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Second Asbury (Zion) African Methodist Episcopoal (AME) Church and Cemetery

aka, Old Slaves Burying Ground/Cherry Lane or Colored Cemetery

Foreword from Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, the history and burials presented herein of the 2nd Asbury church and cemetery is a combination of records obtained from various sources. This narrative we hope will serve to aid those seeking information regarding their ancestors. We seek any additional information or corrections, please contact SICemetery@aol.com . FACSI June 2008.

2nd Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church and Grave Yard

The land was purchased by a directive deed from John W. and Tabetha Blake on March 50, 1850. The deed directed the trustees of the Second Asbury African Methodist Church to "cause to erect or be built a house or place of worship for use of the members of the 2nd Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church. John W. Blake had also sold land, in 1832, to the trustees of the African Union Methodist Church, but there appears to have been no connection between the two churches. The Second Asbury trustees, in 1855 were James Myers, Pres., Andrew Lawrence, 52 a native Staten Island mariner who in 1845 married the widow of Julia Butler DeHart at the Port Richmond Reformed Church, Jeremiah Curtis, 46 a Virginia born mason, and Nicholas Cromwell, 25, a native Staten Islander farm laborer.

Little is known of the church building. In 1875 it had seats for 300 and a value of $1,500 but only 16 were in regular attendance. But by 1929 it was clear that only the organization of trustees remained. Those trustees consisted of Ernest Crowley, a Pullman Porter and his sisters Lillian, Ogretta, and Rose Crowley (note from FACSI we have a picture of Rose Crowley abt 1902. The Crowley family is also buried in Lake Cemetery. 2008 a descendent of this Crowley family identified others buried in Lake Cemetery as well as cemetery records). Shortly before that date, in 1926 notarized statements were made as to the identities and numbers of bodies interred in the cemetery. (It should be noted that according to the later real estate records and copies of legal papers, the church association failed to change the property records to include the cemetery, FACSI).

In 1927 a separate corporation the African Methodist Church Cemetery of S.I., Inc. was formed which consisted of Ernest Crowley, Pres., Ada Purnell, Treasurer, Clara Bush, V.P., Mary Prine, Sect. Lilliam Crowley, Estelle Robinson and Agnes Crowley were the other trustees. The lands of the cemetery were deeded over to this cemetery organization by the Second African Methodist Episcopal Church of S.I. in 1929.

(Again, the corporation appears to have not notified the tax or real property departments of the cemetery status. The cemetery does appear on S.I. maps, but the property was not officially changed as a cemetery FACSI).

Not much public attention was paid to the cemetery, which apparently had no headstones on it as far back as 1913, until 1950 when the City of New York decided to seize it and auction it off for tax liens of $11,768 (one of the assessments dated to 1899). Unable or unwilling to pay the tax liens which were considered to be in error for the tax exempt cemetery association, in 1953 they finally sought legal assistance from the S.I. firm of Braisted and Braisted. The result was an out of court settlement that year, in which the church trustees sold the property directly to Sidelle Mann of the Bronx. It was not until the 1980's that the property was finally developed over the old cemetery, and the attorney John Braisted died (he was a 30 plus year defender of the old cemetery). FACSI protested this development, according newspaper accounts of the time, the developer reported that no human remains were found at the site?

The files from the attorney indicate that the City of NY and the buyer continually stressed the fact that there was no legal cemetery on the site as the land use was never changed to include the cemetery. Burial records, death certificates, undertaker records, property maps, etc. prove that the property was used as a cemetery. However the land use was not changed to reflect this, FACSI.

In 1953 Sidelle G. Mann files a legal action of intent to use the property he lists the following individuals as "The defendants herein have or may have and the plaintiff has reason to believe that they have or may have an interest in or claim upon the said real property affected by said Transfer of Tax Lien, which interest, if any, is subsequent and inferior to the plaintiff's interest." (The below names appear to be a collection of original owners of the land as well as their heirs and the original trustees of the church association as well as their heirs.)

Catharine Wright
Richard C. Blake
John Blake
Daniel C. Blake
Edward Blake
Ann Christopher
George Blake
Elizabeth Ann Blake
Edward Blake
Caroline Blake
William Blake
Mary Ann Cunningham
William Post
Ann Maria Decker
Garrett D. Post
Letitia Decker
Hannah S. Post
Catharine L. Post
Tabatha Ann Hilliker
Margaret Ann Minot
Lucretia Decker
Frances Houseman
Mary Martling
William Wood
Elizabeth Butler
Angeline DeGroot
Jane Housman
Eliza Donelly
John DeGroot
William DeGroot
Mary Ann Poillon
Vincent Bodine
Elizabeth Jane Smith
Jacob Bodine
Mary Elizabeth Edwards
Richard Merrell
Sarah Heath
Tabitha Goodhart
Maria Barnes
Abraham L. Merrill
Jacob B. Merrill
Sarah Merrill
Elizabeth Edwards
Catharine A. Greet
Daniel Merrill
Joseph Merrill
Isaac Merrill
Tabitha D. Gosline
Ann L. Decker
Lawrence Hillyer
Mary Haughwant
Pricilla Bogart
Charity Vroome
John B. Hiller
Eliza E. Dupuy
Abraham Hillyer
Tom Roe
Dick Roe
Harvy Roe
Richard Roe
Peter Roe
Jack Roe (the names of the last six defendants being fictitious said defendants true names being unknown to plaintiff it being thereby inteneded to designate trustees for the 2nd Asubry African Methodist Episcopal Church  of S.I.)
John Debro - Pres of the Trustees of the 2nd Asbury African Methodist Episcopal Church on S.I.
Clara B. Prine
Edna Butler
Ruth Williams
Oscar Prine
Wilbur Prine, said last five defendants being children of Mary J. Prine aka Mary Prine a deceased trustee of the Second African Methodist Episcopal Church of S.I.
Agnes Crowley, aka Mary Agnes Crowley
Lillian Crowley
Rose Crowley
Ogretta Crowley, aka Ogretda Crowley
Bernard Crowley and
Clarence Crowley said last six defendants being children of Alfred Crowley a deceased brother of Ernest Crowley a deceased trustee of the church
African Methodist Church Cemetery of S.I., Inc.
Ada Purnell
Clara Bush
The City of NY
Tom Poe
Harry Poe
Dick Poe
Richard Pote
Peter Poe
Jack Poe the names of the last six defendants being fictitious said defendants true names being unknown to the plaintiff, it being thereby intended to designate trustees and heirs of the church.
Trustees and heirs of the Second....
The Attorney General of the State of NY
John Ash
Paul Oak
Tom birch
Joseph Maple
Richard Walnut
Peter Pine, the names of the last six defendants being fictitious...
Mary Penny
John Nickel
Peter Dime
Larry Quarter
Dick Dollar, the names of the last five defendants being fictitious.

Benjamin Perine, his mother was a slave, she belonged to Rev. Peter I. Van Pelt, the paster of the Dutch Reformed Church of PR. Benj was born a slave on Dec. 2, 1796 and at the time of his death was in his 100th years, his was buried in the 2nd Asbury.

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Inc.

Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries Inc. S. I.
158 Myrtle Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10310
Our FACSI page
FACSI facebook page
Pearse O'Callaghan, Founder (1921-1995)

© 1999-2023 Updated on Sunday, 01-Aug-2021 18:24:42 PDT