BLTC Press Titles

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The Bhagavad Gita


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Annals of Staten island, from its discovery to the present time

by J. J. Clute


In the following year, 1688, Dongan erected bis Manor House, which still remains, externally modernized in some degree; but the oak frame, hewn out of the adjacent forest, is the identical one erected by him, the date of its erection having been marked upon one of the timbers with white paint. The house alluded to is the one standing in the middle of the square bounded by the Shore Road on the north, Cedar Street on the south, Dongan Street on the east, and Bodine Street on the west, at West New Brighton. There is now a gradual descent of the surface of the land from the house to the Shore Road; but, originally, the earth was as high on the southerly side of the road as it now is at the house, forming a sand hill between the house and the road, and which entirely concealed the house from view when standing in the road in front of it. When this sand bank was removed, several skeletons, evidently of Indians, besides numerous other Indian relics, were unearthed, indicating this spot as having been one of their burial places.

There is a conveyance on record, in the office of the County Clerk, dated May 9th, 1715, from Thomas Dongan, Earl of Limerick, to Thomas, John, and Walter Dongan, and others, from which we make the following extract: "And the said Thomas, Earl of Limerick, being willing to preserve, and uphold, and advance, the name and family of Dongan, and having no issue of his own to continue the same, he, therefore, in consideration of natural love and affection to his kinsmen, the said John, Thomas, and Walter Dongan," &c.

This extract is made to show, by his own authority, that he had no descendants.

One of our State historians says: "The last of his descendants had reduced himself, by vice, to be a sergeant of foot or marines in 1798, '99." And again: "A Colonel Dongan was wounded on Staten Island in August, 1777, and died Sept . 1st; was he a grandson of the governor?"

The "kinsmen" mentioned in the conveyance, alluded to above, were nephews of the governor. The grave of one of them is marked by a tombstone, still standing in the churchyard of St. Andrews Church, in Richmond, and the following is the inscription thereon: "Walter Dongan, Esq., died July 25th, 1749, aged 57 years." Consequently, when the estate was conveyed to him by his uncle, the Earl of Limerick, he was about 23 years of age. His wife, Ruth, interred by his side, died July 28th, 1733, aged 32 years.

The late Walter Dongan, who owned an extensive property at the Four Corners, Castleton, where he died February, 1855, at the age of 93 years, was a descendant, either son or grandson, of Thomas, another of the nephews. John 0. Dongan, who was a supervisor in 1785, and several times Member of Assembly, was the son of the nephew Walter, who was surrogate in 1733, and was generally known as "Jackey Dongan." He succeeded by some means, in obtaining a very large part of the governor's estate ; he was a free-liver, and what in modern parlance is known as a "fast man." He disposed of mnch of his property in small parcels, at low prices, and finally the residue passed into the McVickar family, with which, it is said, he was connected by marriage. The Dongan family name is now extinct in the county, notwithstanding the governor's anxiety to perpetuate it.

Governor Dongan, though a professed papist, was a decided enemy to the French, whose schemes of aggrandizement on the northern frontier he persistently opposed, even against the expressed wishes of his master, the Duke of York, afterwards James II. The people of the province, and especially of the Island, where he resided, lived in constant dread of his religion. It was generally believed that Dongan had been appointed to his high trust for the purpose of forcing his religion upon the people of the province, and the fact that he selected his co-religionists, of whom there were some in the province, for the highest official positions, gave an aspect of probability to the suspicion. In 1689 the apprehensions of the people on Staten Island culminated in a panic. Fear reigned supreme for a while; they dared not remain at night in their own dwellings, but in the deepest recesses of the forest they constructed temporary shelters, to which they resorted after dark, that they might not be observed and their retreats discovered; they preferred to encounter the perils of the darkness and the forests, than trust themselves to the tender mercies of their fellow men. Some took their families upon the water in boats, which they anchored at a distance from the shore, and thus passed the nights; and various other expedients were resorted to for concealment and security. Reports of various kinds were spread, which added fuel to the flame, and kept it burning for some length of time; among these were, that a number of papists who had been driven out of Boston, had been received into the fort at New York, and had enlisted as soldiers; that the papists on the Island had secretly collected arms, which they kept concealed and ready for use at a moment's notice; that the Governor's brigantine had been armed, and otherwise equipped for some desperate enterprise, and the refusal of the commander of the vessel to permit it to be searched, was not calculated to allay the alarm. He admitted that the vessel had been armed, but not for the purpose alleged, but, as she was bound on a voyage to Madeira, she was in danger of being attacked by the Turks, and she had been armed for the defense of her crew and cargo. However plausible this reason might have been, it was not generally credited. The excitement at length subsided, and not a Protestant throat had been cut.

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