Monday, August 23, 2010

Death at the Bridge: A Genealogical Detective Story


Over the years, the starkly beautiful Bear Mountain Bridge, like the Eiffel Tower, has gained grudging acceptance from former critics. In its striking mountainous setting, it has become a favorite of artists and photographers. Hikers and campers are familiar with the bridge; the Appalachian Trail between Maine and Georgia crosses the Hudson on it. It also became a magnet for suicides.

What may have been the bridge’s first suicide took place on Sunday, April 6, 1930, and was reported in the next morning's edition of The New York Times under the headline, “Youth Dies in Leap Off Bear Mt. Bridge.” About 6:20 p.m., a roadster crossing the bridge came to a stop in the middle. The driver of the automobile sat for a moment arranging papers. Then he left the car, climbed the four-foot guardrail and jumped.

On the driver’s seat was an operator’s license issued to Gifford Kellogg of 31 Bayley Ave., in the Ludlow section of Yonkers, N.Y., a son of Royal S. Kellogg, secretary of the Newsprint Service Bureau of New York and chairman of the National Forestry Program Committee. With the license was an unsigned and unaddressed note that read:

“Put this story on the front page of The New York Times where my father will read it and come and get the car. Also telegraph Harry Beach of Lime Rock, Conn.”According to the Times account, folded in the note was a year-old newspaper clipping that told of Mrs. Royal S. Kellogg’s winning a prize for landscape gardening work. Neighbors said that the Kelloggs had two sons and that the present Mrs. Kellogg was their stepmother. Efforts to recover the body were hampered by the swift current in the river at this point.

The New York Times had carried the story--not on the front page but on page 22. According to the Times account, Yonkers neighbors reported that the elder Mr. Kellogg had two sons, one about 25 years old and a younger son of about 19, and that the present Mrs. Kellogg was their stepmother.

The Times also reported that two persons, Joseph Dentofamti and Frances Massutti, both of Tarrytown, were standing on the footwalk of the bridge and witnessed the sequence of events, which they related to the police.

On its Monday front page, the Peekskill Evening Star also reported essentially the same story under the headline, “Youth Jumps From Bridge At Bear Mt.” Thanks to a later press deadline, a few changes and corrections were added by the reporter who had also written the Times story.
The prize Mrs. Kellogg had won was for a landscape painting. And the jumper was the 19-year-old son, Six years before, young Gifford Kellogg had found his mother dying in her room of a gunshot wound to the head.

“Mr. Kellogg had remarried about three years ago,” according to the Peekskill Evening Star. It also reported that police from Bear Mountain Park and from Peekskill were called and took possession of the automobile. They were unsuccessful in notifying Mr. Kellogg of his son’s death. “Mr. Kellogg spends much of his time in travelling in connection with his duties and could not b reached last night. Nor was Mrs. Kellogg at home when the police went to inform her of her step-son’s death.”

Mr. Kellogg was described as “an expert as an authority on newsprint and forestry problems, and former chairman of the national forestry program committee. He also is a former president of the Kansas Society of New York. Mr. Kellogg appears frequently as a speaker in the United States and Canada on topics relating to forestry and the manufacture of paper. The Kelloggs have lived at the Yonkers address for seven years.”

The fact that the suicide of 80 years ago was witnessed by two Westchester residents was tantalizing. Were they--or any descendants--still living? One problem immediately presented itself to an investigationalong these lines. The witnesses' names had an Italian look to them, yet something about them did not ring true. The Social Security Death Index showed no record for anyone by the name of Dentofamti and only two entries for Massutti, one in Illinois and the other in Washington.

Reporters often gather details of a story by phoning the local police department. I wondered: Could the spelling of the names have been mangled in this process? What if the “D” of Dentofamti was actually a “C” and the “m” was actually an “n”? That would yield the more usual Italian name of Centofanti. And what if the “ss” of Massutti was actually “ff” and the “tt” was actually “cc,” to yield the more common Italian name of Maffucci? Another genealogical detective story was about to unfold.

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) shows 229 Maffucci entries (47 originally issued in N.Y.) and 272 Centofanti entries (57 originally issued in N.Y.)--including one for Frances M. Centofanti, who died on May 25, 2003.

A search of the Journal News obituary archive after that date revealed Frances M. Centofanti’s detailed obituary, published on June 1, 2003. It contained a wealth of information, including the fact that her husband, Joseph (Josie) Centofanti had predeceased her. They had been married in North Tarrytown on May 19, 1930--little more than a month after witnessing the suicide. She was to be buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. A call to the cemetery confirmed that she is buried there alongside her husband, who died in 1954.

According to the obituary, Frances M. Centofanti died at the Bon Secours Venice Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Venice, Fla., at the age of 92. She was born on October 14, 1910, on the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. to Frank and Flavia Maffucci. Mrs. Centofanti lived in the Tarrytowns until 1996, and subsequently lived with her son and daughter-in-law in Vienna, Va., moving with them to Florida in 1998.

A single mother who never remarried after her husband’s death, she worked as a bookkeeper for a company in Tarrytown until she retired. She was also predeceased by her brothers Thomas and Dominick, and sisters Mary and Rose, and survived by her son, Joseph J. Centofanti, Col. USAF (Ret), of Venice, Fla., daughter-in-law Faith, three grandchildren, Joseph III (Prague, Czech Republic), Christin Commons (Reston, Va.), and Stephen (Aspen, Col.); and one great-grandson Jonathon (Vienna, Austria) and two nieces; Marie Callahan (Pocantico Hills) and Flavia White (Ossining).

Internet research soon gave me the address and phone number of her son, the retired Air Force colonel. After putting photocopies of the newspaper articles in the mail, I telephoned Col. Centofanti, who had never seen the newspaper pieces. It turned out that the youth’s suicide had indeed been a subject of family conversation and reminiscence in later years. We had a long and pleasant conversation about the lower Hudson Valley and our respective lives. Making new friends is one of the pleasures of genealogical research.

Finding information about Royal S. Kellogg was more difficult, although he was a prolific author of works on paper making and forestry. The SSDI shows four persons named “Royal Kellogg,” including one born in 1874. In 1963, Mr. Kellogg was given the honorary title of “Fellow of the Forest” by the Forest Historical Society in Durham, N.C. A search of the Society’s site revealed that it owns a manuscript titled “The Dawn of Private Forestry in America,” by Carl Alwin Schenck, a pioneer American forester. Royal S. Kellogg appears in a photograph in this manuscript with famous naturalist and writer Ernest Thompson Seton. The caption to the photo reveals Mr. Kellogg’s birth year as 1874.

This Royal Kellogg seemed like the person I was seeking. His SSDI entry shows that he was born on Oct. 19, 1874. and registered for Social Security in New York. He died in Florida in February of 1965 at the age of 90. But where in Florida? Social Security records did not show this information, but I eventually found a letter written by him to Time magazine that appeared in the issue of Feb. 2, 1962, three years before his death. He gave his address then as Palmetto, Florida.

Other suicides--and even a staged non-suicide--have occurred over the years. The most notable of the latter was perpetrated by Samuel Israel III, who swindled investors out of $450 million in the collapse of his Bayou Group hedge fund. Instead of reporting to prison on June 9, 2008, to begin his 20-year sentence, the convicted swindler drove his SUV to the Bear Mountain Bridge.

After parking near the bridge, he wrote the words, “Suicide Is Painless” (the theme song of the M*A*S*H TV series) in the accumulated dust on the hood and got into a car driven by his girlfriend, Debra Ryan. Mr. Israel headed north in his RV to a campground and RV park near Granville, Mass., where he hid out for almost a month. When he finally decided to turn himself in, because the local police department in Granville only works part-time, Mr. Israel was forced to ride his motor scooter to the police department in the nearby town of Southwick, Mass., seven miles away.

His short, 26-day escapade was just one more bad decision in his life as a white-collar criminal. It earned him an extra two years added to his 20-year sentence, or about one month of prison time for each day spent as a fugitive.
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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garret Dykeman: The Loyalist Who Never Came Back


November 25, 1783, was a day of mixed emotions in New York City, as British troops evacuated the city after seven years of occupation. The date would be celebrated annually by New Yorkers as "Evacuation Day" for a century after the British departed. Overshadowed by other holidays in the 20th century, Evacuation Day was not observed again until 1983 to mark the 200th anniversary of that fateful event.

But in 1783 joy was neither unalloyed nor universal among city dwellers viewing the transfer. For those Loyalists who had not left with the bulk of the British occupying troops, it was a time to lie low and hope for the best. They watched with apprehension as scarlet-uniformed British regiments marched sullenly down the Bowery to wharves along the East River.

A certain Mrs. Day prematurely displayed the American flag over her boarding house on Murray Street. British Provost Marshal William Cunningham, resplendent in scarlet coat and powdered wig, ordered her to take it down. She whacked him on the nose with her broom, bloodying it, and sent him packing.

A discreet distance behind the departing British, 800 combat-weary Continental soldiers from Massachusetts and New York, entered the city, their worn uniforms and battle-scarred weapons in stark contrast with the bright outfits and highly polished weapons of the British garrison troops. At the head of the small American force rode General George Washington and Governor George Clinton, escorted by high-ranking Continental officers. Heading south on Broadway, the triumphal American procession passed St. Paul's Chapel, designed by architect Thomas McBean and completed in 1766. This graceful church still stands between Fulton Street (then called Partition Street) and Vesey Street.

As a parting insult, the British had nailed a Union Jack to the flagstaff of the fort at the Battery, then greased the pole and cut the halyards. John Van Arsdale, an American sailor, had shoes equipped with metal spikes. He climbed the slippery pole and replaced the British flag with the Stars and Stripes.

Although the war had virtually ended in 1781 with the American victory at Yorktown, Virginia, desultory skirmishes and negotiations for peace dragged on through 1782. A royal proclamation in February of 1783 officially suspended hostilities, staggering Loyalists who had hoped for a different oucome. By the end of June, 10,000 of them had accepted the British government's offer of free passage to other British colonies.

We tend to think of the American Revolution as a war pitting British land and naval forces against the fledgling army and navy of the colonists. But it was also a bitter civil war that raged between two factions of the Americans themselves.

The word "Tory" was a disparaging epithet hurled at pre-Revolutionary supporters of British authority. The word "Loyalist" came into use as a badge of honor by those who disdained rebellion and upheld the Crown. Anti-Tory legislation, fines, and the social pressures of mass meetings, rowdy brawls and even mob violence directed at Tories were commonplace, eventually causing many Loyalists to emigrate.

Gone to New Brunswick
One Loyalist who was not present to witness the British departure was Garret Dykeman. With some 3,000 other Tories, the 41-year-old Dykeman, his wife and their three sons, ranging in age between 11 and 14, had left for St. John, on Canada's Bay of Fundy, a month earlier in October...

Born Gerrit Dyckman, Garret Dykeman was the son of Jacob Dyckman, the first male Dyckman to leave the lush meadowlands of Harlem and make his home in Westchester County. His mother was Rebecca Vermilye. Their first child, Josyntje, Gerrit's older sister, was baptized in the Reformed Dutch Church in New York City on October 26, 1737.

The Jacob Dyckman family probably moved from Harlem to Philipse Manor about 1741, for we know that Jacob was still Constable in Harlem in 1739 and 1740. Gerrit, their second child, was baptized on June 6, 1741, in the First Dutch Reformed Church in North Tarrytown, now Sleepy Hollow. According to Dutch custom, as the first male child Gerrit was named after his paternal grandfather.

We know that Jacob recorded the earmark with which he identified his cattle in the Philipsborough Town Book in 1744. He must have had an above-average education because he was made Town Clerk in 1750 and held that office until 1763. The Town Book was much improved after he accepted the post. Gerrit Dyckman was baptized in the North Tarrytown church soon after his birth in 1741, but later joined the Anglican Church and changed his name to Garret Dykeman.

The Old Dutch Church
The First Dutch Reformed Church in Sleepy Hollow played a major role in the lives of Dutch farmers, who were the original settlers of Westchester in the 1640's. For their religious buildings, they developed a polygonal form topped by a gable or a gambrel roof with flared eaves, although this style had no precedent in Holland.

The Dutch constructed churches in Van Cortlandtville, North Tarrytown and Fordham. These became social and religious centers of life in the respective manors. Church records show that the North Tarrytown congregation was already organized by 1697. Construction of the church took place sometime between that date and 1699. It later became the mother church for other churches in the area, including the monumental Second Dutch Reformed Church on Broadway in Tarrytown and the Hawthorne (then called Unionville) Dutch Reformed Church.

Today, the First Dutch Reformed Church, also called the Old Dutch Church, is the oldest remaining church in Westchester and, with the restored manor house at the Upper Mills, across the Albany Post Road, gives us a link with the early Dutch past in the Hudson Valley.

The church is built on a rectangular plan, with a polygonal apse at the eastern end. Walls are of fieldstone, and the gambrel roof and flared eaves are sheathed in wood shingles. The west gable of the church is faced with wood clapboards, a mixing of materials characteristic of Dutch colonial buildings. Containing a bell cast in Holland in 1685, the open octagonal belfry surmounts the gable.

The Old Dutch Church retains its general exterior form, but it has undergone many alterations. During the Revolution, the original plain backless benches on which the tenants of the manor worshipped, and the seats of the lord and lady, were replaced with high-backed pine pews.

After a fire in 1837, major alterations were made. The original north-south axis of the interior plan was changed to the present east-west axis. The entrance door, originally at the southwest corner of the building, was moved to the center of the west wall and covered with a full-width one-story Greek Revival portico.

Inside, the original north gallery was removed and the west gallery was enlarged. The pulpit was replaced and the exposed ceiling beams and quarter-oak ceiling was removed.

Today's window pattern was established in this 1837 alteration. The original windows were small with sills about seven feet above the floor. These were lowered, and their shape was changed to that of a lancet arch. The openings were framed in brick and new window sash were installed. About 1870, the front portico was removed. In 1897, to celebrate the building's bicentennial, the original beamed ceiling and pulpit were reproduced. Open to the public, this historic church building and adjoining burying ground are well worth a visit for anyone interested in local history.

Jacob and Rebecca Vermilye Dyckman had eleven children, six girls and five boys, born between 1737 and 1760, all but the first baptized in the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow. Except for Gerrit and his brother Jan, 12 years his junior, we know almost nothing about the later lives of the other children.

Gerrit Dyckman was baptized in the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow soon after his birth in 1741, but we know little about Gerrit Dyckman's youth. His name appears twice as a sponsor at baptisms in the Sleepy Hollow Church: At the age of 19, he was a witness when his youngest brother Petrus was baptized. In 1765, he and his sister Rebecca witnessed the baptism of Daniel and Mareitie Marteling's daughter, Ragel (Rachel).

Gerrit Dyckman later deserted the Dutch Reformed Church of his birth in favor of the Anglican (Protestant Episcopal) Church and Anglicized the spelling of his name, changing it to Garret Dykeman. It made a better match with his pro-British Loyalist sympathies. At the start of the Revolution, he was a trusted and reliable farmer, 35 years old, married with three children.

Who Were the Loyalists?
In the main, Loyalists were men of substance solid in their devotion to British institutions, with much to lose if Britain abandoned America. Loyalism was strong in New York, in part because of the colony’s dependence upon foreign trade. Most members of the local Chamber of Commerce, prosperous merchants and large landowners, were Loyalists.

Westchester's John Jay, a conservative who later sided with the Patriots, reflected Loyalist attitudes when he said, "Those who own the country ought to govern it." Religion, too, played a role. The Anglican Church was the official church of the British Crown. Anglican churchmen and their congregations opposed separation and independence from the mother country, but other religions favored making the change. Only one of New York's Presbyterian ministers became a Loyalist. Of 44 Dutch Reformed ministers in the colony, 37 supported independence.

New York, seventh of thirteen colonies in total population, was the largest Loyalist stronghold. It supplied as many members of the British armed forces as the rest of the colonies combined and included at least half of the total American Loyalists.

Marriage and Children
At White Plains sometime before 1769, Garret Dykeman married Eunice Anne Hatfield, niece of Capt. Abraham Hatfield, a Loyalist. Their first child, a son named Gilbert Hatfield Dykeman, was born May 17, 1769. A second son, Jacob Dykeman, also named for his paternal grandfather, followed on March 4, 1771. A third son, Moses Dykeman, was born December 31, 1772.

Dominated by Loyalists, in January of 1775 the New York Assembly refused to appoint delegates to the Second Continental Congress, so Patriots decided to bypass the Assembly by going directly to the freeholders of New York and proposing a new legislative body, a Provincial Convention. Such a convention was set for April 20th, a date that gave outlying towns and counties where Loyalism was strong the occasion to protest the trend to rebellion.

Contest at White Plains
Freeholders and inhabitants of Westchester County assembled at White Plains on April 11. Loyalists opposed to electing deputies met at Hatfield's Tavern "due south from the old Court-house, nearly half a mile distant, on the north side of the old stage-road to New York."

Patriots favoring such an election gathered at Miles Oakley's Tavern "on the east side of the old stage-road, directly opposite to the old Court-house." At the courthouse, led by Lewis Morris, third and last lord of the Manor of Morrisania, they intended to appoint the delegates and outmaneuver the opposition.

Getting wind of the opposition's plan, the Loyalist faction, led by the Reverend Samuel Seabury, Frederick Philipse and Isaac Wilkins, marched to the courthouse to protest the actions of the Morris group.

In 1766, Samuel Seabury, 45, was named pastor of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in the village of Westchester, in that part of Westchester County that voted in 1895 for consolidation with the growing city to the south. St. Peter's, a handsome English Gothic granite church, the third building on the site to house this congregation, still stands in the Bronx on Westchester Avenue not far from the former village green, a busy intersection now known as Westchester Square.

Frederick Philipse, 55 years old, was the wealthy third lord of Philipse Manor, who had inherited undisputed title to his enormous estate in 1751. He was the landlord of more than 270 tenant farmers occupying lots that averaged about 200 acres. His loyalty to the Crown would later cost him his Manor.

The 34-year-old Isaac Wilkins, son of a rich planter in Jamaica in the West Indies, was a graduate of King's College (later named Columbia), where he had earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees. In 1762, he had married 16-year-old Isabella Morris, Lewis Morris's young half-sister.

Over the protests of the Loyalists, the Patriots unanimously appointed delegates to the Provincial Convention and passed resolutions thanking the Continental Congress for its actions opposing the Crown. Both factions wrote accounts of what happened that day. The Loyalists claimed two-thirds of Westchester's inhabitants were friends of government and drew up "A Protest of the Inhabitants and Freeholders of Westchester County" to which 312 names were inscribed. Historians believe Isaac Wilkins penned this document.

Lewis Morris later responded by noting that "In the formidable catalogue of 312 sober and loyal protestors, there are not less than 170 who, after a most diligent inquiry, I cannot find have the least pretensions to vote, and indeed many of them are under age."

Not infrequently, Tories were tarred and feathered, ridden out of town on a rail, imprisoned, forced into exile and even hanged without a trial. Patriots harassed tavern keeper Abraham Hatfield until his life finally became so unbearable that he crossed the British lines and joined DeLancey's hated mounted corps in 1777. We know this from a petition Hatfield made from Canada after the war. In it, he sought reimbursement from the British for one horse, saddle and "accoutriments" amounting to 33 pounds, and for 40 months of unpaid service.

Following the burning in 1776 of the original White Plains courthouse in which Loyalists and Patriots had contested over sending delegates to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, a new courthouse was constructed in 1787. According to tradition, it was a duplicate of the original. It was replaced 70 years later with an imposing stone courthouse erected at a cost of $120,000.

The site of the previous three courthouses in White Plains is today occupied by the state armory, dedicated in 1909. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the armory building has been converted to senior citizen apartments and a senior citizen center.

According to Henry P. Toler's New Harlem Register, a genealogy of the descendants of the 23 original patentees of the town of New Harlem published in 1903, Garret Dykeman served in the First Regiment of the Westchester County militia. The public record says nothing about his other activities during the war years. Like other prominent New York Loyalists Frederick Philips and Anglican clergyman Samuel Seabury, Dykeman was taken prisoner at his home in 1779 and taken to Connecticut. When the Dykeman family gathered in New York City to embark for Nova Scotia as Loyalist refugees in 1783, Garret did not mention New York, but said that he was from Connecticut.


The isolated and strongly Patriot back country of Connecticut was a favorite spot for holding important Loyalist prisoners from the northern colonies. The most celebrated prison for this purpose was at the Simsbury (now East Granby) copper mines, 18 miles from Hartford. Officially named Newgate, after London's infamous prison, the mere threat of being sent ‘to the mines" was enough to make a Loyalist conform.

Now a National Historic Landmark, Simsbury was the "Catacomb of Loyalty" to British lieutenant Thomas Danbury, in his Travels Through the Interior Parts of America. It was the "woeful mansion" of another inmate, cells deep below the surface into which "the prisoners are let down by a windlass into the dismal cavern, through a hole, which answers the purpose of conveying their food and air; as to light, it scarcely reaches them."

For Tories desiring to escape the country, a series of hiding places between New York City and Canada foreshadowed the celebrated "Underground Railroad" of pre-Civil War days. The number of Loyalists who left of their own volition or were forced to leave has been estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000--although the number who remained and adjusted to changed circumstances was much higher. Laws punishing them by confiscating their property, denying them careers and even citizenship, or curbing recourse to the courts left many Loyalists with no choice but to emigrate.

England a Refuge
England offered a haven for Loyalists of property or distinction and already retired pensioners of the Crown. Frederick Philipse left for England after the close of hostilities in 1783. His lands were seized and confiscated. He never returned from England and died there in 1785 at the age of 65. His crypt is in Chester, England.

Toward the end of the war, London, Bristol and other cities swarmed with exiles. The meager government compensation for losses (only about a third of the amount Loyalists claimed) was only part of the disillusioning experience for Loyalists. A deeper hurt was their loss of place in society and the aloofness, if not contempt, shown by the English for their former provincials.

Besides Great Britain, a vast majority of refugees found new homes in many areas of Canada. In 1783, Canada, in the modern sense, did not exist. Canada then consisted of only two provinces: Nova Scotia--the area Canadians now call the Maritimes (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Isle and New Brunswick)--and French-speaking Quebec, the original New France, which also included the largely unoccupied region north of the Great Lakes.

Many American Loyalist regiments were brought to Canada and disbanded there to avoid revenge by the victors. Paradoxically, ex-soldiers from the regular British army and deserters from the various mercenary Hessian corps were permitted to remain in the United States.

To Canada
A Loyalist group had sent a delegation to Nova Scotia to survey it as a possible destination. Their report was so favorable, many of them decided to settle in the St. John River Valley of New Brunswick. The St. John was about the size of the Hudson, the committee reported, and drained into a splendid harbor on the Bay of Fundy, ice-free in winter. Parr Town (later renamed St. John) was at the harbor at the mouth of the river. Some 30,000 Loyalists left the States for Nova Scotia, according to Governor John Parr's estimate early in 1784.

The two principal settlements in New Brunswick were the valley of the St. John River, including the city of the same name (the only Canadian city founded entirely by Loyalists), and Shelburne, on the southern shore of the peninsula, with a temporary population of 10,000. Loyalists moved into thinly settled Nova Scotia in such great numbers, New Brunswick had to be made a separate province in August of 1784. The Loyalists themselves argued for separation because of friction with the original settlers.

In addition to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, refugees fanned out in the St. Lawrence Valley and along the northern shore of Lake Ontario.

The British government promised land--tax free for several years--and transportation. It furnished refugees with woolen and linen cloth, shoes, stockings, mittens, tools such as axes and spades, and a year's supply of provisions. Initially, the only shelter provided was tents. The short-handled axes quickly turned out to be useless for clearing the thick forests. Soon the program bogged down in bureaucracy and favoritism, and the promised supplies of seed and food were both inadequate and unreliable.

A Hard Life
For Loyalist newcomers to Canada, conditions were harsh. Accustomed to a comfortable life, many found it difficult to cope with the hardships of primitive conditions in an undeveloped country and a cold climate. Inefficient administration and management of the refugee program only added to their frustration.

In Boston, American General Benjamin Lincoln expressed regret that the local newspapers were so full of hate for Tories. "We are not only driving from us many men who might be useful, but we are obliging them to people Nova Scotia," he remarked to his wife.

Garret Dyckman and the 3,000 Loyalists in his group chose the St. John River area. In New York, Garret Dykeman, his wife and their children were ready to board the Neptune as members of Company 51 on October 3, 1783. They waited at Staten Island until the ships in their convoy were assembled, and sailed on October 7. They landed at Parr Town, New Brunswick, about mid-October 1783.

They were granted a building lot in town and a supply of boards, shingles and bricks. At first, most of the buildings were log houses, and the lumber was used for roofing. The Dykeman lot was on St. George's Street (now called King Street), today part of a desirable residential area. In May of 1784, a census of the families was taken to find out who had survived the winter.

Moving Upriver
Because the government did not consider town lots as part of the acreage promised to refugee families, the Dykemans traveled about 50 miles up the St. John River and staked out lots at Jemseg in Waterborough Parish, near Grand Lake.

In 1786, Garret petitioned Thomas Carleton, governor of New Brunswick, to grant him the lands that had been promised, pointing out that he had "set down with his family" on land he supposed belonged to the Crown. His petition was apparently granted; in his will he bequeathed Lots 5 and 7 to his son Gilbert Hatfield Dykeman, who owned land adjoining them.

At Gagetown, a community across the St. John River on the west bank, now the county seat, Garret Dykeman became a pew holder in St. John's Anglican Church, built in 1790 and consecrated two years later. Church records show that his wife Eunice, and their first and third sons, Gilbert H. and Moses, were baptized in this church as adults on August 26, 1792.

Meanwhile, in the States laws against Loyalists were gradually rescinded. New York and New Jersey, which had both suffered severely at the hands of Loyalists, repealed their drastic anti-Tory laws by 1788. As persecution ceased, many well-known Loyalists returned. Despite an occasional local unpleasantness, some found a surprisingly friendly reception and enough support in time for them even to hold political office.

Among Loyalists returning to New York were Peter Van Schaack, Garret's cousin States Morris Dyckman, Samuel Seabury and Isaac Wilkins.

Attorney Van Schaack had argued in lawyerly fashion against the Declaration of Independence and armed rebellion. Banished to England in 1778, he returned in 1785, was readmitted to the bar and resumed his law practice in Kinderhook, N.Y. He is credited with opening the first true law school in the United States. Despite being nearly blind, he practiced law until 1812 and operated his law school until 1826. He died in 1832 at the age of 85.

Wealthy States Morris Dyckman returned to Cortlandtown, where he would soon plan the building of the mansion he called Boscobel.

Samuel Seabury returned to America in 1785 as the first bishop in the Anglican Church in the United States. How he accomplished this makes an interesting story. He had been taken prisoner in Westchester in 1775 and held in Connecticut for seven weeks. The following year he sought safety behind the British lines in New York City and served as chaplain to the British Army throughout the Revolution.

Presented in 1783 as a candidate for consecration as a bishop in the now independent colonies, he was refused by church authorities in Britain, who felt they were legally barred from performing this rite. Seabury took himself to Scotland, where Scottish prelates obliged by consecrating him. Seabury became rector of St. James's Church in New London, Connecticut, and Bishop of Connecticut and Rhode Island. He died in 1796 and is buried in New London. To his death, he had little sympathy for the liberalizing ideas of the new country.

Isaac Wilkins, who had been serving as an administrator of refugee affairs in New Brunswick, returned to Westchester and decided to become an ordained minister. Although he had prepared himself for the ministry, Wilkins did not become a clergyman until he was almost 60, after which he was named rector of St. Peter's Church in the village of Westchester in what is now the Bronx. Founded in 1653 and known as Oostorp under the Dutch, between 1681 and 1759 this village was the seat of the County of Westchester. Built in 1702, the first church on this site at Westchester and Seabury avenues, St. Peter's was the church at which Samuel Seabury had been the rector when he and Wilkins had tried to prevent the election of delegates to the Provincial and Continental Congresses.

Isaac Wilkins served for 31 years as rector of St. Peter's Church. He and his wife died in 1830 within a few months of each other and were buried under the chancel of the church. They had twelve children, seven daughters and five sons.

Meanwhile, Back in New Brunswick
If Garret Dyckman thought of joining the Loyalists returning to New York, he gave no hint of it. The responsibilities of a growing family and a working farm would have discouraged a return. In New Brunswick, Garret and Eunice Dykeman had another son, Joseph Hatfield Dykeman, born in November 1788, and two daughters, Rebecca and Anna (the latter referred to in his will as Ann), whose birth dates are unclear. Daughter Anna Dykeman and fourth son, Joseph Hatfield Dykeman, were baptized in the St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown September 11, 1795.

Garret Dykeman died about June 19, 1813, in his 73rd year. His will, written shortly before he died, reveals that he had flourished in the new land. To son Gilbert Hatfield, he left two lots and 120 pounds; to son Jacob, 100 pounds; to son Moses, two lots and 60 pounds; to son Joseph Hatfield, the family homestead, livestock and farming tools.

The remainder of his estate was divided among his four sons and two daughters. To daughters Rebecca and Ann he gave his household furniture and 100 pounds, to be equally divided. His clothing was distributed equally among his four sons.

Garret Dykeman was buried on June 20 in St. John's churchyard, where many of the graves are unmarked. One Dykeman gravestone, marking the grave of Eunice Hatfield Dykeman, who died November 16, 1808, can be seen. Her husband's grave alongside hers has only a rough footstone to mark it.

Hundreds of descendants of Garret and Eunice Dykeman populate New Brunswick today, most still living in the valley of the St. John River. Others are in Ontario. By the latter part of the 19th century, Dykemans had begun to migrate to the northern tier states, and can be found in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Minnesota and Illinois. It is not known whether any Dykemans have returned to Westchester.

In an excess of enthusiasm, a Canadian historian paid tribute to the Loyalists who emigrated to Canada: "It is but truth to say the Loyalists were the makers of Canada. They were an army of leaders. The most influential judges, the most distinguished lawyers, the most capable and prominent physicians, the most highly respected clergy, the members of the council of various colonies, the crown officials, the people of culture and social distinction--these were the Loyalists. Canada owes deep gratitude to her southern kinsmen, who thus, from Maine to Georgia, picked out their choicest spirits, and sent them forth to people our northern wilds."

This was a noble sentiment, but the truth is somewhat different. A study of the occupations of those Loyalists who submitted claims to the British after the war is revealing. It shows the breakdown of Loyalists by occupation to be farmers, 49%; merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, 32%; professionals, 9%; and officeholders, 10%. Thus, a majority of Loyalists were farmers like Garret Dyckman, shopkeepers and others in commerce. Interestingly, among professionals, doctors outnumbered teachers by four to one.

Despite the Loyalists' valiant and principled point of view as the War of Independence loomed, loyalty to a monarch thousands of miles away and allegiance to an imperious, heavy-handed government that had not treated them very kindly in recent years had little appeal for most Americans. Much more compelling was the goal of true independence and the tantalizing prospect of being able to govern themselves. To achieve this, victorious Patriots fought, bled and died in that special kind of civil war called the American Revolution.

That revolution and the unique system of government it spawned have stood the test of time. More than that, they have inspired other peoples to emulate the American experiment. Britain's loss has been the civilized world's gain.

Appendix: The Sons and Daughters of Garret and Eunice Dykeman

Gilbert Hatfield Dykeman, born in Westchester May 17, 1769, married Dorcas Manzer July 10, 1794, in St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown. He was almost 25 and she had just turned 17. They had 12 children, eight girls and four boys, between 1795 and 1818.

Jacob Wiggins Dykeman, born in Westchester March 4, 1771, married Statira Camp July 27, 1796, in St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown. She was born in Connecticut, the daughter of Loyalist Abiathar Camp. They had 10 children, five boys and five girls. Without his oldest son, Daniel Lyman Dykeman, who remained in New Brunswick and three children who died young (one boy and two girls), Jacob and his family later moved to Ontario in Canada, where many of his descendants still live.

Moses Dykeman, born in Westchester December 31, 1772, married Eunice Phoebe Currie February 13, 1798, in St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown. He was 26 and she was 18. They had 12 children, nine boys and three girls. She died November 30, 1845, and he died on April 7, 1850.

Joseph Hatfield Dykeman, born in Jemseg, New Brunswick, in November of 1788 and baptized September 11, 1795, married Hannah Flagler. He died in 1855. They were childless.

Rebecca Dykeman married Richard Currie. Several Currie family members are buried in the cemetery of St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown.

Anna (Ann) Dykeman was baptized September 11, 1795, in St. John's Anglican Church in Gagetown. On January 3, 1809, she married William Colwell.

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Sunday, August 01, 2010

All the Brothers Were Valiant: One Man's Family in the American Revolution


On the eve of the Revolution, Westchester County largely consisted of manorial grants that had been made to owners of large estates in the first 40 years of British rule of the former Dutch colony of New Netherland. With each grant, transferable to their heirs, the estate became a "Manor" and the owner became the "Lord of the Manor." Colonial lords enjoyed special privileges. They could administer laws, sit on manorial courts and even maintain their own private militia. Each lord rented land to his tenants, usually for life, the rent being payable in money, farm produce or services. England's purpose in creating manors, mostly in Westchester and on Long Island, was to set up a dependable aristocracy to support and defend British policy and provide a loyal local militia.

More densely populated Manhattan Island was divided into six wards, but in these most of the available land had been already taken up. Young men desirous of becoming farmers were forced to travel north to Westchester County or farther out on Long Island, where they could lease land on one of the manors.

Philipse Manor, immediately north of the former New Amsterdam and New Harlem, its "suburb" on the island of Manhattan, extended from Spuyten Duyvil Creek to the Croton River and from the Hudson to the Bronx River. The largest of the manors, it totaled some 156,000 acres and included much of the present-day borough of the Bronx. The first lord of the manor had been Frederick Philipse, who received his manorial grant in 1693.

Except the 3,000 acres on which lived the third lord of Philipse Manor, also named Frederick, every acre of Philipse Manor land was leased by the time of the Revolution. This Frederick Philipse was a solid Loyalist and made no bones about it. In 1776 he was arrested by Patriots but released on parole. He broke his word and immediately headed for British-held New York City. As a result, the Continental Congress seized his manorial property.

Philipse Manor largely became disputed territory, a veritable no-man's-land separating British and American forces and called “the Neutral Ground." This was a misnomer; both sides raided into it and neither side policed it. Loyalist and Patriot bands, called "Skinners" and "Cowboys," roamed over it at will, making life difficult for those who lived there.

Living in Philipse Manor at the time of the Revolution were many Dyckmans and their related families named Odell --William Dyckman's sisters Rebecca and Margaret had married the brothers Abraham and Jonathan Odell. Other relatives were named Vermilye, Hadley and Brown.

Farther to the north, Cortlandt Manor dates from 1697. Extending north of the Croton River for ten miles along the Hudson to the present Putnam County line and eastward 20 miles ("a day's walk") to the Connecticut border, it included more than 86,000 acres.

In contrast to Frederick Philipse, Stephanus Van Cortlandt proved to be a just and able administrator. His grandson Pierre and great-grandson Philip were both colonels in the American army. Cortlandt Manor became a haven for Patriots fleeing New York City and the Neutral Ground.

Van Cortlandt established ferries on the rivers and built houses to attract tenants. Like the Philipses, he was a merchant and colonial administrator, serving as mayor, councilor, judge of the Admiralty Court, and associate justice and chief justice of the provincial Supreme Court.

Two smaller manors were the Manors of Morrisania and Fordham. At 1,920 acres, Morrisania was named for the Morris brothers, merchants from Barbados, who purchased the Jonas Bronck estate in 1670. The smallest of the manors, its first lord, Lewis Morris, received his grant in 1697.

Governor Lovelace granted Fordham Manor, north of Morrisania and covering some six square miles, in 1671 to Jan Arcer (later changed to John Archer), a Dutchman so acquisitive in buying land from the Indians that his Dutch neighbors nicknamed him "Koopall" ("buy-all"). The name of Fordham Manor may have been derived from the nearby crossing ("ford") of Spuyten Duyvil Creek. Another theory holds that it was named to honor Robert Fordham, a Long Island minister and governor of Hempstead, although the connection is far from clear.

As war clouds gathered over New York in 1776, 30-year-old William Dyckman pondered his options. He had diligently worked the family farm in northern Manhattan until the fields and orchards produced abundantly. Then the Continental Congress decided to fortify the hills to the east and north of the Harlem River.

A chain of forts soon overlooked the Dyckman farm, which lay in an exposed position along the lower road to the King's Bridge. The entire area bustled with American military activity. On a ridge to the south, a formidable fort named for George Washington was rushed to completion.

The New York Convention, then governing the state, resolved on August 17, 1776, that "women, children and infirm persons in the City of New York be immediately removed from the said city agreeable to General Washington's request."

On August 31, the Committee of the Convention, meeting at Jonathan Odell's Inn in Irvington, resolved that the inhabitants of "New York Island" should drive their cattle, horses, hogs and sheep into the interior of the state to circumvent their seizure by the British. Invasion was imminent. The city, a veritable army camp, was already half-emptied of civilian inhabitants.

Time to Leave
William Dyckman decided that the time had come to abandon the Dyckman homestead and move north. With a heavy heart, he loaded his carts with household goods, farming tools and produce. Family slaves would drive the slow-moving cattle.

It was an arduous journey punctuated by stops at the farms of Dyckman relatives, of which there were many along the way. Writing in The Westchester County Historical Bulletin for April 1953, H. Dorothea Romer, a sixth generation Dyckman descendant, has left us her impression of what that journey may have been like.

According to her account, the caravan crossed Spuyten Duyvil Creek over either the Farmer's Free Bridge, built by William Dyckman's older brother, Jacob, or Frederick Philipse's King's Bridge, on which tolls were no longer collected. They passed through the section known to this day as Kingsbridge, crossed Tippets Brook below the Van Cortlandt dam and skirted the Van Cortlandt lands until the Albany Post Road brought them to the large estate of William Dyckman's cousin, William Hadley.

After pausing here, the party continued through Philipse Manor to the farm of George Hadley, another cousin. William Dyckman's sister, Aunt Rebecca to the Dyckman children, and her husband, Abraham Odell, lived on a farm in the Saw Mill River valley, and Dyckman's younger sister Margaret, wife of Jonathan Odell, lived in Irvington. Exchanging news and gossip was another reason for stopping at each of these homes.

Just past the Croton River lived other cousins--Tellers and Vermilyeas--and near the King's Ferry at Verplanck's Point were several sons of his brother Jacob and his widow, Catalina.

Safe at Last
William Dyckman was a prosperous farmer with slaves, horses, cattle and farming tools. He undoubtedly rented a farm and resumed the life of a farmer. One of the advantages of settling in Cortlandtown for him was its proximity to the King's Ferry. Brothers and sisters of his wife, Mary Tourneur Dyckman, lived across the river near Haverstraw. The ability to cross the river easily to Stony Point and visit members of her family probably gave Mary Dyckman an added feeling of security.

In the Dyckman party were five of his seven children. These included Abraham, 22; Michael, 20; William, 14; Jemima, 11; Gerritie (Charity), 6. Daughter Jane had died in 1772 at 13, and seven-year-old son John had died in 1774 in a cart accident. Older son Jacobus, 28, a blacksmith, lived in Greenburgh, and daughter Mary, 24, lived in Yonkers as the second wife of Jacob Vermilye, her cousin. Both had married in 1773.

When he returned to northern Manhattan after the war, the senior William Dyckman found his home burned and in ruins and his orchards cut down for firewood. Legend has it that the original Dyckman house had been destroyed in retaliation for the William Dyckman family's resistance to the British occupation.

The British had opened a new road to the King’s Bridge, coming up from the city through Bloomingdael and now called Broadway. On this new road at 204th Street, he constructed the house that still survives to this day as the Dyckman House Park and Museum. For a time, he turned the new house into an inn to make ends meet. Less than four years after returning home and only two weeks before his 62nd birthday, William Dyckman died in 1787.

The 1790 Census shows a "Widow Dyckman" as head of a household in the Out Ward of New York consisting of one male 16 or over, three females and seven slaves. His widow continued to live there until her death in 1802.

What follows is the story of how William Dyckman's family managed to survive during the American Revolution:

Jacobus Dyckman
His oldest son, Jacobus, also known as "Cobus," was born in 1748. Like other farmers in the "Neutral Ground," William Dyckman and his wife's uncle, Abraham Odell, tried to compromise with the occupying forces. In November of 1777, two of Odell's relatives, Gilbert and Abraham Valentine, signed an affidavit that Dyckman and Odell "have not taken up arms against His Majesty's troops during the said Rebellion (the said Dyckman's training with the militia excepted) and that both did come in to the King's army when at White Plains and take the oath of Allegiance to His Majesty, since which time they have not aided or assisted in the Rebellion."

Repeated depredations by British troops and Tory irregulars convinced Dyckman and Odell that they had made a mistake in choosing which side to support. Accordingly, Jacobus enlisted in Captain Honeywell's volunteer cavalry of the New York militia and his name also appears as a private in Colonel Samuel Drake's Third Westchester County Regiment of militia.

Jacobus continued in the Westchester militia after the war and served as a lieutenant from 1786 to 1792, when he moved back to the Dyckman House in Manhattan. His wife died in 1814; he survived her for another 18 years. They were both buried in the Nagle-Dyckman burial ground not far from the original Dyckman farm. In the 1920's their remains were removed to Oakland Cemetery on Saw Mill River Road in Yonkers to make way for the Independent subway’s rail storage yards and shops.

In spite of humble beginnings in a farmhouse in rural New York City, Jacobus's son, also named Jacobus, graduated from Columbia College and medical school and practiced medicine and became the city's Health Commissioner. Another son, James, also graduated from Columbia and was a promising young lawyer when he died in his 24th year.

Abraham Dyckman
He was the first of the Dyckmans to bear the name Abraham--but family and friends affectionately called him "Brom." The third of seven surviving children, he was born August 25, 1754, on the Dyckman farm in northern Manhattan.

Riding horseback throughout the journey to Cortlandtown, Brom had shepherded the caravan northward.. Once the family was settled near the King's Ferry, however, Brom enlisted as a private in Colonel Samuel Drake's 3rd Regiment of Westchester County militia and served an initial term of six months. He also served in the 2nd Regiment of Orange County militia on the other side of the Hudson, in which his uncle, Henry Tourneur, was a captain.

In January of 1777, General Heath, headquartered in Peekskill, planned his abortive attack on the fort the Americans had named Fort Independence, now occupied by Tories and Hessians. Heath asked the local Committee of Safety for the names of guides who knew the lay of the land in the Kingsbridge area.

This was the neighborhood in which Brom and his brother Michael had grown up and knew well. The committee proposed their names and those of several other young men as guides for the three columns that were to attack the fort.

Abraham and his younger brother Michael, and their cousin John Odell, who had lived along the Croton River, were chosen to escort the column under General Benjamin Lincoln that moved south along the Hudson River from Tarrytown.

The expedition was a dismal failure, but General Heath's staff was so pleased with the performance of the young men they included them in a mounted unit called the Westchester Guides whose specialty was raiding Tory farms. Brom Dyckman stood out in the group. He was described as "of medium height, broad shouldered, friendly and well liked, brave to the point of recklessness, always optimistic."

According to an article in the Tarrytown Argus for December 30, 1893, the Guides were so successful in countering the marauding raids of Tory units commanded by Colonel James De Lancey that George Washington asked the Guides try to take De Lancey prisoner.

The Guides made several attempts to capture the elusive DeLancey, whose headquarters were on the Harlem River south of the British-held Fort Number 8, originally constructed by the Americans but by then held by the British. The site of the fort later became the University Heights Campus of New York University, and is now Bronx Community College.

In one raid, Brom and John Odell learned the countersign used to respond to British sentries' challenges and got as far as DeLancey's quarters, only to find their elusive prey absent. By 1778, Brom was so successful as a guerrilla fighter he was promoted to lieutenant (with the pay of a captain) and placed under the command of Continental officers instead of the militia.

On March 4, 1782, as the war was winding down, he staged an attack on De Lancey's headquarters and was mortally wounded. There are several versions of what occurred on this raid. The following account is from the pension application made many years later by his cousin William Nagel (Billy) Dyckman, who was with Brom and his brothers as a member of the raiding party:

Billy's Story
"The expedition was planned for the purpose of drawing out Colonel DeLancey's regiment of Refugees (Tories) into an ambuscade with about 200 Continental troops commanded by Major Woodbridge and about 100 mounted men commanded by Israel Honeywell, all under the command of Major Woodbridge.

"We marched within a short distance of the enemies' lines and then the troops were formed in a proper position to receive the enemy if they could be drawn without their lines.

"Myself with Abraham Dyckman and four or five more volunteered to go within their picket guards in order to alarm them, expecting them to follow up out, but they did not choose to do so.

"It was then proposed to the commanding officer to attack them in their quarters, which he said was beyond his orders, but if a party of the mounted men would make an attack on them he would make a slow retreat to protect us in case we were pursued.

"Between 30 and 40 volunteered and after daylight attacked them in their headquarters. We killed some and wounded many others and brought off 20 or 30 prisoners. This was done entirely with our swords.

"The enemy was then collected and commenced their pursuit and harassed our rear for many miles though we frequently turned on them and drove them back.

"The enemy making a halt, Abraham Dyckman and myself rode back to discover their position and after coming very near them were fired upon by them and he received his death wound. It was with difficulty that I supported him upon his horse to prevent the enemy from cutting him to pieces until I received assistance from our troops.

"The enemy continued their pursuit till they came up with our foot and received a warm fire from our men, and they immediately returned the fire and killed and wounded a few of the Continental troops, and they afterward fell in with a few of our mounted men and cut them to pieces."

Otto Hufeland's 1926 study, Westchester County During the Anmerican Revolution, identifies the site of the fatal incident and embellishes Billy Dyckman's statement. It seems that Major Woodbridge's battalion of Continental infantry was posted on the Eastchester Road to cover the retreat of the mounted volunteers. The horsemen started back along the present White Plains Road with 20 prisoners and an equal number of captured horses. The pursuing Tories caught up with the Americans at Purdy's store near the present "Scott's Bridge" in Mount Vernon, where Woodbridge’s infantry was lying in ambush.

Brom Dyckman and his cousin Billy rode out waving their swords as a challenge to the enemy to personal combat. A Tory rifleman ahead of the main body and hiding behind a stone wall fired one shot at long range that struck Brom. His brothers Jacobus and Michael were nearby and led his horse to safety.

Abraham Dyckman died from his wounds in Peekskill five days later on March 9, 1782 Unmarried and 27 years old, he had planned to wed a sister of Cornelius Oakley, another Westchester Guide, according to John Odell's grandson, Dyckman Odell. He was buried with full military honors in the graveyard adjoining the Yorktown Presbyterian Church Built in 1839 and dedicated in 1840, this fine Greek Revival style church is on the site of two previous churches dating from 1738 and 1785. The 1738 building was burned by the British in 1779.

In the adjoining churchyard are buried the bodies of two other patriots killed during the Revolution, Colonel Christopher Greene and Major Ebenezer Flagg of the First Rhode Island Regiment, killed in 1781 at the Davenport House in what is now the Croton Heights section of Yorktown. A handsome granite monument on the grounds of the church was erected by the State of New York in 1900 to honor the sacrifices of these three patriots killed in Westchester.

Greene had soundly trounced Hessian troops under the command of Colonel von Donop in 1777 and distinguished himself in the defense of Newport, Rhode Island, the following year. When 44-year-old Greene, third cousin of Revolutionary War strategist Nathanael Greene, was placed in command of the American lines at the Croton River, he selected the Davenport House as his headquarters. Built in 1750 by Richardson and Lydia Davenport, the house is today the only surviving structure in Westchester County continuously held by American forces during the Revolution.

Under its many coats of paint, the front door bears the scars of the battle in which Colonel Greene of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and many of his men were killed. Formerly the home of the Yorktown Historical Society, the house is at 127 Croton Heights Road, opposite Peter Pratt's Inn.

Three-quarters of a mile east of the Blenis Ford and a quarter of a mile west of Pine's Bridge, the house was strategically placed near these important military objectives. A guard was posted at the ford every night but withdrawn at dawn. This practice was reported to Tory commander James De Lancey, and he took advantage of the routine. Late in the day of March 13, 1781, about 60 mounted cavalry and 200 foot soldiers marched under cover of darkness through White Plains, Chappaqua and then over back roads to within a mile of the Croton River, where they waited for the lone guard at the ford to be withdrawn.

Crossing the river and quickly surrounding the Davenport House, the Tories killed Major Flagg and badly wounded Colonel Greene, who had defended himself with a sword. Six soldiers were also killed and 30 were taken prisoner and taken to New York City where they were sold at auction and shipped to sugar plantations in the British West Indies. Ironically, many of these were black former slaves who had been promised their freedom at he conclusion of the war.

Retreating south over Pine's Bridge after killing the guard stationed there, the Tories took the dying Colonel Greene with them, throwing his body over a packhorse, but later abandoned him by the side of the road. One source says that Greene had seven severe sword and bayonet wounds in the arms and abdomen, in addition to "several sword cuts on the head and many in different parts of the body."

Washington biographer Douglas Southall Freeman reports that the savage assault on the Davenport House and its tragic outcome was an event that much distressed Washington and the army as they prepared for the Yorktown, Virginia, campaign.

During a 1982 ceremony dedicating a monument to black soldiers killed during the engagement at the Davenport House, a monument was dedicated on the grounds of the Yorktown Presbyterian Church. Sponsored by the Afro-American Cultural Foundation of Westchester County and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, it honors "the black soldiers of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment who died in the Battle of Pines Bridge in defense of America's freedom." During the ceremonies, the late Cortlandt Pell Auser, a local historian, recalled that 40 men were quartered just for that night at the Davenport House and read the names of some of these black soldiers; the names of the rest remain unknown.

Michael Dyckman
Michael, third son of William Dyckman, was named for his maternal grandfather, Michael Tourneur. Joining the militia with his brother Abraham and cousin John Odell, he later served with them in the Westchester Guides.

He remained with the Guides until 1780, when he was appointed a Muster Master. Muster Masters were recruited from reliable militiamen. Given a lieutenant's commission, his task was to enroll recruits (Levies) selected by their militia regiment colonels for the regular forces. Muster Masters reported the strengths of each regiment directly to Governor George Clinton.

A letter Michael wrote from Fishkill to his friend John Pine, still with the Westchester Guides, would delight proponents of simplified spelling: "I hare that our boys has bin down and taken sevin horsis," he wrote. (By order of General Washington, Guides were permitted to keep the property taken or its equivalent in cash.) In this letter he also speculated on his chances of being "sculped" by Indians raiding American lines.

In another letter to young Pine from Albany two weeks later, Michael wrote: "I have met with an Irish twist I have lost almost all my close stole from me in Albany however I have had the good luck to get some lining for shurts I should be glad if you could get me a grate coat and send it up with Mr. Lion to Mr. Simons in Albany whar I shal have an opertunity to get it at any time

"I am now staitioned at Schohary midel fort whare the Indians are skulkin round dayly a few days ago they tuck of a hole family within one mile of the fort however thare was a party of our men salied out and we tuck all the prisoners

"John Odell has bin to fort Stanwix but he has returned to Stone Roby [Stone Arabia, a village burnt by the British] whare he will meat with Capt Williams I have got orders to march for the same place whare whe shall be stasioned for this sommar inles times should altar

"Schohary whas a fine place thare is twenty or thirty fine dutch girls in the fort every night and that was not the best of all yet we had a damd fine Commasary with rum and provisions plenty

"my complements to all friends I remain your friend
Michael Dyckman"

His rough letter demonstrates that phonetic spelling was probably common at that time, even among those with some degree of education.

After serving with the Levies, Michael returned to the Guides. In July of 1781 he was assigned, with John Oakley and John Pine, as guides to the French army that had just marched to Westchester County from Newport, Rhode Island. It was Washington's intention to retake New York City in a surprise assault with the assistance of the French.

The Comte de Rochambeau's force of four infantry regiments, an artillery battalion and the Duc de Lauzun's 600-man legion of horse and foot soldiers reached Dobbs Ferry. Instead of attacking the city, Washington decided to march secretly south with Rochambeau's force to Yorktown in Virginia, where British Lord Cornwallis was bottled up behind his fortifications.

After accompanying the French across the Hudson, the three young men received a certificate certifying that "Ockly, Pine et Dickman, Guides de l'Armée Américaine" conducted themselves very well while attached to the French Army.

Michael Dyckman next rejoined the Westchester Guides and accompanied his brother Abraham on the expedition against De Lancey's headquarters in Morrisania. After the war, he became a farmer in Cortlandtown and married Sarah Oakley about 1795. The 1800 census lists him as head of a family of one male, 36-45 (himself), one male, 16-26; one female, 26-45 (his wife); two females under 10 (his daughters Sarah and Maria); and six slaves. He died in 1808 at the age of 52.

Despite Michael Dyckman's deficiencies in accepted orthography and punctuation, it is interesting to note that his grandson John Reuben Thompson later served as literary editor of William Cullen Bryant's New York Evening Post.

William Dyckman Jr.
When the Dyckman family moved to Cortlandtown in 1776, William Dyckman Jr. was nearly fourteen--too young to join the militia or to serve with his older brothers in the Westchester Guides. A year later, close to his 15th birthday, he was living in Orange County on the other side of the Hudson, where his uncle, Henry Tourneur, was a captain in the Orange County militia.

From his pension application, made 40 years later when the government decided to pay a pension to those who had served during the Revolution, we know that he was patrolling the river in October of that year, He had enlisted in his uncle's militia company, stationed north of Haverstraw at Stony Point. It was about this time that British troops landed and headed north to attack Forts Clinton and Montgomery.

In the spring of 1778, he volunteered again and served one week out of every four until winter came. The three months' service he claimed were disallowed by a clerk in the pension office with the dismissive comment "too young" written in the margin of his application. At age 16 on December 9, 1778, he became eligible for military service and was a militiaman again in his uncle's militia company, patrolling one week in every four.

The following year marked the beginning of the Mohawk Valley campaign, and he enlisted at what is now Clarkstown for three months in Captain Jonathan Lawrence's militia company. He marched with his company to Albany and then west along the Mohawk River. His three months were up before he saw any action, but he volunteered to remain "at the solicitation of his officers." In a brief engagement at Fort Plain, near Canajoharie, some enemy troops were captured, and he was chosen to guard them on the march down the Hudson Valley.

Discharged at Poughkeepsie after four months' service, he returned to Orange County and rejoined his uncle's militia company, serving for two months in 1781 and one month in 1782.
Although he had itemized 13 months of service on his application, the pension office credited him with only 9 1/2 months. He received an annual pension of $31.66.

William Dyckman Jr. returned to New York City with his father and married Maria Smith in 1786 at the city's Dutch Reformed Church. Their first daughter was baptized at the Tarrytown Old Dutch Church. Their next two children were baptized in the city at the Dutch Reformed Church. The next child was baptized in the Greenbush Dutch Reformed Church, near Albany.

Most Dyckmans tended to remain in the Hudson Valley, but William Dyckman Jr. suffered from a strong wanderlust. In 1802, the family relocated from Greenbush to New York's Onondaga County and lived at several locations there until 1834. The next move was to the state of Michigan.

This Dyckman family traveled overland in three covered wagons to Buffalo, where horses, wagons and Dyckmans were loaded on a ship. They disembarked at Detroit and resumed the overland journey to the town of Paw Paw. William Dyckman Jr. died in Michigan in 1846, a year after his wife's death. They are both buried in Old Town Cemetery in Paw Paw. One of his sons, Evert Brown Dyckman, became prosperous in Paw Paw and built a hotel, the Dyckman House, still operating there on East Michigan Avenue.

The title of this article is taken from the inscription on the tomb in Westminster Abbey of the Duchess of Newcastle, a remarkable woman ahead of her time. The wife of William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle, a Royalist leader and patron of the arts, she was an early feminist, scientist and science fiction novelist.

Although 50-year-old Margaret Cavendish died in 1673, her epitaph fittingly matches William Dyckman's family a century later. "All the brothers were valiant," it reads, and adds, "and all the sisters virtuous," a sentiment true of the Dyckman women. They were equally as brave as the Dyckman men--but their story must wait for another time.


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