Long Island Community Histories
Glen Cove Yaphank Lake Panamoka Greenport
Coram Ridge History of Hempstead Village Manhasset
Middle Island Gordan Heights Southold The East Hampton Historical Soc.
Shirley The Town of Oyster Bay History of East Hampton The History of the town of Flatbush

The History of Glen Cove, NY
Text and Research by Jeanne Henderson

    On May 24, 1668, Joseph Carpenter, a settler from Warwick, Rhode Island, purchased one hundred acres of woodland northwest of Oyster Bay from the Matinecock Indians. Inspired by the abundance of fresh streams, ponds, and navigable water in the harbor, Carpenter built his saw mill at the foot of Mill Hill Road near the present-day Glen Cove Fire Department and erected a dam after taking on brothers Robert, Nathaniel, and Daniel Coles and Nicholas Simpkins as partners in this business venture. After these "Five Proprietors of the Musketa Cove Plantations" built homes on the hill overlooking the stream along a section known today as The Place, they divided the remaining acreage of woodland and pastures into five equal parcels.
    Later a grist mill for grinding corn was added "for all the Proprietors families without charge so long as the said stream was owned by all of them." Musketa Cove-the Indian name meant "place of rushes"-began to flourish in the next decade as ships navigated the creek at low tide, and it was reported in an early journal that "fifteen hundred foote of plank of two inch thick was prepared and shipped to New Cork (from Musketa Cove in 1678) for use in the construction of Fort James, at the lower end of Manhattan."
    The population of the tiny settlement began to swell as New Englanders came south, and in less than a decade after its first settlement the community of Musketa Cove had among its population weavers, tailors, sawyers, carpenters, millers, millwrights, shipbuilders, and many tradesmen who had their own town government, constable, overseers, Justice of the Peace and Recorder.
    By 1699 a second dam was built further upstream on what is now Pulaski Street. Besides lumber and flour, smuggling was apparently the third industry, for in 1699 one-third of all goods imported into New York was contraband brought in through Setauket, Southhold, Oyster Bay, and Musketa Cove---rum being the chief item of trade. Favored by clear springs, good farming soil, and a harbor, Musketa Cove grew through trade with boats used to carry goods to the city. In 1725 the first place of worship, the Matinecock Friends Meeting House, was erected near the present day site of Friends Academy. However, through the next few decades the increasing diffiiculties with Britain concerned others of a less pacifist nature, and by the outbreak of the Revolutionary War "a company of 80 men from Musketa Cove joined General Woodhull's brigade" to fight the British. The population of Musketa Cove in the decade following the Revolutionary War was 250 with names like "Valentine, Pearsall, Craft, and Downing" among the well-known in the area.
    During the early years of the nineteenth century Musketa Cove attracted visitors from New York City because of the natural beauty of the shoreline and the peaceful, rustic setting. In 1829 the first scheduled steamboat, the Linnaeus, commanded by Captain Elijah Peck, made weekly stops. However, many could not be encouraged to visit claiming that to have earned such a name Musketa Cove must be grossly inhabitedby obnoxious stinging insects. In 1834 during a public meeting the name "Glen Cove" was chosen---after a member of the audience misunderstood the suggestion to name the peaceful community Glencoe, the name of a Scottish glen.
    Again, the same factors that brought the original settlers attracted newcomers in the nineteenth century---and made Glen Cove a popular summer resort. In 1835 the Pavilion Hotel was built near the entrance to the Harbor where it was convenient to the steamboat landing. Visitors paid $.50 for round-trip fare and New York's famous theatrical celebrities, like Lillian Russel, made Glen Cove a favorite summer resort.
    In 1855 the Duryea Starch Works, located on the site of one of the original mills, continued to use water as a source of power and the Fayerweather & Ladew tannery, located on the current site of Konica Imaging USA on Charles Street, supplied belts tha t turned the machines. Nearby farms supplied the corn, and as before, the finished product---this time cornstarch instead of lumber and flour was delivered quickly and cheaply by boat to New York markets.
By 1868 the Long Island Railroad had reached Glen Cove and such prominent American millionaires as J. P. Morgan (East Island), Charles A. Dana (West Island), F. W. Woolworth, H. C. Folger, and the Pratts, who alone erected five mansions on over one tho usand acres, developed Gold Coast estates on acres of pastoral grounds and along pristine beaches.
    As industry declined, the estates soon functioned as self-contained entities, providing jobs and sources of income for hundreds of residents.
In 1904 a trolley was built to take riders from the train to the Landing, but by 1915 the trolley was out of service with the coming of the auto. By 1917 Glen Cove became a city, leaving the Town of Oyster Bay, and the first mayor, James E. Burns, with his council took the oath of office on January 1, 1918, just a few weeks short of the 250th anniversary of the first settlement.

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History of Coram
FOCAL POINT OF Brookhaven Town FROM 1785 to 1885

Historic Homes of Coram
The History of Coram  by the late Osborn Shaw, Brookhaven Town Historian, 1947
Coram: An Ancient Settlement by Alma Q. Davis
Coram: A Historical Sketch by the historian Richard M. Bayles, 1893
The Indian Place-Names by William Wallace Tooker, 1911
Geology of Coram  by Major Bryson, 1906

    Coram has a long and interesting history. According to early records, the hamlet was settled around 1685.1 It's name was derived from the early name of "Wincoram", which means "a passage between hills or a valley" according to the native tribe of the Secatogues The land was used by the settlers originally for cattle pasture after they bought the land off the Indians for practically peanuts. Coram was an important focal point for early Brookhaven Town mainly because the oldest building in Coram, the Davis House, was the main seat of government for Brookhaven Town for over 100 years, from about 1784 to 1885. Since Brookhaven was such a large town - it was terribly inconvenient for the officials that settled in Mastic to travel all the way to Setauket for town meetings. So as common sense would have it, it was decided that the meetings would be held at a centralized location, namely Coram. Every year in April, the voters came from all over Brookhaven town in horse-drawn wagons to barter goods, gossip, and have a good time. Another important part of the history of Coram came to be during the Revolutionary War, when George Washington ordered Major Benjamin Tallmadge to burn a 300 ton stack of hay. The hay was meant to feed the horses of the British army over the winter. Tallmadge first went on to raid Fort St. George at Mastic. Successfully completing the task that George Washington asked of him, the Major is a hero of the Revolutionary War.
    Other residents of Coram recognized for their bravery against the British were Goldsmith Davis, who so stubbornly refused to divulge any military secrets that the British hung him upside down in a well. Luckily, his wife witnessed the act from the bushes and ran half a mile to get help in time to save him. Isaac Smith was also another resourceful resident against the British. When his house was occupied by the British army, "Petticoat Isaac" Smith escaped in women's clothing.The home of Isaac Smith was used by the British for horse stables. In the summer after the close of the war, it was here that George Washington dined during his tour of Long Island . Capt. Nathaniel Norton was among one of the many forgotten heroes of this war who later became a minister in the Baptist church. He is buried in the old Baptist cemetery at his bequest.
    In November of 1860, there were general (presidential) elections held at Coram, which comprised of the entire middle section of Brookhaven town. It was at the Davis House that the people of Brookhaven were informed that the new president of the United States was to be Abraham Lincoln. Shortly thereafter, the Civil War broke out. Richard Wand Smith , grandson of 'Petticoat Smith", saw a little local action during the War. He offered to help a Union officer to recapture 4 deserters. They were camped out in the woods and got quite tipsy. They then set fire to Smith's barn in the winter of 1864 to get even with Smith. His house and out buildings also went down in flames. The deserters were recaptured and 2 of them went to Sing Sing for ten years for arson.
    Religion was very important in our country's history and Coram was no exception. In 1747, the first church was erected, The Baptist meeting house was the first , and only church of that denomination in Suffolk County for a long time. The church was torn down in 1847. In 1858 , a Methodist church was re-erected from it's original site in Middle Island. The members of this congregation had taken it down and relocated it to Coram where it still stands today. A town poorhouse was erected in 1817 on a farm bought for $900. It was in use until 1872 when the residents were moved to a county facility in Yapank. Before 1817, the town farmed out poor persons to 'whomever made the lowest bid to keep them from starving. Farming was and still is a very important aspect of American life. In the olden days of Coram settlers, the main focus of their lives was that of agricultural independence. They raised pigs, which they salted and smoked to preserve the meat.They also had their fowl: Chickens, ducks, and an occasional Christmas goose, cows,  and sheep for variety, All these animals served a dual purpose, they had a secondary commodity to their obvious edibility. To feed their animals , the farmers had to grow accompanying grain such as : Barley, rye, 'wheat, buckwheat, and corn. A fringe benefit to growing such crops was that they could be ground into grain to make flour. As life became more established in this center of Brookhaven, the enterprising Davis family kept a General store and for a few years a tavern at the meeting house - homestead. In the l9thcentury, they expanded to fruit and berry growing. The Still family also figured prominently in Coram agricultural history.Thriving in the late 1800's-early 1900's they managed an 80 acre farm on Coram-Mt.Sinai Rd. Their family cemetery is on Rte.112 about 112 mile north of Middle Country Rd. Coram also had a town pump in 1883, made possible by public financing. The cost of the pump was $9.50. In its time it was a center of social activity, as well as quenching the thirst of the townspeople as well as passing horse and buggies. It was located on the intersection of Route 112 and Middle Country Rd.
    The first Post Office in Brookhaven town was established in Coram in 1794 with Goldsmith Davis being the first Postmaster. From 1794 to as late as 1970, the Post Office was always located either in a private residence or store owed by the Postmaster.The last Postmaster to operate out of her store was Mrs. Myrtle Fingar, owner of Fingar's Market formerly located in front of the Pathmark on Route 25.Coram seemed to have been very literate for the times. Descendants of the Davis and Smith families have held high ranking jobs throughout the U.S. and the world.
    The first divisions of school districts for the town of Brookhaven took place in Coram In 1813. The borders were laid out by measuring how far a boy could walk to the schoolhouse The first official schoolhouse wag built in 1842. The second one built in 1900 was used as a school until 1953, and then turned into the Coram library. It still stands today next to the Coram firehouse serving as the office of the fire commissioner.
    The Coram Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1929. A fire district was formed in 1940, and with the tax money collected - needed equipment was purchased and the 2nd firehouse was built in 1941. The 3rd and present building was erected in 1959. Although the Coram area is not known for many sources of water, there is actually a "Coram Pond". It is located north of the intersection of Middle Country Road and Route. 112- behind 7-11. Formerly called Cornucopia Lake - it is known as a kettle hole, 'which is formed by a glacier with clay on the bottom. The hill to the north of Coram pond is known as Mt. Tabor. It was the site of religious revivals as well as being a favorite sleigh - riding area for locals. Another pond in the Coram area is Mooney Pond . It was used to water horses and mules, and in the winter blocks of ice were taken to use the following summer. Located south of Middle Country Road off of Paul's Path.
    During the 1960's, Coram grew into a thriving suburban community. Houses sprouted up as Levitt made his mark with several developments built by him. As the population grew, so did the business community. Restaurants general stores , and service stations were eager to serve the new Coramians. A Coram air park was also useful in getting to the center of the island quickly.
Located behind the Caldor shopping plaza , it was closed down in the late 80's. Although Coram never had a hospital, it did have a T.B. Sanitarium Center for children suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. It was built on the 60-acre Overton Farm in 1913. In the late 1930's, it was abandoned and now the only evidence of it are the foundation ruins located on Route 112.
    The Town of Brookhaven built the highway department on Old Town Rd. because of its centralized location between the north and south shores of the town.The National Coast Guard also has their port safety department stationed right next to the Highway dept. for the same reason. A community center was donated by the heirs of Captain Henry Smith in 1954. It was originally an old barrack from WWI at Camp Upton.
    Also located in Coram is the sixth Police precinct of Suffolk County. For hikers and nature lovers, another point of interest in Coram is the 66-acre Daniel R. Davis Sanctuary,located a 1/4 mile north of Route. 25 on Coram-Mt. Sinai Rd. It was donated to the Nature Conservancy in 1964 by Mrs. John G. Erhardt and Charles J.R. Davis. Coram has come a long way since its humble rural beginnings over 300 years ago. Casually driving or walking through this hamlet, one would not suspect a past so rich in history. It is thoroughly modernized with its shopping centers , plethora of fast food restaurants , banks, gas stations, movie theaters. If one looks hard enough, one might spot the several historic signs by the roadside of Coram. Thanks to the Coram Fire Department, anyone can get a glimpse of the history of this hamlet.

Notes of Interest

William Slattery is said to be the first white man to settle in Coram. The first child born in Coram was Elizabeth Barnes, Apr. 6, 1685

An Overton family tale is said to be that when Major Tallmadge marched into Coram after the victory at St. George , a starry-eyed young man was asked to actually ignite the hay. It was a descendant of David Overton - most likely Nehemiah.

Adam Clayton Powell and Hazel Scott had their honeymoon here.

 In 1954, there were 190 residents; in 1960 - 2,942; in 1970 - 6,875; in 1980 - 24,750; and in 1990 - 6,875

One of the familiar landmarks in its day was Billy's Windmill Restaurant, which was a hot dog and hamburger stand when Route 25 was the main road to New York city. Another quaint restaurant was the White House Inn. Rovagna's General Store was one of Coram's 1st ,and during its time it was a service station and post office. Jake Baczensky store also doubled as post office service station which later became Fingar's Market.

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History of Middle Island

Historic Homes of Middle Island
Middle Island: A Historical Sketch by Mr. Donald Bayles, local historian, 1999
An Excerpt from My Long Islandby Eleanor Ferguson, 1993
Recollections of Middle Island, 1920's-1940's

    The first Presbyterian church was built in Middle Island in 1766, with Rev. David Rose as pastor; he also was the pastor of the South Haven church until his death in 1799. He was an interesting figure as he covered his immense parish on horse back, with his saddle bags filled with Bibles and medicine, as he was also a doctor. In 1637 the present church was built just to the rear of the old one, and served the community for 200 years until the new Christian Education building was built at Longwood in 1966, and the old church stands vacant.3 The first schoolhouse built in 1813 stood just east of the church. The cemetery across the toad from the church was opened about 1766 and incorporated in 1669, and renamed in 1960 as the Union Cemetery Association of Middle Island. The oldest stone in the cemetery is that of Daniel Brewster, who died in 1748.
    Middle Island has one of the oldest post offices in Brookhaven town, which was established in 1796 with Apollus Wetmore as first postmaster. This was first called Middletown, then Brookhaven, and in 1811 was changed to Middle Island when Benjamin Hutchinson became postmaster. He kept the post office in his home where Leo Lentin's home was located,4 across the road from his dress store. The post office was in the Hutchinson family until 1901 when Edward Pfeiffer was appointed postmaster, and until a new post office was built in 1964, it was located in Pfeiffer's store.
    About 1830 mail was dispatched from the city by stage coach to Coram, Middle Island and Riverhead twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday at 8a.m. In those days the receipts of the Middle Island post office were less than $20 a year. Most letters were sent postage collect on delivery.
The Hutchinson homestead, which stood where Kogel Lumber was located, was built about 1750 and had a long and colorful history. The Brookhaven Town clerk's office was here for about 40 years until 1890. It was also the voting place for Middle Island, Coram and Yaphank from 1884 until 1910. It was a stage coach stop for the stages that ran along the Middle Country road from the city to the east end villages before the railroad was opened to Greenport in 1844. It was also the Middle Island post office from 1834 to 1901.
    Pfeiffer's store was located just east of the traffic light, where the Gulf gas station is now. The house adjoining Pfeiffer's store was built about 1735 by one of the grandsons of Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, the first minister of the old town church in Setauket in 1665. This was also a tavern and stage coach stop and mention is made of it by Dr. Hamilton in his trip through Long Island in the summer of 1744. We quote from his diary. "We arrived at one of Brewster's (Pfeiffer's store in later years) at eight o'clock at night and could get nothing to eat or drink in this house , so were obliged to go to bed fasting and supperless. He and his party had come from Setauket, and the next morning, continued on their journey to Riverhead.
    Pfeiffer's store was in operation for over 100 years, and was a typical country store that supplied nearly all the wants of the people for miles around. The farmers brought in their butter and eggs and traded them for groceries and other supplies. The country store carried everything in the years gone by, and among the articles sold, besides groceries, were dry, goods, men's and women's clothing, boots and shoes (felt boots were popular), paint, hardware, crockery, feed and fertilizer, and almost anything one could think of. In the back room hung smoked hams and bacon, and the salt pork barrel, the molasses barrel, vinegar barrel, etc. The country store and post office was a meeting place for everyone, and around the old pot bellied stove gathered the men and boys to play checkers and be sociable. The old checker board had long since been laid away on a shelf to dream of the days it was kept in daily use, when the local firemen burned down the old store for the new owners to make way for a gas station in April 1971. This was the beginning of the transition from a farming community to an urban development of homes, apartment houses, banks and gas stations. The old center of social life will never be replaced.
    Artist Lake used to be called Corwin's pond, as Rev. Jacob Corwin lived nearby. He was one of the first pastors of the Wading River Congregational Church, organized in 1785, and was also the first pastor of the New Village (Centereach) Congregational Church in 1815.
The artist Alonzo Chappel, lived east of Artist Lake, where K-Mart now stands, from 1869 until his death in 1887. He is buried in the Union Cemetery in Middle Island. Chappel's paintings of historic American scenes appeared as illustrations in many books including "Spencer's History, of the United States", "The National Portrait Gallery,", and Duyckink's History, of the Civil War." Artist Lake was named in anticipation that other artists would follow Chappel and settle there.
Another house built before the Revolution is the old Ashton homestead on the East Bartlett road, which was the home of Major Leek and his family during the Revolution. One day a party of British soldiers stopped and demanded that Mrs. Leek make dinner for them. While waiting, one of the officers went around the dining room hitting the sides of the room with his sword to see if there were any hollow panels behind which might be concealed valuables. Mrs. Leek held her breath because there was a small opening on one side of the fireplace, and behind this was a box built into the chimney where they had hidden all their silver and other valuables. The officers passed this by and did not discover the hiding place. The original part of this house had a chimney
twelve feet square, with three fireplaces downstairs and two upstairs.
    Prosser's Cathedral Pines is located on the road to Yaphank, and is the largest white pine forest on Long Island. The oldest trees were planted by "Uncle Billy" Dayton in 1812. The property is now part of the Suffolk County Parks, and is open to the public daily. The Connecticut or Carman's (now called) river used to rise in Pfeiffer's pond in Middle Island and flow down through Yaphank and into the Great South Bay at Brookhaven. Several mills were located on this river, among which was the old fueling mill in 1792, north of Yaphank, the Upper Mill at Yaphank, built in 1739, and Gerard's Mill or Lower Mill, built in 1771. The
diary, of Minerva Hutchinson in 1808 says, "At night our roUs were brought home from the carding mill down the river. Very good rolls . I began to spin them." "Carded mixed wool for stocking yarn after breakfast by candle light."

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History of Yaphank

Historical Yaphank Walking Tour by the Yaphank Historical Society
Historic Yaphank Homes

    Yaphank was first called Millville, but was changed to Yaphank when the post office was opened in 1846. Yaphank is an Indian name meaning the bank of a river. The railroad was opened through Yaphank to Riverhead and Greenport in 1844, and this event was a great day in the lives of the people through this area, as now a trip to the city could be made in two hours with the iron home, where it had taken two or three days with the stagecoach. Prime, in his history of Long Island in 1845, has this to say: "But, until the people beheld with their own eyes , the cumbrous train of cars drawn by the iron horse, spouting forth smoke and steam, passing like a steed of lightning through their forests and fields with such velocity they could not tell whether the countenances of the passengers were human , celestial or infernal , they would not believe that a railroad had the power almost to annihilate beth time and space."There was considerable activity in Yaphank around the mid 1850's, as the Presbyterian church was built in 1851, St. Andrews Episcopal Church in 1853, a Baptist church in 1853, which was moved to Port Jefferson about twenty years later, the famous octagon schoolhouse in 1854, used until 1926, and the county home property purchased in 1871. The first schoolhouse was located about one quarter mile north of Swezey's comer on the road to Middle Island. This was built shortly after the district was formed in 1813.
In 1875 Yaphank was a busy village with 2 grist mills, 2 lumber mills, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 printing office, 1 upholstery shop, 1 stage line, 2 doctors, 1 shoe shop, 1 lumber yard, 2 wheelwright shops, 1 meat market, 1 dressmaking shop, I general store, according to the book by Beecher Homan, "Yaphank As It Is And Was" published in 1875.
    The Yaphank railroad station was an important train order office as well as freight station, with an agent and operator on duty. Now all the stations between Ronkonkoma and Greenport have been removed, except Riverhead, and there is only one train each way daily.

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History of Ridge

Historic Areas in Ridge

    The first settlement of Ridge was made in 1728 by Stephen Randall, who occupied the farm on the Whiskey road, east of Leisure Village, which in more recent years was the home of John G. Randall. Ridge was called Randallville for years as practically all of the residents were Randalls. The first schoolhouse was located in the hollow south of the Middle Country road, opposite the State Game Farm. In 1872 a schoolhouse was built up the hill, which was used on Sundays for religious services by the Middle Island Presbyterian Church until 1966.
    The first post office was established in August 1949, with Salvatore Calabrese as the first postmaster. In 1951 the new school on Ridge Road was built on a 15 acre tract of land donated by the New York State Game Farm. An immense tract of land was purchased from the Indians in 1691 by Col. William Smith, which extended from the present Middle Country Road to the ocean, and was called the Manor of St. George. The north part of this was called Longwood, and the Smith Homestead was built on it in 1790 and had been the home of the Smith family for generations past. The last member of this historic family to live there was Elbert C. Smith and his family. Re gave the 50 acres on which the Longwood Junior High School is located; also the six acres for the Middle Island Presbyterian Church, and the site of the Lutheran Church on Smith Road. After his death, the 800 acres remaining were sold. The house and five surrounding acres are now owned by the Town of Brookhaven.

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History of Gordon Heights

    In 1927 , the dream of a home in the country surrounded by trees and gardens appealed to many black people in New York City. It was then that Louis Fife, a land developer, formed the Gordon Heights Development and Building Corporation and began selling lots to blacks. It was named for 'Pop" Gordon , who owned much of the land and ran a hotel there. In 1927, Louis Fife bought out 'Pop" Gordon and sold plots of land to African Americans living in New York City.
    The community grew as people kept small farms called homesteads. Churches and a community center soon were built. Many famous black leaders and entertainers visited Gordon Heights.The area of 200 homes now bounded by Middle Island, West Yaphank, and Coram promised a new life away from the crowds of the city. As this unique community grew the residents established the Gordon Heights Progressive Association. When better fire protection was needed, they built a firehouse on Hawkins Avenue in 1947 and formed their own fire department. In 1948 the need for a community center and library was expressed. The center now occupies the former St. Michael and All Angel's Church on Wilson Avenue. The community formed a credit union in 1958 to provide residents with an alternative to bank loans. The attitude of community support continues today.

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History of Lake Panamoka

    East of Ridge at the edge of the Longwood School District is the tiny community of Lake Panamoka. It was first known as Long Pond. A Boy Scout camp for Queens County named Camp Newcomb was there beginning in the 1920's. The ranger's house is still there. In the 1930's a developer began building log homes there and changed the name from Long Pond to Lake Panamoka. Panamoka is not an actual Indian name but sounds like one. The community has remained quiet and unchanged. A strong civic assocation forbids power boats on the lake; only sailboats and canoes can be used. Residents are very concerned about preserving the plant and aninal life in the wetlands surrounding lake.

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