Tag Archive | "Shelter Island"

Third New York Regiment Brings the American Revolution Back to Shelter Island

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The Third New York Regiment camped at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island last Saturday, May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The Third New York Regiment camped at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island last Saturday, May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

At two in the morning last Saturday, some people were probably still reveling across the East End, but most of them were not listening to fife and drum music.

But that was the case for members of the Third New York Regiment, a group of Long Island Revolutionary War reenactors who made camp on Friday night at  Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, and awoke on Saturday morning to host visitors from the 21st century Saturday.

The Third New York recreates the life of the regiment as it existed in November 1775 during the campaign to seize take Canada from British control in the early years of the American Revolution. Its members—men, women and children—recreate the daily routine of Revolutionary War soldiers, their wives, families and camp followers.


A reenactor dressed in the garb of a lady shows off her dress to nearby soldiers. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

“We all camped here last night, so I got to stay in the tent here with my daughter,” said Sarah Shepherd, a Shelter Island resident who participates in the group with her daughter, Mary. “It was a lot of fun. We slept on a bale of hay, played the fife and drums till two in the morning and got up and just enjoyed beautiful weather,” she said.

All clothing and equipment worn and used by the regiment are reproductions, not costumes. That means all the materials used are the same that were used during the early years of the revolution.

Ms. Shepherd was dressed in an authentic 18th century dress designed by her friend Collette Gilbert using a signature print from the Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization of female descendants of families that lived in the United States at the time of the revolution, of which she is a member.

All men aged 16 to 60 were required to join their local militia, drilling once or twice a month on “militia days.” Several militiamen were on hand at the camp, chatting by a pig roasting on a spit and showing their guns to children.

Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Commander of the Regiment Andrew McClain described the dress of the militiamen, who represented the soldiers fighting the British and their allied Native American tribes on the Hudson Valley frontier.

“General Washington really liked [this uniform] because the garment gave the impression all Americans were sharpshooters,” Commander McClain said of the green jackets worn by the militia.

The Iroquois Native American tribe in upstate New York was allied to the British during the war, inevitably mixing traditional European garb with their own clothing. British and American men on the frontier would wear Native American leggings, moccasins and even carry scalping knives and tomahawks, said the commander.

“Europeans would scalp Indians too,” he said, adding it was “not a very pretty part of history.”

Jonathan, a drummer boy who recently joined the regiment, was wearing a red coat, but is “American as apple pie,” his commander said. Musicians were dressed differently than other soldiers because when needed, they had to be found quickly.

Despite being ripe for the picking in the midst of the fighting, Jonathan would not have been considered a target.

Sarah Shepherd with an 18th century skep, or beehive. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Sarah Shepherd with an 18th century skep, or beehive. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

“You’ve got to put your mind in the 18th century mind,” Commander McClain said, adding army musicians weren’t killed because it was not considered honorable.

Although being in war without a weapon doesn’t sound like an esteemed position, drummers and fifers were valued for their unique skills. It was easy to teach a layman to shoot, not so much to teach him to play “Yankee Doodle” on the fife while musket balls grazed his ears.

“A fifer or drummer got paid more than the private soldier—they got paid like a corporal,” said Commander McClain, adding there are reports of British drummers and fifers in their 30’s who had been playing for the army since they were 13.

Sunning and fanning themselves on bales of hay near the musicians were Beverlea Walz, Sarah Shepherd, her daughter Mary and Mary’s friend Sarah Mutter, dressed as ladies in thick frocks decorated with flowers in pink and yellow hues.

Ms. Shepherd’s family has lived on Shelter Island for 200 years. She was born, with help from a midwife and doula, on the island and gave birth to Mary on the island as well.

Surrounded by mortars and pestles, plants such as cinnamon, lavender and sage, and 18th century beekeeping skeps, Ms. Shepherd, holding her Bergere hat as the wind threatened to untie the ribbon round her neck, said of her family, “We’re very rooted here.”

Third New York Regiment Commander Andrew McClain with his fife player and drummer. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Third New York Regiment Commander Andrew McClain with his fife player and drummer. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.


The camp of the Third New York Regiment at Sylvester Manor May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

The camp of the Third New York Regiment at Sylvester Manor May 3. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.


Young reenactors Mary Shepherd and Sarah Mutter play in their war camp at Sylvester Manor. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Young reenactors Mary Shepherd and Sarah Mutter play in their war camp at Sylvester Manor. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.


East End Heroin Task Force Formed to Battle Growing Threat

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By Kathryn G. Menu

State government leaders announced this week an initiative aimed at combating heroin abuse on the East End, as law enforcement, public health and court officials acknowledged the growing threat the drug—and other opioids—in Suffolk County.

On Monday, New York State Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo announced the formation of the Heroin Addiction Legislative Task Force, or HALT.

The legislators said the group was created to identify causes of and solutions to fight the growing heroin epidemic. The task force will specifically look at the five East End towns, according to Assemblyman Thiele.

The creation of the task force was spearheaded by Senator LaValle, after Senate leaders formed a statewide task force in March.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Thiele said state officials representing the East End recognized approaches to battling the epidemic would need to be tailored for the region—a region with many law enforcement jurisdictions, local court systems, and its own set of obstacles when it comes to mental health care and treatment.

“The increase in heroin use has reached alarming levels and we need to take action to address this critical situation,” said Senator LaValle. “A broad based East End approach will help us to identify areas where we can be productive in combating the scourge of heroin and other opiates. The initial meeting will be the first in a series that will assist us in determining the types of resources that are needed on the East End.”

“The issue of heroin abuse certainly became more high-profile after [the actor] Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death, but if you talk to people in drug treatment programs and law enforcement, this has been a growing problem in the state for several years now,” said Assemblyman Thiele in an interview Wednesday.

“We don’t have a county police department or district courts, we have town and village police departments and town and village courts, so from a law enforcement perspective, dealing with this issue on the East End is different than the rest of Long Island,” he continued.

According to Assemblyman Thiele, the first meeting will be held on May 16 at 10 a.m. at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in Riverhead. That session, he said, will focus on bringing together law enforcement officials, counselors, representatives from treatment groups, as well as town and village justices and government leaders to talk about the epidemic before the task force begins to look at targeted solutions that can aid the East End.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said he expects the village will be represented at the forum.

“I think this is a great initiative because this is a problem and it seems to be growing at a crazy pace and is affecting a lot of people,” he said. “Either myself of one of the members of the village board will attend that first session.”

“This first meeting we largely expect it to be us as legislators doing a lot of listening,” said Assemblyman Thiele. “Before we can decide what government can do from a policy perspective we have to talk to the people on the ground dealing with this issue.”

The creation of the task force comes on the heels of two major heroin arrests by the East End Drug Task Force, a multi-jurisdictional agency led by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office that includes officers from town and village police departments across the North and South forks.

In February, nine men—six from the Riverhead area—were charged with multiple felonies for their alleged involvement in the sale of “Hollywood” heroin, a particularly potent brand of the drug that was sold to residents on the East End, including Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. During the course of a years long investigation into that ring, police said they confiscated 2,000 bags of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash.

In April, Suffolk County Police announced the arrest of 14 individuals in connection with an alleged sales ring that ferried heroin from Brooklyn throughout Suffolk County. According to Mr. Spota, that ring had flooded Suffolk County with 360,000 bags of heroin with a street value of $3.6 million.

The arrests come at a time when law enforcement and mental health care professionals are reporting an increase in the amount of heroin and opioid abuse in Suffolk County.

According to a report issued in 2012 by a special grand jury empanelled by Mr. Spota, heroin use between 1996 and 2011 accounted for a 425-percent increase in the number of participants in the Suffolk County Drug Court Program. Opioid pill abuse, according to the report, accounted for a 1,136-percent increase in the number of drug court participants. According to data issued by the county medical examiner’s chief toxicologist Dr. Michael Lehrer, there were 28 heroin related deaths in Suffolk County in 2010, which increased to 64 in 2011 and to 83 in 2012 with 82 deaths officially reported for 2013, although that figure is expected to rise as investigations into other deaths are completed.





Shelter Island Friends of Music Presents Violin Virtuoso

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Violinist Eric Silberger

The Shelter Island Friends of Music hosts an evening for lovers of classical music, “Violin Virtuoso” Saturday, April 26 at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church. Eric Silberger, the XIV International Tchaikovsky Competition Prizewinner in 2011, will perform.

Hailed by critics as having an “impeccable level of playing,” “astonishing virtuosity,” and a “spine-tingling” and “electrifying” sound, Mr. Silberger will be performing music by Brahms, Dvorák, Fauré, Paganini, & Tchaikovsky.

Pianist Kwan Yi will accompany Mr. Silberger.

“Violin Virtuoso” will be held Saturday, April 26 at 8 p.m. at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, 32 North Ferry Road (Route 114) on Shelter Island. There will be a reception following the concert. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. For more information, call 749-2251 or email sifm@optonline.net.

SoMAS “State of the Bays” Report to be Delivered This Friday in Southampton

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Gober, Christopher

Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies will present “State of the Bays, 2014: Nitrogen Loading, Estuarine Flushing and the Fate of Long Island’s Coastal Waters” in the Duke Lecture Hall of Chancellors Hall on the Stony Brook-Southampton campus this Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.

The talk will introduce a new organization, The Long Island Coastal Conservation and Research Alliance, whose mission will be to engage in coastal research and monitoring that can be used to protect and restore Long Island coastal ecosystems. The seminar will also highlight recent observations and research important for the conservation of these ecosystems.

Over the course of the last year, awareness has grown about the negative effects of excessive nitrogen loading on Long Island’s coastal waters. This attention was partly driven by the continuous outbreaks of red tides, brown tides, rust tides, blue green algal blooms, Ulva blooms, and dead zones in Long Island’s estuaries during May through October of 2013, notes Dr. Gobler in his talk, an excerpt of which was issued via a press release this week. At the same time, research findings have emerged connecting excessive nitrogen loading and the intensity and toxicity of marine and freshwater algal blooms. New evidence has also emerged, according to the release, that estuaries in the region that have successfully reduced nitrogen loading are now experiencing a resurgence in water quality and fish habitats. The talk will also focus on the benefits of enhanced flushing, which can protect bays against the threats brought about by excessive nitrogen.

The event is free and open to the public.

Griswold Explores Good, Evil & Slavery on Long Island

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Mac Griswold

By Tessa Raebeck

Reminding readers of the existence of Northern slavery and exploring the close connection between good and evil, Mac Griswold will read from her cultural history, “The Manor, Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island,” at Rogers Memorial Library Monday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m.

Ms. Griswold’s book reflects on the 350-year history of Sylvester Manor, built in 1651 by the Sylvesters, one of the wealthiest families of the 17th century. The book tells the history of the slaves, Native Americans and Quaker landowners who worked and lived together on the Shelter Island plantation, using the backdrop of the estate to examine racial and religious relations across three centuries.

Ms. Griswold will present a lecture and sign copies of her book at the event, which will be held at the Rogers Memorial Library, 91 Coopers Farm Road in Southampton. To register, visit myrml.org or call 283-0774 ext. 523.

Author Jeff Baron at the Shelter Island Public Library

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By Tessa Raebeck

The cover of "Sean Rosen is Not for Sale" by Jeff Baron, available on Amazon.

The cover of “Sean Rosen is Not for Sale” by Jeff Baron, available on Amazon.

Shelter Island author Jeff Baron returns to the Shelter Island Public Library Friday to read from his new comic novel, “Sean Rosen is Not for Sale.”

The sequel comes a year after Mr. Baron premiered his first novel, “I Represent Sean Rosen,” the story of a clever kid who becomes a movie mogul, at the library. As part of “Friday Night Dialogues @ the Library,” Mr. Baron will read passages and screen some of main character Sean Rosen’s videos featuring Shelter Island residents.

“Readers will relish his bravado, wit and creativity as Sean emeges from his encounters wiser yet still determined to follow his dreams,” writes Kirkus Review.

Mr. Baron’s plays have had over 400 productions in 23 languages in 40 countries. He has also written for several primetime television series, has written and produced some Nickelodeon projects, and two award-winning short films.

Mr. Baron will read from “Sean Rose is Not for Sale” Friday, March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Shelter Island Library, 37 North Ferry Road on Shelter Island. For more information, call 749-0042 or visit shelterislandpubliclibrary.org.

Family’s Past in Slave Trade To Be Explored in Shelter Island Film Screening

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Dain, Jim and James Perry at James DeWolf’s family cemetery in Bristol, Rhode Island.   Allie Humenuk photo

Dain, Jim and James Perry at James DeWolf’s family cemetery in Bristol, Rhode Island. Allie Humenuk photo


By Stephen J. Kotz

Katrina Browne was working on a master’s degree in theology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkley in 1999 when she stumbled upon a dark chapter in her own family’s history.

A descendent of the DeWolf family who were pillars of society in Bristol, Rhode Island, in the late 1700s and early 1800s, Ms. Browne learned by reading a booklet compiled for family members by grandmother that her wealthy ancestors, who she knew as seafaring merchants with a bit of a dodgy past,  had actually made their fortune off the slave trade and, in fact, were among the biggest slave traders in the country.

That uncomfortable knowledge set her off on an eight-year journey that resulted in the making of the film, “Tracing the Trade: A Story from the Deep North,” which followed a trip Ms. Browne and nine other family members made to West Africa and Cuba to learn more about the slave trade and come to terms with their family history.

“No one realized they brought over 10,000 Africans to the country in chains,” she says in the film. “A half million of their descendants could be alive today.”

On Friday, in a joint program commemorating Black History Month, Sylvester Manor and the Shelter Island Public Library will sponsor a screening of the film at the library at 7 p.m. Following the 51-minute documentary, Ms. Browne, her brother Whitney Browne, who helped with pre-production work, and Georgette Grier-Key, the director of the Eastville Community Historic Society will lead what is being called a “facilitated dialogue” in which audience members will be encouraged to discuss slavery and its far reaching and continuing impact on race relations in this country.

On Saturday, at 10 a.m., there will be a community remembrance in the “Burying Ground of the Colored People of Sylvester Manor,”  where slaves, indentured servants, and other African-Americans were buried. Taking part in the event at the graveyard will be Sandra Arnold, the founding director of the Burial Data Base Project of Enslaved African-Americans, which is attempting to locate and identify those buried in slave cemeteries across the country.

Ms. Browne’s film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008 and later that year reached a national audience of 1.5 million viewers when it was broadcast on PBS’s Point of View series. From there, Ms. Browne said, it took on a life of its own, with frequent requests for screenings from museums, historical societies, and libraries.

It even led family members to found the Tracing Center, a nonprofit organization that Ms. Browne served as executive director of until earlier this year when she turned those duties over to one of her cousins, James Perry, who also took part in the family trip to Africa and Cuba.

According to its website, the Tracing Center sponsors programs to “foster awareness, dialogue, and engagement by inviting people to explore race today through the lens of forgotten history.

Ms. Browne’s film recounts how Bristol, which is well known for its long-running Fourth of July parade, seemed blissfully unaware of the DeWolfs’ role, over three generations, in the slave trade. Linden Place, the three-story family mansion, which the viewer learns was paid for from a single year’s earnings, is now a museum and catering hall. On a visit to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in the town, Ms. Browne, who was raised in Philadelphia, says in the movie, “It seems the DeWolfs were the founding fathers. They were everywhere. They even paid for the stained glass.”

The DeWolfs were no different than many other Northern businessmen who were drawn to the lucrative slave trade, although they clearly went all in, selling shares in their ships to townspeople, founding their own insurance company to cover the risk, and even starting their own bank.

Taking part in the “Triangle Trade,” the DeWolfs shipped rum to West Africa, where it was traded  for slaves. The slaves, in turn, were shipped to Cuba, where they were sold at auction or put to work on one of the family’s five plantations, where sugar cane was grown to make molasses, which, in turn, was used make more rum.

One of the DeWolfs in a journal entry dated September 11, 1806, reported selling 121 slaves at auction in Havana for a total of $36,300, more than $550,000 in today’s dollars.

“She pulled off the Band-Aid and exposed this history,” said Whitney Browne, who will also take part in the Friday’s post-film discussion. “Over three generations, it was the family business. Learning about it is not something that is always easy to talk about.”

“I’m hoping it creates a dialogue that goes beyond the film,” said Ms. Grier-Key of the Eastville Community Historical Society. “This conversation needs to continue. Let’s peel back the layers and see what’s there. A lot of the problems today have very deep roots.”

Sylvester Manor and the Shelter Island Public Library will host a screening of “Tracing the Trade: A Story from the Deep North” at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 21 at the library on North Ferry Road on Shelter Island, followed by a group discussion with the filmmakers, and Georgette Grier-Key of the Eastville Community Historic Society. On Saturday, February 22, a community remembrance in the “Burying Ground of the Colored People of Sylvester Manor” will take place at 10 a.m. For more information, call 749-0042.


Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund Reaches $11.03 Million for 2013

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Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. reported this week revenues for the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund (CPF) produced $11.03 million in October 2013. This compares with $6.02 million a year ago. The 10-month total for 2013 of $75.73 million is 50.9 percent higher than a year ago for the same period when $50.19 million was collected, according to Thiele.

Since its inception in 1999, the Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund has generated $865.03 million. The CPF expires in 2030. The CPF has generated $92.38 million over the last 12 months. Based on recent activity, CPF revenues are projected to be in the $90 million range for 2013. Revenues for 2012 totaled $66.84 million.

Southampton Town Council: It’s Bender & Glinka, Unofficially

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Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

Southampton Town Council candidates Brad Bender, Frank Zappone, Stan Glinka and Jeff Mansfield

By Kathryn G. Menu

While the results have yet to be made official by the Suffolk County Board of Elections (BOE), according to Southampton Town Democratic Party chairman Gordon Herr, it appears that Independence Party member Brad Bender and Republican Stan Glinka have held on to their Election Day leads and will join the Southampton Town Board in January.

On Wednesday morning, an official with Suffolk County BOE chairman Anita Katz’s office declined comment on the race stating official results would not be available until later this week.

However, Herr said the counting of 879 absentee ballots was completed last Wednesday and that Bender and Glinka have secured seats on the town board.

Bender and Glinka bested Bridgehampton resident Jeff Mansfield and Southampton Town Deputy Supervisor Frank Zappone in the town board race.

“I am so very thankful to my friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, everyone who was so generous and encouraging during the campaign,” said Glinka, the town board race’s top vote getter, in a statement on Wednesday. “But more importantly I am thankful to the voters of this great town, my hometown of Southampton, for endorsing me with their vote. I look forward to continuing to listen to all the people and to working on finding balanced solutions to many crucial issues at hand.”

“As I committed to be your full time representative, I am currently winding down my workload and finishing off projects that are in progress,” said Bender, who is in the construction field. “I am excited about this next chapter in my life as a public servant. Working for you the taxpayers to solve problems and protect our community.”

“Grading” Sag Harbor Teachers: Administrators Discuss Goals Updates at Board of Education Meeting

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External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

External Auditor Alexandria Battaglia, CPA, addresses the Sag Harbor Board of Education Monday night.

By Tessa Raebeck

“This has been a week of very special teams,” said Dr. Bonuso, interim superintendent for the Sag Harbor School District, congratulating the champion Lady Whalers field hockey team and the community team that helped pass the district’s two bond propositions.

Passing the bond was a key component of the district goals for the 2013/2014 school year, which Dr. Bonuso presented to a small group of people gathered Monday for the Board of Education (BOE) meeting.

Dr. Bonuso discussed the headway made on the first three of the district’s nine goals. He said progress was made on the first goal, improving academic achievement, through the resubmission and implementation of Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), an evaluation system required by the state since 2012. It rates teachers as highly effective, effective, developing or ineffective, based on a 100-point scale. Half of the review relies on administrative observations, 10 percent on an “evidence binder” of components like electronic posting and 40 percent on test scores. For teachers whose students are not yet being tested regularly, that portion is determined by a project the district assigns in order to produce a score. Pierson Middle/High School Principal Jeff Nichols said the majority of Sag Harbor teachers were graded “effective.”

“We need to take a second look at this emphasis on testing, the over testing,” said Dr. Bonuso. “We need to take a second look at whether or not we have the materials and modules – let alone the mindset – to approach this in a manner where people are feeling good about what’s happening instead of anxious and discouraged.”

Susan Hewett, a parent, asked the board how teachers are rewarded or reprimanded based on their APPR performance. Dr. Bonuso replied teachers are not rewarded, but if they are determined to be “developing” or worse for two years, “we can literally remove them…even if they are tenured.”

If a teacher is rated “ineffective,” the superintendent said, “We don’t have to go through all the gyrations and all the bureaucracy that in the past we had to in order to remove you.”

The administrators reported on the progress of the newly formed shared decision-making teams, a component of the second goal: to build partnerships with the community. Two teams have met, one for the elementary school and one for Pierson. The district-wide team is looking for two replacements for members who left the committee prior to the first meeting.

Board member Mary Anne Miller questioned the inclusion of the middle and high schools in the same team, which BOE Vice President Chris Tice agreed should be revisited.

The third goal is to ensure sound fiscal operation and facilities management. The district added experienced security personnel and hours at both school, enhanced systems at school entryways and held its first lockdown drill of the year last week. External auditor Alexandria Battaglia said Monday the district is in good financial health, with an unassigned fund balance of about $1.4 million.

In other school news, BOE member David Diskin again asked the board to discuss starting to video record their meetings. Board President Theresa Samot said it was a good idea to look at further.

The next BOE meeting will be held December 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.