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A Walking Tour of Historic Jewish Monsey
Item 1 of 7

This beautiful sandstone house was built in 1756 by Zachariah Ferguson, and it is still standing today. On March 11, 1795, Michael Tenure bought 100 acres on which this house stood for 600 pounds. The Tenure family farmed the land for three generations. Two Tenure brothers fought in the Civil War and sent letters home, giving a rare description of daily life and other aspects of the war. At over 250 years old, this house is among Monsey's oldest features.


  • Article about Tenure Civil War letters
  • a view of the back of the house

The Tenures were among the first settlers in America. The land in this area was at one point a part of the precinct of Haverstraw. In 1791, The town of New Hempstead was formed, and in 1829 the name was changed to Ramapo.

In an 1807 tax list, this farm was recorded as being 95 acres with five cows and five horses. That would have been typical for a subsistence farm in the area. The farm grew a number of subsistence crops like corn, cabbage, oats, potatoes, and buckwheat. There was an apple orchard, and the family made cider and applesauce. In order to feed the pigs, cows, chickens, and rabbits on the farm, the family grew hay and sold the surplus. Children hunted rabbits and went sledding in the winter.  

Cornelius and Irving joined the Union Forces on August 21, 1862. They served in the 135th Regiment of the New York Volunteers, renamed the New York 6th Heavy Artillery.

Letters that mostly Cornelius wrote home gave many details about battles but even more about daily life in the camps. After being wounded he wrote about his impression of the hospital. 

When their father, Michael, died in the autumn of 1863, the farm fell on very hard times. Cornelius sent back as much money as he could, but it was not enough. In letters, his mother would ask him to return to the farm to help with all of the necessary work, but of course, he could not just leave the army. Mrs. Tenure leased part of the farm to Stephen Coe and allowed a Mr Oatley to sharecrop on the land after 1863.

I have been in this house numerous times and it is beyond lovely. One gets a sense of its age when one crosses the threshold which is about five and a half feet tall. The smell of the old wood of the house and the narrow staircase carry a person back in time in a delightful way.

Dickinson, W. Calvin. “The Tenure Family of Rockland County”. South of the Mountains 1989-07,Vol. 33, No.3

Whiteaker, Larry H. and W. Calvin Dickinson. “The Tenure Family of Monsey during the Civil War”. South of the Mountains 1989-10, Vol. 33, No.4. 3-10

The Journal News, Sunday March 11, 1990 B4

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The Journal News, Sunday March 11, 1990 B4

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Journal News . March 11, 1990

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