Southampton Unveils Historical Lecture Series for 375th Anniversary

Detail of East End Long Island, 1690 Map of New England by Christopher Browne.
Detail of East End Long Island, 1690 Map of New England by Christopher Browne.

Southampton Town’s 375th Anniversary organizers have unveiled a detailed series of historical lectures, beginning this Thursday, to celebrate the town’s anniversary year.

The first lecture, “A Brief History of North Sea,” will be held at the Rogers Memorial Library Jan. 22 at 3 p.m.

In 1640 English pioneers landed near a Shinnecock fort that guarded their fishing camps on the Peconic Bay. The talk will cover the tumultuous cultural changes in Southampton during the 17th century and the development of the colonial port known as Feversham, now called North Sea, whose history has been lost. Tom Edmonds, Executive Director of the Southampton Historical Museum will give the lecture. Seating is limited, so RSVP by calling 631.283.0774 ext 523.

In February, the lecture series continues with  “The Manors of Long Island,” a new film directed by Dr. Gaynell Stone, which documents the 13 manors of Suffolk County, at one time the greatest number of manors in one spot in the new world. That lecture will also be held at the Rogers Memorial Library on Feb. 19 at 3 p.m.

In her research, Dr. Stone discovered many more manors than were previously known to scholars. This film is a sequel to “The Sugar Connection: Holland, Barbados, Shelter Island,” the story of Sylvester Manor of Shelter Island and its role in the 17th-century global trade.

Also in February, Dr. Georgette Grier-Key will discuss the influence of African Americans on our society and in our country in a lecture titled “We Come This Far By Faith,” also at the Rogers Memorial Library. The lecture will be held on Feb. 26 at 3 p.m.

Dr. Grier-Key’s focus will be not only on the struggle but on the endurance and the human spirit that inspired Americans and evoked justice.

On March 7 at 3 p.m., the 375th Anniversary organizers will host a Convocation Celebration at Southampton’s First Presbyterian Church at 2 South Main Street at 3 p.m., and at the Southampton Historical Museum, 17 Meeting House Lane at 4 p.m.

The Towns and Presbyterian Churches of both Southampton and Southold all began in 1640. To celebrate the founding of all four entities, the assembly will include speakers, music and poetry. Speakers include Suffolk County Legislators Al Krupski, representing Southold and Jay Schneiderman, representing Southampton, and the Reverends Dr. Peter Kelly from Southold and Dr. Richard Boyer from Southampton. At 4 p.m., a reception and exhibit opening for “Meet the Families Who Lived in the Rogers Mansion” will be held at the museum across the street from the church. Refreshments will be served and dmission is free.

When the Rogers Mansion at 17 Meeting House Lane reopens in March, it will host lectures throughout the remainder of the anniversary year.

On March 12 at noon, historians will discuss “Sandford & Sons: Legacy of a Bridgehampton Family.” Young Ezekiel Sandford appeared in Southampton by 1670, after leaving Hartford in search of new beginnings. The town granted him land in 1678 and a contract to build Sagg Bridge in 1686 in a place later named Bridgehampton. For nearly 350 years this history has helped shape the stories passed down by 12 generations of the family, which includes such illustrious leaders as Nathan Sanford (1777-1838) a candidate for vice president with Henry Clay.

On March 19, the Rogers Mansion will host a lecture titled “Save Your House!” at 3 p.m., focusing on promoting preservation of local architecture. A panel of experts will discuss how to save your historic home for future generations.

On March 26 at noon at Rogers Mansion, Southold Historical Society Director Geoffrey Fleming will present highlights from Southold’s 300th anniversary in 1940.

On April 23 at noon, North Fork historian Richard Wines, who has researched the little known North Fork Revolutionary War “Battle for the Eagle,” will discuss the battle. This lecture will also be at the Rogers Mansion.

On May 14 at noon, Dr. John Strong will share his knowledge of the Shinnecock Indians’ whaling practices.

Long before whaling became a thriving industry in America, the Shinnecock had developed sophisticated methods for hunting whales involving teams of men in canoes who ventured out into the coastal waters. Dr. John Strong is professor emeritus at Southampton College and has written many scholarly books on Long Island’s Native Americans.

On June 6 at 11 a.m., the 375th Anniversary organizers will host a walking tour of Southampton’s first settlement, beginning at the corner of Old Town and Old Town Crossing Roads at William K. Dunwell Park.

There will be a discussion on the young colony settled by the English pioneers after landing at Conscience Point in June of 1640. The walk will continue to Fowler’s Preserve, a little-known wildlife preserve close by that, through conservation, retains a similar look to that of Southampton in 1640 before farming and development forever changed the landscape. RSVP by calling 631.283.2494.

The lecture series at Rogers Mansion continues on June 11 at noon with a lecture by East Hampton Historical Society Executive Director Richard Barons on John Gardiner and Captain Kidd’s Treasure.

Mr. Barons will debunk some myths and add some intriguing new information to the story of Captain Kidd and his treasure.

On June 13 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., the actual anniversary of the landing of Southampton’s first settlers at Conscience Point in North Sea, the town will celebrate with a rededication of the Conscience Point monument with a clambake, picnic and an open house at the shellfish hatchery there.

The schedule for the day is as follows: 9-12 a.m., Family Marine Biology Program; 12-2:30 p.m., Colonial Food & Rotary Clambake; 1-3 p.m., Aquaculture Program; 2-3 p.m., Shellfish Hatchery Open House; 3-4 p.m., Rededication of the monument to 1640; 4-5 p.m., Shinnecock Tribe Historical Reenactment; and 5:30-8 p.m., Picnic at the North Sea Community Center.

On Sunday, June 14, the Southampton Trails Preservation Society will host a walking tour of the walk from Conscience Point to Southampton Village, beginning at Conscience Point Road at 9 a.m.

This hike simulates the 1640 walk when the Shinnecock Tribe guided English pioneers to a more habitable wintering area in “Olde Towne” in Southampton Village. The cost for the tour is $20 and includes membership in the trails preservation society.

The festivities continue thorugh the summer with an open house at the Rogers Mansion on June 20 and a tour of the  Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum at 100 Montauk Highway in Southampton on June 25 at noon.

Shinnecock Museum’s Director/Curator David Bunn Martine will lead a tour of the museum, which established in 2001 and dedicated to honoring the living history of the Shinnecock Nation.

The Halsey House, Southampton’s oldest home, will be the site of a fundraiser gala on July 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. The lawn party will include music, an open bar, plentiful farm-to-table hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets are $125 in advance and $150 at the door. For more information, call 631.283.2494 or use PayPal at southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.

If you can’t make it to the Halsey House on July 11, you can learn all about the Halsey family’s role in Southampton history on July 23, beginning with a lecture by Anne Halsey at the Rogers Mansion at 4 p.m. on the history of Southampton, fillowed by a reception at the Thomas Halsey Homestead, 249 South Main Street at 5:30 p.m.

Architectural historian Robert Hefner will give details of Southampton’s oldest home, which is open to the public. Attendance is limited, to RSVP call 631.283.2494.

The lecture series continues in August with a look “Behind the Scenes at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum” on Aug. 27 at noon.

Collections Manager Richard Doctorow, whose extensive research on the Sag Harbor whaling fleet has resulted in an extraordinarily valuable record of whaling’s role in Sag Harbor’s history, will lead a tour of the museum, which is housed in the 1845 Greek Revival mansion built by a scion of a family of wealthy whale ship owners.

On Sept. 10 at noon, the Rogers Mansion will host “Houses of the Hamptons: Postcards from the Gilded Age,” a talk by architect Gary Lawrance, co-author with Anne Surchin of “Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930,” who will discuss the ways in which postcards served the purposes of homeowners and their value to historians and collectors today.

In October, the Rogers Mansion will reprise its lecture, ” If These Walls Could Talk,” on Oct. 8 at noon.

Emma Ballou, Southampton Historical Museum curator and registrar, will share some of the fascinating discoveries she made in the course of her research into the history of the 1843 Rogers Mansion, the lives of those who have lived in it, and the role the property–allotted to the Rogers family in 1645–has played in Southampton’s history.

On Oct. 17 at 4 p.m., just in time for the dark spookiness of Halloween, Southampton Town Historian Zach Studenroth will give a talk and tour of the Old Southampton Burying Ground at the corner of Little Plains and Post Crossing, including a discussion of the recent restoration of tombstones.

A reception follows at the 1683 Halsey House with a talk by Robert Hefner, architectural historian, who will give details of Southampton’s oldest home. To RSVP, call 631.283.2494.

The festivities will culminate in a grand finale New Year’s Eve Party to benefit the Southampton Historical Museum at the Port of Missing Men in North Sea on Dec. 31 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The party will include cocktails, dinner buffet, a champagne toast and tours of the Port of Missing Men, an historic mansion with sweeping views of Peconic Bay. The mansion’s development began over 100 years ago on 2,000 acres. It has over 30 rooms and was built by one of America’s wealthiest men, whose heirs are still in residence.

Guests will enjoy live music, cocktails, dinner buffet and tours of the extensive mansion with interiors furnished in American and European antiques. Black tie and festive dress are welcome, slippers are required in order to preserve antique floor coverings.

Tickets are $225 each in advance and $250 at the door. They can be purchased at the Rogers Mansion’s Museum Shop, 17 Meeting House Lane in Southampton, by calling 631.283.2494 or using PayPal at southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.

More information on festivities throughout the year is available online here.

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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