Gravesend, Cradle of Invention

I’m always on the prowl for historical Gravesend tidbits (thank you for not reminding me to get a life), and I’m always stunned by what’s out there, waiting to be drawn into the present. I’ve learned to look for information everywhere, not in just the usual published sources or image collections. Check out these reports from Scientific American about patents issued to two Gravesend inventors for a steamer and presser, a shellfish dredge, and a skewer puller. Who knew our sleepy little burg harbored such creative folk?

Scientific American, vol. 43, no. 20 (13 November 1880), 310, “Recent Inventions”:

An improved milliner’s steamer and presser has been patented by Mr. Thomas Hicks, Jr., of Gravesend, N.Y. This invention relates to that class of devices designed for milliners’ use for the purpose of raising the pile on velvets, etc. [Here’s a link to the patent.]

Scientific American, vol. 49, no. 2 (14 July 1883), 18. (Click to enlarge.)

Scientific American, vol. 49, no. 2 (14 July 1883), 18. (Click to enlarge.) [Here’s a link to the patent.]

Scientific American, vol. 50, no. 7 (16 February 1884), 106, “Miscellaneous Inventions”:

A skewer puller has been patented by Mr. Augustus F. Friend of Gravesend, N.Y. It is intended to facilitate the withdrawal of skewers from cooked meats, and provides for handles pivoted to each other at their forward ends, where are jaws with their faces concaved. [Here’s a link to the patent.]

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (



Filed under Augustus F. Friend, Friend family, Hicks family

3 responses to “Gravesend, Cradle of Invention

  1. Michael Lesniak


    Do you have an interest in memories from Sheepshead Bay? I grew up, 1940’s and 50’s, I lived on E. 12th St. between Avenues Y and Z. My grandparents lived across the street and I would walk from behind their house across a large empty lot, sort of a trail, towards E. 13th St. and Ave. Z, where a large Billboard stood, on my way to grammar school, St. Marks. I remember sort of flood water (maybe after a heavy rain) behind my grandmother’s house which was difficult to cross; I remember wood and maybe old tires floating. This area was filled in and Apartment Building were built, I can’t tell you exactly when, maybe in the late 50’s early 60’s. Next to my grandmother house which was owned by the Miranda family, on the right side was an extended Greek family, Vourakis family. Our building was owned by the Cilea family.

    I always wondered about the water behind my grandmother’s house; years ago my mother bought me a book called, Brooklyn’s Gold Coast. There are old maps dating back to 1890. It appears the area behind my grandmother’s was called Stryker Basin and possibly Squan Creek.

    This is a bit away from Gravesend but if you have additional information about this area I would appreciate you letting me know. Thanks,

    Mike Lesniak


  2. Michael Lesniak

    P.S. I note there is a Stryker Street in Gravesend. Mike

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