Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lizbeth Halsey White Memorial

Edward Post White, Jr., Ibby White, Lizbeth Halsey White, Boo White, Edward Post White, Sr.
Honors for an Early Proponent of Local Preservation

Southampton Press 5/28/85

The members of the Southampton Historical Museum honored a former town historian last Friday, as they unanimously voted during their annual meeting to dedicate the contents of The Captain Rogers Homestead on Meeting House Land as the Lizbeth White Memorial. 
In recommending that the honor be bestowed upon her, Museum President and Town Historian Robert Keene said that Lizbeth White served as Southampton Town Historian during the 1920s and that it was Mrs. White who ascertained that, when the town was settled in 1640, Eleanor Howell was the first woman to step ashore at North Sea’s Conscience Point. He credited her with learning that the small boy known to have come by boat with the settlers was Eleanor and Edward Howell’s eight-year-old son, Arthur.

Mr. Keene also said that he believes that part of the impetus for the formation of an historical museum in Southampton came from Mrs. White, through the publication 70 years ago in the Sea-Side Times of a column that she wrote.
Mr. Keen said that it was while he was in Town Hall, reading historical records, that he became aware of and intrigued by Mrs. White’s contribution to Southampton.

Every once in a while the name Lizbeth White came up. And it kept coming up and kept coming up. So, I checked into it and this is what I found,” he said, turning to a biographical sketch that he had prepared.

Mrs. White, born Lizbeth Halsey, the sister of Abigail Halsey and the Reverend Jesse Halsey, succeeded the first town historian, William S. Pelletreau, the man who “restored and put in order and had reprinted the early town Records,” Mr. Keene said, adding that Mrs. White died in 1932.

She was the founding regent of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and it was she who was instrumental in bringing to the attention of the Town Board in 1928 the design of the town flag, as it had been presented by the DAR. Apparently, the Town Board did not act of the adoption of the design back then, for until 1982, the town had no official flag.

Mr. Keen said that in 1982 he found a reference to the flag as he examined the records of the deceased Town Historian Willian K. Dunwelll. There, he found a small, typewritten note which had been made by Mrs. White. After researching the flag and its design, Mr. Keene went to the Town Board, which adopted the flag and its design. The official town flag now flied in front of Town Hall.

Mr. Keene went on to detail Mrs. White’s discoveries about the first settlers, and noted that hse lived in what is now known as The Post House on North Main Street in Southampton Village. He said that The Post House is being renovated and restored as an inn now, and that, when it is completed a room there will be named for Lizbeth White.

Quoting from Mrs. White’s story in the 1915 Sea-Side Times, the predecessor to The Southampton Press, he said, 
“Many of our town’s most precious memorials have vanished forever. Our fathers were too busy planting and colonizing, to think much about leaving behind them personal souvenirs . . . The golden opportunities for constructing the infant history of our colony have for the most part passed away. Those which remain ought to be seized with the greatest avidity.”
Her story continued, “First then, I would like to see the fairest lot of land to be found between Long Springs and the beach devoted to a memorial use. Spare an acre or two from your generous farms, upon it to be erected a modest but dignified structure of stone, or brick, fireproof, which shall contain primarily a library. Then into this repository let every native and every citizen take a pride in gathering whatever shall preserve the memory of the past or throw light upon its life. The place and time to begin are here and now.”

No comments: