I have something to add to the discussion about Brady's Pond. My two great-uncles, Henry and Albert Hemmes, died on March 3, 1900 in Brady's Pond. The 14 year old brother, John, was my grandfather. This is the text of the newspaper story reporting the drowning [source unknown]:
DEATH PUTS STOP TO GAME ON ICE
Two Brothers Drowned While Playing on Brady's Pond at Grasmere, S.I.
LOST THEIR FIRST CAUTION
Bernard Hennes [sic] Bereft of Two of His Sons and Another Barely Rescued in Time.
BRAVE ACT OF A WORKMAN
Albert and Henry Hennes, six and eight years old, respectively, were drowned while playing on the ice at Grasmere, S.I., yesterday. They were with their brother John who is fourteen years old, when the ice gave way. All three were quickly taken from the water, and John was revived, but the others were dead when aid came. The boys' father is Bernard Hennes, a grocer, who lives near the place of the accident.
Shortly after noon yesterday one of the boys proposed going to Brady's Pond, which adjoins the power house of the Edison Electric Railway Company, at the junction of Crow and Mosel avenues, Grasmere, and the others assented. When they reached the pond John tried the ice, and, although it was thin, there were several children playing there, and they thought it safe. They did not go near the centre, but ran around near the shore.
Finally one of the children proposed a sliding match. This was agreed to. John started first. He started from the bank and slid directly out from shore as far as possible. Then Albert and Henry followed. They did not go as far as their brother, but started to walk out to where he was.
When all three were close together and in just about the centre of the ice there was a sharp crack and the ice gave way. The water where they stood was six feet deep and none of them could swim. As the three boys disappeared beneath the water the children around ran screaming for assistance.
James Thompson, employed by the New York and Staten Island Electric Railway Company, was working in the road near the pond and was attracted by their cries. Rushing to the edge, he threw off his coat and shoes and plunged into the icy water. Thompson first brought John to the surface and handed him over to some men from the power house.
Returning to the water, he found Albert and while he was taking him out Henry was discovered by a fireman. The boys were taken to the power house, and Dr. Goodwin, who came in about a minute declared that Albert and Henry were dead. John was unconscious, but, after an hour's work upon him, was revived.
This is the text of another article which was printed about the time of the death of Henry and Albert. The source is unknown.
STATEN ISLAND'S DEATH POOL
Brady's Pond -- A Little Sheet of Water With a Sinister Record
Brady's Pond at Grasmere, Staten Island, holds the wretched record in Richmond for the drowning of children. It is doubtful if, for the past twenty years, the entire water front of the island could foot up a longer list of little victims than the one which is said to belong to that pond. Certainly no sheet of water in the borough is connected with sadder stories.
The Hemmes children, drown there the other day, bring the treacherous pool once more to the notice of the islanders. The superstitious say that it is a haunted hole covered by many a mother's curse. As a matter of fact it is a rather insignificant pond, although a maximum depth of twenty feet is ascribed to it. In the summer months its water is apt to give cramps to swimmers, and in the winter its ice is never to be trusted by skaters. "Keep away from Brady's Pond!" is the warning which parents in the neighborhood repeatedly give to their boys. But the little fellows love to splash and to skate.
Some years ago three little chaps, one a tot of five summers and the others seven and ten, went bathing in Brady's Pond. The ten-year-old remained in the water longer than the others. He could swim, but he got a cramp when we was beyond his depth. He sank, rose, screamed and gurgled. Immediately the seven-year-old hero, who could swim only a few strokes, jumped into the water and boldly struck out to save his little chum. After a brief struggle both sank and were drowned, leaving the little tot alone at the edge of the pond, crying and calling them between his sobs. At that time the place was lonely in the extreme. There was no one there to help the children. The accident happened about noon but the child remained on the bank until after sunset, and then at last in despair wandered off, trying to find his way home. A neighbor found him on Fox Hill and carried him to his mother to whom he lisped his story of Brady's Pond. The little bodies were recovered.
Without attempting to give the pond's entire list of fatal accidents it may be enough to recall some of them. About fifteen years ago a waif was found on Fox Hill, near Grasmere, and was promptly adopted by a kind-hearted old Irish woman who lived near the pond. He was a fine, healthy little boy, and the old woman became greatly attached to him. When he grew old enough she sent him to school in Clifton. The journey there included the climbing of Fox Hill and in the winter months in heavy frosts the little fellow used to cross the pond on the ice. That was the shortest way. One night he was missing. A search was made for him, but no trace of him could be found until morning when a hole in the ice, a few floating school books, and a little cap told the story.
The son of Mr. Macfarland, a well-known lawyer who lives at Arrochar, was the next conspicuous victim. He was a remarkable handsome boy, about 15 years old and a great favorite among all classes. He was fond of athletics and sports, and his constant companion was a large Newfoundland dog. While skating on that fatal pond he broke through the ice. During the search for him the pond, of course, was visited. Surrounded by a mass of broken ice that gave evidence of a hard and sad struggle, was the floating carcass of the Newfoundland dog. Fastened in its teeth was one of the boy's gloves. The noble animal had died in the effort to save his young master. A few moments grappling brought up the body of the boy. It is said on the island that Mr. Macfarland had the dog stuffed and that it stands in a glass case in one of the rooms of this house in Arrochar.
There seems to be always something singularly distressing in the stories of Brady's Pond and the drowning of the Hemmes children the other day forms no exception. They were fine, healthy and strong boys. After enjoying themselves boisterously on the ice for some time they joined hands and yelling with delight, made one wild rush to death.
In old times the pond and indeed all Fox Hill belonged to a once wealthy and prominent lawyer named Van Wagner and it is whispered that he has heirs who may possibly make trouble for some property holders in that neighborhood, but all that may be merely gossip. When the late Philip Brady, from whom the pond takes its name became the owner of it, he knew its dangerous peculiarities and did everything in his power to keep children and grown people too from bathing in it or skating on it. Its very name made many mothers shudder; but boys will be boys. Before the invasion of the Win[unable to read 3 words] those principal camping ground is known as South Beach, the neighborhood of Brady's Pond was well wooded. It was a little paradise for hunters of woodcock, snipes and ducks. The avenue running toward Fox Hill from Clifton now called St. Mary's avenue, used to be known as the Wood Road. From there most of the hunters came. It was an Irish colony and a delightful locality for any aspiring young man fond of a fight. Now it is an Italian colony. Ichabod! Or, as an old wood-roader might say, "Holy Smoke! Gone are the glories of its scrapes and sprees!"
In nearly every part of the island improvements [the rest of the story is missing]
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