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Thanks for the photos, Peter. The second one looks like it could have been taken in a different time. And that’s interesting about Dogwood Close–I never put those things together.
The stream appears as “Dogwood Brook” on Thomas Henry Edsall’s map, which is also on the maps page in better detail:
Congratulations Tom on correctly identifying the house, which is 15 Ft. Charles Place on Marble Hill. Here is the original photo that the snippet was taken from. It is one of my favorite photos.
The photographer may have goofed as the boys in the foreground seem out of focus but fortunately the background is very clear. The view of the photo is looking north from Manhattan on the northern bank of the Harlem River Ship Canal. The photo is undated but looks to be shortly after the construction of the canal, which separated Marble Hill from northern Manhattan. A note on the back of the photo reads: “Uncle Fred and Uncle Frank at Spiten Divel about where Baker’s field is now on Manhattan side. Ship Canal built by U.S.”
Zooming in on the rubble pile on the lower right, you can see the chunks of marble that were dug up when the ship canal was blasted through the hillside:
This rubble pile was quite the attraction for geology enthusiasts:
The above photo comes from an article: “An Early Quarrying District on Manhattan Island” by Lawrence H. Conklin, which appeared in the November 1997 issue of The Mineralogical Record. The largest of the quarries at Marble Hill was the one owned and operated by the Boltons in the early 1800s. Technically, it was the Boltons who first separated Marble Hill from Manhattan when they dug a canal across Marble Hill that was used to power a stone-cutting saw mill. This 1867 map of Marble Hill shows that Bolton Canal clearly:
You can see that the canal would have cut off Marble Hill from Manhattan entirely were it not for a little bridge that allowed travellers to continue north toward Kingsbridge. I mention that bridge because you get a nice look at it in this Gustave Milbert drawing of the area:
This is looking west from The Bronx from the east bank of the Harlem River ca. 1820. The Harlem River is in the foreground and the Hudson and the Palisades are in the background. Just to the right of the sailboat’s sail you can see that bridge connecting the roadway over the Bolton canal. This canal was obliterated when the Harlem River Ship Canal was dug through.
Getting back to this month’s mystery photo, there is some interesting stuff just to the left and behind one of the boys:
Partially obscured behind the boy is a house standing on the bank of the new canal. To the left is something that looks like a wall and doorway out in a field. That house and doorway are more clearly seen in this 1861 drawing from Valentine’s Manual (view looking north):
The house and doorway are pretty much center. Can you believe that is Marble Hill in the background? The caption reads: “Residence of Isaac Dyckman, Kingsbridge NY 1861.” Just to be clear, this is not the same Dyckman house that is today the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum. The house depicted above belonged to the Isaac Dyckman, but was earlier owned by the Boltons (according to Conklin). The house shows up in other photos and drawings from the turn of the century. Here it is when it was used as a boarding house (you can see a few more homes on Marble Hill in the background, ca. 1905):
The below panorama shows the view looking west as if you were hovering above the ship canal just south of the Target parking lot. The house is on the right atop the rock face on the canal:
Here is a closeup of another great panorama. The Dyckman house is visible just poking behind the Broadway Bridge, and you can see how developed Marble Hill is on the right. This is circa 1902.
Zooming in on the background of this month’s mystery photo you can see a home under construction:
It seems that many of the homes on Marble Hill were built in this late Victorian period. Given how many of these homes still survive, it seems to me that the neighborhood is worthy of a historic district designation. I took a walk around Marble Hill the other day and I was reminded of just how unique it is for our area. I would definitely recommend walking around there if you have not had the chance. Check out some of these Victorian era architectural details:
Here’s the first hint–a visual clue. I took this photo a few days ago when walking past the building in question. I was told by the owner that the stonework around the window is not original but was added by the previous owners, who were stonemasons. Speaking of stone: the sidewalk in front is made of large slate slabs.
Here it is on an 1885 E. Robinson Map (in the center along Sidney Street):
This one better shows the placement of the house, which is positioned at an odd angle relative to the streets.December 22, 2020 at 2:01 pm in reply to: The Moller Mansion – After 150 Years Are its Days Numbered? #1828
An online petition is circulating to landmark the Moller Mansion. You can check it out here:
I had been under the impression that the owner’s permission was required to landmark a building but apparently not! Check out the below snippet from the LPC webpage:
Thank you to Stephanie Coggins for alerting us about the petition and thank you Roselin Denis for initiating it!
Yes, it would need to be a pretty seriously large tree! I think that the “Hangman’s Tree” (or “Hangman’s Oak”) is probably what the author was referring to. Even though this tree was on Spuyten Duyvil near Seton Hospital, it was still on property belonging to Augustus Van Cortlandt, so perhaps the author was confused. This 1885 map shows that the land around today’s Seton Park once belonged to Augustus Frederick Van Cortlandt:
My personal opinion is that the “Hangman’s Tree” is an interesting piece of local lore but I am not sold that there were actually any loyalists hanged from it. I have never seen any record of a hanging here. But hey, I guess you never really know for sure.
Great information, Peter. Thanks for sharing.
The painting really shows exactly what Jean Knowles was describing in the article with the neighborhood’s “narrow dirt roads and green fields.” Amazing to think this was only 100 years ago–a drop in the bucket of history.
I have been doing some research on the colonial history of Kingsbridge Heights. Just before the Revolution General Richard Montgomery had his farm on the spot depicted in the Livingston painting. But I was curious who was the previous owner of the land. I have not been able to find any deeds related to Montgomery’s purchase nor have I found any deeds related to its sale after General Montgomery was killed in Quebec in 1775. On his deathbed, Montgomery left the estate to his sister Lady Ranelagh of Ireland. I found it strange that he did not leave the property to his wife–Janet Livingston. (As a sidenote, I never really associated our area with the Livingstons but given that it was home to Janet Livingston, Charlotte Livingston, not to mention Livingston Ave, maybe I should rethink that).
After the Revolution most of the Montgomery farm ended up in the hands of Jacob Cole. It was the Cole family that had the family burial ground on Albany Crescent.
When we are done with Covid-19, I want to visit Princeton University, which holds the Edward Livingston papers. That collection contains a “survey and estimate of Richard Montgomery’s farm, Kingsbridge” that I have never seen. It could have some interesting info about the fort and environs.
Reviving this old thread, I found this postcard on eBay of “The Locust Grove, Van Cortlandt Park”–the same one that Stephen Jenkins referred to in the above quote. I remembered reading about the locust grove in Thomas Henry Edsall’s History of the Town of Kings Bridge as well.
This is what Edsall wrote on page 5 of History of the Town of Kings Bridge:
“It is probable that [Van der Donck’s] house was on the flat, and located, perhaps, where the old house of Jacobus Van Cortlandt afterwards stood until the early part of [the 19th] century.” A footnote added “Its site was just behind the present grove of locusts, north of the Van Cortlandt Mills.”
This “flat” is the area south of the tennis courts just east of the path with the stone wall. The house of Jacobus Van Cortlandt that was in that area is depicted on maps like the one below. The house Edsall referred to is indicated by the square dead center–to the east of the path and to the north of the mills. It is a place where parks workers found early colonial artifacts.
In her response above, Catherine Minty wrote that this house could have belonged to George Tippett and I believe she is correct. Tippett was one of the settlers that purchased lands from the widow of Van der Donck.
Thanks, Kelli and Tom. The house is still there and it is a land-marked building at 5225 Sycamore Ave in Riverdale. If you want to read all about it, the landmark preservation report is here. So many of these estate houses are hidden behind high bushes and shrubs so it is hard to get a look at them from the street.
I found some additional information about Robert Brown, the multiracial free militiaman from Kingsbridge. Some of this might be “too much information” for everyone but I have learned that a lot of people come to this site for genealogical reasons so I am posting what I found in case anyone out there is searching for it.
First of all, I am happy to report that Robert seems to have survived the Revolutionary War and continued living in our area through at least 1790. For some reason, I never noticed the last page of the 1790 census but there he is: “Free Robert.” He is listed under the category “all other free persons,” which was the category for free Black people. Robert’s household was the only one in Yonkers composed entirely of free Black people (although there were free Black people living in racially mixed households):
It would be interesting to find out if he ever applied for veteran’s benefits due to his service in the militia.
Also, by chance, I think I figured out where he grew up. I revisited an undated and unlabeled map from the Revolution that I never really paid much attention to. It is held in the University of Michigan’s Clements Library and you can check it out here. Once you get your bearings, you will see that the cartographer never completed this map and, unfortunately, he left large parts of the Kingsbridge area empty. And that’s too bad because this map was an attempt to represent the area to a high level of detail that other maps do not show. But despite its semi-completed state, the map maker did at least sketch out the area in light pencil, which you can see if you really zoom in. Below is Van Cortlandt Park in the vicinity of the Van Cortlandt House Museum:
Here I have labeled some of the features:
The place where I think Robert Brown grew up (location 1 above) is on the Albany Post Road west of the homesite of Abraham and Abigail Emmons. There is a segment of roadway there (behind the Burger King) that is still called “Post Road:”
Post Road goes north up the hill (on the left in the above photo) and it ends where it meets the Horace Mann school campus.
But historically, the Albany Post Road continued past that security booth and headed north toward Yonkers and onto Albany. It is in this area that the Revolutionary War map depicts two buildings where I believe Leonard Brown had his farm.
How do I know? From the will of Abraham Emmons, which refers to “twenty acres of land to the westward of the [Emmons] home lott being part of that Lott of Land on the Neck that Leonard Browne lives on.” The Emmons and Brown families seemed connected in some unknown way because when Leonard Brown died, he left his “Mulatto daughter” Mary in the care of Abigail Emmons.
This land eventually became the property of Garrett Garrison. This is also the location shown in the below photo depicting the old Mosholu schoolhouse (1927 photo):
I wonder if this old school school house had a previous life as a farm building.
That was an incredible presentation. You collected a mind-boggling amount of information and incredible photos.
So, even though the Major Leagues were not integrated, you could still pay to watch games where players of different races played each other–I never knew that. It was also fascinating to learn about the Hall of Famers that played there–really a very impressive list of players.
I am looking forward to Friday’s presentation.
That’s interesting, Peter. The house on Waldo that was owned by Bowie Dash (and later Zambetti) certainly had the look of a “gardener’s cottage.” The “Gardener’s Cottage” is also referenced in the Historical Guide to the City of New York here: https://archive.org/details/historicalguide00yorkgoog/page/n225/mode/2up
For anyone who hasn’t checked out that book, I would highly recommend it as a local history resource. It includes maps for self-guided walking tours such as the one below. 22 on the map is the Upper Cortlandt mansion house and number 21 is the “Gardener’s Cottage.”
Although according to the blurb in the book, the cottage was near 238th and Greystone, so yeah, more research needed to really figure it out what exactly was the “gardener’s cottage.”
Tom, would you mind sending a link to the Dash property that you found on the Hudson?
Thank you to new forum user, Nefertiti, for sharing this link:
There is a nice photo of the Bowie Dash house from the side there (dated circa 1915).
Interestingly, it is labeled “caretaker cottage.” Bowie Dash was certainly nobody’s caretaker so the name suggests that the house predates his ownership of it (if the “caretaker cottage” label is accurate).
I would love to know more as well. I assume you already read the next installment in this series:
Having made the trip to Michigan by car dozens of times, I could only imagine what it was like to walk there as he seems to have done in 1681. He dealt with French Explorers, English visitors, Dutch colonists, and English governors, and all of the local native peoples, he would have had quite the perspective. If I find anything else I will surely post it.
Right now I am researching the last installment of this series. It will be about why Claes a.k.a. Towachkack might have relinquished his claim to the land in the 1701 deal with Jacobus van Cortlandt. And I think there are a lot of reasons. But one thing that I have been thinking about–especially as we are all affected by Covid 19, is the effect of disease on the local Munsee. According to Grumet, “By 1701, the Indian population of the Munsee homeland was nearly 95 percent less than what it was when colonists purchased their first tracts of land from River Indians some seventy years before.” And much of those losses were from disease. He explains that in 1679 “smallpox carried off much of the coming Munsee generation.”
There have been plenty of reports lately about the affect of Covid on mental health and we (mostly) understand the scientific reasons for the disease’s spread. People of that time largely attributed disease to spiritual causes. No doubt many Munsee thought their world was ending with those kinds of catastrophic losses. It must have been a true spiritual crisis for them.
I love the way that map shows that the pitcher and the outfielders would have been in different boroughs. Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle would have been Bronx Bombers but Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford… not so much.
I also like the newspaper clipping with the Poe reference–great find, Don. According to that article, the Kingsbridge Tavern had been in existence for 100 years–dating it to approximately 1813? If that is the same “hotel” indicated on the map shared by Tom, then it surely had to have been a successor to Hyatt’s tavern, right? That means it would have been older than stated in the article unless the previous structure was knocked down in favor of a newer building.
I could have sworn that I read that Poe frequented the other tavern in the area–the one at W. 230th and Broadway but I think it makes more sense that he would have gone to the Kingsbridge Hotel instead. I do not think the building at W. 230th was still functioning as a tavern by the time Poe lived in the Bronx. Not to mention that the Kingsbridge Hotel and the Poe cottage were both on Kingsbridge Road.
I was looking for the location of the tavern and found an interesting blog entry on one of the people named in the article, Joe Press:
The Bronx-born Joe Press was in his early 30’s and although he never played professional baseball, he had been managing the New York Metropolitan area’s best semi-pro teams since he was a teenager. Even lacking a professional pedigree, Joe Press was a respected man. After dropping out of school at age 14, the teenage Press skippered the Bronx Orioles, then took over the Highbridge Athletics, a traveling team that featured future Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, a Fordham University student at the time. By age 19 he was running the Bronx Giants, one of the best semi-pro outfits of the pre World War I period. During the war Press managed a team for the Seabury Shipyards which boasted several big leaguers trying to avoid the draft. After the war he moved up steadily to better clubs, first College Point, then the Springfield Greys. The veteran baseball man gained a reputation of not only assembling top-notch teams but also for his role in finding and nurturing home-grown talent for professional baseball. Among his biggest finds were Tony Cuccinello of the Dodgers and a steady stream of prospects for the Yankees. As one of the most experienced men in the Metropolitan semi-pro circuit, Press’ word was good enough for Yankees super-scout Paul Kritchell to hop on the subway and take a look at whoever the manager recommended. The two men formed an unofficial working relationship that lasted into the 1950’s.
I found that here.
There is some interesting stuff at the bottom regarding Negro League Baseball and the Yankees near the bottom. I still did not find the location of the tavern though!October 12, 2020 at 3:54 pm in reply to: Villa Rosa Bonheur Street Co-Namings: A (Temporary) Setback #1665
The statement from Cohen’s spokesperson, “It’s just that this particular co-naming is not a legislative priority for him,” does not clarify very much at all. A simple follow up question of “why not?” to the spokesperson would have been helpful in understanding the inertia here.
The KHS was happy to endorse this effort.
I found some game write-ups and box scores for the games here. The first link top left has one. New York Historic Newspapers is a great site and recommend it for research. If you find anything interesting about the team, please post it. The name Keleher is interesting. There was a middling player for the Brooklyn Robins of the same name, who was out of professional baseball at the same time that the Kingsbridge Athletics were playing. Maybe they were the same guy? Probably not but I would be interested to know for sure.
If you are looking for more information than that, there could be something in the Riverdale News newspaper. The Lehman College library has issues dating from 1915. Next time I am there I will have a look at that time period and get back to you.
Can you post a picture of the Dyckman Oval?
Thanks, Tom. You are correct. Here is a Riverdale Press article that was published at the time. I believe it was Bowie Dash’s House (the man for whom Dash Place is named after).
In the article Peter Ostrander says that the house was built before 1910 while Lloyd Ultan thought it was later based on the architecture. While it does not have the classic Victorian look, Peter was right. This 1888 map shows one house on the east side of Waldo Avenue (just above the “91”), which is a perfect fit for 3816 Waldo and it is labeled Bowie Dash. Waldo Hutchins’ houses were both on the west side of the street.
A local real estate agent took these photos. The chimney on the left is a clue to its Victorian era construction.
And what replaced it:
I finally know how the Berrian/Johnson house of Spuyten Duyvil met its fate. Thank you to Tom Casey for sharing this article. It sure would have been nice to have this house for KHS headquarters. After all, we are chartered as a museum in New York State. But unlike some other museums you may know of–we don’t have a building!
One thing I wonder is how the author figured that this house was originally built by William Betts.
Thanks. Unless I am mistaken that is a carousel behind the Ferris wheel. The below photo was taken in April of 1908 so it was a pretty quick turn around for a completed station and amusement park.September 22, 2020 at 7:09 pm in reply to: The Moller Mansion – After 150 Years Are its Days Numbered? #1639
This week’s Riverdale Press main article puts the story of the house into context. Looking through the issue, there are so many stories about real estate development in one way or another. I figured that Coronavirus would have slowed this down but I guess I was wrong!
I am not sure how many history geeks took the time to read my deep dive into the history of the Hadley House at 5122 Post Road but I just came across this clipping with some interesting information. It was written at the time that the house was being remodelled by Dwight Baum, the Fieldson architect. The Hadley House is another local building that I am thinking about. While there are cars in the parking lot, there does not appear to be anyone living there. The roof has holes and the paint is falling off. It is landmarked but my understanding is that a building can lose its landmark status if not kept up. Anyway, the article claims that the house is older than the Van Cortlandt House, which would make it the oldest in the county:September 11, 2020 at 4:22 pm in reply to: The Moller Mansion – After 150 Years Are its Days Numbered? #1621
No, there is not an immediate plan to tear it down that I am aware of. The construction company that owns it mostly builds new buildings but they have worked on a restoration project as well. I am planning on reaching out to them to see if they would be amenable to a visit to take pictures to document the building’s features for the archives.
Thanks for an interesting post, Marty. I love the line about “skilled ability in dispensing satisfaction!” I have to confess that I don’t have a good idea of what the war years were like in the neighborhood although I imagine people felt the need to connect with their neighbors at places like the Old Bridge Tavern. I know I learned a thing or two about the neighborhood from the old bartender at The Piper’s Kilt before it closed down. Places like that help tie a neighborhood together.
It is an interesting coincidence that you should post this today. Across the street from the Old Bridge Tavern stood another building from the Victorian period–the Moller mansion, which was built in 1870 and still stands at 3029 Godwin Terrace. Just today we learned in the Riverdale Press that this building was recently sold and the transaction bears all the usual signs of a demolition/development project site. It would be a shame to lose such a building 150 years after its construction. I will have more on this shortly.