By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A man with a strong background in history has been elected president of an organization promoting the importance of Brooklyn’s history. Borough Historian Ronald Schweiger was elected as the 48th president of the Society of Old Brooklynites. The borough-wide civic organization has a rich history of its own. It was founded in 1880 when Brooklyn was an independent city and the third largest in the US.
Schweiger joins a long list of Brooklynites who have served at the helm of the Society, according to a statement issued by the group. Past presidents have included former Brooklyn city mayors, members of Congress, state senators, military leaders, banking and business executives, lawyers, professors, newspaper publishers and editors, writers. The first society president was former Brooklyn city mayor John Ward Hunter.
Schweiger, a retired educator, is also the current president of the Brooklyn College Alumni Association. In 2002, he was appointed to the non-salaried position of borough historian by Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Other officers re-elected for another term were First Vice President Michael Spinner, President and CEO of Sunset Park-based Spinner Industries; Second Vice President Ted General, a veteran columnist for two Brooklyn weekly newspapers and a local civic leader; Treasurer Sherman Silverman, a retired airline consultant; Corresponding Secretary Holly Fuchs, a member of Community Board 8 and a retired banking supervisor; and Recording Secretary Linda Orlando, a retired court stenographer and area community activist.
Among the more prominent members of the society in the past have been poet and editor Walt Whitman, Columbia University President Seth Low, and the man considered by historians to be the true father of baseball, Henry Chadwick.
The society which lobbied the city, state and federal governments for a suitable monument in memory of the Prison Ship Martyrs from the American Revolution, has held an annual memorial tribute at the base of the 159-foot tall Prison Ship Martyrs Monument on the top of the hill in Fort Greene Park.
Under the monument is a crypt where the remains of thousands of patriots are entombed. It is the largest American Revolution burial site in the nation, according to the society. “The monument, which was designed by Stanford White, was dedicated in 1908 by President-elect William Howard Taft, representing President Theodore Roosevelt who was in Panama at the time,” a statement from the society reads.