R.M. Bayles, "Sketches of Suffolk County …", 1874:
"The Suffolk Club House is a magnificent building, pleasantly situated on the west bank of the [Carman's] river, surrounded by extensive pleasure grounds bordering on the [Carman's] mill-pond."
From the New York Times, 13 Jun, 1870, p. 8:
"The homestead [Historic Sites ID SH05] of the late Gilbert B. Miller, of South Haven, together with the hotel and farm, have been sold to the Suffolk Club, whose lands lay immediately adjoining. They intend to erect new buildings, lay out new drives, and otherwise beautify the grounds."
This newspaper article provides an additional clue as to when the large main clubhouse was likely built. Up until they built the clubhouse, members of the Suffolk Club apparently stayed at Carman's Inn. It is unlikely that the hotel referenced in this article was the Carman Inn, rather another nearby inn owned by Miller. Miller lived nearly directly across the road from the Carman Inn. A Brooklyn Eagle article (15 December 1895) indicated that Samuel Carman's son, Henry W., was then occupying the Carman homestead/inn.
South Side Signal (Babylon), 7 Jun, 1879:
"Killing deer is forbidden on Long Island, for the next five years. Steps are being taken to re-stock the Island. Last week a buck and two does were turned into the woods of the Suffolk Club, and others will be released at different points this season. Special game constables will attend to it, that the deer are not molested."
The Suffolk Club was regularly mentioned in the New York Times during the late 19th century, particularly around the time of the opening of the trout fishing season, April 1. This excerpt from an article 2 Apr 1882, p. 8, provides a description:
"The Suffolk Club, a very exclusive association which has a membership of 14, owns a charming sylvan retreat at South Haven near Yaphank. The club-house is snugness itself, and the cellars and cuisine are praised by those who have been so fortunate as to be entertained as guests. It has two tree-embowered lakes in which the trout grow very large. The water is exceedingly pure and so full of nourishment for the Fontinails that they are to all intents wild trout as they are never fed. The current through the lake to the east (sic) is Carman's River. It takes its source at Virgin Springs, on the pine forest plain, and after crossing the highway below the lakes broadens into a wide, lively, pleasant brook terminating in the Great South Bay two miles from the club-house. Recently, the Suffolk Club obtained control of Carman's River and grand fishing for estuary trout is looked for. The river will be improved and stocked, and will be in the near future the main attraction of the club. It is navigable from the Great South Bay for a long distance, partly under a thick growth of timber, and where the trees are it is cool in the hottest weather. The country is sparsely settled in the neighborhood and only one house is seen from the club-house to the mouth of Carman's River. Capt. Joseph Grafton is President of the club, but he is now in Europe. The opening day was observed by Messrs. Henry Fearing, James Platt, John Campbell, Peleg Hall, J. L. Cadwallader, Thomas Meyer, and Peter Townsend. The members are not limited to any number of trout to be caught in one day. The amount of their "catch" is regulated by their consciences and their skill."
Suffolk County News (Sayville), 20 May 1921, p. 3
"John Colson has for some weeks been at work re-decorating the interior of the cottages at the Suffolk Club in Brookhaven, which was recently purchased by Anson W. Hard. The houses including the big clubhouse are also all newly painted on the outside, white with black trim. The buildings are more that 100 years old and constructed of hand-hewn timbers. Mr. Colson and his son have also re-decorated the interior of the homes of Mrs. Edward Westerbeke and William Westerbeke."
That the main clubhouse was more than 100 years old in 1921 is most unlikely. No evidence has been found of a clubhouse being built in the first half of the 19th century. It likely was not built until after the club was reformed in the 1858-1860 period. See New York Times, 13 June 1870, above. Possible some of the "cottages" may have been residences built in the early 19th century. Evidence suggests that early 19th century members of the Suffolk Club stayed at Sam Carman's inn located near the mill site in South Haven.
It is also unlikely that the timbers were "hand-hewn." More likely they were rough sawed at the sawmill in South Haven.
Port Jefferson Echo, 19 Aug 1905, p. 2
"BROOKHAVEN'S WEALTH SHOWN BY TAX RECORDS: Men Who Are Assessed For More Than $10,000 Make Long List—Many taxpayers of the town of Brookhaven are desirous of knowing what the property of their neighbors and others owning real estate and other belongings in the town mentioned is assessed at. This information cannot be had except upon application to the Town Clerk at Patchogue. For the convenience of the many readers of the Times the tax rolls of the Town of Brookhaven for 1905 were carefully gone over. A list of all those assessed at $10,000 and over was completed. It is as follows (excerpted):
|Carman, Henry W., Southaven||$16,000|
|Floyd, John G., est., Mastic||21,000|
|Floyd, Augustus, Moriches||24,000|
|Floyd, Nicol, est., Moriches||11,500|
|Suffolk Club, Southaven||12,500|
Patchogue Advance, 22 Sep 1933, p. 8, by Helen M. Ewing:
"'Change and chance are busy ever' even in Southaven. There, a new house is being erected of the foundations of an old one—the 'old one' being only 65 or 70 years old, but has out-lived its purpose and so fallen before the march of progress. The lumber which went into its construction is of white pine and in such good condition that it is being used in the new building. Each of the heavy beams bears a Roman numeral which indicated its intended position in the original structure and they were put together with wooden pegs.
"The tearing down of this building is symbolic of the times, for it was the Suffolk club—at one time the richest club for its size in existence. The club was limited to 15 members. Each member owned stock, and a room in the clubhouse which he furnished according to his own taste, and was used by him exclusively. Among the members, over a period of years, was August Belmont*, George W. Wickersham, Frances Augustus Schermerhorn, Commodore Robert Bourne, Joseph Grafton, William Meyer, Thomas Meyer, John Cadwalder, Charles Strong, Fred D. Tappan, John Campbell, Daniel B. Fearing, John Schuyler, Anson W. Hard, A. J. Smith, Henry Von L. Meyer, George Von L. Meyer, Dr. George Wheelock and Emlyn Roosevelt.
"They originally purchased 75 acres of land, including a pond, from Samuel Carman. Later on more property was bought by individual members and deeded over to the club. The members were privileged to build house their families on the grounds, but no women were permitted in the clubhouse.
"Trout fishing was their chief sport and in the beginning they bought fish every fall with which to stock their streams. J. M. Dominy, who was caretaker there for 29 years, saw no reason why they should not raise their own fish. In the club grounds there was an artificial pond, containing natural springs, called Nianza, and it was Mr. Dominy's idea to raise fish there. He went up the Carman river and caught the trout fry and transferred them to Nianza. The temperature of the water there was 52 degrees the year 'round and considerably colder than the river. Consequently, the 'finger-lengths' as the small fish are called, did not survive the sudden change. Mr. Dominy overcame this by adding ice, a little at a time, to the barrels containing the fish during the transfer. After several experiments he succeeded in raising 85 trout the first year. As his experience increased, he was able to raise them from two inches in length to fourteen inches, and weighing about a pound, in one year. He fed them ground liver, beef hearts and hard-boiled eggs. From that time on, the club raised its own supply of fish each year.
"The club had to purchase the grist-mill at Southaven in order to have the rights of the river and the mill dam. This mil had to be run for the benefit of the public, and the owner was entitled to one tenth of all that was ground. In this connection, it is interesting to note that the state furnished a 'toll dish' or measure which contained one tenth of a bushel. This was bound with iron so that it would not wear down and thus hold less than full measure for the miller's share.
"The club also owned a sloop which they sailed on the Great South bay and moored at Black-grass dock, despite the difficulties of sailing up the winding Carman river. They also hired the rail-shooting rights from Egbert Smith of Tangier.
"Changes in membership came with the passing of years, and finally about ten years ago, the club dissolved and the property was bought by Anson W. Hard, the present owner."
* More recent research has created uncertainty as to whether August Belmont was a member or involved in the organization of the club, although there is at least one contemporaneous account that mentions his presence at the site, perhaps as a guest. See "Other links" above.