The Jacob Blauvelt House is owned and operated by the Historical Society of Rockland County, a nonprofit educational institution and principal repository for documents and artifacts relating to the history of Rockland County.
Jacob Blauvelt’s ancestors came to the New World from Holland in the early 1600s. In 1741, Jacob’s great-grandfather bought the land in New City on which the Historical Society of Rockland County's facilities now stand and passed it down from father to sons for generations.
When Jacob built this house in 1832, it sat on about 100 acres of farmland. The property also contained a barn, a carriage house, sheds for tools and animals, a woodlot, an orchard garden, an herb garden, and a vegetable garden. Jacob and his wife, Margaret, had been married for about sixteen years and had five children when they built the traditional Dutch-style home.
The Blauvelts were a middle-class farm family, and their 1830s home is bigger, and somewhat fancier, than homes built in the Colonial period (1620s–1770s). The Blauvelts were able to produce more milk, butter, eggs, rye, and corn than they needed, so they sold the surplus for profit. The additional money allowed them to buy some of the well-made furniture and small luxuries present in the house.
Descendants of the Blauvelts lived in the home from 1832 until 1970, when the family sold it to the Historical Society of Rockland County. Some of the furniture is original to the house; the rest is from the Lower Hudson Valley region.
The Blauvelt House and its four remaining acres of land had been in the Blauvelt family since the time it was built, in 1832, until it was acquired by the Historical Society of Rockland County in 1970. The Blauvelt family first arrived in America in 1638 and first arrived in Rockland County in 1683. Their genealogy today contains more than 26,000 names.
The first member of the Blauvelt family to arrive in America was a young man named Gerritt Hendrickson. He is thought to have come from Holland in 1683. While working on a farm near Albany, he raised enough money to move and buy his own house. By 1646, he had married Marretje Lambertse and was living in New Amsterdam (present-day New York City). Gerritt Hendrickson had twelve children with Marretje, his first wife, and two with his second wife. Only seven of his children survived, and all of them, except the two daughters from his second marriage, settled in Tappan. Two of his sons, Johannes and Huybert, were among the original Tappan patentees. All of Gerritt's children who survived and moved to Rockland used the name Blauvelt. There are many theories about why the name Blauvelt was chosen. Some believe that it came the blue flowers that abounded in Gerritt's grain fields; "blue field" is the English translation of Blauvelt. Others believe that Blauvelt was Gerritt's original family name in Holland, but he did not use it when he arrived in America. Interestingly, "blue field" can also refer to the predominant color in the family's coat of arms.
It was Gerritt who started the long tradition of family farming. His son Abraham Gerretse Blauvelt lived in the Tappan Patent. He married Grietje Minelay Tallman. Their eldest son, Jacob Abramse Blauvelt, married Pieterje Haring. He, too, resided in Tappan. Jacob Abramse Blauvelt purchased 300 acres of land in New City, on which the Blauvelt House now stands. His son, Jacob Ja. Blauvelt, purchased the plot from his father.
Jacob Ja. Blauvelt was the first person to farm the New City land. He married Mary Haring and built a house that was closer to the road. His son Jacob J. Blauvelt inherited the house from him.
Jacob J. Blauvelt was baptized at the Tappan Reformed Church. At some point, he donated two acres of land so a school could be built. (It became known as the Street School.) The original site of the school was the southwestern corner of the Blauvelt property; it was relocated in the late 1800s and operated until June 1983, when it was closed due to declining enrollment.
Jacob J. Blauvelt married Margaret Remsen, and they had five children. He built the Blauvelt House that now stands. Margaret spoke only Dutch, so Jacob translated for the children. In addition to farming, Jacob J. Blauvelt served as a Justice of the Peace, Inspector of Common Schools, and Overseer of the Poor. He was a member of the 83rd Regiment of Infantry, New York State Militia, in which he held the ranks of lieutenant (1828), captain (1830), and captain of light infantry (1834).
The eldest son of Jacob J. Blauvelt, John Blauvelt, married Ellen Conklin of Pomona. John died in a typhoid or diphtheria epidemic that also claimed the lives of all of his children, except his son Stanley Vincent Blauvelt. After John's death, his widow, Ellen, married his brother Tunis Blauvelt. Besides being a farmer, Tunis was a lawyer and a Justice of the Peace. He served several times as supervisor of Clarkstown and as the loan commissioner of Rockland. He was greatly admired by others and was often called "Squire."
Stanley Vincent Blauvelt, the only surviving son of John Blauvelt, was taken by his uncle and stepfather to the New City Courthouse to study law and became a clerk. He married Antoinette Hoffman of Nyack. After the first of two daughters was born, however, he became a wanderer, making long journeys to Samoa, New Zealand, South America, and Australia, while his wife and daughters remained in New City with his Ellen and Tunis. Late in his life, Stanley returned to the farm, where he lived for his final ten years.
After Tunis died, the Blauvelt women left the farm and rented it to a schoolteacher names Will Blauvelt. Stanley and Antoinette's older daughter, Annie, married Alfred E. Francis and lived in Brooklyn and Hoboken before moving back to the farm to start a chicken business. Alfred died of pneumonia, leaving one daughter, Margaret Antoinette. The widowed Annie worked as a welfare investigator, served on the ration board during World War II, and was a trustee of the Street School.
The last Blauvelt to live in the house was Annie's daughter, Margaret Antoinette Francis , and her husband, John Lyon Gibbons. The Blauvelt House was purchased by the Historical Society of Rockland County on December 11, 1970. Mr. and Mrs. Gibbons were major contributors to the purchase and donated many of the items in the house.