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Calling all Military Minds

One of the amazing things about owning a house that is 270 years old is that with every turn there is a mysterious fact about the house that needs investigating.

Ken, one of the partners of Eight Point Construction (who incidentally are doing a fabulous job and keeps an incredibly clean building site) asked me what I knew about the history of the house. He pointed out a feature that I'd noticed but not put much thought to. The front porch, that is a new (ish) addition, somewhere between the 1870 Jesse Elting photo and the 1940 Irma DeWitt photo, has a large round stone acting as the first step to the porch. Initially I thought this was a grind stone. On the floor of the porch, among the blue stone flagstones, is what I thought was a small round river stone.

Ken told me he thought the small round stone was in fact a cannonball. He had hit it with a hammer and sure enough it gave a ring of metal on metal. He then pointed out that the big round stone was NOT a grind stone as it did not have any 'grooves' radiating from the centre. This 'stone' only had one worn groove around the edge. Ken, said he had seen something like this before and he thought it could be a 'pivot' or 'traverse' for a cannon. This made me think that perhaps the 2Lt on the inscription in the dining room did in fact stand for Second Lieutenant.

This is where I need some help from military minds. Look at the pictures below and let me know if you can help answer the following questions....

a) Is this stone a cannon pivot/traverse?
b) How can I tell if this is a civil war cannonball?
c) Does anyone know anything about 2nd Lieutenant John J. Burns who did some of the renovations in 1934? Can anyone link 2Lt John Burns and George Fiorentino (of the Colony Restaurant NY) who bought the house just before these renovations took place.

Mysterious front step?


Who is 2Lt John J. Burns?


  1. Bill Jeffway found John J. Burns in Manhattan.
    Daniel worked out that the letter after the NY were NYG - New York Guard. 10 or 20 may be the regiment.

    thanks for your interest and help.


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