BE IT EVER SO HUMBLE: LIFE IN EAST HAMPTON, THEN AND NOW

Map in my possession showing the village on its 300th anniversary, 1948

Map in my possession showing the village on its 300th anniversary, 1948

It’s a source of some amusement to me that John Howard Payne, lyricist of the immortal ‘Home Sweet Home’ (“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home…”) spent his youth in East Hampton. In fact, the small colonial residence of his grandfather, where he lived, is now a museum, sitting on Main St. amongst a line of colonial and Victorian properties. But East Hampton is hardly known for its history. Programs such as ‘Royal Pains’ and ‘Revenge’ as well as a plethora of films, including ‘Something’s Gotta Give,’ continue to perpetuate the image of ‘The Hamptons’ as the enclave of the rich and famous. That’s hardly true of the entire population! And it certainly wasn’t always true…photo 5-2

As with all of the Americas, indigenous peoples were present long before European settlers made an appearance. The locals then were a part of the Algonquin nation, generally called Montauketts. In the late 17th Century, Puritan and other colonists from Connecticut moved down to the Long Island area. A smaller island off shore was sold to one Lion Gardiner for a large black dog, some powder with shot, and a few Dutch blankets. Today the taxes alone on the island are purported to be over 2 million dollars…and the island continues to be owned by descendants of the Gardiner family. In any event, Gardiner’s Island was the first English settlement in what became New York.

Gardiner built a second home, in what is now East Hampton, in 1654.

Mulford Farm, now on The National Register of Historic Places

Mulford Farm, now on The National Register of Historic Places

Earlier, in 1640, Puritan families had moved down from Massachusetts to the Southampton area, escaping strict laws and seeking more land, and had migrated east to what they then called Maidstone in 1649. They signed a treaty with both the Montaukett and Shinnecock peoples, buying the land for 20 coats, 24 looking glasses, 24 hatchetts, 24 knives, 24 hoes and 100 “muxes.” They then secured a patent or colonial charter from Governor Richard Nicholls in 1666. The village of East Hampton subsequently developed from 34 allottments of 8 to 10 acres since life here in the colonial period was based on farming. Note that the town and the village are 2 distinct entities; today, East Hampton Town includes the villages of Wainscott, part of Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Napeague, Amagansett and Springs.

The main government during the colonial period was the town council. The town records give some idea of the concerns of the people:

“November 27 agreed that the Indians shall cut no wood nor timber nor live in…field.”

“1756 October 27 The Trustees did then chuse, nominate and appoint John Dayton by mager vot for to sue, prosecute and recover the damage the Town shall or may receive from any person that shall at aney time presume to hunt after Deere or fowl in the Town ship of Easthampton the person not being…an inhabitant of said town.” (sic)

“Novem 9th agreed with ye Indians for to tak up with Seven pounds for the damage their hogs had don in rooting up ye land…” (sic)

There is also a list of charges to the Town, such as “1733 to Ichabod Leek for warning ye trustees 1’6” –though no mention is made of what he was warning them about!

1770 House, now a restaurant

1770 House, now a restaurant

During the Revolution, the village was occupied by the British from 1776 to 1783. Various myths and stories come out of this period but my favorite is that in 1776 a “certain Stirring Dame” of East Hampton threw a hot pudding filled with berries at a foraging party of British soldiers. The site of this incident is still known as “Pudding Hill.” My own street, Whooping Hollow Rd., also has an interesting legend: originally called, “Whooping Boy’s Hollow,” it tells of an Indian boy who was scalped on the road by hostile Indians. His whooping spirit still supposedly haunts the area.

Over the years, the region developed as a farming, fishing and whaling community. Working class families moved into Springs (never use “the”!) and were called by the name of Bonnackers, referring to the fact that Springs is on Accabonac Harbor. They have their own dialect, now mostly softened by the New York infiltration, which developed from 17th C England. Sadly, the local fishing industry, which was their main occupation, has dwindled, and many now work in various fields related to tourism, while Springs also supports a large Latino community.

Original colonial house

Original colonial house

So when did the rich and famous move in? In the late 19th century Southampton proved a draw for the wealthy of the Gilded Age and is still known as the Hampton of ‘old money.’ It’s streets have signs protesting against wearing bathing suits in town, and an elegance of a by-gone era still exists in the old mansions that line the shore. East Hampton remained largely rural until the railroad came in 1880. When the Maidstone Club was built in 1891, the wealthy came along; to this day, membership is extremely difficult to obtain. East Hampton drew a more artsy crowd in the 1950s when artists such as Jackson Pollock, whose house is open to the public, and buddies like Warhol, Motherwell, Kline and so on came out to work in the peace and quiet of the countryside. And so, East Hampton developed as the Hampton of the celebrities, with the Artists and Writers’ baseball game a highlight of the summer season. I’ve gone through a door with Catherine Zeta Jones while Michael Douglas looked on, been in restaurants while Salman Rushdie, Martha Stewart, Gabriel Byrne or Renee Zellwegger dined nearby, shopped when Alec Baldwin has popped in, attended a benefit basketball game with Jay-Z, and stood outside the movie house with Steven Spielberg, with whom I’ve also exchanged a few words while canoeing out on Georgica Pond.   Charity events go on throughout the summer as do art and antique shows, theatre, church fairs and readings by well known authors. Polo is played and The Hampton Classic Horse Show is a major event. And these days, the Town Council deals with a mixed population in a growing community, while trying to maintain the rural atmosphere of a town with very limited land, caught as it is between Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Ladies Village Improvement Society (known as LVIS) keeps a stern eye on any change not consistent with the historic setting.

As quite an ordinary person I feel lucky to live here.

East Hampton Library

East Hampton Library

The library is unlike most libraries, having been built rather like a Tudor home complete with grand staircase and sitting area by a fire. The two windmills and other historic buildings are beautifully kept, as is the old cemetery near the village pond. It’s a beautiful village in which to live. Yet when I bought my home, 16 years ago, photo 2-4the village had lovely little ‘Mom and Pop’ stores and was relatively uncrowded after Labor Day. Nowadays the village is given over to stores the likes of Gucci, Tiffany, Ralph Lauren and Hermes, as if someone might have a handbag emergency—and they mostly close down for the winter months. The beaches are public but parking there is not; residents have to obtain permits with identity to show they live here, and there is a strict division between town beaches and village beaches, depending on where you live. Restaurants go in and out of fashion and in and out of business in the twinkling of an eye. The general aura is that the summer visitors matter the most.

In my forthcoming book, Dances of the Heart, East Hampton is portrayed in the way most people think of it, a glitzy summer resort, home of the wealthy. But that said, my own preference is to be here in the late autumn or early spring when the weather is good but the crowds are gone—and the only thing to contend with are those descendants of the ‘Deere and fowl’—mainly wild turkeys—that the settlers didn’t want shot.

 

(One final note to my western readers: John Howard Payne eventually lived with the Cherokee, coming to a theory that they were the lost tribe of Israel…)

 

A Question of Bounty

Back in October 2012, Paul Colt visited this blog with a post about Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.  Paul’s latest book, A Question of Bounty:  The Shadow of Doubt is published this month by Five Star.  Here he takes a second look at the death of Billy the Kid.

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Paul Colt

Paul Colt

Two years ago Andi gave me the opportunity to share one of my favorite historical controversies. Pat Garrett claims he killed Billy the Kid, July 14, 1881. John Poe, Garrett’s deputy on the scene that night—and others—question Garrett’s claim. They suggest he killed the wrong man and covered it up. Continue reading

Romancing the Vaquero

Anne croppedAnne Schroeder writes about the West in short stories, essays and two memoirs, Ordinary Aphrodite and Branches on the Conejo. Cholama Moon is her first published novel. The second novel in the series, Maria Ines, will be released later in 2014, both by Oak Tree Press. Continue reading

The Role of Newspapers in Kansas Territory

I felt an immediate affinity for my guest this month, Linda S. Johnston.Pub photo 2 copy  Not only are we the eastern stronghold of Women Writing the West, but we have both lived in Great Britain and have both moved house an inordinate amount of times. While I beat Linda in years spent in the U.K., she certainly outdoes me in moves—more than fifteen, including places as diverse as Margate,  England; Seattle, Continue reading

Springtime in the Rockies & the Oysters are Here!

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Thanks so much to everyone who joined in.  The winner of the free digital copy of LOVELAND is Kathy O!

Continue reading

They Don’t Drive Pickups in New York

photo-4I was leafing through Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly of April, 1892, in the hope of finding some material with which to greet the (hopefully) coming spring when I happened upon a romantic story entitled, ‘The Owner of LT Ranch.’ Continue reading

What is Sharing and why do you need to encourage it?

I’m pleased to have literary promotion experts Babs Hightower and Barb Drozdowich with me today to give a little insight into the world of social media. Continue reading

KIT CARSON: ‘GREAT AMERICAN HERO’ or ‘VILLAIN OF NAVAJO HISTORY’?

I met Steven Kohlhagen through the American Westerns group of Goodreads. Steve kindly complimented me on the article I had written regarding posterity and memoirs, one of which was Buffalo Bill Cody’s Story of the West.  Steve’s latest book, Where They Bury You,WhereTheyBuryYou_v1 partially concerns Kit Carson, and Carson was one of the men Cody had memorialized.  Carson’s scorched earth policy, used to remove the Navajo from their homeland, is something that, today, denigrates the man’s other accomplishments as a frontiersman.  Yet, Cody claimed that the policy had actually saved lives. I therefore approached Steve to find out what his own research had uncovered. Continue reading

A Call to Glory: The Last US Cavalry Campaign

Paul Colt

Paul Colt

I’m pleased to have Paul Colt return to this site this month. Paul, who hopefully needs no introduction by now, has a new book out.  Boots and Saddles:  A Call to Glory has had a splendid review in Publisher’s Weekly:  “Colt’s novel is hyped as a story about George Patton’s early career as a cavalry officer in the U.S. Army, but really is much more. The Patton angle is certainly interesting, but it’s Colt’s sweeping and historically vivid portrayal of the punitive expedition, American and Mexican relations, and German double-dealing that really makes this novel an exciting and stunning success.”  Let’s hear more: Continue reading

Until Our Paths Meet Again–Native American Wisdom

When I was beginning to think of what I might post for my December blog, the month of Christmas and Chanukah, I happened upon an old post on the website of fellow Wild Rose Press author, Beth Trissel. It struck me immediately—old American Indian sayings that were far more spiritual than any Christmas card I’ve ever received.  I asked Beth if she would consent to reposting this piece here on my website and, happily, she consented.

Beth lives with her husband on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, surrounded by children, grandchildren, and many animals. She is the author of The Native American Warrior series: Red Bird’s Song, Through the Fire, The Bearwalker’s Daughter, Kira, Daughter of the Moon, a short story The Lady and the Warrior. and colonial American Christmas romance novella A Warrior for Christmas. She also writes paranormal romance as well as nonfiction about gardening, herbal lore, and country life.

Beth Trissel and friends resizedBETH TRISSEL:

Thanks for inviting me to repost my Native American sayings on your lovely blog, Andrea. I’ve collected these quotes over the years and am a huge fan of American Indians, with a particular interest in Eastern woodland tribes, especially the Shawnee. My early American ancestors had interactions with this tribe. Some were killed and taken captive during the French and Indian war and other conflicts. The events recorded in old annals inspired the first novel I ever wrote, award-winning historical romance novel, Red Bird’s Song. The outstanding hero in that story, Wicomechee, is based on an actual Shawnee warrior to whom I have family ties. There’s more on the real Wicomechee at the end of the novel as a perk for readers. The events behind many of my novels are based on research and family genealogy. Now, back to the quotes. I hope your readers appreciate them:

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.”  ~ Ancient Indian Proverb

“Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.” ~Old Indian saying

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” ~ Cherokee ExpressionNewborn Native American infant and mother

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. We are a part of the earth and it is part of us.” ~Chief Seattle, Duwamish

“Lose your temper and you lose a friend; lie and you lose yourself.” ~Hopi

Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find money cannot be eaten.–Cree Prophecy

“May the warm winds of heaven blow softly upon your house. May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.  May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows, and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.” ~ Cherokee Prayer Blessing

Native American man handsomeWakan Tanka, Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart, my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my spirit. Teach me to trust these things so that I may enter my Sacred Space and love beyond my fear, and thus Walk in Balance with the passing of each glorious Sun.” ~ Lakota Prayer

“Honor the sacred. Honor the Earth, our Mother. Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we  share the Earth:-
Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers, plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.” ~Native American Elder

“O’ Great Spirit, help me always to speak the truth quietly, to listen with an open mind when others speak, and to remember the peace that may be found in silence.” ~ Cherokee Prayer

“We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees.” ~ Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation

“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” ~ Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior and orator

“…Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” ~ Mourning Dove, Salish

“The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us….” ~Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

“One does not sell the land people walk on.” ~Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux, Sept. 23, 1875SONY DSC

“Where today are the Pequot? Where are the Narragansett, the Mohican, the Pokanoket, and many other once powerful tribes of our people? They have vanished before the avarice and the oppression of the White Man, as snow before a summer sun. Will we let ourselves be destroyed in our turn without a struggle, give up our homes, our country bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead and everything that is dear and sacred to us? I know you will cry with me, ‘Never! Never!’” ~The Great Chief Tecumseh~ Shawnee (My absolute favorite chief)

“When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.”  ~Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

“From Wakan-Tanka, the Great Mystery, comes all power. It is from Wakan-Tanka that the holy man has wisdom and the power to heal and make holy charms. Man knows that all healing plants are given by Wakan-Tanka; therefore they are holy. So too is the buffalo holy, because it is the gift of Wakan-Tanka.” – Flat-Iron (Maza Blaska) Oglala Sioux Chief

“When the Earth is sick, the animals will begin to disappear, when that happens, The Warriors of the Rainbow will come to save them.” ~ Chief Seattle, Duwamish

“I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. He put in your heart certain wishes and plans, in my heart he put other and different desires. Each man is good in his sight. It is not necessary for Eagles to be Crows. We are poor…but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die…we die defending our rights.” ~ Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa–Head of the Circle–Lakota SiouxNative American, Tribal Chief, Old West, Wild West, warrior

“I will follow the white man’s trail. I will make him my friend, but I will not bend my back to his burdens. I will be cunning as a coyote. I will ask him to help me understand his ways, then I will prepare the way for my children, and their children. The Great Spirit has shown me – a day will come when they will outrun the white man in his own shoes.”~ Many Horses, Oglala Lakota

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you
and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them
you will not know them, and what you do not know
you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.” ~Chief Dan George, author, poet and actor,  Tsleil Waututh

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Beth has very kindly agreed to give away 3 digital copies of Red Bird’s Song, redbirdssong_w4782_300either pdf or kindle, to selected readers leaving a comment.  The winners are Alice Trego, Jo Ricker and Dee Thomas.  Happy reading to you all and thanks to Beth for her generosity.

Can a Scots-Irish woman terrified of warriors fall in love with her Shawnee captor?
Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.
As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other.
For more on Beth, visit her blog:  http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/  Visit Beth’s Amazon Author Page    Catch her on Facebook, Twitter @bethtrissel, Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/bctrissel/)
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Photo of Crazy Horse monument by Cristal Downing; all other photos supplied by Beth Trissel