Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

In July 1900, Mrs. John T. Stephens lost the canine love of her life. Having lost her young son just two years before, the death of her dog Major was more than she could bear.

When we left Part I of this curious cat tale of Old New York, young Margaret Owen was just about to dunk her two Angora cats, Lilly and Otto, into a basin of blue dye. The blue cats would look great parading on the boardwalk at Atlantic City.

Every once and a while I come across an old animal story that goes into my special folder called “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.” The following cat tale is somewhat funny, very bizarre, and a bit tragic.

In January 1896, the tiny hamlet of Greenridge, Staten Island, was all a buzz over the reported sighting of a large, ferocious black bear. Doors were closed and barred at dusk, and guns and pistols were cleaned and loaded.

On March 25, 1905, Caledonia made her maiden voyage from Glasgow, Scotland, to New York and back. In addition to the passengers and crew, on board was a young black cat that the crew named Duffy MacNab — or The MacNab, for short.

For the policemen of Manhattan’s Leonard Street Station, doing strike duty in Brooklyn meant spending a lot of time riding on the trolley cars looking for trouble. It was during this week that they “adopted” a big, brown, shaggy dog who would change their lives for the better. They named him Strike.

Like most cats that became the popular mascots of New York City police stations, fire stations, hotels, and theaters in the 1800s and 1900s, Jim began his life as a vagrant cat without friends or influence. It didn’t take him long, however, to win the hearts of the managers, actors, and patrons of the old Union Square Theatre.

In June 1912, New York City Police Commissioner Rhinelander Waldo created a new 42nd Precinct to serve the people of the rapidly developing northern tip of Manhattan. In July 1913, the 207 policemen of the 42nd Precinct packed up their gear and moved into the old Guion/Rathbone house on Haven Avenue at West 177th Street.

For Lady Alice, Sir Tom, and the men of the 42nd Precinct, life was good in the old Rathbone mansion at 177th Street and Haven Avenue in Washington Heights.

On May 1, 1857, the Quarantine Commissioners purchased 50 acres of the Wolfe Farm on Staten Island for $23,000 for use as a quarantine for sick immigrants.