--Detail from 'View from Misses Masters School' by J. C. Cropsey, c.1890--Detail from 'View from Misses Masters School' by J. C. Cropsey, c.1890
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.  Winston S. Churchill

History is philosophy, teaching by examples. Thucydides 

I view it as a noble undertaking to rescue from oblivion those who deserve to be eternally remembered. Pliny

Village Historian of Dobbs Ferry


Thank you for visiting the VillageHistorian website.

The front cover of my 2011 book,
George Washington's Westchester Gamble,
appears below. Visitors to this website may recognize the image on the front cover, Jasper Cropsey’s, Redoubt, Dobbs Ferry (1892). The publisher of George Washington's Westchester Gamble is The History Press, Charleston, S.C.

Among the 25-30 images that appear in the book, 5 are black and white reproductions of stunning paintings from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and 7 are historical maps. Here is a brief description of the book, in Q and A format:

FAQ: Why did you write George Washington's Westchester Gamble?

ANSW: To explain how Westchester localities, including Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hartsdale, Edgemont and White Plains, played highly significant roles in the summer of 1781 when the strategy was adopted which won the Revolutionary War, and to highlight the indispensable assistance that was given to the United States by France.
Washington’s great gamble of mid-August 1781 determined the fate of our republic. It is a dramatic story which has many twists and turns, and I hope to bring these remarkable events to the attention of the general public.
Historians Thomas Fleming and Joseph Wheelan kindly read George Washington's Westchester Gamble before publication, and made the following comments:

“Richard Borkow has done a first-rate job of telling the story of the American Revolution in Westchester County and putting dramatic events there in the context of the larger war—especially the decision to march to Yorktown.”

Thomas Fleming, author of The Perils of Peace, America’s Struggle for Survival after Yorktown


“Just when it seemed that the subject of the American Revolution had been thoroughly explored, Richard Borkow has given us a fresh look at the war’s culminating event—the 1781 march of French and American troops to Virginia.”

—Joseph Wheelan, author of Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror, 1801–1805, and Mr. Adams’s Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams’s Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress



From the publisher's press release:


Richard Borkow is the village historian of Dobbs Ferry, New York, a trustee of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society and editor of the website www.VillageHistorian.org. In 2009 and 2010, he was project director for Noted Historians Reveal Dobbs Ferry's Historic River Connections, a series of video interviews on YouTube with distinguished historians, including Pulitzer Prize recipient, David Hackett Fischer. In the interview entitled, American Revolution: The Decision Which Won the War, Dr. Fischer speaks about the dramatic “moment of choice” in Westchester County which led, two months later, to the decisive Franco-American victory over Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia.  That same "moment of choice," and the great risks that were associated with it, are explored in detail in George Washington's Westchester Gamble.


 Front cover of George Washington's Westchester Gamble



To learn more about Dobbs Ferry's exceptional history, please consider the following options:

Persons who wish to conduct in-depth scholarly research regarding Dobbs Ferry's history are invited to schedule a visit to the archives of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, which is located at the Mead House, 12 Elm Street-- telephone: (914-) 674-1007. These archives contain an extensive collection of historic documents, correspondence, artifacts and maps, historical publications, books, paintings, films and oral history recordings relating to Dobbs Ferry. The historical society also publishes The Ferryman, a lively and attractive historical newsletter, which appears quarterly. Please see the website of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society for  additional guidance on ways to search for historical information about our village.

Historic Treasures of Westchester County is an initiative of "Virtual Archives," a collaborative effort of the Westchester County Archives and The Westchester County Historical Society. Access their web page, Historic Treasures of Westchester County, for a beautiful display of historical material from many of Westchester's towns and villages. On the web page relating to Dobbs Ferry, you will find antique picture postcards and other pictorial artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Dobbs Ferry and neighboring localities played a vital role during the Revolutionary War and are important sites on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R). Early in 2009, Congress passed legislation to establish the W-R Revolutionary Route as the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail, and the legislation was signed by the president on March 30, 2009. Information about the role of Dobbs Ferry during the Revolutionary War is posted on the web site of the National W3R Association.

The website which you are currently visiting includes a pictorial account of the 1781 encampment of the allied American and French armies in Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hartsdale and Edgemont. The strategic decisions made at the encampment in mid-August, 1781, led to a dramatic turnaround in the military fortunes of the United States at the Battle of Yorktown, in Virginia, two months later, to the end of the Revolutionary War and to remarkably favorable peace terms for our country.

Additional sections on this website include:
The historic maps web page
The notable quotations web page, which contains passages from articles and books which describe Dobbs Ferry of yesteryear.

Please feel free to contact me. I welcome your observations and feedback.

Richard Borkow, M.D.

Village Historian of Dobbs Ferry
Trustee, Dobbs Ferry Historical Society

July, 2012


We are very appreciative
 for your assistance in June, 2007,
 a critical time for
the W-R legislation in the Senate

Faxes from the citizens of Dobbs Ferry, including all of those who responded to the mayor’s newsletter, and all of those who responded to e-mails from the leaders of both political parties, and from the citizens and supervisor of the Town of Greenburgh, were extremely helpful at the time of the Congressional alert in June, 2007. Your intervention changed the course of events! Thank you!


























The twelth annual commemoration of Dobbs Ferry's Road to Freedom Day is scheduled for
Sunday, August 6, 2017. 

The Road To Freedom celebration will begin on that date at Gould Park at 1 PM. Led by fife and drum, we will follow the route taken by the Continental army on Sunday, Aug 19, 1781, en route to Virginia and the decisive American and French victory over British General Cornwallis at Yorktown. We will pause at the Little White Church Cemetery in order to pay tribute to the Revolutionary War and Civil War soldiers and veterans who are interred  in that historic cemetery.

Following the Road to Freedom Walk we will gather on the lawn of the Mead House, 12 Elm Street, for a variety of demonstrations and exhibits, including artifacts, women's makeup and dress, games of the period, musical selections of the period played on the fife by the The Ministers of Apollo musicians, and refreshments.

Dobbs Ferry's Road to Freedom celebration is a joint initiative of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society and the Village of Dobbs Ferry.