Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Nautical Reform School Ship "Mercury" Off Hart's Island in the Town of Pelham in 1869 and the Early 1870s

Hart Island is an 85-acre island east of City Island once known as Spectacle Island and Little Minneford (also Minefor) Island.  Once owned by John Hunter of nearby Hunter's Island, the United States Army leased a portion of the island during the Civil War for use as a military facility and, later, a Confederate prisoner of war encampment.  

In 1868, John Hunter, Jr. sold Hart Island to the City of New York for $75,000 for use as a municipal prison and a potter's field.  Though owned by New York City, the island -- like City Island -- remained within the boundaries of the Town of Pelham until the region was annexed by New York City during the mid-1890s.  

During the post-Civil War boom years, a reform movement to improve prisons, juvenile detention facilities, asylums, hospitals and alms houses gained additional steam.  As part of that initiative, shortly after New York City acquired Hart Island in 1868, New York enacted a statute entitled "AN ACT to authorize the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction of the city of New York to establish an industrial school on Hart's island" on April 17, 1869.  See Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Ninety-Second Session of the Legislature, Begun January Fifth, and Ended May Tenth, 1869, in the City of Albany, Vol. I, pp. 442 et seq. (Albany, NY:  Printing House of C. Van Benthuysen & Sons, 1869).  Less than a month later, the New York Legislature passed a further law entitled "AN ACT to make provision for the government of the city of New York" on May 12, 1869.  That statute authorized the city to expend funds for a variety of projects including the establishment of an "Industrial school on Hart's Island" with a "Nautical school ship."  See Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Ninety-Second Session of the Legislature, Begun January Fifth, and Ended May Tenth, 1869, in the City of Albany, Vol. II, pp. 2119 et seq (Albany, NY:  Printing House of C. Van Benthuysen & Sons, 1869).

By at least August 2, 1869, the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction were operating an industrial school on Hart Island for "incorrigible" boys.  According to one account, at the school the boys were "thoroughly instructed in the essentials of a good common school education under competent teachers."  Plans also were underway to operate, in conjunction with the industrial school for boys, a "nautical school."  For this purpose, a sailing ship that was named Mercury was acquired.  According to a report prepared on August 2, 1869 regarding the nautical school:

"The design is to educate this class of boys specially in the science of navigation, and by the authority of the late act of the Legislature establishing a nautical school, to give them also practical instruction in this direction.  The industrial school gives great promise of success, and your Committee trusts that it will develop into some positive system whereby the 20,000 or 30,000 children in our City growing up with only the education of the street, may be rescued from idleness and immorality and reared to honest pursuits."  

The two-decked, three-masted Mercury previously served as a mercantile vessel.  For its service as a "nautical school," however, it was necessary to convert the ship's rigging to that of a naval vessel.  Consequently, The Commissioners of Charities and Correction commissioned the David Carll Shipyard on City Island, adjacent to Hart Island, to convert the mercantile vessel into a nautical school ship described as follows:

"The bottom part is for goods and lumber, while the second deck is devoted to stores, a galley, and other conveniences.  Here is also a large engine, used for cooking by steam and heating the ship through steampipes.  In fact nothing is wanting to the comfort of the thorough inspection of the vessel."


Truth be told, nothing much ever came of the "industrial school" on Hart Island.  It never truly operated in any effective fashion as a trade school as was originally intended.  Only the "nautical school" portion of that "industrial school" began actual operations in any meaningful fashion.

Clearly the Mercury was under construction as part of its modified duties to serve as a nautical school on August 31, 1869.  On that date, a steamboat "excursion" for boys held in juvenile facilities on Hart Island and Randall Island passed City Island before picking up boys from Hart Island.  At City Island, the Mercury was visible as it was being prepared for service as a "naval vessel" for the nautical school at the Shipyard of David Carll.  An account of the excursion published in The New York Times the following day stated:  

"In the passage up the Sound the new schoolship Mercury, now in progress of completion for the use of the boys attached to the newly-organized naval school on Hart Island, also under the care and direction of the Commissioners was passed.  The Mercury struck my unpracticed eye as a very creditable specimen of naval architecture, and the necessary changes in her rig from a mercantile to a naval vessel are evidently in rapid progress.  The ship's colors were gracefully dipped by those on board as we surged ahead."

The initial "trial trip" of the newly-reconfigured school ship Mercury took place on September 10, 1869.  The boys confined on Hart Island left on the ship at 3:00 p.m. for a four-day sail throughout Long Island Sound.  The ship returned at 5:30 p.m. on September 14.  A subsequent report of the trial trip indicated that "everything connected with the trip worked charmingly, and . . . the boys entered into the spirit of the occasion with a gusto that seemed quite promising."

"SCHOOL SHIP 'MERCURY.'  A Half Tone Print Prepared
in 1872 Showing the School Ship Mercury Associated with
the Nautical School on Hart Island in the Town of Pelham.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

While the objectives of the nautical school were noble, it cannot be denied that it was part of a program to assist "incorrigible" boys.  Thus, as one might expect, there were numerous "incidents" involving boys involved with the program  For example, on August 25, 1870, a facility employee acting as a boatswain, took a large number of boys (about 25 of them) from the nautical school out on one of the Mercury's boats for a rowing session.  At a pre-arranged time and with a pre-arranged signal, the boys knocked the boatswain -- who could not swim -- overboard and rowed to shore where all but two of the boys fled.  Thankfully, a boater on the Sound who saw what happened rescued the boatswain before he drowned.  Two of the boys remained with the boat rather than attempt to escape.  Ten of the boys were promptly recaptured.  Thirteen remained at large several days later.  Such "escapes" do not appear to have been uncommon.  A few years later, on June 2, 1873, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that "Fifteen boys ran away last night from the school ship Mercury, lying at Hart's Island and are in hiding on Long Island."  NEWS SUMMARY, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jun. 2, 1873, p. 2, col. 4.  

Similarly, on one evening in early January 1875, after the chaplain concluded an evening service on the Mercury, a boat pulled alongside the Mercury to take the chaplain back so shore.  Before the chaplain could descend from the deck, however, about twenty of the boys leaped into the boat and overpowered the boatman, using red pepper thrown into his eyes.  Two of the boys somehow had pistols, either taken from the boatman or otherwise gained for the escape attempt.  As the boys began rowing the boat toward shore, another fellow leaped from the galley porthole of the Mercury and landed in the boat as it rowed away to join in the escape.  The boatman, it turned out, was badly hurt.  According to one account, "The young mutineers landed safely and scattered in various directions, but the police soon got upon their track, and most of them have been captured and returned to the ship."

The school ship did not limit its training activities to short jaunts in Long Island Sound.  For example, in December, 1870, the Mercury left Hart Island with a crew of boys from Hart Island and proceeded to Sierra Leone and then the coast of Africa for training in seamanship and scientific survey techniques.  According to a report of the expedition:

"Soundings were taken at short intervals and observations were made and recorded on the temperature of the water, the direction, depths, and velocity of the various currents, and samples of the water at different depths, and of the soil, and deposit of the bottom, were obtained and brought home.  Many of these observations were of decided scientific value.  A profile of the basin of the Atlantic from Sierra Leone to the Barbadoes [sic], on a line about twelve degrees north of the equator, has been drawn, and shows a maximum depth of three thousand one hundred fathoms, which was ascertained by one of the deepest accurate soundings ever made.  Tables have also been made from these observations by Professor Henry Draper showing the height of the barometer at different points on the line traversed, the direction and velocity of the currents both in the expanse of the ocean and among the West India Islands, the temperature and specific gravity of the water at various depths, and the temperature of the air under varying circumstances."

The Mercury, however, was doomed to failure once the financial "Panic of 1873" struck the nation.  The financial panic was followed by what became known as "The Long Depression" that lasted from 1873 until 1878.  By 1874, New York City was feeling the financial pinch.  A variety of institutions began to question the wisdom of the Mercury program.  The New York Times, for example, reported "We have serious doubts, also, whether the School-ship Mercury is a desirable branch, now that the Board of Education has a School-ship, to be supported at public expense.  The expense might be better employed in making Hart's Island School a real 'industrial school,' which should teach trades and help to pay the costs of the institution."  THE NEW BOARD OF CHARITIES, N.Y. Times, Dec. 28 ,1874, p. 4, col. 7.  

In the midst of The Long Depression, municipal authorities were engaged in substantial cost-cutting initiatives and were looking for programs to cut.  An analysis of the expense of running the nautical school including the Mercury showed high costs but a relatively low number of program graduates who actually entered the Navy or the Merchant Marine.  Thus, by 1876, the fate of the Mercury and the associated nautical school were sealed.  

As a consequence of an action by the New York City Board of Apportionment to reduce the appropriation available to the Department of Charities and Correction, on December 31, 1875 the Board of Commissioners of the Department met and decided to close the nautical school, to take steps so that "the school ship Mercury be laid up in ordinary," to transfer boys involved in the nautical school "to the care of the Warden on Hart's Island," and to dispense with the services of the officers and seamen of the Mercury involved with training the boys.  

The days of the school ship Mercury in Pelham thus ended.

Undated Engraving Depicting the Mercury School Ship Under
Sail Circa 1870.  Note the Pennant that Reads "School Ship"
Atop the Ship -- Perhaps Akin to a "Student Driver" Sign
Atop A Motor Vehicle Today.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

More than 1,000 newspaper articles and countless other publications were written about or mentioned the Mercury school ship.  It is exceedingly difficult to pick and choose among such materials to present examples that provide interesting insights into the history of the ship and the role it played in the life of Pelham.  Nevertheless, I have transcribed below numerous such articles to provide such insights and to facilitate search for those who wish to learn more about the Mercury.  

There is a particularly interesting and detailed history of the Mercury prepared by the New York Correction History Society.  It is presented in nine parts and is a must-read for those who wish to learn more about the Mercury.  A citation with links to each part appears immediately below.

New York Correction History Society, Saluting NY Reform School Ship as SUNY Maritime College Ancestor? (visited Feb. 15, 2016).

Part 1:  1837 - 1868.
Part 2:  1867 - 1868.
Part 3:  1869 - 1871.
Part 4:  1872 - 1873.
Part 5a: 1874 - 1876.
Part 5b: Bowen Vindicated.
Part 6:  To 1907.
Part 7:  1913 & 1946.
Part 8:  Argument for Saluting NY Reform School Ship as SUNY Maritime College Ancestor.

*          *          *          *          *

Report of the Citizens' Association on the Condition of Our Public Charities.

NEW-YORK, Aug. 2, 1869.

To the Citizens' Association of New-York:

Your Committee, appointed to examine into the condition and management of the institutions under the charge of the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction of the City of New-York, and to report thereon, respectfully begs leave to report:

The Department of Public Charities and Cortion [sic] has the care and maintenance of four classes of institutions:

First. -- Prisons for the temporary confinement of prisoners -- penitentiary, workhouse.

Second. -- Almshouses, lunatic asylums, asylums for inebriates.

Third. -- Hospitals.

Fourth. -- Nurseries for children.

There is no department of the City Government where capacity, economy and honesty are more required than in that of Public Charities and Correction; but in this department there is also required a love of the work and strong sympathy with the unfortunate classes with whom the department deals.  In other public matters honesty is desirable, and the want of it is the cause of the loss of so much money merely to the public; but in this department the want of honesty not only causes a loss of money to the public, but is a positive cruelty to the poorest, the most unfortunate, the most helpless in the community.

Your Committee visited the various institutions examined by the Committee of the Association last year, and was pleased to find that the same order, efficiency and economy which were evident in the management of every department under charge of the Commissioners a year ago, continue to distinguish this branch of the public service. 

Your Committee does not consider it necessary at this time to make detailed mention of the condition and management of each institution separately, but refers the members of the Association to its report of last year for specific information connected therewith.


The Commissioners are entitled to commendation for the creditable beginning they have made in the inauguration of the industrial school on Hart's Island, into which are gathered those boys known as 'incorrigible.'  Here they are thoroughly instructed in the essentials of a good common school education under competent teachers.  


The design is to educate this class of boys specially in the science of navigation, and by the authority of the late act of the Legislature establishing a nautical school, to give them also practical instruction in this direction.  The industrial school gives great promise of success, and your Committee trusts that it will develop into some positive system whereby the 20,000 or 30,000 children in our City growing up with only the education of the street, may be rescued from idleness and immorality and reared to honest pursuits. . . ."  

Source:  THE POOR OF NEW-YORK -- Report of the Citizens' Association on the Condition of Our Public Charities, N.Y. Times, Aug. 4, 1869.

Visit of the Randall Island Children to Greenwich, Conn. -- An Interesting Scene of Hospitality and Enjoyment.

From Our Own Correspondent.

GREENWICH, CONN., Tuesday, Aug. 31, 1869.

Agreeably to previous arrangement, the Board of Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction granted a holiday yesterday to the children under their care domiciled in the institutions on Randall and Hart Islands, for the purpose of paying a visit to the residence of Hon. WM. MM. TWEED, at Greenwich, Conn., in acceptance of his generous invitation to do so.  The special steamer Minnehanonck left the pier at the foot of Twenty-eighth-street, East River, soon after 7 o'clock, having on board Commissioners NICHOLSON, BELL AND BRENNAN, who had in their company a large gathering of invited guests and representatives of the Press.  Soon after the steamer cast loose from her moorings an impromptu breakfast was was served up in the cabin, and received full justice at the hands of those on board.

The voyage up the river was a rapid one, and the Randall Island Battalion were found on their wharf awaiting the arrival of the boat, headed by their full drum corps and field music.  Scarcely had the gang-plank been thrown ashore than the juvenile battalion of 230 boys marched aboard to the inspiriting music of their bands.  Very little time was lost at the Island, and the party was greeted by an enthusiastic series of cheers of those boys who were so unfortunate to be left behind.  In the passage up the Sound the new schoolship Mercury, now in progress of completion for the use of the boys attached to the newly-organized naval school on Hart Island, also under the care and direction of the Commissioners was passed.  The Mercury struck my unpracticed eye as a very creditable specimen of naval architecture, and the necessary changes in her rig from a mercantile to a naval vessel are evidently in rapid progress.  The ship's colors were gracefully dipped by those on board as we surged ahead.  Scarcely had this ceremony been achieved than we sighted Hart Island, and at the wharf found some thirty-five naval pupils in neat and attractive uniforms.  Cheers were indulged in by the juveniles and the 'seamen' marched aboard, the steamer at once taking up her course for Rockport, Conn.  The morning proved a delightful one, and as we passed up the Sound, the free and healthful breezes imparted a new vigor to our faces and gave us a new appetite for the prospective luncheon and dinner awaiting us.  As we sighted Indian Harbor the members of the Americus Club gave us a royal salute with their well-served artillery, the juveniles being joined in their responsive cheers by the guests on board.  When the steamer arrived at the dock we lost no tie in getting ashore, and were received with all the honors by the members of the Americus Club, who were under the command of Major PETER BEALSTED, as commandant of the 'Tween Blues.'  The necessary salutes being given, the column took up its line of march for Senator TWEED'S residence.  The route was a very long and dusty one, the boys strength being husbanded by frequent halts.  After a march of fully two miles through the town of Greenwich we arrived at the delightfully laid out country seat of Mr. TWEED, who has named it 'Linwood.'  All along the route the inhabitants had sought to give us welcome by a profusion of banners and streamers, the word 'welcome' being at several points thrown across the road.  The juvenile battalion was drawn up in line in front of Mr. TWEED'S residence, when Commissioner BOWEN introduced the Randall Island Guard to their generous host.  In his speech the worthy Commissioner took occasion to allude to the signed services rendered by Senator TWEED to the Board in securing the passage of laws calculated to aid them in perfecting and carrying out the present extended system of public charities, and also thanked him for the kind and thoughtful invitation extended to the boys.  Privates DONOHUE and PALMER were then introduced as orators of the day, and uttered their thanks for the hospitality showered so liberally upon them.  Miss JOSEPHINE TWEED then came forward, and handed her father a splendid blue silk banner, mounted with gold fringe, and bearing on its face a representation of 'Linwood' villa, as well as an inscription commemorative of the occasion:  Senator TWEED then addressed the boys, and gave them some admirable advice for their future conduct through life, and in conclusion presented the banner to the Guard in the name of the female members of his family, expressing the hope that the sight of the banner might often recall the memory of their visit to Greenwich.

The battalion was then escorted by Mr. TWEED to a spacious circular pavilion, where the boys found a bounteous and appetizing collation spread for their delectation.  The invited guests were well taken care of in another pavilion, and the party proved a very jolly one.  Among those present I noticed the Board of Commissioners, the members of the Americus Club, Street-Commissioner MCLEAN, General BUTTERFIELD, Senator NORTON, Mr. WOODWARD, Coroners KEENAN and SCHIRMER, Police Commissioner SMITH, Mr. CHARLES HALL, Mr. JOHN M. SMITH, musical instructor to the Randall Island Band, Mr. JOHN ROGERS, their preceptor and military trainer, Warden WM. H. STEPHENS, of Randall's Island, and a host of so-called representatives of the Press.  In all my past experience I never saw so many persons claiming to represent the newspaper profession together at one time, the great convention alone proving an exception.  Some of your contemporaries had no less than six representatives, while the Sunday Press count out in full force.

As soon as the tables were cleared off, a series of photographic views were taken of the battalion and attendant guests.  The marque was in the meantime, lowered, and the 'Guard' were put through a regular battalion drill by Mr. ROGERS, the several movements being very neatly performed, considering the youth of the members, the formation of the hollow square being a most noticeable feature.  The boys bid their generous host a hearty farewell, and were escorted by the Americus Club to their extensive grounds at Indian Harbor.  A collation was there given the children under the trees, and as the sinking sun warned them that the hour of departure had at length arrived, the boys marched aboard their steamer.  The farewells consisted of loud cheers from the juveniles and a salute from the Americus Battery.


Source:   EXCURSION OF CHARITY CHILDREN -- Visit of the Randall Island Children to Greenwich, Conn. -- An Interesting Scene of Hospitality and Enjoyment, N.Y. Times, Sep. 1, 1869.  


The stated semi-monthly meeting of this Board was held yesterday morning at the rooms of the Commission, corner of Eleventh street and Third avenue, with the President, Commissioner Bowen, in the chair.  The business of the department during the past two weeks was canvassed and carefully supervised.  There was, however, little of public interests, as the business comprised mainly the ordinary reports from the wardens, nurses, orderlies and other officers under the Commissioners.  The reports all show the continued prosperity and efficiency of the several departments.

The appointment of Dr. E. D. Hudson as visiting physician to the Second district (Jefferson Market) prison, in place of Dr. Leroy M. Yale, resigned, was confirmed.

Commissioner Brown reported, in relation to the trial trip of the school ship Mercury, that he, in company with Drs. Riggs and Watts, in charge of the boys of Hart's Island, left the island on the 10th inst., at three P.M.; sailed through Long Island Sound and returned, arriving at Hart's Island at half-past five P.M. on the 14th.  He reported that everything connected with the trip worked charmingly, and that the boys entered into the spirit of the occasion with a gusto that seemed quite promising.  

The report fro the Bureau of Medical and Surgical relief for our door poor, as presented to the Board, shows that during the month of August 1,447 new patients were treated, making a total of 3,813 patients cared for by the surgeons and physicians of the department; and that 6,091 prescriptions were given.

The report was placed on file, and after the transaction of some further routine business the Board adjourned."

Source:  COMMISSIONERS OF PUBLIC CHARITIES AND CORRECTION, The New York Herald, Sep. 17, 1869, p. 2, col. 6.  


Fifty-seven years ago, the venerable John Stanford, D. D., then acting as Chaplain to the various penal and eleomosynary institutions of New-York, in a communication to the Common Council, submitted the outline of a plan for an asylum for vagrant youths, urging 'its promising advantages to prevent psuperism and the commission of crime,' and stating that, 'since his duties had led him into the penitentiary, a ten-fold weight of conviction had pressed upon him of the importance of a separate place for the reception of vagrant children.'  This, probably, was the first suggestion of that great modern institution, the juvenile reformatory, which constitutes so long a stride toward the solution of the problem of the repression of crime.  Mrs. Fry of England, John Fulk of Welmar, Conut Adelbert von der Reche Volmerstein of Rhenish Prussia, Mr. Wadzek of Berlin, and Dr. Wichern of Hamburgh, all began their labors in this direction subsequently to the date of Dr. Stanford's proposition.  But the point of greatest interest in his communication is the added suggestion of a nautical department in connection with the proposed juvenile asylum.  He proposed to have navigation taught theoretically, and a general idea given of the practical duties of a sailor by masts and rigging on the land.  He proposed further that a small vessel, under the command of a suitable master, should, from time to time, make short sea voyages, whereby there would be given to the boys who showed a predilection for the sea an opportunity to become so acquainted with the ordinary duties of a sailor as to qualify them for service on board say vessel in the merchant mmarine or U. S. Navy.  His own words are:

'I recommend that the greatest attention he paid to raise boys for sea service, the advantages of which will be found to be of the highest value.  In proportion as your trade and commerce increase, you require seamen of your own without being indebted to foreigners, and the institution will lead, in this respect, its friendly aid to establish your independence upon the water.  The youth you have rescued, on whom you have bestowed your kindness, will naturally form an attachment to the interests of the country, and nobly created for its rights and honors.'

After the lapse of more than half a century, a reform school-ship rides the waves of New-York harbor, and the wisdom no less than the patriotism of the prison chaplain stands fully vindicated.  It is true that, though a citizen of New-York was the first to suggest this important measure, we lingered in the good work till other peoples had got the start of main carrying out the policy by legislative enactments.  England has successfully inaugurated the system, and school-ships now constitute a department of her reformatory agencies in behalf of juvenile delinquents.  Massachusetts tried the system as an experiment ten years ago; but the measure has long since passed the experimental stage, and is now established as a complete success.  The 'Nautical Reform School,' as it is there called, is accommodated with two ships, capable of receiving together 300 boys, one of which is stationed at Boston, the other at New-Bedford.  The whole number received since the organization of the school is nearly 2,000, of whom about half have chosen the sea as a profession. The Nautical Reform School has become highly popular with shipmasters.  One ship has taken six boys on each of five successive voyages to India -- 30 in all; so that the experiment of school ships in Massachusetts may be pronounced an eminent success, in respect both of its primary purpose of reforming juvenile delinquents, and its secondary purpose of rearing a more intelligent and better class of seamen.


Though later in the start, we doubt not that the known enterprise and energy of New-York will soon bring her nautical school abreast of those of other States and countries, perhaps even make it better than the best of them.  For the establishment of this important institution our city is indebted to the Commissioners of Public Charities and Correction.  These gentlemen last Winter obtained from the Legislature an appropriation to make a beginning in the work.  They first applied to the General Government for the grant of some pblic ship, remembering, probably, that all the ships employed in reformatory work in England are gratuitously supplied by the British Government; but their application was not successful.  Disappointed in their hope of friendly co-operation in this direction, they purchased in July last the ship Mercury, an excellent vessel of 1,200 tons burden, formerly belonging to the Havre line of packets.  They fitted her up with all practicable dispatch for the accommodation of the nautical school, which was opened with 15 inmates in September.  This number has been swelled by constant accessions since, till now it is fully two hundred.


The writer lately paid a visit to the Mercury, and passed part of a day on board.  In the absence of Capt. Stetson, he was politely received by the executive officer, Mr. Wm. H. Summers, through whose kindness, and that of the other officers, ample opportunity was afforded of examining the whole economy of the ship, and of witnessing the various exercises of the boys, both manual and intellectual.  They were all dressed in sailor costume, and the greater part had a bright, animated expression, and were alert in their movements, and prompt in their obedience to orders.  One would scarcely have believed that so many wild street 'Arubs' could have been brought to such discipline in so short a time.  The officers in charge of the ship are a captain, an executive officer, a sailing-master, a second and third lieutenant, a paymaster, a professor of mathematics, and a surgeon.  Of forward officers there are a boatswain, master-at-arms, yeoman, carpenter, engineer, gunner, steward, first and second cook, and two ship's corporals.  Beside the above there are 23 of the boys holding rates as petty officers, viz.:  two boatswin's mates, four coxswains; six captains of tops, two captains of afterguard, four quartermasters, one quarter gunner, one surgeon's steward, and one paymaster's steward.  These rates are positions of trust and responsibility, and those who hold them are invested with a degree of authoirity over the boys stationed in their part of the ship.  As a matter of course, they are eagerly sought and highly prized as tokens and rewards of superior merit.


Mr. Summers gave a minute detail of the proceedings of a day ,from the piping up to the piping to bed.  The boys are divided into two watches, the starboard and port.  At 5 1/2 a.m., the reveille is beaten, hamocks are stowed away, and the first part of the starboard watch are called to the wash-room, where they perform their morning ablutions, under the superintendence of the officer of the deck, assisted by the ship's corporal on duty; the remainder of the boys, meanwhile, being engaged in washing down the decks.  As soon as the first half of the starboard watch have washed, the second half are sent to the wash-room, being relieved by their commrades in cleaning the decks.  The same rule is observed with the port watch in their proper turn, so that the cleansing of the boys and of the ship goes on at the same time, the whole being finished, and decks dried down before breakfast.

In Winter at 9 o'clock, and in Summer at 8 o'clock, the colors are hoisted, boats lowered, sails loosed, and yards crossed, when the weather and other circumstances will admit.  At the roll of the drum (8 o'clock a.m.) the boys are piped to breakfast, for which meal 45 minutes are allowed.  At 8 3/4 a.m., the decks are cleanly swept fore and aft.  The drum now rolls off for bright work, and the guns' crews repair to their respective stations, where each has a particular part  that he is required to keep clean and free from rust.  The topmen also repair to their several stations and burnish what metal or bright work there may be in that part of the ship.  All this is inspected by the officer of the deck before the boys leave their stations.  At 9:30 one watch is sent to the school-room to pursue their studies till 11:30.  The other is sent on deck, where their time is employed in receiving lessons in practical seamanship -- knotting, splicing, bending hawsers, worming, loosing, furling, and making sails, &c., &c.  They are also, at this time, instructed in practical navigation, embracing working a day's work; the use of the quadrant, sextant, and octant; finding the latitude at sea and the longitude by chronometer; the use of the log, line and glasses, and the mode of keeping a log.  In this part of their duties the boys seem particularly interested.  They appear perfectly happy while learning the intricacies of knots and hitches, and while working aloft and clambering about the rigging,  which they do in the most fearless manner -- the fore, main, and mizzen topmen striving to outdo each other in speed and neatness of the furl of their sails -- and this friendly rivalry acting as a powerful incentive to improvement.  The boys have stations assigned them in all the evolutions that occur, such as tacking and wearing ship, reefing, getting under weigh, and bringing ship to anchor, so that when the word is passed each rope is manned and sail made or reduced without confusion.


At 11:30 a.m. the boatswain and his mates pipe the hands from aloft, school is dismissed, the decks are sought, the ship's cook reports the dinner ready for inspection, the officer of the deck examines it, and if properly cooked, orders it served out.  At 11:50 the mess cloths are spread on the berth deck, the dinner placed thereon, the boys formed in line, and at meridian, on the stroke of eight bells, dinner is piped, and the boys marched down to their respective messes.

After dinner the boys have a season of recreation till 1 p.m., when the hands are turned to and the decks swept down.  The morning watch on deck is then sent to the school-room, and the school boys of the morning become small-arm men and workers of the great guns during the afternoon, while during the following forenoon they are sent into the rigging to take their turn at seamanship.  In this way every boy in the ship is enabled to participate in all the different duties once in two days.  It has been found that by varying the exercises in this manner they do not become irksome, as there is thus a constant change of occupation.

At 4 p.m. the decks are cleared up, sweepers again piped, and tea served out to the messes.  At 4:30, supper being piped, the boys are marched to the berth deck where, after the evening repast, they are permitted to indulge in recreation until 7.  The evening amusements of the boys are under the supervision of the schoolmaster.  The berth deck is well lighted, and the lads are allowed books from the library and paper for writing.  Cards are forbidden, but games of chess, checkers, backgammon, dominoes, &c., are allowed.  At 7, general muster is held, followed by singing and prayers, all joining in these exercises with hearty good will.  At 8:30 the boys deposit themselves in their hammocks, all noise ceases, and all lights and fires are reported out by the master-at-arms.  The sleeping quarters are placed in charge of a ship's corporal, who keeps watch on the berth deck and preserves perfect silence.

In addition to the officers and sub-officers, there is a small force of seamen, who are of great assistance in the matter of practical seamanship.  Their presence among the boys has an excellent effect, as the latter are quick at imitating the actions of their seniors.  The food furnished to the boys, though plain, as it should be, is abundant and good and sufficiently varied.  It is well adapted to the promotion of health, the dietary having been prepared by a medical officer of high standing.  The dress of the lads is similar to the uniform worn by the seamen of the U.S. Navy.  The articles furnished are of good quality, and well adapted to shield their persons from the severity of the weather.  The condition of their clothing is inspected every mmorning at quarters, and all needful pains taken to instil a feeling of self-respect into their minds, as an incentive to the care of their apparel and their personal appearance.


The punishments inflicted for breach of discipline aree of a mild character, being restricted to confinement not exceeding three days, extra duty, reduction of rations, separate meals, and privation of the customary amusements.  No corporal punishment is permitted.  All punishments by confinement, exceeding 24 hours, must be reported to the Commissioners.  The officers and petty officers are required by example as well as precept to teach the boys habits of subordination, prompt obedience to orders, neatness in their dress, cleanliness and propriety in their messes, and quiet, order and system in the performance of all their duties.  It is their duty promptly to rebuke and report to the captain, any boy who is guilty of the use of profane or otherwise improper language.


It has already been stated that daily prayers are held in the evening, in which all the school unite.  The observance of Sunday as a religious holiday is carefully maintained.  No unnecessary work is allowed.  The boys are neatly dressed in their Sunday suit; and such books of their faith as may be approved by the Chaplain are distributed among them.  Free access to the ship is granted to the Protestant and Catholic chaplains of the Department at all times, and on Sunday to such clergymen as they may designate, and to such other ministers and lay speakers as may be invited or approved by the authorities in charge.  It is thus seen that the religious preferences of all are respected, and provision made for both Catholic and Protestant instruction.  Divine service is held both morning and evening on Sunday.

The arrangements for cooking and heating appeared to be all that could be desired.  Steam, generated in a boiler placed in the forward part of the ship, performs both these services for the institution.  An apparatus of the most approved order has been placed in the galley, and, through the labor-saving processes thus secured, two men are enabled to do the cooking well for 300 persons.  The armament of the ship consists of six guns in broadside, 110 rifled muskets (Enfield), 30 Maynard rifles (breech loaders), and 70 cutlasses, the supply being ample for all purposes of drill and exercise.  In addition to other duties, the boys are stationed occasionally at fire quarters, where they are drilled with a view to subduing this dangerous element should it at anytime make its appearance on board the ship.


Each of the two watches is divided into five classes according to their degree of proficiency.  Combining the two watches, there are in the first (highest) class 12 boys; in the second, 36; in the third, 34; in the fourth, 38; and in the fifth, 56.  The branches at present pursued are spelling, reading, writing, definitions, object lessons, mental and written arithmetic, geography, map-drawing by triangulation, grammar, history, etymology, algebra, and geometry.  It is expected that the average stay in the nautical school will be from two to three years; and the intention is to put every boy prior to his discharge, in possession of a theoretical knowledge of navigation equal to the task of taking charge of a ship on the high seas.  In one respect the class of boys received into the nautical reform school of New-York differs from those admitted to similar institutions in England and Massachusetts.  The inmates of the latter are such, for the most part, as have been committed for crimes and misdemeanors; those of the former have not been actually tainted with crime -- they have but hovered, so to speak, upon its borders.  The school-ship is not known in law as a reformatory, and of course they are not committed to her, pro forma.  The commitments are made in the first instance to the Industrial Reform School on Hart's Island, an institution established by the Commissioners about eighteen months ago, and from that the boys are transferred to the school-ship.


The Commissioners deserve the thanks of the community for having added this to the many other noble public charities, which are receiving the benefit of their wise and efficient administration.  It would be difficult to exaggerate the advantages likely to accrue to the public from a benevolence which, receiving these neglected, vagrant, and degraded boys, shall shield them for a season from the rough blasts of temptation, teach them their duty to God and man, impart to them the principles of a noble science, train them to skill in the application of these principles, and finally, opening to them a path of honorable usefulness, shall bid them go forth and walk therein, to the honor of God and the benefit of their fellow men.  The very qualities of sagacity and daring, of earnestness and enthusiasm, which, under their former evil training, were likely to render them a pest as well as a terror to the community, will no doubt, in numerous instances, constitute a vigorous impulse to push them forward and give them success in their new career of virtue, honor, and usefulness.

Said Dr. Stanford, in his communication to the Common Council in 1812, urging them to establish a Nautical Reform School:

'The youths whom you shall have rescued will naturally form an attachment to their country, and, when the occasion arises, will nobly contend for its rights and honors.'

Those words were a veritable prophecy.  Hundreds of the boys, who had passed through the Massachusetts Nautical Reform School, outlisted in the army or shipped in the navy, to fight for their country in the late civil contest.  Concerning those who fell in that struggle, Mr. Eldridge, in his report for 1865, just after the close of the war, eloquently remarks:

'I cannot close my report without some allusion to those who were so recently my pupils, but who now sleep in Southern graves or beneath the waves of the ocean.  Eight are known to have fallen, by land or sea, in their country's defense.  In the sudden shock of battle, or after days of suffering from wounds or disease, they have gone to their long rest in unknown graves, or 'in the bosom of the deep sea buried.'  How great was the sacrifice they made for so good a cause?  With them the morning of life was clouded by misfortune or chilled by neglect; and just as the beams of hope gave to life a meaning and a joy -- in the opening years of manhood, they bade adieu to all the brightness of the future, and, faithful to duty, went down into 'the valley and shadow of death.'  They were obscure and humble, but a nation's grateful remembrance shall be their monument.  They were poor, but they have left a rich and imperishable legacy in their heroic example of devotion to country and to duty."

Source:  LOCAL MISCELLANY -- THE NEW-YORK SCHOOL-SHIP MERCURY -- HISTORY OF SCHOOL-SHIPS, New-York Daily Tribune, Jan. 29, 1870, p. 4, cols. 4-5.  

Daring Escape of Twenty-five Boys from the School Ship Mercury -- They Attempt to Drown the Boatswain -- Ten of the Mutineers Recaptured.

Twenty-five boys under the charge of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction on Thursday last gave a very fair illustration of their real characters.  They had been placed on board the school ship Mercury, with a view of making them practically acquainted with navigation in all its branches, and thereby competent to earn a good livelihood, and probably at no very distant day fill responsible positions in the mercantile marine.  On Thursday they embarked in the ship's boat for the purpose of being exercised in rowing.  They were under the charge of a boatswain, whose name was not learned.  The school ship was anchored in the Sound, between City and Hart Islands, and after they had rowed some distance, at a concerted signal, a number of the young mutineers knocked the boatswain overboard, and then immediately pulled for the shore, which they soon reached.  Two of the number refused to leave the boat, but all the rest started off as fast as their legs could carry them in the direction of the city.  Some gentlemen who were on board of a yacht off City Island witnessed the occurrence and immediately repaired to the assistance of the boatswain, who could not swim, and succeeded in rescuing him from a watery grave.  The officers of the institution on Hart Island immediately telegraphed to the city, and ten of the young fugitives were captured; but at last accounts thirteen of them were still at large."

Source:  THE BUCCANEERS OF THE FUTURE -- Daring Escape of Twenty-five Boys from the School Ship Mercury -- They Attempt to Drown the Boatswain -- Ten of the Mutineers Recaptured, The New York Herald, Aug. 27, 1870, p. 4, col. 6.  

"The School Ship Mercury - Rewards for Merit.

The Commissioners of Charities and Correction proceeded to the school ship Mercury yesterday, lying near Hart Island, for the purpose of presenting medals to such of the scholars as had earned them by good conduct, &c.  All the Commissioners were present on the occasion, and a large number of invited guests accompanied them.  The presentation was made by Commissioner ISAAC BELL, President of the Commission, in a very appropriate speech, after which a visit of inspection was paid to the ship, and the company returned to the City greatly ploeased with the day's entertainment.  The medals were distributed as follows:

Gold medal, for seamanship, to WILLIAM DEVINE; silver medal, for seamanship, to WM. BRENNAN; bronze, for seamanship, to THOMAS MCGOVERN; gold medal, for scholarship, to EDWARD SHANNON; silver medal, for scholarship, to BENJ. THOMPSON; bronze medal, for scholarship, to WM. H. RAWSON; gold medal, for good conduct, to WM. MADDEN; silver medal, for good conduct, to WM. H. BARRE; bronze medal, for good conduct, to JOHN KELLY."

Source:  The School Ship Mercury - Rewards for Merit, N.Y. Times, Sep. 27, 1870, p 2, col. 4.

"The Boys at Sea.

Many of the unmanageable boys of New York city, such as have been found guilty of petty crimes or are complained of by their parents as incorrigible, are sent to the school-ship Mercury at Hart's Island, there to be trained in practical seamanship, as well as kept under wholesome control, and prepared for obtaining a livelihood in an honest and useful occupation.  Last winter the Mercury was sent off on a long practice cruise, in order that the boys might have training in the actual duties of sailors, and at the same time a quasi scientific character was given to the expedition, calculated to stimulate a taste for useful studies and accurate observation.  The results of the cruise have just been published in the form of a report from the Commissioners of Charities and Correction.

The Mercury left Hart's Island in December, 1870, and proceeded to the coast of Africa where the scientific survey was to begin.  Leaving Sierra Leone the vessel sailed westward across the Atlantic, keeping on a line a little north of the Equator.  Soundings were taken at short intervals and observations were made and recorded on the temperature of the water, the direction, depths, and velocity of the various currents, and samples of the water at different depths, and of the soil, and deposit of the bottom, were obtained and brought home.  Many of these observations were of decided scientific value.  A profile of the basin of the Atlantic from Sierra Leone to the Barbadoes[sic] , on a line about twelve degrees north of the equator, has been drawn, and shows a maximum depth of three thousand one hundred fathoms, which was ascertained by one of the deepest accurate soundings ever made.  Tables have also been made from these observations by Professor Henry Draper showing the height of the barometer at different points on the line traversed, the direction and velocity of the currents both in the expanse of the ocean and among the West India Islands, the temperature and specific gravity of the water at various depths, and the temperature of the air under varying circumstances.

These results are of value to science, but the principal benefit of the cruise was in the experience and training which it gave to the juvenile crew.  They returned fitted to become efficient seamen, either in the navy or the merchant marine, and with a special training for service on scientific expeditions and surveys.  It is proposed by the Commissioners to apply to Congress during the present session to have authority vested in the Secretary of the Navy to discriminate in enlistments in the navy in favor of boys who have been trained on the school-ships.  These long cruises with a definite purpose form the very best means of giving them the discipline which they need.  So far as the reformatory effect of the school-ships is concerned, the Commissioners say:  'There is reason to believe that it is the most effective mode to reclaim erring boys whose errors caused by the love of adventure, by evil associations, or ungovernable tempers, are fast impelling them to ruin.  Brought under the inflexible discipline of a ship in actual service, they are taught in a few months the duties of a profession which directs and gratifies their love of adventure, and provides for them the means of an honest and useful livelihood."

Source:  The Boys at Sea, The Pee Dee Herald [Wadesboro, NC], Jan. 10, 1872, p. 3, col. 2.  See also Cruise of the School-Ship Mercury, The Elk County Advocate [Ridgway, PA], May 16, 1872, p. 1, col. 4 (same text).


A most pleasant excursion, under the auspices of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction, took place yesterday, the occasion being a visit to the school-ship Mercury, lying at anchor off Hart's Island.  The steam-boat Minnahanock, which was set apart for the occasion, left Twenty-sixth street, East River, at 4 P.M., having on board the following guests:  Mayor Havemmeyer, Controller Green, President Laimbeer, Commissioner Stern, Aldermen Ottendorfer and Morris, President Perley, of the Fire Department; Commissioner Bissinger, Rev. Thomas Higham, Vicar of St. Catherines, Wigan, England; Rev. F. R. Swallow, Vicar of Black Rod, Wigan, England; Rev. T. Fergie, Vicar of Ince, Wigan, England; Messrs. Charles Steinbeck, Ignatius Rico, H. Armstrong, F. Gotthold, Herman Uhl, and many others.  On arriving alongside the school-ship, the guests passed aboard, and ascended the quarter-deck, when the boys were put through a variety of exercises, under the direction of Capt. Giraud, including making sail, reefing, and shortening and taking in sail, which gave great satisfaction to those who witnessed the manoeuvres.  The guests then partook of a clam chowder in the cabin, after which addresses were delivered to the boys by Mayor Havemeyer, Controller Green, President Laimbeer, and Commissioner Stern.  When the guests re-embarked on the Minnahanock, a salute of thirteen guns was fired from the Mercury, and the yards manned by the boys, who gave three cheers in honor of their visitors, which were returned by three cheers.  The excursionists then proceeded up the Sound as far as Glen Cove, when the steamer was headed about for New-York, landing at Twenty-sixth street shortly after 10 o'clock."

Source:  A VISIT TO THE SCHOOL SHIP MERCURY, N.Y. Times, Sep. 7, 1873, p. 5, col. 5.

"Mutiny on a School-Ship.

The school-ship Mercury, at present lying in the Sound, between Hart's Island and City Island, New Yoirk, was the scene of an exciting event a few evenings since.  The Mercury is a sort of floating penitentiary or naval training academy for unruly boys taken from the streets by the police or sent to the ship by their parents for misconduct at home.  The chaplain had concluded the evening service, and a boat had been ordered out to carry himm to Hart's Island, but, before he could descend from the deck, the boat was filled with some twenty of the ship's schoolboys, who, before leaving the deck of the ship, rendered the boatman powerless by filling his eyes with red pepper, and then pulled lustily for the shore.

Two desperate young rascals took position in the stern sheets, each with a pistol in his hand, covering the three rowers in a line on either side of the boat.  Hardly half a dozen strokes had been made from the foot of the gangway towards the head of the ship when a dark form shot from the open port hole of the galley and landed plump in the middle of the boat, and lay where he fell.  No one noticed him, and the cutter went steadily on.  The lad at our amidships, where the negro tumbled, raised his foot a moment, with the seeming intention of punishing him, but the half-uttered imprecation from the stern arrested his stroke, and he bent himself to his oar.

From the boat the captain turned his notice to the gangway, and there upon the platform he saw the prostrate figure of a man.  The officers rushed down the gangway and discovered that the apparently lifeless man was the boatman, who was to have gone ashore in charge of cutter with the clergyman.  He was bleeding profusely from three wounds in the back and groaning with the pain in his eyes, the latter from the effects of the pepper administered.  The young mutineers landed safely and scattered in various directions, but the police soon got upon their track, and most of them have been captured and returned to the ship."

Source:  Mutiny on a School-Ship, Harrisburg Telegraph [Harrisburg, PA], Jan. 5, 1875, p. 1, col. 2.  

"THE system of placing government school ships under the care of the various boards of education of seaboard cities is being put in operation.  The New York school ship St. Mary's has received her complement of boys from New York and Brooklyn, and nautical instruction has commenced.  The school ship Mercury sailed for the West Indies from New York on Saturday, with two hundred and twenty-five boays, fifty of whom were taken from the industrial school on Hart's Island."

Source:  [Untitled], The Galveston Daily News [Galveston, TX] , Feb. 2, 1875, p. 2, col. 1.  


Yesterday's session of the Assembly Committee on Crime was mainly confined to the investigation of the general management and sanitary condition of the school-ship Mercury.  The examination, while demonstrating the excellent general management of the ship, also exhibited a yearly decrease in the running expenses of fro $52,000 during the first year of its managementto $24,000, the expense so far for the present year.  The examination into the educational facilities of the ship generally resulted to the credit of the instructors, but clearly made apparent the necessity of an additional teacher, for the reason that the religious as well as the secular instruction of the boys devolved wholly upon the shoulders of the present teacher and his young assistant.  The ship surgeon suggested that the sanitary safety of the ship might be greatly increased by the construction of a 'sick-bay.'  The introduction of this improvement would obviate the present necessity of turning the school-room into a hospital, which on a 'long cruise' caused a suspension of study.  Upon the conclusion of the examination the committee went to Hart's Island, where a brief examination of the Warden was conducted.  The only important fact elicited was the necessity of a new stone building being constructed upon the island, in which to confine prisoners, who could now very easily escape at night, owning to the insecurity of the old war hospital building."

Source:  THE CRIME COMMITTEE ON THE SCHOOL-SHIP, N.Y. Times, Nov. 19, 1875, p. 2, col. 4.  

How the Boy-Sailors Are Punished and Treated Generally.

The Committee on Crime recently went out into the Sound, up East River, New York, where the school-ship Mercury lies at anchor, off Hart's Island.  The members of the committee and their counsel were met by the officers of the ship, and were shown through every part of the vessel, from stem to stern.  The boys had all been drawn up in line on the main deck, and as they had all been cleaned up for the occasion, they made a very good appearance.  The committee went down into the very hold of the ship, looked into the store-room and the dispensary, and went through the berth deck, where several of the boys were called in to show the mode of suspending their hammocks and getting in and out of them.  Coming up to the main deck again the order was given to man the yards, and, in obedience to the boatswain's whistle, the lads ran up the three rope ladders past the tops, and some of them away up to the topgallants.  At another command they ran out upon the yards, where for a few moments they stood along in line as if ready to throw out or reef the great square sails.  After this very interesting exhibition of the skill of the young lads, the committee went into the officers' private room, where the investigation was held.


Captain Francis F. Greggory, who is in command of the ship, testified as follows:  I have been in command of the school-ship a little more than a year; I had never been in command of any vessel before, but had been an officer on the Mercury for five years; there are 173 boys on the ship now; when the boys arrive here they are put into ship's clothes and numbered; their religion is taken; we have a school-teacher on board; nothing is asked a boy about his previous experience; he is sent to the school-teacher; the boy generally goes by the ship's number; each boy is washed every morning; when the weather will permit, they strip to the waist and wash themselves on deck; the boys are divided into two watches; they are instructed in everything that pertains to steamship, and nothing else; some of them after leaving here go into the navy; about 120 have gone into the navy since I have been in command; the reports about them have been very good; of course they have not the best of physique, but they make good ordinary seamen; every day is the same with the boys except Sunday; on that day the Captain goes through the ship from stem to stern and makes an inspection; after that the religious services are held; there is a Protestant service and a Catholic service; all the Catholic boys are obliged to attend the Catholic service, and all the Protestant boys are obliged to attend the Protestant service; they would not be allowed to change from one to another if they requested it; if the parents came and said a boy had been entered wrong and they wanted him to attend the other service, their request would be complied with; we have a great variety of punishments; the most severe punishment is putting a boy in the stocks; this is only for the most serious offenses; for ordinary offenses we use the rope's end, giving them three, four or five cuts; no boy is ever punished by being suspended; the boys are fed on regular naval rations, but they have fresh meat three times a week; we use a good deal of 'spoon' food, such as hominy and oatmeal; I think we ought to have more vagrant boys sent here; we can accommodate 250 boys; we want the boys sent here who have no homes; such boys would be sure to remain here until they were thoroughly educated, and would go away into the merchant marine or navy; the number of boys discharged before they have been fully instructed amounts to about 40 per cent.; some of the boys learn the business thoroughly in one year and a half, and others take two years, it all depends on the capability of the boy; there have been no desertions from the ship during the past year; in former times some of them have jumped overboard and swam ashore; profanity is not allowed; if a boy use profane language he is punished; the officers do not use it; I have heard them at times, but I have invariably called them to account; we make a long cruise each year, and are gone from four to five months; generally leave about the 15th of the month; our requisition is in now for a permit to start; the first year that the ship was put in this service its expenses amounted to $52,000; the next year t was $51,000, the next $38,000, and this year it will not be more than $24,000; i think that $35,000 a year is quite sufficient to run the ship, including everything; the salaries of the officers are as follows:  Captain, $175 a month; first officer, $100; second officer, $75; third officer, $60; instructor, $83.66; doctor, $50; clerk, $15; master's mate, $30; engineer, $55; steward, $45, carpenter, $30; seamen, $25 each." 

Source:  LIFE ON THE SCHOOL SHIP -- How the Boy-Sailors Are Punished and Treated Generally, Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, Nov. 20, 1875, p. 2, col. 2.  



In consequence of the action of the Board of Apportionment in reducing the appropriation of the Department of Charities and Correction from $1,366,992.76, (the sum asked for) to $1,163,000, the Board of Commissioners find that it will be not only necessary for them to effect a general retrenchment, but to discontinue what they consider one of its most important and needful institutions.  At the meeting of the board yesterday morning the entire matter was thoroughly discussed, the Commissioners finally concluding that the only institution which would be dispensed with under the circumstances was the school-ship Mercury.  In accordance with this view it was resolved that the school ship Mercury be laid up in ordinary, the boys transferred to the care of the Warden on Hart's Island, and the services of the officers and seamen dispensed with.  Only those of the boys who are over sixteen years of age will be retained on the island, it being the intention to distribute those under that age among the various charitable institutions of the City and vicinity.  As the department has no further employment for the Mercury, for the present at least, the Commissioners favor the idea advanced by Mr. Bailey of putting her at the disposal of some benevolent society that would use her as a school-ship.  

Partly on account of the reduction of their resources and partly because of the discharge of the children over three years of age from Randall's Island, in compliance with the new law, the Commissioners also adopted a resolution dispensing with the services of the Warden, drill-master, nurses, and all other paid employes of the Nursery.  The adoption of this resolution and that relating to the school-ship necessitates the discharge of the following officials:


Name.                           Rank.                                  Salary.
F. F. Gregory................Captain...............................$2,100
Charles E. Davis..........Executive Officer.................  1,200
George N. Pratt...........Second Officer.....................     900
Samuel S. Gordon.......Third Officer.........................    720
John C. Johnson..........Instructor.............................     980
William N. Jackson.......Surgeon..............................     600
George Ott....................Clerk...................................     180
Patrick H. Clark.............Engineer.............................    680
Charles Berghold..........Steward..............................    540
Benjamin Tukster..........Cook...................................   480
Henry Wildhagen...........Carpenter..........................    360
Patrick F. O'Neill........... Master-at-Arms..................   500
Peter Kelly.................... Master's Mate.....................   400
Eight Seamen, $300 per annum............................... 2,400


William H. Stephens.......Warden..............................$2,000
H. De B. Clay..................Drill-Master........................  1,000
James Walter..................Clerk..................................     180
Michael W. Connolly.......Watchman.........................      500
William Early...................Hostler................................    120
Raphael Gelinas.............Chaplain.............................     600
Kate Leonard..................Matron.................................    500
Mary Baldwin..................Nurse...................................    300
Three Assistant Matrons, at $450 per annum............. 1,350
Two Nurses, at $192 per annum.................................    384
Eight servants, at $144 per annum.............................  1,152
Two helpers, at $60 per annum..................................      120

The appropriation of $90,000 requested for the support of the Out-door Poor Department, and the annual distribution of money and coals to the poor of the City is also to be entirely discontinued unless a reduction of expenses in other bureaus can be made.  At present the Commissioners have no money belonging to this fund on hand, and they cannot see how the Out-door Poor Fund can be created by lessening the expenditures of the other institutions, that resource being deemed inexpedient owing to the fact that the estimates are at present as low as they can possibly be made without detriment to the welfare of the inmates."


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