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Bergen Patriots

The English evacuated Paulus Hook November 22, 1783. It is said that during the Revolution there were only fourteen families in Bergen whose sympathies were with the Colonies. Among these were some very devoted patriots whose memory should be cherished. Prominent among them are the names of Mrs. Jane Van Reypen Tuers and her brother Daniel Van Reypen. Mrs. Tuers lived at the old Tuers house, the site of which is now occupied by the Armory on the corner of Mercer street and Bergen avenue. During the time the British occupied New York the American prisoners in their hands suffered for food and Mrs. Tuers carried to them sacks of provisions every week. From the weight of the heavy burdens she injured her shoulder and arm so seriously that she was crippled for the remainder of her life.

Upon these occasions she used to go to "Black Sam's" Tavern, which was a rendezvous for the English officers. One day, under pledges to not reveal the source of her information, Black Sam told her that he had overheard British officers talking of a conspiracy in the American Camp. She told her brother, Daniel Van Reypen, who went to Hackensack ostensibly to visit relatives; he saw General Wayne, and saying that he could trust him, advised him to mark every tent in the camp as there was a conspiracy. General Wayne sent the warning to Washington; thus was Arnold's treason learned three days before the capture of Andre. General Washington offered Mr. Van Reypen a reward in money to which he replied, " No, I do not serve my country for money ; but in case I am taken prisoner by the English I would like to be released," upon which Washington said " that the best hostages should be given for him." Mr. Van Reypen built and lived in the house still standing on Fairmount avenue, No. 320, a little west from Bergen avenue. Mrs. Tuers died in 1834, and her remains lie in an unmarked grave in lot 136 of the cemetery on Bergen avenue, east of the church.

Now the site of Hudson Catholic High School, just north of McGinley Square on Bergen Avenue
General Bayard, who owned an estate at Hoboken called Castile -- since known as Castle Point -- was at one time friendly to the Americans, but later he became a very pronounced Tory and very vindictive towards all who sympathized with them. At one time Mr. Daniel Van Reypen was arrested and taken before him, when General Bayard greeted him with the question, "Old man, where is your rebel coat?" Mr. Van Reypen responded, "The coat does not make the man, it is the heart." Later, Mr. Van Reypen met General Bayard in New York, near the river, when General Bayard threatened to strike him with his riding whip, to which Mr. Van Reypen coolly replied that if he did, he would throw him off the dock, and the angry General passed on.

Another sister of Mr. Van Reypen's had an amusing encounter with a loyalist friend, a Mrs. Outhout, who was constantly assuring her that the rebels would be defeated and that "there would be a devil of a stroke very soon." When Cornwallis surrendered, Mrs. Van Horn quietly reminded her of her prophesies and asked "if this was the stroke?"

Catherine Van Winkle and her younger sister Maria were very heroic girls whose names should not be forgotten. They often carried messages from Lafayette to Washington at Belleville; on one occasion they walked there in the night to warn Washington of a plot of the English to surround and capture him. To their quick wit an American soldier owned his life. He was at their father's house, an old stone house a little south of Colonel Spier's burying ground, near where Highland and Idaho avenues now cross, when a party of English soldiers surrounded the house in search of him. The girls hid him between the feather and straw beds of their bed, and then retired, and when the English entered the room to search for him were seemingly sound asleep. The English prodded with their bayonets under the bed and searched every closet and corner but failed to find him. Catherine married a Mr. Sheppard and was a well-known and beloved character on the Hill until comparatively recent times; born in June, 1763, she lived to be one hundred years and six months old, and was bright, cheerful and active to the last. Her remains lie in van unmarked grave in the cemetery opposite the Dutch Reformed Church. Washington appreciated the loyalty of the family and was a guest of their father's, sometimes dining there. One branch of the Van Winkle family still have in their possession a handkerchief left by Washington upon an occasion of his staying over night at the Stuyvesant Tavern.

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