Van Reypen House, Bergen Township

Van Reypen House, Bergen Township (you might need Acrobat reader)

The Van Reypen house, built in 1802, was one of the oldest homesteads in Jersey City and belonged to one of the founding Dutch families of the Bergen Township. It is said to be the third house located west of one of the original lots that was within the stockade of the township established under the Dutch Director-General of New Netherland Peter Stuyvesant in 1661 for defense against the Indians. The first two houses were reportedly destroyed by fire and the bricks from one of the former buildings used in the construction of the 1802 home.

According to historian Daniel Van Winkle, the Van Reypen family dates back to Juriaen Tomassen who emigrated from Amsterdam in April 1663. He first lived in Passaic County but settled in Bergen between 1664 and 1667. Tomassen acquired Lot 161, now 311 Academy Street at the intersection of Academy and Van Reypen streets, as well as other property. He became a member of the Dutch Reformed Church (now Old Bergen Church) in 1667 and married Pryntje Hermens on May 25 of that year; they had ten children, five boys and five girls. Their descendants adopted their surname from Tomassen’s ancestral town of Ryp or De Ryp. Records for the variations of the family name may be found in records of the church starting in 1761. By the early nineteenth century, occupants of the homestead spelled the name “Van Reypen” (Van Winkle 97-102).

The Bergen Township lot passed from Tomassen’s second son Gerrit Jurisense (1607-1748) as follows: to Cornelis Geretsen (1707-1771), fourth son of Gerret; to Daniel Van Reypen (1736-1818), second son of Cornelis; to Cornelius Van Reypen (1767-1812), eldest son of Daniel; to Cornelius C. Van Reypen (1813-1900), eighth son of Cornelius; and to (Rear Admiral) William Knickerbocker K. Van Reypen, MD (1840-1924), the only son of Cornelius C. Van Reypen.

Several members of the Van Reypen family played significant leadership roles in the developing community that would be Jersey City. During the Revolutionary War, Daniel Van Reypen, who lived at 320 Fairmount Avenue, was a staunch patriot. His sister Jane Van Reypen Tuers learned of a British conspiracy plot against West Point, gave the information to her brother, and he passed it on to General “Mad” Anthony Wayne in Hackensack for General George Washington.

Cornelius C. Van Reypen was active in the political, social and church affairs of Jersey City. He was born and died in the house constructed by his father Cornelius on the plot purchased by his great grandfather. Van Reypen attended the Columbian Academy (1790-1857), the first school in Bergen, and was a member of the Holland Society of New York City. He became vice president of the Hudson County Democratic Society and served as treasurer of the Dutch Reformed Church for twenty-five years.

Dr. William K. Van Reypen graduated from New York University at age seventeen and from New York University Medical College. During the Civil War, he was assistant surgeon with the Second Regiment of New Jersey Volunteers and then assistant surgeon in the United States Navy at the naval hospital at Brooklyn, NY, among other assignments. Dr. Van Reypen was appointed surgeon general of the Navy by presidents William McKinley and President Theodore Roosevelt and retired with the rank of senior rear admiral. From 1884, he lived in Washington, DC, and participated in several civic organizations such as the American Red Cross (president, 1904), Sons of the American Revolution, Military Order of the Loyal Legion, and, like his father, the Holland Society of New York City.

The Van Reypen homestead remained in the family until 1925 when it was sold and razed for the construction of an apartment. Anna D. (Van Reypen) Green, the youngest daughter of Cornelius C. Van Reypen and sister of William K. Van Reypen occupied the house at the time.

History of the Municipalities of Hudson County, N.J., 1630-1923. Ed. Daniel Van Winkle. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1924.
Richardson, W.H. “Treasures from a Bergen Attic.” Jersey Journal 5 June 1925.
“Van Reypen Home to be Sold,” Jersey Journal, June 21, 1925.

By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub