Tottenville is approximately 1.7 square miles and is the southernmost neighborhood of Staten Island. Tottenville is a compact, quiet residential community. Old families of English descent have lived here for generations, often in the same home. The former fishing village streets at one time were surfaced with oyster shells.
Originally the Manor of Bentley in the late 1600s, during the American Revolution it was called The Neck. Named Tottenville in 1862 after Major General Joseph Gilbert Totten, a Revolutionary War hero. For a brief period it was called Bentley Manor after the ship on which Christopher Billopp sailed to America on in 1667 and in 1869 it was renamed Tottenville.
Tottenville is the latest name of the village and was adopted after protracted and acrimonious disputes. The place had intermittently been called Totten’s Landing, Bentley Dock, Unionville, Mount Hermon, Arentsville and The Neck.
Mt. Hermon was at Bentley, unfortunately changed in 1862 to the less attractive name of Tottenville. In 1903 Mt. Hermon was a "Locality about the junction of Amboy Road and Biddle's Road.
Tottenville – a village at the southernmost end of the island, originally part of the Manor of Bentley, established in 1687 and probably occupied by Captain Christopher Billopp in 1675; Billopp’s Ferry service to Amboy dates from the seventeenth century. After the Revolution, the region was known as The Neck, and it was during this period that the Tottens grew numerous. Totten’s Landing appears on maps, as does Bentley Dock. The post office was Bentley until 1861, but has been Tottenville since 1862, except for a brief period in 1910 when it was known as Bentley Manor.
My name is Sheila-Anne; I was raised in Tottenville and started collecting postcards of Tottenville in 2002. When I first started collecting them I was saving the postcards in a photo album but thought it wasn’t a great idea so I then purchase hard plastic covers and stored them in photo boxes.
I searched the Internet for information regarding my postcards but never had any luck. I emailed a site for help on information on my postcards but was told that they couldn’t help me. A week later I received an email from that site asking me to send them scans of all the postcards I have for their site.
So since I couldn’t locate any information or history of my Tottenville postcards and there wasn’t much online regarding the history of Tottenville. I decided to create a website with my postcards and the history of Tottenville. Thinking that others might be interested in the old postcards and the history of old Tottenville.
Since I was a little girl I have always been interested in the history of Tottenville. I use to go to the library to read the reference books with my father
These postcards are from my private collection and they aren’t for sale.
If you have anything regarding Tottenville that you would like to add to my site for others to view and enjoy please contact me via e-mail with the picture and a brief description and I will be more than happy to add them to the site.
If anyone has any suggestions they are more than appreciated since this is my first website. Hope you enjoy your time here. Take care and thank you for visiting my site.
Longtime resident has built a Web site that showcases the town's history and other highlights
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
By TOM FLANNAGAN
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
There was a time when Tottenville was considered by many to be the "end of civilization"... or, the southernmost part of New York City.
Policemen in all precincts were jokingly threatened with a transfer to the 123 Precinct, then known as the "sticks," because it was the most rural of all precincts within city limits. For many years, the stationhouse was the only one in the five boroughs to have a screen door at the front entrance.
The town of Tottenville has a rich history. Less than two miles square and originally mostly woodland, it was first named "Manor of Bentley"after the ship on which Christopher Billop arrived in 1667. In 1869, its name was changed to Tottenville, in honor of Revolutionary War hero, Gilbert Totten. Due to an imperfectly drawn charter, the name wasn't official until 1894 when the Island became part of the Greater City.
Sheila-Anne has spent all of her 37 years in the Tottenville community, and while she wasn't around to see it as an isolated fishing village with scattered farms and acres of tall trees, she is in love with what's there now. Since her days at Tottenville High School, Sheila-Anne has had a keen interest in the community's history and enjoys nothing more than talking about it.
In July, Sheila-Anne put together a Web site devoted to the community at http://www.freewebs.com/tottenville. She continually posts information about the town and its people. She tells us that a postcard collection she purchased in 2002 gave the Web site a kick-start and from that point on it has continues to grow.
"I love to talk to old-timers about the town and their living there,"says the historian.
It thrills her to know that she is walking on the same soil as the Raritan Indians did so long ago. She is delighted to be able to reach out and touch the Conference House where so much history has been made.
Sheila-Anne doesn't remember the original Russell Pavilion that stood at the end of Hylan Boulevard and was used by so many for family picnics and even dances in the good old days, but sshe does have fond memories of her teen days when the Hylan Boulevard area, just short of the pavilion, was closed to traffic as it is today and was the site of traffic-free roller-skating.
She never got to ride on the once-popular Tottenville Ferry to Perth Amboy, nor does she remember the great brush fire, which swept across the southern tip of the Island in 1963. However, Sheila-Anne has vivid mental pictures of it all and she shares it on the Tottenville memories Web site through a large collection of photos, newspaper clippings about the people and the town, its beaches and businesses.
The large volume of e-mail received from former Tottenville residents points out that many feel just like Sheila-Anne about the neighborhood.
"I'd like nothing more than to magically 'go back' to the times of the photos ... those good old days," she said.
There have been many changes in Tottenville. The police station now has a new storm door and is a much busier place. The Ferry has been gone since 1963, though the railroad remains one of the best modes of transportation on Staten Island.
The style of housing has changed: They're not building early American homes with wrap-around porches these days, but rather attached and semi-attached buildings on much smaller plots. Some Mom and Pop shops remain, but most residents patronize newer shopping centers at Page Avenue and Amboy Road.
The Web site, also referred to by Sheila-Anne as "Reminisce: Bringing Back the Good Times" is a not-for-profit operation and nothing on the site is for sale.
How are Things on Main Street?
Daily News, Wednesday, January 21, 1976
It is at the very bottom of the stem of the Big Apple, a neighborhood straight out of the Middle America, a sleepy place called Tottenville, S.I. In Tottenville, the name of the main street is Main St.
But no matter how slow the pace, Tottenville is in New York as far south as you can go in New York, city or state, in fact – and so you know it is a good place full of good people.
You come into the neighborhood on woodsy, winding Amboy Road. You pass the faded sign out in front of the Tottenville Lumber & Coal Co. Do Tottenvillians still heat their homes with coal? “A few do,” the manager of the company, Richard Kauffman, said. “We have about 50 coal customers.”
Next you come to a neat little shopping center – an A&P, a beauty shop, a liquor store, a luncheonette, a drug store. Very relaxed. People taking their time shopping. No hustle or bustle.
A visit to the drug store revealed that Tottenville, although rural, is not pristine. Just to the left of the cash register was a book rack featuring the latest in pornography. “The Family Bond,” one lurid cover proclaimed. You knew the book wasn’t about the Swiss Family Robinson.
If Tottenville has capitulated to the smut merchants, what hope is there for the rest of us? The last outpost has crumbled.
Further along Amboy Road you come to the imposing 136-year-old Bethel United Methodist Church. It is surrounded by a cemetery. The names on the gravestones are Sleight, Totten, Joline, Biddle, Butler, the same names you see on the street signs.
The houses in Tottenville tend to be big, homey-looking places, many with gables. Many of the yards are big enough for kids to have touch-football games and to bat out flies and grounders. The kids apparently do these very things, because Tottenville High School is always among the best in the city in both football and baseball.
The busiest place in Tottenville–maybe the only busy place in Tottenville–the the Rinky-Dink Roller Skating Rink, Inc., on Main St. Walk in the front door and you are suddenly confronted with a couple of hundred kids and a couple of dozen young-at-heart adults roaring around the big wood floor. Having a good time. Good, clean fun, as the saying used to go. Tottenville is a place where teenagers still fall in love at the roller rink.
There are American flags, but no parking meters, on the streets of Tottenville. Main St. between Amboy Road and Hylan Blvd. is largely woods. There was an absence of activity in the vicinity of the police station, the 123d Precinct station on Main St. Not even a double-parked squad car out front. Probably the cops were out raiding a still.
Tradition is honored in Tottenville. The Rev. Richard Strong, the rector of the lovely Episcopal Church of St. Stephen on Amboy Road, disclosed that when the church burned to the ground a decade ago, he met with the vestry the night after the fire and, despite the fact that the church account showed a balance of only $3,000, a decision was made to rebuild. Today, the new $300,000 church is paid for. “All small donations,” he said. “We ran a lot of bake sales, I’ll tell you.”
Civic responsibility is encouraged. Mrs. Janice Rose of Joline Ave., a leader in the Tottenville Improvement Council, has written a personal letter to every U.S. Congressman demanding a ban on storage of liquefied natural gas in two huge tanks built for the purpose on Arthur Kill Road. The tanks remain empty, thanks to her and people like her. An accident involving this highly volatile gas could cause Tottenville, and probably the rest of us as well, to disappear permanently.
The 180-year-old Tidewater Inn, a strikingly graceful building with big white columns at the foot of Bentley Ave., was recently restored and is open for lunch and dinner. Bring money. The baked stuffed lobster is $18.
The proprietor probably hopes to draw well-heeled tourists who come to Tottenville this bicentennial year to visit the historic Conference House on Hylan Blvd., where, 200 years ago this Sept. 11, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams informed Lord Howe that the Colonies would not bow to the British.
In Bobanna’s, a luncheonette on Amboy Road, a kid sitting over coffee in a booth said that yes, Tottenville is indeed a nice place to grow up in. He likes it the way it is, he said, and hope that it never changes. But he is not optimistic.
“It’s getting more like the rest of the city all the time,” he said. “Tottenville isn’t what is used to be.”
“How old are you?” He was asked.
“I’m 16,” he said.
Tottenville, at the extreme Southerly end of the Island, was formerly known as the Manor of Bentley, named after the old Manor of the Billopps, and the peninsula at the extreme point of the land was for more than a century known as the Billopp’s, afterwards Ward’s Point. For many years it was called “West Quarter.” Later the village was known as Bentley, and finally as Tottenville. At one time a spirit of rivalry existed between the upper and lower sections of the village, and most animated warfare was carried on. It all come from a factional feeling relative to the name. The upper section insisted upon the name of “Bentley,” while those in the lower part demanded that it should be called “Tottenville.” Great banners were stretch across the main street, bearing the favorite names of the sections, with corresponding devices, and some time was spent in the warfare. Now and then the most enthusiastic residents would come to blows, but it was generally a wordy conflict.
The name of Tottenville was finally adopted. It was incorporated in 1869; but, the charter being imperfectly drawn, its provisions where not put in force. It was incorporated again in 1894, and the charter remained in force until Staten Island became a part of the Greater City.
August 5, 2011 will be 336 years ago that, British captain Christopher Billopp stakes claim to a large piece of land on Staten Island. This is where he built the Billopp Manor.
8,000 years ago, Native American burial ground established at Ward's Point near Tottenville.
Wards Point is the southern-most point of New York State between Tottenville, and Perth Amboy at the head of Raritan Bay.
Source: New York RedBook 1898, Post Offices & Postmasters
Postmaster: Reuben W Wood
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