Compiled by Madeline Fitzpatrick, Babylon Town Historian
The Barrier beaches were part of the Town of Huntington 1663-1872
1663 – People were actually grazing livestock on the Barrier Island this early date. Records of Agricultural Supervisor ordered residents to stop their swine from trampling the salt meadows and enforced a forfeiture of seven shillings for each load of salt hay mowed.
April 1671 – Huntington also placed a fine of five pounds for everyone found on Marshes on the Island in September. These marshes were prized by early settlers up until the 1800’s.
April 4, 1785 – The first Post Revolutionary lease was made to Joshua Ketcham. However, private homes were never allowed on the Island even though shelters for watchmen guarding the valuable oyster beds were permitted.
1845 – Leased a piece of land to John L. Korthwright.
1866 – Records show another lese to Timothy S. Carll for 12 years at $50 per year for the privilege of planting oysters and erecting a house for some person to live and protect said privilege. Other de-facto shelters existed before 1845.
Town of Babylon was formed in 1872 by a partition of the Town of Huntington.
1872 – Babylon Town Board minutes indicate that no hay cutting or cattle grazing was allowed for 6 years. The Town hired grass cutters and auctions were held on Babylon docks. They also did away with leases of lands under water since rights of lease of navigable waters us doubted.
1878 – A lease arrangement was made between Babylon and Islip on April 2nd to share each others waters in the Great South Bay for oyster planting purposes. Within weeks of this agreement the first lease to build a hut was granted to Erastus Tooker. On November 7, 1878 Charles J. Duryea, President of Babylon Town Board was authorized to sign a 21 year lease on Oak Island Beach for 18 Babylon residents with express intention that lease holders could utilize lots for recreational and residential purposes. This was known as the Oyster Planters and Businessman’s Association of Babylon.
1879 – On august 13th Babylon’s Trustees also authorized leases for members of the Oyster Planters Association of Amityville for lots on Oak Island. The public was allowed access to all islands except in July and august. The only exception was men from the U.S. Lifesaving Station.
Oak Island Leases Begin
1879 – The first privately owned cottage on Babylon’s Bay Island was build by Henry Livingston and was called Little Rest.
1882-1883 – The second house was build by Benjamin Field.
1884 – Charles Searle built the 3rd house. Alanso Weeks, James Cooper, Jeramiah Robbins and Frederick Thorpe joined their 3 friends by building houses.
1886 – The first on Oak Beach was build by Charles B. Arnold, a prosperous West Babylon farmer.
1894 – The largest lease granted was to Oak Beach Association, when Reverend John Dietrich Long, Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Babylon obtained a 50 year lease from the Town of Babylon for land on the eastern end of Oak Island for a religious retreat and cultural center. The Reverend Lon built a Community Center large enough to seat an audience of 1,000 people – “it stands on a high table of land and has spacious verandas on three sides’.
1895 – The Grand opening was to be celebrated on July 4th. There was scheduled to be a clam bake, a patriotic concert and fireworks. However, the day arrived with torrential rains. That, the mosquitoes, and other social problems soon soured Reverend Long’s dream of a religious camp and he abandoned the project after the first year. While the Association proved a failure as a religious retreat it was a success as a residential colony and induced people to build more expensive homes.
1896 – The Oak Island Beach Association was granted its original lease by Babylon Town Board on March 7, 1896. The lease was for nine years – rent of $100 as year plus $5.00 rent per year for each house with the understanding that a minimum of 20 houses would be constructed before the lease expired. The lease also stated that rent would be paid on all property regardless of whether a house was built. This is still in effect today