The town of Southold occupies the north division of the eastern end of Long Island from the Riverhead boundary to Orient Point, a distance of twenty-three miles. At its widest part it measure only about four miles and it is said to contain 29,446 acres. On its Long Island Sound side its coast line is rugged and precipitous, but facing Peconic Bay is flat, with wide stretches of rich meadow land. The soil in the interior is very fertile, and the climate, on the whole, may be ranked as healthy and bracing.
SOUTHOLD, LONG ISLAND, NY, HISTORY
The History of Long Island,
from its earliest settlement to the present time.
NY Lewis Pub. Co. 1902
[transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
The township has several "dependencies" in the shape of islands - Robin's Island, Plum Island, Fisher's Island , and others, but these can hardly be said to add either to its dignity or importance.
The story of the founding of the colony in 1640, by the Rev. John Youngs and his associates, has already been told in this work. It was never an independent colony, like that, for instance, at Huntington or at Brookhaven, but from its beginning owed allegiance to the commonwealth of Hartford, to full association with which it was brought in 1649. But, except for the trial of grave criminal offenses and of the more important law-suits, the connection with the mainland was little more than nominal. The commonwealth never seems to have interfered with the town, and the town was ruled by the town meeting and the town meeting was subordinate to the church. It was a pure theocracy, and unless a man was a member of the church he was not allowed a voice in town meeting. His certificate of church membership was his evidence of citizenship. If he had not such a document he was not regarded as on an equality with those who had, and his presence was not desired in the community. The town meeting attended to the highways, the cleaning of the streets, the removal of obstructions, the education of youth, the division of lands, the hunting of wolves, the marking of cattle, and the defense of the settlement. The town meeting was held every three months, and a fine of twenty shillings was imposed for non-attendance.
Mr. W.S. Pelletreau, the ablest living historian of Suffolk county, wrote the following sketch of the first settlers of Southold in 1880, and the sketch is inserted here with his permission:
Tradition and history alike unite in awarding to Rev. John Youngs the honor of being the founder of this town. The first notice we have of this remarkable man is found in the following entry, copied by Samuel G. Drake from the original records in London and printed in his "Founders of New England," p. 49: "The examination of John Yonge of St. Margaretts, suff. minister, aged thirty-five years, and Joan his wife, aged thirty-four years, with six children - John, Thomas, Anne, Rachel, Mary and Joseph. Ar desirous to pass for Salem in New England to inhabitt."
Against the above entry in the place of the date is written: "This man was forbyden passage by the commissioners and went out from Yarmouth.: This entry follows six other entries of examination on May 12, 1637. Neal in his history of New England, published in London in 1720, mentions Rev. Mr. Youngs of Southold among the list of Puritan ministers "who were in orders in the Church of England, but being disturbed by the ecclesiastical courts for the cause of noncomformity transported themselves to New England before the year 1641."
In Lambert's History of New Haven, which is a work of original research and considered good authority, it is stated: "Mr. Youngs reorganized his church at New Haven on the 21st of October, 1640, and, with them and such others as chose to accompany him in the latter part of the month passed over to the island and commenced the settlement of the plantation." Moore's "Index of Southold," an invaluable work, which embraces in small compass the fruit of a vast amount of patient research, speaks of him as organizing a church in New Haven, to be located at Southold, October 1640. We have no positive knowledge as to who the men were who constituted this church, and any attempt to make a list of the early settlers must be based upon inference more than actual knowledge; but the following list contains the names of those persons of the town prior to 1654:
Robert Akerly, Richard Benjamin, Thomas Benedict, John Bayley, John Booth, Thomas Brush, John Budd, Henry Case, Roger Cheston, Richard Clark, John Conklin, Thomas Cooper, Matthias Corwin, Philemon Dickerson, Jeffry Easty, John Elton, ----- Frost, Charles Glover, James Haines, Peter Hallock, (?) , John Herbert, Josiah Hobart, Barnabas Horton, Thomas Hutchinson, John Ketcham, Thomas Mapes, Thomas Moore, Humphrey Norton, Thomas Osman, Isaac Overton, Peter Paine, Edward Petty, John Peakin, William Salmon, Thomas Stevenson, John Swezy, Richard Terry, Thomas Terry, Thomas Terrill, John Tucker, Henry Tuthill, John Tuthill, John Underhill, Jeremiah Vail, William Wells, Abraham Whittier, Barnabas Wines, Rev. John Youngs, Colonel John Youngs, Joseph Youngs.
To give an account of each of these would take us far beyond our limits, and a brief notice of a few of the more important names must suffice. The leader, Rev. John Youngs, had five sons - Colonel John, Thomas, Joseph, Benjamin and Christopher - and daughters Anne, Mary and Rachel. His son Colonel John had arrived at man's estate at the time of the settlement, and until the end of his life was the foremost man of the colony.
Barnabas Horton was without a doubt one of the original company who came with Mr. Youngs. He was born at Mousely, in Leicestershire, England, in 1600. After coming to this country he is said to have lived at Hampton, Massachusetts, till 1640, when he joined the church organized by Mr. Youngs. He had sons Joseph, Benjamin, Caleb, Joshua and Jonathan, and daughters Hannah, Sarah and Mary. In 1654, 1656, and 1659 he was a deputy from Southold to the court of New Haven. He was admitted freeman of the Connecticut colony in 1662, and was deputy in 1663 and 1664. His name occurs as one of the patentees of the town in 1676, and he was intimately connected with all public affairs till his death. His tomb in the churchyard in Southold is covered with a slab of blue slate, said to have been imported from his native place and bearing the following insciption:
"Here lieth buried the body of Mr. Barnabas Horton, who was born at Mousely, Leicesterhsire, Old England, and died at Southold on the 13th day of July, 1680, aged eighty years.
"Here lies my body tombed in dust,
Till Christ shall come and raise it with the just.
My soul ascended to the throne of God,
Then hasten after me, my dearest wife,
To be partaker of this blessed life.
And you, dear children all, follow the Lord;
Hear and obey His public sacred word,
And in your houses call upon His name,
For oft I have advised you to the same.
Then God will bless you with your children all,
And to this blessed place He will you call."
William Wells, who was second to none in influence, is said to have come from England June 19, 1635, in the same ship with John Baylay, another of the early settlers. The first notice of him on Long Island is the following entry in the records of Southampton:
"March 15, 1643, William Wells, Gent., was censured for some unreverent speeches to Daniel Howe, who confessed his offence and promised reformation."
In 1646 his name appears in the same records among a list of men who had evidently abandoned the settlement. The exact time at which he became a settler at Southold is unknown, but he was a resident here before 1649. He was a native of Norwich, England, and was born in 1608. Throughout his life he was the legal authority of the town, and pre-eminently the business man of the place, and it was through him that the purchases were made from the Indians of the region of Cutchogue, Mattituck and Ockabock, including the town of Riverhead. As the insciption on his tob narrates, he was a "justice of the peace and first sheriff of Yorkshire," being appointed to that positon by Governor Nicolls in 1664. He died November 13, 1671, aged sixty-three, and left a wife Mary, who afterward married Thomas Mapes. His first wife, Bridget, was the widow of Henry Tuthill, and had the following children:
William, Joshua, Mary, Bathia and Mehetabel.
His tomb may still be seen in the old burial ground, and after a lapse of two centuries is in a perfect state of presevation, thanks to the reverent care of his descendant, the late William H. Wells. The magnificent genealogical work, "William Wells, of Southold and his Descendants," by Rev. Charles Wells Hayes, contains a full account of this illustrious man and his family.
John Budd, according to Moore's "Index," was in New Haven in June 1639, and signed an agreement as a freeman. He is reputed to have been one of the original company of settlers. The first actual knowledge we have of his presence on Long Island is in October, 1644, when we find this enty in the Southampton records: "Mr. Jones hath the lott granted unto him which was formerly granted unto John Budd of Yeanocock" (Southold)." This clearly indicates that he was a dweller there at a very early date. In 1645 "it is ordered that John Budd shall have graunted unto him 4 Acres of new ground adjoining to his other 4 acres, to make up an 8-acre lott." In 1650 he is mentioned in Southampton as the owner of a water-mill and as running the same, and he is called "Lieutenant." In 1651 he appears as plaintiff in a suit against John Hubbard, but after that his name occurs no more. It is certain that he was a land owner in Southold in 1649, and left a large estate to his son John, who was one of the wealthiest men in the town. In 1657 he was deputy from Southold to New Haven. He removed to Westchester County about 1660, probably on account of some difficulty with his neighbors, and died there previous to 1670. He had children John, Joseph and Judith. None of his descendants are now found in this town.
Thomas Cooper was not, as some of the historians of Southold suppose, the same person who was among the first settlers in Southampton. The former died in 1658, leaving wife Margaret and daughters Abigail and May, who married respectively Stephen Bayley and Elnathan Topping. The tombstone of Mary Topping is in the burying ground at Sagg (Bridgehampton), where she died April 26, 1704, aged sixty. Thomas Cooper left a large estate to his widow and daughters.
Matthias Corwin was doubtless an original settler. Previous to his settlement here he was a resident of Ipswich, Massachusetts. He was a man of the same rank as Colonel Youngs and Mr. Wells, and in 1656 was one of the men appointed to order town affairs, a postion of great responsibiolity. He died in 1658, leaving two sons, John and Theophilus, and a daughter, Mary, who married Henry Case, the ancestor of the numerous family of that name. The descendants of Matthias Corwin are widely spread, and among them are to be found some who have held the highest positions in church and State.
John Conkling was not among the original company, but came here previous to 1651. Before this he was a resident of Salem. There are few families on Long Island that have exerted a wider influnece. His brother Ananias was the founder of the East Hampton family. From his son Timothy are descended the families in the town of Hungtington and the western parto of the county; while from his sons John and Jacob are sprung the families in this town, and the name is found in all sections of our country. He is said to have been a native of Nattinghamshire, England. Tradition states that he and William Salmon, the proprietor of Hashamomack, were neighbors and playmates in their boyhood days, and this is supposed to have been the reason why after a short stay in Southold village he removed to the neighborhood of his former companion. About 1661 he removed to Hungtington, and died there about 1683, at the supposed age of eighty-three.
Few of the early settlers have left more distinguished descendants than Philemon Dickerson. In 1637 he came to America in the same vessel in which Minister Youngs had vainly attempted to obtain a passage. In 1639 he appears at Salem, Massachusetts, where in 1641 he was admitted as a freeman. He is supposed to have come to this town in 1646, but the date is unknown. He died in 1674, aged seventy-four, and left sons Thomas and Peter. From these are sprung a numerous posterity, embracing some of the most noted public men of the land. In 1651 Hon. Mahlon Dickerson, Secretary of the Navy, erected in the ancient buying ground of this village a massive monument to the memory of his ancestors.
John Goldsmith, though not one of the first settlers, was a prominent citizen, and has left a numerous and respected prosperity. He is supposed to have been the son of Thomas Goldsmith who was a resident in Southampton in 1651, and was living there as late as 1677. In 1661 he bought of Richard Barrett his house and land. It was part of this land that John Goldsmith sold to widow Margaret Cooper in 1678, in exchange for a lot in Cutchogue. The deeds may be seen in vol. I printed records of Southold, p. 209,210. He moved to this town at that time, and died in 1703, having children John, Richard, Nathaniel, Mary, Thomas, Daniel and Elizabeth.
Thomas Moore left England in 1635. In 1636 he and his wife Martha were admitted as members of Salem Church, and they came to Southold about 1650. In 1658 he was deputy from this town to the General Court at New Haven. He was appointed a Magistrate by the Dutch officers in 1673; he declined, but accepted the position under English rule in 1685. He was a large land owner and a prominent man during his whole life. He died in 1691, leaving children Thomas, Martha, Benjamin, Nathaniel, Hannah, Jonathan, Mary and Sarah. His son Benjamin married Anne, daughter of James Hampton, of Southampton, who came to that place from Salem. The descendants of this family are very numerous. Among them none is more worthy of respectful mention than Charles B. Moore, of New York, whose genealogical indexes must ever be an authority of the greatest weight upon the subject.
Colonel John Youngs, next to his venerable parent the minister, was justly considered the foremost man in the town, and there are few names in the early history of the county more prominent than his. He was born in 1623, early became master of a vessel, and was in active service against the Dutch. In 1654 he wa appointed by the commissioners to cruise in the sound as a part of a naval force, and was actively engaged in this service two years. In 1660 and 1661 he was a delegate to New Haven, and after the union with Connecticut he was a delegate to Hartford. He assisted in collecting a military force to assist in the conquest of New Amsterdam, and was one of the representatives in the first Assembly at Hempstead under the Duke of York. Through him was obtained a deed from the Indians, confirming their previous sales. He was one of the patentees in 1676, was made Sheriff of Yorkshire, and was a member of the Colonial Council from 1683 to 1697. At the age of seventy he was in command of the militia regiment of 533 men. We have only time and space to briefly mention the offices he filled and the acts he performed, but the life and public service of this famous man must ever be a bright page in Long Island history. His eventful life closed in 1698. His tomb may still be seen in the ancient burial place, and the stone that covers his remains bears the following:
Here lies intered the body of Colonel IOHN YOVNGS Esquire, late one of His Maiestie's Covncel of the Province of New York, who Departed this life the 12day of April Anno Domini 1698, Aged 75 years."
In 1654 an order was made that each man who had not already done so should bring in to the recorder a description of his lands - "how they ly East, west, north and South between whom, and in what places."
Thanks to this order we have a pretty accurate knowledge as to where each of our ancestors had his abode.
Parson Youngs and his little band landed at the head ot Town Creek, and here they established their future home. That the minister's lot should have been the best and most advantageously situated was a thing to be expected. We will in imagination turn back the wheels of time, and endeavor to present a picture of the village in the early days and locate the homes of our honorable ancestors.
On the west side of the road that leads from the main street to Town Creek was the home lot of Minister Youngs. This lot extended westward as far as the western side of the deep hollow west of the Methodist Church. The pastor's dwelling was on the eastern part of the lot and near where the house of Henry G. Howell now stands. Here he lived, and labored, and died.
Next west came the home lot of his neighbor, Robert Akerly (now the "Cochran place"), but in 1653 he had moved to another place, and his home lot is described as "Twelve acres more or lesse, the highway goeing into the old field lying north, the land of Thomas Cooper lying at the rear of his home lot south." This was near the present residence of William Horton.
Next came the home lot of John Booth. His lands were recorded in 1685, and at that time his homestead was six acres, bounded west by John Herbert and east by Benjamin Youngs. These premises are now the residence of the family of the late Israel Peck.
Next came John Herbert's homestead. This descended to his son John, who in 1699 sold it to "the inhabitants of the township of Southold" for 75 pounds in silver. From that time it has been used as a parsonage lot, and the Presbyterian Church stands upon it.
Next west was the home lot of Richard Benjamin, and its western bounday was the present easterly line of Richard Carpenter's lot.
The lot of Ananias Conkling, who afterward removed to East Hampton, was next west, and this was purchased by Richard Benjamin; his boundary then ws "Benjamin's lane," a road that ran from the town street by the east end of Deacon Moses Cleveland's barn to Jockey Creek Point, but was long since closed.
Upon the corner lot now the homestead of Moses C. Cleveland, and upon which the Universalist Church now stands, was the home of George Miller in 1656. It was sold by him to John Tuthill in 1658, and passed into the hands of Joseph Sutton in 1660, which was probably the time when John Tuthill went to Oyster Ponds. In 1668 it belonged to John Swazey, who sold part of it to Samuel King.
On the corner where the main street turns to the south the first lot was Samuel King's, who owned it from 1658 to 1666. In the words of Hon. J. Wickham Case; "John Tuthill, Richard Brown and Samuel King formed a remarkable trio. They lived side by side for a score of years in perfect harmony. They made purchases jointly; the divided, they exchanged with and they sold to one another; entrusted their property to each other. King only four years before Tuthill's death gave him a writing of assurance for exchanges of land made forty years before and for which no legal papers had ever been executed." The lot of Samuel King is now in possession of the daughters of Mrs. Sophronia Jennings.
Next south came the lot of John Elton, 1658. This lot he obtained of William Purrier, who bought it of Matthew Edwards. It now belongs to the heirs of Mrs. Sophronia Jennings.
The lot where Gilder S. Conkling now lives was the original home lot of Thomas Mapes. He added to these the home lot of Jeffrey Esty, who lived next north, and also that of John Elton. This gave him a front of about fifty rods from the south line of the present home lot of Gilder S. Conkling. Thomas Mapes was born about 1628, and could not have been one of the original settlers. He was a land surveyor and divided "Calves Neck," receiving for his services the privilege of having his share next his own home lot.
Next came the homestead of William Purrier, who was repeatedly a delegate to New Haven and filled many places of honor and trust, but left no sons to perpetuate his name. His lot is a part of the farm of Hiram Terry, and is opposite the house of Edward Huntting.
Lastly, at the south end of Main street, at the head of Jockey Creek, was the home lot of Philemon Dickerson, now owned by Hiram Terry, and Dickerson's house stood a few rods east of Hiram Terry's barn. He is mentioned in old deeds as a "tanner," and the remains of his tan-vats have until recently been visible in the hollow wet of the barn.
The road running north from Main street to the railroad station, and called in modern phraseology Railroad avenue, was in ancient times known as "Cooper's lane," and it is probably that Thomas Cooper, from whom it derived its name, had his home lot on its east side. To the west of this highway was the home lot of William Wells, so prominent in all town affairs. This lot extended as far as the westerly side of G.F. Hommel's lot, and the original site of William Well's house is now occupied by H.W. Prince. From the decription of Thomas Cooper's lot as given in the town records it would seem as if Mr. Wells must at one time have resided on the lot east of the road, now owned by D.B. Wells, but probably this was only for a short time.
The next neighbor of William Wells on the west was John Conkling, who owned the lot now bounded on the west by the east line of D.F. Conkling. This lot was in his possession but a short time, when he gave it to is son and removed to Hashamomack.
Next was the lot of a man whose name ws famous in New England as well as upon Long Island, Captain John Underhill. During his short stay in this town, which was probably in the years 1658 and 1659, he resided on this lot. It is situated in the heart of the village, and at the present time is owned by D.F. Conkling and William C. Buckingham. Captain Underhill's career is fully narrated in Thompson's History of Long Island. His was an eventful life - fighting with Indians at one time and another with church authorities, he was in all respects a "moving man." Southold was probably too dull for him, and in 1659 he sold his lot to Thomas Moore and sought and found new fields of action.
Thomas Brush owned the next lot, but sold it in 1658 and removed to Huntington, where his descendants are still to be found. His lot is now owned by Hezekiah Jennings.
Matthias Corwin, whose claim to be one of the original company has never been disputed, lived on the next lot. This was left by him to his son John, who was the owner for many years after his father's death, and then removed to what was called the "Indian Field" farm, in what is now the village of Peconic. This homestead of Matthias Corwin is directly opposite the Presbyterian Church, and is now owned by David A. Jennings and Mrs. M. A. Rose.
Barnabas Horton's home lot, the only one which has come down to modern times through an unbroken line of descendants, was next to Matthias Corwin's. His homestead consisted of two home lots, separated by what is called in the old record "the highway leading toward the North Sea," now called "Horton's lane." The Catholic Church stands on the east lot, and also the Presbyterian Chapel, and the residence of the late Ira Tuthill. Upon the west lot stood until within the last few years the original home of Barnabas Horton, which was at the time of its destruction in 1873, the oldest house in Suffolk county. It was here that the courts were held in ancient times, and it was for this purpose that the original house was enlarged in 1684.
After the death of the first settler it passed in succession to five genearations of his descendants, all bearing the name of Jonathan Horton, and after a brief ownership by Henry Hunting and Dr. Sweet it has returned to its ancient line of proprietorship, and is now in the possession of D. Philander Horton, of the seventh generation from Barnabas the first. Careful drawings of this ancient mansion were made before its destruction, and will perpetuate in time to come the memoryof one of the most noted landmarks on Long Island.
At the angle of the town street, and bounded on the west by the road anciently known as "Tucker's lane," was the homestead of Lieutenant John Budd, and afterward of his son John. The Budds were in that day the wealthy family of the town, and upon this lot they erected a mansion, yet standing, which must have exceeded in magnificence any of the other houses of the early settlement. In 1679 John Jr. sold the west part, with the house upon it, to John Hallock, and it is now owned by Jonathan W. Hunting. The eatern part was sold to Jeremiah Vail, and is now in the possession of Samuel S. Vail.
The next lot was the homestead of John Tucker, and was bounded north by the road that bore his name. The lot seems at first to have belonged to Roger Cheston, of whom we know but little, and afterward to Nehemiah Smith, of whom we know still less. John Tucker in 1659 removed to "Ockabock," and was the first man who set up a saw-mill on the stream at Riverhead. He was an officer in the early church, and is mentioned as "Deacon Tucker." His home lot is now owned by Barbabas H. Booth.
Joseph Horton, oldest son of the first Barbabas, records his home lot as "lying between the land of John Tucker east and Barnabas Wines west." In 1665 he sod it to his father and removed to Rye in Westchester County, where his descendants are still remaining. The lot continued in the Horton family for some generations, and is now owned by Captain Benjamin Coles.
Next was the homestead of Barnabas Wines, who recorded it in 1665. From him it descended to his second son, Samuel. His first son, Barnabas, went to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1665, but after some years returned and settled at Mattituck, on a farm still owned by his posterity. The original home lot is now owned by heirs of Moses Cleveland and of Joseph Horton.
Thomas Scudder lived next, and recorded his home lot with his other land in 1654. In 1656 he sold it to John Bayles and removed to Huntington, with his brothers Henry and John. It is now owned by Charles A. Case.
Richard Terry lived next. It is probable that he was once of Minister Young' company. His brother Thoma s was either one of the first settlers of Southampton, or was at least a witness to their agreement. Richard Terry Jr. was styled "recorder." About 1673 he removed to Cutchogue, where he owned a large tract of land, including part 9of Pequash or "Quasha" Neck. Richard Sr. died in 1675, and his widow Abigail and son John then continued on the old homestead. It now belongs to Moses Cleveland, Charles S. Williams and George B. Simons. Between Thomas Reeves, the ancestor of the families of that name throughout the town, unless we make an exception in the case of Hon. Henry A. Reeves, so widely known as a politician and editor. His line of descent from Thomas Reeves, who settled at Southampton in 1670 is as follows:
1. Thomas. 2. John. 3. Stephen. 4. John. 5. Edward. 6. Lemuel. 7. Henry.
This home lot is now owned by Edward Huntting, who inherited it from his father, Rev. Jonathan Huntting in 1850.
Last came the home lot of Thomas Terry, which is mentioned as "next the bridge," and doubtless there was a swamp or morass there in early days; even nolw a small bridge is deemed necessary for the highway to cross the "run." He died in 1672, and the lot went to his son Daniel. It was in after the time the dwelling place of "Good Jonathan Horton," a great-grandson of Barnabas. It is now owned by Patrick May.
Colonel John Youngs, the right arm of the settlement, had his homestead on the east side of the road running from Main street to Town Creeek and opposite the dwelling place of his father, the minister. Here he lived till his death in 1697. The history of the lot subsequent to this can not be traced, but about 100 yeas ago it came into the possession of Richard Peters, a merchant, and the house now occupied by Richard L. Peters, or a part of it, is believed to be the identical mansion occupied by Colonel Youngs during his long life. Upon this lot also stands the dwelling house of Hon. J. Wickham Case, whose efforts to preserve the relics of our early history have placed the town under a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid.
To the east of Colonel Youngs lived John Haynes in 1656, and on the south of these two lots and next the creek was the home lot of Isaac Arnold, one of the foremost men of the second generation, and Judge of the county from 1693 to 1706.
To the eastg of John Haynes lived John Corey and Peter Paine, while next the creek was the home lot of Thomas Moore. This is described in the record of 1658 as "six acres more or lesse, the widdowe Payne's habitacon Southwest, the Creeke on the north east side." This is the present residence of William T. Fithian. The house which stood on this lot was famous as being the place where the Dutch Commissioners sent forth from New York in 1673 had their formal meeting, and made their endeavors to bring the town under the Dutch government.
At the east end of Main street, near the residence of Mrs. Beulah Goldsmith, was the home lot of Henry Case. The first mention of him occurs December 15, 1658, when the town granted him a home lot of four acreds "next to the east side of the lot late granted to Richard Skydmore." It was provided that he should remain and improve the same for three years. In 1658 he married Martha, only daughter of Matthias Corwin. He died in 1664, leaving two sons, Henry and Theophilus. To gie a record of all his descendants would far exceed our limits, but one branch deserves an especial mention. Henry 2d had a son Samuel, who had a son Lieutenant Moses, who died September 25, 1814, aged ninety-one, leaving sons Gilbert, Matthias and Luther. The last was the father of Hon. J. Wickham Case, whose knowledge of the local history of the town is not exceeded by that of any living man, and for whose assistance the writer is under the deepest obligations.
The original Indian deed of sale given to minister Youngs and his associates has been lost, but in 1665 a confirmatory deed was drawn up and signed by the Indian chiefs covering all the purchase up to that time. It ran as follows:
To all people to whom this present writing shall come, greeting. Know yee that, whereas the inhabitants of Southold, their predecessors, or some of them, have, in the right and behalf of the said Inhabitants and Township, purchased, procured and paid for, of the Sachems and Indians our Ancestors, all that tract of land situate, lying and being at the East ward end of Long Island, and bounded with the river called the English toung the Weading Kreek, in the Indian toung Pauquaconsuck, on the West to and with Plum island on the east, together with the island called Plum island, with the Sound called the North sea on the North, and with a River or arme of the sea wch runneth up betweene Southampton Land and the afore said tract of land unto a certain Kreek which fresh water runneth into ye South, called in English the Red Kreek, in Indian Toyonge, together with the said Kreek and meadows belonging there to; and runing n a streight lyne from the head of the afore named fresh water to the head of ye Small brook that runneth into the Kreek called Panquaconsuck; as also all necks of lands, meadows, Islands or broken pieces of meadows, rivers, Kreeks, with timber, woodlands, fishing, fowling, hunting, and all other commodities what so ever unto the said Tract of land, and island belonging or in any wise appertaining as Curchaug and Mattatuck, and all other tracts of land by what name soever named or by what name so ever called; and whereas the now Inhabitants of the afore named town of Southold have given unto us whose names are under written, being the true successors of the lawful and true Indian owners and proprietors of all the aforesaid tract of land and islands, fourty yards of Trucking cloth, or the worth of the same, the receipt where of and every part of the same we doe hereby acknowledge and thereof acquit and discharge the Inhabitants, their heirs, successors or assigns, and every of them by these presents.
Now these presents witnesseth that wee whose names are under written, for the consideration aforementioned, hath given, granted, remised and confirmed and doth by these presents grant, remise and confirm unto Captain John Youngs, Barnabas Horton, and Thomas Mapes, for and in behalf of the Inhabitants and township of Southold, and for the use of the aforesaid Inhabitants, according to their and every of their sevearl dividends, to have and to hold to them and their heirs forever, by virtue of the afore recited bargain, gifts and grants of what nature or kind soever made with our predecessors, we under written doe confirm all the afore named tract or tracts of land, contained with the afore mentioned bounds, as also Plum island, with waranty against us, our heirs or any of us or them, or any other person, or persons' claime, or from, by or under us, them, or any of us or them, or any of us or them, or any other person or persons, as our, theirs or any of our or their right, title or interest; as witness our hands and seals this seventh of December, 1665, in the Seventeenth yeare of ye reigne of our Soveraigne Lord Charles by the grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland King, defender of the faith &c.
[Signed by Ambuscow, Hammatux and 41 others]
Sealed and delivered in ye presence of us
In 1662 the commonwealth of New Haven became merged in that of Connecticut and Southold appears to have accepted that change with reluctance, but the connection was a brief one, for in 1664 Governor Nicholl asserted the authority of his patron, the Duke of York, and it was not long thereafter that Governor Winthrop, of Connecticut, azquiesced in that claim and virtually told the English towns on Long Island to make peace with the agent of their new master. Southold, like the others, accepted the new condition of things, and Nicolls was profuse in his promise as to their rights to regulate their own local affairs, elect their own magistrates and the like. When Colve's Dutch regime was in possession the claim of Connecticut to the eastern towns was again renewed, and again asserted by the communities interested. The Dutch sent an agent to visit these towns and arrange matters, but his reception at Southold was such that he deemed it useless to proceed any further and returned to New Amsterdam to report the failure of his mission. What the upshot would have been it is not diffucult to predict, but the trouble was ended with the resumption of British authority. Even then Southold and the rest of the English settlements desired to be under Connecticut, but Governor Andros would not listen to any such claim or petition and insisted that each town should take out a patent as holding from the Duke of York.
Southold had never held any such document and demurred. The people said they had held their lands for thirty years and had bought them from the Indians with the approval of the agent of Lord Stirling, the then patentee under the Crown, and had never heard that a patent was necessary. Besides, Governor Nicolls had promised to maintain them in the full and free occupation of their lands. But Andros would not listen to any such pleas, and so on October 31, 1676, the representatives of Southld accepted the document from the Governor which virtually made their hopes for association with Connecticut, come to an end forever.
The document for the first time clearly deined the boundaries of the township: "Ye western bounds whereof extend to a certain River or creek called ye wading creek, in ye Indian tongue Pauquacumsuck, and bounded to ye eastward by Plum Island, together with ye said Island; on ye North with ye sound or North sea, and on ye South with an arm of ye sea or River which runneth up between Southampton land & ye aforesaid tract of land unto a certain creek which fresh water runneth into, called in English ye red crek, by ye Indians Toyoungs, together with ye said creek and meadows belonging thereunto (not contradicting ye Agreement made between their town and ye town of Southampton after their tryal at the Court of Assizes); soe running on a strit line from ye head of ye aforenamed fresh water to ye head of ye small brook that runneth into ye creek called Pauquacunsuck; including all ye necks of land and Islands within ye aforedescribed bounds and limits."
The patentees named in the document were Isaac Arnold, John Youngs, Joshua Horton, Samuel Glover, Benjamin Youngs and Jacob Coxey. They in turn gave a deed of confirmation to the freeholders. Mr. Pelletreau says that this deed proved that the lands in the township did not of right belong to any one simply because they held a residence in the town. The first comers had bought the land and had used as much as they wanted, but they never had any idea that those who afterward, settled among them should enter into possession of any of the common land except by purchase or by grant of the town meeting for some specified purpose or public benefit.
It has been estimated that in 1650 the population of Southold township was about 180; in 1698 it had increased to 880; when the war of the Revolution broke out it was in the neighborhood of 2,000. In that conflict Southold was wholly on the side of the patriots, and its citizens were well represented in the forces which the county sent into active service. During the British occupation it felt all the rigors of that hated period, the rigors of which were not removed even after Governor Tryon had forced the acceptance of the oath of allegiance.
Joy reigned throughout the township when it was known that the war was over and the victory won. After the rejoicings had passed the township resumed its peaceful progress. The trouble of 1812 seemed to concern it but little, and it probably dreamed little of wars or rumors of wars until the conflict between the States was precipitated in 1861. During that struggle Southold manfully stood by the Government, and many of its bravest sons gave up their lives on Southern battlefields in defense of the stars and stripes. It met all the claims of the Washington authorities without a murmur, bonds were issued freely to meet the various expenses incurred, and it was not until 1871 that the principal of these was wholly extinguished and the financial cost of the war troubled the tax asssessors no more.
The history of the village of Southold is little more than a history of its church, and that has already been told. It now has a population of nearly 1,000 and is already beginning to be appreciated by the summer boarders who desire quiet and rest rather than excitement and "functions." Its old church still points upward, and since 1819 it has had a Methodist tabernacle as a neighbor, although since 1795 that body had a congregation in the village.
The business center of the township, however, is Greenport, a thriving commercial city with some 3,000 inhabitants. It was originally part of the land of Capt. John Youngs. The territory was given the name of Stirling in honor of the first patentee. It seems to have been a favorite rendezvous for shipping from an early period, owing to the fact that its harbor was never frozen even in the severest winters. In early times a wharf was erected at the mouth fo Stirling Creek, and not far inland was an inn and two or three houses. Such was the beginning of Greenport. Washington passed through the place in 1757 and in 1763 George Whiefield wrote on a pane of glass in Captain Webb's tavern, "one thing is neeful," and the glass, with the inscription intact, is now one of the exhibits of the Long Island Historical Soceity's collections. It was not utnil 1825, however, that the town really entered upon its progressive stage, owing mainly to the shipping which sought its harbor. In 1827 Main street was laid out and the trade with the West Indies seemed to steadily increase. In 1831, however, began its whaling industry, which first established its commercial acitvitiy on a sure basis.
The whaling ships which sailed from this port," writes Mr. Pelletreau, "were the 'Triad' and the 'Bayard,' the former commanded by Captain Nathaniel Case and the latter by Captain John Fordham, of Sag Harbor. About the same time sailed the ''Potosi,' which was wrecked on the Falkland Islands. The first mentioned being successful, other vessels were puchaseed, among them the 'Delta' (commanded by Captain Isaac Sayre, of Southampton), 'Caroline,' 'Kanawha,' 'Neva,' 'Italy' and others, twenty in all, and most of them made full voyages. Captain David Wicks, of Babylon, commanded the 'Delta' for twenty-one years, and died in 1870. The result of this prosperity was that the village was rapildy built up.
"The first house was built by Lester Brooks and stood not far from the lumber yard west of Main street. This house was afterward bought by John Ashby and moved, and it now stands two doors north of the corner of Main and Amity streets. The first store, built in 1828, by Walter Havens, stood at the foot of Main street, east side.
"The name Greenport was adopted at a meeting held in 1834. A postoffice was established in 1832, and John Clark was the first postmaster.
The first vessel built here was a sloop named Van Buren, built by Calvin Horton in 1834. The first ship was the Jane A. Bishop, built by Hiram Bishop and named after his daughter. Steamboats began running here in 1836.
The whale fishery had its decline and fall almost as sudden as its rise. It ended for this place in 1860, and the last ship was the Italy.
Since then a new business has sprung up in the shape of the menhaden fishery, and there at the present time twenty-one steamers engaged in the enterprise. The number of fish caught in 1881 was 211,000,000; fish oil made, 1,013,350 gallons; tons of scrap, 22,100. The estimated catch of fish within the collector's district by bay and othe fisheries is 400,000,000, with a value of $975,000."
In 1882 Congress passed a resolution to protect the harbor with a breakwater at a cost of $46,000, but it was not completed until 1893. It has proved a splendid improvement and done much to increase the business of the port, which is now estimated at 200,000 tons annually. Its shipbuilding trade is also advancing by leaps and bounds.
There has been a Baptist meeting house in Greenport since 1831, and a Presbyerian church since 1833. The Congregational church, which claims to be the real representative of the first church at Southold, has worshipped in its own building since 1848. The school system of Greenport is justly regarded as inferior to none on Long Island - or anywhere.
Mattituck lies on the shore of Mattituck Bay, which will be one of the best harbors on the Long Island coast when the Government completes the extensive improvements which it has promised and planned. But it is hard to tell when that will be, for in such matters Uncle Sam's ways "are peculiar." In the meanwhile it remains a quiet farming community, although it boasts a population of about 1,200. Its settlement was begun about 1680, and in 1716 its population had so increased that a church building was erected on a couple of acres of ground presented for the purpose, and also for a burying place by James Reeves. A pastor was at once called - the Rev. Joseph Lamb - who seems to have remained over a long series of years. In 1752 the church was united with that at Lower Aquebogue and that arrangement lasted until 1853, since which time it has continued a separate charge. In 1878 an Episcopal church was built in the village.
Cutchogue is a farming village, which seems to have been peopled since abou 1661. "Probably one of the first settlers," writes Mr. Pelletreau, "was Benjamin Horton, who had a hosue here in 1664. By various sales and exchanges he secured a large estate. His will is of such an extraordinary nature that we give it entire:
In ye name of God Amen. febr ye 19 1685-6, according to the computation of ye Church of England, I, Benjamin Horton, in ye County of Suffolk, in ye Province of N. Yorke on Long Island, being in perfect memory, doe make & ordain this my last will & testament.
Item: - I give to Caleb Horton & Joshua Horton & to Jonathan Horton & Mersy Youngs 80 bushes of wheate & Indian, 20 swine, to be devided to them four alike.
Item: - I give my house & land & meadows except my Meadow of Common over the River to the Sacrament table yearly for evermore.
Item: - I give the rest to the poore.
Item: - I give to my friend Thomas Tusten one lot of the common meadows over the River, and a coate cloth that is at Stephen Bayles, and the corne that is more than the 80 bushels I give of Thomas Tusten.
Item: - I give ten oxen for a bell for the meeting-house to call ye people together to worship the Lord God.
Item: - I give to my man Joseph one sow, one gun, one sheep & his time, to be out next may day.
Item: - I give all the rest of my goods to my brother Joseph Horton.
I make my brother Joshua Horton sole executor of this, my last will and testament revoking all other wills and testaments, to see all my debts paid.
The church referred to in the above will was the venerable house at Southold. It was not until 1732 that a church was erected in Cuthogue. It held an independent congregation until 1848, when it entered the Presbyerian fold. Four years later the old building was pulled down and a handsome structure erected in its place; in 1830 a Methodist church was built and a Congregational church in 1862.
One of the most intersting of the villages of Southold is that known as Orient, which lies at the eastern extremity of the island on what is virtually an island. The land from Stirling Creek to the extreme point at Plum Gut was surveyed in 1661, and the 400 acres which now make up the center of the village of Orient became the property of Gideon Youngs, who held them until his death, in 1699, when they passed to his chldren. At that time the property was known as Oyster Pond Lower Neck. In 1650 there were probably thirty persons residing in Orient, and in 1740 a wharf was built by Richard Shaw.
Mr. Pelletreau, from whom we havce quoted so much in this chapter, thus sketches the church history of Orient:
A church was founded and a house for worship built previous to 1717. The earliest record we have found is this:
"David Youngs, in consideration of 5[s] paid by the persons that have builded a meeting-house in ye Oyster Ponds Lower Neck, sells to them so long as they shall keep up a meeting-house all that piece of land that ye sd meeting-house stands upon; that is soe much of land as the sd meeting-house stands upon, bounded west by Thomas Terry's loand, south by highway, north and east by land of mee and sd David Youngs - Jan. 1, 1717."
According to "Griffin's Journal" (a work of the highest value wherever the venerable author speaks from his own knowledge, but wandering very far indeed from historic truth when he trusts to tradition) this building was a singular edifice. "It was about 30 feet square, two stories high, and on top another building about ten feet square and nine feet high, and then a finish something like the lower part of a steeple, with an iron spire which supported a sheet iron figure of a game cock, showing the course of the wind."
This building stood for a century, and was torn down and a new one built on the same site in 1818. This being inconvenient, a more elegant one was built on the same place in 1843, which still remains, a very neat and commodious edifice. We have seen that David Youngs in 1717 sold the site for 5(s). When the present church was built a few rods of land were added as a cost of fifty dollars. Griffin quaintly observes: "Thus we see that five shillings in 1700 were worth four hundred shllings in 1843. How things change!"
The first clergyman who laborerd here of whom we have any knowledge was Rev. Jonathan Barber, who, according to Griffin, was here in 1735, and the records of the presbytery speak of him in 1757 as having been here "some years." At that time the church appears to have been in a very weak condition, and could hardly be said to be established.
Methodism was introduced in this village in the autumn of 1802, and the first preacher of that denomination was Rev. John Finnagan, an Englishman. As in many other places at that time, there was much prejudice excited against the new sect, whose religious exercises were in those days not unfrequently conducted in a manner more likely to excite tht ridicule of the profane than the veneration of the righteous. The first meetings were held in the school-house, contrary to the wishes of many, but before spring some of the prominent families of the place became more favorably inclined, and no further opposition was made. From Mr. Finnagan's departure in 1803 until 1820 there was very little preaching by any clergyman of this denomination, and the Rev. Cyrus Foss was the first who made any stay. That the prejudice was fast wearing away is shown by the fact that the church was used by him when not occupied by the regular pastor. The corner stone of the Methodist church was laid June 3d, 1836, the services being conducted by Rev. Samuel W. King. From that time the pulpit has been regularly supplied and the congregation is prosperous and increasing.
The author of "Griffin's Journal," gives from his own experience a description of a remarkable storm, which we quote as an undoubtedly truthful account:
"On the afternoon of the 24th of December, 1811, the wind was light, from the west; at 11 P.M. very moderate, and cloudy, gentle breeze, at 12 O'clock nearly calm, with a little sprinkle of rain. In one hour after it commenced almost instantaneously blowing a gale, with snow and the most intense cold. A more voilent and destructive storm has not been known for the last hundred years. Many young cattle froze to death in the fields. Two vessels bound to New York were lost and most of the crews perished."
Griffin also narrates the accounts he had heard of the great snow storn of 1717, which was doubtless the most remarkable fall of snow that has ever occurred in this country since the settlement. Houses in Orient were buried to the second story windows, and one on Plum Island was entirely covered. Cotton Mather states that snow in Boston was twenty feet depth. This storm occurred in February. The winter of 1780 was remarkably cold, and the ice was so thick that Noah Terry rode on horseback from Orient Harbor to Shelter Island.
On the 23d of September, 1815, occurred one of the severest easterly storms of rain and wind ever known, and it is still spoken of as "September gale." About 11 A.M. the wind blew so violently as to unroof houses, blow down barns and uproot trees. The tide rose to a wonderful height, and Griffin narrates that one of the families living near the wharf came in a boat and landed near his hosue. The Atlantic coast was strewn with wrecks, and many a sailor sunk into a watery grave.
The year 1816 was remarkable as having a frost every month.
In the summer of 1849 this place was visited by a very fatal epidemic, to which physicians gave the name of "cholera dysentery." Within a space of half a mile there were more than sixty cases in two weeks. In the street leading to the wharf scarcely a house escaped. Mr. Griffin records that within a hundred rods of his house, there were twelve deaths, and in one district one-fourth of a mile square thirty persons died in two months. All business was at a stand and the place seemed almost deserted.
The other settlements in Southold are small and unimportant. Peconic is the modern name of a village once known as Hermitage, and has now a population of 385, mainly devoted to farming, and Franklinville, another farming community, has barely 200, although it lies in two townships, being on the Riverhead boundary line. East Marvin, in the other extremity, a neighbor to Orient, is a fishing village, with a population nearly reaching to 400.
Of the dependencies of Southold - as its islands might be called - Fisher's Island is the largest and claims a population of 250, which in the summer season is increased to about 1,000. Its association with Southold is a freak of political geography, as it is in close proximity to Connecticut. In 1668 Governor Winthrop accepted a patent for the island from Governor Nicolls, of New York, thus acknowledging the New York title, and the island remained in the possession of Winthrop's descendants until 1863. It has since been opened for settlement. Robin's Island is mainly a game preserve. Plum Island, which once bore the more distinguished name of the Island of Patmos, supports a population o fifty, and the Gull Islands are useless except for lighthouse purposes, although the Government has utilized Great Gull Island by erecting important fortifications on it as part of the system of coast defense. Plum Island has also been fortified.
The Gull Islands got their name, as might be supposed, from the vast quantities of gulls, or terns, which used to make their home there. But as a result of the depredations of plume hunters these birds began some years ago to leave their habitat, and the military operations frightened away altogether what remained, so that now a gull is rarely seen in the isalnds bearing its name. The headquarters of these beautiful birds are on the eastern end of Fisher's Island and the small islets - Flat Hammock, Wicopesset, mainly - beside it. Between Fisher's Island and Gardiner's Island is the famous waterway known as the Race, the most famous fishing ground off the Long Island and Connecticut coasts. Immense catches are made there every year; vast schools of bluefish, mackerel and menhaden and small fish in limitless number pass through the Race very day or linger awhile in its swirling, dashing, ever white-capped waters. The Race is also the happy hunting ground of the tern and it is said their movements are of great importance to the fishermen. The latter watch the careening of the birds and know from experience that where they congregate most numerously in that bit of water will be found the best fishing ground, for that day at least. The Race is well watched by these beautiful little birds, and the presence of a school of bluefish is known to them long before man discovers the fact, and these active aerial beauties have genearlly hunted to their hearts' content before the fishermen begin operations by driving them away. A recent writer says:
"One of the colonies from Gull Islands migrated to Gardiner's Island, and the birds have ever since nested and bred there, in spite of opposition, persecution, and persistent destruction. There are two large colonies on Gardiner's Island, one located at the north and the other at the south side of the island. These colonies are the largest in existence in the Sound or anywhere along our neighboring beaches, and they have received more attention and protection as a consequence than any other. Two wardens have been employed right along to protect these colonies and to see that robbers did not take the eggs or kill the old birds. The colony on the north side of the island numbers 2,000 or more birds, while the one on the south side is larger larger, if anytying, making nearly 5,000 terns on Gardiner's Island. This number constantly increases every year. The birds show every dispostiion to make this their permanent home, and they return to it regularly, season after season to nest and breed."
The town of Southold occupies the north division of the eastern end of Long Island from the Riverhead boundary to Orient Point, a distance of twenty-three miles. At its widest part it measure only about four miles and it is said to contain 29,446 acres. On its Long Island Sound side its coast line is rugged and precipitous, but facing Peconic Bay is flat, with wide stretches of rich meadow land. The soil in the interior is very fertile, and the climate, on the whole, may be ranked as healthy and bracing.