History "The Orchard" [MESEROLE]
Daily Star
23 July 1898

The "Orchard"
Brief History of This Prosperous Section of Greenpoint.

The reader interested in antiquarian lore can see here presented the first
tree of the famous "Orchard" of Greenpoint, which was cut down in the spring
of 1846, to help make way for opening of Meserole avenue to Guernsey street.
It was an apple tree, and its cutting may be said to mark the birth of the
new  Greenpoint.  It was the early springtime, and that is the reason why
there is no foliage on the trees of the Orchard still standing.  It will be
observed that the man who cut the tree down was of an economical turn of
mind, for he proceeded immediately to saw the old tree into firewood.
But, pleasantry aside, the time of the beginning of the disappearance of the
famous old Orchard, in the spring of 1846, was a noteworthy event in the
history of Greenpoint.  Though hundreds of houses now stand on the site of
this orchard, the section still bears the name, and thousands of people now
walk where only a little over fifty years ago a solitary person might now
and again be seen wending his way over the green grass where the old orchard
swayed in the breezes.

There is always something pleasant in the suggestion of an orchard.  It
means cleanliness, quiet, repose and delightful fragrance.  It is doubtful
if any of the hurrying multitudes of the present day find the peace and
contented mind that characterized the people of the section in the old, old days.

Jacob MESEROLE, the grandfather, and Peter, the father of Adrian, could
stand in the front doorway of the family residence, still to be seen on
Lorimer street (and then in the midst of the Orchard), and look down to the
East river and over to sparsely settled New York to the present Twenty-sixth
street on the north and Houston street on the south.  There was an opening
in the Orchard from this doorway,  a sort of avenue, or more properly
speaking a pathway, lined on each side with fruit trees.

A Delightful Place...
It was a delightful place, that old Orchard, from all accounts.  Within
these limits now are half a dozen or more churches.  From the designation
comes the title of various organizations, etc., that will carry the
appellation, the "Orchard," to a period when the majority of men living will
wonder when ce the distinction.  We have today the Orchard Primitive
Methodist Church.  As State the locality still goes under the name of the
Orchard, and as already intimated the name alone is suggestive of peace and
plenty, green grass, fresh air, sunshine and shade, and the scent of the
apple blossoms pervades the air, provided it was the time of year for them.
The big orchard, it may be said, ran from the east of the present Leonard
street nearly to Guernsey street and Norman avenue on one side, and to about
half way between Calyer street and Meserole avenue.  There was a stone wall
on the east side east of Leonard street.

The first trees of the Orchard were set out in 1774 just previous to the
outbreak of the Revolutionary War.  They were apple trees, and were set out
by the grandfather of Adrian MESEROLE.  The old homestead (the present
residence of Adrian MESEROLE) stood pretty near the middle of the Orchard.
Nearer the house were cherry trees. Two willow trees and two poplars stood
near the house like sentinels.  Looking toward the river were two rows of
pear trees on one side of the lawn, and on the other and north side were
apple trees.  Then there was another and smaller orchard around the old
original Jacob MESEROLE homestead, which stood facing Guernsey street south
of Norman avenue.  Near the residence on Lorimer street is still standing a
big pear tree which is over one hundred years [old] which was one of the
once original orchard.  Cherry trees stood on the site of the building now
facing Manhattan avenue and occupied by the CRANE furniture store.  Many
residents of the Ward remember a part of the orchard, that which surrounded
the old homestead.  The Sunday Schools at one time held their May Walk
celebrations in the grove.  Near by can be seen the stump of an old cherry
tree that was set out in 1790.

Newtown  Pippins...
The sale of Newtown pippins was immense.  It would almost seem as though we
do not have such apples now; but that is possibly due to the glamour of
imagination, and the fact that distance always lends enchantment, but , at
the same time, good judge do say that Newtown pippins are not now what they
were.  The great product of the region, lying out toward Maspeth, was
Newtown   pippins .  Pears ripened about July 1st, and apples later in July.
There was an early summer apple.  The cherries ripened about the middle of June.

Peter MESEROLE once shipped 800 barrels of Newtown pippins to Europe, all at
one time.  This will give an idea of the size of the crop.
It was a big business, this raising of cherries, apples, and pears, and the
crop handsome and there was not the labor and worry incident to tilling the soil.

There were boys in those days who robbed ­ well borrowed the fruit from the
Orchard without the formality of asking, just as they would now if the
opportunity offered.  But those boys of the long ago are just as prim and
respectable now as we, who were not tempted, and no doubt one meets them of
a Sunday on Manhattan avenue on their way to church.  One of them told Mr.
Adrian MESEROLE on Monday of this week of the way in which he and others
used to visit the Orchard to see if the fruit was properly ripened and free
from bugs.  And the only manifestations of Mr. MESEROLE was a quiet smile.
He probably knew it already.  Whether or no the confession if made fifty
years ago would have had a like result, or been followed by a long foot race
ending in a spanking interview if caught, is impossible now to tell.

Along somewhere near or in the Orchard, probably at Eckford street, between
Norman and Nassau avenues was located at one time the grounds of the Henry
ECKFORD Base Ball Club.  Frank PIGEON was the captain of this nine.  The
players came from the Eleventh Ward, New York.  Indeed, it may be said that
the Eleventh Ward was the mother of Greenpoint.  From there came John C.
ORR, the STEERS family and hosts of others.  John C. ORR is remembered as a
scholar in the old Fifth Street School in New York.

Soon after the first tree of the famous old Orchard was cut down, Mr. James
DOBBINS appeared on the scene and built the first house in the Orchard.  He
came from the Eleventh Ward, of course.  He built the house on ground where
now stands the present Masonic Temple, at Manhattan and Meserole avenues.
He cut down dozens of trees of the Orchard as he had a right to do as he had
bought the land.  This house was built in the fall of 1846, and Mr. DOBBINS
and his family no doubt got in some way before the real "cold spell" set in.
One characteristic of the famous old Orchard was the many birds of various
species.  They made music all the day long amid the leafy branches through
which the sun glinted.  Their twittering and chirping in the early summer
morning was delightful to hear ­ little busybodies out hunting for the early
worm for breakfast for the waiting ones at home.  All the varieties of Long
Island birds were represented, and the thrifty MESEROLES aided and
encouraged the birds to stay and rid them of the worms.  Then there were
crows in the famous old Orchard, and their resonant caw! caw! caw! was heard
from one end to the other.  There was a crow's nest on the very spot where
now stands the rink on Meserole avenue, and the crows worked for the thrifty
MESEROLEs and drove away or ate up unseemly things that would destroy the
apple, pear, and cherry trees.  Peter MESEROLE could sit in his doorway and
hear the cawing of the crows and the twittering of the birds and know that
everything was all right.  Peter MESEROLE would not allow any one of the
family or out of the family to throw a stone at a robin or any other bird on
his property.  He knew their value.

More Building...
Well, to get back to building.  In the summer of 1847, after Mr. DOBBINS
built, other people began to do likewise and soon it became evident that the
famous old Orchard was doomed.  Clearings appeared here and there.  James
DOBBINS got into his new house on January 1st, 1847.  He was a foreman for
Schermerhorn & Banker, the ropemakers of Williamsburg.  
James CUTLER, 
John GRATAN, and King BARNS built in 1847 on Meserole avenue.  
Soon after Mr. BERRY, a caulker, built on Leonard street.  
Next came Edwin SMITH on Leonard street and he resides there now.  
Then there was Mr. PARAMORE on Leonard street.  
The first three to build on Lorimer street were 
William GILES, 
Charles OSBORN, 
Andrew ROGERS, but none of these are there now.

They and others were the advance guard of the host of business men who now
swarm within the precincts of the famous old Orchard, and are as busy as
were the birds and crows before them; for, as is well known, and to quote a
trite aphorism, "it is the early bird that catches the worm," and there is
nothing like being up in the morning before breakfast.

Transcriber: Mimi Stevens