One of Newtown’s famous families was that of the Rikers, whose members were long distinguished in every walk of life. It began with Abraham Riker in 1640, and this ancestor of many somebodies founded a family in which longevity was well-nigh universal. The Rikers became so numerous that some of them, to avoid confusion, adopted other names and were known as Lent and Krankheyt. The spacious old house surrounded by many trees along the sea beach, with its classic library and numerous patriotic prints was in earlier days a sort of Liberty Hall, where distinguished guests were hospitably entertained. Dr. Berrien Riker accompanied Washington for eight years as Army surgeon, while Captain Abraham Riker stood beside Montgomery when he fell at Quebec, December 31, 1775, and was borne off by Aaron Burr. During the war of 1812 Captain Andrew Riker commanded the privateers, Saratoga and Yorktown, and brought his captured prizes to the island, which has since borne his name. A short distance from the house is the Riker burying ground, where repose the remains of many members of this prolific, long lived and active family.
In front of the cemetery is the Jacob Rapelye residence, earlier known as the Lent property, and originally forming part of the Riker estate. This quaint cottage contained many curious relics and was the favorite stopping place of British dragoons seeking bread and whiskey for themselves and watering for their horses at the trough by the roadside. It was then a tavern and the broad old fire place may still be utilized for cooking a good dinner. Its relics include an old family prayer book, in Dutch, date of owner 1745, with two brass rings attached to the clamps for carrying purposes, and a ponderously bound Dutch Bible printed in Rotterdam, 1730. Separated from the house by the orchard is the just mentioned cemetery, and the inscriptions comprise names of Captain Abraham Riker, who died at Valley Forge in 1778, Captain Andrew Riker, who died at Port Au Prince in 1817, and Maria McKisson who died in 1829, a confidential friend of Mrs. Governor George Clinton.
The Lent-Riker-Smith Homestead remains extant and is an official NYC landmark. – Ed.