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03/20/14 8:00am
REPORTER FILE PHOTO A South Ferry effort to reduce rates for Islanders won approval from the Suffolk County Legislature despite an effort by the Budget Review Office to nix it.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Ten years ago this week, a South Ferry effort to reduce rates for Islanders won approval from the Suffolk County Legislature, despite an effort by the Budget Review Office to nix it.

50 YEARS AGO
How much for nothing?
A front page editorial appeared in the March 21, 1964, Reporter calling for an improved system of emergency signals after two men lay injured on a barge off Crescent Beach. Firefighters and EMS personnel were delayed reaching the scene because of faulty signals. (more…)

03/12/14 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Then Dory restaurant and bar proprietor Richard Edwards (center) was one of many Island residents who aired complaints at a March 1984 Town Board meeting about what some said was overly aggressive actions by police during DWI stops. Some called for appointment of a civilian police commissioner instead of the Town Board handling that role.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Then Dory restaurant and bar proprietor Richard Edwards (center) was one of many Island residents who aired complaints at a March 1984 Town Board meeting about what some said was overly aggressive actions by police during DWI stops.

50 YEARS AGO
Clark wins first indoor track meet
Cliff Clark — yes, that Cliff Clark, now president of South Ferry — then a Harding College sophomore and cross-country whiz, won a two-mile race, reeling off a 9:53 effort. It was Mr. Clark’s first indoor track competition. (more…)

05/14/12 9:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | Photo of Julia Dyd Havens Johnson taken at Sylvester Manor about 1885.

Author Mac Griswold, who is writing a history of slavery at Sylvester Manor called “Slaves in the Attic,” addressed a group of students and scholars in a talk at New York University last week that included some details about Julia Dyd — the woman after whom Dyd’s Creek is named. It is better known in recent years as Dodd’s Creek, a corruption of the original name.

The talk was one in a series given by NYU’s “Sylvester Manor Working Group,” which is studying the thousands of documents donated to NYU’s Fales Library by Eben Ostby, who inherited the manor from its last owner, Andrew Fiske, and is trying to preserve it with his nephew, Bennett Konesni, as a working farm. The manor was founded in the 17th century. In 1680, records show there were 23 slaves there, making it the largest slaveholding property in the New York colony.

Ms. Griswold said Julia Dyd was called “the last of the slaves at Sylvester Manor” by the Eben Horsford family, mid-19th century descendants of plantation founder Nathanial Sylvester. “She had no existence” for them “outside of the manor story,” Ms. Griswold argued. Julia was, in fact, born free and owned acreage on the creek she had inherited from her stepfather Jack Comus Fanning, a free black. He was the only black to own land on Shelter Island in those days, despite the abolition of slavery in New York.

Julia, the housekeeper at the manor house — relying on the advice of the Horsford family, Ms. Griswold believes — sold off her land from 1830 to 1860 until she was “landless and homeless,” Ms. Griswold said. She died in 1907 in Sag Harbor.

Cornelia Horsford wrote in a letter at the time that she would “put up a stone for Julia,” Ms. Griswold said, but none has ever been found in Sag Harbor or at the black cemetery at Sylvester Manor.

Also speaking at the event, which was held on Thursday, May 3, was Ben Davidson, an NYU American history student, who reviewed census records and documents from the manor archives to study the progress of manumission after the gradual abolition of slavery in New York State, beginning in the late 18th century and continuing into the early 19th century.  He found that only two slaves remained on Shelter Island by December 1821.

After emancipation, he argued, many freed slaves “remained tied to the land and in debt” to their former owners.

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02/29/12 1:00pm

PETER BOODY PHOTO Richard Randall checks one of the filters in his water delivery system.

10 Years Ago

Impact of regional drought on Island remains uncertain

Shelter Island residents were awaiting another Suffolk County Department of Health Services check to determine whether drought conditions in the Northeast would result in having to impose water restrictions for the summer. Not surprisingly because of the influx of summer residents and visitors, summers are the time of highest water demand, but also, groundwater is usually at the lowest point of the year.

The county checks test wells quarterly to assess conditions that lead to decisions about what restrictions to impose. By late March 2002, it was anticipated that the town would not issue new permits for underground irrigation systems or allow operations of existing irrigation systems. The town would limit watering with garden houses to 30 minutes a day, except for new lawns that could be watered for an additional 15 minutes a day. Golf courses and public water suppliers would be required to monitor wells for salt water intrusion after each pumping cycle with results to be submitted to the Water Advisory Committee.

Postscript: The town imposed a moratorium on new automatic irrigation systems in 2002 and a ban on all automatic irrigation with well water takes effect September 1, 2013.

25 Years Ago

Sewer plant study to continue

The Zoning Board of Appeals was studying a proposal for a new sewage treatment plant for Shelter Island Heights. Installation was needed to comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation requirements. Despite some concerns from residents about noise, odors and other environmental concerns, the ZBA gave the go-ahead for construction at the proposed location adjacent to the North Ferry parking lot.

Merlon Wiggin of Peconic Associates made the case for the application, assuring that noise would be no louder than soft music or subdued conversation and said odors would be contained in the enclosed facility.

Postscript: The Heights Property Owners Corporation is currently talking with Greenport about tapping into the village’s recently upgraded sewer system. But Greenport officials and area environmentalists have argued that an underwater pipe carrying raw sewage could endanger water quality should there be a leak.

40 Years Ago

North Fork Bank to build here 

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at Ketcham’s Corner (Menantic and West Neck Roads) for a North Fork Bank branch to replace a branch on Grand Avenue opened in 1968 that had outgrown its existing facility. The new facility would provide parking, drive-through banking and more office space.

Postscript: North Fork Bank has been acquired by Capital One and just a week ago Bridgehampton National Bank announced its plans to open a Shelter Island branch.

50 Years Ago

Griffing attacks press for biased reporting

Town supervisor Evans Griffing charged that two unnamed widely circulated papers led readers astray, reporting only one side of a debate over whether or not to curtail local justice courts in favor of Suffolk County district courts. Editorially, the Reporter opined that while it hurt to hear charges of unfair coverage aimed at the media, in this case, Mr. Griffing was right.

“We deplore those few publishers who willfully permit twisting and distortion of facts, whether through reporting only one side, through omission or any of the other devious means employed to accomplish a goal unfairly,” the editorial said.

Postscript: Today, the local justice court system remains in place on the East End.