Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Friday, November 26, 2010






by Tom Quinn

National Wire- History/ Archaeology

Saltaire, New York, November 22, 2012

The shifting sands of Fire Island,   New York caused by subtropical storm  Sandy  have uncovered  wreckage of a Dutch registry ship from 1600. The discovery of the ship, including a watertight cash box containing a few coins,  a ship log and a community log, establish that there was a community of Dutch settlers on Fire Island that lasted for about two and one half years before mysteriously disappearing in 1603.

Perhaps most startling, the tiny Dutch community celebrated a "Thanksgiving" festival in 1601 and 1602 at the site of the present-day Saltaire on Fire Island. "This establishes that the first Thanksgiving in the New World was a celebrated on Fire Island 19 years before the Pilgrims set foot at Plymouth Rock." according to Professor John Crackinkle of Springfield College in Massachusetts, a leader in the study.

Startling Wreckage on the Oceanfront at Saltaire, Fire Island. Scientists note that the ship's log refers to this  location  as "Lynch's gut" indicating that there was apparently  a small ocean-to bay inlet or "cut"  near present-day Atlantic Walk in Saltaire.

The wreckage included   a large wooden sculpture that naval historians have identified as the ship’s figurehead. That led to Springfield College’s archiologists to dig deeper in the sand,  team to scour and the hull of the ship was recovered nearby.

The  discovery has not been reported publicly because of an ongoing criminal investigation in which Saltaire Village records have been impounded by a Suffolk County grand jury. Additionally, a court overseeing an ongoing civil lawsuit against the Village recently issued a "gag order" prohibiting any public statements by Village officials about the value of the discovered artifacts. The civil action seeks to attach what are claimed to be "Valuable Village assets" that could be sold to pay for judgments in a series of pending lawsuits against the Village.

By all appearances, the ship, registered in Amsterdam in 1600 as the "Beaverflower” did not wreck on Fire Island. It apparently lay abandoned at anchor on the oceanfront  for many years about 100  yards south of Saltaire, near a location referred to in the ship's  log as "Lynch's gut." Eventually, tidal forces dragged the ship into the gut itself, causing a blockage, causing sand to fill in the "gut" and covering the shipwreck for four and one half centuries until Sandy excavated it.

Records found in the ship’s log indicate that the small Dutch community, although based on the island itself, continued to use the Beaverflower as a repository for records, and possibly as a meeting place. Hence, the ship log served as a sort of community history book until the community mysteriously disappeared.

There are no diary entries after March, 1603 . Researchers theorize that the ship and community was abandoned, probably suddenly or violently, because the ship was left moored but unmanned about 100 feet north of Saltaire. Years, perhaps decades later, the ship eventually sank in the bay, and was forgotten to history.

The mystery surrounding disappearance of the colony without a trace is sure to create controversy among historians for years to come. Although the ship’s log makes no reference to any problems with Native Americans or other Europeans, there are several notes about “creatures” or “bush babies” dwelling in sand dunes that may have raided the settlement from time to time.

Historical treasures recovered included the ship’s log and other documents that had been stored in a water tight chest in the captain’s quarters. The figurehead, a five and one half foot long sculpture of a beaver, is being donated to Springfield College for installation at “Cracktinkle Hall.” Other items from the ship, described by historians as “priceless” will be sold to set up a scholarship fund for non athletes at Springfield College.

--story developong


cosmo said...

Nice research, but one major problem is that there was no Fire Island in 1600 where Saltaire is now cited. The end of Fire Island was just west of Sunken Forest in 1600.

JO'H said...

this calls for a major story by cosmo about the shifting sands of Fire Island. I think we should mount an expedition this summer to West Fire Island with that Saltaire friend of yours who is a archaeologist by profession. If Saltaire was not there in 1600, West Fire Islands may have been barrier beaches. We must search for geological footprints in the bogs of West Islands. Perhaps a prehistoric surf board.

cosmo said...

I cannot dispute that there is indeed a possibility that, since East and West Fire Island existed c. 1601, there could have been a Thanksgiving there. As far as Bilbo and me going back to that tick and mosquito infested fen, I'll just accept it on faith.

Anonymous said...

What a fascinating piece of historical revisionism! Recently discovered, long forgotten research, published during the 18th century in Holland notes that survivors of the Dutch community in Saltaire returned to Europe on commandeered Viking craft. Shortly after the initial settlement, wayward Norwegian plunderers were lured towards the beach village by large bonfires, hence the name Fire Island. There was a small period of inter-breeding. The Norwegian leader, Helge Ringnes and the Dutch pioneer Hans Heineken then made the refreshingly collective decision to return to the old world to open breweries in Oslo and Amsterdam.

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