It has a great morainal mount. It is the huge hill behind Crescent Beach (170 feet above Greenport Harbor).

From Cedar Island Light, Mashomack Point is only a short canoe distance away.


pre-colonial times -- the Manhanset Indians lived here.

First owner of the land was King James I.

1620 -- Earl of Sterling owned the Island.

1651 -- part of the infamous Triangle Trade, four sugar trade merchants buy Shelter Island for 1,600 pounds of sugar from the Barbados. In fact, the original source for their interest in Shelter Island was its many white oak trees, used to make the casks to ship sugar, rum and molasses. One of the four merchants was Captain Nathaniel Sylvester.

1652 -- Nathaniel Sylvester and wife-to-be Grissell Brinley settle on the Island at Gardiner's Creek. They ran a farm here that provided supplies for the sugar cane industry in the Caribbean.

1650s -- Shelter Island got its name from its history as a shelter to the Quakers during the New England persecutions of the 17th century. The founder of the Quaker faith, George Fox, twice visited the Sylvester family. It is said that Fox preached from the Manor House steps. (In the Quaker burial ground there is a monument to Nathaniel Sylvester.)

1695 -- William Nicoll of Islip buys a large tract of land at Sachem's Neck (Mashomack) from Giles Sylvester. Later William Nicoll II settles on the island. He becomes the town's first supervisor.

Early 18th century -- George Havens purchases 1,000 acres in the center of Shelter Island.

1730 -- 20 families in town; among them the families of William Nicoll II and George Havens.

1742 -- at the birth of James Havens, the Havens home built, 1743. (Today it is the home of the Shelter Island Historical Society.) James later married Elizabeth Bowditch and named the farm "heartsease."

1776 -- delegates to the New York Provincial Congress included James Havens, Daniel Brown and Thomas Dering.

the American Revolution -- the British, anchoring their war ships in Gardiner's Bay, ravage Shelter Island.

1790s -- first schoolhouse erected.

early to mid 1800s -- some of the men of Shelter Island participate in the whaling trade out of Sag Harbor, eight of them losing their life to the industry.

1849 -- some of the Shelter Island whaler head out to California when gold is discovered there. One of them, Francis Marion Smith (of Smith's Cove), makes his fortune controlling the supply of borax coming from the mines of Nevada and California's Death Valley.

Mid-1800s -- menhaden fishing and processing becomes an important Island industry.

1860 -- population 450.

1861-65 -- during the Civil War, five Shelter Island men are killed.

1872 -- the Prospects Hotel and the Chequit Inn open.

1872 -- the area known as Shelter Island Heights (on the U.S. Register and the N.Y. State Register of Historic Places) designed by among others, Frederick Law Olmstead, in a style that combined aspects of the summer resort and religious camp meeting. Robert Morris Copeland laid out the original design for a Methodist-affiliated organization from Brooklyn.

1875 -- Copeland's wood-frame Union Chapel erected in the Grove (where religious camp meetings were held). (It is the oldest public building on the Island.)

1872-1875 -- about 70 cottages build. In the late 1880s 30 cottages added.

1874 -- in today's Dering Harbor Village on Shelter Island, the sprawling, wooden resort hotel the Manhanaset House built in the then popular camp meeting fashion. Among the visitors were Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, bandleader and composer John Philip Sousa, and such members of the New York Yacht Club as financier J. P. Morgan. Among the cottage residents in Dering Harbor were such Broadway figures as David Belasco, Mrs. Leslie Carter, Minnie Maddern Fiske, and Barbara Bel Geddes.

Also around this time, Artemus Ward (manufacturer and philanthropist) buys the Shorewood Farms and provides jobs for quite a few Shelter Island residents.

1890s -- Francis Marion Smith builds his mansion "Presdileau" on the western shore of Clark's Cove.

1910 -- the Manahasset House burns down.

1916 -- village of Dering Harbor incorporated.

early 1950s -- the Farmers' Cooperative run a plant to freeze and package lima beans, cauliflower and oysters.

1993: On Shelter Island, the Town, Suffolk County and The Nature Conservancy work together to preserve a 35-acre federally-designated coastal barrier beach known as "Section Nine."


Herman, Stewart. 2000. "Village of Dering Harbor." Pp. 8-9. Know Your Town, Shelter Island, New York: A Guide to the Town. New York: The League of Women Voters of Shelter Island.

Green, Louise Tuthill. 1997. Images of America: Shelter Island, A Nostalgic Journey. Dover, New Hampshire: Arcadia publishing.

Green, Louise Tuthill. 2000."Island History." Pp. 2-5 in Know Your Town, Shelter Island, New York: A Guide to the Town. New York: The League of Women Voters of Shelter Island.

Green, Louise Tuthill. 2000. "Heights Historic District." Pp. 6-7 in Know Your Town, Shelter Island, New York: A Guide to the Town. New York: The League of Women Voters of Shelter Island.