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Tottenville History Blog



17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive:


Meet the People. Experience the Events.

Now you can hear history come alive.

Announcing the Audible edition of

17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

Take a minute to listen to a free sample of the awesome job

Doug Eisengrein, a professional narrator born & raised in Tottenville,

did in bringing my words to life.


Tottenville Conference House

Tottenville History

Winter 2022-2023

Happy New Year

Wishing you every blessing as we begin 2023


Pastry spelling out New Year
typewriter, book, opened notebook, & glasses

At times a state of being overwhelmed takes over. And sometimes, the only solution is to step back, take a breath, and determine what needs focus.

For me after the whirlwind of Thanksgiving festivities, a minor health setback, and the upcoming Christmas preparations looming, I had to do just that.

I stepped back, took a breath, and discerned I needed to take a break from writing to focus on recharging myself and enjoying my family.

That break translated into my not having 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive ready to go to publication by the end of 2022.

I’m back to writing as 2023 begins and will get the birth of this book done. 

A book, just like a real baby, comes when it’s ready to be born, no matter how much the mother may want to rush the process.

Sneak Peek at 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

Did you know?

Significant diseases plagued a lot of the 18th century adding to the tumultuous time.

In the 18th century New York City faced many health problems, yellow fever and smallpox epidemics specifically.

Tottenville was mainly country, not as populated as densely as Manhattan at the time, but the impact reached out, especially with all the British stationed on Staten Island during the Revolutionary War.

Spotlights above title of Books in the Spotlight

Staten Island 1524 - 1898

By Henry G. Steinmeyer

In this book Henry Steinmeyer covers a lot of Staten Island history.

For our purposes I’d like to share some of his writing on the American Revolution.

“Just prior to the Revolution the population of Richmond County numbered almost three thousand, and of this number three hundred were negro slaves. As in every other region in the Colonies, political beliefs were divided. However, mostly farmers and fishermen, the Islanders had little time to waste in wrestling with problems concerning Britain’s right to exploitation; there were other more tangible matters to wrestle with — the thousand and one daily tasks which had to be looked to if one was to live.”

While they learned of what was going on in Boston, any incomplete information was accented and supplemented with a bevy of rumors. 

Who had time to try to separate the facts from the rumors?

“Besides, even if you … (reached) the conviction that independence was the only solution, there was the realization that here on the Island, at least, it was just as well to keep this partiality to yourself….”

Those in public office: justices, constables, assessors, appraiser and pound masters, were strongly Tory. 

Lt. Col. Christopher Billopp and Judge Benjamin Seaman, his father-in-law, held both wealth and power over all of these, and were adamant in their loyalty to the King.

water of bay between rocks on book cover of Staten Island 1524 - 1898
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It’s time for our Annual Membership Drive: 

Tottenville History Facebook Group.

We grew to 864 members. 

As each new member comes in, we add to the value of the group for all of us. And when I read of people reconnecting after many years, I’m so very happy.

Whether it’s a local announcement of what’s happening in Tottenville, a remembering of places and people of our personal past, or a look into the history before we were born, this group is a constant source of inspiration for me.

Let Tottenville History come alive for you.

Join our community!

Already a member? Please invite your friends & family to join us. 

Just hit the invite button in the group and take part in our annual membership drive. 


scene of water, trees, rocks & sky
opened book with 5 stars above it

Share your thoughts about 17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

Conference House

Tottenville History

Summer 2022

Blue plastic sunglasses for eyes, with enjoy every moment forming the smile

Summer 2022

One of my goals starting the Tottenville blog was to make sure I write only when I have something of value to say to you.

I began with a monthly format but have decided it’s time to change the timing to seasonal.

Welcome to the Summer 2022 edition.

book, typewriter, opened notebook, & eyeglasses

One aspect of my writing that has been growing alongside my writing on the 18th Century is on the Medium platform.

The interest in Tottenville History is growing there as I write more articles about it along with my essays and other writing.

With over 100 million readers on this platform the response has been encouraging.

Everyone gets to read 3 stories each month for free, so if you’re interested in reading any of the Tottenville articles, here they are with their links.

The story about what got me started researching and writing the Tottenville History Comes Alive book series.

Highlights of the Lenape, our first residents.

The Influence of the Dutch in New York City and Tottenville

17th Century English Influence

A look at whether it’s fact or legend that Christopher Billopp sailed around Staten Island to make it part of New York

More about Christopher Billopp

For a small monthly fee of $5 a month, or discounted $50 a year, you can read unlimited articles each month — and write your own if you want.

If you decide to join, please consider using my link. It earns me a small commission at no cost to you.

Sneak Peek at 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

Meet King George III

In 1760 King George III ascended the throne. 

Born in 1738, he was premature, sickly, and not expected to live. His parents Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Princess Augusta saw to it that he was baptized that day.

George went on to become king at the age of 22 to become the longest ruling sovereign before Queen Victoria. 

He retired from public life due to alleged mental illness in 1810 and died in 1820.

Later historians and scientists, from medical progression and knowledge over the years, suggest possible physical causes that were incorrectly diagnosed as mental issues.

lighted frame with spotlights above Books in the Spotlight

Here’s another book by Cokie Roberts looking at women in history.

I’ll be reading this book that starts in 1797, the end of the 18th Century, with the presidency of John Adams from the perspective of his wife Abigail Adams.

The rest of the book is in the 19th Century, so for now, I’ll only be looking at Adams, returning to it when 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive has been launched and it will be time for me to sit down to write on the 19th Century.

pictures of First Ladies on book cover of Ladies of Liberty

Ladies of Liberty

The Women Who Shaped Our Nation

By Cokie Roberts

“For the first time, Americans mourned as one.”

The chapter begins with the death of George Washington on December 14, 1799. Congress set the day after Christmas for the official memorial for Washington.

“Her husband’s chief adviser, the First Lady knew this would help John Adams politically, and she was nothing if not politically savvy…. It couldn’t hurt the embattled incumbent president to remind the voters of his ties to the Federalist ‘fallen hero’.”

The chapter proceeds to tell of the marriage of the Adams, with one section that reminded me of Katherine Ann Farmar Billopp maintaining Bentley Manor. For five years John Adams was away from Abigail with the Continental Congress and his time as a diplomat.

“Adams depended on his wife to support the family by running the farm and selling goods he sent from abroad. 

Of course, she was also expected to raise the children and take care of elderly relatives. Plus … the British might be coming, at least in the early days of the Revolutionary War.”

It helps us better understand what the women did, something significant that is lacking in most history textbooks we had in school.

“Through it all Abigail Adams had managed admirably, protesting from time to time that women were the best Patriots because they were handling all of the hardships and suffering all the sacrifices for the American cause, but they would not hold high office or even be able to vote if they won.”

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Thanks to the 839 members of our Facebook group, 

the number growing every day.

I hope you’re enjoying the posts as much as I am.

Here’s how to join:

Already a member? 

 Please continue to invite your friends & family.

Conference House

Tottenville History

March 2022

book, typewriter, opened notebook, & eyeglasses

18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive is slowly, but surely, coming alive.

My goal is publication before 2022 ends.

My Very First Time as a Podcast Guest

The Packaged Tourist Show by Matthew DiBiase

It was fun to be his guest discussing Tottenville History and sharing about my life & writing career.

This podcast features authors, artists, and commentators of all stripes dealing with the arts, sports history, American history, world history, and socio-political issues.

I’m finding a new audience for my writing and for our Tottenville History on Medium. 

One of my most read articles this month was the one on The Lenape.

Medium is an open platform with over 100 million readers and growing. Everyone gets to read 3 stories each month for free.

For a small monthly fee, you can read unlimited articles each month — and write your own if you want. If you decide to join, please consider using my link. It earns me a small commission at no cost to you.

My Tottenville Articles on Medium

The Story Behind Writing a Book Series on Tottenville

The Lenape

A Childhood Fantasy (about my time as a reporter for the SI Register newspaper & the start of my Tottenville History research.)

List of the links to all of my writing on Medium

Sneak Peek at 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

When I learned American history in school the focus was predominantly on the names, dates, wars, and basic facts. I’m confident it was the same for many of you, too. Some good teachers went a little deeper to get us thinking, and I owe them my heartfelt gratitude.

I hated memorizing, always learning best by understanding. As I write about the impact in Tottenville, and in all of our country, with the facts we take for granted as Americans I hope I achieve this type of sharing that makes you not only hear the names again, but hopefully meet them where they were and how they relate to us.

By looking at their weaknesses combined with their strengths, seeing the circumstances around them at the time, we will understand better all that they did to begin the United States of America.

lighted frame with spotlights above Books in the Spotlight

photos of women on book cover of Founding Mothers

Founding Mothers

By Cokie Roberts

Author and journalist Cokie Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week and additionally served as commentator for National Public Radio.

In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she won countless awards, including three Emmys. She was inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame, and was cited by the American Women in Radio and Television as one of the fifty greatest women in the history of broadcasting.

In 2002, Roberts, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, was successfully treated at the time. She died from complications of the disease on September 17, 2019.

From her Author’s Note in Founding Mothers:

“First a word about what this book is and what it is not. This is a book of stories — stories of the women who influenced the Founding Fathers. It is not a disquisition on eighteenth-century life. These are by definition elite women. There are many other women of the time whose lives were much harder than the ones described here, but the Founding Fathers weren’t listening to them.”

Facebook logo with join our group

I continue to love all the posts & conversations going on in our Tottenville History group. 

It’s such a source of inspiration for me as I continue to write the 18th Century book.

Knowing how much you enjoyed 17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive through the reviews on Amazon and comments in the group, and that you’re waiting for me to finish the writing, makes the task of writing and editing, something that takes way more time than you may imagine, a joy rather than drudgery.

Thanks so much for the support. 

Conference House

Tottenville History

February 2022

Having a virtual author assistant again has done wonders for my productivity. It’s great to use the extra hours to immerse myself in the writing.

book, typewriter, opened notebook, & eyeglasses

18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive is slowly, but surely, coming alive.

I continue to write 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive, but since open to learning new things that will benefit my writing, I have become more active on Medium.

Medium is an online publication platform/social media connection site.

Previously as a member I had only shared essays there, but now am publishing other articles and book reviews for some of their publications, as well as independently publishing articles related to Tottenville History. I discovered it is an excellent place for engaging with other writers and readers, as well a place for reaching a new audience with my writing.

Here’s a friend’s link to my first Tottenville article giving the back story to the Tottenville History series. It’s trending in the Writers on Writing topic and listed as number 2 in their best articles.


Viki Winterton and Expert Insights Publishing published and promoted my contribution to the #1 International Bestseller, How Big Can You Dream? Journal!

They showcased my profile on Bestselling Authors International Organization (BAI):

Sneak Peek at 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

Did you know?

Disosway’s was the only grist mill to serve Tottenville for over 200 years, begun around 1700 by Cornelius Disosway.

A grist mill grounds grain. Remember, Billopp’s Bentley Manor was the first large wheat farm in Tottenville, followed by other farms. A grist mill was an essential part of Tottenville’s agricultural society. With Disosway’s grist mill being the only one here for both the 18th and 19th centuries, its contribution to Tottenville was significant.

Lighted frame with spotlights above Book in the Spotlight

Alistair Cooke’s America

Alistair Cooke (b. November 20, 1908, d. March 30, 2004) was a British-born American journalist whose work as a journalist, television personality and radio broadcaster was done primarily in the United States, best known for his lively and insightful interpretations of American history and culture.

Alistair Cooke's America is a tie-in book to his 13-part television documentary series “America: A Personal History of the United States.” Published by Alfred A. Knopf in New York, in 1973, the book was a best-seller in the United States.

Here’s what he shared about the colonies before the American Revolution.

From Alistair Cooke’s America

“So through the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, the various English spread themselves in the Middle Colonies and welcomed German Lutherans and Swedish Protestants, Moravians and Jacobites, Mennonites and Jews. By 1733 there were thirteen colonies settled along the Atlantic seaboard - in order of founding Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Georgia. Each had its own government, its own currency, its own trade laws and religious ways. They were, indeed, long before the Revolution, more like thirteen nations, enjoying or suffering every sort of relationship with the interior Indians from undisturbed friendship to murderous hostility.”

statue of liberty on book cover of Alistair Cooke's America
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The Tottenville History Facebook group continues to provide such a wonderful community of 770 vastly different people united by the common bond of their love of the history of Tottenville.


Some now live in Tottenville.

Some grew up here but live elsewhere now.

Some worked in Tottenville.

Some never lived here but know someone who did.

Some just appreciate our rich history, an integral part of the history of Staten Island & New York City.


What I love most about our community on Facebook are all the wonderful posts that share our history from personal experience or remembrances. They provide the touch of humanity that is essential in any discussion of history.

One in particular came to mind as I’m writing 18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive.

Since I set up the group as a private haven for all of us from the turmoil of social media chaos today, I would never quote any post without permission of the person who wrote it. 

I’m excited to share I received this permission from Judy Johnston Sarsten. Her experience not only provided a welcome laugh, but also hit on a sharing of the American Revolution not all of us know about.

December 31, 2019 ·

"Here is a little history which my family found rather surprising and you hopefully will find amusing: As a descendant of the Totten's through my grandfather Dave Walters (his mom was Laura Anne Totten)many of you know him as Pickles, my mom believed she was eligible to be a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)., since it had been passed down through the family that the Totten's she was related to fought in the American Revolution. It was something she always boasted about as few can claim this honor. Deciding to surprise her with a membership, my daughter pursued the application. Lo and behold, we found out that yes, the Totten's we were related to did fight in the American Revolution -- only on the side of the British. They were loyalists! This has provided my family with a great many laughs --- I hope it provided one or two for you."

book cover of 17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive

 17th Century Tottenville Comes Alive.

Available on Amazon in Kindle & Print Editions.

Asking your help

Have you had a chance to read 17th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive?

If so, would you post that you read it on any social media you’re on to let others know about the book?

One-on-one recommendations mean so much.


Conference House

Tottenville History

January 2022

Happy New Year

Let me begin with sharing an opening I have for a virtual author assistant because my former exceptional assistant had to retire due to personal circumstances. If you’re not interested in the position for yourself, but know someone who qualifies, please let them know asking them to mention you when emailing me.

Virtual Author Assistant   POSITION FILLED

Opening for a virtual author assistant to work a few hours weekly initially to help me get more sales & reviews for my first book in the series while I work finishing & publishing the second book in the Tottenville History series this year.

• Results oriented independent worker able to follow directions

• Enjoys reading and history, especially that of New York

• Active on social media with engagement and content

• Familiar with book blogs, GoodReads and Amazon

APPLY by email only.

Tell me your availability, salary expectations, and most importantly why you believe we will be a good fit working together.

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Once connected to Tottenville in any capacity, the interest remains no matter where one lives now. 

Thanks for all the invites sent to make the annual membership drive successful. Already a member? Please feel free to continue to invite your friends & family.

This wonderful active community is what helps to keep me researching & writing!

book, typewriter, opened notebook, & eyeglasses

18th Century Tottenville History Comes Alive is slowly, but surely, coming alive.

My goal is to have 18th Century Tottenville Comes Alive, the second book in the series, completed in 2022. 

Until then, please enjoy 17th Century Tottenville Comes Alive.

Available on Amazon in Kindle & Print Editions. 

 After you’ve read the book, I look forward to your comments about it on Amazon, a great help to me in generating more interest.