Flat Andre Crosses the Tappan Zee

crossingthetappanzeeI usually stick to my side of the Hudson. I’m familiar with the river towns and of course my beloved Old Dutch Church and my spiritual family at the Reformed Church of the Tarrytowns, but I decided today was the day to take Flat Andre across the river to face the Second Act of the story of his capture and death. Our destination – the Tappan Historical District.  Over 300 hundred years old and first settled by Dutch farmers, this area is rich in American Revolution history. But to get there we had to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge which is getting an overhaul. A new bridge is going up parallel to the current bridge and will eventually replace it. Today, we crossed over on the old bridge.

The Tappan Historical district is off the beaten path, but well worth the adventure. Our first stop – the DeWint House, built by Daniel DeClark around 1700, is a nice example of Dutch Colonial architecture. The DeWint family owned this home during the revolution and hosted General George Washington on four different occasions. The General’s second visit to the DeWint house was to supervise the trial of Major John Andre.

Washington made this his home base. He stayed in the North Room, while the DeWints stayed in the South Room off the kitchen.

The original furnishings are gone, but period pieces have been added to the rooms. This was the “room where it happened” for Major Andre. At his desk in this room, George Washington signed Andre’s death warrant.

On display at the DeWint house are facsimile letters written by George Washington and his officers that relate to the Andre affair. The photo on the left displays the names of the 14 officers that condemned Andre. To the right are the articles that Paulding, Van Wart, and Williams discovered on Andre’s person at the time of his capture.

Also on display is the Capture Medal that was struck for the three militiamen from Tarrytown who captured Andre, as well as two portraits of the Major.

Our next stop was the Reformed Church of Tappan (Dutch Reformed) during the Revolution. This is the place were Major Andre was tried for treason by a military tribunal consisting of 14 generals. The current building was put up in 1835. Andre was tried in the original structure built in 1716. (See note below.)

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After walking through the historic cemetery we stopped off at the Old 76 House. During the Revolution this was Casparus Mabie’s Inn. Built in 1686, it is within walking distance of the church, and served as the prison for Major John Andre.

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Front of the Old 76
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State Historic Marker
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Sign on Tavern

Rob Norden, whose family has done a great job restoring and maintaining the Old 76 House was a good sport about Flat Andre.

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On the same mantle piece with the drawing of John Andre is something I’ve never seen before, but was quite common when Benedict Arnold turned traitor, “Upside, Down Arnold”.

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Evidently people were very confused about how to feel about General Arnold. He was an acknowledge war hero prior to his defection and very popular. So, rather than throw away his portrait, they turned him upside down.

riseandfallofarnold.jpgAt my table we had ordered a bottle of Saratoga Sparkling Water – I love the blue bottle! I put Flat Andre next to the bottle and realized I had the rise and fall of Arnold right in front of me. Saratoga and Andre.

So, after trading stories with Rob and finishing up our lunch, we had the sad task of driving over to the hill where Major Andre heroically met his end and left an audience of officers and soldiers in tears. There is a legend at the DeWint house that General Washington ordered the shutters be closed in order to prevent an opportunity for him to see Andre as he marched off to his death.

The hill where Andre was hanged and buried is now a rural neighborhood. His body was exhumed by the British on August 10, 1821 and returned to England, where it now lies entombed in Westminster Abbey. A granite monument was placed there in 1879. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It is maintained by Rockland County.

The inscription reads:

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“HE WAS MORE UNFORTUNATE THAN CRIMINAL.” “AN ACCOMPLISHED MAN AND GALLANT OFFICER.” GEORGE WASHINGTON.
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“SUNT LACRYMAE RERUM ET MENTEM MORTALIA TANGUNT.” (Tears are due to human misery, and human sufferings touch the mind.) Virgil – The Aeneid

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Thus, our journey to Tappan ended and with it our witness of the final act of the life of Major John Andre. We had a chance to snap one more State Historical Marker on the way out.

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From Tarrytown, NY to Tappan, NY, reliving the final days of Major John Andre has been an opportunity to explore the rich Dutch colonial history of the Hudson River towns and their role in the American Revolution. A great thanks to the AMC for taking a chance on a historical drama like TURN. And kudos to a smart, inquisitive, and inventive fandom that initiated the #TravelingFlatAndre event.

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The tomb of Major Andre was erected at Westminster Abbey at the expense of King George III

Notes:

This site was helpful with the text on the Andre Monument: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sheenachi/752103524

I just learned that the Reformed Church of Tappan and the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow share a common ancestor. We had a visit from a descendant of Dirck Storm recently. Storm was one of the early members of the Old Dutch Church and he took on the daunting task of recording the early history of the Old Dutch from it’s incorporation in 1697 to 1715. His book, “Het Notite Boeck der Christelyckes Kercke op de Manner of Philips Burgh” is a treasured part of our church history and an important document of Dutch colonial lifePrior to coming to Philipsburg Manor, Storms was the  Voorleser of the Tappan Church. He had been sent to Tappan by the British in 1691, where he became the Secretary and Clerk for Orange County, New York. In 1697 he joined his old friend Frederick Philipse I,  and became the tax collector for his Manor.

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