The Hoagland Brothers
on Shelter Island from 1881 to 1896
by Patricia Shillingburg © 2003
For fifteen years, from 1881 until 1896, two brothers -- Dr. Cornelius N. Hoagland and Joseph C. Hoagland -- dominated civic life in the Shelter Island Heights Grove and Camp Meeting Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church -- better known as The Prospect. They both built more than modest homes on prime real estate overlooking Greenport Harbor, helped run the Association and founded the Shelter Island Yacht Club in 1886. Abruptly, by 1896, they had sold their property on the Island and departed.
Cornelius and Joseph Hoagland were descendants of two old Dutch families. The emigrant on their father's side, Christoffel Hooglandt, who was born in Holland in 1634, came to New Amsterdam in early youth. He entered mercantile life, married Catherine Cregier, daughter of Martin Cregier, one of the first Burgomasters of New York City, and finally, with true Dutch instinct, bought a farm in Somerset County, New Jersey, which became the family homestead. He died there in 1684. Christopher Hoagland, great grandfather of the brothers, was Justice of the Peace for Somerset County in 1776, and two years later a member of the Legislature. Isaac Hoagland, the son of Christopher, was a surgeon in the United States Army in 1796, and died in the service in Florida. His son, Andrew, father of the Hoagland brothers, was born in New Jersey in 1795, and was married in 1828 to Jane Hoagland, a descendant, six generations removed, of Dirck Jansen Hoagland, an emigrant from Holland in 1657. This marriage united two families of the same name, not related to each other, in America.
Cornelius Nevens Hoagland, the oldest son, was born at the family homestead in Somerset County, New Jersey on November 23, 1828.
At the age of eight, Cornelius went with his father's family to Miami County, Ohio, where he settled on a farm of eighty acres near Piqua. Two years later, his father sold this property and purchased an old time stage house or hotel in West Charleston. This inn, widely known for twenty years, burned to the ground in 1875.
Cornelius attended village school until 1845 and took private lessons in Latin in preparation for college. He studied medicine with Dr. E. L. Crane, a leading physician of Miami County, and subsequently attended lectures at Starling Medical College in Columbus and Western Reserve University in Cleveland, graduating from the latter in 1852.
On August 10, the same year, he married Eliza E. Morris, daughter of Judge David H. Morris.
He then engaged in the practice of medicine in Miami County. In 1854, he was elected Auditor of the county, and re-elected in 1856.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Dr. Hoagland enlisted at Troy, Ohio, in the "Lafayette Blues," which became Company H of the 11th Ohio Infantry. He was made first lieutenant and detailed as A. A. C. S. at Camp Denison, but in October, 1861, he became Surgeon of the 71st Ohio, in which capacity he served through the war. He took part in the campaigns in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Texas, being engaged in the battles of Pittsburg Landing, Atlanta, Franklin and Nashville. During the engagement at Nashville, a bullet plowed his breast, the strong lapels of his heavy overcoat alone saving him from a fatal wound. He served on the staff of brigade and division commanders at various times, and had charge of the field hospitals, where he did efficient work.
Joseph Christoffel Hoagland was born in Miami County, Ohio, on June 19, 1841, and gained an education in the high schools of Troy. Before beginning a commercial career, he entered the Union Army in 1861 and served mainly in the quartermaster and subsistence departments, having been detailed by Governor Tod for special service at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio.
At the close of the war, the two brothers returned to Ohio, where Cornelius collected his wife Eliza and Joseph married Caroline, a daughter of John Matlack, of Dayton. They soon moved to the City of Brooklyn to seek their fortune.
In 1866 Cornelius and Joseph formed a partnership to develop a baking powder company. William Ziegler and John H. Seal were brought in as investors in 1873 and it was at that point that the Royal Baking Powder Company was formed.
Joseph, later in life, took full credit for the success of the company. He promoted the brand extensively. In speaking about the creation of “brands,” Gerben Bakker, in a speech, The Enclosed Economy: How Public Goods Splinter into Private Properties, explained:
“It all started with the grocer J. C. Hoagland, who noticed that the baking powder he was making did not bring in much revenue. He suffered from competition, because baking powder was easy and cheap to make. Hoagland therefore decided to name his powder the Royal Baking Powder, and to sink a huge sum into an advertising campaign. Soon, Hoagland was spending half a million dollars a year on advertising, an enormous amount at the time, but customers came to have a boundless trust in Royal Baking Powder. They were willing to pay several times the price of exactly the same thing from another producer.
“When somebody offered thirteen million dollars for his company, Hoagland realized how much merely the name of his company was worth. In 1893, he calculated that a new competitor had to sink at least fifteen million dollars in advertising to develop a comparable brand. In the late 1920s, when Royal was the leading brand in 32 countries, it’s name alone was valued at forty million dollars.”
By the early 1880’s the Royal Baking Powder Company had made both Cornelius and Joseph moderately wealthy men. They were both important members of Brooklyn society. It was a matter of course for them to purchase property on Shelter Island for their families’ summer enjoyment.
On July 24, 1880, Joseph purchased lots 90 and 92, south of The Prospect House’s tennis courts. This is the land that holds the house that was owned by the Bedford’s for most of the 20th Century. He sold this property to Paul C. Grening on June 25, 1884.
On September 16 of that same year, he purchased lots 45, 47, 49, 51, and 53 facing Greenport Harbor, between Willow Terrace and Summerfield Place. In the following two years, he purchased lots 39, 41, and 43 to round out his acreage. He built a huge house which was eventually demolished. This is the Carroll property today.
In July 1880, Cornelius purchased lots 11, 13, 15 and 17 overlooking Greenport Harbor on Summerfield Place just west of his brother's lots on Chequit Point. He built a house. Between 1881 and 1883, he consolidated lots 11 through 23.
In 1886, Joseph also purchased lots 63, 65, 67, and 69. This is the property, facing the Yacht Club, that was for most of the latter part of the 20th Century owned by the Hansel family.
Joseph was known by his Brooklyn friends as a competent and enlightened man, and immediately becoming a landowner at the Prospect, he was made a Director of the Shelter Island Grove and Camp Meeting Association, and in 1881, was elected President of the Board, a position, he held until at least 1889. The reporter for the Suffolk Times reported on November 26,1881: “The new administration of affairs at Prospect, by J. C. Hoagland, as President, and F. A. Schroder, Treasurer, seems to be working very smoothly; and we are inclined to believe the reduction in the number of trustees to seven will be beneficial to the place, so much so that we anticipate a strongly forward movement in the direction of progress. Wesley Smith will be retained as Superintendent under the new management. The Yacht Club wharf at Chequit Point has been repaired by Supt. Smith, by building and placing in position several cribs which will enable it to keep its proper equilibrium during the icy period.”
The Board minutes of that period are like those of any of a condominium in the 21st Century. The issues were lot sales, owners not living up to obligations, sewer, water, roads, taxes, the potential introduction of electricity by the Edison Company, stables, hotel management contracts, an annex for the hotel, and steamer dock repairs. During his tenure, the Board enlarged Union Chapel by 25 feet and changed the name of the association to the Shelter Island Heights Association.
Joseph put his money into yachts. On March 18, 1882 the reporter for the Suffolk Times wrote, “B. P. Conklin, will perform the duties of steward during the coming season, on board the steamer Day Dream, which has lately been purchased by J. C. Hoagland, Esq., President of the Prospect Grove Association. Mr. H. is the manufacturer of the Royal Baking Powder, which has become so famous of late, and which seems certain to out-rival all others in the market on account of its purity and medicinal qualities. The Day Dream will rendezvous at the yacht wharf, in front of her owner’s handsome cottage.” On June 3, the report was “Mr. J. C. Hoagland’s new steam yacht Day Dream arrived at Prospect on Friday last, where she remained over night. On Saturday a trip to Sag Harbor was made. President H. we are told expressed himself as well please with his purchase. B. P. Conklin is steward on the Day Dream.”
He was an active member in the Atlantic Yacht Club in Seagate, New Jersey and in 1885 in his 132 foot yacht, the Lagonda, he welcomed into New York Harbor the French vessel Isere which was carrying the parts of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. In November of the following year, as reported in the Brooklyn Eagle, a huge party was given for Auguste Bartholdi, the sculptor of the statue, Madame Bartholdi, Count Ferdinand de Lessops, and other distinguished members of the French legation at the unveiling of the statue at the Hamilton Club at the corner of Romsen and Clinton streets in Brooklyn. Members of the Club attending, 500 in number, included Cornelius Hoagland.
For a decade, members of the various yachts clubs that had developed from New Jersey to Boston -- New York Yacht Club 1844, Brooklyn Yacht Club 1854, Altantic Yacht Club 1866, Boston’s Eastern Yacht Club 1870, Seawanhaka 1871, Larchmont Yacht Club 1880, and the American Yacht Club 1883 -- made annual summer cruises, always stopping at Shelter Island. Their various visits always caused great excitement and reasons for dancing parties at both the Prospect and Manhanset hotels across Dering Harbor from each other. These yachts were the size of battle cruisers. Hoagland’s Lagonda was outsized by his other vessel the Stranger, a 187 foot steamer.
The yachting members of the Prospect community formed the Shelter Island Yacht Club in 1886. Both Joseph and Cornelius were founders. Within a few weeks, they held their first regatta. They used the Pavilion at The Prospect for starting and ending races.
Cornelius, it seems, dabbled in horse racing. The Suffolk Times reported on August 22, 1885 about a series of horse races held at the Greenport Driving Park in which his horse Lancewood participated coming in third in all three races.
In 1886, Cornelius decided to tear down his cottage at 2 Summerfield Place and to construct a new one. The Suffolk Times reported on February 27, “The fine weather during the past two weeks has been the means of resuming active operations at Prospect in the way of building new cottages. Dr. Hoagland, who already has one of the finest upon the grounds, and which stands between the hotel and the bay, will remove this one, and build a new cottage upon the site of the present one. Mr. Porter has the contract, and is to receive $20,000 for his work. A cottage of this description, in such a prominent locality, will add very much to the beauty of Prospect, as viewed from the bay. We hope that others may be inclined to follow Dr. Hoagland’s example.”
The March 5, 1887 Suffolk Times wrote, “J. B. Morrison is doing the plumbing in the house of President J. C. Hoagland, also in the house of Ex-Mayor Schroder.
“Boss Hudson is working on the building of Dr. C. N. Hoagland, with the expectation of, some time in the near future, being able to build himself a house from plans drawn himself.”
On April 2, 1887, the Suffolk Times reported “President J. C. Hoagland, Dr. C. N. Hoagland and Rev. Aspinwall were at the Heights on Tuesday. Messrs. J. C. and C. N. expressed themselves as much pleased with their cottages which are being built by C. L. Corwin, of Greenport, and E. Porter, of Brooklyn.” Three weeks later, “John Morrison is to put hot air furnaces in the cottage owned and occupied by J. C. Hoagland, President of the Association. . . .
“W. W. Fisher, the most popular painter hailing from Greenport, is to paint the cottages owned by J. C. Hoagland and F. A. Schroeder. While the lowest bidder does the painting for the Association, Bro. Fisher seems to be the favorite of these two men, who in fact represent the same.” Houses at the Prospect were brightly colored in the 1880’s. In the May 21 issue of the Suffolk Times, the reporter opined, “The judges have decided that the 'Lafayette,' owned by John Cassidy, of Brooklyn, is the finest painted cottage on the grounds. Fisher Bros. have displayed wonderful taste in selecting the colors and remarkable skill in applying the same; in fact we think had 'Raphael' been a house painter it would have been utterly impossible for him to have given the 'boys' any ideas in regard to painting houses – at least on Shelter Island and Heights.”
On May 14, the Suffolk Times reported, “Pres’t J. C. Hoagland, wife and son, made a flying trip among us Friday. . . .
"Boss Hudson is doing the grading around about the new cottage owned by Mrs. J. C. Hoagland, and is certainly making as good a finish in that line as has ever been done in this neighborhood.”
On September 17, the Suffolk Times wrote, “J. C. Hoagland closed his cottage the first of the week and embarked on board of his steam yacht Lagonda for Brooklyn. . . .
“B. P. Conklin will have charge of Dr. Hoagland’s large cottage as soon as it is vacated and will reside there with his family until next Summer.”
In 1887, Cornelius “apparently noted the rapid growth of the community in Greenport and the attending need for water service and fire protection.” According to the Suffolk Times, in reviewing the 100 year history of the water company in 1987, “he founded the Greenport Water Company. After testing sites near the village, he decided to locate his plant on William H. Moore’s farm west of the village... it was one of Long Island’s earliest water companies.”
But, all was not fun and games for the Hoagland brothers. Back in Brooklyn trouble was stirring at the Royal Baking Powder Company.
By 1886, their partner Seal had died, and Joseph Hoagland decided that he was no longer willing to share the company’s profits with Mr. Ziegler. According to the Brooklyn Eagles’ contemporaneous reporting, Ziegler stated in his deposition, “in 1886, Joseph C. Hoagland complained to me several times that he did not propose to work any longer for my benefit in the company; that he did not propose any longer to let me get more out of the funds of the company than he did, as I then was doing by reason of my holding more stock in the company than anyone else; and he said to me in an angry and arbitrary manner that I must sell to him a part of my said stock, namely 190 shares, which sale would reduce my holdings to one-third of the capital stock.” Joseph Hoagland refused to share the books with Ziegler. At this point Zielger held 690 shares, Joseph 500, and Cornelius 410. Ziegler refused to sell. They quarreled for two years.
Then in 1888, Joseph increased the salaries of the officers to decrease the profits of the company, thereby reducing Ziegler’s income from the company. Joseph, as president received $50,000 a year, his brother Cornelius $30,000, his son, Raymond, now treasurer, $6,000, and a nephew, William, now secretary, $3,000. The family also voted Ziegler off the board.
Ziegler sued the Hoaglands for unfair business practices. He claimed that “I worked hard from the beginning in establishing the business of the company. I traveled through the whole country introducing the goods into market and use, to that end even distributing free samples from house to house. I built up the business ... I am informed and I believe that the Hoaglands have used large amounts of the funds of the said company, in addition to the so-called salaries, for their own benefit and for illegal purposes; that they have been and are paying large sums nominally for advertising and for merchandise, but in fact excessive sums, part of which is paid back to them, and corruptly kept by them.”
The Hoaglands represented the facts quite differently, accusing Ziegler of having operated unethically as executor of his partner Seal’s will, and that the salaries were appropriate for the work the officers of the company had done. In 1887, the gross sales were $2,657,987.30 and net profits were $725,162.45. In the end, after the trial and an appeal to the Supreme Court for the Second Judicial District, Ziegler won his suit in May 1889.
Soon thereafter, the Hoaglands bought Mr. Ziegler out.
However there seems a further twist to the story. According to Joseph Hoagland’s obituary in the Brooklyn Eagle, Cornelius and Joseph quarreled and in 1887 Cornelius bought the business of the Cleveland Baking Powder Co., a concern which had been doing business in a small way in Albany, New York. He became president and general manager of the company, and managed its affairs with success. The factory was in Brooklyn.
In 1890 both brothers were active participants in the movement to form the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences and to build a museum.
The Shelter Island Yacht Club building on Chequit Point was built in time for the 1892 season. In that same year, the New York Yacht Club set up Station #5 adjacent to The Manhanset House.
Cornelius was a popular man in Brooklyn. On February 18, 1894, the Brooklyn Eagle described a dinner party that Cornelius gave at the Brooklyn Club: “The Saints Valentine assembled yesterday afternoon upon the invitation of Dr. Cornelius Hoagland ... The saints are a jolly lot of members of the club and the dinner was a merry affair from beginning to end. There were covers for twenty-two people. Shortly before 2 o’clock the first course was served. The menu was rather an elaborate one and served in the well known satisfactory style of the Brooklyn Club ... And someone with a facility for making rhymes had written an appropriate stanza for each of the guests. They were printed on the menus and caused considerable amusement...” The guests included Cornelius’ two sons-in-law.
The Prospect possibly became too small for the Hoagland brothers soon after the turn of the decade. Joseph and his wife Caroline sold their house on Willow Terrace in 1892 to Henry Belknap and their house facing on Dering Harbor in 1895 to Caroline (Mrs. Eugene) Britton.
Cornelius sold his house in 1896 to James Llewelyn Hutchinson, once a partner of P. T. Barnum and James Bailey of circus fame. Hutchinson died in the house in 1910. It was purchased from his estate in 1815 by George N. Webster, a New York attorney, and burned to the ground in 1920. Webster rebuilt and that house still stands.
Cornelius, a medical doctor, was generous as a philanthropist in enterprises engaged in furthering medical science and education. In 1887, he founded the Hoagland Laboratory in Brooklyn for original research in the higher branches of medical science, with special departments in physiology and bacteriology, the cost, with equipments, exceeding $100,000. He donated another $50,000 as an endowment fund. He was also active in the Kindergarten Society which encouraged pre-school education for Brooklyn’s children. In 1901, The Kindergarten Society was serving 1,439 children. The Hoagland Kindergarten had an endowment of $20,000.
Cornelius was also instrumental in producing a family genealogy: The Hoaglands in America.
Cornelius was a director of The Peoples' Trust Company, The Dime Savings Bank and The Brooklyn Heights Railroad. He was a fellow of The Royal Microscopical Society of London, a life fellow of The American Geographical Society of New York, a life member of The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and The Long Island Historical Society, regent of The Long Island College Hospital, and a trustee of Syracuse University, Antioch College and the Adelphi Academy. He was also a member of the Hamilton, Union League, Oxford, Brooklyn and Germania clubs of Brooklyn, and the Down Town Club, Ohio Society, and Military Order of the Loyal Legion of New York City.
He and his wife Eliza had three daughters, Cora, who married George P. Tangeman; Elizabeth wife of Charles O. Gates, and Ella Hoagland.
In addition to his home in Brooklyn, Cornelius had an estate in Glen Cove.
Cornelius Hoagland died in April 1898. He was 70 years old. The Brooklyn Eagle offered a tribute on Sunday, May 1, 1898: “To few men is it given to carry the burden of large wealth with such gracious usefulness. No more loyal friendship existed anywhere than he had to give, and no more vital interest was entertained in all public concerns than he cherished.”
By 1895, Joseph was the sole owner of the Royal Baking Powder Company. Its trade mark alone was now valued at $10,000,000.
Joseph was also president of The New York Tartar Company, the product of which was largely consumed by The Royal Baking Powder Company.
In 1880, he had served as a Presidential elector but politics had never been an important element in his life.
In 1895, he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Holland Society and Down Town, Lawyers', and New York Yacht clubs of New York, and the Atlantic Yacht and Hamilton clubs of Brooklyn.
Joseph’ city residence was in Brooklyn, and his country seat was on the Shrewsbury River in Seabright, New Jersey. His home was considered a beautiful structure, planned in the style of an old English manor house and surrounded by grounds laid out in 1896 by Warren H. Manning, a prodigy of Frederick Law Olmsted. One wonderful note of his attention to detail was the nautical clock produced by E, Howard & Company, which he had installed in his stable at Seabright in 1894.
Joseph had three children, Raymond, John Andrew, and Frances Hoagland. Joseph was a discriminating collector of paintings, and his gallery was possibly one of the most notable in Brooklyn.
Joseph Hoagland died in December 1899 from acute kidney failure. He was 58 years old.
-- America’s Successful Men of Affairs: An Encyclopedia of Contemporaneous Biography, edited by Henry Hall, 1895
-- A recent talk by Gerben Bakker, The Enclosed Economy: How Public Goods Splinter into Private Properties, no date given
-- The Brooklyn Eagle, from its Archives.
-- The Shelter Island Yacht Club, by Stewart Herman, 1986.
-- Deeds at the Suffolk County Center, Riverhead, New York
-- Assessors Office, Shelter Island.
-- The Suffolk Times, March 19, 1987
-- Minutes of the Shelter Island Heights Association, 1881 to 1888.