This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Acker family was the 11th of the series.
Fifteen years previously the Dutch had bought the land at the mouth of the Nepperhan River (Yonkers) from the Indians. Already, in 1656, there were so many Dutch farmers up the Hudson and Saw Mill River valleys that their cattle were running wild in the woods, when Wolfert Echert fell in love with a little glade on the bank of the Hudson, and there built his house.
He named it Wolfert's Roost, a name to be immortalized in literature and history when Washington Irving, 179 years later, also fell in love with the little glade on the Hudson and bought Wolfert Roost for his home.
Wolfert Echert is the ancestor of the Acker family of Westchester, the name having become Anglicized long before the Revolution. He was Privy Counselor of Peter Stuyvesant, last Dutch Governor of New Netherlands. Family beliefs are that he never liked Stuyvesant and was more than glad to stay in America when the Dutch finally gave way to the English.
Van Tassels Assume Land
From Wolfert, the land and house passed to the Van Tassel family. While the property of Jacobus Van Tassel during the Revolution it was such a rallying point for the Patriots that the British burned the house. The structure that Irving purchased had been rebuilt by the Van Tassel and Ferris families. Just south of Wolfert's original homestead there was another large Acker farm that remained in the family for many generations before becoming the Mathieson estate.
After the Revolution the Acker farmhouse in Irvington was for many years a popular Post Road tavern. Abraham Acker, who died in 1825, was one of the last family owners of the land, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. He was very prominent in county affairs. His daughter, Marie, married a Ferris who owned Wolfert's Roost and her son, Burson Ferris, was president of the old Westchester County Savings Bank in Tarrytown in the late 1880s.
Wolfert Echert (Acker) and his brother, Jan, were deacons in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow. Wolfert married a Dutch girl, Maritie Symouts Cranckheit, a widow, presumably and families now in Westchester whose names include Sybout, Cranckheit or Cronk, trace directly to Wolfert and his wife. Nathaniel Cronk of Pleasantville, is the eighth generation of the line from Wolfert and Maritie, through their third son, Abraham 1703-1740. His daughter, Miss Louisa Cronk and Elwood Cronk of Pleasantville, are ninth generation.
Wolfert had three sons, Abraham, Stephen and Sybout, and Abraham had only two sons among his eight children. So lineal descendants of WOlfert are far more numerous in families descended from the daughters. One branch of the later Ackers centered around Armonk and from this family are descended Mrs. Emily Carpenter Chipchase of Port Chester, Mrs. Letitia Styles of Rye and Mrs. Acker Smith of Larchmont. Many Westchester Wards also descend from the Ackers. Ward Acker, Mrs. Chipchase's grandfather, owned a great farm on Ridge Street, in the present Port Chester, site of today's "Rye Acres" development. He named Lincoln Avenue, Port Chester, in honor of Abraham Lincoln.
Acker Farms Numerous
Tax maps of 1850 show that at the date more than a dozen Acker farms were to be found on Dobbs Ferry Road, Worthington Road and the Saw Mill River Road near Elmsford.
The writer's favorite Acker is Jacob "Rifle Jake"--famous during the Revolution for his marksmanship--who started a minor battle in which a squad of 28 British soldiers was wiped out. Jake was hunting rabbits in the brush along the river near the crossing of the Tarrytown Road at Hall's Corners or Elmsford. Sighting the British coming south along the Saw Mill River Road, he leveled his rifle through the brush and brought down a British soldier. He waited until the startled company had taken their dying comrade to safety, then shot the British captain through the ear.
Farther South along the road, hiding in tall grass between the river and the Dutch Church was a company of American Militia-men who rushed in when they heard Jake's shots. The skirmish took place beside the tavern which still stands at the intersection of Old Saw Mill River and Tarrytown Roads.
Retires to Farm
"Rifle Jake" was wounded while scouting in Morrisania on Dec. 4, 1779, but lived to become a farmer on land in Ossining bought by his father-in-law, Abraham, from the Commissioners of Forfeiture. Here he died in 1832. His brother Benjamin helped convict Andre, the British spy, when Benjamin testified how he and another American soldier, on orders from their commanding officer, Benedict Arnold, had rowed Andre across the Hudson in a rowboat to the fateful interview with Arnold.
Deliverance, a great grandson of Wolfert, the family founder, acquired a great farm on Camp Fire Road in Mount Pleasant, now owned by the Camp Fire Club. The Taconic Parkway traverses this farm where four generations of Ackers lived. Deliverance had nine children. His daughter, Charity, married James Cronk, ancestor of Nathaniel Cronk of Pleasantville. Amy, a daughter born in 1809, married a Nodine of Yonkers. Lewis Ackers of Ossining is a descendant of another son, Willet, born in 1809 on the Camp Fire Road farm. Many of this family are buried on the Chappaqua Friends Burying Ground.
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