Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Pelhamite Rem Rapelje, a Loyalist, Was "Rode on Rails" During the Revolutionary War

A prevalent extrajudicial punishment by mob during colonial times was known as "riding the rail" or being "run out of town on a rail."  A victim of such punishment was forced to straddle a rail, usually with his hands tied behind his back.  A group then lifted the rail to their shoulders and paraded the victim, who often also was tarred and feathered, throughout the community.  Although the treatment was quite painful, it also was intended to humiliate the victim and force him to conform to the mob's demands -- or leave the community.  

American patriots during the Revolutionary War used the mob punishment against Loyalists in their midst.  One such Loyalist who lived in Brooklyn at the time, but later became an important landowner in, and resident of, the Town of Pelham was Rem Rapelje.

I have written of Rem Rapelje and the Rapelje family in Pelham before.  For a few examples, see:

Wed., Oct. 03, 2007:  Book by George Rapelje, Pelham Resident Along With His Father, Rem Rapelje, Published in 1834.  

Mon., Feb. 27, 2006:  Another Description of the Farm of Rem Rapelje of Pelham Published in 1806.  

Wed., Aug. 24, 2005:  1807 Advertisement for Sale of Property of Rem Rapelje in Pelham.

Rem Rapelje was born in Brooklyn, New York during the mid-1700s.  He lost his father as a young child.  His mother remarried but his relationship with his stepfather was quite poor and, according to his son, George Rapelje, Rem "sought for friendly aid elsewhere."  As a young man, Rem Rapelje hustled for his living.  As a very, very young man, he was a ship owner.  He also dealt in general merchandise and kept a store on Maiden Lane in New York City "directly in rear of his dwelling."  An uncle who was in the "corn, grain, and flour business" and owned a store for the business took him into the store "which was at the fork of Maiden Lane and Crown Street."  Soon, on behalf of the business, he was sent in a schooner to Curacao.

Rem Rapelje was a Loyalist, but he remained in the New York region after the Revolutionary War.  When the war ended, he purchased a farm known as "Glass House Farm" located along the Hudson River about three miles from New York City.

By 1790, according to both the 1790 U.S. Census and a plan of pews for St. Paul's Church in Eastchester, Rem Rapelje had moved to Pelham.  See Wed., Aug. 15, 2007:  Plan of Pews in St. Paul's Church 1790.  He purchased a massive 300 acre farm on Pelham Neck and the surrounding region.  He had a brother-in-law named John Hardenbrook who also resided in Pelham.  He lived in Pelham on that farm until his death in about 1805.

Notice Published After Rem Rapelje's Death in the November
30, 1805 Issue of The Evening Post.  [Text Transcribed
Immediately Below].  Source:  TAKE NOTICE [Advertisement],
The Evening Post, Nov. 30, 1805, p. 2, col. 2 (NOTE:  Paid
subscription required to access link.)  NOTE:  Click on Image
to Enlarge.

"TAKE NOTICE. . . . . All persons having just or legal demands against the estate of REM RAPELJE, late of the town of Pelham, in Westchester County, and formerly of the city of New York, merchant, deceased, are requested to present their accounts well authenticate for instant payment; and those indebted to said estate to make payment to GEORGE RAPLJE, Executor, 14 Vesey street.  Nov. 29 1m"

Before Rem Rapelje's death, his son, George Rapelje, moved to Pelham and lived for a time with his father.  Thereafter, George Rapelje sold the farm in Pelham and moved to New York City.  (As a source for much of this background information, see Rapelje, George, A Narrative of Excursions, Voyages, and Travels, Performed at Different Periods in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, pp. 2, 3, 11, 56-57 (NY, NY: West & Trow, 1834).

As a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, Rem Rapelje found himself subject to  humiliation by a mob of American Patriots, at least according to a letter found in the collections of The New-York Historical Society.  That letter, dated "Staten Island, August 17, 1776," states:

"The persecution of the loyalists continues unremitted.  Donald McLean, Theophilus Hardenbrook, young Fueter, the silversmith, and Rem Rapelje of Brooklyn have been cruelly rode on rails, a practice most painful, dangerous, and, till now, peculiar to the humane republicans of New England."

[For a full citation to the letter and a published version of it, see the end of today's posting.]

Image Depicting a Colonial Mob Riding a Poor Victim
Who Has Been Tarred and Feathered on a Rail.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Detail of Map Prepared in 1853 Showing Pelham Neck and Lands
Owned by the Rapelje Family. Source: Dripps, Matthew & Conner,
R.F.O., Southern Part of West-Chester County N. Y. (1853) (Museum
of the City of New York, No. 29.100.2628).  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *

"In the 'Upcott Collection' in the New York Historical Society Library, Vol. IV., p. 288, is a letter dated 'Staten Island, August 17, 1776,' which says:

'The persecution of the loyalists continues unremitted.  Donald McLean, Theophilus Hardenbrook, young Fueter, the silversmith, and Rem Rapelje of Brooklyn have been cruelly rode on rails, a practice most painful, dangerous, and, till now, peculiar to the humane republicans of New England.'"

Source:  De Lancey, Edward Floyd, ed., History of New York During the Revolutionary War and of the Leading Events in the Other Colonies at that Period, by Thomas Jones, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Province, Vol. I, p. 597 (NY, NY:  Trow's Printing & Bookbinding Co., Printed for the New York Historical Society, 1879) (New York Historical Society -- The John D. Jones Fund Series of Histories and Memoirs).  

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home