Southampton , NY

Elliston Family Preservation

Project Type




Things to do

Hiking, Birdwatching, Photography, Nature Study




Conservation for the Elliston family of Southampton is a tradition. In 1999, the Peconic Land Trust worked with the family to extend their conservation legacy through a bargain sale of 10.8 acres of woodland along Big Fresh Pond Road that connects to the Town of Southampton's Tuckahoe Woods Preserve. 

Protection of this land enabled a trail connection from Tuckahoe Woods to the southwest and to the Trust’s Nature's Preserve to the northeast.

The family’s conservation story begins with Emma Rose Elliston.

Emma Rose's father was a 19th century whaling captain. Born in Honolulu, Island of Oahu, in 1856 on a whaling voyage in the ship Zenas Coffin of Nantucket, Emma Rose and her parents returned home in 1857 only to sail again from 1862 to 1865 on the ship Pacific of New Bedford. Soon after returning, they left on the ship Trident of New Bedford and were at sea between 1865 and 1869. Following this last voyage, Emma Rose married J. Edward Elliston and lived in Southampton until her death in 1933.



The years spent at sea may have given Emma Rose Elliston an appreciation of terra firma and the natural beauty of the the East End. In 1951, Edward Elliston donated to the Town of Southampton 128 acres of family land that is now known as Emma Rose Elliston Memorial Park, located on the northeast side of Big Fresh Pond.

The park, accessed off Millstone Brook Road, is a quiet waterfront oasis for the community. Nearby, at the top of the hill, in the Rose family plot in the small North Sea cemetery, are the graves of Emma Rose and Edward Elliston. Emma Rose’s gravestone epitaph reads, “Beneath this stone rests a sweet, kindly and unselfish soul” and tells the story of her young seafaring life; and Ed’s states, quite beautifully, “Sympathy with nature is a part of the good man’s religion.”

Nearly 50 years later, Phillip, David and Frederick Elliston, carried on the family’s legacy when in December 1999, they sold 10.8 acres to the Peconic Land Trust through a bargain sale (less than fair market value) to assure that the woodlands would be protected in perpetuity on the southwest side of Big Fresh Pond. The Trust simultaneously conveyed the property to the Town of Southampton. The conservation of this land allowed for a trail link between Tuckahoe Woods and Big Fresh Pond Road — and through the conservation efforts of another local resident, Kurt Billing, — a direct connection to Big Fresh Pond itself.

In 1986, Kurt Billing rallied local residents and raised money to acquire what is now known today as Nature’s Preserve.

With their conservation effort, Emma Rose and Edward Elliston’s grandnephews added another significant piece to a rich natural habitat. The conservation in this part of North Sea has been accomplished through the work of many, including the Trust, the Town of Southampton, The Nature Conservancy and local landowners and residents like the Ellistons.

Things To Do







Nature Study

Nature Study

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