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Society of Old Brooklynites celebrates its 137th anniversary

Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher Offers Slide Show History of the Borough

June 30, 2017 By John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Society of Old Brooklyn Director and Senate Resolution recipient Myrtle Whitmore. Eagle photos by Arthur De Gaeta
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The Society of Old Brooklynites (SOB) celebrated its 137th anniversary with a luncheon on Sunday, June 25 at the Bay Ridge Manor. But don’t let the acronym fool you — SOB is one of Brooklyn’s oldest and most revered organizations.

The venerable boroughwide civic group dates back to 1880, when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the nation. The club’s first president was John Ward Hunter, the 17th elected Mayor of the City of Brooklyn.

Current club president George Broadhead is the 49th elected president of SOB. Broadhead is among a long list of distinguished Brooklynites who have served at the helm of the society. They have included former Brooklyn mayors, members of Congress and the state Senate, military leaders, banking and business executives, attorneys, professors, newspaper publishers and editors.

Broadhead welcomed members and guests before SOB Vice President Ted General lead the Pledge of Allegiance before the invocation by Society Chaplain Rev. Dr. J.W. Forchalle.  

State Sen. Marty Golden addressed the organization and presented a New York State Senate Resolution to SOB Director Myrtle Whitmore. Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher was the keynote speaker. He offered an informative slideshow presentation about Brooklyn’s importance, detailing the influence the borough has had on history, past and present.

Maher highlighted some of the great women of Brooklyn, including Lady Moody (founder of Gravesend in the 1600s), Emily Roebling (sister of Civil War General Gouverneur Kemble Warren and the lady who basically finished the Brooklyn Bridge when her husband Washington Roebling became ill) and Shirley Chisholm, the great congress member and first African American candidate for president.

He highlighted some firsts and lasts: the USS Monitor, which revolutionized naval warfare; the USS Arizona and USS Missouri, which began and ended World War II, both of which were built in Brooklyn; and the Battle of Brooklyn, which was both the first battle of the Revolutionary War and the largest.

“I wanted to touch on special Brooklyn places like Green-wood Cemetery and Coney Island and their history and great things from Brooklyn from horseradish to beer to pharmaceuticals to cheesecake,” Maher told the Brooklyn Eagle. 

Also attending the event were Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Golden’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Quaglione.

“What a great tradition and celebration of Brooklyn history and all that we are,” said Quaglione. “Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher made a very interesting presentation which contributed to the great afternoon celebrating Brooklyn past, present and future.  Kudos to the Society, who are Brooklyn-strong and have carried the Brooklyn brand for so many years.” 

On Saturday, Aug. 26 SOB will be hosting the 109th annual memorial tribute to the Prison Ship Martyrs from the American Revolution, America’s first Prisoners of War, on the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn. Under the base of the monument at Fort Greene Park is a crypt with the remains of 11,500 entombed patriots. It is the largest American Revolution burial site in the nation.

Among some of the more prominent members of the society have been Columbia University President Seth Low, pioneering baseball journalist and author Henry Chadwick and poet and one-time Eagle editor Walt Whitman.


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