 
conceive at the present day. 

It is well known that no part of our country suffered more dur- 
ing the Revolution than the southern portion of Westchester 
County: 'the Neutral Ground, as it was called, but subjected,* 
says Mr. Irving, ' from its vicinity to the city, to be foraged by 
the royal forces, and plundered and insulted by refugees and 


tories.' ' No reo-ioii,' lie nclds, ' was more harried and trampled 
down by rriend and foe,' than this debatable ground.^ 

These tronblous times onght to be remembered. Perhaps it is 
within the narrow scoj^e of a local historj^ giving particulars for 
which the general historian cannot find room, that we may gain 
some of the most definite views of those hardships which were a 
part of the 'great sum' with which our fathers obtained their 

The policy of England with reference to the American colonies 
had long been of a jiature to produce uneasiness in the minds of 
the more intelligent classes. The English who came hither were 
from the first unwilling to be considered as having lost any of the 
rights they had possessed at home. One of the privileges regard- 
iucr which they were most tenacious, was that of taking part in 
framing the laws by which they were to be governed. It was held 
at an earlv day that ' no law of England ought to be binding ' upon 
the peoj)le of the colonies 'without their own consent; ' and as 
they were not allowed a representation in the British Parliament, 
they claimed that all enactments of Parliament for the colonies 
were without force until assented to by the colonial Assemblies. 
This claim was especially insisted upon in regard to measures for 
their taxation. Money, according to the American view, could 
not be raised on English subjects without their consent. ' The 
sole right,' declared the Massachusetts House of Representatives 
in 1764, ' of giving and granting tlie money of the people of that 
province, was vested in them as their legal representatives.' ^ 

Little account, however, was made in England of the pretensions 
of the colonists to an equality of rights as subjects of the crown. 
It became necessary to increase the revenue of the kingdom ; and 
the British ministry determined to do this by means of a tax on 
the people of America. The French War had left the colonies 
heavily burdened. Their Assemblies had voted the large sums of 
money, as well as the large forces of men, required to carry it on. 
In 1762 the public debt of New York was X 300,000 and the 
population of the province was taxed £40,000 per annum to dis- 
charge it ; yet the Assembly granted a new appropriation de- 
manded by England for the support of the army.^ But the gov- 

^ Life of Wdsliiiu/ton, vol. iv. p. 10. 

■■' Ilislorij of l/ie Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United 
States of America. In four volumes. By William Gordon, D. D. London, 1788: 
vol. i. p. 148. 

•■' Histor;, of the New Netherlands, Province of New York, and State of New York, to 
the Adoption of the Federal Constitution. In two volumes. By William Dunlap. 
New York, 1839 : vol. i. p. 408. 


ernment was not satisfied with tlie willincrness of the colonies to 
tax themselves. The power of Great Britain to tax them without 
their consent, must be asserted and maintained.^ In March, 1765, 
Parliament passed the Stamp Act. This law, which provided for 
the raising of a revenue in the colonies by requiring the use of 
paper bearing a government stamp for every legal or commercial 
instrument in writing, produced so much disturbance, and awak- 
ened so much opposition botl\ in England and in America, that it 
was repealed the next year. But the determination to tax the 
Americans was by no means abandoned. In 1767 a bill was passed 
imposing duties upon tea and certain other articles imported from 
Great Britain into the colonies. This law, more directly than any 
other measure, led to the outbreak of the Revolution. A passive 
resistance was offered throughout the country, to the designs of 
the government, by an agreement of the people not to import the 
articles upon which this tax had been laid. The first meeting 
held for the j)urpose of entering into such an agreement took place 
in Boston, October 28, 1767, and was followed by similar meetings 
in the towns of Connecticut and in New York. The firmness 
and self-denial with which these resolutions were very generally 
carried out, tended greatly to increase a spirit of self-reliance and 
independence in the popular mind. 

Other measures of the British government excited the colonists 
to more violent resistance. The Stamp Act, which was received 
with riotous demonstrations in various places, had been accom- 
panied by another bill quite as offensive, which remained in force 
when the former act was repealed. This bill obliged the several 
Assemblies of the provinces to provide quarters for the British 
troops maintained in America, and to furnish them with sundry 
supplies, at the expense of each province. New York refused to 
make any appropriation for this purpose ; and Parliament, to pun- 
ish the refractory colonists, passed a law depriving the province 
of New York of all powers of legislation until its orders should 
have been complied with. This was an infringement of their 
liberties which greatly alarmed the colonists. About the same 
time, their irritation was increased by the stringent measures taken 
with a view to the enforcement of the revenue laws. Under the 
oppressive and arbitrary system of duties which had been estab- 
lished, smuggling had come to be considered as a mattei- of course. 
The colonists, denied all participation in the making of laws which 
affected their interests, thought it no wrong to evade those which 
1 Dunlap's History of New York, vol. i. p. 408. 


were manifestly unreasonable and injurious. The attempt at this 
moment to enforce them led to repeated disturbances, especially 
in Huston and New York. These various acts of the British gov- 
ernment tended to one result, which every deed of violence and 
bloodshed hastened — the union of the colonies in a pronounced 
opposition to the control of the mother country. 

We can imagine with what interest the news of public events 
at this ])eriod nuist have been received by the inhabitants of Rye. 
The doings of Parliament ; the meetings of the Colonial Congress ; 
the jtroceedings of the ' sons of Liberty ; ' the outrages of the 
British soldiery ; the risings of the exasperated people, — these and 
othei* tidings came from week to week to our quiet neighborhood, 
in the columns of the small weekly gazettes, whose dingy pages 
now wear such an old-fashioned look to us as we open their treas- 
ured files, but which to them were so full of fresh and lively import. 
Of course the progress of affairs was watched with various feelings. 
There were Avarm partisans of the British cause at Rye ; and 
there were also those who earnestly espoused the people's side. 
The prevailing mood, however, was one of uncertainty. Most of 
the iidiabitants stood as yet in doubt with reference to the growing 
dispute. Many, Avhilst they disapproved of the 'ministerial ' policy, 
and regretted the acts which were exciting so much opposition, 
looked with even more displeasure upon the course pursued by the 
majority. The thought of resistance to law, and revolt from the 
mother country, was abhorrent to their minds.^ 

In 1774 the first recorded action of our inhabitants took place, 
at a patriotic meeting held on the tenth of August. The occasion 
of this meeting was the closing of the port of Boston. The 
British government persisting in the determination to tax the 
colonies, the people had now combined very generally to resist 
taxation by pledging themselves not only to refrain from buying 
or selling the taxed article of tea, but also as far as possible to 
prevent its importation. The famous ' tea-party ' occurred in 
Boston on the sixteenth of December, 1773 ; and in punishment 
of that daring act the government declared the port of Boston to 
be closed. Upon this, public meetings were held throughout the 
colonies, renewing the agreement against the use of tea, and ex- 
pressing sympathy with the people of that town. Such a meeting 

1 The hard case of one of our inhabitants may illustrate a bewilderment which 
must have prevailed in many minds. In July, 1776, ' Alexander Stewart, mariner, 
late of Dundee in North Britain, at present of Kye in Westchester County,' having 
been drafted as one of the militia of that county, claims exemption as a subject of 
thchtnpof Great Britain. 'He is exempted -but is taken into custodv as such.' 
[American Archives, 4th series, vol. i. p. 1456.) 


was held in New York on the evening of July Gth, 1774 ; and on 
the tenth of August, — 

' The Freeholders and Inhabitants of the township of Rye ' met and 
' made choice of John Thomas jun., Esq., James Ilorton jnn., Esq., 
Robert Bloomer, Zeno Carpenter, and Ebenezer Ilaviland, for a Com- 
mittee to consult and determine with the Committees of the other 
Towns and Districts in the County of Westchester, upon the Expedi- 
ency of sending one or more Delegates to the Congress to be held in 
Philadelphia on the first Day of September next. The Committee 
after making Choice of Ebenezer Haviland, Chairman, expressed 
their Sentiments and Resolutions in the following Manner, which were 
unanimously approved of: — 

' This Meeting being greatly alarmed at the late Proceedings of the 
British Parliament, in order to raise a Revenue in America, and con- 
sidering their late most cruel, unjust, and unwarrantable Act for block- 
ing up the Port of Boston, having a direct Tendency to deprive a free 
People of their most valuable Rights and Privileges, an Introduction 
to subjugate the Inhabitants of the English Colonies, and render them 
Vassals to the British House of Commons, 

' Resolve first. That they think it their greatest Happiness to live 
under the illustrious House of Hanover, and that they will stedf;astly 
and uniformly bear true and faithful Allegiance to his Majesty King 
George the Third, under the Enjoyments of their constitutional Rights 
and Privileges, as fellow Subjects with those in England. 

' Second. That we conceive it a fundamental Part of the British 
Constitution, that no Man shall be taxed but by his own Consent, or 
that of his Representative in Parliament ; and as we are by no Means 
represented, we consider all Acts of Parliament imposing Taxes on 
the Colonies, an undue exertion of Power, and subversive of one of 
the most valuable Privileges of the English Constitution. 

' Third. That it is the Opinion of this Meeting, that the Act of 
Parliament for shutting up the Port of Boston, and divesting some of 
the Inhabitants of private Property, is a most unparalelled, rigorous 
and unjust Piece of Cruelty and Despotism. 

' Fourth. That Unanimity and firmness of Measures in the Colonies, 
are the most effectual Means to secure the invaded Rights and Privi- 
leges of America, and to avoid the impending Ruin which now threatens 
this once happy Country. 

' Fifth. That the most effectual Mode of redressing our Grievances, 
will be by General Congress of Delegates from the different Colonies, 
and that we are willing to abide by such Measures as they in their 
Wisdom shall think most conducive upon such an important Occasion. 

' By Order of the Committee, 

Ebenezer Haviland, Chairman.'^ 

1 New York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, Monday, August 15, 1774. The 


We do not learn wliere this meetino; was held in Rye, nor how 
numerously it was attended. Possibly it took place at Dr. Havi- 
latid's, the ' noted tavern,' which was the ftivorite resort of our 
citizens in those days ; the small green in front of which would 
offer them a convenient place of concourse. 

But the action of this meeting made uo small stir among the 
people of live. Opinions were divided as to the wisdom of the 
resolutions passed. They were moderate enough certainly, but 
there was danger lest they might be misunderstood. To prevent 
this, a paper was gotten up, six weeks after the meeting of August 
10th, and signed by a large proportion of the inhabitants, whose 
names ajipear attached to it in Rivington's ' New York Gazetteer ' 
of October loth, 1774 : — 

' Rye, Septemhtr 24, 1774. 

' We the subscribers, freeholders and inhabitants of the town of Rye, 
in the County of Westchester, being much concerned with the unhappy 
situation of public affairs think it our duty to our King and country to 
declare, tliut we have not been concerned in any resolutions entered 
into, or measures taken, v.ith regard to the disputes at present subsist- 
ing with the mother coimtry: we also testify our dislike to many hot 
and furious proceedings, in consequence of said disputes, which we 
think are more likely to ruin this once happy country, than remove 
grievances, if any there are. 

' We also declare our great desire and full resolution to live and die 
peaceable subjects to our gracious sovereign King George the third, and 
his laws.' ^ 

same jiaper contains the following item: 'We hear from Harrison's Purchase, in 
Westclicstcr County, that on the 2nd Instant, the Inhabitants of that Precinct met, 
enter'd into spirited Resolves, which include a Non-importatiou Agreement, and are 
similar to those of the other Colonies.' 

1 (Signed) Isaa;; Gidney, Daniel Erwin, Philemon Halsted, Abraham Wetmore, 
Roger Park, James Biidd, John Collum, Roger Kniffen, Thomas Kniften, Henry 
Bird, John Hawkins, Gilbert Merritt Esq"", Robert Mcrrit, Andrew Mcrrit, John 
Carhart, Roger Mcrrit, Archibald Tilford, Israel Seaman, Isaac Anderson, Adam 
Seaman, William Hall, John Willis, Rievers Morrel, Capt. Abraham Bush, Nehe- 
miah Sherwood, Abraham Miller, Andrew Lion, William Crooker, Jonathan Kniffen, 
James Jamison, Andrew Carhart, John Buvelot, Thomas Brown, Seth Purdy, Gil- 
bert Thacll, Gilbert Thaell Jun"-, Dishbury Park, Isaac Brown, Joseph Merrit Jun'', 
Major James Ilorton, Peter Florence, Jonathan Gedney, Nathaniel Sniffcn, William 
Armstrong, John Guion, Sol. Gidney, James Hains, Elijah Hains, Bartholomew 
Ilains, Thomas Thaell, John Affrey, Gilbert Hains, Dennis Lary, Hack. Purdy, 
Joshua Purdy, Roger Purdy, Charles Thaell Esqr, James Wetmore, Gilbert Brun- 
didge, Jolin Kniffen, William Brown, Joseph Clark, John Park, Joseph Purdy, James 
Gedney, Joshua Gedney, Jonathan Budd, James Purdy, Ebenezer Brown, Ebenezer 
Brown Jun', John Adee, John Slater, Henry Slater, Nathaniel Purdy, Benjamin 
Kniffen, Andrew Kniffen, Joseph Wilson, Nehemiah Wilson, Thomas Wilson, Ben- 
jamin "Wilson, Gilbert Morris Jun"", Timothy Wetmore Esq"", James Hart. 


This publication only increased the trouble. Some of the 
signers seem to have been grievously disturbed at the sight of 
their own names in print. Forthwith the following explanatory 
statement appears, emanating from fifteen of the number : — 

' Rye, October 17, 1774.1 
' We the subscribers, having been suddenly and unwarily drawn in to 
sign a certain paper published in Mr. liivingtons Gazetteer, of the 13th 
instant; and being now, after mature deliberation, fully convinced that 
we acted preposterously, and without adverting properly to the matter 
in dispute between the mother country and her Colonies, arc therefore 
sorry that we ever had any concern in said paper, and we do by these 
presents utterly disclaim every part thereof, except our expression of 
loyalty to the King, and obedience to the constitutional laws of the 
Realm.' ^ 

Mr. Timothy Wetmore, a son of the late rector of Rye, and a 
man of considerable influence in the place, explained his views in 
a statement of his own shortly after : — 


' The above paper like many others, being liable to nu'sconstruclion 
and having been understood by many to import a recognition of a rioht 
in the Parliament of Great Britain to bind America in all cases what- 
soever, and to signify that the Colonics laboured under no cjrievances, 
which is not the sense I meant to convey — I think it my duty to ex- 
plain my sentiments upon the subject, and thereby prevent future mis- 
takes — It is my opinion that the Parliament have no right to tax 
America, tho' they have a right to regulate the Trade of the empire — 
I am further of opinion, that several acts of Parliament are grievances, 
and that the execution of them ought to be opposed in such manner as 
may be consistent with the duty of a subject to our sovereign : tho' I 
cannot help expressing my disapprobation of many violent proceedings 
in some of the colonies. Dated the 3'^ of November 1774. 

Timothy Wetmore.' 

The next appearance in print is that of a furious patriot of Rye, 
who issues an address, of which we give a part in spite of its coarse- 
ness, as a sample of the violence of the times : — 

' Americana, No. 1. To the Knaves and Fools in the Town of Rye, 
and first to the Fools. — What in the world could have put it in your 
heads, that it was better to have your faces blacked and be Negroes and 

1 American Archives, fourth series, vol. i. p. 803. 

2 (Signed) Abniliam Miller, William Crooker, James Jameson, Andrew Garehart, 
John Buflot, William Brown, Gilbert Brundige, Israel Seaman, John Willis, Adam 
Seaman, Andrew Lyon, Gilbert Mcrritt, John Garehart, John Slater, Isaac Anderson. 


Iwasfs of bunlni for people in England, than to live and die lii<e your /ore- 
f(Uhers in a state of freedom ? I really could not have believed that 
\here had been so many asses in all America, as there appears to be in 
vour little paltry Town. Instead of Bye Town, let it hereafter be called 
Simple Town. It seems you are such geese as not to know when you 
are oppressed, and when you are not 

' And upon whose anvil pray, was that ivise scheme of yours ham- 
niered out? — a blundering politician of a blacksmith, they say, was 
your nursing Father upon this occasion. If king George was to make a 
Law, that he should [shoe] all your horses gratis, this dunce of a black- 
smith, I suppose would have no objection ; and there certainly is just as 
much reason for obliging this blacksmith to find shoes for your horses, 
as there is in obliging you to find bread and butter for the great men 
in England. 

' And are you really siJhj enough now to plough like a parcel of Oxen 
for vour masters, and let slavery and wretchedness go down upon your 
children, and give your latest posterity reason to wish you had been all 
to the Devil before you set your names to the death warrant of their 
rights and liberties? If you had got three grains of sense, you Avould 
have done as one of the most sensible men among you did, I mean Mr. 
Wetmore. For shame ! for shame ! fye upon ye, fye upon ye ! ' 

Such arguments were not convincing. We are apt to suppose 
that the language of abuse and violence was peculiar to the tories 
of the Revolution. A perusal of the newspapers of the day would 
show tliat both parties could deal in this species of warfare. 

But the time of indecision with reference to the great dispute 
was now hastening to an end. On tlie fifth of September, 1774, 
the Colonial Congress met in Philadelphia, and adopted a Declara- 
tion of Rights, setting fortli the just claims of the Americans, and 
j)etiti()ning for the redress of tlieir grievances. These representa- 
tions were unheeded in England. The government was resolved 
to compel obedience, if necessary, by military force. Tiie people 
began to prepare for the approaching contest. 

The battle of Lexington occurred on the nineteenth of April, 
1775. On the tenth of May, the second Continental Congress 
met in Philadelphia. Among the delegates to that body was John 
Tiiomas, junior, Esq., of Rye. Congress took measures at once 
to raise an army, and Washington was appointed commander-in- 

New York was required by the Continental Congress to con- 
trd)ute her quota of three thousand men. Four regiments were 
raised in the province. 


Tlie cull for soldiers was proni])tly responded to in this town. 
Three companies were formed, mostly within the limits of Rye, 
which as yet included Harrison and the White Plains. These 
companies were embraced in the ' South Battalion of Westciiester 
Countv.' The officers chosen were the followino; : ^ — 

' 1. Mamaroneck and Rye, except the upper end of King Street : 
Robert Bloomer, captain ; Alexander Hunt, first lieutenant ; Eze- 
kiel Halsted, second lieutenant ; Daniel Horton, ensign. 

'■ 2. Scarsdale, White Plains, and Brown's Point : Joshua Hat- 
field, captain ; James Verrian, first lieutenant ; Anthony Miller, 
second lieutenant ; John Falconer, ensign. 

'3. Harrison's Precinct^ and the upper end of King Street: 
Henry Dusinberry, captain ; Lyon Miller, first lieutenant ; Caleb 
Paulding Horton, second lieutenant; Gilbert Dusinberry, ensio-n.' 

One of the first of those who offered their services to the coun- 
try was Frederick de Weissenfels, our old acquaintance of Rye 
Ferry.^ He ap})lied, with Marinus Willett, Gershom Mott, and 
five others, on the sixth of June, 1775, for a commission in the 
service. ' Gentlemen,' they wa'ite to Congress, 'as we have ever 
been heartily attached to the cause of our country, so we are now- 
ready to engage in the defence of its rights. And as w^e under- 
stand troops are soon to be raised in this Province, we think it a 
duty incumbent upon us to offer our service.' ^ Weissenfels was 
appointed captain of company 1, First Regiment, New York Conti- 
nental Troops.^ He was soon after made colonel, and was in com- 
mand of a regiment at the battle of the White Plains. In Octo- 
ber, 1780, he was in command under General Heath, at Albany.^ 
Conceiving tiiat his services were not properly a])preciated, he left 
the army before the close of the war, but bore a high character 

1 New York Revolutionary Papers, vol. i. p. 159. 

^ The Committee of Safety for Harrison's Precinct, February 20, 1776, report the 
officers elected in a company of minute-men in Colonel Drake's regiment. They are 
Hezekiali Gray, captain; Cornelius Clark, first lieutenant; James Miller, second 
lieutenant; Isaac Titus, ensign. 

In the same month, 'At a meeting of the Troop of Westchester County, held at 
the house of Wilsey Dusenbery in Harrison's Precinct, the following gentlemen were 
elected officers, to wit : Samuel Tredwell, captain ; Thaddeus Avery, lieutenant, 
chosen unanimously ; Abraham Hatfield was chosen cornet, and Uytendall Allaire 
quartermaster, each by a majority-' Commissions were ordered for these gentlemen. 
(American Archives, fourth series, vol. v. pp. 290, 295.) 

3 See p. 79. 

* Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., of New York, vol. ii. p. 27. 

^ American Archives, fourth series, vol. iii. p. 23. 

^ Memoirs of Major- General Heath, written by himself. Boston, 1798: j)p. 258, 

0-24 tup: revolution. 

as an officer and a patriot. Weissenfels was one of the original 
members of the New York State Society of the Cincinnati. He 
died I\Iay 14, I8O6.1 

There were others from tlie town of Rye who embarked early 
in tlie country's cause, and of whom we shall have occasion to 
si)eak elsewhere. Among these were Dr. Ebenezer Haviland, Dr. 
William Hooker Smith, and Colonel Thomas Thomas. Colonel 
Gilbert Budd, though a resident of Mamaroneck, should not be 
omitted, for he belonged to one of the oldest families of this place. 

Our people now begin to see something of ' tlie pomp and cir- 
cumstance of war.' June 12, 1775, the Connecticut forces en- 
camped near Greenwich are reviewed by General Wooster, 'A 
great nuniber of Gentlemen and Ladies, and a prodigious Con- 
course of the Inhabitants ' of the surrounding conntry, have gath- 
ered to -witness the review. The troops ' are an exceeding fine 
Body of INIen,' and perform their exercises and evolutions ' with 
Spirit and Exactness, much to the satisfaction of their Officers,' 
and of the spectators also.^ On the twenty-seventh instant, these 
troops, or a portion of them, pass through Rye on their way to 
New York, whei-e they are to encamp, at a short distance from 
the city. ' General Wooster with 7 Companies of his Regiment, 
and Col. Waterbury, with his Regiment compleat,' constitute this 
force, ' They appear to be a healthy, hearty Body of Men ; ' about 
1,800 in number ; and some of them at least w^ere destined to be- 
come well acquainted with Rye, for General Wooster aftervvard 
had his headquarters here for a considerable length of time. 

The Connecticut troops came to New York at the invitation of 
the Provincial Congress. News had arrived from England that 
a large body of troops, embarked at Cork, were on their way 
hither, and they were how hourly expected. The city was alive 
with ajjprehensions, and the authorities betrayed a strange timidity 
and indecision. General Wooster at first encamped within two 
miles of New York ; on the twenty-second of July he removed to 
Harlem, and in August, by request of the Provincial Congress, he 
embarked with four hundred and fifty men for Oyster Pond, to 
protect that part of Long Island from the attacks of ' the regulars.' 
He was ordered back September 2, by General Washington, who in- 
timated his disapproval of the conduct of the New York Congress.^ 

1 Ikrords of the lievolutlomirij War, by W. T. R. Saffell. Kew York, 1858: pp. 
484, 545. 

'^ IInt,'h Grtine's New York Gazette, June 19, 1775. 

" American Archives, vol. ii. pp. 1000-2; 1025, 6; 1665; 1789; vol. iii. pp. 73, 


Only the clay before the passage of the Connecticut troops, Gen- 
eral Washington had passed through Rye, on his way to the camp 
at Boston, wliere he was about to take command of the Continen- 
tal troops. The General was attended as far as King's Bridge by a 
troop of gentlemen of the Philadelphia Light Horse, and a number 
of the inhabitants of the city of New York.^ 

Frequent outrages and depredations at this period betoken a 
state of affairs already unsettled. At Rye several daring robberies 
occur. From the White Plains we hear, August 14th, of ' an 
atrocious murder by one Nathaniel Adams, who has long been sus- 
pected of being a tory.' His victim was John M'Donald, one of 
the Provincial recruits.^ 

The friends of Congress here complain that ' the tories are get- 
ting the upper hand of them, and threaten them daily.' Some 
patriots have had their private property injured by the destruction 
of fences and cropping of hoi*ses' tails and manes. Tiie tories are 
equipped and constantly in arms, walking about at night, six, eight, 
and ten at a time. Some of them do not hesitate to say that they 
are determined to defend themselves, and would fire upon any one 
who should come to their houses and attempt to take away their 

One Godfrey Hains, of Rye Neck, is the most defiant of these 
tories. He gives great oflTence by his contemptuous speeches about 
Congress and the Committee of Safety. He has been heard to say 
that there would be bad times here soon ; some of the people of 
the place would be taken off and carried to General Gage's army. 
One, he declares, will be had at all events, and that is Judge 
Thomas, who must be caught if it cost the lives of fifty men. 
Other persons have been secretly warned to keep out of the way, 
as there is a scheme to seize them in their houses and carry 
them off. 

November, 1775. — A plot has been discovered at Rye for the 
capture of several zealous friends of their country. Godfrey Hains 

632. August 24, Wooster writes from Oyster Ponds to Governor Trumbull of Con- 
necticut, that he expects to sail by next Monday for New York, but begs to be no 
longer under the direction of the Provincial Congress of New York, having no 
faith in their honesty to the cause. {American Archives, fourth series, vol. iii. p. 263.) 

1 Gaine's New York Gazette, July 3, 1775. 

2 Ibid. August 14, 177.5. 

^ Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and 
Council of Safety of the State of New York, 1775, 1776, 1777. Albany, 1842 : vol. i. 
pp. 192-194. 



was arrested in September last for speaking disrespectfully of Con- 
jrress, but broke jail, and is now on board the man-of-war in New 
York harbor. He is said to be bent on revenge. A number of his 
neiMibors and associates on Rye Neck lately formed a plan for tak- 
ing'^Judge Thomas at his house in Rye Woods. A tender of the 
British man-of-war was to appear off Mamaroneck at a certain 
time, and barges were to be sent on shore to receive Thomas and 
others. The'^plot fortunately came to the knowledge of Captain 
Gilbert Budd, of Mamaroneck, who was privately warned by a 
neighbor ; and upon his information William Lounsberry and sev- 
erat others have been arrested, and bound over to keep the peace. 

December, 1775. — The tories of Westchester are unceasing in 
their efforts to furnish supplies, to be sent to the army at Boston. 
Between Byram River and King's Bridge, there are about two thou- 
sand barrels of pork, chiefly in the hands of tories, besides what has 
been sent off'. At the house of William Sutton, of ' Maroneck,' 
about twenty head of fat cattle have been barrelled within a few 
days past; it is supposed that they are to be sent off" for the minis- 
terial army. ' In the same neighbourhood, for three and four 
miles around, there are not more than eight or ten Whigs to 120 
Tories. On the fifteenth instant, a large yawl from the Asia, 
with about twenty-four men armed, came in the night into Maro- 
neck harbour ; and the inimical inhabitants loaded it with poultry 
and small stock for said ship. The friends of liberty were so few, 
that they were not able to collect a sufficient force to make any 
timely opposition.' ^ 

Januai-y,lllQ. — A daring outrage was committed on the night 
of the seventeenth instant, near King's Bridge. Some cannon,^ 
which had been placed there for the purpose of defending the 
approaches to the city in that direction, were discovered the next 
morning to have been spiked and rendered useless. The Com- 
mittee of Safety in New York took measures immediately to dis- 
cover the perpetrators, who proved to be none other than William 
Lounsberry and his tory confederates at Rye Neck and Mamaro- 
neck. Lounsberry was apprehended on the twenty-third by Lieu- 
tenant Allen with a guard of twelve men. He appeared to be 
' struck with guilt ' when arrested, but made no confession. Sev- 
eral other arrests have been made, and a full examination of the 

1 American Archives, fourth series, vol. iv. p. 591. 

2 Dr. Church, in his ' traitorous letter to an Officer in Boston,' dated July 23, 1775, 
had written, ' I counted 280 pieces of Cannon, from 24 to 3 pounders, at Kingsbridge, 
which the Committee had secured for the use of the colonies.' 


parties before tlie Committee of Safety has brouglit out the follow- 
ing facts : — 

The plan originated with the British governor, Tryon, who was 
now on board the Asia, man-of-war, in the harbor of New York. 
The city was held by tlie Continental troops ; but the presence 
of tlie king's ships, on one of which he had taken refuge, en- 
abled Tryon to carry on intrigues with disaffected persons in the 
surrounding country. Congress had given stringent orders for the 
apprehension and punishment of any who might be found eno-acr- 
ing in such plots ; and local committees v.-ere on the watch. Early 
in January, Lounsberry and Josiah Burrell, of Rye Neck, had been 
on board the man-of-war in the North River, and had seen the 
governor, who said 'It must be done, to render the cannon use- 
less.' On the evening of the seventeenth instant, about nine or 
ten o'clock, Lounsberry had been seen, with five other men, all on 
foot, in New Rochelle, going towards New York ; they appeared to 
have handkerchiefs about their heads, and belts around their waists 
over their coats. Lounsberry has finally confessed that he and 
others had gone to disarm the guns with sledges ; but when they 
came near to a house in the neighborhood they heard people at 
work at them. They waited awhile, and then upon coming to the 
cannon found them spiked, and the touchholes turned dowuAvards. 
The guns lay a few hundred yards from Isaac Valentine's house. 

The ringleaders in this plot have been ordered to be ' shackled 
and manacled, and kept in close confinement.' Godfrey Hains 
too has been arrested again. This irrepressible tory, after ' break- 
ing jail by breaking six grates out of a window,' stole a boat in 
the night, and got on board a British man-of-war. He remained 
there initil the vessel sailed, and then having purchased a small 
sloop, the Polly and Ann, set off for Boston with a load of beef, 
pork, and other provisions to supply the British army and navy, 
then blockaded in that port by the American forces under Gen- 
eral Washington's command. The sloop sailed on the twentieth 
of January, and on the twenty-third was ' stranded on the Jersey 
shore.' Hains is sent to New York by the Committee of Safety 
of New Jersey. The New York Committee are of opinion that 
' his many and mischievous machinations are so dangerous, that 
he ought to be kept in safe custody and close jail.' He is sent 
'fettered and manacled,' to Ulster County jail, there to be con- 
fined securely until further orders. 

The British troops evacuated Boston on the seventeenth of 


March, 1770. It was now fully believed that New York would 
bo the i)rincii)nl point of attack. The friends of England were 
secretly niaturinn; j)]ans for an eflPectual cooperation with the royal 
forces when they should arrive. It was understood that Governor 
Trvon had held out strong inducements to any who would enter 
the' king's service and stand prepared to act with the government 
at the proper moment. ' Many Enemies to America are daily 
travelling through this County in Disguise, and under divers Pre- 
tences, though in reality for the purpose of aiding the Ministerial 
Troops when they shall arrive in this Colony ; ' so the committee 
for Westchester County, in session at the White Plains, wrote on 
the eleventh of June. In view of this fact, the sub-committees in 
the several towns, and the militia officers, are empowered to ex- 
amine all transient persons ; and boatmen and others are charged 
on no account to carry any passengers from this county to New 
York, Long Island, or elsewhere, without certificates from one or 
more of the members of this committee, or of the committees of 
the districts in which they reside. ^ 

The Committee of Safety for Rye, chosen to serve for one year 
from May, 1776, consisted of the following persons : — 
Samuel Townsend, Samuel Lyon, 

Isaac Seaman, Gilbert Lyon, 

Frederick Jay, John Thomas, junior.^ 

In Harrison, the Committee of Safety was composed of — 
William Miller, Deputy Chairman. 
Lewis M'Donald, Peter Fleming, 

James Raymond, Marcus Mosenell.^ 

These committees needed to keep a vigilant eye upon the 
tories on Rye Neck. Lounsberry was again active, this time en- 
deavoring to obtain recruits for the royal army. Jacob Scureman, 
called up for examination at the White Plains, testified that he 
was going over from New Rochelle to Rye, when he came across 
three or four men with Lounsberry in the woods. He talked with 
him, but was not shown the enlistment paper, nor asked to put his 
name to it. Bloomer Neilson, who was with Lounsberry at the 
place aforesaid, confessed that his name was put to the enlistment 
paper; Lounsberry overpersuaded him. Josej)!! Turner, Avhose 
name is on the list, says that Lounsberry asked him to sign it, and 
put his name down ; he was to have three pounds bounty. Stephen 

1 Gainc's Neiv York Gazette, June 7, 1776. 

^ New York Revolutionary Papsrs, vol. i. p. 632. 

^ American Archives, fourth series, vol. v. p. 290. 


Hains i)romised Lounsberry last spring to enlist with him ; he did 
enlist a few days before he was taken. Complaint is made also 
that Jonathan Purdy, junior, 'a young fellow,' and Gilbert Hor- 
ton of the White Plains, have called themselves subjects of King 
George, and claim the j)rivileges of prisoners of war.^ 

The arrival of the British fleet was now imminent. Washing- 
ton was in New York, making every preparation within his means 
for the defence of the city. The New York Convention was in ses- 
sion at the W^hite Plains, receiving information and issuing orders 
respecting the movements of the tories in Westchester County. 
June 5th, several persons disaffected to the American cause are 
ordered to be arrested. Among these are William Sutton, Joseph 
Purdy, and James Horton, junior. Others, ' considered in a sus- 
picious light,' are to appear when summoned, Solomon Fowler 
among them. On the twenty-second, a levy of fifty men is ordered 
to serve in this county, in consequence of annoyances suffered 
from sundry disaffected and dangerous persons. Frequent meet- 
ings are now held in different parts of the county at private houses, 
by ' many persons unfriendly to the liberties of the United States.' 
The Committee of Safety issue a warning to any who ' allow such 
meetino-s to be held at their houses, that they are to be treated as 
enemies to their country.' ^ July 16th, one fourth of the militia 
of the county were called out.'^ The enemy's ships were now in 
the bay of New York ; on one of them was General Howe, fully 
expecting that 'a numerous body of the inhabitants,' who were 
waiting only for the opportunity, would soon join his army. There 
were reasons for this expectation. The tories here grow more in- 
solent and boastful. William Sutton and his son John are at last 
arrested, and ordered to be confined, ' because of inimical declara- 
tions and threats.' The Committee of Safety at the White Plains 
ask to have Captain Townsend's company, now at the North River, 
recalled, inasmuch as the people'of this county greatly need their 
presence.* Several of our Rye farmers have been for some time 
past detained at the White Plains as disaffected persons. The Com- 
mittee of Safet}' ap])ly to the Convention, August 24th, for orders 
respecting them. ' They are chiefly considerable farmers, and this 
present season loudly calls upon them to attend to the putting 
of their seed in the ground, if they can be released with safety to 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. ii. p. 221. 

2 American Archives, fifth series, vol. i. p. 354. 

3 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 525. 
* Ihid. vol. ii. p. 289. 


our country.' Amono; tliese persons are Monmouth Hart, John 
McCuHum, Joseph and John Gedney, Joseph Purdy, Gilbert Hor- 
toii, Cai)tain Joshua Purdy, Josiah and Isaac Brown, Bartliolomew 
liains, Joseph Ilavihuid, Adam Seaman, Samuel Merritt, and 
Jeremiah Travis. They were probably permitted to return to 
tlieir liomes.^ 

With the arrival of the British fleet, the waters of Long Island 
Sound became for the first time a scene of hostihties. July 23d, 
Governor Trumbull of Connecticut wrote to General Washington 
that ' many of the enemy's frigates and ships ' had ' been stationed 
between Montauk Point and Block Island, to intercept trade from 
the Sound. They have been but too successful,' he adds, ' in tak- 
ing several provision vessels ; ' indeed, it is impossible that any 
should escape falling into their hands. The armed vessels in the 
service of Connecticut were ordered to stop and detain all vessels 
going down the Sound with provisions, until further orders. Wash- 
ington requests the governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island to 
send some of their roiv-galley8, which he thinks may be of service 
in attempting something against the enemy's ships. One has 
arrived, and three or four others are expected. 

1 Journals of the. Provincial Congress, etc., p. 291. One of the persons concerned in 
the spiking of cannon at King's Bridge was Isaac Gedney, of Rye. He was for 
some time detained as a prisoner in tlie city of New York ; and on the twenty-seventh 
of March was transferred to the White Phiins. From this place he addressed the fol- 
lowing petition to the New York Committee of Safety : — 

' White Plains Jail, April 20, 1776. 

' Gentlemen : I am to acknowledge yonr kindness in removing me from the New 
York Jail to this place, but am still unhappy in being detained from my family, who 
at this season, want my assistance very much. It is not only the aid I might give, in 
keeping my interest together, (all of which has heen earned by the sweat of my brow,) 
but adding happiness to my family, and saving a large family of children from run- 
ning into many vices. You, gentlemen, who have families, know the difhculty of keep- 
ing youth within bounds, when with them ; much less can it be done by a mother. 

' I have been in confinement near three months. There surely ought to be some 
period, some end to a man's sufferings. If you, gentlemen, think that giving you 
good bail for my appearance, as well as for my peaceable behaviour, will answer the 
intention of the law, I can, and shall with pleasure, give it, in any sum which maybe 
asked ; but to lie here confined in a jail, and know my interest daily sinking, without 
one single advantage to the publick that I can conceive, renders me more unhappy 
than the bare suffering of being confined. 

' If you, gentlemen, can with propriety give me enlargement, you will relieve a dis- 
.trcsscd family of a wife and seven children, and lay under obligations your unhappy 
and very humble ser^-ant, Isaac Gedney.' 

The Committee of Safety granted this application May 2, and permitted Isaac Ged- 
ney to go at large, under promise not to bear arms against the American colonies. 
[American Archives, fourth series, vol. v. pp. 990, 991, 1484, 1485.) 


' Two men of war are now anchored,' writes Colonel Drake 
from New Roclielle, August 27th, ' between Hart and City Islands ; 
one more has just gone past Frog's Neck. He has ralh'ed as many 
of the mihtia as possible. Tlie Committee of Safety, upon hearing 
this, ' ordej-s tlie militia to be called out with five days' provisions, 
to watch the motions of the enemy on the Sound. August 28th, 
a party is to guard from Rye Neck to Rodman's Neck. Colonel 
Budd commands it. They are in great want of powder. The 
enemy as yet ' have not been able to plunder much.' ^ 

1 American Archives, fourth series, vol. i. pp. 1544-1552. 



' A voice went forth throughout tlie land, 
And an answering voice replied, 
From the rock-piled mountain fastnesses 
To the surging ocean tide. 

And the hill-men left their grass-grown steeps, 

And their flocks and herds unkept ; 
And the ploughshare of the hushandman 

In the half-turned furrow slept.' 

Mary E. Hewitt. 

rriHE troubles in Westchester County were only beginning, as 
JL long as the American forces remained in possession of the 
city of New York. Their presence checked the demonstrations 
which the British commanders expected from the rural population 
whose sympathies were very generally with them. Opposition to 
Congress displayed itself chiefly in plots such as we have seen 
cccuri'ing at Rye and in the neighborhood. But on the fourteenth 
of September, 1776, Washington abandoned the city, and with- 
drew his army to the upper part of the island. A month later 
(October 21-26) he retreated to the White Plains. The opera- 
tions of the two armies for the next few weeks were conducted at 
no great distance from Rye. Indeed, the most important of them 
occurred within the limits of this town, Avhich then included the 
White Plains. The period therefore of real danger and suffering 
to our inhabitants begins with these events. 

General Howe had landed his forces, on the twelfth of October, 
upon Throgg's Neck, twelve miles below Rye. On the twenty- 
first, he took his position upon the heights about a mile north of 
New Rochelle. The enemy, writes Washington the same day 
from the White Plains, are advancing by parties from their main 
body now at New Rochelle. They are seeking to take possession 
of posts on the Sound, to cut off" our supplies from the eastward 
by water.i 

1 ' In one of the churches at New Rochelle was stored more than 2,000 bushels of 


Active efforts were now making to prepare the population of 
Westchester County for a general rising in favor of the govern- 
ment. Information had reached General Heath at King's Bridge, 
October 2tl, that several companies were forming to join Howe's 
army.^ To thwart these measures, small bodies of troops were 
stationed at various points. As early as September 11th, Gov- 
ernor Trumbull had appointed Major Backus with a troop of light 
horse at or near Westchester. September 21st, General Heath 
directed him to order a part of this troop to be posted at ' Mare- 
neck,' and places below.''^ 

At Mamaroneck, Howe posted Lieutenant-colonel Rogers, in 
command of the Queen's Rangers, a body of lo3'alist volunteers 
recently raised. This was the first introduction of the inhabitants 
to this officer and his corps, at whose hands they suffered cruelly 
in after days. Rogers was attacked at Mamaroneck, on the night 
of his arrival, by a detachment of American troops, who killed or 
captured some forty of his men. This engagement took place on 
Nelson Hill and in the vicinity; and the bodies of the killed were 
buried on the southeast side of the hill. The day after this affair 
another division of General Howe's army, under General Knyp- 
hausen, arrived and encamped upon the land between Mamaro- 
neck and New Rochelle. This division consisted of Germans, 
principally Hessians, who had landed but a few days before in 
New York. The site of their encampment was on the land 
recently owned by E. K. Collins, Esq. 

Rye was occupied at this moment by a small American force. 
Early in October, 1776,^ the twentieth regiment of the Connecticut 
militia had been ordered to take position here, for the defence of 
that State. The regiment was far from complete, numbering only 
one hundred and seventy-six men, commanded by Major Zabdiel 
Rogers of Connecticut ; ^ it had been sent to this point by Gov- 

salt, which has fallen into the hands of the enemy. It was owned by the State of 
New York.' (Letter quoted in Avierican Archioes, fifth series, vol. ii. p. 1209.) 'We 
have lately made a prize,' writes a British officer from New York, October 30, to a 
friend in London, ' that must distress them [the Rebels] exceedingly, no less than a 
church full of salt ; so that the poor Yankees literally won't have salt to their porridge.' 
[Ibid. p. 1294.) 

1 American Archives, fifth series, vol. ii. p. 845. 

2 Ibid. pp. 295, 439. 

^ October 2, General Heath at King's Bridge, sends orders to the officers command- 
ing guards between his posts at Westchester and the 'Saw-pits,' particularly to Major 
Rogers, etc. {American Archives, fifth series, vol. ii. p. 845.) 

* The following order from General Washington, at the White Plains, October 
21, to this officer, at Rye, warns him of the approach of the Rangers : — 

' Sir : You are hereby requested to make the best stand you can with the Troops 


ernor Trumbull of Conuecticut, at the earnest request of the 
Committee of Safety for New York. On the tenth of October, 
they wrote to him from Fishkill, begging that he would have his 
militia in readiness in the event of an insurrection. ' No reliance 
can be ])laced,' they write the same day to Washington, ' on the 
Westchester County militia.' ^ The officers, in many cases, op- 
pose the measures of Congress.^ 

The battle of the White Plains was fought on the twenty- 
eighth. Bv the twenty-sixth the American army had been moved 
from King's Bridge to the White Plains, and ranged on the high 
grounds to the northeast and northwest of the village, and on the 
lower ground between. It extended from the Bronx River on 
the right, to Horton's Pond, now called St. Mary's Lake, on the 
left. Here, upon the left of the line. General Heath's division was 
posted. To the east of his position lay ' a deep hollow, through 
which ran a small brook, which came from a mill-pond, a little 
above.' A high hill rose on the opposite side of this hollow, the 
top of which was covered with wood. On the south brow of this 
hill, in the skirt of the wood, General Heath placed Colonel Mal- 
colm, and his regiment of New York troops, with a field-piece. 

The American line thus formed ran from northeast to south- 
west, across the town of the White Plains, a little above the vil- 
lage ; and in front of this line some intrenchments were thrown 
up. To the Avest of this position and on the other side of the 
Bronx River was the height known as Chatterton's Hill. The 
possession of this hill was important, to protect the right flank of 
the army ; and General McDougal's brigade, numbering about 
fourteen hundred and fifty men, was ordered to occupy it. Mean- 
while the enemy had advanced from Scarsdale, and after a skir- 
mish near the present village of Hart's Corners, a little over a mile 
south of the lines, had arrived in view of the American forces. 
At once, upon seeing the advantageous position occupied by the 
force under McDougal, General Howe decided that this force 
must be dislodged before an attack should be made upon the 
main lines of the American army. 

under your command against the Enemy, who I am informed are advancing this 
morning on Mamaronck, and I will as soon as possible order a party to attack them in 
flank, of which you shall be fully informed in proper time.' 

The success of this attack rendered this precaution needless, and the Rangers did 
not as vet visit our town. {History of Norwich, Connecticut, by F. M. Caulkins, 1866, 
p. 382.) 

^ American Archives, fifth series, vol. ii. p. 991. 

2 Ibid., fourth scries, vol. ii. p. 1604. 


A lieavj fii'e was opened on McDoiigal's command. The can- 
nonade continued for more tlian an hour, -whilst the main body of 
both armies remained inactive spectators of the scene. Two 
brigades of the enemy then crossed the Bronx, and marching along 
the western bank of the river at the foot of the hill, on the line of 
what is now known as the Mill Lane^ came opposite to the left of 
McDougal's line, when they halted, and facing to the left, ascended 
the rocky face of the hill with great steadiness, notwithstanding 
the opposition of the American troops. 

On every part of the hill the ground was obstinately contested, 
and the advancing columns of the enemy were more than once 
thro\\n into disorder. But the unequal contest could not con- 
tinue long, and General McDougafs troops were compelled to give 
way. They moved oflP with suUenness, however, ' in a great 
body,' as an eye-witness describes it, neither ' running ' nor yet 
' observing the best order,' and the enemy made no attempt what- 
ever to pursue them. 

The American force that participated in this contest was very 
small. Not more than twelve hundred men, it Avould appear, 
occupied the hill. The British force engaged consisted of thirteen 
regiments of healthy, well-appointed troops. The American loss 
was fifty-nine killed and sixty-five wounded ; four officers and 
thirty-five privates were taken prisoners. The enemy lost seventy- 
four Hessians, and one hundred and fifty-seven British officers and 
privates killed, wounded, and missing. 

After retiring from the hill. General McDougal led his troops 
over the bridge west from the present railroad station, and marched 
into the lines east of the Bronx, without interruption from the 

During the night after the battle, General Wasliington drew 
back his lines and strengthened his works to so great an extent 
that General Howe considered an attack too hazardous, and 
ordered reinforcements from Mamaroneck and New York. Mean- 
while, on the night of October 31st, General Washington silently 
evacuated his lines and fell back to the hills, a very strong position, 
about two miles north from the White Plains, where the enemy 
could not approach him without certain defeat. ^ 

The action on Chatterton's Hill took place just outside of the 

1 Battles of tie United States, by Sea and Land, by Henry B. Dawson. In two 
volumes. New York, Johnson, Fry & Co. : chapter xiv. The Battle of the White 
Plains, vol. i. pp. 176-187. In the above narration I have simply abridged Mr. Daw- 
son's admirable account of this battle, founded upon a most careful and accurate col- 
lation of authentic documents. 


limits of our town, in Grccnburg, west of the Bronx River. But 
on the (lay after Washington's withdrawal to the hills, an affair 
occurred within our limits, of which we have a very graphic 
accoiuit. The division under General Heath's command remained 
in the j)osition first taken, on the extreme left of the American 
line, throuo-hout the operations which took place on the right of 
the army, from October 22d to November 9th. Its line extended 
from the village of the White Plains, eastward to the hollow 
already spoken of, in the neighborhood of Horton's Pond. A let- 
ter of General George Clinton, who Avas with this division, de- 
scribes the state of the troops. He writes, October 31st, after the 
affiiir on Chatterton's Hill : — 

' We are exactly in the same situation in which we were when I 
wrote you yesterday. The enemy seem still to be endeavouring to out- 
flank us, especially our right wing. Our advanced guards, I hear, are 
a little south of Young's tavern, on the road leading to White-Plains. 
Where the main body is I can't say, as I am so closely confined to my 
post on the left of the whole as not to have been a quarter mile west 
from this for four days past. Near three thousand of the enemy yes- 
terday and the evening before filed off to the left, and were seen 
advancing towards Kings street and the Purchase road, from which it 
appears ihey intend to flank our left as well as. right wing. We had 
reason to apprehend an attack last night or by daybreak this morning. 
Our lines were manned all night in consequence of this ; and a most 
horrid night it was to lay in cold trenches. Uncovered as we are, daily 
on fatigue, making redoubts, fleches, abattis, and lines, and retreat- 
ing from them and the little temporary huts made for our comfort 
before they are well finished, I fear will ultimately destroy our army 
without fighting. This I am sure of, that I am likely to lose more in 
my brigade by sickness occasioned by extra fatigue and want of cover- 
ing than in the course of an active campaign is ordinarily lost in the 
most severe actions.' ^ 

While thus encamped near Horton's Pond, General Heath's 
division was attacked by the enemy, after the main body of the 
American ai-my had fallen back to their position on the hills. 
The following is Heath's account of the affair: — 

^November \st. — In the morning the British advanced with a niuiiber 

1 American Archives, Mt\\ series, vol. ii. p. 1312. 'Last night Captain Townsend 
wall a (letaclinient of my l)ngade, consisting of about thirty, brought in prisoner a 
certain Mr. Wenlworth, late of Boston, and now a Commissary in the regular service, 

which they took i)risoner near Rye I am with usual health, though in no 

better lodging tlian a soldier's tent.' 


of field-pieces, to the north of the road, near late Head-Quarters, (a 
heavy column appearing behind on the hill, ready to move forward) 
and commenced a furious cannonade on our General's division, which 
was nobly returned by Capt. Lieut. Bryant and Lieut. Jackson, of the 
artillery. Our General's first anxiety, was for Col. Malcolm's regiment 
on the hill, to the east of the hollow on the left, lest the enemy should 
push a column into the hollow, and cut the regiment oif from the divis- 
ion. He therefore ordered Maj. Keith, one of his Aids, to gallop over, 
and order Col. Malcolm to come off immediately, with Lieut. Fenno's 
artillery. But, upon a more critical view of the ground in the hollow, 
(at the head of which there was a heavy stone wall, well situated to 
cover a body of troops to throw a heavy fire directly down it, while 
an oblique fire could be thrown in on both sides) he ordered Maj. Pol- 
lard, his other aid, to gallop after Keith, and countermand the first 
order, and direct the Colonel to I'emain at his post, and he should be 
supported. A strong regiment was ordered to the head of the hollow, 
to occupy the wall. The cannonade was brisk on both sides, throuo^b 
which the two Aids-de-camp passed, in going and returning. At this 
instant. Gen. Washington rode up to the hill. His first question to our 
General, was, '• How is your division?" He was answered, '-They are 
all in order." " Have you," said the Commander in Chief, " any troops 
on the hill over the hollow?" He was answered, "INIaicolm's regiment 
is there." " If you do not call them off" immediately," says the General, 
" you may lose them, if the enemy push a column iqj the hollow." He 
was answered, that even in that case, their retreat should be made safe ; 
that a strong regiment was posted at the head of the hollow, behind 
the wall; that this regiment, with the oblique fire of the division, would 
so check the enemy, as to allow Malcolm to make a safe retreat. The 
Commander in Chief concluded by saying, " Take care that you do not 
lose them." The artillery of the division was so well directed, as to 
throw the British artillery-men several times into confusion ; and find- 
ing that they could not here make any impression, drew back their 
pieces, the column not advancing. The British artillery now made a 
circuitous movement, and came down toward the American rioht. 
Here, unknown to them, were some 12 pounders; upon the discharo-e 
of which, they made off with their field-pieces as fast as their horses 
could draw them. A shot from the American cannon, at this place, 
took off the head of a Hessian artillery-man. They also left one of 
the artillery horses dead on the field. What other loss they sustained 
was not known. Of our General's division, one man only, belono-ino- 
to Col. Paulding's regiment of New York troops, was killed. 

' The British made no other attempt on the Americans, while they 
remained at AVhite Plains. The two armies lay looking at each other, 
and within long cannon-shot. In the night time, the British lighted up 
a vast number of fires, the weather growing pretty cold. These fires, 


some on the level ground, some at the foot of the hills, and at all dis- 
tances to their brows, some of which were lofty, seemed to the eye to 
mix with the stars, and to be of different magnitudes. The American 
side, doubtless, exhibited to them a similar appearance. On this day 
our General ordered three redoubts, with a line in front, to be thrown 
up on the summit of his post, so constructed, that the whole of them 
could make a defence, and support each other at the same time, if 
attacked. These, to the enemy, in whose view they fully were, must 
have appeared very formidable, although they were designed principally 
for defence against small-arms ; and perhaps works were never raised 
quicker. There were the stalks of a large corn-field at the spot : the 
pulling these up in hills, took up a large lump of earth with each. The 
roots of the stalks and earth on them placed in the face of the works, 
answered the purpose of sods, or facines. The tops being placed 
inwards," as the loose earth was thrown upon them, became as so many 
tics to the work, which was carried up with a dispatch scarcely conceiv- 

' The British, as they say, had meditated an attack on the Americans, 
which was only prevented by the wetness of the night. Be this as it 
may, our General had ordered his division, at evening roll-call, to be at 
their alarm-posts, (which they every morning manned, whilst at this 
place) half an hour sooner than usual. He had then no other reason 
for doing this, than the near position of the enemy, and the probability 
that they would soon make an attack. But the Commander in Chief 
must have made some other discovery ; for, after our General was in 
bed, Col. Carey, who was one of the Aids-de-camp of Gen. Washing- 
ton, came to the door of his marque, and calling to him, informed him 
that the whole army were to be at their alarm-posts, the next morning, 
half an hour sooner than usual, and that he was to govern himself 
accordingly. Our General replied, that he had fortunately given such 
orders to his division, at evening roll-call. He therefore neither got up 
himself, nor disturbed any other of his division. 

' 3d. — The centinels reported, that, during the preceding night, they 
heard the rumbling of carriages to the south-eastward : and it was 
apprehended that the British were changing their position. 

'5th. — The British centinels were withdrawn from their advanced 
posts. It w-as apprehended that they meant a movement. The Amer- 
ican army was immediately ordered under arms. At 2 o'clock, p. m., 
the enemy appeared, formed on Chaderton's Hill, and on several hills, 
to the westward of it. Several reconnoitring parties, who were sent 
out, reported that the enemy were withdrawing. About 12 o'clock, 
this night, a party of the Americans wantonly set fire to the court- 
house, Dr. Graham's house, and several other private houses, which 
stood between the two armies. This gave great disgust to the whole 
American army. 


' The British were moving down towards Dobb's Ferry. A detach- 
ment from the American army was sent out in the morning to harass 
their rear, but could not come up with them. 

' The division moved from near White Plains, and the same night 
halted at North-Castle.' ^ 

Rje was only seven miles distant from the field of this engage- 
ment. The rear of the cannon must have been heard here dis- 
tinctly, throughout that eventful day. Many of the inhabitants, 
doubtless, were interested spectators of the affiiir, from the sur- 
rounding hills. But more anxious times were near at hand for 
tliem. On the fourth of November, General Howe withdrew his 
forces from the White Plains. That night, our inhabitants saw 
against the northern sky the glare of a conflagration, the locality 
of which tliey could scarcely doubt. The Court House, the Pres- 
byterian Church, and several other buildings at the White Plains, 
had been set on fire. This outrage was committed by some Amei'- 
ican soldiers, but without orders, and against the wishes of their 
superior officers. It incurred the severest condemnation from 
Washington, who declared his pur[X)se to bring the perpetrators to 
condign punishment if discovered. 

Scenes like this soon became familiar enough to our people. 
Many a night, the reddened horizon or the visible flames betokened 
the ruin of some unhappy family, whose barns or houses were 
consuming within the region of the ' Debatable Land.' 

Some of the unavoidable discomforts of war had already begun 
to be felt. The American army, while encamped near King's 
Bridge, drew its supplies from the neighboring country. Commis- 
saries were authorized to purchase all the cattle that were fit for 
the use of the army, and drive them down to King's Bridge, leav- 
ing only as many as might be absolutely necessary for the support 
of families. Should any persons refuse to part with their property 
at reasonable prices, the cattle were to be driven down to the 
army, and the owners were to be paid whatever sums the cattle 
might be sold for, deducting expenses. ' Gil Budd Horton ' with 
others, are appointed agents for the army, to drive all the horses, 
hogs, sheep and cattle, from those parts of Westchester County 
that lie along the Sound and the Hudson River, and which are 
most exposed to the enemy, and billet them out upon the farms in 
the interior part of the county, until they can be otherwise dis- 
posed of. Most of the cattle from Rye are driven to Bedford, 

1 Memoirs of Major General Heath, written by himself. Publislied iiccording to Act 
of Congress. Boston, 1798: pp. 75-83. 


where they arc kept in tlie pastures of Colonel McDaniel. The 
army <rreatlv needing straw, the farmers of this county are ordered 
immechatelv to thresli out all their grain. Those who do not 
comply with this requisition are liable to have their grain taken 
for army use, even though it should not have been threshed. The 
commander-in-chief is empowered to order any straw in West- 
chester County to be taken, paying the owner a reasonable com- 
pensation, ' providing always so much be left as should be suffi- 
cient to support the families of the owners for nine months, and 

fatten hogs' 

These foraging parties had probably left our farmers little to 
spare. But until now they had been visited by only one of the 
contendino- armies. The first appearance of ' the King's troops' 
at Rye was in the last days of October, 1776. Just before Gen- 
eral Howe withdrew his army from the White Plains, a brigade 
under the command of General Agnew ' pushed forward about 
two miles beyond Kye,' in hopes of bringing a 'large detachment 
of the American army, which was stationed at Saw Pit, to an 
eno-afrement.' 1 Not being able to come up with them, they 
returned on Sunday afternoon, November 8d, to join the royal 
forces near the White Plains. It was a great day for the loyalists 
at Rye. ' Many of them showed particular marks of joy ' upon the 
passage of the king's troops. Conspicuous among these was the 
Rev. Mr. Avery, the rector of the parish, who had been in corre- 
spondence with Governor Tryon before the arrival of the British 
army in New York, and had been very outspoken in his professions 
of sym]iathy with the British cause. The American troops 
reached Rye on the same evening ; and by the loyalist account 
which we have of the matter, ' showed their resentment ' toward 
the tory sympathizers 'by plundering their houses, driving off their 
cattle, taking away their grain, and imprisoning some of them.' 
Among the rest, Mr. Avery was a sufferer, and lost his cattle, 
horses, etc. Two days later he was found dead in the neighbor- 
hood of his house. ' Many people,' writes Mr. Seabury, from New 
York, to the Secretary of the Gospel Propagation Society in 
England, ' are very confident that he was murdered by the rebels. 
Others suppose that his late repeated losses and disaj)pointments, 

1 ' We have just received intelligence,' writes Colonel Harrison, Washington's 
secretary at White Plains, November 3, 'from General Parsons, who is still stationed 
with his brigade at the Saw-Pits, that a large body of the enemy have advanced 
within a mile of him. He is on his march to meet 'em, and requested some troops to 
be sent to inaintain the lines he has thrown up.' {Amei-ican Archives, fifth series, vol. 
iii. p. 493.) 


tlie insults and tlweats of the rebels, and the absence of his best 
friends, who had the day before gone off for fear of the rebels, 
drove In'ni into a state of desperation too severe for his strength of 

mind He has left five or six helpless orphans, I fear in great 

distress ; indeed, I know not what is to become of them ; I have 
only heard that the rebels had humanity enough to permit them 
to be carried to Mr. Avery's friends at Norwalk in Connecticut.' ^ 
' This melancholy incident gives us a glimpse of a state of things 
which was now commencing, and was to last throughout the 
dreary years of the Revolutionary War : the inhabitants, accord- 
ing as they had espoused the one cause or the other, leaving the 
place with all haste upon the approach of the enemy's forces, or 
remaining to suffer abuse and depredation. 

These injuries were not inflicted solely by the regular troops of 
either side. Lawless bands of marauders — Cow Boys and Skin- 
ners-^ infested the ' Neutral Ground,' ravaging the whole country 
between the British and American lines, a region some thirty miles 
in extent, embracing nearly the whole of Westchester County. 

' The party called Cow-hoys were mostly refugees belonging to the 
British side, and engaged in plundering the people near the lines of 
their cattle, and driving them to New York. Their vocation suggested 
their name. The Skinners generally professed attachment to the Amer- 
ican cause, and lived chiefly within the American lines; but they 
were of easy virtue, and were really more detested by the Americans 
than their avowed enemies the Cow-boys. They were treacherous, 
rapacious, and often brutal. One day they would be engaged in broils 
and skirmishes with the Cow-boys; the next day they would be in 
league with them in plunderino; their own friends as well as enemies. 
Often a sham skirmish would take place between them near the British 
lines ; the Skinners were always victorious, and then they would go 
boldly into the interior with their booty, pretending it had been captured 
from the enemy while attempting to smuggle it across the lines. The 
proceeds of sales were divided between the parties. The inhabitants 
of the Neutral Ground were sure to be plundered and abused by the 
one party or the other. If they took the oath of fidelity to the Amer- 
ican cause, the Cow-boys were sure to plunder them. If they did not, 
the Skinners would call them tories, seize their property, and have it 
confiscated by the State.' ^ 

Fifteen or twenty years ago, there were some aged persons with 
us who could recollect the opening scenes of the Revolution. 

1 History of the Prot. Episc. Church in the County of Westchester, by Robert Bolton, 
pp. 322, 323. 

2 Pictorial Field-Book of the Revdution, by Benson J. Lossing : vol. ii. p. 185, note. 



Tliey have now all passed away ; but many incidents are still re- 
membered, which they were accustomed to relate, in the long winter 
evenings, of those eventful times. One such account I am per- 
mitted "to give, as it was taken down shortly before her death by 
the daughters of an excellent lady who lived to enter upon her 
ninety-fourth year. 

' Mother was a school-girl between nine and ten years old at the 
beginning of the war. She well remembers running all the way home 
from school one morning, when it was announced that the British army 
were encamped upon Sniffen's Hill, within a mile of her father's house. 
A part of the army came up by the way of the White Plains, and were 
most of the day marching down to join those on the hill. In the 
mean time a large party of Hessians left the camp to plunder the neigh- 
borhood, and coming to her fother's, robbed the house of all the meat, 
bread, butter, milk, and cheese, even taking one from the press ; drove 
away the cattle, and killed the poultry, a hog and a cow, from which 
they cut such pieces as they liked, and left the rest unskinned. Her 
mother made a cake of a little flour they left, and cooked a piece of 
the cow for dinner. The Hessians took the horses to carry away their 
plunder ; but by going to some of the officers whom he knew at the 
camp, her father recovered them as well as his cattle. While the army 
were marching down [to New York, after leaving Sniffen's Hill], some 
of the soldiers would leave their ranks, and run in for food, but seeing 
how stripped and frightened they were, would say there were others 
coming nuich worse than the Hessians. 

' Her fiither was sometimes abused and beaten for his money, but 
being a remarkably peaceable man, did not fare as badly as many 
others. At one time when they were striking him with their guns, so 
that the blood ran down his face, mother's sister S. stood before him, 
and holding up her arms to ward off the blows, was very nuich bruised 
herself. Her mother once met a band of plunderers in the road, who 
demanded her money, searched her pockets, and used abusive language, 
but let her pass without further molestation. On several other occa- 
sions she met with similar treatment. 

' While the British had possession of New York and the neighbor- 
hood, the inhabitants of this vicinity were said to live "between the 
lines." Those who joined the British were called the " lower party," or 
" refugees," and those who favored the American cause, the " upper 
party." Among the militia of the latter, the very lowest class bore the 
name of " Skinners," and the inhabitants living between the lines often 
suffered exceedingly from the depredations of both the refugees and the 
Skinners, who would frequently rob their defenceless neighbors of all 
the money, food, and clothing they could find, or could extort from them 
by wanton cruelty. Mother says that some of the neighbors used to 


disguise themselves by blackening their faces and then go from house 
to house, robbing, stealing, and abusing the inmates. They came to 
her flxther's house one night, and as they were breaking down the front 
door, grandmother dared them to come in. They swore they would 
shoot her if she did not leave the entry, thrusting their guns through 
the sidelights ; but she replied, Fire if you dare, I know you! ' 

This grandmother seems to have been one of the model 
' women of the Revolution,' high-spirited and determined as any 
soldier. One of the lesser inconveniences to -which our farmers 
were exposed in those days was the necessity of entertaining the 
officers quartered upon tliem. These were generally of the Amer- 
ican army, and this flimily, at least, appear to have been fortunate 
in the cliaracter of their guests. The following incident is given, 
as an instance of the good lady's independent way : — 

' Among the officers quartered at her father's, mother well remem- 
bers General Schuyler and his suite ; but they did not stay long. One 
morning the General sent a servant for her mother's tea-kettle ; but 
her reply, that when she and her family should have done using it, he 
might have it, gave great offence.' 

Rye was still protected in a measure by the presence of some 
American troops. General Parsons^ was at Saw Pit, early in 
November, with a portion of his brigadoi^ He had a post, also, 
' near the head of Rye Pond,' October 29tli, securing the com- 
munications of the army at the White Plains, in that direction.^ 
A month later, in December, 1776, General Wooster, command- 
ing the Connecticut militia, had his headquarters at ' the Saw- 
pitts.'* Complaint, however, was made that some of his men dis- 

1 Brigadier-General Samuel Hoklen Parsons, of Connecticut, was a distinguished 
officer, who served through the war. Washington's secretary, Colonel Harrison, 
pronounced him, in 1776, ' a very judicious and good officer.' He died November 17, 
1789, being drowned in the Ohio, near Pittsburg. (Records of the Reiolutio»art/ War, 
by W. T. R. Saftell. New York, 1858: p. 534.) 

- The return of General S. H. Parsons's brigade is made November 3, 1776. 
Colonels Prescott, with 211 men fit for duty; Tyler, 231; Huntington, 136; Ward, 
176; M'Intosh, 259; Carpenter, 130; Cogswell, 287; Major Rogers, 108; Lieut.- 
Colonels Thrbop, 104 ; Horsford, 106 ; Smith, 62. Total, 1,810 fit for duty, besides 
708 sick, etc. The whole brigade numbers 3,192 men. Major Zabdiel Rogers, at Saio 
Pi7, November 1, 1776, makes a return of his command. He has ten companies; 
total, rank and file, 172 men, of whom 53 are sick. The same day, Washington's 
secretary sends to the President of Congress a letter just received from General S. H, 
Parsons 'who is stationed near the SaivPits,' complaining of a ' most scandalous' 
practice of ' desertion and return home,' by which ' the number of our troops is every 
day decreasing.' (American Archives, fifth series, vol. iii. pp. 475, 493, 499.) - 

'^ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 1285. 

* December 11, Governor Trumbull writes, 'Major General Wooster is now at 
Saw-Pits, with about 750 men from this State.' 


tressed tlie inhabitants of Westcliester County even ' more than 
the very enemy themselves: taking oiF with them our stock, 
liouseho'ui furniture, and even our farming utensils.' It is to be 
hoped that such grievances were not frequent. But it appears 
that these Connecticut troops thought themselves bound to act 
only for the defence of their own State. ' General Wooster,' say 
the inhabitants, ' aflPords us no assistance, and we have been in- 
formed that some of his officers have said that they would not 
defend this State, and that if the enemy should make their appear- 
ance, they would retreat to the borders of Connecticut, and there 
make a stand.' ^ This statement receives some confirmation from 
the incident of November 3d, already related. 

December 8th, 1776, General Wooster wrote from Saw Pit to 
the President of Congress: 'On the 5th inst. a fleet of about 
eighty transports and eight large ships of war anchored off New 
London, and were there on the 6th, being the last accounts from 
them. They passed this place on the 4th, in the evening. I learn 
from deserters from Long Island, who left the fleet, that they had 
about 8,000 men on board, — a bad situation for our eastern people, 
and not a general officer in that part of the country ; but I hope 
Providence will work deliverance for ns.' " 

Ill-used as they thought themselves, however, our inhabitants 
fared worse before long, when these forces were removed from 
their neighborhood, and they were left entirely exposed to the 
incursions of the enemy. This occurred early in 1777. The 
time of service of many of the Connecticut troops, who hitherto 
had protected the border, now expired. November Sd, General 
Washington, while at the White Plains, had ordered the dis- 
charge of the light horse under Major Backus, of whom he spoke 
in high praise. ' Their conduct,' he said, ' has been extremely 
good, and the services they have rendered of great advantage 
to their country.' ^ February 17, 1777, General Wooster wrote 
from Rye Neck, that a regiment of volunteers from Connecticut 
was to be discharged on the twenty-second, when he would be 
left with not more than eight hundred men in his department.^ 
A few weeks later, the country was deprived of the services of 
this excellent man, who died May 2, 1777, in consequence of 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., of New York, vol. ii. p. 259 ; Petition of 
the Committee for Westchester County to the Convention for relief, December 23, 

■■^ American Archives, fifth scries, vol. iii. p. 1129. 

3 Ibid. )). 484. 

* Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 816. 


wounds received during tlie expedition of the British to destroy 
the magazines at Danbury, Connecticut.^ 

One of the principal terrors to the inhabitants of the Neutral 
Ground, at this period, was t\^e body of troops known as ' The 
Queen's Rangers.' We iiave noticed their first visit to our neigh- 
borhood, at Mamaroneck, just before the battle of the White Plains. 
After that battle, when the lower part of the county lay open to 
the incursions of the enemy, they soon became the scourge of the 
population. The Rangers were a partisan corps, raised originally 
in Connecticut and the vicinity of New York, and numbering 
about five hundred men, all Americans and loyalists. At this 
time they were commanded by one Robert Rogers, of New Hamp- 
shire, ' one of the most odious of all Americans of note ' who had 
enlisted under the royal standard. As early as December 12, 
1776, the inhabitants of Westchester C(mnty complain bitterly to 
the Convention, through Judge Thomas, Frederick Jay and others, 
of their exposure and suffering from this source. They are in con- 
tinual danger of being made prisoners, and having their farms and 
habitations plundered by Robert Rogers's party. These men 
make daily excursions in divers parts of said county, taking with 
them by force of arms many good inhabitants ; also their stock, 
grain, and everything else that foils in their way, and laving waste 
and destroying all that they cannot take with them. ' The suffer- 
ing inhabitants of Westchester County are ravaged without restraint 
or remorse.' ^ 

The presence- of an American force at Saw Pit ^ did not prevent 
the enemy from making an occasional dash into this neighborhood. 
' Between thirty and forty Head of fat Cattle belonging to the 

1 David Wooster, born in Stratford, Conn., March 2, 1710, graduated at Yale 
College, 1738, served in the expedition against Louisburg, 1745, and in the French 
"War, 1756 to 1763. He was engaged in mercantile pursuits till May, 1775, when he 
planned the expedition from Connecticut to capture Fort Ticonderoga. He was ap- 
pointed one of eight brigadier-generals by Congress, June 22, 1775, being third in 
rank. During the campaign of 1776 he was principally employed in Canada. On 
his return home he was appointed first major-general of the militia of his State, and 
during the whole winter, 1776-77, he was employed in protecting that State against 
the enemy. 

2 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 749. 

'^ It may have been about this time that tlie following incident occurred : Several 
American soldiers, gathered at ' Simmons' [Silvanus Seaman's] tavern,' in Saw Pit, 
were bantering one Jabez Hobby, a ' tory ' ; one of them asked him what the letters 
U. S. A. on liis military cap, meant. 'Useless, Scandalous, Army,' answered Hobby : 
whereupon the enraged patriots took him and hung him by the neck to a tree near 
by. He was taken down before life became extinct, and lived for some years after 
the war. His brother Hezekiah Hobby was a whig. (Communicated by Seth Lyon.) 


Rebel Army, were drove into this City last Tuesday,' says Gaine's 
*New York Gazette,' of March 31, 1777, 'from Rye, in Connecti- 
cut.' ' Last Sunday week. Colonel James De Lancey, with 60 
of his West Chester Light horse, went from King's Bridge to the 
White Plains, where they took from the Rebels forty-four Barrels 
of Flour and two Ox Teams, near one hundred Head of Black 
Cattle, and 3 hundred Fat Sheep and Hogs ; on this Service Mr. 
Purdy, a very respectable Inhabitant of West Chester County, was 
killed; there were also Five Horses shot by the Rebels.' ^ 

On one of these occasions, Thomas KnifFen, a lad of fourteen 
or fifteen, was passing through ' Steep Hollow,' ^ between Rye and 
Saw Pit, driving his father's cows liome from pasture. As he ap- 
proached the post-road, a party ' from below ' came along the road, 
and took him prisoner, making him drive the cows down to New 
York island, where he remained in camp with them for several 
weeks. By this time the cattle had been butchered, and his cap- 
tors set forth on a new marauding tour, taking him with them as 
guide. They took their course northward in the direction of the 
White Plains, but finding little spoil, crossed over into the town of 
Rye, and concealed themselves in the Great Swamp which still 
existed, between Rerrent and Ridn;e streets. Kniffen was ordered 
to go to some of the neighboring houses and find out where they 
could obtain food. He went to the house of Caleb Snifli'en, on the 
old road near Mr. Peyton's, told the family what his errand was, 
.and who were hiding in the swamp, and then starting across the 
fields toward the American lines, ran for his life to Byram Bridge, 
where he went into camp, and told his story, and enlisted in the 
army. Just then whale-boats were being fitted out for service on 
the Sound. Kniffen engaged as a whale-boat man, and served 
through the war in this capacity. He cruised most of the time 
along the coast from ' Horseneck ' to Throg's Point, making 
occasional dashes across to Long Island, or annoying the British 
boats and vessels in the Sound.^ In this sort of warfare, not a 
few of our inhabitants were likewise engaged ; but little is known 
at present of their exploits. 

'Sniffen's Hill,' according to our old inhabitants, was the 
place where an American force encamped in Rye, at various times 

1 Gaine's New York Gazette and the Weekhj Mercury, October 13, 1777. 

2 The ravine on the south side of Mr. Quintard's property, terininiiting at the post- 
road, below Port Chester. 

8 Tiiomas Kniffen was the grandfather of Jonathan SniflFen, of Rye, from whom I 
have these particuhirs. 


in the course of the war.^ The more modern name of this locahty 
is ' Bloomer's Hill.' It overlooks the village of Port Chester, 
formerly Saw Pit, and commands an extensive view of the sur- 
rounding country. This is the only spot, in the lower part of our 
town, which I have been able to identify as permanently occupied 
by the troops of either side. Here, I am led to think, the Con- 
necticut troops were encamped from the early part of October, 
1776, till the following spring. The commanding officers date 
their letters sometimes from Saw Pit and sometimes from ' Rye 
Neck.' The latter name was commonly given at that time to 
Peningo Neck, rather than to the portion of the town which lies 
west of it toward Mamaroneck. Probably the same spot was 
meant by both designations. 

In the summer of the year 1778, Washington was again for 
several weeks at the White Plains. The British, after the battle 
of Monmouth, had retreated to New York, and the Americans, 
from their former post on the hills of Westchester, awaited further 
movements on the enemy's part. During this period a detach- 
ment of French troops, it is said, was stationed near Saw Pit. 
The spot pointed out as their camping ground is on the west side 
of King Street, opposite the Misses Merrit's house. 
1 See vignette, p. 215. 

«|S^H . 

■f ^v^a^^js- -_— - 

;=?&^i£i^~» -' -'v—-^ 

Byram Bridge. 




IN the northern part of our town, an American force had been 
stationed, as we have seen, ' near the head of Rye Pond,' in 
October, 1776, while the army was still at the White Plains. In 
January, 1777, General Heath, who was at Peekskill with his 
division, received orders from Washington, then in New Jersey, 
to move down with a considerable force toward New York, as if 
lie had a design on the city. This was after the attack on Prince- 
ton ; and tlie object of the proposed manoeuvre was, to compel the 
enemy to withdraw their forces from New Jersey for the defence of 
New York. Heath's journal relates the movements of his troops 
in this neighborhood as follows: — 

'■Jan. 8th, 1777. — General Parsons went down to King-street. 

'Jmi. \?jth. — Our General [Heath himself] moved to the Southward, 
and reached North-Castle just before sunset. 

'lAth. — Our General moved to King-street to 3Ir. Clap's — about 
3,000 militia had arrived, and Gen. Lincoln's division marched to 
Tarrytown on this day. 

'■\iith. — The Connecticut volunteers marched from King-street to 
New Rochelle, and Gen. Scott's brigade to Stephen Ward's. Plenty 


of provisions now arriving, A deserter came in from the enemy, and 
gave an account of their situation and numbers. 

' 11th. — At night the three divisions began to move towards Kings- 
bridge — Gen. Liucoln's from Tarry town, on the Albany road ; Gen- 
erals Wooster and Parsons from New Rochelle and East Chester, and 
Gen. Scott's in the centre from below "White Plains.' 

29//i. — These operations were ended, and the troops fell back. It 
was ' considered a very hazardous expedition,' the more remarkable 
because • performed entirely by inexperienced militia.' 

January Zlst. — A cordon of troops was formed from Dobb's Ferry 
to Maniaroneck. 

'■ February \ St. — Foraging being now the object, a large number of 
teams were sent out towards Mamaroneck, and upwards of eighty loads 
of forage were brought off' On the third, and again on the eighth, 
' another grand forage ' took place.^ . 

A number of loyalists from Rye and Mamaroneck were now 
with the British army in New York or on Long Island, while their 
families remained here, within the American lines. General 
Wooster announced his intention to require these families immedi- 
ately to remove from the place and ' go below,' unless the men 
should return and pledge themselves to stay quietly at home, in 
which case they should be protected, and should not be disturbed 
nor imprisoned.^ Measures of this character were doubtless neces- 
sary, though in many cases they must have caused much suffering. 
Commissioners were now appointed, with authority to ' seize the 
personal property of such of the late inhabitants of Westchester 
County as have gone over to the enemy, and dispose of it at pub- 
lic sale.' 3 We soon hear complaints of ' over-zeal ' on the part of 

1 Memoirs of Major-General Heath, written by himself. Published according to Act 
of Congress. Boston, 1798 : pp. 100 seq. The movement failed to accomplish the 
object proposed. 

2 Gaine's New York Gazette, Monday, February 17, 1777. 

' The Copy of an intercepted Letter from a Rebel Officer to a Person in Long- 

'Head-Quarters, January 3, 1777. Sir At the Eeq^' of Yr Friends You have 
here Present'd an Invitation of Your Returning Home. The General has ordered all 
the Wives and Families in Rye and Marrinaclc whose Husbands or Males are at New 
York or Long Ishind immediately to Move to New York or the Island, Unless their 
Husbands or Males will Return Home and if they Return home, the General Prom- 
ises Protection which I Here Inclose to Gether with Your Parole which You must 
Sign and upon Your signing it the General on his Part Promises that he will Protect 
You as long as a brave People inspired with a Love of Liberty is able to Protect You. 
You Nead not Fear any Danger of being Moved or imprisoned for You have the Gen- 
erals Honnor Pledge, Signed By order of Major Genl Wooster Stephen K. Bradley 
Aid De Camp.' 

^ Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 811. 


the agents tlius empowered. The Committee of Safety, upon rep- 
resentations made by General Putnam, remonstrate with the com- 
missioners for sequestration. ' We are sorry to hear that many of 
the women and chikh-en of tories gone over to the enemy are in a 

suffering condition Several complaints have been made to 

us that many flimilies have been stripped of almost everything, 
even of a little pasture and hay for a cow, and in some instances, 
not left a cow itself, by which means they are reduced to almost a 
starving condition.' Large families where there are small children 
have been left without the means of subsistence. ' It was not the 
sense of Convention to deprive such families of the necessaries of 
life.' The commissioners are cautioned to proceed with less harsh- 

Soon after the withdrawal of the American army from New 
York, great numbers of poor persons were sent into Westchester 
County from the poor-house of that city and from elsewhere.^ 
Rye, Mamaroneck, and New Rochelle are the places appointed for 
their reception.^ Judge Thomas has distributed them as well as 
he could in the several districts of the county. Among the ac- 
counts sent in to the Committee of Safety for the support of these 
indigent people, is that of Ezekiel Halsted, who has provided for 
fifty-one of them. The sum of £21 16s. id. is allowed him for 
this service. The presence of so many helpless persons must have 
added to the trials of our inhabitants already overburdened. 

The sufferings of the people in the lower part of Westchester 
County now attract much attention, and excite deep sympathy. 
' Unless it is the intention of the State to abandon this quarter to 
the enemy,' Avrites William Duer, Esq., chairman of the Com- 
mittee of Convention, ' and to sacrifice those who have stood firm 
in their country's cause in the worst of times, a proper force must 
be sent immediately unto the lower parts of this county, under 
command of active and vigilant officers.' General Wooster is still 
at Rye Neck, February 17, 1777, but a regiment from Connecti- 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. pp. 812, 813 ; vol. ii. p. 218. 

2 The "Vestry of the eity of New York, May 30, 1776, represent to the Provincial 
Congress, that there are about four hundred poor in the almshouse and adjoining 
buildings— blind and lame, helpless, children, and old people, etc. They ask for 
£5,000 or other relief. {American Archives, fourth series, vol. vi. p. 627.) August 2.5, 
the Convention took action relative to the support of the indigent persons who must 
be driven from their abodes ; they are to be quartered upon the inhabitants, at vari- 
ous places, who are to be paid moderate prices for their support. One thousand 
pounds are appropriated to remove these people out of the city of New York. (Ibid. 
pp. 1539-1.541.) 

* Some were sent also to New Windsor, in Ulster County. (Ibid. p. 1545.) 


cut is to he discharged on the twenty-second, when he will not 
have more than eight hundred men in this department, ' a number 
very insufficient for the purpose of protecting or maintaining the 
allegiance of this county, and particularly of securing the important 
article of forage.' The frequent calls for the services of the militia 
have greatly distressed the inhabitants of Westchester County ; 
taken the husbandmen from their occupations ; and prevented 
them from threshino; and manufacturino; their wheat. Colonel 
Humphreys is directed, March 3, to proceed with all the men he 
has raised immediately to Westchester County, for the protection 
of the well affected ; and if the troops prove insufficient, volun- 
teers are to be raised, not exceeding three hundred in number. 
The Provincial Congress appoints a committee of three to devise 
ways and means for the permanent defence of the inhabitants from 
the ravages of the enemy.^ 

Little was done for them, however, save to express sympathy 
and to promise help. Indeed, it was not the design of the Amer- 
ican leaders to keep a strong military force in this neighborhood 
for the protection of the inhabitants of the Neutral Ground. Wash- 
ington himself, we learn, at an earlier stage of the war, held that 
upon grounds of military expediency the whole southern part of 
Westchester County ought to have been desolated, and the army 
stfftioned in the Highlands west of the Hudson.^ At present, the 
chief anxiety of the leaders was to remove from this region the 
forage ar)d other stores which might otherwise fall into the hands 
of the enemy. A number of teamsters were employed, in the 
spring of 1777, for this ])urpose, as well as for the removal of 
' well-affected inhabitants.' Amons: these teamsters we recognize 
the names of Daniel Horton, Stephen Field, John Cromwell, and 
others, of Rye. 

Every week now brings reports of inroads by parties from the 
British lines, penetrating far into the interior of the county : — 

' We have daily accounts of cattle being stole and drove downwards 
to support our cruel, merciless and inveterate enemies, by our more 
than savage neighbours, the tories, who have of late become so insult- 
ing as to hiss at men passing ; and several have been fired at in the 
road. Isaac Oakley, at the Plains, has been robbed of thirty-six head 
of cattle.' '' 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. pp. 808, 816, 821. 

^ Irvimfs Life of Wasliimjton, vol. ii. p. 372. American Archives, fifth series, vol. ii. 
p. 921. 

' Letter of Israel Honeywell, junior, Philip's Manor, March 28, 1777. (Journals 
of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 856.) 


In one of these raids, the enemy succeeded in effecting the cap- 
ture of a i)orson whom they had long been seeking to take, Judge 
Thomas, of tliis town. On Sunday morning, March tlie 22d, 1777, 
a party of British troops seized him at his house in ' Rye Woods,' 
and cairied him to New York, where he was committed to prison. 
The site of this house is on the west side of King Street, about 
four miles from tlie village of Port Chester, and a little beyond the 
residence of Daniel Brooks, Esq. The kitchen attached to it is 
still standing, at the end of a short lane. A Mr. Miller was taken 
at the same time with Judge Thomas ; probably William Miller, 
who was deputy chairman of the Committee of Safety for West- 
chester County, of which Thomas was chairman. Tradition re- 
ports that a certain Hachaliah Carhart, an officer in the British 
service, belonging to De Lancy's corps of refugees, was one of the 
company who made this capture. He was well acquainted with 
Miller, and was like him a member of the Society of Friends. It 
is said that when the band surrounded the house, Carhart called 
out to his old acquaintance, Friend Miller, dost thou not know 
me ? The question was repeated three times, and finally the 
answer came, I knew thee once, but I know thee no more.^ Judge 
Thomas died in New York soon after his arrest, and was buried in 
Trinity churchyard.''^ He had long been prominent as a public 
man, and was particularly obnoxious to the enemy on account of 
the active part he took in the early events of the Revolution. 

A sad affair occurred at Rye just after this. We quote the ac- 
count of it which appeared in Gaine's ' New York Gazette,' which 
had now become a tory organ, April 14, 1777 : — 

' Some Days ago the Daughter of Mr. Jonathan Kniffin of Rye in 
Connecticut, was murdered by a Party of Rebels near or upon Budd's 
Neck. She was carrying some Cloaths to her Father, in Company of 
two Men who had the Charge of a Herd of Cattle. They were fired 
upon by the Rebels from behind a Stone-Wall. The poor young 
woman received a Ball in her Head, of which she instantly died. The 
Men escaped unhurt. They plundered her dead Body of its Cloaths, 
cut one of her Fingers almost off in order to take a Ring, and left the 
Corpse most indecently exposed in the Highway. Such are the Advo- 
cates of this cursed Rebellion ! Yet the Officer (so called) who com- 
manded the Party, and is said to be a Colonel among the Rebels, glo- 
ried in the Exploit, and swore it was better to kill one Woman than 
two Men, adding moreover, that he would put both Man and Woman 

1 Information from Mr. Nehcmiah Purely, King Street. 
^ Bolton's History of Westchester County, vol. i. p. 255, 


to death, who should presume to cultivate their Farms or their Gardens 
in the Neighbourhood of Rye in this Spring.' ^ 

This account differs in several particulars from that which has 
been preserved by tradition. Tlie perpetrators of the outrage, it is 
said, were not American soldiers, but a party of three ' Cow Boys,' 
wliose names are well remembered. They lived in this vicinity,^ 
and were fit specimens of the class of vile and lawless men to 
which tliey belonged. The murder is said to have occurred, not 
on Budd's Neck, but on the post-road a short distance above the 
village of Rye, near the entrance to Mr. Hunt's late residence. 
Jonathan Kniffin lived on Regent Street. His daughter was the 
sister of Andrew Lyon's wife. Her father, it is said, was a ' tory,' 
and had gone to New York, where he was taken with the small- 
pox, and eventually died. The daughter, hearing of his sickness, 
started to go to New York on horseback, but was waylaid and 
killed in the manner which has been described. 

The following item of news appeared in Gaine's ' New York 
Gazette' of Monday, February 17, 1777: — 

' A few Evenings ago, four Boats full of Men came over from Rye to 
the opposite Shore on Long Island, and carried off a Sloop laden with 
Poultry and other Things for the New York Market. The Fog was so 
thick, that the Guard, which is constantly kept upon the Shore, did not 
perceive them. One Man was taken in the Sloop.' 

This is one of the earliest notices of a kind of warfare which 
was now beginning to assume considerable importance. Small 
boats, resembling those used by whalers, about thirty feet long, and 
propelled with oars, from four to twenty in number, were fitted up 
in the harbors along the northern shore of the Sound, and em- 
ployed in harassing the enemy in various ways. They would dart 
across the Sound, under cover of the night, and run into the inlets 
of the Long Island shore, landing near the house of a tory family, 
sometimes to plunder and sometimes to take prisoners. Small 
British vessels, cruising in the Sound, were occasionally captured 
by these nimble privateers. Market sloops, loaded with provisions 
for the British army in New York, were their favorite prey. 
Great quantities of forage and other stores belonging to the enemy 
were destroj^ed by these parties. The newspapers from 1777 to 
the close of the war contain numbei'less accounts of these exploits, 
wdiich were a source of no little uneasiness and inconvenience to 

1 One of them in West Street, anotlier in the Purchase. 


the British army, wliile they spread consternation among tlie loy- 
alists of the surrounding country, and served greatly to cheer the 
spirits of the friends of the country. Notices like the following 
ai)pear almost every week : — 

' Oct. 20, 1777. — Yesterday Sen' night, a Whale Boat, with about ten 
Men, from Byram River, went into Hempstead Harbour, Long Island, 
and took out a Wood Boat, carried her into the Sound, and was return- 
ing for two others that lay there ready loaded, but a few of the Militia 
getting together, prevented their Design -from being put in Execution, 
and obliged them to row off with speed.^ 

'May 4, 1778. — Last INIonday Evening two Row-Gallies and an armed 
Vessel crossed from Connecticut to Lloyd's Neck, on Long Island, 
where a Party of loyal Refugees were cutting Wood, who, upon being 
attacked by the Rebels, retreated to a House, in which they defended 
themselves with great Bravery and Resolution upwards of six Hours: 
but their Ammunition being expended, they were obliged to submit to 
superior Force. Next Morning the Rebels carried their Prisoners, 18 
in Number, over to Connecticut. The House in which the Refugees 
fouolit and surrendered, is perforated in many Places by the shot of the 

' 3Iay 18. — Other parties have been over to Long Island. Thirteen 
Boats have been taken within twenty Days.^ 

' May 25. — Sunday Evening the 16th inst., with Up-sun, a Boat from 
Connecticut, with a Number of Men and a 4 Pounder, came to Sand's 
Point, on the North side of Long Island, and stripped a Boat that lay 
there of all her Sails and Rigging, and went off unmolested.'* 

' June 29. — Last Wednesday a Number of whale Boats well manned? 
from Connecticut, convoyed by the AVild Cat Galley, and a little Sloop, 
formerly the Raven's Tender, made their Appearance at Lloyd's Neck, 
in order to harrass his Majesty's Wood Cutters at that Place, and soon 
took a Boat then going out of the Harbour, which they endeavoured to 
carry off, but they were immediately pursued and attacked by a Num- 
ber of Boats from the Ships, when the Wild Cat, the Raven's Tender, 
and the Wood Boat were taken, as also some of the Whale Boats. 
Thirty Men were made prisoners, and two killed, without any Loss on 
our side.'' 

' Sept. 7. — A great abundance of armed Whale Boats are cruising in 
many parts of the Sound, and 'tis feared will much interrupt our Market 

Jan. 1779. — 'Three Whale Boats that came over from Connecticut 
to plunder the inhabitants of Long Island last Week, were taken as 

1 G.ninc's New York Gazette, October 20, 1777. 2 j^/^^. May 4, 1778. 

8 Ibid. May 18, 1778. 4 y^/^ ^.^^ 25. 

6 Ibid. June 29. 6 xi,id, September 7. 


soon as they landed, by a Party of the King's Troops that were in the 
Neighbourhood, and were brought to town last Thursday.' ^ 

' June 30. — Yesterday morning about one o'clock a Party of Rebels 
from Connecticut landed on Long Island, surprized and carried off Mr. 
Abraliam Walton, Dr. Brooks, and eight more very respectable and 
loyal inhabitants from Musketo Cove.^ 

' July 5. — Last Thursday night a party of about thirty Rebels came 
over from Connecticut in three whale Boats to Cow Neck, Long Island; 
they plundered the house of Mr. Stephen Thorne of many valuable ar- 
ticles, and at the same time part of them surrounded the house of Mr. 
Edward Thorne, his son, which they likewise rifled; fortunately both 
these gentlemen were that night abroad, which prevented them from 
being carried into captivity. In the house of Mr. Edward Thorne they 
found Captain Lewis M'Donald, a gentleman banished by the rebel leg- 
islatures from Bedford, West Chester county ; him they robbed of such 
effects as their demagogues had permitted him to bring with him.'" 

These extracts, to which we might add many, suffice to show 
what were the dangers as well as the successes of the whale-boat 
service. It had now become an organized system, under military 
authority, and conducted in harmony with the general plans of the 
war. It was pursued with the greatest activity in the years 1780 
«nd 1781. Whale-boats from Connecticut were constantly plying 
the waters of the Sound, and landing at Setauket, Smithtown, 
Huntington, Hempstead ; on Lloyd's Neck, Cow Neck, Sand's 
Point ; in O vster Bay, in Mosquito Cove, and other localities along 
the northern shore of Long Island. We have seen that some of 
these parties were from Rye and Byram River. Many others 
doubtless were from the same neighborhood, for in the newspapers 
of the day, Rye was generally designated as ' in Connecticut.' 
Some of our inhabitants were engaged during the war in these 
expeditions, and the scenes of many of them wei'e in full view of 
our shores. 

Operations of this nature were not confined to the American 
side. Tiie loyalist refugees on Long Island would often retaliate 
upon their active assailants by similar whale-boat expeditions, 
starting from the opposite shore, and landing at Fairfield, Stam- 
ford, and other points in Connecticut, and. in Westchester County. 
Many a night, doubtless, after some bold foray across the water, 
did our inhabitants keep watch for the arrival of the enemy's boats 
upon Rye Neck or in Byram harbor. 

1 Gaine's New Ywh Gazette, January 11, 1779. 

2 Ibid. July 5, 1779. 3 /^/j. 


lint tlieir daiicrcrs from tliis source were insignificant compared 
Nvith those that threatened them on other sides. ' Tlie greater part 
of this county ' was in 1778 'almost entirely undefended, exposed 
to the incursions of the enemy.' It was infested too with villmns 
' who daily commit murders, robberies, and other outrages.' The 
situation of affiiirs is truly deplorable. ' Unless measures are im- 
mediately taken for the defence and security ' of this region, ' many 
of the inhabitants will be obliged to move off.' ^ 

Fonioing parties of the enemy continued to scour the country. 
Among'the most dreaded of these were the Queen's Rangers, now 
commrnded by Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe. On Wednesday, Oc- 
tober 7, 1778,'they visited this place, and captured, on King Street, 
' six liiz'ht dragoons belonging to Seldon's Regiment,' at the same 
time burning I store with a considerable quantity of merchandise.^ 
But on Friday, November 13, a more important seizure took place. 
The house of Colonel Thomas, at ' Rye Woods,' was again sur- 
prised, this time by a party of the Rangers under Simcoe. Colonel 
Thomas, the son of Judge Thomas, who had been captured in the 
same way the year before, was like his father very active and fear- 
less in his .support of the American cause, and was bitterly hated 
by the enemy. A circumstantial account of his capture is given 
in Simcoe's 'Military Journal.' The Rangers marched all night, 
and surrounded the house by daybreak. Colonel Thomas had not 
for some time passed the night at home, but now as the British 
troops were reported to have gone into winter quarters, thought 
himself comparatively safe. As the party approached the house, 
a shot was fired from a window, killing a man by Simcoe's side. 
The house was immediately forced, and the person who fired the 
shot was killed. This person, as we learn from local tradition, 
was James Brundage, a son of Gilbert Brundage, of Rye ; a young 
man of fine character and high promise, whose cruel death was long 
vividly remembered here. He was killed ' wdiile on his knees, 
begging for his life.' Thomas Carpenter, another young man who 
was also in the house at the time, came near losing his life, being 
stabbed in many places by the soldiers' bayonets, while hidden 
under a bed.^ Colonel Thomas leaped out of a window, and came 
near escaping, but was taken by one of the hussars. The British 
cavalry proceeded to the American picket, about a mile further, 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., vol. i. p. 1107. 

2 Giiinc's New York Gazette, October 12, 1778. 

' The stcp-inother of J.imcs Brundage lived to the age of eighty-six years, and died 
in 1823 at tlic house of Aaron Field, Kin<r Street. I have these facts from her nieces. 

y '"; To\\^' of RYE . 


hoping to surprise a party of light horse who were stationed there. 
But the sound of musketry had alarmed them, and after firing 
their carbines, and wounding one of the enemy's officers, they re- 
treated. Colonel Thomas was taken to General Tryon, who was 
then at ' Ward's house ' in East Chester, and who ' was much 
pleased at this mischievous partizan's being taken.' ^ 

The spot occupied by the American force whose picket guard 
Simcoe had hoped to surprise, was probably ' at the head of King 
Street, near Rye-pond.' Here, three regiments of General Par- 
sons's brigade had been posted on the twenty-third of October, 
1776, a few days before the battle of the White Plains. General 
Heath writes from King Street in the following February. Early 
in 1780, there were ' near 300 Continental Troops stationed at a 
Place called King Street, their Advance Guard being at the House 
of John Crom, near the Quaker Meeting House, in Harrison's 
Purchase.' This was John Crormoell, whose homestead is still 
standing, ' on the south-east side of Rye Pond, on the road lead- 
ing from the Purchase to North Castle.' The main body of these 
troops was probably encamped near the intersection of King 
Street and the road ninning east from the meeting-house. 

It was near Merritt's tavern, at the upper part of King Street, 
that one of the most notable incidents of the war occurred, on 
Sunday, December 2d, 1781. Captain Sackett was stationed here 
in command of ' the New York levies near Harrison purchase.' A 
party of De Lancey's loyal refugee cavalry, commanded by Cap- 
tain Kipp, making an incursion as far as King Street, fell in with 
Captain Sackett, who had gone a short distance from his men, and 
took him prisoner, together with an ensign and a private. The 
command of the American party then devolved on Lieutenant 
Mosher, who retreated with them to a spot near Merritt's tavern, 
where he ' formed his Men in a solid Body, with fixed Bayonets.' 
They were ordered not to fire a shot, but to receive the enemy's 
charge in silence, until further instructions. At the first charge, 
the tory officer, finding himself repulsed, called to Mosher to sur- 
render, or he would cut his party to pieces. Mosher's reply was 
one of defiance ; and another charge was made and sustained in 
the same manner. But after the third attack, the Americans were 
ordered to fire on the retiring troops, which they did with terrible 
eifect, killing one man and dangerously wounding eight others, 

1 A Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers, from 1777 to the Conclusion of the 
late American War. By Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe. New York : Bartlett and Wel- 
ford, 1844. 



among them Captain Kipp. Two of the British officers had their 
horses' killed imder them. * Mosher's men, taking advantage of 
the discomfiture of their assailants, escaped to a neighboring 
piece of woods, not having a man even wounded. This is said to 
have been the most astonishing feat, on the part of both the officers 
and men, that was enacted during the whole w^ar. General Wash- 
intrton often s])oke of the affiiir, and it was reported all over Europe, 
to show the utility of the bayonet, and that a small party of infantry 
thus armed may successfully resist a strong body of cavahy.' ^ 

Several engagements took place in 1779 and 1780 below this 
point, at Sherwood's Bridge (Gienville) and at Byram Bridge. On 
Thursday night, February 27, 1779, a small party sent from the 
American lines at Horseneck or Greenwich towards New York, 
discovered a British force at New Rochelle, advancing toward Rye. 
The party, composed of a captain and thirty men, retired before 
them undiscovered as far as Rye Neck ; but here, as it was growing 
light, the enemy perceived and attacked them. They defended 
themselves as best they could, but were soon defeated by superior 
numbers, and several were killed. The party now scattered ; some 
of them were driven by the enemy from the post-road down into 
Milton,^ where they managed to keep away from their pursuers, 
crossing the heads of the creeks, and hiding in the swamps ; while 
others made their way to Saw Pit, where they took advantage of an 
elevated piece of ground, and made some stand ; but the superior 
force of the enemy compelled them to retire over Byram Bridge, 
which they took up, and by this means were enabled to reach Horse- 
neck in safety. The British troops, consisting of several regiments, 
a body of dragoons, and a detachment of artillery, were on their 
way to Greenwich, for the purpose of destroying the salt works at 
that place. This they accomplished, while General Putnam, who 
had observed their approach, went to Stamford to collect a body of 
militia and other troops which were there. Upon his return, the 
enemy retreated, and ' got over Byram river before dusk, the 
rebels,' by a tory paper's account, ' annoying the rear with a con- 
siderable fire.' ^ According to Putnam's report, a number of pris- 

1 History of Greenwich, Conn., by D. M. Mead, pp. 179-181. Hugh Gaine's New 
York Gazette and Weekly Mercury, Monday, December 10, 1781. 

•^ So states Mr. Mead, in his History of the Town of Greenwich ( p. 166), probably 
on traditional authority, as the fact is not mentioned in Putnam's account. 

" Gaine's New York Gazette, March 3, 1779. A party of militia, it is said, num- 
bering one hundred and fifty or two hundred, occupied the brow of the hill on the 
right of the road, east of Byram Bridge, where they were protected by some rocks or 
boulders. From this vantage-ground they fired down upon the British soldiery as 
they crossed the bridge, and killed several. (Local tradition.) 


oners were taken, and two of the enemy's ba£xo;ao;e and ammuni- 
tion wagons were captured, the former containing a portion of 
the pKnuler, whicli Putnam restored to the inhabitants.^ 

It was on this occasion that General Putnam met with the 
famous adventure, near Horseneck, whicii has given his name to 
the hill east of the Congreoational Church.^ 

May and June of the same year were rendered memorable to 
the people of Rye by several visits of the enemy's troops, dashino- 
through the town on their way to the Connecticut border. May 
5th, ' a Party of Lieutenant Colonel De Lancey's Refuo-ees made 
an Excursion to Horseneck, where they took a Captain and five 
Privates ; and on Wednesday the 10th, near Byron [Byram] 
River, they took nine Privates.' On the twenty-second, the same 
corps made ' a successful Incursion upon the enemy ' at Horseneck, 
' of wiiom they killed ten, took 37 Continental and Militia Troops 
Prisoners, ^nd Trophies, consisting, as is said, of one hundred 
Head of Cattle. But this cost the Colonel the Loss of a brave 
Officer, Captain [Solomon] Fowler, who was killed by the Ene- 
my's Fire from a Window, which, it is said, occasioned a severe 
Retribution — The House was immediately consumed to Ashes.' ^ 

June 4th, a party of Refugees ' surprised a Party of the Rebels, 
that were stationed at Byram River ; killed three, wounded some, 
and brought off four Prisoners, with some Stock, etc' 

June 16th, ' a Party of Lieutenant Colonel Emmerick's Dra- 
goons, consisting of a Sargeant and twelve Privates, under the 
Command of Lieutenant Muirson, with Cornet Merrit, took part of 
two Rebel Pickets, at Byrom and Sherrard's Bridges, and brought 
off 18 Prisoners.' Sherwood's Bridge is the ancient name of 
the bridge crossing the Byram River at Glenville. Some of 
the old inhabitants in that neighborhood remember hearing of 
this affair. It is said that the picket guard heard the sound of the 
horses' feet as the British approached, and succeeded in making 
their escape. 

The alarms and sufferings produced by these frequent forays 
among the people may be faintly imagined. But tradition repre- 
sents the state of things in Rye, at this period, as one which could 

1 Diary of the Revolution, by Frank Moore : vol. ii. p. 138. 

2 Several of the popular accounts of this adventure place it a month later — in 
March, 1779. Mr. Lossing (Field-Book of the Revolution, i. 411, 412) states that rt oc- 
curred on March 26. General Putnam's own account is confirmed by the New York 
papers of the period, which assign the event to the day mentioned above. 

^ Gaine's New York Gazette. 


scarcely be made worse by any new infliction. The inhabitants, 
say our old men, ' were pillaged on both sides.' ' Very many had 
moved away ; those who stayed, had to be milk-and-water men.' 
The place was considered particularly unsafe, because ' the scout- 
ing iiarties would generally go as near as they could to the lines ' 
of cither army. ' The fences were all down. The farmers could 
not cultivate the lands.' Many of the owners of property were 
killed, or were never heard from, and in some cases the lands for 
this reason became lost to the families who had a right to them. 
The opinion prevails among those who cherish recollections of the 
old times, that there was no part of the Neutral Ground where 
the inhabitants suffered more than in the town of Rye. 

Besides the British soldiery, and the Cow Boys, their humble 
allies, there was a class of men during the war whom the people 
dreaded perhaps equally or more — lawless characters, who, as it 
commonly happens in such times, would take advantage of the 
troubled state of the community to plunder, outrage, and murder the 
peaceable part of the population without mercy, on their own ac- 
count. One such individual there was, among others, in Rye, whose 
very name was a constant terror. Shubael Mekritt was neither 
Cow Boy nor Skinner; but he was a man whom everybody feared; 
one who, as it was said, ' would shoot a man for the pleasure of 
it.' An incident of his bloody career is still remembered, and told 
at the firesides of some of our farmers. Two Frenchmen, 'forage- 
masters ' or commissaries, were on their way toward Saw Pit, in 
the lower part of King Street, carrying a large sum of money in 
gold. They were followed by Merritt; and alarmed by his suspi- 
cious appearance, fled across a field, when he fired and killed one 
of them. Whilst he was engacred in robbino; his victim of the eold 
which he had about him, the other made his escape, and rushing 
into the house of Mr. Samuel Brown, on King Street, near Regent, 
entreated the family with gestui'es and in broken language to con- 
ceal him. They had seen Merritt pass by with his gun, and sus- 
pected that he was the pursuer. They had scarcely succeeded in 
hiding the Frenchman in the cellar, when Merritt came in, furious 
with disappointment, and demanded with an oath, ' what had 
become of that Frenchman ? ' Tlie family professed entire igno- 
rance, and prevailed upon him to join them at dinner; during which, 
however, he started up repeatedly in a rage, vowing that he would 
yet catch the man. When he had left the house, the terrified 
stranger was released from his hiding-place, and shown whither to 
flee, in the direction opposite to that which Merritt had taken. 


At another time, Merritt and one of his fellow-ruffians were 
sitting by the road-side, near the village of Rye, engaged in a game 
of cards, while in a field adjoining an old man accompanied by 
his little boy was busy ploughing. As they watched his move- 
ments, the outlaw proposed to his companion that they should play 
a game, the loser of which should shoot the old man. The lot 
fell upon Merritt, who, as the unsuspecting farmer next approached 
the spot, slowly guiding his team along the furrow, deliberately 
raised his giin and shot him though the heart. The little boy who 
witnessed the murderous deed lived to avenge his father's death. 
Some time after the close of the war, when a. young man, he met 
Shubael Merritt at New Rochelle, and reminding him of the act, 
killed him on the spot. Such was the fear and detestation in which 
this man was held that no steps were taken to punish the slayer.^ 

Several of the old houses in our villao;e are known to have been 
the scenes of thrillino; though common events during the Revolu- 
tionary War. In almost every family long resident here there 
linger yet traditions that vividly illustrate the perils and priva- 
tions of the period.^ No better description of the men and the 
times has ever been furnished than that written by the eminent 

1 I have these facts from an aged resident of King Street, and find the latter inci- 
dent confirmed by Mr. Mead, in his History of Greenwich (p. 155). Mr. Mead, however, 
states that Merritt was killed at White Plains ; and a tradition exists in Harrison that 
he was buried on the south side of an orchard on the place now Mr. Holliday's, nearly 
opposite the main entrance to his grounds. 

2 Here are a few, not more remarkable, doubtless, than those that linger about many 
another village in the Neutral Ground, but which may serve as illustrations : — 

The father of two ladies now living in Rye used to relate that during the war he 
once happened to be in the house now Mr. Joseph Kirby's tenement house, when a 
party of scouts came in, and he concealed himself under a bed. In searching for him 
the men pierced the bed with their bayonets. When they left the room he escaped 
through a window and hid in some currant bushes ; and he had barely done so when 
they returned and thrust their bayonets under the bed where he had taken refuge. 

A young couple were, living at one time in the house where Mr. Josiah Purdy now 
resides. One night they heard the firing of musketry near by, followed by groans. 
In their terror they did not dare to open the door ; and next morning they found the 
dead body of a man lying on their door-step, whither he had dragged himself. 

On the front stoop of the old Halsted house, on the corner of the road to the Beach, 
a man was shot dead by a party of Cow Boys or Skinners passing by. 

The old Squai-e House on the post-road (now the Misses Mead's) bears many 
marks of revolutionary times, in its ancient walls, perforated by numerous bullet- 

It is said that a British officer was concealed for three months, daring the war, in 
' Toby's Hole,' a remarkable cave on the land now Mrs. Buckley's, on Locust Avenue. 
Food was brought to him every day by the family of Gilbert Brundage, who lived 
near the spot where the railroad crosses Blind Brook ; and his military coat, which 
he gave them when he left, was long preserved as a memorial. 


Dr. Dwio-lit.i Nor was there any locality in the region described, 
to which this vivid picture more faithfully applied. 

'In the autumn of 1777,1 resided for some time in this County. 
The lines of the British were then in the neighbourhood of King's 
Bridge ; and those of the Americans at Byram river. These unhappy 
people were, therefore, exposed to the depredations of both. Often 
thev were actually plundered ; and always were liable to this calamity. 
They feared everybody whom they saw ; and loved nobody. It was a 
curious fact to a philosopher, and a melancholy one to a moralist, to 
hear their conversation. To every question they gave such an answer, 
as would please the enquirer ; or, if they despaired of pleasing, such an 
one as would not provoke him. Fear was, apparently, the only passion 
by which they were animated. The power of volition seemed to have 
deserted them. They were not civil, but obsequious ; not obliging, but 
subservient. They yielded with a kind of apathy, and very quietly, 
what you asked, and what they supposed it impossible for them to 
retain. If you treated them kindly, they received it coldly ; not as a 
kindness, but as a compensation for injuries done them by others. 
When you spoke to them, they answered you without either good or ill- 
nature, and without any appearance of reluctance or hesitation ; but 
they subjoined neither questions nor remarks of their own ; proving to 
your full conviction, that they felt no interest either in the conversation 
or in yourself Both their countenances and their motions had lost 
every trace of animation and of feeling. Their features were smoothed, 
not into serenity but apathy ; and instead of being settled in the atti- 
tude of quiet thinking, strongly indicated that all thought beyond what 
was merely instinctive had tied their minds for ever. 

' Their houses, in the mean time, were in a great measure scenes of 
desolation. Their furniture was extensively plundered, or broken to 
pieces. The walls, floors and windows were injured both by violence 
and decay ; and were not rej^aired, because they had not the means of 
repairing them, and because they were exposed to the repetition of the 
same injuries. Their cattle were gone. Their enclosures were burnt, 
where they were capable of becoming fuel ; and in many cases thrown 
down where they were not. Their fields were covered with a rank 
growth of weeds and wild grass. 

' Amid all this appearance of desolation, nothing struck my own eye 
more forcibly than the sight of this great road, the passage from New 
York to Boston. Where I had heretofore seen a continual succession of 
horses and carriages, and life and bustle lent a sprightliness to all the 
environing objects, not a single, solitary traveller was visible, from week 
to week, or from month to month. The world was motionless and silent ; 

1 Trauels in New England and New York, bj Timothy Dwight, S. T. D., LL. D., 
late Tresident of Yale College, vol. iii. pp. 491, 492. 


except when one of these unhappy people ventured upon a rare and 
lonely excursion to the house of a neighbour no less unhappy ; or a 
scouting party, traversing the country in quest of enemies, alarmed the 
inhabitants with expectations of new injuries and sufferings. The very 
tracks of the carriages were grown over and obliterated ; and where 
they were discernible, resembled the faint impressions of chariot wheels 
said to be left on the pavements of Herculaneum. The grass was of 
full height for the scythe : and strongly realized to my own mind, for 
the first time, the proper import of that picturesque declaration in the 
Song of Deborah : In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the 
days of Jael, the highivays ivere unoccupied, and the travellers walked 
through by-paths. The inhabitants of the villages ceased ; they ceased in 



rriHE Revolution virtually closed with the surrender of Cornwallis, 
J- ■ on the nineteenth of October, 1781. New York, however, 
was held by the British until November 25, 1783, though hostili- 
ties had ceased nearly two years before. In the mean time, great 
changes were going on in the population, both of city and of country. 
Families that had fled from their homes during the war, were re- 
turning ; and persons who had rendered themselves particularly 
obnoxious to the new powers, were removing from the place. 
Connecticut had been the refuge of many of our inhabitants, as of 
those in other localities exposed to the enemy's visits during the 
war. Worthy Colonel Gilbert Budd brought his family back from 
New Milford to the homestead in Mamaroneck. Dr. Ebenezer 
Haviland's widow, with her three children, returned from Walling- 
ford, wliere her husband had died during their absence from Rye, 
to dwell again in the ' Square House ' on the post-road. Not a few 
of our people, on the other hand, were obliged to leave. They 
were the 'loyalists,' now the 'refugees,' who had clung to the 
British cause through the war. Many of them were thoroughly 
conscientious in this adherence. They sided with the parent coun- 
try because principled against rebellion, and unable to approve the 
course which the colonies were taking. They were men to be re- 
spected for their consistency and fidelity to their own convictions. 
Others there were, however, who well deserved the reprobation of 
public sentiment, and the infliction of political disabilities. They 
had been active partisans of the British cause, carrying the miseries 
of war into the midst of neighborhoods and families, abetting, and 
often excelling the British troops in acts of vindictive cruelty. 
^ Numbers went from this place to New Brunswick and Nova 
Scotia. The western counties of the latter province are peopled 
chiefly by the descendants of loyalists from the United States, who 
went thither at the close of the war. The remaining inhabitants 


of Rye must have read with interest the following items, which 
appeared in the New York papers of April and May, 1783 : — 

' The number of inhabitants going to Nova Scotia, in the present fleet 
[April 26], consists of upwards of nine thousand souls ; exceeding by 
more than one thousand the largest town in Connecticut.' 

' Yesterday [May IS], arrived a vessel from Halifax, by which we learn 
that the fleet with about six thousand Refugees, which lately left this City, 
were safely landed at Cape Roseway, after a six days passage.' ^ 

Many of our people had neighbors and relatives among this com- 
pany of emigrants. Some of these returned after a few months' 
absence, and quietly settled down in the place. Others were ex- 
patriated for life. 

There were painful circumstances connected with these social 
changes. The families that returned to their homes after a long 
absence found their farms and houses in a deplorable condition. 
The cultivation of the soil had long ago ceased, except so far as was 
required for the bare subsistence of those who remained in the 
town. Many of the dwellings were in decay. The churches 
had both been burned ; the ' old ruins ' of the church on the hill 
were a conspicuous memorial of the fact for many years. Some 
estates had been forfeited by reason of the 'tory ' character of their 
owners. Others had been preserved from confiscation by the care 
of neighbors, w^ho held them for this purpose during the war. But 
the saddest feature of those times was undoubtedly the return of 
the Continental soldiers to their homes. Some of them came back 
to find their families beggared, or dispersed, parents and friends 
dead and buried. Many returned with habits of idleness and dis- 
sipation, that rendered them useless to society. And many came 
back in want and misery, discharged from the army without their 
full pa}', and suffering from disease and wounds. These are said 
to have been the most pitiable scenes after the war. Persons who 
had become so hardened by the sight of misery as to shed no tear 
when pillaged and abused by marauding troops, were overcome at 
the sight of the wretched bands of ten and twenty or more, that 
came straggling along our highway, stopping at night in some barn, 
where in the morning two or three perhaps would be left who had 
expired during the night from exhaustion or disease. 

The effects of the war were felt for years in the distracted and 
demoralized state of the community. Frequent outrages were com- 
mitted in our neighborhood, sometimes from motives of revenge, 
or to gratify party animosities, and sometimes for mere purposes of 
1 Game's New York Gazette, April 26, May 19, 1783. 


plunder. Occurrences of this kind are still remembered with a 
l):iinful interest as great as that surrounding the memories of the 

war itself. 

Our Town Records show a blank from April 7th, 1772, to April 
1st, 1783. This long interruption, for the space of eleven years, is 
explained by the following statement which precedes the record of 
the first town meeting after the close of the war : — 

' It may be thought strange why a Town Meeting in the Town of Rye 
has not been held for so many years. The war coming on and put the 
Town in such great confusion, and Many of the principal People left 
their Habitations that no Law could take Place amongst them untillthis 

At this first meeting John Thomas, Esq., was chosen supervisor 
of the town. 

The people of Rye had held that part of their lands known as 
Peningo Neck — or the tract between Blind Brook and Byram 
River — by a charter from the British crown, granted in the 
year 1720. For this tract, estimated at four thousand five hun- 
dred acres, they were required, according to the terms of the char- 
ter, to pay a Quit Bent of 2s. 6d. per hundred acres, every year to 
the State. In 1787, the arrears of this I'ent, which were claimed 
by the government of New York, were paid by Mr. Jesse Hunt, 
supervisor of the town, to the public receiver. They amounted to 
£99 3s. 5c?. The whole system of quitrents was soon after 

The teri'itory of the town was reduced to its present size by an 
act of the legislature, March 7, 1788. White Plains and Harrison, 
which had previously formed a part of Rye, as ' precincts,' or dis- 
tricts of the town, were then constituted as distinct towns. 



rilHE settlement at the mouth of Byram River was known as 
-*- Saw Pit early in the last century. This name sprang from 
the fact that a spot on Lyon's Point, now a part of the village of 
Port Chester, was anciently occupied for the building of boats. 
There was a landing here, known as the ' Saw pitt landing,' as early 
as 1732 ; ^ and in 1741, we hear of ' some small lots lately laid out 
at the Saw pits so called.' These lots, it seems, were distributed 
among ' the ancient Proprietors of Peningo Neck,' and the appor- 
tionment was one of the last that took place under the proprietary 
system. But until near the period of the Revolution it can 
scarcely be said that a village existed here. The farmers of King 
Street and Hog-pen Ridge brought their produce down to the 
market sloops which made their weekly passage from this point to 
the city, and a tavern or two, with a few boatmen's houses, were 
built in the course of time. Abraham Bush, who for many years 
sailed from this port, had his flxther's home-lot ' near Saw-pit land- 
ing,' in 1745. Isaac Anderson and Samuel Lyon, 'mariners,' 
lived here some years earlier. But the maps of a century ago 
indicate no more than half a dozen houses between Regent Street 
and Byram Bridge ; and even twenty years later, there were not 
more than sixteen or eighteen. 

Lewis Marvin's house was the most noted of these. It is now 
the residence of Mrs. Moseman, on Willett S^treet, near the rail- 
road arch, and remains a good specimen of the solid and comforta- 
ble dwellings of the better sort in olden times. The old country 
road ran along the northern side of this house, where a lane is 
yet to be seen. Lewis Marvin, ' merchant,' lived here as early as 
1758, and his house appears on the military map of 1778. He 
died in the latter part of the war, and was buried, with his wife 
Martha, near the Episcopal Church at Rye. The house passed 
into the possession of Samuel Marvin, who kept a tavern here for 

1 Records of a highway opened in 1732, in Book of Records at White Plains. 


some years. Reuben Coe, fiither of Mrs. Moseman the present 
occupant, bought this place early in the present century .^ 

At the outbreak of the Revolution there was one Israel Sea- 
man, who kept a tavern on the southeast corner of Main Street 
and the street leadinoj to Lyon's Point. This was a noted resort 
of the farmers and boatmen in ancient days. Seaman, like many 
others, sided with the British in the wai*, and went away. In 
1779 the tavern was known as Lawrence's. 

Across the road from Seaman's stood the house of Gilbert Bush. 
It was a stone building, on the site of the house where Mr. Gershom 
Bulkley now lives. This spot has been in the possession of one 
family for no fewer than six generations. It was the ' house-lot ' 
of Justus Bush, ' merchant, of the city of New York,' who in 
1726 purchased proprietary rights in Rye. His will is dated 1737. 
His widow, Anne Bush, in 1745, gave to her youngest son Abraham 
' one half of the home-lot near Saw-pit landing,' bounded on the 
east by the country road, and on the west by the road leading 
from Saw Pit landing towards Bloomer's mill. 

Within the memory of Gilbert Bush, whose daughter, Mrs. 
Bulkley, is still living, there were Indian wigwams on Lyon's 
Point, now a part of Port Chester ; and several Indians used to 
resort thither, at certain seasons of the year, for the purpose of 
fishing in Byram River, and along the neighboring shores. 

The Westchester turnpike road, which was laid out in the 
year 1800, made a considerable change in the aspect of the village 
of Saw Pit. A particular account of the alteration has been given 
in our chapter on ' The Boston Road.' 

Adam Seaman's grist-mill, formerly Richard Ogden's, stood in 
1743 near the point where the railroad bridge now crosses Byram 
River. This was the wading-place known as the ' lower going 
over.' Adam's farm of fifty acres lay between this and King 
Street, above the country road, including much of what is now 
covered by the village of Port Chester. This property may very 
likely have been confiscated after the Revolution ; for Adam, like 
Israel Seaman, was a ' tory.' In 1776 he appears as one of the 
' disaffected persons,' whom the Committee of Safety at the White 

1 In 1806 Reuben Coe built the house on Main Street, long known as The Pavil- 
ion. It was first kept by a Dr. Brewster, who was succeeded by Richard Willis. 
During the war of 1812, Willett Moseman took charge of this hotel, and kept it for 
many years. He was succeeded by Alexander Ennis. (' Saw-pit : a Sketch of Port 
Chester Sixty Years Ago, by Caleb Dunn ; ' an article in the Portchester Monitor, 
October 29, 1864.) 


Plains are concerned to know what they should do with, and ask 
permission to release, as they are mostly ' considerable .farmers,' 
whose services are much needed at home. At the close of the 
war, we find this land in the possession of three brothers named 
BowNE. Thomas, who was justice of the peace in 1793, lived 
in the house now Mr. Leander Horton's, at the railroad crossing. 
His farm of one hundred acres stretched from King Street to the 
river on the south and east, and northward to the farm now owned 
by the Misses Merritt. Jacob Bowne's house stood on the east 
side of the road, near the railroad embankment, and Daniel's 
directly above. The old mill, known as Squire Bowne's, was still 
standing in 1800. 

Between the old country road and the water there were no 
houses in 1800. Opposite Mr. Gershom Bulkley's the tide came 
up to the road-side. Where Adee Street intersects Main Street, 
there was a channel which Moses Crooker's sloop used to sail up ; 
and the fields beyond this were often overflowed at high water. 

The Saw Pit school-house stood anciently on the west side of 
King Street, about forty rods from the railroad. There was but 
one other building on that street, south of the Merritt farm. 
This was Gilbert Miller's house, which is still standing, close 
by the railroad, on the west side of the arch. On the other side 
of the country road was the house of Dr. Jonathan Coe, the 
father of Reuben. The only house on Purchase Street, near the 
village, stood on the site of Mrs. Moore's dwelling, a few' rods from 
the railroad, on the west side of the street. On Main Street, 
nearly opposite Seaman's tavern, was a house anciently known 
as the ' old stone end.' Here Roger Merritt lived in revolu- 
tionary times. Jonathan F. Vickers, who taught school at Saw 
Pit toward the close of the last century, and was something of a 
lawyer also, lived in a house which stands on Fountain Street, east 
of the rear end of J. Lounsbery's store, and opposite was the 
house of Samuel Morrill, a boatman. 

Between Seaman's tavern and the western end of the village 
there were three or four small houses, one of which stood directly 
in front of the present residence of Mr. Drumgold, and belonged 
to Israel Seaman. 

Robert Merritt lived in the house recently Isaac Carpenter's ; 
Sylvanus Merritt, where Dr. Sands now lives; Samuel Merritt, 
where the Union Free School stands. 

On the triangular lot west of the school-house, and near the 
Roman Catholic Church, stood, anciently, a building known as 


' the Haunted House.' It was torn clown some forty years ago. 
Here a certain Captain Flood, who is said to have ' sailed the first 
market sloop out of Saw-pit,' lived at the time of the Revolution. 
' John Flood the boatman ' was one of the persons examined by 
the Committee of Safety in 1776, in connection with the trial of 
certain tones concerned in the spiking of cannon at King's Bridge. 
In this house, tradition states, a daughter of Captain Flood was 
murdered ; and the neighborhood was thought to be haunted by 
her o-host.^ Timid persons were long unwilling to pass over the 
road ai)proaching this house after dark; and there were stories 
afloat of strange flickering lights that had been seen moving over 
the meadows near by in the night. Wiser heads, however, knew 
of the ' Will o' the wisp ' or the ' Jack o' lantern,' which frequents 
low marshy grounds like those around this spot; for here, just in 
front of the Haunted House, were the ' upper hassoeky meadows,' 
now comparatively dry and salubrious, but once, doubtless, a dis- 
mal and unwholesome swamp. 

We have spoken in a previous chapter, of ' Saw-pit ' as a scene 
of Revolutionary events. Bloomer's Hill, then called Sniffen's 
Hill, is the spot around which most of the associations of that 
period cluster. Doubtless there are many other localities in this 
neighborhood which were invested with a similar interest, to the 
minds of generations that have now passed away. 

1 Flood was an active pati-iot. His ' spirited conduct in apprehending William 
Lounsbery, a notorious enemy to the cause of America,' was mentioned approvingly 
by the New York Convention, August 29, 1776. {American Archives, fourth series, 
vol. i. p. 1555.) Lounsbery, a tory of Rye Neck, was taken, with four others whom 
he had persuaded to enlist in the British service as Rangers. The militia ' were under 
the necessity of killing him, as he would not surrender.' (Ibid.) The murder ot 
Flood's daughter may have been a retaliation for this affair. 

Halsted House. 




rilHE foregoing cliapters have recounted some of tlie social and 
-■- political changes incidental to the position of a ' border town.' 
It is much more, however, in the religious history of our commu- 
nity, as Ave observed at the outset, that the effects of such a position 
may be marked. Rye was the latest and remotest plantation of 
Connecticut. It remained longer than any other plantation of that 
colony without the benefits of a settled ministry and a well consti- 
tuted church. And when these benefits had been secured in a 
measure, the transfer of the town from the government of Con- 
necticut to that of New York was followed by I'eligious differences 
and divisions that could not but be greatly prejudicial to the high- 
est interests of the people. These facts, whilst they infer a low 
state of religion compared with that which existed in other and 
more favored towns, render the history of the churches here all 
the more instructive and worthy of record and remembrance. 

The settlers of Connecticut were English Puritans. Their doc- 
trinal belief was Calvinistic, and their ecclesiastical system was a 


modified Presbyterianism. A large proportion of those who came 
over from England were avowed Presbyterians; the principal 
friends and patrons of the colony in England belonged to that 
relif^ious persuasion ; and the standards of faith and practice to 
which the Connecticut churches held were much more nearly akin 
to those of the Presbyterians of Great Britain than to the ways 
of the Independents. They were therefore with propriety called, 
and were accustomed to designate themselves, not unfrequently, by 
this denominational name.^ 

The first care of the founders of Connecticut was to provide 
every town with religious ordinances and a competent ministry. 
Indeed, ' the General Court ' of the colony ' would not suffer any 
plantation to be made which would not support an able orthodox 
preacher.' ^ And if they saw anything like indifference or neglect 
with regard to this matter, they were not slow to speak in terms 
of decided rebuke. 

Nine years have passed since the commencement of a plantation 
at Rye ; and in October, 1669, the General Court are ' informed 
that the people of Rye are yet destitute of an orthodox minister.' 

1 ' Our people in this Colony are, some strict Congregationall men, others more 
large Congregational) men, and some moderate Presbeterians ; and take the Congre- 
gationall men of both sorts, they are the greatest part of people in this Colony.' 
W. Leete, Governor, Hartford, July 15, 1680. (Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. 
p. 299.) 

' The Puritans were not all Congregationalists. The contrary impression has 
indeed become very general, from the fact that the Puritans settled New England, and 
that Congregationalism there became the prevalent form of church discipline. . • . 
It is commonly taken for granted that all who, as Puritans, emigrated to this country 
to avoid the persecutions which they suffered at home, were Congregationalists. The 
truth, however, is that as the great majority of Puritans in England were Presbyte- 
rians, so no inconsiderable proportion of those who came to America preferred the 
Presbyterian form of church government. . . . Many of the Puritan emigrants 
who came to New England during the reigns of James I. and Charles I. brought with 
them ' a preference for Presbyterianism. . . . The colony of Connecticut, in 
writing early period to the lords of trade and plantations, tell them " the people 
here are Congregationalists, large Congregationalists, and moderate Presbyterians, 
the two former being the most numerous." This form of expres.sion evidently implies 
that the latter class bore a large proportion to the former. The principal friends and 
patrons of this colony in England were Presbyterians, particularly lord Say, an 
original patentee of the colony, to whom they often express their obligations, and to 
whose influence, and to that of the earl of Manchester, another leader of the Presby- 
terian party, they were in a great measure indebted for the restoration of their char- 
ter.' — ' The churches of Connecticut appear to have had, from the beginning, more 
of a Prctbyterian influence among them than those of Massachusetts.' — The Consti- 
tutional Ilistori/ of the Presbi/terian Church in the United States of America. By Charles 
Hodge, Professor in the Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey. Philadelphia : 
1839. Part I. pp. 22, 30, 31, 3.3, 34, 38. 

2 History of Connecticut, by Benjamin Trumbull, D.D. : vol. i. p. 287. 


It appears too that ' they doe not take due care to procure sucli a 
one as niiolit carry on tlie work of the Lord on the Sabbotli.' Tliis 
is not owing solely to the weakness of tlie settlement. Rye now 
numbers some fifty families, and is considerably stronger than 
Greenwich, its neighbor. In some of the new plantations, says 
Trumbull, thirty families supported a minister, and commonly 
there were not more than forty when tliey called and settled one.*^ 
What is the matter with the ])lanters at Rye ? They do not show 
an utter indifference to religion, but they are getting into loose 
and disorderly ways. ' John Coe and Marmaduke Smith,' per- 
sons who are ' represented to this Court as unsownd and hetero- 
dox in their judgments if not scandolous in their Hues,' are un- 
dertaking to teach or to conduct religious services amon<r them. 
Their labors too are acceptable, it would appear ; for the peoj)lo 
' seem to rest satisfyed without ' a lawful pastor, ' in the ajiproue- 
ment ' of these teachers ; who are thus ' put in a capacity more to 
prejudice then farther the edification of the peo])le there.' The 
court, therefore, ' upon these considerations, doe authorize and im- 
power Mr. Nathan Gold and any three of the Commissioners ' of 
Fairfield County, ' to require the aforesaid persons, John Coe & 
Marmaduke Smith, or any others of that towne to appeare before 
them, and if upon examination things doe appeare to them as they 
are represented to this Court, they are desired to take effectual 1 
course that the persons afoarsayd may have no oppertunety af- 
tbarded them to sowe the seeds of eror among the people there ; 
• and allso they are to informe the people of Rye that this Court are 
resolued, if the sayd people's prudent considerations do not moue 
them to make such prouisions of a suitable person, sowud & ortho- 
dox in his principles and apt to teach, (so approued by Mr. Bishop, 
Mr. Plandford, Mr. Wakeman & Mr. Eliphalet Joanes,) the Court 
will themselues procure and setle a preaching minister amongst 
them, and take sufficient order that he be mayntained by them, at 
their next session.' ^ 

Who Marmaduke Smith was, we have been unable to learn. 
One Arthur Smith, of Southold, L. I., had been dealt with a few 
years before by the magistrates of New Haven, for teaching ' the 
opinions of the Quakers.' ^ John Coe, as we have seen, was one 
of the founders of the town of Rye. He came from Newtown, L. I., 
where the Society of Friends counted a number of adherents at an 

1 Histortj of Connecticut, by Benjamin Trumbull, D. I). : vol. i. p. 287. 
^ Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 120, 121. 
3 Ibid. pp. 291, 292. 


early day. It is possible therefore that these persons may have 
been of the Quaker persuasion, and that for want of a settled pas- 
tor, the inhabitants may have listened with favor to their teach- 

This order of the General Court was followed by another, the 
next October, more stringent and definite. The matter of the 
religious destitution at Rye is referred to the county court of Fair- 
field. The magistrates there are recommended ' to take an effect- 
uall course to setle an able and orthodox minister in the towne of 
Rye, and to order due and competent mayntenance for such minis- 
ter in a proportionable way among all the inhabitants, with coer- 
tion of j)ayment according to lawe, upon complaynt and evidence 
against any that shall neglect : and the well affected of the sayd 
towne to a setlement of such a mercy among them, are appoynted 
to adres themselues to the sayd County Court at Fayrefield to that 

This measure seems to have had the desired effect. At a town 
meetino- held in Rye, November 17, 1670, the inhabitants made 
choice of Joseph Horton, Thomas Brown, and John Brondig, 
' who are to do their endeavour to procure a minister.' It Avas 
also agreed to allow ' two-pence in the pound for the maintenance 
of a minister amongst us ; that is to say, an orthodox minister.' 

A minister, however, it was not easy to get in those days. 
Either the committee met with poor success, or the people showed 
no great alacrity in ' making out a call.' Six months pass, and in 
May, 1671, the General Court appoints certain persons to go to 
Rye, and besides other business, ' to lend their endeavoures in the* 
procuring of an able and orthodox minister to setle in that place.' 
* If the people of Rye shall not concur with their endeauoures in 
procuring a minister, and comfortably setleing of him ' among 
them, then these persons are empowered ' to agree with a suitable 
man for that worke in that place ; ' and they are to ' insure to him a 
mayntenance to the value of forty pownds p"" annum, which the 
treasurer, by warrant to the constable of sayd Rye, shall order the 
gathering and payment thereof, with the Coimtry Rate.' ^ 

Three years more pass by, making fourteen in all, during which 
Rye seems to have been without a stated ministry. It does not 
follow that the Gospel was never preached here throughout that 
period. Trumbull says that Rye and Greenwich ' had occasional 

1 PMic Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 142, 143. Oct. 13, 1670. 

2 Ibid. p. 150. 


preaching only, for a considerable time.' Tliey ' were but just 
come under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, and not in circum- 
stances for the support of ministers.' ^ The probability is that the 
pastors of neighboring churches preached here from time to time, 
during this period, as they did at a later day. Indeed we have 
Colonel Heathcote's statement to this effect. Speaking of the care 
that the people of Rye took to provide a parsonage house, ' at such 
times as they were destitute of a minister^'' he mentions the adjoin- 
ing towns of Greenwich and Stamford, as places '■where tliey ivere 
always supplied.'''^ Stamford, Norwalk, and Fairfield had ministers ; 
and we have seen that as early as 1669 the people of Rye were 
commended to their watch and care. Mr. Bishop was minister of 
Stamford, Mr. Handford of Norwalk ; Mr. Wakeman and Mr. 
Jones were ministers of Fairfield. And undoubtedly also they 
took pains, according to the General Court's injunction, to seek 
out and recommend suitable persons for the vacancy at Rye. 

A pretty strong proof that the people generally were far from 
indifferent with regard to a settled ministry, may be seen in the 
care they took at a very early day to provide a home for their 
future pastor. On this subject Ave shall speak fully in another 
chapter. Eighteen or twenty acres were appropriated, from the 
foundation of the town, for the benefit of the ministry. This fact 
speaks well for the early settlers of Rye. It shows that whatever 
evil reports may have reached the ears of the magistrates at Hart- 
ford, and however true those reports may have been concerning 
some of the people, the greater number sincerely desired the ad- 
vantages of a competent religious instruction. 

1 Ilistori/ of Connecticut, vol. i. p. 287. 

2 Bolton, History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Westchester Cotinti/, p. 158. 




THIS Court desires Mr. Eliphalet Joanes to take the paynes to 
dispence the word of God to the people of Rye once a fortnight on 
the Lord's Day, till the Court, October next, and then this Court will 
take further order concerning them and for Mr. Joanes' sattisfaction.' ^ 

This o-entleman was the first who is known to have officiated for 
any leno-th of time in tlie ministry of the Gospel at Rye. And it so 
liappens tliat we are able to glean fuller information concerning him 
than about any of his immediate successors. Eliphalet Jones was the 
son of the Rev. John Jones, a man of some note in the early history 
of the New England churches. He came to this Country frour Eng- 
land, in 1G35, a clergyman of the Established Church ; and was 
first settled at Concord, Massachusetts, and afterwards at Fairfield, 
Connecticut, where he became pastor of the church organized there 
by his efforts. Elij)halet was born at Concord in 1641. He received 
his education under the care of the learned and pious Peter Bulk- 
ley, who had been his father's colleague at Concord, and studied 
at Harvard College, but did not graduate. In 1669, we find him 
admitted to the privileges of a freeman of Connecticut.^ He was 
at Greenwich in 1674, when the above order was given ; not how- 
ever as the settled pastor of that town, but as a missionary or evan- 
gelist. It would seem that he continued in this neighborhood for 
about three years, preaching at Rye, probably, from time to time, 
as occasion appeared.^ In 1677, Mr. Jones accepted a call to Hun- 
tington, Long Island, where he remained and labored for more than 
fifty years, dying in 1781 at the good old age of ninety. He was 
never married. He is said to have been ' a man of great purity 
and simplicity of life and manners, and a faithful and successful 

1 May 14, 1674. Public Records cf Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 232. 
'■' Ibid. p. 106. 

^ Mr. Savage (Geti. Diet, of the First Settlers of N. E.) speaks of liim as 'having 
l)rcaclic(l at Rye some years ' (vol. ii. p. 561 ). I find no confirmation of this statement. 
* Thonii)son's Illstori/ of Long Island, vol. i. p. 481. 


Having thus provided for their occasional supply, the General 
Court still ui-ged upon the people the necessity of securing a regu- 
lar pastor. October 8th, 1674, a committee is apj)ointed ' to en- 
deavour the obteyning and setling of a minister at Rve.' ^ This 
effort appears to have met with partial success ; for in tlie spring 
of 1675 we find the people making some arrangements for the 
settlement of a pastor. Tiie Rev. Peter Pkudden was called, 
and preached here apparently Avith a view to a permanent charo-e. 
The General Court strongly recommended him. A committee 
was appointed, May 17th, to visit Ra'c, and ' treat with the 
inhabitants — so that there may be suiteable encouragement for 
Mr. Prudden to setle there.' If they find ' any aversness or dif- 
ficulty with the inhabitants or proprietors in so just and neces- 
sary publique good of the towne, they are impowered to doe what 
they see meet.' For the support of the ministry, the Court grants 
for this year 'a penny upon the pownd upon all the rateable estate 
of their towne.' ^ 

Mr. Prudden must have preached at Rye for some months, as 
in 1678 the Court allowed him ten pounds for his former services 
there.^ But he did not remain as pastor ; and the obstacle to his 
settlement seems to have related to the parsonage house and lands. 
The people had set aj)art a lot for the minister's house, and certain 
other lands for a glebe. The house-lot was situated in the village 
' by the Blind Brouk.' It would appear that Mr. Prudden objected 
to the location ; for on the twenty-seventh of May, 1675, the town 
exchanged this lot for the home-lot of Peter Disbrow, which Mr. 
Prudden was to have ' for a pasonage lot ' if he remained. A 
building was commenced on this new site for the minister. But 
in 1676 the agreement for the exchange of lots was cancelled, and 
next year the ' frame intended for a parsonage house ' was ordered 
to be sold.^ This doubtless was owing to the fact that the negotia- 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 240. 

- Ibid. vol. ii. p. 252. ^ Ibid. vol. iii. p. 121. 

* Rye Kecords, vol. A (now lost), quoted by Bolton, Hist, of the P rot. Episc. Church 
in Westchester Coantij, p. 13.3. 'Upon the 27tli May, 1675, the town ordered that 
the home lot of Peter Disbrow, adjoining Timothy Knapp, be taken by the town in 
exchange for the land by the Blind brook, south of Jacob Bridge's. The above lot to 
be for Mr. Peter Prudden for a parsonage lot : if not thus disposed of, this agreement to 
be void. February 26th, 1676. The town released Peter Uisbrow's lot and cancelled 
the above agreement. February 26th, 1677. John Brundige and John Purdy were em- 
powered to sell the frame intended for a parsonage house.' 

The name Jacob Bridge is evidently a clerical mistake. It should be Jacob 
Pearce, one of the first settlers, whose lands were located near this spot. 


tions with Mr. Pnulden had failed. We hear notliin^more of him, 
except that in 1681 the people of Bedford called him to be their 

The Rev. Tho^ias Denham followed. He was tlie first min- 
ister actually settled at Rye. He came in the year 1677, and 
remained with the people until 1684, perhaps longer. He was 
a man past the meridian of life, highly esteemed by the ministers 
of Fairfield and Stamford, and recommended by the General 
Court of the colony. Mr. Denham appears to have come but 
lately into Connecticut. He had sustained losses during the re- 
cent war,^ — that of King Philip, in 1675, — a fact which, with 
other considerations, leads us to conjecture that he came from 
Massachusetts, where the chief sufferings in that war were felt.^ 

The first mention of Mr. Denham in our Town Records occurs on 
the fifteenth of June, 1677. This was probably before his arrival 
here. A house-lot is appropriated to the new minister.^ On the 
twenty-second of November, he is admitted an inhabitant of Rye. 
June 21st, 1678, ' Mr. Thomas Denham is to have all the grass on 
the highway, at the old town, besides an equal share ivith the pro- 
prietors of Feningo necTc.'' March 5th, 1679, ' Fifty poles of land 
lying before his door, toward the brook, are granted to Mr. Thomas 
Denham.' His salary, concerning which orders are given from 
year to year, was to be thirty pounds, ' to be gathered, annually in 
the way of rate, provided ' he ' continue amongst us and preach 
the Gospel.' The same provision, granting him ' all the moveable 
grass in the highway, lying by the old town,' is repeated, to stand 
' so long as the said Mr. Denham shall continue a preacher of the 
Gos])el amongst us.' ^ 

These provisions for the minister's support were not very ample, 

1 Rye Records: Bolton, History of Westchester County, vol. i. p 20. 

2 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. pp. 321, 322. ' This Court being informed 
that Mr. Thomas Denham is likely to settle at Rye as minister there, who is declared 
to be a suitable person tor that worke by the ministers of Fayrcfield and Standford, for 
his incouraj^emeiit to setle there, and in regard to liis late loss by the war, this Court 
haue granted him the suhie of ten pownds to be payd out of that towne's rate this 

*• See note at the end of this chapter. 

* This allotment was not designed for a parsonage, but as a special gift to Mr. Den- 
ham himself. In 1G9G, Isaac and Mary Denham sell to Stephen Sherwood, junior, a 
two-acre lot, 'whicii formerly did belong to our honoured father, Mr. Tiionms Den- 
ham.' (Rye Records, vol. B. p. 62.) 

'' Rye Records : Bolton, Hist, of Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 53 ; Prot. Episc. 
Church, pp. 133, 134. 


but doubtless they were all that the inhabitants could afford to 
make. The grant of proprietary rights especially testified the 
esteem in which Mr. Denham was held. These rights descended 
to his son, Isaac Denham, and proved valuable.^ 

No record remains of the labors of this first minister of Rye. 
His home, as we have seen, was the parsonage house in the vil- 
lage, ' at the south-east corner ' of the parsonage lot.^ Here we 
may picture him, in the 'small framed ' dvvelling,^ which must have 
afforded very narrow accommodations for the minister's family — 
his wife and six children — when all gathered together. One of 
the two rooms below stairs must have been the pastor's study as 
well as the family ' living room.' Here good Mr. Denham had 
his ' Library of Bookes,' the treasures perhaps which he had 
saved with the utmost pains in his ' late loss by the war : ' particu- 
larly prized among which were his ' Commentary upon the Revela- 
lations,' and his ' Epistle upon the Romans.' And here, doubtless, 
suspended from the walls, were the trusty weapons of the pioneer 
pastor, his ' musquett,' and his ' longe Gunn,' and his ' two-edo-ed 

Not far from the parsonage house, on the opposite side of the 
post-road, was the house of Timothy Knapp, where, for want of a 
church, the little community were accustomed to meet on Sabbath 
days for public worship. They were called to the meetini^- by the 
sound of the drum.^ The service began earl}-, and lasted several 
hours. Evening meetings were unknown. The Sabbath was 
observed from sunset to sunset. The ordinance of the Lord's 
Supper was rarely celebrated, but baptism was administered vt^ry 

Mr. Denham's ministry ended about the year 1684. He re- 
moved to Bedford, and became pastor of the church in that place. 

1 Other grants of land seem to have been made to Mr. Denham, wliich did not so 
descend. In 1683, Peter Disbrow sold to Stephen Sherwood a tract in the field at 
Rye, with the following reservation : ' It is to be noted that the said Stephen is not to 
take possession of a bit of salt meadow lying in this above said land imtil the decease 
of Mr. Thomas Denham.' (Records, vol. B. p. 53.) 

- ' The house-lot having the house at the south-east corner, contains a little above 
two acres.' (Letter of Rev. Mr. Jenney,T)ec. 15, 1722; Bolton, History of the Prot. 
Episc. Church, p. 221.) 

^ Ibid. pp. 205, 229, 245. 

* Ibid. p. 134, note. 

^ ' The greatest part of them,' says Mr. Bridge, ' were baptized before the Church 
[of England] was settled here.' {Ibid. p. 196.) Several of the ' Dissenters' as he 
calls them, 'are serious people.' ' Some still Presbyterians or Independents in their 
judgment, but are persons well disposed and willing to partake of the Sacrainent in 
what way they can, rather than not at all.' 


He diccl thcro in 1688, at tlie aore of sixty-seven years.i Various 
allusions to him in our records lead us to believe that his memory 
was cherished by the people here with peculiar veneration. 

The Rev. John Woodbridge succeeded Mr. Denhani as pastor 
of llye in 1684. He appears to have preached here for several 
years, with interruptions, durinc; which the place was without a 
minister. In 1690 and 1693, persons were appointed to procure 
one ; and in 1697 a committee was chosen ' to discourse [with] Mr. 
Woodbridcre concerning his settling amongst us.' - ' We know 

1 His will is on record in the office of the County Clerk at White Plains. (Vol. 
B. p. 184.) We give it in full as a curious memento of this our first minister. 

' Maythe2<i 1688. 

' The Last Will and Testament of me Thomas Denham Minister of the GospeJl of 
our Lord Jesus Christ in Bedford. I doe bequeath my soul to God, and my body to 
a decent buriall, my goods and chattels as followeth. 

' In the first place I do give unto my Sonn Isaac Denham all my Lands and Right 
in Lands tliat I have in Rye. And my .... 

' 2'y I do give unto my sonn Natbaniell Dunham the westermost of my Plainc 
Letts and my 12 acre lott and that Meadow lott that was layd out in the Last 
Division of meadows ; and my musquett and my Commentary upon the Revelations. 

' 3'y I doe giue unto my son Josiah Dunham at my Decease the eastermost of my 
plainc lotts, and my 8 acre lott in the cast Field, and my Epistle upon the Romans, 
and my longe Gunn, and my white horse and my Read heafer yeareling', and my two- 
edged sword, and after his mother's decease I do giue him thats to say my sonn Josiah 
all my houseing that I have here with my home lott and the rest of my meadows, and 
.lands tliat I have here in Bedford or shall have, and my tooles that I have for manage- 
ing my farmc. 

' 4'y All my right that I have in houseing and land and meadow and what els 
may be found that is mine in .... I do give unto my sonn and daughter Simon 
nnd Rebecca Hinckson, that is to say my Land and Meadows and housing with any 
other part or parts of my Estate in Sheep's Gutt 

' 5'y J doe give unto my Daughter Sarah Palmer my black two years old heafer. 

' 6'y I do give unto my Daughter Hannah Dunham a heafer calf. Further my 
household moveables I doe give to my two youngest daughters Sarah & Hannah, that 
is to say after my Wife's Decease. 

'Further the rest of my Books I doe will that they be as equally divided into 
several parts according to their worth and divided to my wife and six children by 
,lott, the rest of my Estate I do leave with my Wife for to dispose as God shall direct 
her. This in my right and perfect sences through God's goodness, is my last Will 
find Testam'. . Thomas Denham. 

' Witness Joseph Theale,' 

The inventory of his estate, appended to the above, mentions ' A Library of Bookes,' 
•valued at six pounds. The whole estate is estimated at eighty-seven pounds twelve 
shillings sixpence. 

Jn .1691, Sarah, widow of the Rev. Thomas Denham, had become the wife of John 
Hendrickson (Co. Rec, B. 184). 

In 1693, Hannah Dunham, perhaps the daughter mentioned above, married Sam- 
uel Clason, of Stamford. {History of Stamford, p. 157.) 
2 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 136. 


notliiiio; moi-e about him save tlirough the following statements in 
the Town Records, from which it seems that a difficulty respectino- 
liis salary remained unadjusted many years after his departure 
from the place. 

' At a town meting in Ry Feberawary 14, 1G99-1700, the towne hath 
given the townsmen full power to gather the Remainder, of the mony 
which is due to M'' wood Bridg from the several persons which are 
behind in their dues to ]\P woodbridg and also to constitute an atturny 
to sue any that shall neglect or refuse to make payment of their just 

* At a towne meting in Rye March 1, 1699-1700, the towne hath 
past a vote that they will not stand tryal with Mr. Woodbridg. At 
the same towne meting the towne hath by vote agreed that what shall 
be waitinor of the mony that is due to M"" Woodbrids froui the several 
periLons that hath not yet paid the Remainder of the mony the town 
will make it up by way of supply in the next towne rate.' ^ 

He was followed by the Rev. Nathanael Bovvers,^ who came 
to Rye in 1697, and remained until 1700. He was called from 
this j)]ace to Greenwich. A committee from that town was ap- 
pointed, July 23, 1700, ' to enquire of the townsmen of Rye 
whether the town of Rye intended to settle Mr. Bowers, and if 
not to make known to him the town's desire to have him settle at 
Greenwich.' He accepted the invitation, and continued with that 
peo])le until some time in the year 1709.^ He appears to have 

1 Town and Proprietors' Meeting Book, No. C. pp. 6, 11. 

^ A singular mistake has occurred with reference to this minister. Cotton Mather, 
in his famous Maffiialia Christi Americana, mentions among tlie ministers of New 
England in 169'!, ' Mr. Bowers, H. C.,' [graduate of Harvard College] as then settled 
at Rye. Dr. Trumbull, in his Histurij of Connecticut, written about the close of the 
last century, names ' John Bowers ' as minister of Rye, and adds this statement : ' Mr. 
Bowers removed from Derby and scttlcdat Rye about the year 1688.' (Vol. i. p. 494.) 
Mr. Bolton, probably following Trumbull, speaks of him as John Bowers. Mr. Savage 
{Gen. Diet, of First Settlers of N. E.) does the same, and supposes that he was a son 
of the Rev. John Bowers of Derby, who could not have removed to Rye in 1688, as 
Trumbull states, for he died at Derby the year before. Of this son Mr. Savage says : 
' He may have gone to Derby where his death is recorded 23 Sejjt. 1708 ; or the Rye 
minister may be another man, though it is not probable.' {Ibid. i. 223.) He was, 
however, a different man, and not John, but Nathanael. The full name occurs three 
times in our extant records, twice as the signature of a witness. The mistake proba- 
bly arose with Dr. Trumbull, hastily inferring that the 'Mr. Bowers ' mentioned by 
Mather as at Rye jjiust have been the same with the well known John Bowers of 
Derby. It is singular that this error should wait so long to be corrected, inasmuch 
as though we know nothing of Nathunael's antecedents, he comes distinctly to view 
after leaving Rye, in connection with the history of the church of Greenwich. (See 
Dr. Linsley's Historical Discourse, p. 22. Also, Public Records of Connecticut, vol. 
iii. p. 508.) 

'^ Town Records of Greenwich. 


enjoyed their confidence and esteem. A letter from the cliurc]i 
of Greenwich to his successor in tlie pastorate, dated September 
loth, 1700, speaks of him as * Y* Respected and worthy Mr. 
Bowers, who had seen cause to Desert us.' ^ 

The period of his stay at Rye was an eventful one to our peo- 
ple. It was the season of their ' revolt ' from the government of 
New York. From January 19, 1697, till October 10, 1700, they 
claimed to belong to the colony of Connecticut. During these 
four vears they appear to have put forth more earnest efforts to 
improve their religious condition. This may have been due, in 
great part, to the influence of Mr. Bowers ; in part, also, doubtless, 
to the new and satisfactory relations into which they had been 
brought back.2 

The inhabitants now, at last, undertake the work of building a 
church. ' At a towne meeting in Ry September 20, 1697, Capt. 
Theall, John Horton, Joseph Purdy, Hacaliah Browne, John 
Lyon, Thomas Merit, Isaac Denham, are chosen as a Commity for 
the management and carrying on the worke of building of a met- 
ing house for the town of Ry and also for the appointing of a place 
where it shall set and the above said meting house shall not acsed 
[exceed] above thirty foot square.' In November, 1698, another 
committee is chosen ' for the building of a house for minester.' 
January 25tli, 1698 [1699], the town resolves that ' whereas a 
commity was appointed at a former town meting for the Build- 

^ Ecclesiastical Records of Connecticut (MS.), Hartford, vol. ii. p. 25. 

- Mr. Bolton conceives that the renewed zeal of our inhabitants in the pursuit of a 
minister was occasioned by the Act of the New York Assembly in 1693, ' for settling 
a Ministry.' ' The people doubtless were becoming alarmed,' he observes, 'lest the 
Governor should nominate under the new act.' [History of the Prot. Episc. Church in 
Westchester County, p. 135.) This remark follows an account of the town's proceed- 
ings on the twenty-seventh of June, 1693, appointing a committee ' to procure a 
minister as soon as possible.' The Act of the Assembly ivas not passed till the twenty- 
second of Sei)tember in that year. So that unless gifted with prophetic vision, our 
inhabitants could not well anticipate its provisions. Still less could they fore- 
see what the bill when passed did not contain. For, as we shall find, it gave the 
governor no such right as he claimed, to present and install ministers in vacant 
parishes. His proposed amendment to this eflect was rejected by the Assembly, Avho 
I)assed the bill without it. Governor Fletcher's intrigues to secure an ecclesiastical 
establishment in tiic province of New York appear highly praiseworthy to Mr. Bol- 
ton. But they were as yet scarcely suspected. And they were not very successful 
after all. 

Besides, the people^<of Rye were at this time eagerly looking to be received back 
into Connecticut. Their zeal in matters of religion revived as this hope gained 
strength. Neighboring ministers and churches, too, were doubtless the more diligent 
m those efforts which they continued so many years to put forth for the spiritual good 
of this community. 


ing of a towne house for tlie yose of tlie minestere, and the towne 
hatli further impowered the above-said conimity to proceed in the 
building of y"' house with all speed, — the above said house is to 
be as followeth thirty foot in length and twenty foot in breadth, 
and two story in haith and a Leanto joyning to it.' In the same 
year, February 27th, ' the Proprietors of Peningo neck grant unto 
the towne of Rye a parcell of land of four rods square for the said 
towne [to] set a house upon lying as convenient as may be on that 
lot where the town house now stands.'^ 

The ' town house ' in the parlance of our settlers, meant some- 
times the parsonage or minister's dwelling, and sometimes the 
' meeting house ' or place of worship. The above orders evidently 
relate to the building of the latter. Other action was taken with 
a view to the raising of money for this purpose. August 30th, 
1700, Isaac Denham and Joseph Budd were ' chosen collectors for 
the gatherinir of the monvs which is due for the buildino- of the 
towne house — Isaac for the east side of Blind brook and Joseph 
for the west side.' May 80th, 1701, the persons appointed to 
build the town house are authorized ' to call those collectors to an 
account whicli was chosen to collect the monys for the building 
of the above said house ; ' should they refuse to give an account, 
they are to be presented to the next court. June 3d, in the same 
year, Isaac Denham, who ' was formerly chosen collector for the 
east side of Blind brook,' is to be ' collector for the whole towne 
of Rye for the gathering of the monys which is due for the build- 
ing of the towne house.' ^ 

This money was to be raised in the customary way, — by a tax 
levied on the inhabitants of the town. Thus it was that all 
expenses for the support of public worship were then provided for 
in New England. At first, indeed, the ministrj^ had been main- 
tained through vohmtary contributions. The people of each plan- 
tation were to be called upon to 'set down' what they were 'will- 
ing to allow for the encouragement of the ministers.' Any, 
however, who should refuse ' to pay a meet proportion,' were ' to be 
rated by authority in some just and equal way ; ' and if after this 
any man should withhold or delay due payment, ' the civil power ' 
was ' to be exercised as in any other just debts.' ^ But this method 

1 Town and Proprietors' Meeting Book, C. pp. 2, 6, 8. 

2 Ibid. pp. 10, 13, 14. 

^ Order of the United Colonies concerning the Maintenance of Ministers, Septem- 
ber 5, 1644 ; adopted by Connecticnt in the same year : Public Records of Connecticut, 
vol. i. pp. Ill, 112. 


had long since been simplified, very generally, by the practice of 
raisini:; money for religious uses by taxation. In Rye, we have 
seen, the government of Connecticut ordered this to be done as 
early as the year 1671. A minister was to be engaged at a salary 
of ' forty ]K)wn(ls ))er annum.' This sum was to be gathered by 
the constable, ' with the country rate.' ^ Subsequently, the Gen- 
eral Court allowed this expense to be met by a deduction from the 
country rate, of ' a penny of the pownd upon all the rateable 
estate' of the town.^ Mr. Denham's salary was but thirty pounds, 
perhaps in view of the greatly impoverished state of the town at 
that time.'^ The Court ordered that this sum should ' be gathered 
bv the constable with the country rate, m the same specite and 
price as the country rate, and by him to be payd to the sayd min- 
ister.' * The order was unusually explicit, but it was not carried 
out ; for in 1682 the town directs the salary to be paid ' in provis- 
ions.'' ^ Mr. Bowers's salary was fifty pounds. We find the follow- 
infT orders concerning it : — 

'At a towne meting in Ry September 20 1G97 the towne doth give 
by a voat unto M' Bowers the som of fifty pounds for his yere salere 
for his carrying on the work of a minster amongst us.' ' At the above 
said meting Thomas Merrit and John Frost are chosen collectors for 
the yere insuing for the gathering of the above said niony.' 

August 5, 1698. ' The towne doth give by a vote unto Mr. Bowers 
the som of fifty pounds for his yere salore for preaching the Gospel 
amongst us for the yere ensuing.' 

February 14, 1690. ' The towne doth give by a vote unto M"" Bowers 
the lust sum of fifty pounds for his yere sallary for his caring on the 
worke of tlie menestry amongst us in spaci as followeth wheat at five ' 
shillings per bushel indian corn two shilfings six pence jd'' bushel, and 
all other provision pay equivalent.' 

January 31, 1700. ' The towne hath made choice of Sanuiel Kniffin 
and Richard Ogden to be Collectors to gather the next Rate insuing 
that is payable to AP Nalhnal Boweis.' ® 

How far the movement for the building of a cliuix'li proceeded 
at this period, we are unable to learn. It would ai)pear that 
moneys were granted, and some portion of them gathered for 

1 Public Records of Connecticut, vol. ii. p. 150. ^ Ibid. vol. ii. p. 252. 

2 In 1676 Rye numbered only thirty-two ftimilies : the same number as in the second 
year of the town. Seven years before, it had risen to fifty. The decrease was doubt- 
less owing to the troubled state of the colony during the Indian War. 

* Public Records of Connecticut, \o\. iii. p. 71. 

fi Rye Records, quoted by Bolton, Church History, p. 134. 

8 Town Meeting Book, C. pp. 2, 5, 8, 10. 


tills purpose. A site for the house seems also to liave been cliosen, 
' on that lot where the town house now stands.' This Avas the 
parsonage house, and the spot must have been on the same narrow 
strip of land, in the village, between the post-road and Blind 
Brook. But there is no evidence that such a building was actually 
erected there. 

About the same time that these measures were in contemplation, 
an effort was made to secure more ground for the minister's use. 
December 29, 1698, the town appoints John Lyon and Isaac Den- 
ham ' as a committy for the laying out of land for a parsonage not 
exceding forty akers where they may see it convenient and so to 
rem[ain] a parsonage.' ^ The committee are directed to enter into 

1 Town Meetini,' Book, C. p. 5. 

Rev. Thomas Denham. — Tlic name is sometimes spelt Z)«nham ; indceil, he so 
writes it three times in his will. Mr. Savntre mentions no Denham except our Rye 
minister, but he finds several early settlers by the name of Dunham. Among these 
is ' Thomas ' of Plymouth, ' perhaps a son of John Dunham,' also of Plymouth, who 
was representative in 16-39 and often after, and deacon among- the first purchasers of 
Dartmouth, and died March 2, 1669, aged eighty. ( Genealogical Dictionary, vol. ii. p. 81.) 
Thomas was 'fit to bear arms in 1643 ;' this agrees with the single statement Mr. 
Savage makes about our Thomas Denham ; that in 1681 he was sixty years of age. 
(Ibid. p. 36.) Dunham married 'Martha, daughter of George Knott, I think.' (Ibid.) 
Our minister mentions his wife Sarah in his will, not unlikely a second and younger 
wife, for she soon marries again. ( Westchester Comity Records, vol. B. p. 189 seq.) I 
conjecture that Isaac, to whom he left the bulk of his landed estate, may have been 
his son by the former marriage. 

But other and more interesting facts confirm the belief that Mr. Denham was 
none else than Thomas Dunham, formerly of Plymouth. His will speaks of lands 
which he owned in ' Sheep's Gut,' undoubtedly Sheepscott, a localty on the coast of 
Maine, then part of Massachusetts. This settlement was on a peninsula or neck, upon 
the eastern side of the Sheepscott River proper, immediately below what is now called 
Sheepscott Bridge. The settlers first laid out a street which they called the King's 
highway, running the whole length of the peninsula. This street was 'lined with 
houses and other buildings, on both sides.'' The settlement was probably begun as 
early as 1623, only three years after the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. In 
1630, there were fifry families on the Sheepscott Parms. Mr. Denham, not ini]nobii- 
bly, was laboring here as pastor or missionary in 1675, at the time of the outbreak 
of King Philip's'War. 

' In that fearful conflict, the first attack was made upon Plymouth, Mass., June 24th. 
The flame quickly spread throughout New England. Maine was completely overrun 
by the enemy. Falmouth, with almost every habitation east of it, was burnt, and 
their occupants were either driven off, murdered, or sold into merciless captivity.' 
The savages fell first upon a trader's settlement at Stimson's Point, near Woolwich. 
Prona that place the alarm was carried by ' a young maid,' who, frightened by their 
looks and conduct, 'escaped and travelled over land fifteen miles to Shecpscot- Planta- 
tion, where she gave the alarm, and the terrified inhabitants immediately fled, leaving 
all their possessions behind them. They had only fairly got away from them when 
the savage warriors arrived, set up their fiendish war-whoop, then set fire to the 
buildings, killed the sheep and the cattle, and thus destroyed the labour and care of 
years.' The inhabitants fled on board a vessel that was building in the harbor, and 


negotiation Avitli Humplirey Underliill for his land, and lay it out 
if he and they can agree. It does not appear that they succeeded. 

thus saved themselves. The enemy left nothing remaining, and the land lay desolate 
many years. In proecss of time, some returned to their former homes, and were 
invested with riglits to the lands. (Ancient Settlement of Sheepscot, by Rev. David 
Cuslmian. In the collections of the Maine Historical Society, vol. iv. Portland : 

Such, not improbably, was the calamitous event, under the shadow of which the 
fi»-st pastor of Rye began his ministry here, and in view of which the General Court 
granted him a special benevolence of ten pounds, 'in I'Cgard to his late loss by the 

erly b 
to JoL 




XTTE come now to the period when Rye became a ' parish,' and 
^ * its Puritan population found themselves under the pastoral 
care of a clergyman of the Church of England. And here it may 
be in place to give some account of ecclesiastical matters in the 
province of New York, to which our town had just been re-an- 
nexed.^ All the different denominations of Christians in that prov- 
ince had enjoyed perfect liberty, and had stood upon equal ground, 
under the English laws, for thirty years. The ' Protestant Relig- 
ion ' was recognized, but no one Protestant Church was invested 
with rights superior to others. At the same time, provision was 
made by law for the support of the Gospel ministry. Ministers 
were elected in every town by a majority of the inhabitants who 
were householders, and were maintained, as in New England, by a 
tax levied on them ; the town being held responsible for tiie pay- 
ment of the salary agreed upon at the time of the minister's call. 
As in New England, also, pains were taken to indvice each town to 
call and support a minister. In 1675, it was ordered that besides 
the usual country rate, a double rate should be levied on all those 
towns in which there was not already a sufficient maintenance for 
a minister. Inquiry was made as to any towns that had failed to 
make this provision, and those that proved to be remiss were urged 
to the performance of the duty. 

All the churches of the provinpe were then supported in this 
way, with but a single exception. A chaplain of the Established 
Church of England officiated within the walls of the fort in New 

1 ' Work and Materials for American History — Notes on the Maintenance of the 
Ministry and Poor in New York — The Colonial Ministry Acts — The Vestry of 
the City of New York/ etc. By George H. Moore. Two articles in the Historical 
Magazine [Henry B. Dawson, editor], new series, vols, i., ii. From these valnable 
papers, by the learned librarian of the New York Historical Society, I have drawn 
much of the information given in the present chapter. Where no other authority- 
is adduced, the statements made are based upon that of Mr. Moore. 


York, wlioro tlie governor resided. He received liis allowance 
from the government. The adiierents oF that Church were as yet 
but few. Most of the people were Dutch and English Calvinists. 
' There are Religions of all sorts,' writes Governor Andros in 
1678, ' one Church of England, several Presbiterians and Inde- 
pendants, Quakers and Anabaptists, of several sects, some Jews, 
but Presbiterians and Independants most numerous and substan- 
tial. The Duke [of York] maintains a chapline w'"'' is all the cer- 
tain allowance or Chirch of England, but ])eoples free gifts to y* 
ministry, And all places oblidged to build Churches and provide 
for a minister, in w^'^ most very wanting, but presbitei-ians and In- 
dependents desirous to have and maintaine them if to be had. 
There are about 20 churches or Meeting-places of which above 
halfe vacant theire allowance like to be from 40'' to 70'' a yeare 
and a house and garden.' 

This method of providing for the support of public worship \yas 
set forth very distinctly in the charter which the Duke of York 
gave to the province in 1684. Liberty of conscience was secured 
by this instrument to all Christians. All the churches then 
existing in that province were recognized and confirmed in all 
their rights, for all time to come. The ministry of all Christian 
churches was to be duly maintained ; the moneys assessed and sub- 
scribed for this purpose, were to be collected by warrant from the 
justice of the county, wherever towns or individuals should fail to 
meet their engagements for its support. This law was carried out 
by Governor Dongan, with praiseworthy diligence. He takes care, 
says a New England governor in 1687, ' that all the people in each 
town do their duty in maintaining the minister of the place, though 
himself of a different persuasion from their way.' 

But religious toleration was not to the mind of his successors. 
In 1692, Colonel Benjamin Fletcher arrived as the newly ap- 
pointed governor of New Y'ork. His aim from the first was ' to 
make the Church of England the established church of the land.' 
At his first meeting with the Assembly of the province, he recom- 
mended a provision 'for the support and encouragement of an able 
Ministry,' The Assembly reported a bill for this purpose on the 
nineteenth of September, 1693. It was entitled — 

'An Act for Settling a Ministry, and liaising a Maintenance for them, 
in the City of New York, Oountij of Richmond, Westchester, and 

This act provided that in each of certain localities named, there 


should be called, inducted, and established, within one year, ' a 
good, sufficient Protestant jSlinister, to officiate, and have the care 
of souls.' In the city of New York, there was to be one such 
minister ; in the county of Richmond, one ; in the county of West- 
chester, two, — one to have the care of Westchester, Eastchester, 
Yonkers, and Pelham, the other to have the care of Rye, Mam- 
aroneck, and Bedford ; and in Queen's County, two, — one for 
Jamaica and the adjacent towns and farms, and the other for 
Hempstead, and the next adjacent towns and farms. 

For the maintenance of these ministers, the act provided that in 
each of these localities a certain sum should be levied annually, by 
a tax on the inhabitants. The amount to be raised in Westchester 
County was fifty pounds for each of the two precincts. 

To carry out this provision, the freeholders of each city, county, 
and precinct were to be summoned by their justices, to meet on 
the second Tuesday of January, in each year, for the purpose of 
choosing ten vestrymen and two churchwardens ; and the justices 
and vestrymen were empowered to lay a tax on the inhabitants of 
the place for the maintenance of the minister and the relief of the 
poor. Various penalties were annexed to this order, in case of 
failure to perform these requirements. 

Finally, the act provided that the ministers who should be set- 
tled in these respective places should be called to officiate by the 
vestrymen and churchwardens aforesaid. All former agreements, 
however, made with ministers throughout the province, vtere to 
continue and remain in their full force, notwithstanding anything 
contained in this act. 

The act said nothing of any particular religious denomination. 
' A good sufficient Protestant Minister,' was the description of the 
ministry to be maintained. What the Assembly meant in passing 
this law, is easily ascertained. They were all, with one exception, 
'Dissenters' from the Church of England. Of the po])ulation for 
Avhose benefit the law was framed, but a very small minority be- 
longed to that church. In Westchester County particularly, 
which was to be favored with two ministers, there were ' scarcely 
six in the whole county,' a credible witness states, ' who so much 
as inclined to the Church.' ^ In the whole province, says another, 
' there was no face of the Church of England till about the year 
1693.' The laws previously passed had contem])lated the support 
of a ministry acceptable to the various bodies of Christians who 
were most numerous in the land. It is obvious that the present 

1 Bolton's Ilistori/ of the Protestant Episcopal Church, etc., p. 2.5. 


act was framed with the same design. Under the circumstances, 
it couUl bear no other meaning without a manifest perversion of 
language, and vioUition of justice. 

Tiie (vovernor's intention, however, in promoting this measure, 
was very different. He knew that no persuasions would induce 
the Assembly to provide for the establishment of the English 
Church in the ))r()vince. He therefore sought to have the act so 
worded as to admit of a construction especially favorable to it. 
When the bill was presented to him for signature he returned it 
to the Assembly, with one amendment. This related to the last 
section of the act, Avhicli, thus altered, would provide that the 
ministers to be settled in the several places named should be 
called to officiate in those places by the respective vestrymen and 
churchwardens, and presented to the governor to he approved and 
collated. But this amendment the Assembly utterly refused to 
accept. The bill was passed without it, to the great disgust of 
Colonel Fletcher, who nevertheless claimed that he possessed by 
virtue of his office the power which the legislature thus declined 
to recognize, of inducting or suspending any minister within his 

Taking this view, the English govei'iiors of New York asserted 
their right, under the act of 1693, to control the choice of minis- 
ters ; and the English clergy claimed the same prerogatives, under 
an Established Church, as in England. The people of the prov- 
ijice were liable to be taxed for their suj)port ; even though, in 
great jnajority, of difi^erent religious persuasions. And in obscure 
places, where it could be done without public scandal, they were 
put in possession of all the proj)erty which had been set apart for 
ecclesiastical purposes by the town. The attempt to carry out 
these pretensions was not always successful. But it succeeded 
liere at Rye, as it did at Jamaica, Hempstead, and elsewhere. The 
parsonage house and lands, by order of Governor Cornbury, were 
surrendered to the newly arrived rector. The inhabitants, who 
had kept them hitherto for the use of a ministry of their own 
choice, were dispossessed of tliis property, without form of law or 
shadow of riglit. 

In obedience to the Act of 1(393, the people of Rye were sum- 
moned by their justice, Josejih Theall, to meet for the election 
of churchwardens and vestrymen. This meeting took place on 
the twenty-eighth of February, 1694-95. John Lane and John 
Brondig were elected churchwardens, and Jonathan Hart, Joseph 
Hortou, Joseph Purdy, Timothy Knapp, Hachaliah Brown, Thomas 


Merrltt, Deliverance Brown, and Isaac Denhani, vestrymen. The 
duty of these functionaries, we have seen, was for the present 
simply to ' lav a tax ' on the parish for the maintenance of a 'good 
sufficient Protestant Minister.' Their election seems to have been 
a matter of form, to meet the requirements of the law, which im- 
]iosed a heavy fine ujion the justices in case of neglect to call such 
a meeting. We hear nothing more of Vestry or churchwardens 
for nearly nine years. Meantime the town, as formerly, appoints 
committees to prosecute the search for a minister. Finally, ' at a 
town meeting held in, December 19, 1702, the towne hath 
by a vote chosen Capt. Theall and George Lane, sen., to goe to 
New Rochel, and there to meet those men which shall be chosen 
in the other parts of the county, and there to consult concerninop 
the ministr}^ as the warrant directs.' And on the twelfth of Jan- 
uary following, ' at a lawful towne meeting, the precinct of Rye ' 
choose Colonel Caleb Heathcote and Justice Theall churchwar- 
dens, and Justice Purdy, Justice Mott, Capt. Horton, Deliverance 
Brown, Hachaliah Brown, George Lane, sen., Thomas Purdy, 
Thomas Disbrow, Isaac Denham, and Samuel Lane ' vestri men 
for the year ensuing.' ^ 

The names of ' vestrymen ' and ' churchwardens ' seem strangely 
chosen to designate the officers appointed by the Act of 1693. 
These names were used in England to signify persons chosen 
by parishioners of the Established Church to take care of eccle- 
siastical property and manage parochial affiiirs. There can be 
no doubt that they were introduced designedly into this bill. 
It was prepared, we learn, by the only member of the Assembly 
which passed it who belonged to the Church of England, Mr. 
James Grahatne, the Speaker of the House. He took pains to 
word it ' so that it would not do well for the Dissenters,' but 
with the help of the governor would do, though ' but lamely,' for 
tlie church. ' It was the most,' says one, ' that could be got 
through at that time, for had more been attempted, the Assembly 
had seen through the artifice, — the most of them being Dissenters, — 
and all had been lost.' The use of these terms was a part of ' the 
artifice.' The Assembly probably thought it of little consequence 
by what name the officers appointed should be called. Of course, 
these persons at the first were almost without exception ' Dissent- 
ers.' The Vestry of the city of New York, at their first meeting, 
February 12th, 1694, decided by a majority of votes that ' it is 
the opinion of y' board that a Dissenting Minister be called to 

1 Town Records. 


officiate and have the Cure of Souls for this City.' In January, 
1695, they proceeded to call such a minister, by a unanimous 
vote.i And in the same year the Assembly of the province itself 
declared ' that the Vestrymen and Church Wardens liave 'power to 
call a Protestant Dissenting Minister, and that he is to be paid and 
maintained according as the Act directs.' 

These facts are stated in order to explain the character and com- 
plexion of the Vestry of Rye. From its name, it would be nat- 
ural to suppose that it consisted of persons belonging to the Church 
of England ; and that the body so constituted was a purely eccle- 
siastical body. This would be far from correct. Probably not 
one of those who were first chosen to the office ' so much as 
inclined ' to that church. And although many of their successors 
were members of its communion, the Vestry would appear to 
have been composed largely of ' Dissenters,' down to the period 
of the Revolution.^ It was indeed rather a secular than an eccle- 
siastical body. It was chosen by the freeholders at large. Its 
chief business — besides providing for the collection of the minis- 
ter's salarv^ — was, as we have seen, to look after the poor. 

The Act of 1693 was well meant. It harmonized with the 
previous legislation of the province relative to the support of relig- 
ion. That legislation was eminently liberal and judicious. It 
approached more nearly to a perfect system of religious toleration 
than was known in most other colonies, or in any country of 
Europe. It allowed each denomination of Christians to choose 
and support a ministry of their own preference — providing only 
that it should be a ' Protestant ' ministry. But as wrested from 
its proper design, and ' made to answer the purpose of the English 
Church party, which was a very small minority of the people,' ^ the 
act could not fail to work mischief. It tended to ae;o;ravate the 
rankling sense of injustice and oppression which had been produced 
under other wrongs. And it operated to the serious disadvantage 
of the church in whose favor it was sought to be construed. 
This could not but be obvious even at the time to intellio;ent and 

1 The Rev. Mr. Vesey was at this moment a minister of the Congregational order. 

'•* ' 'Tis our great misfortune here,' says Mr. Bridge, in 1717, ' that our vestries are 
made up of such persons ' ('Quakers and such others as have never showed any 
regard to religion '). Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church in Westchester County^ 
p. 206. 

' Tiic Vestry arc chosen by all sects in the Parish,' says Mr. Wetmore, in 1761. 
' Several of the Vestry are not of the Church, and not one of them a communicant in 
the Church.' (Ihid. pp 292, 293.) 

^ Wm-k and Materials, etc., by George H. Moore. 


candid men. ' I believe at this day,' wrote Colonel Morris in 
1711, ' the Church had been in a much better condition had there 
been no Act in her favour.' ^ And like every other attempt to 
interfere with the liberty of conscience and of worship, this course 
proved only detrimental to the interests of true religion. 

1 History oj the Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, L. I., by Rev. James M. Macdonald, 
D.D., p. 139. 



SOON after the settlement of the town, three tracts of land 
were appropriated, according to New England custom, as 
* parsonage lots.' One of these was situated at the lower end of 
Penino-o Neck, on wliat is still known as Parsonage Point; another 
was in the Town Field ; and the third lay in the village proper, 
on the bank of Blind Brook. 

1. The Parson's Point, or Parsonage Point. This must 
have been the very earliest reservation of land for the minister's 
use. It comprised three acres ; ^ and the location indicates that 
it was set apart by the inhabitants of ' Hastings,' or while the set- 
tlers still lingered near Manussing Island, — about the year 1662. 
Parsonage Point forms the southeastern extremity of Peningo 
Neck, and lies about a mile below Rye Beach. It was too remote, 
therefore, from the houses in that vicinity to be intended for the 
• minister's home-lot, and could serve only as a glebe or meadow-lot. 
As such doubtless Mr. Denham, Mr. Woodbridge, and Mr. Bowers 
— the early ministers of Rye — enjoyed it ; and it was a part of the 
ecclesiastical property which the rectors of the Church of England 
assumed on their ' induction ' by order of the colonial governor. 
This tract, however, was soon diverted from any ecclesiastical 
possession, by one of its occupants — why, we are not informed. 
Our only account of the matter is found in a letter from Rev. Mr. 
Jenney of Rye, December 15, 1722, to the Secretary of the Gos- 
pel Propagation Society. ' When I first examined,' he writes, 
' into the glebe, I found one lot called the Parsonage JPointy con- 
taining about five acres, as I am informed, alienated from the 
Church by patent to my predecessor Mr. Bridge and his family 
forever, and is now possessed by his executrix,- for the use of his 
children.' ^ 

1 So stated in Mr. Bridge's patent. Mr. Jenney, in 1722, called it Jive acres. 

^ Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church in Westchester County, p. 221 : History 
of Westchester County, vol. ii. p. 32. 

This lot is described in Mr. Bridge's patent as follows : ' Also no. 19 a point of 
land commonly called Parsons point containing three acres lying on the south east of 


It is I'emarkable that though a century and a half have passed 
since this occurrence, the name which intimates its ancient destina- 
tion, of which tlie above statement is the only explanation we find, 
still clings to this spot. Parsonage Point is laid down upon the 
maps to this day, and is a familiar name to our villagers, and the 
fishermen who frequent our shores. It is now the site of one of 
our most beautiful residences — that of G. H. Van Wagenen, Esq. 

2. A second reservation for the minister took place when the 
village was permanently laid out, at the upper end of Peniugo 
Neck — about the year 1665. This lot was located in the Town 
P^IELU ■ — the tract of land, about a mile square, lying east of tlie 
Milton Road or the village street, and south of Grace Church 
Street. The inhabitants, however, seem to have found some diffi- 
culty in deciding precisely where, in this territory, to ])ut the par- 
sonage lot. Two or three different spots are so designated within 
the first forty years. The earliest mention occurs in 1682, when 
Hachaliah Brown sells to James Wright a certain parcel of land 
bounded on the south by ' the parson's land.' The same lot, appar- 
ently, is described the next year in another deed as 'land vviiich 
was formerly Parsonidg land.' 

That which was finally devoted to this purpose was a lot, prob- 
ably of ten acres originally, which had been 'laid out to John 
Ogden.' It lay in the Town Field, at some distance from any 
public road, but accessible by means of a lane or cart-way leading 
from Grace Church Street. 

In 1698, when Rye had ' revolted back ' to Connecticut, some 
steps were taken to provide a larger glebe for the minister. The 
following account appears on our Records : ' At a towne meting in 
Rye desember: 29: 1698 the towne hath made choise of John 
Lyon and Isack Denham as a committy for the Laying out of 
Land for a parsonage not exceding forty akers where they may see 
it convanant and so to Remain a parsonage.' The same persons 
were authorized ' to agree with umpray uudrall [Humphrey Under- 
bill] conserning his Land and to Lay it out if the sayd uudrall 
and they can agree.' There is no evidence that the purchase was 

After this we find fi-equent allusions in the Town Records to 
'the parsonage lot' in the Field. Mr. Bridge, indeed, writing to 
the Secretary, July 30th, 1717, makes no mention of this land, 

the town neck between the lands of John Hoight, the salt water and undivided 
Land.' (Grant to Rev. Christopher Bridge of 20 small parcels in Rye: Book of 
Patents, Secretary of State's Office, Albany, vol. xiii. p. 182.) 


nor of that on Paksonage Point.^ But his successor, Mr. Jennev, 
in tlie letter already quoted, sends ' a draft of the two lots of land 
which make up the crlebe, with a copy of the survey ^ which the 
violent opposition of some dissenters have oblicred me to obtain.' 
One of these contains ' about seven acres and a half, and is about 
a mile off, but is so encompassed with other men's land that the 
road to it is about two miles, so that I fear I shall have little or no 
use of it. — The lots of land are wholly out of fence.' ^ 

Mr. Jenney's object in having these lands surveyed was to 
ocure them beyond further dispute to his successors in office as 
the property of the parish church.^ To this the proprietors of the 
town, ' being the most part such as were desirous of having a 
dissenting teacher settled here,' ^ were much averse. The rector 
complains that upon his arrival they gave him great trouble ; and 
' had not His Excellency been so kind as to grant his warrant to 
the Surveyor General to survey, it is believed they would have 
kept me by force from taking possession.' The measures he took 
to overcome this opposition do not seem to have propitiated them 

Mr. Wetmore, who succeeded Mr. Jenney in 1727, enjoyed the 
use of the parsonage lands which had thus been confirmed to the 
Church. He describes the lot of which we are speaking as con- 
taining ' about eight acres, a mile distant, lying in such a form as 
to be of very little use, but at present rented for three bushels of 
wheat per annum, for seven years.' But the opposition which the 

^ Bolton, Hislorij of the Prot. Episc. Chwch in Westcheste)- County, p. 205. 

2 The following is the portion of this survey that relates to the parsonage lot in 
the Town Field : — 

'Pursuant to a warrant from his Excellency bearing date the fifth day of July 1722 
I have by Mr. William Forster one of my deputys run out and ascertained the Lim- 
its and Boundaries of such Parcels of Land as have been formerly possessed and 
enjoyed by the Minister of the Parish of Rhye in the County of West Chester as the 
same were shown to my said deputy by the Church wardens of the said Parish viz. 

' One Parcel! scittiatc in the Town field beginning at a white oak bush near the 
fence of Ebenezer Kniffin and runs thence South seventy-four degrees thirty minutes 
east twenty-three chains seventy-eight links to a heap of stones thence South twenty- 
three degrees twenty minutes west three chains seventy links to a wallnut stump 
Thence north seventy two degrees twenty minutes west twenty four chains twenty 
links to a stone set in the ground, and thence northeast and by north very near 
dir' [direct ?1 two chains and seventy links to the place where it began and contains 
seven acres and about half an acre.' (Land Papers, in Secretary of State's Office, 
Albany, vol. viii. p. 192.) 

» Bolton, Ihid.T^. 221. ' 

* Ibid. p. 222. ' I have taken all possible care to prevent my successor from the 
like oppositions,' etc. 

6 Ibid. p. 221. 


former rector had experienced grew in strength. ' The Dissenters,' 
writes Mr. Wetmore, September 29th, 1748, ' are now endeavour- 
ing to get into their possession the small glebe belonging to our 
Church, Avhich is scarcely worth the charge of a lawsuit ; yet I 
have commenced a suit to defend it, which I believe the wealthiest 
of my parishioners will not assist me with a fiirthing to support.' 
The Society's Secretary, in the following June, wrote at Mr. 
Wetmore's suggestion to the churchwardens and Vestry, express- 
ing the Society's concern upon hearing that the church and par- 
sonage were very much out of repair, ' and that even the possession 
of the glebe is disputed against ' their ' very worthy pastor.' They 
are urged to give orders for the full repair of the buildings, and to 
' defend Mr. Wetmore in the maintenance of all his just rights,' 
as thev desire his longer continuance among them. On the ninth 
of October, 1749, Mr. Wetmore informs the Secretary, — 

' The tryal with the Dissenters, concerning the parsonage lot, is to 
be the 24th of this month, according to notice of tryal given. The 
lot is of no great value, being but seven and a half acres, yet I have 
thought it my duty not to give it up without tryal, altho' I am threat- 
ened by the same persons to have an ejectment served upon me for the 
poor house and two acres of land upon which I live, unless I will agree 
to some terms whereby the Presbyterians may have a share of what 
was anciently designed for a parsonage ; but as there is no more than 
two small lots, (which have been long in the possession of the Church,) 
T think to show no concession unless obliged to it.' 

We have no account of the result of this lawsuit. It appears 
to have been bi'ought by the Presbyterian congregation, for the 
purpose of recovering at least a part of the old ecclesiastical lands. 
They claimed, it seems, that this property was theirs originally, 
having been appropriated by the early settlers for the use of a 
ministry of their persuasion, and that it had been so enjoyed for a 
number of years. They asked for a division of the lands — con- 
senting that the parish church should retain the minister's house 
and home-lot, if the parsonage lot or glebe were surrendered to 

This plea would have met with little consideration from the 
governor of the province, Avho lost no opportunity to assert the 
exclusive claims of the Church of England as by law established, 
to all such property in the province. But before a civil court, it 
was more likely to be heard. At least one case of this kind had 
already come before the courts. In 1727, the Presbyterians 
of Jamaica, L. I., after great expense, by due course of law 


rocovcMvd tlioir cliurcli, ])arsonage, and lands, wliich had beon 
wrested from them many yoars before.^ At Hempstead, the Rev. 
Mr. Jenney, who went to tliat place in 1726 from Rye, was 
'often threatened with an ejectment' from the chnrch property, 
which had been seized abont the same time in a similar way ; ' the 
Presbyterians' pleading 'from the pnrchase havino- been made 
by them, before any chnrch w^as settled here, and from their min- 
isters havino- been long in possession of it, that it belongs to 
them.' 2 It does not appear that they ever carried these threats 
into execntion. Thirty years after the seizure, Governor Cosby 
gave the church and parsonage at Hempstead, by royal charter, 
to those who detained them from the lawful owners.^ 

Soon after the date of the trial, as mentioned by Mr. Wetmore, 
we find that the land in question had passed out of the hands of 
the ' rector, churchwardens and vestry of tlie parish of Rye,' and 
was held by certain individuals, most of whom were members of 
the Presbyterian congregation, and who were presumably the 
trustees of that body. On the fourteenth of April, 1753 — three 
years and a half from the time of the trial — these persons sold to 
Roger Park, junior, of Rye, a ' certain tract of land .... con- 
taining seven acres and a half, it being the lot commonly called 
the Parsonage Lott.'' * This tract is now included in the fiirm 
owned by John Greacen, Esq., of Rye, who bought it from the 
descendant of Roger Park in 1863. No subsequent allusion to 
the trial occurs in Mr. Wetmore's published correspondence, nor 
is any mention made of the ' parsonage lot ' in question as a part 
of the church lands, by the succeeding i-ectors, or in the parish 
books. A netv * glebe ' was afterwards secured to the church after 
this trial, through the efforts of Mr. Wetmore, in place, it is to be 
suj)posed, of the land which had been lost. 

3. The third tract appropriated by the town for the minister's 
use, was the ' home-lot ' in the village. This contained between 
two and three acres, and lay ' by the Blind brook.' The site 
seems to have been chosen previous to the year 1675, when the 
Rev. Peter Prudden commenced his labors at Rye. Probably it 
was set apart at the same time with the ' parsonage lot ' in the 

1 Tlionipson's Tlistorij of Long Island, vol. ii. p. 107. Macdonald's Histonj of the 
Presbyterian Church, Jamaica, pp. 148, 149. 

- Thompson's Iliston/ of Long Island, vol. ii. p. 30, note. 

^ Webster's History of the Presbyterian Church, p. 88. 

* Deeds in the possession of Mr. Greacen, Rye. The grantors are Benjamin Brown, 
Cornelius Flaman, Jonathan Brown, Ebcnezer Kniffen, Joseph Kniiften, Thomas 
Lyon, Samuel Brown, Ezekiel Halsted, and Gilbert Bloomer, all of Rye. 


Field — when the village was first laid out. Here the minister's 
house was built, before a settled pastor had been obtained ; and 
here Mr. Denhain, Mr. Woodbridge, and Mr. Bowers lived before 
the arrival of the English missionaries. The house-lot was a part 
of the ])roperty claimed by the rectors by virtue of their induc- 
tion. Mr. Pritchard preached here, in the ' town-house ' as it was 
called ; and so probably did Mr. Muirson, until the building of the 
church in 170G. Mr. Bridge, the next rector, found upon his 
arrival ' a small parsonage house,' with three acres of land ; ' the 
house so much decayed that it was scarce habitable.' His suc- 
cessor, Mr. Jenney, obtained a survey of this lot,^ as he did of the 
larger glebe in the Town Field. By that time — in 1722 — the 
house, which stood at the southeast corner of the lot, and was 
built of timber, was ' so much out of repair that nothing but the 
frame stands good.' Mr. Wetmore describes the parsonage, in 
1728, as ' a small, old house with three acres of land lying near 
the church.' The house, he adds, 'was first built by the town for 
a Presbyterian ministei", before there was a church in town, but 
never any particular settlement of it upon any. When a minister 
of the Church came, and they had no Presbyterian minister, the 
house was put into his possession and enjoyed successively with 
the glebe by the minister of the Church ; but the Presbyterian 
party threatening to give trouble about it in Mr. Jenney's time, 
he procured a survey of it for the Church, and got it entered upon 
the public records of the province. He also repaired the house, 
which was almost fallen down, being neglected b}^ Mr. Bridge, 
who thought it not worth repairing.' ^ 

Mr. Wetmore himself, though he owned a large farm in the 
immediate vicinity, continued to occupy the parsonage house, 
which he ' enlarged and repaired ' at his own charge. ' It is now 
grown so old and decayed,' however, he writes in 1748, ' that it is 

1 The survey quoted on page 296 continues as follows : — 

'Another parcel called the Homo Lot in which the Town house or Parsonage 
house stands, Begining at a heap of stones near the said house and runs thence 
north nine degrees forty five minutes east three chains Thence north twelve degrees 
west four chains fifty links to stones near Peter Brown's house. Thence South 
eighty seven degrees west four chains to a Maple by Blind Brook Then along the 
said Brook South eight degrees east five chains fifty links and South seventeen 
degrees west one chain fifty four links and thence from the Brook South eighty six 
degrees east four chains twenty links to the stones where we began. Containing two 
acres three roods and thirty six Poles. Given under my hand this twenty fourth day 
of September in the ninth year of his Majesties lleign Anno Dom. 1722. 

Cadwallader Golden Saw'' Gen'.' 

2 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church in Westchester County, pp. 245, 246. 


scarce wortli repairing.' At tlie instance of the Gospel Propaga- 
tion Society, tlie people appear to have done sometliing toward the 
improvement of the building. The next rector, Mr. Punderson, 
' expressed his satisfaction with the parsonage house and lot.' He 
had probably removed to the new dwelling and glebe which Mr. 
Wetmore had secured for his successors, on the west side of Blind 

I have been curious to ascertain the exact spot where so many 
of the old ministers of Rye, of both denominations, lived. Fortu- 
nately, Mr. Jenney's survey of the lot, in 1722, has enabled me 
to do this with much precision. I find that it occupied the grounds 
now owned by Mr. Halsted, Miss Bush, and Mr. Thomas Peck, 
between the post-road and Blind Brook, in the village. The dia- 
gram here given is a copy of that which 
accompanies the sm'vey obtained by Mr. 
Jenney. Peter Brown's house, men- 
tioned in the surveyor's description, is 
the lot lately owned by Mr. D. H. 
Mead.i The lot is described as lying 
south of that house and east of Blind 
°^^ I When the turnpike road was laid out 

in 1800 througli the village of Rye, it 
atff j deviated slightly at this point from the 

line of the old Boston Road, approach- 
ing nearer to Blind Brook, and thus cut- 
ting off a poi'tion of the parsonage lot, which formerly extended 
quite across the present road. The negotiations of the Vestry on 
this subject with the Turnpike Company, show us how these 
matters were conducted in the days when land was cheap and 
time moved slowly. January 16, 1802, it is stated to the Vestry 
that ' the Glebe Lands belonging to this Church have been dam- 
aged by the new Turnpike.' May 21, 1803, the Vestry resolve 

1 In 1738, the executors of Peter Brown sold his ' lot with house and mill erected 
thereon,' hounded on the south 'by the parsonage and Blind brook; on the west by 
Blind brook ; on the east by the highway into Harrison's purchase ; and on the north 
by land of Samuel Lane.' (Town Eecords, vol. C. p. 146.) This lot of five acres 
had formerly belonged to Jaeol) Pierce, whose widow Mary, then wife of Isaac Den- 
ham, sold it in 1695 to Peter Brown. Records, vol. B. p. 67.) The minister's lot 
mentioned in 1675 lay 'south of Jacob Pierce's' (not Jacob Bridge's, as Mr. Bolton 
gives the name — undoubtedly by a clerical error). Peter Brown's house was subse- 
quently bought by Mr. "Wetmore. Its ownership can thus be traced with scarcely a 
break from the foundation of the town to the present day. 

MR. jennp:y's garden. 301 

to go and view the land intended to make a part of tlie Turnpike 
road, wliich will cut off parts of the parsonage land. On the 
same day it was ' resolved, that the real value of the land belong- 
ing to the parsonage as marked out and intended for the Turnpike 
road to come, is sixty-two dollars and fifty cents ; and that the 
clerk shall give notice of this resolution immediately to John Peter 
Delancey, President of the Turnpike Corporation.' August 9, 
1803, Mr. Nathanael Penfield is authorized to receive said sum and 
give a receipt in full.^ 

South of this lot by the brook, there was a narrow strip of land 
lying between the brook and the Boston Road, which was event- 
ually incorporated with the parsonage land. On the fifth of 
March, 1679, the town of Kye had granted to the Rev. Mr. Den- 
ham ' fifty poles of land lying before his door, toward the brook.' 
This tract became the property of Isaac Denham, son of the min- 
ister, upon his father's death ; and in 1723, he conveyed it by gift 
to the Rev. Mr. Jenney, then rector of the parish church. 'There 
is a small present,' writes Mr. Jenney, July 1st, 'made to our 
church, by Mr. Isaac Denham, of this place, of a piece of land 
containing about fifty square rods, lying before the front of the 
parsonage house, which though a small spot is of great use to the 
house ; and the donor shows himself on all occasions a hearty 
promoter of the Church's interest. He is a constant attendant at 
the ordinances and a communicant. He hath given me a deed of 
gift for the laud, and possession, according to the forms of law, 
for my use and my successors, the ministers of Rye.' ^ This 
deed is on record at White Plains. It describes the land conveyed 
as lying south of the parsonage lot, and between the highway and 
Blind Brook. It extended as far down as the junction of Rectory 
Street, as it is now called, with the post-road. ' Mr. Jannis [Jen- 
ney's] garden ' is designated in 1723 as opposite the path that 
' now leads from y'' Cliurch into the Country Road.'-^ 

This property remained in the possession of the Episcopal 
Church of Rye until comparatively recent times. An okl inhab- 
itant, Mr. Josiah Purdy, remembers the house, which was still 
standing when he was a boy, about the beginning of this century, 
near the site of the present residence of Miss Bush. It was then 
quite dilapidated, but was still known as the ' old parsonage.' 
After the Revolution all the parsonage lands were, for a while, 

1 Records of the Vestrj of Christ Church, Eye. 

2 Bolton, Ilistonj of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 226. 

3 Entering of Highways, etc., in County Clerk's Office, White Plains, p. 7. 


liired out to various persons for a small rent. May 2cl, 1785, 
' Mrs. Taniar Ilaviland hired the Land called the Old Parsenige 
tliis year for fifty five shillings, she to put it in fence and to be 
allow'd for fencing.' June 14, 1792, the Vestry resolved ' that 
some rc])airs be made on the old glebe House so as to make it 
tenantable for a year ortivo.' It does not appear, however, that 
it was ever again occupied. 

The parsonage lot, however, remained intact until about forty 
years ago. In 1837, Mr. David H. Mead already owned the lower 
part, which he occupied as a garden. In that year, the rector and 
Vestry of Christ Church conveyed to Mr. William Smith a piece 
of land fifty-five feet wide, lying north of Mr. Mead's garden, 
and in 1847 they sold the remainder of the tract, then estimated 
to contain four acres. 

These were all the lands originally given by the town for the 
support of the ministry in Rye. The parish church, however, 
some time before the Revolution, acquired another and much more 
valuable glebe, situated, not on Peningo Neck, but upon the west 
side of Blind Brook, opposite the village. This occurred, we 
have said, a few years subsequent to the lawsuit, and, as there is 
reason to believe, in consequence of the loss of the old parsonage 
land in the Field. The first allusion we find to this property is 
contained in the Abstracts of the Gospel Propagation Society's 
proceedings for 1759. They state : — 

' The Rev. Mr. "Wetmore, the Society's missionary at Eye in the Col- 
ony of New York, has the pleasure of acquainting the Society by his 
letter, dated April 7th, 1759, that a very worthy person, a native of 
England [St. George Talbot, Esq.] but now living in New York, has 
put into his hands £G00 of that currency, of which he reserves to him- 
self the interest during his life, and hath left by his will £400 more to 
be added to it after his death, to purchase a convenient glebe for the 
use of the Society's missionary at Rye, for ever.' 

Mr. Wetmore himself lived but a little more than a year after 
this time, but from his will, dated August 6th, 1759, it appears 
that he had made provision for the accomplishment of Mr. Tal- 
bot's design, by setting apart a portion of his own farm for the 
purpose of a glebe. His farm lay chiefly on the west side of Blind 
Brook, including lands which lately belonged to Mr. James Hal- 
sted and Mr. D. H. Mead. In his will,i Mr. Wetmore mentions 
1 Surrogate's Office, New York, lib. xxiv. 125, 126. 


' the land I have sequestered for a glehe, which at the upper end by 
the stone fence is to be half the width of my lot.' i A deed of the 
year 1768, relating to some property north of this, mentions 'the 
new Parsonage sequestered by the Reverend James Wetmore,' 
and speaks of it as lying across the brook from ' the old Parson- 
age.' It contained about twenty acres. 

A small plot of ground, in this new glebe, was devoted to the 
purpose of a burial-])lace for the rectors of the parish church. 
Mr. Wetmore himself was the first whose remains were laid here, 
those of his predecessors who died at Rye having been interred 
beneath the church. The graves of several of the later rectors 
occupy this plot, which lies directly opposite the rear of Mr. Dan- 
iel Strang's store. 

A few rods south of the burying-ground, on the other side of a 
small knoll, there was formerly a house, which probably stood on 
the glebe at the time when Mr. Wetmore owned it, as there is no 
record of its erection by the parish. If so, it of course became the 
property of the parish wlien the land was set apart for a glebe; 
and after the Revolution it Avas occupied, for a while, both as a 
parsonage house and as a place of worship. Some persons who 
were yet living a few years ago could remember crossino- the 
brook, when children, to attend divine service here, and one old 
inhabitant who is still with us, Mr. Josiah Purdy, aged eighty-five, 
remembers seeing the building destroyed by fire in the year 1794. 
The impression, however, that this house ' across the brook ' was 
the ancient rectory of Rye, is certainly a mistaken one. The ' old 
parsonage ' is the spot of chief interest in the history of our 
churches before the Revolution. 

The Vestry of Christ Church retained possession of the glebe 
sequestered by Mr. Wetmore, until the year 1846, when thev 
sold it. 

After the fire of 1794, the Vestry purchased the Rectory 
GROUNDS now owned by Christ Church, for the sum of four hun- 
dred pounds. This beautiful tract of land was then in the posses- 
sion of Mr. Isaac Doughty, a son of John, and grandson of Francis, 

1 From the connection it is evident that the parsonage hind across the brook is in- 
tended. ' I give and bequeath to my loving son Timothy that lionsc, barn and im- 
provements, bought of Mr. Jacobs, lying in the town of Eye, with all the land on the 
west side of the road which formerly belonged to Peter Brown ; and also that part 
of my land bought of Joseph Haight, on the west side of Blind Brook, running from 
said brook north-westerly to the stone fence that now runs cross my land near Abra- 
ham Briindige's, and to extend southerhj to tlic land I have sequestered for a glebe,' 
etc. The word •' southerly ' is misprinted ' northerly ' in the will as given by Mr. 
Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., pp. 289, 290. 


who, kept the tavern in the old stone house lately known as Van 
Sicklin's. The rectory grounds, containing four acres, were an- 
ciently a part of the village plot, known as ' The Plains.' Here, 
as we saw in a former chapter, were some of the choicest ' home- 
lots ' of the first settlers. Two such lots, perhaps, were included 
within the space now occupied by these grounds. They had been 
joined in one by the middle of the last century, when Samuel 
Purdy, schoolmaster of Rye, in 1753 sold his home-lot for one 
hundred and seventy pounds to his sons Samuel and Caleb. It 
was bounded on the north by the street leading from the post- 
road towards the church ; on the east by the street leading towards 
Lyon's mill ; on the south by Francis Doughty's home-lot ; and on 
the west by the post-road. This describes the present property of 
the church, which was conveyed by deed in 1794 from Isaac 
Doughty, in fee-simple, without any restrictions or conditions. 
There is no evidence that it had ever before constituted a part of 
the glebe. The rectory stood, until within a few years, near the 
post-road, toward the northern line of the grounds. 

Christ Church owns also the narrow strip of land directly oppo- 
site the rectory grounds, between the post-road and the brook. In 
1832, the trustees of the town of Rye conveyed to the wardens 
and Vestry for thirty-seven dollars, the tract containing one rood, 
' beginning at the south side of the road leading across the brook 
to the parsonage land, near a poplar tree adjoining the turnpike 
road, thence south by the turnpike road twenty nine degrees west 
three chains fifty links, thence west to the brook,' etc. The large 
willow-tree which stands upon this piece of ground is said to have 
been planted by the Rev. Evan Rogers, who was rector from 1801 
to 1809. 

Of the parsonage lands now owned by the other village congre- 
gations, we shall speak elsewhere. They have been acquired 
much more recently, and form no part of the old ecclesiastical 
lands. These we have described at large because so little has 
been known, hitherto, of their history and location. 




ri^HE Honorable Caleb Heathcote was living in Mamaroneck, 
-^ near Rye, early in the last century. He had removed from 
England to this country about the year 1692. He held at differ- 
ent times several important positions under the government of the 
province ; and by his wealth, and rank, and personal merits, became 
one of the leading men of his day. In the county of Westchester, 
especially, where he resided most of the time, Colonel Heathcote's 
influence was very great. There was probably no one who ap- 
proached him in the esteem of our rustic population. He owned 
a vast landed estate in the neighborhood, which had been consti- 
tuted by royal charter a ' lordship or manor,' under the name of 
the Manor of Scarsdale, besides a considerable tract of land within 
the town of Mamaroneck. He took an active part in the affairs of 
the county, and was the earnest advocate of various measures for 
the public good. 

To Colonel Heathcote, undoubtedly, more than to any one else, 
is due the credit of having founded and fostered the Church of 
England in this country, and particularly at Rye. He was a 
devoted member of that church, and gave the whole weight of his 
influence to its promotion here. At his instance, the Society in 
England ' for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts,' 
formed in 1701, sent one of its first missionaries to officiate at 
Rye. The Act of 1693, it will be remembered, had provided that 
two ministers should be maintained in the county of Westchester, 
one of whom was to have the care of Rye, Mamaroneck, and 
Bedford. The governor of the province claimed the right to induct 
a minister into this charge, upon his being called by the Vestry and 
churchwardens of the parish. And as the people of Rye had 
lately chosen Colonel Heathcote himself to be one of their church- 



wardens, — the other being Captain Joseph Theall, — there was 
no clifficuhy in the way of setthng any minister whom the Society 
might send to this field. 

In April, 1704, the Rev. Thomas Pritchard, A. M., arrived in 
New York, liaving been appointed by the Bishop of London and 
sent by the Gospel Propagation Society, to officiate in the parish of 
Rye. Governor Cornbury forthwith issued his mandate for Mr. 
Pritchard's induction ; and in May the new minister entered upon 
his duties. He soon proved, however, to be an unsuitable person, 
and remained but a few months.^ His successor, who may be 
regarded as the first rector of Rye, was the 


Mr. Muirson was a native of Scotland, and came to this country 
in 1703, as a schoolmaster of the Gospel Propagation Society. 
While laboring in this capacity he won the esteem and affection 
of manv persons, and was soon sent back to England strongly rec- 
ommended as a candidate for orders. He returned to New York 
in the summer of 1705, having received ordination from the 
Bishop of London ; and on the thirty-first of July, Governor 
Cornbury signed the mandate for his induction as ' Rector of the 
Parish Church of Rye, Mamerenock and Bedford.' 

The 'Parish Church,' however, was yet in the future. Our 
people had been accustomed to worship in the ' town-house,' dur- 
ing the ministry of their former pastors, as well as when supplied 
by the neighboring ministers of Connecticut while without a 
pastor. The ' meeting-house ' which they had talked of building 
in 1697, was not yet completed, if indeed begun. Mr. Muirson's 
first work was to gather a congregation ; for the people were all 
' Dissenters,' ' who never were in a Church of England congrega- 
tion before.' He soon reports a very large attendance of ' constant 
hearers,' many of whom he has been enabled to admit into the 
church by baptism. In May, 1706, he writes, — 

* I have baptized about two hundred, young and old, but most adult 
persons, and am in hopes of initiating many more into the Church of 
Christ, after 1 have examined, taught, and find them qualified. This is 
a large parish ; the towns are far distant ; the people were some Quak- 
ers, some Anabaptists, but chiefly Presbyterians and Independents ; 
they were violently set against our Church, but now, blessed be God, 

1 Bolton, Church History, pp. 137-146, 156. Mr. Pritchard, it seems, stayed at 
New Kochelle, and scarcely visited Rye at all. 


they comply heartily, for I have now above forty communicants, and 
only six when I first administered that holy sacrament.' ^ 

The Society was certainly fortunate in the selection of its first 
missionary at Rye. Mr. Muirson was a man of amiable and genial 
nature, well qualified to ingratiate himself among the people. He 
had also ' a very happy way of delivery ' in the pulpit ; making 
little use of his notes in preaching, a rare practice among the 
clergy of the Established Church in those times, and ' extremely 
taking,' says Colonel Heathcote, with his hearers in these parts. 
' For argument,' he adds, ' few of his years exceed him.' ^ 

The new rector was all activity, catechising on week-days in 
the remote towns, preaching at Bedford every fourth Sunday, and 
soon undertaking missionary work in Connecticut colony, where 
he met with great encouragement. At Rye he is constant in 
parochial work. ' Catechising .... and frequent visiting is of 
great service, and I am sure I have made twice more proselytes 
by proceeding after that method, than by public preaching.' His 
' congregations are very great ; ' the people ' seem to like the ways 
of the Church very well, but, as in all other places, there are some 
stubborn, ill-natured persons among 'em,' whom nevertheless he 
hopes in time to bring over to a better opinion. 

' By the aid and assistance of y* good Colonel Heathcote,' Mr. 
Muirson soon persuaded the people to engage anew in the effort to 
build a house of worship. This was to be done by the act of the 
town of Rye.^ Our records contain a full account of the initia- 
tory steps in the matter, wiiich we give as follows : — 

' At a LawfiiU town meeting held in Rye September the 26, 1705, 
Coll. Heathcote apears at this meeting and declears that in casse that 
this town of Rye doe goe on in boulding of a Church that he will 
give towards boulding the same all the nails for shingling of the rouf 
and for the church doors and making of windows shutt with all the 
hooks and hinges thereunto belonging. Caleb Heathcote. 

' At this above said meeting the towne hath agreed by voat to bould 
a church for the worship of God. 

' 'Tis voated and agreed that this above said church shall be boult 
thirty three foots within the said church to be boult four square. 

' At this above said meeting the town hath by a voat agreed to bould 
the walls of the said church with stones and to be 16 foots in height 
above ground up to the pleats. 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church in the County of Westchester, pp. 
151, 166. 

2 Ihid. p. 159. 

3 Ibid. "Tis only the town of Rye, and not the parish which hath built it.' (Let- 
ter of Col. Heathcote, Dec. 18, 1707, in Bolton, p. 178.) 


' At this above said meeting the town hath agreed by a voat to put 
in Cap. Ilorton Jus. Purdy Isaac Denham and Sanniell Lane with the 
townsmen to have the management and the oversight of boulding the 
above said Church. 

' At the above said meeting the town hath by a voat agreed to sett 
this above said Church at the east end of the Lot which was formerly 
M' Collers in the street.' ^ 

At a subsequent meeting, a tax was laid upon the inhabitants, 
to raise funds for this purpose. February 18, 1706, it was agreed 
that ' all male persons from sixteen years and upward be assessed 
at twelve pound per head in all charges for the building of a 
Church.' ' Liberty is given for to get stone and timber upon any 
particular men's land, provided you get not within a fence, for the 
building of a Church.' ^ 

The people did not show as great alacrity in assuming some other 
burdens. The parsonage was old, and sadly in need of repairs. This, 
they thought, was the proper business of the parish, and not of the 
town. At a meeting held February 25th, 1706, they agreed ' that 
the parish of Rye shall repeare the towne house fit for a minister 
to Live in and to keep the said house in repeare for the use of the 
ministree.' ^ Six years after this, we read that ' the town hath past 
a voat that they will not repeare the house which Mr. Bridge now 
dwells in.' * This seems to have been a cause of frequent conten- 
tion between the town and the rectors.^ We shall see what the 
dispute led to in the end. 

The church ' will be finished next spring,' writes Mr. Muirson, 
November 21, 1705, to the Society's Secretary in London : ' so 
that we shall want pulpit cloaths and furniture for y*" communion 
table.' The work, however, did not go on so fast. In April, some 
preparations had been made by carting stone, and most of the tim- 
ber had been brought. In October, the stone- work was finished 
and the building covered. ' But the winter approaching and the 
people being extremely poor and having exhausted what little 
money they had on what is done already, we cannot proceed any 
further this fall,' writes Mr. Muirson, ' but hope next year to 
finish all, with a steeple, Avhich when completed will make a large 

1 Town Meeting Book, No. G., p. 10. '^ Ibid. p. 13. 

2 Jbid. p. 17. * Records of Town Meetings, p. 4. 

'' ' There is no care taken to preserve the house in good repair We cannot 

hope that where the Dissenters so much prevail, any persons would be chosen who 
would repair either the church or the house, so that if I will live in the house I must 
keep it in repair myself.' (Rev. R. Jenney, 1724. Bolton, Church Historij, p. 229. See 
also pp. 246, 279.) 


and beautiful Building.' It is fifty feet long and thirty-six feet 
wide, and twenty feet high — 'a very fine churcli,' writes Colonel 
Morris, in 1708. But the sanguine hopes entertained for'its speedy 
completion were sadly disappointed. Indeed, neither Mr. Muirson 
nor his successor lived to see it finished. Eleven years later — in 
1717 — Mr. Bridge reports, ' In the year 1706, some extraordi- 
nary methods were used to induce the town to raise a tax for build- 
ing a Church, and they raised a handsome outside, and covered and 
glazed it, but found nothing done to the inside, not so much as a 
floor laid. When I had for a year or two preached upon the 
ground, I got subscriptions for about X50, among the inhabitants 
towards finishing the inside.' ^ And in 1722, Mr. Jenney states, 
' The Church, though built in Mr. Muirson's time, is not yet fin- 
ished ; the roof decays, but if not quickly fitted up, is not likely to 
stand long.' It was finished about the year 1727.^ 

This building was placed where Christ Church in our village 
now stands. As usual then, it stood 'in the street' — at the 
junction of Grace Church Street and what is now called Rectory 
Street. It was known as Gkace Church in 1736,^ and probably 
many years before. This, however, was not a corporate name, 
but one in popular use. The legal designation was ' The Parish 
Church of Rye.' * 

Mr. Muirson's ministry was short. He died Tuesday, October 
12th, 1708, but a little more than three years from the commence- 
ment of his labors in Rye. He was only thirty-three years of age ; 
and it appears highly probable that his course was shortened by the 
fatigues and privations he underwent while here. ' He was a very 
industrious and successful missionary,' says Colonel Heathcote, his 
brother-in-law, ' and had it pleased God to have preserved his life, 
would have been able to have given a wonderful account of his 
labours. By his constant journeys in the service of the Church, 
and the necessary supply of his family, he expended every farthing 
he got here and of the Society.' ^ 

His removal was a great loss to the people of Rye. A large 
proportion of them had been drawn by his efforts, and those of 
Colonel Heathcote, to attend upon his ministry. ' Though they 

1 Bolton, Histoni of the Prot. Episc. Church, pp. 151-205. ^ j^d p. 244. 

3 The name of 'Gracious ' or Grace Church Street first occurs in a deed of this date. 
(Rj'e Records, vol. C. p. 13G.) 

* The earliest document in which the church is otherwise described, is one relating 
to the presentation of Mr. Piiiiderson for induction, in 1763. It mentions ' the Parish 
Church of Rye, called Grace Church.' (Bolton, History Prot. Episc. Church, p. 300.) 

5 Ibid. p. 187. 


were generally Presbyterians,' says Mr. Wetmore in 1728, ' by 
Colonel Heathcote's influence, and Mr. Muirson's industry and 
good behaviour, and the Governor of the province being zealous to 
encourage the Church, they all united in building the Church, 
and frequented the worship in it, as long as Mr. Muirson lived.' ^ 

His successor was the Rev. Mr. Reynolds, who came to Rye in 
October, 1709. He had officiated but a few times, however, when 
orders came from the Society, removing him from his post, and 
forbidding him to preach. The reasons for this proceeding are not 
known. Mr. Reynolds was superseded by the 


an English clergyman, who had previously been settled in Boston 
as assistant minister of King's Chapel, and afterwards in Nar- 
ragansett. He came to Rye in January, 1710.^ 

The records of the Vestry of this parish commence soon after 
the beginning of Mr. Bridge's ministry, January 9, 1710-11. It 
does not appear that any account of the proceedings of that body 
had been kej)t until then. The opening pages show how its affairs 
were conducted, and there seems to have been little deviation from 
the method down to the Revolution.^ 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, p. 246. 

2 Ibid. p. 191. 

^ ' At a Lawfull meeting of the Parishioners at their Parish Church in Rye To 
Elect & Choose Churchwardens & Vestry men ffor the Year Ensuing, were Elected 
& Chosen ' 

Capt Joseph Theall \ 
Capt Jonathan Hartt \ Churchwardens. 
Cornelius Seely ) 

Andrew Coe ") 

John Merritt Senr I 

Daniel Purdy Cordw"" > Vestri/men 
Thomas Purdy 
Thomas Merritt Jun>" J 
and Joseph Cleator Clerk of the Vestry for this Year.' 

The officers thus elected next meet with the Justices of the Peace for the transaction 
of business. 

' May the Seventh Anno Dom' 1711. 

' At a meeting of the Justices and Vestrymen at the Church this Day were present 
the Honi-We Coll. Heath Coate 
Deliverance Brown 
Joseph Budd 
Isaac Denham 

George Lane Jun'' 

Joseph Lyon 

George Kniffin 

John Disbrow . . . Mamar'' 

John Miller . . . Bedford 



Andrew Coe j f George Lane Jun'' 

John Merritt Senr 1 i/ .. J George Kniffin 

Thomas Merritt Jun'' I ^''"''"i joj^^ Miller 

Thomas Purdy J I 

MR. BRIDGE. 311 

Until Mr. Bridge's time it would appear that the Justices and 
Vestry held their sessions without the presence of the minister. 
An order now came — July 29, 1712 — from the government, 
directing that ' every orthodox minister be one of the vestry in 
his parish.'^ 

The number of communicants varied little from that reported 
by Mr. Muirson. In 1710 there were forty-three ; in 1711, forty- 
four; in 1712, forty- two. The 'number of those who professed 
themselves of the Church of England,' in the same year, was three 
hundred and thirteen ; the Presbyterians numbered four hundred 
and sixty-six. There were some twenty ' heathens that are ser- 
vants of families.' The number of inhabitants in the parish was 
seven hundred and ninety-nine. 'Many of the Dissenters come 
sometimes to church.'^ 

Much of Mr. Bridge's attention appears to have been given to 
the Friends, who were now quite numerous, especially in ' the 
Purchase.' From his own account, he met with marked success 
in a disputation, held in the year 1712, with some whom he calls 
' ranting Quakers.' A preacher among them was convinced by 
the rector's arguments, and came sometimes to church ; ' but it 
pleased God, soon after, to take him out of the world.' In 1717, he 
writes, ' It is my constant care to watch the motions of the Quak- 
ers, to prevent their seducing any of my parishioners — for they 
come frequently in great numbers from Long Island and other 
places, to hold their meeting of the out parts of my parish. — I 
take all occasions in my public discourses, and my private exhorta- 

' Voted and agreed by the Above said Justices and Vestrymen, the Sum of fifty five 
pounds five Shillings to be Levyed on the Parish. 

' That is to say — ffor the Minister 

For Beating the Drum 

For the Clark 

For Charge of Express to Bedford 

For y^ Constable for Collecting 

£55. 2. 6 
' Voted also on y^ other side that Warrants be Issued out for half the Above said 
Sum to be paid on the Tenth Day of July next Ensuing, and for y other half, one 
moiety thereof, which is one fourth part of said Sum, be paid on the Tenth day of 
October next, and the fourth part to be paid on the Tenth day of January next — and 
that the moyety payable on the Tentii day of July be Laid in proportion to the Last 
Quota — That is to say Eye £17. 6." 












1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, p. 20.3. 

2 Ibid. pp. 196, 199, 202. 

Mamaroneck 3. 13. 6 
Scarsdalc 1. 11. 6 

Bedford 5. 5. 


tions, to show the great enormity and dangerous consequences ' of 
their ])ractices.i 

Mr. Bridge also took an active part in the temporal concerns of 
the town. He became one of the Proprietors of Peningo Neck as 
early as 1713 ;^ and shortly before his death obtained a patent for 
two hundred and eighty-one acres, ' in twenty small parcels,' situ- 
ated in diife,rent parts of the town of Rye.^ 

Mr. Bridge died at Rye on Friday, May 22, 1719, and, like his 
excellent predecessor, was buried in the parish church. He was 
forty-eight years of age. The memory of these first rectors well 
deserves to be cherished. There is reason to believe that they 
were faithful, conscientious, and earnest ministers of the Gospel, 
and were successful in promoting the religious welfare of the peo- 

The good feeling that prevailed while Mr. Muirson lived, con- 
tinued during Mr. Bridge's ministry. The people of other de- 
nominations ' frequented the worship in the Church,' propitiated 
by the friendly ways and the upright character of the rector, who 
'though a strict Churchman in his principles' was 'yet of great 
respect and charity to Dissenters, and much esteemed of them.' * 

But this harmony was now interrupted. A vacancy of three 
years occurred between the death of Mr. Bridge and the induction 
of his successor. For the first few months the church was sup- 
plied by clergymen from New York and other places, under the 
direction of the Rev. Mr. Vese}^ ; but after this, it appears to 
have been occupied by the Presbyterian congregation. 

The Gospel Proj)agation Society, in 1722, appointed the Rev. 
Henry Barclay as their missionary at Rye. Meanwhile, however, 
the churchwardens and Vestry had called the — 

1 Bolton, History of the Prat. Episc. Church, p. 202. 

2 This was either by purchase or by gift from the heirs of Jacob Pearce, one of the 
early proprietors. In a list dated September 7, 1713, we find the name of Christopher 
Bridge ' for Daniel Pierce in right of Jacob Pierce deceased.' (Town Meeting Book, 
G. 20.) Jacob Pearce (see page 48) left Eye about the year 1G89, and was never 
heard from. His widow maVried Isaac Denham. In 1694, the Court of Sessions of 
AVestchestcr County confirmed her in the possession of her first husband's lands, etc., 
' till the right heir appears.' The mention of Daniel Pearce in the list above quoted, 
is the only allusion to such an heir, that we have met with. 

3 Book of Patents, Albany, vol. viii. p. 182. Mr..Bridge's patent must not be con- 
founded witli that given in 1708 to Mrs. Anne Bridges, widow of Dr. Bridges of New 
York, which formed a part of the Middle Patent, now included in the town of North 
Castle. (Bolton, History of Westchester County, pp. 4.54, 455.) 

* Bolton, History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, etc., p. 207. 

MR. JENNEY. 313 


at that time chaplain to the royal forces in New York. The Society 
confirmed the call, and Mr. Jenney was inducted as rector of Rye, 
by an order from Governor Burnet, dated June 7th, 1722. He 
found the congregation very much weakened. The communicants 
were ' but few,' and the temporalities of the church Avere in no 
flourishing condition. A portion of the church lands had been 
alienated by patent to his predecessor Mr. Bridge, and was now 
possessed by his family. This was ' the lot called Parsonage Point, 
containing about five acres.' The other lands, the 'home-lot' in 
the village, and the glebe in the Town Field, were held by the pro- 
prietors of the town, most of whom desired a dissenting minister ; 
and but for the governor's intervention, they would have pre- 
vented the rector from taking possession. The parsonage house 
was much out of repair; the lands needed fencing; and the 
church was likely to fall into ruin if not speedily fitted up. The 
people were not willing to contribute for these purposes ; and Mr. 
Jenney was ' forced to demand of the Vestry to raise for that use 
so much of the salary ' as had fallen due since the death of Mr. 
Bridge. The Vestry refused, and Mr. Jenney resorted to the 
law, for a writ requiring them to raise and pay into the hands of 
the churchwardens all arrearages since the year 1719. These 
measures did not tend to conciliate the people. ' Many that be- 
fore came to the church, and some who had been communicants 
in Mr. Bridge's time, now became ' disaffected.' The money, how- 
ever, was raised, and spent in repairing the house and glebe ; and 
Mr. Jenney also succeeded in obtaining a survey of the remaining 
jiarsonage lands, with a view to prevent any further encroachments 
upon them. 

On the whole, Mr. Jenney's ministry in Rye appears to have 
been less happy than that of either of his predecessors. The cir- 
cumstances were unfavorable ; at his coming he found the people 
much divided ; the Presbyterian congregation had gained strength 
during the vacancy since Mr. Bridge's death, and the church prop- 
erty was in jeopardy. His course, under these disadvantages, was 
perhaps not the most judicious ; dissatisfaction and alienation in- 
creased ; ' the greatest part of the town ' frequented the services 
of the other congregation. Mr. Jenney finally left Rye in 1726, 
having been minister here four years. He removed to Hempstead, 
Long Island, and afterwards to Philadelphia, where he became 
rector of Christ Church, and died in 1702, at the age of seventy- 
five. The 



tlic fourth rector of the parish, was called on the seventh of June, 
1726, but a few days after Mr. Jenney's resignation. He was a 
native of Middletown, Connecticut. He graduated in 1714 at Yale 
College, and in November 1718 was ordained and settled at North 
Haven, as the first pastor of the Congregational Church in that 
place. Within four years of that time, however, he relinquished 
his chariie, and soon after went to England, where he was ordained 
to the ministry of the Established Church. His induction by order 
of Governor Burnet, to the rectorship of Rye, took place soon after 
the call of the Vestry, which was approved by the Gospel Prop- 
agation Society, who in due time appointed him their missionary 
at Rye. In acquainting the Society with their action, the Vestry 
express the hope, ' now we are once more peaceably settled,' ' to 
see religion revive among us, which by contentions and divisions is 
sunk to a very low ebb. As Mr. Wetmore has been born in this 
country,' they add, 'and long known among us, .... we doubt 
not but y'' people of this Parish will continue their affection to 
him.' i 

Mr. Wetmore soon reports several converts from the ' Dissent- 
ers.' He continues the services maintained by his predecessors, in 
the remote parts of the parish ; preaching ' three Sundays in the 
church of Rye ; then one at North Castle ; then three again at 
Rye ; then one at White Plains.' Besides these services, he 
has a lecture the first Wednesday in each month at Bedford, and 
preaches occasionally in the neighboring towns of Connecticut. At 
White Plains, in 1739, for want of a house large enough to receive 
the people, he preaches in the open fields ; and at Rye, ' if the 
congregation increases as it has done the year past, we must be 
forced to enlarge the parish church.' In 1748, he adds to these 
Sunday services a monthly lecture at North Castle, and an occa- 
sional lecture at Mamaroneck. The church, however, ' the only 
one in the parish, is much out of repair, which after several years' 
endeavouring to bring my people to a scheme to make decent and 
ornamental, I am yet unable to effect.' The parsonage house he 
had enlarged and repaired at his own expense some years before ; 
it is now grown so old and decayed, as to be scarcely worth repair- 

It was during Mr. Wetmore's ministry at Rye that the famous 
George Whitefield visited this place in 1740, on his way to 

1 Bolton, Hist. Prot. Episc. Church, p. 241. 2 ji^i^j ^^ 253, 266, 268, 278, 269. 


New York after a tour througli New England. His journal con- 
tains the following mention of this circumstance, on Wednesday, 
October 29th : — 

^ Rye in New York Province. Being kindly invited by a Minister of 
the Church of England after dinner I went to Rye, about eleven Miles 
from Stamford. I read Prayers and preached to a small Congregation. 
Was civilly entertained by the Minister, and then rode Ten Miles fur- 
ther to East Chester.' ^ 

Mr. Wetmore's ministry in Rye extended over nearly thirty-four 
years. He died of tlie small-pox, in 1760, at the age of sixty-five. 
His last years appear to have been saddened by increased dissen- 
sions in his parish, obstructing, as he complained, the success of his 
labors ; but his activity seems to have continued undiminished to 
the close. Tradition states that the disease of which he died was 
contracted at Mamaroneck, whither he went in the discharge of pas- 
toral duty. The cares of a large parish did not prevent him from 
engaging in authorship. His published writings are of a controver- 
sial nature, and exhibit traits of decision and severity which were 
probably prominent characteristics of the man. Mr. Wetmore 
was an American by birth, and in his early life and ministry be- 
longed to the Congregational body. But in zeal for the Church 
of England, as well as for the royal prerogative, he was not ex- 
celled by any writer of his day. He was a strenuous advocate of 
the <loo;ma that the Church of England was the established 
church of the colonies, as well as of the mother country ; and 
asserted it in a manner scarcely fitted to conciliate the masses of 
a population, nineteen twentieths of whom were of a different way 
of thinking. 

The parish remained vacant more than two years after Mr. Wet- 
more's death. The people found difficulty in agreeing on a succes- 
sor, and finally called the Rev. Ebenezer Punderson, of New Haven, 
who commenced his labors here on the first of July, 1762. The 
Society in London, meanwhile, had appointed the Rev. Solomon 
Palmer, of Litchfield, to be their missionary at Rye, but con- 
sented to the choice of the congregation ; and on the twenty-first 
of November, 1763, Mr. Punderson was inducted as rector. He 
had been engaged in the service of the Gospel Propagation Society 
for more than thirty years; and in a letter to the Secretary, after 
his arrival here, states the remarkable fact that, notwithstanding 
' many infirmities,' he had ' been enabled to perform divine service 
i Tlie two first parts of his Life, with his Journals [from 1714 to 17411, revised, 
corrected, and abridged, by George Whitcfield, A. B. London, 1756, p. 419. 


every Sunday save one, during tliat long term.' His ministry in 
Rye was short. He died September 22, 1764, a little more than 
two years from the time of his coming.^ 

The parisli church was now ' greatly decayed,' and in need of 
speedy repairs. In view of this necessity, a number of the inhab- 
itants united in a petition, which was presented to the lieutenant- 
governor of the province, on the sixteenth of November, 1764, 
asking for an act of incorporation. They allege, that the interests 
of the church are suffering for the want of ' some persons legally 
authorized to manage ' its affairs, and that they and others who 
are disposed to provide funds for its support and for the better 
maintenance of the ministry, are discouraged from contributing to 
the rej)air of the church, lest the moneys given for that purpose 
may be misapplied. ^ This petition was granted on the nineteenth 
of December, 1764. The petitioners, and the rest of the inhabit- 
ants of the parisli of Rye in communion with the Church of Eng- 
land, and their successors, with the rector of the said parish for the 
time being, were constituted by royal charter a ' body corporate and 
politick,' by the name of the rector and inhabitants of the parish of 
Rye, in communion with the Church of England. The charter 
provides tliat they shall meet at the church on Tuesday in Easter 
week ill every year, and choose two of their members to be church- 
wardens, and eight others to be vestrymen for the ensuing year.^ 

Mr. Punderson's successor, — the last rector of the parish before 
the Revolution, — was the 


who was called by the Vestry on the twenty-seventh of August, 

1 Neio York Journal or the General Advertiser, 1771, April 4. 'We hear from 
Poughkeepsic, that on Tuesday the 26 ult. died there, Mrs. Beardsley, wife of the 
Revd Mr. John Beardsley : she was the youngest daugiitcr of the late Ucv'i Mr. Pun- 
derson, Episcopal minister at Rye, a lady of uncommon attainments in Literature, 
and a most amiable character. We hear she had lately been delivered of Twins, one 
of whom is still living.' 

■'' The Petition of the Rector and Inhabitants of the Parish of Rye in Communion 
of the Church of England as by law Established To be Incorporated, 16th Novef 1764. 
Warrant to the Attorney General issued dated the 1 7 November, 1764. (N. Y. Col. 
MSS., vol. xciii. p. 4.) The petition is signed by 

Peter Jay H. Purdy Thomas Sawyer 

Elisha Budd John Guion E. H. [Ebenezer?] Brundige 

Christopher Trughart [Szenhart?] Joseph Purdy John Thomas 

Timothy Wetmore Gilbert Willet William Sutton 

Caleb I'urdy jno. Carhartt Anthony Miller 

John Adee. 

^ Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., pp. 307-311. 

MR. AYERY. 817 

1765. Mr. Avery was a native ol" Connecticut, the son of a Con- 
gregational pastor, and, like his predecessors Wetmore and Punder- 
son, was a graduate of Yale College. He came to Rye, his first pas- 
toral charge, at the age of twenty-four, having just returned from 
England, whither he had gone to be ordained by the Bishop of Lon- 
don. He received the Society's appointment, and was duly inducted 
by order of Lieutenant-Governor Colden, issued September 9th, 
1765. Mr. Avery's first letter to the Society is hopeful. ' The 
people of my parish seem to be under very peaceable circum- 
stances, an entire harmony subsisting between them and myself, 
especially those who are professors of the Church of England, and 
indeed the other party are very quiet.' The present number of 
communicants is about forty, and others seem disposed to join. 

But the young pastor had commenced his labors in troublous 
times, and among a people already excited and divided upon the 
great political questions before the country. He found his own 
flock ' in general much more calm with respect to the Stamp Act 
than the most of others.' ' Tis true, they esteem the Act rather 
aggressive,' he adds ; ' but to resist the higher powers in a rebel- 
lious manner they think not only unlawful but unchristian.' Like 
all the Society's missionaries, Mr. Avery sympathized strongly 
with the British side in the growing differences between the 
government and the colonies. In February, 1776, we hear of him 
as in correspondence with the commander of the British fleet in the 
harbor of New York.^ His undisguised O[)inions upon the subject 
of the war drew on him the special displeasure of the whigs, and 
he was one of the first at Rye to suffer the injuries which in after 
years were experienced by so many on both sides. Our pity is 
deeply moved as we read of his extreme poverty, his failing health 
and spirits, and finally of his irreparable loss in the death of his 
wife, ' a prudent and cheerful woman,' upon whom he depended 
greatly.^ It ' affected him so much,' writes Mr. Seabury, giving 

1 Journals of the Provincial Congress, etc., of the State of New York. Albany, 1842. 
Vol. i. p. 280. 

^ Mrs. Avery was older than her husband by several years. She was buried beside 
him in the little cemetery by Blind Brook. The following obituary notice of this lady 
appeared in the JVew York Gazette and Mercuri/, May 27, 1776 : — 

' On Monday the 1.3th Instant died at Rye, in the 39th Year of her Age, MRS. 
AVERY, the Wife of the Revd. Mr. Avery, Rector of that Parish. She endured a 
most distressing Illness of six Weeks, with the greatest Patience, sustaining the most 
excruciating Pains without one repining Expression, and submitted to her Dissolution 
with the most placid Resignation to the Will of her heavenly Father, exhibiting a most 
striking Instance of that Fortitude in the most trying Scene, that human Nature is ex- 
posed to, wliich nothing but a well spent Life, and a firm Trust in the Mercies of God 


an account of tliese facts to the Society, ' that when I attended 
her funeral, I did not think it right to leave him suddenly, but 
tarried with him several days till he was more composed.' ^ We 
have related elscAvhere the unhappy circumstances connected with 
the close of Mr. Avery's course. His untimely death ended a 
ministry of more than eleven years. He was but thirty-five years 
of age, and left ' five or six helpless orphans.' The parsonage by 
Blind Brook witnessed its saddest scenes in the trials of this poor 
minister and his family. 

Wetmore, Punderson, and Avery were buried in the small plot 
of ground on the west side of Blind Brook, nearly opposite the 
church. The earlier rectors, Muirson and Bridge, were buried 
underneath the church. Of the six resident rectors of Rye, before 
the Revolution, all but one ended their days here, and await among 
the people of their charge a joyful resurrection. They were all, 
judging from the record of their lives and labors here, blameless 
and faithful ministers of Christ; laborious and self-denying in the 
prosecution of a work which was attended with no small difficulty 
and discouragement ; and conscientious in their advocacy of prin- 
ciples which they held to be true and important. 

They were undoubtedly mistaken in some of the measures which 
they employed with this design. The pretence that the Church of 
England was by law established in this province, and entitled to 
support by funds levied upon the people, was utterly groundless. 
And the claim to exclusive rights under the Act of 1693 for the 
maintenance of an orthodox ministry, was manifestly unjust. 
These pretensions were supported by the governors of the prov- 
ince, and for that reason were successfully carried out here and 
elsewhere. But the effect upon the public mind was very unfavor- 
able. The prejudices of the people w^ere deepened by procedures 
which they regarded as oppressive and unlawful. We hear of re- 
sistance to the collection of moneys for the minister's salary and 
the building of the church ; of lawsuits for the recovery of the 
parsonage lands ; and of refusal to contribute voluntarily for needed 
repairs. And after sixty years' faithful labor, the number of com- 
municants reported by the Society's last missionary at Rye, in 
1766, barely equals that which the worthy Mr. Muirson had re- 
through the Redeemer of the World can inspire. ... Let me die the Death of the Right- 
eous, and let my last End be like his. By her Death the Husband and five Children are 
deprived of a most excellent Wife and Mother, and all her Acquaintance of a most 
sensible, agreeable, and cheerful Companion.' 

1 Bolton, Histonj of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 323. 


ported in 1706, five months after the beginning of liis pastorate.^ 
A more striking proof could scarcely be required, of the impolicy 
of an attempt to sustain religion by means of the forced contribu- 
tions of a people differing greatly in their rehgious opinions and 
preferences. We cannot but agree with Colonel Morris in the 
belief that the Church of England would have prospered far more 
in this country, had there been no attempt at special legislation in 
her favor. 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., pp. 166, 317. 



FOR many years after Mr. Bowers's removal to Green wicli, in 
1700, the Presbyterians of Rye were without a settled pastor. 
Some of them, during the ministry of Mr. Muirson and Mr. 
Bridge, conformed to the Ciiurch of England. Others, without 
relinquishing their religious belief and preference, frequented the 
services of that church, being, as they expressed it, ' in no con- 
dition to get a minister according to their own mind.' ^ But much 
the greater part of the population continued to avow themselves 
Presbyterians, though conciliated by the judicious conduct of the 
first rectors, who appear to have been generally and deservedly 
liked. Neither of them had attempted to use the strenuous 
measures which their successors freely resorted to, for the raising 
of their salary. Mr. Muirson, indeed, put up with no little incon- 
venience rather than pursue such a course. Nearly two years 
after his arrival, he had received only ten or twelve pounds of 
the fifty pounds per annum ' settled by Act of Assembly upon 
Rye parish.' ' It's true,' he writes, ' I could compel 'em by Law 
to pay the whole, but such proceedings I'm well assured would 
have been very hurtful to the interests of the Church, in a place 
especially surrounded Avhh Dissenters of all sorts; and therefore I 
thought it better to have patience with 'em till they are more able, 
than that our glorious work should anyways suifer.' ^ 

A letter from Mr. Bridge, in 1710, to the Secretary of the Gos- 
pel Propagation Society, gives us the first exact information as to 
the relative strength of the two denominations. The iidiabitants 
then numbered seven hundred and seventy-two, including children, 
servants, and slaves. Of these, four hundred and forty-one had 
been baptized, ' the greatest part of them before the Church was 
settled here.' Those that professed themselves of the Church of 
England were two hundred and eighty-four, of whom forty-three 
were communicants, ' some still Presbyterians or Independents in 
their judgment, but persons well disposed, and willing to partake 
1 Bolton, Histonj of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 247. 2 /j^^ p. 175. 


of the sacrament in what way they can, rather than not at all.' 
The Dissenters numbered four hundred and sixty-eight, all of 
whom, except eleven or twelve families of Quakers, were ' Presby- 
terians or Independents, transplanted out of the Connecticut col- 
ony.' 1 Two thirds, then, of the population were still ' Dissenters ' 
in the year 1710, and as the number of communicants of the 
Church of England never varied greatly from that stated above, 
we may consider this to have been about the proportion main- 
tained until the period of the Revolution. * 

The people, however, were too poor to ' maintain two differing 
ministers.' ^ They saw less occasion for doing so while the incum- 
bents of the English Church were acceptable. They were probably 
visited from time to time by the ministers of the neighboring 
towns, as they had been formerly, and had occasional if not regular 
services of worship according to their own accustomed way. 

But upon the death of Mr. Bridge, May 22, 1719, a change 
took place. The Presbyterians, apparently thinking that it was 
high time they should have a minister of their own choosing, made 
the attempt ' to possess themselves of the church.' It had been 
built by the town, and was doubtless regarded as town property, 
to the use of which the more numerous body had at least an equal 
claim. They appear to have succeeded in gaining possession of 
the church, and during the three years' vacancy that elapsed 
before another rector was inducted, they probably met here, more 
or less regularly, under the teaching of a minister whom they 
invited to labor among them. This was the 


of Norwalk, Connecticut. This gentleman was called to Rye in 
February, 1720 ; ' most of the inhabitants, some communicants,' 
uniting in the call. As the ' proprietors of the town ' were ' for 
the most part such as were desirous of having a dissenting teacher' 
among them, we cannot doubt that they readily gave Mr. Buck- 
ingham possession of the parsonage house and glebe, as well as of 
the church. Indeed, we infer as much from the statement of the 
Rev. John Thomas, who writes thus elegantly — April 20th, 
1722 — to the Gospel Propagation Society : ' The want of a mis- 
sionary'- so long at Rye, has introduced [induced ?] a dissenter to 
build his nest there.' ^ Mr. Jenney, too, informs us ' there was a 
Presbyterian preacher at Rye when I came here,' and complains 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 196. ^ /^./j. p. 214. 

3 Ibid. p. 21.3. 



that the proprietors of tlie town endeavored to withliold the par- 
sonage house and glebe after his coming.^ 

Under Mr. Buckingham's ministry the Presbyterian congrega- 
tion appears to liave become consoHdated ; and thenceforth it main- 
tained a separate worship. The effort to resist taxation for the 
support of the English rectors, and to regain possession of the par- 
sonage property, dates also from this period. No forcible resist- 
ance, however, was offered to Mr. Jenney's induction. The order 
of the governor overbore all opposition, but it was with a very bad 
grace that the people yielded to his mandate. 

Mr. Buckinfi-ham returned to Connecticut in 1722. The con- 
gregation, nevertheless, was kept up, and now enjoyed more fre- 
quent visits and ministrations from the neighboring clergy. Soon 
it obtained the services of a settled minister. This was the 


who came to Rye about the year 1723, and continued with the 
people until 1728. Mr. Walton was a member of the Presby- 
tery of Philadelphia. He was a native of New London, Connect- 
icut, and graduated at Yale College in 1720. He had been 
preaching for a while at Crosswicks in Burlington County, New 
Jersey, before he came to Rye. He is said to have been highly 
gifted as a preacher ; bvat he was erratic and self-willed. He came 
here, indeed, while under the censure of his Presbytery for impru- 
dence and rashness while in New Jersey.^ But whatever may 
have been his defects, Mr. Walton's labors at Rye served greatly 
to strengthen the Presbyterian congregation. Many who had 
been drawn over to the parish church, some even who were com- 
municants, returned. The language of the rector, with reference 
to the new minister, was far from complimentary. ' This Walton, 
being a bold, noisy fellow, of a volible [voluble] tongue, drew the 
greatest part of the town after him.' ^ 

Mr. Jenney's resort to the law, for the purpose of compelling 
the people to raise funds to complete the church and repair the 
parsonage, embittered many of the people who had been friendly 
to his predecessors. And it was this, together with their failure 
to retain possession of the church, that doubtless determined the 
Presbyterians at length to set about building a house of worship. 

1 Bolton, HIstonj of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 221. 

2 Ilisforij of the Presbijterian Church in America, by Kev. Ricliard AVebster, D. D., 
pp. 377, 379. 

3 Bolton, Ilistori/ of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 246. 


Mr. Walton was tlie promoter of this plan. ' He spurred them 
forward,' says the rector, in 1728, ' to build one meeting house at 
the White Plains, about six miles from the Church, and has set 
them on to build another in the town, within about one hundred 
rods of the Church : to defray the expenses of which they have 
obtained briefs from the General Assembly of Connecticut Colony, 
to beg in all the towns and villages of that colony.' ^ 

The following is the ' Humble Memorial of y" Presbyterians of 
Ry & the white Plains,' ' to the Honourable Govern'' & Council 
assembled at Hartford, May 11th An D 1727.' ^ 

This petition ' Humbly Sheweth That y" Hon^^ memorialists are 
under many Difficult Circumstances with Respect of enjoying the 
Means of Grace according to the Purity of the Gospel, first because 
we are obliged to pay to y*" Church of England, 2*^ our way of worship 
is not Established by Law 3*^ The opposition made by the Church 
Party not only in Lessening our Number but in too much striving to 
discourage & hinder us many ways. Yet notwithstanding all this the 
Love of Gods Honour & y*' Peace of our Immortal Souls has excited a 
Number of us to expose our selves to Considerable Charge and Diffi- 
culty to maintain y*" Gospel amongst us. We have frequently main- 
tained the Dissenting Ministers «&; sometimes have had hopes of settling 
them. Once we got Timber for a Meeting House but too many Dis- 
couragements prevented our erecting the same & so after Consider- 
able Charge our Design was Baffled & our Timber Rotted. But again 
taking Courage we have erected a suitable Meeting House at y" White 
Plains & covered the same so that we have once met in it. But being 
in Debt for part of w' we have done, & utterly unable to finish w' we 
have begun & being desirous to build another Meeting House down in 
Ry Town (w"*" is six miles distant from y'' White Plains) therefore the 
Humble INIemorialists of your Honourable House humbly request that 
there may be a Brief ^ pass through the Colony of Connecticut & the 
mony thereby collected be transmitted to y'' Hands of y* Rev'' ]\fr. 
Davenport to be laid out for y*' Building our s"^ Meeting Houses. We 
humbly beg y"^ Honours to Remember us in y*= midst of y"" nniltitude of 
business. Pray look on us as y' Children — alienated from y'^ Privi- 
ledge of being under y'' Protection & Government & all against our 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 246. 

2 Document in the archives of the State of Connecticut, at Hartford. 

3 A ' letter patent, giving license to collect contributions for a specified purpose.' 
The General Court had ordered, October 13, 1681, ' that no Brcife craveing the col- 
lection of the good people in these plantations in this colony shall be read or attended 
in any plantation of the colony, without it have the aloweance of the Governo"- and 
Councill, and be by them directed into what townes or congregations it shall ])ass, 
except it be for some speciall occasion for some distressed or afflicted person of their 
own inhabitants.' (Public Records of Comiecticut, vol. iii. p. 92.) 


will. Pray consider [us] as y' fellow Christians having in our Breasts 
Souls as Immortal & precious as y'' own. Oh pray consider us as under 
many Discouragements, & that a little of y'' help might encourage many 
that are now Cold & Indifferent. Oh consider y" Indefatigable Indus- 
try of y* Church of England to help poor places. Paul also tells us he 
robbed other Churches that he might not be burdensome to y* weak. 
.... What a noble Enlargement of Christ's Kingdom w*^ it be to 
Establish encourage & settle the Gospel amongst us. Is not one soul 
worth ten thousand worlds ; & can you be easy whilst we perish for 
lack of vision ? Surely no : the tokens of y'' Christ" kindness to others 
encouragelh us. Honored Gentlemen & Beloved in the Lord 'tis not 
for a Certain sum we ask, only for an opportunity for our fellow Chris- 
tians to shew their Liberality ; & will not Christ reward you for all y' 
Labour of Love ? (Mat. xxv.) Will not kindness done to us by ye be 
reckoned to himself? 

' W^e have made up a Competent tho small Yearly Salery for y* 
maintainance of a minister, & could we obtain some help in Building 
suitable places for y* Worship of God, we sh'^ hope to enjoy y* Gospel 
in a settled way. Therefore in firm constant & steady tho trembling 
hopes of y" expression of y'' Honours tokens of Christian kindness we 
shall ever pray for y"^ Hon"^^ Happyness & Remain y' Hon" very Humble 
Serv'^ ' 1 

We can imagine the suspense of the people while waiting for a 
reply to tliis memorial. And great must have been their disap- 
pointment when at length word came to them that it had been 

1 Signed — 
John Walton 
Ebenczer Theall 
Joseph Brondige 
Samuell Lane 
Daniel Purdy 
Abraham Brondige 
Samuell Lane inner 
Hezekiah Lane 
llobart Bloomer 
Joseph Kniffin 
Robart Bloomer jr 

Benjamin Brown 

Thomas Brown 

Hachliah Brown 

Timothy Knap 

Jonathan Brown 

Thail [Israel] Kniffin 

Danjell Purdy 

Joseph Merritt 

Thomas Robeson 

Michel Barsit [Michael Basset] 

Joseph Purdy 

Joseph Sharhod [Sherwood] Jonathan Haight 
Andro Sharhod [id.] Joseph Purdy 

Peter Brown Jonathan Haight 

Samuel Brown Joseph Purdy 

Thomas Lyon junr Nathan Lane 

Wm Molmath [Monmouth] John Haight 
Hart Samuel Halt 

Joseph Hortton John Turner 

Andrew Merritt John Turner iun. 

Benoney Merritt David Horton 

David Horton jun"" 
Samuell Horton 
Samuell Horton jun"" 
John Travis 
Benjamin Knap 
Solomon Lane 
John Hyatt 
Jonathan Linch 
Roberd Travis 
Daniel Lane 
Roberd Travis 
John Garison 
Jonathan Lane 
Caleb Hyatt 
Caleb Hyatt jun' 
Nathan Hyatt 
Moses Knap 
Daniell Knap 
George Lane sen 
George Lane 


refused. The trustees of Yale College, however, became inter- 
ested in their case, and the following letter, received in the 
autumn, revived their hopes of success : — 

' To our Christian freinds & Brethren at Rye On the representation 
made of your circumstances to us 
' Sirs 

' "We cannot but encourage you to prosecute your petition to our 
General Assembly : and we shall be on the spot at the time, and you 
may expect our countenance in that affair : and wish that you may 
have an orderly settlement of the worship and ordinances of God 
among you, and shall be ready as there may be occasion to afford you 
our help and Assistance ; in what may be agreeable to dissenting prin- 

* Signed by order of the Trustees 

Sam'-'' Whitman, ScribeJ 
' New Haven, Sep : 15, 1727. 

The messengers from Rye carried a letter to the trustees of 

Yale College, which sives us a further insight into the state and 

prospects of the congregation. It is dated ' Oct 10"' 1727: ' — 

' Rev*^ Gentlemen yrs of Septem^"^ 15 we have Received for which 
Favour we Return our hearty Thanks and hope we shall be laid under 
further Obligation of Gratitude for y* Continuation of uncommon 
Kindness loudly called for by our souls necessity. We make no Doubts 
but you will use y"" Interest for our society a society Bordering on your 
selves and Encompassed by Church men and Quakers. A Society 
under havey Bonds and taxes to y*" Church of England being forced to 
pay annualy a Considerable Salery and also to help them Build their 
Church or Rather Rebuild y* same. We want two Meeting Houses 
tho we are but one Society. The Gentlemen our People have Chosen 
viz. John Haight and Robert Bloomer will further inform you of our 
Affairs we hope by the Divine Blessing after a Great Variety of Divine 
Providences we shall be Encouraged in our Endeavors to have y" Gos- 
pel setled amongst us tho hitherto Things and Times have been very 
Dark and we ... . strangely Disappointed yet if we might have y' 
Counsel and assistance it will Raise up the Hands that hang down and 
putt new Life in us. We Desire that one or more of your number 
may go for us to the Assembly in y'^ name of y*' Rest and that you will 
afford all Counsels [and] Directions necessary and that if our Petition 
be lost that you would assist in Drawing a new one and that we may 
have a Letter from you by the bearers and in it y"" Thoughts on y* 
whole of our Afiliirs. — This is Rev"^ Gentlemen together with a Desire 
of y^ ardent Prayers for us w'' offers from y^ very humble serv" and 
sincere well-wishers Caleb Hyatii 

RoBicRT Bloomer' 


The trustees of Yale College kept their promise to support the 
a]iplication of our people when it should come before the legisla- 
ture ; and the following is their letter ' To the Hon"*'^ Govern'' & 
Council, & Representatives in Gen' Court assembled.' 

' May it please y"" Ilono" 

' Upon the Representation of the Circumstances of Rye laid before 
us, The Trustees of Yale CoUedg now Convened, do app^iend it may 
be fur y*^ Inf^est of Religion there, that a House for publick Worship to 
be observed according to the manner of the Chinches in New England 
be erected in the Town of Rye, to be Improved by a Minister of like 
perswasion with ourselves Capable and without offence, & do therefore 
by these Express o' willing Countenancing the Petition of Rye-peo- 
ple as we understand now depending before this hon'''*' Assembly in 
such a manner as shall seem most meet to the wisdom of yo"" hono""^ 
' Signed by order of the Trustees 

'Sam^^ Whitman scribe 

' The Trustees have desired the Rev*^ Mr John Davenport to accom- 
pany the messengers of Ry to the General Assembly and present this 
to them. Attest Sam" Whitman scribe.' 

Thus supported, the request of our memorialists obtained a sec- 
ond and a more flivorable hearing. A joint committee was ap- 
pointed by both houses of the Assembly, to consider what might 
be expedient in the matter. This committee consisted of Matthew 
Allyn, Roger Wolcott, Major John Burr, Captain Is. Dickerman, 
and Mr. Caleb Leet. They reported that they were ' of opinion 
that a breif be ordered by the Assembly to pass throughout this 
Collony to ask the charitable Contribuceons of the Good people 
towards the pious Designe of the people of Rye and the wdiite 
plains in setting up the publick worship of God amongst them ac- 
cording to the way of the churches in New England and what 
money shall be Raised thereby be put into the Hands of the Rev** 
Mr Davenport of Stamford to be by him Improved for the use 
afors** as the asociation of the County of Fairfield shall order.' 

This report was adopted, and the following resolution was passed 
by both houses : — 

'At a General Assembly at New Haven October 1727. 

' Upon y" Representation of y* Circumstances of some of y* Good 
people of y"^ town of Rye (Respecting their pious Desires of fRettling a 
Gospell minister according to y*' persuasion and mode of this Colony) 
by Diverse of y* Reverend trustees of Yale College and praying y" as- 
sistance of y^ Colony in building two meeting Houses without which 
the Worship can't be supported, which will be too heavy an undertak- 
ing for them 



' It is ennacted by this Court that a Contribution of Every Congrega- 
tion In this Collony to that purpose be desired and it is hereby Desired, 
and 'tis ordered that the Collections thereof shall be delivered to y* 
Reverend Mr Davenport of Stanford who shall Give his Receipts y''of 
and shall dispose the same to y* use afors'^ by the particular Directions 
of y^ Association of y" Rev"' Elders of y^ County of Fairfield from 
time to time as need shall Require and the secretary shall send a breif 
to the ministers of the severall Congregations accordingly.' 

Thus encouraged, our people unite in a fresh application to the 
colony : — 

' Ocf y^ Q*^ 1727 At an orderly Meeting of the Presbyterians of 
Rye & the white Plains M'' John Hoit & M"" Robert Bloomer Ju"" were 
Chosen for s* Society to Represent them their Case both to the Hon- 
ourable General Assembly of Connecticut & to y* Reverend Trustees 
of Yale Colledge all to be Convened at New Haven this Instant Octo- 
ber in witness whereof we have Desired some of the Principal of y** 
Society to Sign this Certificate And seeing we have no Laws to chuse 
a Clerk we have also Desired our Justice to Attest the same.' ^ 

The Connecticut people, we learn, ' contributed largely.' Tiie 
Dissenters, writes Mr. VVetmore in 1729, are now ' doing tlieir 
utmost to build a meeting house.' ^ On the fifteenth of May in 
that year, they secured a building spot, the deed for which is en- 
tered upon our Town Records as follows : ^ — 

' Wee whose names are under writen being properiotors of a sartin 
parcel of undevided Land lying and beeing in Rye beetwen Byrom 

1 Signed Benj. Brown Robert Bloomer 

Joseph Brondiig 
Dan jell Piirdy 
Peter Brown 

Caleb Hyatt 
Henry Dusinberre 

Moses Knap 
John Traviss 
David Horton 
David Horton Ju"^ 

Peter Hatfield 
Samuell Brown 
Thomas Lyon 
Benoni INIerritt 
Jonathan Brown 
Israel Kniffin 
Thomas Brown 
Hachaliah Brown 
Danjell Piirdy 

Jonathan Lynch 

George Lane 

John Turner 

Willi'" Anderson 

Dan" Lane 

Robt Travis 

Samuel Horton 

Joseph Kniffin 

Andrew Sherwood 

Timothy Knap 
October 9* 172?" These may Certify that Mr John Hoit & Mr Robt Bloomer 
Ju"- were Chosen as Agents for y^ Presbyterian Society in Rye & y« white Plains & 
that there is no danger of faling in y^ matter & that I was at y« Choice 

Attested p'" me Caleb Hyatt Justice of if Peace. 

■^ Bolton, History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, etc., pp. 247, 2.53. 
3 Vol. B. p. ii. 


River and blind brook within a sartin Patten that was Granted unto 
Daniel Piirdy son of John Purdy desest Samuel Brown and Beniman 
Brown and others and wee said properiotors do here by give and grant 
unto the Prisbiteren Sosioty for ever one half acer of land lying on 
the plain neer unto the hows that wase the late deseas Thomas Meritts 
juner and is bounded as foloweth that is to say Easterly by the road 
northerly southerly and westerly by comen or undevided beeing teen 
Roods in length and eight Rods in breedth with a sartin whit oak tree 
standing on the north end of the land and wee said properioters as 
aforesaid do freely give and grant unto the said prsbetereon sosyoty for 
ever the said half acer of land in witness whereof wee have here unto 
set our hands the fiftenth day of may in the second year of the Reign 
of King George the Second onney Domny one thousand seven hun- 
dred twenty nine.' ^ 

This plot of ground was situated on ' Pulpit Plain,' as it was 
called; at the northwest corner of the post-road and the 'road to 
the Cedars subsequently opened.' Here the churcli was built, and 
here it stood until the Revolutionary War. Tradition states that 
it was a plain, frame building, without belfry or spire, but tolerably 
capacious. The church at the White Plains, which as we have 
seen belonged to the same ' society,' was built two or three years 
earlier. It stood upon the site of the present Presbyterian Church 
in that A'illage. 

Mr. Walton left Rye in the beginning of the year 1728, and was 
followed by the 


a native of Killingworth, Connecticut, and a graduate of Yale Col- 
lege. This change of ministers in the Presbyterian congregation 
is noticed by the Anglican rector at the time, in his usual style : 
' The haughty, insolent behaviour of Walton drew upon him the 
displeasure of tlie dissenting teachers, on which account he re- 
moved from the parish a few days ago, but introduced a young 
man to be his successor, who holds forth one Sunday at White 
1 Signed 

llobei-t Bloomer John Roosevelt Hachaliali Brown 

Daniel Purdy sr. Charles Leish Jon. Carhartt 

Thomas Purdy Timothy Knap S' Lane Sr 

Nathan Kniffin John Disbrow Th. Howell 

Benja Brown Ebenezer Kniffin John Coe 

Daniel Purdy Joseph Lyon Jo. Sherwood 

Thomas Brown Joseph Kniffin John Lyon, jr. 

Jonath. Brown James Roosevelt Jos. Studwell 

Joseph Purdy Ab Van Wyck Geo. Kniffin 

Nathanel Sherwood Andro Mcrrit Samuel Brown 

Justus Bush Jonath Haight 


Plains, and another in the town of Rye, alternately, for which 
they give him <£50 per annum, which they raise by subscriptions. 
They have besides given him money to purchase a house and land, 
but how much I can't tell.' i Mr. Walton and j\Ir, Ward were 
both graduates of the same institution with Mr. Wetmore ; the 
' dissenting teachers ' were the ministers of ' the reverend Associa- 
tion of Fairfield County,' formerly Mr. Wetmore's honored breth- 
ren. The good rector, however, had forgotten some thincrs. 

Our little village now had two places of worship. The congre- 
gations were about equal in size, numbering some sixty famihes 
each. There was no sound as yet of the ' church-going bell ' to 
convoke them ; the roll of the drum still announced the hour of 
service at the parish church, and the same summons probably came 
from tlie ' meeting house ' on Pulpit Plain. The signatures at- 
tached to the two petitions of the ' Presbyterians of Rye and the 
White Plains ' enable us to ascertain who were the families that 
composed this little flock. These lists embrace nearly seventy 
names. Some of them belono; to the White Plains congreo-ation. 
Of this number were Caleb Hyatt, Samuel Horton, John Haight 
or Hoit, Joseph Purdy, John Turner, George and Daniel Lane, 
Jonathan Linch, Henry Dusinbery, and perhaps others. At Rye, 
there were the Browns, Benjamin, Peter, Thomas, and Haehaliah, 
four sons of the early settler who bore that name ; and Samuel 
and Jonathan, sons of Deliverance Brown, their brother, who was 
now dead. There Avere the Purdys, Daniel of Rye and his 
namesake of Budd's Neck, and another Joseph. There were the 
Sherwoods, Joseph and Andrew ; the Merritts, Andrew, Benoni, 
and Joseph ; the Kniffins, Joseph and Israel ; the Knaps, Timo- 
thy, Benjamin, Moses and Daniel ; the Lanes of Rye, Samuel, 
Hezekiah, Nathan, Solomon, and Jonathan ; the Bloomers, father 
and son, of Hog-pen Ridge ; ^Michael Basset, of the same neigh- 
borhood ; Monmouth Hart, of Rye Neck; and William Anderson 
of Harrison, and others. The list of signers does not by any means 
include all the Presbyterians of Rye ; but it shows that they com- 
prised a large and highly respectable portion of the community at 
that day. 

Mr. Ward's ministry at Rye lasted apparently from 1727 to 
1729. He removed from this place to Guilford, Connecticut, 
where he became the pastor of a congregation which had a short 
time before been formed by a dissatisfied portion of the people be- 
loncrincr to the First Church of that town.2 

1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 249. 

2 History of Connecticut, by Benjamin Trumbull, D. D., vol. ii. pp. 113-134. 


A vacancy of several years succeeded Mr. Ward's departure. 
' The Dissenters,' writes the Church of England missionary in July, 
1729, ' have no teacher among them : but the common teachers 
come once in a while to preach among them, to keep the party 
alive. Manv of them come to church, and bring their children to 
be baptized, but I cannot depend u])on their being so reconciled, 
but that they will leave the church again, if one Independent 
teacher comes to town.' Again in 1731, 'My endeavours,' he 
writes, ' have been so far blessed with success, that the Independ- 
ents can get no teacher among them. The party I think would 
soon be at an end, were it not for the teachers in Connecticut, that 
once in a while come along, and endeavour to keep up the zeal of 
some few, that instigate others.' ^ 

It is not surprising that the period we have now reached should 
have been one of weakness and decline in the little congregation 
at Rye. It was so to a great extent throughout the country. For 
several years preceding the awakening under Whitefield and his 
apostolic fellow-laborers, religion was at a low ebb in all parts 
of this land. The spiritual deadness of the churches, and the 
spread of irieligion and vice in the communities, Avere a subject of 
lamentation to all sincere Christians. But this time of darkness 
was followed by a season of great revival. Thousands under the 
preaching of Whitefield, Tennent, Dickinson, and others, were 
converted to God. The Great Awakening, as it has been called, 
infused a new life into the churches, and its effects were visible 
long afterwards in many places. Undoubtedly, it is to this ex- 
traordinary cause that we are to ascribe, under God, the impi-oved 
condition of affairs which Ave now discover in this secluded spot. 

A time of better things began in the history of this congrega- 
tion, — a period of nearly thirty years, covered by the faithful and 
successful ministry of the 


On the thirtieth day of December, 1742, a Council of the Eastern 
Consociation of Fairfield County, Connecticut, met at Rye, and 
ordained Mr. Smith as minister of that place. It has been only 
by dint of much research that we have been able to gather the few 
facts regarding this excellent man which are now presented. 
Strange and sad, that the mantle of forgetfulness should have so 
shrouded the memory of one, concerning Avhom this much is evi- 
dent, that he was an able, earnest, and influential minister of the 
1 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., pp. 253, 256. 


Gospel, to wliom several churches of this county were indebted for 
their establishment and early culture. 

The Rev. John Smith was a native of England. He was born 
May 5th, 1702. He came to this country when a boy, with his 
father, Mr. Thomas Smith, who settled in the city of New York, 
and who appears to have been engaged in business. His father 
was a Presbyterian, and a zealous and intelligent Christian ; and 
upon his arrival here, identified himself at once with the effort to 
establish in New York a church of his own faith and order. Pres- 
byterianism was at that time in its infancy in the city. A little 
band of Christians met every Sabbath for worship, at first in a 
private house, and afterward in the City Hall. In 1717 they ob- 
tained the pastoral services of the Rev. James Anderson. Mr. 
Thomas Smith was one of the commissioners to prosecute the call, 
and was one of the trustees for the purchase of a lot of ground on 
Wall Street, and the erection of a churcji in 1719. But difficul- 
ties having risen between a part of the congregation and tlieir 
pastor, Mr. Smith and some others withdrew, and for a time held 
services by themselves. It was to this little colony that the illus- 
trious Jonatlian Edwards preached for about eight months, from 
August, 1722, to April, 1723. His home in New York was in 
the house and family of Mr. Thomas Smith. Edwards was then 
barely nineteen years of age, and John Smith but a little over 
twenty ; and between these two young men there sprang up a 
friendship the most intimate and ardent, which we have reason to 
believe lasted for years, and perhaps through life. They used 
often, Mr. Edwards tells us, to walk together on the banks of the 
Hudson, to converse on the things of God ; ' and our conversation 
used to turn on the advancement of Christ's Kingdom in the 
world, and the glorious things that God would accomplish for His 
Church in the latter days.' He speaks of his separation from this 
endeared friend and companion, as one of the most bitter trials ot 
his life. 

A contrast more striking could scarcely be seen than that which 
is presented by the subsequent lives of these two ministers. Whilst 
the one enters upon a career that soon raises him to tlie highest 
pinnacle of influence and fame, his friend, congenial in spirit, and 
devoted to the same cause and Master, passes at once into an 
almost total obscurity, emerging at the end of twenty ycais only 
as the humble pastor of small and feeble congregations, among 
whom he toils for thirty years more, till ' worn out with various 
labours,' he ftills asleep. 


For tliis incident is nearly all that we know of the early life of 
Mr. Smith. The year after, he married a daughter of Mr. James 
Hooker, of Guilford, Connecticut. Mr, Hooker Avas a grandson 
of tlie famous Thomas Hooker, one of the founders of the colony 
of Connecticut, and one of the most eminent of the Puritan 
divines. Mr. Smith seems to have prized his connection with 
this family ; for he gave their name to his oldest son, whom he 
called William Hooker Smith.^ 

Where and at what time Mr. Smith pursued his academic and 
theological studies, we do not know with certainty. It is on rec- 
ord, however, that he graduated at Yale in 1727. Tradition has 
it, that he studied medicine also, and it is certain that during his 
long pastorate at Rye and the White Plains, he practised as a 
physician, as well as preached. We do not learn where he spent 
the years preceding his advent to Rye. From the family record in 
the possession of one of his descendants, we learn that he lost a 
child in New York in 1729, and another a few weeks after in 

Of his pastoral labors, the earliest authentic trace is found in the 
records of the Fairfield Eastern Consociation, from which it ap- 
pears, as we have seen, that he was ordained as minister of Rye in 
the year 1742 : — 

' At a Meeting of a Number of Ministers from the Eastern Associa- 
tion of Fairfield, at Rye, December 30* A. Dom. 1742. Upon the 
Desire of the People of said Town : where were present the Rev. 
Messrs. Jedidiah Mills, Benajah Case & Joseph Belhuny, 

' Mr. Mills was chosen Moderator ; Mr. Bellamy was chosen Scribe. 

' The Rev'i Mess""' Abraham Todd, John Eells, Benjamin Strong, 
were also present & were voted to joyn with us, in what Affairs may 
come before us, & then Prayer was attended. 

' Then were laid before y" Council, y*' Call to y^ Work of y*' Ministry 
of y<= Presbyterian Inhabitants of y« Town of Rye, to Mr. John Smith, 
& his Answer thereunto, & their Desire of our laying hands upon 
him was also manifested. 

' Then Mr. Smith was examined as to his Qualifications for y' Work 
of y'^ Ministry and was approved. Mr. Bellamy was appointed to make 
y" first Prayer & preach y*^ publick Lecture. Mr. Mills to lead in y<= 
Ordination, laying open to y'^ Congregation y'= Regularity of y'' Proceed- 
ings relating thereunto, hitherto made by y<= People, & to make Ordina- 
tion Prayer w* y« Imposition of Hands, & give y^ Charge. M"" Bellamy 
to give y*^ Right Hand of Fellowship: & Mr. Todd to make the con- 
cluding Prayer. And y'' Business of y« Day was accordingly attended 

1 See pp. 166, 167, etc. 


by the appointed Persons. Met again next Morning & concluded with 
Prayer. 'Test. Joseph Bellamy, Scribe 

'A true Copy Recorded «& Compared. — pr. S. Cooke Register:^ 

He commenced his labors at once with much energy and zeal; 
to the great comfort, doubtless, and satisfaction of the people, 
who had been so long destitute of a regular ministry ; but to the 
no small chagrin and displeasure of the Church of England mis- 
sionary, who had been so long endeavoring to crush out the 
Presbyterian element in liis parish, and who but latel}'- had been 
rejoicing over the prospect of success. ' As the dissenting faction,' 
he writes the following spring, ' have now got one of that sort 
ordained among them, residing not far from me, it gives me a 
great deal of trouble and uneasiness. Some that used to frequent 
the church, and had almost worn off their prejudices against it, 
now follow those meetings, and are wheedled after them by con- 
tinual visits and fair pretences.' Nor were matters much bettered 
by the fall. ' The teacher tliat holds his meeting near the ])arish 
church,' writes the perturbed missionary, ' is much cried up by 
liis party, and indeed is unwearied in his attempts to amuse the 
people with fair speeches, and prejudice them against the Church, 
in his private visits from house to house. "^ In other words, the 
newly settled pastor was faithfully and wisely pursuing his work, 
gathering and instructing his little flock, looking up the absent, 
and winning the affections of all by his friendly intercourse through 
the week, as well as by his earnest pulpit ministrations on the Sab- 

A few^ weeks after his settlement here, Mr. Smith secured a 
home for his family, in the village of Rye. On the twentieth of 
February, 1743, he purchased of John Abrahamson a house and 
six acres of land, for the sum of one hundred and eighty pounds, 
' current money of the province of New^ York,' or about five hun- 
dred dollars. Subsequently, he bought another house, with eight 
acres and a quarter of land, situated in the northern part of the 
village, and in the neighborhood of his church. The former prop- 
erty was still in his possession ten years later, in 1752. 

Ten years of Mr. Smith's ministry at Rye had elapsed when 
he visited Newark, New Jersey, and there attended the meeting 
of the Synod of New York, then in session. On this occasion lie 
met his early friend, Jonathan Edwards, Avho was now at the height 

1 A Book of Kecords for the Venerable the Eastern Consociation of the County of 
Fairfield, p. 23. 

- Bolton, Histori/ of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 271. 


of liis illustrious career. Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Smith at 
this time joined the Synod as corresponding members. Shortly 
after, Mr. Smith connected himself with the Presbytery of New 
York, under whose care, it is to be supposed, this congregation 
then came. In subsequent years he was rarely present at the 
meetino"s of the Synod, which were generally held at Philadelphia, 
the leno-th and difficulty of the journey doubtless preventing his at- 
tendance. Notwithstanding this, he appears to have been widely 
known, and held in high esteem by the Synod. Evidence of this 
is afforded by the fact that he was on several occasions appointed 
upon important committees, and in conjunction with eminent min- 
isters of the Presbyterian Church. Thus the records of the 
Synod show, that in 1755, the Rev. ' John Smith, of Rye,' was 
one of a committee to visit the church at Jamaica, with reference 
to the proposed removal of their pastor, Mr. Bostwick, to New 
York. His associates were President Burr, Gilbert and William 
Tennent, and other distinguished men. In 1754, when Gilbert 
Tennent was sent to England, with President Davies, to solicit 
funds for the college of New Jersey, Mr. Smitli was requested by 
the Svnod to supply his pulpit for four Sabbaths. But the most 
important service, probably, which he was called upon to render 
to the Church in this way, took place in 1766, when he was ap- 
pointed one of the commissioners from the Synod of the Presby- 
terian Church, to meet delegates from the consociated churches 
of Connecticut, for the purpose of initiating and maintaining a 
friendly correspondence between those bodies. Mr. Smith's asso- 
ciates in this duty were Dr. Alison, Dr. Rodgers, William Tennent, 
John Blair, and others. 

After some years, Mr. Smith removed his residence from Rye to 
the White Plains, but continued to preach here, probably on alter- 
nate Sabbaths, riding over for the purpose on horseback. The 
house in which he lived at the White Plains is still pointed out, 
near the corner of the cross-road leading to the Purchase. In his 
later years, he owned a farm of about one hundred acres, the culti- 
vation of which, however, was chiefly left to a faithful negro ser- 
vant. To his other ministerial labors, Mr. Smith added, in 1763, 
the charge of the Presbyterian Church at Sing Sing, where he 
preached occasionally for the next five years. But he was now an 
old man, and no longer fit for such multiplied and arduous labors. 
In 1768, he united with the congregations whom he was serving, 
in an application to the Presbytery of Dutchess County, to which 
he belonged, for the assistance of a colleague. His letter to that 


body informs tliem ' that he is now far advanced in Life, and la- 
bours under many infirmities of Age, and Disorders of Body ; so 
his People have been kind eno' to propose him a Colleague, to 
preach alternately at White Plains and Singsing ; to which motion 
he had heartily complied, and beg'd would advise to some proper 
Person to come upon Probation with him.' In accordance with 
tins request, the Presbytery, on the eleventh of October, 1769, 
met at the White Plains, and ordained Mr. Ichabod Lewis, a cousin 
of the Rev. Isaac Lewis, of Greenwich, as pastor of those churches. 
It is supposed that Mr. Smith continued to preach more or less fre- 
quently at Rye, until within a short time of his death, which took 
place at the White Plains, on the twenty-sixth of February, 1771. 
His remains lie in the churchyard, and the inscription upon his 
tomb designates him as the ' first ordained minister of the Presby- 
terian persuasion in Rye and the White Plains,' adding that, ' worn 
out with various labours,' he ' fell asleep in Jesus.' 

From all accounts, Mr. Smith was a man of eminent piety, and 
of a very high order of intellectual capacity. The historian Web- 
ster speaks of him as ' an able and useful minister.' And persons 
who were living but a few years ago, and wiio had heard him in 
early life, have testified to his great eloquence as a preacher. 

In the Revolutionary War, which began soon after the date of 
Mr. Smith's death, the Presbyterian Chiirch of Rye was destroyed 
by fire, as were nearly all the churches of this region. And the 
congregation, owing to the troubles of the times, was greatly scat- 
tered. Its leading members were staunch whigs, and sided with 
their country against its invaders, and consequently were obliged 
to remove from this disputed territory in order to escape the depre- 
dations of the British troops from New York. 

The Presbttert of DcxcHEgs County, ' in the Province of New Yori<,'" was 
'first erected 27 October 1762 — and established and enlarged by the Keverend Synod 
of New York & Philadelphia, 28 May 1763.' (Minutes of the Presbytery, etc., .MS., 
in the possession of the Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia.) Previons to 
the formation of this Presbytery, 'the counties east of the Hudson,' says Dr. Web- 
ster, ' looked to the Association of Far field County for candidates, and for assistance 
in all spiritual and secular affairs of their churches. Bedford, Cronpond (York- 
town), Hanover, in Cortland Manor (Peekskill), and Salem, put themselves under 
New Brunswick Presbytery in 1743. Rumbout and Fishkill were received by New 
York Presbytery in 1751. Salem invited the Fairfield ministers to ordain ilead as 
their pastor, in 1752 : about that time, John Smith, of Kye, joined New York Pres- 
bytery. Ten years after, [ElishaJ Kcnt,i of the First Church in Philipse's patent 
[South-East],and [Joseph] Peck, of the Second [Carmel], met with Mead, of Salem, 
.... and resolved to form themselves into a Presbytery.' (History of the Pnahijteriuu 
Church in America, p. 292.) The circumstance which led to this action is worthy of 
1 Grandfather of Chief Justice Kent, of New York. 


mention. At a meeting of the Council of the Eastern Consociation of Fairfield 
County, at Danbury, August 1, 1763, ' the pastors and delegates of the churches in 
Philipjji and West Fhilippi, N. Y., were objected against, and ruled out of the Coun- 
cil, as having no right in the Consociation according to the platform, which was 
designed for churches in the colomj of Connecticut.' (Historical Sketches, and Rules, of 
the Fairfield East Association and Consociation : New Haven, 1859, p. 19.) This inci- 
dent throws light upon the status of the churches east of the Hudson — that of Rye 
anion"- the rest — previous to the formation of the Pi'csbyteries, which embraced 
this territory. They were not formally attached to the ecclesiastical bodies in Con- 
necticut, though recognized as of kindred faith and order. They awaited a complete 
organization as Presbyterian churches. 

' Much of the territory covered by ' the congregations belonging to the Presbytery 
of Dutchess County ' was neutral ground during the Revolution, and was wasted by 
both parties : the ministers retired,' the houses of worship were bnrned, ' and the peo- 
ple greatly broken in their circumstances. The Presbytery was much weakened from 
this cause, and being reduced in numbers by death, received from New York Presby- 
tery the ministers on the west side of the river, and took the style of Hudson Presby- 
tery.' (Webster, Ibid. p. 293.) 




nnHE period of the Revolution was everywhere in our country 
-*- a time of religious decline and destitution. Such it was 
emphatically in the towns and villages of the ' Neutral Ground.' 
Nearly every church in this part of Westchester County was 
desecrated and injured, if not destroyed during the war. At Rye, 
both the village churches were burned. From the mihtary map 
of 1779, we infer that Grace Church, the venerable sanctuary 
where so many generations had worshipped, was still standing in 
that year. It was probably destroyed soon after. No meeting of 
the Vestry appears to have been held for nine years, from 1776 
to 1785, and no mention is made of any public religious service, 
after the death of the Rev. Mr. Avery, in the fall of 1776. At 
the close of the war, the Rev. Andrew Fowler collected the con- 
gregation here and at the White Plains, on alternate Sundays, for 
six months, beginning in April, 1781. Service was held at Rye 
in the old parsonage house, on the west side of Blind Brook. 

On the 27th of April, 1785, ' the Congregation of the Episco- 
pal Church of Rye was call'd to meet at the House of M" Tamer 
Haviland in Rye, and being met Together proceeded to the choice 
of Trustees to take Charge of the Temporalities of the Church.' 
The trustees hired out the church lands at a very low rent. 

In May, 1786, the congregation met, and resolved to send dele- 
gates to a convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, to be 
held at St. Paul's Church, New York. 

September 8th, 1787, the ' trustees and members of Grace 
Church in the Parish of Rye,' addressed a letter to the» Rev. 
Richard C. Moore, sojiciting his acceptance of the rectorship, and 
offering him a salary of one hundred and twenty pounds. 

Mr. Moore, after being for some time engaged in the practice 
of medicine, had devoted himself to the ministry of the Gospel. 


He pursued his studies under the direction of Bishop Provoost, 
was ordained in July, 1787, as deacon, and was admitted to 
priest's orders in September following.^ 

He connnenced his labors in the ministry at Rye. Durino; the 
year he spent here, the congregation took steps toward rebuilding 
their church. They determined to build it ' upon the Hill, at or 
near the Place where the old ruins were standing.' It was to be 
built of wood, fifty feet in length, and thirty-eight feet in width, 
with galleries on the west and south sides, and without a steeple. 
The contract for the erection of the church was made April 16th, 
1788, with James Ford of New York, for one hundred and 
twenty pounds ; ' the timber to be prepared in the Woods.' The 
corner-stone was laid in June of that year, apparently, and the 
edifice was probably completed by the first of November, the time 
fixed in the contract. It is said that ' most of the timber of which 
it was built came from Captain Joshua Purdy's land.' Mean- 
while the congregation continued to worship in the parsonage 
house on the west side of Blind Brook. In May, ' a sufficient 
number of benches to accommodate ' the people, were to be pro- 
cured. An aged lady yet living remembers being taken when a 
child to the service held in this building. 

Mr. Moore resigned the charge of this parish on the first of 
August, 1788, having been called to the rectorship of St. Andrew's 
Church, Richmond, on Staten Island. At the request of the 
Vestry, however, he consented to continue his labors here imtil 
the first of October. It is probable, therefore, that he officiated 
in the new church, which must have been completed by this time. 
Mr. Moore was rector of St. Andrew's Church for twenty-one 
years. In 1809 he accepted the charge of St. Stephen's Cimrch 
in the city of New York, and in 1814 he was called to the office 
of Bishop of the Protestant Episcoj)al Church in Virginia. He 
died November 11th, 1841, at the age of seventy-nine, after a 
ministry of fifty-four years, and an e])iscopate of twenty-seven ; 
in which, with his distinguished abilities and rare excellence and 
loveliness of character, he was enabled, under the Divine bless- 
ing, to accomplish great good. 

The congregation remained without a pastor for more than two 
years. On the fifteenth of December, 1790, the Vestry called the 
Rev. David Foote, who had been officiating for some weeks, ' to 
act as Rector of this Parish,' agreeing to pay him a salary of one 

1 Annals of the American Pulpit, by Wm. B. Sprague, D. D., vol. v. pp. 3G7, 368. 


iiunclred pounds with tlie profits of the glehe,i for one year from 
November 7th. Mr. Foote accepted the office, and was rector for 
nearly three years. He died here August 1st, 1793, aged thirty- 
two years. He had but just entered the ministry wlien he came 
to Rye, having been ordained by Bishop Seabury of Connecticut, 
in 1788. 

The churcli, tliough apparently occupied for Divine service 
since November, 1788, remained for several years in an unfinished 
state. At a meeting of the Vestr}', May 4th, 1791, a subscription 
was ordered, ' to raise Money from tlie Inhabitants of the Parish 
to finish the Church at Rye.' The floor was to be laid anew, 
three windows were to be added, one at the north side and two at 
the west end ; and the M'alls were to be lined with boards as hio-h 
as the windows, and from thence lathed and plastered to the bot- 
tom of the roof, which was supported by four pillars, ' cased with 
white oak plank.' The money needed for these imjirovements 
was raised by subscription, and the subscribers were to be entitled 
to a choice of pews in the church, ' in proportion to the amount ' 
of their contributions. The highest value set upon a pew was 
seven pounds. Two square pews were built next to the chancel, 
the one of which was taken by Mr. Peter Jay ; and the otlier was 
appropriated to the widow of the late Mr. Josiah Brown, in con- 
sideration of his ' forwardness in promoting the building of the 

On the fifth of December, 1793, the Vestry called the Rev. John 
Jackson Sands to the rectorship. He had been ordained to the 
ministry the year before by Bishop Provoost, and had officiated for 
a few months on Long Island. Mr. Sands remained here but two 
years and a half, resigning his charge May 4th, 1796, in consequence 
of some dissatisfaction. ' He subsequently abandoned the minis- 
try,' says Mr. Bolton, 'and died in Brooklyn not long since.' It 
was during his pastorate that the name of the church, for some 
reason which does not appear, was changed from Grace to Christ 
Church.2 Anotiier important event occurred in the parish. In 

1 ' Upon the 14th of June, 1792, Mr. Isaac Purdy and Captain Joshua rurdy were 
empowered to receive of the executors of Miss Anna Maria Jay, deceased, a le{,'acy of 
.£100, given by her in her last will to the corporation of tlie ciiurch in Kyc' 'Miss 
Jay, who died on the 4th of September, 1791, was the daughter of Peter Jay, Esq. 
She had been afflicted from childhood with blindness. 

^ June 7th, 1796, a meeting of the congregation was held in the chnrch, by authority 
of an act of the legishiture of the State of New York ' for the relief of the Protestant 
Episcopal Church ' in that State, passed March I7th, 1795. The object of the meeting 
was ' to determine what dav iu the week called Easter week tlie election of church 


tliH winter of 1794, the parsonao;e house on the west side of Blind 
i-5iook was destroyed by .fire. This house liad been the residence 
of tlie rector since Mr. Wetmore's time. The Vestry, at first, 
inchned to rebuild the parsonage on its former site. But tliey 
concluded to purchase the house and land of Isaac Doughty, near 
the church ; and on the twenty-fourth of May, 1794, this purchase 
was effected for four hundred pounds. The congregation thus 
acquired the beautiful and spacious ' rectory grounds ' which they 
now possess. 

The Rev. George Ogilvie, of Norwalk, Conn., was called to 
this parisli October 26th, 1796. He came, but was here for less 
than six months. He died April 3d, 1797, and was buried in the 
little o-raveyard opposite the church, on the west side of Blind 
Brook. Mr. Oo-ilvie ' was a tall, noble looking man, a pleasant 
companion, a good reader, and a very respectable preacher.' ^ He 
was thirty-nine years old when he came to Rye. 

The Rev. Samuel Haskell was called August 7th, 1797. He 
was born near Boston in 1762, served in the American army 
toward the close of the war ; prepared himself for Yale College, 
where he graduated in 1790, and was ordained to the ministry of 
the Episcopal Church in 1794. He was rector at Rye for three 
years and a half, resigning his charge in April, 1801 ;2 but he 
returned to this parish after an interval of eight years, in 1809,-^ 
and continued here until May, 1823. The intervening period was 
occupied by the ministry of the Rev. Evan Rogers,^ a native of 
Pennsylvania, and for some years a ' zealous and laborious itiner- 

wardens and vestrymen shall take place,' and also ' what shall be the Name. Stile and 
Title by which said Church or Congregation shall from thenceforth be known and 
recognized in law.' By a majority of votes it was ' resolved that the Stile and Title 
shall be Christ's Church at the Town of Rye in the County of Westchester and State 
of New York ; and that Monday in Easter Week be observed yearly for the election of 
officers directed to be elected by the Act.' (Records of the Vestry.) 

1 Bolton, History of the Protestant Episcopal Church, etc., p. 337. 

2 April 18th, 1801, the Vestry received a donation of seven hundred and fifty dol- 
lars from Trinity Church, New York. In 1813, from the same source they received 
the sum of five hundred dollars. October 29th, 1818, the thanks of the Vestry and 
congregation were tendered to Mrs. Mary Jay, for ' a Rich and valuable Donation 
consisting of three articles of Plate bearing her name.' (Records.) 

'^ In calling him back, the Vestry expressed feelings of ' the highest gratitude and 
aftfection for ' him, ' and on account of his ' past services ' in their church. (Records.) 

* There are some pleasant memorials of Mr. Rogers. The large willow that stands 
near Blind Brook, on a part of the Rectory grounds, is said to have been planted by 
him. His love of trees probably suggested also the following order which appears in 
the Vestry Records : 'May 2, 1808, Resolved that Mr. Rogers and Mr. Penlield be 
requested and are authorized to procure and set out around the Church as many forest 
trees of different kinds as they may think i^roper the present season.' 


ant preacher ' of the Methodist Episcopal Cliurcli. In 1798 he 
connected himself with the Protestant Episcopal Church, and 
entered its ministry. He was called to Rye from Hebron, Conn., 
October 18th, 1801, and after eight years of faithful and success- 
ful labor in this place, died January 25tli, 1809, and was buried in 
the cemetery near Milton. ' His life,' it is recorded of him, ' was 
an exemplification of the doctrines he preached. He v/as en- 
deared ' to many friends ' by his deep piety, the mildness of his 
temper, the profitableness of his conversation, and the purity of 
his morals.' His death was happy. 

It was during the ministry of his successor, Mr, Haskell, that a 
division took place in the parish. That portion of the people that 
worshipped at the White Plains, became a distinct congregation. 
The rectors of Rye had officiated at ' the Plains ' since the year 
1721. Services were held at first only four times a year ; then 
once in two months ; and after the war, as often as once in three 
weeks. But on the eighth of June, 1815, it was decided that this 
arrangement should cease, and that ' Divine Service be celebrated 
every Sabbath day in the church at Rye.' On the eighteenth of 
March, 1824, the Vestry resolved that the Church ' be opened for 
Divine service twice every Sabbath, except on the third Sabbath 
in the afternoon, when service is to be held in the school house at 
the Saw Pitt.' The ' intermission between morning and evening 
service ' was to be ' but one hour.' 

The parish clerk was an important functionary of the congrega- 
tion in those days. His duty was to give out the psalms tobesung, 
to lead the responses, and sometimes to conduct the singing. This 
office was extant in Rye as late as the year 1807, when it was 
resolved that ' Mr. Nathaniel Nelson be employed as an Assistant 
Clerk to this Church to conduct the singing in public worship, in 
the absence of the other clerk, and that he be allowed at the rate 
of ten dollars a year for his services.' 

Mr. Haskell was followed by the Rev. William Thompson, a 
native of Ireland, who had come to this country about the year 
1816, entered the ministry, and after a short pastorate at Pittsburg, 
Penn., commenced his labors in Rye, October 1st, 1823. Here, 
like so many of his predecessors, he finished his course, aiul.fell 
asleep August 26th, 1830, having ministeVed to this people nearly 
seven years. Mr. Thompson is remembered with pecidiarly tender 
interest by some in this place. 'A more loving spirit,' writes one 
well acquainted with him, ' I never knew ; he loved God, loved 
his fellow-men, loved his Church, and was willing to spend and be 


spent in the service of his Divine Lord. He actually wore himself 
out in dutv.' His ministry here was fruitful of great good. Liv- 
inor and dying, the influence of this devoted servant of Jesus was 
felt, to the advancement of pui'e religion in this community for 
many years. 

The Rev. John M. Forbes was rector in 1830, and the Rev. 
William M. Carmichael in 1832. On the eighth of September, 
1834, the Rev. Peter S. Chauncey was called to this parish, 
where he continued for fifteen years. Mr. Chauncey's memory is 
cherished warmh', as it should be, by the people among whom he 
spent so large a part of his able and successful ministry. This, I 
believe, was his first pastoral charge, and here he was permitted 
to accomplish an important work, in strengthening and enlarging 
the church under his care. ' He came,' says the friend whose lan- 
guage I have already quoted, ' in the flush of health and spirits, 
full of that ardor which was his characteristic ; and ready, under 
God, for every good word and work. He came, to the universal 
acceptance of his people. His graceful manners and dignified 
bearing, his accessibility, his vivacity, ever tempered with the 
gravity which became his sacred office, won upon the old and the 
young ; whilst his impassioned oratory engaged all hearts, more 
especially those of the young.' Mr. Chauncey's earnest labors 
were not confined to the congreo-ation at Rve. For the first two 
years, he had charge also of St. Thomas's Church, Mamaroneck. 
This he relinquished, by wish of the Vestry, November 14th, 
1836 ; but in December of the same year, he commenced holding- 
services at Saw Pit, soon after called Port Chester. Of this enter- 
prise we shall speak in another chapter. Mr. Chauncey resigned 
the rectorship of Rye in 1849. He removed to Hartford, Conn., 
and thence to Yorkville, N. Y. ; and died, greatly regretted by 
many to whom he had ministered, in 1866. 

He was followed at Rye by the Rev. Edward C. Bull, whose 
ministry here began May 13th, 1849, and lasted ten years, — 
until May 1st, 1859, when the Vestry, in accepting his resigna- 
tion on account of impaired liealth, testified to the faithfulness, 
earnestness, and ability with which he had discharged the duties 
of his office. During Mr. Bull's incumbency the wooden church, 
built in 1788, was replaced by a beautiful edifice of stone. The 
first steps toward this work were taken September 9th, 1852. 
Plans for the building, by Messrs. Wills & Dudley, architects, of 
New York, were accepted January 21st, 1854. The church was 
consecrated Thursday, March 15th, 1855, by Bishop Wainwright. 


The cost of the erection — nearly eighteen thousand dollars — was 
entirely ])aid by the first day of October, 1857. 

The Rev. John Campbell White was called to the rectorship 
May 5th, 1859. He continued here nearly five years, his resigna- 
tion taking effect April 1st, 1864. Mr. White died in the city of 
New York in 1866. 

The Rev, Reese F. Alsop, now rector, entered on his duties 
November 27th, 1864. A neat and convenient Sunday-school 
room was erected this year, near the church, and soon after the 
church itself was enlarged and embellished at a considerable ex- 
pense. But on the evening of December 21st, 1866, a sad calam- 
ity befell the congregation and our whole community, in the 
destruction of tliis beautiful house of worship by fire. It had 
been built but a little more than ten years, and the cost of recent 
improvements, rendering it still more inviting and commodious, had 
but just been defrayed. Seldom are a people called to so painful a 
trial, and so heavy a burden. It was endured courageously, how- 
ever, and within two years a new and larger edifice arose on the 
same site. The present church was consecrated on the nineteenth 
day of June, 1869, Bishop Potter officiating. 

This ancient parish has had a succession of twenty-one rectors, 
during a period of one hundred and sixty-six years. Seven of 
these, however, were here but a short time, — a year at the most, 
— and there have been intervals, amounting to more than twenty 
years, the longest of which — eleven years — occurred during and 
after the Revolution, in which the congregation has been without 
a pastor. The ministry of fourteen rectors has extended over a 
term of one hundred and thirty-seven years, the average length of 
each pastorate being nearly ten years. Of the whole number no 
fewer that ten have finished their course here. 

Christ Church, Rye, erected from the designs of Mr. riorentin rdleticr, is 
built in the early Gothic style, and has ample accommodation for six hundred per- 
sons. The ground plan consists of chancel, nave, and aisles, with organ and robing 
rooms. The chancel is twenty-six feet deep by twenty feet wide, separated from the 
nave by a bold chancel arch, and raised two feet above the floor of the nave and 
aisles /these are ninety-three feet long by forty-eight feet wide inside. The extreme 
length, is one hundred and thirty-five feet. At the southwest angle of the gable and 
aisle walls is the tower, from which are carried up four buttress piers, forming an 
open belfry, and surmounted by a stone spire, which is crowned at one hundred feet 
by an iron cross. 

The exterior walls are of rubble stone, quarried on the site, with dressings wrought 
of Connecticut brown stone. The aisle and gable walls are strengthened with but- 
tresses marking the bays. 


The roofs arc covered with slates, banded in different shades, and laid alternately 
plain and pointed ; all the ridges are surmounted with ornamental iron cresting. 
Over the nave the open roof rises forty-five feet, and is divided into six bays by 
moulded arches, with principals, tie-beams, and open tracery ; and between the nave 
and aisles is a colonnade of short octagonal posts with moulded caps, from which 
spring moulded arches with pierced quatre-foil circles in the spandrels. There is 
no clere-story, but the pitch of the roof is broken over these arches. Twelve small 
trefoil windows light the roof, one in the centre of each bay on either side. These 
windows are hung to open for ventilation, and filled with stained glass of rich colors, 
as are all the windows of the church, most of which bear appropriate emblems. At 
the west end of the nave, overhanging the porch and lobbies, is a gallery carried on 
strong trusses ; this, together with the roof-timbers, is of pine, stained and varnished. 

The ceiling between the rafters is plastered and colored a light blue ; below the 
window-sills the side walls are wainscoted with nai-row ash ; otherwise, the walls are 
painted a plain light gray color, contrastingwith the seats, which are of ash. In the 
chancel, the furniture, with the reredos and chancel-rail, is of chestnut, oiled. (Archi- 
tect's description.) 




A T the close of the Revolution, the Presbyterians of Rye were 
-^^^ found to be very few and feeble. By death and removal 
from the place, the flourishing congregation that formerly wor- 
shipped in ' the old Meeting house in the Cedars,' had been 
reduced to a mere handful, and some years elapsed before these 
could summon courage and strength to rebuild their fallen altars. 
The church, as we have seen, was destroyed by fire in the course 
of the war, and the plot of ground upon which it stood had passed 
into other hands. 

The effort to resuscitate the congregation was doubtless due, in 
a great measure, to the influence of the Rev. Dr. Lewis, of Green- 
wich. This excellent man had lately become the pastor of the 
Second Congregational Church in that place, and there were 
reasons why he should feel a special interest in the cause of relig- 
ion here. He had known the venerable Dr. Smith, the pastor of 
Rye and White Plains before the Revolution. His cousin, the. 
Rev. Ichabod Lewis, had been associated with Dr. Smith as col- 
league for some time. And since the loss of their church the re- 
maining Presbyterians of Rye had frequented public worsiiip at 
Greenwich, several of them, indeed, connecting themselves with 
the church under Dr. Lewis's ministry. Nathan Brown, Eze- 
kiel Halsted, Robert Merritt, Isaac Loofborrow, and others who 
resided in Rye, were members of the church at ' Horseneck, 
about the year 1790. Thus the relation which had existed for 
more than a hundred years between these neighboring congrega- 
tions continued, and Rye was still indebted, as in the old colonial 
days, to the fostering care of Greenwich. 

The flrst step toward rebuilding the church was taken in 1792. 
On the twenty-second of November in that year, Jesse Park and 
Phoebe, his wife, of the town of Harrison, conveyed to Joseph 


Tlieale, Ezekiel Halsted, junior, and Jolni Merritl, of Rye, as 
trustees for the Presbyterian Society, a tract of land comprising 
half an acre. The church was built in the following spring. A 
considerable part of the money raised for this purpose had been 
subsci-ibed by the people of Greenwich. It was dedicated to the 
worship of God, in the course of the year 1793, b}- the Rev. Isaac 
Lewis, D. D., who preached here for some months every Sunday, 
after service in his own church. His son, the Rev. Isaac Lewis, 
junior, subsequently pastor at New Rochelle, succeeded him for a 
short time in this duty. But after this, the congregation remained 
for a long period without a stated ministry. Occasional services 
were held by ministers visiting the place, and sometimes the build- 
ing was occupied, on special occasions, by persons of other relig- 
ious persuasions. For about twenty years, from 1703 to 1812, the 
congregation had no settled pastor. 

It had been incorporated on the fifth of June, 1795, under the 
name of ' The Presbyterian Church of Rye.' The trustees were 
Robert Merritt, Ezekiel Halsted, junior, Nathan Brown, John 
Doughty, James Hunt, and David Rogers. Tiiese were among 
the leading names in the little congregation, as it existed about the 
beginning of the present century. 

Nathan Brown was a son of Thomas Brown. He lived to an 
advanced age, and in his later years was an active member of the 
Methodist Church. 

Ezekiel Halsted, junior,^ came of a Presbyterian flnnily, his 
grandfather's name occurring in 1753, at the head of a list of the 
trustees of Dr. Smith's congregation. He joined the church of 
Greenwich, July 26th, 1789. His first wife, a daughter of Andrew 
Lyon, of Rye, was also a member of that church. 

Robert Merritt united with the same church at the same 
time with Mr. Halsted. He hved near Port Chester, in the house 
lately owned by Isaac Carpenter. Some of our older inhabitants 
remember him well, and speak of him as a man of sincere and con- 
sistent piety. He lived till the age of seventy years, and was 
regular in attending the church at Greenwich with his family, 
when there was no service at Rye. 

Dr. David Rogers had come to this place from Greenfield, 
Connecticut, wliere he was a member of Dr. D wight's church. 
His wife was a daughter of the celebrated Presbyterian minister, 

1 This gentleman was the father of the late Ezekiel Halsted junior, who was bora 
in 1787, and was the fourth person in successive generations so named. 


William Tennent, and is said to have been a woman of remarkable 

John Doughty was the well known innkeeper, of whom we 
have already made mention. He kept the tavern recently known 
as Van Sicklin's. 

Isaac Loofborroav lived near ' Saw-pit ' or Port Chester. He 
left Rye after some years, and removed to the west. 

Mrs. Ph(ebe Park, the wife of Jesse Park, was a Presbyte- 
rian, and it was probably owing to her interest in the enterprise 
that the land for a building site was given. She had been a mem- 
ber of Dr. Smith's congregation before the war, and her recollec- 
tions of him were vivid and pleasant. 

The old church, built in 1793, was a very plain and unpretend- 
ing structure. Mr. James Purdy, of Milton, now in his eighty- 
fourth year, remembers seeing it ' raised.' It was a frame build- 
ing, much smaller than the present church, and stood partly on 
the same spot, but fronting somewhat nearer to the road. It had 
neither belfry nor spire. There Avere two doors on the front. 
The interior of the building remained unfinished for many years. 
The walls were not plastered ; and instead of pews, there were 
planks, the ends of which rested upon logs, for seats. In the 
hard times that followed the Revolution, this was all that the peo- 
ple felt able to do, toward the completion of their sanctuary ; and 
in this condition it remained for eighteen or twenty years. 

In the autumn of 1811, Dr. Dwight, passing through this town, 
noticed the two ' small churches ' of Rye, — ' an E[)iscopal and a 
Presbyterian.' 'An Episcopal Minister,' he observes, 'has occa- 
sionally been established here, but there has been no Presbyterian 
Minister within my remembrance.' ^ 

Soon after Dr. D wight's visit, the Methodists of Rye obtained 
possession of the church and occupied it for a period of sixteen 
years, from 1812 to 1828. This circumstance is exi)laiued partly 
by the fact that the congregation was now greatly reduced in 
numbers. ' Owing to the death or removal from the i)lace of some 
of the most prominent individuals, and the apathy of the rest, the 
society became in a manner extinct.' This was due, however, 
quite as much to a change in the religious views of some of the 
surviving members. Mr. Halsted and Mr. Brown had botli united 
a short time before with the Methodist denomination, of which 

1 Travels in New England and Neio York, by Timothy Dwi-lit, S. T. D., LL. D. 
In four volumes. New Haven, 1822 : vol. iii. p. 489. 


they became active and earnest members ; and at their invitation, 
the ministers of that church, wlio had ah'eady preached occasion- 
ally at Rye, commenced to hold stated services in the Presbyterian 
house of worship. 

It was by the efforts of Mr. Ebenezer Clark, a merchant of 
New York, who came to Rye in 1821, that the building was re- 
covered to its original use. Ascertainino; that a cono;reoation of 
his own religious faith had formerly existed here, and that the 
edifice now standing had been built for them, he claimed it in 
behalf of the Presbyterians of the place. This claim was not 
admitted without some discussion. The Methodist conn-reo-ation 
had now worshipped here for many years. They conceived that 
so long a possession gave them a right to the property, the original 
title to which was perhaps by that time somewhat obscure. Mr. 
Clark, however, was able to show clearly that the land had been 
given for a Presbyterian church, that a society of that denomina- 
tion had been incorporated under the law of the State, arid that 
the building had been appropriated from the first to their use. 

A service was held by the Presbyterian congregation on the 
seventh of December, 1828, in the district school-house of Rye, 
preparatory to the resumption of public Avorship in the church. 
The Rev. George Stebbins, of New Rochelle, preached on this 
occasion. Soon after the occupation of the building, the Rev. 
Noah C. Saxton began his ministry here as ' stated supply,' and 
continued until May, 1829. Meanwhile, on the fourth of March, 
the formal organization of a church took place by order of the 
Presbytery of New York. A committee of the Presbytery, con- 
sisting of the Rev. Samuel H. Cox, D. D., and the Rev. Henry 
G. Ludlow, performed this duty. A church was organized, with 
ten members, and Messrs. Ebenezer Clark and William Lester 
were chosen and ordained as ruling elders. The 


was the first minister of the little congregation after the organiza- 
tion of the church. Mr. Whittemore had completed his academic 

1 Graduated at Yale College in 1825, and at the Theological School connected with 
that institution in 1829 : licensed to preach the Gospel, and ordained in 1830 by the 
Fairfield West Association. After laboring for three years at Rye, Mr. Whittemore 
preached for three years — 1833 to 1836 — at Charlton, Worcester County, Mass., and 
was for fourteen years — from 1836 to 1850 — pastor of the Congregational Church 
at Soutlibury, Conn. Since then he has resided principally in New Haven and in 
Brooklyn, engaged, at different times, in ministerial work, advocating the claims of 
the Frccdmen's cause, etc. He married Maria, daughter of Ebenezer Clark, Esq., 
of Rye. 


and theological studies at New Haven just before coming to Rye. 
His ministry of three years in this place, from May 1829 to April 
1832, was very successful. A service had been commenced by 
Mr. Saxton in the district school-house at ' Saw^-pit,' now Port 
Chester. It was maintained every Sabbath forenoon, the service at 
Rye being in the afternoon. Sunday-schools also were established 
in each place. In the summer of 1829, the church at Rye, now 
somewhat dilapidated, was thoroughly repaired, chiefly at Mr. 
Clark's expense ; and in May, 1830, the congregation commenced 
building a church at Saw Pit. The fruit of these early efforts ap- 
peared in a revival of religion, which resulted in numerous conver- 
sions. In the month of October, 1829, the Presbytery of Bedford 
was formed by the Synod of New York, and the ecclesiastical re- 
lation of this church was transferred from the Presbytery of New 
York to the new Presbytery. 

Mr. Whittemore was succeeded by the 


who officiated from April, 1832, until the time of his death, Jan- 
uary 24th, 1834. Mr. Remington had devoted himself early to 
missionary work among the Choctaw Indians, but his health fail- 
ing, he returned to the north, and had been preaching for several 
years at Upper Greenburg, in this county, when he was called to 
Rye. During his short stay here he endeared himself greatly to 
the little flock, among whom he labored with unsparing zeal. 
Modest and retiring to a remarkable degree, he was a man of no 
ordinary power, by the fervor of his piety and the strength of his 
convictions of truth. His death Avas most sudden, and was felt by 
his people, and indeed by the whole community, as an a2)palling 

The Rev. Samuel Irenteus Prime, D. D., has favored me with 
the following notice of this eood man, whom he knew^ at the time 
of his ministry in Rye : — 

' My recollections of the Rev. Mr. Remington are fragrant and pre- 
cious. When I was entering the holy ministry, he was in middle life, 

1 Was born in Springfield, Mass., November 7, 1797 ; married, August 24, 1821, 
Esther Rutgers, daughter of John Lowe, New York ; was appointed by the An'iorican 
Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, in October, 1821, as assistant mis- 
sionary to the Choctaw Nation, at Mayhew, Miss. ; returned to the north in 1823, and 
pursued a course of study in theology at Buflalo ; was ordained by the Presbytery of 
Buffalo in 1825 ; was appointed by the Domestic Missionary Society, July, 1825, to 
labor in Upper Greenburg, Westchester County, New York ; became pastor of the 
united churches of Upper and Lower Greenburg, and from thence was called to Kyc. 


and full of useful labor. The pallor of his countenance — the result, 
I now believe, of that disease of which he suddenly died — iuipressed 
me when I first saw him with the tliought that he was a sad and dying 
man. The atmosphere seemed soleum when he was present. Though 
his speech was atfable, his face was that of a man who could not smile. 
This led me to do him injustice in my heart. Those who knew him 
better knew him to be genial, loving, and pleasant. 

' He was a man of God ; a man of prayer, of faith ; and, as I thought, 
full of the Spirit. I wish the Church had hundreds of such blessed 
men as he.' 

The Rev. Thomas Payne commenced his labors at Rye a few 
months after Mr. Remington's death. He remained for two years, 
— from 1834 to 1836. The Rev. John H. Hunter next officiated 
for a few months. Until now, the ministers who pi-eached here 
did so in the capacity of ' stated supplies,' the congregation hav- 
ing not yet secured, or not feeling as yet able to support a settled 
pastor. But in October, 1836, the Rev. James R. Davenport 
was ordained and installed as pastor of this church by the Presby- 
tery of Bedford. The relation, however, subsisted but a short 
time. In April, 1838, Mr. Davenport resigned his charge, and 
not long after entered another religious denomination. His suc- 
cessor was tlie 


a graduate of Princeton College and Seminary, who came liere as 
stated supply, but at the invitation of the people consented to re- 
main with them as pastor. Mr. Bryan was ordained and installed 
in the sacred office on the ninth of October, 1838. His ministry 
in Rye lasted until the thirty-first of October, 1860, — a period of 
twenty-two years. 

At the commencement of this pastorate, the congregation was 
still a small and feeble one. The whole number of communicants 
was but twenty-two. There had been as yet no considerable in- 
crease in the population of the place. Rye was the same quiet and 
obscure village as for generations past. In 1836 it contained but 
thirty houses, with less than two hundred inhabitants. The 
church thus far had been sustained by strenuous exertions on the 
part of a very few persons, and by aid from the American Home 
Missionary Society. But during the term of years covered by Mr. 
Bryan's ministry, a great change came over the face both of the 
comuiunity and of the congregation. In the direction of Port 
Chester especially, the town increased largely in population and 


activity. And the little churcli, once oppressed with debt, and 
relying almost solely upon the liberality of one noble Christian 
man, became not only self-supporting, but able to take part in the 
promotion of religion elsewhere. 

On the fourteenth of September, 1847, this church lost its ven- 
erable elder and benefactor, Mr. EBE^'EZER Clark. He died at 
the age of seventy-eight years. The following notices of this 
excellent man have been kindly furnished for this Avork by the 
Rev. Richard W. Dickinson, D. D., who knew him well and 
long : — 

' Mr. Clark retired from business to the still life of a country village, 
at a time when his pecuniary prospects were highly flattering. This was 
owing as much to those views of life in which he had schooled himself 
as to his desire of being relieved from constant application to a busi- 
ness which had already begun to wear upon a constitution naturally by 
no means strong. Nor did he ever regret his removal from the city to 
the country, or feel the loss of his original employment. He retired 
not to try the country, but to live in it ; not to fit up a great place and 
then to leave it, if it could be sold at a fair advance ; much less to lead 
a life of self-indulgence ; but rather to answer the true ends of life — ■ 
to secure to himself a home where the interests of his family might be 
promoted, his own health restored, and the residue of his days be passed 
in usefulness and peace. Aware of the danger of retiring from busi- 
ness without resources, he had his daily routine of out-door interests 
— consecrating each day to its Giver. Aware, too, of the greater 
danger to personal piety, arising from the neglect of church privi- 
leges, neither distance nor the state of the weather, nor inconvenience, 
nor slight indisposition, much less worldly company, could hinder him 
from availing himself of some religious service on the Lord's day ; and 
as, on removing to Rye, he found the Sabbath generally neglected, and 
but few, comparatively, who took an interest in religious matters, he felt 
that it behooved him to be only the more circumspect and active in all 
matters pertaining to the moral and religious interests of the com- 

' To confer the greatest good on all is to bring all within the reach of 
Sabbath and sanctuary privileges ; and hence it was his primary aim to 
secure the regular ministrations of the Gospel both at Port Chester and 
at Rye. Having aided the church at the former place for some years, 
he at last fitted it up at an expense of not less than twenty-five hundred 
dollars, so that it became comparatively attractive, and the number of 
attendants increased ; but the old church at Rye still remained, ren- 
dered more primitive in its aspect by contrast with the other, and the 
less inviting as it stood opposite the new and spacious mansion which 
Mr. Clark ultimately built for his own abode. 


* In 1841, Mr. Clark took five thousand dollars out of his capital to 
build the church — leaving a balance of a thousand to be raised, if 
possible, from the congregation. Trifling sums, it may be thought, in 
comparison with the sums not unfrequently contributed at the present 
day to Christian enterprises ; but at a time when few gave anything and 
the many had very little to give, they serve to reveal the spirit that 
animated the donor. 

' But while he felt the incongruity of living in " a ceiled house " and 
suffering the Lord's house to lie waste, he felt also that the " laborer is 
worthy of his hire," and never omitted to pay even a supply ; while 
from the first he paid one half of the minister's annual salary. 

' Particular in all matters about his premises, he was also exact to 
the fraction in business. He trenched on no one's rights, and allowed 
no one to trench on his ; never went to law but when clearly in the 
right, nor declined to accommodate, even at times to his own inconven- 
ience. He was not to he swayed from his convictions of truth and 
duty, was outspoken in his sentiments, had no patience with idle- 
ness and vice, much less with dishonesty; and yet was he kind toward 
the erring, and ever forward to provide for the deserving poor. There 
was an honest candor about him, verging on bluntness, at times amus- 
ing as it was timely, as when he replied to a minister who expressed 
himself discouraged in view of the results of his labors: " I should 
think you would be ; the place does not suit you, and you must see by 
this time that you are not suited to the place." Again, '' Are you sure 
the cars will not be seen on the Sabbath ? " said he to some one in 
charge of the subscription books of the recently incorporated New 
York & New Haven Railroad Company. " I cannot say," was the re- 
ply. " Will the company pledge itself not to desecrate the Lord's day ? " 
" I do not know." " Then I will not subscribe for the stock." ' 

'Such was Ebenezer Clark, — a true man, with strong points of 
character, and kindly sentiments ; while providing well for his own 
household, never forgetting the things which are Christ's; retaining to 
the last the integrity of his faith and the purity of his principles.' 

Mr. Bryan was succeeded by the present pastor, Rev. Charles 
W. Baird, installed May 9th, 1861. 

In 1869, the congregation bought land adjoining the church lot, 
with a view to the erection of a new church, Sunday-school build- 
ing, and manse. Upon this tract, which comprises three acres, the 
Sunday-school building has been erected at the sole expense of 
William Mathews, Esq. The church is now in process of erection. 

Presbyterian CnuRCii of Rye. — The corner-stone of the new building was laid 
with appropriate services on Tuesday, November 29th, 1870. The architect is Mr. 
R. M. Upjohn. This church is built of the stone of the countrj', with dressings of 
red and yellow stone. In plan, it has a nave, north and south aisles, and a transept. 


Tlie finish of the interior, for furniture, is of black walnut. The style of the architec- 
ture adopted for the building is thirteenth century Gothic. Connected with the 
church, and arranged for convenience of both buildings, and also for external archi- 
tectural effect, ]Mr. William Mathews has erected a memorial chapel to his infant 
daughter, Bessie, which he gives to the church to be used for Sunday-school and other 
parochial purposes. It is upwards of fifty feet square, internal dimensions. The 
main room will accommodate two hundred persons. In connection with this there is 
a Bible and Infant class room, and a room for the Sunday-school library, besides lob- 
bies, etc. 

The tower and spire of the church stand at the west end of the south aisle. The 
tower is about twenty feet square, and has a turret at one angle which reaches with a 
staircase to the top of the tower. The tower and spire together are one hundred and 
fifty feet high, and are entirely built of stone. The tower has three stories ; the 
lower one for entrances, the middle for bell-ringers, and the upper for the belfry. It 
has double bayed and richly traceried windows, two stories high, and these are filled 
with appropriate louvers. The spire is octagonal, and has four windows and a corona. 
There is a stone clere-story, which is supported upon arches which derive their sup- 
port from richly carved stone capitals on stone columns. 

The entrances to the church are by three doorways. The main door in the centre 
of the west front is double, and has deeply splayed recessed jambs, ornamented with 
columns and richly foliated capitals. The archway is richly moulded and othenvise 
ornamented. The tympanum of the arch is left of solid stone designed to be filled 
with sculpture. The doors to the tower leading to a tiled vestibule are designed to 
be correspondingly ornate. 

The entrance to the Mathews' Memorial is by a richly moulded doorway. Around 
the arch is an inscription naming the donor, and the age and name of his child, with 
the text across the transom, ' Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven "? ' 
Above this in the tympanum of the arch is a bas-relief representing our Saviour bless- 
ing little children. 

The roofs of the church are open, and their construction has been made in harmony 
with the surroundings. They rest upon stone corbels, and both interiors it is designed 
to bring out in color. The whole of the buildings have been designed t6 meet the 
conveniences required, and to form a proper, harmonizing, and imposing structure. 
(Architect's description.) 




METHODISM 1 was introduced into Westcliester County in 
1771 by Joseph Pilmoor, stationed at that time in New 
York. Desiring to extend his labors beyond the city, he visited 
New Rochelle, and preached at the house of Frederick Deveau, 
whose wife was converted through his instrumentality. Francis 
Asbury, afterwards Bishop Asbury, came to New York in Novem- 
ber in the same year, and during that month organized a society 
at New Rochelle, and established appointments at various places, 
preaching at West Farms, Mamaroneek, Rye, and East Chester. 
The Revolutionary War compelled the preachers to leave New 
York, and the societies of this county remained without pastoral 
care until the return of peace. 

In 1784 and the two following years, John Dickens and John 
Haggerty supplied the Methodist pulpit in New York, and doubt- 
less like their predecessors extended their labors to the country. 
In 1787, all the societies north of the city Avere constituted as a 
separate charge, and called the ' New Rochelle Circuit,' of which 
S. K. Talbot was the preacher. At the close of the year, Mr. 
Talbot reported five hundred and twenty-five members in his 
charge.^ This circuit was very large, embracing most probably 
Westchester and Putnam counties, and the societies became so 
numerous that it required for some years the services of four 
preachers. In 1803, the circuit, embracing at the time nine hun- 
dred and forty members, was divided, so that the southeastern 
portion of Westchester County formed the New Rochelle Circuit, 
with four hundred and seventy-three members. The preachers 
were W. Thatcher and A. Hunt. They were succeeded by J. 

1 I am indebted to the Rev. N. Mead, the present pastor of the Methodist Episco- 
pal Church of Rye, for the information here given. It has been obtained by diligent 
research for this work. 

2 His successors were P. Moriarty, A. Van Nostrand, L. Smith, W. Phcebus, M. 
Swain, J. Bush, T. Evcrard, F. Lovell, J. Bell, B. Fisher, D. Valleau, S. Hutchin- 
son, D^Dennis, Thomas Woolsey, J. Perkins, Joseph Totten, J. Clark, T. Dewey, E. 
Kibby, D. Brown, J. Wilson, E. Chichester, J. Campbell, W. Picket, W. Thatcher, 
George Daugherty, H. Clark, and F. Ward. 


Coleman and J. Sawyer in 1805, and by Joseph Crawford and 
H. Redstone in 1806. 

Though tliere had been more or less of Methodist preachino- in 
the town of Rye, and a large and growing societ}^ Jiad been or- 
ganized at White Plains, and possibly another at King Street, yet 
it does not appear that any permanent society was organized here 
until 1801 or 1805.^ According to common report, Methodism 
was introduced into this part of Rye about the year 1802. The 
marriage of Esther, widow of John Griffen of Mamaroneck, to 
Ezekiel Halsted of Rye, in that year, was the occasion of this. 
About two years before this, Mrs. Griffen had been converted, 
and had joined tlie Methodist Episcopal Church. She immedi- 
ately established family worship, conducting the services herself, 
and invited all in her employ, though most of them were irrelio-- 
ious men, to be present. Mr. Halsted was an active member of 
the Congregational Church in Greenwich, and after his marriao-e 
was accustomed to hold prayer-meetings with his wife, at various 
points, as North Street, Saw Pit, now Port Chester, Purchase, 
and King Street. Not long after his marriage, Mr. Halsted identi- 
fied himself with the IMethodists. 

The Presbyterian Church of Rye, which had been rebuilt upon 
its present site in the year 1793, was at this period occupied but 
occasionally for public worship by ministers of that denomination. 
The use of this building was now obtained for the Methodists, 
wlio held religious services here more or less regularly for a num- 
ber of years after tliis, and made various improvements at their 
own expense.'^ 

In May, 1821, the number of members reported by the preach- 
ers of the New Rochelle Circuit Avas five hundred and eighty-eight. 
At that time, Upper and Lower New Rochelle, White Plains, 
Greenburgh, Tuckahoe, East Chester, West Chester, Mamiu-oneck, 
Rye, Port Chester, King Street, and Mile Square, were numbered 
as societies in this circuit. The entire salary for the support of 
two preachers and their families, including house rent and moving 

1 It must have been as early as 1805, from the testimony of Tamar I'nrker and 
James Purdy, who both joined the society in 1806. Mr. Underiiill Halsted distinctly 
remembers that his fiither directed him to inform the flimilies on iiis way to school 
that Mr. Redstone from Enjrland — ' not Red/eW, nor Redttwrf, hut Ked.s/fwc ' -^ would 
preach that evening at the Rye school-house. Mr. Halsted thinks this was some time 
previous to Mr. Redstone's appointment to the circuit. 

2 The following preachers succeeded Mr. Redstone on the circuit : B. Ilihbard, M. 
B. Bull, Z. Lyon, E. CanHeld, L. Andrus, T. Reck, N. W. Thomas, II. Eames, E. 
Smith, J. Lyon, S. Arnold, N. Emery, C. Carpenter, D. Ostrandcr, M- Richardson, 
and S. Bushnell. 


expenses, was eight hundred and twenty-five dollars, a little more 
than four hundred dollars for each family. The amount raised by 
Rye society to meet these expenses was sixty dollars. 

The work witiiin this circuit had now increased to such a de- 
(i-ree, that three preachers were required to fill the appointments. 
Tiiese alternating with each other were able to preacli at Rye once 
every other Sabbath.^ In 1821, under the labors of E. Woolsey ^ 
and W. Jewett, there was a revival of religion in Rye, and many 
were converted an<l added to the church. 

At a quarterly meeting conference held at the ' Rye Meeting 
House ' October 2d, 1824, Stephen Remington was recommended 
for admission to the New York Annual Conference. The follow- 
ing persons were also recommended fur admission : John Lefever, 
December 27th, 1823 ; S. U. Fisher, October 1st, 1825 ; William 
Gothard, April 8th, 1837 ; R. C. Putney, March 9th, 1814 ; and 
Robert Codling, April, 1845. All of these persons were received 
into the Conference, and became successful ministers of our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

At a quarterly meeting conference held at Rye, September 12th, 
1829, a constitution was adopted by which the Conference formed 
itself into a Missionary, Bible, Tract, and Sunday-school Society. 

In 1829, the Presbyterian congregation of Rye was reorganized, 
and now used the church jointly with the Methodists, who alone 
had occupied the house for sixteen or eighteen years. 

In March, 1831, a ' four days' meeting ' was held in Rye. Rev. 
J. N. Maflfitt preached. ' Many were converted, of whom about 
thirty joined the Metiiodist Church.' 'Mr. Maffitt's labours in- 
duced the society to invite his assistance in a four days' meeting, 
appointed in the spring of the ensuing year.' Differences, how- 

1 From 1821 to 1832 the preachers were the following : E. Woolsey, W. Jewett, E. 
Seney, H. Bangs, 11. Seaman, S. Martindale, L. Andrus, P. Eice, P. P. Sandford, 
J. Bowen, S. Cochran, E. Hibbard, D. Devinne, E. Washburne, and J. Ferris. 

■^ The Eev. Elijah Woolsey was born July 26, 1771, in Marlborough, Ulster County, 
New York. He entered the itinerant ministry of the M. E. Church in 1794, and vol- 
unteered for Canada. Here he labored with diligence and success for two years, en- 
during privations and fatigues which he recounts with great simplicity in a little 
volume entitled, Jlie Supernumerary ; or, Lights and Shadoivs of Itinerancy ; published 
in New York in 1845. Mr. Woolsey continued in the regular work of the ministry 
until the year 1829, when his name was placed on the 'supernumerary' list. He 
came in 1834 to Eye, where his widow still resides. Here 'he endeared himself to 
the people,' ' preaching when able, assisting in the various social means of grace, 
and uniting in affectionate Christian intercourse. His decease was preceded by a 
long and gradual decline, during which he exhibited Christian resignation and cheer- 
fulness.' He was a man of sincere piety, great benevolence of character, and amenity 
of manners. He died January 24, 18.50. {Minutes of Conference , 1850 ; and private 


ever, between tlie two congregations, who had for a while occupied 
the same house of worship, now led to a separation. From March, 
1832, the Methodist Society ceased to meet in the church, and took 
immediate measures to build for themselves. In May, 1832, Phile- 
mon Halsted, Elisha Halsted, and David H. Mead, were appointed 
a committee to buy a lot and build a church. A lot, comprising 
half an acre, was bought, and a house of worship erected. 

In 1832 the circuit was again divided, so as to embrace in this 
portion only Upper and Lower New Rochelle, East Chester, 
Mamaroneck, Rye, Port Chester, and King Street, with two 
preachers. These divisions, by increasing the amount of minis- 
terial service in each societv, involved enlarged contributions from 
the societies, without materially increasing the salaries. After 
the division in 1832, the number of members on the circuit was 
four hundred and twenty-one. In May, 1845, it was five hun- 
dred and ten.i 

In the summer of 1838, under Osborn and Chamberlin, ' a re- 
vival commenced in Milton and extended to the centre of Rye.' 
About thirty were added to the church. In 1843, under Lefever 
and Andrews,^ there was an extensive revival at King Street and 
Port Chester, in which ninety persons were added to the church 
at the former place. In 1844, under the same pastors, the revival 
extended to Rye, resulting in the addition of more than fifty per- 
sons to the church. In 1845, the circuit was again divided, by mak- 
ing King Street and Port Chester a separate charge, leaving the 
foUowino- societies in the old circuit, nameh^ New Rochelle, Mam- 
aroneck, Rye, East Chester, and City Island, having three hun- 
dred and fifty members.^ The number of members reported June, 

1 The preachers from 1833 to 1845 were B. Sellick, H. Hiistcd, D. Ostrander, V. 
L. Hovt, B. Daniels, P. R. Brown, T. Sparks, E. Osborn, P. Chamberlin, C. Ocham- 
paiigii, C. F. Pelton, S. U. Fisher, J. W. Lefever, E. Andrews, and W. Gothard. 

2 The Rev. Elisha Andrews is remembered with peculiar interest at Rye. His 
ministry here was very successful ; and very soon after leavini,^ this place, his carthly 
labors closed. He was drowned in the Hudson River, September 3d, 1844, when on 
his way to a camp-meeting at Sing Sing. The year before, his wife, a very estimable 
lady, died at Rve, in the parsonage on the post-road. 

3 The preachers up to 1852 were H. F. Pease, R. C. Putney, J. Hunt, C. B. Sing, 
D. Devinne, V. Buck, and W. F. Collins. 

One of these, Jesse Hunt, was taken away in the midst of his usefulness by death, 
after a short illness, November 5th, 1848. He was born in Mamaroneck, July 22d, 
1787; joined the itinerancy in 1811 ; and for thirty-seven years— until the division 
of the New York Conference in 1848— labored with fidelity and success withm the 
bounds of that body. In June, 1848, he was appointed to the New Rochelle Circuit. 
within the bounds of the New York East Conference, and brought his family to Rye, 
where thcv resided in the parsonage on the post-road below the village. Mr. Hunt 


1852, was tliree hundred and seventy-six, at which time Rye was 
made an independent station, and W. F. Collins appointed pastor. 
There were a number of conversions under his pastorate, and he 
reported at the close of his term one hundred and four members. 

The school-house in Milton had been used for prayer-meetings 
and occasional services for many years ; but as objections had been 
raised against the use of the property for religious meetings, the 
Methodists in June, 1852, bought a lot and built a liouse of wor- 

In 1853, a house and four acres of land, situated on the Turn- 
pike, about half a mile from the church, were bought for a parson- 
age. In January, 1855, the trustees bought eight acres of land for 
a cemetery. To this nearly seven acres were added by subsequent 

Rev. G. S. Gilbert succeeded to the pastorate in May, 1853. 
He was followed in May, 1855, by Rev. D. Osborn, ' whose labours 
were accompanied b}^ a revival in which twent}' were received on 
probation.' ^ George Taylor succeeded him in 1857 ; in 1859 B. 
Pillsbury was pastor, and in 1860^ C. T. Mallory. 

In November, 1855, the trustees sold the parsonage, which was 
too remote from the church ; and in April, 1860, they bought 
land directly opposite the church, where they built a pleasant par- 
sonage. In March 1801, the church was remodelled, at an expense 
of four thousand dollars. 

The next pastors were T. D. Littlewood in 1862, W. Ross in 
1864, and L. P. Perry in 1866. During Mr. Perry's term, tlie 
property adjoining the church, containing about two and a half 
acres, was bought for ten thousand dollars. A Sunday-school room 

died at Rhinebeck, while on a visit to some friends in that place. He was a man of 
unfeigned piety, and an earnest, practical preacher. {Minutes of the Annual Confer- 
ences of the M. E. Church, for the Year 1846 ; pp. 33.5, 336.) 

1 Some of the happy effects of this revival were felt in the town of Harrison, where 
a small M. E. congregation existed. Rev. H. A. Mead, local elder, had begun to 
preach there as early as 1843, in a school-house and in a private dwelling. A monthly 
service Avas maintained in this place for some years ; during the revival in question, 
the work increased ; and shortly after, the church near the Purchase post-office was 
built. This church is connected with the village M. E. Church of White Plains. 
Mr. Mead continues in charge. 

2 On the twentieth of January, 1861, the Rev. Benjamin Griffon, a veneral)le min- 
ister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, died at Rye. He was born in Mamaroncck 
in 1792; united with the church at the age of nineteen, and soon after joined the New 
York Conference, of which he remained a member for nearly fifty years. ' Pew men 
have performed more unrequited labor for the Church. He rendered his services 
with the strictest fidelity, and without any compensation.' (Cyclopadia of Bibl. 
Theol. and Eccl. Literature: New York, 1870.) Mr. Griffen spent his last days in 
the old ' Halsted House.' See page 271. 


was built, a house on the premises was altered for a parsonage, and 
other improvements were made, at a cost of about five thousand 
dollars. To aid in meeting these expenses the former parsonage 
was sold. In January, 1869, a revival commenced, resulting in 
the addition of thirty to the chui'ch on probation. The present 
pastor, N. Mead, Avas appointed to the charge, April, 1869. 



' The long, low building, 
Gray ■with the touches of a century, 
A house of meditation and of prayer. 
There meets the calm community of Friends.' 

T. B. Read, The New Pastoral. 

THE religious community known as Friends, or ' Quakers,' first 
appeared in England towards the middle of the seventeenth 
century, and had an early share in the colonization of our own 
country. Its founder and first preacher, George Fox, visited 
America, and announced his message, as he himself relates, to a 
' willing peoj)le.' But the converts to his doctrines, especially if 
they attempted to spread them, met violent persecution almost 

Flushing, on Long Island, was the scene of some of their ear- 
liest and most successful labors. The first settlers, though not 
Quakers, — for the society had not risen when that town was 
founded, in 1645, — entertained views of religion that differed 
from those held by the New England colonists generally, and that 
prepared them to receive the tenets that were soon to be pro- 
claimed among them. Francis Doughty, their minister, became a 
convert to the system of the Friends, upon its introduction in 1657, 
and with him a number of the inhabitants of Flushing embraced it.^ 
These persons, like many of the same persuasion in other Long 
Island towns, were the subjects of intolerant and cruel treatment at 
the hands of the Dutch. ^ 

From Flushing, probably, the Society of Friends spread at a 
verv early day to this place.* Rye w^as in regular communication 
with Long Island, almost from the first settlement of the town. 
Possibly, the individuals whom the Hartford government repri- 

1 Religion in America, by Eev. Robert Baird, D. D., Glasgow, 1844 : book vi., chap, 

'■^ History of Long Island, by Nathaniel S. Prime, D. D. New York, 1845 : p. 297. 

^ History of Long Island, by B. F. Thompson. New York, 1843 : vol. ii. pp. 285- 

* It is not likely that they came from Connecticut. 'There are 4 or 5 Seven day 
men in o"" colony, and about so many more Quakers,' wrote Governor Leete, in 1680. 
(Public Records of Connecticut, vol. iii. p. 299.) 


nianded in 1G69 as ' persons unsownd and heterodox in their judo-- 
ments,' and ' sowing the seeds of error among the people ' at Rye, 
may have been of this persuasion.^ In 1706, there were ' some 
Quakers ' in the town.^ Mr. Muirson, missionaiy of the Gospel 
Propagation Society, tried to win them over to liis faith, but failed. 
Mr. Bridge, his successor, reported ' 7 families of Quakers ' in 
his parish in 1710, 'and 4 or 5 families inclining to tliem.'s One 
of these, probably, was the family of Captain John Clapp,** who 
came to Rye as early as 1705. In 1718 he was styled ' a reputed 

From Mr. Bridge's account, it seems that in the winter of 
1710, an attemj)t was made by certain persons to 'form themselves 
into a society ' in the neighborhood of his parish. He calls them 
' Gates' followers,' or ' ranting Quakers.' ^ They were, doubtless, 
Keithians, members of a party that separated from the Friends of 
Pennsylvania in the year 1691, but retained many of their pecul- 
iarities. Mr. Bridge, in 1712, records his success in disputing 
with these people. They 'have never since held a public meeting 
in these parts.' Five years after, however, he writes, ' The Qua- 
kers .... come frequently in great numbers from Long Island 
and other places, to hold their meeting in the out parts of my 
parish. It is my constant care,' he adds, ' to watch ' their ' mo- 
tions, and to prevent their seducing any of my parishioners.' ^ 

It vvas probably in the lower part of Mr. Bridge's parish that 
these gatherino-s occurred, — between Mamaroneck and New 

Harrison's Purchase, we have seen in a previous chapter, w^as 
settled chiefly by members of the Society of Friends. Samuel 
Haight, of Flushing, one of the five patentees of that tract in 
1696, was a Friend. When, after a lapse of twenty years and 
more, a considerable emigration from Long Island to the Purchase 

^ See ante, p. 273. 

2 Bolton, History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the County of Westchester, pp. 

3 Ibid. p. 196. * Sec ante, p. 120. 
5 Bolton, Hist, of the Prot. Episc. Church, pp. 199, 202. « Ibid. p. 205. 

"< The doctrines of the Friends seem to have met with much «ccei)t;xnce at Mam- 
aroneck. The 'people dissenting from the Church' were 'chiefly Quakers' at that 
place in 1728. (Bolton, p. 249 ; where, by an error of punctuation, this statcjnent 
appears to be made respecting Kyc.) The Friends' meeting-house at Mamaroneck 
was built about the year 1739, on land bought from Sylvanus Palmer. It stood 
nearly opposite the Munro place, where there is still a Friends' burying-ground. 
About the year 1774 this meeting-house was removed to its present site. (Informa- 
tion from Mellis S. Til ton.) 


took ])lacc, it consisted mainly, almost wholly, indeed, of families 
of Friends. ' We have a new settlement amongst iis,' writes Mr. 
Jenney, July 1, 1723, ' in the woods, M'hich began about the time 
of my predecessor's death, 1719. The inhabitants are very loose 
in their principals [principles] of religion, inclining rather to the 
Quakers than any other sect.' ^ This refers evidently ^ to the 
settlement in Harrison, or ' Rye Woods^'' as it was then frequently 

The first 3Ieeting -house built in Westchester County, existed 
as early as 1723. In that year, mention is made of ' the Quaker 
meeting-house in Westchester Village.' ^ A ' Mojitldy fleeting ' ^ 
was appointed by the Yearly Meeting of Friends at Flushing, 
Long Island, to be held at Westchester, N. Y., on the ' ninth day 
of Fourth Month ' (April), 1725. Not long after, we hear of 
occasional meetings held at Mamaroneck and Rye, in private 
houses. Such a meeting was appointed, May 13, 1726, to be 
held every other month, at the house of James Mott. Another, 
in 1727, was at Robert Sneathing's, apparently in Rye.^ 

The Purchase Meeting-house was built in 1727.*^ It is said 
that the land upon which it stands was given by Anthony Field, 
who had removed hither two years before from Flushing, and who 
owned the adjoining farm.' The 'half-year's meeting' ^ of Friends 
in this region had been held of late at Mamaroneck. A proposi- 
tion was made, on the eighth day of Twelfth Month (December) 

1 Bolton, History of the Prat. Episc. Church, etc., p. 225. 

2 The date, 1719, shows that this 'new settlement' was not 'North Castle, a new 
settlement in the woods ' in 1728 (p. 248), nor ' New Castle, a new settlement in the 
woods' in 1729 (p. 255). 

3 ' Entering of Highways,' a book of reeords in the County Clerk's office, White 
Plains : p. 3. 

* ' There arc four grades of meetings for discipline ' among Friends in the United 
States : ' first, preparative, which prepare discipline for the second or monthly meet- 
ings, in which the executive power is chiefly lodged ; then the quarterly meetings, con- 
sisting of several monthly meetings, and exercising a supervisory care over them ; 
and lastly the yearly meetings, which include the whole society within a presci'ibed dis- 
trict, possess exclusively the legislative power, and annually investigate the condition 
of their subordinate meetings.' New American Cydopmdia, vol. xiii. app. ('Article 
prepared under the authority of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.') 

^ Records of the Society of Friends in Harrison. For these and other extracts I 
am indebted to the courteous recorder of that society, Mellis S. Tilton. 

^ 'It was built last year by the Quakers, in the township of Rye, about seven miles 
from the church, towards North Castle.' — Rev. James Wetmore, February 20, 1728. 
(Bolton, p. 249.) 

■^ Rye Reeords, vol. B. pp. 227, 230. 
In new settlements a ' half-year's meeting ' sometimes takes the place of the 
' quarterly meeting.' 


1727, to remove that meeting to ' Rye Meeting House,' and dis- 
continue the meeting at Robert Sneathing's. This Avas done.i 

Great excitement seems to have attended tlie efforts of this 
religious body to spread their creed here. ' Where any of thorn 
settle,' writes Mr. Wetmore, rector of Rye in 1730, ' they spare 
no pains to infect their neighbourhood.' Where they meet with any 
encouragement, they hold meetings day after day. Celebrated 
preachers are procured from a distance ; and ' a great fame ' is 
spread before them, ' to invite many curiosities.' ' Our pcoj)le of 
credit,' says he, ' will often go to their meetings, especially their 
great and general meetings,' which, he thinks, are very pernicious, 
and ought to be suppressed.^ It is difficult to realize that these 
things were written c'oncerning ' the calm community of Friends.' 
Such a stir reminds us of early Methodism, and of the fervid zeal 
of Makemie and the Tennents, among the Presbyterians. But it 
is well known that the religious movement which commenced with 
George Fox was characterized in its earlier phases by great enthu- 
siasm, and by active exertions to propagate the principles of its 
members. The Friends who settled in Harrison appear to have 
been of this spirit. ' Swarms of them,' complains the troubled 
rector, 'make frequent visits hither.' They 'hold their yearly 
meetings, montldy, quarterly and weekly meetings, ?/ca, mid some- 
times daily.'' They scatter books all over the parisli ; and Mr. 
Wetmore, who is a ready writer, feels constrained to write and 
j)rint two letters and three dialogues, in refutation of their argu- 
ments. These, he hopes, will be of great service to ' stop the 
growth of Quakerism in these parts.' ^ 

In 1742, on the ' eleventh day of First Month ' (January), the 
Monthly Meeting was transferred from Mamaroneck to the ' Meet- 
ing House in liye Woods.'' This meeting was now held at three 
places on the main : alternately, at Westchester, Mamaroneck, and 
Purchase; and subject to it, meetings had by this time been estab- 
lished at New MiU'ord, the Oblong, and Nine Partners.'* And in 
1744, on the 'eighth day of Ninth Month' (September), a propo- 
sition was made to establish a Quarterly Meeting ' on tlm side,' i. e., 
on the main." Accordingly, the Yearly Meeting, still held at 

1 Friends' Records. 

2 Bolton, History of the Prot. Episc. Church, etc., p. 254. 

3 Ibid. pp. 2.56, 2.57. These publications were entitled, Two Letters in Answer to 
the Quakers, 1730; and Dialogues in Answer to the Quakers, 1732. Jbid. p. 287. 

* A meeting was commenced at North Castle, in 1764, and wa.s held once a fort- 
night, in winter. The North Castle mccting-house was built in 1798. 


Flusliing, on the tliirteenth of Fourth Montli (April), 1745, ap- 
pointed a Quarterly Meeting to be held at the Purchase.^ 

Little remains to be said of the external history of this conaijiu- 
nity. In 1745, on the eleventh day of Fifth Month, the Meeting 
appointed Thomas Franklin ' to get seats to be made rising in the 
upper part of the Meeting House at y^ Purchase.' In 1778, the 
Monthly MeetincT was held in King Street, at the house of Thomas 
Clapp, on the thirteenth day of Eighth Month (August). The 
reason for this change was, ' the Meeting House at Purchase being 
made use of for a hospital for the sick of the Army.' September 
10th, ' the Meeting House is not yet to be had.' October 8th, the 
meeting is held as formerly in the Purchase meeting-house. 

On the eleventh of February, 1779, it is represented at the 
Monthly Meeting, that ' Several young men of the Society are 
now prisoners, and are likely to be brought under great suffering 
by refusing to bear arms and do other military service.' ' Those in 
authority are willing to release them, providing they can make it 
appear that they are members.' A committee is appointed to 
assure the authorities of their membership. 

In 1782, a record is made concerning the sufferings of Friends 
connected with this Monthly Meeting, in consequence of their 
testimony against war. The total amount of loss on tliis account 
is stated to be fourteen hundred and forty- five pounds. 

In 1784, on the fourteenth of Tenth Montli (October), the fol- 
lowing action was taken : ' The Meetino; House in the Purchase 
having been used for a Court of Judicature, and being likely to be 
used for that purpose again, a committee is appointed to apply to 
those in authority to prevent such use.' 

In 1797, the meeting-house was enlarged to its present size by 
an addition on the east side. 

In 1827, a separation took place in the Society of Friends in 
this country. Two distinct bodies were formed, each claiming the 
name of Friends. The one party, however, became known as the 
Orthodox, and the other as Hicksites, from Elias Hicks, whose 
opinions they were understood to approve. In the town of Harri- 
son, the separation occurred the next year, in 1828. The ' Ortho- 
dox ' Friends erected a meeting-house near the old building, 
which is held by the other branch. The latter, I believe, is the 
larger body. 

The Friends in Harrison, though not so numerous, probably, as 
they were a hundred years ago, are still a highly respectable and 
1 Kecords of the Society in Harrison. 


influential community. They have the characteristic traits of this 
peaceable and quiet people: frugality, simplicity of manners, strict- 
ness of morals, care for their poor, and abhorrence of oppression 
in every form. Of the faithful and noble testimony whicli they 
bore against slavery, we have spoken in a former chapter. INIany 
of their families who brought this faith with them into this recrion, 
a century and a hah" since, have removed from the Purchase, and 
their lands are now owned by persons of other religious persua- 
sions. But a number remain ; and the Old Meeting-house 
itself abides, substantial and unadorned, as when first reared amid 
the primeval forest, liaving witnessed the turmoil and suffering of 
war, as well as the silent worship of a religion of peace. Near 
by is the graveyard, where the founders of the community and 
several generations of their descendants rest. 



THE village of Saw Pit, during the first quarter of the present 
century, was noted for its religious destitution. There were 
no ch.urches in the place, and few of the inhabitants resorted 
habitually either to Rye or to Greenwich for public worship. In 
the absence of the educating and restraining influences of religion, 
immorality was rife. Idleness and intemperance, with their attend- 
ant evils, prevailed, it is said, even more widely than in other 
obscure and neglected localities around. 

During this period, some efforts Avere made by the neighboring 
churches to improve the condition of things in Saw Pit. Religious 
services were held from time to time in the district school-house, 
which stood on King Street, and was afterwards removed to the 
triangular plot of ground near the present railroad arch. These 
services were generally conducted by Baptist and Methodist minis- 
ters. The former came from the 

King Street Baptist Church, about three miles from the village. 
This congregation existed some years before the Revolution. The 
church was constituted in 1773, with a membership of fifty- four. 
It was supplied for a period of about eleven years by ministers 
from Tarrytown, Danbury, Long Island, and New York. After 
this, the Rev. Nathaniel Finch was settled as pastor, and continued 
in office until the year 1826.^ ' Elder Finch,' as he was called, 
preached occasionally in the school-house at Saw Pit, where some 
members of his cono-reo-ation resided. 

A jNIethodist Society existed in Saw Pit as early as 1821, when 
this place had become one of the 'appointments' of the New 
Rochelle Circuit. It was visited in turn, among the twelve local- 
ities embraced in the circuit, by two preacheis, to whom a third 
was soon after added. 

1 Mr. Finch died August 29tli, 1829, in the eighty-fifth year of his nge. He was 
followed by Rev. E. S. Raymond, who became pastor of the King Street Baptist 
Church in 1826, and remained until 1836. Rev. Mr. Brewer succeeded him from 
1836 to 1840. In 1841, Mr. Raymond resumed his former charge, and continued 
until 1862. Rev. O. C. Kirkham preached for some months ; since then the congre- 
gation has had no settled pastor. 


About the year 1824, services were also held here by the rector 
of the Episcopal congregation of Rye. The Vestry records show 
that 'on the third Sabbath afternoon' of the month, Rev. Mr. 
Thompson was accustomed at that time to officiate ' in the School- 
house at the Saw-Pitt.' This arrangement, however, does not 
appear to have continued long. 

Other denominations, too, sometimes occupied the building. 
Universalist ministers not unfrequently visited the place, and zeal- 
ously advocated their doctrines. Some of these were men of 
ability, and met, it is said, with considerable success in their en- 
deavors to gain disciples. 

The Presbyterian Church was the first house of worship 
built in wliat is now the village of Port Chester. Sinniltaneously 
with the effort to revive a Presbyterian organization at Rye, where 
a flourishing congregation of this order had once existed, and a 
church was yet standing, religious services were commenced at 
Saw Pit. On the seventh of December, 1828, Rev. George Steb- 
bins, of New Rochelle, preached in both places. On the next 
Sunday, Rev. Noah C. Saxton commenced his labors at Rve and 
at Saw Pit, where he preached occasionally through the winter; 
and in the following spring, stated services were commenced, which 
were sustained from that time without interruption. Mr. Saxton 
was followed at Saw I*it by Mr. Lyman, and in May, 1829, by 
Rev. Williams H. Whittemore, who then began his ministry in 
Rye. Mr. Whittemore and three of his successors preached at 
Rye every Sabbath morning, and at Saw Pit every Sabbath after- 
noon. Some families belonojino; to the former conoreo;ation at- 
tended the afternoon service also,. and by their efforts a Sunday- 
school was started, the first ever established here. Mr. Ebenezer 
Clark, to whose zeal and liberality the congregation at Rye owed 
so much, was equally active in the promotion of this enterprise. 
Though in frail health, he was a constant attendant upon the ser- 
vices, and furnished the greater part of the means required to sus- 
tain them. 

Soon after Mr. Whittemore's arrival, the present Presbyterian 
Church at Port Chester was built. On Wednesday, May 2Uth, 
1830, the frame of the edifice was raised upon a i)lot of ground 
which had been given for this purpose by Mr. Geoi'gc Adee. 
Only the basement of the church, however, was occu]Med at first. 
The upper part, though enclosed, remained unfinishetl for some 
time. The lower portion was dedicated as a i)lace of worship on 


the nineteenth of December, 1830, the Rev. Joel Mann, of Green- 
wicli, preachino;. The church was completed and dedicated in 
Septembei-, 1833 ; the sermon on the occasion was by Rev. Dr. 
Spencer of Brooklyn.^ 

The labors of Mr. Whittemore, and his little band of helpers, 
at Saw Pit, met with much encouragement. The winter of 1830, 
when the newly-formed congregation worshipped in the humble 
basement room of their unfinished church, is especially remem- 
bered, as a season of deep religious interest, both there and at 
Rye. A number of persons were led to begin a Christian life ; 
some of M-hom united with this church, whilst others connected 
themselves with other religious bodies. 

Mr. Whittemore was followed, at Rye and Saw Pit, by the 
Rev. David Remington, whose ministry commenced in April, 
1832, and Avas terminated January 24th, 1834, by his sudden 
death. Rev. Thomas Payne succeeded him, from 1834 to 1836 : 
and Rev. James R. Davenport was pastor from October 13th, 
1836, to April, 1838. In July, 1838, the Rev. Edward D. Bryan 
commenced his labors at Rye. The service at Port Chester, 
which had hitherto been held in 'the afternoon, was now trans- 
ferred to the morning, and an evening service was also maintained. 
Mr. Bryan resided for several years at Port Chester, as one or 
two of his predecessors had done, and no small part of his time 
was devoted to this field. ' In 1839, a season of spiritual refresh- 
ing was enjoyed, which resulted in the addition of ten persons to 
the Church.' 

The congregations of Rye and Port Chester remained united 
for a period of twenty-three years. In 1852 it was found expedi- 
ent to dissolve this connection, and organize a distinct church at 
Port Chester. This was done on the fourth of August in that year, 
by the Presbytery of Bedford. The new church was constituted 
with forty-one members, all of whom had, until then, been con- 
nected with the church of Rye ; and with one elder, Mr. Ephraim 
Sours. Rev. Henry Benedict,^ the first pastor, began his labors in 

1 Records of the Presbyterian Church of Eye. The building cost about two thou- 
sand one hundred dollars. 

^ Rev. Henry Benedict was born in Norwalk, Conn., January 22d, 1796. ' His 
early years were spent at Norwalk. After preparatory study at Phillips' Academy, 
Andover, Mass., he entered Yale College, and pursuing the usual course, graduated 
in 1822. The year following he taught school in Virginia. Although for some years 
in feeble health, he determined to devote himself to the ministry, and pursued a theo- 
logical course under private instruction. He commenced the work of the ministry at 
Waterbury, Conn., in 1826. The following year he preached in Galway, where he 
received a cordial request from the Congregational Church in Norwalk, Conn., to 


June, 1853, and was installed October 9th, 1854. He resigned 
his charge April 22d, 1863, and was succeeded by the Rev. Val- 
entine A. Lewis, ordained and installed November 1st, 1864. His 
pastorate ended in October, 1867, and the Rev. Ezra F. Mundy, 
the present pastor, was installed March 9th, 1868. 

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Port Chester was built 
about the year 1831. Its erection had been contemplated for 
several preceding years. The Quarterly Conference, held at 
* Rye Meeting House,' September 15th, 1827, ' approved of the 
people at the Saw-pits using their exertions to build a church in 
said village;' and appointed David Miller, Daniel Haight, and 
Elisha Halsted ' a committee to make an estimate of the cost of 
said building.' It was at the sam.e time recommended ' to the 
people of the circuit, to contribute to the erection of said church.' 
Similar resolutions were passed at the meeting of the Quarterly 
Conference in New Rochelle, January 3d, 1829, when David Mil- 
ler, William Anderson, and Horace Smith were appointed a com- 
mittee to estimate the cost of building.^ The district school-liouse, 
however, continued to be used as a place of worship until the 
period mentioned, when a small church was erected upon the site 
of the present edifice. Here the ministers of the circuit jireaciied 
at stated times until the year 1847, when the congregation be- 
came a separate charge. The handsome and spacious church in 
which it now worships was dedicated on Sunday, August 15th, 
1858, Bishop Janes officiating. It was erected at a cost of about 
ten thousand dollars. In 1864 this church took the name of 

become tlieir pastor. Accepting the invitation, he was installed August 12th, 1828, 
and continued there four years, amid scenes of great religious interest and fruitful- 
ness. Impaired health compelled him to resign his charge and visit the South. On 
his return he labored a short time in the church at Somers, in 1833. In October o'" 
that year he accepted a call from Lansingburgh, where he remained two years ; after 
which, declining permanent engagements, he preached (1836, 1837) at Covington, 
Ky., where he founded a church ; afterwards (1838) at Stillwater ; then at the Broad- 
way Tabernacle, New York; also, at the Bowery Church (1839). Leaving New 
York, he accejited a call from the Congregational Church, Westport, Conn. (1840), 
and remained there twelve years. Resigning this charge, he spent about a year in 
Europe (1852), and on his return was settled over the Presbyterian Churcli at Port 
Chester, where he continued until 1863, when advancing years induced him to lay 
aside his duties as pastor. He continued to reside at Port Chester, ministering occa- 
sionally there, and in neighboring churches, until his decease, which occurred at Sara- 
toga Springs, July 18, 1868. The foregoing is a brief record of a useful life, held in 
grateful remembrance in many households where the fragrance of his loving words 
and deeds still lingers.' {The Genealogi/ of the Benedicts in America. By Henry 
Marvin Benedict. Albany, 1870: pp. 124, 125.) 
1 Communicated by Ilev. N. Mead. 


* Summerfield Church,' ' from regard for the memory of the 
sainted Jolin Summerfield, two of whose surviving sisters are 
members of this charge, — Mrs. James Blackstock, and Miss Sum- 
merfield. Mrs. Blackstock gave liberally toward the payment of 
the cost of erection, and still continues the generous patron of the 
church.' Rev, Samuel H. Smith is the present pastor.^ 

The King Street Methodist Episcopal Church was built about 
the same time with that of Saw Pit, though it would appear that 
the project of its erection was entertained much earlier. At a 
Quarterly Conference held at New Rochelle, December 27th, 
1823, E. Halsted, D. Kirby, and D. H. Mead were ' appointed a 
committee to consider the propriety of building a church at King 
Street.' ^ This locality had been one of the appointments of the 
New Rochelle Circuit for several years. 

Protestant Episcopal Church. In December, 1836, the 
Rev. P. S. Chauncey commenced to officiate in this village. He 
had just before relinquished the charge of St. Thomas' Church, 
Mamaroneck, which he had held till then conjointly with that of 
Christ Church, Rye. ' Mr. Chauncey held services sometimes in 
the old school-house at the foot of King street hill ; sometimes in 
the Methodist church : and finally in a building now known as 
Armonck Hall, then called Burger's Chapel.'^ 

The corner-stone of "the present church was laid on the twenty- 
fifth of July, 1843, Bishop Onderdonk officiating. The land was 
given by the late William Adee. The building was completed at 
a cost of about six thousand dollars, and on Monday, July 15th, 
1844, it was consecrated by Bishop Onderdonk, as ' St. Peter's 
Chapel in connection with Christ Church, Rye,' and under the 
pastoral charge of the rector of the parish. Mr. Chauncey con- 
tinued to perform the duties of this part of his chai'ge until Janu- 
ary 30th, 1848, when he resigned the rectorship of Rye. During 
the ministry of the Rev. Edward C. Bull, who succeeded him, 
steps were taken to form a distinct parish at Port Chester, and on 
the twelfth of April, 1852, proceedings were instituted to incor- 
porate St. Peter's Church. The Rev. Isaac Peck was called, May 
24th, 1852, as rector ; he accepted, and entered upon his duties in 

^ The following have been the ministers in charge since the year 1847 : Rev. Messrs. 

W. B. Hoyt, J. A. Edmonds, Justus 0. North, Wm. F. Smith, • Cotant, William 

Porteus, G. S. Gilbert, Otis Saxton, C. T. Mallory, W. F. Hatfield, C. B. Ford, S. 
H. Smith. 

2 Rev. N. Mead. 

' Article in the Eastern State Journal, White Plains, March 2, 1860. 


August. The following summer, the church was enlarged by an 
addition at the east end. Mr. Peck resigned, June 7th, 1858, and 
was followed by the Rev. George C. Pennell, rector from July 
2d, 1858, till August, 1859. His successor, the Rev. Samuel 
Hollingsworth, entered upon his duties on the fifth of February, 
1860. Dr. Hollingsworth is the present rector. 

The rectory of St. Peter's Church was built in 18G0 ; the 
ground, two acres and three eighths, was given by Read Peck, 

The Baptist Church of Port Chester was dedicated on the 
second of February, 1865. Its pastors have been Rev. E. S. Ray- 
mond, Dr. Byrne, Lawson Stewart, Jonathan Bastow, and A. C. 

Roman Catholic Church. In 1834 the few Roman Catho- 
lics of this locality congregated for the first time, for religious pur- 
poses, in a private house. This they continued to do for several 
years, visited occasionally by priests from Harlem, Westchester, 
and New Rochelle. About the year 1846, they purchased a 
small frame building on Main Street, which they used as a church, 
until 1852, when the Rev. E. J. O'Reilly became pastor of Port 
Chester and the adjoining missions — New Rochelle, Mamaroneck, 
and White Plains. After residing here a few months, he removed 
to New Rochelle, where he remained until 1853, retaining charge 
of the above places. In 1852 the old church, which had become 
too small, was sold, a new site was bought, and the present church 
— named ' Our Lady of Mercy ' — was built upon it. Rev. E. J. 
O'Reilly was succeeded in 1853 by Rev. Thomas McLoughlin, 
who remained for one jesLT. In 1854, Rev. Matthew Dowling, 
the present pastor, was appointed. Connected with this church 
there is a school for boys and one for girls, and a convent, occupied 
by the Sisters of Charity who have charge of the female depart- 

1 The Roman Catholic Cemetery on Ridge Street %vas purchased in I8G3. It com- 
prises ten acres of land. 



IN the year 1788 the town of Rye was reduced to its present 
size, by an act of the legislature of New York, constituting 
three towns within the territory previously covered by this. The 
act provided — 

* That all that part of the county of Westchester, bounded easterly 
by Mamaroneck-River, northerly by North-Castle, westerly by Bronx- 
River, and southerly by the town of Scarsdale, shall be, and hereby is 
erected into a town by the name of White-Plains. 

' And that all that part of the said county of Westchester called and 
known by the name of Harrison's-Purchase, shall be, and hereby is 
erected into a town by the name of Harrison. 

' And that all that part of the said county of Westchester, bounded 
southerly by the Sound, easterly by Connecticut, and westerly by the 
town of Harrison and Mamaroneck-River, including Captain's-Island, 
and all the islands in the Sound lying south of the said bounds, shall 
be, and hereby is erected into a town by the name of Rye.' ^ 

For some years after tlie beginning of this century, there were 
persons still living in Rye who had taken an active part in the stir- 
ring events of the Revolution. A few of these were veteran 
soldiers of the Continental army. Others there were who had 
served more humbly but perhaps as usefully in the warfare carried 
on along the shores of the Sound and across its waters. Several 
too were at least suspected of having been engaged less creditably 
in the system of spoliation of which this Debatable Ground had 
been the scene during the war, as Skinners, or Cow Boys ; an in- 
timation not seldom heard in the purlieus of the taverns, and most 
likely to find expression amidst the excitement of an election, at 
the polls. Scarcely a family lived in the town of which some 
member had not been a witness and a sufferer in the perils and 
privations of those trying times. 

^ Laws of the State of New York, comprising the Constitution, and the Acts of the Legis- 
lature, since the Revolution, from the First to the Fifteenth Session, inclusice. In two vol- 
umes. New York: printed by Thomas Greenleaf, m,dcc,xc,ii. : vol. ii. pp. 153, 154. 


General Thomas Thomas was the most noted character amoncj 
the survivors of the Revolutionary struggle here. His seat at 
* Rye Woods,' now lay within the newly formed town of Harrison. 
But his influence in this community was considerable. He died 
in 1824, at the age of seventy-nine. Robert Kennedy was an- 
other person of mark in that day. He and General Thomas are 
said to have been inseparable friends and boon companions. He 
died at the age of seventy, in 1826. 

In point of population, the town remained nearly stationary for 
a long series of years. At the close of the last century it con- 
tained nine hundred and eighty-six inhabitants, of whom one hun- 
dred and fifty-four were qualified electors, and one hundred and 
twenty-three were slaves.^ In 1810, the population was twelve 
hundred and seventy-eight, of whom two hundred and twenty-five 
were subject to taxation. The taxable property of the town was 
then valued at $319,871. In 1820, the population had only in- 
creased to thirteen hundred and forty-two ; and the taxable prop- 
erty was valued at $144,619. At that time — fifty years ago — 
there were in the town of Rye one hundred and seventy-seven 
persons employed in agriculture, eighty persons employed in 
manufactures, and thirty-five engaged in commerce. There 
were but eight ' foreigners not naturalized.' There were one 
hundred and twenty-six ' free blacks,' and fourteen slaves. The 
electors numbered two hundred and eighty-three. The town 
contained five thousand eight hundred and ninet3'--two acres of 
improved land, nine hundred and eighty-one cattle, two hundred 
and three horses, and three hundred and ninety-four sheep. There 
were six grist-mills and one saw-mill in Rye ; and during the 
year mentioned, 12,939 yards of cloth were manufactured in the 
town. 2 

' Rye borders upon Mamaroneck, eastward,' observes Dr. 
Dwight, in 1811 ; ' and has a much handsomer surfivce, and a still 
better soil. On an elevation not far from its western limit, stands 
the mansion-house of the late Mr. Jay, father of the Hon. John 
Jay. It is now the property of Mr. Peter Jay, the youngest son 

of the original proprietor There are two villages ' in this 

town, 'one of which is customarily called Rye ; consisting of per- 
haps twenty houses, built on the border of a small mill-stream." " 

' 3 

1 Dr. Jedidiah Morse's Amerknn Gazetteer, 2d edition, Boston, 1798. 

2 A Gazetteer of the State of New York, by II. G. Spafford, LL. D. Albany, 1813. 
The same : Albany, 1824. 

s Travels in New England and New York, etc., vol. iii. pp. 487, 489. Peter Jay was 
the/ourtA — not the youngest — son. 


In 1815 or 1816, Rye was visited by Joseph Bonaparte, ex-King 
of Spain, who was then in search of a suitable place for his future 
residence in America. It is said that for a time he entertained the 
purpose of making his home here. The account runs that ' Bona- 
parte on his arrival in this country was desirous of establishing 
himself somewliere on the western shore of Lono; Island Sound ; 
and that the locations which pleased him most were " Theall's 
Hill " ^ [at Rye] and Hunter's Island. He was unable however 
to obtain the amount of land in one body, of sufficient area for a 
Park, in this vicinity ; while Mr. Hunter refused the sum of one 
hundred thousand dollars, which the ex-king offered him.' ^ 

The facilities of communication with the city by steamboat 
afforded between the years 1820 and 1830, opened a new era 
in the history of the place. A ' considerable improvement in its 
moral and material aspect ' was now seen. ' A higher tone of 
manners and morals, more of the spirit of inquiry, more of move- 
ment and energy,' were observed. Property rose in value ; and 
even as early as 1825, there were schemes for disposing of land, 
' in building lots,' at high prices, which foreshadowed the vaster 
operations of like character in our own day. Rye became, about 
this time, the home of several intelligent and enterprising men, 
■whose exertions and personal influence greatly promoted the prog- 
ress of things in the town. 

Thirty years ago, this was still a secluded village, separated by 
a journey of several hours from the stir and thrift of the city. 
' The houses number about thirty-five or forty. The Boston mail 
passes through daily. A steamboat touches every week-day at 
Rye Port, to and from New York. The boats now running are 
the Nimrod, Capt. John Brooks, and the Croto7i, Capt. Charles 
Peck : Sloops (Milton and New York), the John Jay^ Capt. 
Leander Bishop ; (Port Chester and New York), the Sarah Adee, 
Capt. Bird, and the Hew York, Capt. Gilbert Lyon. Rye is much 
resorted to in summer by citizens of New York. There is no reg- 
ular hotel, or place of entertainment. The post-office is kept by 
Daniel H. Mead, in the " Square House," — one of the oldest 
houses in the place — formerly owned by the Penfield family. It 

1 The property owned until lately by Mr. Abraham Theall, on the post-road, about 
a mile below the village of Rye. 

' ' It was also mentioned,' adds my informant, who learned these facts from intelli- 
gent persons, ' that Bonaparte would have purchased the Island at Mr. Hunter's own 
price but for his fear that in the event of a foreign war his property would be exposed 
to the guns of a hostile fleet : hence he purchased the large tract of land at Borden- 
town which he impi'oved and embellished as long as he continued to reside there.' 


stands on the post-road in the village, at the commencement of the 
Purchase road, near the 26 mile stone. — The population of the 
town of Rye [in 1841] is about one thousand eight hundred and 
twenty.' ^ 

A notable improvement in the schools of the place commenced 
with the period of progress to which we have referred. The dis- 
trict school at Rye had not changed greatly, either in appearance 
or in grade of instruction. But some attempt was made, between 
the years 1820 and 1830, to establish an academy of a superior 
order. In 1831, Mr. Samuel H. Berrian took charge of this insti- 
tution. He had been associated in New York with the eminent 
grammarian Goold Brown, and came to Rye from the Livingston 
County High School, of which he was for a time Principal. Mr. 
Berrian taught first in a building on the post-road below the bridge, 
and afterwards in the ' Square House ' in the village. In 1834 he 
opened a boarding-school in the house which he had just erected 
north of the village. This school, known as the Chrestomathic 
Institute, was maintained with great success for a number of 

The construction of the New Haven Railroad was an event of 
moment for our town, which now came into rapid communication 
with the city. This road was commenced in March, 1847, and 
completed in January, 1849. Before this, for several years, stages 
had been running from Mamaroneck to Williams' Bridge, where 
passengers were enabled to take the cars of the Harlem Railroad. 
But this mode of travel was scarcely more expeditious or conven- 
ient than that by steamboat from Rye Port. 

The population of our town, according to the census of 1870, is 
seven thousand one hundred and fifty-two. 

Captain's Island, according to the act of the legislature of New York, March 
7th, 1788, defining the limits of the towns in this State, belongs to the town of Rye. 
It lies, however, at some distance to the east of the boundary between New York and 
Connecticut — about a mile and a half from the mouth of Byram Kiver — and but 
little over a mile south of Horseneck Point, in the town of Greenwich, Conn. There 
are properly speaking three small islands included under this name. The largest of 
them — Great, or West Captain's Island — contains sixteen acres and a half; the 
second, containing two acres and a half, and the third containing iialf an acre, are 
called Little Captain's Islands. A boundary dispute in miniature has occurred in 
relation to these insignificant islets. On the third of September, 1 761, John Ander- 
son presented a petition to the government of New York, praying that letters- patent 
might be issued to him for three small islands in the East River, near Byram River, the 
largest of wliich is known by the name of the Great Captain's Island, etc. (Land 
Papers in Office of Secretary of State, N. Y., vol. xvi. p. 87.) A return of survey was 
made, September 24, 1762 \lbid. p. 123), and on the twenty-sixth of January, 1763, 

1 Communicated. 


letters patent were given to Anderson for these islands, lying ' within our Province.' 
(Exemplification of Letters Patent to John Anderson, etc.) September 14, 1764, An- 
derson, then of Oyster Bay, L. I., was sued by Justice Busli and other inhabitants of 
Greenwich, Conn., for trespass in cutting timber on Great Captain's Island. (Eng- 
lish MSS. in Office of Secretary of State, N. Y., vol. xcii. p. 145.) By appeal, the 
suit came before the Superior Court in Fairfield, February 19, 1765. The parties 
were at issue on the plea that the island was in the Province of New York, and 
belonged to it. The jury found ' that the island whereon such facts were done was 
not at the time of doing the facts complained of, nor is within the Province of New 
York ; ' and found a verdict of twenty shillings damages and costs for the plaintiflPs. 
Pending this suit. Lieutenant-governor Golden, of New York, wrote to Governor 
Fitch, of Connecticut, February 12, 1765, proposing to submit the question of jurisdic- 
tion to his Majesty in his Privy Council. This he urged as a method ' attended with 
little or no expense,' and therefore "better adapted to a Case in which the public In- 
terest in either Colony is inconsiderable.' (Golden MSS., N. Y. Historical Society.) 
Governor Fitch replied, February 22, that he would lay the proposal before the Gen- 
eral Asseml)ly : adding, ' I must observe a proposal to this government to submit a 
matter of jurisdiction which it has exercised without controversy for more than one 
hundred years, founded as we at least suppose on good and legal authority, was un- 
expected, and that after New York and Connecticut had settled the lines of govern- 
ment Math so great precision and certainty, and Connecticut had made such great 
condescentions therein, I hoped they would have had no occasion to enter into fur- 
ther contests on that head.' 

A committee of the Connecticut Assembly, to whom Governor Colden's letter was 
referred, reported in May, 1765, ' that altho' it relates to the jurisdiction of the gov- 
ernments, yet the estate in controversy appears to be so inconsiderable as scarcely to 
require or deserve the attention of the governments, or in any degree adequate to the 
expence which would unavoidably attend the mode of determination proposed by 
Governor Colilen ; — and farther that the lines and boundaries between the two Colo- 
nies have been so effectually and finally settled by solemn agreements ratified and con- 
firmed by his Majesties royal predecessors that there appears no reasonable foundation 
for farther controversy relative thereto.' 

The ground on which New York at that time claimed that Connecticut was not en- 
titled to these islands, is stated as follows : The south boundary of Connecticut was de- 
fined thus by the charter of 1662 : ' On the south by the sea, and in longitude as the 
line of the Massachusetts Colony running from east to west, that is to say, from the 
said Narragansett Bay on the east to the south sea on the west part ; with the islands 
thereunto adjoining.' According to these terms it was urged, Connecticut could 
justly claim no lands other than such as were comprehended between the south 
bounds of Massachusetts and a line parallel thereto, running west. Such a line 
would be coincident with the sea-side for several miles west of Point Judith, until 
the shore bends in a direction south of a line parallel with the boundary of Massa- 
chusetts. The land south of such a line, and particularly the islands in the Sound, 
would then be cut off from the territory of Connecticut.^ 

Such a plea may remind us of the earlier controversy between the colonies, relative 
to the 'line north-northwest from the mouth of Mamaroneck River.' We can well 
believe that the argument taxed the ingenuity of the lawyers to an extraordinary 
degree. One of these, in 1769, was the celebrated John Jay, who had but lately been 
admitted to the bar, and already showed great skill in managing intricate cases. He 
and Benjamin Kissam, with whom he had studied law, were engaged on opposite 
sides upon ' the cause about Captain's Island.' Mr. Kissam writes to him, November 

1 For the statementii in this account relative to the action of the Connecticut government in the 
controversy, I am indebted to Charles J. Iloadly, Esq., Librarian of the Connecticut State Library, 


6, 1769, relative to this case, remarking playfully that he does not know ' where to 
find another into whose head the cause can be infused in the miraculous way of in- 
spiration ; ' and without this, he adds, ' it would be rather too intricate for any one to 
manage ' without fuller information than he had received. (Life of John Jai/, etc., vol. 
i. p. 22.) 

The State of New York, as we have seen, adhered to the claim set up by the provin- 
cial government to these islands. In 1805, an ' Exemplification ' of the letters patent 
granted to John Anderson was obtained by parties interested, from the Secretary of 
State's Office. In 1815, Charles Field paid the arrears of quit rent on the patent for 
the islands. In 1827, they belonged to Jesse Park, junior, who sold them to Samuel 
Lyon of Greenwich. They are now owned by Captain Gilbert Lyon and his bi-others. 
Port Chester. 

In 1829, the United States obtained from Connecticut a cession of jurisdiction of a 
part of Great Captain's Island, for the site of a light-house ; and a few years after a 
similar cession was obtained from New York. Three acres, on the eastern end of 
this island, where the light-house now stands, belong to the United States. 

The Commissioners appointed in 1856 to ascertain the boundary between New 
York and Connecticut, ' learned that there is also a controversy respecting the juris- 
diction over Captain's Island lying in the Sound, near the mouth of Byram River. 
'As the extent of our powers in respect to this matter was quite uncertain, we en- 
tered,' they report, ' into no negotiation regarding it. We are, however, satisfied 
that some decision of the question is urgently required.' (Report, etc., Senate Docu- 
ment No. 165, State of New York : p. 32.) ' 



TN a formei* chapter we have related the Immble beginnings of 
-*- the little settlement near the mouth of Byram River, whose 
founders Avere pleased to give it the name of Saw Pit. Despite 
that name, the place lived and prospered ; and in 1837, after the 
lapse of more than a hundred years, it took its present more ele- 
gant and not inappropriate title.^ 

This village has been of slow but steady growth since the close 
of the Revolution. For the first thirty or forty years of the present 
century, it possessed a considerable trade, as the port or market of 
a fine agricultural region. A large amount of produce was brought 
to this harbor from the farms of the interior, for transportation to 
the city. The situation of the place was very favorably for this 
trade. Roads comparatively direct and well graded led to Saw 
Pit from the hills of King Street, North Castle, and the Purchase. 
An ' easy descent ' was accounted no small advantage by the 
farmers of those regions, with their heavily freighted wagons. 

About the year 1798, Mr. Jared Peck, a man of uncommon 
energy and tact, came to Saw Pit and entered into business here. 
To his enterprise, undoubtedly, more than to any other cause, the 
place owed its development from that period. Mr. Peck engaged 
in the ' carrying trade,' buying up the grain and other crops 
brought in from the surrounding country, packing the pork and 
beef, and transporting these products to the New York market. 
The inducements which he offered for the sale of these commodi- 
ties drew an increasing traffic to this point. Four market sloops, 
running weekly to New York, besides other vessels occasionally 
employed, were engaged for many years in this trade. 

The manufacturing interests of the place were also largely pro- 
moted by Mr. Peck's efforts. He became the proprietor of several 
mills on the Byram River, a stream which affords excellent facili- 
ties for this branch of industry. His grist-mill stood near the 

^ Improvements now contemplated, at the mouth of Byram River, will greatly 
increase the commercial facilities of this place, and make it still more worthy of the 
name of the port of Westchester County. 


present railroad bridge, crossing the river. As early as 1820 he 
was interested in a cotton factory at Glenville, three miles above 
Port Chester.! 

Near the beginning of this century, Dr. Clark Sanford had 
established at Glenville his mill for grinding drugs. It continued 
in operation until 1830, when it was removed to Saw Pit, thence 
to New York, and finally to Stamford.'-^ 

In 1811, Dr. Timothy D wight described this place as a ' decent 
village,' containing fifty or sixty houses, ' extended along Byram 
river.' ' The southern and principal part of this village,' he states, 
'is called the Saw-pit; the northern is called Byram.' The latter 
name, doubtless, he understood to include the houses near and 
below Byram Bridge. 

An episode of ' the last war ' with England is remembered with 
interest by old inhabitants of Port Chester. Three British vessels 
lay anchored, on one occasion, off" Manussing Island, in the middle 
of the Sound, stationed there for the purpose of intercepting market 
boats carrying provisions to New York. Several of these boats 
were taken and set on fire within sight of this place. One of them 
was a boat belonging to Mamaroneck. The vessels lay becalmed 
for about a week, during which time they destroyed a great quan- 
tity of produce. Meanwhile a number of gunboats, each carrying a 
swivel in the bow, were sent up from New York to capture the 
ships. Some men at work on Manussing Island witnessed the 
approach of those boats, and saw them exchange shot with the 
enemy. But before they could reach them, a stiff breeze sprung 
up, which favored the British vessels, and frustrated the design of 
the gunboats. The ships sailed up the Sound and were seen no 

The following handbill, Avhich was posted in the village and 
neighborhood, may have been occasioned by the fears which these 
vessels produced: — 


Is given that the Inhabitance are requested to meet on Tuesday next 
at 4 O'clock P. M. at the house of Willet Moseman to consult on some 
measures to pursue in defence of the village of Sawpitt and its vicinity 
in case of invasion. 

' Sawpitt 16 June 1813.' 

1 This establishment was destroyed by fire some years after, and its site is now 
occupied by a mill for rolling sheet lead. 

2 On the site of Dr. Sanford's mill, there is now a large screw-bolt manufactory, 
employing several hundred hands, and owned by Messrs. Russell, Birdscll. and Ward. 
Another large fiictory, situated above Glenville, is that of Josiah AVilco.x, for the 
manufacture of wagon fixtures. 


No injury was experienced by our inhabitants at this time. But 
the alarm was general. ' The people were afraid to leave their 
cattle near the shore,' lest the enemy should land and commit dep- 

' Saw Pit ' was honored in 1824 by the presence of General 
La Fayette, on his way from New York to New England. After 
dining at Penfield's Hotel, Rye, the illustrious guest proceeded to 
Mr. Moseman's (Port Chester), where ' he was received by a large 
party of gentlemen on horseback. Two masts were erected here? 
one on each side of the road, bearing a red and white pendant, and 
displaying the name of La Fayette over the road. The whole was 
handsomely decorated with evergreens. Having shaken hands with 
hundreds, young and old, and received their greetings, he passed 
on to Byram Bridge, the line of the State of New York, where the 
General was met by a Connecticut troop of horse. Here a salute 
was fired by the inhabitants, and the General with the united 
escort and a large cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen proceeded on 
to Putnam's Hill at Greenwich or Horseneck.' ^ It is said that on 
this occasion La Fayette was introduced to the widow of General 
Thomas Thomas, the soldier of the Revolution, of whom frequent 
mention has been made in our pages, and who had died a few 
weeks before this. ' The interview took place on [Friday] the 
20th August, 1824,' and the circumstance ' is commemorated by 
an inscription on a pane of glass, which may still be seen in the 
side light of the main entrance ' to the hotel.^ Mrs. Thomas died 
a few months after this occurrence, aged seventy-nine years. 

For some time previous to the year 1820, a steamboat ran from 
New Haven to Byram Cove, on the eastern side of Byram Point. 
Here passengers westward bound were obliged to land, and perform 
the remaining part of their journey overland. From Byram Cove 
stages ran to New York, passing through Saw Pit. Tliis interrup- 
tion of travel was caused by the fact that the government of the 
State of New York had given to certain persons the exclusive right 
to navigate the waters of that State by steam. The act to this 
effect was passed originally, in 1798, in favor of Robert R. Living- 
ston ; the privilege conferi'ed was afterwards extended to Robert 
Fulton ; and for some years after the death of the latter, in 1815, 
the restriction, which was manifestly unconstitutional, appears to 
have been continued in behalf of other parties. The inconven- 
ience to which travellers were put, by the necessity of leaving the 

^ Niles's Register, August 28, 1824. 

2 The Port Chester Monitor, James E. Beers, editor, October 21, 1865. 


steamboat for the stage, on reaching tlie State line, is vividly 
remembered by some of our old inhabitants. The steamboat 
United States is thought to have been the first that performed 
the trip between New Haven and Byram Cove. 

About the year 1825, the ' steamboat landing,' at ' Rye Port,' 
between Saw Pit and Rye, became the place of embarkation. The 
John Marshall and the Governor Wolcot were the first that touched 
at this point. These were followed by the Citizen, and others. 
The mail stages between New York and Boston continued to run 
daily through Saw Pit until 1830 or 1835. But the steamboats 
were now superseding the slower conveyances by land, as well as 
the 'packet sloops' on the Sound. The 'steamboat landing' was 
for a number of years the principal resort of our inhabitants, for 
comnuniication with the city. 

In 1837 Saw Pit became Port Chester. The change was 
not ett'ected without difficulty. No slight opposition was made 
to the measure by some, whose attachment to the preposterous 
name affords an amusing illustration of the power of habit and asso- 

A change was also going on in the character of the place. The 
business of exporting the produce of the surrounding country was 
diminishing, for various reasons. Much of this trade had been 
diverted into other channels ; and with the growth of the village, a 
considerable jiart of the produce was needed for consumption here. 
It is well known too that the products of this region have decreased 
in quantity of late. The land in the lower part of Westchester 
County, owing to the proximity of the city, has proved valuable 
for other than ao-ricultural uses ; and as the West has become 
the great source of supply for the metropolis, our farmers, unable 
to com