The Accounting of the Reverend Thomas Harries
as General Guardian of David Harries Young of Shelter Island
by Patricia and Edward Shillingburg © 2003
This is a summary of an 1886-1887 proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court of Suffolk County for an accounting by the material grandfather, Reverend Thomas Harries, of the property of his ward and grandson, David Harries Young.1 Background information about the time and the participants has been drawn from newspapers and records of the period and The History of Suffolk County 1683-1882 (W.W. Munsell & Co., 1882, (reprinted 1983). It is also the story of conflicting family obligations.
On Christmas Day 1864, the Reverend Thomas Harries preached at the Presbyterian Church on Shelter Island and that day was called to the pulpit there. He had previously been preacher in Aquebogue, Miller’s Place, and Northville, New York. He was married to Joanna Van Zandt Duryea in about 1839, and they had four children: Thomas, Charles, Mary and Elizabeth.
Mary was married to Daniel Hudson Young on March 1, 1864. They lived with Daniel’s parents, Thomas and Caroline, on the family farm in Franklinville.2 Mary and Daniel had a son, born on April 5, 1865; they names him David Harries Young. Mary died the following October. Care of the infant was taken over by his paternal grandmother, Caroline, who herself became deathly ill, and by the end of 1865 the infant was in the care of his maternal grandmother, Joanna Harries, on Shelter Island.
David’s father, still living in Franklinville, married Sophia M. Benjamin on March 9, 1871. A son, Daniel A. Young, was born on February 10, 1872. Four months later, the father was dead--leaving two boys, David, now seven years old and living with his grandparents on Shelter Island, and the infant Daniel in the care of his mother.3 The Reverend Harries was appointed David’s guardian by the Surrogate’s Court on October 14, 1872.
As Daniel’s estate was settled, money which belonged to David came into the hands of the Reverend -- $1,071.95 from the Equitable Life Insurance Company,4 and $1,060 from the estate, consisting of a $174.04 note from Joseph Wells, a $570 note from John B. Thomas, and $316 in cash.5 The Reverend promptly lent all of it to his daughter Elizabeth’s husband, John B. Thomas. Presumably, John B. Thomas used these funds for his business, the National Stove Company, in Brooklyn. He was the president and the Reverend Harries a stockholder.
From 1872 to 1884, David continued to live with the Reverend Harries and his wife on Shelter Island. During that period the principle event, other than that which will come out in the testimony that follows, was that his grandmother Harries died in 1882 when he was seventeen years old.
In 1884, David, now 19, came into a further inheritance from his grandfather Young’s estate -- about $400. The Reverend Harries lent these funds to his son-in-law, John B. Thomas. At the same time, the Reverend Harries, now in ill health, retired to Brooklyn. He rented the Grange Farm on Shelter Island for David. For two summers, the Reverend Harries, his daughter, Elizabeth Thomas, and her two children spent the months of July and August on the farm. John Thomas visited on weekends.
In 1886, David reached his majority. He asked his grandfather for his inheritance, and John B. Thomas, who now ran his father-in-law’s affairs, rejected his request.
David requested an accounting. The case was heard in the Surrogate Court of Suffolk County in late November 1886, Judge James H. Tuthill presiding.6 Edward Wells represented the Reverend Harries, and David Harries Young was represented by Timothy M. Griffing and Judge Thomas T. Young, David’s uncle.
The Reverend Harries’ accounting to the Court admitted receiving $2,429.56 in David’s name, including interest. It charged David for room and board from the day he entered the parsonage on Shelter Island at age six months until the day the Reverent Harries moved from Shelter Island when David was 19 1/2 years old at the rate of $2.00 per week from October 1865 until he became guardian in October 1872 and from then forward $3.25 per week. During the years, sporadically, notations were made in a red colored accounts book of expenses on David’s behalf, amounting to about $500 which he also claimed. He allowed David $50 per year for his contributions to the household by working the garden and leased land for the last five years. By this reckoning, David was due $9.28.
In Court on November 23, 1886, the Reverend Harries, now 73 years old and unwell, admitted that he had never filed an annual accounting as required by law. He agreed that he had never asked a penny of David’s father for the boy’s care when the father was alive. He said David was “well and abundantly clad. I never heard any complaint from him on that subject. What he wanted we provided for him. I sent him to school during his boyhood and as he grew up, I paid his school expenses. I urged him to accept a liberal education. He declined to take it. I sent him off for a month to learn a trade after that. He would be a farmer and nothing else.”7
When asked by Mr. Griffing in cross examination if he had seen the present accounting before it was filed, the Reverend Harries responded, “I think I saw it.” “Where?” “In my own house, I believe -- I can’t call to account.” “Did you read it?” “I think I cast my eye over it. I did not read it carefully.” “Were you in condition to read it?” “I don’t remember.” “Did you sign it?” “I think not.”
Mr. Griffing asked if Mr. Thomas made up the accounting. “No,” the Reverend Harries said. “Mr. Wells made it up and consulted with him as to what had better be done.”
Mr. Griffing asked, “You assumed it was correct without examining it particularly.” The Reverend Harries responded, “I did not assume much about it. I mean I did not give very much attention. I have confidence in Mr. Wells’ capacity and it did not require much attention on my part. I have faith in him.”
The Reverend Harries was as vague in his testimony about the sums he received on David’s account, his lending of them to John B. Thomas, the payment of interest on those funds, and his record keeping. Mr. Griffing asked where a particular note from Mr. Thomas was. “I can’t just now say.” “Where did you keep it?” “It was kept in a safety vault. I have not seen it in some years. I have not been well enough part of the time to be there.” “Did Mr. Thomas have access to that vault” “Yes.” “To the part of the vault where that note was?” “Yes.”
The Reverend Harries was sure he had some writing to show for the loan but could not recall what. “Did he ever give you any security for money you loaned him?” The Reverend Harries responded, “He may or may not.”
About the note from John B. Thomas, held by Daniel upon his death for $500, the Reverend Harries admitted that he never received the $500 plus $70 interest from Mr. Thomas, and he had no recollection as to the whereabouts of the note.
Mr. Griffing asked the Reverend Harries what David did while he lived with him. “He did as boys do generally in the country. He played, worked, jumped rope, cleaned horses, ate and drank... as a rule he took care of the cow and horse. Kept a pig only a part of the time. Did not have one every year. The women kept poultry -- caring for them was women’s work chiefly. We did keep a wood fire -- he would bring in kindling and the coal. Thart was the most he did in that way. He also took care of the carriages -- the wagon. I had but one wagon to care for until recently. He used sometimes to drive me out. I had a garden spot half an acre or so -- he took care of that.”
In response to a question from Mr. Griffing about the idea of charging for David’s care, the Reverend Harries said “I don’t know that the question came up in my mind in any form.”
“Did he not call you father?” “He does now.” “Did he not always do it?” “Yes.” “Did he not call Mrs. Harries mother?” “I don’t know positively that he did, I don’t recollect.” “Did you not in all respects treat him as a son?”
“Sometimes I treated him better than a son -- never regarded him as a son -- he was not -- treated him kindly and hope I shall do that in time to come.” “Have you not frequently stated that you intended to treat him and do for him as if he was one of your own children?” “I have -- and to him as well...”
Mr. Griffing pressed the Reverend Harries about a conversation with David about four years before when David asked about an accounting he was doing. Did not the Reverend Harries state that he was doing so, so that if David died before his majority, none of his money would go back to the Young family. And, that if David reached his majority, he would get his money with interest. The Reverend Harries said he did not recollect such a conversation.
Mr. Griffing asked if John B. Thomas did the Reverend Harries’ business now. “Partly. I see to some of it myself. I and he do it chiefly.” “Are you able to do any business -- do you do it without consulting him?” The Reverend Harries responded positively.
Mr. Griffing changed the subject to the property in Dayton, Ohio owned by the Reverend Harries. This questioning was apparently to enquire about assets that might be attached to retrieve David’s inheritance.
Mr. Griffing then asked about the Grange Farm which the Reverend Harries had leased for David in October 1884. The Reverend Harries had no knowledge of any accounting that dealt with the farm. He was asked if David had lived with the family after October 1, 1884. “I suppose his life was mostly spent on the farm.” He admitted that he lived on the farm with David for about two months after leasing it. Then the next summer he was at the farm for two months. “Mr. Thomas was there three Sundays. His family was there most of the summer -- about two months. The family consisted of four. They were there again last summer.”
“Was not the table supplied largely from the produce of this farm?” The Reverend Harries agreed, “Largely.” “Do you intend to charge Harry8 five dollars per week for board while you and these folks were living with him?” “I have not done it, have I? ... Have not thought much about it.”
The Reverend Harries’ Second Day
The hearing resumed on December 14, with the cross examination of the Reverend Harries continuing. He was asked to present the papers that showed the investments of David’s money with J.B. Thomas and the National Stove Company. “I have none here... I have looked over my papers since the last hearing and would have discovered such papers if I had had them. To the best of my belief I have nothing to show...” “Are you now sure you ever had any such paper?” “I don’t remember that I ever had.”
Upon further questioning by Mr. Griffing, the Reverend Harries contended that he never invested David’s money in bonds or mortgages, did not consider buying the Young homestead farm, did not recall correspondence with his brother with the idea of sending David to Ohio for college, never invested any of David’s money in property in Ohio, or corresponded with his sister proposing to sell the Dayton property so that David could be “paid off.”
Mr. Griffing pressed on, “Did you not in 1885 write her a letter wherein you said, don’t you think it wise to take steps as soon as possible to sell as much land in Main Street as will cancel David’s claim?” The Reverend Harries answered, “I have no recollection of it.”
On redirect by Mr. Wells, the Reverend Harries, stated “I am about 73 years old, maybe a little short of it. My health is feeble. I am a minister of the gospel and commenced to preach in 1833. Have preached a little over 50 years. Only preached occasionally since I ceased to be a settled pastor -- not preached over twice in two years...”
Mr. Wells then attempted to revisit issues about the care of David from the time of his mother’s death until he was 19 1/2 years old, but Mr. Griffing objected and his objections were sustained.
Then Mr. Wells turned to the Reverend Harries’ red colored account book in which he, David, and others made notations of purchases, from time to time, on David’s behalf. Most objections by Mr. Griffing were sustained. Entries were sporadic, there were no receipts, and there was some suspicion that some entries were recently made to support the accounting. Judge Tuthill did not allow the red book to be entered into evidence. However, on redirect, they further discussed the red book, and it appeared that many entries were in the handwriting of Thomas Harries, the Reverend Harries’ son.
Over Mr. Griffing’s objections, certain pages of the red book were allowed into evidence.
Mr. Wells turned to the produce of the Grange Farm. Over Mr. Griffing’s objections, the Reverend Harries was allowed to answer the question, “Has [David] rendered to you in writing a statement of the produce of that farm sold by him and the amounts realized there from?” “I can’t say that he has.” “Did your son Thomas sometimes act on your behalf in a clerkly capacity?” “He did.” “Did David send reports of his sales of produce from the farm to your son Thomas?” “Sometimes he did, sometimes he did not.”
The Reverend Harries admitted that John B. Thomas had had a power of attorney “to act for me” for about two years, and that “John B. Thomas had the most to do with my Shelter Island business.”
“Do you say that your ward never requested you to furnish anything which in your judgement was unnecessary?”
”The great body of what he asked for was necessary. I don’t remember of his asking for anything that I refused. I have no recollection of his asking for anything that I considered unnecessary.”
“You charged him for a watch at the age of 14. Did you intend to charge him with or to give it to him?” “If I charged there I intended to do just what I did.” “Are you positive you did not intend to give it as a present?” “I don’t remember the history of the watch. I remember nothing about it except that it is charged in the book.”
The contestants offered in evidence a certified copy of a mortgage from Thomas Harries to David Harries Young dated July 1884 and recorded in Record 95, page 484 in the clerk’s office in the County of Montgomery, Ohio, March 11, 1885. Objections were overruled.
And, there the Reverend Harries’ testimony ended.
Elizabeth Harries Thomas
On January 5, 1887, the trial resumed and Elizabeth Harries Thomas, the Reverend Harries’ daughter, was called to the stand. She testified that she lived in Brooklyn, and that she and her sister Mary, David’s mother, were twins. After David was born, not only his mother but also his grandmother Young became ill, and when he was six months old there was no female capable of caring for him at the Young residence. Her mother who was visiting her in Brooklyn received a letter urging her to come to Franklinville. She went and retrieved the child. She further testified that she always spent her summers on Shelter Island up to the summer of 1886. She agreed that David was “kindly treated, properly boarded, and fed and comfortably, neatly dressed.”
Thomas W. Harries
Thomas W. Harries, aged about 40 and son of the Reverend Harries, testified that he resided in Brooklyn and had been working at the National Stove Company for six years. He agreed that he had filled in numbers in the red book, often writing in ink over pencilled entries. He also agreed that he had “kept some of the accounts of the farm occupied by David during the last two years.”
“David kept an account in relationship to the farm. He sent me statements by mail. They are contained in pages 20 to the date December 28, 1888 on page 27 both inclusive...I kept the account of the expenditure of moneys advanced by the guardian and of the receipts of the farm as they were rendered by David to me.”
“In October 1882, I think, father placed David in the stove store of the National Stove Company for employment to learn the trade. The store is the selling place and the manufacturing is at Peekskill. He remained about a month. While he was there he was employed at doing anything he was asked to do. He did not take to the business and left because he did not choose to remain. He was kindly treated, and we did all we could to make it pleasant for him. He said he wanted to go to farming and did not want to do anything else. From that time till he went on the farm he lived with father at the parsonage on Shelter Island where he came from. Father insisted at first on his coming to the store and that is why he came.”
Mr. Wells then attempted to enter into the record that David used profane, violent and ill-tempered language toward his grandfather. Objections were sustained, as was a question about Mr. and Mrs. Thomas and their children spending the last two summers at the Grange Farm.
On cross examination, Mr. Harries stated “I don’t remember saying to George B. Reeve at the store on Water Street while David was there that that was no place for him.” “Was there any reason why it was not a fit place for the boy?” “Simply because I saw he was determined not to remain there.”
Mr. Wells attempted to enter three pieces of paper relating to the farm signed by David, one also by the Reverend Harries and all three witnessed by Mr. Harries and dated November 19, 1884 on Shelter Island. Objections were sustained. The case for the guardian was completed.
Judge Thomas T. Young
The trial resumed the next day with Thomas T. Young on the stand.9 He stated that he was the brother of David’s father, Daniel H. Young, who died on June 22, 1872. He administered the estate. On February 23, 1874, as administrator of David’s father’s estate, he turned over to the Reverend Harries $1,060.95 on David’s behalf. These included a note of $570 due from John B. Thomas, a note from Joseph Wells for $174.04 and a check from the estate for $316.91. “The endorsement on that check is on Mr. Harries hand writing.” He also entered into the record the filing on the estate of Thomas P. Young, his father, dated February 4, 1884.
In the late summer of 1880, Judge Young and the Reverend Harries corresponded about the disposition of the Young family homestead in Franklinville. On September 3, the Reverend Harries wrote to Judge Young: “David is now too young to determine his future course. I therefore question the wisdom of predetermining his course at this early day. I consequently decline making an offer for the farm. If you offered it at so low a figure as to make it a profitable investment I might think more favorably of buying it. I get in Ohio 8 p.c. It would be bad policy to invest in real estate that yielded less than 4 p.c.” This letter was accepted as an exhibit.
“In November 1881, I met Mr. Harries at Greenport pursuant to his request by letter to meet with him and David. We talked over the matter of David’s future and welfare among ourselves us three together. Mr. Harries said when he and I were alone that he was deeply interested in this grandson of his and was desirous that he should go to college and receive a liberal education. [He] said he was apt to learn but that his taste seemed to lay in the direction of agricultural pursuits and matters pertaining to the farm in which he was industrious and skillful for one of his years. He wished me in conversation with David and himself to endeavor to so shape my conversation and express myself as to incline David favorably toward the idea of David going to college. We then all three together had a mutual conversation upon those subjects and the matter of his attendance at school at Greenport where he was there attending was talked over. My talk was to the purpose and effect as Mr. Harries had previously requested me... And I recollect that about the last of the conversation was a remark by David as follows: ‘Father, how about the farm, won’t you talk to him about the farm?’ referring to the farm at Franklinville. Mr. Harries replied in substance as follows: ‘OK. David is very anxious to have me buy that farm.’
“Mr. Harries has stated on different occasions, in my hearing, that David was industrious about the place in taking care of the horse and cow and other like labor, in doing farm work. Once a number of years ago when I was on the Island he took me in his carriage with David, David driving, over to see the crops which David had planted and was cultivating and a piece of land which David was tilling and on which were growing the ordinary farm crops. Perhaps that was five years ago, certainly 4. In showing me the crops he said, in substance, David was a complete farmer. It was remarkable how well he could plant and till crops for one of his years.
“As administrator of the estate of my brother Daniel, no claim was ever made by Mr. Harries for any bill or board of David though I advertized regularly for claims.”
On cross examination by Mr. Wells, Judge Young expanded on the funds he turned over to the Reverend Harries on David’s behalf. He said that the notes from Joseph Wells and John B. Thomas were handed over as cash.
“When allusion was made to a purchase of the farm, I don’t recollect that anything was said as to how it should be paid for. I think it was a farm of 50 or so acres with house and farm buildings on it, and I should say worth $6,000. It belongs then to the devisees under my father’s will and the estate had the power of sale. It has since been sold to my sister for I think $6,000. I think my brother Lucius has an interest in it. David’s share in the farm at that conversation, I think was under the will 1/15.”
Judge Young’s Second Day
On the next day, January 6, 1887, Judge Young returned to the stand for the minor. He now had a letter in his possession from the Reverend Harries dated January 18, 1883. It was a response from a letter he had sent to the Reverend Harries suggesting that David “should purchase the homestead farm or that it should be purchased for him. My recollection is that the price that I named was $5,000 or $5,500....I do not recollect any further correspondence between us on that subject. I sold the farm I think either in the Spring of 1883 or 1884.”
The letter from the Reverend Harries stated in part: “We think the price is much too high. The buildings are comparatively worthless. They are an encumbrance and an eyesore. To repair would be costly, and when repaired they would be of very little value. The money thus expended would nearly all be lost, for no one with taste and means would be willing to live for any length of time in such antiquated and dilapidated buildings.” He then compared the farm with a much better property that sold recently on Shelter Island for about $4,250. “It would be very gratifying to me to see David occupying the home of his ancestors. I have hoped it would be so, but the price asked is an effectual preventative.
“I thank you for your interest in David’s welfare and for the easy terms on which you offer the property -- tho it would probably be as well for me to pay the whole at once as to give Bond and mortgage for parts of the money.” This letter was accepted as an exhibit.
George B. Reeve
George B. Reeve then took the stand. He stated that he was married to the sister of Daniel H. Young and now resided in Mattituck. During 1883 and 1884, he lived in Franklinville. In 1882, the Reverend Harries and David visited over night. “In the morning Dr. Harries spoke to me about David .... I told Mr. Harries that the boy seemed inclined to take to farming and asked him why he did not incline to buy the place for him, the homestead at Franklinville. That it was a good farm. He replied that he thought perhaps it would be better to wait till he came of age and he said that perhaps he would want to do something else then...”
Mr. Reeve continued with his recollections of the conversation. Mr. Harries said that “when he comes of age he will then have his father’s money and then make what disposition of it he sees fit. He said he always looked upon David as one of his own children and intended for him to have his mother’s share of his property. He said also he knew no difference between David and his other children.” Mr. Reeve said that he had had many conversations over the years with the Reverend Harries when he had expressed the same sentiments.
Mr. Reeve remembered an incident when David “was a very small boy.” He had spent the night with the Harries family on Shelter Island, and the Reverend Harries was anxious to show off a strawberry patch that David was tending. “He said I want you to understand that [David] has set these out, tended them all himself, and I think it is wonderful. He wanted I should notice how neatly the bed was kept.”
Under cross examination by Mr. Wells, Mr. Reeve said that he recalled the 1882 conversation that took place at Franklinville when he heard that “Dr. Harries had put in a claim for board and clothing when this account was filed.... I think the first I knew of his putting in a claim for board was when I saw a copy of Mr. Harries accounting. The copy was sent to me or my wife by Judge Young or Harry. I read it... I don’t know whether a copy was circulated around the Young family. I don’t know why it was sent to us unless because they wanted us to see it... I naturally felt an interest in the boy, a deep interest. The strawberry patch was perhaps 8 or 10 feet square. I am a farmer for 30 years past. In winters [I] have followed the profession of teaching music.”
Lucius C. Young, brother of Daniel H. Young, then took the stand. He recalled the events in the house when David’s mother and his own mother became so ill. He recalled Mrs. Harries coming to retrieve the infant. He recalled his brother Joseph coming down from Yale to attend his mother’s funeral.
He remembered visiting the Reverend Harries on Shelter Island after Mrs. Harries had died. He “showed me a picture of my brother Daniel. Mr. Harries burst into tears and after telling me of the great love he had for the deceased and burst into tears and told me what a good boy David was. He said he was very industrious, ambitious to work, and he reminded him very much of his father.” Mr. Young continued to describe the Reverend’s concern that David should go to college, but he was inclined to farm. “He said he looked after Harry as his own.... He said that David should have the part that Mary would have had of his property had she lived.”
Mr. Young recalled another occasion when he was visiting the parsonage on Shelter Island and the Reverend Harries took him out to the barn to observe the changes that David had made. “He said that David was very careful and orderly about all of his work. He called my attention to the general neatness.”
Mr. Young remembered another event when he was with the Reverend Harries. “He was at the homestead in Franklinville. I think David was with him. He rode around the place and told me David was very anxious he should buy the farm for him.”
Mr. Young did not remember ever having a conversation with the Reverend Harries in which he spoke of David needing to learn a trade.
David Harries Young
David Harries Young then took the stand. He said “I resided in the family of my guardian from my earliest recollection until December 15, 1886. During that time I attended school the greater part of two winters in Greenport and the rest of the time in the public school on Shelter Island. The first in Greenport was from the fall of 1880 to June in 1881, and then from fall of 1881 to April in 1882. The winter of 1882 and 1883 was the last I attended on Shelter Island.
“While living with Mr. Harries, the first work I did was taking care of the horse and cow. I can’t say how old I was, but I was so small I used to get up on a box to harness the horse. Once I commenced to do that I continued it so long as Mr. Harries continued to live there.
“I used to take care of his garden and of half an acre across from the garden which the Parish gave him the use of. I began that when I was quite small, say when [I] was 11 or 12 and continued it till I moved on to the Grange Farm in 1884. He raised on that sometimes potatoes and sometimes corn and part of the time it was laid down to grass. The garden was from 1/8 to 1/4 acre. When I got large enough I cut the wood and brought it in and brought in the coal for the fires. One year we had a tract of 10 acres we cultivated. I think that was in 1883. I worked upon that during the season.
“I had nothing to do with fires. I took care of and milked the cow and took care of the horse and hens and some years a pig. We had hens until one or two years before I moved to the Grange.
“I used to go out riding with grandfather and drive the horse. I used to go on errands alone. Some winters went every morning to the neighbors after milk.
“I remember my grandfather speaking to me about my money. I remember the interview to which you called his attention when he was a witness. I can’t say whether I was setting down figures in the red book, or he was. Anyway, I asked what it was done for and he said it was in case I should die before I became 21 so that he could bring in a bill and the money not go back to the Young family. He said if I lived to attain my majority I should have every cent from my father’s money with interest. I should think that was about three years ago. That book to which I refer is the red book.
“Soon after my grandfather came back from Dayton, Ohio [in 1884] I recollect he said that the mortgage was put on to secure my money.
“I used to call Mr. and Mrs. Harries father and mother. I was named after my great uncle Mr. Harries’ brother David Harries. Mr. Harries always called me David. I don’t know as he called me son or grandson in speaking to me.
“I recollect several times he talked with me about buying the homestead farm and he talked with me about buying a farm on Shelter Island. He spoke favorably of it, but not definitely that he would do it till after he returned from Dayton in 1884. I think it was he said he was getting old and that he wanted to see me started before he died....”
David testified that he moved onto the Grange Farm in the fall of 1884. Mr. Wells objected to all discussion of business arrangements between David and the Reverend Harries concerning the Grange Farm on the grounds that those arrangements were not a part of the accounting. His objections were sustained. However, Mr. Griffing did get into the testimony, that after he reached his majority, the Reverend Harries considered David worth $20 a month as a farmer.
On cross examination, David stated, “I was fond of the horse. Mr. Harries never took care of the horse unless I was sick. He had no man about the place. I don’t know that I asked grandfather to let me ride out with him. I was glad to go sometimes and he was anxious to have me. Dr. Harries did not work in the garden. He might come out and see to it. He never worked it in the Spring after I got old enough to take charge of it which was when I was about 11 years old. I agree that he may have done some little things, but he told me what to do and then let me do it as I was a mind to do.
“There was a woman to work in the house. She did not work in the garden. She did not care for the chickens. She did not care for the pig in the winter. She milked the cow before I began to do it. ...Guess I was about 8 years old when I began to take care of the garden. The woman that worked there was Harriet Rowe. She is living on Shelter Island now and is married to J. Edward Chester, a carpenter.
“Grandfather hired the 10 acres I worked in 1883. I believe he paid, $5 a acre, $50. The oats and straw were used by grandfather for his horse. The potatoes were sold and I had the receipts, $50. I think the potatoes and turnips were sold together for about $112. He paid a part to Mr. Harries -- of the residue I had $50. The corn and stalks were used by grandfather on the place. Grandfather paid the rent. The beets and carrots were used on the place and the cauliflowers were sold. Grandfather had the money. I don’t know how much it was.”
Henry Howard Preston
Henry H. Preston then took the stand.10 He testified that he was well acquainted with both David and the Reverend Harries, that he had lived within a few rods of the parsonage for twelve years, and saw David every day and often several times a day. He saw him doing everything a laboring man would do about a farm. “I would see him take care of the horse and cow... take proper care of the garden and small fruits. I have seen him cultivate a tract of land opposite the parsonage. I have seen him cultivate other land, several acres at a time, land that his grandfather hired at different places on the Island. I have see him wait upon his grandfather daily almost every way that one could serve another. He was industrious, especially so. His grandfather told me so -- often spoke about it. His work was well done.”
Mr. Preston then stated that he had worked on a farm until he was 16 and then during the years 1870 through 1872. Mr. Griffing asked him to value David’s services for the season from April 5, 1884 to October 15, 1884 when David was 19 years old. Mr. Wells objected. He claimed insufficient foundation had been laid to qualify the witness; it had not been shown that the witness knew the number or kind of acts of service or the time spent on them. He was overruled. Mr. Preston answered, “Twenty-five dollars per month besides his board.”
Mr. Griffing then asked for Mr. Preston’s opinion of the value of his services from April 5, 1883 to April 5, 1884. Mr. Wells objected again and was overruled. Mr. Preston answered, “Twenty dollars per month, beside his board.”
Mr. Griffing asked the same question for the year from April 5, 1882 to April 5, 1883 during at which time David attended school at Shelter Island during the winter. Mr. Wells objected, Mr. Preston answered “I should say $100 besides his board.”
For the two years, 1881 and 1882, while David attended school in Greenport but boarded with the Reverend Harries, Mr Preston responded, Seventy-five dollars besides his board. I think his services were worth his board while he was attending school in Greenport.” For the year 1880 while David was attending school on Shelter Island, Mr. Preston testified, “Fifty dollars besides his board. The school house on Shelter Island is right across the street.”
Mr. Griffing then asked about the years from his twelfth year up to April 4, 1880, “Were not his services worth as much as his board?” Mr. Preston responded, “They were.
“I remember a conversation with Mr. Harries at my store on Shelter Island with reference to purchasing a farm for Harry.” “What was it?” “Mr. Harries said David had a great ambition to be a farmer and said he was very smart in that direction. Very industrious. I said Harry ought to have a farm. He said he always wanted him to have an education. That David wanted his father’s farm on the old homestead in Franklinville. Mr. Harries thought he better wait till he was 21 and then if he wanted to farm he could buy a farm. He spoke about David having some means from his father. I told him I thought he ought to buy a farm for him. To the best of my memory that conversation was three year ago.”
On cross examination by Mr. Wells, Mr. Preston spoke of his present business. “I am an insurance agent, real estate agent, do general clerk work, am Town Clerk and Justice of the Peace. I have a store also, a general store -- no dry goods -- near my residence. I don’t think David dealt at my store while he lived on the Grange Farm. I had no account against him to my knowledge. The store is run in my wife’s name... I buy and my wife buys and the same way with selling.”
Mr. Wells asked how near the store was to the parsonage. “The one I occupied up to two years ago was perhaps a dozen rods from the parsonage. My house was as near to the personage at the store was.”
“I did not use to make it a point to watch this boy’s movements. When he was attending school, it took from quite early in the morning till time to go to school. He used to get around quite early in the morning. And the same every afternoon.” Mr. Preston said it would take about two hours in the morning and two hours at night for David to do his chores. He thought it was worth his board, which he thought was about $3 per week.
Mr. Wells asked, “Do you think such care and work as a boy of 8 to 12 could render in those chores was worth $3 per week, for morning and evening?” “Such care and such work as he done was worth $3 per week.” When asked, Mr. Preston stated that this was $156 per year. Mr. Wells asked the wages of a farm hand on Shelter Island during the past 10 to 12 years, and Mr. Preston responded, ”From $10 to $25 per month.”
In further questioning, Mr. Wells asked why Mr. Preston gave different values to David’s work during different years, and Mr. Preston responded because in different years he did different work depending on how much land Mr. Harries was leasing.
The next morning, Mr. Wells continued his cross examination along the same lines. In redirect by Mr. Griffing, Mr. Preston said that in different years, the Reverend Harries leased land from his father in-law, Timothy Congdon, James Ward, and Thomas Peden.
Nathan P. Dickerson
Nathan P. Dickerson was the next witness.11 He stated “I reside on Shelter Island about one mile from the parsonage. Have resided there, I think, about thirty years since I left going to sea. My present business is farming, fishing, and keeping a boarding house -- all three of them pretty extensively. Have been engaged in farming for 25 to 30 years, and I hire a good deal of farm help. In my experience, I think I have acquired a knowledge of the rate of wages for farm help.
“I have seen [David] do all things that a servant would do. I have seen him driving the cow to and from pasture. I have seen him take the horse to and from pasture, have seen him feed and water the horse and clean the stable. I have seen him feed and water the cow and clean the stable. I have seen him carry wood and coal into the house for the night. Have seen him go to the post office to carry the mail and to get mail. Have seen him carry Mr. Harries’ guests to the ferry and from the ferry to the parsonage. I have seen him working land that Mr. Harries hired, raising corn and potatoes -- some land I think Mr. Harries was given the use of... It must have been a good 12 years that I saw him so occupied.” In further examination, Mr. Dickerson said there were days when he would not see David at all, but there were other days when he was see him 4 or 5 times in one day. “I saw him working on a piece of land right opposite the parsonage and also in the parsonage garden. I have seen him working on a piece of land Mr. Harries hired of Captain John B. Bowditch.”
Mr. Griffing asked, “What can you say of his habits as to being industrious or otherwise?” “I have never seen better.” “As to his capacity to do general farm work?” “I consider it first class.”
Mr. Griffing then asked, “What, in your opinion, was the value of his services for the season beginning April 5, 1884 when he was 19 years old to October 15, 1884?” Mr. Wells objected and was overruled. “Twenty-five dollars per month besides his board.” Mr. Griffing asked the same questions for different periods, and Mr. Wells objected and was overruled throughout. “Between April 5, 1883 and April 5, 1884?” “Twenty dollars per month besides his board.” “April 5, 1882 to April 5, 1883?” “Fifteen dollars per month besides his board.” “April 5, 1881 to April 5, 1882?” “He was worth his board while he went to school in Greenport and $10 per month besides his board during the rest of the year.” “April 5, 1880 to April 5, 1881.” “Same answer.” “From his twelfth year on...?”
Captain Dickerson expounded, “His services were more than his board. They were worth his victuals and clothes. His habits as to early rising were good. His habits as management and care of horses were good.
“I am acquainted with Reverend Mr. Harries and have been for years. I have had conversations with regard to David.
“I think about a month before he hired the Grange he came down to see me and asked my advice about hiring the Grange. Said I to Mr. Harries what do you propose to do here -- after -- in reference to a home. Says he, I think likely I will make it my house on Shelter Island a part of the year and a part of the year in the city.
“The first year Harry was on the Grange, in August of that year, Mr. Harries came over to see me. He said he was afraid Harry would not make it pay. He said Harry was bound to be a farmer. I said, do you suppose if you should establish him in any occupation that at your death he would remain in it? He said he supposed not. I said, Mr. Harries, his father left him a good deal of money, why don’t you buy him a farm? The answer he made, says he in due time he will have one....At that time he said Harry was sober and industrious, was not addicted to any bad habits.”
Thomas Peden testified that he had lived on Shelter Island for 29 years on his farm about 40 rods from the parsonage.12 He said that he was in the habit of hiring and was acquainted with the value of farm labor. “Can’t get a good man that understands the business short of $25 and his board.”
About David, “seen him taking care of cow and horse, and when spring came attending to the garden and seeing to that, And seeing to the land opposite the house. Raised potatoes and corn and cabbage, vegetables a little of everything. Mr. Harries took some land of Captain Bowditch -- David raised corn there. Of that he had about one acre one year and one and a quarter acre another year. Mr. Harries hired land of me and David raised fodder corn on that. He attended to it very well. I have seen him work on the 10 acre tract but not very often and seen him going back and forth with his horse and wagon. Seen him go to that at 7 o’clock in the morning same as a hired hand.
“Mr. Harries bought hay -- 2 or 3 tons -- off Menantic, and David carted it home. He attended to the curing of that hay.
“He attended to the cattle and was attentive to his grandfather when he wanted him and took care of the pig. He did the milking. David always seen to the wagons, a farm wagon, a schooner wagon, and two carriages. Seen him carry coal from the south ferry and putting it in the basement. It was his custom to do this every year. His custom was to clean the wagons every Saturday. David cut the wood for fuel.
“He was very obedient to do errands his grandfather sent him on. Seen him driving the horse to and from the ferry to take his grandfather or the guests, and harnessed up when he did not go himself, and would unharness it when his grandfather returned.
“A piece of hay on West Neck when he fetched it home, I helped him stack it. The Ward piece was used for pasture. I have seen him drive the cow and horse there night and day....
“I generally get up at 5 o’clock winter mornings and I always saw a light at Mr. Harries barn when I got up...”
Mr. Griffing then asked Mr. Peden about the value of David’s labor, and through Mr. Well’s objections and their over-ruling, Mr. Peden gave answers similar to those of Mr. Preston and Mr. Dickerson before him.
Mr. Peden also testified that in September 1884, when the Reverend Harries told him of his plan to lease the Grange farm, Mr. Peden offered him his own farm for $9,000. The Reverend Harries told him that David had his own money and when he came of age he could buy a farm.
On cross examination by Mr. Wells, Mr. Peden said that it would take David from four to five hours a day to do his chores. To drive the cow to the pasture about 1/2 mile south of the parsonage would take about 15 minutes, and about a half hour to drive it back to the barn. “In the winter she was fed by stalks of hay he cut with a machine. I have seen him cut it many a time. Have seen him milk the cow, take say 8 minutes good. It would take about 15 minutes to cut the hay stalks and feed the cow.
“The horse was fed with cut hay and ground feed, That was done when the horse was not in pasture. To do that would take about 20 minutes in the morning and the same at night. He had a pig two years I believe.
“Mr. Harries always had wood but whether to kindle coal or burn alone I don’t know. The work would be the same one year with another. I suppose it was worth about as much one year as another to do it.”
Mr. Griffing asked Mr. Peden if there were other boys in the neighborhood David’s age. “Yes,” he replied. “I have one and there are others. Before he was 16 years old he might go out and play ball with them.”
Mr. Peden compared David’s work and responsibilities with that if his own hired hand. David plowed with his own horse and one he hired to put aside his own when he was 15 years old. Mr. Peden did not allow his hired hand to work with or care for the team which he did himself. He paid him $18 per month plus board year round.
Mr. Peden testified that he had come to Riverhead for the trial with Mr. Dickerson and Mr. Preston and that they were staying at the same hotel. Over dinner last evening, with Mr. Wells present, they had talked about prevailing wages.
In redirect, Mr. Griffing asked if “the services of a young man in his teens [would] naturally grow more valuable as he grew older even in doing the same kind of chores about the premises?” “Yes.”
David Harries Young: Resumed Cross Examination
Mr. Wells asked David to return to the discussion about the red book. David said it had taken place about three years before and he did not recall himself having made any entries into the red book before that time. “But I have made entries in it. He had shown me or I had seen entries in it previous to that.” At Mr. Well’s request, David pointed out entries in the red book which were in his hand writing. He repeated that he really didn’t recall making the entries.
Mr. Wells asked when the conversation about the Reverend Harries’ making an accounting took place. David said that it took place before the trip to Dayton, Ohio. The talk about David having his father’s money took place in the same conversation. “He said that if I lived to attain my majority I should have every cent of my father’s money with interest. Mr. Wells questioned, “Where not the words used substantially these: You shall have the account and all the money that shall then appear to be coming to you?” David answered, “No, sir.”
Mr. Wells asked, “Was any particular farm spoken of by your grandfather as one to be bought for you after he returned from Dayton or was it a general conversation?” “We started out in a carriage, and he said going to look me up a place.” “Was not that ride to look a place to hire?” “No, sir.” “Did you find any place for sale on that ride?” “No, Sir.” “Was that the end of the inquiry for a farm to buy?” “Yes, I believe it was.”
Mr. Wells continued with his questions. “What kind and how much produce was raised off that patch of ground across the road from the parsonage?”
“Different things. Some years hay, or at least one year, and some years corn. Some years potatoes and a little place for gardens stuff or cabbage. About a ton of hay I should think was gathered on it. Probably 50 to 70 ears of corn. Maybe 50 pounds of potatoes.” David then talked about the 10 acre plot he farmed just one year. He planted three acres of corn, three acres of oats, two acres of potatoes, and “the rest reserved for beets, small things, and cauliflower between the potato rows and turnips on part of the oat stubble...”
“Did you not have the proceeds of the crops on that 10 acres that year?” “I had $50 of the potatoes and turnips as I before stated. I was not paid some money for my work on that place.”
“Did he not habitually furnish you with spending money for the time you were old enough to use it?” “Some, yes sir.”
On redirect by Mr. Griffing, David said “The sums of spending money were small, say 50 or 75 cents or a dollar or so at a time. If I was going to Greenport to buy something for myself he would give me more. These were at occasional, not at short, intervals.”
To another point, David responded, “That handwriting in the red book was before I came of age.”
“There was talk about the Franklinville farm before he went to Ohio.”
Judge Tuthill entered handwritten findings of fact, conclusions of law and an opinion on March 28, 1887. He concluded that the Reverend Harries was chargeable with all funds received for David, that he was entitled to no compensation for board and lodging provided to David before being appointed guardian because in the family context the law will not imply a promise to pay for such items, that he was entitled to no compensation for board and lodging during the guardianship in view of the principle noted by New York’s highest court that "the guardian of a minor cannot be allowed any compensation beyond his statutory commissions for services rendered the estate” in Morgan v. Hannes, 49 N.Y. 667 (1872), that he was entitled to the statutory compensation as guardian of $500, that the values of David’s services to the Reverend Harries given by the witnesses were reasonable and would more than offset the Reverend Harries’ claim for compensation for board and lodging if such claim were not barred, that claims for expenses by Reverend Harries for $500 should be permitted, and that the Reverend Harries was allowed a commission at the rate of 5% of the first $1,000 of principal and interest and 2.5% on the balance.
Judge Tuthill issued a decree on April 4, 1887 reading as follows:
“The said general guardian [Thomas Harries] is chargeable as follows:
With amount mentioned in 5th finding of fact [Equitable] $1071.95
Interest thereon from January 20, 1873 to April 4th, 1887 988.13
With amounts mentioned in 6th, 7th, and 8th findings of fact
[amounts received from estate of David’s father] 1060.95
With interest from February 23rd, 1874 to April 4, 1887 896.91
With amount mentioned in 9th finding of fact [amount
received from estate of David’s grandfather] 401.70
With interest from June 16th, 1884 to April 4th, 1887 67.49
The said general guardian is credited as follows:
As mentioned in the 15th finding of fact, with [expenses] $ 500.00
Leaving as a balance remaining in the hands
of said guardian $3987.13
And it is further decreed that out of the balance so found as above remaining in the hands of said guardian that he retain the sum of $137.18 for the commissions for which he is entitled on the accounting.
Leaving as a balance remaining in the hands of said guardian $3849.95”
However, the Reverend Harries was to pay for David’s court costs, the sum of $124.81. The total judgement against the Reverent Harries was $3,974.76. 13
Getting the Reverend Harries to pay, however, was another matter. He paid $2,437.58 but on February 3, 1888 Judge Tuthill ordered the Sheriff of New York County to seize personal property and sell assets, if necessary, to raise $1,317.32 which included interest accrued since August 29, 1887, to pay the remaining of the judgement. 14
The Reverend Thomas Harries died in Brooklyn on August 4, 1888.
Within the decade, David joined with Byron Griffing in the operation of a general store on what is now known as Bridge Street on Shelter Island. J. Blair Bowditch owned the property and kept offices there. Byron Griffing lived upstairs for a number of years before he built a house just up the street on the east side of North Ferry Road, the Griffing-Crook-von Carp house. David followed Byron Griffing as Town Supervisor and served from 1906 to 1913. He later served on the School Board.
In 1915, David purchased the store property from the Bowditch estate.
David married Eva Hudson. They had three children, Thomas, Helen, and Harries.
Son Harries kept diaries for a number of years, including when he was a teenager. From these diaries, it is clear that church on Sunday was not a regular family activity. David Harries Young did not carry the habits of a parsonage unbringing into his adulthood.
David died in 1927, and with his wife, is buried in the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church cemetery. Their descendants continue to live on Shelter Island.
1 In the Matter of the Accounting of Thomas Harries. General Guardian of David H. Young, Surrogte’s Court of Suffolk County, Riverhead, NY, File No. 07201.
2 Daniel’s great grandfather, Israel Young, a school teacher, purchased the family homestead in Franklinville, in the southwest corner of Southold, from Aaron Howell on August 6, 1761. The property passed from Israel to his son Thomas, a cabinet maker. He passed it to his son Thomas Perkins Young, father of Daniel. It was known as the “family homestead.” The farm encompassed land from Main Road (also known as Kings Highway) to the Great Peconic Bay. The family was directly descended from the Reverend John Young, a principal founder of the Southold settlement in I 640.
3 This following story appeared in the Sag Harbor Express on Thursday, July 4, 1872:
“The Franklinville correspondent of the Signal says: Daniel H. Youngs, son of Thos. Youngs of Franklinville and brother of Thos. Youngs, attorney of Huntington, committed suicide on Thursday morning by cutting his throat and walking into a pond nearby, to drown himself. He had acted strangely for some time past. He had been married twice: the first time he married a daughter of Rev. Thomas Harries of Shelter Island; his second wife was a daughter of Geo. Benjamin of Mattituck. She and two children survive him. His untimely death has cast a shade of gloom over the community, as he was beloved and respected by all who knew him. His life was insured in the Equitable Insurance Co., of New York for $1,000.” (The original settlers spelling their name “Yongs,” which became “Youngs,” and by the 1880s some family members spelled it “Young.”)
4 This letter appeared in the Sag Harbor Express, Thursday, January 28, 1873.
“Nat. W. Foster, General Agent of the Equitable;
I hereby acknowledge the receipt from you of a check for $1071.95, drawn by the “Equitable” in favor of David Harries Young, it being the sum due the said David on his father’s life policy and payment at his death. The sum Assured was $1,000. I am grateful to learn that the profits of the Society in so short a period, has enhanced the value of the policy $71, 95/100.
Who, with such well attested facts before him, can doubt the utility of Life Assurance? We are all absolutely dependent, and exist by mutual aid from the moment the Mother binds the brow of the infant, to the hour in which some assistant wipes the death damp from the brow of the dying. We therefore need “Life Assurance” as a perpetual Angel; to keep ceaseless vigils over our loved ones, so that when their natural providers fail, they may have ample support and protection. As the raven fed the hungry prophet and the continued miracle daily replenished the widow’s cruse of oil and barrel of meal, so your “Society” is blessing many a stricken, sorrowful habitation, filling its larder, supplying its wardrobe, feeding the fire upon its hearthstone, adding precious relics to its boudoir and needed comforts to its bed and guest chamber, giving mental, cultural, and intellectual pabulum to the lambs of the household, and lightening up the otherwise gloomy home with the cheerful smiles of hearts made joyous by your provident care.
It affords me great pleasure to learn that my friend and former parishioner, Mrs. Edwin N. Miller, of Miller’s Place, has obtained a sum equal to that you sent me, on a policy payable at the death of her late consort.
Hoping that these circumstances will induce others to seek like benefit from Life Assurance, I am Yours truly,
Thomas Harries, Guardian.”
5 In the Court file, there are several letters from the Reverend Harries to Major Thomas Young written in 1874 describing how he intended to invest David’s funds. It became clear later that he took another course.
6 James H. Tuthill was born February 19, 1826 in Wading River. He graduated from Williams College in 1846. Three years later he opened a law practice in Riverhead with George Miller. In 1850 he married Maria Foster and they had one child. For most of his adult life he was the superintendent of the Congregational Church Sunday school. His first political position was as Town Superintendent of Schools. He was Loan Commissioner for Suffolk County. For two terms he represented the eastern district of Suffolk County in the State Assembly. For nine years he served the County as District Attorney, and he was the County’s Surrogate, from 1880 to 1892. He died suddenly in the courthouse at the age of 68 on January 18, 1894.
7 Testimony is quoted from the 96 page handwritten transcript in the Surrogate’s Court file.
8 David Harries Young was known as both Harry and David. Some witnesses call him David, others Harry. Some use both names interchangeably.
9 Thomas Young was born in Franklinville in the town of Southold on January 10, 1840. the son of Thomas Perkins Young and Caroline Hudson, daughter of Joseph Hudson of Franklinville. He entered Yale College in 1859 at age 19 and joined the Army after graduation in 1863, commissioned as a lieutenant. He had a distinguished career and was a major in the 127th colored troops when he was mustered out in September 1865. That same year he entered the law school at Albany from which he was admitted to the bar the following May. He opened his law practice in
Huntington that fall. On December 7, 1870, he married Martha L. Williams of Huntington. He was elected a Suffolk County Judge in 1879 on the Republican ticket. He was a brother of Daniel Hudson Young, David’s father. He administered the estates of both David’s father and grandfather.
10 Henry Howard Preston, son of Medina and Glorian (Cartwright) Preston, was born in
1845. He joined the 6th New York Calvary as a sergeant. He followed General Sheridan on his famous 20 mile ride from Winchester to Cedar Creek. At Appomattox he received a wound to the anlde which never healed. He was married to Asenath W. Congdon who lived from 1844 to 1912. He was Assessor, Superintendent of Highways, and one of the founders of the Shelter Island Library. In 1902 he was elected Sheriff of Suffolk County, and he lived in Riverhead during his term as sheriff. He believed in “progress” and was the first owner of an automobile in Riverhead. He died in 1919 and, with his wife, is buried in the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church cemetery.
11 Born in 1833, Nathan P. Dickerson took to sea at the age of 14 on the whaling ship Hudson. At age 18 he joined the crew of the Flying Cloud. Sailing out of New York on her maiden voyage, the Flying Cloud rounded Cape Horn and arrived in San Francisco in 89 days and 21 hours, a record. In 1855, with Nathan P. Dickerson now it’s captain, the Flying Cloud established yet another record on its voyage to Hong Kong. In 1857, en route to New York from England, he met and impressed Louisa Bagley Simpson who was coming to Canada to teach school. Captain Dickerson purchase his 23 acre farm on Shelter Island from Archibald Havens for $2,100. He and Louisa reared eight children on the farm, all of whom lived to adulthood. The house, which still stands in 2003, faces Great Peconic Bay.
12 Thomas Peden (1835-1897) and his wife Ellen Donahue (1838-1902) are buried in the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church cemetery.
13 A summary of the findings of fact and conclusions of law appeared in the Suffolk Times on April 9, 1887. p.2.
14 As noted in the Suffolk Times on July 30, 1887, p. 2.
Judge James H. Tuthill's drawing is out of a book commemorating the Judge upon his death. Long Island Collection, East Hampton Library.
The pictures of the Reverend Thomas Harries and of the Presbyterian Church and Parsonage are from Historical Papers on Shelter Island and its Presbyterian Church, 1899, Rev. Jacob E. Mallman, reprinted, 1985.
Judge Thomas Young's drawing is from History of Suffolk County, W.W. Munsell & Co., 1882.
The photographs of the schoolhouse, the windmill, and Thomas T. Young, the son, are from Images of America: Shelter Island, by Louise Tuthill Green, 1997.
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