Monsey Memories: The Tenure House on Saddle River Road
On Saddle River Road in Monsey stands a home that was built in the year 1756 by Zacharia Ferguson, twenty years before the founding of the United States of America. It is made of sandstone and continues to stand today, more than 250 years later. In 1795, Michal Tenure bought the home and the 100 acres surrounding it, and his family continued to farm the land around it for generations.
According to one newspaper article, “The Tenures were prosperous French Huguenots who settled in Rockland in the early 18th Century. Michael Tenure soon demonstrated his intentions to support the Continental Congress in the country’s upcoming fight for independence.”
The family grew crops, including cabbage, potatoes, buckwheat, oats, and corn, and raised livestock on the farm.
Fast forward to 1862, when Cornelius and Irving Tenure joined the Union Forces, going to fight in the Civil War. They were part of the 135th Regiment of New York Volunteers, renamed the New York 6th Heavy Artillery.
The boys sent letters back to Rockland County from the battlefield, which were published in a book by the Rockland County Historical Society.
They spent six months stationed near Baltimore at Camp Federal Hill, where “the mass of people appear to be loyal to the government,” they wrote. “We are now within thirty miles of the Rebels. We have good rations and plenty to do… there are 40,000 men in this place. Our pickets extend nine miles in front of our lines. On last Friday, while on picket duty, we were informed by a Union farmer that there were Rebel spies in the mountains. We immediately formed in lines and advanced and captured five of them. They had no clothes on them and were barefooted…”
Following the death of their father, their mother begged the boys to return home to manage the farm. But, of course, they could not abandon the army.
Meanwhile, Cornelius was stationed in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. “We are in a devil of a place, no tobacco, nothing but labor for Uncle Sam, and we have not had our money yet. The weather is cold and stormy today, the houses are mostly burnt by the Rebels….nothing but blue coats… the battlefield you can see plain yet. The ground is filled with dead horses and arms of all kind…”
Cornelius was injured in the war and spent from September 6, 1864, to the end of the war recovering in Haddington Hospital, Pa. He would eventually move to Pennsylvania, while his Irving would move to Michigan.
But the home has remained right here in Monsey, standing on Saddle River Road, as two-and-a-half centuries of life have elapsed in Monsey of yore.