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Phineas Headley, Jr. and Little Bay

Phineas Headley, Jr. and Little Bay

By Mabel Hoyle Knipe

Property know as Little Bay Camp on an island off the east shore of Sconticut Neck consisted of approximately five acres of land and a large building that served for several seasons to house a community of young women. The island was known as Naskatucket Island and the camp was called Little Bay Camp (Girls’ Summer Camp.) The island was opposite the P. C. Headley , Jr. home and Mr. Headley took an active part in directing activities.

Phineas Headley, Jr. had bought the Thompson Farm in 1902 on the east shore of the Neck overlooking Little Bay. He spent his summers there for several years and was “charmed by the beauty of the place.” He decided to build a $5,000 cottage which was the largest and most pretentious in the area. It was of Colonial design and had a 10 foot covered piazza on all sides. The piazza came from Miss Train’s house on Green Street. In 1906, more of the surrounding acreage was acquired and it was, until Mr. Headley passed away, a very respectable estate.

Mr. Headley was a prominent cotton broker and since 1884 had occupied the P. C. Headley office at 56 North Water Street, New Bedford. He was greatly trusted and respected and from this office dealt with all the mills of the locale.

Yet, he found time to be a great asset to his town. He fought the battle against mosquitoes on the Neck. He gave strong assistance to area organizations, particularly the YWCA and the YMCA. He was president of FIA and used that office prudently and yet excitingly.

He was implored to run for Selectman but after reflection felt he could do better to serve the community out of public office. He was a graduate of Amherst College and was an ordained minister.

He had been married in 1892 to Miss D. Margery Waite of New Bedford. They had one daughter, Miss Dorothy6 Headley who later married Lt. Everett C. Read.

The community was saddened when, on October 14, 1921, Mr. Headley died at age 62 from a self-inflicted revolver shot. He had been very ill for several months suffering from neurasthenia.

The Fairhaven Star mourned his passing as follows:

“There is scarcely a community project in the last 25 years in either New Bedford or Fairhaven in which he (Mr. Headley) was not among the leaders—particularly in quiet philanthropy.”

In March, 1923, fire destroyed the Headley dwelling. There was a total loss of more than $10,000. the cause of the fire was unknown but probably defective wiring played a part. When the fire erupted, Mrs. Headley was at breakfast with two friends—one being Miss Margaret Seibert, Head of the FHS English Department. The women had to run for their lives so fierce was the fire and were not able to grab anything except wraps. As the left, the roof flared up and when the fire apparatus arrived, little could be done except furniture salvage. By the time help arrived from New Bedford, the house was flattened. Mr. Headley’s valuable library was completely destroyed.

In 1924, the property know as Little Bay Camp on the island off Sconticut Neck and now owned by Mrs. Headley, was advertised as for sale as a whole. The property consisted of 75 acres and a large building and was once the haven for a community of young woment.

Mrs. Headley must have stayed on the Neck, for at the age of 73 she died and her death notice states that she succumbed at her home in Little Bay after a long illness.