1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/East Hampton

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EAST HAMPTON, a township of Suffolk county, New York, in the extreme S.E. part of Long Island, occupying the peninsula of Montauk, and bounded on the S. and E. by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the N. by Block Island Sound, Gardiner’s Bay and Peconic Bay. Pop. (1900) 3746; (1905) 4303; (1910) 4722. The township, 25 m. long and 8 m. at its greatest width from north to south, has an irregular north coast-line and a very regular south coast-line. The surface is rougher to the west where there are several large lakes, notably Great Pond, 2 m. long. The scenery is picturesque and the township is much frequented by artists. Montauk Lighthouse, on Turtle Hill, was first built in 1795. At Montauk, after the Spanish-American War, was Camp Wikoff, a large U.S. military camp. The township is served by the southern division of the Long Island railway, the terminus of which is Montauk. Other villages of the township, all summer resorts, are: Promised Land, Amagansett, East Hampton and Sag Harbor; the last named, only partly in the township, was incorporated in 1803 and had a population of 1969 in 1900, and 3084 in 1910. Silverware and watch cases are manufactured here. From Sag Harbor, which is a port of entry, a daily steamer runs to New York city. The village received many gifts in 1906-1908 from Mrs Russell Sage. Most of the present township was bought from the Indians (Montauks, Corchaugs and Shinnecocks) in 1648 for about £30, through the governors of Connecticut and New Haven, by nine Massachusetts freemen, mostly inhabitants of Lynn, Massachusetts. With twenty other families they settled here in 1649, calling the place Maidstone, from the old home of some of the settlers in Kent; but as early as 1650 the name East Hampton was used in reference to the earlier settlement of South Hampton. Until 1664, when all Long Island passed to the duke of York, the government was by town meeting, autonomous and independent except for occasional appeals to Connecticut. In 1683 Gardiner’s Island, settled by Lion Gardiner in 1639 and so one of the first English settlements in what is now New York state, was made a part of Long Island and of East Hampton township. The English settlements in East Hampton were repeatedly threatened by pirates and privateers, and there are many stories of treasure buried by Captain Kidd on Gardiner’s Island and on Montauk Point. The Clinton Academy, opened in East Hampton village in 1785, was long a famous school. Of the church built here in 1653 (first Congregational and after 1747 Presbyterian in government), Lyman Beecher was pastor in 1799-1810; and in East Hampton were born his elder children. Whale fishing was begun in East Hampton in 1675, when four Indians were engaged by whites in off-shore whaling; but Sag Harbor, which was first settled in 1730 and was held by the British after the battle of Long Island as a strategic naval and shipping point, became the centre of the whaling business. The first successful whaling voyage was made from Sag Harbor in 1785, and although the Embargo ruined the fishing for a time, it revived during 1830-1850. Cod and menhaden fishing, the latter for the manufacture of fish-oil and guano, were important for a time, but in the second half of the 19th century Sag Harbor lost its commercial importance.