Sandy Ground, Staten Island-New York


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Discover your history in learning about the oldest surviving free black community in the US.

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Sandy Ground, Staten Island-New York

  2. 2. SANDY GROUND STATEN ISLAND, NYThe oldest surviving “FreeBlack” community in the UnitedStates
  3. 3. History of Sandy GroundSlavery was abolished in New York State on July 4th, 1827Capt. John Jackson purchased land in Westfield-now Rossville, Staten IslandThis was the first recorded purchase of a land by a black man known today as Sandy GroundSandy Ground is the oldest community established by free black slaves in North America
  4. 4. History of Sandy Ground… Sandy Ground is located in the southern part of Staten Island, New York not far from the shipping ports
  5. 5. Sandy Ground Then… By 1830s, freed men and woman from all over New York State, Maryland, Virginia, and Snow Hill, Maryland, would follow Jackson‟s lead, settling on Staten Island as an oasis from persecution. Sandy ground became the “gateway to freedom” Sandy ground also served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and is the oldest continuously settled free black community in the United States
  6. 6. History of Sandy Ground… The freed slaves that first settled formed a farming community, which grew as free black oyster fishermen from Maryland and Delaware settled the region. These early settlers were skilled in the oystering trade. Oystering harvesting was a major business on Staten Island during the 19th century and was mainly conducted on the island‟s south shore By harvesting oysters and farming, this fledging community was able to thrive and became a safe haven on the Underground Railroad
  7. 7. Sandy Ground Then.. The oyster harvesting industry was a major business here in the 19th century, and the oysters the men of Sandy Ground planted and raked in were sold in the finest restaurants in Manhattan and elsewhere
  8. 8. Sandy Ground Then… Sandy Ground was one of several similar neighborhoods in urban centers in the Northeast where free blacks gathered to further themselves socially and economically Homes and school were built for the young and old. The literacy rate was 60%, according to the 1860 Census. High for any area in those times
  9. 9. Sandy Ground Then… In the midst of this thriving community, the Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed on Dec 5th, 1850 This was a central meeting place and annual camp meetings were held at the church in those early years, with people coming from as far away as Connecticut and Virginia to celebrate living a “free life” The first church was built of frame construction in 1854. It was destroyed by fire and replaced by the current building, which was occupied on Dec 19, 1897
  10. 10. Sandy Ground Then… Residents of the area were known to have large plots of land and prided themselves on their industry and self- sufficiency. Relations with local white neighbors, though not intimate, were for the most part cordial As the oyster beds became overworked, many people turned to well digging, iron working, blacksmithing and being midwives.
  11. 11. Sandy Ground Then… On a Spring day in 1963, devastating brush fires raged across the Island on a dry spring day Quite a number of buildings were destroyed in that one-day inferno. And the community began to decline when oysters in New York waters became tainted, and the city closed the beds supporting Sandy Ground by 1916.
  12. 12. Sandy Ground Now… Ten houses remain in the area where more than 60 once stood Several historic sites were fortunately spared: a 17th-century private school; the home of William Pedro, who died in 1988 at the age of 106; the Bishop Forge, the last private blacksmith shop in New York, and the only intact 18th - century African cemetery in America
  13. 13. Sandy Ground Now… As the oldest continuously inhabited free Black settlement in the Unites States, Sandy Ground is a place of great historical significance. Today, Sandy Ground is home to the families that are descendants of original settlers
  14. 14. Sandy Ground Now… The Rossville A.M.E Zion Church still plays a prominent role in the life of this part of Staten Island Many families still live in the community that was founded by their courageous ancestors The rich history of Sandy Ground has been documented and preserved through the efforts of the Sandy Ground Historical Society
  15. 15. Sandy Ground Now… Descendants of the original settlers still live on Staten Island, and Sandy Ground Historical Society runs a museum and library that examines the life and history of the freed Blacks who settled in the area prior to the Civil War The Sandy Ground Historical Society maintains the largest documentary collection of African-American culture and history on Staten Island and the museum also serves as an educational research facility charted by the state Department of Education
  16. 16. Sandy Ground Now… The Society‟s Museum and library are dedicated to researching, preserving, and informing visitors about this historically important Staten Island Community. The museum preserves material related to the historic town, as well as letters, photographs, film, art, rare books, quilts and other archaeological artifacts. Highlights include a rare surviving can of Tettersalve, a beauty product manufactured by legendary Harlem businesswoman Madame C. J. Walker, and a letter from W. E. B. DuBois.
  17. 17. Sandy Ground Now… The museum educates and inspires the public with exhibitions, photographs, and art documenting the history of Sandy Ground and African Americans Sandy Grounds Historical Society museum has sponsored arts and craft sessions, a music heritage series, a lectures series presented in Island schools and churches, and a traveling lecture sessions to institutions around the country
  18. 18. Sandy Ground Now… A visit to Sandy Ground guarantees a lesson in our Nation‟s history Many families still live in the community that was founded by their courageous ancestors Some descendants of Sandy Ground‟s Bishop family migrated to the south and currently live in Raleigh, NC since 1999
  19. 19. Sandy Ground Now… For further information and assistance on Sandy Ground, the oldest surviving “Free Black” community in the United States Please Contact: The Sandy Ground Historical Society, Inc. 1538 Woodrow Road Staten Island, New York 10309 (718) 317-5796
  20. 20. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery
  21. 21. SANDY GROUND PICTUREGALLERYPictures of Sandy Ground‟s Landscape
  22. 22. Sandy Ground Picture GallerySandy Grounds Landscape
  23. 23. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  The Landmark Preservation Commission of New York City granted protective status to two „baymen‟s cottages” at Sandy Ground on Staten Island
  24. 24. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hicks of Sandy Ground, circa 1900
  25. 25. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  Robert McKinney, Jeffrey Moody, Catherine McKinney, Denise Pedro and Warren Landin, from left, play in Sandy Ground on March 31, 1967. The community was founded in Rossville around 1830.
  26. 26. Sandy Ground Picture GalleryA 1800s couple from Sandy Ground
  27. 27. Sandy GroundPicture Gallery
  28. 28. Sandy GroundPicture Gallery
  29. 29. Sandy GroundPicture Gallery
  30. 30. Sandy GroundPicture Gallery
  31. 31. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  Built before 1859, the Coleman House is a vernacular frame structure that has just been granted landmark status by the city
  32. 32. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  1897 Rossville AME Zion Church
  33. 33. Sandy Ground Picture GalleryThe “only” intact 18th -century African cemetery inAmerica
  34. 34. Sandy Ground Picture GalleryPicture of outside the Sandy Ground HistoricalMuseum
  35. 35. Sandy Ground Picture GalleryInside the Sandy Ground Historical Museum
  36. 36. Sandy Ground Picture Gallery  Quilts are among the historical items on display at the Sand Ground museum and library
  37. 37. Sandy Ground Picture GalleryOne of the exhibits inside the Sandy GroundHistorical Museum
  38. 38. References "Black History Lives at Sandy Ground". Staten Island Advance. 2005-04-24. Stephanie Reitz (2009-11-23). "Group tries to preserve 2 historic Conn. homes". Associated Press (Boston Globe). lt_in_conn_by_free_blacks_in_jeopardy/. Retrieved 2010-08-02. "Sandy Ground Historical Museum". Office of the Staten Island Borough President. Retrieved 2009-08-22. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. Biddle, William T. “A.M.E. Zion Church” in History of Methodism and the Methodist Churches of Staten Island, ed. A. Y. Hubbell (New York: Richmond Publishing Company, 1898), p149 Ferreri, James G. (2005-02-28). "On Sacred Ground". Staten Island Advance. d_ground.html. Retrieved 2009-08-22. Sandy Ground, Staten Island. (2011, June 7). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:42, January 2, 2012, from,_Staten_Island&oldi d=433079300