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Historic Rivertowns

Tarrytown Celebrates Juneteenth By Correcting A 94-Year-Old Mistake

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June 19, 2024

By Barrett Seaman–

In 1853, the good folk of Tarrytown sought out a place in the village where they could erect a monument to the patriot militiamen who captured the British spy, Major John Andre and learned of the treachery of General Benedict Arnold. A couple who owned land in the heart of town offered to donate a large parcel in what is now the southern half of Patriots Park. It was most appropriate as it was nearby the site where Major Andre was captured in 1780.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the capture, a marker was placed on the fence surrounding the monument by the Westchester County Federation of colored women’s clubs “as a tribute to the memory of Mrs. Mary Taylor who gave this ground on which the present monument now stands.”

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Except that Mrs. Taylor was not Mary but Laura, a woman who with her husband William Taylor was a freed slave who had been close friends and companions of a wealthy southern plantation owner who died and left them a portion of his estate. That allowed them to buy land in Tarrytown—and later to donate that land—a remarkable tale of two African-Americans in pre-Civil War America.

No, it’s not Mary. It”s Laura

Somehow over the years, the mistaken name, by now emblazoned on a metal plaque facing Broadway, was perpetuated until Tarrytown’s Village Historian discovered the error.

The Village Board of Trustees decided that Juneteenth, now established as an official holiday, would be an appropriate occasion upon which to correct the error. Thus on June 19th, 2024, the village held a ceremony to reveal the new signage that would replace the erroneous one later this summer. Trustee Thomas Mitchell, himself an African-American, and Historian Mascia recounted the remarkable journey of the Taylors that Mascia has meticulously reconstructed. Mayor Karen Brown declared June 19th, 2024 as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

*                         *                         *

Elsewhere in the rivertowns, Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow held a celebration at that historic property on June 17th,  the Monday before.

Philipsburg Manor

Irvington plans for a more elaborate event on the grounds of Villa Lewaro, Madam C.J. Walker’s mansion ion North Broadway to be held on Saturday, June 22nd.

Villa Lewaro

While there are no scheduled public events in Hastings-on-Hudson, the village library has a well-crafted display.

The Juneteenth display at Hastings Public Library
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