Consolidating the ProspectThe Reverend Searles was, of course, informed by the Widow Chase and her daughter Rebecca Beebe, who was central to any transactions, about the plots of land on the north end of the Prospect over which the family had no control. Reverend Searles probably turned to his 28 year old son, also John E. Searles, a businessman in New Haven, to sort out ownership of those plots. They interviewed people on the ground, did title searches in Riverhead, figured out what was recorded and what was not but known by tradition, and plotted out their course of action.
According to William B. Hill, son of one of the Brooklyn group, “when an owner was hesitant in the matter of price or terms, [the Reverend Searles] would ask him to unite with him in prayer.”
Acquisition of land began on November 25, 1871 with John E. Searles of New Haven purchasing a 65 acre farm belonging to David C. and Josephine Osborn for $3,000, beginning at the north-west corner of the land of Esther Sarah Dering, south along the beach, east along the highway, north along the land of Offer, and west again to the place of beginning.
On December 8, John E. Searles of New Haven purchased a Prospect block from Justus Horton and his wife Sophia, and the next day, he purchased Robert and Margaret McGayhey’s lot and 18 acres for $1,750 from George and Elizabeth Offer, bounded by land of Margaret Chase Walters, the Creek, City Road, and land of David Osborn (part of the old Esther Sarah Dering’s farm and purchased from Albert and Nancy Chase in February 1871 for $650.).
On December 12, 1871, John E. Searles of New Haven purchased 50 acres with the old family homestead from Rebecca Beebe, a Prospect lot from William S. Beebe, two Prospect lots from Lydia Boardman, two Prospect lots from Michael McCall, and a Prospect block from Elias W. and Louisa Payne.
On December 30, he purchased a Prospect lot from the heirs of J. H. Reeve of Greenport for $2,000.
On January 1, 1872, John E. Searles of New Haven purchased Prospect lot 30 from Joshua Payne for $50. On January 5, 1972, he purchased the 30 acres on the north end of the peninsular from Albert and Nancy Chase for $500 with a mortgage of $1,200, and a Prospect block from them for $500. On January 10, he purchased five Prospect lots from Margaret A. Webb for $2,575.
On March 28, John E. Searles of New Haven purchased the 29 acre Wells farm for $3,772.50. On March 30, he purchased a Prospect lot from Robert and Harmony Ryerson for $200.
On April 1, the Reverend John E. Searles of Brooklyn purchased the Margaret Chase Walters 65 acre farm for $4,000, and two Prospect lots with buildings from John Jacques of Brooklyn for $900. That same day, John E. Searles of New Haven purchased a Prospect block from Thomas S. and Mehitable Pratt for $2,050.
On May 18, the Reverend Searles of Brooklyn purchased a Prospect block from David M. Conklin of Shelter Island.
An End Note: As we went through the deeds we could not originally understand why John E. Searles sometimes lived in Brooklyn and sometimes in New Haven. It remained a mystery until the very end of our deed search, when we found the Reverend Searles’ obituary in the New York Times in 1893 which mentioned his son in New Haven.