Monsey Memories: Sidman’s Tavern

Monsey Memories: Sidman’s Tavern

Yitzy Fried 

Rockland County was the site of much activity during the American Revolutionary War, and several historical sites remain from that time. 

Sidman's bridge, where Route 59 - the old Clove Road - crosses the Ramapo River and where the military post of 1776-1783 was situated within the lower entrance to Smith's Clove, is now a forgotten name. Vestiges of the earthwork laid out by Lieutenant Thomas Machin in 1776 across the narrow gorge below the bridge to block an enemy advance from the south remained into the 20th century. The only contemporary description of this barrier between the mountain and the river, through which the Clove Road passed, was that of Colonel Jedediah Huntington in November 1776, who described it as "a musketry line."

Nearby lies Sidman’s Tavern, recently renamed the Smith House. Sidman's Tavern, on Route 17, skirts the easterly side of the knoll where the Van Deusen-Sidman tavern stood and bypasses the old Clove Road slightly to the west. Pinned oak timbers attest to the age of the frame building on the site, the northerly part of which is believed to be part of the 18th-century hostelry. 

John G. Smith, who married Sidman's daughter prior to 1789, succeeded his father-in-law as the tavern proprietor, and about 1816 added about twelve feet to the building. It continued in Smith ownership until acquired by the Pierson family later in the 19th-century. This photograph taken in 1988 by Claire Tholl shows the west front of the building which faced the Revolutionary War Road.

The Smith House has had various names throughout its history, ranging from Van Deusen’s Tavern to Sidman’s Tavern to Smith’s Tavern or Smith House, as it’s known today. According to historical records documented by Corridor Through the Mountain by Richard Koke, written for the Orange County Historical Society, Isaac Van Deusen (also spelled Van Deursen, Van Duzen) came to the Ramapo Clove in 1724 with his father and settled on land purchased from the local Indians by John Van Blarcum. 

Samuel Sidman, like John Suffern and other innkeepers in the valley, was a signer in 1775 of the General Association, which pledged the support of the Continental Congress. The opening of the first section of the historic Erie Railroad occurred in 1841, with a special train from Piermont to the Hamlet of Ramapo and a grand celebration at the Smith Tavern

Thus, the 300-year-old Smith House is a repository of much of the history in this area and continues to stand as a testament to the early history of the area and, indeed, of the United States of America. 

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