Spring Newsletter


Roy Latham Archives

“A clear warm day with heavy white frost in the morning… Meadowlarks were fluting sweetly on the frosty salt meadows in the early morning. In the dusk of early evening a red bat was flying.” –Excerpt from Roy Latham’s Journal, November 1, 1907

Legendary naturalist and Orient native son Roy Latham (pictured above) spent decades examining the natural world of the easternmost part of the North Fork, amassing what’s thought to be the most extensive natural history collection ever assembled by one individual. He bequeathed a zoological collection of 10,000 birds, mammals, and fish to the NY State Museum in Albany, along with over 100,000 botanical specimens, and to Cornell University, over 100,000 insects. He also published over 300 articles in scientific journals.

Last year, Latham’s daughter, Diana Latham, donated her father’s papers to the Oysterponds Historical Society. This donation, on a very human level, reveals Latham’s deep passion for and appreciation of the flora and fauna of eastern Long Island while also providing a detailed historical snapshot of 20th century Orient and East Marion.

John Holzapfel has spearheaded the enormous task of organizing and transcribing the voluminous material, which is comprised of thousands of pages of Roy’s writings, including his Journal (1904-1978), correspondence, field notes, and more.

This donation represents a remarkable addition to OHS’s archives. We are honored and grateful that Ms. Latham has entrusted OHS to be the caretaker of such important and unique materials.


Coming soon: The Red Barn Exhibition

Originally constructed as a grain market near the Orient wharf, the Red Barn served many different commercial functions before the OHS purchased it in 1966 and moved it 750 feet to its current location.

In 2023, John and Joyce Holzapfel began the hard work of cleaning and organizing the space to create and house what will now be a new permanent multi-media exhibition centered on North Fork farming and fishing as well as winter activities and early transportation. Oysterponds Historical Society would like to acknowledge that without a $20,000 New York State grant procured by Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and absent the donations of pictures, tools, equipment, and artifacts generously contributed over the years by many local families, the Red Barn Collection would not exist.

Circle June 22nd on your calendar! OHS will be hosting a Red Barn reception with cocktails and seasonal hors d’oeuvres. The gathering will celebrate both the opening of the Red Barn Exhibition as well as John and Joyce and their unstinting hard work and enthusiastic volunteerism, which encompasses not only the Red Barn, but giving tours, taking care of OHS’s buildings and grounds, doing research, and much more. And that doesn’t even include John’s multiple stints as interim executive director! Keep your eyes open for emails with further details!


Weaving a 21st Century Digital Tapestry

Oysterponds Historical Society has been awarded a $125,000 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation to utilize an innovative, app-based digital technology program to tell the fascinating story of the American Revolution as it was experienced in Orient and East Marion.

OHS will join a growing list of historical sites on Long Island (including East Hampton Historical Society, Shelter Island Historical Society, and Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay, among others) that are employing 360XR’s augmented reality technology to share compelling history as part of the Gardiner Foundation’s “Digital Tapestry Initiative.”

The mobile app will enable visitors to go on an approximately 30-minute augmented reality tour of the OHS campus led by historical local figures dressed in period garb (pictured above). These Oysterponders will share fascinating stories about the divided loyalties, hardships, and triumphs experienced by local families during wartime.


Paying Respect To Those Who Came Before Us

The East End of Long Island was first settled over 17,000 years ago and innumerable generations thrived in the area, sustained by the sea and land. In the 1890s, as amateur archaeology became popular, local naturalists became interested in finding out more about the people who lived in our area before the European settlers.

Unfortunately, the zeal of science and collecting trampled through the cemeteries of the Native Americans. Bodies of the ancestors and the items they needed in their next life were uncovered and boxed up for study. More information was gained about those who lived here before us, but it came at the expense of disturbing their eternal rest and ignoring the cultural rights of the Indigenous people.

Museums have begun repatriating sacred, funeral, and culturally important items back to the local Native American Nations. Oysterponds Historical Society has begun sifting through its collection and identifying items in the collection that qualify for repatriation.

In recent months the first items, funerary items from local graves, were returned to the Grave Protection Warrior Society, representatives of the Shinnecock and Unkechaug Nations. OHS hopes in the near future to finish identifying those items that need to be returned and to continue building bridges of understanding and mutual cooperation with the local Tribes.


Mark Your Calendar:

OHS Summer Benefit – Saturday, August 3rd

The Oysterponds Historical Society Summer Benefit returns and everyone is invited to enjoy the festivities! Join friends and family in one of the East End’s most beautiful settings—Poquatuck Park, overlooking Orient Harbor at sunset.

Enjoy elegant appetizers (including a raw bar!), cocktails, and wines with good friends while bidding on stunning works of art and unique experiences.

Stay tuned for updates!


Upcoming Events

  • Saturday, May 11th: OHS & OCA present a free lecture – “150 Years of Poquatuck Hall” at Poquatuck Hall (1160 Skipppers Lane, Orient)
  • Saturday, May 25th: Six new Village House Exhibitions open
  • Saturday, June 8th: Free lecture: “Ancient Artifacts of Eastern Long Island” at the Old Point Schoolhouse
  • Saturday, June 15th: NY Mutuals vs. Oysterponders Vintage Baseball Game
  • Saturday, June 22nd: Red Barn Reception
  • Sunday, June 30th: 14th Annual Heritage Day
  • Wednesday, July 10th: Members Night
  • Wednesday, July 17th: Family Night on the Old Point Schoolhouse Lawn – The Magic of Amore

…and many more! Click here for details



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Oysterponds Historical Society

PO Box 701555 Village LaneOrient, NY 11957



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