Sunday, July 9, 2017

(UPDATE) NEWARK - May You Eat Interesting Food, or, What's on at Moy Jim Kee's?

Yeah, yeah, I know this post is about Newark, but Rev. Moy Jim Kee got his start in the City. And I'm feeling like a sinophile with a nostalgia for interesting times.

Pardon my poor translation.
"jau ceoi si kei zoi wut"

"That versatile and Christianized Chinaman, Moy Jim Kee, whose evangelizing efforts in New York and Newark have been duly chronicled, last week opened the first Chinese hotel and restaurant for the convenience of his fellow countrymen in Newark ever established in New Jersey. It is modeled after the famous Wo Kee hotel, in New York. A reporter received an invitation to be present at a repast..."* And here is what he had to say about what he saw: 

1.) "Among the esteemed choicest of luxuries were 'infant's eyes,' called in Chinese 'Ha Pan Lan,' declared by the partakers to make the most delicious stew." 

These were said to be the eyes of a fish having extraordinarily large eyes.  Maybe some kind of shrimp?  Ha, (haa) means shrimp.  But pan (paa) could be a loquat...who knows what it actually was.

2.) "The repast included also the 'Maaguee," another fish, rather like a flounder, having its white meat dried and salted. 

3.) "Another strange-looking dried fish was the 'Low-Wee." 

4.) "Another singular-looking article of Chinese food shown was the 'Haer-mai,' which looked like a handful of desiccated maggots or meal-worms....'They are stewed in milk,' exclaimed Mr. Kee*, 'and make a beautiful soup.'" 

haa mai (蝦米 ) dried small shrimp 
*Mr. Kee was actually probably Mr. Moy, according to Chinese naming standards.

5.) "Then there were disclosed various quantities of 'Tong-Ken' --preserved ginger..." 
saang goeng (生薑) fresh ginger? 

6.) "'Sune Tsue'--very fine vermicelli made of rice..." 
Maybe some kind of sour noodle dish?  Sune (syun) means sour.  Tsue (ceoi) means brittle.  I can't make much out of this.

7.) "'Foo-Sok'--something of the nature of maccaroni [sic]..."  The only similar thing I can find is dou soek min, or hand shaved noodles. 

8.) "Bok-Mai,' or rice..." 
baak mai (白米) white rice

9.) "'Crun-Quoit,'--or small green berries, candied..." 
gam gwat (金橘) kumquat 

10.) "'Tu-Pocuee,'--a little fish smelling like sardines and put similarly in oil..." 

11.) "The 'Lap-Chong,' or Chinese sausage..." was made of a meat much sweeter than horse meat, which Mr. Kee had just extolled, it was made of cat meat. "Now, have you ever noticed that you can not find a cat around a Chinese laundry?" Kee asked. 

laap coeng (臘腸) Cantonese pork sausage 

12.) "There was also seen the 'La-Chee," a singularly formed and really delicious tasting nut..." 
lai zi (荔枝) lychee 

13.) "Yin-Wa" 
jin wo (燕窩) edible swallow's nest 

14.) "Suee-Chee" ??

* The Topeka Daily Capital, February 6, 1885.  This article ran in several papers until 1886.


The earliest mention I can find of Mr. Moy (Moy was his last name, and Jim Kee his given name. According to New York's Chinatown: An Historical Presentation of Its People and Places, by Louis Joseph Beck, he had a brother, Dr. Jin Fuey Moy who used Moy as his surname.) is in the Weekly Star of Wilmington, North Carolina, March 28, 1879:

From Burk's New York's Chinatown
"The curious spectacle of a Chinaman addressing a Sunday school was witnessed in New York on Sunday last.  Moy Jim Kee, a Christianized Chinaman, was the speaker."

According to the Beck book, Moy established the Chinese Mission of the Methodist Episcopal Church at 14 Mott Street in 1878.

By May 1879, Moy was in prison for theft.  "The worst part of it is that the Mongolian preacher was found in possession of the stolen goods."  (The Cincinnati Daily Star, May 19, 1879 and The Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel, May 24, 1879)  I can not find anything publicizing his guilt or innocence.

The next mention of Moy is the abovementioned article in which he opened a hotel for Chinese.

The following is the final article I can find on Moy.

Click image to enlarge
The Akron Daily Democrat, March 9, 1901

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MANHATTAN - 1896 Death of a Colorado Politician Near a Harlem Casino

Found "in a lot of weeds, on the west side of Eighth Avenue, between 152nd and 153rd streets at 2:45 o'clock [November 19, 1896]," Frank P. Arbuckle, Chairman of the Democratic Committee of the State of Colorado.  Last seen alive at Maj. George W. Sauer's Atlanta Casino, which stood on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and 155th Street. His death was of natural causes, his body had been robbed.

The Buffalo Commercial, November 19, 1896, page 1
The Tammany Times, December 1, 1896, page 6

The casino burned down February 11, 1898.

I might mention here that the St. Nicholas Park Hotel was also owned by Germans; Edward and Martin Grassmuck.   

There was a period of time, perhaps from 1850 to 1900, that Harlem was in deed dominated by Germans.  There were German churches (like St. Joseph's, on 125th Street, also mentioned previously in this blog) and German shops like H. C. F. Koch & Co. on West 125th Street.  They left with the arrival of the blacks.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

BROOKLYN - The Garret Bergen Home, Third Avenue Between 33rd and 34th Streets

According to The American Magazine, Volume 40, pages 235-236, the vanished Bergen Homestead is haunted.

The Battle of Long Island was fought on August 27, 1776.  

The date of 1564 mentioned in the article is incorrect.  The house was built in 1662 by a widow named Mary Thomas.  It was sold by a William Thomas to Teunis Bergen (1730-1807) in 1763.  The Bergens were early settlers of New Amsterdam.  The Teunis G. Bergen mentioned in the article was a politician and a United States Representative from New York.  

Friday, June 9, 2017

STATEN ISLAND - The Alice Austen House

According to The American Magazine, Volume 40, pages 235-236, the Austen Mansion, now known as the Alice Austen House, is haunted.

Official museum website:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

MANHATTAN - Pre-1865 Fire Department Company Names and Locations

I'm not sure if any of these buildings still stand apart from the one at 20 Eldridge Street.

From The New York City Register, Compiled by H. Wilson, 1859

Saturday, May 27, 2017

MANHATTAN - Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum... Garrit Storm

Like a miniature church,
the Mausoleum of Garrit Storm, Esq.
An Old Citizen Gone.--Garret [sic] Storm, an old and well-known citizen, for many years a resident of the Second Ward, died on Thursday, aged seventy-four.
The New-York Tribune, August 2, 1851, page 5

Garrit Storm was many things.  Merchant, Democratic Republican, jury member of the People v. Levi Weeks trial, which featured Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and Henry Brockholst Livingston as attorneys for the defendant. Storm bought the "bad lands" at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue for $15,000--an amount which, owing to inflation, is only worth about $438,000 today.  He appears to have been a very shrewd businessman, and left his two daughters a magnificent inheritance.  

He was also probably a bit of an Ebenezer Scrooge.  

Garrit Storm, we believe, was never guilty of the impropriety of paying his clerks large salaries.  Had any of them, like Oliver Twist, in their innocency, "asked for more," Garrit would have certainly collapsed.
The Old Merchants of New York City, Volume 4, page 325, by Joseph Alfred Scoville 

An Interesting Coincidence

The May 15, 1847 edition of the Poughkeepsie Journal includes a long (rather too long) ballad called "The Robbery of Garret Storm."  Fifteen stanzas of... well, here's a sample:

His aged limbs, they now entwine,
Drag round and round his fam'ly shrine,
More cruel tortures yet await
That blind man's dire portentous fate;
His cup's run full, and swimming o'er,
His locks are stain'd with crimson gore.

This poem is about Storm's grandfather, a Dutchman also named Garrit Storm.  

For the last thirty years of [my grandfather's] life he was entirely blind, having lost his sight by the careless pitching of a sheaf of wheat into the barn before he was ready to receive it. He was very irascible in his temper and would swear roundly if his meals were not brough(t) to him when hungry and alone in midnight darkness. He was the greatest chewer of tobacco I ever knew; in fact, it was the only comfort remaining to him after his misfortune. He was a staunch whig and friend of his country. In the war of independence a party termed "Cowboys" from below attacked his house and hung him up to force him to disclose his money; the neighbours, however, heard the alarm and rushed in to the rescue of the family in time' to cut him down.
Garrit Storm's Narrative 
 Grandfather Storm sounds charming.

As for the interesting coincidence,  Grandson Storm was robbed as well.

In the (Wall Street) house belonging to Mr. Storm, the villains broke the looking glasses, the cabinet ware, and all the china they could lay their hands on.  
The Evening Post, September 6, 1822, page 2 

Adding insult to injury causes me to think that the thieves really detested Garrit Storm, Esq., or his class of people in general.  Come to think of it, from the sound of him, I probably would've loathed the man too.  What I can gather of his story brings to the imagination a rich man getting richer off the backs of poor men.  But isn't that just part of the story of New York?!   

* The Narrative of Garrit Storm unique family information
Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America's First Sensational Murder Mystery

Friday, May 26, 2017

MANHATTAN - Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum... and Magic

Click to enlarge any image
Trinity Church Cemetery facing Amsterdam Avenue
What secrets does it hold?
Schoenlein headstone with magic paraphenalia
The grave pictured above belongs to Konrad Schoenlein (1833-1867), his wife Elisabeth (1831-1910), and their children Margaretha (1857-1858), Konrad (1858-186[1]), and Karl (1861-186[5]).  I can't find anything in the newspapers or census records about this family.  All that is known is that they were German and they had three children who died very young.  Perhaps Frederick Schoenlein (1862-1930), buried elsewhere in this cemetery, is also a child of Konrad and Elisabeth.

Base of Schoenlein headstone
Near Schoenlein headstone

As for the strange mess at the base of the headstone, what kind of mess is it?  It most likely has to do with one of the Afro-Caribbean religions; Santeria and Dominican Vudu have many believers in the neighborhood.*  

Black candles are used in work with the dead as well as in curses.  Coconuts are given as offerings to spirits and used as ingredients in various magic spells.  Why was the Schoenleins' burial spot chosen for this activity?  It's a mystery to all but the practitioner and the entity who led them here.

I do wonder why these people believe that the spirits of bygone German- and British-Americans (for those groups make up the majority of those buried here) will be willing to assist them in their endeavors.  Assuming that the dead retain the personalities they possessed in life (which is the belief within the African diaspora religions), it seems unlikely that anyone interred here would be willing to cooperate with "island heathens" and "dreaded Nanigos."

Have no fear, whatever this is all about, I knew better than to touch it!

*This section of Washington Heights has been nicknamed Little Dominican Republic.

Headstone of Peter Snyder, father and Henry Snyder (1846-1867), son.
It is doubtful that the Snyders have a living relative to burn a candle for them (see foot of monument).
Why was this site chosen?  Perhaps unrelated, the carcass of a medium-sized bird was laying on top
of the monument, being feasted upon by flies. 
Something in a black bag tied up in red thread
This is probably a love spell, tied up tightly in red, the color of love.  Some woman probably has a man who is a bit of a rover and she wants to "tie him up" so he won't leave her.  But as this was deposited in a cemetery, she might be trying to "kill his nature" so that he can't have sex with another woman.  Or she could be cursing him to be hers or die.

It's a little creepy to find a spot that looks recently dug in a section where no one's been buried for a hundred years or so.
Maybe a tree was removed.  Yeah, that's the ticket.
Apparently Mary Augusta Warren (née Harvey)'s spirit requested the following...
...some pocket change, a plastic chamomile container with brown water in it, some kind of bread, a boiled tuber, a smelly fish, a white candle and a stogie.  Because these were favorites of hers, apparently.
This is a picture of Mary Warren, that I found on Find a Grave.  If her spirit still hovered near her grave, do you think she'd be amused or disgusted?