Cornelis Melyn, early settler of Staten Island, instigator

Cornelis Melyn (1600 – c. 1662) was an early Dutch settler in New Netherland and lived on Staten Island. He was the chairman of the council of eight men, which was a part of early steps toward representative democracy in the Dutch colony. He was born in Antwerp which was part of the Spanish Netherlands. He decided to move to New Amsterdam on his second visit in 1638. He returned to the Netherlands and applied for the Patroonship of Staten Island, which he was granted July 3, 1640. A Patroonship allowed a landholder in New Netherland and its colonies, proprietary and manorial rights to a large tract of land in exchnage for 50 new settlers… Read More

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Wilhelm Christian Weitling, writer, tailor, inventor

Wilhelm Christian Weitling (1808 – 1871) was a tailor, inventor, and radical political activist. He immigrated from Germany and invented attachments for commercial sewing machines like devices for double-stitching and the button holes. Prior to his inventions, these had been done by hand and kept many families afloat with piece work by the women and children of poor areas in NYC. Weitling was raised in dire poverty, while his mother made a meager living as a maid and cook. His father, who never married his mother, was killed in war before Wilhelm turned 5.  His education was limited to elementary school and any… Read More

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Joseph Howard Jr. – “journalist”, forger

Joseph Howard Jr. (June 3, 1833 – March 31, 1908) was an American journalist, war correspondent, publicist and newspaperman. He was one of the top reporters for The New York Times, city editor of the Brooklyn Eagle and longtime president of the New York Press Club. During the Civil War, Mr. Howard forged a conscription document saying President Lincoln was calling up an additional 400,000 men. That eventually caused the temporary artificial inflation of the gold market in NYC, allowing him to make a huge profit on his holdings in a very short period of time. He was arrested for… Read More

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Edward “Monk” Eastman, gangster, war hero

Edward “Monk” Eastman (1875 – December 26, 1920) was a New York City gangster who founded and led the Eastman Gang, which became one of the most powerful street gangs in New York City and is considered to be one of the last of the 19th-century New York gangsters. His father was a civil war veteran who abandoned the family by the time Edward was 5 and he lived with his maternal grandparents, mother and siblings.   His first arrest was in 1898 and while in prison became part of the Allen Street Cadets. He was known for his messy… Read More

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