July 4th, 2016 at the Old Dutch

Well, I missed Saturday at the Old Dutch on July 2nd. I was stuck in Chicago because 2500 flights were cancelled or delayed on July 1st due to thunderstorm activity in the Northeast shutting down all of the airports. My only option was to wait it out in the Courtyard Marriott and suck it up until I could get “Outta Chicago O’Hare” on Sunday. Note to self, business conferences should not end on the day before a major holiday weekend.

But I got home on Sunday and was back at the Old Dutch on July 4th to open the church for visitors. We didn’t have anything special planned. I was just there to meet folks and answer questions. Most people were on the road and discovered the Old Dutch via on-line searches or Google maps. Folks from as far away as Dallas and as close as West Point crossed our threshold. And speaking of West Point, a certain name came up over and over today – Major John Andre. The season finale of Turn on AMC hit close to home.


Major Andre was captured by men who grew up in the Old Dutch Church. There’s a monument to their service in Tarrytown. No matter how sad we all were to see JJ Feild walk his Major Andre to the gallows, we can’t forget the significance of this moment in the American Revolution. Somewhere I read that Washington said the capture of Andre was as important as the victory at Saratoga. If the British had captured West Point, they would have controlled the Hudson River and very likely split the colonies to win the war. It’s no wonder that after Andre’s capture, John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart were awarded an annual pension of $200 each as well as a medal. But Benedict Arnold, the hero of Saratoga and the villain in this story went free. It is written that American officers wept at the hanging of John Andre. It was Arnold they wanted. In the early 19th century, Major Andre’s body was returned to Westminster Abbey where he was interred in Hero’s Corner.

Monument to Major John Andre, Westminster Abbey
Major John Andre monument, Westminster Abbey

He was more unfortunate than criminal,
An accomplished man and a gallant officer.”
—George Washington

Arnold was not so revered in death. From britishheritage.com

“Arnold lived on until 1801. He was buried in the Church of St. Mary’s, Battersea, but a clerk entered the deceased’s name into the church records incorrectly, so that when the church underwent renovation a century later, workers had no idea whose grave they had opened when they disinterred him and tossed his body into an unmarked common grave, with dozens of other anonymous remains.”  

Meanwhile, at Saratoga, there is a monument to the General Arnold’s boot. From Patriots.wordpress.com


Before Paulding, Williams & Van Wart took Andre back across the river to patriot headquarters, they stopped off at the kitchen of the mother of fellow militiaman James Romer. Frena Romer had fed the men breakfast earlier in the day and packed a lunch for them in a pewter bowl to take with them on their patrol. When they showed up with Andre she prepared an evening meal. At this point they all knew they had a high-ranking British officer in the kitchen who was probably used to a higher quality of food than she could provide. She offered the General a plate to which he replied, “Madam, it is all very good, but indeed I cannot eat.”

Andre and Frena probably didn’t realize that they had something in common – Swiss roots. Frena and her future husband Jacob are the Old Dutch Church’s love story. Running away from Switzerland when Frena’s father would not approve of a marriage with Jacob they ended up as indentured servants in America, working for two different masters. They lost touch with each other, but Jacob worked off his indenture in 5 years and started looking for Frena. The postman offered to help him search as he made his circuit on the Albany Post Road. One day he came back with Frena riding on the back of this horse. The lovers were reunited and married at the Old Dutch in 1754.

First generation immigrants gave birth to the first generation of American patriots.

About the pewter bowl. Frena sent the boys out to recover her bowl which was left behind in all of the commotion over the capture of Andre. It became a prized possession in the Romer family – an artifact of the day Major John Andre was captured in Tarrytown.

Jacob and Frena are buried in the Old Dutch Church Burying ground.

Jacob Romer
The Memorial to Jacob and Frena Romer, Patriots

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