Circa 1880, a lovely casual shingle style home with a large hipped roof and small symmetrical east and west wings was built by Frederic Betts for his brother C. Wyllys Betts and named "Sandrift." At the time the house was built there was no Cryder Lane; the property butted right up to the one to its east owned by J. T., and subsequently L. F. Terry. Sometime around the turn-of the century the ocean access road (Cryder Lane, but then without any given name) was introduced. The house no longer exists today and has been replaced by another. The Betts brothers, both lawyers, are known as the second to come to Southampton Village and build [at least seven] houses on the dunes at the foot of Lake Agawam.
Duncan Cryder (1843-1913) bought the house in 1885. He was the son of John and Mary (Wetmore) Cryder. John was a very wealthy shipping merchant and a partner of Wetmore & Cryder, Co. Duncan, a native New Yorker, was a tea importer and as such traveled extensively. In 1880 he married Elizabeth Callender Ogden (1848-1915) who was the daughter of Edward Ogden and Caroline Callendar of Newport, R.I., and a descendant of one of our country’s original Pilgrims, John Ogden. Shortly after their marriage they had a baby girl, Anita Wetmore Cryder, who died shortly after birth. Two weeks later the Cryders left the country, either to escape their sorrows, or on business, or both. But in 1882, Elizabeth – at the age of 34 - joyously gave birth to triplet daughters (Elsie (Elizabeth), Edith, and Ethel) who looked remarkably alike and were a social phenomenon.
In 1891, Cryder, after spending the winter in Biarritz and becoming interested in golf there, wrote his friend Samuel L. Parrish about whether golf could be established in Southampton. Along with two other gentlemen, WK Vanderbilt and Edward S. Mead, Cryder invited Willie Dunn to journey to Southampton to design a twelve-hole seaside links, which eventually became Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Duncan Cryder was also the first president of the Meadow Club.
Also in 1891, Duncan’s brother, William Wetmore Cryder, “was indicted for perjury and embezzling $39,000 from Manhattan Square Bank, where he was president. The family scandal prompted Duncan Cryder to take his family to Paris. There Elsie and her siblings lived what she later called a “life of leisure.” The triplets were educated by their governesses and toured Europe with their parents. In 1899 the triplets, now lovely young socialites, and their parents returned to New York.”
In addition to the triplets, the Cryders had a son, Ogden (1884-1902). When Ogden was 17 he died after being run over by a street car. That was the beginning of family tragedy for years to come. One of the triplets, Elsie, married William Woodward Sr., the president and director of the Hanover Bank of New York, and the secretary to the Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s during the reign of Edward VII. They had one son, William “Billy” Woodward Jr. (1920-1955). Billy graduated from Harvard and afterward fought in the Navy in WWII. He subsequently became a director of Hanover Bank and was considered one of the most eligible bachelors in America.
Image above is a detail of a postcard, courtesy The Eric Woodward Collection, showing "Sandrift" circa 1914.
In 1943 Billy married Ann Eden Cromwell, “an actress who also danced as a showgirl in upscale New York nightclubs….The marriage was tenuous from the start and the couple fought frequently. He had numerous affairs and she took to social climbing….
After attending a dinner party for the Duchess of Windsor on October 30, 1955, the couple returned home, nervous about reports of a prowler roaming nearby estates, including their own. The Woodwards were both avid hunters, although Ann was considered a terrible shot, and each went to their separate bedrooms that evening with loaded shotguns. A few hours later Ann heard a noise, went into a darkened hallway with her gun and shot and killed her husband, believing him to be a prowler. Subsequent investigations determined that there had indeed been a prowler in the house that evening…..Ann was never charged in the matter. Life Magazine called the episode “The Shooting of the Century…
Ann was banished from high society and her sons were sent to boarding school in Europe. The tale, which followed Ann everywhere, was thinly disguised and retold in Truman Capote’s novel, Answered Prayers, and Dominick Dunne’s novel The Two Mrs. Grenvilles, and in the non-fiction book This Crazy Thing Called Love by Susan Braudy.
Ann learned of the impending publication, in Esquire magazine, of Capote’s initial version of the story and killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills in 1975….
The two children of the marriage, William “Woody” Woodward III and James Woodward, both committed suicide by jumping from windows: James in 1976, after volunteering to fight in the Vietnam War, then returning home to become a heroin addict with a huge trust fund. Woody died in 1999, overwhelmingly upset over his recent divorce.”