Benjamin Van Buren's Bay
Charles G. Gosselink
Contents Previous Next
My original purpose in beginning this project was simply to clarify the history of our own house and property and perhaps learn something about the mythical Benjamin Van Buren. But one question led to another, one discovery shed light on the next, and I began to see that our own history was really that of all the folk who live on Van Buren Bay. So, with the help of others, I expanded the study and have pursued it to this outcome.
Many people have contributed pieces of the story. I take full responsibility for the selection and editing of material I have received. Memories are fragile and family lore tends to alter in the telling. Where possible I have let people tell their own stories. Where there are conflicts or contradictions, I have tried to choose the more accurate account. There are bound to be some errors. I know my own research is incomplete; there are always more stories to run down. I hope I do not disappoint too many with my omissions and errors.
Special mention must go to Terry McConaughy who really began this project in 1987. In preparing a program for a walking tour of Oneita Bay, she and others on her committee, interviewed many residents and visitors and put together a history of the houses on the tour. Some of the interesting information they uncovered was not included in the program but will find a place in this story. My thanks go to all those contributors.
Ethel Andrus has been very helpful in answering many questions and clarifying several mysteries. I am grateful to Spear Johnson and John Velte who shared their own memories and made some valuable suggestions. Spear was insistent that the name of our bay was spelt Oneita. More of a purist, John said the name was spelt Van Buren. In the interest of history, I decided to go with Van Buren, and Ethel and Spear concur. Thanks also to Kathy Santaniello who filled me in on parts of the Braisted story. I thank all of you who responded to my letters and phone calls. I have not named everyone who contributed, but if you will look around at your neighbors, you will know who they are.
The photographs I have used come from several sources and I have tried to indicate the photographer or origin just below the pictures themselves. John Shattuck's photographs come from a wonderful album of Silver Bay scenes found in the Hague Historical Museum, which has several more albums and collections of interesting old pictures. Percy Penfield was a distant cousin and friend of the Penfield family who recorded his visits to Silver Bay almost every summer between 1913 and 1932.
I am greatly indebted to Marie Agnew-Marcelli, a friend and neighbor at Crosslands in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, who took on the difficult search for Benjamin Van Buren's origins and made some amazing discoveries.
Finally I want to thank Hague town historian Clifton West for helping to track down the story of Benjamin Van Buren and his family in Hague and making available all the records and pictures in the Hague Historical Museum. Mr. West died in 2001 and I have dedicated this book to him.