Jane Van Reypen Tuers of Bergen Township is recognized as a patriot during the Revolutionary War. She earned her place in local history for reportedly confirming information about a British conspiracy to takeover America's colonial garrison on the west bank of the Hudson River at West Point, NY. Her activism is further noteworthy as it pertains to local historian Harriet Phillips Eaton's observation that "during the Revolution there were only fourteen families living in Bergen whose sympathies were with the colonies" (p. 61).
Tuers lived with her husband Nicholas Tuers in a farm house located at the southeast corner of Bergen Avenue and Mercer Street (then Church Street). It was on the site of the present Hudson Catholic High School that extends to Tuers Avenue (named for the family) and the former Fourth Regiment Armory. Legend holds that it was her practice to cross the Hudson River on the Paulus Hook ferry to British-held Manhattan to sell her farm goods. Tuers also brought food to the Sugar House prison, where the British detained American soldiers. Her generosity to the near-starving prisoners may have begun when her brother Daniel Van Reypen, while serving in the local militia, had been incarcerated.
On one such New York visit, Tuers made her usual stop in the popular, and now historic, Fraunces Tavern at Broad and Pearl Streets. Here she spoke with the patriot owner "Black Sam" Fraunces from the West Indies. He informed Tuers of what he overheard at his establishment. British soldiers spent leisure time at the tavern and discussed the latest military strategy along with their refreshments. According to Fraunces, the soldiers had been toasting the American hero of the Battle of Saratoga, General Benedict Arnold, who was planning to deliver the American fortification at West Point to the British.
When Tuers returned home, she informed her brother Daniel Van Reypen, a blacksmith, about the conspiracy. A staunch patriot, Van Reypen traveled by horse to Hackensack, where he advised General "Mad" Anthony Wayne of the British scheme. Wayne reportedly sent Van Reypen to see General George Washington, who it is said offered Van Reypen a reward. Local historian Owen Grundy reports that Van Reypen declined the money award and requested only that Washington intercede in the event of his capture (History of Jersey City, p. 24).
The information provided by Tuers confirmed what Washington had heard rumored about Arnold. It was received three days in advance of the arrest of Major John Andre at Tarrytown, on September 23, 1780, the British agent working with Arnold. On August 5, Arnold had been assigned the stationary command at West Point after war injuries, but he was dissatisfied with the post. After the discovery of Arnold's treasonous plot, he escaped and defected to the British, becoming one of America's best-known traitors. Andre, adjutant to British General Henry Clinton, was tried, convicted, and hanged as a spy at Tappan on October 2.
The intervention by Jane Tuers and her brother, as reported, helped secure West Point for the patriots. The strategic location of the fortification on the Hudson River was crucial for the receipt of supplies from New England and upper New York without venturing into nearby British controlled territory.
Jane Van Reypen Tuers and her brother Daniel (1736-1811) were the children of Cornelius and Aeltje (Van Winkle) Van Reypen. In Charles H. Winfield's genealogy of the Van Reypen family, her birth date is not recorded, but it appears that she was baptized on April 16, 1745, and married Nicholas Tuers on May 15, 1766 (p. 501). The Van Reypen family may trace their ancestry to the founding families of Bergen in the 1660s (Winfield 497-507). Tuers died at her home in 1834. She is buried in an unmarked grave (Lot 136) in the Old Bergen Church Cemetery on Bergen and Highland Avenues. Her home was demolished in 1894 for construction of the old Fourth Regiment Armory.
In a 1968 Jersey Journal article, Grundy reports that a bronze tablet in memory of Jane Tuers was placed at the old Armory by the Jane Tuers Society, Children of the American Revolution in 1925. This society was sponsored by the Bergen Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and organized in 1917. After the old Armory was razed for the National Guard Armory at Montgomery Street and Jordan Avenue, the marker for Jane Tuers was lost for a time. Grundy recommended that if the plaque were to be found it should be placed on the facade of Hudson Catholic Regional High School on Bergen Avenue built in 1965. The plaque may be found there today.
Eaton, Harriet Phillips. Historic Sites of Jersey City. Jersey City, NJ: Women's Club of Jersey City, 1988.
Grundy, J. Owen. "Where's Plaque to Jersey City Heroine?" Jersey Journal. 13 April, 1968.
Grundy, J. Owen. The History of Jersey City, 1609-1976. Jersey City, NJ: Progress Printing Co., Inc., 1976.
New Jersey Division, American Association of University Women. Ladies at the Crossroads; Eighteenth Century Women of New Jersey. Morristown, NJ: Compton Press, Inc., 1978..
Robinson, Walter F. Old Bergen Township (Now Hudson County) in the American Revolution. Bayonne, NJ: Keystone Printing Company, 1978.
Van Winkle, Daniel, Ed. History of the Municipalities of Hudson County, New Jersey, 1630-1923. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1924.
Winfield, Charles H. History of the County of Hudson, New Jersey. New York: Kennard & Hay Printing Co.., 1874.