Inside This Issue
The FACSI Newsletter
Volume 15 Issue 3 Fall 1998
Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island
Pearse O'Callaghan (1921-1995), Founder
|"By Will of a Sea Captain"- Sailors Snug Harbor Cemetery|
Passings: Morris L. Bricks (1935-1998)
Profile of a Snug: David Jeremiah Hubbard (1846-1930)
By Doris Lane
Before the 1801 will of Captain Robert Richard Randall, came the will of his father, Thomas Randall, Esq., of New York dated March 6, 1797, proved December 4, 1797.
"I give and bequeath unto my son, Robert R. Randall, all that certain farm or parcel of land situate in the Seventh Ward of the City of New York commonly called Minto, whereon he now lives..." (NY Wills, Liber 42;278)
Thomas Randall, who served on The Committee of 100 that ran the affairs of the city in 1775, was a shipping merchant and privateer who made a fortune during the French and Indian War. Captain Robert Richard Randall was born in New Jersey about 1740. He went to sea as a boy and was eventually a wealthy ship owner. In 1771 he was a member of the Marine Society of New York for the relief of indigent masters of vessels, their widows, and orphan children.
The Minto (or Minthorne) farm, upon which the fortunes of Sailors' Snug Harbor were based, was purchased by Robert Richard Randall, probably as agent for Thomas Randall, from Baron Poelnitz on June 15 1790. (NY Deeds, Liber 46;212-16) On the same day, in an even trade of 5000 Pounds Sterling, in a deal that Poelnitz descendants must rue to this day, the Baron received from the Captain a place called Ragtown, described as "a cheerless wasteland producing no revenue," in Marlboro County NC. (Marlboro County Deeds, Liber AA;341)
The Minto property consisted of 21 acres of what is now Greenwich Village above Washington Square and along Broadway with four other lots of land and stocks amounting to $10,000. Even today when Sailors' Snug Harbor no longer owns this extremely lucrative piece of Manhattan real estate, the Trust begun by Captain Randall is worth $40 million.
The bequest to found the home for retired sailors stipulated that Sailors' Snug Harbor be located on the Minto land. The trustees "to erect and build upon some eligible part of the land upon which I now reside, an asylum or Marine Hospital to be called 'The Sailor's Snug Harbor' for the purpose of maintaining and supporting aged, decrepit, and worn out sailors..." (NY Wills, Liber 43;440)
Captain Randall died in New York on June 5, 1801. He was never married and left no known children. His heirs, the residents of Snug Harbor, counted in the thousands over 164 years. The old salts could be seen into the 1970s sitting on benches above the Kill van Kull watching the river traffic and looking out to New York Harbor.
In 1976, only 112 retired seamen remained when, the Captain's will broken a second time, they were moved to Sea Level NC. In 1998, 82 remain at Sea Level. The Captain's intended heirs were known locally, one and all, as Snugs. The Captain's unintended heirs, of course, are the citizens of New York who enjoy the splendors of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center today.
It took fully 30 years for the original board of trustees to fulfill the wishes of Captain Randall, but not for want of trying and not in the spot he chose; although most would agree for the better. The splendid location of Sailors' Snug Harbor at one of the most glorious spots on New York Harbor, built and appointed as it was in the grandest style, came about only after several lawsuits by claimants to the estate, the breaking of the terms of the will in order to finance the Captain's dream off the profitable development of the Minto land, and finally a decision by the United States Supreme Court.
On May 14 1831, the trustees purchased the 130-acre Housman farm in Livingston for $10,000 as the site of the first maritime hospital and home for retired sailors in the United States.
The farm had been one of three belonging to the Van Tuyl family on the North Shore extending east from Snug Harbor past Jersey Street, willed by Abraham Van Tuyl in 1735 to three of his sons. (Staten Island Wills, Liber 12;366) In May of 1782, Denis Van Tuyl, son of Henry Van Tuyl, deceased, and Jacob Vanderbilt sold to Richard Housman the former farm of their grandparents, Denis Van Tuyl and Neeltje Cruser, (Denis's one third of Abraham's land in 1735). (Staten Island Deeds, Liber E;9307) The Sailors' Snug Harbor property appears to have been on the 1677 patent granted by Governor Andros to Claes Arentse Veghte of Gowanus, Brooklyn.
The cornerstone of the premier building was laid November 21 1831 and opened in August 1833 with 37 residents. By 1839, 85 men were in residence. In later years the population would reach up to a thousand.
The important collection of Greek Revival buildings that make up the front face of Snug Harbor were designed by Minard Lefever (1798-1854) and built by Samuel Thomson & Son, with Peter Storms, mason, and Joseph Tucker, mason. The "Front Five" as they are known, along with a handsome wrought iron encircling fence designed by Frederick Diaper, are land-marked structures.
In all, over a span of 86 years, more than 50 structures were built to house a virtually self-sufficient community. A bake house, a hospital, blacksmith, carpenter and machine shops, residences for the governor, steward, physician and chaplain, a laundry, cottages, a farmhouse, a church and a chapel, a music hall, and a morgue. Remaining are 28 buildings of 19th Century Greek Revival, Beaux Arts, Second Empire and Italianate architecture set in a city park of 83 acres.
On the rear acreage (at its largest, the entire Snug Harbor property counted 185 acres) was an operating dairy and produce farm. On this farm southeast of Logan's Brook were laid out two cemeteries. An 1898 atlas shows an unpaved road leading from the institution past a smaller cemetery designated "Old Cemetery" and to a larger presumably younger cemetery. Today both cemeteries are combined and located in a 1920s real estate development of the farmland called Randall Manor.
In a deed of gift dated June 2 1939 the trustees of Sailors' Snug Harbor turned over to the City of New York nine acres having an assessed value at $29,400 and adjoining the cemetery, for a public park. The gift was not immediately accepted as Mayor LaGuardia accused Sailors' Snug Harbor of trying to avoid paying $800 a year in city taxes and at the same time acquiring a park setting for its cemetery.
In May of 1941, Borough President Joseph A. Palma wrote to the City Comptroller, "The institution pays the City approximately $250,000 a year in taxes - it does not appear logical that it is attempting to avoid the payment of a mere $800."
Mr. Palma went on to describe the gift property as "well-wooded, with some priceless trees that only a century of growth would reproduce. Through the picturesque tract of undulating terrain, flows a sparkling brook of fresh water which has its origins in numerous springs on the property and in adjacent areas."
The park was named for George Allison, Commissioner of Public Works for Richmond County, who had initially requested the trustees donate the land for a park. Even in 1951, a stipulation in the 1939 deed for a new road and gate for the brick wall that surrounds the cemetery had still not been met by the city.
Sailors' Snug Harbor Cemetery is not technically an abandoned cemetery; when the rear acreage was sold for development, ownership of the cemetery was retained. However, once the institution moved to Sea Level, the cemetery was neglected and vandalized. As a result, today no headstones stand in the "Old Cemetery," having been removed and stored at the Cultural Center to save them from vandals. The newer more
Southerly cemetery still has standing stones.
Discussion of a protective alliance between the Cultural Center, Sailors' Snug Harbor and Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries has taken place over the years. At this time, the cemetery is well cared for by Sailors' Snug Harbor.and, presumably, will continue to be.
In 1834, Robert Richard Randall's remains were removed from the Minto land in Manhattan to Sailors' Snug Harbor. In 1884, a heroic statue of the Captain by St. Gaudens was unveiled before the Front Face, memorializing the poignant words of his will: a home for "aged, decrepit, and worn out sailors."
Abstracts of Wills, Vol XV, 1796-1800 (Ancestry.com)
Atlas of the Borough of Richmond, City of New York, E. Robinson & Co., The Republic Press, 1898
Hix, Charlotte Megill, Staten Island Wills & Letters of Administration 1670-1800, Heritage Books, 1993
New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, "Baron Poelnitz of New York City and South Carolina, " Vol. LXXX, No. 3, 1949)
Randall, Samuel Jackson,The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans,Vol I
Shepherd, Barnett, "Sailors' Snug Harbor Reattributed to Minard Lafever"; A Reprint from the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol.xxxv, No. 2, May 1976
Staten Island Advance, "Snug Harbor: A Home for the Arts," April 21 1996
Staten Island Advance, "Island Treasures Could Sail Home," April 5 1998
Staten Island Institute for Arts and Sciences, "Staten Island: An Architectural History," 1979
Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island 140 Tysen Street, New Brighton, Staten Island NY 10301
Doris Lane, Editor
Juan Santiago, Production Assistant
FACSI Statement of Purpose To initiate the preservation and cleanup of neglected or abandoned cemeteries, graveyards, burying grounds and churchyards; and to assist in the beautification, rehabilitation, and/or attempt to restore, and maintain, the markers, stones and history of such final resting places.
QUERIES FACSI encourages readers to submit queries concerning the burial places of their ancestors in abandoned cemeteries on Staten Island. Please call Fred Crane at (718)xxx-xxxx. .
Photocopying and paper for this issue of the FACSI Newsletter courtesy of United Federation of Teachers.
Morris L. Bricks 1935-1998
By Janis Kiernan
The Board of Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries was saddened to learn of the death of long-time member Morris L. Bricks on May 18 1998 in upstate Berkshire, New York.
Morris was an avid New York City historian who immersed himself in the history of Staten Island when he moved his family here from Brooklyn in 1971. He became extremely knowledgeable in every aspect of the Island's past and was always eager to share that knowledge.
Morris acquired an extensive library of local books and memorabilia and over the years frequently traipsed about the Island gathering hands-on information. He kept meticulous notes and amassed a clippings file, both of which he donated to the Staten Island Historical Society before he moved upstate in 1992.
Morris was an accurate researcher and a writer who was a frequent contributor to the Staten Island Advance and the Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Newsletter. He transcribed the handwritten minutes of the First Baptist Church (Old Clove Baptist Church, Concord) and his paper on the history of that church and its cemetery was published in the Winter/Spring 1987 issue of the Staten Island Historical Society's Historian.
His interest in Staten Island didn't pale after his move upstate and he would often write and call about current and historical matters. He also passed along articles about Staten Island that he came across while researching his new locale.
It was a pleasure to know him. He will be missed.
To Volunteer Call Fred Crane 718-xxx-xxxx
Letters to FACSI
January 6 1998
I wanted to take time out to thank you and your group for clearing Lake Cemetery last year. I recently had the opportunity to visit and was able to find the graves of my great-grandparents and the parents of my great-grandmother.
Enclosed is a membership fee. I cannot promise I will have the opportunity to help out in person this year but I do hope to do so.
I am interested in the history of Staten Island, especially of its heyday as a port. Both of my maternal great-great grandfathers, Garrett F. Jones and John Lyvere were sea captains, the former based out of Port Richmond. I also recently discovered that I have roots in the Housman, Fountain and Beattie families, all of whom I believe were involved in things nautical.
Thank you again for all your help. I greatly appreciate it.
Sincerely, Mike Lee, Staten Island NY
March 19 1998
Thank you for the information on Staten Island Cemeteries. This information will assist many families that make inquiries regarding genealogy and family research. I am hopeful to attend one of the upcoming meetings on Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island.
Sincerely, Peter J. Ryan, Superintendent, The Cemetery of the Resurrection
August 3 1998
I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to review the records of Lake Cemetery in search of my ancestors.
Thank you for a job well done in caring for the abandoned cemeteries on Staten Island. Enclosed you will find a check...that I would like to donate to your worthy cause. It is dedicated people like you that make a difference in our lives.
Sincerely, Mrs. Nancy J. Sullivan, Penn Yan NY
David Jeremiah Hubbard was born December 18 1846, in Woods Harbor, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia. He died December 31 1930, at Sailors' Snug Harbor and was buried January 3 1931 in Sailors' Snug Harbor Cemetery.
Mr. Hubbard applied for residence on March 28 1918 while he was ill in the Marine Hospital in Key West FL. On his application, Mr. Hubbard stated he was a widower with seven children who was born in Vinal Haven, Caroos Harbor, Maine, probably to stand a better chance for admission as American-born. Civil records in Canada confirm that he was born in Woods Harbor, Nova Scotia.
Mr. Hubbard's first fishing voyage was in 1864 to the Grand Banks on the schooner Texas for the Portland and Boston markets. His last fishing trip was in September of 1917 as a deck hand on the schooner Two Forty, deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. He had taken sick on September 12 1917 and had been in the hospital ever since. He was employed mostly by Joseph Parsons, John Powers, Archie Bradley, A. McDonald and H. Parker of Gloucester MA. He had a total sea service of 54 years.
In 1894, Mr. Hubbard saved an 11-year old boy from drowning in Yarmouth Harbor, Nova Scotia, by grabbing hold of his hair as he was sinking and bringing him ashore.
Mr. Hubbard was the son of Michael Hubbard and Catherine Malone. He married first Damey Ann Wilson on December 30 1869 in Pubnico Beach, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia. She died before 1884 when her husband remarried.
The Sailors' Snug Harbor Report of Death lists David Hubbard's next of kin as Mrs. Essa H. Pratt, his daughter, of Manion, RI, and his sons, Newman Hubbard of Gloucester MA, and George Hubbard of Detroit MI.
Sailors' Snug Harbor lists the personal effects left by David Hubbard as one eyesight self-tester, one suitcase, one honing stone, one shaving mug, one shaving brush, four photos, one razor strop, one jackknife, two combs, two bibles, one mirror, one pair of scissors, one testament, one stickpin, old correspondence, two pipes, one Westclox watch, one cheap yellow metal chain, one cheap yellow metal charm, and six keys on a ring.
Source: The Hubbard Family of Nova Scotia, by Sheila Hubbard Macauley;
Submitted by Joe Hubbard of Staten Island NY
Barnes, George at St. Andrew's Churchyard
Bush, John at St. Andrew's Churchyard
Cole, Abraham at Woodrow Methodist Churchyard
Cropsey, Harmanus B. at Moravian Cemetery
Egbert, Abraham at Ridgway Family Burying Ground
Gifford, William B. at Port Richmond Dutch Reformed Churchyard
Hillyard, William at St. Andrew's Churchyard
Lake, William at Rossville Cemetery
Lake, William at St. Andrew's Churchyard
Merrill, Lambert at Asbury Methodist Churchyard
Mersereau, Jacob at Port Richmond Dutch Reformed Churchyard
Mersereau, Paul at Port Richmond Dutch Reformed Churchyard
Sheffield, Robert at Sailors Snug Harbor Cemetery
Tysen, John in a private field graveyard
Wandel, John at Moravian Cemetery
Source: Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots; Vols 1 & 2
The names below appear among 600 names on the Census Mortality Schedules for Richmond County between June 1 1849 and May 31 1850 of persons who died at the Quarantine Marine Hospital. Two cemeteries are known to have existed within the confines of the Lazaretto, which stretched from the former Coast Guard base in St. George to Victory Boulevard, along St. Mark's Place to Hyatt Street, and back to the Coast Guard base. Both cemeteries on St. Mark's Place have been obliterated and where or if the remains of the dead who were buried there were moved is unknown. The research on these names was performed by Dick Dickenson, FACSI President and Staten Island Borough Historian. If these are your ancestors, and even if they are not, won't you help us show respect for their memories by joining us in our work. Please use the FACSI membership form on the back of this issue to become a member of FACSI or to volunteer a few hours of your time.
Name Age Sex Birthplace Died Cause
Daniel Dugan 23 M Ireland June 1849 Pneumonia
May Crane 32 F Ireland June 1849 Cholera
Lenore Gleasor 18 F Ireland June 1849 Cholera
Calk(?) Merghan 9 F Ireland June 1849 Cholera
John Fleming 25 M Ireland June 1849 Pysantis(?)
Wintlin Gehsland(?) 24 M France June 1849 Cholera
Phil Barth 34 M Germany June 1849 Debility
John Grenon 50 M Ireland June 1849 Typhus
Pat Langen 20 M Ireland June 1849 Typhus
John Farley 25 M Ireland June 1849 Typhus
Sarah Gay 34 F England June 1849 Cholera
George Banow(?) 43 M England June 1849 Dysentery
William Nielsen 35 M Ireland June 1849 Cholera
Eliza Clancy 25 F Ireland June 1849 Cholera
Meig Cotter 2 F Ireland June 1849 Small Pox
Mary Connelly 24 F Ireland June 1849 Cholera
William Bratton 56 M Ireland June 1849 [Illegible]
Pat Kennedy 45 M Ireland June 1849 Dysentery
Rebec Luck 30 F England June 1849 Dysentery
Name ______________________________________ Enclosed please find:
Address____________________________________ Dues $6.00 ________
Telephone__________________________________ Tax Deductible Contribution $ __________
Please call me about volunteering ________
Return this form and your enclosed check or money order to:
Marjorie Johnson, Treasurer
115 Townsend Avenue, Staten Island NY 10304
140 Tysen Street
Staten Island NY 10301