Early Years in Medford. Start With Railroad Station

Footnotes to Long Island History

NOV. 2, 1967 


Thomas R. Bayles

        When the railroad was opened through Medford to Greenport in 1844 there was no settlement in Medford, and reason for locating a station at this point was that it was half way between Patchogue and Port Jefferson, and these villages had no rail service at that time. The railroad was opened to Patchogue in 1868 and to Port  Jefferson in 1872, so until that time stage coaches met the trains at Medford for the north and south side villages and carried the mail and passengers.  Chauncey Chichester of Center Moriches carried the mail for several years which consisted of one locked pouch which was unlocked at Patchogue, and mail for that village removed, then it was locked again and on throughout the villages of Bellport Fireplace (Brookhaven), and so on to Moriches.

       The first railroad station had living quarters for the agent as there was no house in Medford to live in. This consisted of one large room and an attic which was added to through the years by the station agents who lived there, mostly by Edward Wright who was station agent for 23 years.

        The object of building the railroad through the "Pine Barrens" of central Long Island was the most direct route to Greenport and the proposed route to Boston. The Boston trains as they were called carried passengers from New York to Greenport, then steamer to Stonington, Conn.,. and then the Old Colony railroad to Boston This was very profitable route for a few years until the New Haven railroad was built on the north side of Long Island sound to Boston.

       There was not much settlement in Medford until about 1900, when the O.L. Schwenke land company started a development and sold small tracts of land to many German born people in the city who began to settle in Medford many if them starting small poultry farms.

       In 1896 an 8 acre tract was purchased by Jacob Beck who cleared his little farm and built a house which he and his family occupied. Up to 1904 the residents of Medford consisted of Jacob beck, E. C. Wright  A. Knight  Frank Hollman,  George Erhardt, Theodore Bepp, Jacob Jansen, Peter Hoffman, A. Lohtz, George Reich Sr.,  .F. Poehtsch John froese, C. Sauerwald, Emil Happach, Fred Brinks August Hoeffler, "Texas Jack Pachmann and John Vate.

        A school district was formed in 1903 by the order of commissioner M.H. Packer and George Gerhard, Jacob Beck, and John H. Wright were elected trustees. School opened in October of that year with miss Jennile O. Walker as the first teacher in small private house north of Medford station with 14 pupils. Later in the year a school house was built on a site at the intersection of Peconic avenue and New Medford avenue at a cost of
$600. Medford became a Union Free School in 1921 and in 1923 the new school building was erected at a cost of $32,000 which was designed by Edward Rose Sr., a resident of Medford. Four years its dedication on Labor Day, 1923, it was over crowed and one class was placed in the old school house. One of the earlier trustees who spent much energy for the welfare of the school was Peter Hoffman.

       Albert Knight opened the first grocery and general store about 1902 and there were two hotels, one owned by Frank Hollman on the south side of the railroad and one owned by George Erhardt on the north side.

      A post office was opened in 1886 with George Birdsall as postmaster Joseph Gilbert was postmaster, in 1888, William Case in 1902, then Frank Hollmann 1907 until 1918. Albert knight was the postmaster that year followed by George J. Roberts until 1924, and then R. D. Rider fro several years.

      One historian described Medford in 1875 as having a railroad station and one house. Quite a contrast to the present large and growing village.

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