One of several small monuments in the vicinity of what is known as the “Battle Pass” in Prospect Park, the Dongan Oak Monument commemorates events which took place in this area during the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776. During this significant battle of the Revolutionary War, a large white oak mentioned in 1685 in the patent of Governor Thomas Dongan (1634–1715), was cut down by Colonial soldiers and thrown across the road to impede the advance of the British army.
The monument, which commemorates the contribution of this important tree was commissioned at a cost of $2,000 by the St. Nicholas Society, and was dedicated on November 25, 1922. It consists of a bronze eagle mounted on a granite pedestal inscribed with dedicatory text. The sculptor of the original eagle was Frederick W. Ruckstull (1853–1942), whose public commissions also include the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial in Major John Mark Park in Jamaica, Queens.
The eagle was stolen in 1974. In 1991 the Prospect Park Alliance sponsored the restoration of the monument and replication of the bronze eagle. Sculptor John Metrovics modeled the replacement based on historic photographs, and Alexander J. Ettl, the president of the Sculpture House, the original foundry, again supervised the casting of the replica. The restored monument was rededicated on June 6, 1991. The reinstallation included site improvements and new plantings around the monument. Unfortunately, the eagle was stolen again, but through additional contributions to the Prospect Park Alliance, a second replacement was made and attached to the plinth. Today, it stands proudly as a testament to the fortitude of the Colonists and the park’s caretakers.
Dongan Oak Marker Details
- Location: Path leading to Plaza entrance, north of entrance to Prospect Park Wildlife Center
- Sculptor: Frederick Wellington Ruckstull (original eagle); Joseph Petrovics (first replacement eagle)
- Description: Eagle on integral plinth on stele on base, two plaques (one mounted on stele, one in ground before stele)
- Materials: Stele and base--granite; eagle and plaques--bronze
- Dimensions: Eagle H: 1'10"; Stele H: 5' W: 1'8" D: 1'; Base H: 1' W: 2'8" D: 1'8"; Mounted plaque H: 1'11¼" W: 1'5"; Total H: 9'7½"
- Cast: ca. 1994
- Dedicated: 1994
- Foundry: Bertelli Foundry, Brooklyn, NY (original eagle); Sculpture House Casting, NY, NY (replacement eagles)
- Fabricator: Alexander Ettl (original eagle); Alex J. Ettl (first replacement eagle)
- Donor: St. Nicholas Society of New York (original marker); Prospect Park Alliance ( second replacement eagle and plinth)
- Inscription: Main plaque:
SITE OF THE DONGAN OAK / AT THE BATTLE OF LONG ISLAND, / ON THE HILL TO THE NORTH OF THIS / SPOT, THE AMERICANS HAD A REDOUBT / WITH TWO GUNS, TO GUARD THE OLD / VALLEY GROVE ROAD, CALLED BY THE / EARLY SETTLERS THE "PORTE", MEANING / GATE-WAY THROUGH THE HILLS, AND WHICH / RAN IN FRONT OF THIS MONUMENT. BY / THAT ROAD STOOD A WHITE-OAK, MENTIONED / IN THE PATENT OF GOVERNOR DONGAN, / NOVEMBER 12, 1685, AS A MARKER BETWEEN / FLATBUST AND BROOKLYN. THIS TREE WAS / CUT DOWN AND THROWN ACROSS THE / ROAD, WITH THE DENSE WOODS ON THE / SOUTH AND SWAMPS ON THE NORTH, IT / MADE AN IMPORTANT OBSTRUCTION. / AMERICANS, COMMANDED BY GENERAL / SULLIVAN, VALIANTLY DEFENDED THIS POSITION / AGAINST THE HESSIAN GENERAL DE HEISTER, / UNTIL ATTACKED FROM THE REAR BY BRITISH / TROOPS, UNDER GENERAL CLINTON, THEN / THEY RETIRED IN GOOD ORDER, BRINGING / OFF THEIR ARTILLERY. /
Plaque in ground:
THIS MONUMENT / DEDICATED ON / NOVEMBER 25, 1922 / WAS RESTORED BY / THE PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE. /---/ ALEXANDER ETTL, / THE ORIGINAL CASTER / RECREATED F.W. RUCKSTULL'S / EAGLE AND PLAQUE. /---/ REDEDICATED / JUNE 6, 1991. /
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