2004-09-10 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

History Of Broad Channel, Part III
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke


History Of Broad Channel, Part III

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

The trolley line was now a dead issue, and according to leases that were issued by the Cooperative Society of New Jersey in 1901-02, a Mr. Van Brunt and Mrs. Paul Kenn were on fill land at the south end of Broad Channel near Bacon Creek. The few leases found for Shad Creek sites mention residents as next to, or nearby, and the following south to north list was compiled using this information. Eight out of thirteen Shad Creek residents can be placed in a south/north row almost exactly. There are as follows:

Mr. Taylor – no lot dimensions

James S. Williamson – 141’ x 95’

Alfred J. Schoenberg and Frank Hammer – 50’ x 100’

Mr. Lane – no lot dimensions

E.G. O’Neil – 50’ x 100’

Charles Hasloecher – 75’ x 100’ x 111’ x 100’

Otto J. Sporck – 75’ x 100’ x 111’ x 100’

Theodre Sperling – 50’ x 100’

The following were only mentioned as being on Shad Creek, but not verbally located in the deeds, or leases:

William Wagner – 50’ x 100’

Edward Wagner 444’ x 100’

Mary Seiler – 50’ x 100’

Edward Essex – 62’ x 100’

Henry L. Wenk – no lot dimensions.

In a short history of Broad Channel in my possession, James. S. Williamson’s hotel later became the Shad Creek House, and in more contemporary times known as Johnston’s and McLoughlin’s New Boulevard cafĂ© (1922) and Moran’s Boulevard Cabaret, Hotel and Fishing Station (1934). The latter’s memory still lingers about dancing in the moon tide coming up through the floorboards, feeling no pain and barefoot.

The history of this one building helps to better orient the list of known locations, but maps one and two are not scale maps…and only general in character. Williamson’s Hotel was across from the west end of the old Sixth Road Walk. As for the four lonely buildings located at the Westerly end of the old Sixth Road Walk, no record has been found as to who leased three out of the four. More on this later.

As for the buildings beside the railroad trestle on both maps, I only found a few listings in an old 1894 almanac. They are as follows:

The Halsey Rod and Gun Club

George Bohling Boats and Liq- uors

Carpenter’s Boats and Liquors

Charles Fuller’s Boat

The Dalcassian Fishing and Boat Club

Enterprise Hotel, Vogel and Bol- lerman

Already known along the trestle we have as follows:

Eldert’s Hotel and Fishing Station, west side, north

Carpenter’s Hotel and Fishing Station, west side, south

Parson/Dorman Atlantic Hotel and Fishing station, east side, north

Enterprise Hotel and Fishing Station, Vogel and Bollerman, east side, north

Joe, Ben, Bill’s Boats (The Shaw Brothers), east side

Bates Clubhouse, east side

The Dalcassian Fishing Club, east side

Bayview House, Fuller and Buhl, east side, south

Foetler’s Hotel, east side, south

Edward Schleuter’s Delavan Hotel and Palm Garden, east side, south

At some point in the future an accurate map of Broad Channel will turn up somewhere and all those interested in the Channel’s history can see if us wannabees are correct of not.

Let us here, for a minute or two, reflect on the William B. Dooley lease of 1892. By chance I happened to come upon a 1943 obituary in The Wave, for a Mrs. Charles Wagner. Stated was the fact that the Wagner’s had been living in Broad Channel since 1893. They would have had to sign a lease with Dooley for a spot in the Channel, west of the railroad. This could account for one of the four structures on the Sixth Road Walk, and Dooley himself could have lived in one, with Williamson in a third, possibly Eldert earlier. This to me is very possible, and we know that Williamson and the Wagners were forced to move west to the bank of Shad Creek, as well as the other eleven parties covered by the leases that were issued by the Cooperative Society of New Jersey in 1901-02. At this time it becomes logically evident that William B. Dooley did construct the first buildings west of the trestle crossing Broad Channel. The question now is, “where did the other eleven Channel pioneers live before being forced to relocate to the east bank of Shad Creek; to the north and south of where the present Sixth Road would intersect with Shad Creek.

From all the writings and newspaper articles on these pioneers living on Goose Pond Marsh, most were described as fishermen, oystermen, baymen, or boatmen…with the exception of Henry C.L. Wenk. His primary residence was in the west end of Rockaway Beach, and he maintained a summerhouse on Goose Pond Marsh on Shad Creek.

It now becomes very apparent that all pioneers concerned must have all been living on Shad Creek where the trolley right of way crossed same. The landfill on the north and south banks of Shad Creek (in and around the sluiceway at the north end of the present Broad Channel which goes under the main boulevard thereat) was described as being 350’ wide and having choked Shad Creek down to a width of 15’ from 70’. These early residents could have been living here with unrecorded leases from Eldert/Dooley/Williamson, respectively, or just plainly as some of the squatters found when the fit hit the shan.

Their relocation with new leases just moved them to the southeast where Shad Creek touched the raunt channel, on the west side of Goose Pond Marsh.

Just for the record there were no early leases or permissions found on file at the city register covering the last years of the 1800’s.

I did make a lineup of residents on Shad Creek from the remarks written down in the leases issued by the Cooperative Society of New Jersey in 1901-02. The list goes from north to south as follows: Theodore Sperling, Otto J. Sporck, Charles Hasloecher, Lane, Alfred J. Schoenberg and Frank Hammer, E.G. O’Neil, James S. Williamson, and Taylor.

The following Shad Creek residents did not have any locating remarks in their respective leases: Henry L. Wenk, Edward Essex, Mary Seiler, Charles Wagner, and William P. Wagner. Perhaps someone at Broad Channel with a good memory or record can help place the latter pioneers for the record. And let us not leave out Mrs. Paul Kenn and Mr. Van Brunt at the south end of the trolley fill by Bacon Creek.

Mr. Henry L. Wenk is the most notable of the baker’s dozen living on the banks of Shad Creek in the early 1900’s. As noted before he lived at the west end of Rockaway Beach, maintained a summer home at Shad Creek North and was President of the Brooks Railroad Supply Company, which was located at 51 Dey Street in Manhattan. Wenk, said to be strongly supported by the Long Island Railroad in his unrelenting lawsuit against the trolley line being built over the bay to Rockaway Beach, won out in the end with the help of the City’s Corporation Counsel, and killed the construction of the line.

I wonder how much future business Wenk got from the LIRR after he won? But alas, no matter what, he now had to deal with the City of New York Docks Department, as did all other with their now good-as-toilet-paper leases from the Cooperative Society of New Jersey.

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