This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on the Purdy family was the 5th of the series.
A giant oak stands outside the iron fence of the Purdy homestead at Purdys. The house faces the triangle where Route 22 swings uphill toward Croton Falls and a side road leads toward Salem Center.
From this very oak, during the Revolution a group of farmers led by Joseph Purdy, builder of the house, strung up a cattle-thieving Tory. They did not kill the Tory, only scared him out of the habit of raiding his neighbors' farms for food for the British Army.
The frame of the house, was raised on the day of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Since then the house has never sheltered anyone but Purdys. The present occupant, Mrs. Thomas L. Purdy, has many grandsons among the children of her sons, Strother B. and Thomas Purdy of Purdys and Isaac Hart Purdy of North Salem, so there is little danger that the homestead will soon pass from Purdy hands. The painted shingles which cover the sides of the house today are the original hand-hewn clapboards.
Purdys Throughout County
The Purdy families which are found in every community of Westchester are descendants of Francis Purdy and their numbers here and throughout the nation run into the thousands. Genealogies of Francis Purdy's sons, who moved to Rye before 1690, which fill volumes, show that Purdys had a way of "staying put" after the third and fourth generation. No branch is more interesting than that of Joseph Purdy who built the beautiful old homestead at Purdys. The house was occupied by his son, Isaac, when the railroad was built through the great Purdy farm in 1846. It was natural that the station located near the Purdy homestead should be named Purdy's Station, later shortened to Purdys.
Francis Purdy was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1595, came to Concord in 1632 and from thence went to Fairfield, Conn., where he died in 1653. His five sons were among the first settlers of Rye. John, the oldest, whose farm was at the mouth of Blind Brook near the Budd grist mill, became the first Rye Supervisor, by royal appointment. He was also a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Colonial Assembly. Jonathan, son of Francis's second son, Joseph, was one of the founders of White Plains and most of the Purdys of White Plains are his descendants.
About 1710 a royal grant of 1,000 acres of land, laying between the Croton and the Titicus Rivers; in Somers was made to Hachliah and Poshua, of the second generation in Rye. It is from these that many of the Purdys of Northern Westchester are descended. Joshua's son Joseph built the Purdy house on Route 22 at Purdys, organized the Tory hanging party, added to the original land grant by extensive land purchases in 1786. His son Isaac was master of the homestead when Purdy's Station was named.
Successful in Business
Isaac, the great grandfather of Mrs. Thomas L. Purdy's sons, added to the family fortunes through businesses in New York. Then in cooperation with his cousin, Joel, he tried to make Croton Falls a manufacturing center. Isaac's wrench and augur factory thrived for a few years. Joel built most of the business buildings in Croton Falls. His grandson is Elbert C. Purdy, Croton Falls druggist. Joel's farm, next to the Purdy homestead on Route 22, famous for its great orchards, is now part of the Outhouse estate.
One of Westchester's able genealogists, George J. Purdy, whose 80-acre farm lies half way between Amawalk and Granite Springs, is of the Quaker branch of Cortlandt. Theodore of this branch, was a bulwark of Cortlandt Quakers around 1854. This branch dates from the early 1700s.
George Purdy and his father before him were born in the farmhouse he now occupies which was said to be 100 years old when his grandfather bought it in 1837. This Purdy farm is rich and productive, reaffirming the Purdy tradition that when their land will render a good living Purdys stay with the land.
Influential in Politics
A locally prominent Purdy of the 1800's was Henry Purdy, an early graduate of the Peekskill Military Academy, who taught in the Ossining area for 30 years. An influential Purdy in politics about the time of the Civil War was Samuel Purdy, of the eighth generation. He was born in his grandfather's house at Sixth Ave and Fourth Street, in Mount Vernon in 1825. A self-made man, he became Justice of the Peace for West Farms now a part of the Bronx, Town Clerk, Town Supervisor and eventually, for many years, a member of the State Assembly. Joshua Purdy, a son of the builder of the Purdy homestead at Purdys, was a county judge for many years, during the mid-1800s.
Until recent years Purdy farms lined West Street in Harrison and Rye, between Halstead Avenue and the Hutchinson River Parkway. Purdy of Mamaroneck, Rye and Port Chester can trace their descent right back to the five brothers who came to Rye before 1700. In 1919 Thomas L. Purdy relinquished at long last the big Purdy farm in Harrison when he sold it to William McEntee Bowman to build thereon the Westchester Country Club. Purdys who do not farm tend to go into business for themselves but there are many teachers in present as well as past generations and it is interesting to note in today's Purdy families there are many boys, as there always have been, so that the name of Purdy shows no signs of dying out in Westchester.
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