Dueling on Staten Island?

Dueling on Staten Island?

Dueling on Staten Island? Yes, it’s true. An area west of what became the historic Black Horse Tavern served as the locale for dueling between British officers during the Revolutionary War. They were settling gaming obligations. One incident involved British Army General Robertson and a French officer named Vollogne. The duel left Vollogne with a bullet in his chest. Several months later he passed away at Quebec from the injury. By today’s reckoning the Black Horse Tavern area would have been located in New Dorp, west of what is now the intersection of Amboy and Richmond Roads. This dueling ground also saw a match “between young Hamilton and Lathrop.” The first was the son of Alexander Hamilton, who himself was famously killed in a duel with Aaron Burr in 1804....

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Staten Island’s First President…

Staten Island’s First President…

Next President’s Day let’s remember Staten Island’s first Borough President George Cromwell. A Brooklyn native who was born on July 3, 1860, his father bought an estate at what would later be called Dongan Hills. The estate itself would be known as “Far View Farm.” A graduate of Yale, George became a successful lawyer, as well as a politician and a scientific farmer (like Frederick Law Olmsted and William H. Vanderbilt). Elected to the New York State Assembly for one term in 1888, Cromwell sponsored a number of important bills including the Arbor Day Bill, removal of the Quarantine burial ground at Princes Bay, the establishment of a cemetery on Swinburne Island and a fish and oyster protection bill. After the City of New York was consolidated George Cromwell...

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Questions from Mexico…

Questions from Mexico…

A journalist from Mexico recently contacted me regarding Staten Island. He asked me what made the borough different from the rest of New York City? He also wanted to know what the island and the other boroughs had in common? A book could be written in answer to his questions, but this was my response. Please let me know what you think should be added? Staten Island is different from the rest of New York City for a number of reasons. The borough is a bedroom community that is, for the most part, financially dependent on the City of New York. Many of the island’s residents work and commute to Manhattan, and to a lesser extent, the other boroughs. Many inhabitants are employed on “Wall Street” in the Financial District. Others work in mid-town, while vast...

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Remarkable Italian Folk Art on Staten Island…

Remarkable Italian Folk Art on Staten Island…

A remarkable example of Italian religious folk art and culture has been lovingly developed in Rosebank. Located on a quaint, dead-end lane “The Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel” is a peaceful grotto that all should visit. Catholic or not, the setting evokes a sense of amazement and emotion when one sees the devotional setting that now exists at this location. “The Shrine of our Lady of Mount Carmel” is located on Amity Street, just off of Saint Mary’s Avenue. In the past, the Catholic poor of southern Italy were not entirely comfortable with the Catholic Church. They were suspicious of the church’s hierarchy and sometimes avoided worshipping in organized settings. Instead, secluded sanctuaries were created for religious devotions. Oftentimes, they were...

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Some Dark Days at the Old Plaster Mill…

Some Dark Days at the Old Plaster Mill…

People have suggested that my writings are, at times, somber. With books on cemeteries and murders I suppose I see their point. Of course, these books are from an historical perspective, not from an obsession with death. So, at the risk of verifying what some may think, here is a new blog that describes some dark days at the old plaster mill… But let’s start on a happy note… Who doesn’t love Gerardi’s on Richmond Terrace?  I know many people who are not only glad, but who are actually thrilled to see it open each spring. Fruits, vegetables, plants, shrubs… this business is truly a Staten Island display of sunny spring and summer days. But, the buildings on the grounds where Gerardi’s is located, well they do have a history… During the 1870’s the north and...

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Sandy Ground: A Brief Look Back

Sandy Ground: A Brief Look Back

From 1985 to 1993 I worked as a naturalist at Clay Pit Ponds State Park Preserve in Charleston. Not only was the park a nature lover’s oasis, it was a location where history was obvious at every turn of the trail. Farming, clay mining, recreation in the form of horse-back riding, rodeos, target shooting, nature studies, and more were relative subjects to the history of both Charleston and neighboring Rossville. One nearby location that bordered the Park property was Sandy Ground. This community spoke to my “small town” childhood in Bulls Head before the invasion of mother/daughter houses in the mid-1960’s. Sandy Ground of the 1980’s was truly a look back in time. Farms, a nineteenth century church and cemetery, oystermen cottages, and even the remnants of the...

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What “Happened” Aboard the Staten Island Ferry?

Interesting events have occurred on, in, and around Staten Island for the past 350+ years. In researching our island during the 1960’s, I found an event that well represented the time period. It was a called “A Happening.” On September 29, 1967, cellist Charlotte Moorman created “A Happening” onboard the Staten Island ferryboat, John F. Kennedy. It was an avant-garde festival featuring modern art forms, musical groups, poetry readings, body painting, and much more. Capacity crowds took to the ferry to experience this special event. The press exclaimed that participants were hippies, but an examination of the images that accompanied the articles showed well dressed, average-looking youth who appeared more like 1950’s teenagers than stereotypical long-haired,...

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