About Eaton's Neck
“We passed the farm buildings, and then the tower of white
rose from the trees as the carriage wound its way along the gravel road.
The keeper had a white picket fence installed which nicely complimented the
black shutters and grey roof of his dwelling.”
DeLamater House Diary, Eaton’s Neck 1898.
Eaton’s Neck is located on the north shore of Long Island, New
York and is a peninsula, which extends into Long Island Sound. It is
approximately 45 miles from Manhattan and is part of the Town of Huntington.
It connects to the mainland of Long Island at Northport through the Asharoken
isthmus. Eaton’s Neck is surrounded by beaches but is heavily wooded with
hills and valleys. At its highest point, it is approximately 135 feet
above sea level. Today, Eaton’s Neck consists of approximately 1000 homes
on about 1500 acres of land which can be divided into four general areas:
Eaton’s Neck Beach, Eaton’s Harbor, North Creek, and Asharoken. There are
only a few additional building plots still remaining in the area.
Eaton’s Neck, Asharoken and Northport, all share the same ZIP
code (11768). Eaton’s Neck residents are dependent on Asharoken,
Northport, Huntington, and Suffolk County for access and services. The
closest restaurants, drug stores, post office, supermarkets, boutiques and gas
stations are in Northport, more than five miles away. Students attend and
use Northport-East Northport schools and libraries. Police, water and
judicial services are provided by Suffolk County. Roads, sanitation
removal and general services are provided by the Town of Huntington, while fire
protection is provided by the Eaton’s Neck Fire Department.
Time has been kind to Eaton’s Neck, and it has retained most
of its early beauty. Although erosion and hurricanes have damaged the
beaches and woods, the hills and shores are still unmatched for their beauty,
charisma, and charm. Wildlife still exists and occasionally a red fox or
pheasant is still sighted. Eaton’s Neck is rich in birds. Its
position on the Atlantic flyway brings a great variety of transient birds in
addition to the birds that stay all year long. Giant oaks, tulip and birch
trees still stand. The wild beach plum and shad bush still line the beach
road, and the woods are bright with spice bush, dogwood, azalea, and
rhododendron. Until 1925, only a few families enjoyed and cherished this
rare beauty. Now more than 1000 families have that privilege. It is
hoped that every effort will be made to conserve this natural beauty.
POENB is committed to that goal.
Prior to claims of title by the Dutch and English, Eaton’s
Neck was occupied by the Matinnecock Indians. Their chief was Asharoken
(also spelled Resoroken). The Matinecocks (one of thirteen tribes on Long
Island) occupied and claimed ownership of the north shore of Long Island from
Hempstead to Smithtown. In 1646, Theophilus Eaton, governor of New Haven
purchased the peninsula from the Matinnecock Indians. There is no longer
any documentation of the original deed for this purchase. Its existence
and validity are attested to by its reference in other deeds. Furthermore,
in 1663, a statement was signed by the Indians (by a cross, the mark X) in the
presence of English witnesses affirming the sale to Theophilus Eaton. The
Matinnecocks saw nothing irregular in selling the same land to multiple
purchasers. For example on July 30, 1656, in another Indian deed, Chief
Asharoken sold to Jonas Wood, William Rogers and Thomas Wilkes of Huntington the
north side of Long Island from Cow Harbor (Northport) to the Neesaquock River
(Smithtown). The language is not clear but seems to include Eaton’s Neck
and Crab Meadow. Furthermore, in 1762 another deed from the three
surviving heirs of Chief Asharoken, specifically includes Eaton’s Neck and Crab
Meadow, again selling the land to the trustees of Huntington. As a result
of the multiple sales, the Town of Huntington filed at least three law suits but
was unsuccessful in obtaining ownership of the land.
In 1662, William Jones, who was married to Hannah Eaton (the
daughter of Theophilus), sold Eaton’s Neck to Captain Robert Seeley.
Captain Seeley settled George Baldwin on Eaton’s Neck who built a house and
worked the land. A year later, on July 29, 1663, Captain Seeley sold
Eaton’s Neck to George Baldwin. It is believed that Captain Seeley sold
the land before he ever made a payment to William and Hannah Jones. Five
years later, on July 11, 1668, George Baldwin sold Eaton’s Neck to Alexander
Bryan and his son Richard. The Bryan family owned and occupied Eaton’s
Neck for more than forty years (from 1668 until 1711).
The Bryan's held political contacts in Huntington and were
able to soften the bad feelings with the Town of Huntington over the ownership
of Eaton’s Neck. Despite the earlier deeds, the Bryan family must have had
a legal problem with William and Hannah Jones. It is possible that Captain
Seeley never paid the Joneses for the land he sold to George Baldwin. In
any event, another deed filed November 13, 1684, between the Jones’ and the
Bryan’s sells Eaton’s Neck to the Bryan’s for 30 pounds.
In colonial times, Long Islanders were British subjects who
came under the jurisdiction of the Colonial Governor of New York. The only
exception to this rule were areas which were formed into “royal manors.”
Each manor had a “Lord” and a “Manor House.” The English Lords were rulers
of their own territory and responsible only to the King. Once the legal
problems with the Joneses were solved, Alexander and Richard Bryan applied to
Governor Thomas Dongan for a “Lordship and Manor” patent for Eaton’s Neck.
On August 23, 1686, Governor Dongan granted the application, which made Eaton’s
Neck virtually an independent municipal government. It is believed that
the original house built by Geroge Balwin was modified to become the manor
house, Cherry Lawn. The Lordship and Manor of Eaton’s Neck was one of six
royal manors on Long Island.
On September 11, 1711, Alexander and Richard Bryan sold all
but the 21 acres of Duck Island of the Lordship and Manor of Eaton’s Neck to
John Sloss for 1650 pounds. It is interesting to note that 32 years later
in 1743, Alexander Bryan paid the Town of Huntington 37 pounds 11 shillings and
9 pence to obtain a release and settlement from all judgments, quarrels and
controversies over the ownership of the land. Thus, nearly one hundred
years after Theophilus Eaton secured Eaton’s Neck from the Indians, the
resulting bitterness felt by the Town of Huntington over the ownership of the
land (due to the multiple deeds), seemed to come to an end.
John Sloss died ten years after he acquired Eaton’s Neck.
He left the Manor of Eaton to his three daughters, Sarah, Ellen, and Deborah.
Ellen married the Reverend Noah Hobart and had a son, John Sloss Hobart (a
Revolutionary War Hero, Judge, and U.S. Senator who helped get the lighthouse
bill passed and signed by President John Adams) who was born on May 6, 1738.
From the will of Sarah and Ellen, the Manor of Eaton was passed on to John Sloss
Hobart. In 1788 Hobart sold Eaton’s Neck to the Robert Watts family of New
York City although the deed does not appear to have ever been recorded.
Four years later, on May 15, 1792, a deed records the sale of Eaton’s Neck from
Robert and Mary Watts to John Gardiner. Ironically, the presiding judge of
this transaction was John Sloss Hobart. It is also interesting to note
that this deed is still recorded as the Manor of Eaton, even though the
revolutionary war ended all feudal manor rights.
John Gardiner was married three times (Johanna, Rachel, and
Hannah) and had nine children, all with Johanna. He lived in the
pre-revolutionary war house, no doubt the manor house, called Cherry Lawn.
His father, Lion Gardiner, purchased Gardiner’s Island from the Indians in 1638.
In 1798, John and Johanna deeded 10 acres of land to the
United States Government for $500 for the construction of the lighthouse.
His son John H. Gardiner became the first keeper of the lighthouse. John
Gardiner, his three wives, John H. Gardiner, his wife Abigail and daughter
Jennett, Jonathan (son of John and Johanna) and his two wives Sally and Fanny
and some of their children, Albert, Sarah and Eliza (Sandford) and a few other
relatives are all buried in the Gardiner Graveyard located on a little hill
across the road from where the Cherry Lawn Manor House once stood.
When John Gardiner died in 1813, his sons John H. Gardiner and
Jonathan Gardiner bought out the other family children heirs for $12,500.
Jonathan and his family then lived in Cherry Lawn. In 1815, Jonathan
bought back Duck Island. In 1822, a small one-room schoolhouse was opened
for the Gardiner family children as well as other children living on Eaton’s
Neck. In 1850, John H. Gardiner deeded the land for the schoolhouse to
School District 27. The school district lasted until 1922 when a
consolidated school district began in Northport. The original schoolhouse,
now a private residence, still stands on the corner of Eaton’s Neck Road and
When Jonathan Gardner died in 1833, his son William moved into
Cherry Lawn and another son George moved into Oakleaf. Oakleaf, a
farmhouse, was built in 1784 by John Sloss Hobart on a high bluff overlooking
Duck Island Harbor and is still standing today. No one knows what happened
to Cherry Lawn, the original manor house. It is believed to have fallen
apart sometime between 1931 and 1935. Jonathan’s daughter, Sarah,
inherited Duck Island and another daughter, Eliza (who married Charles Hewlett
Jones of the prestigious Long Island Jones Family), inherited all of West Beach.
In 1840, Benjamin Franklin Gardiner (another son of John H.
Gardiner) and his wife Maria began the breakup and sale of Eaton’s Neck into
smaller holdings by selling 200 acres around Walnut Neck to Zephaniah P. Brush.
Eventually Brush lost the land by foreclosure and it was sold to Mary Skidmore
in 1843. In 1856 it was sold to William Beebe. After the death of
John H. Gardner in 1854, Benjamin Franklin Gardiner and the other heirs sold the
bulk of John H. Gardiner’s land to William Cassidy of Brooklyn for $1500.
In 1862, Cornelius H. and Ruth O. DeLamater purchased most of
the land previously owned by the Gardiner Family. The only exceptions were
the land belonging to Eliza Gardner Jones and Duck Island which was sold by the
Sarah Gardiner trust to the Rowland family in 1868. DeLamater purchased
Walnut Neck from William Beebe which resulted in the creation of Beacon Farm.
The farm provided fresh milk, eggs, and poultry for the family. DeLamater
also purchased the Cassidy land, Cherry Lawn from William Gardiner, and Oakleaf
from George Gardiner. Thus once again Eaton’s Neck was predominately owned
by one family. The DeLamater’s rebuilt the Beebe’s farmhouse which is
known today as the Bevin house. The DeLamater’s called it “Vermland” in
honor of their friend and business associate Captain John Ericsson (who was born
in Vermland, Sweeden). The DeLamater’s had a son and five daughters who
inherited all of the land. Laura, the oldest daughter, married Curt
Ramshom and had a son, Oakley. Oakley married Elizabeth Hasbrouk and built
the Crest house. Curt Ramshom died four years later, and Laura then
remarried to Leander A. Bevin and had two more sons, Sydney and Victor. As
the oldest daughter she inherited Vermland. Sarah married George H.
Robinson and built and lived in the Robinson house (the Point). They had a
son, Attmore, and three daughters, Ruth, Laura, and Edith. Attmore married
Annette Colgate of the Colgate family and moved to Smithtown. Ruth married
Harry E. Donnell and built the Hill house. Laura married Harry’s brother
William B. Donnell. Lydia married John Robins and lived in the Walnut Neck
farmhouse which was renamed the Robins’ Nest. Zillah, the fourth daughter
married George H. More and received Cherry Lawn. The youngest daughter,
Adah, married Charles Vezin and inherited Oakleaf. William DeLamater, the
only son of Cornelius and Ruth never married.
In time the DeLamater-Robinson-Donnell estate began to break
up. One of the first sales was to Dr. Frank L. Babbott, Jr. Dr.
Babbott expanded and lived in the house across from Bevin Road by the Sound and
later rented it to Eugene O’Neill who wrote some of his great plays there.
In 1927 the Eaton’s Harbors Corporation was formed to sell the rest of the
estate. Gradually homes began to appear on the streets of Eaton’s Neck.
Henry Morgan bought approximately 440 acres and built a large house overlooking
the Sound. The Bevin and the Vezin heirs also began to sell their
The part of the neck (West Beach, today Prices Bend) which was
not owned by the DeLamater’s was owned by Eliza and Charles Jones. After
their death in 1882, their daughter Mary inherited the land. Mary married
her cousin Oliver Jones and in 1884 leased some of the land to Nicholas Godfrey
for sand removal. Godfrey built several structures and the area became
know as Port Eaton. Later the Steers Sand and Gravel Company leased the
site and renamed it Sand City, a name that still applies today, though the
mining of sand ceased in 1964. To obtain additional money, she leased
Locust Grove (today, Valley Grove) to Benjamin Mitchell who opened a dance
pavilion and hotel, with a dock, picnic area and carrousel. The facility
primarily catered to excursion steamboats from New York City. Mary had six
children who later inherited the land. In 1920, her daughter Rosalie
installed a toll gate where the firehouse stands today and charged people $1 to
park for the day. She also allowed people to build and use summer
bungalows on the estate for a yearly fee. In 1953 the estate was
subdivided and later sold to the Eaton’s Neck Sound Corporation for $360,000.
The Eaton’s Neck Sound Corporation then resold the individual subdivided
The information presented above was compiled and
summarized from the following two sources:
“History of Eaton’s Neck” by Mary Voyse, 1955
“Faded Laurels - The History of Eatons Neck and
Asharoken” by Edward A.T. Carr, Heart of the Lakes Publishing, 1994.