|7. Changes on the Wind
For ten years following Squire Chases’s death, the family apparently did nothing with his property. Then in 1868, the family started to consolidate holdings north of City Road and to dispose of properties south of it. At the same time, in 1869, the Town voted to build a bridge across Chase Creek connecting the now laid out State Road on the spit of land now known as Bridge Street to the Chase property. They appropriated $100 provided they could obtain a right-of-way “to the old dock at Prospect.” Duvall reports that there was a “picturesque foot bridge across the Creek at that time.” A better bridge was needed: they knew the developers were coming.
It is not difficult to speculate that in 1868 and 1869, the Chase family and others on Shelter Island knew that change was on the wind.
Agents of powerful men in Brooklyn, associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church, who were well acquainted with the camp meeting movement, were looking about for a place to plant a summer colony similar to Wesleyan Grove, established in the 1840’s, on Martha’s Vineyard. Shelter Island was close to Brooklyn, only a few hours by train which had arrived in Greenport in 1844, and also an island, with cooling breezes and bucolic views in which to contemplate their faith. Chase’s farm, no longer being farmed by members of the family, was waiting for a buyer.
There is no doubt in our minds that Eben Horsford, then the owner of Sylvester Manor, an inventor and professor at Harvard College, alerted his friends in Brooklyn of the extraordinary opportunities at Shelter Island. He was also looking to sell some of his own land to a syndicate in Boston.
Chase Family Divides Land