Revolutionary War Monument, Tarrytown, N.Y.
Photo by Marilyn Soper
NEW: Van Tassel Family Revolutionary War Pension Applications:
-The following account is taken from: "The Souvenir of the Revolutionary Soldiers' Monument Dedication At Tarrytown, N.Y., October 19th, 1894. " Compiled by Marcius D. Raymond.
The Van Tassel Family.
To tell the story of Philipse Manor without a sketch of the Van Tassel Family would be like leaving Hamlet out of the play. They were one of the most numerous and conspicuous families of the Manorial period, and were the very impersonation of some of its most marked characteristics. The blood of Thor was in their veins and their struggle for freedom in Friesland had made them veritable sons of Mars. Where-ever a Van Tassel waved his gonfalon it was the signal for an onset against the enemy, and in the border warfare that waged with such fierceness on this manor during the Revolution they were ever in the fore front.
Jan Cornelius Van Tassel was the first of that name, known to have come to New Netherlands. Among the first settlers to locate upon Philipse Manor, were John, Jacob and Cornelius Van Tassel, sons of the first mentioned. They were the 38th, 52nd and 73rd persons whose names appear upon the roll of members of the old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. Dirck, the son of Cornelius, was the 25th person baptised previous to 1699. In 1723 he married at the church in Hackensack, N.J., Christina Buise, daughter of Aaron Buise, who was an officer of the old Dutch Church, from 1743 to 1767. His five daughters, and Cornelius, the subject of this sketch, were all baptised at that church, the latter in 1734. A receipt given by Dirck Van Tassel to Frederick Philipse dated Dec. 22, 1767, for 6 pounds, 2s. 6d, for rent of the farm, is still preserved. Lieut. Cornelius married Elizabeth Storms, daughter of Nicholas, and sister of Capt. Abraham Storms, the first Captain elected for the company that was known as the Tarrytown Company, this Sept. 2, 1775, being the first and earliest mention of the name Tarrytown yet discovered.
Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel, was elected an officer of one of the four companies organized in the upper Manor of Philipsburg. The Provincial Congress in session in New York city, gave them their commissions during the month of Sept., 1775. His farm of two hundred and odd acres, was the same formerly occupied by his father and grandfather, and was situated upon the Saw Mill river road, one mile south of the present Elmsford.
The British scouting parties having met with many humiliating defeats at the hands of these defenders, Governor Tryon determined to adopt harsh measures to exterminate them. James Delancey, the Tory Sheriff of the County, was the Colonel of the Westchester Co. Militia, a regiment that had been organized for a number of years previous to the Revolution. Many of the members of the South Battalion were also enrolled as members of that regiment, but were looked upon as deserters by the British. Governor Tryon directed Col. Delancey to recruit a company out of his regiment which were called Rangers. They were mounted, and the Governor, to stimulate enlistments in that branch of the service, gave them a reward of twenty-five dollars for the capture of every committeeman, and five dollars each for every deserter. This command soon grew to be a very effective regiment. They were given the name of Cow Boys, as their thorough knowledge of the roads and country was a great help to them in that particular line of cattle capture. On the night of Nov. 17, 1777, Peter and Cornelius Van Tassel were taken prisoners at their homes by Capt. Emmerick's command from King's Bridge, a part of which also proceeded to the house of Maj. Abraham Storms, which they partially burned. The enemy having collected the Van Tassel's stock of cattle, made sure their prisoners should not escape as they tied their hands to their horses' tails, in which position they compelled them to drive their cattle to their camp. While they were preparing to burn the dwelling, Lt. Van Tassel's son, Cornelius, Jr., having secreted himself in the attic, was driven out by the smoke. Throwing a blanket over his head he came down stairs and sprang over the lower half of the hall door and ran rapidly to the Saw Mill River, pursued by the enemy, who gave up the chase when they found that he had broken his way through the ice, in order to escape to the Farcus Hott, the picket station on Beaver Mountain. Cornelius, Jr., died Jan. 3, 1780, as the result of his exposure at the time of his father's capture. While the dwelling was burning one of the soldiers actuated with praiseworthy feelings of humanity obtained a feather bed and threw it over the mother and child, who were then left to care for themselves as best they could. They afterward found temporary shelter in a dirt cellar, the only habitation left upon the farm.
Capt. John Romer gives the following account of the affair, date of 1845: "The night on which the houses were surprised and burnt was one of the coldest of the season. Cornelius Van Tassel on the first alarm sprang from the windows and tried to escape, being almost naked. He was taken, but never recovered from the exposure of that night. The Tory Captain, Joshua Barnes, acted as guide for Emerick that night, and his voice was heard above the tumult.: 'The houses are both owned by d____d Rebels--burn them!' My wife, Leah Van Tassel, was the only daughter of Cornelius, and she was the infant taken out of the house in a blanket by a soldier, laid carefully in the snow and the mother, distracted, was seeking her babe when he told her where the child was. The only son, Cornelius, Jr., fled for safety half naked to the roof of the house and held on by the chimney, from which when the fire began to reach him he jumped to the ground. He escaped that night, but caught cold from which he never recovered."
It was about this time that Gov. Tryon issued his infamous order to "Burn Tarrytown," which provoked swift reprisal in the destruction of Gen. Oliver Delancey's house down the river in the night from this place. And so Lieut. Cornelius and Peter Van Tassel were cruelly and ignominiously carried away to New York as prisoners. A petition signed by Lieut. Cornelius and Peter Van Tassel, as Committeemen, and others, drawn up at the Provost Goal, date of Feb. 6, 1778, is on file among the Clinton papers, in which they set forth that they are there as Committeemen, and hence unable to get exchanged, and they ask the Governor to help them out of their dilemma so that they may be returned to their families, which it appears he was not very soon able to do. The official records show that their release from prison took place on the 17th of Oct. 1778, making just 11 months of captivity. The following is copied from the book of Audited Accounts pertaining to the Revolution in the State Archives at Albany.
The State of New York, Dr. To Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel.
To pay while in Captivity, from 17th Nov. 1777 to the 17th Oct, 1778. 117.06.8
To Retained Rations . . . . . . . . 13.15.0
Audited, 1784. 131.1.8
When peace was at last proclaimed, Lt. Van Tassel purchased his old farm from the Commissioners of Forfeiture, but on account of the losses incurred, was unable to rebuild his dwelling. His only son having died from exposure received in fighting for his country, he postponed the affair until the marriage of his daughter Leah, to John Romer, son of Jacob Romer, Sr., who with his three brothers had been active participants in the cause of Independence; and in 1793, they erected the dwelling still standing, of which a photo representation appears herewith, and where for upward of fifty years the annual town meetings of the township of Greensburgh were held. Here Lt. Van Tassel and wife, Jacob Romer, Sr., and wife, and their son John Romer and wife spent their remaining days. John Romer became Captain in the war of 1812, and took an active part in those proceedings that were productive in the advancement of the best interests of the community. He was not only a well known man among men, bit it is said, was decided by vote at a general election to be the best looking man in the town! He died at the age of 90, beloved by every one.
Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel died Mar. 6, 1820, in the 86th year of his age, and Elizabeth Storms his wife, died Mar. 25, 1825, in the 87th year of her age. J. C. L. Hamilton, of Elmsford, is the grandson of John Romer and great-grandson of Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel.
Peter Van Tassel's name appears as a member of Capt. Daniel Martling's Company as early as 1776, and as already stated he was a member of the Committee of Public Safety for this County when taken prisoner and carried away to the Provost Gaol in New York in Nov., 1777. His tombstone in the old Dutch Churchyard shows that he was born in May, 1728, and that he died in Sept., 1784, just after the close of the Revolutionary war, and probably as a result of the hardships endured during that period. His birth, and consequently parentage, do not appear in the records of the old Dutch Church, and the latter for some evaded all research, but it was finally discovered in the will of Johannis Van Tassel (son of Jacob) of Philipsburg, recorded in the Surrogate's office in the city of New York. The will is dated Dec. 23, 1771. By it the testator gives to his wife Trintje, (Buys), his son Jacob, daughter Anna, widow of Jacob Wormer, daughter Rachel wife of John Van Tassel, daughter Catrina wife of Abram Ecker, "son of Abm," and grand child of Catrina daughter of his son John Van Tassell, dec'd, and appoints his well beloved sons Peter and Jacob his executors.
So Peter was the son of Johannis who had married Trintje, and the brother of famous Major Jacob Van Tassel of Wolfert's Roost, also brother of Catrina who married Abraham Acker of Ecker, 2d, and John, took title to his farm of 150 acres in the Saw Mill River Valley just south of and adjoining the farm of Lieut. Cornelus Van Tassel, who was his kinsman.
The will of Hendrick Van Tassel, who had married Balith Buys, also appears in the Surrogate's office at New York City, date of 1771. He gave his wife Balith, sons John and Hendrick, daughters Mary and Balithy Slymets.
Jacob Van Tassel, the son of Johannis Van Tassel and Catharine his wife, was baptised Nov. 10, 1744. Hester Van Tassel his wife, was the daughter of a Johannis Van Tassel and Helena Hammen his wife. They were married Sept. 23, 1764. Their home was at the Wolfert Acker place, long known as "Wolfert's Roost." The following fancy sketch of the Roost and its brave defender, Lieut. Jacob Van Tassell, from the gifted pen of Washington Irving is well introduced here:
"The situation of the Roost is in the very heart of what was the debateable ground between the American and British lines, during the war. The British held possession of the city of New York, and the island of Manhattan, on which it stands. The Americans drew up towards the highlands, holding their headquarters at Peekskill. The intervening country, from Croton River to Spiting Devil Creek, was the debateable land, subject to be harried by friend and foe, like the Scottish borders of yore. It is rugged country, with a line of rocky hills extending through it like a backbone, sending ribs on either side; but among these rude hills are beautiful winding valleys, like those watered by the Pocantico and the Neperan. In the fastnesses of these hills, and along these valleys, exists a race of hard-headed, stout-hearted Dutchmen, descended of the primitive Netherlanders. Most of these were strong whigs throughout the war, and have ever remained obstinately attached to the soil, and neither to be fought nor bought out of their paternal acres. Others were tories, and adherents to the old kingly rule; some of whom took refuge within the British lines, joined the royal bands of refugees, (a name odious to the American ear), and occasionally returned to harass their ancient neighbors. In a little while this debateable land was overrun by predatory bands from either side; sacking hen-roosts, plundering farm-houses, and driving off cattle. Hence arose those two great orders of border chivalry, the Skinners and the Cow Boys, famous in the heroic annals of Westchester County. The former fought, or rather, marauded under the American, the latter under the British banner; but both, in the hurry of their military ardor, were apt to err on the safe side, and rob friend as well as foe. Neither of them stopped to ask the politics of horse or cow, which they drove into captivity; nor, when they wrung the neck of a rooster, did they trouble their heads to ascertain whether he was crowing for Congress or King George. While this marauding system pervailed on shore, the Great Tappan Sea, which washes this belligerent region, was domineered over by British frigates and other vessels of war, anchored here and there, to keep an eye upon the river, and maintain a communication between the various military posts. Stout galleys, also armed with eighteen pounders, and navigated with sails and oars, cruised about like hawks, ready to pounce upon their prey. All these were eyed with bitter hostility by the Dutch yeomanry along shore, who were indignant at seeing their great Mediterranean ploughed by hostile prows; and would occasionally throw up a mud breast-work on a point of promontory, mount an old iron field-piece, and fire away at the enemy, though the greatest harm was apt to happen to themselves, from the bursting of their ordnance, nay, there was scarce a Dutchman along the river that would hesitate to fire with his long duck gun at any British cruiser that came within his reach, as he had been accustomed to fire at water fowl.
I have been thus particular in my account of the times and neighborhood, that the reader might the more readily comprehend the surrounding dangers in this, the heroic age of the Roost. It was commanded at the time, as I have already observed, by the stout Jacob Van Tassel. As I wish to be extremely accurate in this part of my chronicle, I beg that this Jacob Van Tassel, of the Roost, may not be confounded with another Jacob Van Tassel, commonly known in border story by the name of 'clump-footed Jack,' a noted tory, and one of the refugee band of Spiting Devil. On the contrary, he of the Roost was a patriot of the first water; and, if we may take his own word for granted, a thorn in the side of the enemy. As the Roost, from its lonely situation on the water's edge, might be liable to attack, he took measures for defence. On a row of hooks, above his fire-place, reposed his great piece of ordnance, ready charged and primed for action. This was a duck, or, rather, goose-gun of unparalleled longitude--with which it was said he could kill a wild goose, though half way across the Tappan Sea. Indeed, there are as many wonders told of this renowned gun as of the stone walls of his mansion he had made loop-holes, through which he might fire upon an assailant. His wife was stout-hearted as himself, and could load as fast as he could fire; and then he had an ancient and redoubtable sister, Nochie van Wurmer, a match, as he said, for the stoutest man in the country. Thus garrisoned, the little Roost was fit to stand a siege, and Jacob van Tassel was the man to defend it to the last charge of powder.
"He was, as I have already hinted, of pugnacious propensities; and, not content with being a patriot at home, and fighting for the security of his own fireside, he extended his thoughts abroad, and entered into a confederacy with certain of the bold, hard-riding lads of Tarrytown, Petticoat Lane and Sleepy Hollow--who formed a kind of holy brotherhood, scouring the country to clear it of skinners and cowboys, and all other border vermin. The Roost was one of their rallying points. Did a band of marauders from Manhattan island come sweeping through the neighborhood, and driving off cattle, the stout Jacob and his compeers were soon clattering at their heels, and fortunate did the rogues esteem themselves, without a rough handling. Should the moss troopers succeed in passing with their cavalgada, with thundering tramp and dusty whirlwind, across King's Bridge, the holy brotherhood of the Roost would reign up at that perilous pass, and, wheeling about, would indemnify themselves by foraging the refugee region of Morrisania.
"When at home at roost, the stout Jacob was not idle; he was prone to carry on a petty warfare of his own, for his private recreation and refreshment. Did he ever chance to espy, from his look-out place, a hostile ship or galley anchored or becalmed near shore, he would take down his long goose-gun from the hooks over the fire-place, sally out alone, and lurk along shore, dodging behind rocks and trees, and watching for hours together, like a veteran mouser intent on a rat hole. So sure as a boat put off for shore, and came within shot, bang went the great goose-gun; a shower of slugs and buck-shot whistled about the ears of the enemy, and, before the boat could reach the shore, Jacob had scuttled up some woody ravine, and left no trace behind.
"About this time the Roost experienced a vast accession of war-like importance, in being made one of the stations of the water guard. This was a kind of aquatic corps of observation, composed of long, sharp canoe-shaped boats, technically called whale-boats, that lay lightly on the water, and could be rowed with great rapidity. They were manned by resolute fellows, skilled at pulling an oar or handling a musket. These lurked about in nooks and bays, and behind those long promontories which run out into the Tappan Sea, keeping a look-out, to give notice of the approach or movements of hostile ships. They roved about in pairs, sometimes at night, with muffled oars, gliding like spectres about frigates and guard-ships riding at anchor; cutting off any boat that made for shore, and keeping the enemy in constant uneasiness. These mosquito cruisers generally kept aloof by day, so that their harboring places might not be discovered, but would pull quietly along, under shadow of the shore, at night, to take up their quarters at the Roost. Hither, at such time, would also repair the hard-riding lads of the hills, to hold secret councils of war with the "ocean chivalry;" and in these nocturnal meetings, were concerted many of those daring forays, by land and water, that resounded throughout the border."
"This doughty Dutchman (continues the sage Diedrich Knickerbocker) was not content with taking a share in all the magnanimous enterprises concocted at the Roost, but still continued his petty warfare along shore. A series of exploits at length raised his confidence in his prowess to such a height, that he began to think himself and his goose-gun a match for anything. Unluckily, in the course of one of his prowlings, he descried a British transport aground, not far from shore, with her stern swung towards the land within point-blank shot. The temptation was too great to be resisted; bang! as usual went the great goose-gun, shivering the cabin windows, and driving all hands forward. Bang! bang! the shots were repeated. The reports brought several sharp-shooters of the neighborhood to the spot; before the transport could bring a gun to bear, or land a boat, to take revenge, she was soundly peppered, and the coast evacuated. She was the last of Jacob's triumphs. He fared, like some heroic spider, that had unwittingly snared a hornet--to his immortal glory, perhaps, but to the utter ruin of his web.
"It was not long after this, during the absence of Jacob Van Tassel on one of his forays, and when no one was in garrison but his stout-hearted spouse, his redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, and a strapping negro wench called Dinah, that an armed vessel came to anchor off the Roost and a boat full of men pulled to shore. The garrison flew to arms--that is to say, to mops, broomsticks, shovels, tongs, and all kinds of domestic weapons--for unluckily, the great piece of ordnance, the goose-gun was absent with its owner. Above all, a vigorous defence was made with that most potent of female weapons the tongue. Never did invaded hen-roost make a more vociferous outcry. It was all in vain. The house was sacked and plundered, fire was set to each corner, and, in a few moments, its blaze shed a baleful light far over the Tappan Sea. The invaders then pounced upon the blooming Laney Van Tassel, the beauty of the Roost, and endeavored to bear her off to the boat. But here was the real tug of war. The mother, the aunt, the strapping negro wench, all flew to the rescue. The struggle continued down to the very water's edge, when a voice from the armed vessel at anchor ordered the spoilers to let go their hold. They relinquished the prize, jumped into their boats, and pulled off, and the heroine of the Roost escaped with a mere rumpling of the feathers. Shortly after the catastrophe of the Roost, Jacob Van Tassel, in the course of one of his forays, fell into the hands of the British, was sent prisoner to New York, and was detained in captivity for the greater part of the war."
But to turn from the realm of fancy and tradition to the realism of personal
experience, the following copied from the original in the archives of the
Pension Office at Washington, is herewith presented:
Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel's statement made in his application for pension, April 30, 1836, in his 92d year:
"Was then a resident of Greenwich St., New York. He states that he was then upwards of 91 years of age. That on the breaking out of the Revolutionary War he was a farmer living on Philipse Manor, present town of Greenburgh, County of Westchester, N.Y. That he first entered the service in the year 1776 in a company of Militia commanded by Capt. Glode Requa; that as a private and Sergeant in his company he served for different periods until the resignation of Capt. Requa in 1778; that in June, 1778, he received the commission of Lieutenant in same company under Capt. Geo. Comb, Col. Hammond's Regt.; that by order of said Col. Hammond he received directions to take as many men from his company as seemed advisable, and go as far down the Hudson as he could with safety, and gather all the information he could relative to the movements and designs of the enemy, and that he selected six privates and went down, and on their return put up for the night at a private dwelling in the vicinity of Croton River; that in the morning, as they were about in readiness to march they were surprised by a party of British soldiers of 72 foot and 9 horse, and he further learned that they had been betrayed. Two of his men escaped, but himself and four others were taken prisoners and went to Verplanck's Point, and there put on board a vessel and transported down the river to Yonkers; that he was kept at this place but for a short time, when he was put on a vessel and sent to New York City and confined there in the building called the "Old Jail." That after being there four or five weeks he was put on his parole, which was executed at the old Sugar House in Liberty St., was then sent to Flatbush where he remained until he was exchanged in the fall of 1781, and on his arrival home he first heard of the surrender of Cornwallis.
Relates being one of the Company that made a raid to Morrisania when the guide Dyckman was killed. Upon one occasion he recollected to have shot a deserter from our troops who had been with the British at Fishkill, and that he frequently shot at the British Galleys going up and down the river. That on one occasion the British (under Lieut. Althouse) having taken a number of cattle, he and a party among whom was Capt John Buchanan, recaptured them and killed 4 or 5 of the British.
That when they went down the river on a scout as aforesaid they went nearly to King's Bridge and lay over night in the bushes; that they obtained much information relative to the intended movements of the British, and that on their return they took two prisoners from the British guardships and had them in custody when they themselves were taken prisoners at Croton River. That during the whole adventure they were in iminent danger, particularly when they lay in the bushes at King's Bridge, as the British were constantly passing in immediate view; and he further declares that Abraham Van Tassel, David Van Tassel, and Wm. Reton, his relatives, and Isaac Delameter, were the persons who were taken prisoners with him. That at Flatbush where he was on parole, were many American officers, including Col. Hammond, the latter part of the time, he having been taken out of his bed when he was taken prisoner. That when they were exchanged Hammond accompanied them up through New Jersey to Greenburg; that they were advised to return that way as the British lay in New York. And he further states that during his imprisonment his dwelling houses and out houses were burned by the enemy and his personal property wholly wasted and destroyed.
Isaac Dalameter swears to the date of the capture (was taken prisoner on the 1st day of July, 1779, with Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel, and was a prisoner until Nov. 5, 1781,) by reason of its being his 21st birthday; that they were betrayed by the person with whom they stopped that night at Croton, and he corroborated Lieut. Van Tassel's statement.
The old record at Albany shows the following in the book of Audited Accounts:
To Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel, Isaac Van Tassel and four privates of Col Hammond's Regt., Westchester Co. Militia, for pay from the time they entered service and during the time they were taken prisoners to the day they returned from their captivity.
-To Isaac Van Tassel, Sergt. from 27th May, 1779 to 1st July, 1779, 35 days.......4.13.4.
-To Isaac Van Tassel, from 2d July, 1779 to 5th Nov., 1780
(during the time he was prisoner), 16 months and 5 days ....................................64.10.8.
-To Abraham Van Tassel, " "................................................................... 46. 2.7.
-To David Van Tassel, " ".................................................................... 46. 2.7.
-To Jacob Van Tassel, Lieut.,..................................................................307.18.2.
-To Retained Rations,....................................................................36. 1. 8.
Jacob Van Tassel took title from the Commissioners of Forfeiture to 185 acres, the place which he had occupied as a tenant under Frederick Philpse, and for which he paid 500. Jacob Van Tassel and Hester his wife had "Lena" who married Caleb Brush and had Jacob born Aug. 28, 1790, and also sons Caleb and Joshua. She died Oct. 27, 1861, in her 95th year, and he died Nov. 59, 1856, in his 93d year. Jacob also had sons Isaac, Jacob, and William. Charles Denison Belden, of New York, is a great-grandson of Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel.
The following inscription appears on his tombstone in the old Dutch Churchyard, he being there designated "Major" Jacob Van Tassel, to which honor he was entitled by reason of a commission he had held in the Militia after the Revolution:
In Memory of Major
JACOB VAN TASSEL, a Soldier of the Revolution, died Aug. 24, 1840, aged 95 years, 11 months and 23 days.
This simple stone points the Honorable Grave,
Where sleeps the Patriot pure, the Soldier brave--
Reader, if to thy heart thy country's cause be dear,
His service call to mind, this grave revere.
Hester, wife of Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel, died Dec. 10, 1811, aged 77 years, 8 months and 10 days. Jacob was afterwards twice married. His latter years were spent in the family of his son-in-law, Caleb Brush, in New York. Altogether Jacob Van Tassel was a great character and well deserves posthumous fame.
Stephen Van Tassel's application for a pension, dated Dec. 11, 1832, states that he entered the service as a Volunteer about the first of May, 1776, at Tarrytown, for 9 months in the Co. of Capt. Abram Ladieu; resided in or near Tarrytown at that time; was at the battle of White Plains in the right wing of the American Army near Chatterton Hill. In the spring of 1777 re-enlisted in Capt. Sybert Acker's Co., Lieut. Col. Hammond's Regt.; was in Capt. Daniel Williams' Co., at the Youngs' House fight; afterwards in the Co. of Capt. Gilbert Dean. In 1780 enlisted in the Continental line under Col. Hughes; was taken prisoner in April, 1780, and taken to New York and confined in the old Sugar House Prison 11 months and 5 days. Was born in the year 1758. Endorsed by John Israel, who says that he was himself taken prisoner in Dec., 1779, and confined in the old Sugar House Prison, and saw Stephen Van Tassel there. This Stephen was a son of Johannis Van Tassel, who was a soldier in the French war as well as in the Revolution, and grandson of Jan Van Tassel and Annatie Acker his wife. He married Mary, the daughter of Stephen Bertine, and lived at "Haventje," know as the Fremont place. This Johannis Van Tassel was the great-grandfather of Mr. Daniel Van Tassel of Tarrytown.
A John Van Tassel, born 1737, and who died 1807, was one of the John Van Tassels who served in the French war; was also a soldier of the Revolution. He kept the Van Tassel Inn, present Jacob Mott house, which was a rallying place in the early part of the Revolution, a photo representation of which is herewith produced. It was there that Washington once visited a sick officer, as was well remembered by the late Mrs. Romer. It was there that a party of British Refugees (Tories) was surprised and captured by Major Hunt, in 1781. The door is said to have been pierced by a cannon ball during one of the bombardments of Tarrytown by British frigates. It is one of the oldest buildings remaining in this vicinity, and it is said was erected by one of the Martlings as early as 1712.
Another John Van Tassel who was a Revolutionary soldier was killed in the attack on the Glode (one account says James) Requa house on May 26, 1779. John Romer says of the affair, "John Van Tassel was posted as sentinel near the house, and challenged the enemy who charged. He fired, defended himself with his bayonet, but was surrounded and cut to pieces by the dragoons. The men then jumped out of the window and escaped." The State afterwards gave a pension to "Catharine Ann and John Van Tassel, orphan children of John Van Tassel, late private in Col. Hammond's Regt., who was slain on the field, May 26, 1779."
The David Van Tassel who was a prisoner at the same time with Lieut. Jacob, was a brother of Hester Van Tassel, Jacob's wife. Abraham and Isaac who were also prisoners at the same time, were brothers, the sons of Abraham Van Tassel and Cornelia La Mettie his wife. The aforementioned Isaac was the grandfather of the venerable John C. Van Tassel, of Mt. Pleasant and of Wm. H. Van Tassel, of the Architectural Iron Works of New York, their fathers being brothers.
Among the early if not original members of the old Dutch Church were Jacob Van Texel and Aletje his wife, Jan Van Texel and Cathrina his wife, and Cornelius Van Texel and Antje his wife. Among the officers of that Church appear the names of Cornelius Van Texel, Deacon, 1709; Jan Van Texel, Deacon, 1716; Cornelius, Elder, 1717; Jan, Elder, 1727; Jan, Elder, 1736; Hendrick, Deacon, 1738; Dirk, Deacon, 1743; Hendirck, Elder, 1745, 1749, 1750, and 1754; Johnannis, Deacon, 1757-60. Hendrick, Elder, 1762; Dirck, Elder, 1767; Jacob, Deacon, 1770; Jan, Deacon, 1790.
Old Manor records show that Johannis Van Tassel was Collector 1722-3-5. 1742-- Overseer for the King's Road from Charl Davids, Evert Bruyn and Johannis Van Texel the son of Jacob. 1743--Hannis Van Texel one of the Fence Viewers. Same year, Hannis Van Texel was one of the Overseers of the Highway. 1750, Feb. 20, ear mark of Wm. Van Tassel; 1756, Dec. 29, ear mark of Johannis Van Tassel; 1757, March 20, ear mark of Johannis Van Tassel, son of Hendrick. 1760, Mar. 4, licensed Inn Keeper, Peter Van Tassel; 1778, John Van Tassel, a Pound Master; 1779, John Van Tassel Assessor.
The following, copied from the original on file in the State Archives at Albany, well deserves a place here as a picture of heroic endurance by the Van Tassels in the great struggle for American Liberty and American Independence:
To his Excellency, Gov. Clinton, & c. This Petition Respectfully Showeth:
That your petitioners have endeavored to defend and protect the Freedom and Liberty of the United States. After the many disappointments and reverses of fortune which we have had to struggle with, the expectations of rising again to prosperity are brought low enough by long imprisonment; but it would be a satisfaction to us that our real character were known to your Excellency and the Senate and Assembly, which if it were we flatter ourselves that we should have your indulgence, nay, your esteem. Refuse not most gracious gentlemen, the means for gaining this end to men who are ready and willing to shed their blood in proof of their loyalty and affection for our country's cause.
Notwithstanding the enemy has not left us one single head of our cattle, furniture, &c., but has plundered us of all, we beseech that you will look with an eye of pity on us and have some consideration for our past services, and that a year's imprisonment and five years' exile, the ruin of our fortunes, and the submission with which we have born these punishments and the zeal which we are still ready to show for our country's cause, if your Excellency and the Senate and Assembly do not make some provision for us we and our families must inevitably perish. Therefore we hope you will take Christian pity and assist us from this labyrinth of misery. By so doing, your petitioners and the widows and fatherless will be forever bound to pray for your Excellency, and the honorable Senate and Assembly.
Isaac Van Tassel, Six in family, released from Imprisonment.
Daniel Van Tassel, Five in family, " " "
Abraham Van Tassel Seven in family, " " "
Jacob Van Tassel, Seven in family, and still a Prisoner.
Petition presented Feb. 9, 1781.
And now this all too brief review of the stalwart Van Tassel family is brought to a close.