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Posted on: September 27, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Slice of History - A Fateful Journey

A Fateful Journey: The Uniqueness of Ardsley and The Story of Washington and Rochambeau’s Journey through Greenburgh
By: Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber




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A Fateful Journey: The Uniqueness of Ardsley and The Story of Washington and Rochambeau’s Journey through Greenburgh

By: Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber



General George Washington’s Army camped in many spots in Greenburgh from 1775-1781 and French General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur Rochambeau with the French Forces camped in Greenburgh from July 6th 1781- August 18th 1781 (Donovan 2015 p. 24). During the Franco-American Encampment in 1781, the two armies frequently traveled back and forth between their two camps. This route followed what is now Heatherdell Road in Ardsley, Ridge Road in Hartsdale, and Hillcrest Road in Hartsdale. This line was then known as “The Old Road to Dobbs Ferry.” “The Old Road to Dobbs Ferry” is marked in red  on the first map 


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(Map Courtesy of The Ardsley Historical Society)


The 1781 American or Continental Encampment was mainly where Ardsley High School is now, at 300 Farm Road in Ardsley, approximately 1 mile away from the Odell House.  Some Continental Troops were stationed as far west as the banks of the Hudson(known as the North River at that time). Washington stayed at the Appleby Farm, now the site of WFAS tv tower and marked with a RED star on the above map.


The main French forces were located in the area around Odell House. Rochambeau’s headquarters was the Odell House located at 425 Ridge Road in Hartsdale (This spot is marked with a number 1 on the map).


His troops and their commanders were camped where the Sunningdale Golf Course is now at 300 Underhill Road Scarsdale, approximately 1 and a half miles from the Odell House, on the land now known as Harts Brook Park, on Ridge Rd. Park and also on other areas surrounding Odell House.


The bus stop at the bottom of Heatherdell Road near the intersection with Saw Mill River Ardsley has a sign on it commemorating that it was the starting point for a 4,000-man joint French-American scouting mission known as “The Grand Reconnaissance. This was planned by the two generals before the date of the Encampment and it was their attempt to evaluate the British strength in order to possibly attack them in Manhattan. It took place from July 21-23, 1781. This spot is marked on the first map with a number 5. This plan was abandoned when Washington received word that the French Navy could not come as far north as New York but could meet the armies in VA instead.


There has sometimes been a discussion about a section of land known as Parcel “O” located off of Boulder Ridge Road. Former Greenburgh Town Historian Frank Jazzo firmly believed this served as the French Redoubt - A redoubt or a bivouac is a temporary defensive position established by soldiers which has no tents but has rudimentary stone walls. It is marked on the second map in Green.  Mr. Kenneth G. Stahn, President of the Scarsdale Civic Association, agreed with Mr. Frank Jazzo. There was an attempt to link this parcel in a trail that would have joined several park areas in Greenburgh.

Picture 4


(Map Courtesy of Former Greenburgh Town Historian Frank Jazzo)


However, others such as: Dr. Robert  A. Selig, the author of the Franco-American Encampment Study recently published on the Town website and the project historian to the National Park Service for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Project, Ardsley Historical Society President Peter Marcus, Susan Seal, Former President of the Westchester Historical Society and current President of the Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters, and Richard Borkow, the Dobbs Ferry Village Historian and the author of  Washington's Westchester Gamble, do not find any historic evidence that any redoubt or lookout existed. They have examined documents from the French and American armies and cannot find any original source material supporting that claim. It is our conclusion that without such evidence, the significance of Parcel O is unproven.


Picture 1


(Map created by the author after consultation with Commissioner of Urban Planning, Garret Duquesne)


The map above shows where Parcel O is in relation to other significant Revolutionary War landmarks in Greenburgh: The main French camp, Rochambeau's HQ at Odell House, the main American camp and marker of the beginning point for The Grand Reconnaissance. Parcel O is a high point in Greenburgh and it is possible some troops may have gone there to watch for any British approaching forces. That is the only thing that can be said about it.





Previous Slices of History include:


  1. Greenburgh’s BROTHERLY LOVE, RELIEF AND TRUTH: A History of The Freemasons in Greenburgh (9/12/18)



  1. A Final Resting Place for “Man’s Best Friend”: The Peaceable Kingdom (9/29/18)


  1. Greenburgh’s Hall of Heroes: Ferncliff Cemetery Where Memories Live Forever (10/12/18)


  1. Greenburgh at The Great American Crossroads: Greenburgh's Civil War Story(10/19/18)


  1. A Different Kind of Rebel: Greenburgh’s Contributions to the Underground Railroad  (10/27/18)


  1. "The Disappearing Railroad Blues" in Greenburgh: The Fate of the Putnam Railroad Line and the old Putnam Trail  (11/6/18)


  1. A Thousand Words Which You Never Knew: The Forgotten Story of the Seal of Greenburgh (11/17/18)


  1. How a Flat Tire led to a Happy Escape: The Story of Carvel in Greenburgh (12/11/18)


  1. The Guardians of History: Greenburgh’s Historical Societies (1/6/19)


  1. A Small House, an Important Meeting, a Huge Victory: The Story of the Odell House (1/12/2019)


  1. The Intersection of Banking, Ballet, and School: Greenburgh’s Warburg Estate  (Updated) (10/22/19) 



  1. The Power of Wealth and Humility: A Reflection on Two Highly Influential African Americans (2/18/19)


  1. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part I (2/23/19)


  1. Oh, The Places Your Mail has Gone: A History of The Hartsdale Post Office (3/9/2019)



  1. Greenburgh Under the Hollywood Lights: The TV shows and Movies Filmed in Greenburgh Part II (3/29/19)


  1. From Chasing Rabbits to Setting Records: The Amazing Story of Larry James (4/7/2019)


  1. From Fixing Cars to building Infrastructure: How Massaro Park Got its name (4/13/2019)


  1. There is no church here, but “the brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated” this ground: The Story of The Little White Church Cemetery (4/27/19)


  1. Irvington in Chains and our Process A History of Slavery in Irvington and A look at how Slices of History are made (and our interview with historian Robert Marchant) (5/11/2019)


  1. From Farmland to Shopping District: The Rise of Central Avenue  (5/25/2019)


  1. Like a long lost friend”: The story of how summer recreation has evolved in Greenburgh (6/7/2019)


  1. Abandon Ship!!! The Story of United Nuclear Corporation and their Short-lived Elmsford Facility (6/28/19)


  1. Beyond Heritage Versus Hate Toward Hope and Reconciliation: The story of Mount Hope Cemetery and its Confederate Monument (7/13/19)


  1. Hidden History: The Story of Fairview Fairgrounds Part I (7/27/19)




  1.  When Greenburgh Went “East  Bound and Down”: Greenburgh  During Prohibition (10/6/2019)


  1. From Mopping The Floor of One Institution to Managing Three at Once: The Amazing Story of Former Westchester County Commissioner of Public Welfare Ruth Taylor (12/12/19) 


  1. Greenburgh Gets its “Sun Daze on” Under the Watchful Eyes of the Boys in Blue (1/9/2020)


  1. Making Martin Luther King Jr’s Dream Come Alive the Success Story of the Parkway Homes/ Parkway Gardens Community:(1/18/2020)


  1. Formed By Adversity, Held Together by Faith: The History of the Parkway Homes/Parkway Gardens Community (2/27/2020)


  1. From an Apple Orchard to The Olympics: The Saint Andrew’s Golf Club (3/8/2020)

  1. Ashes “Ashes, Ashes!!We all Fall Down”(3/23/2020)


  1. A Leading Medical Institution at The Border of Greenburgh: The Story of New York Medical College (4 /4 /2020)


  1. When the Cure was Worse than the Disease: A Look back on When The Medical Profession Wasn’t so Reliable: ( 4/18/2020)


  1. All Aboard!!! The Story of The Old Putnam Railroad In Greenburgh (5/31/2020)


  1. Juneteenth: A Day of Liberation (6/6/2020)

  1. The Jewel of Greenburgh: The Life of Charles Lewis Tiffany (7/25/2020)


  1. Hastings’ Best and  Brightest : Nobel Laureates of Hastings



  1. Happy Hour Amid Civil Strife In Elmford The Story of How the Brother Against Brother Nature of the American Revolution Led to the Cocktail. (8/8/2020) 




About the Authors:


We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.


Riley Wentzler:

I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94.  It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer-based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comor to help me find employment, you can contact me at 


Felicia Barber:

I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at assistanthistorian@greenburghny.comTo learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at



Two Interviews with the authors:




Donovan, M. S. (2009- revised 2015). George Washington at Head Quarters, Dobbs Ferry: July 4 to August 19, 1781. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.


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