Street Beat: Houston, Bayard and New York’s Very Own Bunker Hill

Posted on: June 5th, 2013 at 11:13 am by

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How-ston, not Hue-ston.

End Street Beat.

Thanks for reading!

I kid.

Houston Street in New York City is named (by at least 1805) after William Houstoun, a landowner and lawyer. Houstoun was also a member of the Continental Congress representing Georgia.

So how did this Southern boy end up in NYC? Marriage. What else?  To a prominent NYC family – the Bayards (who married some Stuyvesants throughout their lineage). Yes, that well-to-do family intermarriage thing again.

The Bayards have a street and something else too which we will get to shortly. They have been called “noble,” gave birth to a slew of senators and owned a chunk of lower Manhattan.

In May of the year 1647, Mrs. Samuel Bayard, who was Ann Stuyvesant, sister of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, left the Old World, having lost her husband who died in Holland prior to that date, and accompanied by her four children, Balthazar, Petrus, Nicholas and Catharine, arrived in New Amsterdam, now New York. Judith, the sister of Samuel Bayard, had married the Director General, Peter Stuyvesant, and thus there was a double relationship between the families of Bayard and Stuyvesant.

Mary Bayard became the wife of Houstoun on June 10, 1786. They were married until her death on August 7, 1806.  Her father gave them some land from the Bayard estate. Hence Houston Street, which dropped a “u” over time, most likely in the early 1800s.

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Last Will and Testament of Nicolas Bayard, verbose, but worth it:

In the Abstract of Wills, Volume VI 1760 – 1766 (pages 192 – 195), the will of Nicholas Bayard is given as follows:

In the name of God, Amen. I, NICHOLAS BAYARD, of New York, merchant, being of sound and perfect memory, Praised be God, reflecting upon the certainty of death and the uncertain hour thereof, and being desirous to settle my affairs in the best order in my power. My Body I desire may be buried in a decent and Christian manner in the family vault, at the discretion of my executors. I leave to my son, Stephen Bayard, 60 Lots of ground, being part of my farm or land situate, lying and being in the Out Ward of New York, and are marked and distinguished in and by a map or plan made with many other Lots as Numbers 1 to 21 inclusive, 34 to 41 inclusive, 162 to 171 inclusive, 194 to 204 inclusive, 226 to 235 inclusive, as by the said map dated January 15, 1752, made by Francis Marschalk, City Surveyor, may appear. I give these to my son Stephen and his heirs and assigns forever. I also leave him my negro wench, “Molly,” and my negro man, “Quimono.” I leave to my daughter Elizabeth 30 Lots of ground, being part of my farm lying in the Bowery, and marked and distinguished on the said map as Lots Numbers 95 to 108 inclusive, 118 to 129 inclusive, 146 to 149 inclusive, To her and her heirs and assigns forever. I also leave her my negro girl “Celia.” I leave to my daughter Ann all those 30 lots, being part of my farm in the Bowery, in the Out Ward of New York, and distinguished on said map as Numbers 130 to 145 inclusive, 150 to 156 inclusive, 177 to 183 inclusive, To her and her heirs and assigns forever. I also leave her my negro wench “Eva.” I leave to my daughter Hester (wife of John Van Cortlandt) all those 30 certain lots distinguished on said map as Numbers 22 to 25 inclusive, 50 to 53 inclusive, 70 to 77 inclusive, 188 to 193 inclusive, 218 to 221 inclusive, 240 to 243 inclusive. And whereas I have given the said lots to my son-in-law, John Van Cortlandt, and my daughter Hester by deed, I hereby confirm the same. And whereas I have given to my daughter Judith (wife of Jeremiah Van Rensselaer) all those certain 30 lot marked on said map as Numbers 54 to 61 inclusive, 86 to 90 inclusive, 113 to 117 inclusive, 184 to 187 inclusive, 222 to 224 inclusive, 226, and 236 to 299 inclusive. Now for a further assurance I hereby confirm the same. All the rest of my houses and lands in the Out Ward, except as given herein, and also except a lot of ground lying in the Bowery in the Out Ward and adjoining the lands of Elbert Haring and Robert Benson, late deceased, which I have given by deed of gift to my son Stephen, I leave to my son, Nicholas Bayard, to him and his heirs and assigns. I leave to my son Nicholas my dwelling house and lot of ground situate on the southwest side of Wall street, as the same is occupied by him. Also both my Sugar houses in New York, and the utensils thereto belonging, the stock of sugar excepted. I also leave him my coach house and the lots whereon the said houses and buildings stand, and all my lots on the north side of Wall street. But he is not to have the said lots unless he doth within one year pay to my executors 1,500 for my dwelling house and 1,500 for the Sugar houses, Store house, Coach house and lots thereto belonging. I also leave to my son Nicholas my negro man “Robin.” All the linnen which I had by my last wife in marriage, which may be known by the marks thereon, I leave to the children of my last wife, viz., Elizabeth, Ann, and Stephen. The rest of my household stuff I leave to my 4 children, Nicholas, Elizabeth, Ann, and Stephen. I have provided for my two daughters, Hester Van Cortlandt and Judith Van Rensselaer, with outsets at their marriage. The portions of my estate left to my children, Elizabeth, Ann, and Stephen, are to be under the management of my executors. All my debts to be paid out of the estate left to my children. I make my son Nicholas, and my sons-in-law, John Van Cortlandt and Jeremiah Van Rensselaer, and my brother, Samuel Bayard, and my nephew, William Bayard, executors. Dated September 18, 1762.

Proved, December 30, 1765.

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We will hit up the Rutgers and Van Cortlandt families another time.

You may or may not recall all about Stuyvesant Street  and the Commissioner’s Grid from our St. Mark’s piece. Go ahead and take a refresher if you need it.

On the Bayard land was not just the intersection of Houstoun Street, but a very significant hill that took part in the Revolutionary War;  a hill called Bayard’s Mount.

March of 1776:

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Kolch meaning freshwater for your information.

The map above shows Five Points and Bayard’s Mount/Bunker Hill.

This fort was named after the previous year’s battle at Bunker Hill in Boston and its location is today’s Mott and Grand Streets.

Nathan Hale was stationed here and for spying on the British he was hanged. Upon his platform Hale spoke these famous last words:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

He is known as the Connecticut State hero and the location of his hanging by the British in an orchard is now thought to be the Upper East Side’s 66th and 3rd Avenue though a historian battle of our very own – there are other claims to the location of his hanging: one in Sutton Place, one in other in Turtle Bay, one by Wall Street and the last near Grand Central.

Bear with me for this next bit.

Butchers were the “aristocrats” of the 18th and early 19th century because they were generally native-born. One such aristocrat, Edward Mooney, lived on the Bowery and praise the preservation system, his house still stands. Mooney built his home on land that was taken from James Delancey who retreated to London for being a Loyalist as we briefly touched upon in another Street Beat.

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So these native-born butchers had a favorite pastime – bull-baiting. This horrific, er, sporting event (?) involved a live bull being chained and mauled by dogs.

Why is this relevant? Because the bull baiting headquarters was none other than Bunker Hill, about 100 ft north of the present line of Grand Street.

I love coming full circle.

Btdubs, the most docile and loving dogs are known as ‘Pit Bulls’ for this very reason: being placed in pits and forced to fight as they once did to those poor bulls.

Don’t believe the hype. They are sincerely more gentle than those yappy little dogs.

Totally bias and equally not. Check out some apropos pics of these honey buns:

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And let us not forget:

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Bringing it full circle again back to Houstoun. He split his time in the South and in NYC throughout his life and is buried in our very own resolute St. Paul’s Chapel.

Yet another Street Beat showing you how every street has a story (or a mind-numbing tale of prominent family webs of marriage).

Hope you enjoyed this one.

As always, Ah, New York. My stunning and gritty, sparkling and filthy, tremendous, transcendent metropolis – you were forged by the keepers of secrets and those secrets I plan to find and reveal, one brick at a time. Bless.

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