December 9, 2010. FORWARD
As a baby ten months old, year 1911, I moved with my family from one remote island to a much smaller isolated one In the Currituck Sound of North Carolina
My family, including father, mother and brother became sole inhabitants of Swan Island; located ln the Currituck Sound, near Knott‘s Island, off the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
My father began working for sportsmen who owned this island and surrounding marshes when he was very young. His father had died and his mother, Hortense, had remarried.
As he was born on the narrow shore of Currituck Sound, had an adventurous spirit, he struck out on his own, gravitating to this spot across the sound and to these people.
He worked at any job offered, spending parts of each year ln Massachusetts, often off the coast as "Cabin Boy" for the rich sportsmen as they sailed their yachts. Winters and hunting seasons were spent doing all kinds of chores, from guiding hunters to their favorite "blinds," to meeting the hunters at Munden Point, Currituck Court House and other points of arrival in a motor launch which belonged to the club.
Gradually, with years of experience, demonstrated competence, my
gained the respect and confidence of the rich men who loved this island
where they came for recreation. He became important and necessary in
the management of the "Swan Island Club, Inc." He had the job of
overseeing the whole operation: securing guides, arranging for workers
in the clubhouse, cooks, etc., meeting and transporting sportsmen,
ordering food, shipping ducks, corresponding with members, arranging
schedules, taking care of retrievers and many other duties.
Meanwhile he met and married my mother. Their first married years were spent in their new home on Knott’s Island, my father "commutlng" the two and a half miles each day across the sound. In the "season" he would stay on Swan Island.
When my father was asked to move his family to live year round on Swan Island, miles away from the nearest habitation, my parents accepted the challenge. What with two children to care for and educate, (my mother had been a teacher in a one room school before marriage), she may not have been as inwardly enthusiastic as she appeared.
My father, however, now manager and caretaker, was happy. He loved what he did, had no wish to live any other place. For the next eighteen years this was our home.
The Swan Island Club was made up of wealthy sportsmen from Massachusetts. As early as 1870 New England hunters found this Island by accident when their yacht was forced to enter the Currituck inlet, in a storm, to find refuge.
From the Mid-Atlantic Waterfowl Festival, Virginia Beach, VA 1977 Booklet: "The Club was first founded by a group of New England hunters who were proceeding south from Good Ground, Long Island, New York in November 1870, in their yacht 'Anonyana'. During a storm they entered the Currltuck Inlet for safety and anchored next to the island now known as Swan lsland." (Permission for the above quote given by Mr. F. Bryant - Back Bay Wildlife Guild, Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia).
According to further information from this booklet and other research confirming it, the island was first known as Crow Island but the name was changed to Swan Island later.
I believe this was the time when the New England hunters purchased this island from the Hatfield family who owned the island when they arrived and leased lt to them for a brief period. In the early records of the club and court records, a Mr. Minot from Massachusetts leased Crow Island from Hatfields.
Members of the Swan island Club, during the time my father was superintendent — caretaker and my time there, were the elite of New England, well known mostly Harvard—educated families. H.B. Endicott and son Wendall, shoe manufacturers, W. Cameron Forbes, former governor-general of the Philippines, ambassador to Japan and grandson of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ralph Forbes, an older member of the same family, with whom my father lived and worked as a young man during his early years at Swan lsland, was a member. Many summers were spent off the coast of Massachusetts with this wealthy family.
Other illustrious names such as John L. Saltinstall, father of Leverett, governor of Massachusetts, Captain George E. Keith and Harold Keith of the "Walk-Over" shoe manufacturing Company, C.W. and Fred Curtis, Thomas Silsby and B.W. Palmer, were members of the club. Mr. F. Crowninshield of that illustrious family often hunted at the club as a guest.
Associating with these fine gentlemen was a great learning experience for my father and for us as a family. We grew to understand the nuances of vastly different life styles - of rich versus poor. We learned that these gentlemen for whom my father worked, were, for the most part, kindly, thoughtful, generous human beings, who valued my father and his family as loyal friends as well as faithful employees.
My stories - short vignettes — they have been called, are attempts to tell of early life experiences on Swan island, a hunting club.