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Hunters Garden Association

Footnotes to Long Island History

Hunter's Garden Association

May 30, 1968

Thomas R. Bayles

 


       A warm day with overcast sky greeted the 136 members of the Hunter's Garden Association who attended the semi-annual meeting and eel chowder dinner held at Brewster's.  Lots last Thursday which is located on a narrow dirt road about two miles west of the Riverhead Moriches road.

            This is a grassy valley with large trees throughout and a bubbling spring at one side, and is an ideal spot for an outing of this kind.      

            It was back in 1833 that seven deer hunters met on the Quogue plains as it was called, between Eastport and Riverhead, to sow rye for the deer then remaining in that part of Long Island.  The place was called Brewster's Lots, and from that time to the present it has been the custom to meet on the third Thursday of May and October for a social gathering with eel chowder, cooked in large iron kettles over an open fire, as the main feature.

            Those seven men who organized the Hunter's Garden Association in 1833 with “Uncle Wells Tuttle” as president, were Capt. Josiah Smith, Wells Tuttle, Ebenezer Jayne, William Gordon, Brewster Tuttle, Parshall Tuttle and Salem Wells.

            The Pathogue Advane carried the following Eastport news item on May 23, 1894:

            “The semi annual gathering of the Hunter's Garden met at Brewster's Lots on May 17, and proceeded to prepare eels and potatoes for the usual chowder, which was greatly enjoyed by all present.  This gathering is strictly a stag affair and is a day of reunion and feasting.  There is plenty of chowder and the price of 25 cents is small.  G. Frank Tuttle is president and E. W. Tuttle, secretary.”

            The present price is $2 and the chowder is still cooked in the large iron pots that have been in use for nearly 100 years.  The only requirement for memberships is to attend that gathering and pay the $2 dinner fee.  Frank Lyon of Coram is president and the men come from all over Suffolk County. 

            The guest speaker this year was Suffolk County sheriff Frank Gross, who gave a very interesting and instructive talk on the new jail that is being constructed back of the County Center at Riverhead, and on the general operation of the present jail that is badly overcrowded with around 400 prisoners.  He made a statement that surprised everyone when he said that only about 25% of the prisoners were able to read.  He said the new jail will be ready in September and will be ultra modern in every way.  

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