Richard Mather Bayles.

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

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Marsh and Despard, and Doctors Anderson, Lea, Moffatt and
Eadie. The commissioners of quarantine granted the use of
two of the hospitals on the late quarantine grounds to the in-
firmary until such time as the grounds should be sold.

The infirmary was formally opened in this building on Mon-
day afternoon, June 20, 1804. Mr. William Shaw presided,
and prayer and addresses were made. Since then the institu-
tion has gone steadily forward with its work of benevolence,
bringing comfort to many a desponding and weary heart. The
following trustees were elected at the annual meeting, June 11,
1885 : Livingston Satterlee, Erastus Wiman, C. C. Norvell,
George William Curtis, L. H. Meyer, E. C. Delevan, G. S. Sco-
field, Sr., Aquilla Rich, S. M. Davis, De Witt C. Stafford, E. C.
Bridgman and T. M. Rianhard.

An orgy nization known as the "Ladies' Auxiliary of the S.
R. Smith Infirmary" was effected November 20, 1863, and did
noble work during the time of the war in supplementing and
assisting the work of the infirmary. A constitution was
adopted, and under it the following were the first officers
elected : Mrs. H. R. Ball, president; Mrs. Rev. T. Skinner, vice-
president; Mrs. S. B. Whitlock, secretary; and Miss C. Ehn-
niger, treasurer. It was a part of the plan that auxiliary soci-


eties, as branches of this, should be organized in every congre-
gation on the island. Meetings were held monthly and a lively
interest was awakened in the society's work.

The ninth monthly meeting was held in the building, June 7,
1864, being the first meeting held there. The building was then
being fitted up for their benevolent work. Subscriptions to de-
fray the current expenses of the society then amounted to a
little more than nine hundred dollars per annum, and the com-
mencement was made in the full belief that the one thousand
two hundred dollars per annum, which had been thought neces-
sary to maintain the work designed, would soon be registered
on the treasurer's book. Beds, bedding and articles of furni-
ture had been purchased, and a committee was then appointed
to supervise the domestic economy of the institution and visit
it as frequently as convenience would permit or expediency

A system was established years ago by which all foreign sail-
ors entering the port of New York paid a certain fee for each
voyage. The accumulation of these fees became a fund in the
state treasury known as the " Seamen's Retreat and Hospital
Fund," the object of which was to care for and maintain such
seamen when they were sick. For this purpose this " Retreat "
was established. A large sum was afterward diverted from this
fund to other charitable uses, amounting to three hundred and
forty thousand dollars. Subsequently financial embarrassments
came upon the retreat, and to recover from them it became
necessary to place mortgages upon the property, which mort-
gages amounted to fifty-five thousand dollars. The state after-
ward liquidated those mortgages, and in 1879 made a further
restoration for what had really been a misappropriation of
funds, by appropriating fifteen thousand dollars to the retreat.
In 1881 the institution asked for sixteen thousand dollars more
of its money, in reply to which the state gave eight thousand,
and appointed the governor and comptroller a commission to
investigate the matter and report what was best to be done with
the institution.

On the 22d of April, 1831, the legislature of the state of New
York enacted a law which directs that the moneys levied and col-
lected by law upon masters, mates, mariners and seamen arriv-
ing at the port of New York, be paid to the trustees of the
" Seamen's Fund and Retreat," in^the city of New York. These


trustees were to consist of the mayor, collector of customs,
president of the Seamen's Savings Bank, president of the
Marine Society, the health officer of the city of New York,
together with five shipmasters of the city of New York, to be
chosen annually. The second section of the act directs that
convenient and suitable buildings be erected in either New York,
Kings or Richmond counties. This act received varioiis modi-
fications subsequently, and was the authority for establishing
the present " Seamen's Fund and Retreat."

A tract of forty acres was purchased of Cornelius Corsen the
same year for $10,000. This was located on the east side of
Staten Island, fronting on New York bay. In addition to the
buildings upon the land when it was purchased, others were
immediately erected, and the institution was opened on the
first day of October, 1831, when thirty- four patients were re-
ceived from the marine hospital at the quarantine. The report
for that month states that seventy-three patients had been re-
ceived and thirty-two discharged.

Dr. Peter S. Townsend was the first resident physician.
Rev. John E. Miller, of the Reformed Dutch church, at Tomp-
kinsville, was the first chaplain, which office he retained until
his death in 1847. Captain James Morgan was appointed
superintendent in July, 1832, but in October following Captain
Henry Russell was appointed at a salary of $1,000 with house
and subsistence.

By an act passed in 1847 the trustees of the Seamen's Retreat
were directed to provide for the support of destitute, sick or
infirm mothers, widows, wives, sisters and daughters of seamen,
and the sum of $10,000 was applied to the erection of suitable
buildings. An association of ladies, styled "The Mariners'
Family Industrial Society," was incorporated May 9, 1849, hav-
ing for its object the relief of the destitute families of seamen.
The building was completed in December, 1853, opened in May,
1855, and dedicated June 9th of the same year.

The retreat is, in many respects, unlike any other hospital in
the world. It is a retreat indeed. The sailor who has been
from one United States hospital to another, and spent in each
the allotted period of four months, at the end of which he must
seek for quarters elsewhere, finds a home here where, if dis-
eased beyond the reach of medical or surgical art to restore
him, he is provided for for the remainder of his days. If worn


out in the hard service of the sea, hopelessly crippled or super-
annuated, he is transferred, if entitled, and he desires it, to the
Sailor's Snug Harbor, or sent, at the expense of the board of
trustees, to his home and friends, however distant.

The cemetery of the retreat is located upon a knoll at the
western end of the grounds, overlooking the bay and city of
New York. Here poor Jack finds a quiet resting place by the
side of his comrades, when his life of hardship, privations and
peril is ended.

The "Home for Destitute Children of Seamen" was estab-
lished in 1846 by a society of ladies who took a small house at
Port Richmond, for the purpose of rescuing from misery a few
children whose fathers had gone to sea and whose mothers
could not support them. It was decided that Staten Island
afforded the best location on account of its healthfulness as
well as from the standpoint of economy, and also for its vicinity
to New York, where many of the managers resided.

When, with the growth of the family to be cared for, the
house became too small, another was taken at Stapleton, where
the children were domiciled until 1852, when they were re-
moved to the new building which had been erected.

Ground for the site of this building was leased of the trustees
of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, and a building was erected speci-
ally for the purpose. This building was partly paid for by the
donations of the managers at the time, and the balance, advanced
by the Snug Harbor trustees, was secured to them by a mort-
gage on the premises. In 1857 the "Home" was so much in
debt, that it was thought best to sell the house to the mort-
gagee, so as to get rid of the mortgage. In the following year
such a sale was effected, and the building passed into the pos-
session of the Sailors' Snug Harbor, the privilege being re-
served to the "Home," however, of occupying it, rent free,
for a term of fourteen years.

The parents or guardians of the children received here are
expected to pay fifty cents per week for each child, for which
food, clothing, education, and in case of sickness, medical care,
are furnished. Children placed here are surrendered to the
managers at least for one year, none are received under two
or over ten years of age, and if they remain here until
they have attained a proper age, they are either returned to their
parents, or provided with respectable places.


The institution was incorporated in 1851. An annual pay-
ment of two dollars constitutes a member, and a single pay-
ment of twenty-five dollars makes one a life member. This is
chiefly supported by ladies, and the yearly expenditure is about
$7,000. The inmates usually have numbered about one hun-

Prior to the establishment of a county poor-house, the desti-
tute poor were provided for by being boarded in private fam-
ilies, and sometimes under circumstances such as now would
not be tolerated, as when children were paid for taking care of
their helpless parents, of which there were several instances.

On the second day of May, 1803, Joseph Barton, Sr., car-
penter, and Mary, his wife, sold to the supervisors, justices,
and overseers of the poor of the county, for the sum of $262.50,
two acres of land, on the road leading from Richmond to New
Dorp, on which was a small frame house, containing two or
three rooms. This property was purchased for the purpose of
a county poor-house, though it was not able to accommodate
one-fourth of the poor of the county, who appear to have been
more numerous in proportion to the population than they are
at present; the remainder were disposed of as before stated. The
public charity continued to be dispensed in this manner for
more than a quarter of a century after the purchase.

In January, 1829, the supervisors called a public meeting of
the taxpayers of the county, to devise some cheaper method of
supporting the poor, "as the taxes were becoming burden-
some." Whatever methods may have been proposed at that
meeting, the proposition to purchase a farm large enough to
enable the poor to earn their own subsistence by their own labor
was adopted, and John Guyon and Richard D. Littell were ap-
pointed to ascertain what farms coiild be purchased, and at
what prices, and to reportat an adjourned meeting. The legis
lature in the mean time passed an act, April 8, 1829, author-
izing the supervisors to sell the house and ground then owned,
and to appropriate the proceeds to the purchase of a new one,
and to raise by tax a sum sufficient to meet the expense of such
purchase, but not to exceed the amount of $4,000.

The farm of Stephen Martineau, located in the town of North-
field, and containing about one hundred acres, was purchased
for $3,000, and on the 30th of April, 1830, the old property was


Clifton, N. Y.


sold to William D. Maltbie for $150. This lies near Richmond,
opposite the parsonage of St. Andrew's church.

On the ISth of October, 1886, the supervisors purchased four-
teen and eight-tenths acres of salt meadow from John Egbert
for $205. On the 7th day of January, 1842, the supervisors
purchased five acres of woodland adjoining the county farm on
the west, from William Decker, for $250.

The establishment has been regularly maintained, new build-
ings have been erected as circumstances developed their neces-
sity, among which are apartments for the insane, a pest house,
and a respectable school house.

The " Staten Island Diet Kitchen," a benevolent association,
having for its object the supplying of wholesome, nutritious
food to the sick poor, was organized at the parlor of the Ger-
man Club rooms at New Brighton, Thursday afternoon, Decem-
ber 8, 1881. The "kitchen" was opened January 9, 1882, and
the association was incorporated June 21, of the same year.
The officers then elected were : Mrs. W. W. Macfarland, presi-
dent ; Mrs. Lowery, vice-president ; Mrs. F. U. Johnson, secre-
tary ; Mrs. L. H. Meyer, treasurer. The charter members of
the association were : S. B. Macfarland, Eliza Macdonald, Mar-
garet A. Johnston, Caroline L. Peniston, A. C. H. Meyer, Eliz-
abeth W. Clark, Clara K. Oehme, Mary T. Ripley, Reverend J.
C. Eccleston, L. H. Meyer. The first officers were : Mrs. W.
W. Macfarland, president ; Mrs. Francis Macdonald and Mrs.
Daniel Low, vice-presidents ; Miss Peniston, treasurer ; Mrs.
F. U. Johnston, secretary ; Mrs. George B. Ripley, assistant
secretary; Mrs. W. W. Clark, auditor; Mrs. F. G. Oehme, pur-
chaser; Mrs. L. H. Meyer, bookkeeper.

The work of the society is maintained by subscriptions, dona-
tions in money, and contributions of various articles of food,
delicacies, flowers, etc. The treasurer's report for the first year
showed the sum of $1,084.77 received in cash, and $803.77 ex-
pended. In response to the requisitions of the physicians du-
ring the year 2,756 orders were filled to 540 patients, in 2,115
pints of beef tea, 540 pints of mutton broth, 69 pints of chicken
broth, 2,901 pints of rnilk, 399 portions of farina, 191 of rice,
194 of oat meal, 183 of hominy, 11 of barley and grits, and 1,210
eggs. There had also been substantial donations of meats,
fruits and luxuries at Thanksgiving and Christmas times,


which the "kitchen" had been able to distribute among those
who would appreciate them.

The presiding officers have been the same from the begin-
ning. The treasurer is now Mrs. Edward L. Bridgiuan (for-
merly Miss Low), one of the original directresses. The meetings
of the association are held on the first Tuesday of each month
at the " kitchen."

The corner-stone of a new building for the purposes of the
association was laid January 9, 1886, most of the ceremonies
connected therewith being held at the house of the president,
on account of inclement weather.

There are several cemeteries on the island, among which are
the Staten Island and Fountain cemeteries, at West New
Brighton , the cemetery of St. Peter's church, on the Clove
road ; Silver Mount and Woodlavvn cemeteries on Richmond
turnpike, in Middletown ; Springville and Sylvan cemeteries,
in Northfield ; St. Mary's cemetery in Southfield, and the Mo-
ravian cemetery at New Dorp.

The latter, containing over sixty acres, is larger than all the
others combined. This was a burial ground more than twenty
years before the Moravians obtained possession of the land. It
is a site of great natural beauty, and this has been greatly im-
proved by the hand of art, in regulating the grade, clearing the
wild growth off, constructing a pond, planting trees, and water-
ing and keeping in order the velvet-like sward with which the
older established parts of the ground are covered. It contains
several objects of special interest. One of these is the tomb of
Commodore Vanderbilt. This stands on the elevated ground,
about ten rods west of the church. The tomb is a granite
structure, rather plain in design, about ten by twelve feet on
the ground and twelve feet high, surmounted by a pyramidal
spire, six feet square at the base and twenty feet high. The
cemetery also contains a number of handsome monuments,
among which is that erected to the memory of Colonel Robert
G. Shaw. In this cemetery is also located the magnificent
mausoleum of William H. Vanderbilt. This was begun during
the summer of 1885, and was several months in process of con-

Besides those already mentioned there are numerous other re-
positories of the dead, of smaller size, many of which are located
around or near some of the churches of the island. In that of the


Dutch Reformed church at Port Richmond may be found the
family names of Van Pelt, Cortelyou, Haughwout, Zeluff, Cor-
sen, De Hart, Merrell, De Groot, Kruser, Mersereau, Prall,
Post, Housman, Crocheron, Tysen, Jaques, Martling, Vreeland
and Van Name. In the churchyard of St. Andrew's Episcopal
church at Richmond we find among others the following family
names : Taylor, Journeay, Crocheron, S^guine, McQueen, Lake,
Barnes, Parkinson, Guyon, Disosway, Holmes, Betts, Moore,
Blake, Egbert, Biddle, Butler, Silva, Wandel, Mersereau, Prall,
Seaman, Mundy, Poillon, Van Duzer, Jones, Lockman, Perine,
Bedell, Van Dyke, Larzelere, Latourette, La Forge, Bowne,
Robins, Dongan, Alston, Hillyer, Wood, Braisted, Simonson,
Metcalfe and Johnson.

The works of the Staten Island Water Supply Company were
begun in 1880. Steps were taken to provide a water supply for
the village of New Brighton as early as 1879. A contract was
entered in August of that year, but nothing was done. The
contract was again made on October 5, 1880, and work was be-
gun. The works were built by John Lockwood and associates,
under a contract with the company, for one hundred thousand
dollars in cash and two hundred thousand dollars in stock.
The works progressed during the season of 1881, and by the end
of July they were completed. The works were first operated
on August 4, 1881. The formal completion, however, was dated
September 29, 1881. At that time the water supply was at the
rate of one million gallons a day. The pumping engine had a
capacity of delivering one and a quarter million gallons a day
into a reservoir two hundred and ten feet above tide. The well
from which water is taken is twenty-seven feet deep and thir-
teen feet in diameter, giving an exhaustless supply of beautiful,
clear water. Cast iron mains to the extent of eighteen thou-
sand feet in length were laid to the reservoir, and about fifteen
miles of delivery pipes through the streets of New Brighton
were laid. The reservoir on Fort hill occupies a lot of land one
hundred and thirty by one hundred feet, and has a depth of
seventeen feet. It is estimated to hold six hundred thousand
gallons. The village of New Brighton was supplied with one
hundred and fifty hydrants.

In the summer of 1882 an additional plot of ground was
purchased in the rear of the engine house, and a new pumping


engine and boiler were put in, having a capacity of one and a
half million gallons in ten hours.

The company was granted permission, by the town board
of Northfield, to lay their pipes in that town July 25, 1881,
to leave all roads in as good condition as they found them,
and to complete their contract in five years.

Some preliminary surveys were made with a view to locating
the "Crystal Water Works," at the deep ravine back of Eg-
bertville, in July, 1883. The scheme contemplated the con-
struction of a large reservoir, which would have an elevation of
one hundred and thirty-seven feet above the sea, and the work
was to be done by November following. Another site was,
however, found and this h'eld of operations was abandoned.
Works were erected at Bull's head. Water was led thence to
New Brighton, and a reservoir constructed at Castleton corners.
A tank was erected on Grymes hill, which has a capacity of
eighty thousand gallons. The pumping station, erected at
Bull's head, has a capacity of one million five hundred thou-
sand gallons a day, the water being drawn from ten wells. A
distributing reservoir, having a capacity of four million gallons,
was constructed, and a pumping station at the junction of Clove
and Little Clove roads, for elevating water from the large main
to the tank on Grymes hill. In August, 1885, the company had
mains extending into New Brighton, Northfield and Middle-


The title of this institution was given by its founder. The
motto is that of its seal, which was adopted July 7, 1806, and
signifies that those who are disabled by the toils and dangers
of the sea here take refuge in a place of rest and safety. Over
the main entrance stands a memorial window of nautical de-
sign, rich in varied and brilliant color, containing the following
synopsis of its history. '

" Sailors' Snug Harbor,
for aged, decrepit and worn out Sailors,

founded by

Robert Richard Randall.

' How great, how plentiful, how rich a dower."
" Founded 1801. Incorporated 1806. Erected 1831. Dedi-
cated 1833."


Though comparatively little is known of the early history of
its founder, no stroke of doubtful tradition, or touch of h'ction
is needed to lead us to.a view of his character. Stripped of the
fog of unreliable legend and tales founded on surmise or mixed
with the specious pleadings of contestants of his will, we have
presented the fact that a sea captain, actuated by sympathy
for the unfortunate of his own profession, carefully and
wisely matured a plan for their benefit and generously devised
for its establishment and permanence.

By deed bearing date June 5, 1790. Frederick Charles Hans
Bruno Paelintz commonly called Baron Paelintz conveyed
for five thousand pounds to Robert Richard Randall the prop-
erty known as the " Minto farm." consisting of twenty-one
acres and more of land lying in the (now) Fifteenth ward of New
York city, the southern boundary of which was then the upper
end of Broadway. Fourteen acres of this land was under the
Stoutenburgh patent, from Gov. Petrus Stuyvesant to Petrus
Stoutenburgh April 7, 1661, and about seven acres from the
Perro family; both tracts having been in the years 1766 and
1768 conveyed to Andrew Elliot, and in 1785 conveyed to John
Jay, Isaac Rosevelt and Alexander Hamilton, and by them
July 8, 1787, to Baron Paelintz.

The mansion on this estate was built of brick and was one of
the most notable residences of the city. It was erected by
Lieut.-Gov. Andrew Elliot, who was a son of Sir Gilbert Elliot,
lord chief justice, clerk of Scotland. In 1764 he received the
appointment of collector and receiver-general of the province
of New York, where he established his residence.

In 1780 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of the province,
performing the duties of governor until the city was evacuated
by the British. His daughter was married here to Lord, after-
ward Earl Cathcart, then a major in the British army, on duty
in this city. In this house Captain Randall resided from 1790
till the time of his death, which occurred June 5, 1801, and
near it he was buried.

In the early corporation manuals of the city Captain Randall
is spoken of as a merchant and a ship master, and was uniformly
by his contemporaries styled " Captain," both historically and
in the recorded proceedings of the trustees by him appointed.

In 1771 Captain Randall, then a young man, became a mem-
ber of the marine society of New York, an organization for the


relief of indigent and distressed masters of vessels, their
widows and orphan children. The leaven of his inspiration to
provide an asylum for the needy sailor may be traceable to his
long connection and intimate acquaintance with the work of
this society, and to his knowledge of the fact that provision
such as he devised would so far relieve the society as to enable
it the better to provide for the wants of widows and orphans;
which result his action did in fact accomplish. Further evi-
dence of this design as well as of his confidence in the society,
is shown by his naming as trustees under the will, its president
and vice-president. In 1778 he became a member of the Cham-
ber of Commerce of New York. The president of this body he
also named as a trustee.

The property left by Captain Randall for the Sailors' Snug
Harbor consisted of the "Mintofarm" and four lots in the
First ward of the city, together with stocks valued at about ten
thousand dollars. The four lots in the First ward he inherited
from his father, Thomas Randall, a merchant of New York, who
died in 1797, leaving two other children: Paul R. and Catharine,
wife of George Brewerton, and appointing Catharine his execu-
trix. Both the other children survived Robert Richard.

In his will Captain Randall, after bequeathing certain specific
legacies, gave the residue of his estate, real and personal, unto
the chancellor of the state of New York, the mayor and the
recorder of the city of New York, the president of the Chamber
of Commerce of New York, the president and vice-president of
the Marine Society of New York, the senior minister of the
Episcopal church in said city, and the senior minister of the
Presbyterian church in said city, for the time being, and their

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 63 of 72)