Westchester County, New York is the setting for Roger Jewell’s third book, The Sawmill River Valley War. It is a historic novel about the Westchester County Militia during the Revolutionary War. The book is available on this web site and a few locat outlets.
The story is based upon the actual experiences of 11 men in the Westchester County Militia. The author has brought to life the numerous local legends from that heroic period. Anyone who wants to understand the traumatic eight year period from 1775 to 1783 in what was called the ‘Neutral Ground’ needs to read this book.
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Sawmill River Valley War
Author Jewell was doing family research when he discovered this fascinating history. It documents the struggle of several Dutch tenant farmers on Philips’s and Van Cortlandt's Manors during this turbulent period. Hidden in the National Archives, among the war pension applications, he found the story of his great, great, great Grandfather George Jewel and his brother John Jewel.
The story told by John Jewel, his family and friends. Readers will be made aware of the activities that took place in the villages of Tarrytown (Greensburg), Storms Bridge (Elmsford), White Plains, Dobbs Ferry, Sing Sing, Peekskill, Crompond (Yorktown) and Pine’s Bridge (Yorktown Heights) during the Revolution.
John Jewel had fought side by side with Lieutenant Jacob Van Tassel, the hero of Washington Irving’s short story “Wolfert’s Roost”. Later, John’s young neighbor John Odell provided the written witness statement he needed to apply for his pension. It was Odell’s actions that caused the renaming of Tarrytown's “Petticoat Lane”. The famous Isaac Van Wart, who had helped to capture the British Major André in the terrible Benedict Arnold treason case, turns up in John Jewel’s family connections.
During research for the novel, the Irvington Library's historian informed the author, the original Jewel house in Irvington is still standing. We were able to visit it. It is considered the oldest wooden house in the village. The original Buckhout farm that John bought from the Commissioners of Forfeiture in 1785 became the property on which many of the Irvington’s mansions were built.
This book helps the reader to understand how the local legends tie into the larger context of General George Washington’s war strategy. It makes it abundantly clear that the Westchester County Militias played a strategic role in the containment of the British troops in New York City for the duration of the war.
Readers who are interested in Westchester County’s role in the Revolutionary War period will find this book a fascinating addition to their library.
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