10.09.2010

Gardiners Island

Over the years I have had a growing interest in the history of the Gardiner family of Long Island, New York. I grew up in close proximity to a fabulous estate called Sagtikos Manor. During my childhood, it was the home of Robert David Lion Gardiner. I often gazed out the back window of my parents car at this breathtakingly beautiful old mansion. I wondered even then about it's contents and history. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I finally had the opportunity to tour this fascinating estate. There exists a rich history within the grounds of Sagtikos Manor that has captivated me. One can tour the estate located in West Bay Shore, NY.

Click the links above to learn more.

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Clicking on the pictures below will take you to a wonderful blog entry about Sagtikos Manor.

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Over the years, I recall local news articles about Robert Gardiner who owned one of the local malls. He was an intriguing and eccentric man from all accounts. He titled himself as the "16th Lord of the Manor". This title did not apply to his ownership of Sagtikos Manor but rather to the private family island, Gardiners Island, located off of Long Island, NY. It's original name had been Isle of Wight. A great struggle within the Gardiner family existed during Mr. Gardiner's lifetime and his legal rights to this island were repeatedly challenged.

Click on the picture below to learn more about this painting of Mr. Gardiner.

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In 1961 at the age of 50, Robert Gardiner married for the first time. He married Eunice Bailey Oakes, a widow and model from England. Neither of them had children. Lacking a legitimate heir meant Robert was unable to transfer his interest in Gardiners Island after his passing. At one point he attempted to adopt a distant adult relative. His attempt was unsuccessful and an heir was never produced.

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Mrs. Eunice Gardiner was nearly 20 years younger than Robert Gardiner. I have found information on Eunice's life prior to marrying Mr. Gardiner as she was the widow of William Pitt Oakes who hailed from a prominent Canadian family. Mr. Oakes died tragically at the age of 28. I have been unable to document Mrs. Gardiner's life after Mr. Gardiner's death in 2004. If anyone has further information on her I would be greatly interested. I am captivated by the whole story.

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After my visit to Montauk, Long Island this summer, my interest in the Gardiner family was peaked yet again. I decided to do a little more research on the Island and came across the book; Early Memories of Gardiner's Island (the Isle of Wight, New York) by Sarah Diodati Gardiner. It tells much of the fascinating history of this privately owned island which includes Captain Kidd's buried treasure, First Lady Julia Gardiner Tyler and a heroic rescue of a kidnapped Montauk Indian Princess.

Sarah Diodati Gardiner
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As it turned out, in 1937 Sarah Diodati Gardiner rescued the Island from Winthrop Gardiner who inherited the island legitimately. Winthrop had become unable to pay the expenses and Sarah Gardiner paid the debts becoming rightful owner of the Island. She allowed her nephew Robert David Lion Gardiner and his sister Alexandra Gardiner Creel to use the island during their lifetime, however, the ownership would pass to their heirs upon their deaths. Robert Gardiner never had any children and he was unable to transfer his ownership to any other person. Mrs. Creel's daughter Alexandra Creel Goelets in the end is the sole owner of Gardiner's Island. It appears from all the research I have done, Mrs. Goelets is committed to preserving the island as it is and keeping it within the family.
A fact which pleases this writer to no end! Hooray!

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Lion Gardiner
was the 1st Lord of the Manor. He arrived from England in 1635 with his wife Mary. Gardiners Island is the only American real estate still in tact as part of an original royal land grant from the English crown. The island has been in the Gardiner family for approximately 400 years. It is 6 miles long, 3 miles wide and has 27 miles of coastline.

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Article Wasps' Nest
New York Magazine June 5, 1989

Article Gardiners Island - It's Haunted Legacy
Life Magazine April 26, 1968

16 comments:

Wendy said...

Thanks for writing this. I have a google alert set up to tell me about Lion Gardiner and Gardiner's Island. That's how I came across your info on the net. I am a descendant and visited Long Island this summer. I did not have enough time to see if there was a chance to actually visit the island but did go to the East Hampton library and see the collection of artifacts that belonged to the Gardiner family. I also saw their graves and the Gardiner Windmill. It was a thrill. Thanks again! Wendy Rennert 10/10/2010

A Vintage Girl said...

Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for leaving me a comment. It is so exciting that you are a descendant of Lion Gardiner! Last year I visited my family in Italy and I was able to see where my family lived for generations. It was amazing! So, I can relate to the importance of your visit to East Hampton this summer. Did you get to see the house(s) in East Hampton? Next time you visit you should tour Sagtikos Manor as well. I think you would find the history fascinating. But NOTHING would compare to getting on the island! That would be icing on the cake! Thank you SO much for writing!

ReneƩ's Reproductions said...

What a great post! Love all the photos and information, thanks for posting!

KT said...

Great photos!! I have been fascinated by Gardiners Island since I was a child.

I came across this post while researching. After tracing my father's paternal side of the family (his father died young and he knew little of them) I found we are 17th and 18th generation descendants of the Gardiner Family. This came as a great surprise to us! I grew up in Southampton never knowing my families deep roots in the area.

For anyone researching - there is a book by Jeanette Edwards Rattray called "East Hampton history,: Including genealogies of early families"... a copy is held at Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. There is a TON of information in there. You cannot check the book out, but they will let you copy the pages. My Great-Grandmother is in there and traces all the way back to Lion Gardiner himself!

A Vintage Girl said...

KT that is fascinating to find out you are connected to the Gardiner family after living in Southampton for years. It must have been an amazing moment when you first learned of the connection. Thanks so much for sharing your story and for the research information you have shared. Keep us posted as you learn more. I am BIG into genealogy myself and would love to learn more!

Off MTK Point said...

I was researching Gardiners Point Island and found your article. Thank you for writing this. I have a house directly across the bay from the mansion on Gardiners Island. I've have always enjoyed looking at the Island and fishing around it as well. I only have parts of the Gardiner history. Your article helped to fill in the holes.

Naomi said...

HI, my name is Naomi and I'm a docent at Sagtikos Manor.

JUst found out today in East Hampton Eunice Bailey Oakes
Gardiner died this past April, 2011

A Vintage Girl said...

Hi Naomi, thank you very much for posting. I'm sorry to learn of Eunice Gardiner's death. I'm quite surprised that I am unable to find an obituary for her. I would really like to learn more about her so please share any information if you are able.

I've been meaning to get back to Sagtikos Manor all summer long. I hope to visit some time this fall. Thank you again for sharing this. Annmarie

Yambo said...

Hi.. if anyone is interested I have a couples of things that used to belong to Mrs Eunice Gardiners for example the picture where she is sitting Down with her Dog. The painting I have that if anyone is interested please email me at jyambo007@yahoo.com Thank You.

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Sotheby's is auctioning the jewels of Eunice Gardiner which promted my research and discovery of your posts. Since Eunice and her husband had no heirs does anyone know who will receive the proceeds of the sale.

director said...

Herb:

I knew Eunice well. She gave me Bob's will to read when she was at her Old Port Cove condominium after leaving Palm Beach. I told her a central Long Island lawyer had written himself into Bob's will just before Bob died. She cried and said Bob was legally blind and deaf during this new will creation using the lawyers associates as witnesses near Bob's deathbed. Eunice said she should have stayed by him by going back to Easthampton during the summer months. She was reluctant because she had contracted Lyme disease and vowed never to return.

I married and conversed with Eunice less. July 20, 2011 she called me to say she had ovarian cancer. Eunice seemed disoriented and afraid. She finally said: "He is taking me to the lawyer to change my will." I later called back from Southampton but found the phones had been disconnected. Upon my return to Palm Beach, I asked a few of her girlfriends about her health. No one knew anything and had not heard from Eunice. I had a difficult time researching Eunice's chronology of events that should concern us all. I would be more than happy to expound.

herb@herbmallard.com

Anonymous said...

I am very intrigued myself of this historical landmark. I have boated passed the island a few times and used google earth to see it... Does anyone know the intent of the current owners and if they allow tours of the island? Thanks
Fjparrish@gmail.com

Janet L. Baker said...

Thank you so much for the great information. I have recently found that I am a relative to the Gardiner Family & I am so proud to know that! Janet L. Baker

wendy gardner said...

Now that I am done with geneology on my mother's side I am starting on my father's and he is being cryptic for the first time in life. Just informed me that our name is not spelled Gardner as I had always been told but Gardiner and he claims we are related. He says he has a document from the 1800's in the original envelope but won't divulge what it is. He is James Edward Gardner, son of Paul Gardner (born 1900) and Lillian Rein. Hopefully, I can track down this mystery and would welcome any help. Never known my 82 year old dad to be like this. My name is Wendy Ellen Gardner, Mineola

Anonymous said...

Hello,
What a great read. I am interested in this as my family now owns DL Gardiners boat "Laughing Lady" that he used to commute from Gardiners island to the mainland.

One of the photos of He and Eunice on this page was taken on the boat.

If anyone has any info that references the boat "Laughing Lady" we would love to hear.

Regards,

Janes

jamesdreyer@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

Eunice was cremated (I think) and/or buried at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach. The previous Lord-of-the-Manor, Winthrop Gardiner, was a playboy who married five times, was friends with Howard Hughes and ran up debts -- causing the sale of the island to Sarah Diodati Gardiner, his cousin, in 1937 for $400,000 before it went to public auction.

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