Saturday, August 14, 2010

Brooklyn Memories: A Glance backwards, 60 years Ago( 8)

Continued from Page: 7


Almost all the public stages employed, on Long island, centre at present in Brooklyn ferry. Should the village of Olympia continue to extend along the shore of the East river, and its ferry to be properly regulated, there is no doubt but that Main street will be the principal way for many of the stages. And if a road be made across part of the Wallabout, it will lessen the distance to Newtown three miles. Brooklyn ferry and Olympia being so near New York, the stages are better supported by them than they would be by any other places on the Island. There are two stages which drive to North Hempstead, one to Sag Harbor, one to Gravesend, one to Jericho, one to Flatbush and New Utrecht, two to Newtown and Flushing, one to Rockaway, and one to Far Rockaway. It is only a few years since these stages began to run, say, the first not longer than eight years ago, and the others within that period. Formerly the United States mail stages with four horses drove from this town to the eastern end of the Island, but it was found not sufficiently lucrative, and abandoned. The mail is now carried on horseback, and goes and returns in a week. The stage which first ran from North Hempstead, was no other originally than a market cart that carried people for hire. This was driven by a free black, who, meeting with encouragement, lately purchased a stage, and still continues to drive it.


The climate of this Township is favored in summer with breezes from the sea; and the highness of some of the situations, render the whole Township very healthy. At the Ferry, in summer, it is warmer than in many other places; at Gowanus and Bedford, it is very cool. In winter, the thermometer is lower than it is in the city of New York, from the northerly exposure of the sparsely situated houses. Some eminences are unrivalled for summer retreats. It is observed by Smith, that the city of New York is thought to be as healthy a spot as any in the world. Of this be the case with respect to New York, surely this Township, which lies higher than that atmosphere, must claim superior excellence.

In the hottest day of the summer of 1795, when the fever made its appearance in New York, the thermometer was at 95, but it has never arisen to that height in this Township; and on some of the eminences has never passed 80. The yellow fever does not make its appearance here, as in New York. There have been cases of fever at Brooklyn Ferry and Bedford, but they could always be traced to New York.

Either this fever is imported, or it is not. If it be imported, it cannot be natural to the place, and must prevail according tot he intercourse with the place, from which it is imported. If it be natural, it must arise from those internal causes which produce it. Now physicians have proved that putrid exhalations generate this disorder. As the greatest part of the ground in this Township is in its natural state, or submits to agriculture, and not surrounded with docks filled in with the refuse of families, nor so thickly crowded with houses that vegetation cannot bloom, it is clear this disorder is not natural to this Township. If the slaughter houses are suggested as producing putrid exhalations, it is refuted, as they are continually cleansed by the tides. If this fever, be contagious, as some assert and others deny, are not all situations, however healthy, liable to the same calamity? Pulmonary complaints, pleurisies and catarrha prevail in winter.


The chief pleasures of this township consist in visiting, dancing, sleighing, riding fowling and fishing. A marriage party is conducted with as much propriety as in any place of the same extent and sleighing parties have as much glee. The frequent resort of society of the people from New York in their pedestrian and equestrian excursions, renders the place agreeably various by the continued round of intercourse. Teal, quail and snipe afford an agreeable amusement for those who are fond of fowling. In winter dances are frequent, and rendered peculiarly agreeable by unrestrained sociability and hilarity, though divested of all grossness. Ceremony is entirely unknown, and it is only when that is absent that the mind can find repose. Mutual intercourse is the cement of society, and when to this is joined all that is engaging and agreeable, from what source can the mind derive higher satisfaction? With the hook and line, fish of almost every denomination may be caught in the East River. No Play-house, Assembly-room or Circus is as yet established within this township; whenever the inhabitants are desirous of these latter amusements, they cross to the city of New York. (Which is as true in the year of our Lord 1860 as it was 60 years ago.)


The shipping of this township is not very considerable, consisting chiefly of sloops, schooners and brigs. Previously to the year 1788, the principal business of this town was carried on by small boats and petty-augers, carrying furniture, manure, boards, & C., to different parts of the township. In that year, docks were erected, and sloops for firewood, lumber and other articles to vend, arrived here. After that, brigs with West India and European produce, tar, wine and tobacco arrived, and carried away staves, plank, flour, & C. The first ship that every landed and took in a cargo at this township was "The Sarah," owned by Messrs. Comfort and Joshua Sands, about ten or twelve years ago. The first India-man built on the island, was that, under the superintendence of Mr. John Jackson, in the year 1798. In the year 1799, the United States frigate Adams, of thirty-two guns, was launched at the Wallabout. The number of vessels that arrive and depart within the year has not been ascertained, nor the amount of cargoes. A board of trade, established here to settle amicably those disputes which arise relative to marine affairs, and regulate other matters of a familiar nature, would become in time of considerable consequence. And as the number of our vessels is supposed to increase annually, such a regulation would be of the utmost importance.

Derivation of Names

The name of this township is evidently derived from the Dutch settlement about a mile from the ferry made upwards of one hundred and fifty years ago. The name of this settlement was taken from that in Holland, from which primitive town the settlers came. In some old books the name is spelt Breuckland, Broeckland, Breuiklen, which signifies a morass, and some people write it so to this day. On the chalices of the church, which were brought from Breukeland in Holland, it is engraved as the name of that town; but the modern appellation is Brooklyn.

Olympia is derived wholly from the elligibleness of the situation, comprehending all the rare qualities which must ever attend those places, the air of which is pure and the situation hi9gh and eminent.

Gowanus was formerly called Gowan's Cove, on account of his living there; but it has taken the name from Gowan's huis, or house.

Wallabout: This appellation is derived from the circumstance of this place formerly belonging to an Indian by the name of Walle, to which the Dutch have added bocht or bay, although it has often been called by them the Kyck-out.

Redhook obtained that name from the quality of the sand, of which it is entirely composed.

Bedford: Names of places arise sometimes from fancy, sometimes from the name of the first settler, other times from the native place of the original proprietor of the present. From which of these causes this name is derived cannot be absolutely ascertained, though there is a faint relic that a Dutchman with his family, seceded from the settlement made at Brooklyn, and gave the name of his birth place to it: as the French settlers at the revocation of the Edict of Nantz gave that to New Rochelle.


Source of Information: Brooklyn Daily Eagle 5/14/1860

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