A Slave Burial Ground in Gowanus, Brooklyn?

Van-Brunt Homestead

A painting by James Ryder Van Brunt – Grandson of the Cornelius Van Brunt, who bought the farm in 1796. It likely took up four modern street blocks from 8th to 11th Street.

Civil activist groups are at odds with the City over the preservation of what could be a slave burial ground at 9th Street and 3rd Ave. in Gowanus. Since 2015, the City had wanted to build a pre-Kindergarten on the empty lot, but the Preservationists desire more research be done on the land before that happens. Recent Archeological digs haven’t found any remains or artifacts, but there’s still the possibility. According to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams – “…it is imperative that New York stands for preserving history and protecting the truth.”

Read the ongoing story here at the New York Times and here at the New York Daily News.

The Van Brunt family were Pioneers of Brooklyn, prominent farmers, but also slave-owners who lived at the location in the 19th century. A detailed diary, written by Adriance Van Brunt, noted that slaves were buried on the land.

“Buried old Mr. Bennet Aged 80,” Van Brunt wrote in September 1828. “Also a Black woman.” The following month, he wrote: “Buried Oct. 1 Nancy (Black girl) aged about 12 years.”

In 1846, members of the Van Brunt family were disinterred from the land and buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, the family continued on the Gowanus farm until 1867. The slaves’ final resting place, however, remains a mystery. There’s no longer a “well wooded” section on this plot of land and most likely the graves were unmarked.

The full diary can be accessed with advance notice through the New York Public Library’s archive and manuscript section in the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room.

You can also find Van Brunt’s Genealogy records at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

I also found an interesting genealogical page created for the Van Brunt family –

http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/Town/Homesteads/VanBruntRobarts.html

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Red Hook Waterfront: 1875

Some further reading into Red Hook’s history. Van Brunt Street is most-likely named after Rutgert Van Brunt, a member of the Dutch family from the latter 1700’s.

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Credit: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

I hope the City and activists can come to an agreement and that the remains are found. If they aren’t, it would still be fitting to put a monument there, or plaque, acknowledging the slave’s grave-sites and ensuring that this vital piece of Brooklyn’s history and their existence are not forgotten.

 

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The Bowery Boys Podcasts

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(Image from The Bowery Boys: New York City History website. I adore this photo of them! Hope they don’t mind that I linked it. O_O)

I love the idea of podcasts, but the reality is I never seem to find time to listen as I’d like to. But the one that has me tuning in is The Bowery Boys, a podcast all about old New York hosted by two cute guys, Greg Young and Tom Meyers. I’m a new (ish) fan, but The Bowery Boys have podcasts going back 9 years and counting!

I have a ton of catching up to do! They’re active on Facebook – Adventures of Old New York. They’ve given online interviews, been featured in all sorts of media and make frequent appearances around New York to share their knowledge of its rich history.

Mr. Young and Mr. Meyers have thoughtfully created a Podcast archive for fans and history buffs. They offer various ways to listen and they are available on iTunes.

Be sure to bookmark this page!

Every Bowery Boys Podcast in Chronological order by subject

I’m happy to note they’ve released their first History Book in June 2016 available in Print and on Kindle –

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I find the Bowery Boys Podcasts factual, insightful, and fun. The guys are witty and funny without being raucous or annoying. You can tell they have a deep knowledge and love for the topics they discuss. I also admire that they keep their broadcasts fairly clean and profanity free, even when discussing the most shocking scandals from back in the Golden age.

Keep it classy guys! You’re awesome!

I enjoy how they set the stage with subtle and meaningful background music and I’m drawn into the air of mystery they create when discussing the strange tales of the past. The imagination ignites. Those are my favorite kinds of stories – missing persons, crimes, cons, and all the intrigue that Old New York has to offer.

Two juicy ones that come to mind are “The curious case of Typhoid Mary” and “The disappearance of Dorothy Arnold.”

Settle down, grab a snack, do some knitting, or just lay back and close your eyes and let the Bowery Boys transport you to the past.

Coney Island’s “disaster spectacles” thrill crowds

I agree with what the writer said. Our modern day fascination with disaster films is very similar to disaster recreations of the past. Though it wouldn’t have been so thrilling to get caught up in the actual Dream Land fires at Coney Island.

Ephemeral New York

ConeyislandfightingtheflamesConey Island at the turn of the century let visitors escape the conventions of city life and experience a fantastical world: of thrilling rides and exotic animals, carnival games, freak shows, Eskimo and lilliputian villages, even a trip to the moon.

But perhaps the most bizarre exhibits were the disaster spectacles.

These shows recreated a real-life disaster so visitors could witness the death and destruction that took place.

The fall of Pompeii, the San Francisco Earthquake, the eruption of Mount Pelee in Martinique, and the Johnstown and Galveston Floods exhibits were hugely popular.

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“Six hundred veterans of the Boer War, fresh from Johannesburg, re-fought their battles in a 12,000-seat stadium,” stated PBS’ American Experience show about Coney Island.

“Galveston disappeared beneath the flood. Mount Pelee erupted hourly, while across the street, Mount Vesuvius showered death on the people of Pompeii.”

ConeyislandpeleeadsAnother spectacle called “Fire and Flames” had real firemen set…

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