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At least 46 Montgomery women voted in 1801 and Rebecca Van Dike was one of them

— Glimpse of the past

Rebecca lived here and here and maybe here and here

Undated pre-1972 photo of the Garret Beekman House. Rebecca Van Dike Beekman lived here until her death in 1847.

By Candy Willis

Historians and a film crew from Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution visited New Jersey several weeks back to lay wreathes at the grave sites of women who voted back in 1801.

At least 46 Montgomery women voted that year and Rebecca Van Dike was one of them.

Although we don’t know much about her, we do know of at least four houses extant in Montgomery in which Rebecca either lived or likely spent significant periods of time (given that her father was a British loyalist whose land was seized when he was banished to Nova Scotia for many years leaving her mother and eight children to fend for themselves.)

She was born on a 227-acre farm near Harlingen to John ‘Tory’ Van Dike and his wife Rebecca (both mother and daughter were named Rebecca*.)

Her grandfathers had adjoining farms (340 and 360 acres respectively) nearby in Bridgepoint.

In 1822, Rebecca married Garrett Beekman. It was her first marriage and Garret’s third.

They lived on Garret’s River Road 150+ acre farm until they died within months of each other 25 years later.

The house, shown here in an undated pre-1972 photo, is believed to have been built in the colonial period and originally consisted of just half of the wing on the left.

The stylish Federal section on the right was added later. Each time the house was enlarged, a new chimney and a new exterior door were added.

A wreath on the Montgomery Township grave of Rebecca Van Dike, who voted in 1801. The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote in 1920 — but history shows some women voted long before that.

Garret and Rebecca are buried side-by-side in the Beekman Cemetery flanked by Garret’s first two wives. ■

*We may never be 100 percent certain which Rebecca voted.

An exhibit titled “When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story, 1776-1807” opened at the Museum of the American Revolution on October 2 and runs through April 25.

Candy Willis, VHHS librarian


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