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Association History

History of the Nye Family of America Association

         The idea for an association of descendants of Benjamin Nye was developed by Charles H. Nye of Hyannis, MA around 1880.  He and others began genealogical work, and planning for a reunion.  This was an era when many old New England families became interested in tracing their roots, back to England and Europe if possible. In addition, contemplating the connections between family history and the successful growth of the United States became a source of pride.

         The first Nye Family Reunion was held in Sandwich, MA in August, 1903, and from this enthusiastic event with 284 attendees sprang a well-organized association, more reunions with published proceedings, a volume of genealogy and a Nye Memorial Boulder in Town Hall Square.  By World War I, however, much of this interest had faded, and the last of the early Nye Reunions was held in 1928.

         In 1956 a meeting of local Nyes was held to determine what to do with a remaining Association bank account.  This small group elected Roswell H. Nye as president, and very soon became aware of Rosanna Cullity’s concern that the Benjamin Nye Homestead was threatened with removal or demolition by the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife, who owned the building.  In 1959 the reestablished Association was able to convince the state to preserve the Homestead by conveying it to them, through an act of the legislature, for museum purposes.

         A period of hard work ensued, in order to gain members, money and incorporation, so that the Nye property could be legally transferred.  The Homestead, and a tiny piece of land, was deeded in 1962.  The following year a three-day reunion was held in Sandwich, and this was the start of another successful period of growth.  During this time the original 1907 Genealogy of the Nye Family by George H. Nye and Frank E. Best was re-printed, and a second volume was compiled by R. Glen Nye of San Diego.  This was published in 1965.

         The first Nye Family Newsletter was mailed to members in 1966.  Restoration work on the Homestead continued under the guidance of Curator Rosanna Cullity, with substantial financial help from President Roswell Nye and many other contributors.  A modest collection of antique furnishings was acquired, and the Homestead was finally opened to the public in the summer of 1972, with live-in caretakers.

         The Nye Family of America Association, Inc. has seen considerable growth and improvement since our beginnings.  As funding appeared through donations and bequests, further restoration of the Homestead was enabled, though there is still work left to do.  During the 1980s we began encouraging interested people to join as members, who were not Nye descendants.  Some of these local people have, and are, serving on our Board of Trustees.  We currently have about 700 members.  A Nye Family Reunion is held every two years.

         The Association has continued publishing – A SANDWICH ALBUM by Rosanna Cullity and her son John Nye Cullity in 1987; NINETEENTH CENTURY SEAFARERS and LEGENDARY LIVES by George P. Nye in the 1990s; ORIGINS OF BENJAMIN NYE: EXAMINING THE SOURCES By Ian Hilder, George R. Nye and Jonathan A. Shaw.  We created a website in 2001 and more recently an e-newsletter.

         In 1991 The Nye Family Association acquired the 1889 East Sandwich Grange Hall, when the local branch of that national farm organization handed in its charter.  In 2009 we were able to acquire an additional 1.39 acres from the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife, through a land swap process.  This included the 17th century Benjamin Nye mill site with an 1855 mill building, and part of the old fish hatchery that operated until 1990.  In early 2013 the Association purchased another acre of beautiful and historic farm land across the street from the Homestead.  “The Neck” is mostly surrounded by the waters of Nye Pond, and will enhance the possibility for educational projects as well as preserve rural charm.

         The Benjamin Nye Homestead & Museum is open five afternoons a week, mid-June through mid-October.  The Grange Hall is operated as a community hall, and parts of the former Fish & Wildlife property are being cleared and restored, and plans are being made to publish more on local history and the Homestead.