Sailors’ Snug Harbor

Veteran's Memorial Hall Chapel
Veteran’s Memorial Hall Chapel

by Lanaii Kline

Mary Elizabeth Stoutenburgh was the daughter of William Luke Stoutenburgh and his wife, Mary Dutton. She married Robert Arnet Quin who became the chaplain at Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island. Rev. Quin was a member of the clergy of the Reformed Church. Although he was born in New York City in 1798, he may have been in Dutchess County, New York, in some capacity with the Reformed Church when he married Elizabeth. She was nearly 13 years his junior. They were married on April 23, 1833 in Hyde Park, New York. Thomas Quin and Margaret Teller were the witnesses at the couple’s marriage. (Records of the Town of Hyde Park Dutchess County, Volume III, Page 331.)

Rev. Quin was the pastor between 1833 and 1835 of the Reformed Church in Montgomery County, New York. So it would seem that he and his new bride moved north and a bit west of her birthplace. From records of the ministers of the Reformed Church in America, I was able to piece together Rev. Quin’s ecclesiastical history.

In 1833, Robert Quin graduated from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Shortly afterward he was received as a member of the Classis of Montgomery. He served as the minister of the Reformed Church in Fonda, New York from 1833 to 1835. In the fall of that year he was called to serve the church at Wolver Hollow in the Town of Oyster Bay, New York. Six years later, he was called to the church Manayunk, Pennsylvania (1842-1847). The last church he served prior to his time at Sailors’ Snug Harbor was at Bloomfield, New Jersey.

By 1850, Rev. Quin was serving the inmates at Sailors’ Snug Harbor on Staten Island. According to the New York Times (February 1, 1863), Rev. Quin was killed by an inmate, Herman Ingalls, at the chapel at Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Apparently, after shooting Rev. Quin, Ingalls killed himself.

Mary Stoutenburgh and her husband spent 13 years of their marriage life at Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Sailors’ Snug Harbor was privately built from a 1801 behest of Capt. Robert Richard who provided for such a place in his will. It wasn’t opened until 1833, the same year that Mary Stoutenburgh and Robert Quin married.

Sailors’ Snug Harbor operated as a retirement home for retired merchant sailors from 1833 to its closing in the 1960s. The implementation of Social Security reduced the demand for housing at the retirement home. The site was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965. The site was restored and in 1976, Sailors’ Snug Harbor was opened to the public as a cultural center and botanical garden.

According to the New York Times article, Robert Quin was shot outside the chapel and died instantly. His body removed to the parsonage across the way. I have seen two plans of the grounds. One plan places the parsonage across the roadway from the chapel; the other places the parsonage a bit up the roadway to the north of the chapel. The chapel still stands and is known as the Veterans Memorial Hall. It was completed in 1856 and the tower added in 1883.

According to the 1850 Census, Robert and Mary Stoutenburgh Quin were living in Castleton on Staten Island. Castleton was a village located just to the south of Sailors’ Snug Harbor. Since the chapel was not completed until 1856, presumably Rev. Quin served the inmates in another location on the grounds. The parsonage to which Robert Quin was taken did not appear to exist in 1860 when the family was enumerated in Castleton.

Robert Quin and Mary Stoutenburgh had at least four children all of whom were living in 1850 and 1860. After her husband’s death, Mary resided with her daughter, Agnes, and her son-in-law, John DeGroff. She is found in the 1870 Census living with her daughter and husband in Manhattan. John is Agnes’ 3rd cousin.

Roberta Louise DeGroff, Robert and Mary’s granddaughter, was a member of the New York Chapter of the National Society of United States Daughters of 1812. Her death was mentioned in the newsletter of 1935. In that same note, I learned that her ancestor from which she qualified to be a member was her grandfather, Robert Arnet Quin. Subsequently, I found an index to a War of 1812 pension application made by Mary E. Quin, widow of Robert A. Quin.

Robert and Mary Stoutenburgh Quin are buried in the Stoutenburgh burial ground in Hyde Park, New York. Their oldest child, William, who died in Chicago, is also interred in the cemetery. Agnes Quin DeGroff died in Chicago and her place of burial is unknown. Her husband, John DeGroff, moved to Sitka, Alaska where he died and is buried. I have not found further information about Mary Catherine Quin after 1860. The youngest child, Robert Ferdinand Quin married and had children. He died before 1920 as his wife is a widow in the 1920 Census. His place of burial is not known.