Category Archives: Pollepel Island

Bannerman’s Castle

Source: Oblong to the Hudson by Harry Wirth; 1976

Information here is for archival purposes, and is not current

Pollepel Island

Bannerman’s Castle was built around 1900 by Francis Bannerman, who desired a Scottish castle for a summer retreat. Bannerman ran a Spanish American War surplus business in Blue Point, Long Island. Later, the castle became a storage facility for the family business. It was sold to New York State in 1967 and was gutted by fire shortly afterwards.

Bannerman’s Island Arsenal on the Hudson

Source: Hudson River by Daylight, Vol XXII; 1909

Information here is for archival purposes, and is not current

The log of the “Half Moon,” commanded by Hendrick Hudson, bears record that on the return trip from exploring the river, “a stiff southeastern gale was encountered at the edge of the northernmost end of the mountains, which detained them at anchor from Tuesday, September 29th until Thursday, October 1st, 1609.” No doubt Captain Hudson dropped anchor in the shelter of the Island lying- at the entrance to the northern gate of the Highlands, and waited for the storm to blow over.
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During the three days that the “Half Moon” lay at anchor stormbound, visits were most probably made by the Indians from their island stronghold.
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The Island was called after the Generic Indian name of the tribes, who inhabited the Islands on the banks of the Hudson, M’ene’tes, or as pronounced by the early Dutch settlers, Manahates, the same name as applied to Manhattan, only that this Island would be “Little Manhattan.”
There are now in the Revolutionary War Museum at Washington’s headquarters in Newburgh, round, iron-pointed wood stakes, thirty feet long, called “Chevaux-de-frise” which were imbedded in boxes of stones sunk in the channel opposite the Island to prevent the passage of the British warships, should they succeed in passing the chain obstructions at West Point.
In the year 1788, Daniel Graham, Esquire, commissioner for the sale of estates, confiscated and forfeited from the adherents of King George, “Sold to William Van Dyke all that Island,” situated in the Hudson River, known as Polliples Island, for Three Pounds, current lawful money of the State.”
Francis Bannerman of 501 Broadway, New York, is the present owner. “Dealer in Military Goods from Government Auctions” is the way he describes the goods he has for sale in the illustrated 300 page catalogue of which he claims to sell over 25,000 copies a year at 15 cents a copy. Military men in Europe, as well as America, keeping on file Bannerman’s catalogue, not alone for the purchase of his goods, but for reference, as the author is recognized as an authority on ancient Military weapons. On this island he has erected storehouses, built after the style of Old Scotch baronial castles utilizing in building the waste stone paving blocks worn out in the streets of New York City. In these castellated buildings are stored large quantities of guns, swords, cannons, ammunition, equipments- war material enough to fit out a government.
“From many a battlefield where cannons thundered,
Where charging squadrons swept the lines of steel;
From many a camp and port, dismantled, plundered,
War’s trophies numerous these stores reveal. “
The small castle seen from the south is the summer home of the owner, appropriately called “Crag-inch,” the Scotch for Rocky Island. Red flags and danger signs warn the stranger that landing is prohibited. European dealers in military goods, who are under government restrictions in the storage of explosives and who know of the freedom enjoyed by the owner of this Island, call him “King of Bannerman’s Island. ” To distinguish this from his arsenals in other places, he calls it his “Island Arsenal.” Asking if it was true, as stated in so many guide books of the Hudson, that the Island was alive with snakes, the owner said: “If ever there were snakes here it must have been before St. Patrick’s time for none have ever been seen.”
No visitor to New York should fail to call at No. 501 Broadway and view the Bannerman free exhibit of war relics. The New York Herald says: “A numerous collection of ancient and modern arms, covering every country and affair since the Crusades.” Over a thousand different kinds of guns, of pistols, of swords; battle flay used in every war in America; no museum in the world exceeds in the number of exhibits, free to see; to buy if you wish, with some exceptions in case of weapons of a character that might endanger the public safety, when reference as to identity and responsibility are required. Cash with the order is required from all, even the U. S. Government has to send Treasury Draft in advance.
The view from West Point north presents one of the most beautiful panoramic scenes “on ‘the surface of the earth, and the beholder does not wonder that the Indians were so impressed that they called the mountain after the name of their Great Spirit, Manitou; or that the grandeur and sublimity of the river and the mountains attracted and inspired so many of our great poets and literary men to reside within its borders.
N. P. Willis never seemed to tire of the grandeur of the scenes presented from the summits of the rocky crags, and much of his literary work was done on his frequent visits to the island. William Cullen Bryant’s beautiful lines dated Cornwall, seem to refer to his visit to this island:
“All, save this little nook of land,
Circled with trees on which I stand;
All, save that line of hills which lie,
Suspended in the mimic sky
What an appropriate place this island presents for a monument to the great discoverer! So thought Benjamin F. Odell, and others who prepared a bill for its purchase by the State for the erection thereon of a statue to Hudson, but which Governor Flower vetoed. Shortly after the island was sold to the present owner, he was so impressed by the fitness of the place prepared by nature that he offered the committee in 1905—then discussing plans for the Hudson celebration- to gratuitously lease part of the island and help erect a Hudson statue, if the committee would include its dedication in the naval celebration, but the committee decided that the celebration should take place at Haverstraw; The owner then withdrew his offer, and wrote the committee that Newburgh Bay was the only place on the river large enough with depth of water sufficient for the warships to maneuver; that the historical associations connected with the founding of the Republic were mainly centered between Stony Point and Newburgh, where every hill and mountain had echoed and re-echoed with the sound of the cannon and the gun; that the naval parade should include passing the most historical battle grounds of the Revolutionary War, with the warships turning at Newburgh Bay, the only available place on the river.
Mr. H. K. Bush Brown and Mr. McKay, of Newburgh, followed up the matter so earnestly as to convince Admiral Coghlan, the chairman of the naval part of the celebration, as to the suitability of Newburgh Bay, and so it was decided that the warships will anchor there and not at Haverstraw.
—Caledonian Magazine, N. Y.