Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Staten Island's Most Haunted House pt 1?

Where can I even start on this topic? Not only is this house really important to the history of our island, but of all America too. Not only that, but what about before it was apart of the Revolutionary War? How about after, with its notorious hauntings that have been told to every man, child, and women through out the decades. It is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, its a U.S. National Historic Landmark, and also a NYC Landmark.

That being said, we are lucky to have it. It sits on the southern most tip of New York State, and marks the end of New York. No one knows exactly when it was built or how old it really is but according to one of the oldest maps we have of the Island it was there in the year 1680. The house was named after Thomas Billopp, though him and his family called it Bentley Manor while they lived there, but it sat on Billopp point. Thomas Billopp was a captain in the Royal Navy and came to America in 1674. He was granted land on the southern most tip of Staten Island, where he built or had built his house that he called Bentley manor. It is thanks to Billopp that Staten Island is apart of NY rather then NJ, he was told if he could walk the whole circumference of the island in one day that it would be apart of NY, and that is exactly what he did (thank god!). Prior to this, these grounds where reported haunted since it was a burial grounds to the Raritan band of the Lenape Indians. The remains of a small child and 2 older adults where dug up here, it is unknown how old they really are. The burial ground is called Burial Ridge and is the oldest Pre-European burial ground in NYC. Aside from that, while the Billopps lived here it was the center of a murder scandal. A servant women was supposedly killed here by Billopp and its been reported that her figure appears every now and then. Some one sent me this story on what may have happened to the girl:
"Colonel Billop himself was a very forceful and unforgiving man, given to frequent fits of rage. During the war Colonel Billop was frequently kidnapped and held for ransom by the colonists. Colonel Billop became convinced someone in his house was informing the revolution of when he was in the house. Legend has it that one evening Colonel Billop saw a servent girl place a lamp in an upper floor window. Colonel Billop took this to be a signal to the revolution that he was home and proceed to accuse the girl of being a spy. He chased her through the upper floor to the downward stairs. It is not clear whether the Colonel pushed the girl down the stairs trying to kill her or she fell to her death trying to get away from Billop."

Christopher Billopp died on one of his trips to London in 1725 and left his daughters in charge of the Bentley Manor. The only daughter that had children bore a son in 1737 and he was named after his grandfather, born in the house and inherited it. He later went on to fight in the war and was named a Colonel. Before the war, He was in charge of the military on Staten Island and was active in making communication with NJ prohibited. When the Revolutionary War began he was an active member in fighting it. On July 16, 1784 He was taken prisoner by New Jersey and his house was taken from him. It was sold to Thomas McFarren, a merchant, for 4.695 pounds. This Christopher Billopp died in Canada in 1827. Only his two younger sons stayed in New York and became business men after the family moved to Canada.

On September 11th, 1776 a peace conference was held at the former Bentley Manor. To name a few people who attended this peace conference was Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, the purpose of this conference was to settle on an agreement to end the war. As we no the agreement was never made and the war continued for some time after. The conference house was at the time the British Headquarters, and where a lot of the Red Coats sought out food and shelter.
* I am going to do a post on stories of hauntings separately 

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