Historic, but not famous

Augustus Van Cortlandt, city clerk

During the Revolutionary War, Augustus Van Cortlandt, city clerk, hid the most valuable of the city’s records in the family burial vault northeast of the house, where they remained for the duration. The Cortlandt family were prominent members of society and resided in the Bronx. Augustus father, Frederick, built the Van Cortlandt mansion which housed George Washington in October of 1776 as he pulled his forces back from the lost city of Manhattan. Washington spent a few nights at Van Cortlandt House on his way to fight the hopeless Battle of White Plains. Lafayette and Rochambeau also stayed in the house during the Revolutionary War. Seven years later, in November 1783, Washington again slept there on the eve of his triumphal return to New York as victor. The records remained hidden from the British and were restored to the city after independence was won.

Augustus’ descendants lived in the house until the 1880s when the house, along with some Bison, were willed to the city of New York. The home is now a museum and an important part of Revolutionary War and Bronx history. It is also the oldest standing house in The Bronx.

 

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Historic, but not famous

Col Jeromus Remsen, war hero

Colonel Jeromus Remsen was a Revolutionary War Hero. His family came to America in the seventeenth century and his father, Abraham Remsen, settled at Hempstead Swamp, one of the first battle sites in the Battle of Long Island during the Revolutionary Way.

Remsen was also in the French and Indian War and was one of the original settlers of Queens. He joined the Continental Army and kept the British Army from taking cattle as he drove them eastward out of British hands. He was a Colonel of A Regiment of Kings and Queens County Militia in the Battle of Long Island.

A grade school in Forest Hills Queens has been named after him, as well as a street in Manhattan and the Remsen family cemetery which is still in Queens Trotting near Course Lane and Alderton Streets.

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Historic, but not famous

Elizabeth Burgin was an American patriot during the American Revolutionary War. She brought food for prisoners of war housed on British prison ships in New York Harbor. Burgin rowed up to the prisoner ship and waited for POWs to climb in, then transferred them across NY Harbor. She is said to have supplied drugs for the prisoners to put in soldiers beer to make them sleep. She was credited with helping over 200 prisoners escape the ships in 1778. A high bounty of over 200 pounds was offered for her capture, 20 times what most British soldiers made in a lifetime, but she was never caught.

She was granted a pension from the US Army in 1781 for her work.

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Historic, but not famous

Elizabeth Jackson Sands, mother, wife, farm manager and agent in an undercover munitions ring run from her Port Washington property, from the Battle of Brooklyn through to her daring contraband shipment run across the Long Island Sound. With the help of her friends, family, military contacts and slaves, she balanced taking care of her family, raising her crops and cows, and running a contraband munitions smuggling ring out of her cellar and backyard for the Continental Army.

The Sands family was one of the original three families that settled in and owned what is now Sands Point, N.Y. Elizabeth married into the Sands family, wedding John Sands (1737-1811), the eldest of the sons. John served as a colonel during the Revolutionary War and was also a member of the New York State Assembly for Queens County, 1784 to 1785. Elizabeth and John has 10 children. Elizabeth served her country from her Brooklyn home while maintaining property and family while John traveled to battle points during the Revolution.

To learn more about Elizabeth and her heroics during the Revolutionary War, follow the play written by Sarah Lyons (actress, writer, tour guide) on Facebook.

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