Middle Island in Furore

Middle Island in Furore Over Ownership of and Bordering Bartlett’s Pond

Son of Prominent Resident Charges Landowner Struck Him With Gun Barrel, but Latter Claims Property Is His—Both Start Actions in Justice’s Court—Reward for Destroyed Fence Goes Unclaimed

Brooklyn Eagle
June 26, 1928

Middle Island, LI, June 26—This ordinarily quiet little home and farming community is the seat of a bitter feud today, with every resident up in arms over the alleged assault on Friday on Frederick Brenner Jr., 17 by Charles Dieffenbach because Brenner was ordered off property that the oldest residents here maintain is town property in the control of the town trustees and which Dieffenbach maintains is his property. As the result of the argument, actions have been started in two justice’s courts.

Dieffenbach was yesterday morning released in bail of $1,000 and his examination adjourned until next Monday by Justice F.P. Marchant at Patchogue. He is charged with second degree assault for allegedly hitting Brenner over the back of the neck with a double barreled shotgun. At the sane tune, Brenner has been charged with trespass by Dieffenbach and this case has been adjourned by Justice Dreyer, pending the ownership determination.

Clamed as Town Property

Bartlett’s Pond, in the memory of the oldest residents here, has always been a public matter. A year ago, Dieffenbach purchased a large piece of property, part of which borders on the pond, and then a few months ago erected a fence about a portion of the pond, claiming it was his. This resulted in the matter coming to the attention of the Town Board of Trustees and Town Counsel Ralph J. Hawkins is now searching title to determine the ownership of the land.

But while this is going on someone very thoroughly destroyed Dieffenbach’s fence about the pond. No one knows who it was. Dieffenbach advertised a reward of $100 for information leading to the detection of the guilty parties, but it goes unclaimed.

Orders Youths Off Land

Friday young Brenner and Howard Swezey, sons of old-time families here, chose to go strolling along the pond in the section that Dieffenbach lays claim to. Dieffenbach saw them, an argument resulted in which they were ordered off, and when they failed to leave at once, claiming that he did not own the land; they charge that he took the butt of the shotgun and struck Brenner across the back of the neck, just below the skull.

Dieffenbach made hot steps to Justice Dreyer’s office in Port Jefferson, and Brenner later made a complaint to Justice Marchant. Yesterday when the assault case came up in Patchogue there was a big turnout of Middle Island folk to listen to the case, and in contrast to this gathering were Mr. And Mrs. Dieffenbach sitting alone and apart on the other side of the courtroom.


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