Mollie Sneden (1709-1810)

Mary (Mollie) Sneden operated a ferry from Snedens Landing to Dobbs Ferry until shortly before her death in 1810 at age 101. There is no known image of her.

          Snedens Landing provided an important lifeline to New York City. It was the closest spot north of the city to cross the Hudson, and a constant stream of boats docked thereto transport cargo, people, horses, and wagons across the river to Westchester.

          Mollie took over the running of the ferry after her husband’s death in the 1750s. At the time, she was already approaching her fifties. To supplement her family’s income, she operated a tavern near the ferry. The Sneden family ran the ferry from the 1750s to 1903, and service continued at the site until 1946.

          During the Revolutionary War, most of Mollie Sneden’s family were British sympathizers, or “Tories.” Shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the Snedens were asked to sign the “Declaration of Allegiance to the Cause of Liberty,” but they refused. On July 29, 1776, the local Committee for Safety decided that the Sneden family could no longer run their ferry because of their loyalty to the British. The committee had discovered that Mollie’s son Robert was serving as a pilot for British ships on the Hudson. Eight of her nine children fled to Nova Scotia during the war and probably never returned to the United States. After the war, Mollie and her son John, the only child who had supported the American cause, reopened the ferry business.

          During the Revolutionary War, American soldiers built a blockhouse above the ferry so they could watch the movements of the British fleet. About five hundred men were stationed at Snedens Landing during the war.

          Originally the term “Sneden’s Landing” referred to the specific area where the ferry docked. In the early twentieth century, it expanded to include the land that the sculptor Mary Lawrence Tonetti owned or controlled, which she transformed into a thriving creative community. During the “Tonetti Years,” Sneden’s became a home for writers, artists, and famous people of the American theater. John Steinbeck, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn, and Aaron Copland all lived at Snedens Landing at one time or another. Today all of the hamlet east of Route 9W in Palisades is known as Snedens Landing.

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