Family Activity After Chase's Death
In the decade following Squire Chase’s death, the only real estate transfers at the Place called Prospect were in 1859 when Rebecca Chase Beebe sold to her sister Lydia Chase Boardman her half of the block they owned together, bounded by Washington, Fair, Adams, and Cedar streets, and then in 1864, Lydia sold the entire block to Robert McGayhey.
Before we proceed into the year 1868 it is helpful to review the family’s names, their ages, and where they lived:
Rebecca Cartwright Chase, his widow, age 80, Shelter Island
Ruth Chase, 60, Shelter Island. She died, unmarried, in 1869 at age 61.
Lydia Boardman, 57, Shelter Island
Rebecca Beebe, 55, Shelter Island
Elizabeth Wood, 53, Greenport
Albert Chase, 50, New York City. His wife was Nancy.
Emeline Skillman, 48, Shelter Island
Harriet Barteau. Died in Brookhaven in 1853. Left two children and her husband William.
Margaret Walters, 44, Shelter Island
Catherine Mosier, 42, Brooklyn
There is no question in our minds -- the Reverend John E. Searles, the agent of the Brooklyn group that would eventually purchase the Chase peninsula, appeared on the doorstep of the Widow Chase in late 1867 or early 1868. There is no other explanation for what happened next.
On July 15, 1868 the eight living children and the Widow Chase jointly sold the Homestead and 70 acres and the part of Esther Sarah Dering’s farm north of City Road, about 63 acres, to Albert. They sold the King farm (land previously owned by B.B. Wiggins), about 65 acres, to Margaret Walters.
On that same day, they also conveyed to John Burns about 24 acres south of the City Road, one quarter acre to William McGill, four acres to Rebecca Beebe which that same day she sold to John Burns, 8 1/4 acres to Bernard Walther, and about three acres to Thomas Beebe.
On October 15, 1868, they sold a 15 acre tract south of City Road to Rebecca Beebe which she sold to Albert G. Havens of New York City on August 17, 1869.
William Barteau, Harriet’s widower, responsible for his two minor children’s share in their grandfather’s estate and a share of Ruth Chase’s estate, on February 22, 1869 petitioned the Court of Suffolk County for permission to sell their interests to Rebecca Beebe. The report of the referee on May 28 stated that the “buildings and fences are out of repair and the premises lie at waste and produce no income.” The total value of the estate was estimated at about $10,000. On August 15, with Court approval, he sold the children’s interest for $1,227.26 to Rebecca Beebe.
On October 5, 1869, Albert and his wife Nancy sold the Homestead and its 70 acres to Rebecca Beebe for $2.333.33, and four days later Rebecca Beebe and the widow Rebecca Chase sold the 30 northerly acres to Nancy Chase for $600. Three days later, Albert and Nancy sold the Prospect block containing lots 17, 18, 19, and 20 to Lydia Boardman for $33.33. That same day, Albert and Nancy also sold three additional blocks to Lydia for $100.
On January 20, 1870, Lydia sold to Joseph Congdon of Shelter Island and William and James M. Wells of Southold, for $100, a tract of land south of City Road which included what is now called Weck’s Pond.
On February 15, 1870, Lydia sold a Prospect block to David Conklin for $80.
That’s 20 deeds between July 15, 1868 and February 15, 1870! Surely, the Chase family was reorganizing for a big sale. It just seems a bizarre way to have done it.
Actually there are two other indications in the records of what everyone on the Island knew was about to happen to Squire Chase’s estate:
• William Barteau’s February 22, 1869 petition states that “some portions [of the premises] are occupied by the widow and some of the heirs,” “the buildings are very much in need of repair” and “the adult owners thereof are about to sell and dispose of their share...”
• In 1869 the Town fathers voted to build a new bridge across Chase’s Creek connecting the now laid out State Road to Chase’s property. They appropriated $100 provided they could obtain a right-of-way “to the old dock at Prospect.”
An End Note: Marvin Shiebler, who was a member and secretary of the Planning Board appointed by the Town Board in 1931 to assemble a tax map for the Town and who spent a great deal of time in 1931- 1933 attempting to understand land ownership on Shelter Island from 1652, wrote to Ralph Duvall on January 27, 1932: “In reply to your request for the exact date of the purchase of the Prospect property from the Chase family, it is rather difficult to answer. The deed from Rebecca to John E. Searles is dated December 12, 1871, but the records show that it evidently took the Chase family nearly two years to partition and to reassemble all of the parcels in the name of Rebecca C. Beebe.” Shelter Island Historical Society.