Historic, but not famous

Ned Buntline, author, instigator

Edward Zane Carroll Judson Sr. (1821 or 1823– 1886), known as E. Z. C. Judson and by his pseudonym Ned Buntline, was an American publisher, journalist, writer, and publicist. He was born and died in the Western Catskill area of Upstate New York, but his time in the city was filled with adventure.

He ran away from home and served as a cabin boy and ended up on board a Navy vessel. He rescued the crew of a boat that had been run down by a Fulton Ferry in the East River and received a commission,  because of his bravery, as a midshipman in the Navy from  the president in 1838, and was assigned to the USS Levant. He later served on the USS Constellation and the USS BostonWhile in the Navy, he served in the Seminole Wars and after four years at sea, he resigned. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 1st New York Mounted Rifles and rose to the rank of sergeant before he was dishonorably discharged for drunkenness.

Judson’s first publication was an adventure story in The Knickerbocker in 1838. He signed on with numerous newspapers and story papers, but all of them failed. He moved around the country with his writing, and ended up in NYC in 1848.  His fame came from The Mysteries and Miseries of New York, a gritty serial story of the Bowery and slums of New York City. He was an opinionated man and strongly advocated nativism and temperance. He was also active in the Know Nothing political party movement. In 1844, he adopted the pen name “Ned Buntline” after a rope at the bottom of a square sail. Inspired by his Navy days.

His writing and association with New York City’s notorious gangs of the early 19th century, led Buntline to be considered one of the instigators of the Astor Place Riot, which left twenty-three people dead. He was fined $250 and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in September 1849.

He continued to write stories and dime novels, interviewing people like Buffalo Bill and basing stories around him. At one time he was one of the wealthiest writers in the United States, but died penniless in his Western Catskills home in 1886.

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Historic, but not famous

Charles Austin Beard, Historian
Beard in 1917

Charles Austin Beard (1874 – 1948) was born in Indiana, expelled from Quaker school, finally graduated from High School and eventually ran the area newspaper with his brothers. He attended DePauw University, running the newspaper there and graduating in 1898. He continued his studies at Oxford in 1899 and returned to the US with his wife in 1902 where he studied at Columbia University. He received his doctorate in history in 1904 and immediately joined the faculty as a lecturer.  In order to provide his students with reading materials that were hard to acquire, he compiled a large collection of essays and excerpts in a single volume: An Introduction to the English Historians (1906). This became a standard in education.

He moved through the ranks at Columbia, teaching in Public Law and Barnard College. He continued to write for journals, textbooks and political magazines. He  also coached the debate team and wrote about public affairs, especially municipal reform. He left Columbia University during the first World War as he disagreed with how the University was being managed, but still wanted to be involved in education.

He was not the last to leave the University in a dispute about academic freedom and management of faculty. His friend James Harvey Robinson also resigned from Columbia in May 1919 to become one of the founders of the New School for Social Research and serve as its first director. The Beards were active in helping Robinson found the New School for Social Research  where the faculty would control its own membership. Charles never taught there and did not seek a permanent position ever again. He lived off the royalties from the many textbooks and articles he continued to write.

Beard’s political views often went against the mainstream, but added perspective to interventionist and isolationist philosophies. By the 1950s his economic interpretation of history had fallen out of favor; only a few prominent historians held to his view of class conflict as a primary driver in American history.

Beard died in New Haven, Connecticut, on September 1, 1948 on the farm he shared with his wife.

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Historic, but not famous

William Dunlap, Artist, manager of Park Theater

William Dunlap (1766 – 1839) was a pioneer of American theater. He was a producer, playwright, and actor, as well as a historian. He was an artistic painter and managed two of New York City’s earliest and most prominent theaters, the John Street Theatre (from 1796–98) and the Park Theatre (from 1798–1805).

In 1783, he produced a portrait of George Washington, now owned by the United States Senate. He studied in Europe for a few years, but returned to New York in 1787 and worked exclusively in the theater for 18 years, returning to painting only when economically necessary. He produced more than sixty plays, most adaptations or translations from French or German works. He also wrote original plays based on American themes with American characters. He may be best known for the three-volume History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. The encyclopedic work was published in 1834, and considered an invaluable source of information about artists, collecting, and artistic life generally in the colonial and federal periods.

In 1825 Dunlap was one of the founders of the National Academy of Design, and taught at its school. The academy is located near the Guggenheim museum on 5th Avenue across from Central Park.

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Historic, but not famous

Guido Bruno, Bruno’s Garrett

Guido Bruno (1884–1942) was a well-known Greenwich Village character, and small press publisher and editor, sometimes called ‘the Barnum of Bohemia’. He emigrated to the United States from Prague as a second cabin class passenger under the name Kurt Kisch in December 1906. He was based at his “Garret on Washington Square” where for an admission fee tourists could observe “genuine Bohemian” artists at work. He staged “bohemian” working environments with painters, writers and models” and charged admission for the expectant visitors. He produced a series of little magazine publications from there and sold them to the tourists and others.

From July 1915 to December 1916, Bruno’s Weekly published poems, short stories, essays, illustrations and plays, as well as special sections, such as “Children’s House,” and “In Our Village.” His support for young unknown talent and his continuing battle for a freer American press were at the forefront of his work. He lost a lot of his own and others work,including unpublished manuscripts by Bernard Shaw and Mark Twain, when a fire tore through the building he lived at on Washington Square Park (no. 58) in 1916.


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