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W. Dayton House


DAYTON HOUSE


dayton
Dayton House. Longwood Public Library, Thomas R. Bayles Collection CS 28A-14


pines
Middle Island Cathedral Pines. Queensborough Public Library


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Prosser's Pines, Middle Island, 1905. Longwood Public Library, Thomas R. Bayles Collection CS 28A-8


A home was built on the property before 1793. In a deed dated April 18, 1793, William Brewster sold the property to James Dayton. It was eighteen year old William "Uncle Billy" Dayton, son of James Dayton, who planted the white pine seedlings in 1812. According to tradition, the seedlings were taken from the Edwards farm on Middle Island-Miller Place Road. The Edwards family claims that the first white pine seedlings were brought to Long Island when the French-Indian War veteran Jonathan Edwards brought them home from Quebec.

After the death of James Dayton, the farm was passed on to his sons, James and William Dayton. The 1850 census lists them as William Dayton, age 67, farmer and James Dayton, 65, farmer. In the 1870 census a nephew John moves into the house. After William and James died, John became the owner of the home and farm. It was Dayton's nephews who noted that the pines reminded them of a great cathedral reaching into the sky.

By this time the white pine grove was becoming much larger and extending over the property. The grove was a mixture of pine, oak, and chestnut trees. The oak was cut, and the chestnut trees died from a disease. Eventually the area was made up of almost exclusively pine trees.

John Dayton sold the home and farm to George Prosser in 1889. Mr. Prosser watched as the grove grew from 30 acres to over 100 acres, making it the largest white pine forest on Long Island.

George Prosser was born in 1866 and was 23 when hr took over the farm. In 1894 Prosser was selected as Overseer of Highways for Yaphank. In 1917 he ran for Justice of the Peace. The people of Middle island voted and appointed him to be Collector for School District # 17 in 1918. George Prosser died in 1944. His wife Nellie Gordon Prosser who was born in 1891 died in 1967.

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George Prosser (far right) with his brothers.

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George Prosser on sled

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Nellie Gordon Prosser and Anna Gordon Davis.

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Snow on the road in Prosser's Pines. Date unknown

Some of the trees fell during a storm. One was measured at ninety feet and it was estimated that it would produce 2000 board feet of wood. The felled trees were taken to a local mill, but Mr. Prosser would not allow standing trees to be felled. His wish was to have the grove saved as a park.

Mr. Prosser permitted people to use the park to picnic. He also put in roads that still exist today. The ditch on the north end of the park is what remains of a drainage ditch dug in 1895 to alleviate the flooding at Artist Lake. The ditch was dug from Artist Lake through the pines, trying to connect with the Connecticut River on the west side of the road.

1942
Prosser farm 1942.

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Farm Buildings

Suffolk County acquired the 50-acre park in 1968. The Prosser homes are still on the property. The Dayton house built before 1793 still stands on the east edge of the Middle Island Yaphank Road. The Suffolk County Parks Commission has boarded up and painted the windows to protect it from vandalism. Shortly afterwards, Suffolk County acquired the land across the street and made it a campground open to the public. A mountain bike trail was cut through the Park Forest in 1998. It is a beautiful ride and one gets to appreciate the great beauty of the white pine forest.

 roadto prossers pines
Road to prosser's Pines.

 

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Barn and ponies on the Prosser farm.

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horse and barns 1918.

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Nellie Prosser and horses, 1919.

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Chickens and barns
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Mr. Weeks loading firewood

 

The Long Island poet William Cullen Bryant wrote of the Cathedral Pines forest in 1910. "The groves were God's first temples. In the darkling wood, amid the cool and silence, man knelt down and offered to the mightiest, solemn thanks and supplication."

Deeds fro the Dayton's and Prosser's showing how the Prosser farm was acquired.

Click here for a news article from the Middle Island Mail about the early attempt to make this area a park.


 

 

The Dayton House is located on the property of Suffolk County's Catherdral (Prosser) Pines. The White Pines were planted on Dayton's farm about 180 years ago.

 It is a 1 1/2 story, gable roof, side entrance plan , 3 bay wood clapboard house. The Suffolk County Parks Commission has recently (1980s)  boarded up and painted the windows to protect the building from vandalism.

This house is one of the earlier farms in the area and remains extremely important because of the breath taking white pine forest that was first planted in 1812.

The house appears on the U.S. Coast Survey of 1837 and the Name Dayton appears on the 1873 Beers map.

Over the last few years the house there has been serious deterioration as the roof has collapsed endangering the rest of the building. This home has suffered from a lack of interest to save it.

 

Information compiled by,
Justin Calderon
Tiffany Harper
Christina Brillante

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