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Ryker-Mabie-Conklin-Sneden House 
"Roaring Brook Farm"

c. 1752

    
 Site No. 22 

14 Rockleigh Road

 Links 

The Ryker Family

The Mabie Family

The Conklin Family

The Sneden Family

          John Ryker (Rycken) (1690-1783) of Newtown in Queens, NY, purchased from Henry & Mary Ludlow in 1744 (re-confirmed by the Province of New York in 1752) lands on the east side of Sneden Landing Road upon which he built a homestead. 

"Title passed from Henry and Mary Ludlow to John Ryker. This was a reconveyance sold to him previously with the split-up of the Lockhart Patent. It was necessary for the Ludlows to buy it back because of their land holdings being entailed. After the property was cleared through the state legislature, the property was resold and John Ryker took legal possession on February 2, 1752.

"Although no record has been found just when the house was built prior to 1752, in the book Pre-Revolutionary Dutch Houses by Rosalie Fellows Bailey, nine houses of similar architecture are shown, all built before 1750. -Robert "Newt" Sneden , 1974

* From the hand-written notes of  Robert "Newt" Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

Ryker-Mabie-Conklin-Sneden House "Roaring Brook Farm"
West side facing Rockleigh Road. The porch on the south side faces Roaring Brook.
 Photo circa 1973

          In 1770 the 40-acre homestead passed (likely from John Ryker, age 81) to Peter and Sarah Mabie reserving a portion when not sowed or planted for use as a road to the Ludlow's mountain land, as provided in the 1752 transfer. 

"About 1770 Peter and Sarah (Sally) Mabie procured the 40 acre farm, reserving a portion when not sowed or planted for use as a road to the Ludlow's mountain land, as provided in the 1752 transfer.  

"Jacob Conklin, a neighbor and farmer (deed shows "yeoman") was the next purchaser. The hand-written deed from the Mabies, dated February 24, 1797 when George Washington was president, is still in existence and hangs on the wall of the house. The sales price stated in the document was for the sum of 720 pounds." -Robert "Newt" Sneden, 1974 *

* From the hand-written notes of Newt Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

          The record of ownership shows Jacob Conklin and his descendents in possession of the old farm until 1891.

"Upon the death of Jacob Conklin in 1827, his daughter Phebe (wife of David Conklin, a distant cousin) became the owner under her father's will. Phebe Conklin died in 1845 and her real estate passed on to her children - Margaret Sneden, William Conklin, Elizabeth Norton, John Conklin, and the grandchildren - Andrew Graham, Elizabeth Trenchard, Phebe Trenchard and Peter Trenchard.  In 1851 the above named heirs of Phebe Conklin all deeded their shares in the farmhouse and land to her son John D. Conklin. In 1883 title changed from John D. Conklin and his wife Sarah to their daughter Elizabeth and her husband John C. Leonard, with a life-right given to the Conklins.

"In 1891, after the life-rights had expired, the property, known as 'Roaring Brook Farm,' was conveyed by John C. Leonard to Leonard Beasley Sneden and his wife Catherine Evans Sneden. In 1926 the Leonard B. Snedens disposed of approximately 37 acres to the East along the rise to the Palisades Inter-State Park. It is now part of the Boy Scout tract. They retained ownership of the dwelling and barn with about 3 acres, as well as the "right of access" up the mountain.

"In 1946, two years after the death of Leonard B. Sneden (at the age of 98), his wife Catherine sold the place, also with a life-right, to her great-nephew R. Newton Sneden and his wife Elmira. Catherine Sneden died only a few months later in the same year (at the age of 91)."*

* From the hand-written notes of Newt Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

          Roaring Brook Farm remained in the Sneden family until 1988.

 

          The Ryker-Mabie-Conklin-Sneden House is a T-shaped five-bay 1 story gable-roof clapboard structure. 

       "According to Newt, who got it from Aunt Kate and Uncle Len, originally the house consisted of just one room, [the southern portion of] the west part that faces Rockleigh Road. The outside door (as it does today) faces the brook. Inside, a staircase went up to a sleeping loft above. 
          "L
ater, at some point (I don't know when), 'they' brought down another one-room house/cabin from the mountain (I guess they're talking about Turkey Ridge) and attached it to the east side of the original, so there were now two rooms on the first floor and a couple of bedrooms upstairs. It was on this addition that the big fireplace was built, and a back or side door facing the mountain - east. The 'west' room was the living area, and the equally as large 'east' room was the big country kitchen and dining area.
          "As I said, I have no idea who 'they' were, nor when this addition was made, but certainly before Uncle Len purchased the place.
         "
When Uncle Len purchased the place [1891], he added an enlarged porch at the front door on the south side facing the brook. Then he built a [gambrel-roofed] third room on the north side of the house, which became the dining room (you can see the addition with a bedroom above on the left side in the photograph). He also added the bay window in the living room (facing Rockleigh Road) and dormers on the second floor to give more room up there.
         "The story goes that Aunt Kate kept nagging Uncle Len to install a proper bathroom inside the house (she was tired of trekking out to the out-house in the cold of winter), which he finally did. This may have happened in the late 1920s with money he got from selling off the 37 acres to the Rockefellers. Uncle Len, however, refused to use the 'damn contraption,' and continued to use the out-house until the day he died. I do remember the out-house.
         "My Uncle Newt returned from the war in 1945 and offered Aunt Kate (Catherine Evan Sneden) $6,000 for Roaring Brook, giving her life rights to live in the house. She died the next year in 1946 (Uncle Len had died in 1944). So that's when Uncle Newt and Aunt Elmira moved in. Uncle Newt died in 1975, and Aunt Elmira stayed on there by herself until 1988 when she sold it - I don't recall to whom.
         "I visited the home with my mother about 1990, and the new owners graciously showed us what they had done. They added a huge two-story addition to the east side of the house (thank heavens it doesn't show from the road). This gave them a brand new kitchen. However, in the process of the 'renovation', they tore out the original grand fireplace which was in the old county kitchen."*

*John A. Sneden, Jr., Personal Communications, 2003.

          Some of the rooms retain the original floor boards. The interior walls in the kitchen section can be observed from the cellar and are plastered with mud and straw. The cellar has a dirt floor and the foundation is random field stone. About 1990, a well house was inadvertently destroyed. Yet, Roaring Brook Farm retains much of its charming historic structure and character.

           A small late 19th century English form barn is located to the north rear of the house. Inside, it was signed J.C. Leonard, 1887. The house currently lies on a two-acre parcel. Both house and barn are in good condition. There are ruins of outbuildings on this and adjacent properties. On borough-owned land immediately to the north is the Sneden Ice Pond with original dam on the west side of the pond, an fine example of an 18th century stone bridge on the east side of the pond and the ruins of an ice house. The open meadow to the south of the pond is reminiscent of 18th century pasture.

         "In 1926, Leonard B. Sneden disposed of approximately 37 acres to the East along the rise to the Lamont  family, leaving several acres around the house and barn. This large parcel became part of the extensive Lamont family holdings that were subsequently conveyed to the Boy Scout of America, New York Council."* 

* From the hand-written notes of Newt Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

          In 1976, the borough of Rockleigh purchased much of the former Roaring Brook Farm from the Boy Scouts of America as past of the Rockleigh Wood Sanctuary. Then in 1995, the former of the Sneden Property within the Lamont Tract west of the Palisades Parkway was purchased by Rockleigh Borough in company with Alpine Borough and Bergen County. 

 

 People Who Lived There 

         
1754 - 1770 John Ryken (1689-1783) & Geertie Wiltsee-Ryken (1698-1781)
1770 - 1797 Peter Mabie (1735-?) & Sarah Boyd-Mabie of Tappan
1797 - c.1812 2nd Jacob Conklin (1743-1827) & Elizabeth Gesner-Conklin (1745-1825)
3rd Jacob Conklin (1766-1811) & Mary Quidor-Conklin (1775-1838)
c.1812 - c.1845 Phebe Conklin-Conklin (c.1773-1845) & David M. Conklin (1772-1852)*
c.1845 - 1850 Heirs of Phebe Conklin, owners
David M. Conklin
(1772-1852), residing life-right*
1850 - 1883 John D. Conklin (c.1809-1871) & Sarah Conklin (? - 1891*)
1883 - 1891 Elizabeth "Lizzie" Conklin-Leonard (c.1845-?) & John C. Leonard, owners of record
Sarah Conklin
(? - 1891*) residing life-right*
1891- 1946 Leonard Beasley Sneden (1846-1944) & Catherine Evans-Sneden (1857-1946)*
1946 - 1988 R. Newton "Newt" Sneden III (1907-1975) & Elmira Weaver-Sneden (1907-1995)*
1988 - c.1993 Stone Family
  Peter Bokor & Jeannie Blaustein
   

* From the hand-written notes of Newt Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

  Map References  

Walker's Atlas (1876)

J.D. Conklin   

Beers Rockland County (1891)

1. Mapmakers omitted stream (closer to "N. Sneden" house)  to the south of which "Mrs C. Sneden" house should be located. 
2. "L.B. Snedecker" should read "L.B. Sneden" and located one house north (labeled "Mrs. C. Sneden"). 
3. There is no evidence of a house at the boggy location indicated "L.B. Snedecker".

  References  

Bergen County Historic Sites Survey, Borough of Rockleigh. 1981-1982.
Bergen County Office of Cultural and Historic Affairs, Hackensack, NJ

* Hand-written notes of Newt Sneden, 1974
Courtesy of John A. Sneden, Jr.

Compiled by E. W. April, 2002