Ex-Sandy Ground resident remembers area with book
Lois A.H. Mosley, tracing family history back for 6 generations, appears at lecture and
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
By ROB HART
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER
A part of Staten Island history came alive last night, in the form of Lois A.H. Mosley.
The energetic, affable Ms. Mosley can trace her family history six generations back in
Sandy Ground in Rossville, one of the oldest African-American communities in the New York
She recounted her life in the storied area in "Sandy Ground Memories," a book
published last year by the Staten Island Historical Society.
Last night, Ms. Mosley was present for a lecture and book-signing hosted by the American
Association of University Women (AAUW) at St. John's University, Grymes Hill.
"This is a combination of Women's History Month and Black History Month,"
said Beatrice Ramirez, program co-vice president of the AAUW. "We want to give
recognition to women on Staten Island, especially those who have contributed so much to
Now living in Willingboro, N.J., Ms. Mosley began writing her memoir during a time of
illness, in order to preserve the history of the area that she knew.
"Sandy Ground ain't no more," she said. "I wanted my children to have
something to hold on to. My family was some of the original settlers of the area."
She was accompanied to the event by Barnett Shepherd of New Brighton, a historian and
former executive director of the historical society and Historic Richmond Town, who helped
the book become a reality. He also contributed essays to the book.
"It's very remarkable that such a small community had such a complete record of
its history," he said. "So much time was devoted to it."
In the book, Ms. Mosley recounts living through the Great Depression, obtaining an
education and raising a family, while trying to find employment.
"It was a wonderful area," she said. "There was no color -- black and white
was cohesive. I raised three children out there, but then the house got too small."
Catherine Agnes McCarthy O'Callaghan, better known as "Mac" in her Stapleton
neighborhood, recently wrote her life story, beginning with her early years in a Nebraska
prairie town to her arrival on Staten Island.
Mrs. O'Callaghan found a number of parallels in the two memoirs.
"It's remarkable how two different parts of the country can be so similar,"
she said. "Reading her book was so much like reading mine."
Ms. Mosley's book is available in the gift shop at Historic Richmond Town.