William Henry Roll

Welcome to the new and improved Roll Family Windmill website! We have upgraded our authoring tools to design and create content and present it to you with style. We will be better able to maintain content and share information about the genealogy of the Roll and allied families.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. --Laurence Binyon,"Ode of Remembrance"

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the string that binds them is mine own. --Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Documenting your family history is a lifelong pursuit, a task of pleasure and research that is never completely finished.

Not to know one's ancestors, is to be a tree without roots, a stream without a source. --Kung-fut-se

The wind whispers through the trees, recalling words and dreams and memories of those who left us long ago. --Unknown

St. Basil of Caesarea, born about 330 A.D., said, "A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."


This website was created the old-fashioned way; it has been hand coded.

keep calm

John Kidd
The Tragedy at Blazing Star Landing

John Kidd, fl. 1768, has no known relationship to the Roll family.

"The "Blazing Star Inn" (sign of a comet) lay four or five miles from the Staten Island ferry; and Baron De Kalb, then a colonel, crossing over here in January, 1768, was the only one of nine passengers not frozen so as to lose life or limb. The open scow sank on a sand-bank and left the whole party exposed all night. When rescued, he alone refused to be warmed by the fire, but placing his feet and legs in cold water, went to bed and arose uninjured. One of his comrades died on the scow before succor arrived."*

Arthur Kill

New Jersey is west and Staten Island east of Arthur Kill.

Key To Map
1. Blazing Star Landing.
2. Blazing Star Tavern at Woodbridge.
3. New Blazing Star Tavern at Travis.
4. Old Blazing Star Tavern at Rossville.

February 4 [1768].

By a written Account from Richmond County on Staten-Island, and by a Gentleman who brought it, and was himself a Sharer in the Calamity, we are acquainted with the following Scene of Distress, viz.

On Thursday Night, the 28th January, between 7 and 8 o'Clock, the Weather extremely cold, and the Ground cover'd with Snow, the following Persons went from the Blazing Star, in New-Jersey, to cross the Ferry to Staten-Island, (the Wind being moderate and fair, and the Passage judged to be very safe) viz. Mr. William Cornelius George, supposed to belong to Rhode-Island; and Col. Kalb, a German Gentleman; both lately arrived at Philadelphia from London. Mr. Robert French, lately arrived at Philadelphia from St. Kitts. Mr. John Kidd, of Philadelphia, Merchant. John Thomson, (who has a Wooden Legg) Stage Driver. William Bury, and a Lad, belonging to the Ferry, (the Lad was lately Cabin Boy to a Ship from London to New-York, where he left the Ship, alledging that the Captain had misused him). A Negro Man, belonging to Mr. Newry of the Jersies, and a Negro Man, belonging to Mr. Provoost of this City, in all 9 Persons, and 4 Horses. As they were crossing the Ferry in a Scow, a violent Wind suddenly arose at N. W. whereby they were driven a considerable Way down the River, and ashore on a Mud Bank, where the Scow was half filled with Water; but as it was impracticable to land at that Place, they were obliged to put off again, and in their Efforts to gain the Land broke two of their Oars, and were soon driven ashore upon a small Marsh Island, in the Mouth of the Fish-Kill Creek, about half a Mile distant from the Ferry-House, where the Scow immediately fill'd, and the People and Horses were obliged to get out. The Mud was so soft, that the Men sunk in it to near the upper Part of the Thigh, and were not able to pull out their Feet, without lying down on the Water and Mud, and assisting with their Hands; but with great Difficulty they at last all got to the highest Part of the Marsh: The poor lame man was rendered more helpless, by breaking his Wooden Leg. Three Horses not being able to disengage themselves from the Mud, stuck there and perished. The People on their small Portion of Marsh, deep cover'd with Snow, had not the least Shelter from the freezing Blasts of the Wind, nor could they make themselves be heard by the People on Shore, the Wind being against them. They had no other Resourse than to huddle as close together and give themselves as much Motion as possible. It was then about 9 o'Clock, the Boy soon gave out and sunk down, but the Men took him up, shook him, and did all they could to exercise and heat him; but at about Eleven he expired. At one o'Clock, Mr. George, who had till then seem'd to bear up as well as any of them, began to faulter, and not-withstanding the best Assistance his Fellow-Sufferers could give him, he expired at about three o'Clock, the Rest lived out the dreadful Night, and at last, almost quite spent and hopeless, at about nine o'Clock in the Morning, were discover'd, and with proper Help, for they had all nearly lost the Use of their Limbs, they were carried to Mr. Mersereau's and all possible Care taken of them. Col. Kalb, after taking off his Boots immediately put his Feet in cold Water, where he held them near half an Hour, during which he took some Refreshment, and then went to Bed and slept soundly till the Afternoon: And he was the only Person that escaped without Hurt. The Rest sat up, round the Fire, and are terribly frost bitten; it is fear'd they will all lose their Toes, and that the Feet and Legs of some are in Danger; an Ear of one of the Negroes seems entirely perish'd. Mr. French, Mr. Kidd, John Thomson, Wm. Bury, and the two Negroes when this Account came away, were at Mr. Mersereau's Ferry-House, opposite to the Blazing Star, unable to travel. The two dead Bodies were carried to the same Place for interment; the Coroner's Inquest having first sat on them. Mr. George, (said to be a Man of good Family and Fortune) was buried on Sunday last, with proper Solemnity. His Effects are in the Hands of the Coroner, till claimed by his Friends. Col. Kalb, proceeded on his Journey, and arrived here on Monday last. The Horses belonged to Mr. Mersereau.**

New Blasing-Star
4th February, 1768.


WHEREAS it has been maliciously reported, that John Thomson, Stage-Waggoner, was the sole Cause of the unhappy Misfortune which happened on the 28th last, we who were at that Time in the Boat, and had come with Mr. Thomson from Princeton, cannot refrain from clearing an innocent, suffering Man, from that false Imputation under which he at present labours: We do candidly own, that he proffered staying at Woodbridge, but we not willingly consenting to that Proposal, set off; when we came to the Ferry, the Night appeared very agreeable, and we all with one Consent got into the Boat, when about the Middle of the River, a Storm came on, which drove us on a desert Island, where we staid till next Morning, when Mr. Mersereau came to our Assistance.


* William L. Stone. History of New York City from the Discovery to the Present Day. New York: Virtue & Yorston, 1872. Pages 184-187.

** William Nelson, ed. Extracts from American Newspapers, Relating to New Jersey. Vol. VII, 1768-1769. "Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State Of New Jersey.". Volume XXVI. Paterson, N. J.: The Call Printing And Publishing Co. 1904. Pages 31-33.

† William Nelson, ed. Extracts from American Newspapers, Relating to New Jersey. Vol. VII. 1768-1769. "Documents Relating to the Colonial History of the State Of New Jersey." Volume XXVI. Paterson, N. J.: The Call Printing And Publishing Co. 1904. Page 48.