History of Calf Island

Untitled Document
13 Feb 1676 The Town of Greenwich grants to John Banks of Fairfield "the Ilands commonly called the callves Ilands lying in the sea against Byram neck…"
11 Mar 1774
The islands passed out of the hands of the Banks family after an ownership of almost 100 years when they were sold by James Banks, a great-great-grandson of John Banks of Fairfield, to Stephen Lyon for £258. The land was described as "Three islands commonly called Calves Islands adjacent to Byram and being in said Greenwich containing in quantity about twenty two acres more or less."
3 Oct 1781 The islands were confiscated by the State of Connecticut because Stephen Lyon was a loyalist. They were valued at £191.5.0 and sold to Abraham Mead in 1783 for £185. A year later Mead sold "two pieces of land lying in Greenwich called Calves Islands" for $250 to Justus Sackett.
4 Apr 1831 For the first 19th century sale of the islands, the executors of Sackett’s estate sold the "two islands called Calves Island" to Joseph Brush. The acreage was estimated at 20 acres and the price was $610.
30 Mar 1846 When Joseph Brush Birthday messages sold the land to Charles Seaman the acreage was estimated at 30 acres and the islands had "a barn thereon."
22 Jun 1872 The larger of the two islands was divided into easterly and westerly portions by John and Elizabeth Clark and sold separately.
23 Apr 1879 Calves Islands are sold for $6,000 to Alexander Lutz of New York City who used the larger island for his summer home. He mortgaged the islands and 1.27 acres on Byram Shore Road for $91,363 in 1899. The Mercantile National Bank of New York foreclosed on the mortgage and sold the islands to Hunter S. Marston in 1916.
25 Jan 1900 The New York Times reported that "The schooner E. M. J. Beatty, Capt. Charles Grigg, bound to New Jersey with a cargo of stone, ran on a reef off Calves Island during a dense fog and remained hard aground until she was pounded to pieces in the heavy gale of yesterday. The crew of four men were rescued by Howard E. Bell, who keeps a life-saving station on Calves Island."
7 Jan 1916 The New York Times reported that Calves Island was being acquired by a syndicate who plan "to develop the island as a bathing and country club and they will probably lay out a nine-hole golf course and build several houses." The Funny Quotes article stated that the island had very high ground, was thickly wooded, and had several bathing beaches, two houses and fine building sites.
23 Feb 1921 Hunter S. Marston sold the islands and 1.27 acres on Byram Shore Road to the Island Corporation, a consortium of residents of Byram Shore Road, including Teagles, Milbanks, Barretts and Hites.
June 1923 Greenwich Press, in a 1940 article about the Round Hill Club, wrote, "In June 1923, the idea for Calves Island was brought forward, and when it was realized what an excellent bathing beach it would be, a committee was immediately set in motion to create what is now a very popular bathing spot. Since its construction members of the Greenwich Country Club, Field Club, Middle Patent and Indian Harbor Yacht Club have been offered the privileges of Calves Island." The Club operated a yacht, "Fairway," for transportation and a work launch, "Lucia." The club reported that 9,460 members and guests visited the island in 1930. After Pearl Harbor, it was decided to discontinue the beach facility.
Aug 1936 The New York Times reported that Mickey O’Neill, a 19-year-old stripper, was brought to Greenwich to aid police in the investigation of the death of Frank McDonald, who was found off Calves Island weighted with a sixty-pound piece of metal; it is one of three linked deaths of Brooklyn gang members.
31 Jul 1940 Greenwich Time reported that a Colonial Canadian Airways plane crash landed on the "open north end of Calves Island"; Captain Murray Hawley of Westport and two others were uninjured. The three were enroute from Montreal to New York on survey work to check on contingency landing sites along the route flown by the airline’s planes when the captain realized his fuel line had clogged over the south end of Belle Haven.
24 Jun 1955 Rowena Lee Teagle, Jeremiah Milbank, C. Redington Barrett and John D. Barrett Jr. gave Calves Island to the Greenwich Family YMCA to be used "…for the purpose of promoting the educational and recreational program of said Young Men’s Christian Association of Greenwich for character development, citizenship training and physical fitness…"
Jul 1958 The New York Times reported that the YMCA "clubhouse" pavilion has been completed on Calves Island. At a cost of $6,000, the 30 by 60 foot structure was built to provide a handicraft Love Messages and activity center in inclement weather and as a campfire site. It was noted that 100 boys spend two-week camp periods on the island, being taken each day by boat and returning at nightfall.
Spring 1960 A brochure for the YMCA’s Camp MonakewaYgo, for boys 7 1/2 -13 years of age, advertises that their program instructs boys in swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, handicraft, nature study, archery and rifle shooting. The parents are assured of a rugged natural setting and that "There are no petticoats on Calf Island. Boys have adult male leadership, which is important in this day-and-age when they spend most of the rest of the year with women teachers, mothers, and girls, girls, girls galore."
6 July 1977 Greenwich Time reported that an extensive maintenance dredging program for the north dock area at Calf Island has been announced. A diked area of one acre of ground had been dug on the southern half of the island to hold the dredged material.
1984 The Calf Island Director’s Report lauded both the female and male YMCA camp staff members and reported that 205 boys and 109 girls had participated in the program.
1996 The YMCA discontinued the camp due to financial concerns.
30 Dec 2002 Calf Island is sold to the United States to become part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge; $6 million is paid to the YMCA.