Colonizing Southampton

The Transformation of a Long Island Community, 1870-1900

By David Goddard

Subjects: New York/regional, History
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Hardcover : 9781438437972, 386 pages, September 2011
Paperback : 9781438437965, 386 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents

1. Southampton
2. The Beach, the Lake, the Church and the Improvement Association
3. The Association and the Village Community
4. The Medox Bay Affair
5. Mecox Redux
gallery of photographs following page 174

6. Early History of the Shinnecock Hills
7. Partition and Sale of the Hills
8. The Summer Colony Consolidated 1888-1900
9. The Betts Case

A study of the times and life in Southampton, New York between 1870 and 1900.


This book concerns the emergence and impact of the summer colony in the village of Southampton, New York, between the years 1870 and 1900, particularly the often fraught relations between the area's wealthy resort population and its year-round residents. Essentially a study in social change and conflict, the book revolves around a number of key issues that preoccupied inhabitants and summer residents alike and were the subject of great controversy at the time, including beach rights, oyster farming in Mecox Bay, and the loss of the Shinnecock Hills, first by the Native American inhabitants and then by the town itself to outside developers. Due consideration is given to those individuals who played major roles in these disputes. The book also explores salient and significant aspects of Southampton's early history insofar as they relate to the period in question.

David Goddard is a retired Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York and is the author of The Maidstone Links. He currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York.


"In this history, Mr. Goddard has reached beyond the local to produce an analytic study of business interests and conflict. He has deciphered the multiple strands of activity at play and provided judicious explanations of behavior … this detailed book makes significant contributions to our historical understanding … Goddard has forged the often disparate pieces of Southampton history into an interpretive whole, and he has made sense out of the dramas in the town's legal, business, and social history. " — East Hampton Star

"Colonizing Southampton … takes a real look at the historical and economic legacy of the Hamptons, even when it has reared its ugly head. " — Southampton Press

"Goddard's treatment of local history is sophisticated, well informed, and analytically sound. He handles complex concepts adroitly and has made an important contribution to the literature on local history, which has too often been burdened with parochial perceptions and, occasionally, by outright boosterism. " — John A. Strong, author of The Montaukett Indians of Eastern Long Island

"What I find extraordinary is the author's ability to combine depth and breadth in this book. As a person who was born and raised in Southampton and a student of its social dynamics, I particularly admire Goddard's grasp of the often fraught relations between the area's wealthy resort population and its year-round residents. His insights into the economic and social ramifications of their symbiotic but wary relationship are truly impressive, as are his lively portraits of the major figures in that drama. He has treated local history with a rare seriousness and makes an important contribution to social history in America at the end of the nineteenth century. " — Mary Cummings, author of Southampton