Town’s Early Settlers Lived Peaceably with the Indians

Footnotes to Long Island History

Town's Early Settlers Lived Peaceably With the Indians


Thomas R. Bayles

    (This is the first of a series of five articles on the early years in Brookhaven Town.)

       The town of Brookhaven is the largest on Long Island, and extends across the island from the sound to the ocean, and is about 20 miles long, east and west. the towns of Smithtown and Islip are to the west, and Riverhead and Southampton on the east.

       During the early part of the year 1655, a party of six men from the colonies of New England landed on the shores of those beautiful bays and coves around Setauket. They purchased from the Setalcott Indians, who had their headquarters there, a tract of land extending from Stony Brook to and including Port Jefferson, and gave the Indians in payment, "10 coats, 12 hoes, 12 hatchets, 50 muxes (small brad awls), 100 needles, 6 kettles, 10 fathoms of wampum, 7 pipe bowls of powder, 1 pair of children's stockings, 10 pounds of lead, and one dozen knives." The deed was dated April 14, 1655, and contained the signature marks of the Setalcott Sachem Warawasen or Warawakmy, and 14 of his tribesmen. The settlers also were given the right to let their cattle run beyond the bounds of their purchase, and to cut timber as far east as they pleased. The Indians and the proposed settlers agreed to live peaceably with each other, which they did.

       The first settlement was called Ashford, later Brookhaven, and finally Setauket, and was located around the "meeting house" green at Setauket. The lands of the town were purchased from the Indians at different times by the early settlers, and later held by the 54 proprietors as tenants in common, which were divided among them as occasion demanded. In some of these divisions an extra share was made for the support of the minister.
     Those first settlers at Setauket soon began to explore the south side of the town and discovered large meadows of salt hay and grass which could be harvested for their cattle. They purchased in1657 two tracts of meadow land from the Unkechaug Indians, who had their headquarters at Mastic. The settlers purchased from Tobaccus, chief of the Unkechaug Indians, on June 10, 1664, all that tract of land extending from Yamphanke creek in South Haven to a small pond in the western part of Bellport, and north to the middle of the Island. The same day, Gov. Winthrop of Connecticut, bought from Tobaccus all the land west of this to the Islip Town line at a creek called Nampkee in the western part of Blue Point. On this tract are the present communities of East Patchogue, Patchogue, and Blue Point. This was underdeveloped for many years and was not annexed to Brookhaven Town until 1773, by an act of the Colonial Assembly. The town also bought at the same time from the Setalcott chief, all the land on the north side from Mt. Sinai to Wading River, and south to the middle of the island. Old Field was purchased from the Indians sometime before 1659.

    A patent was issued by Gov. Nicolls on March 7, 1666, for all the land that had been bought or should be bought from the Indians, bounded on the west by a line running across the island at Stony Brook, and on the east by a line at Wading River. On November 19, 1675, the Setalcott chief, Gle, conveyed to Richard Woodhull, acting for the town, all unsold land within the limit of the patent to the middle of the island, and also confirmed all former grants, which covered all the land claimed by the Setalcott Indians from Stony Brook to Wading River. A second patent for the town was issued by Gov. Dongan on December 27, 1686, which included all former grants, and named John Palmer, Richard Woodhull, Samuel Erburne, Andrew Gibb, William Satterly, Thomas Jenner and Thomas Helme as trustees.

     A tract of land on the south side of the town extending east from the Connecticut (Carman's) river to the Mastic river and north to the middle of the island was purchased from the Indians by Col. William Smith in May 1691. This also included the Great South Bay, the island in it and the ocean beach, and was known as the Manor of St. George. A patent for this immense tract of thousands of acres was issued by Gov. Fletcher in 1693. Mr. Smith later purchased most of the land east of this to the Southampton Town line at Eastport, for which he received a patent in 1697 from Gov. Fletcher.

      In 1659, the town requested an alliance with Connecticut for protection against any possible invasion by the Indians or the Dutch on the west end of the Island. On May 16, 1661 Hartford voted to receive Brookhaven Town and appointed Richard Woodhull and Thomas Pierce as magistrates. This continued until 1664 when the English took over the Dutch settlement at New York, including Long Island. The Duke of York appointed Richard Nicolls as governor. 

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