Ralph Dayton and East Hampton Town Pond

It is said that the first settlers of East Hampton gathered around their common area, arranging their houses in a configuration so that fences could be constructed between them, joining all to form a corral at its center. If this was in fact true, it makes sense that the location was selected in consideration of the fresh water spring at the south end of the common.

Just a few years after the little settlement was established, it was determined that the swampy area at the spring should be transformed to a watering pond for the cattle. According to the order, Ralph Dayton and Thomas Baker would be overseers of the project. To undertake the task, it was necessary for every man owning cows to be involved, the size of his contribution determined according to his number of cows.

The town record said that Ralph and Thomas were to “see that men bringe good sufficient tooles to worke with all, and all that have cowes are to apeare at the beat of the Drum.”

Many times I have wondered how a 1650s wooden shovel constituted a “good and sufficient” tool for the difficult work. We don’t know how big the original dig was, but for hundreds of years Town Pond has become a constant witness and picturesque reminder of the past.

town-pond

Photo from Dune Resorts, East Hampton House resort.

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