The HMS Sylph with the HMS Maidstone close behind by B. J. Phillips
The H.M.S. Sylph was constructed in Bermuda in 1812, but was not the first ship to have the name Sylph. Although rated an '18' (based on the number of cannons aboard a traditional sloop-of-war) she was actually armed with sixteen 24-pounder carronades, two long 12-pounders and two 12-pound carronades.
During the months of June and July 1814 the Sylph was extensively active in the interruption of commerce and the capture or destruction of merchant vessels on Long Island Sound. On May 11th the Sylph captured the merchant sloop Grace and took her cargo of iron and dismantled her for fuel. On the 18th the Sylph along with the Frigate H.M.S. Maidstone fired upon a Swedish vessel prior to joining the remainder of the British squadron in blockading the Sound. The blockade, in addition to the Sylph and Maidstone, included the H.M.S. Bulwark and Nimrod. On May 25th the Sylph and Maidstone were engaged in a battle with about a dozen small gunboats under the command of Commodore Lewis. After a three hour battle the American gunboats succeeded in their task of allowing a large contingent of small merchant packets and coasters to pass unmolested past the British warships. At the conclusion of the battle two 74 gun British ships arrived on site and the American forces retreated towards Guilford. The Sylph continued throughout June to make trouble on the Sound. She joined the Maidstone and Belvidera, another frigate, along with the La Hogue, one of the 74 gun ships that had arrived in the Sound in attacking more and more vessels.
In early June the Sloop Nancy was located along near Northville, Long Island when the British arrived, attempting to land marines to destroy the vessel. They were beaten off by the local militia under Capt. John Terry who shot at the marines from the bluffs. Soon after the Sylph arrived and bombarded the cliffs with cannon fire. She was joined by another ship, likely the Maidstone, and together they attempted to drive off the American militia and take the ship, but in the end were unable to capture the Nancy.
The HMS Sylph from a Model—Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England
On June 23, 1814 an early submarine, called the "torpedoe boat" was forced ashore near Horton Point, Southold after her line was cut in an effort to save a man who went overboard. The boat arrived on shore and over the course of the next few days her crew tried to get her off the beach. In the meantime, word was received by the Sylph and Maidstone of the boats arrival and they set course for her. On Sunday, June 26th, 1814 the Sylph and Maidstone arrived off of Horton Point and launched several small barges (or skiffs) with armed men intent on destroying the "torpedoe boat." Several members of the Sag Harbor militia who were present fired upon the British, who took at least four men either killed or wounded. The militia was forced to retreat and the British succeeded in landing on the Beach and burning the "torpedoe boat." The boat was one of the earliest forms of submarine to be engaged in naval battles.
This unassuming punch bowl which has been displayed in the Thomas Moore/Samuel Landon house for many years has a very interesting note attached to its record.
According to the donors, the bowl is a Lowestoft Chinese bowl from the 1700s. It was used by Captain James Fanning and some members of Wickham family during the American Revolution to drink a toast after giving their allegiance to the King.
Can the story be proven… sadly no, but the story and to some extent the bowl does represent the divided loyalties that existed in Southold during the war.
May 28, 2020
Traveling salesmen sold blue panes of glass to the rural population as a cure-all for diseases, broken legs, tuberculosis, and any malaise you might dream up. The sun filtered through the colored glass to the patient on the bed and supposedly killed all germs and stopped infection! This pane which has been installed in the master bedroom at the Ann Currie Bell house was used by Mrs. David Austin Horton, Bay View, Southold.
May 26, 2020
Edith Mitchill Prellwitz (1864-1944) wasn’t playing hard-to-get when she refused Henry Prellwitz’s entreaties to marry her. She had studied at the Art Student’s League in New York City with such luminaries such as William Merrit Chase, and at the Academie Julien in Paris. A woman of her time, she felt she could not fulfill the roles of both wife and of artist—and artist came first. She wrote, “I will not be a dabbler. I cannot and care not to marry. I would rather die than live long in this humdrum way.”
But persistence was Henry’s long suite and he eventually persuaded her to marry him, promising always to honor her as an artist.
In 1911, driving east, they spotted an old farmhouse that was due for demolition. They had it taken apart, barged and rebuilt on Indian Neck in Peconic, near the summer homes of their good friends, artists Irving Wiles and Edward August Bell. “High House” sits on a cliff overlooking the vast expanse of Peconic Bay. Henry built twin “His and Hers” studios adjacent to the main house, and always kept his promise.
Edith, who was one of the most important American painters of her time, holds the honor of being the first woman ever to be chosen as a member of the National Academy. She founded the Woman’s Art Club, which later became the National Association of Women Artists. Both Edith and Henry Prellwitz painted in a variety of media and created works with varied subject matter, landscapes, seascapes, marine paintings and allegories. Their works hang in major collections including the Metropolitan Museum. Their great-grandaughter, artist Wendy Prellwitz, lives in High House and paints in their studios.
May 21, 2020
This is a photo of the Albertson livery in Southold with Corey Albertson, Harry Howell, and Clinton Carrole holding two horses in front of the barn. Writing on the back of the photo identifies the barn as the Corey Barn (now gone). The barn originally stood on the east side of Youngs Avenue at the intersection of Youngs Avenue and Travelers Street.
May 18, 2020
Whitney Myron Hubbard (1875-1965) was a familiar sight in and around Greenport. From the time his father moved the family from Connecticut to the Village, he left only to attend Wesleyan University and later, classes at New York City’s Art Students’ League. After teaching school in Greenport for several years, Hubbard declared himself an artist, and became an incredibly prolific one. The Village and its surrounding fields and woods, shorelines and harbors, were his world. He painted in watercolor, oils, tempera and drew with pastels and experimented in a range of styles, including Pointillism, Impressionism and realism. Sailboats, fishing boats and schooners were favorite subjects, as were portraits of his beloved wife, Ruth, often painted in their beautiful English-style garden.
Money was never plentiful in the Hubbard household. Hubbard taught outdoor classes, charging a mere $3.00 a class. Many of his pictures are small in format, because he often was unable to buy canvases or canvas boards, and resorted to painting on cigar or candy boxes. He sometimes bartered his paintings, or sold them for a pittance. Ruth supplemented their income by giving voice and piano lessons. During his long lifetime, his works were exhibited widely. They are included in collections all over the country and in libraries, historical societies, museums and private collections throughout Long Island. Southold Historical Society owns many of his works.
May 14, 2020
Can you help us identify where this photo was taken?
The description we have of the photo “the Elwood Garage area, looking west.” Two sets of gas pumps, Sinclair and Socony, are identifiable in the photo as well as Elwood Garage. Across the street is Fischer's garage.
We would love to expand the description. Please share what you know and remember. Perhaps you might even have another photo of the garage you’d like to share?
May 7, 2020
“Whiskey in the Jar”
If you read the box carefully you will see that this bottle of whiskey was for medicinal use only! That’s because during Prohibition, if your doctor determined that bending the elbow was necessary for your health, you could get a prescription for whiskey!
The government limited the number of prescriptions for this ‘cure’ that a doctor could write and carefully oversaw the production of medicinal whiskey. The punch line in old movies as a person takes a drink and says, “it’s for my health” had a different meaning for people during the Prohibition.
April 30, 2020
An odd item in the collection of Southold Historical Society is this fraternal ribbon for the Foresters of America. The red, white, and blue striped ribbon has a brass metal frame and pin, holding a round multicolored medallion with the symbol of the F. of A. This was a typical ribbon given to members when they joined or attended conferences of the organization. The pin has a red satin underlying ribbon with "Court Yennicock, NO. 495, F. of A., Southold, N. Y."
The organization can be traced to a British club whose mission was to care for the sick. The American version of the group became independent from the UK Foresters in 1874. In the United States, the group was one of the leading fraternal benefit societies. At its height in 1906, the membership tipped just over a quarter of a million.
While Court Yennicock, F. of A. no longer exists in Southold, the larger parent group still operates out of Toronto, Canada.
April 23, 2020
Southold Historical Society discussed the changes in agriculture and the prominence of vineyards, question arose about what we collect? When does something become historic? What about contemporary artifacts? How do we decided what is significant?
Southold Historical Society decided that vineyards and wineries are very much a part of our contemporary history and artifacts related to them are worthy of collecting. But what artifacts can we collect from the vineyard farming and wineries? Unfortunately, much of the equipment used to cultivate grapes and make wine is enormous. As we found out with our antique farm tool collection, we simple do not have enough room to store large items.
What we can collect are small artifacts, like vintage bottles of wine. This is an autographed bottle from the first year of Hargrave Vineyard.
April 17, 2020
Like maps, aerial photos can be intriguing. As time goes by and development inevitably takes place, it is fascinating to look at old photos for landmarks and see the changes that have occurred. Years ago, the late Donald Tuthill, flew overhead in his airplane and used his camera to capture this view of the largely undeveloped land. The photo is of the intersection of Boisseau Avenue and the North Road, which at the time was known as Route 27. While the view may look different now, those who have lived in and visited our area for many years can still see this landscape in their mind's eye.
April 9, 2020
When we began writing a description for this photo, the idea was to compare the small size of this IGA grocery store to the significantly larger sizes of grocery stores today. In this photo, you can see there are just three aisles for shoppers to browse. Signs in the windows that advertise fryers for 27 cents a pound and Campbell's soup for 10 cents a can!
April 2, 2020
The building dates back to pre-1858. Southold Historical Society is proud to be stewards of the Bayview School house.
Do you recognize this farm building? With the front door enlarged – it can be hard to identify the Bayview School house in this photo. The school was closed in 1926. Like so many other buildings in the town, instead of being demolished, it was reused. In this case, the structure became a machine shop on the Dickerson family farm. In 1990, the family gave the building to the town as a monument for the 350th anniversary. It was moved to the Historical Society in 1990 and is now used to teach the educational history of Southold.
March 27, 2020
It is always amazing how far items from Southold wander across the country. Take for example this pennant. It was made between 1900 -1920. This type of flag was sold or given to high school students as a school spirit item. It’s not an item that you would expect to wander too far from the area.
We received a call from a gentleman who told us that he bought an auction lot and found the pennant included in the box. When he sent the pennant to us, we found that he was from Brownsburg, Indiana!