Richard Mather Bayles.

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

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sible that the names of some of the earliest supervisors are
arranged under the wrong town, as in no case are the names of
the towns and supervisors connected.

Sui>erisors prior to 1766 : 1699 William Tiljeu, North;
Anthony Tyson, West; Abm. Lakeman, South. 1703 Richard
Merrill, North; Stoifel Garrison, South; Anthony Tysen, West.
1704- - Merrill, North; Tunis Egbert, West. 1705 Aron
Prall, North; Tunis Egbert, West; Stoffel Van Sant, South.
1706 Tunis Egbert, West; Aaron Prall, North. 1709 -Alex-


ander Stuart. South; Jacob Corsen. North; Tunis Egbert,

The earliest record of a town election in Castleton now to be
found is that dated 1781. At that election the following officers
were chosen: Richard Conner, supervisor; Peter Housman,
clerk; James Lisk, constable and collector; Peter Housman
and George Barnes, assessors; Peter Housman and Daniel
Corsen, commissioners of roads, and other officers.

The following list, dated December 22, 1783, in Castleton,
contains the " Names of the persons that swore to the State of
New York." Hendrick Garrison, John Wandel, John C.
Dongan, John Dorsett, Matthew Decker, Tunis Egberts, Na-
thaniel Britten, Abraham Egberts, Joseph Barton, Daniel
Corsen, Joseph Christopher, Abraham Housman, Matthias
Smith, John Housman, Thomas Kingston, Edward Blake,
Samuel Van Pelt, James Johnston, John Lisk, John Bodine,
Nicholas Bnsh, William Van Pelt, Edward Egberts and
George Barns.

The town of Middlerown was erected by an act of the state leg-
islature passed April 16th, 1860. It was formed from parts of
Southfield and Castleton, the new town being bounded by aline
" commencing on the bay or shore on the east side of Staten
Island at the point where the Richmond turnpike strikes said
bay; thence running westerly along said Richmond turnpike
road to the town of Northh'eld; thence southerly on the line
between the towns of Northfield and Castleton to where said
line terminates at Southfield; thence northeasterly on the line
between Castleton and Southfield, along the Richmond plank-
road to Vanderbilt avenue; thence easterly along the south-
erly side of said Vanderbilt avenue to the bay of New York;
thence northerly along the shore or bay of New York to the
point of beginning." These bounds included the eastern por-
tion of Southfield and the southerly portion of Castleton. The
first town meeting of the new town was held at Nautilus hall,
on the second day of May following, and the act appointed
Thomas Standerwick, Thomas Garrett and Gary Devery to pre-
side at that meeting.

The village of Edgewater, comprising part of Tompkinsville,
and all of Stapleton and Clifton, was originally incorporated in
1866, being then divided into nine wards, but some legal defect
having been detected, a new charter was obtained the following


year. The names of the first trustees, under the new charter,
and the wards they represented were as follows : William C_
Denyse, 1st ; David Burgher, 2d ; George Bechtel, 3d ; Theo-
dore Frean, 4th; Dr. Thomas C. Moffat, 5th; James R. Robinson,
6th ; Alfred Wandell, 7th; Dennis Keeley, 8th; J. Duigan, 9th.
The officers then were : Theodore Frean, president ; Henry F.
Standerwick, clerk ; Thomas Garrett, police justice.

The experiment of village government was not as successful
as might be desired, and many were in favor of returning to the
former status under the town. The village charter was, how-
ever, amended by acts of legislature in 1870, 1872, 1873, 1874,
1875, 1877 and 1884. Under the charter of 1875 the village was
divided into only two wards, with one trustee each, and a third
trustee at large, who was to be president of the village corpora-
tion. Under this charter the first ward trustees were Benjamin
Brown and Mr. Fellowes ; and William Corry, president.
Henry F. Standerwick was elected clerk. By the charter of
1884 the village was divided into five wards, and the number of
trustees was correspondingly increased. The boundaries given
in that charter are as follows :

"Commencing at a point on the shore of the bay of New
York, where the center line of Arietta street, if prolonged,
would intersect the shore of said bay, and running thence along
said center line of Arietta street, southwesterly to the center
line of the Richmond Turnpike ; thence along the said center
line of the Richmond turnpike, southwesterly to the south-
westerly side of the Clove road ; thence along the southwester-
ly side of the Clove road southeasterly to the Richmond road ;
thence along the easterly line of the Richmond road, southerly
to the northerly line of the Old Town road ; thence along the
northerly line of the Old Town road six hundred feet ; and
thence on a line parallel to and at a distance of six hundred
feet from the easterly side of the Richmond road, and continu-
ing thence on a line parallel to and at a distance of six hundred
feet southerly from the southerly line of the Fingerboard road,
and westerly line of Sand lane to where said line intersects the
Old Town road ; thence in a due southeasterly line to the lower
bay of New York ; and thence along the lower and upper bay
of New York, northeasterly and northerly to the place of be-

The village of New Brighton was incorporated by act of the


legislature, April 26, 1866, and embraced the northerly half of
the town of Castleton. It was about two and a half miles long
in a straight line, and about one mile in width. This territory
was divided into four wards, and the trustees appointed by the
same act to carry its provisions into effect were: Augustus
Prentice, first ward ; James W. Simonson, second ward ; Fran-
cis Gr. Shaw, third ward ; and William H. J. Bodine, fourth
ward. The portion of the town remaining unincorporated was
very sparsely populated, but was obliged, nevertheless, to have
a full corps of town officers, some of whom resided within the
village, and exercised the offices without, as well as within, and
the duties of some, such as the commissioners of highways,
which office had been abolished within the village, could be
performed only in the unincorporated remnant of the town.
The bills rendered by these officers for their services at the end
of each year were so large, that the taxes outside of the village
were greater than those within. The only method the people
could resort to for ridding themselves of this burden, was to
seek admission into the corporation, which they did, and in
1872 the remainder of the town was added to the village, and
divided into two wards, the fifth and sixth. The dimensions of
the village now are, about four miles long and two miles wide.
In 1871, a large and elegant village hall was erected on Lafay-
ette avenue, corner of Second street, at a cost of about thirty-
six thousand dollars, including the land.

The first village election was held May 22, 1866, for the
election of a police justice. One of the first ordinances of the
village trustees, on the 12th of May, "ordained" that a public
pound be established on the premises of Edward Roe on the
Mill road, and the said Roe was appointed pound master. The
expenses of the village incorporation for the first year, to June
1, 1867, were twenty-two thousand three hundred and twenty-
six dollars and forty-two cents. The charter was amended by
acts of the legislature in 1867, 1871, 1872, 1873 and 1875. Its
limits are now identical with those of the former town of Cas-
tleton. The office of village president has been held by the
following : Augustus Prentice, 1866 ; John Laforge, 1867-69 ;
Anson Livingston, 1870 ; George M. Usher, 1871 ; M. J. Fowler,
1872; D. A. Pell, 1873; William Chorlton, 1874; R. B. Whitte-
more, 1875-76 ; William II. J. Bodine, 1877; Harry L. Horton,
1878-79; David J. H. Willcox, 1880-84; John J. Featherston,


1885. The village clerks have been: Mark Cox, 1866-69.; George
Bowman, 1870 ; C. T. McCarthy, 1871-78 ; James C. Hill, 1879-
81 ; John J. Kenney, 1883-85.

The village of Port Richmond was incorporated by act of April
24, 1866, but by reason of the nnconstitutionality of the act,
which appointed trustees for the village, no organization was
effected until after the passage of an amendment on April 25,
1867. Pursuant to this last act an election was held May 11,
1867, and Nicholas Van Pelt, George W. Jewett, William A.
Ross, Garret P. Wright, James B. Pollock, and Henry Miller,
Jr., were elected trustees. The boundaries of the village given
in the charter are as follows :

"Northerly, by the river Kill Von Ivull ; easterly, by the line
between Castleton and Northfield ; southerly, beginning on a
point at the bridge about three hundred feet southerly from the
German Lutheran church and running thence westerly to the
southerly side of the residence of Jacob Hath'eld ; thence west-
erly to a monument on the southwest corner of the Richmond
granite quarry at the Morning Star road ; thence running a
westerly course to the southernmost line of the property of the
Methodist Episcopal church on the new road at Mariner's Har-
bor ; thence following the center of the road a northerly course
to the river Kill Von Kull ; thence following the river to the
place of beginning."

Captain Nicholas Van Pelt occupied the position of president
of the board of trustees continuously from the first till his
death in December, 1881, when he was followed by Captain
Garret P. Wright who has held the office till the present time
(1885\ Frederick Groshon, the first village clerk, held that
office till his death, March 12, 1872, when he was succeeded by
De Witt Stafford, who continues in the office. James B. Pol-
lock has been treasurer from the beginning to the present time.

At the time of the organization of the village there was
only about five hundred feet of sidewalk, mostly of brick, in
the whole village. Improvement of the streets has since been
steadily carried forward, including the widening of Shore
road, Richmond and Jewett avenues, and other roads of less
importance, until now every street of any considerable note
is not only flagged, curbed and guttered, but thoroughly
macadamized. In 1884 the village was supplied with water by
contract with the Staten Island Water Company. Gas had



been introduced previous to the organization of the village,
though the corporation does not yet light the streets. A public
park is owned by the village, through a gift of Messrs. Peter
N". and Eder V. Hanghwoul; who dedicated this spot for that
purpose. These gentlemen, in 183G, purchased the farm of
Judge David Merserean, which lay between Richmond avenue
on the west and Cottage place on the east, and the kills on the
north and what is now Bond street on the south. Upon this
they laid out what has since become the principal part of the


The territory now in the village limits lying east of the tract
just described and on the south of it as far west as Church
road belonged to the John Simonson farm and was a part of
the original patent to Cornelius Corsen. Cornelius Sebring
owned a considerable tract lying on the west side of Richmond
avenue (originally called Church road), as far west as to take
in the lots facing on the west side of Mechanics' avenue, now
called Lafayette avenue. A large tract on both sides of Morn-
ing Star road, and on which are situated the granite quarries,
was formerly owned by Vincent Fountain, and was purchased
by one David Sand, by whom it was laid out into lots, and it
now constitutes the thriving middle and southerly portion of
the village, a part of it being known as Elm Park. The
Haughwout tract before referred to may be more definitely
described as being bounded on the north by the kills, west by


Richmond avenue, south by the south line of Bond street
and a continuation of that line westward to Richmond
avenue, and east by a line about twelve feet east of the east
side of Cottage place, and a continuation of the same line
north to the kills. This was part of a tract which was
granted by Governor Andros to Cornelius Corsen, Andrews
Urianson, Derrick Corneliusen and John Peterson, December
30, 1680. That grant extended from Palmer's run and the
mill pond, eighty-eight rods along the shore of the kills to the
little creek between the store of Johnson and the Speer ship-
yard, and comprehended 320 acres.

Other village incorporations have been attempted, but their
existence has been of short duration. In 1823 the legislature
passed an act incorporating the village of Richmond, but the
organization was not consumated. Tottenville was incorporated
by an act of April 28, 1869, which was amended April 14, 1871.
This charter also became inoperative through the failure of the
people to approve its conditions.

HON. DANIEL D. TOMPKINS, governor of the state of New
York and vice-president of the United States, whose later years
were spent on Staten Island, and after whom the village of
Tompkinsville is named, was born at Scarsdale, Westchester
county, N. Y., June 21, 1774. The son of Christian parents he
was brought up in the Protestant faith. His delicate constitu-
tion and aptness to learn induced his father to place him at the
grammar school of Malcom Campbell in New York, September,
1787; whence, at the end of a year, he was removed to the
academy in North Salem. Here he continued till 1792, when
he entered the sophomore class in Columbia College. During
the last year of his college course he served in the law office of
Peter Jay Monroe, Esq., and two years after graduating at the
head of his class in 1795, he was admitted an attorney of the
supreme court and subsequently a counsellor. He early inter-
ested himself in politics. He became a staunch republican, and
in the party struggles of 1799, 1800 and 1801 he took a promi-
nent and conspicuous part. His influence in the city of New
York, especially in the Seventh ward, in which he had married
Miss Hannah Minthorne, daughter of the wealthy and respect-
able alderman of that name, was early felt, and to him in a
great measure was due the election of Thomas Jefferson to the


presidency. In 1801 lie was elected a representative of the city
for the purpose of revising the constitution of the state and the
following year he became a member of the slate legislature.
Shortly after he was appointed by Judge Morgan Lewis one of
the supreme judges of New York. In 1806 he might have suc-
ceeded John S. Hobert to the district judgeship of the United
States for the district of New York, but he declined, continu-
ing to serve as a supreme judge till the spring of 1807, when he
became, in his thirty-second year, the rival candidate of Gov-
ernor Lewis for the chief magistracy of the state.

He was elected to the gubernatorial chair by an immense ma-
jority, being inducted into office on the day on which intelli-
gence was received of the British attack upon the American
frigate "Chesapeake." The order of the president of the United
States calling upon the governors to organize their respective
quotas of militia also arrived at the State Capitol on the same
day, and Governor Tompkins immediately set about the task
of defending his native state. In 1808 the president appointed
him to the command of all the regular and militia forces on the
frontier of New York. His instructions to the militia on this
occasion evinced his energy and promptitude of character and
received the marked approbation of General Wilkinson, then
commander-in-chief of the army.

In 1812 Governor Tompkins, for the first time in the history
of the state, prorogued the legislature. Through the favorable
reception of a number of petitions of banking companies for
incorporation a system had been projected which threatened
irreparable evils to the community. This had been aided and
promoted by corruption and bribery, and the emphatic action
of the governor was taken as a last resort. The step excited
unusual animadversion, which extended even so far as to
threaten his personal safety, but he was sustained throughout
by the knowledge of having done his duty, and the fact that
he was supported by the more honorable portion of the repub-
lican party.

In June, 1812, President James Madison declared war with
Great Britain, and Governor Tompkins stood forth boldly as the
fearless champion of the rights and liberties of the American
people. A numerous and powerful party of disaffected citizens
had shown itself in the Eastern states, formed with a view to
paralyze the energies and cripple the resources of the United


States; and it became the avowed object of many persons of high
consideration in that section of the Union to make a separate
peace with the enemy of the republic and of United America.
To make this project effectual it was necessary to gain New
York state. The bold stand taken by Governor Tompkins in
the proroguing of the legislature had raised for him many ene-
mies among republicans, and a majority of federal members had
been elected to the state legislature and to congress. In spite,
however, of the opposition which howled against him, he was
again elected to the governorship. His situation at that time
was well calculated to dismay the stoutest heart. Amidst the
disaffection in the East, the opposition of one branch of the
legislature, and the northern frontier harassed by the enemy
from Champlain to Presqu' isle, and threatening the capital of
the state in the south, unaided by the constituted author-
ities appointed to share with him in the government of the
state, the governor had alone to sustain the arduous, embarass-
ing and responsible duty of defense. But he rose superior to
circumstances, and by the firm, unshaken energy of his conduct
he silenced or rendered inefficient the opposition of his own
state. When the treasury was in an impoverished condition,
money scarce and much wanted to carry on the war, he raised
funds on his own responsibility and made himself liable beyond
his means. He gave great attention to the defenses and in-
trenchments in and around New York city and harbor, at which
the citizens turned out and worked en masse. The vast prepa-
ration for an expected attack, the pouring in of militia, volun-
teers and regular troops were always accompanied by the pleas-
ant, cheering and animated presence of Governor Tompkins.
In 1813-14, upon his own responsibility, while the legislature
was still in session, he issued orders for organizing a brigade of
volunteers, to the command of which he appointed Gen. Peter
B. Porter. This contingent saved the remnant of the gallant
army of Niagara at the memorable sortie from Fort Erie. He
also called into the field a large body of militia, and organized
a corps of sea-fencibles, without waiting the slow action of the
legislature. In this important measure he received the cordial
suppori and co-operation of the gallant Decatur, who com-
manded the naval force of the United States on that station, as
also the promised sanction and support of Hon. Rufus King.
About this time the enemy's ships, commanded by Admiral


Cockburn, which had appeared off Sandy Hook for some time,
suddenly disappeared.

Soon after intelligence was received of the capture of the city
of Washington, and of the intended movement of the enemy
toward Baltimore. Decatur resolved at once to push forward
with his sea-fencibles to the assistance of that city, and Gov-
ernor Tompkins, to give spirit to the enterprise, promptly of-
fered to accompany him as far as New Brunswick, when the
news of the enemy being vanquished and their retreat from
Baltimore arrived just in time to prevent the march. In Octo-
ber, 1814, Governor Tompkins was appointed to the command
of the Third military district, which comprehended one of the
most valuable portions of the United States, and included the
largest and most heterogeneous military force that ever before
fell to the command of an American general. He had also the
offer of being secretary of slate in the cabinet of the president,
but this he declined, thinking his services more useful in the
situation in which he was placed.

In 1814 the general government was desirous of fitting out an
expedition to dislodge the enemy from Castine. They applied
to the governor of Massachusetts for aid, which was refused.
In this dilemma the situation of the government was hinted to
Governor Tompkins, who raised, on his own responsibility,
three hundred thousand dollars, which he forthwith subjected
to the orders of General Dearborn. Shortly afterward the war
between Great Britain and the United States was brought to a
successful termination, and the governor returned to the peace-
ful duties of the chief magistracy. In the last term of his guber-
natorial career, at the approaching election, he was proposed
as a suitable person for president of the United States, which
however, was waived by him and his friends in consideration of
his being a junior in age to James Monroe, whose revolutionary
services entitled him to superior claims ; he was accordingly
nominated and elected vice-president.

On the expiration of his term as vice-president he retired to
private life, spending the greater part of his time in the im-
provement of his farm in Richmond county. Here his spacious
and hospitable mansion became one of the homes of literature,
philanthropy and art. To its ever open doors nocked men of
letters, artists, lawyers, statesmen, patriots and soldiers, people
of all nationalities and of all beliefs. At Staten Island he re-



ceived the illustrious victor, General Jackson, also President
Monroe and the beloved La Fayette after his landing at quaran-
tine on his second visit to the United States.

The last public service of Governor Tompkins was as a dele-
gate from Richmond county to the state convention to alter the
constitution in 1821, of which he became president. In June,
1825, in the 51st year of his age, he died. His mortal remains,
on the 13th of June, 1825, were conveyed in the steamboat
" Nautilus," to the city of New York, and at Whitehall, the
place of landing, were met by a vast concourse of citizens, who
accompanied them to their last resting place in the family vault
of his wife's father, Alderman Minthorne, in St, Mark's
churchyard. Eighteen years after his burial, on the 21st day
of June, 1843, his birthday was celebrated at the village of
Tompkinsville, Staten Island. An address was delivered and
troops from various parts of the country took part in the cele-

Such was the man whose patriotism, talents, integrity and
distinguished services to his country in trial and difficulty, both
in peace and in war, we record, as a just tribute to his memory.
His name added a lustre to the county in which he spent his
declining years and in its history he deserves a conspicuous
place. To its churches, schools and social life he lent the ripe-
ness of his talent and the richness of his benevolence. As one
of her greatest and her noblest citizens Staten Island will ever
continue to honor his memory.

HON. ERASTTJS BROOKS. Among the many well known liter-
ary and professional gentlemen who from time to time have
made their homes on Staten Island was Hon. Erastus BrookSj
formerly editor of the "New York Express. 1 " He was a man well
known in the religious, social and political life of Richmond
county, and during the years 1878, 1879, 1881, 1882 and 1883,
lie was its representative in assembly.

Mr. Brooks was born in Portland, Me., January 31, 1815.
Shortly before his birth his father, Captain James Brooks, who
commanded a privateer during the war of 1812, had gone down
with his vessel, leaving his wife and three children dependent
for their support npon a government pension. As a result of
these straightened circumstances, Erastus, at the age of 8 years,
left his home for Boston with the object of earning his own liv-
ing. He found a place in a grocery store and worked for his





board and clothes, studying diligently the while, at a night-
school. Soon he entered a printing office and learned the trade
of a compositor, and with the money which he earned he ob-
tained enough education to enter " Brown University." Here
he pursued a partial course, at the same time supporting him-

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 33 of 72)