Coram: A Historical Sketch


by Richard M. Bayles, 1893

…The first settlements were in that (Setauket) neighborhood, and for half a century and more there was probably no settlement made in the interior. But in the early years of the 18th century, tradition tells us that younger men established homes upon the southern half of the long lots of their fathers, which extended from the north side to the middle of the Island. But in the latter part of the preceding century, Col. Smith, Lord of the Manor of St. George had established a house at Mastic and a few others had made some improvements about the present village of Brookhaven. It was a long road from Mastic to Setauket, so for the convenience of the two sections of the towns, holding meetings for the consideration of questions of common interest a meeting place about half way was chosen. This meeting place was Coram. The first record I have discovered of a public meeting of the town being held at Coram was held on the first day of January 1695. It was held for the purpose of considering the question of inviting a minister to town. But the public meetings of the town were not held regularly at Coram until many years later. However, it afterwards became the regular meeting place for all town meetings, ad meeting of all the official boards of the town as well, and continued until the year of 1884.

The origin of the name of Coram has been a matter of much speculation and doubt. There is no well authenticated account of its source. A tradition has been handed down that the name was borrowed from an Indian who lived in the vicinity, and the historians have sometimes accepted that tradition. But it is for several reasons unsatisfactory. It is fair to presume that had the early Europeans borrowed the name from the Indians they would have spelled it with a K instead of a C. But in all the early documents that I have see it is always spelled with a "C". For this and other reasons I am of the opinion that the name is not of Indian origin, but comes from the Latin. I may ancient documents may be seen at the bottom an attesting expression, the words, "Coram Imprimis", meaning, in substance, sealed before us. The word Coram means "in presence of", "before one's eyes", "face to face", "in person", "by word of mouth", hence the appropriateness of the word as applied to the place where the business of the town was done publicly, or the people met "face to face", in each others' presence. This being the locality where, as we have already stated, the people from the extremes of the town sometimes met for the consideration of questions of common interest, the suspicion appears well founded that the character of the meeting place suggested the name.

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