In the latest installment of J.B. James’ recollections of old Riverdale in the 1800s, he again returns to the topic of the mills in Van Cortlandt Park. He discusses them glowingly in nearly all of his writings that I have posted in the “Articles” section. Personally, I think Van Cortlandt Lake is one of the most beautiful parts of the Bronx but J.B. James wrote that it used to be “much more appealing.”
He provides a little color to the character of the miller, describing him as a “small, crochety little man.” When a cache of old wine bottles was discovered in the vicinity of the mill, local papers ran a story that refers to someone named Nicholas Berges, who is described as “a Dutch miller who operated the old grist mill” in 1869. Prior to Berges’ tenure as miller, it was operated by Caleb Van Tassel, as we learn in his obituary:
The obituary was sent in by a KHS member, who is a descendent of the above-mentioned Garrett Garrison. The Van Tassels are something of a legendary Westchester family. Their name is featured prominently in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and stories of the Revolution.
Caleb Van Tassel’s name came up earlier when I found this reference to the burial ground where enslaved people were buried:
I think Caleb Van Tassel must have been something of a local fixture. His name appears frequently in the local papers: