Foreword from Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, the history and burials presented herein of the 2nd Asbury church and cemetery is a combination of records obtained from various sources. This narrative we hope will serve to aid those seeking information regarding their ancestors. We seek any additional information or corrections, please contact SICemetery@aol.com . FACSI June 2008.
The land was purchased by a directive deed from John W. and Tabetha Blake on March 50, 1850. The deed directed the trustees of the Second Asbury African Methodist Church to "cause to erect or be built a house or place of worship for use of the members of the 2nd Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church. John W. Blake had also sold land, in 1832, to the trustees of the African Union Methodist Church, but there appears to have been no connection between the two churches. The Second Asbury trustees, in 1855 were James Myers, Pres., Andrew Lawrence, 52 a native Staten Island mariner who in 1845 married the widow of Julia Butler DeHart at the Port Richmond Reformed Church, Jeremiah Curtis, 46 a Virginia born mason, and Nicholas Cromwell, 25, a native Staten Islander farm laborer.
Little is known of the church building. In 1875 it had seats for 300 and a value of $1,500 but only 16 were in regular attendance. But by 1929 it was clear that only the organization of trustees remained. Those trustees consisted of Ernest Crowley, a Pullman Porter and his sisters Lillian, Ogretta, and Rose Crowley (note from FACSI we have a picture of Rose Crowley abt 1902. The Crowley family is also buried in Lake Cemetery. 2008 a descendent of this Crowley family identified others buried in Lake Cemetery as well as cemetery records). Shortly before that date, in 1926 notarized statements were made as to the identities and numbers of bodies interred in the cemetery. (It should be noted that according to the later real estate records and copies of legal papers, the church association failed to change the property records to include the cemetery, FACSI).
In 1927 a separate corporation the African Methodist Church Cemetery of S.I., Inc. was formed which consisted of Ernest Crowley, Pres., Ada Purnell, Treasurer, Clara Bush, V.P., Mary Prine, Sect. Lilliam Crowley, Estelle Robinson and Agnes Crowley were the other trustees. The lands of the cemetery were deeded over to this cemetery organization by the Second African Methodist Episcopal Church of S.I. in 1929.
(Again, the corporation appears to have not notified the tax or real property departments of the cemetery status. The cemetery does appear on S.I. maps, but the property was not officially changed as a cemetery FACSI).
Not much public attention was paid to the cemetery, which apparently had no headstones on it as far back as 1913, until 1950 when the City of New York decided to seize it and auction it off for tax liens of $11,768 (one of the assessments dated to 1899). Unable or unwilling to pay the tax liens which were considered to be in error for the tax exempt cemetery association, in 1953 they finally sought legal assistance from the S.I. firm of Braisted and Braisted. The result was an out of court settlement that year, in which the church trustees sold the property directly to Sidelle Mann of the Bronx. It was not until the 1980's that the property was finally developed over the old cemetery, and the attorney John Braisted died (he was a 30 plus year defender of the old cemetery). FACSI protested this development, according newspaper accounts of the time, the developer reported that no human remains were found at the site?
The files from the attorney indicate that the City of NY and the buyer continually stressed the fact that there was no legal cemetery on the site as the land use was never changed to include the cemetery. Burial records, death certificates, undertaker records, property maps, etc. prove that the property was used as a cemetery. However the land use was not changed to reflect this, FACSI.
In 1953 Sidelle G. Mann files a legal action of intent to use the property he lists the following individuals as "The defendants herein have or may have and the plaintiff has reason to believe that they have or may have an interest in or claim upon the said real property affected by said Transfer of Tax Lien, which interest, if any, is subsequent and inferior to the plaintiff's interest." (The below names appear to be a collection of original owners of the land as well as their heirs and the original trustees of the church association as well as their heirs.)
Catharine Wright Richard C. Blake John Blake Daniel C. Blake Edward Blake Ann Christopher George Blake Elizabeth Ann Blake Edward Blake Caroline Blake William Blake Mary Ann Cunningham William Post Ann Maria Decker Garrett D. Post Letitia Decker Hannah S. Post Catharine L. Post Tabatha Ann Hilliker Margaret Ann Minot Lucretia Decker Frances Houseman Mary Martling William Wood Elizabeth Butler Angeline DeGroot Jane Housman Eliza Donelly John DeGroot William DeGroot Mary Ann Poillon Vincent Bodine Elizabeth Jane Smith Jacob Bodine Mary Elizabeth Edwards Richard Merrell Sarah Heath Tabitha Goodhart Maria Barnes Abraham L. Merrill Jacob B. Merrill Sarah Merrill Elizabeth Edwards Catharine A. Greet Daniel Merrill Joseph Merrill Isaac Merrill Tabitha D. Gosline Ann L. Decker Lawrence Hillyer Mary Haughwant Pricilla Bogart Charity Vroome John B. Hiller Eliza E. Dupuy Abraham Hillyer Tom Roe Dick Roe Harvy Roe Richard Roe Peter Roe Jack Roe (the names of the last six defendants being fictitious said defendants true names being unknown to plaintiff it being thereby inteneded to designate trustees for the 2nd Asubry African Methodist Episcopal Church of S.I.) John Debro - Pres of the Trustees of the 2nd Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church on S.I. Clara B. Prine Edna Butler Ruth Williams Oscar Prine Wilbur Prine, said last five defendants being children of Mary J. Prine aka Mary Prine a deceased trustee of the Second African Methodist Episcopal Church of S.I. Agnes Crowley, aka Mary Agnes Crowley Lillian Crowley Rose Crowley Ogretta Crowley, aka Ogretda Crowley Bernard Crowley and Clarence Crowley said last six defendants being children of Alfred Crowley a deceased brother of Ernest Crowley a deceased trustee of the church African Methodist Church Cemetery of S.I., Inc. Ada Purnell Clara Bush The City of NY Tom Poe Harry Poe Dick Poe Richard Pote Peter Poe Jack Poe the names of the last six defendants being fictitious said defendants true names being unknown to the plaintiff, it being thereby intended to designate trustees and heirs of the church. Trustees and heirs of the Second.... The Attorney General of the State of NY John Ash Paul Oak Tom birch Joseph Maple Richard Walnut Peter Pine, the names of the last six defendants being fictitious... Mary Penny John Nickel Peter Dime Larry Quarter Dick Dollar, the names of the last five defendants being fictitious.
Benjamin Perine, his mother was a slave, she belonged to Rev. Peter I. Van Pelt, the paster of the Dutch Reformed Church of PR. Benj was born a slave on Dec. 2, 1796 and at the time of his death was in his 100th years, his was buried in the 2nd Asbury.
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