Timeline of the Burial of the Prison Ship Martyrs and Benjamin Romaine

Timeline of the Burial of the Prison Ship Martyrs and Benjamin Romaine

This timeline was originally an attempt to find exactly when Benjamin Romaine was buried in the Martyr's Monument crypt in Fort Greene Park. Most of the exterior monument viewable today dates from 1909. (Most of the photographs here were taken January 2000. Another page has all photographs.) There is also a useful summary here, Prison Ships Martyrs Monument (NYC Department of Parks), concerning architecture and history. Martyrs Monument Column Inscription
ca. 1791 or 1792 Original interment of the martyrs [?] (Suggested by Kenneth Jackson's Encyclopedia of New York City, "Fort Greene Park" entry.)

13 April 1808. Interment ceremony. Solicitation of monies for burial of the Martyrs. Benjamin Romaine organized, with the Tammany Society, a commemoration of the Revolutionary War prisoners of war: "... the society on April 13, 1808, marched in rank to Wallabout, where it laid the cornerstone of a vault in which were to be placed the bones of the 11,500 patriots who had died on board the British prison ships. On April 26, the vault being completed, the remains were laid in it. The Tammany Society, headed by Benjamin Romaine and the military; the municipal officials; Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, members of Congress, Army and Navy officers, and many other detachments of men of lesser note participated in the ceremony." Gustavus Myers, History of Tammany Hall, 1917, p. 22. (Apparently using newspaper descriptions, but not cited.)

ca.1839. Benjamin Romaine purchases the land where the Martyrs are buried, in a tax sale per Henry R. Stiles (p.___).

4 July 1839 Benjamin Romaine's Review. The tomb of the martyrs (New-York: C.C. & E. Childs, Jr., 4th July 1839) 7 pages. An appeal for support (governmental or civic) to build a monument. (Romaine talks about the monument and his intention to use his Revolutionary War pension for the monument. Some copies [not the NYPL copy] of this pamphlet included an engraved plate showing a design for the tomb.)

31 January 1844 Benjamin Romaine's death at 21 Hudson St., New York, NY (to confirm) (Source: Herbert S. Ackerman's Romaine Family [yes, yes, many errors], source to check: "Benjamin Romaine, Revolution Soldier, died Jan. 31, 1844 Age 82-yrs. Son Samuel B. Sons-in-law: Gregory Dillon; Charles Nicolls; Timothy Olmstead; Henry L. Western; Cornelius M. Gaul (Caul) at 21 Hudson St., N.Y. City."

1867. Design of Fort Greene Park,originally Washington Park, by Frederick Law Olmsted & Calvert Vaux (AIA Guide to New York, p. 699)

190x?. Founding of Prison Monument association (get title from NYPL).

1906-1908. Monument erected. Is this the centenary of the first event? "An austere Doric column called the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument was erected in the park in 1908" (Kenneth Jackson, ed., Encyclopedia of New York City, p. 429). According to White and Willensky, AIA Guide to New York, Stanford White, of McKim, Mead and White, designed the monument (of the firm) designed the monument, and A. A. Weinman sculpted the brazier on top, which "once held an eternal flame." (p. 699).

14 November 1908. Monument dedicated. See pamphlet, Program of the Dedicatory Ceremonies of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, from the New-York Historical Society's online exhibition "Independence and its Enemies in New York." N-YHS call number: E281.S6)

Fort Greene Park from Brooklyn Streets

View of the Martyr's Monument Column

1938. A 30-year anniversary of the monument. Newspaper articles mention ceremonies (to find).

1972. Park altered by Architects Berman, Roberts & Scofidio (AIA Guide to New York, p. 699).

1997. Re-Dedication of the Monument. See a transcription of an article from the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, available online at http://www.longislandgenealogy.com/prisonnote.html.

2005. Planned renovation, including returning two of the original eagles to the base of the doric column monument. (See citation to New York Times, 29 May 2005 article.) (It appears to have begun in 2006: news about the restoration of the monument is at the Fort Green Park Conservancy's website).

2008. November 14-16. Planned Centennial Celebration of the Prison Ships Martyrs Monument – a project currently planned for Nov. 14-Nov. 16th 2008. Visit www.fortgreenepark.org for the latest news about the celebration at the Fort Greene Park Conservancy website.


View of the Martyr's Monument Column Martyrs' Monument ColumnView of the Martyrs' Monument column Fort Greene Martyrs Monument column, View of Lower Manhattan Jan 2000

Printed Sources

Herbert S. Ackerman. Romaine Family. Hackensack, N.J.: Published by the Author, 1953. (Typescript.)

Kenneth T. Jackson, ed., Encyclopedia of New York City. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995, p. 429. "Fort Greene Park."

Gustavus Myers, History of Tammany Hall. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1917. [Myers's book remains the one definitive book-length account of early Tammany.]

Henry R. Stiles, Ed. A History of the City of Brooklyn. (3 vols.) Brooklyn: published by subscription, 1867, 1868 and  1870. [Stiles edited this volume of antiquarian contributions, including a large section on the Prison Ships. (Portions online maintained by [email protected])]

Norval White and Elliot Willinksy. The AIA Guide to New York City. Fourth edition. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. (Issued by the American Institute of Architects.)

I especially would like to acknowledge the help of many people, particularly the descendents of Benjamin Romaine.

� 1999-2000, 2005, 2008 Paul W. Romaine

Genealogy and history pages hosted on Rootsweb.
Learn about Rootsweb!