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 Lent family was the 16th of the series.
Family Homesteads of Lents Endure From Colonial Times
If the Lents, one of Westchester's largest families, had been like the Astors, they still would own all of the land on which Peekskill stands and most of Cortlandt Town.
As it is, the 74 families name Lent, living in Peekskill alone, live on land that once belonged to Hercules Lent. A few, such as the family of Marvin Lent on Lafayette Avenue, own land that has never been sold since it was bought by the family from Indians on April 12, 1685, and was called Ryck's Patent.
Their houses are as enduring as the Lents. One of the oldest stands at 1036 Lower South Street, Peekskill, facing the old route of the Albany Post Road. This house was built in 1777 to replace the original house of Hercules Lent which was burned by the British when they landed in Lent's Cove, a few yards down the road. Just over the hill in front of the house is Lent's Pond where the farmers of the area dumped their prize possessions and tools, to save the from the British torch when Peekskill was burned.
Ran Road Through Forests
From Lent's Cove up Dickey Brook ran the private road which the Lents laid out through the forests to traverse their holdings. A section of this road is now a bridle path in Blue Mountain Reservation. This part of the original road opens as a lane into Maple Street, next to the Schepis home. Sections of the road became Maple Street, Baptist Church Road and Baldwin Road into Yorktown Heights.
A few feet down the lane from Maple Street, on the banks of Dickey Brook is a grove of giant, aged pine trees. They stood there in the childhood of Charles Arthur Clark of Peekskill, a historian of local note, who is ninety years old. Mr. Clark's grandfather told him that the trees marked the site of the Indian Village of Sachoes which was there when the Lents and the other Dutch settlers came.
The home of attorney James Dempsey on Crompond Road is known as the "Fory Lent" house. Marvin Lent of Lafayette Street, who is now eighty-eight, says that this Lent, leaving Westchester after the Revolution, went to Pennsylvania where he froze to death while clearing the forest for a new farm.
28 Lents in Revolution
The muster rolls of the American Army during the Revolution register the names of 28 Lents. In a family record published in 1905 the names of 1,857 Lents were recorded with their genealogies. Today Lents are found all over Westchester, in New York, New Jersey and many other states.
The Lents originated in Lower Saxony, Germany, where they were of the minor nobility. One of the family, Hans, died in the Holy Land where he had led a band of 800 in the First Crusade.
The first of the family to come to New Amsterdam was Abraham, whose father had been a wealthy merchant in Holland. He had nine children and three of his sons, Ryck, Jacob and Hendrick, wit three other young men, bough the piece of land which became known at Ryck's Patent (for Ryck, the leader). This land is now the City of Peekskill. The patent extended from Peeks Creek (Annsville Creek of today) to Verplancks Point and east to beyond Yorktown Heights.
The name Lent was adopted by Hercules, oldest son of Ryck, after the name of the town in Holland from which the family came when the Dutch families bowed to the English custom of using surnames. Under the Dutch custom Hercules' name would have been "Hercules (son of Ryck)Ryckson, of Lent."
Hercules Owned 1,800 Acres
By purchase and by inheritance Hercules, who was the dominant soul of the second generation at Ryck's Patent, acquired title to the entire 1,800 acres of Ryck's Patent and the Crankheit Patent across Peekskill Creek where Camp Smith, the New York National Guard encampment is located. He also owned a large tract behind Stony Point across teh Hudson where the rusting Liberty ships are at dead anchor, and the Island of Iona,south of Bear Mountain. All this land Hercules left to his children in a will written in 1766.
Most famous descendant of the original Ryck of Ryck's Patent is the late Chauncey M. Depew, U.S. Senator and President of the New York Central, whose mansion commands a height above the Hudson in Peekskill. He was descended from Ryck's brother Hendrick who came to the Patent in 1685.
John Lent, Ryck's great, great grandson, was a famous Indian fighter under Capt. Braddock in 1775.
School Built By Mervin
Mervin Lent of Peekskill is the son of David Henry Lent (1819-1889) who built the little school house in 1855 which stands at Lafayette and Maple Streets, Peekskill. David Henry was a farmer and a Methodist preacher and served in the old Light Horse Cavalry in 1836.
Mervin's grandfather was David Lent (1730-1805) who is buried in the Lent cemetery he established on Lafayette Street, on land now owned by I. Greenwald who has a Summer camp near the old house.
David Lent was the son of Hendrick, first Ryck's Patent tax collector, and so a grandson of Hercules and a great-grandson of Ryck of Ryck's Patent. Which makes Mervin Lent of today, at eighty-eight, one of the last of the sturdy Dutchmen who came to live near the Indians at Sachoes Village in the shade of Blue Mountain.
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