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New Video Series on Westchester’s Role in the Revolution

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October 25, 2020

 

Revolutionary Westchester 250 Launches Video Series

Explore Westchester County’s Revolutionary War Sites

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Irvington, New York — October 24, 2020

Revolutionary Westchester 250 (RW250) announced today the release of five videos that will further the goal of building public awareness of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. The series, “Explore Westchester County’s Revolutionary War Sites” has been produced by RW250 and is available to the public.

Each approximately three-minute video features a location in Westchester County with historic significant to the Revolutionary War period. The series has received positive reviews from historians, municipal officials and educators. The first of the five video series features the strategically important Hudson River crossing point known as King’s Ferry/ Verplanck’s Point in the Town of Cortlandt in Westchester County, New York, which was the major lifeline connecting the colonies in New England with New York and the rest of Colonial America. The importance of the Hudson River and specifically Verplanck’s Point was recognized by both the British and Americans during the Revolutionary War.

The public dock, Verplanck’s Point, Town of Cortlandt, New York, looking across toward the western shore. A strategic Hudson River crossing for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Photo © 2020 Erik Weiselberg, PhD.

The funding for the series is from the 2020 Westchester County operating budget. County Executive George Latimer, Natasha Caputo, Director Westchester County Department of Tourism & Film, and County legislators Majority Leader MaryJane Shimsky and Chairman Ben Boykin have all been supportive, along with many others, in the mission to build awareness and appreciation of the role of Westchester County in the American Revolution era. Individual donors and The Institute for Thomas Paine Studies (ITPS) at Iona College, with support from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation funded the series preview video King’s Ferry/Verplanck’s Point.

Following two years of holding popular, free events, now curtailed by the pandemic, RW250 is continuing its mission to bring the Revolution to life through these short and fully researched videos as well as through some virtual events.

The series includes, besides King’s Ferry/Verplanck’s Point; Philips Manor Hall, Yonkers; Patriots Park, Tarrytown; the Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters, Hartsdale; and finally, the Burning of Bedford, which includes both Bedford and Pound Ridge. Each video includes descriptive information on the location of the site and some additional search hints are available to help schools, libraries, heritage, historical or veterans’ groups discuss the video and do informal research. The public can access and share King’s Ferry/ Verplanck’s Point as well as the entire series now from the RW250 website news page, www.rw250.org or from http://facebook.com/revolutionarywestchester250 or directly from the YouTube channel.

Playlist: Explore Westchester County's Revolutionary War Sites

Constance M. Kehoe, President, RW250, explained that this pilot video was produced because, “Place is a powerful tool to connect us to our past. Right now, we have little opportunity to bring history enthusiasts and families together for in- person events and discussions. But we noticed at each of our events since the fall of 2018, that attendees were most engaged when they realized that the place they knew well, for instance Route 9 in Hastings, Leonard Park in Mt. Kisco or Valentine Hill in Yonkers, was also the site where a fascinating piece of history happened. Our slide show programs presented by Erik Weiselberg, PhD, principal historian for RW250, were the first time many of them were aware of that history.”

Reviewing the Kings Ferry/Verplanck’s Point video, Col (Ret.) James M. Johnson, Ph.D., Dr. Frank T. Bumpus Chair in Hudson River Valley History and Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College stated,

“During the Revolution, King’s Ferry was the most important crossing site of the Hudson River north of New York City and witnessed some of the most important events of the War of Independence as you will see in the video. I look forward to future episodes as the 250th draws ever closer. “He added that, “Revolutionary Westchester 250, Inc. has once again ramped up the Hudson River Valley’s efforts to build enthusiasm for the upcoming Sestercentennial (Semiquincentennial) of the American Revolution in 2025 and 2026.”

Verplanck’s Point, painting by John Trumbull, Winterthur Museum

With families struggling to adjust to schooling in a new way, Susan Chester, Co-President of the Lower Westchester Council of the Social Studies, was struck with the power of the old maps featured in the videos, adding, “I am always amazed to discover more about NY’s role in the Revolutionary War. So much of what we are taught in school is focused on Philadelphia and Boston.”

The Yorktown Heritage Preservation Commission, Yorktown, New York, Chairperson Lynn Briggs, responded enthusiastically to the series with, 

“The production of this first informative video, especially during these challenging times, demonstrates Connie Kehoe and the RW250 team’s leadership in highlighting important aspects of Revolutionary War history in support of our nation’s 250th birthday celebration. So little about Westchester’s importance in the Revolutionary War is understood by the public and this video series will go a long way to connecting our communities with their history.”

Constance Kehoe encourages viewers to respond on the YouTube comment section or on the Facebook page. “It’s just six years until 2026,” she noted, “and now is a good time to seek funding and grants to help refresh our Revolutionary War sites with landscaping, benches, signage and other amenities and to plan for programs and events that appeal to both history enthusiasts as well as families and casual visitors.” Programs such as forums and receptions, exhibits of photography, art, historic map and document, community discussion and book groups will appeal to many, while reenactments, plays, musical and cultural performances, hiking, walking, biking and kayak tours and especially food and drink “trails” with a historic twist will attach a wide-range of locals and visitors.


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