Franz Sigel (November 18, 1824 – August 21, 1902) was a military officer, revolutionist and German immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the Civil War. He was able recruit German-speaking immigrants to the Union armies, greatly appreciated by President Abraham Lincoln.
Sigel served in the German military for many years, he became Secretary of War and commander-in-chief of the revolutionary republican government of Baden and was wounded during battle. He immigrated to New York in 1852 along with many others from his corp.
He taught in the New York Public schools, but eventually moved to St. Louis to teach. In 1857, he became a professor at the German-American Institute in St. Louis. He was elected director of the St. Louis public schools in 1860. He was influential in the Missouri immigrant community. He attracted Germans to the Union and antislavery causes when he openly supported them in 1861.
At the end of his service in the Civil War, he turned to writing and wrote for the Baltimore Wrecker newspaper before returning to NYC to serve as an editor. He also served in many political positions in New York State as well as giving lectures, working in advertising and publishing the New York Monthly, a German-American periodical, for some years.
In NYC, you can find a statue of Mr. Sigel in Riverside Park near 106th street, a street in Williamsburg Brooklyn named for him, and Sigel Park in The Bronx.
In 1925, Owen F. Dolen (c.1864-1925) was asked to speak at a ceremony in this park, then known as Westchester Square. The occasion was the unveiling of a new monument to the neighborhood soldiers who died in World War I (1914-1918). Dolen was a well-respected educator and life-long member of the Bronx Westchester Park community, and had spearheaded the campaign to place the memorial at the square. He gave a rousing twenty-five minute speech, bowed to the crowd, sat down, and died of a heart attack just minutes later. On April 30, 1926, the Board of Aldermen (now the City Council) voted to name the park Owen F. Dolen Park in his memory.
The beautiful park is over 2 acres and has expanded since 1926. The building in the park was expanded 1982 to become the Owen Dolen Golden Age Center, and is now the Owen Dolen Recreation Center with a kitchen, computer lab, fitness room, study room, performance space, and billiards and pool tables for use by area residents. The two halves of the park were joined in 1993. A $4.5M remodeling in 2013 included a new stage for outdoor performances (to the left of the buildng) and a pedestrian plaza, seen in front of the building.
Maria Hernandez lived in Bushwick Brooklyn and fought against drug dealers in the neighborhood. Maria was born in Brooklyn in 1953 and lived in Bushwick until 1989. She was educated at public schools in the borough and went to New York University for Accounting.
Maria Hernandez and her husband tried to evict drug dealers from her neighborhood of Bushwick. They tried to stop them by rallying support for their efforts and educating her neighbors about the need to evict the drug dealers. She organized block parties and community gatherings.
On August 8, 1989 Maria was shot 5 times through her window in her apartment on Starr Street, later dying of her wounds. Due to her brave and committed role in the community, the park in Bushwick was renamed in her honor. Her efforts have made a real difference in the Bushwick neighborhood which is now considered a very desirable place to live.
Herbert Von King was a tireless neighborhood activist nicknamed “the Mayor of Bed-Stuy. He worked tirelessly to serve his community for over fifty years. In 1933 he founded Boy Scout Troop 219 to provide a constructive outlet for the local boys. This earned him the Vigil award, one of the highest honors one can get form the organization. While working as a contractor, Mr. Von King served on the local school board, the Police Civilian Committee, and the Magnolia Earth Tree Center (a conservationist organization). Herbert Von King Park was dedicated to this civic leader in 1985 and this was the first park designed by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, the same men who designed Prospect Park and Central Park.