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These men were forerunners of the club organized by August Belmont in New York City in 1858. This group included John Van Buren, the president's son, Peleg Hall, W. Butler Duncan, Walter Sherman, and Joseph Grafton. Webster was never a member of the club; he died in 1852. The Suffolk Club, as they were called, bought piecemeal, from 20 owners, a total of 1500 acres around the pond and the old mill. [p. 172]
[For example, he says the South Haven Presbyterian Church was moved to Brookhaven hamlet "to make way for the highway." The South Haven Presbyterian Church was moved to Brookhaven hamlet in December 1960, but the four-lane Sunrise Highway extension had nothing to do with why it was moved. The sentence is, at least, an improvement over the reason Karas gave for moving the church in his Sports Illustrated article on Webster and the Big Fish that was published prior to 1967: "Over the years the congregation dwindled to the point where the church was of little use." The congregation still exists and is thriving.]
[The comment that "Webster was never a member of the club" is also misleading. The Suffolk Club surely existed informally, and with that name, long before it was incorporated. This is supported by the Club's purchase of a pew in the South Haven Presbyterian Church. In 1840, the congregation decided to purchase back the pews and make them freely available to anyone who wished to worship in the meeting house, so the Suffolk Club almost certainly purchased its pew before that date.]
Among the members [of the Suffolk Club], over a period of years, were August Belmont, George W. Wickersham, Frances [sic.] Augustus Schermerhorn, Commodore Robert Bourne, Joseph Grafton, William Meyer, Thomas Meyer, John Cadwalder [sic.], Charles Strong, Fred D. Tappan, John Campbell, Daniel B. Fearing, John Schuyler, Anson W. Hard, A. J. Smith, Henry Von L. Meyer, George Von L. Meyer, Dr. George Wheelock, and Evelyn Roosevelt.
New York Times, 06 Jun 1878Many of the guests paid a visit to the splendid private trout pond which stretches in front of the house. It covers 50 acres, and has two island in it. It is fed by a brook four miles long. An attempt was recently made to clean the pond, and in transferring the fish the majority of them died; so that it will have to be restocked.
At Fire Place there is the long-famous pond known as Mr. Samuel Carman's. It covers about forty acres, and is valued at $20,000. There is, in conjunction with this pond, a very fine clubhouse, which is used by the New-York Associations, and occasionally by Mr. August Belmont.At Bellport there is a pond, known as Osborne's, covering fifteen acres, and valued at $15,000.At Islip there is a well-known pond, which is used by the South-side Club, and a second pond has only lately been finished. The main pond covers thirty acres, and the other about four acres. Both are very find, and are valued at $100,000.. . . At Patchogue is what has long been known as Swan Creek Pond--a large and very beautiful body of water, which covers twenty acres, and is valued at $20,000. The water is excellent, and the privileged sportsmen who have thrown their fly in it, consider it the "handsomest stream on the South-side.". . . Babylon is noted for its several private ponds, which are owned by men of presumed extraordinary wealth. Here, in connection with his residence and somewhat famous stables, Mr. August Belmont, the banker, has a very fine small pond, valued at $9,000. Mr. Royal Phelps of New-York, has one on his place, which is valued at $8,000. Both gentlemen have find lodges on their grounds, and also notably attractive improvements.
Suffolk Club Members (or who fished there)
1. Joseph Grafton
2. James N. Platt, partner in the law firm of Platt & Bowers, died 16 Jun 1894May 1877
1. John M. Bowers, partner in the law firm of Platt & Bowers, died Mar 1918April 1, 1880 (the following had gone to Yaphank to be present at the opening of the Suffolk Club [for that season])1. August Belmont2. Fred Schuchardt3. Henry Fearing4. George Fearing5. Henry Meyer6. Thomas Meyer7. Peter TownsendApril 2, 1882. Fourteen total members.
1. Capt. Joseph Grafton, President
2. Henry Fearing
3. James Platt
4. John Campbell
5. Peleg Hall
6. J. L. Cadwalader
7. Thomas Meyer (Suffolk Club also mentioned in letter from nephew in April 1905)
8. Peter Townsend.March 31, 1894 (The NY Times confuses the location of the Suffolk Club with the baseball club of the same name in Huntington.)
1. C. H. Horsman
2. Charles E. Strong
3. John Cadwalader
4. H. FearingAug and Nov 1901.
1. Frederick Augustus Schermerhorn, died 20 March 1919. ("He never married although his tastes were distinctly domestic.")April 1905
1. Thomas Meyer (in George von Lengerke Meyer: His Life and Public Service, p. 145.)
The Suffolk Club, a very exclusive association, which has a membership of 14, owns a charming sylvan retreat at South Haven near Yaphank. The club-house is snugness itself, and the cellars and cuisine are praised by those who have been so fortunate as to be entertained as guests. It has two tree-embowered lakes in which the trout grow very large. The water is exceedingly pure and so full of nourishment for the Fontinalis that they are, to all intents wild trout as they are never fed. The current through the lake to the east is Carman's River. It takes its source at Virgin Springs, on the pine forest plain, and after crossing the highway below the lakes broadens into a wide, lively, pleasant brook terminating in the Great South Bay two miles from the club-house. Recently the Suffolk Club obtained control of Carman's River, and grand fashioning for estuary trout is looked for. The river will be improved and stocked, and will be in the near future the main attraction of the club. It is navigable from the Great South Bay for a long distance, partly under a thick growth of timber, and where the trees are it is cool in the hottest weather. The country is sparsely settled in the neighborhood and only one house is seen from the club-house to the mouth of Carman's River. Capt. Joseph Grafton is President of the club, but be is now in Europe. The opening day was observed by Messrs. Henry Fearing, James Platt, John Campbell, Peleg Hall, J. L. Cadwallader, Thomas Meyer, and Peter Townsend. The members are not limited to any number of trout to be caught in one day. The amount of their "catch" is regulated by their consciences and their skill.
Mr. August Belmont will probably fish on his preserve near Islip. Some of his friends have been invited to go there.
Over the years, they continued to purchase land along the river, eventually totaling 3,473 acres. Their main interest was hunting and fishing so they maintained the land and water for the protection and propagation of game, birds and fish. The Club established a trout hatchery in 1870. Although it has had two prior locations, its present location has been propagating fish successfully since 1890.
In 1963, the Club sold the property to
for $6.2 million. The Club leased back the property for an additional ten years. In August of 1973, the facility officially became a New York State New York State Park
Frederick G. Bourne joined the South Side Sportsman's Club in September 1890. See: http://books.google.com/books?id=NOA-AAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
Suffolk Co. Steamboat Company - c. 90, 1839.
Suffolk Co. Society - c. 272, 1860.
Clever Fellows' Club - c. 383, 1864.Izaak Walton Fishing Club, De Ruyter, c. 184, 1864.Southside Sportsman's Club, Long Island, c. 346, 1866.Cortland Co. Sportman's Club - c. 675, 1866.Sportsman's Club, Kinderhook - c. 811, 1866.Long Island Club - c. 156, 1871.
Note on Peter Townsend: Peter Townsend was born on the Sterling Iron tract, a huge iron deposit in Orange and Rockland Counties that runs down into New Jersey. The tract was owned by the Sterling Iron Works that had been founded by his grandfather. He was born on 13 May 1803 and later lived at 32 E. 23rd St. in Manhattan where he died on 26 Sep 1885. "Mr. Townsend had a striking figure. He was tall and powerful and weighed over 240 pounds." according to the New York Sun, 27 Sep 1885.