Reply To: The Enslaved People of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, and Spuyten Duyvil

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The following advertisement was placed in the June 13, 1774 issue of the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury.

Jack, slave of Tetard

According to the ad, Jack, a “negro fellow,” had apparently run away from “I. [or J.] G. Tetard.” This must have been either a misprint of J. P. Tetard or an unidentified relative of John Peter Tetard, who resided in Kingsbridge. Who was John Peter Tetard? He was a minister and a teacher and eventually became a chaplain to the patriots in the American Revolution. But before that he ran a boarding school in Kingsbridge. This was the first school in the area. It is perhaps best described by the following ad that also appeared in the New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury for August 24, 1772:

This is to inform the PUBLIC, That the Revd. J. P. Tetard, late Minister of the reformed Church in this City, has lately opened his BOARDING School at his House near King’s Bridge, (within 15 Miles from New-York) where he teaches the French Language in the most expeditious Manner, together with some of the most useful Sciences, such as Geography, the Doctrine of the Sphere, ancient and modern History, Logic, &c. He likewise takes in Pupils for the learned Languages, the skillful reading of the Classics, and whatever is requisite to fit the young Students for Admission into any College or University. The house is remarkable for its healthy Situation, commanding one of the finest Prospects in the Government, and the Tutor’s Character and Capacity well known, he having lived with credit in the City of New-York upwards of fifteen Years; so that Gentlemen who will intrust him with the Education of their Children, may depend on their Expectations being properly answered.

Tetard is the subject of a book by the Kingsbridge Historical Society’s founder, the Reverend William Tieck. In this book, America’s Debt to John Peter Tetard, Tieck describes Tetard’s home as “located within the triangle formed by modern Kingsbridge Terrace (the old Boston Post Road), Sedgwick Avenue, and Perot Street.” This location in Kingsbridge Heights would have certainly commanded a fine “prospect.” Visitors to the school would have had a view of Marble Hill and Inwood below with Spuyten Duyvil Hill and the Hudson River Palisades in the distance. There are several maps depicting the Tetard house in this spot, including the below map from the Clements Library at the University of Michigan. Note “Tetard’s” on the far right of the map.

Tetard House

As for Jack, who escaped slavery, he seems to have had quite an interesting background–an elderly former sailor, who spoke at least three languages. It is unknown if he escaped to eventual freedom or if he was recaptured.