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 Van Wart family was the 13th of the series.
For almost every square mile of land in the saw Mill River valley around Elmsford there are stories of the Revolution which grandfathers tell the children. No name occurs more often in these tales than that of Van Wart.
Most famous, of course, is Isaac Van Wart, one of the captors of Major Andre, who is buried in the Old Dutch Church cemetery in Elmsford. A grateful Congress gave Isaac a farm in Dutchess County which he exchanged for the Young Farm, where a battle of the Revolution was fought. Here Isaac built a fine farmhouse near the foundations of the Young house which was burned in 1780 by the Hessians and British. The house today is lost among the many additions to the main building of the Blythedale Home on Knollwood Road, north of the Four Corners intersection with County House Road and east of the main gate to Grasslands Hospital.
Mrs. Joseph Hall of Pleasantville, Isaac's great-great-grand-daughter, says Isaac's house is the central gabled portion, with the great red brick fireplace chimney, which faces Knollwood Road. The farm was in the possession of the Van Warts from 1780 until 1868 and here was born Isaac's best known son, the Rev. Alexander Van Wart of White Plains and Pleasantville (1799-1890); great-grandfather of Mrs. Hall and Mrs. John F. Krepps of White Plains. Isaac died when he was seventy (in 1828) and among cherished heirlooms is the silver cup awarded his fine cattle raised on the farm at Four Corners.
Married Persuasive Girl
Two years before the Andre capture, when Isaac was twenty, he married pretty Rachel Storms whose charm was so great she once persuaded the British to release her brother, Nicholas whom they thought to be her sweetheart and then, at a later day, persuaded another band of British prowlers to give back Nicholas' cow which they had taken.
The Van Warts are one of America's original Dutch families, descending from Jochem Wonters Van Wert, born about 1637, presumably in Waert, Province of Brabant, Holland. The name is spelled both ways today. Jochem married Christina Jans, lived on Long Island in Flatbush until 1683 when he moved to Tarrytown. He is recorded as an elder of the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow in 1699 and 1791, and is the first of the many Van Wart names in the Old Dutch Church records.
Van Warts today descend from his children: Jannetje who married Johannes Garrettson, Gerret who married Catherine Conklin, Antje who married Johannes Ninne, Jacob who married Belitje Hoppe. Rachel who married Abraham de Revier, Cornelia who married Hercules Lent of an original Peekskill family, and Sara who married Jacob Gardiner.
Home on Post Road
Gerret's House stood on the side of the Albany Post Road just below Sheldon's Brook in Tarrytown. He was Isaac Van Wart's grandfather. Gerret's brother Jacob lived on the Albany Post Road, his house standing opposite Prospect Avenue in Tarrytown. Jacob's son, William, continued to occupy this farm after his father's death. He married Catherine Sie. Most of Jochem's grandchildren took leases in Philipse Manor around the village of Greenburgh, later called Elmsford.
Jacob, Gerret's grandson, was a lieutenant of light horse cavalry during the Revolution. Isaac, another grandson of Gerret, was a lieutenant under Capt. Ambrose Horton, and was so badly wounded that he had to retire from fighting. John, a grandson of old Jochem's son Jacob, died in battle in 1783. Abraham, his cousin, was a lieutenant in Captain Requa's company, William, a grandson of William of Tarrytown, bore a livid scar across his brow to the end of his life, made by a British saber in a fight at Turkeyho (Tuckahoe) as he resisted an attempted rescue of six British prisoners whom he had captured in a single-handed raid on British barracks at Morrisania.
Descendants of Jochem Van Wart occupied the Van Wart farms on the Albany Post Road in Tarrytown until well after 1825.
The children of Isaac Van Wart and the beautiful Rachel Storms, whose descendants under many other names are all through central Westchester, were: Anne (1782-1820) who married William Dutcher, Abraham (1785-1820) who married Phoebe Fowler, Frederick (1789-1790), Fanny (1793-1820) who married William Martine for whose family Martine Avenue, White Plains was named, and Alexander (1799-1890) who married Esther Fowler, for whom her granddaughter, Mrs. Esther Miller of Crane Ave., White Plains, is named.
The descendants of Isaac's grandchildren may be found today under such names as Tompkins, Miller, Hobby, Brewer, Schenckard, Coles and Pressinger, to name a few.
One Van Wart, whose first name is missing in the histories, was a farmer's wife at Elmsford during the Revolution. The lush farms of that area were constantly raided when the County House Road was the Southern anchor of the American defense line and the Sawmill River Road was the main north and south thoroughfare for the British raids. So dangerous was life that farmers feared to sleep in their own beds at night for fear of kidnaping or murder. This mother of Van Warts met the threat to her family by making a hut of hay resembling a hay stack, and here she tucked her family to bed in safety every night.
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