After a long absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of in-person meetings, President George Broadhead has announced that the Society of Old Brooklynites will return to Borough Hall for a monthly meeting on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m.
The society was founded in 1880, when Brooklyn was an independent city – the third largest in the country – and Borough Hall was known as “City Hall.” The portrait of the society’s first president, John Ward Hunter, a former congressman and the 17th mayor of Brooklyn, still hangs in the building.
Other mayors who served as society presidents are Daniel Whitney and David Boody. Seth Low, a previous Brooklyn mayor and then a mayor of New York City, was a prominent member.
Current society officers are Bay Ridgeites First Vice President Theodore General, Second Vice President Michael Spinner and Treasurer Sherman Silverman. Former Flatbush resident Ellen Haywood is the secretary. Past presidents Ralph Perfetto, former ombudsman for the public advocate, and Ronald Schweiger, Brooklyn borough historian, still serve on the society’s board of directors.
At the meeting, preservationist and board member Rickie Tyrone James will show a film and discuss the history of the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument and the inhuman suffering and horrendous treatment of incarcerated patriots from the American Revolution aboard British prison ships in Wallabout Bay.
The 149-foot-tall monument on the hilltop in Fort Greene Park has a large crypt below it with the remains of 11,500 sailors, soldiers and citizens. The society has held a public memorial ceremony every August since the monument was built in 1908. U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries was one of the speakers in 2014.
Our good friend and fellow Ridgeite Ed Wilkinson, the now retired editor of Brooklyn Catholic diocesan newspaper The Tablet, is out with a new book, “Chasing the Church News.” He had his first book signing Jan. 29 in the auditorium of Our Lady of Angels Church. He will also sign copies at St. Andrew the Apostle Church, 6913 Ridge Blvd., on Feb. 5 after the 9 a.m. Mass.