Unique late 18th century lower Manhattan indenture of sale, a real estate contract for a house and yard belonging to George and Jenat Gosman. Of particular interest is the manuscript map of the Gosmans' properties, including ones not sold, attached at the bottom of the indenture under a margin fold and seal. The map is by Casimir Goerck, City Surveyor, an important early figure in the mapping of New York City.
The map shows four houses and yards (numbered 1 to 4) belonging to the Gosmans in the vicinity of Trinity Church, lower Manhattan, bounded on two sides by Lumber Street and Greenwich Street, and on the other two sides by properties owned by Mr. Childs and Mr. Gilchrist. According to the document, House No. 4 was sold pursuant to the indenture to João José da Silva, identified as a merchant, for 3,750 “pounds current money of the State of New York.” The indenture is signed by George Gosman, identified as a bricklayer, and his wife Jenat, as well as government officials James Kent and Peter Augustus Jay. The indenture mentions, and the map shows, House No. 3 as having been sold by Gosman to George Rossier and John Sigismund Roulette, but this sale was not a transaction under the indenture. The title of the map refers to the property as formerly “Sir Peter Warrens Ground,” after the British admiral who had owned it. The indenture further states that Gosman purchased the property from Walter Livingston, who had prior purchased it from representatives of Warren, deceased.
Casimir Goerck made surveys in 1785 and 1796 that became the foundation for the future gridded street scheme for Manhattan. The city’s leaders intended the orderly design to increase the value of the land by eliminating haphazard street networks, especially in the northern areas, which left some plots unconnected to roads.
In 1797, Goerck collaborated with Joseph François Mangin to produce New York City’s first real estate map, the huge Mangin-Goerck Plan. Mangin was a French-born architect and apparently the front man for negotiating the contract for the map with the City Council. Goerck’s death at the end of 1798 left Mangin to complete the map alone. The map they had proposed -- a detailed depiction of the locations of houses, lots, buildings, streets and wharfs -- was not what Mangin eventually produced in 1803, which was more his idealized conception of what the city layout should look like. Mangin’s map included streets named after himself and Goerck on the Lower East Side; only a small piece of Mangin Street exists today. In 1807, William Bridges re-engraved the Mangin-Goerck Plan under his own name; it can be viewed on our web site here.
Stokes provides an exhaustive historical record of Sir Peter Warren’s extensive Manhattan land holdings, but does not specifically refer to this property. A Gosman descendant wrote in 1931 that George Gosman was one of four Scottish-born siblings who emigrated to New York, where he married Janet [sic.] Duncan.
Condition: Generally fine with usual light toning and wear to edges. Top of map with wavy cut as issued. Bottom margin of map folded over to encompass map, as issued. Few tears in lower folded bottom margin. Some cracking and losses to wax seals. Creases from folds, as issued.
“Casimir Goerck Surveys, 1785, 1797.” Het Ilias 2. http://odin.let.rug.nl/~kastud/newyork/v/18/g-survey.html (21 December 2004).
Cohen, Paul E. and Augustyn, Robert T. Manhattan in Maps: 1527-1995. New York: Rizzoli, 1997. pp.96-97.
Halsey, Jeannie Louise. “Letter to her cousin, Elisa Gosman.” 14 December 1931. Tompkins Co., NYGenWeb Site. 11 November 2002. http://www.rootsweb.com/~nytompki/scrap/tlethalgos.htm (21 December 2004).
Stokes (Iconography) plate 70, V1.pp.454-455, Vol. 3 pp.865-66 & plate A5-b, Vol. 4, pp.157-169.
“The Street Necrology of the Lower East Side.” Forgotten NY. http://www.forgotten-ny.com/streetnecrology/lowereast/lowereast.html (21 December 2004).