Stage Coach Lines - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Stage Coach Lines

Dorothy Speer

Middle Village stage coach

The Williamsburgh and Jamaica Turnpike was never planked like other toll roads, so early stage coach lines faced dust in dry weather, mud when it rained, and a terribly bumpy road at all times. From records of the past it would seem that several operators attempted stage coach lines on the Turnpike but some operators eventually would abandon the line. Clouds of dust would blow into passenger's eyes and mouth while riding the old stages.

The early stages were not horses with coaches like you would see in the movies. Instead they were long wagons with side curtains or canvas which were not much help. The stage coach had two steps in the back to enter and long seats that ran from front to back on each side of the wagon. People and bundles landed everywhere when the wagon hit a bump or rut. Feet resting on the wagon floor would have frozen if they had not put straw on the floor. In the winter while waiting for passengers to arrive the driver would cover the horses with a blanket. When the coach was ready to leave the horse blankets were given to the passengers to help keep warm since the back of the wagon had no doors and the wind could blow inside, These wagons were not beautiful but very serviceable.

The first Stage Coach line on Long Island on record was started in 1767. It ran every Monday and Saturday to the Brooklyn Ferry and returned to Jamaica that night. Later huge stage coaches appeared and they carried up to 12 people. In 1801 a stage began to make the daily 20 mile run from Flushing through Jamaica and Bedford to Brooklyn Ferry. Martin Sutdam operated a stage line from Middle Village to the Grand Street Ferry. John Suptin ran a daily 8 a.m. stage from Jamaica to Brooklyn.

James Dranan ran a stage from Peck Slip and Grand Street Ferries to Calvary Cemetery via Grand Street, Meeker Ave. and Metropolitan Ave. The second line belonged to Perly Bartlett who ran two stage lines. The first of his stages ran from Peck Slip Ferry along the route of Dranan's stage and the other ran over the Williamsburgh & Jamaica Turnpike to Middle Village and Jamaica.

The Newtown Stage Coach ran through Maspeth bringing passengers from Winfield and Woodside, Long Island City and Middle Village. The Newtown stage came to Pullis Ave. (now 78th Place and Metropolitan Ave.) every morning to pick up school children that went to a school that is now Newtown High. After school the stage returned them to Middle Village.

Another stage started at Pullis Avenue in Middle Village and headed toward Flatbush, one every hour on the hour. Those travelers seeking companionship and having a few coins in their pockets could take one of the many stage coaches that traveled throughout Long Island, stopping at Inns and Taverns, to allow a rider a glass of spirits to ease the aches of a bumpy ride.

The founder of the Van Duyn family in America was Gerrit Cornelisz Van Duyn, a Huguenot from Burgundy, France, who fled to Zwol, Holland from where he emigrated to America in 1649. He settled in Brooklyn.

In 1719 his grandson, William Van Duyn, 26 years old, purchased a farm of an estimated 350 acres in an area that was known as Hempstead Swamp. The farm was bounded on the north by Furmanville Avenue, on the east by South Meadow Road (now Woodhaven Blvd.), on the west by what is now Dry Harbor Road, from Furmanville Avenue south to Cooper Avenue, and then along Cooper Avenue east to what is now 83rd Street, south to Myrtle Avenue, and on the south by Myrtle Avenue and the northern edge of Union Turnpike.

In 1776 there were many opponents of the revolution. They took a different view about the desirability of separating from the Crown. In the 13 colonies, at least half a million of the total population of 2,500,000 people remained openly loyal to the Mother Country. New York City, the headquarters for the British for seven years, was a hotbed of Tory activity. Two thirds of Brooklyn and one third of Queens were Loyalist. This was partly because of how close the residents were to the seat of power and partly because the many merchants who made up much of the population feared that without the protection of the British Navy they would be unable to do business overseas. Dow Van Duyn was an ardent Loyalist. In 1778 and 1779 his homestead was the guardhouse of the Royal Highlanders.

When the war was over, the victorious revolutionaries returned to New York, and brought with them a wave of repression on the Loyalists. Along with the popular tar and feather treatment, many Loyalists were deprived of their property, denied the right to practice professions, barred from voting or running for office.

After the war this area was regarded suspiciously by the rest of the country. In 1783, 40,000 Loyalists set out from New York Harbor for a new life in Canada. 3,000 of them were from our area. Dow Van Duyn and his family went with them. They founded the city of St. John. Although the British Government was not required to do so, they paid the equivalent of $30,000,000 in claims to American Loyalists for lost property.

As a result of the bitter feeling that existed between Loyalists and Patriots, in 1784 a Commission of Forfeiture was formed to judge whether the lands of the remaining Loyalists should be seized because of their actions during the war. After due deliberation the only farm declared forfeit in Queens was the 200 acre Van Duyn farm. It was ordered to be sold at public auction. Thomas McFarren, a merchant and auctioneer from New York City, was the high bidder at 1,900 pounds (English money was still in use). Possibly as a result of the scandal attached to the Van Duyn name, the family changed the spelling of their last name to Van Dine.

The southern part remained in Van Dine family. 88th Street in Glendale was once called Van Dine Avenue. In 1798 McFarren died and the property was sold to Dr. Isaac Ledyard. Dr. Ledyard paid 4,187.50 for 213 acres. In 1819 it was sold to Daniel Moore for $8,000. In 1833 the property was sold to David Mills for $8,000. He operated it as a dairy farm and later, a breeding farm for horses.

After 45 years of Mills Family ownership it was sold to John Loughlin, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, in 1879 for $44,000. Today it is called St. John's Cemetery.