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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Script No, 460

(Continued from July 23, 2011)

Bury Them Not

Apart from the stone water tower being erected on 13th Street now in 1830, few major construction projects were under way but, as usual, the layout of lower Manhattan was undergoing constant change. Settlement of the affairs of the late (29 years ago) property owner Captain Robert Richard Randall finally drew to a close when the U. S. Supreme Court cleared his land title to the area around today’s Washington Square. The original will, by the way, had been drawn up by no other than Alexander Hamilton. The freed funds will be used to purchase land on Staten Island for construction of Sailors’ Snug Harbor, a retirement home for, “aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors”, and to provide for its maintenance.

As for the Square itself, it had at one time been a potter’s field, where the city’s poor were buried in unmarked graves. Which made it a handy repository for criminals hanged on a nearby gibbet. But in New York, real estate rules and over the last four years the poor were reburied elsewhere and expensive homes constructed around the perimeter. New graveyards, especially for the poor will, of necessity have to be located away from lower Manhattan as the Common Council this year bans them from all land south of Canal Street. Meanwhile street construction goes on between 13th Street and Canal Street. Eleventh Street is laid out except for the two-block section between Broadway and the Bowery, construction there blocked by the apple orchard of council member Henry Brevoort, a buddy of Washington Irving’s. The second incarnation of Grace Church will rise on the site in 1843. Four blocks to the south, on lower Third Avenue one of the city’s many public markets will be laid out this year and named for the previous owner of the land, the late former governor and U. S. vice-president Daniel D. Tompkins. More changes to the city’s infrastructure are in the works this year as incorporation papers are filed for the Manhattan Gas Light Company, which will soon be providing gas street lights for the new neighborhoods.

Part of the impetus for the move of old money further uptown is the deteriorating condition of the area known as Five Points on the east side of the city a few short blocks northeast of City Hall. Here, where Park and Baxter streets intersect and Anthony Street thrusts its way into the crossing, buildings erected on formerly filled-in swamp land, the old Collect Pond, have begun to collapse in on themselves, driving out all but the most destitute. And there are over 13,000 of these unfortunates, existing in streets of flop houses and taverns, precursor of the tenements of the Lower East Side and the Bowery of future decades. Letters are beginning to appear in the New York Sun, complaining that these slums are not being demolished.

Across town (in today’s Triangle Below Canal Street, or Tribeca neighborhood), sits St. John’s Park, one of the city’s more exclusive neighborhoods. Now, in 1830, the residents have erected an iron replacement for the wooden fence that had surrounded the park they all face. As in a latter-day Gramercy Park, the gates are kept locked, the property owners all having their own keys. After the U. S. Civil War our budding millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt will knock down the fence, level the park’s greenery and convert the area into a stable for new toys, the iron steeds of his New York Central & Hudson River Rail Road.

© 2006 David Minor/Eagles Byte

Friday, August 19, 2011


This Sunday, August 21st, Save Our Seaport will be holding down the fort at the Fulton Stall Market. Note that this is a change from last weekend – Fulton Stall Market is on South Street, just north of Fulton, in the back of the Fulton Market building.

We’ll be focusing more on providing information and talking to people about the Museum, as we have reached our petition goal, but we’ll be happy to take more signatures anyway!

If you can help for all or part of the day, please email us or call (347)6-PIER16. We’ll be there from 10:45am-5pm.

For anyone who missed our last meeting, here is a quick recap:

  • We discussed the upcoming delivery of our petition results
  • The support of other maritime museum leaders and how we can best use that support
  • Plans to poll our own members: someone might be interested in what our experience can mean to a reformed Museum
  • We decided that we will continue our presence at the local Markets on South Street
  • Hints were dropped about plans for a picnic – it’s not ALL work around here

Our next meeting is Thursday August 25th, 6:30pm, at John Street Methodist Church.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Script No. 231 - August 4, 2001

If you live in the U. S. and you caught a recent edition of tv’s Good Morning, America, you might have seen one of their audience participation events, where couples competed to see who could dance all night and still remain on their feet the following morning. Or perhaps a college or university near you sponsored such an event, with proceeds going to a charitable or fund-raising cause. You may even have seen the short-lived stage musical Steel Pier. And if you’re of a certain age or have a slew of cable movie channels, you may also have seen 1969’s film They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?. Somehow, the idea of dancing as an endurance sport is one concept most of us are familiar with. We may not all of us understand it, still, we’re willing to let some other bunch of nuts knock themselves out. But whose idea was it, anyway?

It had all started in England in March of 1923, but that contest only lasted nine hours. The Scots raised the bar to 14 hours, the French pushed it to a full day. At the end of the month, New York City dance instructor Alma Cummings, set out to beat the Europeans. 27 hours and a number of partners later she held the record, only to lose it the next week to another New York couple. Time to get tough. Discarding her high-heeled shoes Alma then hopped to it and set the record, briefly, at 50 hours. After Homer Morehouse of North Tonawanda, New York, danced 87 hours straight before dropping dead, New York City spoil-sport authorities tried and failed to call a halt to the madness. They stopped a contest after 12 hours. The dancers bounced out onto a waiting flatbed truck which took them, still dancing, to a pier where a waiting ferry carried them to Fort Lee, New Jersey. Authorities there chased them out and the event bounced back across the river to Manhattan. They finally ended up in northeastern Westchester County where worried city officials allowed file clerk Vera Sheppard to set a new record at 69 hours, before halting the craziness. The record kept climbing. 167 hours. 168 hours, the equivalent of a full week. Then 182 hours; and 8 seconds. Finally, St. Louis dancer Bernie Brand topped it all off at 217 consecutive hours.

So. It all started in England in 1923. Well, not really. It was in England. But the year was 1600. And who was the nimble-footed egotist who began it all? Comic actor by the name of William Kempe. When the Earl of Leicester's Men touring company of entertainers set off on a tour of the Low Countries and Denmark in 1585, William was on the bill as a solo performer. Gaining a reputation as a dancer as well as a clown, he moved up in theatrical circles. He soon moved over to the Chamberlain's Men, where a young playwright also named William was whipping out plays for the company. Kempe originated a number of Shakespeare’s clown roles, most famously Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing. Eventually the two Wills had a falling out over Kempe’s scene-stealing antics, and soon Kempe was a free agent. To keep his name in the public eye he accepted a bet and announced he would dance a jig. All the way from London to Norwich, 114 miles. He set out on February 10, 1600, along with several cronies. 23 days later he bounced into Norwich, his bet won. Typical English weather had forced many layovers, so he’d only actually danced for nine non-consecutive days. Of course theater people like to pad their bios a bit. So thereafter he publicized himself as William Kempe, the Nine-Day Wonder.

© 2001 David Minor Eagles Byte

Friday, August 12, 2011




King William of England appoints Henry Sloughter governor of New York.

Feb 8

French troops set an Indian settlement in Schenectady, New York, on fire. All but two of the 80 houses are destroyed.

Feb 9

French troops and their Indian allies massacre Schenectady settlers. 69 inhabitants are killed and 27 captured. Some escape and are saved from a violent snowstorm by sleighs from Albany. Captain John A. Glen claims many survivors are his relatives to obtain their release. Inhabitant Willem Tietsoort, a blacksmith who had lived among the local Indians for the past 22 years, escapes with his daughter, who will become permanently paralyzed by the cold, to Esopus (Kingston).

Apr 11

Massachusetts calls a special meeting of the United Colonies of New England. Two companies of troops are dispatched to Albany.

May 1

An intercolonial congress meets in New York City to plan attacks on Montréal and Québec. They also discuss the establishment of provincial laws.


Fitz-John Winthrop leads a colonial force of 150 to Montréal by way of Lake Champlain but is forced to turn back at Lake George by disease.


Acting governor Jacob Leisler appoints Johannis Hardenbergh sheriff of Ulster County. He will lose the position next year with Leisler's arrest. ** Albany’s Dominie Godfridus Dellius complains of the abuse the Dutch clergy undergo under Leisler’s rule. ** Prior to the February, attack Schenectady consists of 60 houses and 300 inhabitants. ** Albany mayor Peter Schuyler builds a blockhouse out in the forest to the north for his military stores and calls the post Saratoga.


Charles Clinton, ancestor of New York politicians Gerorge and De Witt Clinton, is born to James and Elizabeth Clinton in County Longford.


May 13

New York's first assembly as a royal colony reenacts 1683's Charter of Liberties. It passes Acts 6 through 10, establishing means for dealing with the poor and vagabonds, enabling the election of representatives, levying monies for the maintenance of a force of fusiliers, enabling the city and county of Albany to repay expenses of the late disturbances by levying local Indian trade groups, and declaring the rights and privileges of colonists.

Oct 1

New York colony’s Albany County is confirmed and its borders delineated.

Oct 7

Massachusetts is given a new charter by William and Mary, restoring the charter of 1629 and making it a royal colony, including Plymouth, Nova Scotia and all territory up through the Maine area. Cornwall County (parts of the Maine coast) and Dukes County (some of the islands off Massachusetts) are taken off New York colony. The charter also makes property the basis of suffrage instead of religion, provides for a governor appointed by the crown, and a Council elected by the General Court, subject to the governor's veto.


Dutch immigrant and New Amsterdam settler Jacob Leendertsen Van Der Grift dies in his early sixties at his Newton, Long Island home.


Mayor Peter Schuyler leads an expedition against Canada, camps at the Great Carrying Place, the portage between the Hudson River and Lake Champlain.



Cornwall County is surrendered to Massachusetts. ** Interpreter Arnout Viele leads a party of eleven Europeans and a number of Indians out of Albany, across Pennsylvania, and down the Ohio River to a point near its mouth.


Dutch settlers from the Hudson Valley begin moving into the Berkshires.


Oct 5

Colonel William Smith is granted St. George Manor, on Long Island.


Aug 15

Colonial delegates meeting in Albany sign a treaty with the Iroquois, to keep the Indians from siding with the French.

© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, August 10, 2011



Friday through Sunday, August 12 through 14, 2011

Celebrate the history, culture, recreational appeal, and beauty of the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail during Canal Splash!

Canal Splash! is a coordinated series of locally organized events and activities, including nature and history walks, museum and gallery exhibits, rowing regattas, kayak and canoe outings, musical performances, boat tours and more.

Find an event near you!
Events take place on and along the New York State Canal System and Erie Canalway Trail and at numerous venues throughout the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.


Contact the New York State Canal Corporation at (518) 436-3034.

Sunday, August 7, 2011



The Manhattan death notices of 1748 and 1749 are taken from a semi-random search of the coroner’s records of John Burnet, published by the New York Genealogical Society:

Minutes of Coroners Proceedings, City and County of New York, John Burnet, Coroner, 1748-1758

Volume XVI of the Collections of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society (2004)

Edited by Francis J. Sypher, Jr.


Jul 31

John Burnet is licensed as an attorney in New York City.

Aug 19

John Burnet is appointed clerk of the Colonial Court of Chancery in New York City.


Archibald Kennedy, eleventh Earl of Cassillis, builds a home overlooking Battery Park, later site of the Washington Building (No. 1 Broadway). ** Lawyer-historian William Smith graduates from Yale, returns to New York, reads law in his father William's office.


Mar 16

The brig King George, Charles Dickinson captain, arrives at New York from Barbados.

Jul 28

Printer-editor John Peter Zenger dies in New York City, in his late forties.


Henry De Forest's Evening Post begins publication, puts out a few issues, this year and next.


Jan 19

Early Pittsford settler Josiel Farr is born in Acton, Massachusetts.


Edward Holland is appointed mayor for the next ten consecutive one-year terms. ** The Common Council considers passing rules regulating teawater men, commercial providers of drinking water. It does nothing. ** A debate is begun over the possible location of King's College, inside the city or in the countryside. ** Coroner John Van Cortlandt dies, unmarried, in his late twenties. ** New Yorkers own approximately 99 ships.


William Livingston of New York City, publishes Philosophic Solitude; or The Choice of a Rural Life.


Jan 16

William Smith, Jr. succeeds John Burnet as clerk of the Colonial Court of Chancery.

Jan 28

John Burnet is commissioned Coroner of the City and County of New York, succeeding the late John Van Cortlandt, calls for a panel of 24 jurors to appear before him by at 4 PM, at the home of Hugh Crawford near City Hall. He creates a series of forms to be used in all coroners’ cases. His panel meets and determines that Sarah Fisher has committed suicide yesterday in the Crawford home by strangling herself.

Apr 4

Workman Peter DeWitt is killed while working on a hillside site near the home of James Darcy, in the city's Montgomerie Ward, when a rock falls on him.

Jun 5

John, a thirteen-year-old black belonging to John Pinhorn, drowns in New York City after falling out of a boat.

Jun 11

James Miller, a servant of New York City brewer Robert Benson, attacks Nicholas Stilwell, causing his death by a blow to the head.

Jun 26

A Francis Davis drowns off New York City’s Blackwell’s Island while swimming.

Jul 20

New York City resident Henry Jenkins, kills himself with a musket at the home of widow Deborah Burger, who testifies at the coroner’s inquest that day.

Aug 20

James Dean, missionary to the Oneida Indians, is born in Groton, Connecticut.

Oct 6

New York City coroner John Burnet, reappointed by the Common Council, takes his oath of office.

Oct 25

Piere Olieve falls in the hold of the snow Swallow, while it is moored in the East River at New York; is killed instantly.

Oct 30

Finnish explorer and botanist Peter Kalm arrives in New York City. He makes observations on the local oyster fishermen.

Oct 31

Kalm explores oystering further, provides recipes, and learns the "r" rule for months in which to eat them.

Nov 1

Kalm discusses some of the diseases common to the New York area. He also mentions the clamming industry and the Indians' use of the shells for wampum. He visits the city's synagogue.

Nov 2

Kalm revisits the synagogue.

Nov 3

Kalm leaves New York for Philadelphia.

Nov 11

New York City resident John Marschalk commits suicide, shooting himself in the head with a pistol.

Dec 25

An intoxicated James Wisely falls of a New York City wharf belonging to Stephen Bayard and drowns.


When the price of European logwood, a dye source, begins climbing steeply, local merchants begin purchasing it in Central America, the source of the bulk of the trade through 1761.


A mansion is built for Frederick Van Cortlandt in what will later become Van Cortlandt Park.


To protest its control by Manhattan interests, residents burn the Fulton Ferry house.


Jun 27

A coroner’s jury meets in New York City to hold an inquest on a male infant. Midwives Baffie VandeWater and Johanna Gardland are sworn in. The panel is then adjourned until the 30th.

Jun 30

The coroner’s jury reconvenes. It’s determined that an unknown person or persons murdered the male infant by drowning him in the Hudson River.

Aug 8

An intoxicated Cornelius Quick takes a fall in a Manhattan alley and dies.

Aug 20

The free mulatto woman Isabella, servant of Daniell Shatford, strangles a male infant, her illegitimate son, in the garret of Shatford’s home.

Aug 21

Isabella is jailed. Her health begins failing.

Sep 13

John Killmaster of New York City hangs himself from a cellar beam.

Sep 14

Isabella dies in jail.

Sep 24

A drunken Daniell York tumbles from a pier in lower Manhattan and is drowned.

Oct 14

John Burnet takes his oath of office as coroner of the City of New York.

Nov 17

A New York coroner’s jury determines that an infant found dead in the Hudson River was probably stillborn.

Dec 4

A James Holliday attempts to board the ship Mary during a stormy evening in New York City, slips from the gangway and is drowned.

Dec 13

The widowed Mary Nicholls, daughter of New York City’s County Court examiner Richard Nicholls, marries future Trinity Church rector Samuel Auchmuty.

Dec 25

An ill Mary Russell, wife of Nicholas Russell, suffers a fit on New York’s Smith Street around six in the morning and dies instantly.

© 2011 David Minor / Eagles Byte