Tarrytown’s First Murder, 1779

It is said the first murder in Tarrytown happened when Nathaniel Underhill killed American patriot Isaac Martling, who happened to be the older brother of Abraham “Brom” Martling. Brom was said to have been the inspiration for the character “Brom Bones” in Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Both brothers were soldiers in the American Revolution.

In 1779, Isaac led a mob against the rich Loyalist Nathaniel Underhill, who ended up being strung up by his heels. The Tory later retaliated by fatally stabbing the one-armed Martling, waiting until he’d gone to a well and was encumbered with a bucket of water as he crossed the road. Underhill consequently fled to Canada, but was named in the inscription on Isaac’s gravestone, which is in the Old Dutch Church, as his murderer.


Stating that the deceased had been “inhumanly slain…in his 39th year”, the stone was broken off at its base, some say by a member of Underhill’s family.

Seen here is the brother’s former home, which used to sit on White and Water streets near the river at the base of what was once known as Martling’s Landing and was built in 1758.

The Historical Society serving Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow-