Day 1056

Epaminondas Schwakhammer!

November 20th, 2014

Here's one more shot from the artificial hill that stands on the former site of Banzer's Cypress Hills Park. While researching the park, I discovered that there used to be a Brooklyn neighborhood called Picklesville in the area of East Williamsburg/Bushwick. Some highlights from my subsequent quest for information about Picklesville:

  • A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from May 30, 1936, entitled "A Lot of Bologna, Indeed, Comes Out of Long Island in the Course of a Year—and the Whole World Eats It, Thick or Thin", part of a larger tribute to the industries of Long Island:
    Shortly before the turn of the century, the vicinity of Morgan Ave. and Rock St. was decidedly a rural section. The inhabitants who were mostly of German descent lived in trim bungalows along the tree-lined, level dirt streets. The chief activity of these German farmers was the raising of pickles for nearby metropolitan market, and consequently the neighborhood earned the appropriate if inelegant title of "Picklesville."
  • An NY Times article from October 5, 1883, entitled "Two Irate Picklesvillians — True Love Pursuing the Traditional Erratic Course":
    Far over in the wilds of Brooklyn, away from the strife and turmoil of the city, is the little suburb of Picklesville . . . So rural is this place that no cars run through its quiet streets, beer saloons are infrequent, and the belated Picklesvillian going home from his business in the city at 9 o'clock at night discovers no signs of life in the deserted thoroughfares, save as the night-winds convey to his ears the tuneful breathing of the sleeping inhabitants. Even into so quiet a community as this, however, trouble may enter and dissensions lead to seemly squabbles. Within a week a scandal has arisen which has convulsed the entire district of Picklesville.
  • A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from February 2, 1890, entitled "Dogs of War Let Loose — Hostilities Renewed Between Picklesville and Elm Street":
    The casus belli is a question of territorial rights, the boys of Picklesville claiming that Picklesville includes the easterly side of Knickerbocker avenue and the Elm street men claiming that both sides of the street are included in their domain. The armies yesterday, equally matched, numbered about two thousand; the Picklesville forces, two divisions, under command of General John Seid, of 102 Central avenue, aged 17, and the Elm street forces, two divisions, under General Charles Engelhoffer, of 195 Ellery street, aged 11 years. Johnny Schneider, aged 13, commanded the right wing of the Picklesville forces and went early into action, or was rather drawn into it by the capture of all his pickets by Lieutenant Colonel Epaminondas Schwakhammer, aged 13, in command of the Elm street band of skirmishers. . . . General Seid, seeing that Schneider's command was in danger of being cut off and attacked in detail, dispatched his aide de camp, Diedrich Finnegan, with an order to fall back on the sand bank known as the Eagle's Nest, back of the Manhattan Avenue Railroad, beyond Irving avenue. On his way the aide de camp was struck with a tomato can, knocked down, taken prisoner, and the order fell into the hands of the enemy. The result foreseen by General Seid then took place. Schneider's command was cut off and most of them, after a terrible resistance, laid down their arms. While Seid with the main body of his forces was pressing on the cry of "Police" was raised, and the form of Officer John Ruoff looming up in the distance like Gulliver, the Liliputian [sic] armies became instantly a rabble rout.
  • A Brooklyn Daily Eagle article from December 22, 1890, entitled "War on the City Frontier — It Is Brought to a Close by the Intervention of a Third Power":
    The war has been a protracted one, dating back over a year, the casus belli being the north side of Knickerbocker avenue . . . The contending forces came within sight of each other on Knickerbocker avenue, between Starr street and DeKalb avenue. The Picklesvillers, halting, were addressed by General Sauerbrod from the roof of a grocery coal bin. He said:

    "Men of Picklesville—I do not expect that words from me can impart valor to anyone who lacks it. The enemy is before us, but let the recollections of memorable deeds done by men of Picklesville in the past stimulate you to the achievement of greater things this day. Soldiers, from the cupola of yonder brewery twenty years look down upon you." . . .

    [After several of the boys were arrested and locked up for the night,] Justice Goetting this morning seemed at first determined to send the prisoners to the Fortress of Refuge till they were 21 years old, but finally let them off with a fine of $5 each.


  1. Sandi says:

    Another beautiful photo. Do you know if the city has any plans for that odd area?

    • Matt Green says:

      The property is still owned by Temple Emanu-El, actually. I called the temple’s cemetery manager to try to find out more info, but the woman I spoke to didn’t know (or wouldn’t tell me) anything about it.

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