During the restoration, the Smiths discovered that the house actually began as a one-room dwelling built of timber and fieldstone on or about 1654 by Abraham Riker.  This agrees with historical data since found which states that Abraham Riker lived there in 1655 when it was known as “the poor farm.” It also agrees with the dates found in the family plot. The facts confirm that this dwelling is the oldest dwelling in New York City that is still a dwelling. They likewise confirm that the house has had only three owners: the Riker-Lent family, William Gooth and the Smiths, who bought the property in 1975.

Interesting Items

House 1800s - 1932 - 2002

Tax payment from 1915

Immortalized in art

Text of patent to Abraham Ryken

Interactive Mural

Other Items of Interest

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record dated July, 1994, describes how the name Lent came into being. In a will executed in the Netherlands in 1661, Abraham’s full name is given as Abraham Rycken Van Lent.

In a report published by the National Americana Society dated 1931 it is stated that the Riker family dates back to the First crusade in 1096. Among the followers of Walter the Penniless was a Knight named Hans von Ryken, a petty noble of lower Saxony who commanded a troop of 800 men. The family enjoyed what was known as allodial rights... holding lands in fee. Allodium is a legal term for lands which are the absolute property of their owner, and not subject to any service or acknowledgment to a supervisor. It is the opposite of feodum or fief. For several centuries, the family held positions of influence as merchant princes in the city of Amsterdam. However, when the Hollanders rebelled against the yoke of Spain, the Rykens suffered for their patriotism... and, Abraham sought to retrieve his fortune in the New World. Judging from the papers recovered from the attic of the Homestead and donated to the Long Island Historical Society, the family became very wealthy and prominent.

Through the centuries the Rikers altered their names from time to time, some using Ryker and some using Riker. The Ryker-Riker Historical Society formed in the Midwest to help trace the family ancestry.

The Smiths have received several awards, certificates of appreciation and proclamations from governmental officials including former Mayor Ed Koch, Former Queens Borough President Claire Shulman, and Assemblyman Ivan C. Lafayette. Congressman Tom Manton raised the American flag over the Cemetery at a ceremony in June, 1988, with help of the Marine Corp who played "To The Colors" on the bugle. The flag had been flown over the U.S. Capitol prior to its arrival. The flag raising ceremony was to honor such men as Capt. Abraham Riker who died at Valley Forge on May 7, 1778, William James McNevin, an Irish patriot who was prominent in the Revolution, Dr. Berrien Riker, Surgeon-General of the Revolutionary Army and John Lawrence Riker who fought during the War of 1812.

Many other dignitaries such as New York City Council Speaker and Majority Leader Peter Vallone, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens historian Stanley Cogan, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Justice Burton Roberts and many descendants of the Riker family have come to visit the Dutch Colonial farm house. The Ryker-Riker Historical Society made them honorary members of the society in gratitude for what the Smiths have accomplished. And, The New York Metropolitan Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers wrote after visiting the "farm house... ."—"We were deeply interested in the form, the construction and the architectural elements of the house. You gave us the opportunity to feel, see and digest the fabric of your "Gem of History". We were touched by your devotion to the house, and grounds. We wish you great satisfaction in your restoration efforts."

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Last Updated March 19, 2008.

Copyright 2008 Michael M Smith.