A Historical Overview
In the latter half of the Nineteenth Century social and economic conditions helped to foster the growth of America’s middle class and to allow that middle class the leisure time to take a yearly break from their work. Following the Civil War, many were using their leisure time to get away from urban areas and to enjoy nature in more rustic settings while perhaps fishing, swimming, or enjoying other recreational activities. This was often done through camping out, or “tenting”.
By the 1870’s much of the Lake Champlain shoreline was populated by such tenters during the summer months. Long Point was one of several camping destinations in the immediate area. Among others were Thompson’s Point, Mile Point, and Cedar Beach.
Long Point was at that time owned by a local farming family, the Ball family, that allowed campers on their property, allocating spaces by a leasing arrangement and offering services for sale such as transportation to and from the North Ferrisburgh railroad depot, providing milk, providing ice, renting boats, etc. Beginning in the mid 1880’s the Ball family started allowing the building of cottages on leased lots on Long Point. These leases were initially for a period of five years, and the lot and cottage became the property of the farm if the campers failed to make the lease payment or did not wish to renew the lease nor sell the cottage.
Cottages during the early years were often built by partnerships of families or friends, often those who had previously tented together on the lakeshore. While some of these cottage builders were upper middle class, many were tradesmen such as carpenters or plumbers, or they were in businesses that gave them access to lumber, clapboard, shingles, etc. The majority of these tenters and cottage builders were Vermonters, in fact mostly from nearby towns and counties. Even from the early years, however, there were a few vacationers from further away, frequently from New York or Massachusetts. Over the years tents increasingly gave way to cottages on the Point, the largest percentage of Long Point’s cottages having been built in the decade of the 1920’s.
In the early 1920’s the farmer who owned Long Point, Artemas Ball, died, and rumors of the possible sale of the property were in the air. In response to concerns over what would happen to their cottages following such a sale, Long Point’s summer residents formed the Long Point Association. When it became clear that the Long Point Farm was not about to be sold, the Association became a vehicle for negotiating with the farm for improved roads, water supply, electricity, etc. and for coordinating social events for Long Point residents. The Long Point Association was dissolved in the early 1960’s after the founding of the Long Point Corporation in 1959.
In the late 1950’s Guy Ball, son of Artemas and then owner of the Long Point farm, died. The Long Point Realty Corporation (later renamed simply Long Point Corporation) was formed to purchase the Long Point farm property and work to represent the interests of Long Point residents, who were now eligible to become shareholders in the newly formed corporation. In the following years Long Point’s residents, through their corporation, worked to pay off the original mortgage on the farm property, improve roads, and deal with many other such issues of common concern to Long Pointers.
Since the 1970’s major issues facing Long Point have been: environmentally responsible handling of waste water, rising property values and related issues, providing water to cottages, and developing a common vision of the purpose and future of Long Point. Currently an annual meeting of the Corporation is held on the first Saturday of each August in order to discuss issues facing Long Point and for shareholders to vote on business before the membership.
Early Euro-American History
Before there was “Long Point”
In 1762 King George III granted the town of Ferrisburgh through his agent, the Governor of the Colony of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth. However, it was 21 years after the original grant before settlement actually occurred in what is today Ferrisburgh. During that time, confusion reigned as both New Hampshire and New York claimed the right to grant land for settlement in the disputed area “between” the two colonies.
Just prior to the Revolutionary War, attempts at settlement in the area had begun- in Ferrisburgh, by a Charles Tupper, and at Basin Harbor. Both ventures were abandoned with the outbreak of the war. During the Revolution, Vermont declared itself an independent republic, which it remained until it was accepted as the fourteenth state in 1791. The official peace that ended the British-American conflict was signed in 1783.
It was in the wake of that peace that families began a more permanent settlement of Ferrisburgh, in the Republic of Vermont. “Families” may not quite convey the proper image. In a number of instances a father and possibly some of his sons might forge ahead onto the frontier, build a temporary home, and return later with the rest of the family. Indeed, it happened in just this way with Zuriel Tupper, a brother to the Charles Tupper who had attempted settlement before the war broke out. Zuriel is said to have been the first Ferrisburgh settler after the close of the war. His daughter told Rowland Robinson that Tupper had come to town in the in the fall of 1783, built a bark shanty, and returned the following spring with his wife and three children. Upon his return a log house was constructed. Another family, the Burroughs (said to be ancestors of Long Point’s Burroughs family), is reported to have lived within the hollow trunk of a large tree until their dwelling could be erected. Local historians say that lots near the lake were not the desired locations for building in this first era of settlement. Inland lots tended to be better areas for farming, were presumably away from the lake’s winds, and were removed from the lake travel route that had been the main thoroughfare for two recent wars. Though most pioneers to the area were farmers, Ferrisburgh was also known in those days for its quality timber.
In the 55 years following Ferrisburgh’s original settlement, the town lots that would one day comprise the approximately 200 acres of the Ball family farm encompassing Long Point were to be broken apart, change hands several times, and become consolidated into a single farm property, the first part of which (about 160 acres) was sold by Charles Adams in 1837 to Alvin Ball for $1,000. This included four of the 40-acre lots from the original survey of the town. The farmland that includes today’s Long Point would remain in the ownership of the Ball family for 122 years.
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