enter name and hit return
OLD JOHN ANDERSON
11 August 1882
Brooklyn Standard Union
AN INTERESTING CHARACTER AND AN OLD-TIME HOUSE.
A Dwelling that has Withstood Improvements Since Its Erection in 1827- A
Pleasant Chat with the Man who Has Occupied it Ever Since It was Built -
The Obstacles of Ferry Travel in Those Days - Mr ANDERSON's
Recollections- Taxes Then and Now.
Standing on a knoll about fifteen feet above the level of Grand street,
between Second and Third streets, in the Eastern District, and almost
hidden from the view of passing pedestrians, is one of the oldest
residences in that section of the city. On either side are dwellings
and stores of modern pattern, built on the level of the street, but the
old house referred to, which is the residence of Mr. John ANDERSON, the
oldest resident of the Eastern District, probably stands as it was built
in 1827. Mr. ANDERSON and his wife occupied it then and do still. The
march of time has made no changes in the house, for with the exception
of a newly boarded front, no alteration has been made in all that time.
It is a specimen of the genuine country farm house on the present day as
it was of the period when it was erected. It is of frame, two stories
high, with a slanting roof. There is a small stoop with three steps
leading to it, which end at the front door. On the easterly gable is an
encased stairway, with an entrance from the lower andupper floors each.
In the rear is the ususal flat roof portico running from the east to the
west end of the house, and supported by a series of pieces of ornamental
framework. Clambering in and out of the crevices of this framework, and
winding its way upward to the roof, is a thickly-leaved vine. The
flooring is of heavy two-inch plank. In the "garden" in the rear are a
few flowers, a bed of beets, a small patch of potatoes and some other
A FEW STUNTED TREES
of various varieties grow at irregular intervals both in the rear and
front of the house. The beds in which the produce grows are kept free
of weeds, which everywhere else grow thickly and undisturbed,
betokening, as it would seem, the very thoughts of the owner, who,
having reached a ripe old age, is anxious only to make a certainty of
sufficient necessaries for the maintenance of himself and wife for a
season. Beyond this his thoughts do not extend, and all may go to seed
or be choked by weeds for ought he cares. There is one visible
surrender to modern improvements, and that is a hydrant, with faucet and
sink. Even in this there is a sign of a reluctant giving way to the
march of improvement, for it stands in the open air, at the easterly
side of the house, unprotected, and as though looked upon as a necessary
evil and deemed unworthy of a place beneath the roof of the house.
A representative of this paper yesterday afternoon with some difficulty
opened the gate which stands, like the fence, on a level with the
street. An old-fashioned latch had first to be raised and then the
gate, to open, to be pulled outward. Ascending a flight of wooden steps
which are set in the hill, the reporter tapped on the casing of the
door, and on the appearance of Mrs. ANDERSON, a motherly appearing
matron, asked it Mr.ANDERSON were at home.
"He's about somewhere, I reckon," was the reply, and then, thinking that
she had given the reporter the fullest and most definite answer
possible, quickly withdrew.
It looked as though Mr. ANDERSON had scented a stranger, for when the
reporter, who was endeavoring to decide whether or not Mrs. ANDERSON's
reply was an invitation to leave, turned around, there stood the owner
of the place at his very elbow.
"HOW LONG HAVE I BEEN HERE?
Well, young man, I reckon I came here long before you saw light. Let me
see," pulling at a few straggling hairs remaining on his chin, "I came
here fifty-five years ago. I don't exactly remember the year."
"1827," suggested the reporter.
"Come to think that was the year. Benn a good many changed since then
about these here parts. The only house around here was on where Third
street is now. We went to the ferry at the foot of Grand stree, where
there was no street then, for water. There warnt even a road here.
Where North Second street is was the Turnpike. This (waving his hands
about) was all commons then, with stone fences around. I could sit here
a week, from one Monday morning to the next, and see nothing but cows,
or pigs, or something like that. When I bought this place of Noah
WATERBURY there were a few little houses on the Turnpike and a grocery
store. We all belonged to Bushwick then, and turned out three times a
year to drill at Flatbush. The militia was ordered out every year three
times. William CONSELYEA and Jacob BENNETT are the only captains I can
remember. We had a new captain every year. The old settlers are all
gone now except me, and I don't expect to be here much longer. I'm
going into my 78th year. I worked in New York at cabinetmaking when I
fist moved here. I used to get up at three o'clock in the morning to
get to New York at seven in the winter. Sometimes I didn't get there
until ten. There were
ALL HORSE BOATS THEN,
and they'd stick in the ice and drift up to Blackwell's Island and come
down when the tide changed. I went to work one Monday morning and never
got back till the next Sunday. You see the ice was so thick that when
night came it was impossible to get across, and after awhile they
stopped trying. We tried two or three times and then gave it up. The
day I moved over they had the first steamboat and wanted to take my
funiture across. They took one load and got stuck in the ice. The rest
came over in the horse boat. The steamboat was no good. It couldn't do
the work. When I came here lots like this (35x100) brought from $100 to
$300. My taxes then were 6 or 7 shillings a year. Now they're $100, and
I've paid a good deal of money for this place. Wagons couldn't go from
here straight to the river when I came because the horses couldn't draw
them up the hill that went to the riverside. We had to drive straight
across to the turnpike and then go down. But things are changed now;
things are changed now;" saying which Mr.ANDERSON accompanied the
reporter to the gate and bade him adieu.
Transcribed by Marilynn Wright
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