The Brooklyn of 1838

Interesting Reminiscences Related by A.A. Smith'
 There was a large attendance last night at the meeting of the Society of Old Brooklynites, which was held in the Surrogate's Court room. As this was the last meeting which the society would hold during the existence of this city as an independent community it was arranged to have a talk on reminiscences of Brooklyn. Dr. James L. Watson, the president of the society, was in the chair and Charles L. Young recorded the proceedings. The secretary announced the deaths of Cornelius Pelletreau and John W. hart. Charles V. Warren, Alfred M. Bennett, David Tiera and William jeremiah were proposed for membership. The name of John Mackellar, the superintendent of police, was added tot he roll.

When the routine business had been concluded Dr. Watson introduced Andrew Augustus Smith as the speaker of the evening. Mr. Smith, who is an octogenarian, but looks much younger, made a most interesting adrress of his personal recollections of what Brooklyn was when he came to this city in 1838. He was, he said, just 21 years old and cast her first vote for President in this city. He crossed the East River in a double hull boat, but he did not remember whether it was propelled by steam or not, but anyhow the passage was so slow that many people preferred to row across.

 Mayor Hall was at this time the executive head of the little city. He remembered that at this time there were many pigs roaming about the streets and the mayor issued an ordinance that no pigs should be allowed on the streets. In order to enforce this he commissioned a man to patrol the city and take charge of all pigs found wandering around. The wagon used for this purpose was useless and when the pigs were put in on one side they invariably jumped out on the other. Beside this the people owning the animals objected so strenuously to the edict that for a time its enforcement had to be abandoned. mayor hall then had a wagon built with high sides, and he engaged a big burly negro to accompany him around the town in person. it was a great sight to see the mayor of the city riding on the seat of the pig cart. On several occasions, said Mr. Smith, when the owner of a pig objected to the seizure he was taken up bodily by the negro and lifted into the wagon with the pigs.

Mr. Smith said that he remembered the military garden, which stood where the City hall is today. it was a great meeting place for the heroes of the Mexican war in those days. When the work on the City Hall was begun there was much objection raised to the site as being too suburban. Mr. Smith said he was one of the earlier members of the Hamilton Literary Association, which was organized in 1839, and had held every office in the organization. In 1845 he escorted ex-President John Quincy Adams to the Second Presbyterian Church, where the latter made an address before the members of the literary society. he was also one of the first to attend a meeting called for the organization of the Young Men's Christian Association in 1853. In 1855 Thackeray came to Brooklyn and spoke before the latter association. he delivered fur lectures in the city, on "The Four Georges," all of which were given under the speaker's management.

After relating several other incidents of early Brooklyn Mr. Smith begged to be excused, although several of those present desired him to continue. After a few remarks by Judah B. Voorhees and several others, a standing vote of thanks was given the speaker of the evening. The meeting was then declared adjourned until the first Thursday of January.


Website: The History
Article Name: The Brooklyn of 1838
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 Brooklyn Daily Eagle December 3, 1897
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