Home of Jane Tuers
Hudson Catholic Regional High School
at 790 Bergen Avenue.
Photo: A. Selvaggio, 2002
Jane Van Reypen Tuers of Bergen Township is recognized as a patriot during the Revolutionary War. She earned her place in local history for reportedly confirming information about a British conspiracy to takeover America's colonial garrison on the west bank of the Hudson River at West Point, NY. Her activism is further noteworthy as it pertains to local historian Harriet Phillips Eaton's observation that "during the Revolution there were only fourteen families living in Bergen whose sympathies were with the colonies" (p. 61).
Tuers lived with her
husband Nicholas Tuers in a farm house located at the southeast corner of Bergen Avenue and Mercer Street (then Church Street). It was on the site of the present Hudson
Catholic High School that extends to Tuers Avenue (named for the family) and the former Fourth
Regiment Armory. Legend holds that
it was her practice to cross the Hudson River on the Paulus
Hook ferry to British-held Manhattan to sell her farm goods. Tuers also
brought food to the Sugar House prison, where the British detained American
soldiers. Her generosity to the near-starving prisoners may have begun when her brother Daniel Van Reypen, while serving in the local militia, had been incarcerated.
On one such New York visit, Tuers made her usual stop in the popular, and now historic, Fraunces Tavern at Broad and Pearl Streets. Here she spoke with the patriot owner "Black Sam" Fraunces from the West Indies. He informed Tuers of what he overheard at his establishment. British soldiers spent leisure time at the tavern and discussed the latest military strategy along with their refreshments. According to Fraunces, the soldiers had been toasting the American hero of the Battle of Saratoga, General Benedict Arnold, who was planning to deliver the American fortification at West Point to the British.
When Tuers returned home, she informed her brother Daniel Van Reypen, a blacksmith, about the conspiracy. A staunch patriot, Van Reypen traveled by horse to Hackensack, where he advised General "Mad" Anthony Wayne of the British scheme. Wayne reportedly sent Van Reypen to see General George Washington, who it is said offered Van Reypen a reward. Local historian Owen Grundy reports that Van Reypen declined the money award and requested only that Washington intercede in the event of his capture (History of Jersey City, p. 24).
The information provided
by Tuers confirmed what Washington had heard rumored about Arnold. It
was received three days in advance of the arrest of Major John Andre at Tarrytown, on September 23, 1780, the British
agent working with Arnold. On August 5, Arnold had been assigned the stationary command
at West Point after war injuries, but he was dissatisfied with the post.
After the discovery of Arnold's treasonous plot, he escaped and defected to
the British, becoming one of America's best-known traitors. Andre, adjutant to British General Henry Clinton, was
tried, convicted, and hanged as a spy at Tappan on October 2.
Jane Van Reypen Tuers and her brother Daniel (1736-1811) were the children of Cornelius and Aeltje (Van Winkle) Van Reypen. In Charles H. Winfield's genealogy of the Van Reypen family, her birth date is not recorded, but it appears that she was baptized on April 16, 1745, and married Nicholas Tuers on May 15, 1766 (p. 501). The Van Reypen family may trace their ancestry to the founding families of Bergen in the 1660s (Winfield 497-507). Tuers died at her home in 1834. She is buried in an unmarked grave (Lot 136) in the Old Bergen Church Cemetery on Bergen and Highland Avenues. Her home was demolished in 1894 for construction of the old Fourth Regiment Armory.
In a 1968 Jersey Journal article, Grundy reports that a bronze tablet in memory of Jane Tuers was placed at the old Armory by the Jane Tuers Society, Children of the American Revolution in 1925. This society was sponsored by the Bergen Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and organized in 1917. After the old Armory was razed for the National Guard Armory at Montgomery Street and Jordan Avenue, the marker for Jane Tuers was lost for a time. Grundy recommended that if the plaque were to be found it should be placed on the facade of Hudson Catholic High Regional School on Bergen Avenue built in 1965. The plaque may be found there today.
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub