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Brooklyn Daily Eagle
25 December 1887
Page 10

OLD VILLAGE AND ROAD _____________________ Development of a Settlement of Thirteen Persons. The First Wallabout Toll Bridge of Eighty Years Ago-- Starting the Jackson Ferry in 1817-- Tracing the Course of the Early Highway by Streets of the Present Time-- Venerable Houses Still Standing-- Churches and Schools--

The section of the city surrounding the Wallabout is now thickly built up and it is an unusual thing to find a place to erect a new building without first removing an old one. During the Revolutionary War there were but thirteen persons dwelling on the shores of the Wallabout Creek, commencing on the west side, probably about where North Elliot place now is, viz : Joseph KEESE Wosterand FOXCRAFT George DEBEVOISE Jeremiah VANDERBILT Jacob RYERSON John RYERSON and Martin SCHAACK. These were on the south. On the east side of the creek were : B. JOHNSON Abraham REMSEN William REMSEN J. BLOOM William CARSHAW and James BUBBICO. At that time there was a foot path about where Flushing avenue runs in front of the Marine Hospital and a foot bridge across Wallabout Creek. Up to the beginning of the present century the stages from Flushing to Brooklyn used to come by way of Jamaica, but in 1802, William PRINCE, of Flushing procured the incorporation of the Flushing Bridge and Road Company, by which route the distance between the two towns was shortened about four miles. Seeing the practicability of lessening the distance to Brooklyn Ferry about three miles more, Mr. PRINCE, in the year 1805 procured, the incorporation of the Wallabout and Brooklyn Toll Bridge Company. The road was laid out from the Cripplebush road to the easterly side of the Wallabout Mill Pond, over which a bridge was built to Sands street in Brooklyn. This bridge was originally designed to be 1,400 feet long and 21 feet broad; but FURMAN says in his MSS, in 1823, that it was only 768 feet in length, the remaining part being made into solid causeway. The causeway at the eastern end of the bridge was about 310 feet long and there was also one at the western end. The bridge extended from the junction of Sands street and Hudson avenue, then in an end of Sands street. The bridge as southeast across what is now Navy street and the corner of the Navy Yard, crossing the Wallabout Mill Pond, to the junction of North Elliot place and Flushing avenue. At the early date from which I write, the only habitations near the Wallabout Bridge were some tenements occupied by employees in SANDS Ropewalk, which extended from the south side of Sands street all along the Wallabout meadows to about the foot of Tillary street, in some places being built upon piles. As far west as Bridge street there were no houses on Sands street, there being nothing but sand hills, among which were a few Negro shanties. It was about this same time that JACKSON street (now Hudson avenue) was opened to the river, where John JACKSON had a shipyard with eight or ten houses for his workmen. This street,might be considered as about the western boundary of the Wallabout. Mr. JACKSON started a ferry to Walnut (Jackson street, New York). In 1817 the franchise for this ferry was granted to Captain Samuel EVANS for the term of fifteen years, and the Brooklyn terminus was Little street. In 1837 James WILSON took a lease from New York, at Jackson slip, with a ferry franchise to Hudson avenue (formerly Jackson street). This ferry, now called the Navy Yard Ferry, was very profitable, but afterward the ferry fell into disuse. As late as 1838 all that section around the Wallabout from Raymond street on the south to South Ninth street in Williamsburgh was farms, and on the Wallabout road ran across them from the end of the toll bridge to the cross roads at Cripplebush, beyond Wallabout village. Just beyond the east end of the bridge, about North Portland street, a road used to branch off the south, running to the corner of Park avenue and North Elliot place; diagonally across the block to Canton street, at the junction of Sycamore and Division; then along the line of Division street to Bolivar; to Willoughby street, midway between Navy and Raymond; thence curving to the corner of Lafayette and Raymond streets; across Raymond street and the corner of the hospital grounds to St. Felix street. At this point, on Fort Greene, used to be a house, at the commencement of the century, occupied by George Mc CLOSKEY, a milkman, who was the father of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Mc CLOSKEY. From MCLOSKEY'S home the road ran west until it entered the Kings Highway near the present junction of Fulton street and Flatbush avenue, at which point Charles POLING kept a tavern after the Revolution. The Wallabout road ran south-easterly from the end of the toll bridge to North Elliot place. Just west of this point there used to be a windmill, in which an Englishman named STOCKHOUSE committed suicide, by blowing out what stood for his brains, about the commencement of the century, after which the mill was torn down. The Wallabout road crossed North Prospect place about two hundred feet south of Flushing avenue, then turning east it continued parallel with, but from a hundred to two hundred feet south of Flushing avenue, until it reached what is now Washington avenue, when it inclined more northerly and came to the line of Flushing avenue, about Grand. It then followed the line of Flushing avenue as far as Skillman street, when it ran to the north of Flushing avenue for two blocks, crossing Bedford avenue about a hundred feet from Flushing, when it turned southeast to the junction of Flushing avenue and Spencer street; thence across the end of the blocks to Walworth and Sandford streets and Nostrand avenue at the junction with Hopkins street; thence on diagonally across the next block to Ellery, to the corner of Park and Marcy avenues, where the crossroads used to exist, at the Cripplebush or the swamp. From this point the Newton road ran northeast; the Reid ran southeast to the old Brooklyn and Jamaica Turnpike, at present junction of Bainbridge street and Reid avenue, and Cripplebush ran southwest to Bedford and DeKalb avenues, and thence south to Bedford Corners. In following the line of the Wallabout road at the present time but little will be found in the way of reminiscences. East of North Oxford street there are two old frame houses, set back behind those on the street line, which indicate the former road line. Then there is nothing more in the way of a landmark until Vanderbilt avenue is passed, when there is an open lot on Flushing avenue with a double house on the rear, about fifty feet from the street. The rear of this house faces a vacant lot which fronts on Clinton avenue, and which was formerly a portion of the old road. To the east of the United States Naval Hospital grounds, on the north side of Flushing avenue, opposite the end of Schenck street, there is a short lane which runs north about two hundred feet to the entrance of the hospital burying ground, which is the remains of the old Williamsburg road, which here branched off to the north across Rennigackonck, or Wallabout Creek. At the end of this short lane, where the Wallabout street now starts out to the east, is the grave yard with a high picket fence, through which the observer can see long rows of white grave stones with the names of the dead marines on. Those nearest the gate show a record of deaths in 1839 and 1840. At Spencer street the Wallabout road used to run a short distance to the south of Flushing avenue, and at Walworth street it crossed about one hundred feet to the south of the avenue. In this block there are no reminiscences of the road, but between Walworth and Sanford streets, and in the next block to Nostrand avenue the road is still open, and in the neighborhood it is known by the name of "the lane." About midway between Walworth and Sandford streets there are three houses, one two story and two of one story each, which are not very old, facing the lane, and between Sandford street and Nostrand avenue there are three two story, the first stories of which, owing to the lane having been filled up to correspond with the adjoining street level, have been converted into basements. The old road used to cross Nostrand avenue and enter the block on the east side at the corner of Hopkins street, running diagonally southeast through the long block until near the east end, when it crossed Ellery street and ran across the east end of the block to the corner of Park and Marcy avenues. About one hundred feet east of Nostrand avenue, and about the same distance north of and facing Ellery street, stands a three story house, and beyond it to the eastward, on the same lines, are two story houses which, though now in the center of the block, formerly were on the line of the road. The junction of Park and Marcy avenues was the end of the road, incorporated in 1802 under the name of Flushing Bridge and Road Company, for the purpose of making a shorter line for the stages from Flushing to reach Brooklyn. Previous to that time they used to go from Cripplebush over to Bedford and then down the Kings Highway. The Wallabout Village, later known as East Brooklyn, was located nearly a mile east of the Navy Yard and the ancient Waal-boght. The territory in this section lay in farms until 1830, about which time the Wallabout Village began to spring up. The territory assigned to this village was bounded on the north by Flushing avenue, on the south by the old Jamaica Turnpike, on the west by Clinton avenue, and on the east by Division avenue, which separated it from the Town of Bushwick. From 1835 streets were laid out from time to time, and in 1839 Myrtle avenue was graded and paved from Nostrand avenue to the City Hall. Soon after Flushing avenue was paved from the Marine Hospital to Bedford, and Bedford avenue, Skillman street, Franklin and Kent avenues were paved from Flushing to Myrtle, and Classon avenue from Flushing to Willoughby. The beginning of the village, so far as houses was concerned, was where TUCKER & CARTER'S ropewalk was built in 1830, in the open space between Classon avenue and Graham street. At that time a large stone building was erected at the northern end of the ropewalk and finished off in tenements for the operatives. This building has subsequently been used as a storage warehouse. Soon thereafter there were a few dwellings scattered along Flushing avenue and on the other avenues north of Myrtle. In October 1833, the old John SNYDER farm, originally known as Pieter MONTFOORT, between Washington and Clermont avenues, and extending from the Wallabout south to the Kings Highway, was purchased by PINE & VAN ANTWERP, auctioneers, and Clinton avenue was laid out. The first to locate on Clinton avenue were : Messrs. BAXTER VAN DYKE HALSEY HUNTER and others. In 1842 there was but one house on the south line of Myrtle avenue, from Division avenue to Fort Greene, and that was a large house standing on the corner of Myrtle and Classon avenues. Between Myrtle avenue and the Jamaica Turnpike and Fort Greene to Division avenue, an area of one mile by two, there were in 1842 only thirty houses. There were a number of houses north of Myrtle avenue, but by actual count the population of Wallabout Village in the year named amounted to 341 families, divided among the religious denominations into: 81 Presbyterians 72 Roman Catholic 44 Methodist 21 Episcopalians 20 Dutch Reformed 11 Baptists and 95 unclassified; the total number of people in the district covering nearly all of the present Seventh, Twentieth, Twenty-first, and Twenty-third wards was 1,679. It seems that the first religious services held in Wallabout Village was by the Primitive Methodists, but that the Protestant Episcopal Church was the first to regularly occupy ground. In March, 1835, Trinity Episcopal Church was organized and a stone edifice erected during the same year on Clinton avenue, between Atlantic avenue and Fulton street, which location was in what was then known as the Wallabout district. Rev. D. V. M. JOHNSON was the first rector and continued for a year. In 1841 the parish became embarrassed and the church was sold, but was purchased and services revived by the present St. Luke's congregation in 1842. In 1853 the church edifice was enlarged and had been added to since that time to accommodate its growing congregation. While this church was in the Wallabout district it was fully a mile from Wallabout Village. Yet the village was in Trinity parish, and it was the pastor of the church who held first regular church services in the village. A Sunday school was started in Wallabout Village in March, 1836, and services were held by the Rev. D. V. M. JOHNSON, of Trinity Church, on Sunday afternoons. In 1837 an edifice of very limited proportions was erected and named St. Mary's. It was consecrated in 1840 and enlarged in 1841 and twice enlarged subsequently, and in 1858 the cornerstone of a new edifice was laid on Classon avenue, near Myrtle, and the building complete in the following year. In June 1837, a class of eight persons was formed at the Wallabout, and preaching was held at a school house. In 1841 the Ebenezer Methodist Episcopal Church was erected on Franklin avenue, near Park. In January, 1840, a Committee of the Brooklyn Presbytery organized the Sixth Presbyterian Church (New School) at Wallabout, but after a rather uncertain existence until 1843, when those who remained of the congregation joined the Wallabout Presbyterian Church (Old School). The Fourth Reformed Dutch Church was organized at the Wallabout, in November 1840. The congregation was feeble and the enterprise was abandoned about the Fall of 1842. Soon after this the Rev. Jonathan GREENLEAF engaged Academy Hall, in Skillman street, where the former Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed congregations had been worshiping, and held meetings. In December 1842, he organized the Wallabout Presbyterian Church, (Old School), and in 1844 a church was erected on Franklin, near Myrtle avenue. In 1848 St. Patrick's Church was commenced, on the corner of Kent and Willoughby avenues, by the Rev. Hugh MAGUIRE, and for some years known as the Wallabout Church. It was dedicated as St. Patrick's Church in 1856. It may be noted that in all the territory included in the Wallabout district there were but four churches in operation in 1842, and these were all feeble and unable to stand alone. Now a cipher can be added that figure to represent the number of places of worship in the district. The early educational advantages of the Wallabout district were confined to a school in the neighborhood of the Wallabout, about 1775, taught by Elijah Freeman PAYNE, who left at the breaking out of the war, and joined the American Army at Boston, and the school was closed. Previous to this the Wallabout children had to go to the Bedford or Bushwick schools. In December 1778, Maria SCHENCK, of the Wallabout, advertised in the newspaper, "for a schoolmaster to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to about eighteen scholars." There does not appear to have ben much school going for the Wallabout children during the Revolutionary War. Some went to Bushwick and some to Bedford. The Bedford school, in the late years known as Public School No. 3, dated its existence as far back as 1721. It was located at Bedford Corners at the junction of the old Cripplebush road, which ran just in the rear of Eagle Bedford avenue branch office, and the King's Highway which crossed Brevoort to Arlington place. The school house stood about the present Fulton street line about midway between the old Rem LEFFERTS house and Bedford avenue. In the front of the schoolhouse, westward toward the Cripplebush road, was a triangular green whereon the scholars played during recess. John VANDERVOORT took charge of the school in 1748, and is supposed to have been its second teacher, and he taught there for sixty years, except during the Revolution when he was imprisoned by the British. The old schoolhouse had two rooms with a chimney between. One room was used for the school and the other for the teacher's residence. In 1775 an addition fourteen feet square was made in which the teacher was allowed to keep a grocery store to help out his salary. In 1783 a garden was enclosed at the west end of the building. Between 1810 and 1815 a new building was erected by neighborhood subscription, it being one story, having two rooms. This latter building was enlarged in 1846 and in 1851 was leased for other purposes, being occupied for several years as a police station. During 1852 the present building Public School No. 3 was built, on the corner of Bedford avenue and Jefferson streets and extended in 1854, 1859, and 1886. The old Revolutionary schoolhouse, long since disappeared, but the addition to the Bedford school house, made in 1845, still stands on the grounds of W. PAYNE, in the rear of the Eagle Bedford avenue branch office. The school started in the Wallabout, in 1775, mentioned above, and which has since become Public School No. 4, was started by a neighborhood subscription. The building stood on the north side of Wallabout Creek, on land belonging to General JOHNSON. A number of years afterward it was removed to the lands of Garret NOSTRAND, at what is now, the intersection of Bedford and Flushing avenue, where it remained until the opening of Bedford avenue, when it was taken down and made into a hencoop by Mr. NOSTRAND. This was the first school in Wallabout Village. In 1836 the new building was erected on Classon avenue, near Flushing, which has subsequently been enlarged three times.

H. J. S.

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