What do you know about Great River?

There are so many Great Rivers but this one is Great River in Suffolk County, NY.

Great River

Great River is a hamlet in the Town of Islip in Suffolk County in Long Island. It is situated approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of New York City on the South Shore of Long Island adjoining the Great South Bay, a body of water protected from the Atlantic Ocean by one of the outer barrier islands, the Fire Island. Great River’s name derives from Connetquot, an Algonguian word for Great River. It was home to many wealthy families. For centuries, the Algonguin people inhabited Long Island. A sub-division of the Algonquins known as the Secatogue tribe occupied all of the area in what is now the town of Islip. Their principal villages were at West Islip (Secatogue), Bay Shore (Penataquit), and Oakdale (Connetquot).

Great River hamlet was formerly known as Youngsport. In the 1840s the Youngs family lived about one and a half miles south of Montauk Highway on Great River Road. Erastus Youngs and his family began building and repairing boats on the west shore of the Connetquot River near Great South Bay. With hardly anyone else around (21 houses), the place was called Youngsport for 30 years. Youngsport had one store and a freight station on the South Side Railroad of Long Island two miles north of it. The inhabitants were principally known as bay men. Alva Vanderbilt (later Alva Belmont), the Oakdale socialite suffragette, bought the Youngs’ home and gave it to Trinity Lutheran Parish of Brooklyn, which used it as a summer camp called “Seaside Camp” for city children. Youngsport Village’s name was changed to Great River in either 1870 or 1881. William Lawrence Breeze purchased 290-acre (120 ha) “Timber Point Farm” from William Nicoll in 1883.

Timber Point Country Club by golfadvisor.com

Timber Point Country Club – Photo by GolfAdvisor.com

 

During the Depression, my husband’s uncle, Henry Morgan, became president of Timber Point Country Club. The first thing he did was declaring that “There was no point for Timber Point”. People had no money and so he closed the club. Later on, it became a public country club. Henry Morgan tried to lure some big names to play golf there but since the golf course was one of the toughest golf courses in the country, they could not get the big names to come because it would affect their handicaps.

Timber Point Golf Club by Instagram

 

One particular state park in Great River is the Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park (690 acres ) which was originally part of the former Bayard Cutting Estate of 7,500 acres with 12 outbuildings.

Bayard Cutting by Flickr

The estate of William Bayard Cutting (1850–1912) donated it as an arboretum to the State of New York by Cutting’s widow and daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, “to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting.”

bayard by yelp 5

Bayard Cutting Arboretum Manor House – Photo by Yelp.com

 

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park consists of a notable large Tudor-style English country house called “Westbrook” and its surrounding landscaped gardens overlooking a great lawn rolling down to the Connetquot River. The house was designed by architect Charles C. Haight in 1886 for William Bayard Cutting, who was an attorney, financier, real estate developer, sugar beet refiner and philanthropist. Located in the former Cutting residence are magnificent fireplaces, woodworkings, and stained glass windows.

 

Bayard by Yelp.com

The Formal Garden – Photo by Yelp.com

Bayard by yelp.com 2

Autumn Scene – Photo by Yelp.com

An annex to the mansion was built in 1890 and contained a billiards room, a small organ, a gaming room and guest rooms. The landscape design was done by Frederick Law Olmsted, popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks with his senior partner Calvert Vaux, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York City. In 1895 Cutting and his brother, Fulton, installed a golf course at Westbrook, which was the first private golf course in the United States.

 

References:

Hometown Long Island by Newsday and Along the Great South Bay by Harry W. Havemeyer.

 

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring Long Island.

Rosalinda

 

 

 

East Islip, Suffolk County – Early History

While the Dutch was settling in western Long Island North Shore in the 1600s, the English were taking claims to what is now the Suffolk County on land next to Great South Bay. East Islip, a hamlet in the Town of Islip on the South Shore of Long Island was one such place. Originally referred to as “East of Islip”, the hamlet was acquired in 1890 from the estate of William Nicoll, an English aristocrat, founder of the Town of Islip and son of New York City Mayor, Matthias Nicoll.

 

On November 29, 1683, William Nicoll was awarded the first royal patent to the east end of what is now the Town of Islip. Nicoll’s purchase comprised 51, 000 acres (20,639 ha.) from the Secatogue Indians, reaching as far as Bayport to the east, Babylon to the west and Ronkonkoma to the north. He later purchased the surrounding land to build a family residence from Sachem (Chief) Winnequaheagh of Connetquot. He named his plantation “Islip Grange”, in honor of his ancestral home of Islip in East Northamptonshire in England, from which Matthias emigrated in 1664. Nicoll paid an annual quit-rent (tax) of five bushels of good winter wheat or 25 shillings to Thomas Dongan, 2nd Earl of Limerick and Governor of the Province of New York.

 

William Nicholl also purchased five islands from Winnequaheagh on November 19, 1687, including Hollins Island (a.k.a. East Fire Island). The purchase was confirmed on a patent by Governor Dongan on June 4, 1688. Altogether William Nicoll acquired four patents for land – the final purchase was on September 20, 1697, issued by Governor Benjamin Fletcher. Nicoll’s estate eventually became the largest manor on Long Island.

 

For decades before Jan. 16, 1890, this small community was part of what was known as “East of Islip.” The citizen obviously didn’t want much change so they changed the name officially to East Islip on Jan. 16, 1890. The area was part of the original 51,000-acre purchase from the Secatogues by Islip founder William Nicoll.

 

The community, which covered a territory reaching east to Bayport and north to Lake Ronkonkoma, was long sparsely settled, with farming, fishing, boat building, lumbering and some shipping the mainstays of the economy. Residents used churches in the surrounding communities for years. Its hotel – the Pavillion, the Somerset and the Lake House – often were the site for town meetings held in April. A one-room schoolhouse was replaced by one with two rooms in 1857. Rail service, available since 1842 via Brentwood, reached East Islip in 1868.

hewlettsschool blogspot com

The original Hewlett School for privileged young women, begun in Hewlett in 1915, was moved to an estate site on Suffolk Lane, in East Islip, in 1941. (above photo).

 

East Islip became the home of Heckscher State Park, which would have been named Deer Range State Park if not for philanthropist August Hecksher’s donation of $262,000 toward the purchase of the Great South Bay estate of George C. Taylor, a wealthy eccentric who died in 1908. The estate was unoccupied for 16 years until 1924, when Charles Moses, president of the new Long Island State Park Commission, moved to take it for a state park. That triggered a five-year court battle against wealthy local opponents led by W. Kingsland Macy, a powerful Republican who later went to Congress. At a hearing during the long legal fight, Gov. Al Smith heard a millionaire express fear the park would be “overrun with rabble from the city.” Smith retorted, “Why, that’s me,” and promptly signed some key papers.

 

More to come in the next installment – The Hollins, the Knapp and the Morgan family.

 

Until next time. Let’s keep on exploring Long Island.

Rosalinda

 

Sources: Hometown Long Island, Along the Great South Bay by Harry W. Havemeyer, Wikipedia, New York Times.