The War Years
Revolutionary War Period
Colonel Christopher Billopp was a leading citizen of Staten Island and served as head of the Staten Island militia. He led the opposition urging Staten Islanders to vote against joining the Provincial Assembly. The majority of Staten Islanders were loyal to the King of England and, in fact, welcomed British soldiers when they arrived on their shores on July 4, 1776. On July 9, 1776, nearly all adult males signed an oath of loyalty to the king. Nine thousand British soldiers camped on Staten Island, a number that swelled to nearly twenty thousand when a second wave of soldiers including the Hessians and other mercenaries arrived. The 6th Brigade of approximately 1,200 men camped near Billopp’s Ferry at the end of Amboy Road, Tottenville. During this period the Billopp manor house was used as a barracks by Hessian soldiers and others.
The Conference House (formerly Billopp House), built circa 1680, is named for the peace conference that was held there on September 11, 1776. The conference was unsuccessful and the war continued.
Although no major battles were fought on Staten Island during this period, a notable skirmish took place in nearby Rossville (formerly Blazing Star) in 1777. A cannon used during that conflict, which had been donated to Conference House Park, was stolen from the park in 1972, and has never been recovered. Any information pertaining to the cannon's whereabouts will be greatly appreciated.
Located in Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery, 7003 Amboy Rd., Tottenville, is the gravestone of a Revolutionary War soldier, Joseph W. Palmer. Palmer, a Tottenville resident who served with a New Jersey Regiment, suffered a musket ball injury that ultimately led to his death in 1851.
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