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Item of the Week: Remembering Dorothy Horton, 1899-1917

Thu, 06/13/2024 - 10:21

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

This tintype photograph from the Fowler family photographs shows a young girl named Dorothy Horton (1899-1917) seated in front of a house. A label indicates it may be the Fowler House, the first and only designated landmark recognizing the Montaukett Tribe.

Today, the Fowler House stands at 95 Springs-Fireplace Road, near the intersection with North Main Street. However, at least part of the building was originally located on ancestral Montaukett lands at Indian Field in Montauk. In 1879, Arthur W. Benson bought land at Indian Field, with stipulations that the Montauketts could continue living there. Benson would go on to disenfranchise the Montauketts, sending agents to pressure families into moving to small plots in the Freetown neighborhood of East Hampton, and even burning houses.

By 1885, the Fowler family was forced to move to Freetown. George Lewis Fowler Sr., his wife, Sarah Melissa Horton Fowler, their seven children, and several grandchildren, including Dorothy, lived there.

Dorothy Horton was a child of the Fowlers' oldest daughter, Maria Horton. Maria's two other children, Leonard Horton and Sarah Horton Boyce, also lived at the Fowler House. Leonard was the last of the Fowler family to reside there.

Unfortunately, Dorothy lived a short life, becoming severely ill with tuberculosis in February of 1917, according to The East Hampton Star. She died on March 14 of that year. On March 30, Maria Horton posted a "card of thanks" in The Star to her family and neighbors for their kindness and sympathies regarding her daughter's illness and death. 

Dorothy is buried with the Fowler family in Cedar Lawn Cemetery, one of the few family members to have a gravestone. This tintype photograph is a rare image of her. Dorothy's gravestone and this photograph indicate a reverence for her memory, which lives on through her family. 

Megan Bardis is a librarian and archivist in the Long Island Collection at the East Hampton Library.


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