2018-01-10 / Star Journal

Pages From The Long Island Star Journal

Presented By The Greater Astoria Historical Society:
COMPILED BY DAN MCDONALD


Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game, stands with the original equipment for the basketball game, a peach basket and a ball. 
PhotoPublic Domain Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game, stands with the original equipment for the basketball game, a peach basket and a ball. PhotoPublic Domain Star Journal Begins 1892 With Spotlight On Major Figures And Events Both Past And Present

Out in Oklahoma Territory, Mine Number 11 at the Osage Coal and Mining Company was rocked by a large explosion on January 7. The tragedy claimed the lives of 100 miners, mostly poor, unskilled Russian and Italian immigrants. Back east, January was a month of firsts. In Springfield, Massachusetts, James Naismith published the rules for the new game of basketball. The first game under these rules was played on January 20 in the YMCA gymnasium in the same city. Out in New York harbor, a new station to welcome immigrants to America opened on Ellis Island with great fanfare on New Year’s Day. The wood structure burned down in 1897, taking with it most of the city’s immigration records dating back to 1855.

With the people of Queens looking forward to a new year of fresh starts and exciting opportunities, in January 1892 the Star looked back on the area’s rich past. An article entitled “Ancient Long Island” cited a letter from 1743 describing the western part of the borough as “destitute also of inhabitants and stock except a few insignificant places over against the main, which are about to be abandoned,” and went on to explain that the near complete desolation was due to the “sudden attacks made by the Indians in 1643. So great was the slaughter that the whites solicited the intervention of Captain Underhill to procure a cessation of hostilities, and a peace was finally concluded between the Dutch and the several Long Island sachems who signed articles and agreed to communicate them to their sachems on ‘Mr. Fordham’s plains.’” The conflict, known as Kieft’s War, resulted in many Dutch settlers returning to Europe.

That month, the same newspaper reported on the fate of Jack Barry, a one-time racehorse owned by Long Island City Mayor Patrick “Battle Axe” Gleason. The colorful mayor had donated his charger to the Sisters of St. John’s Hospital, who found little use for their new companion. The nuns raffled him off to raise money for their good works, the winner reportedly a letter carrier living in the Steinway section.

Paddy Gleason, an immigrant from Tipperary, Ireland, was mayor of Long Island City for three terms in the 1880s and 1890s. After serving in the Irish Brigade in the Civil War and opening a distillery in San Francisco, the pugnacious Irishman entered Queens politics, where he established a legacy of graft, political showmanship and brawling, both legal and physical.

In January 1892, the Star profiled the eventful life and times of Judge Alonzo Castle Monson, one of Astoria’s most prominent residents. A graduate of Yale and Columbia Law, Judge Monson served as a judge out in San Francisco in the 1850s but decided to head back home after losing everything in a high stakes poker game. Sailing on the SS Central America from Panama in 1857, the inveterate gambler barely escaped with his life when the sidewheel steamer sank in a hurricane, taking with her some 420 souls and 30,000 pounds of gold to the bottom of the ocean. His Astoria home, built by Stephen Halsey in 1835, later became P.S. 9 before it was razed to make way for the Astoria Houses.

His 1899 home in Southampton, which he dubbed Mon Repos is still occupied today.

That's the way it was January 1892!

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit their website at www.astorialic.org.

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