South Haven’s Early Years

Footnotes to Long Island History


      South Haven’s Early Years



Thomas R. Bayles


       We have seen in a previous article how the early settlers came over from the north side to the area around Mastic for fishing and oystering in the bay, also for whale fishing, so it was natural that a settlement was made on the south side of the town near the source of this valuable oil , bone and fish.

      There was also another interest that attracted men here.  It was the making of tar and turpentine from the sap of the pine trees in this vicinity.  “Tar-men’s Neck” was the name applied to a section near Beaver Dam Creek just east of the Presbyterian chapel in Brookhaven village, where this activity was particularly brisk.  It was carried on from and early date, and became so extensive by 1715 that the town ordered a tax of a “bit,” or one shilling, on every barrel of tar produced, and 20 shillings on every barrel of turpentine distilled.

      The gathering of hay. Whaling, fishing and the manufacture of tar and turpentine naturally led to the formation of the well beaten Old Town Road, from Setauket across the Island to Fire Place on the south side.  This is the oldest cross-island road in the town and was probably cut through about 1665, soon after the “Old Purchase” was made and possibly followed an old Indian trail.  This old thoroughfare, to which many references are made in the town records, was known variously as “Road to South,” “South path,” :Road to Fire Place,” “Town Road,” and more recently as “Old Town Road.”

      The first white settler of this area which was then known as Fire Place, (now Brookhaven Village) was probably Thomas Rose, a weaver and farmer, according to Osborn Shaw, town historian Jonathan Rose, a brother, was the earliest settler of Bellport, to be west.  The father of these two men was probably Robert

Rose, who was taken in as a townsman of Brookhaven on December 17, 1669.  Then came other settlers, members of the Hulse and Hawkins and Brewster families of Setauket.

      In 1680, the people agreed that Samuel Terrell of Easthampton could come to Setauket and work at his trade as blacksmith and the town gave him 20 acres of land as an inducement, as blacksmiths were in great demand in colonial days.  He was given this land on condition he remain at least three years, and he stayed just long enough to qualify for this land, for on December 1, 1683 he sold his lots, house and shop to Robert Goulsberry, from whom he bought a tract of land in the eastern part of what is now Bellport.

      His next purchase was made five years later in 1688, when he purchased a tract of land known as “Yaphank Neck” from an Unkechaug Indian who called himself “Wopchege” (alias porridge.)  His nickname, no doubt, was due to his fondness for samp, a dish made of cooked, soaked ground corn and fat pork, native to Long Island, which to the settlers was just “porridge.”  Wopchege gave added strength to his deed by adding that he had put Samuel Terrell :into peaceable and quiet possession of all” by giving him a twig, a piece of turf, and some silver money, in addition to his mark and seal of the deed.

       Yamphank Neck was a tract of land lying between the Connecticut or Carman’s River and Yamphank River (now Barteau’s creek).

      Other villages were springing up in different parts of the town but South Haven still remained the largest settlement in Brookhaven town, aside from the original one at Setauket, and so continued until after the Revolution

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