The History of Long Island,
from its earliest settlement to the present time.

Peter Ross.

NY Lewis Pub. Co. 1902

[transcribed by Coralynn Brown]


A History of Long Island: from its earliest settlement to the present time

New York: Lewis Publ Co., 1902

The story of Riverhead Township, the county town of Suffolk, begins with 1792, when it was formed out of Southold. It is 15 miles in length, with an average width of 5 miles, and contains something like 36,000 acres. Its north shore runs along the Sound, while its south shore is on Peconic Bay, and the Peconic River separates it from Southampton and Brookhaven. Farming is exclusively carried on, but in no part is the island noted for tis fertility and even to the present day large sections of the township can hardly be said to be under cultivation. Yet within recent years a vast improvement has been efected and bit by bit acres which have been given over for a century or more to wildbrush and weeds have been recovered and are yielding abundant return in the shape of grain or garden truck.

Many thriving communities have sprung up and Riverhead from being, as the Rev. Dr. Dwight described it in 1804, "a miserable hamlet" is now one of the most prosperous and beautiful and progressive towns on Long Island, with a population estimated at about 2,500.

The territory in the township, or most of it, was purchased from the red men in 1649, another part was purchased from Col. William Smith and divided among settlers in 1742. The population increased very slowly, the settlements were small and widely scattered and the people were poor. The territory added nothing to the wealth of Southold. It had no habors, no commerce, no excess of crops and was very little heard of even in the town meetings. The county was not partularly adapted for traveling. The distances were great and from Aquebogue westward the territory to the Brookhaven line was in Southold, but not all of it. Therefore there was little excitement when it became known that on March 13, 1792, the Legislature had cut off the territory and erected it into a separate township, apparently by the unanimous desire of the people. The bill which so enacted read as follows:

Whereas many of the freeholders and inhabitants of Southold, in Suffolk county, have represented to the Legislature that their town is so long that it is very inconvenient for them to attend at town meetings, and also to transact the other necessary business of the said town, and have prayed that the same may be divided into two towns: therefore,

I. Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, that all that part of the said town of ginning at the sound and running thence Southold lying to the westward of a line be-southerly to the bay separating the towns of Southampton and Southold, and which is the eastern bounday or side of a farm now in the tenure or occupation of William Albertson and is the reputed line of division between the parishes of Ocquebouge and Mattetuck, shall from and after the first Monday in April next, be erected into a distinct and separate town, by the name of River Head; and the first town meeting of the inhabitants of the said town shall be held at the dwelling house of John Griffin, at River Head; and the said towns shall enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities which are granted to the other towns within this State by an act of the Legislature passed the 7th of March, 1788, entitled "An Act for Dividing the Counties of this State into Towns."

II. And be it further enacted, that the poor of the town of Southold, on the first Monday of April next, shall afterwards be divided by the town of Southold and the town of River Head, in such proportions as the supervisors of the county, at their next annual meeting, shall direct, and the congingent charges and expenses of the town of Southold that have already arisen, or shall arise before the first Monday in April next, shall be assessed, levied and paid in the same manner as if this act had not been passed.

The first town meeting was held as directed in the act, on April 3, 1792. The laws of Southold were those by which the new community was governed. Riverhead being the county town gave the new township a certain dignity to start with. In 1725 a two-story frame building has there been erected, which served as courthouse and jail, and on March 27, 1729, a Court of General Sessions met there for the first time. The first court of Oyer and Terminer under the State Government in Suffolk County convened at Riverhead Sept. 4, 1787. The town meeting seems to have revised its lawsz in 1794, but the proceedings at these gatherings included little of interest to us. One exception to this might be made in the care taken of the poor. When the township was formed it had only 6 paupers and these were let out for one year to the bidder who offered to maintain them for the least money, and this method of disposing of such dependents continued to prevail until 1832, when a farm was purchased at Lower Aquebogue and the poor were gathered together and removed there, and that establishment was maintained until the county system came into law and the paupers of Riverhead were transferred, in 1871, to Yaphauk, and the poor farm was sold.

When the war of 1812 commenced the town meeting passed resolutions hartily endorsing the action of the Government in beginning hostilities, but that was about as much as they were directly concerned so far as that episode went. But when the Civil War broke out the people of Riverhead got a chance to show their patriotism. Every call of the Government was loyally met, large bounties were awarded to volunteers, and altogether the conflict seems to have cost the town over $81,000.

But in spite of its dignity as a township and its position as the county town, Riverhead advanced very slowly. In 1800 its population was 1,498; in 1820, 1,857; in 1825, 1,816; in 1835, 2,138; in 1840, 2,373, and twenty years later it had only reached 2,734; two decades still further it had advanced to 3,939, and the census stood at these figures, the census returns showing only 4,010.

As a county - a county engaged in farming, its history under these cirumstances can be understood as passing along without much in the way of interest for the annalist unless he chose to fill up his pages with statistics or tax returns, census reports and lists of local officials, all of which, however, fails to arouse any interest even in the mind of the reader of local lore.

But in the stories of the various villages and settlements deserving of a much more dignified title, we find much deserving of study. Even the story of the village of Riverhead, modern as most of it is, is full of intereting detail, all of which tend to present it before us as a typical American country town, and one which at the present day is full of ambition and life and is making full use of its natural beauty of situation and its ready adoption of all that in these modern times is regarded as necessary to municipal success to make it become one of the most attractive and popular of Long Island cities.

It is a beautiful place, it combines city and country in its broad and well paved streets, its stately trees lining the sidewalks everywhere, its business establishments and banks, its many really handsome villas, its steadily increasing popularity among summer visitors and its loyal, energetic and enterprising body of regular residents, who have an abiding faith in its future and are ready and willing at all times to bestir themselves in every movement likely to aid in its development. At the same time it is a "homely" place, using the word in its original meaning, homelike. It has in its population no man or class who might be described as rich in the modern multi-millionaire meaning of the term; it has no very poor and all are, more or less, neighbors. A poor man is respected equally with the wealthy one so long as both respect themselves and act the part of good citizens.

Like so many other centers of population on Long Island Riverhead began with a saw mill erected on the banks of the Peconic in 1659 by two pioneers - John Tooker and Joshua Horton. The erection of the court house does not seem to have aided its growth very much, for in 1812 it contained only four buildings besides the court house and jail, and of these one was a tavery kept by John Griffing and another a grist mill owned by Josiah Albertson. By 1825 a new court house had been erected and a separate building constructed for a jail, and there were five stores, and in 1828 a woolen factory was added to the industries, deriving power from the Peconic.

In 1835 an effort was made to deepend the channel of the river; but, although a beginning was effected, the work had to be abandoned owing to a lack of funds and it was not until 1882 that the work was completed by Congressional appropriation. In 1854 a new court house was completed at a cost of $17,800, but it was not until 1881 that a new jail was provided, with all the modern improvements to which a jail could then aspire.

The excellent power furnished by the Peconic River began about the middle of the last century to attract many manufacturing enterprises to Riverhead - molding and planing mills, a soap factory, fertilizer works (both fish and wood being the staple of manufacture), organ building and quite a number of other industries increased its wealth and importance. Such establishments rarely add much to the aesthetic beauty of a place and Riverhead in its march of improvement might have lost some of its attractiveness but for the organization, in 1881, of the "Village Improvement Society," which not only accomplished much and lasting good by its own direct work, but exerted a healthy influence on the entire community.

In 1868 the citizens showed their public spirit and sagacity, by purchasing 20 acres of ground in their village and presenting the property to the Suffolk County Agricultural Society as its permanent headquarters. The story of that organization has been told in 1881 by Mr. Nat W. Foster, long its secretary, an office now held by his son, and it is here given in his own words:

The first record we find of an agricultural society in this county is a printed copy of the "Constitution of the Suffolk County Agricultural Society adopted Oct. 6, 1818"; article 2 of which states the society's object to "be the advancement of agriculture in all its various branches, by collecting and circulating the knowledge of improvements, and by bestowing premiums for the most successful exertions." Article 9 provides for "two meetings each year, at the court-house in Riverhead, in May and in October;" article 10 for "an annual fair and cattle show, time and place to be appointed by the managers." The officers were: President Thomas S. Strong; 1st vice-president, Sylvester Dering; and vice-president Joshua Smith; 3d vice-president, Nathaniel Potter; 4th vice-president, John P. Osborne; corresponding secretaries, Charles H. Havens and Henry P. Dering; recording secretary, Ebenezer W. Case; treasurer, David Warner. Twelve managers were also elected. We find no mention of any meetings or fairs.

In Volume I of the Transactions of the New York State Agricultural Society for 1841 is found the statement that the Suffolk County Agricultural Society was organized in that year. In the "Transactions" for 1842 are several statements by persons receiving premiums for crops from this county society, of which William W. Mills was then president. In the volume for 1843 is a report by William C. Stout, president, stating that the third annual fair was held Nov. 15, and $186.50 paid in premiums. Richard B. Post was secretary, David C. Brush treasurer, and there was a manager for each town. "The society is not in so flourishing a condition as I would like to see it, owing almost entirely to the immense length of our county, thereby rendering it difficult to fox upon the proper place at which to hold an annual fair and give general satisfaction. Measures are in progress, however, to correct this evil by organizing two societies."

In the volume of 1846 J. Lawrence Smith, president, writes under the date of March 20, 1847, that "the county society was dissolved in 1843, and a new society formed from a smaller and more thickly settled portion of the county." This society was known as the "Western Branch of the Suffolk County Agricultural Society." Its records show that fairs were held each year from 1843 to 1852 (excepting 1844), respectively at Comac, Smithtown, Comac, Islip, Huntington, Greenport, Babylon, Smithtown and Huntington. The officers during this period were as follows, so far as recorded:

Presidents - W. C. Stout, 1843, 1845; J. Lawrence Smith, 1846, 1847; B. Smith, 1848; Harvey W. Vail, 1849. 1850; Edward Henry Smith, 1851; Dr. John R. Rhinelander, 1852; Edwin A. Johnson, 1853.

Vice-Presidents - W. H. Ludlow, 1845; Lester H. Davis, 1846; Samuel N. Bradhurst, 1847; William Nicoll, 1851; Samuel L. Thompson, 1852, 1853.

Secretaries - Henry G. Scudder, 1845; Nathaniel Smith, 1846, 1847, 1851; Dr. Abraham G. Thompson, 1848-50; Edward K. Briar, 1852; J. H. Carll, 1853.

Treasurers - R. B. Post, 1843; Nathaniel Smith, 1845; Richard Smith, 1846, 1847; Jarvis R. Mowbray, 1848; Elbert Carll, 1849, 1850; William Lawrence, 1851; David C. Brush, 1852; William H. Ludlow, 1853.

At the fair at Comac Oct. 16, 1843, premiums were awarded announting to $110. At Smithtown in 1845 the premiums amounted to $95. An address was delivered by Dr. John R. Rhinelander. In 1846 the premiums were $79. An address was given by Samuel A. Smith.

At a meeting (date not given) held between fairs of 1846 and 1847 it was resolved "that this society be hereafter known and called by the name of "The Suffolk County Agricultural Society." At the fair of 1847 mention is made of "corn planted three feet apart, four stalks in each hill, showing that good corn may be produced on much less ground than is usually required;" and "fine flat turnips grown since oats were taken off." The address was by William H. Ludlow and the premiums aggregated $94. At Hungtinton October 10th, 1848, a new constitution (prepared by the secretary, Dr. A. C. Thompson, as instructed at a previous meeting) was presented and adopted. An address by Dr. Thompson "reviewed the past and present operations of the society, the benefits resulting from the formation of agricultural societies, and urged the importance of system, of industry, and economy in managing agricultural matters."

The first fair held in the eastern part of the county was at Greenport, Oct. 2, 1849. The address was by John G. Floyd.

At a meeting of the mangers, April 6, 1850, it was resolved, "on condition that the residents of Babylon and the vicinity pay or secure to be paid to the treasurer of the society, on or before May 1, 1850, the sum of $100, and that the necessary cattle pens be erected, a suitable building or tent be provided, and that arrangements be made for the conveyance of passengers to and from the railroad free of all charge, that the fair will be held in that village, Sept. 24, 1850." Also resolved, "in case the residents of Babylon and its vicinity do not agree to the above resolution, the exhibition will be held in Islip in case the said conditions be complied with." In addition to the premiums offered the year before, premiums were offered for crops grown on the "Plain lands." The fair was held at Babylon. "F.M.A. Wicks, of Thompson's station, exhibited cheese, pumpkins, citron, mellons, fine potatoes, and Isabella grapes raised on the 'Plain lands,' adjoining the Long Island railroad at Thompson's station. Ira L'Hommedieu exhibited tomatoes, blood beats, and egg plants raised on land of Dr. E.F. Peck at Lake Road station. These productions showed conclusively the error of the idea that lands contiguous to the Long Island railroad are worthelss." "The society is indebted to Mr. Francis M.A. Wicks and to Dr. E.F. Peck for proving beyond objection that these desolate lands can be made productive under a proper course of cultivation. The perseverance shown by these two gentlemen is deserving the highest commendation, and it is hoped that success may attend their efforts." The annual address was delivered by John Fowler Jr.

At the winter meeting, Dec. 4, 1850, a premium was awarded to Samuel S. Thompson, of Setauket, "for 84 1/2 bushels, 4 quarts and 1 pint of Australian of "Verplank" wheat, raised on two surveyed acres, the weight being 63 1/2 lbs per bushel; the standard of 60 lbs per bushel being allowed, the yield of the crop was 89 bushels 2 pecks on the two acres.

* * * Deducting the expenses, the net profit was $341.75."

"William Burling, of Babylon, raised 65 bushels of corn on one-eighth of an acre, being at the rate of 520 bushels per acre." The net profit was $24.65.

At Smithtown, Sept. 25, 1851, the address was delivered by Dr. Franklin Tuthill, of New York City. Mr. Bush, the treasurer, dying before the next fair, John D. Hewlett was appointed treasurer in his stead. At the fair at Huntington, Oct. 21, 1852, the address was by Henry J. Scudder, of New York City. It is reported that another fair was held in 1852, at Islip, but the record shows no further meeting till February 1, 1865, when the society was reorganized at Thompson's station, with the title "Suffolk County Agricultural Society." The officers elected were as follows:

President, William Nicoll Huntington; vice-president, Robert W. Pearsall, Islip; secretary, J. H. Doxses, Islip; treasurer, William J. Weeks, Brookhaven; directors H. G. Scudder, Huntington; Caleb Smith, Smithtown; Robert O. Colt, Islip; Thomas S. Mount, Brookhaven; D. H. Osborne, Riverhead; David G. Floyd, Southold.

The officers from this time have been;

Presidents -

William Nicoll, 1866, 1867, 1872-74; Dr. B. D. Carpenter, 1868-71; Henry Nicoll, elected in 1872, not serving, William Nicoll was appointed; Henry E. Huntting, 1875, 1879, 1880; Hon. John S. Marcy, 1876-78; Alvah M. Salmon, 1881, 1882.

Vice-Presidents -

Dr. B.D. Carpenter, 1866, 1867; Samuel B. Gardiner, 1868; Henry G. Scudder, 1869-71; Lewis A. Edwards, 1872; Henry E. Hunting, 1873, 1874; R.T. Goldsmith, 1875; Stephen C. Rogers, 1876-78; Alvah M. Salmon, 1879, 1880; George W. Cooper, 1881, 1882.

Secretaries -

J.H. Doxsee, 1866, 1867; Thomas S. Mount, 1868-71, 1875; Henry D. Green, 1872-74; Nathaniel W. Foster, 1876, 1877, 1879-80; J.L. Millard, 1878.

Treasurer -

W.J. Weeks, 1876, 1877; Joshua L. Wells, 1868-71; David F. Vail, 1872-74; Samuel Griffin, 1875-82.

The first fair after the reorganization was held at Riverhead Sept. 27 and 28, 1865.

"The board of managers are fully satisfied with the results of the fair, both in the interest manifeted by the people of the county and the pecuniary result arising therefrom."

The receipts were $1,600, and the disbursements $800. From this time the fair has been held each year at Riverhead, excepting 1867, when it was at Greenport. The addresses have been delivered as follows;

In 1865, by Hon. Henry Nicoll, of Mastic.

1866, by Hon.. William H. Gleason, Sag Harbor.

1867, Hon. Samuel A. Smith, of Smithtown.

1868, Hon. Henry P. Hedges, of Bridgehampton.

1869, William Nicoll, of Islip.

1870, Robert W. Pearsall, of Brentwood.

1871, Hon. Henry J. Scudder of Northrop.

1872, Hon. Horace Greeley, of New York.

1873, General Stewart L. Woodford, of Brooklyn.

1875, Hon. Townsend D. Cock, of Queens county.

1876, Hon. L. Bradford Prince, of Flushing.

1877, Hon. John R. Reid, of Babylon.

1878, Hon. Nathan D. Petty, of Flushing.

1879, Hon. James W. Covert, of Flushing.

1880, P. T. Barnum, of Bridgeport.

1881, Hon. R .B. Roosevelt and E. G. Blackford, of the New York Fish Commission, and Barnet Phillips, secretary of the American Fish Cultural Association.

In 1866 the question of permanent location came up, was discussed and laid over; also "the propriety of uniting with Queens county to form a Long Island agricultural society," October 29, 1867, the managers accepted from the citizens of Riverhead a deed donating to the Suffolk County Agricultural Society "land lying near and westerly of the Riverhead Cemetery, for fair grounds, with this condition - if the society shall fail for two consecutive years to hole fair thereon, the grounds shall revert to the donors."

The grounds are pleasantly located, conveniently near to the village and to the depot of the Long Island Railroad, and of very ready access from all directions.

The matter of fitting up the grounds was referred to the President, Vice-President and Treasurer, and it was "resolved that the sum of $200 be appropriated to pay the Treasurer for his extra services in behalf of the society."

The first fair on the new grounds was held September 30 and October 1st and 2d, 1868. Again $200 was paid to the Treasurer for services.

B. D. Carpenter, Stephen C. Rogers, Joshua L. Wells, John S. Marcy, William Nicoll and Robert W. Pearsall were the building committee that supervised the erection of the Exhibition Hall. The architect was George H. Skidmore, of Riverhead. The contract for building was awarded to Fielder, Skidmore & Co. The building was completed in time for the next annual fair, October 6, 7 and 8, 1869. In the evening of the 6th a public meeting was held in the court house, and papers were read by Robert W. Pearsall, of Brentwood, and Hon. Henry B. Hedges, of Bridgehampton, the latter upon "Fertililzers and their Application."

"Mr. William Nicoll in a few appropriate remarks called attention to the Exhibition Hall, and, with a view of liquidating the debt incurred by its erection, he moved that a committee be appointed for soliciting life members of the society upon the payment of ten dollars each. The motion having been passed and the committee appointed, Mr. Nicoll manifested his earnestness in the movement by the payment of seventy dollars, making his wife and children life members. Others immediately followed the example till $400 had been contributed."

The annual meeting in the evening of the 7th was addressed by Mr. Nicoll.

On June 22 and 23, 1870, occurred the first horticultural exhibition, a festival and reunion, which was very successful, bringing together a very large and pleasant compnay. Others were held June 14, 1871, and June 19, 1872. There being few if any professional florists in the county and the strawberry growers being particularly busy marketing their fruit, it was found to be impracticable to attempt at present more than one fair each year.

In 1876, besides the usual annual meeting on Wednesday evening during the fair, meetings were held at the court-house on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for discussion of matters of interest to the county and its people; but the attendance was so small that no encouragement was felt to repeat the experiment.

During this year the grounds were improved by planting trees, which were donated to the society by Isaac Hicks & Sons, of Old Westbury, Queens county; P. H. Foster, of Babylon; E. F. Richardson, of Brentwood, and Israel Peck of Southold. Adjoining Exhibition Hall was built a cloak or package room, which has proved a great convenience to visitors and a source of profit to the society. New features were introduced into the exhibition, viz.: "Centennial relics" and "a display of antiquities." This being the Centennial year this feature seemed to touch every heart, bringing out a warm response throughout the county, and, not stopping with county limits, was similarly responded to in several other counties as a striking feature in their fairs. The suggestion, coming as it did from this county, at once introduced this society to many sister societies that before hardly knew of it. A display of "plans" for farm buildings,e tc., by Suffolk county architects (which has been of much service by elevating the standards of architechs as exhibited, and also by elevating the standard of architecture in the county) and a "collection of foreign curiosities" were very successful in themselves and added much to the exhibit.
A new and notable feature of the fair was the gathering of the chldren of the public schools of the county - teachers and pupils being admitted free on one specified day - the effect of which was so gratifying that it has become one of the fixtures of each fair, thereby cultivating in the rising generation an interest in the society. This year, too, more largely than ever before, was the power of the country press shown in arousing throughout the county a new and general interest in the society, and a strong desire to attend the fair. All together, notwithstanding the greater attraction offered by the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, this year seems to have been a turning point in the history of the society. Partly from the geo-graphical situation of the county, partly from the difficulty experienced in reaching the fair with articles for exhibition, and from various other reasons, a feeling of more than indifference seemed very largely to have possessed the people of both east and west. This now gave place to a desire to promote the success of the fair.

In 1877 the new features of the preceding year were retained and a new department, an "exhibit of school work," was introduced, whereby the public schools became interested in the society; also exhibits of minerals and Indian relics. This fair was made more attractive by a fine display from the Long Island Historical Society of Brooklyn, through the kindness of Elias Lewis Jr. The attendance was larger, by reason of the improved railroad connections and facilities, whereby people were brought from all parts of the island and returned at reduced rates. Not only the society, but many people throughtout the county were much benefited by a donation from J. N. Hallock, formerly from Suffolk county, now publisher of "The Christian at Work," New York city, of subscriptions amounting to $100, which were largely used as premiums. This year $600 was paid on the debt, and in 1878 $400.

In 1879 more new features were introduced - displays of decorated pottery, rare china, native woods, and leaves and nuts of trees growing in the county. Among the cattle exhibited were a pair of immense oxen, weighing over 4,600 pounds, exhibited by Elbert Rose of Bridgehampton, and some superior Jerseys from the well-known stock-yards of William Crozier of Northport. Point judging on cattle and horses was now introduced. The exhibit of school work, first introduced in 1877, showed gratifying progress. The hall was made more cheerful by the exhibit of a large number of bills and posters of the different county societies of the State. The debt was reduced $250 this year.

A very important feature of the fair of 1880 was the addresses of P. T. Barnum, at the hall in the afternoon and at the court-house in the evening, replete with humor and wisdom. Some very fine Early Rose potatoes, that took the first prize, were grown in beach sand. One man reported a crop of 500 bushels of potatoes raised on an acre of ground. This year the debt was again reduced $250.

At a meeting of the board of managers held at Riverhead Jan. 27, 1881, Austin Corbin, the newly elected president and receiver of the Long Island Railroad Company, and several of the directors were present; also reporters from the city papers. Mr. Corbin and others explained the condition of the road and the company and their plans and intentions for the future. Mr. Corbin, as a Suffolk county farmer, made a donation to the society of $250.

Before the fair the railroad company offered $500 in special premiums for stock, grains, fruit, etc., which greatly stimulated the exhibitors and added much to the interst of the exhibition. H. W. Maxwell, one of the directors of the railroad company, offered five gold medals, of the total value of $100, to be competed for during the fair by the pupils of the public schools of the county, in reading, arithmetic, United States history, geography and English language. Three of these were taken by pupils of the Greenport school, one by a pupil at Yaphank, and one by a member of the school at Patchogue. During this year the grounds were improved by planting more trees. The addresses at the fair were on fish culture, out of the regular course, but of great interest to the whole county. The debt was still further reduced $500.

Again a new departure: The officers of the society, not content with showing their county's products to those that might come to the county fair, proposed to the farmers and others of the county an exhibit of their good things at the State fair at Elmira, which exhibit, although an experiment, was very encouraging in its results, the first premiums ($25) being awarded to R. O. Colt, of Bay Shore, for the best collection of vegetabeles, besides other premiums to different exhibitors; while a new wagon gear invented and exhibited by C. M. Blydenburgh, of Riverhead, attracted great attention, as did the wood of which the wagon was built - Suffok county oak. The exhibit brought the county into ver prominent and favorable notice.

Another institution which has proved of great service to the upward progress of Riverhead is the Savings Bank, which was established in 1872, mainly through the efforts of Mr. Nat W. Foster and Orville B. Ackerly. The latter, who was for many years a resident of Riverhead, has been engaged in business in New York for a considerable time past. He was County Clerk of Suffolk for six years and had previously been Deputy Clerk for twelve years, and not only proved a most capable official but was one of the most popular men in the county, and that popularity he still retains, although the prosecution of his business necessarily removes him from its assocations - at least to the same extent as formerly.

The bank started out with the following trustees: James H. Tuthill, John Downs, N. W. Foster, Jeremiah M. Edwards, Gilbert H. Ketcham, Daniel A. Griffing, J. Henry Perkins, Moses F. Benjamin, Edwin F. Squiers, John R. Corwin, Orville B. Ackerly, Richard T. Osborn, Isaac C. Halsey, Simeon S. Hawkins, Richard H. Benjamin, John F. Foster, Thomas Coles, J. Halsey Young, John S. Marcy, Abraham B. Luce, Jonas Fishel, and John P. Mills.

It was a success from the first, and during all the years that have passed, in spite of periods of panic, depression and financial restlessness, it has maintained a clean and honorable record, and by its wise management has done much to develop the prosperity of the town. According to the latest report its resources amounted to $3,189,770, and its deposits to $2,859,829, giving it a clear surplus of $329,941. But that report showed another detail which ought to be a matter of local pride, showing as it does the thrifty character of the people, and that was the average of each account in 1900 was $457.93, an amount exceeded by only two others of the savings banks on Long Island.

But the Savings Bank rendered a most valuable service to Riverhead and to the county in a widely different direction from its finances, for it was at a meeting of its board of trustees in 1886 that the organization of the Suffolk County Historical Society was first broached. The Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Herrick, of Boston, a native of Suffolk county, was a guest at the usual luncheon which was a feature of the trustees' meetings, and in the course of a most interesting address suggested the formation of an organization which should gather up the records of the past and preserve them. "Too many of these have been already lost," he said, "because such an institution has not existed. Suffolk county may for all time rejoice in her illustrious citizens. Who would forget Captain Mercator Cooper, of Southampton, who, in the whaleship Manhattan, of Sag Habor, first carried the United States flag into Japanese waters, at the same time returning to their homes more than a score of ship-wrecked sailors he had rescued? Who would be willing to lose the record of the illustrious patriotism and devotion of General Nathaniel Woodhull or of the valuable services of Ezra l'Hommedieu and many others? Shall the story of their brave and heroic lives be lost, or shall they be saved to inspire others to good works? Why, then, may not something at once be done?"

Before the close of the year the Suffolk County Historical Society was fully organized. The following account of its progress has been drawn up by Mr. Foster, now its President:

The early members were:

Hon. James H. Tuthill, George F. Stackpole, Nat W. Foster, Daniel W. Reeve, William C. Ostrander, Ahaz Bradley, Professor Charles S. Stone, the Rev. Samuel Whaley, Benjamin K. Payne, Dr. Howard H. Young, William R. Duvall, Holmes W. Swezey, Sheriff Henry W. Halsey, James L. Millard, John Walsh Jr., Gilbert H. Conklin and Samuel Tithill, of Riverhead.

Wilmot M. Smith, Hon. John S. Havens, William H. Newins and George M. Ackerly, of Patchogue.

Joseph H. Petty, of Amityville.

Stuart T. Terry, the Rev. Epher Whittaker, D.D. and N. Hubbard Cleveland, of Southold.

Richard M. Bayles, of Middle Island.

Salem H. Wales, of New York, with a country residence at Southampton.

James Slater, of Central Islip.

Henry A. Brown, of West Deer Park.

A. M. Salmon, of Peconic.

Theodore W. Smith, of Smithtown.

Benjamin T. Robbins, of Northport.

Charles E. Shepard, of Huntington.

Sidney H. Ritch, of Port Jefferson.

W. W. Thompson, of Orient.

The officers for the first year were: President, James H. Tuthill, Riverhead; Vice-presidents, the Rev. Dr. Epher Whitaker, Southold, and Joseph H. Petty, Amityville; Recording Secretary, Stuart T. Terry, Southold; Corresponding Secretary, Richard M. Bayles, Middle Island; Treasurer, James H. Pierson, Southampton; Custodian, George F. Stackpole, Riverhead.

Mr. Tuthill was re-elected President until his death, in January 1894.

At the next annual meeting after Mr. Tuthill's death, February 20, 1894, Nat W. Foster was elected as his successor, and Rev. Dr. Whitaker declining the position and continuing as Vice -president along with Floyd, of New York. At the evening meeting special services, memorial of the life of the late President, were held, addressed by the Rev. Dr. Whitaker, the Rev. William I. Chalmers, B. K. Payne and Professor J. M. Belford.

In 1895 Orville B. Ackerly, now of New York City, was made Corresponding Secretary.

In 1896 the Rev. Charles A. Stonelake, of Aquebogue, was elected Recording Secretary, and continued to so act until suddenly called out of State, when, at the next annual meeting, February 16, 1898, Miss Ruth H. Tuthill, daugher of the late President, was chosen for that position.

At a special meeting of the society held on July 1, 1893, the Riverhead Savings Bank building, at the coner of Main street and Griffing avenue, was purchased for $4,000. One-half was paid and $2,000 remained on bond and mortgage. This mortgage has since been reduced to $1,300.

Addresses have been delivered at the public meetings of the society as follows:

June, 1887. The Rev. Dr. Whitaker: "Union of Church and State, Past and Present."

June, 1888. John R. Reid: "Historic Studies."

October, 1889. Henry P. Hedges: "Priority of Settlement, Southold and Southampton."

October 1890. James H. Tuthill: "Proper Work of an Historical Society, and How It should be Done."

February, 1893. The Rev. W. I. Chalmers: "Urging Deeper Interest in Historical Work and the Suffolk County Historical Society."

February 1895. The Rev. Dr. Whitaker: "The Rise of Woman." District Attorney W. H. Jaycox: "The Value of Historical Knowledge." George F. Stackpole: "What May be Done in the Future in the Way of Developing Long Island." The Rev. R. M. Edwards: "Impressions of Long Island."

February, 1896. William Wallace Tooker: "Cockinco de Long Island." Edward P. Buffett Jr., "Fort Salonga."

February, 1897. Augustus Floyd: "Suffolk in Revolutionary Times." The Rev. A. C. Stonelake: "The Collections of the Society."

February, 1989. R. C. McCormick: "Value of Local Historical Societies." William S. Pelletreau: "Richard Smith of Smithtown."

The objects of the society as stated in Article II of its constitution read, "To foster the historical spirit in thought, study and purpose; to encourage historical and antiquarian reseach; to disseminate historical knowledge; to collect and preserve such autographs and other manuscripts, maps, plans, charts, paintings, engravings, and other pictorial representations, books, pamphlets, newspapers, curiosities and antiquities of every kind as may have been or shall be the products of Suffolk county, or of its several towns, some of which are the oldest English settlements and religious and civil organizations within the bounds of the State of New York; and also to discover, procure and preserve whatsoever material of any kind may illustrate the history of its several towns."

The society, since its organization in 1886, has gathered a large number of valuable historical documents, old sermons and addresses by Suffolk county men, statistical reports, portraits, Indian and Revolutionary War relics, pre-Revolutionary implements of industry and other articles of interest. Among the valuable historical works are the following:

Records of Boston and New Haven, the former comprising twenty-seven volumes, showing the origin of many Long Island families, presented by Orville B. Ackerly.

Mallman's "History of Shelter Island."

"Early Long Island Wills," by W. S. Pelletreau.

All the town records of several Long Island towns as published by the town authorities.

Thompson's "History of Long Island."

Genealogical and biographical record of New York, and a copy of the laws of the Colony of New York from 1691 to 1799, presented by Elbert Carll Livingston, containing in its fly leaves a family register. (The first death recorded on the fly leaf in manuscript is that of "Captain Jacob Conklin in Dec. ye 8 1754 on the 1st day of the week at 9 o'clock at night.")

Among rare documents and publications are:

Early Long Island wills of Suffolk country, known as the Lester Will Book.

Manuscript copy of the roster of soldiers stationed at Sag Harbor under command of Major Benjamin Case in War of 1812.

Proceedings of the New England Historical Genealogical Society and of the Massachusetts Historical Society, all presented by Orville B. Ackerly.

Papers in the case of the trustees of Southampton against Fredrick H. Betts, giving a full history of the early settlement of the town and the partitioning of the lands and meadow rights.

Unbound journal of New York Assembly Journal, 1796, and Senate, 1806.

The origin and meaning of English and Dutch surnames of New York State families.

List of ancestors and descendants of John Howell Wells.

Seventy old almanacs between the years 1811 and 1896.

"Long Island Journal of Philosophy and Cabinet of Varietiers," published at Hungtington in 1825.

Among the curiosities is a framed commission by the Postmaster General to Elihu S. Miller as postmaster at Wading River, February 1, 1869, to his father, Sylvester Miller, July 30, 1844, and to his grandfather, Zophar Miller, February 26, 1825.

A letter from the Postmaster General to Congress transmitting a statement of the net amount of postage accruing at each postoffice in the country for the year ending March 31, 1826 , shows the following to have been the receipts of various Long Island offices:

Jamaica, $164.27; Hempstead, $36.57; Huntington, $64.50; Suffolk Court House (now Riverhead), $29.40; Wading River, $2.74; Bridgehampton, $50.22; Cold Spring, $18.63; Cutchogue, $10.20; Deer Park, $7.37; Easthampton, $59.33; Islip, $20.40; Jericho, $18.07; Jerusalem, $1.27; Mattituck, $18.86; Oyster Bay, $23; Oyster Bay South, $7.39; Oyster Pond (Orient), $25.32; Patchogue, $24.31; Sag Harbor, $117.06; Setauket, $28.46; Smithtown, $56.16; Southampton, $47.62; Southold, $35.35; and Westhampton, $9.61.

Among other intersting documents are the records of the First Strict Congregational convention, held at the house of the Rev. Daniel Young, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Riverhead, organized March 26, 1758; the Rev. Jacob Corwin, the Rev. Noah Hallock, Bridgehampton, and Deacons Daniel Terry and Richard Robinson, delegates from the churches at Riverhead and Wading River; the Rev. Jacob Corwin, pastor of the Second Congregational Church, founded at Aquebogue, or East Riverhead, in 1787, and the Rev. Paul Cuffee, a native Indian of the Shinnecock tribe, located at Canoe Place, "a man of great influence and reputation." His grave is prominent to-day in the cemetery east of Good Ground Station. The appointment of Calvin Cook as ensign of "the regiment of militia in Suffolk County," signed by Daniel D. Tompkins, is prominently displayed. There is an interesting exhibit of flax seed, a sheaf of the flax raised in Suffolk county, unbetchelled and hetchelled flax, thread and linen cloth. There are also shown the various old-fashioned flax machines, including flax hacker, flax wheel and swift reel. A relic of historical interest is a piece of cedar from the British sloop of war "Sylph," built in Bermuda in 1811 and wrecked on Southampton Bar on January 17, 1811, when, out of a crew of 121, 115 were lost, including Captain George Dickens, commanding officer; Lieutenants George Butt and H. S. Marsham, Surgeon James Still and Thomas Atwell, master. This piece of cedar was part of a fence post underground on a farm at Quogue for seventy-five years, and is still as fragrant as ever. Among the Indian relics are arrow heads from Fort Salunga, Indian arrow heads, stone axes, hoes, tomahawks, mortars, found mainly in Southold and Southampton. Some of these were taken from a well twenty feet underground, and the stone was of a character such as is found only in the outcropping ledges of Massachusetts. It puzzles scientists to know how four of the preglacial stone arrow and spear heads came to be found on Long Island and at such a depth below the surface, where they have evidently been buried for ages past. Wampum and other Montauk Indian relics are also displayed here. An old plow with a wooden mould-board, used in the town of Southold a hundred years ago, and several British cannon balls fired over to Long Island from British men-of-war in the War of 1812 - 15 and picked up by the farmers in their fields, are shown.

Among other curiosities are: Curious fish found in the waters of Suffolk county; shin-plasters issued by local merchants in the War of the Rebellion; old merchandise bills and receipts; old State bank and Continental bills; piece of first flat rail used on the Long Island Railroad in 1836, size of rail two and one-half by three-fourths, ordinary tire iron, also the chain used for holding the ends of the rails; ivory paper-cutter by Daniel Webster and presented by him to Charles Taylor, of Peconic; photographs of the exhibits at the Suffolk County Agricultural Society's fair by H. B. Fullerton; a bear's skill, found at Great Pond many years ago; a ten-pound piece of meteor that came down on the farm of R. M. Bowne at Glen Cove in 1794 (the original piece weighed fifty pounds); a Latin Vulgate and Greek text Bible, printed in 1544 in Venice; assessment roll of Riverhead in 1839, in an ordinary writing book; and pictures of tombstone of John Gardiner, proprietor of Gardiner's Island, who was born in 1752 and died in 1823, and of David Gardiner, second proprietor of Gardiner's Island, in the Hartford Cemetery, Connecticut.

Among the the engraved portraits are those of Thomas George Hodgkins, who was born in England in 1703, and died in Setauket in 1792; the Rev. Charles J. Knowled, former pastor of the Congregational Church at Riverhead, who died in 1880.

Ezra L'Hommedieu, member of Continental Congress in 1779-83, member of the Senate of New York, clerk of Suffolk county, 1784-1810, and regent of the university 1787-1811.

Nathaniel W. Foster, who has been for years the prime mover in these three institutions and is one of the best known and most generally popular men in Suffolk county, is entitled to a word or two in this place. He was born at Riverhead September 24, 1835, and through his father traces his descent from Christopher Foster, who in 1635 settled in Boston from England and in 1651 made his home in Southampton, Long Island. From that day to this the name has been prominent in the affairs of the island, and its members have taken part in all the great wars from the Revolution to the conflict between the States. His grandfather, Rufus Foster, fought in the War of 1812, and was for a time stationed at Sag Harbor, and his father, Herman D. Foster, settled at Riverhead in 1834. On his mother's side Mr. Foster can claim an ancestry equally prominent, as she was one of the descendants of Richard Woodhull, so prominent in the early history of Brookhaven.

Nat W. Foster was trained to business in the dry goods store of his father, and afterward the business was carried on by him in partnership with Mr. O. B. Ackerly. In 1874 he retired from that connection to devote his entire time to other enterprises which claimed his attention, and primarily to his work as the local agent of Equitable Life Assurance Society, an appointment he had held for some years and which he still retains. Then, too, the savings bank of which he has since become president began to demand a shrare of his time, much of the local public business was thrown on his shoulders, and the secretaryship of the Suffolk County Agricultural Society of itself furnished enough work for one man.

Mr. Foster's life has been a busy one; and while his career has been prosperous, it has always been on lines calculated to bring prosperity and happiness to others, and no fact is more hearily recognized throughout Suffolk county today than that.

In 1888 Mr. Foster was elected treasurer of the Long Island Bible Society and has held the postion ever since. He was an organizer of the Riverhead Cemetery Association, has been a trustee since the organization and for several years the president. He is also president of the Village Improvement Society, in which he takes a great interest, and which has done good work through his direction and influence. In early life he was deeply interested in temperance work and was connected with nearly every temperance society of importance in village, county or State. He was particularly interested in the Sons of Temperance, and in 1865, unexpectedly to himself, he was called to the head of the order in eastern New York.

Mr. Foster has traveled quite extensively, both in the United States and Europe. He is a liberal supporter of the Congregational Church, where he has been a member since sixteen years of age, and for several years has served as deacon.

In the year 1858 Mr. Foster married Fannie, daughter of Sylvester Miller, of Wading River. Mr. Miller was Supervisor of the town for twenty years and justice of the peace for many years more. Mrs. Foster died in 1888, leaving five children: Warren W., a Justice of the Court of General Sessions in New York; Millicent F., who was educated at Wellesley College; Sylvester M., a graduate of Darmouth and the secretary of the Suffolk county Agricultural Society for some years past; Herman D., who died in infancy; and Fannie Estelle.

Aquebogue has more to boast of in the way of antiquity than Riverhead. It seems to have been the site of an Indian village of considerable size, so it is possible that the early settlers in the districts from Southold simply took up the red man's improvements in the way of clearances and trails, and the strange temple and graves discovered in 1879 demonstrate the affection and reverence which a primitive race must have had for the territory - possibly an older race than that which sold the ground to the white pioneers from Southold. From Lower Aquebogue, which some suppose to have been settled before any other part of the district, the comparatively modern village of Jamesport was formed about 1830, seemingly one of those paper cities which for a time was so common in the story of American life, and was ridiculed so mercilessly in Dickens' novel, "Martin Chuzzlewit." Dr. Prime tells us that in 1833 there was not a single house in the place and that it owed "its origin to the speculation fever of a single individual who ruined himself by the operation." The site was nicely mapped out, streets were surveyed, a wharf was built and a rather imposing hotel was erected. For a year or two it seemed as if the hopes which centered in it would be realized; one or two whaling ships made use of the wharf. But there was no earthly reason why ocean boats should seek a harbor at such a place, at the extremity of Peconic Bay, that was open to no vessels larger than coasters, and that was at all times difficult of access. So the mariners, after a trial or two, sought other and more convenient headquarters, and Jamesport's commerce fell away and its hopes were blighted. A few years ago its beautiful situation began to attract the "summer people," and it has become quite popular with that class, so much so that at the height of the season it is rather difficult for all who desire accomodations to secure them. But that is a matter that can be remedied and there is little doubt it will be. Under these cirumstances Jamesport can look forward to a brighter future than ever was anticipated for it at its inception or that seemed possible in 1843, when the early glamor had passed and it boasted some forty houses.

At the other extremity of the township, on the boundary line dividing it from Brookhaven, is the village of Wading River, the terminus, for the present at least, of what is known as the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Railroad. It is supposed that a settlement was effected about 1670, and in 1708 a mill was established by John Roe. Some four miles eastward in the settlement of Baiting Hollow, which is said to date from 1719. Like Wading River, it did a considerable business in the first half of the ninteenth century in cutting and marketing firewood, but the source of supply did not prove inexhaustible, and when it passed farming remained the only industry, for even to the present day the summer boarder has not discovered this region to any great extent. During the War of 1812 an exciting skirmish is said to have been fought on the shore between Fresh Pond Landing and Jericho Landing. Several sloops belonging to Baiting Hollow and engaged in carrying firewood, were espied on the beach by a British squadron cruising in the sound, and two boats' crews were dispatched to seize them. The local militia was, however, on the lookout, and under Captain John Wells opened fire on the invaders with such effect that although they had landed and had boarded one of the sloops, they were glad to effect a retreat. It is said that the British had a cannon in each of their boats and used them, but this part of the story may well be doubted.

Manorville (380 population), Calverton (350), Northville (412), Roanoke (200), Buchananville (200), Laurel (197), are all farming centers, and there are a number of others still more populated, of which nothing interesting can be said. In fact, outside of Riverhead village, the township is almsot wholly given over to farming.

In the Fifty-sixth Congress Mr. Townsend Scudder made an effort to give a new port to Riverhead by having an appropriation for a breakwater at Northville, or rather at Luce's Harbor, where a small amount of local traffic is carried on through local efforts at harbor-making. In his speech on presenting the subject to Congress, Mr. Scudder said:

"Along the north shore of Long Island Sound, between Port Jefferson and Matituck, there stretches a vast area of country which has failed to receive the attention and consideration to which it would seem to be entitled. Intercourse, between it and the markets of the metropolis, as well as of the cities on th sound, in the State of Connecticut, are denied to it through lack of available means being afforded its people to transport their goods and products to places of sale.

For many years the farmers of this neglected locality have felt the necessity of having their produce carried to city markets at a rate that would return them something for their labor. The railroad to New York was too remote to permit profitable carting, even if the freight rates by rail had permitted shipments to market by that carrier. To overcome these difficulties the people of this community have constructed out into the open waters of Long Island Sound a pier. This work was accomplished by these peopel with a laudable desire to improve their condition at the cost or a self-denial almsot beyond description. The pier now affords a means of shipment to the city markets, weather permitting, but being unprotected from the wind and wave, and projecting out from an open coast, it is not always available, and is often in danger of being washed away.

It is the pride of many of the great governments of Europe that where habors did not exist in times past through the farsight of those having in control the reins of government now are to be found ports of great commercial importance, habors of refuge, commercial activity, and prosperity.

It seems to me that the case of these Long Island farmers which I now plead demands for them some consideration. Appropriations for habor improvements are justified by the promotion of commerce which it is assumed will result. This dock is the only place of debarcation on Long Island Sound between Port Jefferson and Greenport, a stretch of over forty miles, excepting Mattituck Harbor, which through failure of the National Government to complete the improvements there projected, is not available for the purposes for which the dock under consideration is used, even if it were within profitable carting distance, which it is not. This dock is open to all shippers, to all who desire to take passage from it on the vessels touching at it. Its use is unrestricted, I am told, for the greatest good to the greatest number. It will do much toward the development of a section of Long Island that has been sadly neglected, and which only requires proper transportation facilities to come to the front. This section of the country, while one of the most productive on Long Island, is isolated and cut off from the great centers of business.

The chariman of the committee seems to have been touched by my appeal in behalf of these people, for he tells me he will not oppose the adoption of my amendment by the House. I submit the same in full confidence that it is a worthy object.

I trust the survey may be made at an early date, that a favorable report will be received from the engineers, and that the next Congress will make a proper appropritaion to construct the desired breakwater and thereby protect the shipping which will flow from this point and bring to these hard-working people for benefits of safe transportation facilities to which they are entitled by their enterprise and sacrifices."

The early church history of Riverhead is involved in considerable doubt. A Presbyterian Church seems to have been organized at Upper Aquebogue, beside the now ancient cemetery, but little concerning it has been learned beyond the names of two of its early pastors, a Mr. Lee and the Rev. Timothy Symmes, and as later became a minister in New Jersey in 1746 the period of the beginning of the Aquebogue congreagation must have preceded that date by several years. At Lowe4 Squebogue a Presbyterian Church was erected in 1731, at Baiting Hollow in 1803. None of these early churches survive. A Congregational Church was oragnized at Upper Aquebogue in 1758. In 1785 a congregation of the body known as the Strict Congregational Convention of Connecticut was organized at Wading River, and in 1791 a similar congregation was formed at Baiting Hollow, and these three bodies continue to the present time. In 1815 a Swedenborgian Church was established at Baiting Hollow and existed at least up to a few years ago, and the same people set up a congregation at Riverhead in 1839, and in 1855 erected a building for public worship.

In 1833 the first Congregational Church in Riverhead village ws organized, and the Methodist Episcopal body in the village had its beginning the same year. Services under both these demoinations had, however, been held in the court house from a much earlier date. The first mass was celebrated in 1844 in a private house at Upper Aquebogue in the presence of four persons. It was not untill 1870 that the Episcopalians commenced the effort which in 1872 resulted in the erection of Grace Church in Riverhead village, and it still continues the sole representative of that body in the township.

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