Around the Island

Father’s Day from the Shelter Island Historical Society

From the Shelter Island Historical Society

Between August 1849 and June 1850, Catherine Elizabeth kept a diary which she published in book form in 1919.

This book, entitled Diary of A Little Girl in Old New York, describes the memories of a young girl growing up in Manhattan before automobiles, mass immigration and skyscrapers and paints a wonderful portrait of the time of Ladies and Gentlemen, sloops in the harbor, and horse-drawn carriages traveling down muddy streets that today are 5th Avenue and 37th Street.

Pictured above is Catherine Elizabeth Havens and her father, Rensselaer Havens (1773-1854) of Shelter Island. Catherine’s mother was Rensselaer’s second wife, Catherine Cebra Webb (1801-1897), a native of New York City. (Credit: Shelter Island Historical Society)

       Catherine Elizabeth writes, “My father is a very old gentleman. He was born before the Revolutionary War…I went with my father to Brady’s Daguerrean Gallery, corner of Tenth Street and Broadway, to have our picture taken [in 1847]. My father was seventy-four, and I was seven. It is a very pretty picture, but people won’t believe he isn’t my grandfather…his arm is around me, and my hand hangs down and shows the gold ring on my fore-finger. He gave it to me at New Years to remember him by.”

Diary of A Little Girl in Old New York  is a perfect read for those who love New York City and reminiscing about days gone by. This book is available in Havens Store.