Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To Coney Island - or not - 1852

TO CONEY ISLAND.--Montgomery Queen, Esq., Alderman of the 9th ward, and proprietor of the Fulton avenue and Bedford stage route, has extended an invitation to the Press of this city, to accept a ride in one of his new stages to Coney Island, this afternoon. An afternoon ride to the classic shores of Coney Island during the present weather, must be attended with very agreeable results. We shall have something to say about the jaunt to-morrow.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, June 23, 1852

An Excursion.

Yesterday afternoon, a number of the Brooklyn Aldermen, ex-Aldermen and city officers, with some other-gentlement, proceeded to Jamaica in a new stage, got up for pic-nic purposes by its enterprising proprietor, Montgomvery Queen, Esq., in accordance with an invitation extended by that gentleman. The invitation specified Coney Island as the place of destination ; but owing to some delay in starting, the party changed the route to Jamaica….

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, June 24, 1852

Well, how boring! The stage was drawn by 16 horses and held at least 30 people (!).

Interestingly, another newspaper reported the group DID go to Coney Island. I think the Eagle was the correct source, particularly since the journey didn't start until 2 o'clock, which sounds like a delay to me! But this goes to show that not everything reported in the newspapers actually happened.

PLEASURE JAUNT.--A number of the members of the Common Council and others connected with the adminstration of city affairs, paid a visit to Coney Island yesterday, in compliance with an invitation from Alderman Queen. The party, consisting of several stage leads, started from the City Hall about 2 o'clock, and proceeding on their jaunt, enjoyed a very pleasant time. They returned to the city early in the evening, well pleased with the afternoon's proceedings.

--New-York Daily Tribune, Thursday, June 24, 1852

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Clams v. Oysters! - 1852

Apparently people in 1852 were not above wanton reports of silliness.

POSTSCRIPT--Tremendous excitement--Later from Coney Island and WIlliamsburgh.--By arrival of the clam boat Mud-Gutter, from Coney Island, we have our usual files of exchanges from the Island. A tremendous insurrection had been discovered among the clams; the insurgents having resolved to rise in arms against the oysters while the oysters had fraternised with a colony of lobsters to put down the clams. Several of the insurgents had been arrested and executed, and "war to the knife," declared against the oysters…

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, June 8, 1852

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Body NOT identified at Coney Island - 1852

The New York Times mentioned another mystery male body found at Coney Island Point in their June 2 issue. Not only was his identity unknown, but so was his cause of death.

--The New York Times, June 2, 1852

The Brooklyn Eagle was a bit less timely, but had more details.

ANOTHER INQUEST AT CONEY ISLAND.--Coroner B. Donly was called on Thursday afternoon to hold an inquest on the body of an unknown man, that was found floating near Coney Island Point, by a colored man named Isberal Peterson. The body was very much mutilated, having been in the water it is supposed about five or six months. He was dressed in black pantaloons, checked shirt and coarse boots. The jury returned a verdict of "death from causes unknown," The body was taken to Flatbush for burial. Further information can be had by applying to Bernardus Donly, the coroner, at his store, in the village of Gravesend.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, June 4, 1852

The New York Daily Tribune reported basically the same thing on June 5, 1852.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Body Identified at Coney Island Point - 1852

How sad. (The two stories directly below this were also about drowned people!)

IDENTIFIED.--The body found in the water at Coney Island Point, about a week since, and upon which an inquest was held, has been identified as that of John Flood by his wife. Deceased was formerly a workman in the lead pipe manufactory of Mr. Cornell, Water-st., New=York.

--New-York Daily Tribune, Monday, May 3, 1852

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Storm at Coney - 1852

THE STORM of Wind and Rain which began on Saturday night last is still raging (9 P.M., Wednesday) with scarcely noticeable abatement. There have been a few brief intervals of calm, but for at least seven-eighths of the time rain has fallen incessantly. We are not quite discouraged, however, for we have a vivid recollection of similar weather last spring, when the sun was invisible for an entire week. But the damage done by the present storm, in this vicinity, has not been remarkable. The Sound steamers have been somewhat retarded. Many of the fishermen on Coney Island have lost their boat, nets and tackle, and the boats brought to the dock at that place to be used in raising a sunken schooner driven out to sea, with chains, screws, and other articles on board….

--New-York Daily Tribune, Thursday, April 22, 1852

The New York Times reports the Coney Island road was damaged by the storms.

--The New York Times, April 27, 1852

Sunday, November 6, 2011

And speaking of plank roads - 1852

NEW PLANK ROAD.--The Long Islanders are getting their eyes open in reference to the value of plank roads. Not long since the one from Brooklyn to Coney Island was completed, and we now hear of another company formed for the construction of a plank road from 4th avenue, at the new entrance of the Greenwood Cemetery, in a direct line to Bath. This will greatly shorten the route to that beautiful watering place, and incalculably increase the value of the land through which it runs. This road will probably in a few months be extended from Bath to Coney Island and will become the favorite route of those frequenting these watering places.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, March 17, 1852

A New York Times editorial (?) from June 19, 1852 explains the wonders of plank roads in allowing people to travel without their carriage wheels sinking into the mud, etc. Amazing that less than 100 years later paved roads would traverse the whole country.

The New York Times also reported that "Monday" (April 5, 1852) the tide rose level with the road on the Coney Island Plank Road near 3rd avenue and 9th street.

--The New York Times, April 8, 1852

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Property Sale on the way to Coney Island - 1852

Included for two reasons. First, these listings are probably almost half of what comes up if you look up "Coney Island" at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Second, there's reference to how popular the Plank Road has become....though in fairness, I'm not certain that's an accurate assessment, given they're surely trying to get the best price for the property being auctioned...

JAMES COLE, AUCTIONEER.--EXECUTOR'S SALE OF VALUABLE REAL ESTATE, in the cities of New York and Brooklyn, and Lewis County N. Y., late of John Tredwell, deceased.

The following property will be sold at public auction on THURSDAY, 25th day of March, 1852, at 12 o'clock, noon, by James Cole, Auctioneer, at the Merchant's Exchange, in the city of New York, under the direction of the executors….

25th. That large edifice now being erected on the Plank road leading from Brooklyn to Coney Island, with the land adjoining the same, comprising about two acres and 3 77-100 perches, bounded easterly in front 255 feet by the Plank road, northerly 410 feet by Johnson avenue, westerly 240 feet by a street to be laid out by the United Freeman's Land Association, and southerly 324 feet by a street to be opened, which separates the premises from land of the Hon. John A. Lott.

The property is part of the farm formerly of David Johnson, Esq., dec'd, and opposite the residence of Alonzo G. Hammond, Esq., dec'd, and opposite the residence of Alonzo G. Hammond, Esq.; it is about half way between the Fulton Ferry, Brooklyn, and Coney Island, and the plank road is fast becoming the most extensively used route for pleasure drives in that part of the Island. The buildings included for a hotel and boarding house are nearly completed, but will be sold in their unfinished state. The above Association contemplate an early improvement at their tract.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, March 11, 1852

Thursday, November 3, 2011

St. Patrick's Society - 1852

As always, this is a historical quote; either this is a crazy parody, or a reflection of pretty strong anti-Catholic bias...

ST. PATRICK'S SOCIETY.--This society, celebrates the Anniversary of their patron Saint, on the 18th instead of the 17th, on which the anniversary occurs. The reason is not that there is to be a Sunday in the middle of next week, but because there happens to be a fast day in its midst. Wednesday on which the celebration ought to take place is a fast day, and so the St. Patrick's Society have shoved over the celebration till the next day. We must confess we don't much like this move. St. Patrick himself was a "rale (?) old Irish gintleman (sic)," who lived a life of self-chastisement, and mortification in subduing the ferocious instincts of the flesh, and bringing it under the dominion of the spirit. He did not pamper his appetites, but chased all the reptiles, toads, bed bugs and other varmint out of the green Isle, by the downright dint of prayer an (sic) fasting : he fasted himself to the bare bones, and prayed the lives out of them entirely. We can therefore see no propriety whatever in declining to celebrate his memory, because it cannot be done with roast beef and venison--things that, ten to one, the good saint never tasted in his life.

The society can have plenty of stewed eels and fried oysters, and any number of Coney Island clams; and if that don't satisfy them they are no better than ordinary christians (sic), and not fit to celebrate the memory of Saint Patrick. Suppose the festival had occurred in the week preceding Easter, when no flesh is to be eaten during the week: would the society have staved off the celebration for an entire week ?…--PADDY.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, March 8, 1852

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Schooners sunk - 1852

Capt. Morrell of steam-tug Hercules reports a fore and aft schooner sunk in Coney Island channel.

--New-York Daily Tribune, March 1, 1852

And more bad news!

SCHR. AURORA, Babcock, of New-Jersey, loaded with coal, went ashore at Coney Island on Friday night, at 2 o'clock and sunk. The captain and crew, five in number, lashed their trunks and themselves in the rigging, and remained there until Saturday 3 o'clock P.M., when Capt. Alfred Monroe, of schr. Eliza discovered them, and went with his crew to the Government boat-house, where they procured the lifeboat, and brought them safe to shore.

--New-York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, March 3, 1852

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silver Plate to Judge John Vanderbilt - 1852

Welcome to 1852! For some reason this story warranted publication in at least 3 newspapers.

PRESENTATION---UNEXPECTED TOKEN---Judge Vanderbilt, who appeared in our streets yesterday, fresh from his contest with Sen. Schoonhoven, has met with a very unexpected token of regard from the directors of the Coney Island Plank Road, who presented him this morning, through a Committee, (L.D. Cowan & Electus B. Litchfield) a splendid service of silver plate. Mr. Cowan addressed the Senator on the occasion, and he made an appropriate reply. Judge Vanderbilt was the first President of the Company. The workmanship is by W. S. Wood, 367 Broadway. The following inscription is on all the pieces:--
Presented to the
Hon. John Vanderbilt,


--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, February 17, 1852

A very beautiful service of plate was presented this morning to Hon. John Vanderbilt, by the Coney Island Plank Road Company, through a Committee composed of L. D. Coney and E. D. Litchfield, Esquires. The service consists of four pieces.

--New-York Daily Tribune, February 18, 1852

The New York Times also reports Hon. John Vanderbilt, president of the Coney Island Plank Road Company, was presented with a "service of plate."

--New York Times, February 18, 1852

Sloop Upset and Raft of Logs - 1851

On Sunday a Br. brig hence, while in the Lower Bay, came in contact with sloop Anne Eliza, of Gloucester, loaded with wood ; the sloop immediately sunk ; the crew, however, were saved. The steam tug Jacob Bell reports this morning seeing thes loop ashore at Coney Island and the wood strewed along the beach.

--New-York Daily Tribune, December 23, 1851

I assume no relation...

CAME ASHORE, on Coney Island, on Monday, December 22d, a RAFT, consisting of 27 square Pine Logs. For information respecting them, apply to

Gravesend, Long Island.
d27 1t*

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, December 27, 1851

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boat Upset - 1851

Oh no; not another water incident!

BOAT UPSET IN CONEY ISLAND COVE.--Yesterday afternoon a small sail boat, containing two gunners named John Witworth and John Morris, was accidentally capsised in the Coney Island Cove, and both the men precipitated into the water.--They clung to the craft, from which they were released shortly after and restored to comfortable quarters on board of a sloop that fortunately was near at hand at the time of the accident.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, October 17, 1851

Finally, a happy ending.

The New York Times had reported the same story with the headline "Boat Upset" on October 18. (direct link)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another Drowning at Coney Island Point - 1851

Another one???

INQUEST.--An inquest was held by Justice Wright, at Fort Hamilton, on Tuesday afternoon, 2d inst, upon the body of a man who had been found adrift near Coney Island Point. Deceased was apparently 25 years of age, with dark brown hair, and was dressed with plaid pants, white cotton shirt with linen bosom, plaid silk neck handkerchief, pegged shoes, and stockings with elastic garters. The shirt bears the initials O. P. , marked with ink. Verdict, found drowned. The body was interred at Flatbush.
--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, September 3, 1851

Will quote the story below, too, to be just a little less depressing.

We hear it said that the managers of the late orphan benefit, sold upwards of 2,500 tickets.--Among the pieces of the pyrotechnic exhibition was one which emblazoned in fire the following motto.--"We adopt the orphans."
--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, September 3, 1851

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Drowning near Coney Island - 1851

Not the best few days for this blog...

FOUND DROWNED.--On Sunday morning August 10th, a body was discovered floating near the wharf or dock at Brook's Pavilion, Coney Island Point. The coroner being indisposed, Samuel Hubbard Esq., one of the Justices of the Peace of the town of Gravesend was informed of the circumstance, whereupon he proceeded to summon a jury, and went to the place where the body lay. The following facts were elicited during the examination and inquest. The body was that of a female apparently about 25 to 30 years of age. She had on a black silk dress, plain straw bonnet and half slippers. The head and neck were much disfigured probably caused by lying in the water.--There were no perceptible marks of violence about her, excepting a small scratch on the back of each hand. She appeared to have laid in the water from two to four days. The only marks by which she could possibly be identified were a wart on each thumb and one on the forefinger of her right hand. Her body was conveyed to the Kings Co. Hospita. The verdict rendered was "death by drowning."

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, August 11, 1851

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ferry Fire on the Trojan - 1851

Horrible news linked to Coney Island. I'm shocked that men would sleep in ferry boats, even the captain...

THREE MEN BURNT TO DEATH.--The steamboat Trojan, which ran between New York and Coney Island, was burnt to the water's edge early yesterday morning, while lying at the foot of Vestry street, N. R. She was valued at about $18,000, and is fully insured. At the breaking out of the fire, Capt. Joseph N. Rodman, Arthur McNulty, a fireman, Patrick Dougall, a deck hand, another fireman whose name is unknown, and others belonging to the boat were asleep in their births (sic).--The flames spread with such rapidity before the sleepers awoke, that some of them were left with no chance of escape, and horrible to relate, Dougall, McNulty and the unknown fireman were burned with the boat. One Wm. Fuller, also attached to the boat, was missing, but whether he was burned, drowned, or made his escape from the boat, could not be ascertained. THe 5th and 8th ward police were at the scene and rendered every service in their power. Capt. Rodman escaped from the boat after being burned in a dangerous manner. Officer Warlow of the 8th Ward, when the boat was on fire, discovered a trunk on deck which had been broken open, and several hundred dollars strewn about the floor. He gathered up the money and conveyed it to the station house. Yesterday forenoon the bodies of the three deceased men were removed from the wreck, and the coroner notified to hold an inquest. The jury rendered a verdict of death by suffocation and subsequent burns. Patrick Dougall was 19 years of age and born in Albany.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, August 8, 1851

CONEY ISLAND--The CATALINE, we learn, will take the place of the TROJAN to-day, on the Fort Hamilton and Coney Island line. Capt. Rodman, who was severely scorched in the fire, we are pleased to learn, is not seriously injured.

--New-York Daily Tribune, Saturday, August 9, 1851

I had mentioned Captain Rodman at least a couple times. So he piloted ships around Coney Island in 1848, too. At any rate, this tragedy presumably had nothing to do with the captain's work...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Better than Coney Island???

I don't buy it.

[Correspondence of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.]

From a Typo in the Country to the Eagle in Town.

July 25, 1851

DEAR EAGLE :--Since I left Brooklyn I have enjoyed myself tolerably well in the quiet little village of Sayville, on the Island ; a village numbering, I should say, about one hundred houses, and quite a sprinkling of men, women, and of course, children. The business mostly carried on at present is fishing, although every fisherman has a bit of a farm on which he works when the fishing season is over. The crops, however, are in a beautiful condition ; corn expecially. Fruit, I am sorry to say, is rayther scarce.

Most of my time is occupied on the water, fishing and eeling, which I am very fond of. In a good season, like the present, a man goes out in the morning and before sun-down, probably catches one hundred dozen of eels, which he sends to New York. Each fisherman has about twenty or thirty eel pots. Oysters, in season, are very numerous, but this not being the right time, they are not very good ; but I have as many as I want, never theless--of my own catching, too. Clams--of the largest kind--are very plenty, and are firstrate.--Berries--black, blue, and whortle--are very thick; ditto mosquitoes…

I have made two excursions to Fire Island beach, which presents a magnificent prospect. It was here, I believe, that the ship Elizabeth was wrecked a few years ago. I had the pleasure of seeing Smith Oakes, of Fire Island notority (sic); and he is, without doubt, an ugly looking customer.--The beach is a splendid place for bathing, and far preferable to Coney Island. O, it is delightful!--I wonder that it is not a more fashionable place for summer resort. I need not go to the beach to bathe, however, as there is a shore a short distance from where I put up. There are plenty of girls in the house, and, of course, I take them along, just to sweeten the water. How you'll appreciate my taste.

To a person who has lived in the city for a long time, plenty of sources of pleasure and amusement may be afforded. I could not, however, live long here. It does for a short time, but the excitement of the city, is sadly deficient. J.N.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, July 19, 1851

I had no idea whortleberries existed. It sounds like they may be referring to blueberries.

A quick search didn't reveal any particular notoriety as far as Smith Oaks, so I guess the writer may have been merely referring to him as "famous." Volume 69 of The Atlantic Monthly cites Oaks as the one who offered the most assistance regarding the wreck.

From Sayville's website it still looks kind of like a small town, doesn't it?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pic-nic news

Of mild interest...another case of taking the Coney Island boat to go elsewhere!

THE LINDEN SOCIETY.--A week ago to-day, the Linden Literary Society had a delightful pic-nic, which we have not seen mentioned in any of the papers. They started for Cedar Grove on Staten Island, but by some failure in the boat, were obliged to change their direction at a short notice. Taking the Coney Island boat at 10 o'clock, they were landed at Fort Hamilton, and conveyed thence to the pic-nic woods, about a mile distant, where they spent the day in recreative sports, By the way this is one of the most pleasantest and most accessible spots for a summer party anywhere to be found. The woods are beautiful, and a small pic-nic hotel has been erected in them for the convenience of parties ; so that it has all the needful fixtures, while a fresh ocean breeze banishes every idea of summer heat. It is a charming place.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, July 19, 1851

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Celebration of the Fourth

The Celebration of the Fourth.

The Fourth of July was celebrated this year with more spirit and enthusiasm than our city has witnessed for many years, if ever before. The public gave themselves up to the enjoyment of the holiday, and made it one long, uproarious and glorious jubilee, from sunrise until midnight. The quantity of powder burnt was most astonishing, and at night the city was on a blaze from one end to the other with rockets and Roman candles. From the appearance of the streets Saturday morning, we would suppose there had been a heavy shower of red Chinese paper.

The day was made expressly for the occasion. There had been rains during the night, and a little before daybreak a violent wind arose, bringing on a black thunder-cloud, which in a few minutes washed and swept the streets till they fairly shone when the sun rose. The sky was brilliantly clear and fresh, and the trees, the buildings and the flags sparkled and glittered in its light. At an early hour crowds began to pour in from the country, and by ten o'clock the streets were crowded with visitors. Several hundred Canadians arrived on Thursday afternoon, to witness the celebration. Notwithstanding the tens of thousands of our own citizens who took advantage of the day to join in the excursions to the country, their place was more than made up by the influx of visitors from without.

At about half-past four the usual salute was fired from the Battery, by the Veteran Artillery, when somewhat over a thousand persons were present….

The veterans of the war of 1812 assembled in the Park early in the morning, where they attracted a great deal of attention. They were attired in citizen's costume, except the officers, and wore white belts, with short swords…

Several boats were chartered for Sandy Hook, Yonkers, Coney Island, Amboy, Fort Hamilton and elsewhere, and all were fully freighted with citizens of every age, size and sex. Many of the Military, who from the admirable arrangements of their Major-General, were enabled to join their families after 12 o'clock, also went upon excursions, and appeared highly gratified at being afforded the opportunity, which was new to them upon a Fourth of July celebration…

--New-York Daily Tribune, July 7, 1851

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plank Road News

The Plank Road from Brooklyn to Coney Island has been finished to within two miles of the latter place.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, May 30, 1851

I don't know if I would've used the word "finished" there, but I suppose it was a milestone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coney Island Mention

The story's not too much about Coney, but it's interesting that people going to Europe from New York would notice Coney Island. It reminds me a little bit of my one and (to date) only trip to New York City in 2007....I spotted the Luna Park housing and I think the Parachute Jump from the plane, and I was so excited! (It was a whirlwind trip, 3 or 4 nights, and we spent a good portion of one day on Coney.)

Crossing the Atlantic.
Editorial Correspondence of the Tribune.
LIVERPOOL, (Eng) Monday, April 28, 1851

The leaden skies, the chilly rain, the general out-door aspect and prospect of discomfort prevailing in New-York when our good steamship BALTIC cast loose from her dock at noon on the 16th inst, were not particularly calculated to inspire and exhilarate the goodly number who were then bidding adieu for months at least to home, country and friends…Before we had passed Coney Island, it was abundantly certain that our freshening breeze bailed directly from Labrador and the icebergs beyond, and had no idea of changing its quarters. By the time we were fairly outside of Sandy Hook we were struggling with as uncomfortable and damaging a cross sea as had ever enlarged my slender nautical experience…

--New-York Daily Tribune, May 12, 1851

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mr. Rogers' Losses

Could the first incarnation of the Oceanic House have been the first major loss by fire on Coney Island? And this second fire may be the third (there was a fire in 1850).

OCEANIC HOUSE.--We regret to learn that Mr. Rogers, the tenant of this splendid house at Coney Island, which was lately dbstroyed (sic) by fire, will lose about eight thousand dollars, being thrown out of business and deprived of his summer's work. He has lost every thing that he had, having moved his family there with all his furniture in expectation of an early opening of the season, and a rich harvest, in consequence of the recent construction of the Plank Road.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, April 28, 1851

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Oceanic House Burns - 1851

FIRE AT CONEY ISLAND.--We regret to learn that the beautiful and commodious hotel, known as the "Oceanic House," on Coney Island, was entirely destroyed by fire, yesterday morning.--The cause of the catastrophe is supposed to have been a defect in one of the chimnies. The flames spread with such fearful rapidity, that all attempts to extinguish them were unavailing ; and the greater portion of the elegant furniture, including the silver plate and splendid chandeliers, were consumed with the building. The tide was so high that the building had to be reached by means of boats. Cropsey's hotel was several times on fire, and it was feared would also fall a prey ; but the great exertions of the Coney Islanders happily preserved it. We are not informed whether the property was insured, but suppose it was, partially at least. This disaster will be a matter of regret to many, as the comforts of the "Oceanic" were of a superior order.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, April 18, 1851

It was only 1848 that the Oceanic House appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. This page notes the Oceanic House burned after its first season, then was rebuilt...then burned again.

CONEY ISLAND.--While the fire was raging in the large building called the Oceanic house, at Coney Island, yesterday morning, the water was very high and boisterous, and the forked flames seemed to shoot up out of the bosom of old ocean; the building being accessible only by boats. Cropsey's house was several times on fire, but fortunately the flames were got under before they reached the bounds of control. The observatory which stands on the high ground in front of Wychoff's (sic), was swept off by the unparallelled (sic) rise of the ocean, which usurped complete dominion over Gil Davis's domain.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, April 18, 1851

I think they are referring to Wyckoff's Hotel.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Coney Island Point City?

With the references to the beloved Governor Gil Davis (who the Brooklyn Daily Eagle usually pokes fun at) and the Coney Island Institute (which the Brooklyn Daily Eagle always seems to mock), I imagine this isn't an entirely serious endeavor.

ANOTHER CITY.--A mass meeting of the citizens of Coney Island and its dependencies is to be held to petition the Legislature for an act of incorporation making Coney Island Point a city. Congress will also be petitioned to make it a port of entry, in consideration of the commercial facilities offered by the majestic Creek. Governor Gil Davis will preside, and members of the Coney Island Institute will attend in a body. This agitation, it is more than hinted, has been produced by the recent proceedings in this neighborhood.--The city of Coney Island Point will doubtless prove a formidable rival to the city of Williamsburgh. Let the old "kingdom" look to its laurels. Gil Davis is in the field, and if his "mad is up," there will be something "broke," or we're mistaken!

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, April 17, 1851

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Governor Gil Davis is still around!

THE ROAD.--There was a large amount of carriage riding enjoyed yesterday, on our beautiful Long Island roads. The country is clothing itself, like our fashionable belles, in a garb of gay colors, green being the predominant hue, in all its various shades ; and already many of the trees are putting forth their fragrant blossoms. Several members of the Coney Island Institute ventured down as far as the Bridge, but were prevented from crossing over to the territory sacred to clams and Governor Gil Davis, by the uncongenial breezes which met them at the causeway. A great many of the "fast 'uns" were out, too, in all their pride; and all the roads were in such a fine condition, that anything outside of 2:45 couldn't shine. The most of these took the road to John I.'s, and there was the tallest kind of rattling over the plank track.--"He-i-g-h! Why don't you go 'long ! S-a-a-y !"

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, April 14, 1851

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Coney Island Bass and Free Lunch

I remember how funny I thought it was in the 1990s when bars out here started calling themselves "The Library" and "The Office" and the like, so that you could go drinking and tell others you would be "late at the library." But evidently giving bars sophisticated names dates back to at least the 1850s.

The Museum Saloon cannot be beaten nor "Coney Island Bass," either of which the citizens of Brooklyn can have ocular demonstration TO-MORROW, April 9th, (from 11 A M to 1 P M,) as upon that day the magnificent BASS will be served up as a

The Proprietor of the Saloon takes this opportunity of thanking his numerous friends and patrons for their very liberal support, and to inform them that he is about to remove the business of the Museum Saloon to the opposite corner above Orange and Fulton streets, where he hopes by strict attention to business, and a careful selection of Wines, Liquors, Segars, and V ands (?), the best the market can supply, to secure a continuation of their kindness.

PLATT, the Prince of Bar-Keepers, and a good fellow, will preside, and both astonish and tickle their pallats at the same time. ap8 lt

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, April 8, 1851

A different keeper, Herman R. Howlett, was arrested in September 1852 for violating the "Sunday Ordinance."

There are a couple maps at the Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page. The 1855 fire map is disorienting unless you flip the map so the compass faces north. Though a touch blurrier, the 1866 map is easier to follow and seems to match the current one.

It looks to me like the location would probably be as below....but I've never lived in New York, sadly.

View Larger Map

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Elections - 1851

Town Elections.
GRAVESEND, April 1st, 1851.

EDITOR EAGLE :--The local election has just terminated in the election of the following officers, viz:--

Supervisor--Barnardus Ryder, (Whig.)
Town Clerk--Nicholas Stillwell, (Dem.)
Assessor--Stephen N. Stillwell, (Whig.)…

Commissioners for leasing "Coney Island" Common Lands--Barnardus J. Ryder, Stephen N. Stillwell, Jaques J. Stillwell, Jacobus Lake, Jr., Nicholas Johnson, (Whigs)...

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, April 2, 1851

You can read a tiny bit about leasing Coney's "common lands" in Charles Denson's Coney Island: Lost and Found.

I assume these Stillwells were part of the Stillwell family from whence Stillwell Avenue gets its name.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coney Island Institute

The Brooklyn Eagle can never abandon an opportunity to either mock the Coney Island Institute, or create a slew of horrid puns. I'm not sure which. (Also note the aside about the mail…given there were day trips from the mainland to Coney Island, I'm still not buying the times as "records.")

NOTES OF PREPARATION.--Our advices from the capital of Coney Island were received this morning, as usual, by the regular mail steamship, which sailed from thence at daylight yesterday, having performed the run up in beautiful style, in the very quick time of thirteen hours, fifty-nine minutes, and forty-seven seconds from wharf to wharf. Where's your Cunarders (sp?) now? All Coney Island answers, Nowhar ! But let that pass. We are not in a mood to triumph over a fallen foe. We spare the feelings of the British nation this time. The item of great importance by this arrival is the intelligence, which was forwarded to the steamer by "Express Extraordinary," that the Institute rooms are to be thoroughly refitted preparatory to their occupation for the season. It is understood that the opening address will be delivered by the Hon. Uriah Heep, of Brooklyn, who has chosen for his subject, "THe Buss-ness of Ele-emosynary App-eals." A grand conchert will close the exercises, and everything is expected to go off swimmingly.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, March 27, 1851

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A bit of Coney Island indecency

Yes, Coney Island was recalled for being indecent back in 1851. Though I suspect the part about Brother Jay may be another case of 1850s sarcasm. The later description sounds a bit racy to me though!

A REMEMBRANCE.--An allusion made by us to Coney Island, has awakened the "founts of feeling" in the cavernous recesses of Brother Jay's stomach. We had supposed that the incidents were cast among the "bygones," but it seems that we were mistaken. The following from a recent Trentonian, plainly develops the shocking state of Brother Charles's mind. Instead of doing penance for past shortcomings, he still cherishes a latent hankering after the forbidden "fleshpots." Reform, sir ; reform !

Speaking of Coney Island, do you remember, friend Van, that delicious summer afternoon when you gave us a carriage ride "overland," to the white-sanded beach of that notable Island ? Do you remember, you sad old bachelor you, the side glances you ever and anon cast towards the Long Island lassies, as they sat in the old Dutch porches, or looked from the pleasant cottage windows, with eyes flashing through the foliage of climbing woodbine, and intermingling roses? And then, after we passed all these dangers, seen and unseen, and reached the Island, do you recollect those lady bathers, and how the big white-capped waves played at ten-pins with their fair forms, and knocked them down even at our feet ? Whew ! Our flesh fairly creeps as we remember how one big amorous old fellow, came rolling along from Sandy Hook, and caught up in his foaming arms the black-eyed lassie with the dark ringlets, and carried her away out towards the growling breakers! The ugly chap in spectacles rescued her, however, and how meat-axeish he looked when he detected our eye wandering mechanically, to a slight rent in the bathing dress of the New York beauty!

Ah ! friend Ike, the return by way of Fort Hamilton, and the lady you pointed out to us as the heroine who saved the New York dandy from drowning, and those "smashers" at the Pavillion! Ye gods! ere the summer is over we will visit again

"Old Long Island's sea-girt shore,,'

in despite of short finances and long distance. So hold your "gallant gray" in readiness.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, March 26, 1851

Fastest Trip on Record

As much as we like to look at this and think, "Wow, news sure traveled slow 160 years ago)...I do believe this is more of that old-timey sarcasm, since it appears they're referring to a trip from Brooklyn to Trenton, New Jersey.

FASTEST TRIP ON RECORD.--The Brooklyn Eagle of March 5th, reached our office yesterday having made the trip in the unprecedented time of twelve days! The news by this arrival, however, was an anticipated two days by the horse-boat around Cape Horn.--Trentonian, 18th.

We can realize the extent of your sufferings during the elven days' deprivation. That unfortunate number of our sheet must have somehow got on board the new mail steamer, which, on her "trial trip," actually accomplished the extraordinary feat of running from Coney Island to Brooklyn, in the unprecedented time of fourteen hours!

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, March 20, 1851

It appears the Trentonian they spoke of was a New Jersey newspaper that started in 1848:

--History of the City of Trenton, New Jersey by John O. Raum (1871)

And obviously 14 hours to get from Brooklyn to Coney Island was not very good time in the age of steamers.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Untimely Fate of a Coney Island clam?

You know how every so often you see one of those stories that you just don't get? Well, here is one of them, from 1851. There is actually a nice rhyme and meter to it, though, if you can put up with the nonsense.

THAT HUNDRED DOLLAR TALE.--As the "extended time" is wearing away, and rapidly approaching "All Fool's day," the penny a liners are brushing, their wits, and striving to give each other "fits," while laboring to increase the size of original tales to win that "prize." 'Tis said--we can't say that it's true--that Puffer Hopkins has written two--either of which he thinks will do; one, after the style of Bungraham, of a "local" interest and weight, recording the untimely fate of an innocent Coney Island Clam; while the other soars in fancy's realms, and transcendentally overwhelms with "thoughts that breathe and words that burn," all those who say a paper can't turn at least six times in two short years, to any clique whose purse appears the readiest to reward long ears…

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, March 19, 1851

So April Fool's Day was around in 1851. I guess that's something!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coney Island Cold - 1851

I think this is a bit of satire, stating the bitter cold is like Coney Island, which even in the 1850s was known for its pleasant weather...

TO-DAY'S temperature is really of the Coney Island pattern, clammy cold, penetrating the cuticle like the surf penetrates the beach sands, and causing the chilled blood to rush back to the heart even as the waves recede to the bosom of the great ocean. Instead of luxuriating in the fragrance of violets, we "scent from afar" the perfumeless snow-drops. But it aint no matter ; "there's a good time coming, boys."

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, March 13, 1851

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Water Rising at Coney

CHEERING FOR TEATOTALLERS.--A telegraphic despatch from Coney Island, received last week, says the " Water is very high, and still rising."--We have no further particulars. The despatch was evidently transmitted " in haste," as it gave nofigures (sic).

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, March 7, 1851

Same column, by the way:

WOMAN.--Why is that it presumptuous man still fancies woman his inferior, and believes that while strolling (?) to the journey's end of life, she is all very well if she find a little shelter under his lordly wing ? What has he ever done that woman cannot do, with the exception of some physical drudgeries, which rather bespeak of his inferiority. To rule a kingdom, or drive four in hand, to write a novel or edit a newspaper,man's no touch to her. And in "readings from Shaspeare," (sic), Mrs. Lesdernier, this evening, at the Female Academy, gives an entertainment which we would advise the gentlemen readers to attend, and see if they can't learn to read their lessons with more effect in future.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, March 7, 1851

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Coney Island Institute and the World's Fair - 1851

It's hard to tell if there's any truth to the below, given the Brooklyn Daily Eagle's continual mockery of the Coney Island Institute. (Though I'm starting to wonder if the Institute itself might be just for fun?)

GOOD.--The "Coney Island Institute," we hear, will re-assemble for the season in the course of a time, if not sooner. During the winter recess, several rare specimens have been dug out, which will doubtless occupy the earliest attention of the Institute. Several new members have been elected, to represent the greatly enlarged population of the Island, which shows magnificent increase, since the census of 1840, of--several individuals, including immigrants, the latter consisting mainly of divers families of dark-faced clam-catchers, speaking the original Long Island Dutch. It is understood that the Institute will send an envoy to the World's Fair, and that one of the Jackson Ferry boats is to be chartered to convey him to London. She will take no other passengers--except a gigantic clam, which will be opened at the close of the great exhibition, and the shells presented to Queen Victoria.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, March 3, 1851

Expo Museum says the 1851 World's Fair in London is considered the first World's Fair.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Plank Road Success - 1851

Quick note on the aforementioned Plank Road:

We understand that the new Plank Road to Coney Island is a great favorite with the traveling public, and is likely to have a numerous offspring in this vicinity.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, February 22, 1851

Sounds like the road was built quickly...interesting that people liked it in February?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Merman at Gowanus Bay


RED HOOK POINT.--The Merman who was captured in Gowanus Bay, last summer, and found to be a man who lived on the beach and had become a fish by being continually in and about the water, has now nearly returned to his pristine form. He made an attempt to escape back to his adopted element one day last week, and would have been successful, but, meeting with some isolated floating timber, his avarice got the better of his aquatic propensities, and he returned with it to shore. His head still bears a strong resemblance to that of a cod fish, and when he smokes a segar, (which he was seen to do not long since,) the smoke, instead of issuing from his mouth, oozes out behind his gills. The only "refreshments" that he uses, are "shrimp bait," soft crabs, and Coney Islanders, when he is in a clamorous mood. His drink is iced sea-water. One of our acquaintances, after observing the critter for a month or so, declares that it is difficult to determine whether he is "fish, flesh, fowl, or mackerel. We shall recommend him to the notice of the great Barnum on the conclusion of the Lind tour.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Monday, January 27, 1851

As you can see, Gowanus Bay is some distance from Coney Island, but perhaps not for a merman…

View Larger Map

The story continues:

THE MERMAN.--This creature, who is one of the greatest natural curiosities of modern times, tells a curious story of the manner in which he first took to the water, like a young duck. As we half suspected, the ladies had a hand in it. We give the story, but we suspect the poetical portion of it to be only plagiarism, as we saw it somewhere before. It was a fine evening in last July, that he was lying in the stern of his boat, which was scudding away beautifully for Coney Island, when an enchanting figure, somewhat resembling the siren of old, appeared, and accosted him in the following vein:

"I'm a lady most fair, man
  Who lives in the sea ;
Come down, Mr. Merman,
  And be married to me.
You'll have, and shall be
  The King of the fishes,
When you're married to me."

The Merman is a very polite personage--at least, while he remained in the flesh he was so--and he answered with more politeness than gallantry :

"I'm obliged to you, Madam--
  Off a gold dish or plate,
If a king, and I had 'em,
  I could dine in great state ;
With your own father's daughter
  I'd be sure to agree,
But to drink the salt water
  Wouldn't do so with me."

But he didn't keep his word, and down he went, like Nicholas the Sicilian diver, and found that the salt water did agree with him perfectly. A panoramic view of him can be obtained daily on the beach at Red Hook.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, March 5, 1851

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coney Island, the Mole - 1851

Poem doesn't do much for me, but OK...

A Babylonish Ditty.
[From the Knickerbocker.]

If any of our readers should fancy that the following "Babylonish Ditty," which we derive from the facile pen of a contributor, belongs to an "easy style of thing to write," let them "do" a similar kind of thing themselves, and let us see how they'll "rhyme it," preserving in the meantime the requisite sense and melody.

More than several years have faded
Since my heart was first invaded
By a brown-skinned, grey eyed siren
On the merry old "South Side;"
Where the mill flume cataracts glisten,
And the agile blue fish listen,
To the fleet of phantom schooners
Floating on the weedy tide…

Oft we saw the dim blue highlands,
Coney, Oak and other Islands
(Moles that dot the dimpled bosom
Of the sunny summer sea) ;
Or mid polished leaves of lotus,
Whereso'er our skiff would float us,
Anywhere, where none could notice,
There we sought alone to be…

So is woman, evanescent ;
Shifting with the shifting present ;
Changing like the changing tide,
And faithless as the fickle sea ;
Lighter than the wind-blown thistle ;
Falser than the fowler's whistle,
Was that coaxing piece of hoaxing--
Amy Milton's love to me!…

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, January 14, 1851

Sunday, September 11, 2011


More recent history today. This isn't Coney Island...

That's the Healing Field in Tempe, Arizona, set up every 9/11 in remembrance.

Living in the wrong state, I wasn't even aware there was a September 11 memorial on Coney Island.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Growing New-York

Union of Brooklyn and Williamsburgh with New-York.

…Who does not see that the larger New-York becomes and the more it spreads over the surrounding country (though it take the whole western shore of Long Island a mile in width from Flushing Bay to Coney Island, as it probably will before the close of the century,) the higher must and will be the value of lots on this island, particularly the northern outskirts of the well-built portion of this city. Is the inclusion of the Long Island suburbs in the same municipality with the original City of New-York to have the effect of altering the center of metropolitan population or diverting the course of fashion and self-styled aristocracy from its tendency northward on the island…?

--New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, November 6, 1850

I've been remiss in hyphenating "New-York Daily Tribune," as they spelled it back in the 1850s!

I'm not sure if I posted on Brooklyn becoming a borough of New York City? Didn't happen until 1898 (so this article guessed right about Coney Island becoming part of New York by the end of the century...but only barely).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fire on Coney Island! - 1850

FIRE ON CONEY ISLAND.--Last night about 7 o'clock, a very extensive fire was observed on Coney Island. It was generally believed that the large Tent, owned by Mr. Brooks, or the adjoining wooden buildings, are consumed.

--New York Daily Tribune, Monday, September 2, 1850

I'm not sure what tent they refer to. I believe the first amusement structure on Coney Island was in effect a tent. I don't see any references to any Brooks, though. Also not sure what, if anything, was actually lost. At any rate, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle didn't bother to report on it, so I'm not sure it was anything substantial.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steamers Passing Coney Island

This feels to me the tiniest bit like going to the airport just to see the planes take off. (Rather harder to do after 9/11, but even if I'm not flying anywhere myself, I do find travel hubs exciting.)

FOR CALIFORNIA.--Yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock three splendid steamships, the Cherokee, the Georgia, and the Empire City, left this port for Havana and Chagres. Somewhere over 300 passengers (whose names will be found in this morning's Tribune were on board, and what with the good-byes, the cheers and farewells of shore-friends, the bustle of express agents and belated voyagers, and the novelty of three great steamships starting at the same time, the hour was one of extraordinary excitement.

The Empire City was the first one to start ; in about 10 minutes the Georgia pushed out, and as soon as she got abreast of the Cherokee that steamer unmoored and took to her wings.

We were among a party of four or five hundred who went down the bay on the Niagara to see the steamers and some friends off. The Niagara followed the Empire City, and when abreast of Coney Island passed and circumnavigated her, and ran back astern of the others (Georgia and Cherokee)…

As the Niagara passed Coney Island the receding steamers were lost sight of, though the long dark trails of smoke from each were still visible and served to mark their location. But these were soon washed down by the rain, and the gazers burned their eyes Cityward, well pleased with their trip to sea.

--New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, August 14, 1850/

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Grand Evening Excursion to Coney Island - 1850

OK, another excursion, but this one's a bit different, so skip ahead to the second paragraph.

GRAND EXCURSION TO CONEY ISLAND, Landing at Fort Hamilton each way.--On and after Monday, July 29th, 1850, for the season, with the steamer OTHELLO, Capt. Rodman, will leave for Coney Island from the pier foot of Watts st. near Canal, at 2 1/2 o'clock P.M. and pier No. 3 North River, at 3 o'clock P.M.

GRAND EVENING EXCURSION TO CONEY ISLAND leaving pier No. 3, N.R., at 6 o'clock; leaving the Island at 8 1/2 o'clock.--For the accommodation of those whose business confines them to the city during the day, the Othello will make an excursion to Coney Island, touching at Fort Hamilton each way, every evening until further notice, thus enabling those of this pent-up metropolis, who cannot avail themselves of the excursion during the day, to enjoy the cool and refreshing breeze from the Ocean, and a bath on the beach of this far famed bathing resort au3 1m*

--New York Daily Tribune, Saturday, August 10, 1850

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Storm Misses Coney Island - 1850

The big storm and tornado (!) on June 20, 1850 (apparently) resulted in at least a few drownings, but didn't seem to affect Coney.

MORE OF THE STORM--LOSS OF LIFE--STEAMBOAT DISASTER--For a few minutes during the tornado Thursday afternoon, hail of a large size came down plentifully. Some of the stones were of the size of large peas...

A number of boats were upset…

A gentleman who was at Coney Island at the time of the storm, informs us that there was no rain there. The wind blew with great violence. On his return to the City he had passed over five miles of the road before he met with any signs of rain having fallen in any considerable quality…

--New York Daily Tribune, Saturday, June 22, 1850/

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coney Island for Quiet People - 1850

Coney Island a "lesser resort" for "quiet people"? Well, I'll be.

Summer Rambles.

There was an unusual earth of Summer Travel last season, caused by the prevalence of the dreadful epidemic in nearly all our cities and many villages, which kept thousands at home who would otherwise have been roaming. There will doubtless be some revisitings of that scourge the present season--indeed, we hear of them already in a few localities, mostly Southern ; but the summer is now so far advanced, that we think all apprehension of a general and deselating (?) return of the Cholera in 1850 may be dismissed. We may reasonably anticipate, therefore, that the pleasure travel of the season will exceed the usual average by so much, at least, as that of 1849 fell short of it.

But what channels will it follow ? and in what eddies shall the travelers unbend and disport themselves ? …The minor watering-places--SHARON SPRINGS, NEW-LEBANON, BEDFORD, Pa., the WHITE SULPHUR, &c. &c. will each have its circle of visitors, with the lesser resorts for sea-air and bathing,--LONG BRANCH, CONEY ISLAND, ROCKAWAY, STONINGTON, NAHANT, (???). For quiet people, who loathe display and crowds, and whom a moderate share of social relaxation satisfies, we deem some of this class superior to the more popular and pretending. We never yet found sea-bathing superior to Rockaway, though the place is difficult of access (some like it the better for that) and its circle of entertainments is limited. And where can finer sea-air be inhaled than that which sweeps over the civilized end of Coney Island?...

--New York Daily Tribune, Thursday, June 20, 1850/

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The new and commodious steamer KOSCIUSKO, 1850

OK, even I'm a touch tired of these ubiquitous ads for excursions to Coney Island. But hey, did you ever wonder what they looked like? Here you go, for "The new and commodious steamer KOSCIUSKO," commanded by Capt. C.M. Hancock.

--New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, June 19, 1850

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ancient Clamdiggery - 1850

Sunday, June 9, will contain more than the usual quantity of reading matter--"The Merchant's Curse," from the French; "Shakspere (sic) in his best Day;" "The First and Last Bear," by Tom Frank; "The Indian Mother;" and other sketches. Also, a correct view of
embracing all the points of interest, with a succinct account of the late piratical expedition and Gen. Loafer, for the express purpose of overthrowing the existing government of this ancient Clamdiggery!!! Editorials--politics--news, etc. etc. Price, 3 cents--one dollar a year.

ATWOOD, LARKIN & CO. 22 Spruce-et. New-Yok (sic). For sale by all the newsmen and newsboys. je8 1t*

--New York Daily Tribune, Saturday, June 8, 1850

The fact that the ad put Coney Island on its own line shows that Coney Island was a draw for readers' eyes even in the 1850s. The "government" of "clamdiggery" was likely referring to the beloved Governor Gil Davis.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricanes on Coney Island - 1877, 1890s

Just thought these were timely. I'm not certain if these were really "hurricanes" as we would call them today.

Stay safe, Coney Island!

The Effect of One at Coney Island.

A Yacht Missing--Tables and Chairs Upset, Crockery Broken, Roofs Damaged, Bathing Houses Thrown Over--Narrow Escape of Some of the Bathers--Hail Stones of Unusual Size.

Last evening, at a quarter to seven o'clock, after a glorious sunset, the visitors at Coney Island were preparing to enjoy themselvis (sic) by the surf, on the beach and at the different hotel piazzas. About five minutes later the sky was overcast and threatening clouds loomed up in the distance, while fitful gusts of wind swept across the ocean and scattered the surf in spray. One puff of wind succeeded the other so swiftly that half of the people who were bathing at the time could barely get to their houses, dress and reach the hotels before the storm commenced in its fury. At first it was supposed there was going to be a heavy shower; then, as the ominous puffs of wind came, some of the Coney Island mariners predicted that there was going to be a "squall," and it was not five minutes after this last prediction when these ancient mariners sought the shelter of the hotels and restaurants and barred the doors securely against the fury of the storm.

It came up so suddenly that it caught some of the bathers in the surf, and the breakers changed in a couple of minutes to fierce and angry volumes of water, which swept in upon the beach with a roar and threw the sand away ahead of them. Not a few of the bathers, especially the women, were thoroughly frightened, and it was with much difficulty that they managed to combat against the undertow and gain the shore, and when they did they sought the shelter of the bathing houses as quickly as possible. Most of them got dressed and ran to the nearest hotels, but some were left behind, and one or two of them in a most pitiable though at the same time…


Several of the bathing houses were clean overturned, and in four or five of these were ladies who were in the act of dressing, and their fright must have been intense as the frail box in which they were securely locked toppled over and lade them in a prostrate and helpless condition. It was at this time that the bold and hardy men of the sea showed their pluck. One lady, who was on Vanderveer's sloop, was waiting for her husband to come out of the water, and after the storm arose and he did not appear she became alarmed and requested one of the storm tried mariners to go out and search for him. She was for awhile in an agony of trouble for fear he had been drowned, and she besought that some of these men would go out and see where he was. Not one of them would as much as lift the latch of the door to let in a puff of the wind whistled through the keyholes and made the casements rattle. (???) On the other hand several gentlemen who were in the water at the time, seeing that a general fright had taken possession of the ladies, did all in their power to get them out of the surf and see them to their respective bathing houses. Prominent among these gentlemen, who extended timely aid was Mr. Lang, of Lang & Nan, and he it was who was the first to rescue the imprisoned captives when the bathing houses overturned, and one or two of the ladies, it is said, were very far from being properly clad at the time.


Special Officer Williams, of Gravesend, who was on the beach at the time, saw three ladies in the surf near Tilyous hotel. One of them was out of her depth and the others were terror stricken for fear she would be drowned. Without a minutes (sic) hesitation Williams plunged into the water, not waiting even to remove any portion of his uniform, breasted the billows and rescued the lady and got her two friends safely ashore. They all sought shelter at Tilyous. The reporter, who was unable to see Officer Williams, could not learn the ladies names, but the officer noted the part of a brave and gallant man and deserves credit for it.

When the storm was at its worst it did considerable damage. At Cable's, Vandover's, Feltman's and other large hotels the chairs and tables were all blown around at a very lively rate. It had just urned dusk, and the various hostelries had illuminated their places. In many instances the glass in the lamps was broken, while almost every light was extinguished all over the Island. The canvas tent occupied by the London Marionettes was taken clean up in a second, and chairs, seats, piano, stage and everything were thrown in a confused mass on Endre's stoop and under the spines which support his pavilion. The new depot of the Manhattan Beach Railroad which was reported as having been levelled to the ground, was not injured to the extent of $200. About $150, it is believed, will cover all damages done. Some of the exposed portions of it, which is now but partially erected, were destroyed to a certain extent but not to amount to much. The government building was injured about $50. The Summer gardens in Feltman's were damaged slightly, but he lost quite a considerable amount of light glassware, which was blown off his shelving.

Judge Walsh and Assemblyman Shanley, who were at Cable's, report that the storm for a while was terrific. Waiters were running here and there trying to save tables from being overturned which had crockery and glassware on them. Napkins were flying all over, and could be had for the gathering, and the sturdy mariners clapped their hats on their heads and looked through the window at the destruction which "the toughest storm they had ever seen" was making. They varied this occupation by occasionally taking a drink and relating what they knew of previous tornados which had swept over the Island.


is said to have fallen very lively for about five minutes, but this changed into huge rain drops, which pattered everywhere, and made distinct holes in the sand as they fell. One young lady named McVickers was running into the Atlantic Garden from some of the adjacent bathing houses. She carried her hat wrapped up id (sic?) her shawl, and one of these hailstones, which were doubtless of unusual size, happened to strike her right in the eye, and injured that organ to a great extent. It became swollen and badly inflamed in a few minutes. She was attended to at the Atlantic Garden by a physician who happened to be at Engeman's.

The music stand in front of the Manhattan Beach Hotel, which had just been lighted up, was somewhat damaged, and Graffula lost a quantity of valuable music, which he had composed himself, and which was written by him in ink. It will cost him considerable time and trouble to replace it. It was a very fortunate thing that no person, so far as known, was hurt in any way. The principal damage done was by the wind, which cleaned half the flagstaffs and sent signs floating all over the Island. It is said that just before the storm got at its worst


out at sea, and during one of the vivid flashes of lightning it is alleged that some person saw her keel upward, or thought they did, but after the storm had ceased, not the sign of a yacht could be seen anywhere around, and there are who were at Coney Island that are certain in their own minds that the yacht was capsized and sunk, and of course believe that all on board were drowned. Some anxiety was manifested for the Rockaway steamers, but fortunately they had all got to their destination on their return trip from the beach. The Columbia was about the last and the storm did not break until she was safely in the East River.

It is impossible to estimate the damage that has been done, but under the circumstances it is not large. One thing is very certain, however, that the beach was never cleared of people so effectively and in so short a time before. Many people got wet through, and a few lost hats, handkerchiefs and vails (sic?), but the great majority, who, like the Coney Island sailors, were well housed, enjoyed the thing highly, and looked upon the whole as a good joke. A few bathing houses were smashed at Norton's Hotel, on Coney Island Point, but no serious damage was done. In an hour after the storm first commenced things were all quiet again and the people were promenading around, enjoying themselves as best they could and speaking of their recent experience as a thing of the past.

--The Brooklyn Daily Eagle,Saturday, August 11, 1877
Different storm, below.

Counting the Damage Done by Wind and Rain.

Fences Wrecked and Windows Broken All Over Brooklyn--Serious Injury Done to Beach and Buildings at Coney Island--The Walker Still Ashore--Telegraph and Telephone Lines Badly Damaged--The Sound Wind-swept.
The first thing Weather Forecaster Dunn did this morning was to run up the hurricane signals, which were displayed on the tower of the weather bureau, in New York, for the first time, yesterday. These signals will be continued until the storm abates…

Coney Island Suffered Some Serious Damage.

The high tide at 3 o'clock this morning coupled with high westerly winds continued the devastation commenced by the hurricane yesterday. All through the old town of Gravesend fences and trees were blown down. In Washington cemetery a number of tombstones were overthrown, two of them being smashed into pieces.

Part of the trestle of the old bicycle railway was blown away and about one hundred feet of fence in the Culver railway depot were torn down. The roof of Feltman's big hotel adjoining the carrousel on Surf avenue was lifted by the wind, and the second story of the building is a wreck. A portion of the new pavilion being built by Henderson was blown down. Three of Scovill's bath houses and all of Walsh's new bathing houses were washed out to sea. The water has made further inroads at Brighton Beach and Sea Breeze avenue, and has again flooded the Brighton race track. The wind is still from the west, blowing fiercely so that more damage is expected from the next high tide…

--The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 7, 1896

There's a New York Times article on that storm here.

Another High Water Record on Coney Island Shore.

The Hurricane on Its Progress Seaward Stirs Up the Ocean and Causes Additional Wreckage Along the Coast. Brighton Beach Property Flooded--Estimated Loss of $50,000 on Brooklyn's Shore--Big Seas at Cape May
A tide, even higher than yesterday's, renewed the attacks upon Coney Island property this morning between the hours of 7 and 9 o'clock, and further damage was done to the many frame pavilions along the ocean front. The sun rose on a line of wreckage extending from Brighton Beach nearly to Norton's Point, much of which was caused by last night's tide and wind. No property along the entire water front has suffered so much damage as has the Brighton Beach Hotel. There old ocean has made great inroads and on the western end of the hotel grounds nearly a hundred square feet of land has been washed out. The promenade following the line of the bulkhead along the entire front of the property has been ripped up and, although the main bulkhead has withstood the assaults of the breakers, the sea washes over it and damages the property almost as badly as if there were no bulkhead at all…

About 9 o'clock the tide changed and as it became lower evidences of the destruction it had caused could be seen all along the line. All highways leading to the Island were flooded as they were yesterday and the miles of meadow land were covered by a vast sheet of water. When the tide was at its highest the water lapped the tracks of the West End Railroad, between Coney Island Creek and the Island, and the railroad bridges were only a foot above the water…

The woman who was reported yesterday morning to have been carried into the sea at Coney Island was Mrs. Freda Hoop, wife of Andrew Hoop, who was occupying apartments in Garland's bathing pavilion. Mr. Hoop went off to work yesterday morning and about an hour after he had gone Mrs. Hoop found her home surrounded by water while the building was shaking almost continuously. Mrs. Hoop became frightened and called to some men who were working near by to help her out of the house. The men procured a ladder and mounting to the roof of an adjoining building Mrs. Hoop and her baby were taken out. She could not be prevailed upon to return to her abode after the tide had fallen and during the day she had her belongings removed to other apartments, a block away from the water.

The damage among the West End was estimated this morning at $50,000.

--The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Tuesday, October 26, 1897

This appears to mostly be talking about Brighton Beach, but I imagine it's a good description of 1890s beaches in storms in general. If you read the full article there's accounts of swimmers staying out in the storm (!) and clinging to the rope I guess they had there for bathers to use as support?


Trolley Cars Stalled at Various Points. Passengers Injured in Two Collisions.


The fierce hurricane that swept across New York City yesterday afternoon between 4 and 5 o'clock, bringing with it an electrical storm cloud that poured rain and hail in torrents, wrought disaster where it passed. Three deaths were reported to the police during the early part of the night and unauthenticated stories of other victims of the storm came in from the seaside resorts, where the elements raged most furiously…

At Coney Island and Brighton Beach there were many thousands who had gone down to take a cooling plunge in the surf. All of the bathers got a shower bath that wasn't on the programme and wasn't enjoyed. The storm came up suddenly and the wind blowing at nearly seventy miles an hour sent the sand across the beaches like bird shot from a choke bore gun. The sand peppered through the thin bathing suits and gave the bathers a sensation something like sharp needles pricking into the skin. The rush for the bathing pavilions was a grand stampede in which big men trampled over the little men and the little men ran over the women, who in turn scattered the children right and left in the flight.

"You'd better run fast or you'll get wet," shouted the onlookers from the sheltered verandas to the bathers, as the latter tore across the sands with salt water and fresh pouring in commingled torrent from their bodies.

Everybody talked about getting wet as if it had been perfectly dry in the surf before the storm came. The wind was blowing a fierce gale and very few were bold enough to go inside of the bathing pavilions, as everyone expected the weak structures to blow out into the ocean the next moment. For nearly an hour the wet crowds were jammed together like baskets full of drowned kittens…

When the thousands of Bath Beach bathers were permitted by the storm to go to their bath houses they found there a situation that inspired the men to say wonderful and divers things about the weather and everything else they could think of to anathemize. In many of the bath rooms the street clothing that had been left while the owners were bathing had been thoroughly soaked and it was simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire to change the wet bathing suits for the wetter street clothes. So that is how it happened that several hundre seaside enthusiasts were seen trudging homeward through mud and slush knee deep, lugging their street garb and attired in bathing suits. The top of some of the bath houses was blown off and others leaked so badly that it was impossible for clothing to keep dry.

--The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sunday, August 6, 1899

Oceanic House - 1850

I missed this ad for the Oceanic House, 1850. I'll admit, the idea of waves fresh from the ocean amused me...as opposed to an ocean beach with stale ocean waves?


C.M. ROGERS would inform his old patrons, friends and the community--all those who are desirous of visiting the sea shore, that his Oceanic House, Coney Island, will be opened on Saturday, June 8.

This will be found one of the best and safest bathing places in the whole range of the Coast. The fine surfs, fresh from the ocean are nowhere surpassed. The visitor will find delightful rides in the vicinity, and have a fine view of all vessels coming in and going to sea.

Steamers leave the Island six or eight times a day, and stages morning and evening. The Oceanic House is only one hours ride from New York, or Brooklyn, by water or land. CHAS. M. ROGERS

Mr. F. HENSHAW will be at the Astor House until the 8th, from 10 to 3 o'clock, each day, to wait upon any persons desirous of making arrangements for board during the season. [je5 3t*] CHAS. M. ROGERS

--New York Daily Tribune, Wednesday, June 5, 1850

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gold Near Coney Island and Pirates - 1840

Here's another article about the pirate gold on Coney Island (I first mentioned it here).

From the N.Y. Herald.

By the arrival of Mr. James Bennett, of Arlington House, Long Island, who came expressly to give us the news, we learn that a large portion of the money stolen from the brig Vineyard, in Nov. 1830, by Gibbs, the pirate, and his associates, Wansley and others, has been found upon a small island, called Plumb Island, lying between the east end of Coney Island and the west side of Barren Island, on the Long Island coast.

The first discovery of this money took place on New Year's day, immediately after the late heavy blow. On that day three fishermen, or wreckers, took a boat, above three islands for pieces of wrecks, or whatever 'plunder' the sea might throw in their way.

When they landed on the south side of Plumb Island they saw the Mexican dollars strewing on the beach from the edge of the water up to a high sand bank, about a rod from high water mark. It was in this bank that Gibbs, Wansley, awes, and Brownrig, buried all the specie they took on shore from the brig Vineyard; and mistaking Plumb Island for Barren Island, when they went, afterwards, to show the officers where the money was buried, they could not find the spot. After a lapse of nine years, the sea has laid the treasure bare. The sand bank in which they buried the money, is, as we have stated, about a rod from high water mark ; and the sea never reaches it except in unusually severe gales, as in the present instance. During the recent high tides, the sea washed away the sand, washed off some of the canvass bags in which they were buried, and strewed dollares all along the beach, besides reburying some in the sand again. The greater part, however, were not disturbed, but lay in the original grave on the top of the bank like a ridge ((?--paper is folded)) of potatoes.--From this spot to the water's edge, the three first finders saw the dollars lay like sea-shells along the shore. For two days they had the picking all to themselves.--Since then, all the clamboys, wreckers, and oafters from the neighboring villages have turned out and dug in the sand with various success. Some would find $20 in a lump ; others $300 in a spot ; and so in proportion. One man found a pair of suspenders sewed full of dollars, that had belonged to Atwill, the pirate, who was drowned going ashore. The search still continues ; at least 300 people are on Plumb Island, raking and scratching ; and they have established a ferry from the east end of Coney Island, where they charge 25 cents for a passage to the lucky spot….

--Burlington Free Press, Vermont, Friday, February 7, 1840

If you want to read more about the pirates, including Gibb's hanging (!), follow the link to the story or check my previous entry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flood Near Coney Island - 1839

Sounds like a story of providence to me, if true.

Perilous Situation.--During the late violent gale and tide, Mrs. Caldwell, a poor woman, who with 4 or 5 children lived in a miserable shanty, at a small island, near the end of Coney Island, found her little home suddenly surrounded with water. The gale soon took away the roof of her house, and the tide swept away the house itself.

She despatched her two boys for a boat, and they with a man came near the spot to take off the woman and two smaller children, but the strength of the wind drove them from the shore, and they could not approach the island. In this fearful dilemma, the woman tied a wagon to a tree, and herself, children and dog, got into the wagon. Every tree around her except the one to which the wagon was tied, was washed up by the force of the water, but the little company on the wagon were thus saved.

--Rutland Herald, Vermont, Tuesday, February 26, 1839

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dutch Customs and Coney Island Sand - 1836

I knew there were excellent old newspapers at The Library of Congress' website, but had failed to notice just how early the articles started (1836!). So I'm hopping back for a while. This one notes the Dutch influence in America in the 1790s. Coney Island reference boled.


The NEW YORK MIRROR, a periodical, which we never fail to open without finding something both amusing and instructing, contains an article under the above title purporting to be a letter from LAURIE TODD, to the editors, on a very interesting subject, as will be seen, to the present rising generation--from which we make the following extract.--ED. HERALD>

…………..I have been feasting on "Harrison's New York Museum" for 1795-6-7, etc. ; it brings up actors and scenes long shifted from time to eternity ; it also recalls the scenes of youth, and it appears to me, that Providence has so constituted our nature, that the mind retains more of the pleasures than of the pains, in life's journey.

The poems, sonnets, acrostics and anecdotes, with the association of ideas therewith connected ; the deaths, marriages, and weekly occurrences which these old volumes contain, make me live again "the days o'langsyne." When Dutch manners, Dutch fashions, Dutch ships prevailed, we had more arrivals from Amsterdam then than London and Liverpool put together. Then the floors were scrubbed on Saturday, and sprinkled over with white sand from Coney Island or Rockaway Beach; a rug carpet and green Windsor chair was a luxury…..

--Rutland Herald, Vermont, Tuesday, April 5, 1836

If you search for "sand" in this story on The Legend of the Wooden Shoe you can read about an example of sand on Dutch floors.

It sounds like Washington Irving corroborates, but he says they did this in the parlor and then didn't use the room all week!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Military Target Practice at Coney Island

Governor Gil Davis is back!

Military Movements...

RINGGOLD HORSE GUARDS, AND FLATBUSH LIGHT ARTILLERY.--These fine companies proceeded to the Kingdom of Clams, State of Coney Island, this morning, for target practice. They were accompanied by a number of guests and friends, and will doubtless have a good time of it. Governor Davis will give them a grand reception, for which purpose he has ordered out several squadrons of quahogs, with a troop of roasting pigs.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, September 19, 1850

Same article--not Coney related, but I was interested to see how military uniforms have changed; it appears they didn't even used to be standardized.

PEARSON LIGHT GUARD.--This favorite corps, under the command of Captain Robert B. Clark, will make an afternoon parade, in full uniform, on Friday next, 20th inst. The uniform of this company is said to be the most brilliant of any worn in this country--consisting of white coat with blue and gold facings, scarlet pantaloons with buff stripe, and grenadier cap of bear skin, with gold tassels pendant to the front. Their ranks are rapidly filling up.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Thursday, September 19, 1850

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More Plank Road - 1850

Appears to be related to a May 1850 story.

PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given that an application will be made by the Coney Island Plank Road to the Board of Supervisors of the county of Kings, on the 8th day of October, 1850, for permission and authority to lay out and construct a Plank Road, from a point in the city of Brooklyn to a point on Coney Island, and to take the Real Estate necessary for such purpose--to pass through the city of Brooklyn, the towns of Flatbush, New Utrecht and Gravesend. August 23, 1850.
au24 1aw8w JOHN VANDERBILT, President.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, August 28, 1850 (and other days)

The results:

Board of Supervisors.
Oct. 8th,

The Board of Supervisors held a meeting yesterday in the County Jail--Present, the chairman J G Bergen, and Mssrs. Crooke, Verplanck, Seabury, T G Bergen, Ryder, Voorhees, DeBevoise, Berry and Sloan.

The minutes of the last meeting read and approved....

Col. Crooke presented an application from the Coney Island Plank Road Company for permission to commence the road and detailing the route &c., proposing Messrs. Philip Hamilton, Abram Verplanck and Charles A. Van Zandt as commissioners, which was granted, and placed on file, and an order entered on the minutes to be recorded.

The Board adjourned to the 16th inst., at the same hour and place.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, October 9, 1850

And it continues! I find the timing here interesting, as it appears this is the first notice of this meeting, published presumably the morning of the meeting...

NOTICE-- We, the undersigned, Commissioners appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Kings county to lay out the Coney Island Plank Road, will meet on Wednesday, the 13th instant, at 3 o'clock, P.M., at the office of the Coney Island Plank Road, at the residence of John Vanderbilt, Esq., Flatbush, to hear all persons who may apply to us to be heard.

n12 2t

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Wednesday, November 13, 1850

Last Plank Road article for the year. Really.

[Reported for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.]
WEDNSDAY, Dec. 26, 1850.

Mr. T. G. Bergen presented a petition from the Coney Island Plank Road Company, stating that they were organized pursuant to law, and asking for the appointment of Inspectors. Accepted--and Messrs. Hamilton, Van Zandt and Bergen were, on motion, appointed such inspectors, and the clerk was instructed to give the necessary notification.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Friday, December 27, 1850

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jilted Parties in the Surf - Coney Island

A little story--a bit challenging for the modern reader to follow (or at least it was for me), but probably worth it to get the flavor of the era. (It, or a substantially similar story, was also published in the Brooklyn Eagle August 27, 1850.)

A Surf Scene.

A correspondent of the Springfield Republican at Coney Island, gives the following killing incident of the surf:

During my passage down the bay I had caught several glances of a familiar face. I knew I had seen it before, but where? The lady as evidently had been subject to a jog of memory. The exchange of a few glances satisfied us both that we only wanted a proper opportunity, or a disposition to speak. Ten long years before, we had parted in a huff, and considering myself at the time the aggrieved party, I was not particularly anxious to renew the acquaintance--the jilt. As soon as the boat touched the pier, I was on it, and off for a bath. The lady for the time was forgotten, and issuing from the bath house in my rough bathing dress, I plunged into the breakers. I had been frolicking some time, laying my hand on the "ocean's mane," and the ocean laying his hand on mine, when I saw two or three other bathers edging up towards me between the swells. There was a lady evidently, in advance. Her company apparently forgot her, at last, and still she approached me. I went farther out. She followed and I found she was determined to speak to me.--I knew who she was of course. A huge wave came in, and knocked the woman down, but sticking her head out of the water, she gave one scream, and that brought me. I was on the spot as soon as I could get there, and grasping her arm raised her to her feet.

'Oh!' said the lady, 'wha--wah--waht a meet--meet--meeting, after such a parting."

'Well--yes,' said I, bluntly.

She now undertook to look the grateful and the interesting, when a huge wave struck her as she looked up to me with parted lips, and crammed her dear mouth with salt water. She dropped again, and again I pulled her out, and she was either very weak or she thought I was certainly very strong.

'Mary,' said I, 'have you been happy since we parted?'

She answered me with a sigh, and then looking up to me put the same question.

Says I, 'ho hum--ho hum--ho hum--Mary don't talk about it.'

'I have learned some things since then,' said she.

'Yes,' says I, 'I believe you have: you married a learned man I think.'

'Me married !'

'What did you jilt a very good looking man for ten years ago, but to marry a certain learned man?' asked I fiercely.

'I beg you will not allude to the foolishness of a school girl,' replied the lady, and then changing the subject, she wanted to know how she should have felt if, in saving her from a watery grave, I had drowned myself. I told her it would probably have made less difference with her and me than with my wife and child. She gave me but one look, and rose to her feet, and put.

"I saw her but a moment,
But methinks I see her now,"

as she walked off with her bathing-dress sticking to her, and her little bare feet indenting the sand with the spitefulness of her step.

--Hartford Weekly Times, August 31, 1850

In subject matter it almost reminds me of Same Old Lang Syne by Dan Fogelberg. (My dad kind of likes that song; I'm' not really a fan. Though the concept of celebrating the holidays with some "car beer" amuses me...I don't really drink so it's not plausible for me though!)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Collision between Chingarora and Coney Island boat St. Nicholas

Doesn't look like this happened at Coney Island, but

Correspondence of the Daily Eagle.
Saturday, M., 24th Aug.

DEAR SIR:--I haste to inform you of a collision between the steamboat "Chingarora" (plying to Keyport) and Coney Island boat, "St. Nicholas." Last evening at half past 4 o'clock, as the boats were approaching the wharf at this place, the Chingarora came alongside, and passed the St. Nicholas, she being the "inshore" boat, and was crossing her bow in such a way, that it was expected the latter would have been obliged, either to steer for shore, or be jammed between the other boat and the dock. The pilot, however, thinking, I suppose, that "self-preservation is the first law of nature," suddenly turned the bow of his boat "off shore," and stopped the wheels, whence some might be led to suppose that he was in fault, whereas, unfortunately the "Jarsey" boat Chingarora was all to blame. The bow of the St. Nicholas came in contact with the guard of the Chingarora, which was considerably injured.

Respectfully yours, C.N.C.

--Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday, August 24, 1850

The St. Nicholas was referenced several time prior. In 1846 it was called "new and elegant."