On a walk around Bath Beach in South Brooklyn, I found it amusing that a main street in South Brooklyn is named Cropsey Avenue. Yes, it is near the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island, but I originally thought that Cropsey Avenue is best suited to be on Staten Island due to the legend of Cropsey, who has haunted children’s dreams for decades. However, further research enlightened me in learning that there was not just one Cropsey in the history of New York City.
As for the Staten Island legend of Cropsey, the origin of Cropsey is unknown, and no one knows if he was real. Perhaps it was just the idea that people made into a figurative person. But the problem with doing that is that it may make a legend come true, as the case was with Andre Rand, a real life Cropsey. He was convicted in 1988 of kidnapping and killing one child, and in 2004, he was convicted of another kidnapping that happened twenty three years earlier. New York has no statute of limitations for first degree kidnapping, so the total years he is serving for both is currently fifty years to life. Although there were other missing children in the area at that time, he was never formally charged in those disappearances.
Even more creepy about Andre Rand was his letter that he wrote to all of the mothers on Staten Island in 2011 for Mother’s Day. Rand made reference to wanting to become a millionaire, so he could buy a rosebud for every mother. He did not want to buy them roses, since roses will die in a week. The rosebud will produce flowers every year, symbolizing life.
Further reading shows that Cropsey Avenue in South Brooklyn was named for the Cropsey family, one of the founding families of the town of New Ulrecht, which later would become a section of the modern day neighborhood of Bensonhurst in South Brooklyn.
In colonial times, Hudson River School Painter, Jasper Francis Cropsey, was born in Rossville, a town in Staten Island, NY on February 18, 1823. Growing up, he was often sick. He had a lot of spare time, so he practiced drawing landscapes and architecture. He would later study landscape painting under Edward Maury. Into adulthood, Cropsey and his wife spent time between the United States and England being art geniuses.
So how is the Cropsey name tied into the Staten Island name if everyone who was named Cropsey in written history was prestigious? With Staten Island’s history being the forgotten borough, nothing more than a land dump and notorious for a Mafia dumping ground, the world may never know. My guess is there was a dispute between the families, with someone in the Cropsey family being the unpopular one. The story may have originated as something small, but throughout time, things were added to it.