Postcards book illustrates Greenport history

12/02/2013 2:30 PM |


If you want to know ins and outs of Greenport’s history, there’s no one better to ask than Gail Horton.

President of the Stirling Historical Society and avid history buff, in her spare time you will mostly likely find Ms. Horton uncovering the stories of the village, Southold Town and the many notable history-makers that have called it home.

A lifelong resident of Southold Town, she has written dozens and dozens of articles and research pieces chronicling the history and lives of the people of eastern Long Island. And now, she has co-written her first book, titled ‘Greenport: Postcard History Series.’

“I went to a New York public historians’ conference and I was approached there by Arcadia Publishing and they made it sound quite interesting,” Ms. Horton said. Arcadia has published over 8,500 local history books in America, and is perhaps best known for its “Images of America” line of books. Antonia Booth and Thomas Monsell published Greenport’s edition about a decade ago.

Even with Ms. Horton’s vast knowledge of the village, when she first started on the book in the fall of last year she knew exactly the person to enlist for help — fifth generation Greenporter and village Zoning Board of Appeals member David Corwin.

Mr. Corwin, an engineer by training, has always had a keen interest in the history of the commerce, industry and buildings that have formed Greenport. Also a first-time author, Mr. Corwin jumped at the chance to be involved.

“I thought it was it was going to be easy, but there was more to it than I ever imagined,” Mr. Corwin said, adding he learned a lot during the process. “What I never realized until now was how much steamboat traffic was in and out of Greenport. My family has been here since 1640. It’s an interesting find for someone who has been here their whole life.”

Ms. Horton agreed.

“The thing that I found really interesting, and I guess I kind of always knew this, but what a hospitality center Greenport was,” she said. “There were inns and things all throughout the Town, but not like the concentration there was in Greenport.”

After 11 months of combing through more than 300 postcards and fact-finding, ‘Greenport: Postcard History Series’ was published this month.

With the help with the Stirling Historical Society and other local postcard collections, the authors have culled the 184-page book featuring 180 postcards of the Greenport community from the Civil War era through modern day. All of the postcards are genuine and were sent by visitors and locals to family members and friends across the world, Ms. Horton said.

“The other thing that is interesting about postcards is people would write ‘OK, I’ll be there in a week at 4:30 p.m.,’ because that was their main source of communication and telephone wasn’t widely used.”

The book follows a series of themes that chronicles the history of the village, Ms. Horton said.

Transportation, industry and the people that comprised the village throughout the years were a common inspiration behind the photos, the authors found.

Both Ms. Horton and Mr. Corwin will be introducing the book to the public during the 2nd annual Shellebration in Greenport on Dec. 7 and 8 from noon to 4 p.m.

“Shellebration is a logical time to do it,” Ms. Horton said. “With oysters having been a large part of our economy, along with the other shellfish that the baymen harvested, what better time to introduce the book than during the Shellebration Festival?”

The signing will be held at the restored kindergarten building on Front Street and Texaco Alley.

All the author’s proceeds from the sale of the books will benefit the Sterling Historical Society’s Berger House Archive Center.

The book will also be available at local stores such as Burton Books, Book Hampton, and the historical society as well as online at