Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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The Branch Libraries
RICHMONDTOWN BRANCH
200 Clarke Avenue
Staten Island, N.Y. 10306



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REFERENCE



HISTORY

-OF-

RICHMOND COUNTY,

(STATEN ISLAND)

NEW YORK,

From its Discovery to the Present Time.



EDITED BY
RICHARD M. BAYLES.



1 Staten Island ! the name hath a charm to the ear:
1 Fair Island of Beauty ! ' k The Gem of the Sea ! '
Let other harps sing of the scenes ever dear,
But mine, be it tuned in its praises to thee.

' Thou 'rt like a vast garden of verdure and flowers-
Spread out in the distance, enchanting to view;
With its green, shady knolls and luxuriant bowers,
Surrounded by waters of loveliest blue,"

Anon.



NEW YORK:
L. E. PRESTON & CO.



INS?.

CTrf-M .i;;~ :.M ' W -

10306



COPYRIGHT, 1887,

BY

L. E. PRESTON & CO.






rotss or j. tttu^x PROBST,

Si', H.X.




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PREFACE.

The preparation of a history like this involves the employ-
ment of a great variety of means, drawing from a multitude of
sources. The compiler is frequently obliged to accept the
statements of others without knowing upon what data those
statements are made. The utter impossibility of any one man
being able, during the brief term of one human life, to go to
the bottom of every fact stated in a work of this kind must be too
apparent to need explanation. There are a hundred ways by
which errors may creep in. The editor can but use his best
judgment as to the reliability of the authorities upon which he
depends for statements, and his constant and most careful
vigilance in guarding against erroneous statements. This he
has done in the preparation of this work, and that vigilance has
been rendered more effective by the experience the editor has
had heretofore in the preparation of similar works in other
h'elds.

Opportunity is taken here to make expression of our gratitude
for the generous response with which requests for information
have been met by the ministers of the different churches, the
officers of different societies, and others who were in possession
of special information that was desired, in general; and we
would also make particular acknowledgment of the valuable
assistance which we have received from Dr. James Brownlee,
Alfred de Groot, James McNamee, Governor G. D. S. Trask,
Sidney F. Rawson, County Clerk C. A. Hart, School Com-
miuioner Theodore Frean, Professor N.L. Britton, the family of
the lau Gabriel P. Disosway, Dr. Arthur Hollick, Hamilton -






iv PREFACE.

Willcox, Ira K. Morris, William T. Davis and John H. Gar-
retson.

The readiness with which these gentlemen have answered the
calls of the editor for the assistance that each could give, has
encouraged him through the many weary months of labor which
the preparation of this volume has cost.

Besides all the sources of information and assistance which
have been indicated there are many others which have been laid
under contribution which we cannot mention specifically. Two
of the most important, however, cannot be justly omitted. These
are the " Annals of Staten Island," compiled by Mr. J. J.
Clute, and the note books of Prof. Charles Anthon, both of
which have been drawn upon for whatever they contained of
sufficient value and as far as the limits of this volume would
allow. The copyright of the former was purchased from the
heirs of Mr. Clute, and the note books of the latter, from a relative
in whose possession they were. These were gathered while he
was a resident of the island and a professor in Columbia Col-
lege, about 1850 to 1854, he at the time having in view the prep-
aration of a history of the island, which project he afterward
abandoned. From these note books we have obtained many
important facts which have hitherto never been published, and
we deem it especially fortunate that the books were discovered
in time for those facts to be embodied in this work.






TABLE OF CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I. PAQE.
Description of Staten Island (Richmond County) 1

CHAPTER II.

NATURAL HISTORY OF THE ISLAND.

Geology. Flora of the Island. Animal Life. Indian Relics 9

CHAPTER III.

THE PERIOD OP SETTLEMENT 1609 TO 1683.

Discovery. The First Settlement and the Settlers. Conquest by the English. 38

CHAPTER IV.

THE COLONIAL PERIOD 1683 TO 1775.

Erection of Richmond County. Arrival of Huguenots. Division of Rich-
mond into Towns. The Claims of New Jersey. Patents and Land
Grants. Establishment of the Colonial Government. Administration
of Justice. The Time of the French War. Colonial Description.
' Colonial Customs. Statistics 90

CHAPTER V.

THE REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD 1775 TO 1783.

Events Prior to the Declaration of Independence. The Coming of Howe.
Incursions and Skirmishes. The Close of the War and the Evacuation
of New York and Staten Island. Incidents of the Revolutionary Period. 157

CHAPTER VI.

UNDER THE REPUBLIC 1783 TO 1883.

Condition at close of Revolution. Population. County Buildings. Manners
apd Customs. War of 1812. Extracts from the Records. TheMilitia.
Growth and Improvement. Earthquakes. Quarantine. The Civil
War. Some Notable Events 2.)0

CHAPTER VII.

CIVIL DIVISIONS AND CIVIL OFFICERS.

The County. The Towns. The Villages. Hon. Daniel D. Tompkins. Hon.

Erastns Brooks. Cornelius A. Hart. . . 326



VI TABLE OF CONTENTS.

CHAPTER VIII. PAGE.

CHURCHES AND RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.

The Dutch Reformed Churches. The Episcopal Churches. Baptist
Churches. Methodist Churches. The Moravian Church. The Roman
Catholic Churches. The Church of the Huguenots. Unitarian Church.
Presbyterian Churches. Lutheran Churches. Y. M. C. A 349

CHAPTER IX.

EDUCATION AND LITERATURE.

The Schools of the Colonial Period. The Public Schools under the State
Government. Richmond County College. Brighton Heights Seminary.
Staten Island Academy. The Natural Science Association. News-
papers. George William Curtis. John Adams Appleton. The Smith
Family 445

CHAPTER X.

THE PROFESSIONS OF -LAW AND MEDICINE.

The Bench and Bar. Henry B. Metcalfe. Alvin C. Bradley. Tompkins
Westervelt. Lot C. Clark. Robert Christie. John and William H.
Anthon. Theodore C. Vermilye. List of Practising Attorneys. Augus-
tus Prentice. Richmond County Medical Society. I. K. Ambrose.
Herman Beyer. Alfred L. Carroll. Ephraim Clark. Alva D. Decker.
Henry S. Earl. Joseph Feeny. John L. Feeny. R. Henry Golder.
Edwin A. Hervey. George C. Hubbard. Robert M. Ames. F. E. Mar-
tindale. James J. O'Dea. S. A. Robinson. Robert Rogerson. Henry
W. Savvtelle. Samuel Russell Smith. Walker Washington, Jr. J. Wal-
ter Wood. Notes of Quarantine Superintendence, etc 469

CHAPTER XI.

OLD FAMILIES AND PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS.

Alston. Androvette. Bedell. Barnes. Samuel Ward Benedict. Read
Benedict. Bodine. W. H. J. Bodine. Blake. Bogart. Braisted.
Britton. Burbanck. Burgher, Burger. Bush. Butler. Cannon.
Christopher. Cole. Abraham Cole. William A. Cole. Colon. Con-
ner. Corsen. Cortelyou. Crips. Crocheron. Cruser. Cubberly.
George William Daley. George Henry Daley. Decker. De Groot. De
Hart. Depuy. Disosway. DuBois. Dustau. Eddy. Andrew Eddy.

Egbert. Ellis. Enyard. Fountain. Frost. Garrison. Guyon.
Hatfield. Haugh wont. Charles A. Herpich. Hillyer. Holmes.
Housman. Jacobson. Johnson. Jones. Journeay. La Forge. Lake.

Larzalere. Latourette. Lawrence. Lisk. Lockman. Manee.
James M. Manee. Mart ling. Martino. Merrill. Mersereau. Metcalfe.

Nicholas C. Miller. Morgan .'. . 497

CHAPTER XII.

OLD FAMILIES AND PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS (concluded).

Ferine. Poillon. Post. Pi-all. Aquila Rich. Alfred Z. Ross. Ryerss.
Seguine. John G. Seguine. Henry S. Seguine. Sharrott. Francis G.
Shaw. Simonson. Stilwell. Sprague. Taylor. Totten. Ephraim J.
Totten. Tyson. Van Buskirk, Van Duzer. John H. Van Clief. The



/



TABLE OF CONTENTS. vii

PAGE.

Vanderbilts. The Van Name Family. Van Pelt. Wandel Albert
Ward. Stephen Whitman. Winant. Garrett Ellis Winants. Wog-
lom. Wood. Abraham C. Wood. Jacob B. Wood. Abraham J.
Wood. Other Families. Eminent Men and Women of Staten Island . . . 563

CHAPTER XIII.

CHARITIES AND PUBLIC WORKS.

The S. R. Smith Infirmary. The Seamen's Fund and Retreat. Home for
Destitute Children of Seamen. County Poor House. Staten Island Diet
Kitchen. Cemeteries. Staten Island Water Supply Company. The
Crystal Water Works. The Sailors' Snug Harbor. The Police and Fire
Department

CHAPTER XIV.

MUTUAL ASSOCIATIONS.

Staten Island Athletic Club. Clifton Boat Qlub. Staten Island Rowing
Club. Kill Von Kull Rowing Association. Staten Island Cricket and
Base Ball Club. German Association. Grand Army of the Republic.
Masonic Societies. Odd Fellows' Lodgos. Miscellaneous Organizations. 660

CHAPTER XV.

TRANSPORTATION AND TRAFFIC.

The Ferries. Bridge Across the Sound. The Staten Island Railroad. The
Shore Railroad. North and South Shore Railroad. The Richmond
County Railroad. The Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad. Lewis
Henry Meyer. Eckstein Norton. Roderick W. Cameron. John Frank
Ernmons. Harry L. Horton. Reon Barnes. Orlando A. Wood 678

CHAPTER XVI.

INDUSTRIES.

Agriculture. Shipbuilding. The Oyster Interests. John Scott. Silas N.
Havens. Edward Lowrey Woodruff. Barrett, Nephews & Co. The
New York Dyeing and Printing Establishment. The Breweries. George
Bechtel. Monroe Eckstein. B. Kreischer & Sons. Jewett White Lead
Company. Silk Mill. John Irving. Linoleum Works. Paper Mill.
Plaster Mill. Dental Supplies. Other Industries 702



ILLUSTRATIONS.



PORTRAITS.

Appleton, John A 464

Barnes, Reon 699

Barry, John 430

Bechtel, Gorge 728

Benedict, l.fead 50<i

Benedict, Saiauel W 499

Bodine, W. H. J 503

Bn >ks, Erastus 342



viii TABLE OF CONTENTS.

PAGE.

Brownlee, James 360

Cameron, Roderick 694

CrLv Abraham 514

Cole, William A 516

Curtis, George William 456

Daley, George H 524

Eccleston, Joiu-C

Eddy, Andrew 533

Feeny, John L

Hart, Cornelius A

Havens, S. N

Herpich, Charles A ,

Horton, H. L

Irving, John 738

Kreischer, B

Lewis, John

Manee, James M

Meyer, Lewis H

Miller, N. C

Morton, Ex 693

i *-O

Prentice, Augustus *' c

-Rich, Aquilla

Eobinson, S. A

Boss, A. Z 568

Scott, John 718

Seguine, Henry S

Seguine, John G

Shaw, Francis G 573

Smith, R. Penn

Tompkins, Daniel D

Totten, E. J

Van Clief, J. H

Vanderbilt, Cornelius

Vanderbilt, Jacob H

Vanderbilt, William H

Ward, Albert

Whitman, Stephen

Winants, G. E

Wood, A. J

Wood, Orlando A

Woodruff, Edward Lowrey

VIEWS.

Old Billop House, looking toward South Amboy

The Old Billop House, Tottenville

Old British Fort

House of Isaac M. Marsh, formerly used as the Court House. .

Building formerly used as a Clerk's Office and Jail

Present Court House and Jail

The Jaques Guion House, New Dorp

Port Richmond Dutch Reformed Church



TABLE OF CONTENTS. IX

PAGE.

St. Andrew's Church, Richmond 398

St. John's Church and Rectory 400

Woodrow M. E. Church 415

Old Moravian Church and Parsonage 424

Moravian Church, New Dorp 426

" Beechlawn," Residence of Col. R. Penn Smith 467

" Tower Hill," House of L. W. Faber 468

" Tower Hill," House of Mrs. Jenny Faber 469

House of A. L. King, Clifton, N. Y 497

' ' Ravenhurst," House of Read Benedict 501

The Barne Tysen House 549

The Daniel Lake House 549

St. James Hotel, Port Richmond 630

Mt. Loretto, S. 1 641

" Arrochar," Residence of W. W. MacFarland 647

Residence of George W. White 668

Residence of James M. Davis 672

" Fox Hill," House of L. H. Meyer 690

Dining Room at Fox Hill 691

House of Ex. Norton 693

Residence of R. W. Cameron 695

" Portledge," Residence of J. F. Emmons 697

Staten Island Fancy Dyeing Works 722

The Old Staten Island Dyeing Establishment 726

House and Stables of George Bechtel 729

Fire-Brick Works of B. Kreischer & Sons 732

Residence of the late B. Kreischer 735

Residences of Charles C. and Edward B. Kreischer 736

The Irving Manufacturing Company 739

MAPS AND PLANS.

Map of Richmond County 1

Geological Map of Richmond County 9

Facsimile of Original Patent Granted to Barne Tysen in 1677 125

Plan of Christian Low Dutch Church . . 365



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HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.



CHAPTER I.



DESCRIPTION OF STATEN ISLAND.

(RICHMOND COUNTY )



THE first thing we know of Staten Island is its name, and
we trust it will not be considered out of place to intro-
duce our subject by an explanation of its name. Its present
form is an English rendering of the name given by rhe Dutch,
" Staaten Eylandt." Hudson gave the name, which meant the
"Island of the States," as a memorial to the states general, under
whose flag he was sailing. / By the native occupants it was
called "Aquehonga Manacknong," and sometimes " Eghqua-
hous," which was probably only a slight variation of the first
part of the former. Schoolcraft interprets "Aquehonga Ma-
nacknong," as far as the place of bad woods. The meaning of
" Eghquahous" is also interpreted the place of bad woods. It
is not easy now to see the application of such a name, unless
it was that the woods here were dense, and perhaps tilled with
tangled undergrowth, that made it difficult to move through
them in pursuit of game or to secure good aim upon it.

The Island lies in or upon New York bay, but closely drawn
to the New Jersey shore. It is separated from the latter by
Newark bay and a narrow estuary called Kill von Kull on the
north, and on the west by Staten Island sound, which is crooked
and narrow but navigable by steamboats and river craft. The
south side is washed by the waters of Raritan bay, Prince's
bay and the Atlantic ocean, while the main seaward channel
of the Hudson river flows along its eastern shore. It lies
centrally in latitude 40 34', and longitude 2 52' east from
Washington, or 74 8' west from Greenwich. The center of the
i






\



2 HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

island is eleven miles southwest of New York city, one him
dred and forty-three miles south of the state capital, and one
hundred and ninety miles southwest by an air line to the
national capital.

With respect to its surrounding waters we can approve the
remarks of J. Fennimore Cooper, who in his " Water Witch"
locates a scene here. He says:

"The fine estuary which penetrates the American coast be-
tween the fortieth and forty-first degrees of latitude is formed
by the confluence of the Hudson, the Hackensack, the Passaic,
the Raritan and a multitude of smaller streams; all of which
pour their tribute into the ocean within the space named. The
Island of Nassau [Long Island] and Staten Island are happily
placed to exclude the tempests of the open sea, while the deep
and broad arms of the latter offer every desirable facility for
foreign trade and internal intercourse."

Arthur kill separates the island on the west side from the
New Jersey shore, and extends from Elizabethport to Perth
Amboy. It is the grand highway for all the local commerce of
the several ports and streams on the west side of Staten Island,
as well as the inter-state commerce passing south and west
through the Delaware and Raritan canal, which connects the
Raritan river at New Brunswick with the Delaware river at
Trenton. This canal is one of the principal links in the chain
of internal navigation of the Atlantic seaboard, and has a
tonnage amounting to about two millions annually passing
through it.

What may be said in regard to the commerce of Arthur kill
is equally true of Kill von Kull. and perhaps in a still greater
degree. The latter extends from New York bay to Newark
bay, separating the north shore of Staten Island from the New
Jersey shore at Bergen Point. Through this channel must pass
the great bulk of the commerce already mentioned and that of
Newark bay and its tributaries in addition.

Neither of the channels mentioned, however, can compare in
the importance of its commerce with that of the channel which
lies along the east side of the island. That is the gateway
through which is constantly passing the commerce of our own
great nation with all other nations of the earth. Thus we see
Staten Island is peculiarly situated, as it were in a whirlpool of
the commerce of a hemisphere.






HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

In passing, let ns notice the names of the bodies of water that
surround the island. The water now known as the kills was
first called by the Dutch " Het Kill van het Cul," meaning the
Kill of the Cul. The Dutch word "Kill" meant a stream or
creek, while the word "Cul," perhaps borrowed from the
French, meant a bay. Hence Kill von Kull was " the stream of
the bay," the appropriateness of which name is seen in the fact
that it connects the two bays of New York and Newark.
" Achter Cul," as Newark bay was called by the Dutch, meant
the ''Back bay." The narrow body of water known as Staten
Island sound, to which the name Arthur kill is also attached,
was perhaps regarded as only a part of the "back bay," and
so the name of the larger body, slightly corrupted, was appro-
priated to the smaller arm. A reef in the bay at the mouth of
the Kill von Kull was once frequented by seals, to which the
Dutch gave the name Robyn ; hence the name " Robyns Rift,"
which has by careless usage become " Bobbins Reef."

The shores of the island are designated with respect to the
points of the compass, as follows : The region from the Fort to
Billop's point is called the South Shore ; from the latter point
to the junction of the sound with the kills is known as the West
Side ; from the latter point (to which the name Rowland's hook
has been applied, with reference to the meadows, and De Hart's
point to the knoll of upland which overlooks it) to where the
kills meet the waters of New York bay is called the North
Shore ; and thence to the point of departure the East Side.

The shape of the island is that of an irregular triangle. The
longest line that can be drawn through it, from the extreme
northeastern to the extreme southwestern point, is a few feet
more than thirteen and a half miles ; while the longest line that
can be drawn across it, from the shore of the sound near Buck-
wheat island to the shore at the light-house near the Narrows,
is two hundred feet over seven and three fourths miles. It con-
tains about seventy-seven square miles, or 49,280 acres.

The topography of the island corresponds in general with
that of Long Island, being in the northern part hilly and stony,
and in the southern part flat and sandy. But in detail the sur-
face is more diversified. The island may justly claim attention
for the beauty of its landscapes, presenting, as they do, so many
mutations in character, through high, boldly precipitous Mid-
dletown, diversified Castleton, gently undulating Westfield,



4 HISTORY OF IM( 1IMOND COUNTY.

rolling Northtield, and low, more or less flat and marshy South-
tield. Two prominent ranges of hills extend partially across
the island, in different directions, one being near the eastern
shore and touching it at both ends. This extends from New
Brighton, on the northeastern extremity, where it reaches an
elevation of 310 feet, and sweeping inland behind Tompkinsville
and Stapleton, comes out again upon the shore of the Narrows,
with such precipitous form as to suggest the name of Clifton.
The second may be said to commence to the south and just in the
rear of West New Brighton, and extends southward, rising as
it advances, till it nearly reaches New Dorp, when it swerves
away to the westward and settles down again on the shores of
the Fresh kill. This reaches its greatest height in Toad or Todt
hill, which has an elevation of 370 feet above tide. Still farther
west it makes a prominent elevation in Richmond Hill. At
La Tourette's hill, still farther, it overlooks the village of Rich-
mond, and there you gaze far away over green, wooded, rolling
Westfield, while Fresh kill runs at its base, nearly dividing the
island in two.

To the southeast of this hilly region, which by the way may
be described as covering the northeast quarter of the island, is
a level, and probably alluvial, tract of country, composed of
upland and salt meadow extending to the ocean, where it is
designated as the south shore. To the northwest of the "hill
country" the surface is undulating, gradually declining to
level upland and salt meadows. Almost every farm in the
county is furnished with several acres of this meadow, from
which large quantities of grass are annually taken without any
expense for fertilizing or renewing.

The island is well watered with springs, some of them very
copious,*andall of them affording water of excellent quality.*
These are the sources of numerous rivulets and brooks which
irrigate the surface in all directions. At Springville, on the
western part of the island these native waters burst from the
soil in such spontaneous abundance as to suggest a name for
the locality. The water of these springs is very cold and pure. *
Their value in the arts has been discovered by the proprietors
of several large breweries and dye works as well as by the
projectors of public water works. On this subject the fol-
lowing extract from the report of investigations made in 1876
by Mr. Clarence Delafield, C. E., in regard to the available



HISTORY OF RICHMOND COUNTY. 5

sources of water supply for the village of New Brighton, will
be found very interesting:

" West of Port Richmond and Graniteville lies a sandy sur-
face soil; under this is an impervious clay of considerable
depth, under which again is a stratum of gravel that extends
westward under the sound into New Jersey for a long distance.
This gravel is the storage reservoir for the drainage of an im-
mense district. Springs break out at or near tide water in large
numbers in Mariners' Harbor. At Singer's factory in Eliza-
bethport, the well that furnishes the factory is sunk through
this clay stratum to the gravel, and furnishes a large volume of
water. I feel confident that an ample supply can be found in
this region for pumping.

"The geological formation is peculiar. From the Palisades
on the Hudson river, the trap rock is seen running in a south-
westerly direction, generally depressed as it passes under
Bergen hill, thence passing under Bergen Point and the Kill
von Kull, emerging at the water side of Jewett's residence,
Port Richmond, passing thence to the quarries at Graniteville,
and from there dipping under the Fresh kill, is lost sight of
until discovered on the Raritan river between Perth Amboy
and New Brunswick. West of this line lies the white and blue
clays of various depths, forming impervious strata, covering
the water bearing gravel.

"East of the line of trap described is another step of the
same rock, noticed at Bergen Point, at Gunther's residence, but
only found on the island, in digging wells just east of the Pond
road.

" Between the Pond and Mill roads there is a depression of
the rock, and wells forty feet in depth pass through a stratum
of water-proof clay into a stratum of gravel, the reservoir of
drainage of the surface above of limited area, the water rising
and falling with the rains, and often chalybeate in taste from
the deposits of hematite iron in the hills above.

" East of this line and at many points the serpentine rock
comes to the surface, and on Todt hill rises to an altitude of
about 370 feet above tide-water. Below the serpentine rock
should occur the carboniferous strata and old red sandstone,
also the Silurian rock overlaying the gneiss and granite. I be-
lieve that the serpentine rock rests upon the gneiss rock, the
usual intermediate rock being absent, and the reason for this



6 MISTORV OF RICHMOND COUNTY.

belief is that the gneiss rock of New York city is observed
dipping under the bay, rising to form Robin's Reef, and ex-
tending west to the beacon opposite Xew Brighton, probably
passing under Staten Island at the same rate of dip.

"As the result of observation of American and European
engineers, the magnesiau limestones are prolific water bearing
rocks, and the primitive gneiss liable to fissures and stratifica-
tion leading from great distances and bearing water of great
purity. The granite from its freedom from fissures or strata,
and irregular contour may form good basins, but rarely carries
water far. Geology is by no means an exact science, as far as
determining without experimental examination the probable
strata or their water bearing conditions, but the above men-
tioned conditions are an assistance in an intelligent considera-



Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 1 of 72)