I was born and raised in Staten Island, a borough of New York City. I'll be the first to admit that, like most New Yorkers, I'm offensively proud of my state, however there are certain things that my borough is known for that I wish weren't true. Things that are downright creepy.
For starters, Staten Island in more-recent history has been a sort of dumping ground for many years. Even though it's called 'the Borough of Parks,' flaunting more lush, green, protected forests than most other areas of the city, Staten Island is also well-known for being the home of a nationally feared serial killer, a run-down tuberculosis hospital/ insane asylum, a shipwreck cove, and even the site of a centuries old mass grave site. For those who aren't aware, a mass grave is a large piece of land under which can exist thousands of dead bodies. Don't worry, it only gets freakier from there.
My hometown is remembered in recent decades for being home of a child murderer nicknamed Cropsey, and he's sometimes referred to as Staten Island's bogeyman. Cropsey first made national wide headlines back in the 1970s and 1980s for being suspected in the disappearances of young children with mental handicaps.
For far too many years, he actuallly got away with it. Once he was caught and convicted, the citizens of Staten Island speculated that he targeted kids with disabilities because they were easier to lure away from their homes. The bodies of his victims have never been found. Cropsey lives today and is set to be released from prison within our lifetime.
One famous landmark we have is simply called "the Conference House." It's a cobblestone cottage built prior to 1680 on the southern tip of the island. During the Revolutionary War, when the Americans fought the British to achieve their independence, the Conference House was used as a meeting house to come up with an end to the hostilities. Unfortunately, no good ever came of the negotiations, drawing the war out even further.
Sometime after the failed negotiations, Christopher Billopp, the great grandson of the original owner, was rumored to murder his maid inside the house. According to legend, Mr. Billopp sided with the British, and was taken prisoner multiple times during the war. One day, when he returned home, he learned that his maid told local authorities about his secret support of the Crown while he was gone.
He pushed her down the stairs, shoving her so hard that the fall killed her. He later died in the same house as an angry old man, causing people to claim the property haunted by both of their unhappy ghosts. Some passersby have reported hearing a woman screaming from inside the house, but never seeing anyone else around. Some people claim to hear a woman singing or a man shouting at them, but again, nobody else is present at the time.
Personally, I've never encountered any spirits on the premises myself, but the grounds are fairly spooky at night. What I can attest to is that behind the old house is a Native American burial ground that's certainly older than the house itself, and it is much creepier.
Staten Island is filled with scary looking buildings with less than desirable histories. If you're curious to know more about Cropsey or any other hair-raising stories, I have a whole lesson pack dedicated to the many urban legends across the state of New York. If anyone is interested, I'll happily send coupons your ways! I'd love to hear some urban legends that come from your home, as well!
- Marisa T.
The Conference House