A Place Called Prospect: 1836 to 1876
by Patricia and Edward Shillingburg © 2004
Frederick Chase (1784-1857) was thought to have owned all of the peninsula now known as The Heights on Shelter Island by the time of his death. This was not true. During the 1830’s he planned a village at a Place called Prospect on the peninsula and sold lots to members of his family and friends from Greenport and Southold. Between 1867 and 1872, the Reverend John E. Searles (1819-1893) and his son, also John E. Searles (1840-1908), agents of a group of Methodists from Brooklyn, consolidated ownership of the peninsula -- about 24 deeds -- in their name, and on August 6, 1872 the Reverend sold what was described in the deed as the entire peninsula to the Shelter Island Grove and Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church (the Association). Four additional transactions were required, however, and the Association itself completed the consolidation in 1875.
This is the story of two efforts to develop this very desirable place, one in 1836 and the other in 1872 -- both of which failed to measure up to the aspiration of the developers.
Edward Shillingburg received his B.A. from Stanford University and his L.LB. from Harvard University. Patricia Shillingburg received her B.A. in History from Wheaton College, Norton, MA.
For five years they have created a body of work, using primary sources, about local history for the Shelter Island Historical Society. Their work can be viewed at www.shelter island.org/new_history.html
See also Shillingburg, Patricia, The Jony Case Letters: A Forgotten Civil War Surgeon, Long Island Forum, Summer 2003, page 22, and Fall 2003, page 13.
The paper with all of its 201 End Notes is on file at the Shelter Islad Historical Society.