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OYSTER BAY

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 429 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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OYSTER BAY, a township of Nassau (formerly of Queens) county, New York, on Long Island; about 25 M. E.N.E. of Long Island City. Pop. (189o) 13,870, (1900) 16,334; (1910 census) 21,802. The township reaches from N. to S. across the island (here about 20 M. wide) in the shape of a rough wedge, the larger end being on Long Island Sound at the N.; on the northern shore is the tripartite Oyster Bay, whose western arm is Mill Neck creek, whose central branch is Oyster Bay harbor, and whose easternmost arm, called Cold Spring harbor, separates the township of Oyster Bay from the township of Huntington. On the south side of the township is South Oyster bay, immediately east of the main body of the Great South bay; and between South Oyster Bay and the ocean lie several island beaches, the smaller and northernmost ones being marshy, and the southern, Jones or Seaford beach, being sandy and having on the ocean side the Zach's inlet and Jones Beach life-saving stations. The township is served by four branches of the Long Island railway; the Oyster Bay branch of the north shore to the village of Sea Cliff (incorporated in 1883; pop. 1910, 1694), on the E. side of Hempstead harbor, to Glen Cove, a large unincorporated village, immediately N.E. of Sea Cliff, to Locust Valley and to Mill Neck farther E., and to the village of Oyster Bay, the terminus of the branch, on Oyster -Bay harbor; the Wading River branch to Hicksville and to Syosset; a third branch to Farmingdale, which also has direct communication by railway with Hicksville; and the Montauk division to Massapequa, in the south-western part of the township on Massapequa Lake and Massapequa Creek, which empties into South Oyster Bay. The villages served by the railway are the only important settlements; those on the hilly north shore are residential. To the north of the village of Oyster Bay, on a long peninsular beach called Centre Island, are the headquarters of the Seawanhaka Yacht Club; and to the east of the same village, especially on Cove Neck, between Oyster Bay Harbor and Cold Spring Harbor, are many summer residences with fine grounds. Massapequa, on the south shore, is a residential summer resort. The villages of Hicksville and Farmingdale are rural; the former has many Gentian settlers. Jericho, N.E. of Hicksville, is a stronghold of the Hicksite Quakers, who are mostly wealthy landowners. In Locust Valley is Friends' Academy (1876), a secondary school for boys and girls. There are a few truck farms in the township, potatoes, cabbages and cucumbers for pickling being the principal crops; " Oyster Bay asparagus " was once a famous crop. Oysters are cultivated on the Sound Shore and there are clam beds in Oyster Bay and South Oyster Bay. In the village of Glen Cove there is a large leather-belting factory. David Pieterssen de Vries, in his Voyages from Holland to America, makes the first mention of Oyster Bay Harbor, which he explored in June 1639. In the same month Matthew Sinderland (or Sunderland) bought from James Forrett, deputy of William Alexander, earl of Stirling, " two little necks of land, the one upon the east side of Oyster Bay Harbor "; but Sinderland made no settlement A settlement from Lynn, Mass., was attempted in 1640 but was prevented by Governor William Kieft. By the treaty signed at Hartford, Connecticut, on the 29th of September 165o by the Commissioners of the United colonies of New England and those of New Netherland all land east of the west side of Oyster Bay was granted to the English, and all land west to the Dutch; but the Dutch placed Oyster Bay, according to a letter of Pieter Stuyvesant written in 1659, two and a half leagues farther east than the New Englanders did. In 1653 an Indian deed granted land at Oyster Bay to Peter Wright and others of Salem and Sandwich, Mass., who made a permanent settlement here; in 1663 another sale was made to Captain John Underhill (d. 1672), who first went to Long Island about 1653, when he led a force which fought the only important engagement ever fought with the Indians on Long Island, in which the colonists destroyed the fortification at Fort Neck near the present Massapequa, of Tackapousha, chief of the Massapequas, an Algonquian tribe, whose name meant " great pond." Oyster Bay was for a time closely connected politically with New Haven, but in 1664 with the remainder of Long Island it came under the New York government of Richard Nicolls, to whose success Underhill had largely contributed by undermining Dutch influence on Long Island. In 1689 a Friends' meeting-house was built at Jericho, the home of Elias Hicks, near the present Hicksville, the site of which was owned by his family and which was named in his honour; and the Dutch built their first church in Oyster Bay in 1732. The harbour of Oyster Bay was a famous smuggling place at the close of the 17th century, when there was a customs house here. The first settlement on the " south side " of the township was made about 1693, when the Massapequa Indians sold 6000 acres at Fort Neck to Thomas Townsend, and his son-in-law Thomas Jones (1665-1713), who had fought for James II. at Boyne and Aghrim, who became a high sheriff of Queen's county in 1704, and who was the founder of the family of Jones and Floyd-Jones, whose seat was Tryon Hall (built at South Oyster Bay, now Massapequa, in 1770); Thomas Jones (1731-1792), grand-son of the first Thomas Jones, was a prominent Loyalist during the War of Independence and wrote a valuable History of New York during the Revolutionary War, first published in 1879. OYSTER-CATCHER, a bird's name which does not seem to occur in books until 1731, when M. Catesby (Nat. Hist. Carolina, i. p. 85) used it for a species which he observed to be abundanton the oyster-banks left bare at low water in the rivers of Carolina, and believed to feed principally upon those molluscs. In 1776 T. Pennant applied the name to the allied British species, which he and for nearly two hundred years many other English writers had called the " Sea-Pie." The change, in spite of the misnomer —for, whatever may be the case elsewhere, in England the bird does not feed upon oysters—met with general approval, and the new name has, at least in books, almost wholly replaced what seems to have been the older one.' The Oyster-catcher of Europe is the Haematopus2 ostralegus or Linnaeus, belonging to the group now called Limicolae, and is generally included in the family Charadriidae; though some writers have placed it in one of its own, Haematopodidae, chiefly on account of its peculiar bill—a long thin wedge, ending in a vertical edge. Its feet also are much more fleshy than are generally seen in the Plover family. In its strongly-contrasted plumage of black and white, with a coral-coloured bill, the Oyster-catcher is one of the most conspicuous birds of the European coasts, and in many parts is still very common. It is nearly always seen paired, though the pairs collect in prodigious flocks; and, when these are broken up, its shrill but musical cry of " tu-lup," " tu-lup," somewhat pettishly repeated, helps to draw attention to it. Its wariness, however, is very marvellous, and even at the breeding-season, when most birds throw off their shyness, it is not easily approached within ordinary gunshot distance. The hen-bird commonly lays three clay-coloured eggs, blotched with black, in a very slight hollow on the ground not far from the sea. As incubation goes on the hollow is somewhat deepened, and perhaps some haulm is added to its edge, so that at last a very fair nest is the result. The young, as in all Limicolae, are at first clothed in down, so mottled in colour as closely to resemble the shingle to which, if they be not hatched upon it, they are almost immediately taken by their parents, and there, on the slightest alarm, they squat close to elude observation. This species occurs on the British coasts (very seldom straying inland) all the year round; but there is some reason to think that those we have in winter are natives of more northern latitudes, while our home-bred birds leave us. It ranges from Iceland to the shores of the Red Sea, and lives chiefly on marine worms, crustacea and such molluscs as it is able to obtain. It is commonly supposed to be capable of prizing limpets from their rock, and of opening the shells of mussels; but, though undoubtedly it feeds on both, further evidence as to the way in which it procures them is desirable. J. E. Harting informed the present writer that the bird seems to lay its head sideways on the ground, and then, grasping the limpet's shell close to the rock between the mandibles, use them as scissor-blades to cut off the mollusc from its sticking-place. The Oyster-catcher is not highly esteemed as a bird for the table. Differing from this species in the possession of a longer bill, in having much less white on its back, in the paler colour of its mantle, and in a few other points, is the ordinary American species, with at least three races, Haematopus palliatus. Except that its call-note, judging from description, is unlike that of the European bird, the habits of the two seem to be perfectly similar; and the same may be said indeed of all the other species. The Falkland Islands are frequented by a third, H. leucopus, very similar to the first, but with a black wing-lining and paler-legs, while the Australian Region possesses a fourth, H. longirostris, with a very long bill as its name intimates, and no white on its It seems, however, very possible, judging from its equivalents in other European languages, such as the Frisian Oestervisscher, the German Augsterman, Austernfischer, and the like, that the name " Oyster-catcher " may have been not a colonial invention but indigenous to the mother-country, though it had not found its way into print before. The French Huitrier, however, appears to be a word coined by Brisson. " Sea-Pie " has its analogues in the French Pie-de-Mer, the German Meerelster, Seeelster, and so forth. 2 Whether it be the Haematopus, whose name is found in some editions of Pliny (lib. x. cap. 47) is at best doubtful. Other editions have Himantopus; but Hardouin prefers the former reading. Both words have passed into modern ornithology, the latter as the generic name of the STILT (q.v.); and some writers have blended the two in the strange and impossible compound Haemantopus. primaries. China, Japan and possibly eastern Asia in general have an Oyster-catcher which seems to be intermediate between the last and the first. This has received the name of H. osculans; but doubts have been expressed as to its deserving specific recognition. Then we have a group of species in which the plumage is wholly or almost wholly black, and among them only do we find birds that fulfil the implication of the scientific name of the genus by having feet that may be called blood-red. H. niger, which frequents both coasts of the northern Pacific, has, it is true, yellow legs, but towards the extremity of South America its place is taken by H. ater, in which they are bright red, and this bird is further remarkable for its laterally compressed and much upturned bill. The South African H. capensis has also scarlet legs; but in the otherwise very similar bird of Australia and New Zealand, H. unicolor, these members are of a pale brick-colour. (A. N.)
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