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Publication of the
Staten Island Antiquarian Society, Inc,
Headquarters: Old Perine House
1476 Richmond Road, Dongan Hills, Staten Island
HISTORY— STORY— LEGEND
Old Ring's Hig'h>vay
STATEN ISLAND, N. Y.
Thrice 25 Cents
The Richmond Road begins at Bay Street, Stapleton.
Its length is traversed by the Richmond trolley.
MTT These publications will include the History, Family Traditions, Folk-lore and
jJ Legend of Staten Island. They will be issued at irregular intervals as
material is secured. Ultimately it is hoped to gather them into what will be a
convenient and interesting Guide to and Story of Staten Island.
tfjT Owing to the recognized difficulty in gathering information, and the ever
jI present uncertainty that that which is secured is correct in all its details, the
Society trusts that those who know Staten Island will assist in the final revision
of this work. Until final publication it will not be too late to make corrections
and additions, and the Society will appreciate any information of such a nature.
Communications may be made to C. G. HiNE, who has the matter in charge.
C G. HINE,
Telephone. TompkinsviUe 1255 W. 225 Howard Ave., Stapleton. N. Y.
Copyrighted 1916 by C. G. Hine
Staten Island, lying as it does opposite the entrance of
New York Harbor, was naturally visited by the early explorers
and, as its convenience and fertility were great, it was soon
apportioned among the first settlers. Verrazano discovered
the Island in 1524; Henry Hudson, on September 2, 1609,
when he called it "Staaten Eylandt" in honor of the States
General of the Netherlands, in whose interests his expedition
was sent out.
The Indians were quickly evicted and few, if any, of their
traditions remain, though evidences of their former occupancy
are found at many points. Without any idea of private
ownership in land — or probably much understanding of what
they were doing — they sold the Island as often as a purchaser
could be found who would pay a few copper kettles or bright
colored blankets: First to Michael Pauw, in 1630, the Island
having been included in a grant to Pauw by the Dutch
proprietors. He called his possessions "Pavonia."
Other proprietors were David Petersen de Vries, 1639;
Cornelis Melyn, 1641. There was trouble with the Indians
during these early days, due largely to harsh treatment at the
hands of the white man. In 1641 and again in 1655 the Indians
swept the Island of white settlers, killing those who were not
fortunate enough to escape.
It has been claimed that the first settlement on Staten
Island was "Oude Dorp," but this is now disputed. Oude
Dorp apparently resulted from orders given to Stuyvesant by
the West India Company to fortify points on either side of
the Narrows, and the village was not built until 1662-63, as
in 1661 he informed the Company that all the houses on
Staten Island had been destroyed during the Indian wars.
Some time after he wrote that the village had been built about
a half hour's walk from the Narrows.
The transfer from Dutch to English rule — 1664 — was
peaceable so far as Staten Island was concerned, and the
Dutch and English settlers appear to have mingled without
an undue amount of friction. French and Germans were
also early settlers on the Island, and all of these nationalities
intermarried freely. The inhabitants divided their time
between the farm and the sea, and beyond erecting mills fqr ,'
JUL |9l9l6©CI.A4;J3b-.« Lj^ f
the grinding of their own corn and wheat, do not seem to have
ventured into the manufactures, except that it is said the first
distillery ever erected in North America was on Staten Island.
Staten Island found itself in a peculiar position during
the Revolution. The English used it as a huge camp and,
consequently, those living here were not free to show
sympathy for the American cause, as they rightly feared
confiscation of property and molestation of their families.
This largely accounts for the charge that Staten Island was
strongly Tory during this period.
Sir William Howe landed with troops on Staten Island,
July 3, 1776. Possibly because of the overwhelming British
occupation there were no important battles fought on the
Island, though there were many raids by American troops and
a number of skirmishes. The British troops evacuated Staten
Island on November 25, 1783, when certain of its Tory
inhabitants removed to Canada and Nova Scotia.
After the Revolution Staten Island fell back into its
former agricultural ways, and remained so until Southerners
discovered its salubrious summer climate and those of New
York City began to use it as an abiding place.
The Island became Richmond County, in honor of the
Duke of York, in 1683. In 1688 it was divided into the towns
of Northfield, Southfield, Westfield and Castleton; in i860
Middletown was established.
The statements made in the following pages have been
drawn from the several histories of the Island; from
pamphlets on especial subjects, by William T. Davis and
Edward C. Delavan; from magazine and newspaper articles;
from the reminiscences of its inhabitants, and from the
folk-lore and legend handed down from generation to
Those who have furnished material aid to this pamphlet
are : Tunis Butler, Mrs. Crowell M. Conner, William T. Davis,
Edward C. Delavan, Cornelius G. Kolff, David J. Tysen and
THE STATEN ISLAND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY, Inc.
This Society was formed in 19 14- 15 for the preservation of
historical landmarks in Staten Island ; the promotion of popular
appreciation of its history ; its honored names and noted spots ;
the collection and preservation of articles and information
connected with the early history of the Island, and particularly
for the purchase and preservation of the old Colonial
homestead at 1476 Richmond Road, Dongan Hills, known as
the Ferine House.
On February fifteenth, nineteen hundred and fifteen, the
Society purchased the Ferine House, and since that date the
building has been thrown open to the public. It is hoped
ultimately to make a museum of Staten Island antiquities and
a small park of the property.
The Staten Island Antiquarian Society is wholly
uncommercial, being supported by subscriptions and dues
from members ; no salaries are paid to officers, and all moneys
received are devoted to necessary expenses in connection with
the property, repairs and improvements. Those residing on,
or interested in, Staten Island may without great expense
become associated with this movement, which, if it receives
sufficient encouragement, can be extended to the preservation
of others of the old landmarks of the Island.
Life Members $50.00
Sustaining Members 10.00
Associate Members 3.00
The annual dues are payable to the Treasurer, Carl F.
Grieshaber, Fort Hill Park, New Brighton, N. Y.
t^ HI US.
The Richmond Road begins its career at Bay Street, in the
upper part of Stapleton, where were located the old Cole
ferry during the Revolution, Abraham Van Duzer ferry, 1788-
181 7, and, later, the ferry whereby Commodore Vanderbilt
started on his way to fame and fortune.
In the "Land Papers" of 1707 a petition is recorded to lay
out a cart track to the King's Highway, in those days a
common name for all main roads. Early wills and deeds refer
to the road as the "Road" or the "Highway." The will of
Ann Ferine, dated in 1800, in disposing of the Ferine House,
terms it the "Main Road." In 1801 it was the "main road
leading from Van Duzer's Ferry." In 1839 it was "Richmond
Road to Quarantine"; 1843 to 1854 the "Road from Richmond
Village to Quarantine," the "Richmond Flank Road," or the
"Richmond Flank Road to Vanderbilt's Landing."
In September, 1694, the freeholders were called together
to lay out "hyghwaies for the inhabitants that live back of the
woods to transport themselves and goods to the water sid."
It is said that the early white settlers laid out this road eight
rods (132 feet) in width to prevent as much as possible the
danger from ambush by Indians.
RICHMOND ROAD AND VAN DUZER STREET
About 1905 the Richmond Road from Vanderbilt Avenue
north was rechristened Van Duzer Street.
Stapleton is named for William J. Staples, who, with
Minthorn Tompkins, laid out the village site.
(i) HESSIAN HUTS
Somewhere along the foot of Grymes Hill — possibly about
the head of Broad Street — were to be seen as late as 1832 the
remains of dwelling places of Hessian soldiers, erected during
RICHMOND ROAD ^ 3
the Revolution. These consisted of excavations in the hillside
covered with heavy planks on which earth had been placed
to keep in the heat and keep out the rain. It is said there was
no evidence of chimneys, and that the huts did not convey an
impression of great luxury.
A tollgate was situated two or three hundred feet
southwest of the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue when the
Richmond Road was a plank road.
(2) BRIMSTONE HILL
The southern end of Grymes Hill, corner of Richmond
and Clove Roads, is designated in old deeds as Brimstone
Hill. Daniel Wandel of Concord, when asked how this name
came, responded: "You could smell the brimstone — can smell
it now." The origin of the name is not known.
(2) JERRY SIMONSON HOUSE
On a small plateau here some fifty or more feet above the
road stands the house built during the Commodore Vanderbilt
days by Jerry Simonson, who was of Simonson & Bell,
shipbuilders. They built many, if not all, of the steamers that
Commodore Vanderbilt used in his lines running to the
Isthmus of Panama. One of these, the North Star, was used
as a yacht by the Commodore for a trip abroad before being
put into service ; another was the steamer C. Vanderbilt, that
the Commodore presented to the Government during the
(3) CLOVE MEETING HOUSE SITE
In 1809 the **Clove Meeting House" (Baptist) was moved
to the foot of Emerson Hill, at the corner of Clove Road. It
was abandoned some time before 1877. The site is now
marked by crumbling tombstones half hidden in the brush,
which are readily seen from the highway. This burial ground
has a little history of its own. It was given to the pastor in
4 RICHMOND ROAD
payment of an unpaid salary, and he deeded it to the
groceryman in payment of an unpaid grocery bill; the
groceryman deeded it to a liquor dealer to apply on account,
and the liquor dealer disposed of it for cash.
(4) EMERSON HILL
Before the advent of Judge William Emerson the locality
known as Concord was called Dutch Farms.
About 1837 County Judge William Emerson purchased
the Peter Wandel farm, which included what is now known as
Emerson Hill. He repaired and occupied the farmhouse,
which was known as The Snuggery. This was situated at the
foot of the hill where it swings back from the road. After
residing here for a time he built the stuccoed house that stands
halfway up the hill. The Walter Price house on the hilltop
was erected by Mr. Folsom, the law partner of Judge Emerson.
Judge Emerson came from Concord, Mass., and it was he
who renamed the locality Concord. His brother, Ralph Waldo
Emerson, was a frequent visitor in his house. He is said to
have prepared some of his lectures and to have composed
many of his poems here. Hsnry D. Thoreau lived with the
Judge's family during the summer of 1843 as a tutor.
Mr. David J. Tysen recalls being taken, when a boy, by
his father to call on Judge Emerson, the two being on intimate
terms. He describes the Judge as a splendid specimen of
manhood, both physically and mentally. On one such
occasion he was entertained by Ralph Waldo, and for some
reason not now remembered he [the boy] quoted in a
somewhat grandiloquent tone: "A little learning is a
dangerous thing." "Yes, young man," responded Ralph
Waldo, "but it is not half as dangerous as to think you know
Thomas Munroe resided in the Emerson house during the
Civil War. His son, Ralph M. Munroe, writes: "Your men-
tion of the Draft Riots takes me right back. Our darkey
coachman had to be hustled off into the woods on Emerson's
Hill and cared for during several weeks, until things quieted
down. My mother, sister and self were hurried off to Concord,
RICHMOND ROAD 5
Mass., for safety, leaving my father to hold the fort. Hearing
that a mob was on its way from Stapleton to burn us out, he
drove down to meet them, and so managed to jolly them that
they gave the job up. Exciting times, for sure! The volun-
teer troops quartered in numerous camps throughout the
Island were, as I remember, equal to if not worse than the
draft rioters. No person or thing was safe while they lasted."
On the slope of Emerson Hill, C. T. Brown has constructed
a Japanese garden that shows the art of the landscape architect
in high degree. It contains a remarkable statue of a Japanese
woman and child posed among the shrubbery on the edge of
Those who would explore Emerson Hill will find on its
summit, 350 feet above tide water, the unique creation of
Cornelius G. Kolff, a former resident of the hill. This is the
''Philosopher's Retreat," a typical old log cabin with its
cheerful wood-fire and its latchstring always hanging out.
Mr. Kolff has held many reunions here, when each ''philoso-
pher" was presented with a corncob pipe, which later, with his
name attached, was hung up in the cabin for use during future
Before Staten Island became a part of the Greater New
York, politics were a stink in the nostrils of decency, as the
experience of Herman Stutzer amply proved. He was a
former owner of the Walter Price house, situated on the
northern brow of Emerson Hill. While other property of
equal value was not disturbed the valuation of and taxes on
this piece were so outrageously increased that the owner left
the Island, whereupon the valuation was reduced to its
(5) CLINCH HOUSE
No. 955 Richmond Road, corner of Crescent Avenue, is
one of the old stone houses. J. H. Garretson, who died
6 RICHMOND ROAD
recently, has stated that this was built by Hendrick Garretson
about 1780. Hendrick was a noted athlete with a powerful
voice that, it is said, would carry a mile. He was a son of
that Johannis Garretson who gave his name to the village of
Garretson's, now Dongan Hills. After the death of Hendrick
the property was sold to John Britton and in the course of
time to Charles P. Clinch, and it is still commonly referred to
as the Clinch house. Mr. Clinch was Collector of Customs for
the Port of New York, and seems to have been as necessary
to that service as Crowell M. Conner was to the Richmond
County Clerk's office. Both were retained in office continu-
ously, no matter what political party was in power. The
house was at one time the home of Mrs. A. T. Stewart, who
was a sister of Mr. Clinch.
DAN WANDEL FARM
On the eastern side of the road, from about Clove Road
to Fingerboard Road, lay the Dan Wandel farm. Fifty years
or more ago — no one seems to know just when or why or how
the story was started on its travels — much excitement was
created by a rumor that some of Captain Kidd's treasure was
buried here. No one has been found who has seen the color
of the Captain's gold, but there are those who recall the story.
A very small stone house formerly stood on the Wandel farm
at the junction of the Richmond and Fingerboard Roads.
(6) SLAVE BURIAL GROUND
Opposite the Old Town Road stands the Macfarlane
house, built during Staten Island's palmy days. The low
stone wall which fends this place from the highway is said in
its northern portion to pass over an old slave burial ground.
(7) FERINE HOUSE
No. 1476 Richmond Road. Original house built about
1680 by Thomas Stillwell. This may have burned and been
rebuilt in 1713, or an addition may have been made in 1713.
In 1749 Joseph Holmes, innkeeper, purchased the house, and
RICHMOND ROAD 7
for some years kept a tavern here. In 1758 Edward Ferine
married Ann Holmes, daughter and heir of Joseph Holmes.
He died shortly after the Revolutionary war began, and his
widow, with her six small children, were left to face those
rough times. British officers were quartered in the house,
and at one time the widow and her entire brood were only
allowed one room for themselves by the invaders. The fol-
lowing story of that period is one of the Ferine family tradi-
tions that has been handed down from generation to
It was then the fashion for women to wear conspicuous
buckles on their shoes, the social grade being indicated by the
metal of which they were made. Common folks used com-
mon metal ; those of higher station indulged in silver, which
was more precious then than now, as is readily attested by the
thinness of our great-grandmother's teaspoons.
Ann Ferine was possessed of a large pair of silver
buckles which were the family pride, and these she wore
constantly, as the skirts of those days were short enough to
display such decorations to advantage. One morning a soldier
came in for a drink of water, and Ann noticed that his eyes
were attracted by the buckles on her shoes. When he left
she concluded it would be wise to put them away and sub-
stitute a common pair, and after events proved that wisdom
is justified of her children. The valuables were hidden, no
doubt, in the secret chamber which still exists over the closet
in the beam room.
About dusk, and while she was alone in the house, the
soldier returned and demanded her silver shoe-buckles, which
he had seen on his first visit. She denied the possession of
such treasures and thrust forward a foot to show that its
decoration was of little value. The solider insisted that those
were not the ones she wore in the morning, but she stuck to
her story that she had no others and, finding argument use-
less, he went to the candle and began to prime his gun. Just
at this critical moment, however, a passing neighbor, hearing
the noise of controversy, came in to learn the cause, and the
defender of Britain's might sneaked out into the dark where
evil deeds are hatched.
8 RICHMOND ROAD
The place was occupied continuously for 150 years by the
Ferine family, and on February 15, 1915, came into the
possession of the Staten Island Antiquarian Society, which
was formed in order to preserve this house, so typical of the
homes of our ancestors. The building is open to the public
for inspection at all times.
(8) MERSEREAU VALLEY
During the Revolution a prominent Tory lived on the
North Shore, who had a daughter who was as beautiful and
charming as all girls should be, and who drew many suitors
to her father's door. One Mersereau outdistanced all others
in the race, and, at the time our story opens, the young couple
had been "cried in the church." But now came on the scene
the villain, a young English officer whose attentions were
encouraged by the Tory father. The girl, however, showed
him no favor, and after months of vain endeavor, concluding
that all was fair in love, he plotted with a young rascal to
carry the girl off to a deserted hut which stood well back
among the trees of this valley, near a spring which formed the
headwaters of the brook.
One evening the assistant villain appeared at the young
woman's home with the statement that he had been sent to
fetch her to the dwelling of an aunt, near Richmond, who was
ill. Suspecting no evil she readily came, but when almost
opposite the Ferine house two men sprang out from the road-
side and, seizing the horse, ordered both to alight. One pre-
tended to struggle with the driver while the other led the girl
back into the woods, cautioning her that her safety depended
Up to this point the plot had worked perfectly, but now
a strange thing happened. Suddenly and without warning
they were attacked by several men who seemed to spring from
the ground about them. These seized the Lieutenant — for of
course it was he — while one of the party, whom she quickly
recognized through his disguise as Mersereau, took the girl
to one side. The Englishman was then tied to a tree and told
he was to be whipped, and that if he cried out he would be
RICHMOND ROAD 9
gagged. Two stout men, properly supplied with switches,
then proceeded to lay on with right good will, and after
thoroughly impressing the gay deceiver in this forceful way
with the idea that kidnapping Staten Island girls was not his
forte, they gave him a week in which to leave the Island,
promising to cut off his ears if he was found hereabouts after
that. In the meantime the driver had disappeared. It was
never explained how the plot was discovered, but there was a
strong suspicion that the driver had, for a consideration,
uncovered the conspiracy to Mersereau.
(9) DONGAN HILLS
The "Yserberg" of the Dutch— "Iron Hill" of the English
' — part of which forms the highest land on the Atlantic Coast
between Maine and Florida, was worked as an iron mine as
early as 1644 — possibly earlier. The ore here is known as
hematite or bog ore, and occurs in pockets on the surface;
hence all that shows to-day of the workings are a few shallow
basins from which the ore has been dug.
One of the early names of this height is Toad Hill, and
various are the reasons advanced to account for the appella-
tion. James Vreeland states that one Todd formerly lived
here, and he thinks his name may have been applied to the
locality and finally corrupted into Toad. But by far the
most picturesque theory is advanced by Daniel Wandel of
Concord, who has stated that in his youth, some seventy-five
years ago, the local cure for quinsy was to split a toad and
bind the parts about the throat, and that as there were certain
sandy spots on the hill where toads could always be found,
people afflicted with quinsy came or sent here for a toad.
The Dutch word "Todt," meaning death, has been substituted
of late on the theory, I understand, that an Indian massacre
occurred at this point in early days. William T. Davis
refers to the theory of one Woods that *'Toad" was a corrup-
tion of "Towd," a Holland word for old, as the hill stood back
of the Old Town, or Towd Town.
About sixty-five years ago "old" Mrs. Stewart dwelt in a
little house which stood just inside of what is now the Crom-
RICHMOND ROAD ii
well gate, on the brow of the hill. There were many cedar trees
about her place and the locality was known as Mrs. Stewart's
Cedars. Cart tracks that were used by the public ran hither
and thither through these woods, and one day a boy who
was driving a team of oxen was killed here. How he was
killed seems to have remained a mystery, but it would seem
to have been by foul means, for thereafter, at the hour when
ghosts walk, a certain cedar would spout a stream of fire that
flowed in a great arch over into the hollow nearby. This
would appear to have been a supernatural attempt to explain
the boy's mysterious death by pointing to the spot where the
secret was buried. Tunis Butler, who, though a small boy at
the time, was of an inquiring turn of mind, spent many nights
on the porch of Mrs. Stewart's house, hoping to see this
curious sight, but the fates were against him. If only he had
been so fortunate the mystery might have been made plain.
(lo) EGBERT HOUSE
The ancient-looking frame building. No. 1632 Richmond
Road, is known as the Egbert house. Joseph Egbert, Member
of Congress from 1841 to 1843, lived here. The place was
formerly owned by Anthony Fountain, and came to Egbert
by marriage. The house may not be more than one hundred
(11) IRON MINE
On brow of hill.
(12) SCHOLL HOUSE
The house at No. 1807, recently occupied by Miss Anna
McClure Scholl, who, in 1914, under the nom de plume of
Geoffrey Corson, published a Staten Island novel entitled
"Blue Blood and Red," is said to be two hundred years old.
The house was formerly occupied by Joseph Barton, a son of
Samuel Barton, and before him by Anthony Fountain.
12 RICHMOND ROAD
(13) BARTON HOMESTEAD
The red dwelling, No. 19 10, which is fast wending its way
to the scrap heap, is an enlargement and rebuilding of the
Barton homestead. One Joseph Barton was Lieutenant-
Colonel of the Fifth Battalion of Skinner's Brigade during the
Revolution. This was the home of Col. Samuel Barton,
Member of the Assembly from 1820 to 1822, and Member of
Congress from 1833 to 1837. He rebuilt the house.
(14) RED LANE
Red Lane, now Lincoln Avenue, the road to Midland
Beach, was a farm lane to the Neddy Prane farm. It was
*'Red" lane because coloring matter from the mine on the hill
washed down this way: Neddy Prane was not all a good
church member should be; his eyes were very bad, and
possibly this was the reason he could not always distinguish
the straight and narrow way. Neddy was inclined toward the
cup that cheers, and Dr. David Moore, then Rector of St.
Andrew's, felt called on to remonstrate, and did so in such
direct fashion that he hurt Neddy's feelings. And he, while
still under the smart — for Doctor Moore could whipsaw a man
with his tongue in a way he was not apt to forget — went to
St. Andrew's and, removing his pew, brought it to the farm,
where he placed it near the road that all might see — and par-
ticulary the Doctor — and turned it into a pigpen.
(15) MORAVIAN CHURCH
The Moravians first came to America in 1735 to avoid
persecution, the first settlements being made in the South;
but because they would not take up arms they were compelled
to relinquish their improvements, and emigrated to Pennsyl-
vania. Here was headquarters; other places were known as
preaching stations. About 1742 services began to be held on
Staten Island, and from this grew the present church. The
first property was purchased here in 1763; a comparatively
small plot on which a church building was immediately
erected. This land had evidently been used as a burial ground
RICHMOND ROAD 13
for many years before, as stones still standing date back to
1739. The first church building still stands, but was removed
to its present site a number of years ago. As it was then the
custom of the Moravians to combine church and parsonage
under one roof, the old building looks more like a dwelling
than a church. Graves were made indiscriminately where there
were no trees to trouble the gravediggers : the only rule ob-
served was the placing of the feet toward the east. No charge
either for ground or for gravedigging was made until about
1819. During the Revolution the British set the church on
fire, but members of the congregation who were watching
extinguished the blaze before much damage was done. The
present church building was dedicated in 1845. William H.
Vanderbilt, who did much for the Moravian church, purchased
the George Ebbitt farm, which extended up the hillside and
forms a large part of the present cemetery, and gave it to the
church. Some time later, when he wished to build the Van-
derbilt mausoleum, he bought back from the church the ten
acres which are inclosed in the Vanderbilt burial grounds.
The old Cortelyou homestead stood within the limits of
the present burial ground, the Norval monument standing on
When the graybeards of to-day were young — or possibly
the legend was passed on to them from an earlier generation —
there was much talk of two great dogs that raced up and
down the top of the cemetery wall. The whips of those
passing might cut them in two, but they would instantly grow
together again. The origin of the legend has not been handed
The tollgates were placed along the plank road, about
three miles apart; the second stood about where the entrance
to the cemetery is now located.
(16) VANDERBILT MAUSOLEUM
Built about 1888 by William H. Vanderbilt. Entrance to
ground a beautiful woodland road bordered by laurel, rhodo-
dendron, etc. View from here over the lowlands and the sea
14 RICHMOND ROAD
(17) RANGE LIGHT
On a rise of ground immediately southwest of the
Moravian burial ground stands a range light which, in the
days before Ambrose Channel, was of vast importance. This,
with the Elm Tree Light at the foot of New Dorp Lane, was
the guide for mariners when the Swash Channel was the main
entrance to New York Harbor.
(18) OLD HOUSE OPPOSITE MORAVIAN CEMETERY
This may be the oldest house standing on Staten Island.
It is not known who was the builder, or when it was built.
Its documentary history, in the possession of Edward C. Dela-
van, shows that on November i, 1675, this land was included
in a tract granted to Lewis Lakeman by Governor Sir Edmond
Andros. In 1684 it was deeded to George Cummins and
Abraham Lockerman; in 17 14 to Rem Vander Beeck; this
latter deed included house, barn and fencing. This may or
may not refer to the house now standing. In 17 19 the place
appears to have been in the possession of Isaac Van Tuyl. In
1751 Augustine Creed deeded to Aaron Cortelyou; he disposed
of it by will dated in 1789. In 1794 Richard Seaman, son-
in-law of Cortelyou, deeded to Joseph Taylor; its present
owner is David J. Tysen. It is sometimes referred to as the
Cortelyou house, but more frequently as the Taylor-Tysen
(19) PATTON HOUSE SITE
Erected in 1839, opposite the race course at the head of
New Dorp Lane, and soon became the political, sporting and
militia headquarters of Staten Island.
(20) ROSE AND CROWN SITE
Almost opposite New Dorp Lane, at what is now No.
2481, stood the old Rose and Crown farmhouse, famous as
British headquarters during the Revolution, but destroyed in
1854. According to Mr. Morris, the Rose and Crown farm-
RICHMOND ROAD 15
house was built about the middle of the seventeenth century
by Jacques Bedell, a Huguenot refugee. Bishop Bedell, a
grandson, was born in the house a few years prior to the
Revolution. It remained in the family for several generations,
descending to the Moores, of which Bishop Richard Channing
Moore of Virginia, former Rector of St. Andrew's, was a mem-
ber. Shortly after the Revolution the Rose and Crown was
purchased by Major William Bernard Gifford, a former aide-
de-camp of General Washington; after his death, by Leonard
Parkinson. In 1844 it was occupied by Richard Conner.
Crowell M. Conner, Deputy County Clerk for many years,
was born here. During the British occupation of Staten
Island it sheltered Sir William Howe; Lord Howe, his
brother ; William IV., then the youngest admiral in the British
Navy; Sir Henry Clinton; Lord Cornwallis; Baron von
Knyphausen; Sir Guy Carleton; Generals Cleveland, Pigot,
Vaughan, Skinner, Agnew, Jones, Grant, Robertson, Erskine,
Matthew, Leslie and De Huyster ; Governor Tryon ; Colonels
Moncton, Simcoe and Billop; Major Andre, and others. It
was here that General Howe gave a reception to Margaret
Moncrieffe. It is stated that Sir William Howe and his
generals first read the Declaration of Independence here, and
that the Battle of Long Island was planned here.
(21) BLACK HORSE TAVERN
Clute states that those of Howe's staff who could not be
cared for in the Rose and Crown were quartered here.
The fireplace nearly monopolized all of the west wall. * * *
The west wall and the foundations are stone. The second
floor consisted of one apartment known as the ballroom. The
sleeping rooms were back of the tap. The chimney once took
fire and, after it was extinguished, thirty guineas were found
in the soot and ashes. Morris states that the Black Horse
Tavern was built in 1754 and was known as Wayside Rest
until 1776, when it was occupied by members of the staff of
Sir William Howe, one of whom was thrown against a large
rock near, by a stumble of his horse, and was killed. The
i6 RICHMOND ROAD
animal was black and noted as the fastest in the British Army,
and because of the incident the present name was applied.
That part of the Richmond Road from the Black Horse
Tavern to and through Richmond village was formerly known
as Stapleton Avenue ; the name appears on a map of property
as early as 1854.
(22) CAMP HILL AND THE DUELLING GROUND
Camp Hill is situated immediately back and west of the
Black HDrse Tavern, merely a gentle swell of pasture land.
Morris states that the name was applied by the British; that
it was a resort for officers, and was a miniature Monte Carlo,
which witnessed the ruin of many a member of the King's
Army. West of it is a hollow, then surrounded by dense
woods, known as the duelling ground. Gambling and duelling
were practised to such an extent as to threaten the demorali-
zation of the English troops. Nearly fifty officers were court-
martialed and dishonorably discharged while the army was
camped around New Dorp. Among the celebrities who fought
duels here are General Robertson; Lieutenant-Colonel John
Graves Simcoe (who fought Colonel Mayhood) ; Colonel Illig
of Howe's staff (who fought Colonel Pentman, Major Andre
acting as second). Colonel Christopher Billop is said to have
fought General Erskine. The last duel here is said to have
occurred about 1790 between a son of Alexander Hamilton and
(23) THE FOUNTAIN HOUSE
Date of erection not known. Owned during latter
part of Revolution, and probably occupied by Rev. Richard
Charlton, who was in the habit of using his sermons as wad-
ding for his fowling piece, as he knew all that was in them.
Came into Fountain family about 1840; was occupied by
Major Montresor during a portion of the Revolution, and,
being in the immediate vicinity of the Rose and Crown and
the Black Horse Tavern, it shared with them in the interesting
events of that period; but beyond the fact that for a brief
RICHMOND ROAD 17
period it was the home of Margaret Moncrieffe, not much
appears in the books. The story of Margaret Moncrieffe is
interesting. She was the daughter of Major James Moncrieffe
of the British Army, and was placed by her father under the
protection of the American General, Putnam, in New York,
on the plea that her father could not care for her. Once
inside the American lines, she was caught apparently in an
attempt to convey information to the British. It is thought
she was to be used in an attempt to capture General Washing-
ton, and when the reason for her being placed within the
American lines became apparent, she was promptly returned
to her father on Staten Island. Here she was feted by the
officers, given a dinner by the British in the Rose and Crown,
at which, when asked to give a toast, she created some excite-
ment by giving "General Putnam of the American Army."
There is a small window in the western gable end of the
Fountain house, the reason for which is in doubt, but the ac-
cepted theory has a kindly human aspect. It is that it was
so placed that on dark nights a candle could be put therein to
guide the belated traveler on his way — and a very dark and
lonesome way it must have been coming through the Egbert-
The cluster of houses at the point where the road swings
around the schoolhouse, now known as Egbertville, has,
according to the Leng-Davis map, been known in the past as
Tipperary Corners, New Dublin and Young Ireland, from
which we gather that the Emerald Isle supplied the raw ma-
terial for its making.
(25) STOUTENBURG HOUSE
Mr. Morris states that the stone house known as Stouten-
burg house — No. 51 Fourth Street, Egbertville — and which
lies well back under the Richmond Hill, dates from the close
of the Revolution. Dr. Richard Henderson, who served as a
surgeon in the British Navy, remained behind when the
English evacuated, and built this house. He married a Staten
i8 RICHMOND ROAD
Island girl and settled down here to the practice of medicine,
soon to become one of the prominent physicians of the Island.
(26) MILLSPAUGH HOUSE
No. 396 Richmond Road, the former dwelling of Dr.
Isaac L. Millspaugh, a well-known physician who died a few
years since. This building stands on the site of the second
county poorhouse. The first, which adjoined the Old Red
Jail at the northeast corner of the Richmond and Fresh Kill
roads, was removed in 1827 to make way for the County
C27) "GOLDEN RECTORY"
Almost opposite the lighthouse stands the "Golden
Rectory," the former rectory of St. Andrew's, built by Dr.
David Moore in 1818. Dr. David Moore was an outspoken
man. It is said that he spared no one and that many a parish-
ioner squirmed under the plain talk that came from the pulpit
of St. Andrew's. So hard were certain members of his
congregation hit, that members of the vestry at one time made
a practice of leaving the church during the sermon and playing
cards on a fiat tombstone — that of Dr. Bailey — that stands just
outside the door, apparently to show their indifference to the
The following, written by John Flavel Mines as his boy-
hood recollection, was found in the Westfield "Times" of
May 21, 1887:—
"The only church on that side of the Island was the old
parish of St. Andrew's, richly endowed and presided over by
the Rev. David Moore, D.D., who, by virtue of having lived
on Staten Island for nearly forty years, had become an adopted
native and quite as old fashioned as the others. Poor old
Doctor Moore! He was a better farmer than a preacher, and
the young people found it a weekly purgatory to be compelled
to sit in the high back pews and listen to him. Their elders
knew his sermons by heart, and went to sleep as soon as the
text was given out. Once a year the rector of St. Andrew's
RICHMOND ROAD 19
visited New York to attend the Diocesan Convention, and his
family went with him to do their shopping. After many
years Doctor Moore found himself the senior presbyter of the
diocese, and, on one occasion, in the absence of Bishop Onder-
donk, it became his duty to call the convention to order. It
was a trying position for the ancient country parson, and he
would have been glad to run away. In the extremity of his
despair he happened to notice the friendly face of the Rev.
Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, the elder, in the distance, and he
crowded on sail and made a set for him. Tyng greeted his
venerable colleague until he stated his case. 'What,' he cried,
'have you been coming to Convention for fifty years, and
don't know how to open it yet?' And he turned away in
disgust. 'But — but, what shall I say?' was the aged presby-
ter's plea. 'I'm sure I don't know what to say.' 'Say?' was
the stern rejoinder. Go up into the chancel and stand there.
The Lord put words into the mouth of Balaam's ass, and He
will put words into yours.' "
The village of Richmond was presumably settled at a very
early period, possibly because it was at the head of navigation
of the Fresh Kill. This may sound like a strange tale to
those who search for the present stream among the reeds
back of St. Andrew's, but as late as 1844 ^ political excursion of
one thousand men came from New York on a steamer which
worked its way up the Fresh Kill to Richmond to join in a
great political celebration. In 1729 Richmond was made the
county seat and has remained such up to the present time. At
one time the locality was known as Cuckoldstown.
The first courthouse in Richmond was erected between
1727 and 1735. Its location is not known. The building was
burned by the British when the Americans made an attack on
Richmond; its stout stone walls are said to have stood for
many years after.
20 RICHMOND ROAD
(28) PRESENT COURTHOUSE
The present courthouse, which is the third in Richmond,
was erected in 1827.
(28) REZEAU BURIAL GROUND
A portion of the Rezeau family burial ground adjoins the
courthouse on the west. Susannah Van Pelt, who lacked but
six months and five days of reaching the century mark, was
the last of the five generations of Rezeaus to be buried here.
(29) REZEAU HOUSE
Said to be very old; is now the unpretentious southern
portion of a saloon on the west side of the Fresh Kill Road
just south of Center Street.
(30) DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH SITE
Opposite the Rezeau house, on property now owned by
William Flake at the southern corner of Center Street,
formerly stood the Dutch Reformed Church; date of erection
not known. As the first English missionary came to Staten
Island about 1702 and held services in the French church at
Green Ridge until St. Andrew's was finished in 17 11, it is
possible that the Dutch church was not standing at that time.
This building was burned by the British "because it was a
rebel church." About 1798, members of the Reformed Church
at Port Richmond secured permission to erect a new house of
worship on the foundations of the old, but curiously enough
they spoke of it as "The Old French Protestant Church."
This building was completed in 1808 — was used up to about
1884, when it was abandoned and fell on evil times.
(31) SECOND COURTHOUSE
No. 49 Fresh Kill Road. This was erected in 1794, and
when the present courthouse was built in 1837 was sold and
used as a dwelling. It was in this building that the famous
murder trial of Christian Smith occurred in 18 15. Smith
killed a neighbor named Bornt Lake because the latter in-
RICHMOND ROAD 21
sisted on crossing Smith's land. There was no doubt of his
guilt, but he was acquitted for the very good reason, as given
by one of the jurors, that, "if we convict the prisoner the judge
will give him two or three months more to live, during which
time the county will be obliged to feed him and to keep his
cell warm, which would cost a good deal of money. If to this
is added the cost of building a gallows, the sheriff's fee for
hanging him, the cost of burying him, the expenses will
amount to a hundred or a hundred and fifty dollars, and all
of which will have to be raised by taxation ; but if on the other
hand we say 'not guilty,' every dollar of this amount will be
(32) THE COUNTY HALL
Erected 1822. Political headquarters of the county; the
scene of many rough and tumble fights between opposing
factions. The clubhouse of this part of the Island, where
parties and balls were held, and the aim of every sleighing
party that ended with a supper and dance. Torn down in 1891.
(33) OLD RED JAIL AND COUNTY CLERK'S OFFICE
On the north corner of the Richmond and Fresh Kill
Roads formerly stood the Old Red Jail, 17 10, one year before
St. Andrew's was finished and next to it, and adjoining, the
old County Clerk's office, 1827. The former was built when
the village was known as Cuckoldstown as "a stronger gaol
wherein to secure and retain ye criminals." It was 12 x 14
feet, built of stone, two stories high. The British converted it
into a military prison, and it is said its rooms were crowded to
suffocation with patriots who were waiting to be transferred
to the prison ship "Jersey" or other place of confinement. The
latter lay for a time opposite South Beach and later at Sandy
Hook. The jail was used as such until 1837. It has im-
prisoned Indians and slaves, murderers and patriots, with
equal disinterestedness. It was burned in 1895
(34) ST. ANDREW'S CHURCH
St. Andrew's Church, with its beautifully picturesque
22 RICHMOND ROAD
burial ground, stands on the corner of the Fresh Kill and Mill
In 1702 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in
Foreign Parts sent a missionary to New Jersey and Staten
Island. For some years preaching was conducted in the
French church at Green Ridge, but about 1708 the parish of
St. Andrew's was organized, and in 1709 the building of a
church on this site began, it being completed in 171 1.
In 1708 Queen Anne presented the church with a silver
communion set, a portion of which is still in its possession.
In 1 7 15 Queen Anne granted her royal charter to St. Andrew's.
During the Revolution this was the only church where
services were not suspended. In October, 1776, the Ameri-
cans attacked the British troops stationed in Richmond and
the latter retreated to the church, which at the time was being
used as a hospital. The officer in command of the attacking
forces refused to fire on the church, until one of his men was
killed, when an assault was ordered and the church carried
by storm. Beyond the breaking of windows the building does
not appear to have been much damaged at this time. In 1822
the steeple, which was built shortly after the Revolution, was
blown down; a new steeple was hardly completed when it
was struck by lightning and destroyed. In 1867, and again in
1869, the interior of the church was burned out and the steeple
again destroyed. The churchyard contains many interesting
and picturesque old headstones. One of these, dated in 1760,
refers to the virtues of the lady whose name it bears as fol-
lows : —
She Was A Good Neighbor
A Tender Mother to Ten
Children And A Obedient
Wife 35 Years Six Months And
28 Days Whose Uns Potted
Characters May Call Her The
Patron Of A Christian.
RICHMOND ROAD 23
A forgotten incident of the days when anti-popish feeling
ran high is connected with the Journey vault, which was
erected by Albert Journey following the death of his wife.
Innocently enough he caused a cross to be cut on its front;
this symbol was then considered by the rabid element as
strictly the emblem of popery, and the feeling was so bitter
that a group of young men got together for the purpose of its
destruction, but they lacked the requisite resolution and noth-
(35) WHIPPING POST
Where the schoolhouse now stands, just west of St.
Andrew's, formerly stood the whipping post, which was used
to punish runaway slaves and petty offenders. This is said to
have been in use as late as 1821. The City History Club Guide
states that it was removed in 1825, two years before slavery
was abolished in New York State. The only gallows erected
on the Island was at this spot.
Just when the first schoolhouse was built here is not cer-
tain, but it was not an elaborate building, being the typical
red schoolhouse of the forefathers. The first teacher who
successfully handled the unruly element among the boys was
Mrs. Crowell M. Conner, under whose management the at-
tendance more than doubled.
(36) GOLD MINE
Before the Revolution, Abraham Cole, who lived on the
west side of the Amboy Road, about midway between New
Dorp and Giffords, was operating a gold mine on what is now
the Latourette property. When the Revolution came the mine
was closed and the tools used were left inside. Evidences of
the opening were hidden as much as possible, and as it was
not reopened after the war, the exact location was forgotten;
and as the Cole family steadfastly refused to make known the
spot, only the tradition remained. Shortly before his death,
24 RICHMOND ROAD
a few years ago, ^Richard Cole, a son of Abraham, stated that
the opening into the mine was across the Mill Road from St.
Andrew's and across Poverty Lane from the schoolhouse, in
what was formerly an orchard, only a few trees of which now
(37) LATOURETTE HOUSE
The road which ascends the hill from St. Andrew's, now
known as Richmond Hill Road, formerly traveled under the
engaging title of Poverty Lane. On the brow of the hill and
on the right stands the Latourette house, built in 1830. This
was formerly Crocheron property, and is said to have come
into the Latourette family through marriage.
A curious supernatural occurrence happened in this house
so recently as 1913, when the ghost of old David Latourette
appeared twice to its occupants. In the first instance a mother
and daughter of a well-known New York family, who were
sleeping together, were so terrified at the apparition that they
refused to remain in the house and left about 2 o'clock a. m.
In the second, an old man was seen sitting in the parlor by one
temporarily in the house who knew nothing of the previous
appearance, and who innocently asked who the stranger was.
When a member of the household went to see, no one was
found. It was not possible for a stranger to have come and
gone without its being known. The description fitted very
closely that of David Latourette.
(38) OLD HOUSE ON LATOURETTE LANE
A lane which leads from the front of the Latourette place
down to the Mill Road passes the ruins of an old house
said to have been built by Obadiah Holmes, who removed
from the New Dorp neighborhood at an early date. During
the Revolution this was headquarters of Lieutenant-Colonel
Simcoe of the Queen's Rangers. Morris states that the Battle
of Springfield (N. J.) was planned here.
RICHMOND ROAD 25
(39) BRITISH REDOUBT
On the brow of the hill overlooking the Fresh Kill may
still be seen the remains of a British redoubt, now merely a
few mounds of earth overgrown with trees and brush. The
fort was about 44 feet square. It has been called Look-Out
Place, Fort Richmond and Fort Izard.
(40) LORD HOWE SPRING
About two hundred feet downhill from the ruins (No. 38)
is a spring known as the Lord Howe Spring, which probably
does not mean much, except that it served its evident purpose
when the British held these heights.
(41) OLD TIDE MILL
Geib's Tide Mill still stands on the edge of Richmond
Creek, below the ruins of the British redoubt. It was formerly
known as Crocheron's Mill. When it was built is not known,
but presumably before the Revolution, as tales of that strug-
gle still cling about its weather-stained walls.
(42) KETCHUM'S MILL
That stood near the bend in the road, was operated by fresh
water from Ketchum's Mill Pond, and back in the woods,
farther up Ketchum's Brook, there was still another pond that
served as a reservoir for this old mill. The remains of the dam
are still to be seen. This was used both as a grist and woolen
mill, as is evidenced by an advertisement which appeared in
1828. The fact that the teasel or "fuller's thistle" grew in
great abundance near this water power may have had some
influence in the establishment of a woolen mill here.
26 RICHMOND ROAD
ATTRACTIVE WALKS, WITHOUT HISTORIC INTER
EST, READILY REACHED FROM THE RICH-
MOND ROAD, NOT MENTIONED ELSEWHERE
OVER EMERSON HILL TO OCEAN TERRACE
Starting at the Richmond Road and following the
windings of the Douglas Road as it climbs the steep ascent
of Emerson Hill, many picturesque bits are encountered before
the top of the hill is reached, and many beautiful glimpses of
the lowlands and the waters beyond. During this climb the
Japanese garden, already mentioned, may be inspected. After
reaching the top of the hill a little search will disclose a cart
track, the trend of which is westerly, which debouches from
the woods onto the Ocean Terrace. Turn to the left on the
Ocean Terrace, and when nearing the top of the hill keep
watch for a little used cart track on the left. This winds
down through fields to the lower level, where one may follow
the better traveled road. Crescent Avenue, back to the
Richmond Road, or by bearing off toward the right, the south,
follow winding cart tracks to the brow of the low ridge
overlooking Richmond Road or into Mersereau Valley. The
wood paths are many and devious.
This valley is still heavily wooded, but a foot-path may
be found which for a full half mile leads one through the
forest aisles. This ends at the Ocean Terrace on the hilltop.
Crossing the Ocean Terrace diligent search will discover more
than one foot-path in the woods on the other side. Take any
one of these and let.it lead vou where it will — all are a joy.
P D 7 4. 4
BACK OF THE MORAVIAN CEMETERY
Just back of the Vanderbilt mausoleum are to be found,
among the second growth, several paths. Keeping to the
RICHMOND ROAD 27
right, one should come out near the old Nichols place, a large,
red brick mansion of fifty or more years ago, which overlooks
the Dongan Hills golf links and the lowlands to the sea, the
Lower Bay, Sandy Hook and the Highlands, a beautiful
stretch of land- and seascape.
By turning to the left one would work out at Egbertville.
Between these two extremes lies a considerable tract con-
taining some fine old beech trees and attractive woodland.
ALONG KETCHUM'S MILL POND BROOK
At Richmond take the road around St. Andrew's Church
— the Old Mill Road. This is still an unmacadamed country
road with nothing but a rail fence between the saunterer and
the salt meadows. The views over these meadows are as
many and varied as the hours and seasons. With a November
haze and the soft fall colorings of the marsh grass, or the
difference between high and low water; or with any of the
innumerable changes that occur during every hour of every
day, an artist could garner much here. This passes the old
tide mill (No. 41) and the site of Ketchum's mill (No. 42).
Turning to the right, the road soon enters a beautiful wood
and crosses Ketchum's Brook, finally expanding into a road
that a street sign tells us is Forest Hill Road. But before
going so far — in fact, at and near the crossing of the brook —
one can wander at will through the woods and swamp land,
and by keeping along the southern edge of the wood follow
an unused and overgrown road that, with a littk fence climb-
ing, will take one to the New Springville Road. In times of
much rain this is a wet walk.
Story of the
Old Ferine House
Deals With the Story of the Locality
5/orp and tradition of the Old Homestead
Includes All Wills and Deeds Whereby It Has
Been "transferred from 1677 to 1916
Including Coats of Arms (in colors) of the
Stillwell and Ferine Families
Can Be Obtained at the Ferine House
Hine Brothers, 100 William Street, New York
' O J> ^0 c ° " " -» o
DObBS BROS. 1 ^ ^ '
LIBRARY BINOIMS ^ ^^
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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
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