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Tottenville History

Tottenville in Prose

The headline of an article I wrote for the Staten Island Register was “History ofTottenville brings responses from many readers.”  In it, I wrote of what Dorothy WaltersJohnston, whose ancestors include the Tottens, and Diane Schaming, who lives inthe house Captain John Totten built in Tottenville known as the “CompassHouse,” shared with me.  One was apainting of the early 1900’s; the other was an article entitled “Tottenville inProse.”
Early 1900 Main Street
Early 1900 Main Street
by Edith Dow
“The scene was originally painted by Chester Graham, 5367Arthur Kill Rd., who supplied the information about Tottenville as itexisted.  Accompanying the article is asimilar picture painted by Edith Dow in 1982.” --Staten Island Register,August 28, 2001.
“Tottenville in Prose,” was a two-page article with authorlisted as just “Scotty,” said originally published in a 1960 article in the Staten Island Transcript newspaper.
For my article in the StatenIsland Register, space constraints required a journalistic summary of thearticle.  Now I want to share the actual“Tottenville in Prose,” a bit at a time each week  on this blog, with the time and space to diga little deeper exploring the people and places mentioned in it that I foundfascinating in 2001, and continue to find so ten years later.
History is so much more than a listing of names anddates.  To me, history is a story to beuncovered and from which to learn about people then, and ultimately, aboutourselves now.
 I will continue toadd any links I find on the internet, and ask those who know of any of thepeople or places mentioned, to add to our mutual journey by sharing yourcomments.
“Tottenville inProse”
“What Tottenville was years ago
Only the old timers would know
I am going to tell you about when
Most of them were oyster men.”
Further Information:
Oyster Industry
In his book, Tottenville, The Town the Oyster Built, Barnett Shepherd tells of the oyster industry.
You can read my five star review of Shepherd’s book at

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