Historical Views of the Rockaways
A Further History Of Broad Channel
From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
By 1907, it was noted that there were about 300 structures in and around the Broad Channel area of Jamaica Bay. Leases were supposedly issued to all concerned by the Commissioner of Docks/New York City Department of Docks.
None were found recorded in the volumes of records at the Borough of Queens City Register (where they should be!). Just the though of having to go to a city agency for information made me shudder.
Fortunately, I found a partial list of those leasing in Broad Channel at the Annual Showing of Material by the Broad Channel Historical Society. The list is as follows: F.J. Sperling, F. Hammer & Co., J.S. Williamson, Henry C.L. Wenk, William P. Wagner, Charles A. Wagner, Otto J. Sporck, Dennis O’Neil, Mary Seiler, Fred S. Hasloecher and Theodore Sperling. Most on this 1908 list are located in the same land block given, and most of this group were on the list of leases by the Co-Operative Society of New Jersey. The rest of the 1908 list is incomplete, but is as follows: Al Shaw, Ben Shaw, Rip Rorer Fishing Club, Owl Fishing club, Gaiety Yacht Club, Sea Gull Fishing Club, Crescent Quartette Club, Entre Vous Fishing Club, Mrs. Nellie Carpenter, Enterprise Fishing Club, Edward Schleuter, Cheerful Liars Club, Pastime Fishing Club, Slinti Rod and Gun Club, William Sandstrom, No Name Club, Dorscht Yacht Club, Marion Fishing Club and the Unity Fishing Club. Four of the clubs mentioned were located in the same land block as the 13 pioneers were (by Shad Creek).
As a matter of note, I spoke with Mr. Al Pierce of Shad Creek many years ago, and he told me of an old timer that lived on the marshes of the bay somewhere to the west of Broad Channel. He referred to the man as old Dock Wilson, who was a veteran of the Boer War (South Africa-1899-1902) with a peg leg. Wilson used to row in for victuals and a little socializing. He was probably a squatter on the marshes of Jamaica Bay. Has anybody any other information on this person?
Before raw sewage polluted Jamaica Bay, oystermen earned a good living raising and harvesting their individual oyster beds, which they carefully marked and guarded as best they could – from poachers. The oyster beds were leased from the Town of Jamaica, fee unknown. Shellfishing in Jamaica Bay came to an end in the early 1900’s. As development on and near the shore exploded, sewers from the residential sites deposited their contents directly into the bay proper. Shellfish were the first to be affected by pollution. How the oyster beds were doled out is very interesting in itself.
The old Broad Channel Railroad Drawbridge (long gone) built by the New York, Woodhaven and Rockaway Railroad in 1880, was located at the south end of the waterway or bay channel as Broad Channel, from which the bay community of Broad Channel got it’s name when the station was built in the 1882. The drawbridge was offshore just south of the Broad Channel Station. Imagine the center of this bridge as the center of a compass: zero degrees to the north, ninety degrees to the east, one hundred and eighty degrees to the south, two hundred seventy degrees to the west and three hundred sixty degrees again to the north.
Here is an example of a leased oyster bed to one Hiram Pearsall in 1897. The bed was located in Broad Channel waterway, about three quarters of a mile to the northeast of the Broad Channel Draw, as it was called. The lease to Pearsall was for fifteen years.
“Begin at a point in the northeast corner, being N 37° 30’E – 3987’ from the center of the Broad Channel Draw. Thence running south 30°17’ W for 553’, thence running N 19°03’ W for 153.5’, thence running N 34°29’ E for 463.5’, thence S 69°38’ to the beginning.”
The lease to Pierre Noel for Broad Channel in 1915 was found in the record, and from this lease came the infamous Broad Channel Corporation. Noel got it all, with the exception of the LIRR Right Of Way, and the two separate leases by the City to Otto Sporck and Gustave Lindstrom. This sounds strange, as all other had to sign up with Noel’s Broad Channel Corporation. The only other record found was a list of lessees of the Broad Channel Corporation between 1922 and 1945, which numbers about 103. They are as follows:
Minnie Tuman, William Murphy, Marcel Peyson, Daniel Sweeny, Lasarow and Kraus, Beatrice Benidict, Reinhold Lanser, Jennette Lanser, William Murray, Grace Murphy, Tasty Shop, Inc. – Morris Karder, Max Kahlert, Anna Peters, Bohack Co., Harbor Realty – Henry Stimpson, Tasty Shop – Fannie Abrams, Eugene Marman, Martin Marman, Jacob and Vera Lasarow, Louis Klein, David Tarnapol, Eagle Gas/Oil Sales, John Fitzgerald, Frank Muluihil, Barth Libori, Concetta Libori, Harry Wilkins, Frank and Ellen House, Ella Caldwell, Louis Blerkovit, Salvatore Stallone, Mayme Basile, Simon Lasarow, William Peterson, Sam Levin, Louise Vandewal, Axel Carlsen, Standard Oil Co., Sara Turner, Marcus Gordon, Seibrock Corp., Henry Merkel, Gustave Brockelman, Joseph Muller, Harry Reidel, Margaret Harvey, Mary Schoen, Clark Bartlett, Irving Lasarow, Moses Marks, Henry Rideau, Helen Rideau, Harry Wilkins, Frank Hauser, Ellen Hauser, F. Koltzan, Bella Weiss, Meyer Weiss, Ernest Brown, Cornelia Brown, Gladys Staff, Marion Levitch, Staff’s Service Station, Mary McLaughlin, Hugh McLaughlin, Louis Granirer, Joseph Lomax, Carrie Lomax, James Bates, William Rudolf, Mildred Rudolf, Helena Cullen, Max Vogel, Edrose Restaurant, Henry Edelstein, Edward Tuman, Minnie Tuman, Emma Porter, William Sweeney, George Sweeney, Walter Sweeney, Daniel R. Sweeney, Joseph Sweeney, Daniel F. Sweeney, Henry Merkel, Morbets Amusements/John F. Trommer Brewery, Inc., George Fioto, Shell Union Oil Co., Broad Channel Baths, Fred Staff, Richard Staff, Jennie Fralinger, Pauline Smith, Henry Reidel and Agnes Brennan.
So folks, I am afraid to say that we have only scratched the surface of Broad Channel history, and have just blown the dust off the other two bay colonies – The Raunt and Goose Creek. The former was just to the north of Broad Channel (now the lake of the bird sanctuary) and Goose Creek was just to the north of The Raunt. Just as Broad Channel, they were born after the railroad over the bay was built.
• More on the history of Broad Channel in next week’s Wave.