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Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Tales from the Vault: War Correspondence
Thu, Nov 12, 6:30 pm

Join us in our archives as we explore the life and times of American veterans in Brooklyn. BHS archivist John Zarrillo and BHS Director of Public History Julie Golia examine Brooklyn’s role in America’s wars, from the Revolutionary War to the present, and share stories from veterans and their families in their own words using correspondence and objects found in our collections.

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
BrooklynNY 11201

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Eastern NY / World Timeline 1809-1812


Jan 19
Author, editor, poet and literary critic Edgar Allen Poe is born in Boston to an acting couple.

Feb 11
New York State's Woodstock Branch Turnpike is completed.    **    Printmaker, painter, etcher, lithographer, draftsman and hunter Johann Carl/Karl Bodmer is born near Zurich, Switzerland, (some sources give his birth date as Feb 6) to cotton merchant Heinrich Bodmer and his second wife Elisabeth.    
Feb 12
Naturalist and geologist Charles Robert Darwin is horn in Shrewsbury, UK, to wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and his wife Susannah Wegewod Darwin.    **    U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is born in  Hodgenville, Kentucky, to farmer Thomas Lincoln and his wife Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

Mar 11
New York State's Mountain Turnpike is completed.
Mar 17
New York State's Charlotte River, Windham & Durham Turnpike is completed.     **    New York's Brooklyn, Jamaica & Flatbush Turnpike, connecting Brooklyn and Jamaaica, Long Island, is completed.
Mar 24
New York State's Mountain Turnpike is completed, connecting Athens to the Susquehanna Turnpike.    **    New York State's Utica & Minden Turnpike is completed.    **    Entomologist and early Erie Canal traveler Asa Fitch is born in Fitch's Point, New York, to physician, justice of the peace, county judge and Congressman Asa Fitch and his wife Abigail Martin Fitch.    
Mar 27
New York State's Rockland Turnpike is completed.    **    New York State's Dunderbergh & Clove Branch Turnpike is completed.   **    New York State's Clove March Turnpike is completed.    **    New York State's Goshen & Minisink Turnpike is completed.  **    New York State's Eastern Union Turnpike is completed.    **    New York State's Clove March Turnpike is completed, connecting Owego, New York, to Milford, Pennsylvaia.
Mar 30
New York State's New Windsor & Cornwall Turnpike is completed.    **    New York State's Owego Turnpike is completed.

May 22
Naval engineer, politician and historian Charles Haynes Haswell is born on North Moore Street in Manhattan to Dublin-born British diplomat Charles Hasell and his wife Dorothea Haynes Haswell.

Jun 6
Author Timothy Shay Arthur is born outside Newburgh, New York, to a miller and his wife. 
Jun 8
English-born American political activist, philosopher, sailor, editor and engineer Thomas Paine, 72, dies in Greenwich Village, New York City, at 59 Grove Street. He will be buried on his farm in New Rochelle, New York, after being denied burial in the Quaker cemetery.

Aug 6
British poet Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, is born in Somersby, England, to rector George Clayton Tennyson and his wife Elizabeth Fychte Tennyson, daughter of a a vicar.

Sep 30
Indiana Territory governor William Henry Harrison, and leaders of the Delaware, Eel River, Miami and Potawatomi tribes sign the land purchase Treaty of Fort Wayne (The Twelve Mile Line Treaty; the Ten O'Clock Line Treaty) at the territorial fort, transferring 2.5 million acres to white settlers in Illinois and Indiana.    

Oct 11
Explorer and 2nd governor of Louisiana Territory Meriwether Lewis dies in Hohenwald, Tennessee, while he was in office, at the age of 35, of gunshot wounds. It has never been determined if they were self-inflicted or not.    

Dec 22
New Jersey-born New York merchant, land speculator and developer William Cooper dies in Albany at the age of 55, most likely of natural causes. He will be buried at the Episcopal Christ Churchyard in Cooperstown (which he pioneered).    

New York City
After shutting down foreign trade in 1807 Jefferson's embargo is repealed.        **    For the first time Tammany Hall consents to having a Catholic, Patrick McKay, placed on its Assembly ticket.

New York State
Reuben Babcock, Jr. of Petersburg is now a sergeant in the militia.    **       The approximate year Utica's Reverend David R. Dixon opens a grammar school - the Dixon School House - at the corner of Genesee Street and Elizabeth Street, which is also used for religious services until 1816, when a regular church is incorporated.         **    The Burden Iron Works is founded in Troy, along the Wynants Kill (Stream).

A steamboat/stagecoach route open to Philadelphia via the Rairitan River, a 18-mile coach route to Trenton, New Jersey and  the Delaware River.    


Feb 5
Norwegian violinist and composer Ole Bornemann Bull is born in Bergen to Johan Storm Bull and his wife Anna Dorothea Borse Geelmuyden Bull.
Feb 8
New York State's Angelica & Allegany Turnpike is completed, connecting Angelica to the Allegany River.
Feb 15
Brooklyn's Long-Island Star newspaper begins publication.
Feb 17
New York State's Bedford Turnpike is completed, connecting Bedford to the Ridgefield, Connecticut.    **    New York State's Middle Patent Turnpike is completed, connecting Bedford to the Greenwich, Connecticut.
Feb 18
Lawyer and politician John Van Buren is born in Hudson, New York, to future U.S. President and Vice-President Martin Van Buren  and his wife Elizabeth Vanderpoel Van Buren.

Jacob Miller, Sr. moves his family into a log cabin on the east side of the Genesee River in the township of Brighton.
Mar 2
The Warwick & Minisink Turnpike is completed, connecting Shawangunk, New York, with the New Jersey state line.
Mar 9
New York State's Westchester & Dutchess Turnpike is chartered, to link the two counties.    **    New York State's Cortlandt Turnpike is chartered, to link Quaker Hill to the Ulster & Delaware Turnpike's first branch.    **    New York State's Westchester & Dutchess Turnpike is chartered, to link the two counties.
Mar 15
Black abolitionist David Ruggles is born in Norwich, Connecticut to free black blacksmith David, Sr. and Nancy Ruggles, also a free black.

Apr 5
The Jefferson County, NY, Town of Antwerp is formed from the Town of Le Ray.

May 31
New York governor Horatio Seymour is born in Pompey, New York, to merchant and politician Henry Seymour, and his wife Mary Ledyard Forman Seymour.

The canal commissioners arrive in Utica on their exploratory journey. Bagg's Tavern can only accommodate two for the night so Stephen van Rensselaer and Gouverneur Morris stay there overnight; the others seek accommodation elsewhere.
Jul 5
Showman Phineas Taylor {(P.T.) Barnum is born in Bethel, Connecticut, to innkeeper, tailor and store-keeper Philo Barnum and his second wife Irene Taylor arum.

Sep 16
Mexico's Father Miguel Hidalgo issues his Grito de Dolores (Cry of Dolores - the sad ones), inspiring his countrymen to begin a successful revolt against Spain.
Sep 18
Chile forms a national junta, effectively declaring its independence of Spain.

Dec 11
Dramatist, poet and novelist Alfred Louis Charles de Musset-Pathay is born in Paris to an impoverished government worker and his wife, a society hostess.

Nathaniel Rochester leaves Hagerstown, heads for western New York along with his ten slaves, all of whom he will soon free.

New York City
Preacher and author Mathew Hale Smith is born (possibly in Vermont.    **    The population exceeds 100,000.

Schenectady, NY
Rochester, NY, tycoon and politician Abraham M. Schermerhorn graduates from Schenectady's Union College.    **    The city's population  is 5,903 - up from 5,289 in 1800 - with 318 of them slaves.

Utica, NY
The second bridge across the Mohawk River is replaced by a third, a covered bridge built by Captain Joseph Pierce, of Deerfield.    **    Successful stagecoach line operator Jason Parker now runs his coaches between here and Albany daily, rather than twice a week.    **    The approximate date saddle and harness maker Gurdon Burchard opens The Sign of the Buck, a tavern on Burchard Lane.    **    Innkeeper Joseph  Ballou dies. His son  Jerathmel takes over the former site of the original Baggs Hotel, when Moses Bagg decides to build a new one nearby.    **    Rhode Island native Levi Cozzens arrives to work for James Hopper's tannery.    **    Construction is completed on Albany architect Phillip Hooker's Episcopal Church, between Broad and Catharine streets.

The approximate date Maryland native, hunter, explorer and pioneer Henry Skaggs, great-grandfather of novelist (Callie Russell Porter / Katherine Anne Porter), dies in his mid-eighties (born Jan 8, 1724; exact death date and circumstances uncertain).

Artist James Mahoney is born in Cork, to a joiner and his wife.

Jan 1
Mechanical engineer and rifle inventor Jacob Snider - the Snider Enfield - is born in Montgomery, Alabama.
Jan 6
Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner is born in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood to lawyer and abolitionist Charles Pinckney Sumner and his wife.    
Jan 9
Journalist and author Gilbert a Beckett is born in England.
Jan 11
Utica's stage master Jason Parker advertises the eating establishments his passengers will dine at between Utica and Schenectady, and also that his horses will never race along the route.
Jan 18
Parker competitor Joshua Ostrom announces his coaches will be guaranteed to go all the way through in a single day and that his riders may dine wherever they wished. Ostrom will be out of business by year's end.

Feb 3
Newspaper editor and abolitionist Horace Greeley is born in Amherst, New Hampshire, to farmer Zaccheus Greeley and his wife Mary.    
Feb 8
New York Republican politician Edwin Denison (D.) Morgan is born in Washington, Massachusetts.

A three-man commission - Gouvernor Morris, John Rutherford and state surveyor Simeon De Witt (appointed in March of 1807) publishes a plan for laying out Manhattan streets, establishing a grid of streets and avenues for the area north of Houston Street.
Mar 15
New York State's Greene County Town of New Baltimore is formed from Coxsackie

Tavern keeper Jonathan Hedges moves his business into a wooden building on the west side of Utica's Genesee Street, near Catherine Street, with yards and stables behind it. He does not stay there for long.
May 21
British abolitionist and Frederick Douglass collaborator Julia Griffis/Griffiths is born in London (one source says Newcastle-on-Tyne) England. (Death date uncertain).    

Jun 19
U.S. Declaration of Independence signatory and Supreme Court associate justice Samuel Chase dies of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. at the age of 70. He will be buried in Baltimore at Old Saint Paul's Cemetery.

Jul 11
The Mechanics and Farmers Bank of Albany, the New York State city's third largest, opens.
Jul 18
Novelist William Makepeace Thackery is born in Calcutta, India, to British East India Company revenue board secretary Richmond Thackery and his wife Anne Beecher Thackery.

Sep 3
New York State preacher, congressman, utopian socialist and radical religious philosopher John Humphrey Noyes is born in Brattleboro, Vermont, to peripatetic teacher, tutor, grocery supplier and preacher John Noyes and his wife.    

Oct 11
The first steam-powered ferry goes into operation between New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey.
Oct 26
The Argentine government decrees freedom of expression for the press.
Oct 27
Sewing machine company founder, actor and entrepreneur Isaac Merritt Singer is born in Pittstown, NY, to German immigrant Adam Reisinger (aka Singer) and his first wife.

Nov 4
The newly-formed U.S. House of Representatives meets for the first time, elects Henry Clay its first Speaker.
Nov 7
U.S. forces in Indiana Territory under Governor William Henry Harrison defeat the Shawnee under Tecumseh at Tippecanoe (near today's Lafayette).    
Nov 29
Abolitionist  Wendell Phillips is born in Boston to lawyer, philanthropist and politician John Phillips and his wife Sarah Walley Phillips.

Dec 8
Elizabeth Arnold Poe, abandoned mother of one-and-a-half-year-old Edgar Poe, dies in Richmond, Virginia. Edgar is taken into the family of Frances and John Allan Poe, the latter a Scotland-born tobacco merchant, where the young man will adopt the middle name of Allan.

Naturlist and West Point educator Jacob Whitman Bailey is born in Auburn.

New York City
After a decision is made to resurrect the area around lower Manhattan's Collect Pond, a source of great pollution, it's also planned to drain and fill the region.        **    The U.S. Army constructs semicircular Castle Williams in New York Harbor on the western tip of Governors Island.

New York State
Jason Parker's stagecoaches between Utica and Albany begin running another line, one that runs three times a week rather than daily. His western line is extended to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.    **    Militia sergeant Reuben Babcock, Jr. of Petersburgh attains the rank of lieutenant

Visiting Scotland, Francis Cabot Lowell  decides to go over to Manchester, England, and secretly study British textile operations and  steam- and water-powered machinery, then bring the processes to America.

The Most Reverend Patrick Ryan, Bishop of Ferns, founds St. Patrick's College, in Wexford, as a Roman Catholic seminary.    **    The approximate date Irish poet Laurence Whyte dies.


Jan 28
English-born New York City brewery owner Isaac Coulthard dies in New York in his mid-seventies (exact 1736 birth date uncertain).

22-year-old militia sergeant Reuben Babcock, Jr. of Petersburg, New York, is made a captain.
Feb 7
Author Charles John Huffman Dickens is born in Portsmouth, England, to dockyard clerk John Dickens and his wife Elizabeth.
Following up on an earlier visit, Russian-American Company Commerce Counselor Ivan Kuskov sails the brig "Chirikov" into California's Bodega Bay, naming it the Gulf of Rumyantsev, or Rumyantsev Bay, after Minister of Commerce Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumyantsev. They start construction of a fort naming it Fortress Ross. (the future site of Fort Ross).

Apr 20
U.S. Vice-President George Clinton, (uncle of DeWitt Clinton), a former soldier and New York Governor, dies of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. at the age of 72. He is the first Vice-President to die in office.

May 7
Poet and playwright Robert Browning is born in the Camberwell section of London to well-paid Bank of England clerk Robert Browning and his wife Sarah Anna Wiedemann Browning.
May 10
Civil engineer William Henry Barlow, connected with railway projects, is born in London, England's Woolwich section to mathematician and physicist professor Peter Barlow and his wife.
May 26
New York State's Hamilton County Town of Lake Pleasant is formed out of the Fulton County Town of Johnstown.

Jul 18
The U.S. Congress declares war with Great Britain.

Jul 26
Stephen Edward de Vere, 4th Baronet, a member of Parliament, is born in Ireland's County Limerick.

Aug 19
The USS Constitution warship defeats the British frigate HMS Gueriere off Nova Scotia. It will be known after this as "Old Ironsides".

Sep 2
Blacksmith Kirkpatrick McMillan, credited inventor of the rear-wheel driven bicycle, is born in Keir, Scotland, to a blacksmith and his wife.
Sep 7
French troops clash with Russian forces outside Moscow - the Battle of Borodino.    

Dec 23
Self-help author and reformer Samuel Smiles is born in Haddington, Scotland, to storekeeper Samuel Smiles and his wife Janet Wilson Smiles.
Dec 24
English-born American artist and poet George Beck dies in Kentucky in his early sixties (exact 1749 birth date uncertain).

The approximate date Frances Ramsay, diarist and future wife of Canada's Hudson Bay Company governor George Simpson, is born in London to a merchant and his wife.

Cornelius Flummerelt, a private from the Third York Militia's First Flank Company, writes lyrics called The Bold Canadian while on the way back to York from the Detroit campaign. In 1907 the Niagara Historical Society publishes the tune in a pamphlet about Isaac Brock.

New York State
The 1793 Hamilton-Oneida Academy seminary for boys in Clinton becomes the all-male Hamilton College.    **    Moses Bagg, Jr. decides to take over his father's Utica tavern and build a large hotel on the site. Construction begins this year.    **    Presbyterian minister Reverend James Carnahan discontinues  preaching alternatively at Utica and Whitesboro, which he'd been doing since 1804.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Brooklyn HS Program - Museum of Slavery program

Thursday, October 15, 6 pm

$10/$5 for BHS Members

John Cummings spent 15 years and $8 million of his own fortune to open the first museum of slavery on the site of a former Louisiana plantation. The Whotney Plantation has been chronicled by The New York Times Magazine and The Atlantic, and now John Cummings and Dr. Ibrahima Seck, Director of Research at the Whitney Plantation, sit down with Jelani Cobb, who regularly writes about race and history forThe New Yorker and The New York Times, to share his story and discuss the vital importance of a slavery museum for our country's historical consciousness. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

When Brooklyn Lost Its Swagger

Thursday, September 24 at 9:00p 

Brooklyn was a large, proud, and independent city until 1898, when it was consolidated into the newly conceived five-borough NYC that exists today. Ever since, generations of bitter Brooklynites have grumbled about living in Manhattan’s shadow, but Brooklyn’s downgrade from city to borough was welcomed by many 19th century Brooklynites who saw is as a way to save their hometown from bankruptcy and irrelevance. Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione will reveal all the dirty details behind what some Brooklynites still call “the mistake of ’98." (Note: This presentation is part of a Nerd Nite double feature at the BHS. The second presentation, by Mike Liss, will be recount the heyday of New York City tabloid journalism.)

The Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn 
$10 admission

Sunday, July 5, 2015


In 1919, Wesley Williams became the third black male to join the ranks of New York’s Bravest. Despite severe discrimination he rose to Battalion Chief. Almost a century later, the FDNY remains predominately white. NY Daily News reporter Ginger Adams Otis is joined by members of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters, to talk about the ongoing struggle to diversify the FDNY.

Book Talk: Ginger Adams Otis, Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest
Tuesday, July 7th $5/Free for BHS and G-W MembersDoors open at 6pm. Event begins at 6:30pm.Please note that seating is first come, first served.

REFUND POLICYBrooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. This means no refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


This is Brooklyn!
Sun, Jun 21, 1pm
FREE with Museum Admission

Learn the history of Brooklyn through the lens of our building in this hour-long tour. Longtime Brooklyn residents and first-time visitors alike will enjoy fascinating details about this special building and extraordinary borough.

Offered every Sunday at 1pm!

Monday, April 27, 2015


Remains of the Day

The magic of stepping inside 97 Orchard Street is not only seeing the recreated apartments but also seeing the ruins, which are apartments that have been left as we found them in 1988. Experiencing these ruins helps us understand the passage of time. For the April 29 Tenement Talk, please join us in an appreciation of ruined spaces with Andrew Dolkart, Director of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation department, Katherine Malone-France of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and photographers Christopher Payne and Marisa Scheinfeld.