Ida's Journal part I C Connelly mcgil email@example.com
In going through some of my grandfather's old books, I came upon a 1965 edition of the "Staten Island Historian, " the newsletter of the Staten Island Historical Society. This issue contained excerpts from a series of journals written by a young lady named Ida Dudley Dale. Ida lived in West Brighton and in her travels around the Island tells us what Staten Island was like in the early 1900's. I thought I should share some of it with you. (The excerpts were edited for the newsletter and I've also done some editing.) Enjoy!
"Every Saturday," she wrote, "we take a drive both before and after dancing school and have with us our kodaks and field glasses."
On a bright morning in October 1906, she and her cousin started out for a long walk. "After leaving an order at Kelly the butchers on Post Avenue, we crossed the broad open fields towards Bulls Head... Upon reaching Cherry Lane (Forest Avenue) we continue along to Graniteville then turned south on the lovely Willowbrook Road. It seemed so very countrified, with dense woodland to the east and but few homes after passing the old Methodist Church and the large, mansard roof (house) of John Garret and Harriet Tysen Martling on the western side... Set way back were several much older houses hardly visible behind tall trees. One belongs to the Lake family, who were early photographers."
They rested in a hemlock grove on Willowbrook Road. "We reluctantly left this never-to-be-forgotten beauty spot and soon were enthusing over one of our oldest stone homesteads, well cared for, freshly whitewashed and cheerful. I recognized it from an illustration in Morris' History of Staten Island as the old Cruser-Pero home... it faces south, on the northwest corner of Willowbrook and Watchogue Roads. A covered grape arbor leads to the Dutch half-door. Away to the west in the direction of Bulls Head, acre's of farm land, laid out in celery, corn and potatoes. Almost directly opposite... stands another, equally old, stone house, the Mersereau homestead... "Walking east on Watchogue Road, the old Vreeland stone house faced north… This settlement of early Dutch and Huguenots, in more recent years, was known as Butcherville. How sordid a name for so poetic a place!"
Emerson Hill on a fine spring day in 1908 was the objective of another long walk. "...we entered from the Clove Valley through a rustic gateway and I never saw before such large, sky blue violets... The climb was most interesting; for every few steps left the Clove further below and the hill on the other side, which forms the deep valley, seemed to bear us company... On reaching the top of our hill we found an inviting rustic summer house, amid sweet smelling shrubs and pines, where we rested... it was hard to pull away from this inspiring spot . . . we continued rambling about the winding hedge-bordered lanes...passing eight or ten very artistic houses...low and rambling, with quaint casement windows and German-like gardens... one can either walk along the abruptly circling road, or descend a long flight of rustic steps to Richmond Road, out of sight below... We continued on the "S" like road, leading down to the main entrance. Passing through the tall gate-posts, near the Lodge House, we paused to admire two gigantic elms, in front of each post, and which formed a natural gateway, over-arched by foliage."
"From here we walked all the way up the Clove, stopping in Barrett Nurseries to inquire when our order for evergreens would arrive, and down through the glen, along Martling's Lane to our home "Manordale" on old Manor Road...
To be continued...
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