• John Beall
    History,  News

    John Beall, Last Man to Hang on Governors island

    Today is the anniversary of the death of the last man to be executed on Governors Island. On this date, February 24, 1865, Confederate Captain John Yates Beall was hanged for capturing two Union ships. The story was front-page news across the nation, and led to conspiracy theories around the death of President Lincoln, ghost stories, and urban legends. Beall was a Virginian who fought for the South. During the war he slipped into the North and worked as a spy on clandestine missions. He took on a role as a member of the Confederate Navy, and undertook a plot against the Union. He and raiders were captured after interrupting…

  • Quarters 409

    Take a Free Island History Walking Tour, May 28-29

    To celebrate the fourteenth public season of Governors Island opening, there will be free history walking tours on Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29. The walks will meet at 12:15 p.m. at Soissons Dock on the Island (see below). A free walking tour will focus on the three hundred years of island history. Learn about the people and stories that shaped Governors Island. Stops explore the military life, Civil War and World War I events, aviation pioneers, and even where the tiny railroad once ran. The tour is led by Kevin C. Fitzpatrick, author of The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide (Globe Pequot Press). • See 50 locations on the…

  • Commanding Officer's House

    Guidebook Publishing Date Today

    Today is the publication date of The Governors Island Explorer’s Guide. I started thinking about the book in 2006, and began the research soon after. However, with all of the changes taking place on the Island, it seemed to me to wait until 2016 to release it. If the book had been published just recently it would not have included The Hills or the South Island development. The Island has had so many development changes that the book would have been outdated almost immediately. (I’m already thinking about the next edition!) A full description of the book is here, along with ordering information. The plan for the book was simple:…

  • Cypress Hills National Cemetery

    Cypress Hills National Cemetery Walking Tour Nov. 8

    Few know that there was once a cemetery on Governors Island. The Army moved all of the graves, almost 500 men, women, and children, to Brooklyn in 1878. For Veterans Day, we are going to visit those graves and the final resting places of many others. The walking tour is free and all information is here. Sunday, Nov. 8, 12pm-2:00pm Free Children welcome. Meet: 625 Jamaica Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11208 cross street: Hale Avenue By subway: J train to Norwood Avenue, walk northwest 2.5 blocks on Hale Avenue to the front gates. By car: Jackie Robinson Parkway to 625 Jamaica Avenue is the National Cemetery (look for the eagles on…

  • Features

    National Park Service Hosts Civil War Weekend Aug. 8-9

    We are happy to report the Governors Island National Monument will be hosting the annual Civil War Weekend August 8 and 9 this month. The island fills with scores of living history enthusiasts that bring the 1860s to the park. The National Park Service and volunteers are joined by dozens of Civil War re-enactors in uniform. See camp life, watch cannon and rifle demonstrations, and learn about the history of Governors Island when it was an important Army post. All of the activities are centered around the National Monument at Fort Jay, Castle Williams, and the Soldiers Camp nearby. Free tours of Fort Jay and Castle Williams are offered. For…

  • NPS

    National Park Service Announces 2015 Island Schedule

    The Governors Island National Monument is maintained by the National Park Service. Rangers are available for tours throughout the summer. Castle Williams and Fort Jay will be open daily all season. Times and programs will vary during the season. The following programs will be available May 23 to June 12. Explore Castle Williams Daily. Courtyard open 10 AM until 4:30 PM. Tours every hour from 11:30 AM till 3:30 PM. About 30 minutes. Get some history in the round at the best-preserved circular fortification in the nation. On weekends the Castle is open until 5:30 PM with an additional tour at 4:30 PM. Experience Fort Jay: An Island Star! Courtyard…

  • castle williams

    He Swam from Castle Williams to the Battery

    When I was researching the book, I came up with way more information than I could ever use. A lot of what I found were tall tales and historical stories that popped up. One was about Captain Billy Web, and it seems like this is the best venue to tell his story. If you’ve ever stood on the shore on Governors Island, think about jumping into the water and swimming towards Manhattan. In the almost 100 years that Castle Williams served as military prison, many attempted to swim to freedom. Most drowned in their attempt, but not Captain William Robert Webb, of the 2nd North Carolina Cavalry. As the tale…