Richard Bayles House

Richard Bayles House

The same view today.

Courtesy of the Longwood Public Library, Thomas R. Bayles Collection (CS 28 B-36)   Middle Island, NY
Looking northwest towards the Bayles House.

Richard M. Bayles was born in Coram, on March 23, 1846. His father had died only eleven days earlier and his mother died in 1860 when Richard was not yet fourteen. Her brother Edward Swezey took Richard and his two older brothers into his home, which he shared with his parents, his wife Cynthia and two young daughters Eliza Ann, and Alda. They lived in Middle Island on the north side of the Middle Country Road just east of the Presbyterian Church. Richard's two brothers were killed June 2, 1864 at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia.
Richard M. Bayles

From October 1892 through the following May, Richard taught 18 pupils in the West Middle Island (district 16) school while boarding at the home of J.H. Randall on Middle Country Road. In December he bought one half acre of land on the North side of the highway from Henry P. Hutchinson and constructed a 13ft. By 18 ft. office. That winter while Mr. Randall was in Florida, Miss Florence Rowland from Miller Place came to stay with his wife Lydia who was a cousin of Florence. Richard met her for the first time on February 4, and on July 13, 1893 they were married. Richard soon broke ground for a house next to his small office. Over the years Richard made additional purchases of land until he eventually owned about three acres. After Richard died in 1930 Florence and their son Albert continued to live in the house. Albert lived there until his death in 1963.

At various times Richard made additions to his small office. When his other son Thomas married Gertrude Benjamin in 1916 they moved into the west part of the building. They remained there until Thomas died and Gertrude moved to a small house nearby. At this time the old office building was demolished.

In 1976 Thomas's son Donald took title to the property and modified Richard's home so that it could be used for offices. The property was sold in 1996.

Richard M. Bayles was a man of many talents. He was widely known for his works as a historian. His "Sketches of Suffolk County" was published in 1873. He was called on often to give talks on local history. While writing these and other county histories, Richard taught school. His next project was a handbook containing descriptions of all the communities on Long Island. When completed it was called "Bayles Long Island Handbook" On a number of occasions he was a candidate for Brookhaven Town Clerk but was defeated each time.

His next enterprise had Richard setting up a small hand operated printing press in his office and began a part time printing business. Using the experience acquired conducting research during his history-writing period he now offered to his services in searching land titles. Searching through deeds to prove title provided the information necessary to establish property lines so he now entered a new career as a surveyor. In 1899 he undertook the assignment of surveying the Greenlawn Cemetery at Pinelawn. In addition to the above business pursuits Richard planted and maintained a small apple, pear, and peach orchard from which he sold fruit.

Prepared by:
Mr. Donald Bayles,
Local Historian


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