Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Billy Bunker’s Christmas

by Reverend Jesse Halsey

Fish, fish, fish. It seemed that the season that year was interminable. Little Billy had rode out with his grandfather and younger brother day after day to see some of his more fortunate neighbors, who owned or had an interest in some merchant’s trap, come home each day with their traps loaded, but bait had been scarce and the hook and line men along shore had had very poor luck all the season through.

Billy and all his relatives and all the neighbors made their livelihood from fishing and when fish were plentiful everyone was happy. When fish do not “strike in “ at a certain section of the shore it means that as winter comes on these people face almost starvation—and Billy was going on 15. His father had died when he was but five. His mother had made a heroic effort to keep her little family of four together, but because of the lack of nutritious diet and because of the little hovel in which they lived, after a few years of struggle disease had come off master. Billy’s grandfather, a man past seventy, doubled up with rheumatism, had taken all the children to live with him. His wife, not much younger than himself, had mothered the little brood, and now that the old man at times was scarce able to do anything, Billy had become the main support of the family. Before fishing season came on in the Spring, he would work around the Mission premised helping Uncle Joe Pelley clean up. With the coming of the first fish, he and his younger brother, Harry, and the old man (if he were able) would start out “jigging” the first card. When bait became necessary for fishing, some of the neighbors who owned herring net very often provided Billy and Uncle Jim, as his grandfather was commonly known among the people, with bait.

Along in August when squib were used as bait, Billy and Harry each evening must row around two or three miles and try their hands towards capturing the curious little octopus that served as bait for the fishermen, sometimes successful, more often not during the summer of which we write, when they came home tired and discouraged.

Our days in the summer are long and when one works through from daylight to dark, he has put in at least eighteen hours. When fish were plentiful everyone was busy by sun-up and the men would be away to the fishing grounds until evening. The women and older men would then be busy all night cleaning and salting the fish, and there had been many a scene of great activity around the little hovel when the owners were so fortunate as to have an interest in a trap, but as I said, for the hook and line men it had been a hard summer. With the coming of the first ice in early November, the departure of the last trading schooner, for which Uncle Jim had held his fish, hoping for a late fall advance in price, the winter had set in. Aunt Phoebe, Billy’s step-grandmother, had been far from well all summer, and with the coming of the severe weather was confined to her bed. Along late in November she was taken to the Mission Hospital, and Billy with a team of poor old dogs began to make his trips into the country to get the winter supply of firewood. Uncle Jim, fairly well for him, had secured the paintorship of the little chapel at the munificent salary of one dollar a week.

Even on very “dirty days” Billy and Harry might be seen early each morning, (and of course at this time of the year the days were proportionately short, as they had been long in the summer), working their way up the harbor back of the Mission on their way to the woods. One day when there was a “glitter” over the trees, and every man as he went into the woods had warned his son of the danger of the axe glazing off, Billy and Harry with sound admonition as to the danger of chopping wood on a day like that by Uncle Joe, had gone into the country, and Billy, with a boy’s disregard for the instructions of his elders, had carelessly let his axe glaze off the tree and planted it solidly in his instep. The skin boots that our people use in winter, admirably adapted for the purpose of running over the snow, or use with snow-shoes, offered no protection against the sharply whetted steel. Very much frightened, Harry called to some of the men not so far distant and with their help brought Billy to the hospital. Under the skillful care of Dr. Johns, the wound had nearly healed by Christmastime, but Billy would not be allowed to go home for some time. Uncle Jim was doubled up with rheumatism. Billy had become a great favorite in the hospital with the nurses and other patients. The mail boat, you must understand, makes its last trip before Christmas, and a few of the patients who had secured their discharge, were eagerly awaiting the time to come when they should sail away to their homes in the South. But there were a number, possibly twenty, of the chronic cases that must remain all winter in the hospital, and with these bedridden sufferers, Billy had become a great favorite.

All the mission employees would be given a dinner on Christmas Eve, there would be a tree for the orphanage children, and a tree on another night just after Christmas for all the children in the harbor, but the special concern of the nurses was to give these men and women and children in the hospital a Merry Christmas, coming many of them from homes where Christmas had never been observed. Some of these children had never owned a toy or a doll. Now the supply, while not limitless, always seemed to be sufficient, thanks to the kindness of our friends, and provision had been made for every boy and girl throughout the whole district. This was the year when the “Candy Lady” had so bountifully remembered us, and Billy at that time hobbling around on a crutch, had his part in filling the thousand candy boxes that were distributed all around among our children. When questioned as to the extend of his Christmas experiences, Billy had told the head nurse that on one occasion Skipper Jim Souley, his uncle, who has recently returned from a fishing cruise to the South, had brought him and Harry a box of candy. The boy’s imagination had magnified the size of that box so that some times it appeared to have been a packing case, but when I questioned Uncle Joe as to its actual size, I found that each boy had received just a pound of hard sugar candy. Beyond this Billy knew very little of Christmas, for Billy had been born well to the North of our station, and during the hard years that followed his father’s death, he saw very little of life. He had been picked up and brought to one of our hospitals in an almost starving condition. After treatment, and more especially after receiving proper nourishment, he had gone back, as I said, to live with his grandfather. Billy’s earlier experience in the hospital had been such a pleasant one that he told the nurse that at times he was almost glad he had cut his foot, and the prospect of spending Christmas in the hospital was something that overjoyed him. Bright and early Christmas morning Billy was astir. He had been taken into the confidence of the nurses and in fact was their confederate. The tree had been planted securely in a box and trimmed outside. At six o’clock, when the day’s work began in the hospital, Billy dressed up as Father Christmas, brought the tree in to the men’s yard, where most of the bedridden patients happened to be. All the children had been brought in from the other wards and when everything was arranged Billy lit the candles. During the night a stocking had been filled and placed at the head of every bed.

Men were there fifty years old who had never seen a Christmas stocking and only three in the room had ever seen a Christmas tree lighted with real candles. Then Billy’s work began. With marvelous forethought the Doctor had made a trip to civilization late in the fall and had brought back appropriate gifts for each patient. Some times it taxed one’s ingenuity to find a thing that a man absolutely helpless might use or appreciate, but the nurses had been successful and Billy hobbling around had the satisfaction of delivering one of Santa Claus’s presents to each patient in the hospital.

About that time the parson came in and read a Christmas story from the gospel, all joined in a brief word of prayer and several carols were sung, after which breakfast was announced. Think of living in a country where potatoes are as much of a luxury and seem about as often as an orange was with us thirty years ago. Think of having a whole white potato for your Christmas breakfast! Each tray, tastily decorated, was filled with good things according to the conditions of the respective patients. A little girl, recovering from a fever, on a milk diet, had the juice of an orange. Old Bill Johnson, who constantly was complaining that something was the matter with his stomach, did justice to a tray well provisioned with the most substantial edibles that our crude larder supplied. It was a day of great happiness from morning until night, and with the departure of the sun at two o’clock in the afternoon, and the preparation for a long evening, there were many who with the experience of their first real Christmas, were so exhausted that they had no further interest. But for the number who remained in the men’s ward, the parson came and read Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and again read the old story of the first Christmas and talked a while about the “Great Christmas Gift.”

Billy Bunker, now nearly twenty, is the support of old Uncle Jim and the boys, for the grandmother never came home from the hospital. He is not only bread winner, but is also bread preparer. He has learned his lesson and is more skillful with the axe when he goes into the woods. Always a good pile of firewood is to be seen beside their back door. At every Christmastime since his memorable one at the hospital, he has provided a little tree for his younger brothers and sister, and with tinsel and decorations that he hordes from year to year.

Courtesy Jesse Halsey Manuscript Collection | Princeton Theological Seminary Libraries | Special Collections

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Gold-Ship Sabina

The Sabina was a whaling ship brought from New York to the Port of Sag Harbor in 1844. Sag Harbor is at the eastern end of Long Island and at that time was a flourishing Whaling Port rivaling New Bedford and Salem. She made a successful voyage for whales to the North West Coast with Capt. David P. Vail as Capt. June 24, 1844. She returned May 27, 1847, with 60 BBL sperm oil, 1940 BBL whale oil, and 18,00 lbs. whalebone worth $25,000.

She was then purchased by a company of men known as “The Southampton and California Trading Co.” for a voyage to the gold fields of California. The company was made up of sixty men, and it was capitalized at $30,000. Sixty shares of stock were sold at $500.00 each. These were issued in Sag Harbor and were dated “This 20th day of January 1849.” Of the sixty-seven men who had stock in the company and sailed on her, nineteen were whaling captains, including Wm. L. Huntting, Geo. W. Post, and Phyrrhus Concer (colored) on the crew. There were also seventeen who went as passengers. The entire list is from men of eastern Long Island, twenty-eight of which are easily recognized as from Southampton.

The Sabina sailed from Greenport, Long Island, “late on Wednesday the 14th of February 1849.” The story of the voyage and subsequent experiences of the voyagers we are fortunate in having preserved to us through the letters of Albert Jagger of Southampton 1849-51. These were found some years ago in the attic of the Jagger home, carefully wrapped in the original canvas bag in which he had sent home his gold dust. They have been preserved to us historically by James Trusloe Adams in his Memorials of Old Bridgehampton, and are indeed a record of experience as thrilling as that of our present day adventurers by sea and air.

The brilliant hopes for fortune which had led them to the “golden land” were, in most cases soon dispelled. The company which started out together soon broke up. A very few found moderate fortune. Some of course never returned. Most of them came back poorer than they went, except for the experience, and a number, as in the three sons of Capt. George Post—Wm.  H., Nathan, and Charles Post—remained to make their home in a new land and form the foundations of a substantial citizenship so much needed in a country made up so largely of adventurers.

The Sabina with many other ships which had found port in the Harbor of San Francisco during those adventurous years, lies at the bottom of the Bay and the piers of that newer city have been built out far beyond her resting place. The adventurers who went out in her and returned found their way back by various routes. Some by ship around Cape Horn, others by Panama and Nicaragua, others across the continent. Some wandered for years and never returned, as must have been the case of J.B.H. [Job Hedges?] who made Bandolier, S.A., a port of call and in all probability never returned or his buffalo horn would not have found its way to England. Of course J.B.H. may not have been one of those who sailed in the Sabina but the fact that this is carved upon the horn would indicate at least an intimate acquaintance with her.

Lizbeth H. White
Southampton, Long Island, N.Y.

February 1, 1929

Grave of Paul Cuffee at Hampton Bays (Canoe Place)

On Montauk Highway | Inscription

Erected by the New York Missionary Society in memory of the Rev. Paul Cuffee, an Indian of the Shinnecock Tribe, who was employed by that society for the last fifteen years of his life on the eastern part of Long Island where he labored with fidelity and success.

Humble, pious, and indefatigable in testifying to the gospel of the grace of God, he finished his course with joy on the 7th of March 1812. Ae. 55 yrs. 5 days.

Letter Written by Capt. George Post to His First Wife, Harriet J. Post, Soon After Their First Child Wm. Henry Was Born


July 15th 1821

My dear wife,
           I received your kind letter by the Abigail, Capt. Green, the 21st, and was pleased to hear that you and our little William and all our friends were well. We left the Land the 9th of May with a fresh breeze at South. The 10th had strong gales and rain with a heavy swell at SSE. Our boys a little seasick. The 11th we had the wind at east with fog and rain until 13th when we took the wind from the westward with rugged weather which continues for the most of the way to the islands which we made the 5th of June all favored with health at present. Wm. Huntting has had the swellings in his throat but has got well of the last. He took his flannel off yesterday. We have not met with any success as yet, but I live in hopes that fortune will smile upon us. We are cruising off the Island yet and have some satisfaction if we cant get any whales by looking at the land once in a few days and viewing the handsome fields of grain which is growing even to the tops of the mountings and handsome country seats with vineyards and fruit trees around them and we can’t hardly look any way around us but that we see a sail cruising for sperm-whale. We have had the weather very rugged for this ten days and have cruised from Long. 34 west to the island of St. Michaels and have not seen a whale. We have heard of but three sperm-whales being got amongst 45 or 50 sail of vessels. Our faith is small but we live in hopes that fortune will smile upon us yet. I tell them once in a while that if we don’t have something to do pretty soon that I shall dry up and blow overboard. We have had a plenty of fish around us so we are not likely to starve. We caught some that resemble our sea-bass and I think are as good. I wish you could call and see how we live here in our little prison, although we have a wide world to rove in and bring our little boy with you a few hours. I want to see him very much. How does he do? Does he grow as fast as ever? I think I see him squirming in his mother’s lap. I wish that I could come and tend him a while and ease his ma of some of her care of him, but Providence has so ordered it that we should be parted for a while, but I hope there are many happy days for us to live together. Although the distance is great at present, He that made the ocean is able to protect us on the sea or on the land. I wish we could be thankful for the many favors He is bestowing upon us as we ought to do. Do be careful of your health and remember you have two to take care of instead of one for you know I am also as big a baby as your other is a little one. How does Cousin Mary do? I wish she could call and see us for a few hours. I think she would be pleased to see the cragged mountings with their peaks above the clouds, with small brooks of water tumbling over the rugged rocks. I think she calls ever once in a while to see how the babe grows and give him a short exercising and tell him when his papa’s coming home and he will be so big a boy if he lives that he won’t know him. If it wasn’t for hope, don’t know what we would do for hope keeps the heart whole. We saw a schooner straying the 11th of July. We are now off the Island of Flores the weather clear and calm and if the weather will permit we shall have land tomorrow and try to get our vegetables put away for the Cape. I am sorry that I have nothing worth writing. Give my love to parents and all our friends and excuse all errors. Kiss the babe for me.

May you live a happy pleasant life in this and the world to come is the wish of
Your Affectionate Husband,
George Post

Wm. Henry Post was born 16 March 1821, the first of five sons of Capt. George and Harriet Jessup Post. Harriet died in April 1830 at age 40 in childbirth after delivering the Post’s son, Nathan (1830-1912) | Courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

from "Tales of Notable Wrecks Along Our Coast"

A paper read by Mrs. Edward P. White before the Colonial Society at its Founder’s Day Reception on the evening of June 12th, 1914, and published by request in The Sea-Side Times, Sept. 3, 1914.

Many tales of shipwreck and disaster along our shore have we heard from the lips of father or grandfather , of the days when only sailing craft handled our coast-wise trade. The “lea-shore” in time of storm was the terror of the old-time sailor, but in these days of steam navigation, when the vessel is in no way dependent upon “searoom,” the sailing of the sea has become much less dangerous, and wrecks during these later year have been few and far between.

Then too, before the year 1872, there was no established live-saving service, the efficiency of which has since so guarded our coast that disaster has been very largely averted.

Then each villager was a volunteer life-saver, for in the days before the summer resident had discovered our sea-shore, nearly every inhabitant of our little village had been born within the sound of the ocean’s roll.

Far removed from the City and all its distractions, without even a railroad connection, the happenings along the beach—next to a wedding or a funeral—was about the only excitement our little town could furnish, and every eye and ear were keen to its summons.

Every garret held its spy-glass on a way-high handy beam, and every scuttle was a look-out frequently visited. If anything unusual was sighted along shore—a ship in peril or a whale—the family horn was blown, which signal the next neighbor passed on. In this way a rally was raised, and the beach seen peopled with volunteers ready for any emergency.

Well we remember the old pewter horn which, with his gun, hung high in grandfather’s kitchen, too high indeed for the meddling of small intruders.

We remember too, as a great favor, being allowed to have a try at blowing it, but as the horn was 4 feet long and its blow the equal of its size, it required more knack than our youthful propensities in that line could muster. At the sound of the “rally” every man left his plow or his trowel; his horn or his sermon as we do today at the alarm of the fire sire, and made for the beach.

With the passing of the old days and the elder people, we realize that so much which was fact to them is fast becoming tradition to us and seen to be lost in oblivion unless we, as a Colonial Society, shall perpetuate an interest in the things which belong to the earlier days.

The anchor of the Lykens Valley is in St. Andrew’s Dune Church yard, and in the church is a tablet inscribed to the men, who, 18 out of 20, gave their lives s the toll of the sea in that awful storm. The tablet bears also this inscription which those who watched the breakers that morning can and will appreciate:
--“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear though the earth and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.”
Text courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Hannah’s Funeral Flowers"

By Abigail Fithian Halsey

Poor Hannah Hildreth was dead. Why the people of our village always designated one as poor after his decease, I do not know. It was not that they were uncertain about his future, for everyone in the little town was known to be a church member except old uncle Sam Jennings and he was not dead yet. Perhaps it was the old Puritan belittlement of mortal flesh, the worm-of-the-dust attitude that made good Dr. Williams announce on a beautiful June Sabbath morning—

“To the praise of God we will und unite and sing to the praise of God six stanzas of the Four hundred and sixtieth hymn—
            “Shall the vile race of flesh and blood
            Contend with their Creator, God?
            Shall mortal worms contend to be
            More holy, wise or just than He?”

Poor Hannah died just at the time when flowers were first used for funerals. At least no one in our village had heard before of their use in this way. But Matilda Hewitt had been to a funeral in Sagg Hill the week before and she said they had flowers on the coffin—white flowers, call lilies and similar. So Ruth, Hannah’s sister, thought it would be nice to have some flowers for Poor Hannah. She asked Mary Harris and Mary Fairfox to get them.

“You know more about such things than the rest of the folks,” she said.

White flowers were not easy to get just at that time of year, for everybody’s callas had been re-potted, lilies of the valley and garden lilies were all gone and it was too early for day lilies or white phlox. Mary Fairfox is equal to almost anything though and the day of Poor Hannah’s funeral there lay on the coffin two large long bunches of beautiful white buds. No one knew what they were or where they came from, though everyone was talking about them out in the front door yard after the friends had viewed the remains. Even Miss Rachel Smylie who had in her garden every flower that grew from Sagg Hill to Dark River did not know. You could see though that she did not want us to think she was ignorant on a subject where her knowledge was easily first, for she said—

“Mary Harris got ‘em from New York an’ Mary Fairfox fixed ‘em up. She knows how to do such things, Mary Fairfox does ‘cause she’s been to Boston, y’know.”

This satisfied the older women and they stopped talking of the flowers to discuss the “naturalness” of the remains.

“Poor Hannah, I thought she was older than she looked. You never can tell the age o’ such folks though.”

“Blessed relief it must be to Mrs. Hildreth Hannah died when she did. ‘Twould a been dretful if she’d a outlived her mother.”

“Ruth seemed to feel it most o’ any o’ the children.”

“Yes, they say she’s had the hull care o’ Poor Hannah ever sense she could walk.”

At this point the coffin was brought out and the presence of the mourners checked the flow of friendly gossip. We followed the bier to the old graveyard and after the burial the people lingered in little groups to visit the graves of kindred or inquire after the health of absent friends. I was one of the last to leave the place and Linda Marks overtook me as I went out the gate.

“We’re found out,” she said excitedly, slipping her arm through mine.

“Found out what?”

“Law, what all o’ us was talkin’ about over there—about the flowers.”


“Yes, Rachel Smylie ‘lowed she knew so much about it, she didn’t know a thing. After the mourners was all gone an’ we could get near ‘em, we went clost up to see if we could make ‘em out—that’s how I know, besides what Jane Hand told me. I suspicioned as much when I see ‘em on the coffin, but o’course I didn’t hev no time to stop and examine ‘em before the mourners.”

“Well,” I said curiously, “What were they?”

“I’m comin’ to it. Mary Harris she didn’t get ‘em in New York a’ tall. She got Uncle Tom harden to get ‘em for her out o’ Town Pond. They was just pond lily buds the most of ‘em, that’s what they was, nuthin in the world but pond lily buds with the green outsides pulled off. And the long ones, they was white holly hawk buds, the big double ones, you know, that Uncle Tom has growin’ on the south side o’ his house. He never would have given ‘em to any body besides Miss Mary, he’d do anything for her, you know. So she just went an’ ast him would he give her some white holly hawk buds to put on Poor Hannah Hildreth’s funeral coffin, an’ Uncle Tom, though he never hurd tell of such a thing as flowers on a funeral coffin before, said he would. An then Mary Fairfox says,

“’Will you get us some pond lilies too?’”

“’Pond lilies,’ says he, ’they’ll be all shut up by night.’”

“’never mind,’ says Mary Fairfox, ‘that’s just what we want.’”

“Well, he got ‘em an brought ‘em, pond lilies an holly hawks to Mary Fairfox’s house this morning. An’ you see how they fixed ‘em! Beautiful as a New York florist! I tell you Mary Fairfox can do anything she sets out to, an’ Mary Harris, she’s got the money. She aint stuck up a bit either. There comes Rachel Smylie, it’ll be such fun to tell her, I must do it. Good-by” and with a friendly squeeze of my arm Linda was gone.

The next day Mary Fairfox added a choice bit to Linda’s story, which however, was correct in the main points.

“Did she tell you about the spearmint?” Mary asked.

“What spearmint?” I said, and Mary took off her glasses and laughed until the tears rolled down her cheeks.

“I thought Linda didn’t know about the spearmint,” she said, wiping her eyes and putting back her glasses, for Mary Fairfox is very near sighted. “Uncle Tom has one corner of his garden full of it and the day we were there I begged some, saying it had such a nice flavor I used it for sauces sometimes. Well, when he brought the flowers for Hannah, he brought a bunch of the mint along. I had duly admired the holly hocks and thanked him for the lilies.

“‘An’ this ere spearmint,’ he said, ‘I thought you might like a little o’ that for poor Hannah. Y’know it’s got such a nice flavor.’”

Text courtesy Abigail Fithian Halsey Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center


By Lizbeth Halsey White | Southampton Press | c1931

Our attention has been called to a copy of the Seaside Times of 1897, in which we find an article from the pen of Historian Wm. S. Pelletreau, entitled “Phyrrhus.” We find an interesting reminder of events which have made history in our community as well as a pleasant reminder of one, who though of humble station, enjoyed the regard and respect of all who knew him.

“Phyrrhus Concer was born March 17, 1814, a slave in the family of Captain Nathan Cooper. When five years old, he was purchased by Mr. Charles Pelletreau for the sum of $25.00; the purchaser receive a bill of sale as for any other article of personal property, but between the owner and the owned there was a strong feeling of personal regard that ended only with the death of the former. When he arrived at boyhood he worked on the farm during the Summer and in the Winter attended the village school in the ancient school house, and had practically the same advantages as other boys in the neighborhood. A few years later when whaling was in its glory he was shipped, at the age of 18, on board the ship ‘Boston,’ under the command of Captain Edward Sayre, who sailed from Norwich, Conn., and cruised in the South Atlantic, returning in seven moths and ten days, with a full cargo. His second voyage was in the ‘Columbia,’ with Captain William Hedges. According to the law of that time he would have remained a slave till the age of 28 years, but the day that he was 21 Mr. Pelletreau gave him a complete sailor’s outfit and some money and told him that he was a free man. He then went to sea, making several voyages on his own account.

“The most remarkable episode in his life was his visit to Japan. When Captain Mercator Cooper, in the ship ‘Manhattan,’ was cruising in the North Pacific, he rescued the crew from a waterlogged Japanese junk, just ready to sink. This led Captain Cooper to exclaim, ‘Now I have a good excuse to visit Japan.’ At that time this was about the same as if a man should congratulate himself as having a good excuse to visit the crater of a raging volcano. He would undoubtedly see things he had never seen before, but whether we would ever return to tell of them was another thing; but such a trouble as that did not disturb the mind of Captain Mercator Cooper. The story has been so often told that it is needless to repeat it here. It is sufficient to say that they entered the harbor of Yeddo, but every precaution that the jealous mind of the Japanese government could devise was used to prevent any of the ship’s crew from putting their foot on shore and the common people from visiting the vessel. One thing that Phyrrhus especially noticed was that every Japanese that came on board was armed with two swords.

This is now sufficient evidence that none but the highest officers were allowed the privilege. The ship was very fortunately permitted to return in safety, but the captain was given to understand in the plainest manner that he must never attempt to repeat the experiment.

“At the time of the excitement caused by the discovery of gold in California in 1849, Phyrrhus was one of the crew who worked his passage to San Francisco in the good ship ‘Sabina,’ carrying 83 men from Eastern Long Island—Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton and Sag Harbor—sailing around Cape Horn to the gold fields of California.

“Among his fellow sailors was the late Hon. Stephen B. French of Sag Harbor, and between them sprung up the strongest feelings of mutual respect and esteem. As Phyrrhus said, ‘When Stephen B. French was on the ship’s yard, there was a man there who knew exactly what to do and how to do it, and was afraid of nothing.’ Mr. French once told the writer that Phyrrhus Concer was one of the few men he had known who never did anything to be ashamed of, and that he never heard from his lips any word or expression that would bring a blush to the cheeks of modesty. Upon one occasion when Phyrrhus was a witness in a suit at Riverhead, and applied for a room at a hotel, the uppish clerk refusing in an unpleasant manner with the pretext of ‘all full,’ was speedily brought to his sense, when Mr. French exclaimed in a tone that commanded instant attention: ‘Put him in my room.’

“Returning from California with a modest competence the remainder of his life was employed in honest industry; as his former owner and friend expressed it, “There is no lazy blood in Phyrrhus,’ a fact that was fully demonstrated. During a religious revival he joined the Presbyterian Church and was ever after on of its most consistent members. One of his strongest characteristics was the utmost regard for the Sabbath. To him the fourth commandment meant all that it said. On Sunday his place was in the church and the pretext that Sunday was the only day in the week when there is time for recreational enjoyments, found no response from Phyrrhus. His Sabbath belonged to his Maker, to be used for spiritual improvement and no inducement of either business of pleasure could turn him from his purpose.

He passed away leaving behind him an honorable reputation, and if his life had no other moral, he was a living proof that a colored man can command respect when he deserves it.”

To Mr. Pelletreau’s tribte we may add that after many years spent on the seas, Phyrrhus and his good wife Rachel made their home in the little cottage, still standing near the head of Lake Agawam. Just opposite, on the lake, was the tiny wharf or “dock” from which he sailed his boat up and down the lake to the bathing beach for a ten-cent fare, children half price. There were few cottages along the lake at that time, but there were several boarding houses in the village and these with the few villagers who could find the time to go to the beach, kept the little ferry busy. The odd jobs he could pick up between times gave a competence sufficient to supply the simple needs of the old couple, who were so warmly regarded by all who knew them.

In the southwest corner of the old North End Burying Ground we find a stone placed there by his friend and next-door neighbor of “the Ox Pasture,” the Hon. Salem H. Wales, bearing this inscription:
            Phyrrhus Concer
            Born March 17 1814
            Died August 23 1897
            Though born a slave, he possessed those virtues without which even kinds are slaves.

Text courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

"Jesse revolted violently."

McCormick Speaking | April 1952 | Vol. V,  No. 7


*Having reached the age of retirement, Jesse Halsey, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Liturgics, will terminate his active service to the Seminary with the present academic year. His life-long friend, Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin, D.D., has prepared this statement in which faculty, students, and friends will heartily concur.

Jesse Halsey comes of the Puritan stock which settled on Long Island in 1640. His family’s property has never been bought or sold, but is held under the original grant. In that stable Presbyterian community he was reared and he bears its stamp in his steadfastness to conviction, his shrewdness, his kindly humor, and his level head. He was brought up in its First Presbyterian Church where a conservative faith was taught and firmly believed. He took his B. A. at Princeton University and then entered Princeton Seminary. It was a period when that institution was under the intellectual dominance of Dr. Benjamin Warfield, was rigidly dogmatic and controverted all more recent movements in scientific and historical thinking. Jesse revolted violently.

He left the Seminary and enlisted under the genial and devoted Dr. Grenfell in the mission on the Labrador. There he recovered mental equilibrium and inward calm. Returning he enrolled at Union Seminary in New York and found himself at home in its open-minded devotion to truth and inclusive sympathies. Ever since he has been a liberal in outlook.

After a brief pastorate in a small town he was called to the Seventh Church of Cincinnati. It was a time of theological controversy, and the Cincinnati Presbytery was ruled by a group of die-hards. Halsey and two or three kindred spirits tactfully set themselves to alter that situation and they succeeded. Jesse has always been an outgoing friend who won his people’s confidence and gained the respect and affection of those who worked at his side. He soon became a foremost citizen of Cincinnati and a leading churchman held in esteem by Christians of all communities. He read widely and kept his preaching interesting. He took great pains with public worship and acquired skill in his preparations for common prayer. His good taste and his rich personal life with God are evident in the prayers with which he has enriched the Church.

McCormick wisely elected him in full maturity to the chair from which he has counseled students in their early ministry and taught pastoral theology and the conduct of pubic worship. His ideals are evident in the renovated and restored chapel where his own hands did much of the manual labor. He is a skilled workman in carpentry and painting, as well as in printing—a Bezalel in the artistic arrangement  of the house of worship.

Everyone finds him approachable. He is genuinely interested in people—people of all sorts—and becomes their inspiring friend. His wisdom, his faith, his patience, his loyalty render him a notable adviser. He understands human relations—their frailties and their vast possibilities. He has courage in situations where few, even among Christian leaders, are willing to speak out. And always he had the “sweet reasonableness” which avoids needless clashes. His students known how much they owe him and acknowledge it with warm affection. His fellow-churchmen admire and love him for his stalwart fidelity to conviction, his willingness to shoulder heavy responsibilities, and the bigness of heart which takes on their loads and carries them with untiring perseverance. In his retirement the Seminary parts with a most useful member of its faculty, but his students and fellow-churchmen will continue to possess in him a life-long friend in God.

--Henry Sloane Coffin

from "Job’s Lane, Southampton, 1663-1927: Part E"

Lizbeth H. White | Read before a meeting of Southampton Colony Chapter, D.A.R. March 15, 1927

Continued from last week:

When the library was built in 1895, Job’s Lane as a street was still unimproved. From an old scrapbook we glean the following: “Job’s Lane beginning at Main Street; its course is due west and it ends in Windmill Lane. Its grade is downward and having only surface drainage, at every heavy rainfall two roaring torrents rush westward to find sea level, tearing ugly gullies on either side of the way. The sidewalks are above the level of the street and their edges chopped and ragged, with grass and weeds unkempt.

“This ancient thoroughfare which for more than 200 years has been a quaint by-way has suddenly become a popular and populous mart. Here are the emporiums of Howell, Gray, Bellows, Schenck, Fanning, Bishop, and Post. The merchants too have devised horseblocks place din front of their stores to facilitate the exit of ladies from their carriages for victorias and dog carts are many in the land.”

After the incorporation of the Village in 1894 with Mr. Albert J. Post as President, J.W.F. Howell, George H. Hallock, and George F. Wines as Trustees, improvements came rapidly. The Telephone Co. and Electric Light Co. were established within a year and Job’s Lane rivaled Main Street in the attention of the new officials. One of their first efforts was to widen the narrow street to the required three rods and this was gradually done as improvements were made and shops rebuilt.

The first section after the Library was built, Mr. Samuel L. Parrish, to whose interest and enterprise Southampton owes so much of her development, carried out his conception of an Art Museum and botanical gardens. Some time before this he had purchased from Dr. John Nugent the Zephaniah Rogers corner on Main Street and made it his home. Failing to secure the desired frontage for his plan on Main Street, he turned his attention to Job’s Lane and there just beyond the Library he purchased the property which was the beginning of the Art Museum.

The central part of the building was completed in 1897 and a remarkable collection of art objects were placed within. Each year the collection has been developed and the building several times enlarged until the Parrish Art Museum stands today an impressive memorial—speaking in terms most eloquent of the deep interest and abiding affection for Southampton and her people of Mr. Samuel L. Parrish and his brother, James.

We could continue indefinitely the story of Job’s Lane and its inhabitants who through the years have played their part and passed into history. The Howell boys built their homes on the Lane on either side of the store. These all have passed to others except one—Aunt Jane remains with face as rosy and smiling as when she came a bride forty odd years ago. The old Howell home is now owned and has lately been remodeled by Mr. Wallace Halsey and here Principal Sabine made his home during the first years of his residence here.

A fire recently destroyed much of what was the Howell’s store but the portion which was the feed annex has been for several summers the exclusive shop of Peck & Peck.

Mr. Albert Reeves years ago removed his barn and farmyard from the Lane, improving it with the building which in October 1902 became the home of the Southampton Press. So even the newspaper came to Job’s Lane! Somewhat later Mr. Reeves removed from the corner the house which—though several times remodeled—had marked the entrance to the Lane for two hundred years. This stands on the south end of the lot on South Main Street, leaving the corner vacant and so it has remained until the present time but, as we write, the foundations are being laid for a block of stores which are to be ready for occupancy in June. “Normandy Farmhouse” is the design of the architects, we are told, unlike anything Southampton has yet seen, and a far departure from the simplicity of the Colonial designs, which are both the charm and heritage of our ancient town. Though we are sure the building will be an improvement which was sure to come, let us long remember the vacant lot in the heart of our business section with its rows of rambler roses along the Lane.

To return again, it is pleasant to recall the stores of Hirshfield, the clothier,--(was not this our first--?), Raynor, Mabs, the tailor, Rosen, Jedlicka, Platt, Post and Kent, Martin and Lefevre, and ------

On the north side of the street, Mrs. Isham has built her home and Mr. Wich his drug store. Oh! forty years ago, Mr. W.J. Post bought the home of Frederick Fanning and built his shoe store beside it. The store is now the McGurn Market and the house is owned by Robert Day. After W.D. Van Brunt removed his plumbing business to Main Street, the building was used for a number of years as a meat market by Valentine Schenck and after him came the Gilmartin Bros., to have a part in the more progressive Southampton. The modest shop of Fordham & Elliston has become a landmark of Job’s Lane as have also its proprietors. Let us not forget Simon Rhodes, another of God’s handymen, who counted his time as nothing and charged only for materials. He could do anything from mending a skate to painting a picture of a whaleship and do it well. The shop is still there quite recreated by artist Hollenbeck. In assign we must not forget Mr. Biggs. It was indeed a tiny shop where you could buy almost anything from a marble to a house lot, even an ice cream cone. We cannot resist relating here the incident of the small boy—now one of Southampton’s leading physicians—who went to the City with his mother to do Christmas shopping. She noticed that he looked around a good deal but evinced no desire to do his errands. When she inquired the reason he said he had decided to wait until he returned home for he could “do better at Biggs’s.”

It would be interesting to speak of the man new shops, which, during the past few years, have made Job’s Lane a busy and attractive place especially in the summer season. Gown shops, Real Estate, offices and automobile showrooms have sprung up like mushrooms and so transformed the Lane that even two years have wrought a complete change. Too much cannot be said of the work of the Village Improvement Association, which under the efficient leadership of Mrs. Arthur B. Claflin has created sentiment, which has so transformed the Lane that every little shop, new or old, has been recreated. A touch of bright colored paint, a box of flowers, a row of hollyhocks to screen a wall or driveway, has worked wonders. It is no wonder that tourists who have traveled the length and breadth of our country come to us and say they have seen nothing anywhere more beautiful than our beloved Southampton.

To be sure, Job’s Lane is narrow and congested and without the diversion of traffic to Nugent Street which has taken place in very recent years the problem would be far more difficult.

If we think of it, as it has always been in reality, a bridge between two important sections of the Village, Job’s Lane becomes no longer a narrow street.

The men of ancient days who opened the street, Job Sayre and Edmund Howell, could think only in terms of the slow moving ex-team but could they have foreseen the tings which were to come to pass in this, our twentieth century, we are sure they would have given us a much wider street and have marveled unceasingly at all that the future should unfold.

Text courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"She knoweth that her hour is come"

from "Church Notes" by Reverend Jesse Halsey 

B. Andrews told me that one of the revealing moments of God was when he laid his hand on his wife’s abdomen and felt the first stirring of new life before the advent of their first baby.

I knew I was grown up and must take the places of the Fathers when Heckie [Mary A. Herrick], of all souls, the most cheerful and courageous through the years, looked to me for comfort in her last days. When I repeated Samuel Rutherford, “deep waters crossed life’s pathway,” etc., she said something that was like the accolade of knighthood after a long vigil; I knew I had been initiated.

Zella de Milhau

from Southampton Magazine | c 1913

from "Job’s Lane, Southampton, 1663-1927: Part C"

by Lizbeth Halsey White | March 24, 1927
As this is history and we must be impartial, let us know cross the square to the opposite corner on Pond Lane. Here for many years stood the little old shop where drinks were sold by one known as “Old John Ware,” which name may not have been so much indicative of his age as that much popular opinion was against the business in which he was engaged.

Though he sold whiskey and gin to their fathers he also sold candy to the children and fire-crackers too on the Fourth of July. He was patriotic for he erected a flagpole across the street on the hill in front of what is now the Legion property. A little old cannon was there also where the boys celebrated on patriotic occasions. One Fourth of July morning, we are told, John Ware poured into the cannon such a charge of powder that it below itself to pieces and so great was the concussion that windows in the shop were broken. One stormy night when the snow lay deep on the square the little old shop went up in smoke.
from Southampton Magazine c 1913

In the old North-end Cemetery, well down to the west end, there is a double stone engraved with the names of Benjamin and George Ware who gave their lives for the Union. These were twin sons of “Old John Ware.”

His successor was “John Hen” who had a real saloon on the corner facing Job’s Lane, and whose jovial dispositions helped the business to flourish. He called his corner “Hell’s Half-Acre” and the sign over the door read in acrostic “John Hen’s Place.”

In 1870 or 1872, the Howell Brothers built their grocery store and Job’s Lane began its career as a business centre. The Post Office was also here when there came a break in the Republican administration long enough for a Democratic Postmaster to be appointed. Mr. George R. Howell filled the position as Postmaster most acceptably.

In 1876, the centennial of our country’s birth, the erection of a Liberty Pole by the Village was deemed a very appropriate and desirable way in which to remember the event.

The year before (1875) there had been wrecked off Shinnecock Point a vessel loaded with salt. Her name was the Annie C. Cook and her timbers lay on the beach for she was a total wreck.

Through the enterprise of some public spirited citizens among whom were Edgar Greene, Charles Bennett, Moses Phillips, Phyrrhus Concer, and Capt. Charles Goodale, one of the masts of the Annie C. Cook was brought from the beach and set up on the common at the foot of Job’s Lane, now known as Monument Square. Mr. Sylvanus Bennett contributed the topmast and his son Charlie made the cross trees.

The pole blew over once in a storm and was reset in concrete and the vessel’s spar stands today, proclaiming old Glory to the breeze as staunch and firm as when placed there fifty years ago.

Text courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center | Historic images courtesy Southampton Library

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By the Cherry Tree Fire | Abigail Fithian Halsey

When the good old russet apple tree
Beside the garden gate
Had gone the way of all the earth
And met its kindly fate,
We chopped it down and sawed the trunk
And piled a mighty pyre
That kept the good old airtight hot
For many a winter fire,
And planted in its place a tree
That Mother, nothing daunted,
Had wished to see beside that gate,
The one she’d always wanted,
An Ox-heart cherry tree at last.
It blossomed white in May,—
But June time came, and Mother went
Along her shining way,
Year after year her cherry tree
Spread boughs above the gate,
Where little ones she never knew
Played early here and late,—
Young Charles & Freck & Little Bill
And John and Ab and Honey
And Luz and Nan and Little Sam
And Bob and Jane and Sonny.
One Day came Daddy with cement
And said, just speaking slow,
“We’ll lean a mark for years ahead
To see how much we grow.”
There underneath the cherry tree
Their hands laid imprints down,
While honey bees and holly hocks
All gaily “went to town.”
September came and back to school
The merry children went.
The hurricane blew down the tree,
But left the old cement.
Today I find the imprints still
Of Ab and Sam and Honey,
Of Charles & Freck & Little Bill
Of Nancy, Luz and Sonny.
Tonight I sit beside the fire
And watch in glowing ember
The cherry tree of other years
Bring back a “long remember.”
Tonight where are the little hands?
In other worlds, in other lands.
Oh Mother, on your shining way
Forgive our tears,
Forgive our fears.
In this new day
Oh, may we know
What you have learned so long ago,—
That love alone like little hands
Leaves imprints on the years.

October 16, 1943

Mary A. Herrick | Obituary


by Lizbeth Halsey White | circa 1932

Some years after this, a certain young man living in the South End was so attracted to this same gambrel-roofed house that he desired it for his home in case he could persuade a certain young woman living at Long Springs to share it with him. She was cool to his suit and he sailed away on a whaling voyage with his dream unrealized no news was heard of him, nor of the ship, for many a long day.

The vessel was wrecked on the shores of Brazil and twelve sailors made their way, as best they could, through the tangled forests to Rio de Janeiro. It took them a month to reach it—torn and bedraggled. They told their story to the captain of a small vessel sailing for New Bedford. He could take only a part of their number. So they drew lots, and the young man of our story was not one of the fortunate. When the ship sailed, however, it carried one more than the lot had selected and the stowaway was not discovered until the ship was far at sea.

So he received with cheerfulness the captain’s order that he should sail “before the mast” for his passage. Thus it happened that on a September afternoon of this same year two men, grimed with dust, were walking toward Southampton. Meanwhile, the good ship Warren had been given up for lost, and the crew also. A woman standing by her gate on the Sag Harbor road that day saw the men. She looked at them, then looked again. She grew pale, and ran down the street crying, “Oh, Lord a Massy! There comes them two poor fellows that was drowned in the bottom of the ocean!”

The young lady meanwhile had changed her mind and not very long after this incident, Austin Herrick and Mary Jagger went to live in the gambrel-roofed house which has furnished history and atmosphere for the neighborhood and for the village for many years before and since.

Capt. Austin Herrick made seventeen voyages to sea and after he retired he kept the store attached to the house. He is described as tall and very dignified, especially in his elder days when he carried a cane. It is related of him that on the Sunday morning after the Rev. William Neal Cleaveland, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, had preached his sermon in defense of African slavery, Capt. Austin Herrick arose and walked out of church with a very decided step. Though none followed, his action was much approved and the Rev. Cleaveland soon afterwards resigned his charge. Capt. Herrick’s son, the Rev. Samuel Edward Herrick, was a prominent minister in Boston for many years and his daughter Mary remained in the old home.

In the early days when only wood fires were known and the only means of lighting them was by the slow process of flint and steel, it was the custom if the coals burned out to seek live coals from a neighbor that the fires might be replenished. Coals were not the only things borrowed for there were no markets and grocery stores were not as convenient as today.

One woman of the olden time was heard to say, “The devil is always around, even in church on Sundays, taking your mind off the sermon by reminding you that you owe your neighbor a loaf of bread.”

Mrs. Elizabeth Howell Pierson of the South End and Mrs. Elizabeth Jessup Post of the North End were having tea together. In the course of conversation, Mrs. Pierson remarked, “Well, Elizabeth, you know the South End is the Court End of the town because the minister and the doctor and the squire all live there.” Theodore White in his composition written about 1850 when a boy of 13, upon the “South End,” said there was one advantage the North End had: “The farmers could raise a better crop of corn on their land.”

So there have been rivalries; but since the Methodist Church has given to the North Side its quota of the clergy; since doctors, village presidents, and bank presidents are counted among its leading citizens and the Town Hall has marked its boundaries, many of these have been eliminated. We suppose, however, we must concede to the South End the Summer Colony. The North End, too, has its “city voks”—we remember well the Bonner family who were at Charles Selden’s, and Connie’s birthday parties when all the children of the neighborhood were invited, and you had ever so much ice-cream!

The Gemmells and the Duers who were sometimes at the Wilmun Halsey’s. The mother of Katherine Mackay O’Brien was a little girl and her toys and dainty ruffles were the admiration of all the neighborhood children. Her dresses, like her mother’s, were pressed each time they were worn and we discovered for ourselves a secret, even though there was no maid to do the pressing. (Southampton has learned many tricks from the “City Folks”—and is still learning.) Then there was the very friendly Mrs. [Lizzie Jean Nelson wife of Cyrus*] Sears and the dainty Aline? We still can see Madame Sears sitting and rocking in our mother’s kitchen, chatting gaily while the Saturday baking was going on—but mother could bake and listen, too.

The North End has good reason to remember the Coffin family who were at Wm. Jagger’s, for they must have furnished several parlors with the priceless heirlooms they gleaned in the North End. In our grandmother’s parlor were six high-back fiddle-backed chairs of Queen Anne pattern. Mrs. Coffin succeeded in persuading her to part with three of them at the (then) fabulous sum of $5.00 each.

In general, however, the North End has been too far from the ocean for summer rentals and she has been left to follow her accustomed ways, and much of the informal neighborliness, which is one of her traditions, remains, unbroken, as in the years agone.

A prominent representative of the South End when asked by a prominent resident of the North End how his next door neighbor was, (who was chronically ill), he replied he did not know, then added somewhat apologetically, “You know in the South End we do not boil our teakettles on our neighbor’s stoves as they do in the North End.”

The North End has adown the years cherished her traditions of old-fashioned neighborliness and when families have commenced together for several generations the ties of friendship become very strong.

There was one especially, who has but lately left us [Mary Herrick] (and the gambrel-roofed house still speaks), whose life among its many graces is remembered, first of all, for its kindly interest and friendly neighborliness, which like the flowers in her garden have made the years of her generation fragrant and sweet. It is spirits such as these that have made the atmosphere of the old North End, and happy shall be those who make a like contribution to the perpetuation of her traditions.

Courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

*[Cyrus Sears was for some time in the wholesale grocery business in Boston, with his brother, under firm name of Sears & Co., but removed to New York City and engaged in the real estate business. He served from 26 Sep 1862 to 7 Jul 1863 as 2d Lieutenant 45th Regiment, Mass Volunteer Infantry, with much credit, the officers and soldiers associated with him, becoming much attached to him. He died of apoplexy at his summer residence in Southampton, L.I.]

Southampton Library

Rev. Samuel Herrick D.D. in his paper made before the 250th anniversary celebration, when in making a shaming plea for a library for Southampton he turned to his contemporaries from the platform and said “Mr. Howell and Mr. Pelletreau, How much do you and I owe to that old Historical Library which used to be kept in Capt. Harry Halsey’s [c 1835?] back kitchen? It did not do as much perhaps to fit us for college examinations perhaps but that back kitchen was the portal through which we entered into a knowledge of good literature.” This was in 1890 and years later the Rogers Memorial Library was dedicated.

Mr. Edward Huelling writes us that as a boy he distinctly remembers being sent by his father to Capt Harry Halsey’s to retrieve a library book for his father.
--Lizbeth Halsey White, author, suffrage leader, town historian

from "A Dry Skin Whale—A Rally and Capture Way Back in 1873"

As told by Samuel Berry to Lizbeth Halsey White

April twelfth, 1873, was a beautiful day. The farmers were getting their ground ready for the oat crop and some were sowing oats; others were working on the steamer Alexander LaValley—the French steamer that came ashore at Southampton the twenty-third of January that year. The wages the men got working on the wrecked steamer paid better than farming.

Edgar Green was aboard the wreck. He looked south over the ocean and thought he saw a whale spout. He kept looking and he was sure there was a right whale. . .

I steered Captain Barney Green that day. Our boat’s crew was made up as follows: Captain Green boat herder, Samuel Berry boatsteerer, James A. Hildreth, Edward J. Halsey, Emmett Sayre, and Edward H. Foster.
On that twelfth of April in 1873 the boats kept chasing the whales but could not get near her. The men were getting discouraged. Captain Green and the boat crew held a council of war and we made up our minds that we could chase that whale till doomsday and then not get her, so we started in towards the shore. We went about a mile and a half from the other boats and lay there, lighted our pipes, and had a good smoke.

I was just about turning around to ask the captian to go alongside the wreck and get some beer to put new life in us. What is that ahead of us under water? There is the whale. Pull ahead.
Some wanted to take boats out and try to get the whale but it was foolish to think of such a thing, the sea was too rough. Pyrrhus Concer, a colored man who had steered one of the boats at the time we killed the whale, took the train to Westhampton and got Capt. Frank Jessup to take him over to the beach. He found the whale and was just in time for a few minutes later a boat came from Pine Neck and if they had found the whale first probably we would have had to pay salvage. Of course our harpoon was in the whale but the could have cut them out and we had had one case of that kind and that was enough.

When Pyrrhus left for Westhampton he could have bought whale shares cheap but after he got back and told about finding the whale there was great rejoicing.

Courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

Phyrrhus Concer

On May 8, 1848, Captain Mercator Cooper, aboard the ship Manhattan, left Sag Harbor for a whaling voyage in the Northern Pacific that had unanticipated consequences. His boat steerer for the voyage was Pyrrhus Concer, a former slave belonging to the Pelletreau family who went to sea at the age of 18.

from Southampton Magazine | c 1913
The signal even of that voyage was recounted in Concer's obituary, which appeared in The Southampton Sea-Side Times of August 28, 1897:

"As the vessel neared the Island of St. Peter's, a few degrees south of Nipon, a number of shipwrecked Japanese were discovered. At first the Japanese were fearful that they would be massacred by Captain Cooper, but they were soon made to understand that they would not be harmed. Mr. Concer said that the Japanese showed a friendship for him, while they expressed great fear of the other members of the crew.

from Southampton Magazine | c 1913

from Southampton Magazine | c 1913
The shipwrecked Japanese, eleven in number, were taken aboard the whaling ship and carried to Japan. While en route they picked up another lot of shipwrecked Japanese, whom they also conveyed to their homes. The rescue of these Japanese afforded the crew of the Manhattan the privilege of obtaining a sight of Japan, which up to that time had not been viewed by foreigners."

Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center

Notes on Old Southampton

"Please make nor request any business calls on Sunday." –Daniel Wells, architect and builder
Wm R Post whale baron moved to North End and transformed [an] old salt box house into a castle with spiral stairway, full front porch, three-and-a-half stories, hipped tin roof, cupola with bell and much grandeur. Formerly the property of Capt Parker, the master of one of Mr Post’s ships. He was [an] elder in the church and as supt. for forty years (likely), notary public and local surveyor. His chains for that purpose were lying around our shop when I was a boy. My father had helped him survey Bib Fresh Pond–eighty acres as I remember. When LE Terry bought the big house (long unoccupied) there was a vendue or auction and a shop full of gadgets and everything else on the place was sold. I had asked my father to buy the bell in the cupola (the mornings of July 4th I had shinned up the lightning rod and rung it). It was struck off to John Fournier for eighty cents, who sold it to Bill Enoch, who sold it to Mr Salem H Wales, and for years it hung under the wide eaves of his house on the NW corner. It was a ships bell, bronze off one of Mr Post’s whalers and likely weighed twelve pounds or twenty.

SH Wales was one of the first ‘yorkers’ to adopt SHampton; he had a large house on the hill at the NE end of the town pond, looking toward the beach. His son-in-law was Elihu Root whose house stood next door to the south, each place had a considerable acreage surrounding.

Next to the north of Mr Wales lived Pyrhus Concer, [sic] a coal black African who had engaged in whaling and now owned a sail boat which plyed the length of the lake (a mile) taking passengers to the beach at five cents a trip. Everyone respected Pyhrus; he had been the shipmate of many in the village and had sailed with the crew to California in ’49 with the ‘old Sabina.’ He had a pew in the church (rented in those days) about a third of the way up on the north side. A Scotch nurse name[d] Jean Taylor and her neice kept house for him after his wife Rachel died. On his gravestone Mr Root had carved the following text (from Tacitus, I think): “Though born a slave he had those virtues without which all men are but slaves.”
-- Reverend Jesse Halsey c1920


by Lizbeth Halsey White

We often wonder what has become of our old houses for they were built to last for generations, but having no fire protection, except buckets and a well sweep, very many of them were reduced to ashes. The old David Jagger homestead on the North Sea road, built in 1707, was burned February 8, 1891. This farm was allotted to John Jagger I, before 1667, and some of the land is still owned by his descendents. For many years a lane opened this farm out to the North End of Main Street. The road passed just to the south of the Samuel Bishop homestead but it was closed some years ago. The Revolutionary Patriot of the Jagger family was Ebenezer Jagger and it was his son, Ebenezer, who in 1805 bought from the estate of Isaac Post the farm now owned by Hubert A. Jagger.

This frontage extended as far north as the road to Seven Ponds. In many of the records this road is known as Bishop’s Lane, but the name seems to have fallen into disuse. Let us see to it that the old names of our streets are retained.

The Albert Jagger farm across the street descended from his grandfather, Deacon Moses Culver. In 1799, Daniel Foster and his wife, Phebe, sell to Moses Culver, Blacksmith, his house and home lot, bounded north by Samuel Bishop, south and west by land of Samuel Post. Mr. Albert Jagger also was a “Fortyniner” and his letters written during this adventure have preserved to us the story of the Sabina and the ensuring experiences in the gold fields. He is also noted in the village for the daguerreotypes which he made so successfully and which have preserved for us the likenesses of his contemporaries.
Next north to the home of John Bishop were those of Daniel Sayre and his brother Francis. These were sons of Thomas and brothers of Job, for whom Job’s Lane was named. The home lots of Francis and Daniel Sayre would extend today from Mrs. Wilmun Halsey’s north and would include Roe’s Hotel. There is a curious record dated June 2, 1701: “It is ordered by the trustees that John Foster Jr. and Isaac Halsey Jr. shall go to Daniel Sayre and give him legal warning to throw out the Town’s land that he has taken in upon ye front of his home lot adjoining to ye Main St. within one month or expect to be sued by the Town for trespass.” Daniel Sayre moved to Bridgehampton and as he died only six years after this incident he must have moved soon after he had set back his fence. The property of Daniel Sayre is known to us as “Charles Selden’s” and is now the home of his son, Charles R. Halsey, and his daughter Mrs. Anthony Wilde. The place has descended to them from the Great-Grand-Sire, Paul Halsey, whose name is among the Patriots of the Revolution. Layton Avenue was laid out through this farm and the let on the north was originally a part of it. This for some time was owned by Joshua Halsey, whose name is also on the honor roll of the Revolution. The house now standing on the property was built in the 70s by the Eldredge brothers of Sag Harbor but for a number of years it was associated with the name of Daniel Y. Bellows who with his family made it their home. The house when built was an innovation, for it was close on the street with a basement entrance, and steps on either side leading up to the main floor. Its builders had visions of a city block, which even yet has not materialized.

On the land to the north occupied by Francis Sayre his descendants lived for one hundred and seventy years.

In 1822, Stephen Sayre and his wife Elizabeth sold to Moses Culver a “tract of land with dwelling house and buildings” 20 acres, price $1,000. This is the quaint old Cape Cod house still standing, given to Phebe Culver by her father. Phebe married Samuel Sanford who in 1843 was one of a committee to purchase land for the Methodist Church in Good Ground. In 1851, they sold the place to Septa Jackson who moved here from East Hampton. It is from the lips of his daughter, Mrs. Sarah Terry, that we have heard much delightful reminiscence of the neighborhood she knew as a girl. Their nearest neighbor on the south was Cabel Halsey, and on the north Peter Fournier. Across the street was only open fields from Lewis Sandford’s (whose home was where Leon Terry now lives) as far as Albert Reeves (now owned by Albert Roger). This field was known as Post’s Lot, as it was owned by Capt. George Post, and here Edward White says he drove the cows to pasture when a boy.

It was in the early 70s that Capt. Daniel Havens built the house on the hill which was his home for many years. With its terraced garden it has always been an attractive landmark. Here, Principal John G. Peck lived for several years when he first came to Southampton. The hill, still vacant, was purchased by the Catholic Society with the intent that their church would be built there. It is still owned by them and the North End children have a coasting place in winter.

John Rogers built his home at the foot of the hill and in the late 70s the Thompson Bros. built for a boarding house the building, which for some time has been owned by the family of the late Henry N. Clark.

The store at the north was added to accommodate The Sea-Side Times, Southampton’s first newspaper. This paper was established in 1881 by Walter R. Burling, who established local newspapers in several other villages and he was known as the veteran newspaper editor of Long Island. Two of his sons remain in Southampton to carry on his important contribution to the community.

The Sea-Side Times after a time became the property of Charles A. Jagger, who was its editor at the time of his death in 1914. Dr. Jagger edited also a series of periodicals known as the Southampton Magazine, which has preserved to us many incidents of early and more recent local happenings which otherwise would have been lost to the future.

The home of Peter Fournier is now a part of the south wing of Ree’s Hotel. The grandfather of Peter Fournier came to this country about 1750 and settled in Southold. He went as a Refugee to Connecticut during the Revolution and fought in the third line. His name is signed—Francis Fournier, Frenchman. So we know that he was one of the many gallant representatives of that country who gave not only their sympathies but their service also to the struggling colonists in their efforts to achieve independence.

After the war he settled in Red Creek and he was known for his vineyards. Of the large family of Peter Fournier, only two remained in Southampton. John Fournier built the house next north and nearest the Railroad Station and “Arabella” will be long remembered for her quaint eccentricities.

It was Mrs. Sarah Terry who told us of the building of Mr. Wm. R. Post’s house, which she said was called a mansion because it had a cupola.

As long ago as 1836, a piece of land of several acres on the north side of the Pelletreau property was sold to Captain James Parker, who was a whaling captain. In 1849, he went with the Sabina to California, where he died April 29, 1851. His stone is in the old North End Cemetery with that of his four wives, the last of whom we knew as “Aunt Milly Parker.”

Captain Parker’s daughter Charlotte became the wife of Wm. R. Post who bought the property of the estate of his father-in-law and built the palatial home which was the wonder of its day and still remains one of the most beautiful homes of the village.

Wm. R. Post was born in the South End—the son of Captain James Post and his wife Hannah Rogers. He was a man of excellent business ability and became the leading citizen of the community. He was Supervisor of the Town, Elder in the Presbyterian Church, and Superintendent of its Sunday School. If there was anything anybody wanted to know they went to Mr. Post. He was very tall and well proportioned and carried himself with the dignity, which befitted his position in the community.

He was very fond of young people and had a way of asking questions about things in our geography or arithmetic, which we ought to know and didn’t know. The writer remembers sitting upon the high stool before his office desk and one of the questions asked she has never forgotten. She had never to her knowledge heard anyone say, in school or out, how many towns there are in Suffolk County, but it didn’t take her long to find out. Many children thought him stern but our mother’s children knew him for his kindly smile and friendly greeting as he came to the back door each morning for the milk.

Mr. Post married for his second wife, Mary, one of the five daughters of Jonathan Fithian. Squire Fithian came to Southampton as a very young man (1818) and taught first in the District School and afterwards in the Academy. He was born in East Hampton, where his ancestors had settled early in its history. He married Abigail, daughter of Thomas Sayre, and their home was built upon the lot now occupied by Willis Corwin. The large acreage next north now owned by Edgar Hildreth was for many years known as the “Fithian Lot.” Five lively girls and a genial father and mother made their home a popular social center and the name of the “Fithian Girls” became a synonym for life and mirth and wholesome fun. They all married except one, but this is another tragedy of the California gold-lure.

Squire Fithian filled the office of Town Clerk in Southampton for twenty years. He was Justice of the Peace from 1828 until his death in 1865. He also served several terms as Supervisor of the Town. In Volume IV page 288 of the Town Records, Wm. S. Pelletreau, who at that time was Town Clerk, has included a memorial to the memory of Jonathan Fithian. In the published address of Mr. Pelletreau, delivered at the 250th anniversary of the settling of the town (1876) after eulogizing the soldiers of the Civil War, he concludes, “Let the greenest wreath and the fairest flower of today be brought as a tribute to the memory of Jonathan Fithian, the incorruptible magistrate, who living enjoyed the confidence of this citizens and dying left no nobler soul behind.”

After the death of her husband, “Aunt Abbie” went to live with her daughters “up the river” in Newburgh. As her life went out there was born across the street from her old home in the North End, a baby girl and Abigail Fithian lives on, a reminder of the neighbor and friend so greatly beloved.

Courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center