Kate Walker, lighthouse keeper

Katherine Walker (1848–1931), born in Germany, was an American lighthouse keeper. She married Joseph Kaird and they had a son, Jacob, in 1875, but Joseph died shortly after. In 1882, the widow and her young son emigrated to the United States. She met her second husband, Captain John Walker, while she was a cook in a boarding house in New Jersey. The couple married in 1884 and became the keepers of the lighthouse in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. A year later, they were assigned to the Robbins Reef Lighthouse in the New York Harbor and she had a daughter less than a year… Read More

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Henry G. Steinmeyer, historian

Henry Steinmeyer wrote one of the definitive books on the history of Staten Island from 1524-1898. Originally published in 1950, this book from the Staten Island Historical Society chronicles the Island’s history from colonization through the turn of the century. A native of Staten Island, Steinmeyer helped to establish the Richmondtown Restoration project. His genuine love of the Island and its past illuminates the pages of this lively and amusing history. The book was updated in 1987 with additional photographs of landmarks throughout Staten Island including the home of Cornelius Vanderbilt. The original printing in hard cover is hard to come by… Read More

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Joseph Sanguine, Staten Island Business Man

Joseph Sanguine (1801 – 1856) was a prominent businessman on Staten Island. He founded several companies, including the Staten Island Railway, serving as its first president. A boat ran daily between Joseph’s dock and Manhattan. He had an extensive oystering business, huge revenues in salt hay (from Lemon Creek wetlands, used to keep ice), and a candle factory, in addition to agricultural property and livestock. Sanguine built a large plantation house in 1838 in the Prince’s Bay area of Staten Island. At the time, he added a hay barn, carriage house and stables. Joseph did business with Cornelius Vanderbilt and for… Read More

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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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Antonio Meucci, inventor of telephone

Antonio Santi Giuseppe Meucci (13 April 1808 – 18 October 1889) was an Italian inventor and is best known for developing the first telephone in Staten Island, NY. Meucci set up a form of voice-communication link in his home that connected the second-floor bedroom to his laboratory. He submitted a patent  for his telephonic device to the U.S. Patent Office in 1871, but there was no mention of electromagnetic transmission of vocal sound in his application. That mention was made by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Meucci was admitted to Florence Academy of Fine Arts at the age of 15, as its youngest student, where he studied chemical and mechanical engineering. He was not… Read More

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Gustav A. Mayer, oreo cookie inventor

Gustav A. Mayer was a New York businessman, confectioner and inventor who is credited with the Oreo cookie and the sugar wafer. Mr. Mayer learned the confectioner’s trade in his native Germany before coming to the United States at age 19 in the late 1850s. The Nabisco plant he worked from is the current home of the Chelsea Market, which was recently purchased by Google. Mr. Mayer designed decorative cookie molds, allowing for cookies to be uniform and decorative. This technique was also used to create Christmas tree ornaments. He lived in a beautiful Italianite home in Staten Island which  may… Read More

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John de Morgan, author, Staten Island park advocate

Frank Sheridan a.k.a. John de Morgan, (1848-1926) was an Irish-born writer with a background in the classics. He worked as a tax-collector in Staten Island, New York. He  was a regular contributor of historical novels (specializing in Colonial and American revolutionary War stories), science fiction and other subjects for serials for Norman L. Munro’s Golden Hours from 1888 and also published three serials in George Munro’s Fireside Companion. He also wrote parodies and essays using the pseudonyms Captain Luther Barr, John L. Douglas, Frank Sheridan, and An Old Salt”. Mr. de Morgan lived on Staten Island from 1883 until his death… Read More

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