Full Circle At The New York Emmy’s: Two Oyster Bay families recognized

Jamie and Frantz Arty, left, Kai Sheppard, Iris Williams, Teresa Roundtree, Ebony Roundtree, Denice and Kelly Sheppard, and Denise and Ravin Chetram at the New York Emmy Awards. (Photo courtesy Ravin Chetram)

It was a win-win of a night for Oyster Bay.
The New York Emmy Awards were held at the Marriott Marquis in Time Square on Oct. 8. And two news stories, “Restoring an 1834 Mansion in Oyster Bay” by Newsday and “David Carll’s Long Island Legacy” by WABC-TV, won Emmys in the historical and cultural category and were done on Oyster Bay families.
“It’s two families in the same town, it’s two families of color,” said Ravin Chetrum, the vice president of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce. He attended the New York Emmy Awards as well. “It’s so important that these stories are told, that these people are taking action in this town.”
The Arty family, who had a story done on them by Newsday for restoring the 1834 mansion, said they were happy they attended the Emmy Awards.
“It was amazing,” Jamie Arty said. “I’m still on cloud nine. It was such an amazing night.”
Jamie and Frantz Arty were driving around Oyster Bay, looking for houses, in 2017 when they had to pull over into a driveway in order to get their bearings, as the road was narrow. That’s when they came across the dilapidated mansion that would eventually become their home.
“You could kind of see the for sale sign because it was covered with English ivy,” Jamie Arty recalled. “There was a number on the for sale sign and Franz called the number and that’s how we found the house… I was not on board. My husband loved the land. He liked the house too. He was the one who had the vision at this point.”
The following day, the Artys returned to the home to look around,and Jamie Arty said she started to see the possibilities of what this home could become.
They had a long road ahead of them. Jamie Arty, an interior designer, documented the progress on the home in a Facebook group “Making Over a Mansion,” which has 36.400 members.
“There was ups and downs and turns,” Jamie Arty said of the process of renovating the home. “Just like the house, we also went through a huge restoration with ourselves.”
The first step of renovating the home was emptying it.
“It was full of stuff from generations of families,” Jamie Arty said. “There were parts of the home we didn’t even get to see, because it was barricaded with stuff. There was a hole in the roof and a giant tree that fell on it… When it rained, it rained in the home. When it snowed, it snowed in the house. It was a disaster. Along the way, I started to do a lot of research on the home, and that’s when we started to find out all the really cool, amazing history. The more I found out about the home, the more I really started to appreciate it. It was just fascinating to me that it was the same doors, and threshold and staircases that people would go up and down 200 years ago.”
The home was once occupied by William Townsend McCoun, a known abolitionist, who was the first vice-chancellor of the New York court of chancery from 1831 to 1846. The family had a paid servant named Sofia Moore, who was a freed woman of color.
“We also found out that she was very much loved and appreciated by the original owners of our house because she was buried in their family cemetery less then 30 feet away from the chancellor and his wife,” read a Facebook post in the “Making Over a Mansion” group.
Also a former occupier of the home was Theodore Roosevelt Jr. The Arty family received a copy from the Sagamore Hill archivist of a family portrait of Roosevelt Jrs’ family. The photo was actually taken on the property of their house. The Arty family recreated their own version of the family photo at the very same site the original photo was taken.
“We’re not done and I feel like we’re never going to be done,” Jamie Arty said of the home. “There’s a lot we still need to finish. I’d say we have 60 percent done of the house.”
Coming full circle, Denice Evans Sheppard of the Oyster Bay Historical Society helped Jamie Arty with much of her research on the home. Through the process they became friends.
And Denice Evan Sheppard and her family had a story done on them by WABC-TV that also won a New York Emmy Award titled “David Carll’s Long Island Legacy”. The producer of the story, Ebony Roundtree, is also from Oyster Bay. Roundtree’s mother, Theresa, is a friend of Sheppard.
David Carll is Sheppard’s great-great grandfather.
“I had been doing the story on David Carll since I was a child,” Sheppard said. “I mean that by, I was raised by my grandparents… on Carll’s Hill in Oyster Bay. All throughout my life I’ve been hearing stories about David Carll. And I never had seen what he had looked like until a cousin of mine found his photo at the National Archives.”
According to the book Footsteps of a Forgotten Soldier: The Life & Times of David Carll,” published by Sheppard and Francis S. Carl, Carll was among the thousands of free, hard-working Black men from New York who answered the call to join the U.S. Colored Troop Regiment during the Civil War, a time when many Southern states still practiced slavery.
“From the money that he received from the war, he was able to give $200 of that to his wife so that she could secure property to be built on when he came home,” Sheppard said. “For $200, it wasn’t a bad deal because we’ve been there ever since. Our family has remained on the property since then… Everybody was in the property surrounding the main house. I had a great childhood, because I used to hear different stories from different family members that added to the main story.”
Hearing these stories growing up inspired Sheppard to become a historian. In 2018, she succeeded in getting the Pine Hollow cemetery where Carll is interred designated as a historic site in New York because of the 13 Civil War soldiers interred there, including Carll.
“My grandfather knew him,” Sheppard said. “He lived in the same house as him. I live in that house today. He was 10 when he passed away. But he has stories that he used to tell me all the time. Every morning, [Carll] would get up. There was a flag pole in the middle part of our property, that he’d get up every morning and salute the flag. He would raise the flag. He really took fighting for liberty and justice very seriously. Because he didn’t have to. He was a free man of color before he even went into war, as was his father.”
Carll Hill has changed over the years, with the property becoming smaller over the years due to encroaching. The property was also filled with abundance. Sheppard grew up with a farm on the property, every bush one could think of and plenty of fruit trees. But while the property became smaller and the fruit trees are no more, the house is still there, where Sheppard resides. And while changes may happen over the years, Sheppard is determined to keep the history alive for many years to come.
“David Carll left a huge legacy for us to follow,” Sheppard said. “Not only was he a veteran who fought hard for the freedom of everyone, not just his own, but for everybody to enjoy the freedom. But he left behind a sense of understanding, because his wife was European and they had nine children. I’m quite sure, through stories that were passed down, that they’ve been through a lot as a family. Tolerance, patience, commitment, dedication are some of the things I carry. I like to see things to from the beginning to the end. An entrepreneur. He had his own schooner business and transported freight along the Oyster Bay Long Island Sound across to Connecticut, Westchester County area… We’re part of history. And we don’t even know we’re part of history. It’s a humbling experience…I’m doing this so people can understand we were here. We are here. So that our stories are told and so that they’re not forgotten.”

David Carll
(Photo courtesy National Archive in
Washington, DC.)
The family of Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (Photo courtesy Sagamore Hill Archives)
The Arty family recreated their own version of the Roosevelt Jr. family photo at the very same site the original photo was taken. (Photo courtesy Jamie Arty)
Before and after photos of the Arty mansion. (Photo courtesy Jamie Arty)
All from Oyster Bay; Theresa Roundtree, left, Denice Evan Sheppard, WABC-TC producer Ebony Roundtree, and Iris Williams.
(Photo courtesy Denice Evans Sheppard)

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