Richard Mather Bayles.

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

. (page 68 of 72)
Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 68 of 72)
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enterprise, have all been brought to bear in his management of
this railroad, and placed it again on a solid financial basis.

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Clifton. -


Since Mr. Norton's removal to Staten Island, in 1867, he has
identified himself with its leading interests. He is a director
in the Staten Island Savings Bank and the Staten Island First
National Bank, and was one of the first incorporators and a di-
rector in the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad. His inter-
est in the cause of education is evinced in the aid he extended
to the Brighton Heights Seminary for Young Ladies and the
St. Austin's School for Boys, of both of which organizations he
is president. Mr. Norton is married to Lucy M., daughter of
Mrs. Mary Peyton Moore, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

Canada, on the 25th of July, 1825, and was educated at the district
schools of Cornwall and Kingston, and under the late Dr. John
Rae as private tutor. His youth having been passed in Canada,
he came to New York in 1852 with the intention of taking
passage for Australia. Wiser counsels prevailed and he was
induced to invest his small capital in the charter of the ship
" Revenue," which, under the guidance of his broker, the late
John Ogden, was dispatched in June, 1852, as the pioneer of
the line that has existed since that date. The business of this
line has now grown to large proportions, the tonnage employed
in the direct trade between New York and the Australasian
colonies during the past year being not less than one hundred
and thirty thousand capacity, carrying American productions
solely, of several millions in value. Mr. Cameron represented
the colony of New South Wales as commissioner at the cen-
tennial exhibition of 1876, also acted as honorary commissioner
at the Paris exposition in 1878, and passed a year in Australia
representing the Dominion of Canada at the exhibitions of
Melbourne and Sydney in 1880 and 1881. On his return he
prepared a report on the trade relations between the continents
of Australia and America, which was published as an appendix
to the report of the minister of agriculture in 1881, and largely
quoted from by the press of Canada and by those interested
in the subject of which it treats.

For his valuable services in promoting trade relations be-
tween Canada and the Australasian colonies, the honor of
knighthood was in 1883, conferred upon him by her majesty
Queen Victoria.

The subject of this biographical sketch is an enthusiastic
sportsman, and in his efforts to improve the thoroughbred


horse has accomplished more than any other breeder of the
period. He in 1861 became the purchaser of Clifton-Berley,
subsequently the home of the imported stallions Leamington,
Warminster, Glen Atho], Hartington, etc., while such famous
thoroughbreds as Glenelg, Reform, Inverary and others were
bred there during the period of the renowned Clifton stud.
The property consists of about three hundred acres under the
highest cultivation, surpassing in the beauty of its park like
scenery anything to be found on the island. From the mansion on
the central hill, built of stone, brick and wood, in the Queen Anne
style of architecture, with ample halls and stately rooms, down
the slopes of the shrubberied lawn, across the rich meadows and
broad fields to the sea, the prospect is wide and beautiful be-
yond description. Surely art has here vied with nature in her
rich contributions to this charming spot.

Sir Eoderick is not the first of his family upon whom the
honor of knighthood has been conferred. One of his maternal
ancestors, Sir Roderick Macloud, was knighted in the early
part of the seventeenth century, and known as " Sir Rory
More of that Ilk in Skye. 1 ' The family were settled in Lochaber
and Skye from time immemorial, and a family tree examined
by the editor traces the genealogy from 1342, and recalls an
ancestry of which any family may be proud. Malcolm, son
of Taromade, was granted a charter by King David second, in
the year 1342 of part of Glenelg (see record called the Black
Book, folio 2, register office, Edinburgh).

The progenitor of the branch of the Cameron family to which
Sir Roderick belongs was Donald Cameron, of Glen-Nevis, who,
according to tradition, secured the lands of Morsheirlich from
Lochiel. The first of whom there is authentic record is Alex-
ander Cameron, born at Glenmoriston, Inverness -shire, in 1729,
who emigrated to the colony of New York before 1776, and
ultimately settled in the Dominion of Canada,. He married
Mnrgaret Macdonell, of Glengarry, about 1760, and had chil-
dren, Duncan and one daughter. Duncan Cameron, born in
1764, was one of the founders in the last century of the North-
west Fur Trading Company, afterward merged into the Hudson
Bay Company, a member of parliament and an influential citizen.
He married Margaret, daughter of Captain William Macleod,
and had three sons, Duncan, Alexander Duncan and Roderick
William, the subject of this biography. The latter married in

Clifton. N. Y.


I860, Anne Fleming, daughter of Nathan Leavenworth, of
Puritan descent, and Alice Johnstone, daughter of a Scottish
gentleman. Mrs. Cameron died July 2, 1879. Their children
are : Duncan Ewen, Roderick Macleod, Alice Leavenworth
(deceased), Margaret Selina Erne, Catherine Nathalie, Anne
Fleming and Isabella Dorothea, all but Alice having been
born at Clifton. Duncan Evven and Roderick Macleod enjoy
the great privilege of American citizenship. May they be the
progenitors of future generations as loyal to the great republic
as were their forefathers to the land of their birth.

JOHN FRANK EMMONS, well known in Richmond county as
president of the Staten Island Rapid Transit Railroad Com-
pany, and one of the most active and energetic business
men on the island, was born in Boston, April 26, 1839. His
father, Mr. John L. Emmons, a prominent Boston merchant,
married Miss Catharine Draper" Vose, and of their four chil-
dren, Frank, as he is commonly known, is the eldest. He re-
ceived his education at the private school conducted by Mr.
Adams, which he left at the age of sixteen to enter the store of
his father. Here by his industry as a clerk he won for himself
a partnership in the firm of J. L. Emmons & Co., which for
many years carried on an extensive business in the wholesale
grocery line. Drawn by the life and business prominence of
the metropolis, Mr. Emmons in 1866 gave up his interest in
that firm and removed to New York city, where he secured a
partnership in the firm of George E. Cook & Co., dealers in
miscellaneous securities. In 1878 he severed his connection
with the house just mentioned and accepted the membership in
the banking firm of H. L. Horton & Co. which he still retains.

Mr. Emmons is characterized by quickness and decision. In
the " Stock Exchange," of which he is a member, and in finan-
cial circles generally, his advice and judgment are widely
sought and accepted. His connection with the Rapid Transit
Railroad Company and his constant and daily presence in the
most exciting and busiest financial center of the world tend
constantly towai'd bringing him into notice and give him an
intimate acquaintance with all that is of value in modern finan-

Since his removal to Staten Island in 1866 he has interested
himself in the introduction and maintenance of the present
water supply and in the building and improvement of the


schools and educational institutions of the island. He was also
prominent in the establishment of the recently organized "First
National Bank of Staten Island." Mr. Emmons built the first
sewer for drainage purposes in the village of New Brighton,
and soon after the organization of the board of health of that
village was chosen a member, acting as its president till 1886,
when he removed to Clifton. In June of the same year in
which he came to Staten Island, he married Miss Mary Win-
throp Cook.

Mr. Emmons is among the foremost in social life both in
New York city and on Staten Island. He is a member of the
Union League Club and many of the social clubs of Richmond
county. Though he has interested himself in politics he has
never held political office and he owes no allegiance to any
party, though he leans toward republicanism. During por-
tions of 1863-64 Mr. Emmons served as lieutenant, of "Company
E, Forty-fifth Massachusetts Infantry," then under command
of General Foster in North Carolina. He still retains his in-
terest in military affairs and is a member of the " Loyal
Legion." His residence on Staten Island has contributed in
many ways to its prosperity, and his connection with the
procuring of rapid transit for Richmond county has earned
him a place in its history.

HARRY L. HORTON, formerly president of the village of New
Brighton, and for many years one of Staten Island's most ag-
gressive citizens, was born in Bradford county, Penn., July 17,
1832. His youth gave promise of more than average business
capacity, and at the age of 17 he left his father's farm to en-
gage as clerk in a mercantile concern at Towanda, in his native
state. Here, by faithfulness to their interests, he won the con-
fidence of his employers, and developed many of the sterling
qualities which have rendered his subsequent business career a

At the age of 22 Mr. Horton left Towanda for Milwaukee,
where he engaged in the produce commission business on his
own account. For nine years he continued to conduct it, but
at the end of that time, in 1865. various interests dictating the
step, he concluded to leave the West for New York. Immedi-
ately after his arrival in the metropolis he connected himself
with its stock and other exchanges, and has since conducted
one of the most successful banking and broking establishments



in the city. He is at present the senior member of the firm of
H. L. Horton & Company, No. 56 Broadway, one of the few
houses which have honorably weathered the financial storms of
the last twenty years.

Soon after engaging in business in New York, Mr. Horton
took up his residence at New Brighton, where he is now in pos-
session of a handsome property. He early became impressed
with the thought that Sfaten Island had a brilliant future be-
fore it, an idea which recent events have in a remarkable man-
ner confirmed. In accordance with this view he has prom-
inently connected himself with every aggressive work in Rich-
mond county, and is especially entitled to credit for his energy
in promoting the interests of the Staten Island Water Supply
and the Rapid Transit Companies.

Mr. Horton has been twice married and has two children.
Cordial in his social life, useful as a citizen, of sound judgment
as a business man, his friendship, influence and advice are widely
sought and, if deserved, are freely given. He has and is con-
stantly making for himself a host of warm and valuable friends,
to whose esteem he is in the highest degree entitled and will
long retain.

REON BARNES. One of the most noticeable men in Rich-
mond county and one whose foresight and energy have, per-
haps, done more for its development than any other, is Mr.
Reon Barnes. During fifteen years he has been a resident of
Staten Island, and his face has become a familiar one to the
majority of its inhabitants. Like most of our prominent Ameri-
can business menheowes his success entirely to his own genius,
industry, perseverance and pluck. His childhood was spent in
New England, and the qualities which he acquired there, to-
gether with native ambition and bold maneuvering, have slowly
but surely led him to the front.

The family from which Mr. Barnes is descended was origin-
ally English. Its first members in America were three brothers,
professional men, who came to Sag Harbor, Long Island, in
1652. A branch of their descendants found their way up the
Connecticut river to Middletown, where Duane Barnes, father
of Reon, was born, and where he married Miss Cynthia Turner.
Eleven children were the result of this union, of which the sub-
ject of this sketch was the sixth.

He was born at Middletown December 9, 1845, and during


his youth attended the public school at that place. He also
spent much of his time about the publishing establishment then
conducted by his father, leaving it in his fifteenth year for
New York city. Since that time his life has been a busy one
and has been attended by a variety of fortune in which he
has gained a vast amount of practical experience. After a few
years spent in gaining a foothold in the business world, during
which he .traveled in various interests through every state and
territory in the Union, he embarked in the general contract
business which he still continues.

The numerous and extensive operations which Mr. Barnes has
carried on have made him a well known man in business and
financial circles, not only in New York city but throughout the
whole country. Among his works are many of the piers and
bulkheads at Constable's hook, the South Penn Railroad, and
the Wheeling & Harrisburg Railway of West Virginia. He pro-
cured the local, state and government franchises for the bridge
over the Ohio, at Wheeling, now in course of construction, and
is at present engaged in the erection of extensive stock yards
at St. Louis, to be opened in connection with the Belt Line
Railroad of that city. He also has under way a project for
illuminating the streets and buildings on the north and south
shores of Staten Island with incandescent electric lights, which
it is hoped will be in operation by the time this book is pub-

In 1876, four years after his removal to Staten Island, Mr.
Barnes procured the sale of the Garner ferry to Mr. Starin, and
thus secured for Richmond county its first comfortable means of
communication with New York city, which, together with re-
cent developments in rapid transit, have been of so much benefit
to its people. He has since secured a large amount of real
estate on the island consisting mostly of water front.

In person Mr. Barnes is tall and portly, with features well
defined, indicating the thorough man of affairs. The large ex-
perience he has enjoyed enables him to arrive at conclusions
rapidly, and these are seldom found to be at fault. Few per-
sons who approach him fail to notice his rare conversational
ability or to be struck by the facility with which he decides on
the practicability or impossibility of the projects submitted to
his judgment. He is also possessed of a most retentive memory.
Persons come constantly to his office with schemes, the scenes


of which are located in all parts of the country and even of the
world, and he decides on them immediately, calling upon his
past reading or experience for a knowledge of the locality in
which they are situated.

Mr. Barnes' genial nature, the great advantage he has derived
from intimacy with the most enterprising men of the times, and
the constant liberality he displays in all worthy causes have
made him a power in the social life of the community, especially
among the younger people.

ORLANDO A. WOOD, who is ol Scotch ancestry, was born Jan-
uary 30, 1803, in Tolland county, Conn. After a period of early
youth spent in study he, at the age of nineteen, removed to Sa-
vannah, Ga., and engaged in the ship chandlery and grocery
business. He found a congenial field in the South and re-
mained until 1852, when, determining to retire from commercial
life, he disposed of his interest, returned to the north and located
on Staten Island, where he purchased a desirable site with at-
tractive surroundings, rebuilt the residence and has since led
the life of a retired gentlemen. In 1834 he abandoned business
sufficiently long to make an extended European tour. Mr.
Wood is, in his political preferences, a conservative and votes for
men of character and ability irrespective of party. Independent
in thought and action, he is not bound to any platform or party.
He served as alderman of the city of Savannah and also partici-
pated in the Seminole war. Mr. Wood espouses the faith of
the Protestant Episcopal church and is a vestryman of St.
Luke's church of Rossville.



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

DURING the first century and a half which followed the
settlement of the island the leading pursuit of its inhab.
itants was agriculture. The fisheries about the shores assumed
a rank of considerable importance. Shipbuilding grew to be
worthy of some note, and manufacturing then came in for its
share of attention. Since the introduction of steam ferryboats
the latter industry has greatly increased. The manufacture of
various earthen products, beer and dyeing processes are largely
carried on.

The latest agricultural census shows the following figures:
the annual product was 773 bushels buckwheat; 46,433 bushels
Indian corn; 17,358 bushels oats; 2, 420 bushels rye; 2,906 bushels
wheat; $5,21 9 value of orchard products; 6,391 tons of hay; 29, 662
bushels Irish potatoes; 2,725 bushels sweet potatoes; 272 pounds
wool; 186,439 gallons milk; 54,088 pounds butter; and 1,000
pounds cheese. There were on farms 751 horses; 26 mules ; 54
working oxen; 901 milch cows; 541 other cattle; 49 sheep and
923 swine.

There was once considerable activity in shipbuilding. In the
early years of the settlement there were but few ship carpenters
here. Small vessels were in constant demand, but facilities
were not at hand for constructing them. Such work was done
at the city. But during the last century the practice of build-
ing on the shores of the island grew. Oak and chestnut were
plentiful and workmen could live here cheaper than in the city.
We have little data upon which to found any statement as to


the extent to which the industry prevailed. A newspaper of
June 1, 1775, contains an item to the effect that a ship of 240
tons burthen had just been launched from the yard of Mr.
Richard Lawrence. The ship was named " Patty," was built
for Messrs. Buchanan, and was to be commanded by Capt.
Alexander Marquis.

During the present century something has been done. A few
vessels were built before 1861; but timber is now scarce and
dear, and building is nearly gone. There are three yards on
the northern part of the island, all of which are kept alive by
repair work. At one of them, in Stapleton, a large marine rail-
way was constructed in 1880 for future use. Oil the southern
end of the island, at Tottenville, there are eight ship-yards,
each of which does repairing and some building. There are
eight marine railways in these yards, all worked by horse-power,
which take out from four to five hundred small vessels yearly for
painting, caulking, and repairing. This being a fishing locality,
with the coal depots of New Jersey near, the work is largely
from smacks, tugs, coal barges and oyster boats. The new
work is chiefly in the way of steam tugs and propeller yachts.

Mr. James M. Rutan, who carries on the shipbuilding busi-
ness at Tottenville, represents a family that has long been
identified with this industry. His grandfather, Henry Rutan,
came from France in 1770, and afterward settled in Belleville,
N. J. Thence his son, H. S. Rutan, father of James, moved to
Staten Island in 1809, and engaged in shipbuilding for the Se-
guine family. In 1820 he removed to Rossville, and there en-
gaged in the same business. He died in August, 1833, since
which time the business has been carried on by his son, James
M. Rntan, now located at Tottenville.

Another branch of business is that pursued by the Coast
Wrecking Company. This company has a yard and a wharf
on the northeast shore of the island, and engages in the spe-
cialty of saving vessels that are wrecked on the coast, or have
been sunk by collision, or otherwise, in and around New York
harbor. It owns two steamers and two schooners, and employs
from sixty to one hundred and ten men. An idea of the nature
of its work may be gained from the report of its operations in
the census year, 1880. The company's submarine divers exam-
ined the bottoms of five ships, pumped out four ships, and
stripped the hulls or saved the cargoes of twelve large vessels


that had been driven ashore. It raised one steamer, one schooner
and one bark, which had sunk in the harbor, and rescued the
following stranded property : two schooners, three tngs, one
ship, six barks, and three steamers. For doing this work the
company received from ten to fifty per cent, of the value of
property saved, but even then it is said its work was conducted
at a loss.

The extent of the shipbuilding in this county for the census
year is shown in the following figures : there were thirteen new
vessels built; their total tonnage was one thousand five hun-
dred and eighty-two ; their value one hundred thousand
dollars ; twelve boats built were valued at one thousand four
hundred dollars ; the value of repairing done amounted to
eighty-seven thousand four hundred dollars ; making an aggre-
gate of one hundred and eighty-eight thousand eight hundred
dollars as the gross product of the industry in this county for
that year. During the two years following the industry was
reported to be quite brisk at Tottenville and Rossville.

Among the prominent men engaged in shipbuilding on the
island may be mentioned ; Jacob Ellis and Son, A. C. Brown,
and Messrs. Conklin, at Tottenville ; William A. H. Nichols,
at Rossville ; Lewis H. St. John & Co., and William Lissen-
den, at Elm Park ; David J. Jones and James Fisher, at Port
Richmond ; and Thomas and John J. Lawler, at Clifton.

The Staten Island Dry Dock Storage and Improvement Com-
pany was incorporated April 18, 1885, for the purpose of dock-
ing, loading and unloading, raising, building and repairing
vessels, storing cargoes, and carrying on the general business
of a dry -dock and warehouse company, and its operations were
to be carried on jointly in Richmond and Kings counties. The
trustees of the incorporation were : Chauncey Stillman, Warren
Beman, Josiah L. Chapin, George Leeds and Montgomery
Queen. The capital stock of the company was limited to t\vo
million dollars, and the term of its proposed existence was fifty

Among the riches of a new country enumerated to the old
world by discoverers, the products of the sea always have held
a prominent place. The fishes of these waters attracted the at-
tention of the earliest voyagers in a marked degree, and the
mollusks (a part of them, in popular estimation) were not neg-
lected. The explorers and colonists were saved any trouble


in the matter of discovering- these beds, for the Indians were in
the habit of gathering clams and oysters at all practicable sea-
sons, and depended upon them largely for their food.

In 1621 " very large oisters " were too common atNieuw Am-
sterdam to find a market, everybody being able to supply them-
selves without charge. A few years later (1671) Arnoldus Mon-
tanus speaks of "oysters, some a foot long, containing pearls,
but few of a brown color," as one of the common advantages of
the young settlement. Sir George Carteret, as one of the in-
ducements, in advertising the region about the mouth of the
Raritan, where he wished to establish colonies, tells intending
emigrants that "the bay [i.e., of New York] and Hudson's
river are plentifully stored with sturgeon, great bass, and other
scale-fish, eels, and shellfish, as oysters, etc., in great plenty,
and easy to take." This was in 1681. Three or four years
later letters were written home to England, in which such ex-
pressions as the following occur

"And at Amboy point and several other places there is
abundance of brave oysters."

" Oysters, I think, would serve all England."

" We have one thing more particular to us, which the others

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 68 of 72)