Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sandy Grounds- Still Fighting

There is much to say about the area I live in. Not even the area but the exact spot for that matter. I live pretty much right next to the Rossville A.M.E Zion Church Cemetery. The only thing that separates my house from the cemetery is a fence and Woodrow Rd, not the larger part of Woodrow though the very very end on the other side of the dead end, over Bloomingdale Rd. I didn't know that this was there, until I took my daughter for a walk one day. I was very taken back when I went home and started researching it.
Crabtree Ave. once was a quiet dirt road no more the 3 yrs ago its now a cookie cutter lane with a old cemetery right in the midst of it.
This is what Crabtree Ave used to look like.

This cemetery is a NYC Land Mark. The location back then was called Sandy Grounds. It was one of the first free blacks community's  in the country, as well as a stop in the under ground rail road. Most of the families that migrated here came from Snow Hill, Maryland. They were mostly oysterman who where coming to Staten Island after hearing about the prominent oyster trade that Staten Island was making a name of. The under ground rail road central meeting place was built in 1850, it was called the Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church. This area, Bloomingdale and Woodrow, is the oldest continuously settled free black community in the United States, and used to be refereed to as Little Africa, or sometimes Harrisville. After the oyster-beds became over worked the community figured out other means of survival such as blacksmithing, midwives, iorn working, and well digging. With the abolishment of slavery on July 4th 1827, all the hotels in Staten Island where booked and there was a massive celebration. It was a two day event in West New Brighton where people gave speeches and dreamed about what the future would bring them.

In 1963 a raging fire broke out and spread across the area, a lot of the buildings where lost, Sandy Ground suffering the most. There are still a few houses and Land Marks in the area. There are bids out on two cottages that sit on Bloomingdale to preserve and make landmarks. They both date at least as far back as 1854. To help give a voice to these buildings go here.

Fast forward to right now. A few weeks ago i had my sister Lisa over and we were walking down the street, it was dark out probably about 10 at night. She had been telling me about something she saw on the way to my house, she described it as a tall man dressed in a black coat and a fishermans hat. I shrugged it off. Then after about 15 minutes she stops and looks down this dirt road where they are building a fresh new line of cookie cutter houses right next to the old cemetery, and her face went completly blank. " There he is, hes looking at us." She said this and started to walk in that direction. Now I was completely freaked out so I grabbed her and we went back to my house. She was convinced and so she drew him up. Again i cant say I was convinced, as we had been drinking a little bit, but then again why would she lie? Now i havent talked about it in front of my daughter, but she seems to have picked up on something as well, she hasnt been sleeping and she screams about a ghost. She sits there and talks to nothing, like I mean full fledge conversation sitting in one spot looking directly at the same spot, when I asked her about it she just says " the ghost mommy, hide and seek". And thats just one account. Other times she tells me they are scaring her and that theres more then one. Now I know a lot of people want to chalk this up to a 2 year olds vivid imagination and imaginary friend, but could a 2 year old really be smart enough to make up lies and imaginary friends? I dont know the answer to this. 

For more info on this area visit Sandy Grounds.


  1. stumbled on your site this morning, love the stories i’ve been reading.

  2. thank you so much i appreciate your feed back! I try hard to keep it interesting.