A Story of the Andrew Hopper House

This article, by John Y. Dater, was first published in “The Old Station Timetable” in September 1977.

The late H. O. Havemeyer showed me a letter written to him by Erskine Hewitt, of the famous Hewitts of Ringwood and vicinity, stating that Henry B. Hagerman as an  innkeeper on the Valley Road had saved George Washington in 1779 from being captured by the British.

The statement did not sound right to me because the historical records had stated that George Washington had stayed at Andrew Hopper’s at least 5 times. Hopper also secured intelligence from the British in New York which he passed on to Washington. Also Benjamin Lossing in his Field Book of the American Revolution said a lot about the Hopper house and even drew a picture of it which he published in the book. He also quotes Mrs. E. O. Smith’s visit with Mrs. Hopper in 1849.

As a result I went to the old Hopper cemetery on the Valley Road where Andrew and his wife Maria LaReau are buried. Henry Hagerman rests there too – born 1790, died 1858. I asked Mr. Havemeyer if he believed the Hewitt story? His answer, “Why not? He got it from his father Abram.” My reply was, “How could Hagerman help Gen. Washington when he wasn’t born until 1790?” and I quoted the old gravestone.

The above story is published in full in Dater’s (my father) history of Mahwah and Ramsey which was not too well researched by the young man who helped him. Their facts on the Havemeyer estate are far better. The book is out of print but a few libraries have copies.

I do not know if the British raid is true with the hero as Andrew Hopper. But there are two unnamed gravestones in the cemetery with the date 1779. The story says two were killed by the gun taken down from the mantel.

Mrs. Andrew Hopper cherished the memory of George Washington and is quoted in Mrs. Smith’s book “Salamander”. The visit was in 1849. “We were shown the bed and furniture, remaining as when he (Washington) used them; for the room is kept carefully locked. Here were the.dark chintz hangings beneath which he had slept; •the quaint furniture, old walnut cabinets, dark, massive and richly carved, a Dutch Bible mounted with silver clamps and a chain of the same material…paintings upon glass of cherished members of the Orange family. These and other objects of interest remain as at that day.” (Note. I have a beautifully carved bedroom mantel which came from the Hopper house when it was torn down in 1890.).

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