Captain John Romer

public profile

Is your surname Romer?

Research the Romer family

Captain John Romer's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Captain John Romer

Birthdate: (90)
Death: May 27, 1855 (86-94)
Elmford, New York
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob Romer
Husband of Lea Romer

Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Captain John Romer John Romer1 M, b. circa December 1764, d. 27 May 1855

    They got the Van Tassel farm at Elmford.1 John Romer was also known as Capt.1 He married Lea Van Tassel, daughter of Cornelius Van Tassel and Elizabeth Storm.1 John Romer and Lea Van Tassel were Type: Children three.1 John Romer was baptized circa December 1764.1 He died on 27 May 1855 at Elmford, NY.1

Family: John Romer and Lea Van Tassel Citations

   [S209] Mary DeWitt, Van Tassel File, Compiler Address: Ridgewood Public Library, Ridgewood, NJ 07450. HISTORICAL SKETCHES

"Old Mr. (Jacob) and Mrs. Romer, parents of John Romer, came from the same parish, or village, in Switzer- land, and had become attached to each other in early child- hood; she the daughter of a farmer, and he the son of a tailor and a tailor himself. When grown up they wanted to marry, but her parents refused consent. They then determined to seek their fortunes in America, and left their native place together. When they arrived at New York she had money to pay her passage, while his means were ex- hausted. He was about to sell himself for a time, as the custom was then, when she said : 'You can earn money to purchase my freedom sooner than I can yours. Let me be sold, then you can work at your trade until you can earn enough to buy my time, when we will marry.' He consented to this arrangement and paid for his passage with her money, while she was sold. When he had earned sufficient, her freedom was bought, and so they were married, August 11, 1754. Her name was Frena Haarlager.

This Jacob had five sons, John, James, Jacob, Joseph and Hendrick, all of whom were Revolutionary soldiers. The latter, born 1755, afterwards removed to Cortland town, where he died 1808, leaving descendants by two marriages. John married Leah, the only daughter of Cornelius Van Tassel. James Romer was one of those who made up the party at the time of capture of Andre, but the following account is given by John, who was afterwards known as Captain John Romer : "The captors of Andre stopped at my father's in the morning before day and took breakfast, and took a dinner, prepared for them by my mother, in a pewter basin and basket. They stopped a little upon the hillock east of the road and north of the brook, afterwards crossed the road and when they captured Andre were south of the brook. After the capture they forgot all about the basket and basin, but on arriving at our house described where they had left them and I was sent for and found them. Paulding returned from the capture in advance of the rest. My


mother was a very warm Whig. Paulding said to her, "Aunt Fanny, take care what you say now ; I believe we've got a British officer with us." My father's house was about a quarter of a mile from the White Plains and Tarry town Road, and a quarter from the Post Road. The brook where Andre was taken was called Qark's Kill. After his capture he was taken into the thicket on the east side of the road and to the old white-wood tree, about 150 yards from the brook near which he was taken, and it was under that tree that they searched him and discovered his papers."


Of the thirteen children of John and Leah Romer, we have but meager records, save in one or two instances. Isaac died when six years old ; Cornelius died at the age of thirty-six; Edward died when quite young; Hiram married and settled in central New York, near Jamesville, south of Syracuse; John married and made his home in Tarrytown until his wife Cecelia died, afterwards he made his home in New York. Ardenas married Deborah Ann Free, and had four children— Silas, Isaac, Rachel and Elizabeth, all of whom are now deceased. A daughter of Rachel, Myra S. Walker, now lives at Moline, 111.

Alexander married first Henrietta D. Crane in New York, and later removed to Buffalo, N. Y. Of this mar- riage five children were born— Ann, Isaac. Livingston, Washington and Martin. The three last named served with credit in the Civil War. Washington was wounded at Chat- tanooga. He married, had one daughter, and died at New- ark, N. J. Livingston died of wounds received in Virginia. Martin married, had one daughter, and died at Hurley, N. Y. Ann married Henry Jeudevine, and settled in Detroit. Isaac married Wealthy A. Burt and settled in Buffalo, where he died in 1907, leaving a son and one daughter, Sarah B. Romer. In 1845, Alexander Romer married his second wife, Caroline C. Lockwood, daughter of Lieutenant Luther Lockwood, a soldier of the War of 1812, and Minerva Hawley, his wife. There were four children of this mar- riage—James Fuller and Emma Palmer, both of whom Leah Van Tassel (1775-1843) married John Romer (1767-1855). They lived in Elmsford, NY. He served in the Dutchess County Militia during the Revolutionary War and was known as Captain Romer. Children included Isaac (1804-1811 b. Sleepy Hollow), Alexander (1801-1888) who married Caroline Lockwood, Elizabeth and Catherine. Alexander's children are James Fuller Romer (died young), Emma Palmer Romer, John Lockwood Romer who married Katherine M Taylor of Cleveland Ohio and Lived in Buffalo, and Carrie Romer. John and Katherine's children are Ray Florence and Mabel. The British scouting parties having met with many humiliating defeats at the hands of these defenders, Governor Tryon determined to adopt harsh measures to exterminate them. James Delancey, the Tory Sheriff of the County, was the Colonel of the Westchester Co. Militia, a regiment that had been organized for a number of years previous to the Revolution. Many of the members of the South Battalion were also enrolled as members of that regiment, but were looked upon as deserters by the British. Governor Tryon directed Col. Delancey to recruit a company out of his regiment which were called Rangers. They were mounted, and the Governor, to stimulate enlistments in that branch of the service, gave them a reward of twenty-five dollars for the capture of every committeeman, and five dollars each for every deserter. This command soon grew to be a very effective regiment. They were given the name of Cow Boys, as their thorough knowledge of the roads and country was a great help to them in that particular line of cattle capture. On the night of Nov. 17, 1777, Peter and Cornelius Van Tassel were taken prisoners at their homes by Capt. Emmerick's command from King's Bridge, a part of which also proceeded to the house of Maj. Abraham Storms, which they partially burned. The enemy having collected the Van Tassel's stock of cattle, made sure their prisoners should not escape as they tied their hands to their horses' tails, in which position they compelled them to drive their cattle to their camp. While they were preparing to burn the dwelling, Lt. Van Tassel's son, Cornelius, Jr., having secreted himself in the attic, was driven out by the smoke. Throwing a blanket over his head he came down stairs and sprang over the lower half of the hall door and ran rapidly to the Saw Mill River, pursued by the enemy, who gave up the chase when they found that he had broken his way through the ice, in order to escape to the Farcus Hott, the picket station on Beaver Mountain. Cornelius, Jr., died Jan. 3, 1780, as the result of his exposure at the time of his father's capture. While the dwelling was burning one of the soldiers actuated with praiseworthy feelings of humanity obtained a feather bed and threw it over the mother and child, who were then left to care for themselves as best they could. They afterward found temporary shelter in a dirt cellar, the only habitation left upon the farm. Capt. John Romer gives the following account of the affair, date of 1845: "The night on which the houses were surprised and burnt was one of the coldest of the season. Cornelius Van Tassel on the first alarm sprang from the windows and tried to escape, being almost naked. He was taken, but never recovered from the exposure of that night. The Tory Captain, Joshua Barnes, acted as guide for Emerick that night, and his voice was heard above the tumult.: 'The houses are both owned by d____d Rebels--burn them!' My wife, Leah Van Tassel, was the only daughter of Cornelius, and she was the infant taken out of the house in a blanket by a soldier, laid carefully in the snow and the mother, distracted, was seeking her babe when he told her where the child was. The only son, Cornelius, Jr., fled for safety half naked to the roof of the house and held on by the chimney, from which when the fire began to reach him he jumped to the ground. He escaped that night, but caught cold from which he never recovered." It was about this time that Gov. Tryon issued his infamous order to "Burn Tarrytown," which provoked swift reprisal in the destruction of Gen. Oliver Delancey's house down the river in the night from this place. And so Lieut. Cornelius and Peter Van Tassel were cruelly and ignominiously carried away to New York as prisoners. A petition signed by Lieut. Cornelius and Peter Van Tassel, as Committeemen, and others, drawn up at the Provost Goal, date of Feb. 6, 1778, is on file among the Clinton papers, in which they set forth that they are there as Committeemen, and hence unable to get exchanged, and they ask the Governor to help them out of their dilemma so that they may be returned to their families, which it appears he was not very soon able to do. The official records show that their release from prison took place on the 17th of Oct. 1778, making just 11 months of captivity. The following is copied from the book of Audited Accounts pertaining to the Revolution in the State Archives at Albany. When peace was at last proclaimed, Lt. Van Tassel purchased his old farm from the Commissioners of Forfeiture, but on account of the losses incurred, was unable to rebuild his dwelling. His only son having died from exposure received in fighting for his country, he postponed the affair until the marriage of his daughter Leah, to John Romer, son of Jacob Romer, Sr., who with his three brothers had been active participants in the cause of Independence; and in 1793, they erected the dwelling still standing, of which a photo representation appears herewith, and where for upward of fifty years the annual town meetings of the township of Greensburgh were held. Here Lt. Van Tassel and wife, Jacob Romer, Sr., and wife, and their son John Romer and wife spent their remaining days. John Romer became Captain in the war of 1812, and took an active part in those proceedings that were productive in the advancement of the best interests of the community. He was not only a well known man among men, bit it is said, was decided by vote at a general election to be the best looking man in the town! He died at the age of 90, beloved by every one. Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel died Mar. 6, 1820, in the 86th year of his age, and Elizabeth Storms his wife, died Mar. 25, 1825, in the 87th year of her age. J. C. L. Hamilton, of Elmsford, is the grandson of John Romer and great-grandson of Lieut. Cornelius Van Tassel. Peter Van Tassel's name appears as a member of Capt. Daniel Martling's Company as early as 1776, and as already stated he was a member of the Committee of Public Safety for this County when taken prisoner and carried away to the Provost Gaol in New York in Nov., 1777. His tombstone in the old Dutch Churchyard shows that he was born in May, 1728, and that he died in Sept., 1784, just after the close of the Revolutionary war, and probably as a result of the hardships endured during that period. His birth, and consequently parentage, do not appear in the records of the old Dutch Church, and the latter for some evaded all research, but it was finally discovered in the will of Johannis Van Tassel (son of Jacob) of Philipsburg, recorded in the Surrogate's office in the city of New York. The will is dated Dec. 23, 1771. By it the testator gives to his wife Trintje, (Buys), his son Jacob, daughter Anna, widow of Jacob Wormer, daughter Rachel wife of John Van Tassel, daughter Catrina wife of Abram Ecker, "son of Abm," and grand child of Catrina daughter of his son John Van Tassell, dec'd, and appoints his well beloved sons Peter and Jacob his executors. So Peter was the son of Johannis who had married Trintje, and the brother of famous Major Jacob Van Tassel of Wolfert's Roost, also brother of Catrina who married Abraham Acker of Ecker, 2d, and John, took title to his farm of 150 acres in the Saw Mill River Valley just south of and adjoining the farm of Lieut. Cornelus Van Tassel, who was his kinsman. The will of Hendrick Van Tassel, who had married Balith Buys, also appears in the Surrogate's office at New York City, date of 1771. He gave his wife Balith, sons John and Hendrick, daughters Mary and Balithy Slymets. Jacob Van Tassel, the son of Johannis Van Tassel and Catharine his wife, was baptised Nov. 10, 1744. Hester Van Tassel his wife, was the daughter of a Johannis Van Tassel and Helena Hammen his wife. They were married Sept. 23, 1764. Their home was at the Wolfert Acker place, long known as "Wolfert's Roost." The following fancy sketch of the Roost and its brave defender, Lieut. Jacob Van Tassell, from the gifted pen of Washington Irving is well introduced here: "The situation of the Roost is in the very heart of what was the debateable ground between the American and British lines, during the war. The British held possession of the city of New York, and the island of Manhattan, on which it stands. The Americans drew up towards the highlands, holding their headquarters at Peekskill. The intervening country, from Croton River to Spiting Devil Creek, was the debateable land, subject to be harried by friend and foe, like the Scottish borders of yore. It is rugged country, with a line of rocky hills extending through it like a backbone, sending ribs on either side; but among these rude hills are beautiful winding valleys, like those watered by the Pocantico and the Neperan. In the fastnesses of these hills, and along these valleys, exists a race of hard-headed, stout-hearted Dutchmen, descended of the primitive Netherlanders. Most of these were strong whigs throughout the war, and have ever remained obstinately attached to the soil, and neither to be fought nor bought out of their paternal acres. Others were tories, and adherents to the old kingly rule; some of whom took refuge within the British lines, joined the royal bands of refugees, (a name odious to the American ear), and occasionally returned to harass their ancient neighbors. In a little while this debateable land was overrun by predatory bands from either side; sacking hen-roosts, plundering farm-houses, and driving off cattle. Hence arose those two great orders of border chivalry, the Skinners and the Cow Boys, famous in the heroic annals of Westchester County. The former fought, or rather, marauded under the American, the latter under the British banner; but both, in the hurry of their military ardor, were apt to err on the safe side, and rob friend as well as foe. Neither of them stopped to ask the politics of horse or cow, which they drove into captivity; nor, when they wrung the neck of a rooster, did they trouble their heads to ascertain whether he was crowing for Congress or King George. While this marauding system pervailed on shore, the Great Tappan Sea, which washes this belligerent region, was domineered over by British frigates and other vessels of war, anchored here and there, to keep an eye upon the river, and maintain a communication between the various military posts. Stout galleys, also armed with eighteen pounders, and navigated with sails and oars, cruised about like hawks, ready to pounce upon their prey. All these were eyed with bitter hostility by the Dutch yeomanry along shore, who were indignant at seeing their great Mediterranean ploughed by hostile prows; and would occasionally throw up a mud breast-work on a point of promontory, mount an old iron field-piece, and fire away at the enemy, though the greatest harm was apt to happen to themselves, from the bursting of their ordnance, nay, there was scarce a Dutchman along the river that would hesitate to fire with his long duck gun at any British cruiser that came within his reach, as he had been accustomed to fire at water fowl. I have been thus particular in my account of the times and neighborhood, that the reader might the more readily comprehend the surrounding dangers in this, the heroic age of the Roost. It was commanded at the time, as I have already observed, by the stout Jacob Van Tassel. As I wish to be extremely accurate in this part of my chronicle, I an Tassel, commonly known in border story by the name of 'clump-footed Jack,' a noted tory, and one of the refugee band of Spiting Devil. On the contrary, he of the Roost was a patriot of the first water; and, if we may take his own word for granted, a thorn in the side of the enemy. As the Roost, from its lonely situation on the water's edge, might be liable to attack, he took measures for defence. On a row of hooks, above his fire-place, reposed his great piece of ordnance, ready charged and primed for action. This was a duck, or, rather, goose-gun of unparalleled longitude--with which it was said he could kill a wild goose, though half way across the Tappan Sea. Indeed, there are as many wonders told of this renowned gun as of the stone walls of his mansion he had made loop-holes, through which he might fire upon an assailant. His wife was stout-hearted as himself, and could load as fast as he could fire; and then he had an ancient and redoubtable sister, Nochie van Wurmer, a match, as he said, for the stoutest man in the country. Thus garrisoned, the little Roost was fit to stand a siege, and Jacob van Tassel was the man to defend it to the last charge of powder. "He was, as I have already hinted, of pugnacious propensities; and, not content with being a patriot at home, and fighting for the security of his own fireside, he extended his thoughts abroad, and entered into a confederacy with certain of the bold, hard-riding lads of Tarrytown, Petticoat Lane and Sleepy Hollow--who formed a kind of holy brotherhood, scouring the country to clear it of skinners and cowboys, and all other border vermin. The Roost was one of their rallying points. Did a band of marauders from Manhattan island come sweeping through the neighborhood, and driving off cattle, the stout Jacob and his compeers were soon clattering at their heels, and fortunate did the rogues esteem themselves, without a rough handling. Should the moss troopers succeed in passing with their cavalgada, with thundering tramp and dusty whirlwind, across King's Bridge, the holy brotherhood of the Roost would reign up at that perilous pass, and, wheeling about, would indemnify themselves by foraging the refugee region of Morrisania. "When at home at roost, the stout Jacob was not idle; he was prone to carry on a petty warfare of his own, for his private recreation and refreshment. Did he ever chance to espy, from his look-out place, a hostile ship or galley anchored or becalmed near shore, he would take down his long goose-gun from the hooks over the fire-place, sally out alone, and lurk along shore, dodging behind rocks and trees, and watching for hours together, like a veteran mouser intent on a rat hole. So sure as a boat put off for shore, and came within shot, bang went the great goose-gun; a shower of slugs and buck-shot whistled about the ears of the enemy, and, before the boat could reach the shore, Jacob had scuttled up some woody ravine, and left no trace behind. "About this time the Roost experienced a vast accession of war-like importance, in being made one of the stations of the water guard. This was a kind of aquatic corps of observation, composed of long, sharp canoe-shaped boats, technically called whale-boats, that lay lightly on the water, and could be rowed with great rapidity. They were manned by resolute fellows, skilled at pulling an oar or handling a musket. These lurked about in nooks and bays, and behind those long promontories which run out into the Tappan Sea, keeping a look-out, to give notice of the approach or movements of hostile ships. They roved about in pairs, sometimes at night, with muffled oars, gliding like spectres about frigates and guard-ships riding at anchor; cutting off any boat that made for shore, and keeping the enemy in constant uneasiness. These mosquito cruisers generally kept aloof by day, so that their harboring places might not be discovered, but would pull quietly along, under shadow of the shore, at night, to take up their quarters at the Roost. Hither, at such time, would also repair the hard-riding lads of the hills, to hold secret councils of war with the "ocean chivalry;" and in these nocturnal meetings, were concerted many of those daring forays, by land and water, that resounded throughout the border." The chronicler here goes on to recount divers wonderful stories of the wars of the Roost, from which it would seem that this little warrior nest carried the terror of its arms into every sea from Spiting Devil Creek to St. Anthony's Nose; that it even bearded the stout island of Manhattan, invading it at night, penetrating to its centre, and burning down the famous DeLancey house, the conflagration of which makes such a blaze in revolutionary history. Nay, more; in their extravagant daring, these cocks of the Roost meditated a nocturnal descent upon New York itself, to swoop upon the British commanders, Howe and Clinton, by surprise, bear them off captive, and, perhaps, put a triumphant close to the war. "This doughty Dutchman (continues the sage Diedrich Knickerbocker) was not content with taking a share in all the magnanimous enterprises concocted at the Roost, but still continued his petty warfare along shore. A series of exploits at length raised his confidence in his prowess to such a height, that he began to think himself and his goose-gun a match for anything. Unluckily, in the course of one of his prowlings, he descried a British transport aground, not far from shore, with her stern swung towards the land within point-blank shot. The temptation was too great to be resisted; bang! as usual went the great goose-gun, shivering the cabin windows, and driving all hands forward. Bang! bang! the shots were repeated. The reports brought several sharp-shooters of the neighborhood to the spot; before the transport could bring a gun to bear, or land a boat, to take revenge, she was soundly peppered, and the coast evacuated. She was the last of Jacob's triumphs. He fared, like some heroic spider, that had unwittingly snared a hornet--to his immortal glory, perhaps, but to the utter ruin of his web.

"It was not long after this, during the absence of Jacob Van Tassel on one of his forays, and when no one was in garrison but his stout-hearted spouse, his redoubtable sister, Nochie Van Wurmer, and a strapping negro wench called Dinah, that an armed vessel came to anchor off the Roost and a boat full of men pulled to shore. The garrison flew to arms--that is to say, to mops, broomsticks, shovels, tongs, and all kinds of domestic weapons--for unluckily, the great piece of ordnance, the goose-gun was absent with its owner. Above all, a vigorous defence was made with that most potent of female weapons the tongue. Never did invaded hen-roost make a more vociferous outcry. It was all in vain. The house was sacked and plundered, fire was set to each corner, and, in a few moments, its blaze shed a baleful light far over the Tappan Sea. The invaders then pounced upon the blooming Laney Van Tassel, the beauty of the Roost, and endeavored to bear her off to the boat. But here was the real tug of war. The mother, the aunt, the strapping negro wench, all flew to the rescue. The struggle continued down to the very water's edge, when a voice from the armed vessel at anchor ordered the spoilers to let go their hold. They relinquished the prize, jumped into their boats, and pulled off, and the heroine of the Roost escaped with a mere rumpling of the feathers. Shortly after the catastrophe of the Roost, Jacob Van Tassel, in the course of one of his forays, fell into the hands of the British, was sent prisoner to New York, and was detained in captivity for the greater part of the war." But to turn from the realm of fancy and tradition to the realism of personal experience, the following copied from the original in the archives of the Pension Office at Washington, is herewith presented: Lieut. Jacob Van Tassel's statement made in his application for pension, April 30, 1836, in his 92d year:

view all

Captain John Romer's Timeline

December 1764
December 1764
May 27, 1855
Age 90
Elmford, New York