The Longwood Estate
Ms. Jean Lauer
In 1690 Brookhaven
Town was virtually a wilderness. The only settlement of note was in
the Setauket area. One of the early settlers
in Setauket was William "Tangier"
Smith, who had a homestead at
Little Neck. In 1693, in recognition
of his service as mayor of the city
of Tangier in
Africa, he was allowed to
purchase a large tract of land
on the south side of Long Island.
It was called St. George's Manor.
The grant included all the lands
extending from the ocean north to
the Middle Country Road, hounded on
the west by the Connecticut (Carman's) River and on the east by
the Southampton town line. His son,
William Henry, established the seat of the manor at Mastic on the
shores of Moriches Bay. From the earliest times, the northern
section of the manor was called the
"Swamp" or "Longswamp."
The Swamp was used for pasturing
livestock, farming and wood
cutting throughout the 18th century. In 1785 there is a record of a
Christopher Moger living there.
During the Revolution, the Manor at
Mastic was occupied by the
British. During the war, Judge William Smith and his son John, who
were anti-British, did not live at the manor, but, according to an
undocumented theory, took refuge at
the Swamp. Whether or not
this is true, they did move much of their livestock up to the Swamp to
protect it from British
After the Revolution, Judge Smith
had a house built at the Swamp for his son, General John Smith.
After the death of his wife, John
decided not to move to the Swamp, but to stay at Mastic. Judge
Smith then gave the property to his seventh son, William. He and his
wife, Hannah Phoenix Smith moved into
the new manor house in about 1790.
original house was a large Georgian house with a center hall
and two square rooms on each side. Each room had a corner
fireplace. A wing to the east contained a kitchen. The original house
was very like the present Manor St. George at Mastic. The nearest
settlements were at Yaphank and Middle Island. Geographically, the
Swamp contained farmland, pasture,
woods, river fronts, ponds and the swampy area to the east (Wampmissic)
which constituted part of the
headwaters of the Peconic River.
With such extensive holdings, William
Smith leased out farms to
tenant farmers. The farm leases were quite comprehensive and
elaborate. An agreement with Joshua
Glover in 1803 provided for
equal shares to each party of "...anything ...
where there is any profits
arising". Glover was expected to plow thirty acres a year and
plant it in grass every three years.
He was required to "... put in the
best fences with rails and loping".
One of the most valuable assets of
the Swamp was timber. The leases
specify that standing timber was solely the property of the landlord and
the farmer was only allowed
use of the deadfall.
William and Hannah settled down and began raising their family.
They had five children between 1792
and 1800. They were Phoebe who
died in infancy, Ruth Amelia, Appolos, William Sidney and
before Christmas in 1799, Hannah learned of the death of her father at
Smithtown. Although expecting a child at any moment, she
traveled there for the funeral. While
there, she gave birth to Betsy on
Christmas Day. Shortly after the
beginning of the year, she and the
baby set out to return home to the
Swamp. While traveling through
Middle Island, the carriage overturned on the icy road killing Betsy. Although
Hannah was not seriously injured, she never recovered
from the shock and she died in the fall of 1800.
William was left a widower with three small children to take care of.
The family stayed on at the Swamp, but less than two years later,
William himself died. The three
children, Ruth Amelia, Appolos and
William Sidney were left orphans.
They were put in the care of their uncle General John Smith of
the Manor at Mastic. An account book
of that period shows that the
three children were well taken care of by their uncle
making Sidney clothes, board of
... Lydia's work in making Sidney cloathes
Sidney & Appolos's cloathes
..a pair of
shoes for Sidney
... a trunk &
other articles for Sidney
board at Bridgehampton
fare for Sidney
Ruth Amelia was sent to live with her maternal uncle in Kingston,
New York. She later married Robert M. Russell and settled in
York City. Appolos lived at the Manor
and went to school at Miller
Place and Jamaica. He died in 1816. William Sidney was educated at
Bridgehampton and Moriches. In about 1812 he was sent to New York
City to work at the mercantile house of Cotheal and Russell.
Long Swamp was without a
proprietor. Such a valuable
property could not be left idle, so John Smith sent his own son,
William to live there and manage the farm until young Sidney came of
age. In 1816, William wrote to Sidney from Long Swamp:
"...I propose to move
from here soon and I should suppose that it would be very necessary that
I should see you and if you are not too much engaged, you had better
8, 1817, William Sidney Smith celebrated his twenty-first birthday and
became the proprietor of Long Swamp.
Chapter II - William
Sidney Smith and
Young William Sidney Smith left his position in New York
and returned to his birthplace to dedicate himself to the management of
his estate. One of the first things that he did was to change its name
from Long Swamp to Longwood. He lived there alone for the first six
months, however, it was a very lonely life for a young man, so he moved
back to the Manor at Mastic. In 1816, he became an ensign in the 142nd
Regiment of the New York State Infantry and served until 1823 when he
resigned his commission.
In 1821, he was introduced to Eleanor, daughter of Major
William Jones of Cold Spring, Long Island. They fell in love and on her
eighteenth birthday, were married at her parents' home. They stayed in
Cold Spring with the Jones family while Longwood was made ready for the
newlyweds. In addition to redecorating, certain improvements were made
at this time. At least two Franklin Stoves were installed in the parlor
and dining room. Account books from this early period show expenditures
from various items of furniture including a bedstead, three looking
glasses, a clock, two dozen chairs and silverware.
In May of 1824, William Sidney, Eleanor and their three month old son
William Henry moved to Longwood.
"They were removed from all the conveniences of a settled
community or village, having neither railroad or telegraph
communication with the outer world and even mails were infrequent."
It must have been a difficult transition for a young couple
and infant child to settle on such a
remote farm. Longwood contained
well over 7,000 acres and covered all
of the area from the Connecticut
River to Manorville five miles to the east. The land extended from the
Middle Country Road south almost to
the South Country Road.
In addition to managing his farm and his investments, William
Sidney was also part owner of the
sawmill, gristmill and woolen mill in Yaphank. He was very active
in the development of the Long Island
Railroad, which passed through Longwood about a mile
south of the manor house. He was also
very active in local
government, serving as Supervisor of the Town of
Brookhaven from 1829-1834. He was elected treasurer of Suffolk County and
was a member of the New York State Legislature on three different
He managed his land well. A survey
conducted by James M. Fanning
in the 1850's showed the farm at Longwood to contain 7,376
acres of which 1,630 were located
south of the main line railroad.
The farm operation took much of his time. In addition to
farming, he leased farms to small farmers; he contracted out for wood
cutting and had extensive livestock
holdings. In about 1860, he estimated
that the income from his farm alone was about $7,300. per year.
It is obvious that he
loved his land and his home. There was an extended household
consisting of close friends, old retainers and
relatives who found refuge at
Longwood in times of need. After the death of his brother-in-law, Robert
M. Russell, he took in his sister,
Ruth Amelia and her seven children.
This made a very large
household, including between twelve and fourteen children in all. In
1834, William Sidney built a
house for his sister about three miles
from Longwood. She lived there until
her death in 1839. The house is
still standing and is known as the
Weeks house. It is located just
north of the Expressway on
Moriches-Middle Island Road.
In all, ten children were born to William Sidney and Eleanor.
They all lived to survive their parents. It was a large, obviously happy
family that lived at Longwood. As
the family grew, so did the house. It was enlarged and
embellished in about 1840-1850 to reflect the
ultimate in modern taste. The
roofline was modified and decorative brackets under the eaves
were installed. Porches were added as were
the very decorative clustered chimneys and gothic battlements. The
austere and elegant house was
transformed into a romantic Victorian
The children all grew up at home. In their earliest years
they were educated by a series of
tutors and governesses. As they grew older,
they were sent away to school.
Although their father seldom travelled
far from his beloved farm, the
children scattered themselves across
the United States. Two settled in
California, one in Wisconsin, one in
Philadelphia and four in New York or
Brooklyn. Two of the
children, Robert Russell Smith and
Amelia remained at home with their parents.
William Sidney Smith was much more than just a farmer. He was
an astute businessman who had
extensive holdings in bonds and mortgages. In 1858, a handwritten
inventory of his estate, excluding the farm, consisted of seven houses in
New York or
Brooklyn; about thirty
mortgages and bonds; "land in Main (probably)"; land in New
Hampshire and the mill property at Yaphank. The total value of
these holdings was about $125,000.
Thirty years later, after his death,
the value of the estate had increased
to somewhat over $275,000.
Fifty years had passed since Eleanor and William Sidney were
married. The Golden Wedding Day was
to be perhaps the single most brilliant day in the history of
Longwood. An elaborate party was planned. Invitations were dispatched to
all their family and friends. In the
weeks prior to the party, all ten children and their families began
arriving at Longwood for the celebration.
May 7, 1873 dawned warm and brilliant. Spring flowers were
abundantly blooming and the house was
elaborately decorated inside
and out. People came from all over, by carriage, on foot and by
train from New York. As they approached the house, they were
greeted by a huge "Welcome" sign
that was hung over the front door.
It was made on a green background with
gold lettering and was embellished with an American flag.
Over one hundred and fifty people came to the celebration. There
were prayers, hymns, toasts, good talk, singing and renewal of old
acquaintances. An elaborate meal was
assembled in the dining room consisting of "...
oysters stewed and fried ...
two peacocks, turkeys, hams, tongue,
chicken salad, sandwiches ...
creams, charlottes, jellies, etc....
wines: golden sherry from California, champagne,
madeira of the venerable age of
eighty years; also native L.I.
Gifts were brought by one
and all. From the finest gold and silver
to the most humble handmade hankie.
The ten children gave their parents a pair of elegant chairs, a
clock and candelabra and a silver tureen with gold mounts. In return William Sidney and Eleanor
presented each of their children and grandchildren with a gold coin.
The festivities continued all day, and, for the forty people
who stayed the night, the party
continued into the next day.
After the party was over and everyone returned home, life
continued as usual. As time went on, a
greater part of the management of the estate and farm devolved upon Robert, their son.
Amelia, their unmarried
daughter, assumed more and more of the household
William Sidney Smith died
at Longwood on January 19, 1879 in
his eighty-third year. Eleanor died,
after a long illness, on her
seventy-ninth birthday on May 7, 1884. They are both buried in the
Longwood family cemetery.
Chapter III - Decline
Before his death, William Sidney Smith had decided to divide
Longwood among his ten children. The land was divided into ten
parcels. Nine of
the lots contained about seven hundred acres each.
These were to be
given by lot to nine of his children. The tenth parcel,
hundred acres and the manor house was given to
his son Robert as
he has lived with me and taken care of me and his mother".
Most of the nine lots were sold shortly after the settlement of the
Many other holdings, such as land in Chicago, the land in
Maine and New Hampshire were disposed
By the 1880's, Longwood contained less than one third of its previous
By this time, Robert had married Cornelia Thorne and had two
children, William Sidney
Tangier Smith and Helen Tangier Smith.
Robert did not long survive his father and died in 1885. With the
death of Robert,
many changes were made. The house was no longer
used by the family
all year round, but only as a summer retreat.
William S. Tangier became a doctor with an extensive practice in
Brooklyn. He studied at Columbia
University and was a Captain in the Army Medical Corps in 1918. He died in 1944.
The house was changing too. The east wing was enlarged to
incorporate a second story. The pressed tin ceilings in the main part of
the house were also installed about this time.
The land around Longwood was changing too. One of the
greatest changes was the construction
of Camp Upton in 1917 on ten
thousand acres just east of Longwood.
Helen Tangier Smith, who never
married, spent her summers at Longwood. She was the last of her
line and she devoted much of her time to organizing the family papers
and mementoes. She hoped that at some time Longwood would be preserved
and its history recorded. Miss Helen died in 1955. She willed Longwood,
now containing about 750 acres to
her cousin, Elbert Clayton Smith from Berkeley,
California. Burt, as he was known, uprooted his wife and five
children and moved east to reside at
the old manor house.
No longer was Longwood remote from civilization. It was in
the midst of one of the fastest
growing areas on Long Island. Camp Upton
had given way to Brookhaven National Laboratory, an
international center for scientific research;
Island and Ridge were growing with
new homes and businesses. The area south of
Longwood, known as Mastic-Shirley was booming, and the Long Island
Expressway was drawing ever nearer.
Upon his arrival on Long
Island, Burt settled down at Longwood and became its full-time
proprietor. He was trained as a mechanical
engineer and he accepted a position as
Business Manager at Brookhaven National Laboratory. He was very
civic minded and was a member of the
Middle Island Board of Education, the Boy
Scouts, the Presbyterian Church,
Rotary, The Brookhaven Town Industrial Development Committee,
etc. Eventually he left his position
at Brookhaven and formed his own consulting company.
He cared very much for his new home and his community. He
donated fifty-one acres of land to
the Board of Education for Longwood High School; six acres to the
Middle Island Presbyterian Church; two acres to St. Mark's Lutheran
Church as well as land to Suffolk
County for the greenbelt.
He, too, wanted to have Longwood preserved, but his untimely
death in 1967 prevented him from accomplishing this. His widow,
Eleanor, wished to returned to her
native California, so the property was put on
the market and sold to Levitt and Company, real estate
developers. The contents of the house
were sold at auction in 1968. It
seemed that Longwood was to be
The land and the house
were next purchased in 1973 by Wilbur F.
Breslin and Herbert Carmel who
proposed the development of a
huge residential, commercial and
industrial complex on Longwood.
Concerned citizens and members of the Town government urged the
preservation of Longwood. In a generous gesture, Mr. Breslin and Mr.
Carmel presented the house and thirty five acres of land to the Town of
Brookhaven in 1974.
Although the final plans for the preservation of Longwood have not
yet been fully developed, it is now safe from destruction. Just as this
is being written, Longwood has been nominated for inclusion in the
National register of Historic Places.
The damp and cloudy day of August 14, 1968 was, without a
doubt, the lowest point in the
history of Longwood. That was the day
that the contents of the house were
sold at auction. For the first time in 150 years, the furnishing
accumulated over that time were
removed and sold. At that time the fate of the house and land were
unknown ... it was the end of
Now, however, Longwood is saved and the dream of Helen
Tangier Smith is to become a reality. It is therefore appropriate that
the Town try to locate some of the
furnishings removed from
Longwood at the time of the auction. The Brookhaven Town
Historian has begun gathering a list of such items and their present
location and ownership.
If you have some Longwood artifacts, please let Mr. David
Overton, our Historian, know.
Drop him a note describing each
item. It would be most useful if you
were to indicate if you would be
willing to return the item to
Longwood at some future date.
Let us all work together to bring Longwood back to the great days.
Many individuals made significant contributions to the preparation of this booklet. Among them are Mr. David Overton,
Historian, who provided much research material and a great deal of moral
support; Mrs. Lucille S. Marinuzzi for
photographs, running errands, and, most important,
locating the "Golden
Wedding Memento" which provided so much
valuable information; Mr. Alvin R. L. Smith for going
over the manuscript and catching my errors; Mr. William Foote, who very
permitted me unlimited use of the hitherto unpublished
and extremely important "Longwood
Papers"; Mr. Louis Harson of Brookhaven National Laboratory for
information on Camp Upton; Mr. John Tuthill, publisher of the Long Island
The Patchogue Library and the
Center Moriches Free Public Library.
Jean C. Lauer
East Moriches, L.I.