Category Archives: Intern Project

Escaping Poland Before the Holocaust

“He never spoke about it,” my grandfather told me on a car ride home from Vassar College in October of 2013. He was talking about his father, Irving, and his escape from Poland just before the Holocaust. He, his brother and sister all escaped before the atrocity claimed the lives of their parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, who I had just learned were victims. Growing up, I learned about the Holocaust in Hebrew school and grade school history classes beginning at age eleven, yet this was the first time I had any knowledge that my family was directly affected by it. The topic only came up because I was taking a German history class at time and brought up what I was learning about in the very long, traffic-filled ride home that Fall. Learning that my family was directly affected by the Holocaust at age nineteen was troubling to me, because like many Jewish parents, mine had always told me to remember the Holocaust and make sure that my future children remember it too. I grew up with the Holocaust as a part of my culture. In my town on Long Island with a sizable population of Jews, the Holocaust was acknowledged and learned about in school. I had to wonder, why have I just found out about this familial connection to the tragedy? Did anyone else on my great grandfather’s side of the family know anything more? Who even comprises that side of the family? It was then that I realized just how little I actually knew about my family. This sparked an interest in my own genealogy—an interest that eventually lead me here—to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society as summer intern. The goal for my individual research: simply to find more out about my great grandfather Irving’s side of the family. Maybe if I was lucky, I’d be able to find out exactly what happened to his family back in Poland, and if there are any living relatives I don’t know about. As previously mentioned, Irving was silent on the subject of his family back in Poland so my grandfather, his son, knows very little about it. I had a few details to go on, and began my search.

Most of my research thus far has been online, on FindMyPast.com, FamilySearch.com, Ancestry.com, and even just plain old Google.com. I have also been speaking to my grandfather a lot on the subject, pressing him for any detail he can muster up. In a few short weeks with a few short details, I have already found more information online than I expected. The internet is truly an incredible place. With the information my grandfather provided me, I was able to find death, marriage, and census records for my great grandfather and his two siblings: a brother, Jacob and sister, Rose. I continued building my family tree with the last set of names my grandfather could remember on that side, Abraham and Ruth, his aunt Rose’s kids. I realized—I hoped—they must have kids, and those kids might have kids that might be around my age. Suddenly I had living family members I’d never known existed. I had to find them. I did—and they live just under 30 minutes away from me.

The next part of my genealogical journey will focus on continuing to fill in the blanks on Irving’s side of the family. I am still working on finding a way to expand the tree above my great grandfather to find out more information about my relatives that lived in Poland. I feel so lucky to have the resources and guidance of the NYG&B in pursuing this individual project. They have fostered and encouraged my passion for genealogy and history in general. I can’t wait to continue this project during and after my time here.

 

Brielle Brook is a rising senior history major at Vassar College.

Spain Enables Jews of Spanish Descent to Apply for Citizenship

Interior of Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo, Spain, a former synagogue.

Interior of Santa Maria la Blanca, Toledo, Spain, a former synagogue.

On June 11, 2015 Spain’s parliament approved a law that provides a direct path to citizenship for descendants of Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492.

Sephardic Jews of Spanish descent will have from October 2015 through October 2018 to apply to receive citizenship. Applicants must prove that they have Sephardic ancestry and a special connection to Spain, as well as pass a test to prove that they have a basic knowledge of the Spanish language.  To see a more complete list of requirements, please click here.  The cost of obtaining a Spanish passport will amount to 100 euros, currently 112 USD.

 

The law only applies to descendants of Sephardic Jews and not descendants of the Spanish Muslim population, which were expelled in 1609.

In March, Portugal also passed a law creating a path for citizenship for Sephardic Jews of Portuguese descent; the Portugese law has no language requirement or time limit attached.  For more information please click here to go to the Portuguese embassy website which has more information.

 

Julia Albrecht, a sophomore at Cornell University, and Andrea Ditkoff, a sophomore at Vassar College, are two NYG&B summer interns who are preparing to apply for Spanish citizenship under the new law. Julia Albrecht’s ancestors fled to Turkey during the Spanish Inquisition, where they stayed until the late 1800s.  When the Jewish people of Turkey began to be persecuted, they immigrated to the United States. There, they stayed involved in Sephardic Jewish life by joining the Sephardic Brotherhood and speaking Ladino, a form of Judaeo-Spanish derived from Old Spanish.

Andrea Ditkoff traces her Jewish ancestry from Spain through Greece, before her family came to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. She feels connected to Spain after spending her senior year of high school studying there. Both interns are using the resources of the NYG&B to discover more about their ancestors and pursue the exciting opportunity to obtain Spanish citizenship.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity: The Fate of Black Soldiers during the Civil War

When I started doing research for my project, I knew that I wanted to delve into some aspect of African-American history. Having already done quite a bit of independent reading on slavery already, that part (being the tragic and conspicuous blemish on American history that it is) interested me immensely, and naturally, one of the things of that comes to mind is the Civil War. In particular, I thought that it would be interesting to research the transition from bondage to freedom, and an interesting dynamic that’s not often discussed, the role of black soldiers is during the Civil War Using resources at the NYG&B (including the Record), as well as the National Archives and those of 19th century newspapers, I managed to narrow my previously broad understanding of the subject, as well as zero in on some of the subjects involved.

Storming Fort Wagner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Storming Fort Wagner. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

At the beginning of the Civil War, free black men were eager to volunteer to fight for the Union against the Confederates. Although African Americans had served in the army and navy during the American Revolution and in the War of 1812 (although few did serve in the Mexican War), they were not allowed to enlist because of a 1792 statute banning them from bearing arms in the army. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, also feared that accepting black men into the military would cause border states like Maryland and Missouri to secede.

Free black men were finally granted the right to enlist in 1862, after the passage of the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, which freed slaves who that had masters in the Confederate Army, and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. By May 1863, the Bureau of Colored Troops was created in order to manage black recruits. Recruitment rates were not high until active efforts were made to enlist black volunteers—leaders like Frederick Douglass encouraged free black men to volunteer as a way to ensure eventual full citizenship.

Jason2

The gallant charge of the fifty fourth Massachusetts (colored) regiment: on the rebel works at Fort Wagner, Morris Island, near Charleston, July 18th 1863, and death of Colonel Robt. G. Shaw. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The first military regiment that had black soldiers was the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, raised in the North during the Civil War. Before 1863, no effort had previously been made to recruit black troops as Union soldiers. The passing of the Emancipation Proclamation late in 1862 got the ball rolling for discussion of the use of free black men as soldiers and, at a time when state governors were responsible for the training of regiments for federal service, Massachusetts led the pack with the creation of the 54th Regiment.

The creation of the regiment was controversial, drawing public attention from the beginning. Questions were prominent as to black men’s ability to fight in a “white man’s war.” Because the Lincoln Administration was worried that the inclusion of black troops would lead to border state recession, when Gen. John C. Frémont in Missouri and Gen. David in South Carolina issued proclamations that emancipated slaves in their military regions and permitted them to enlist, their superiors revoked their commands. By mid-1862, however, the declining number of white volunteers, and the increasingly pressing personnel needs of the Union Army pushed the Government into reconsidering the ban. As a result, Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army. Days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States, and on July 22nd Lincoln presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to  the Cabinet. After the Union Army turned back Lee’s first invasion of the North at Antietam and the Emancipation Proclamation was then announced, black recruitment was pursued earnestly. There were volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts in the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass’s own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers responded, and in May of 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the rising numbers of black soldiers.

Group shot, officers of the 54th Mass. Colored. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Group shot, officers of the 54th Mass. Colored. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Although John Andrew, Massachusetts governor at the time, believed that black men were completely suitable of leadership, others felt that commissioning blacks as officers was too controversial. The commissioned officers at the time were white and the enlisted men black. All black officers leading up to lieutenant were non-commissioned and got to their positions by moving up through the ranks. On May 28th, 1863, spectators lined the streets of Boston to view this experimental unit. The regiment departed Boston on the transport De Molay for the coast of South Carolina.

Black Union soldiers were not paid or even treated equally. They were paid $10 a month, and $3 was deducted from that total for the cost of clothing; white soldiers received $13 a month with nothing taken away for clothing. This is how it was until June 1864, when Congress granted backdated equal pay. Even in the North, racial discrimination was prominent and blacks were often not seen as equals by the white soldiers. Some of the white officers failed to adequately train the black soldiers under their watch, looking down upon them.

Black units that couldn’t evade capture by the Confederates were treated harsher than the white. In 1863, the Confederate Congress threatened to punish captured Union officers of black troops and to make slaves out of black Union soldiers. Abraham Lincoln issued the infamous General Order 233, threatening retaliation against Confederate POWs. At the Battle of Fort Pillow, Tennessee, on April 12, 1864, the jumbled Union garrison, made up of almost 600 soldiers, half being black, underwent almost 575 casualties when they were attacked by Nathan Bedford Forest’s Confederate cavalry. The fight was proclaimed a massacre by the Northern papers, and it was touted that black soldiers who tried to surrender were massacred. Other reports say the Union troops and their commanders refused to surrender. Exactly what happened at Fort Pillow is even controversial to this day, fueled by Forrest’s pre-war trade as a slave dealer and his post-war involvement with the KKK.

On March 13, 1865, legislation was passed that would free black slaves whom enlisted in the Confederate Army, as long as they had the consent of their masters. Only a handful of black soldiers, likely less than 50, enlisted due to this legislation and were still in training by the time the Civil War ended. Black troops played a major role at the Battle of the Crater during the siege of Petersburg, Virginia, and formed a significant part of the Union force during the Battle of Nashville.

Looking through old newspaper archives, such as 19th century articles from The New York Times, it became apparent to me some of the attitudes towards colored regiments—for example, volunteers were strongly urged to participate, though they wouldn’t receive ample pecuniary gain, and Governor Andrew in an 1863 message is recorded to strongly advocate the employment of colored soldiers in his Address, citing the 54th Regiment in particular for the proof of colored infantry in service.

One individual I decided to focus on was Peter Vogelsang, who was heavily involved in the progress of the 54th Regiment. He joined Company H (old diagrams showing that there were ten formations in all for the 54th) of the regiment as a Sergeant on April 17th, 1863. He was then promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant, and later commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and then as a 1st Lieutenant. He quickly rose through the ranks, although he was wounded in action and received a pension (as can be seen in the Compiled Military Service and pension record, which are both at the National Archives). Shortly after returning to civilian life in 1865 after the close of the Civil War, he married his sister-in-law, Maria Margaret De Grasse. He worked at a Customs House in lower Manhattan as a clerk and messenger, according to Brooklyn directories. In the 1870 Brooklyn census, he is listed as “George P. Bogessong” with Maria. She died on June 24th, 1885, at 76 years old, and he survived her by two years, buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery.

Of course, not all were lucky enough to be subjected to fate such as Vogelsang’s; nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the Civil War, out of an approximated 180,000. But the life and service of black soldiers such as Vogelsang’s really marks a bright spot of resilience and determination (especially considering attitudes towards black soldiers back then) in a particularly dark and bleak time in American history, a notion, thankfully, supported by genealogical and historical evidence.

~ Jason

Tracing Irish, Lebanese, and Italian Ancestry

As a young child my parents told me about the many places my ancestors had originated before immigrating to this country. I soon became fascinated with this knowledge and went through a brief phase in which I would ask all of my friends and teachers about their ancestry. While my interest in my own and other people’s ethnic heritage persisted, I never learned many details about my ancestors beyond my great-grandparents. Thus, I set out over the course of this summer to learn some basic information about a number of my ancestors with the modest hope of tracing all of my bloodlines out of the country.Ireland tourism destinations

I found that this task was actually far easier than I anticipated and was achieved using only the online resources on Ancestry.com and FamilySeach.org. Even my fairly basic searches helped me discover the names of ancestors previously unknown to me or my family as well as some interesting facts about them.

James_Lismore heritage    While tracing my Irish heritage I learned that my first ancestors in the United States were my great-great-great-grandfather David Mulcahy and his wife Mary Cashman, who arrived in 1870. While my family knew that these ancestors were from Ireland we were unsure of exactly where, though my grandmother believed they had come from somewhere near Cork. Using FamilySearch.org I was able to find their 1869 marriage record from Lismore, County Waterford (which neighbors County Cork) and thus confirm and enrich existing family knowledge.

I devoted some particular attention to tracing my direct paternal ancestors and the history of my family name. It was unclear to my father and our family when the first Macksoud arrived in America. We knew that my great-grandfather Philip Macksoud was born in Brooklyn, but it wasn’t clear to my surviving relatives when his parents, Alexander and Sophia, had arrived from Lebanon. While I was unable to find passenger records for these ancestors, using the 1915 and 1925 New York State census records available on Ancestry.com I was able to determine that they arrived in 1900. This confirmed that my father’s family has been living in Brooklyn for over 100 years.

Saint Ann Melkite Catholic Church, Woodland Park

Saint Ann Melkite Catholic Church, Woodland Park

My Lebanese family has often told colorful stories about my great-grandmother’s elder brother, Cyril Anid, who was a Melkite Greek Catholic priest. Cyril, who died in 1968, was essentially responsible for bringing his siblings with him to the United States. In his tenure as a priest he founded a Church that still serves the Melkite community in Northern New Jersey near where I live and which I’ve visited on one occasion. Cyril was also awarded the honorary title of Archimandrite (the eastern catholic equivalent of Monsignor) and I learned from records on ancestry.com that he made a trip to Brazil and Rome in 1953 and this gives some credence to a rumor that he had met the Pope. In the hope of learning more about Cyril I also visited the website of the Church he founded, St. Ann located in Woodland Park. I found that the website had a history section which included a short biography of my relative. I found that Cyril had attended seminary in Jerusalem and that he wrote a published autobiography at the end of his life. I hope now to acquire a copy of this book to learn more about his life and perhaps those of other ancestors in Lebanon.

Using the same online resources I managed to determine the arrival years of my Finnish and Spanish ancestors. However, I had a fair amount of difficulty with the Spanish family because of Spanish naming customs and my lack of fluency in the language. If I hope to perform any research into my Spanish ancestors outside of the United States I will need to gain additional skills and knowledge.

My last finding of interest, and perhaps the most important discovery I’ve made from this endeavor, concerns my Italian ancestors. My great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Francesco and Luisa Papale, married in Italy in their home town of Capua Vetere. Passenger lists on ancestry.com confirmed that Frank came over first in August 1922 before returning to Italy 1924 to bring his wife and infant son over in March of that year. Our family tradition has it that they rushed to catch the ‘last boat’ and perhaps this has some truth to it, since the 1924 immigration act was soon to come into effect and set a low quota on Italian immigrants. When looking at the federal census records for 1930 and 1940 I noticed that Francesco was an alien in 1930 but naturalized in 1940. My grandfather was born in 1935, and I discovered from various Italian genealogy websites that according to Italian citizenship law all of my grandfather’s decedents (myself included) would be eligible for Italian citizenship if my great-grandfather was naturalized after 1935.

This realization is something that would not have happened if I were not investigating my family’s history and I now intend to determine the exact date of Francesco naturalization through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. If I find that I am eligible I may very well pursue citizenship which would afford educational, work, and travel opportunities throughout the EU. Certainly this finding demonstrates that learning one’s family history is not only intriguing but can impact our lives in very tangible ways.

~James

What a Difference a Name Makes

Flag_of_ItalyUsing the resources at Ancestry.com, particularly their world records section, I was able to locate a good portion of my Italian heritage. The task was challenging from the outset, particularly due to my family being poor historians. Questions as to spelling of last names (even the knowledge of first names!) were often met with uncertainty.  Even my grandfather’s actual date of birth was somewhat of a mystery, as my mother noted he possibly lied about it upon his return America as a young teenager. My grandparents on both sides were all born in New York but it was their parents and their grandparents and so on that required the real digging.

Although I had names, the Italian spellings were still my biggest enemies. I’s changed to e’s, incorrect information on censuses, ‘Marie’ vs. ‘Maria’. We’re lucky to have online resources such as Ancestry.com whose functionality in terms of search makes tracking down these misspelled/uncertain names easy, allowing for records to come up with only the first three letters of names. I would imagine genealogical research prior to a service such as Ancestry would have been more arduous and the need toKingdom of Naples be more creative in terms of one’s own searches a necessary trait to possess.

In my own research one of the obstacles came in the form of the surname Badalamenti vs. Badalamente. My family uses the latter whilst many records are indexed under the former. Italian records provided numerous individuals with this surname, in both forms. Also with Italian records there is the challenge of the Americanization of first names: Giuseppe becomes Joseph, Nunziata becomes Nancy. Normally the given names are the ones found on the Italian records but things begin to shift once immigration to America occurred. I would find myself searching for all possible forms and spellings of the names.

I was able to get as far back as the 1820s in Southern Italy for my family. My ancestors on both sides seemed to always be near either Naples or Sicily.  Many of the later records are only indexed with a name and a date of birth on Ancestry.com, without detailed information. A trip to the town’s archives is the next logical step and if I do make it to Italy one day it’s something I’ll definitely want to research.

There are always a few gems when performing genealogical research. Mine were a census record which I had believed to document my grandfather living with my grandmother prior to their marriage. It made my mother question if she’d gotten the dates wrong or if these simply weren’t the same people. We stumbled upon other information from another census whAl Caponeich was clearly my grandparents, in the proper New York Borough and closer in age and decided the former was not ours. Nevertheless, this debate caused quite a stir among the family. The other find was a newspaper article depicting how the uncle of my grandfather was gunned down in the streets in Michigan in an organized crime-related death. Shortly after this my grandfather moved to Chicago to help out his uncle’s wife and their children. I attempted to find my grandfather’s whereabouts from his time there but came up short.

Family legend has it, however, that he knew Al Capone.

~ Sarah

Tracking an Ancestor in the Civil War

Max Jacoby listed in NYC regiments

Max Jacoby listed in NYC regiments

Over the course of my internship at the NYG&B, I was able to learn so much about my family’s history through many different resources. When I initially planned my mode of research, I wanted to find out more about one of my distant ancestors, named Max Jacoby, who, according to family lore, served in the Civil War. As I soon discovered, Max was not as distant to me as I once thought. He was my great-great-great grandfather and lived the majority of his life less than ten miles away from where I grew up. I was able to uncover valuable information such as his address in New York City and later in Newark, New Jersey—as well as census records, donation slips, and even his Civil War draft registration card. Because Max Jacoby turned out to be much easier to uncover than I had expected, I made it my goal to continue searching as far down that family line as I could possibly get. Unfortunately, as a Jewish family in the mid-19th century, very little information exists prior to the time they entered the United States, where we have lived for many generations longer than other Jewish families in the region. Max’s mother Anna is the first member of my family I was able to locate in the United States and she is believed to have been born in Germany. As such, I could never find out the name of Max Jacoby’s father, probably because he was born in Germany sometime before the 1840s, and generally hit a brick wall for all generations prior to the mid- 19th Century.

Max Jacoby in the 1900 census

Max Jacoby in the 1900 census

The US records were much easier to find, and provided a wealth of information on more recent generations. Some of the more recent generations on my mother’s side were very interesting to look at because I knew most of them personally, like my great-aunt Hortense, who lived to be over a hundred years old, was listed in an early 20th Century census as “dance instructor”—a profession my family has always laughed about .  Although my own family’s history does not stretch back very far in this country, I still had a great time looking through source materials and trying to find out many things that I did not know previously. Hopefully I can continue to practice genealogical research on my own time and ultimately find out more about where I come from.

~Ted

Kings County Potter’s Field: The Forgotten Dead

Back when I was much younger, I thought that burying the dead as a dignified affair.

I was wrong.

My assumption was first challenged when my parents first told me about the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, since it was a case where people tried to forget about the dead. While my project had nothing to do with the African Burial Ground, this place gave me the inspiration to do research on a place where the dead have been long “forgotten.” That was when my mind turned to potter’s fields, or places where only the impoverished could be buried.

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 73 [... Digital ID: 1810878. New York Public Library

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 73 [… Digital ID: 1810878. New York Public Library

I started doing research on what potter’s fields used to exist in New York City, and this search took me through a book called The Fairchild Cemetery Manual: A Reliable Guide to the Cemeteries of Greater New York and Vicinity. While looking at this book, I noticed a mention of a potter’s field called “Kings County Cemetery.” I found this strange, because I have never heard of a “Kings County Cemetery.” It was a place prominent enough to be in the guide, yet now hardly anybody talks about it, save the occasional forum about a “County Farms Cemetery” (another name for Kings County Cemetery) on Ancestry.com. I wanted to find out more about this place, since it went from having some notoriety to disappearing into near-complete obscurity.

The initial information I looked for was on the location of the field, to make sure that the potter’s field really did exist. This search took me through the New York Public Library’s digital maps (http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/).  As it turned out, some of the digital maps in their collection were property maps of Flatbush, the neighborhood the potter’s field was in. Through the property maps, I found out that the field was on Clarkson Avenue (labeled Clarkson Street on the property maps I found), east of the current Kings County Hospital Center but west of Utica Avenue.

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 72 [... Digital ID: 1810877. New York Public Library

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 72 [… Digital ID: 1810877. New York Public Library

I also found out a lot about the story of this potter’s field through The Brooklyn Daily Eagle‘s archives, which is on http://bklyn.newspapers.com/. Through the paper, I learned about when the place was open (from 1853 to 1917), and I also found out how many bodies the potter’s field had (over 100,000 people by the time the place closed). While these statistics are important, they ignore the tumultuous history of the field. It was a history marked by the threat of building over the field. It was a threat that was openly talked about by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 1913, when the building of Winthrop Street (the street north of Clarkson Avenue) happened over a part of the potter’s field. The building of Winthrop Street was viewed as a sign of progress by the paper, and on a number of occasions the paper viewed the presence of the potter’s field as a symbol of blight. In spite of the disagreeable presence of the place, the circumstances involving the potter’s field closure (including the disinterments that followed) were equally disagreeable. This was because many thought that the presence of disinterred bodies out into the open air was a health hazard.

As it turned out, it was the issue of disinterments that took up much of my research time. When this potter’s field was asked about on Ancestry.com, a poster suggested that the bodies were re-interred to the Hart Island Potter’s Field (also known as City Cemetery) in The Bronx. This issue led me to the New York Municipal Archives, since they have Hart Island records. I asked whether they have any records showing that bodies were re-interred from the potter’s field on Clarkson Avenue to Hart Island. To their knowledge, there was no reinterment of Kings County Potter’s Field bodies to Hart Island. Further research on disinterments from Kings County Potter’s Field ended up showing that the Municipal Archives was almost certainly correct; The Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s article on the closure of the potter’s field said that the bodies would be moved to North Brother’s Island (North Brother Island, a currently abandoned island northwest of Rikers Island).

Unfortunately, I was unable to confirm (or deny) for sure that the bodies were re-interred to North Brother Island. However, in my efforts to confirm the reinterments, I was also able to find out that a potter’s field existed on North Brother Island. I managed to find out about a potter’s field even more hidden in local history than the one on Clarkson Avenue in Flatbush; since so little is known about these potter’s fields, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and forum posts on Ancestry.com are the only sources which mention what happened to the bodies that used to be at Kings County Potter’s Field. While nothing can be said for sure, a 1917 article from The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on the Kings County Potter’s Field closure is probably more believable than a forum post made over 90 years after the field closed.

This does not necessarily disprove that there are still bodies under the former potter’s field. In fact, the building of Winthrop Street over a part of the potter’s field (without any talk of disinterments in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle) leads one to think that there might be some bodies under that street. Then there is the parking lot on the northeast corner of where the potter’s field used to be (near Winthrop Street and Utica Avenue); this is the one area of the former potter’s field property that has never been developed. If there are bodies below the current property (Kingsboro Psychiatric Center), it might be below the parking lot.

Regardless of whether the bodies were re-interred to North Brother Island, the uncertain status of where the bodies lie reflects on the truly forgotten nature of these people. Such was the lack of dignity given to the impoverished dead.

~Brendan

 

Sources:

Brooklyn Property Maps Showing the Potter’s Field:

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 72 [Map bounded by Winthrop St., E. 48th St., Lenox Rd., E. 45th St.]. http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=1905946&imageID=1810877&total=131&num=60&parent_id=1902778&s=&notword=&d=&c=&f=&k=1&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&lword=&lfield=&sort=&imgs=20&pos=75&snum=&e=w.

Brooklyn V. 10, Plate No. 73 [Map bounded by Winthrop St., E. 51st St., Lenox Rd., E. 48th St.]. http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/dgkeysearchdetail.cfm?trg=1&strucID=1905947&imageID=1810878&total=131&num=60&parent_id=1902778&s=&notword=&d=&c=&f=&k=1&sScope=&sLevel=&sLabel=&lword=&lfield=&sort=&imgs=20&pos=76&snum=&e=w.

Various reports on the Kings County Potter’s Field

Fairchild Sons. Fairchild Cemetery Manual: A Reliable Guide to the Cemeteries of Greater New York and Vicinity. Brooklyn, NY: Fairchild Sons, 1910.

“New Street Invades Paupers’ Graveyard.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22 Aug. 1913.

“Keeper of God’s Acre Soon to Lose Place.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1 Jul. 1917.

“Paupers Burial Ground a Disgrace to the City.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 3 Jun. 1906.

Talk of a potter’s field on North Brother Island:

Horton, Sydney. “Chapter Spotlight: Safe Harbor.”  http://archive.audubonmagazine.org/fieldnotes/fieldnotes0501.html