BILLY MARSHALL STONEKING

Who Do You Think You Are?

    Fort Slocum  (David's Island, NY) - 1951 - 1953

Fort Slocum, New York was where I woke up to the fact that I was ME. Weird experience for a four year-old, to suddenly look at one's hands and arms and body and realise that one existed as a separate entity.  I lived on the island from the ages of four to six - started school there, nursery school, and then kintergarden and first grade at George Washington Elementary Shcool in New Rochelle. Had to catch the ferry to the mainland, then a bus trip to the school.

We lived on the west side of the island, overlooking the beach... the house we lived in was old and full of history, like the island itself.

Fort Slocum started out as a fort, named for Major General Henry W. Slocum, a Union corps commander in the American Civil War.

Military use of the island dates back to at least 1862, when De Camp General Hospital was located on Davids Island, housing as many as 2,538 occupants in 22 buildings. A prison camp was established on adjacent Hart Island in 1856. Both were used to house Confederate prisoners of war. It is unclear if the name Fort Slocum was used during this period.

My father is second from the right, in the greeting committee of a visiting politician 

After the Civil War, Davids Island was converted to a coastal artillery defense post. In 1921, the battery included 4 12-inch mortars, 4 3-inch pedestal guns, and 2 3-inch anti-aircraft guns.

Hart Island was sold to New York City in 1868, for use as a burial ground (potter's field) and for various purposes by the New York City Department of Corrections. The US Military has continued, however, to make intermittent use of Hart Island over the years. It was used during World War II by the US Navy for a disciplinary barracks.

From 1951 to 1962, Fort Slocum (Davids Island) was the home of the U.S. Army Chaplain School and the US Army Information School.[

From 1946 to 1949, Fort Slocum housed Headquarters First Air Force. It was redesignated Slocum Air Force Base in June 1949; this only lasted for a year before being turned back into an Army post in June 1950

From 1955 to 1960, Fort Slocum housed a Nike Ajax air-defense battery. The missiles were stored in underground silos on Hart Island and the radar and control base was on Davids Island.

 

Film about Fort Slocum Information School

My father worked at the Fort Slocum information School from about 1951 to 1953, just prior to his posting Korea. This film shows some of the island, the ferry, buildings, etc.

 

 

         Entrance way of  our house at Fort Slocum (circa 2000)

BELOW : Flag lowering ceremony took place every day at 5 pm.

Views of Fort Slocum

The Admiral's house at the start of Officers' Row (Fort Slocum)

 

The ferry boat between the island and the mainland. I rode this every week day to attend school in New Rochelle (George Washington Elementary School).

This is a picture postcard of "Officers' Row". We lived in one of the duplexes facing the Parade Ground, maybe three or four houses from the left  (below). I first rode a bicycle on the sidewalks that went around and across the Parade Ground.the second duplex from the left, the porch closest to the camera was ours. The two upstairs windows were my bedroom, on left, and the bathroom, on right (photo circa 1945)

Family Photos from From Slocum

(ABOVE) My sixth birthday party at Fort Slocum (31 August 1953) 

 

 

(RIGHT) Me - Christmas 1952. Taken in front of the fire place in the dining room of our house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me (on right) and a friend (name not known) at nursery school, Fort Slocum 1952

Below: the playground and beach at back of house

         MAP OF FORT SLOCUM (DAVID'S ISLAND) NY