This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Gedney family was the 10th of the series.
It is fitting that the term "Gedney Farms" survives as a county place name, for it is probable that few other original Westchester families have owned as much acreage at a time as have the Gedneys.
Eleazer, founder of the family here and in Ulster, Sullivan and Rockland Counties, started the trend when he bough much Mamaroneck land from Caleb Heathcote in the early 1700s, and also about 1,300 acres around Newburgh for his children and grandchildren to colonize.
Eleazer, unlike most settlers of the Town of Rye before 1700, was born in Salem Mass., about 1666. He came to Mamaroneck before 1695 because in that year his on, John was born to him and wife, Anne Mott of Mamaroneck. Another son, James, born in Mamaroneck in 1699, married Phoebe Horton and died in Mamaroneck in 1766. To this Gedney-Horton line belong many of todays Gedneys in Mamaroneck and White Plains. Altogether, Eleazer has seven children who married into the families of Horton, Carpenter, Fowler, Haines and Secor.
Eleazer's grave in the big Gedney burying ground on Mamaroneck Avenue, in Mamaroneck reads "1722. Here lies Eleazer Gedney, deceased Oct. 27. Born in the Boston Government." His wife lies next to him. Mostly Horton-Gedneys are buried here.
The Gedney family is so large and so well documented that records of each family line from all Eleazer's children here and across the Hudson fill volumes. The homestead built by Eleazer's son, Eleazer, in Newburgh was still standing a generation ago.
Gedney Farms Started 1740
Gedney Farms in White Plains mow a residential area was founded in 1740 by John Gedney, who bought 116 acres from William Marsh for 400 pounds. By the time of the Civil War, when Bartholomew Gedney was in possession, it was one of the most productive farms in Westchester and the farmhouse on Ridgeway was one of the fines in the county.
James, son of Eleazer, who was born in Mamaroneck in 1702, was another land buyer, acquiring Daniel Horton's 60 acres in White Plains and in 1739 buying up 102 acres of the Budd land in Bud's Neck, Rye Neck of today. Hidden within the modern additions of the house on the Boston Post Road, next to the Nicholls' garage at Barry Avenue is the Gedney homestead which John Built. From this house to Halstead Avenue in Mamaroneck runs a row of giant walnut trees that once lined the farm lane which led to the White Plains Road. Here Gedneys lived until a few years ago. When John bought his big farm the land across the way was owned by the Jay family.
Like other families of those days, the issue of loyalty to England was an important one, and in many cases brother took side against brother. Isaac Gedney, who owned a farm in Mamaroneck harbor near the bridge, was arrested for criticism of the Provisional Congress but released because he had a large family of children who needed him at home.
Great Church Woman
In the Solomon Gedney burying ground back of the Bellows High School in Mamaroneck lies Ann, remembered in the 1800s as "one of the sweetest of women--small, active, pleasant, who like the rest of the Gedneys, had blue eyes and light hair." She was a great church woman. The last to be buried in this old cemetery are Sylvanus and his sister, Mercy, who were buried in 1895.
This cemetery was established by Solomon Gedney, 1769-1836, third generation born in the Post Road farmhouse in Mamaroneck. Misses Anne and Kate Gedney and their brother, former Mayor Henry Gedney of Mamaroneck, are his great-grandchildren. Solomon's daughter, Julia Ann, helped found the first Sunday school in the village.
There was the glamour of the sea about a whole group of Gedneys from Milton Point, of the Gedney-Horton branch. Capt. Joseph Haines Gedney, 1811-1888, who is buried in Rye, owned eight ships engaged in coastal shipping from Fall River to Albany. His sons, James Bird Gedney and Abram, both ship captains, were rated the best on the Hudson. Capt James Bird Gedney married Amelia Purdy whose father was an actor before he bought the Chatham Theater at Chatham Square, New York. Another son was the first to enlist from Rye for the Union Army. Another son of Capt. Joseph Haines Gedney was Capt. Joseph Gedney, Jr., a pilot who married Susanna Herriott of a famous family of pilots of the 1700s and 1800s. Lloyd Herriott, Mamaroneck harbor master, is of this old family.
Fremont Gedney was a gifted pianist and a famous teacher of the late 1800s.
Many Greenburgh Gedney connections stem from Joseph, a grandson of Eleazer who served in the Colonial militia in the Revolution and lived on Scarborough Road in Mount Pleasant. Joshua, a Royalist, 1742-1830 went to New Brunswick in 1784 and became a Judge of Common Pleas.
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