The Yaphank Presbyterian Church

Footnotes to Long Island History

The Yaphank Presbyterian Church

Thomas R. Bayles



Yaphank was called Millville in the early years on account of several mills located on the Connecticut River, or Carman's River, as it is now known. The Indian name Yaphank, was given to the locality in 1845, when a post office was first established here with Robert H. Gerard as postmaster.

 The people in this settlement attended church at the Middle Island Presbyterian church, which was built in 1766 under the leadership of the Rev. David Rose, who was pastor of the South Haven church. He continued as pastor of the two churches until his death in 1799 and Millville, or Yaphank, was known as the "River District" of the parish of the Middle Island church.

 "Priest Rose," as he was called, was an interesting figure as he covered his large parishes on horseback, and combined the three most prized functions of that day, preacher, doctor and teacher. He also conducted a farm at his home in South Haven, and the ear marks of his cattle are recorded in the town clerk's office at Patchogue. He was also active in the revolution and served in the army under Col. Josiah Smith, and fought in the battle of Long Island in Brooklyn in August 1776.

 A "monthly concert" was held in the "River District" ( Yaphank, in 1841) and as the settlement grew the need for a church nearer than Middle Island was felt, so in 1851, two subscription lists were circulated and $1,100 raised towards a building fund. Six trustees were elected and one acre of ground was purchased for $50 from James H. Weeks on March 31, 1851. Soon after, a contract was executed with Charles Woodhull of Sayville to build the church building for $1,066 and this church is still in use.

 The new church was dedicated on Christmas day in 1851 byte Rev. Ezra King, a former pastor of the Middle Island and South Haven churches from 1810 to 1844 and the Rev. Winthrop Bailey, pastor of the Middle Island church at that time.

 The new church was governed by the session of the Middle Island church, with a separate board of trustees. Services were held every other Sunday afternoon by the minister from Middle Island.

 In the early part of 1871 a movement was started to have the Yaphank church organized as a separate church, and this was done October 18, 1871, by the Long Island Presbytery. Sixty members of the Middle Island church formed the newly organized Yaphank church.

 The two churches have been served by the same pastors for much of the time through the years, although the Yaphank church has had a separate pastor some of the time.

 An item of interest during the Civil War is a letter dated August 5, 1863, to Mrs. William Sidney Smith of Longwood, (north of Yaphank) from the Woman's Relief Association, a branch of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which was the forerunner of the American Red Cross. This letter thanked the ladies of Yaphank and Middle Island for supplies sent, and we quote a part. "The fruit jellies etc. will be particularly acceptable now that the severe heat of the weather must so greatly augment the suffering of our wounded soldiers, who truly claim all the aid and sympathy we can give them while they pay the penalty of their bravery in our behalf."

 The 100 anniversary service of the building of the church was held in church on December 23, 1951, and among those present was the mother of the writer, Mrs. Richard M. Bayles, who was a granddaughter of the Rev. Ezra King, who conducted the dedication service 100 years before.

 Many improvements have been made in the church during recent years and the adjoining manse has been completely remodeled inside.

 At the present time the church is active and growing under the leadership of the Rev. Ricard Ploth, the pastor.        

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