AN OLD MANOR HOUSE Where the CORTELYOUS Lived Nearly Two Centuries Ago. Built by the Founder of the American Branch of the Family and Besieged by the Red Coats During the Struggle for Independence.

27 April 1890 Brooklyn Daily Eagle Down on the southern shore of Long Island. where the bay dips in with one long sweep from Fort Hamilton to the point beyond Coney Island, at almost the very end of tha Town of Bath Beach, as it stretches away towards the west, stands an old house some few hundred feet from the bluff that overhangs the water edge, whose weather stained walls have for many generations past withstood the ravages of the elements, and about whose doors have played the chidren of fathers long gathered to their rest. As it stands today, with the doors and windows tightly barred, it seems a mute reminder of the times that have been, when the hardy pioneer first crossed from the old Dutch settlement on on Manhattan Island to the green and wooded fields of fair Long Island's shore. The change has been a mighty one through which this old home of the CORTELYOUS has passed, for when the first founder of the house, after recieving his grant, had it ratified by the Indians of the island, his possessions were but little more than a trackless wilderness, tenanted alone by the red man and the wild game upon which he lived. When the white man came he found but little to encourage the founding of a new colony upon the spot, aside perhaps from the trails which led from all directions to the shore here, over which, during the summer months, came the Indians to gather their fish to be cured and stored for the colder months of Winter. The coast at this point was then a famous resort for the Indians who came in great numbers to catch and dry their season store of the finny inhabitants of the bay. In the grant under which the land was originally taken it is recited that in 1657, Jacques CORTELYOU, the founder of the CORTELYOU family in America, was a Hugnenot surveyor, who emigrated from Utrecht, in the Netherlands, to this country about 1652. He shortly after obtained from Governor NICOLLS a patent for the so called Nyack tract in New Utrecht and in 1857 began to occupy the same, being among the first settlers of the town. Following down the occupancy of this old homestead, the founder died in 1693, leaving as heirs his widow, two sons and two daughters, the estate accruing to the eldest son Jacques, who occupied it until 1726. By his will, dated March 4, of that year, the property again descended to the eldest son Jacques, the third in direct line of that name, who died in 1765, leaving the land to Ante, wife of Rutgert VAN BRUNT, his daughter and Isaac CORTELYOU, his son, his only heirs at law: by the laws of primogeniture, the estate descended to him. So on down through death and change it came in the family until in 1829 it was bought by Jacob BENNETT, whose family until recent years have occupied it to be succeeded a short time ago by Mr. Edward EGOLF. As the old house stands today, the main building two stories and attic in height, it is some 54x30 feet, with an extension on the west of 30x22. Across the front, which faces the bay, is a four story porch running the length of the main structure, supported upon wooden pillars some three or four feet from the ground. In the roof are two small gable windows, from which a view can be had far out to sea. The front and two main walls of the portion are of rough masonry, but the rear wall, attesting the scarcity of stone with which to build in those olden times, is covered with shingles: here also in the rear over the dorr, is a small portico. The walls are three feet thick and the foundation and rise in solid masonry to a thickness of two feet at the roof. Time, in spite of the iron riveted joints and wrought iron nails, has wrought many changes, and that which time could not accomplish has been done by fire, for the during the Revolution the original building was burned to the foundation and the present structure now stands upon it's sight. The ols stone was indeed used in the rebuilding, but the woodwork was destroyed and the present structure, whuile standing upon the old foundation, is in a measure larger and some what different from the one which the first CORTELYOU reared as the future home of his people. The old house was the scene of many exciting episode during the early wars, in which Long Island played so prominent a part, for it's sturdy walls and commanding position made it a fighting place of no mean vantage, and consequently, and it is said the small windows or port holes, which still peep at the intruder from above the level of ground at one time contained other and more formidable objects than the silken web of the spider or tho brown hued lichen. From these tiny windows, which are still closely barred with the old rusty iron rods which peeped between them, long ago watched the eager eyes of the besieged lord and master as, surrounded by his followers and loyal to his country, he waited for the appearance of the red coat in the forest without, or far out upon the bay saw the stately British man of war riding at anchor upon the waters which he deemed the lot and inheritance of his people. many a bloody attack is said to have been made upon the house, and it was during one of these exciting scenes that the torch applied by the besiegers, accomplished what the force of shot and shell could not. After it's destruction it took many years to rebuild, and it was not until 1778 that the present structure was completed. So it has stood, with but few alterations, up to the present day, and, while the roof has been repaired, the old shingles, though brown and warped and covered with lichens and moss, are still equal to the task of keeping out the rain, for the present owner yet finds the old house a pleasant summer retreat, filled, as it is, with so many memories of the long ago. That such a house should have love stories, tales of ghosts and strange midnight sights woven into its history seems probable: and indeed there are among yje older heads of the town those who, with finger upon the nose and a strange knowingness about the nodding of the head, tell a story or two of things that have been within the walls of the old house on the beach. One of these has its origin in fact, however, as attested by those who have heard it spoken of by men conversant with the subject. It is that in the northeast corner of the first story, down in the heavy flooring, there are still the broken remains of a heavy iron staple firmly imbedded in the plank, and all about it where the boards have warped their upturned edges are worn and seamed as if the constant beating of an iron chain, the impress of those links can here and there be plainly seen. To this staple was once chained a man, the head of the house, a raving maniac so passed his days in ceaseless tramping back and forth. To him were given food and drink and the necessaries of life. He was never suffered to escape from the tether which bound him to the corner staple in the floor. Prosperity had visited his house and people, yet he was doomed to end his days a captive in his own house. At those times there was no public institutions for the care as such as he and such restraint was the only course to be pursued. And so some of the old heads, wisely nodding, whisper that upon certain nights when the sea seems restless and ill at ease in its beatintg upon the shore and the moon has vailed her light behind the clouds of the approaching storm, if one listens at the northeast corner of the house the clanking of the iron chain can be heard dragging over the rough surface of the floor, and that if, perchance, a stray flash of lightning falls athwart the window the pale, demented face of a white bearded man can be plainly seen peering from out the gloom within. Although things uncanny are usually the most lasting about the history of the house built so long ago, there are still the brighter chapters of love and romance which lend color to the picture whether they be true or not. By one of the older inhabitants of Bath, whose declining years have seen many changes in the surrounding families, an incident in the history of the house was narrated to show that its fair daughters had charms sufficient to woo even the heart of one of her country's foes, and that in love this particular maiden was as true in her allegiance as were her stalwart brothers and sisters in a different direction. Whether the story be true or not is a question which time and tradition have made difficult to prove, and, as the narrater declared, "did not make much difference, as the girl was said to have been an uncommon pretty one." Away back in the time of the Revolution, while the British soldiers were pressing hard upon the sturdy islanders in the great struggle for independence a certain company of the red coated strangers was quarted down in the neighborhood of Gowanus Bay, from which point ecpeditions were made into the surrounding country. Upon one of these forays, which extended along the shore in the neighborhood of the present site of Bath, a young and of course, handsome and dashing officer, straying on in advance of his command, came suddenly upon the maiden of the house of CORTELYOU, who had gone into the forrest in quest of wild flowers with which to adorn her chamber in the old house over looking the bay. From this change meeting beneath the trees to other prearranged trysts was but a step further in Cupid's calendar, and for days and weeks after the maid of CORTELYOU went forth in the forest in quest of the blue eyed violet and the bluer eyes of her soldier lover. So time went on and the good master and mistress of CORTELYOU still remained in ignorance of the mission upon which their daughter daily left the paternal roof, for the cunning maid well knew that their loyality to their country and the inveterate hatred in which they held the invading foe would soon put a stop to her dream of love did they but discover that she was daily meeting an officer of the British army. Although the parents were in no way suspicious of her movements one of the elder brothers, noting the punctuality with which her daily walks were taken and being fearful for her safety, one day followed her to the trysting palce and hidden behind the trees witnessed the lovers' meeting. When she returned that night there were threats and warnings from the father and tears from the mother, but the stout hearted maiden refused to promise never to see her lover again, and the stern edict of the father went forth that she should never more leave the shelter of his roof. Confined in her room by day and night, as she sat in her room looking out over the lonely bosom of the sea and thinking of the absent lover, there came a sudden knock upon the glass of her window, as of a pebble thrown against the pane. Quickly springing to her feet, with every hope suddenly flushed into life, she gently raised the casement and, peering out into the darkness, saw on the lawn beneath the trees the form of him for whom she had so long been waiting. The porch was quickly scaled, and after a short whispered conference two figures silently stole down the ladder which the ladder had placed against the portico, and quickly glided out across the lawn toward the shore of the bay, where they disappeared down the steep bank. Scarcely had they vanished into the dark of the night when two other forms emerged from the house, and as they hurried on in the track of the flying lovers the light from the open door glistened upon the barrels of the guns they bore and a grim determination shone upon the faces of both, as bare headed and coatless they rushed across the grass. Arriving at the waters edge the splash of oars told them they had come too late. In instant of silence followed, as the two pale faces peered out into the gloom that hung upon the bosom of the waters: then followed two quick reports which echoed far back from the hills beyond, but with them came the cry of a female voice, and all was still. So ends the story. The father and son returned to the old house, closed the door and all was darkness again. In the morning the bosom of the bay lay calm and unruffled in the sunlight, and upon the shore, fast in the soft sand, was the dainty slipper of the maid of CORTELYOU. 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