Chappaqua Meaning = “the rustling land”

Chappaqua — A Brief History

      Chappaqua has a long and rich history dating back to the late 1600s, when it was purchased by, among others, an Englishman, John Richbell, from the Siwanoys. In the 1700s Quaker moved into the area. Its name comes from the Algonquian word


       meaning “the rustling land” or a place where nothing is heard but the rustling of the wind in the leaves. Over the years, the Quakers spelled it Shapiqua, Shapaqua, Shapequa, Shappaqua, and, finally, Chappaqua. They settled on what is now Quaker Street, and their meetinghouse, built in 1753 at 420 Quaker Road, still holds weekly meetings each Sunday. During the American Revolution, the meetinghouse served as a hospital for some of Washington’s soldiers wounded in the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. Committed abolitionists, Chappaqua Quakers freed their slaves in 1779, providing them with land to settle on in North White Plains, and families of Chappaqua Meeting, notably Moses and Esther Pierce, participated in the Underground Railroad.

With the arrival of the railway in Chappaqua in 1848 and Millwood in 1869 came the first wealthy businessmen from New York who could commute to the city.

Perhaps the most notable of these was Horace Greeley (1811-1872), for whom the high school is now named. Editor of the New York Tribune, America’s most influential newspaper from the 1840s to the 1870s, Greeley was a founder of the Liberal Republican Party. He ran for president in 1872 but lost to incumbent Ulysses S. Grant in a landslide. In 1853 he bought 78 acres of land just east of the New York and Harlem Railroad, and was among the first commuters from Chappaqua to New York City. His land included upland pastures near present-day Aldridge Road, Greeley Hill, and the marshy fields now the site of the Bell Middle School fields and the shopping area along South Greeley Avenue.


Chappaqua Farm, West Chester County, N.Y.,
The Residence of Hon. Horace Greeley
Currier & Ives, c. 1870

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