Riverhead Village in 1907

Footnotes to Long Island History

Riverhead Village in 1907

Thomas R. Bayles



The following paragraphs are quoted from an article about the village of Riverhead published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle October 26, 1907.
"Although Riverhead is not a manufacturing town in the literal meaning of the term, it is a wide awake, growing village, and no one who hails from Riverhead ever fails to manifest a proper pride in his home town.
"The village lies seventy four miles from Brooklyn on the main line of the Long Island Railroad, about two miles from the extreme west end of the Peconic river. This river, which is not an imposing sheet of water produces health and recreation to many owners of small pleasure launches, crabbing parties and fishermen.
"From dawn to dark in the good old summer time, the river is alive with pleasure parties headed down bay. Then there are a number of men living near the river, who make their living by fishing and scalloping. Taking it altogether the river is an important feature of Riverhead.
"Coupled with the rural simplicity that enables peace and quietness to prevail for those who will, there are enjoyed also the modern conveniences of electric lights, sewers, public water system, fire protection banks, hard surfaced roads, modern stores, churches and school mills that do a considerable business.
"History states that John Tucker lived here in 1665, and he Joseph Herton established a fuling and saw mill. In 1693 John Wick was granted the use of a stream called Little River, on condition that he set up a fuling mill and "ful" cloth for Southampton and SOuthold towns.
"Two years later these rights were granted to John Parker, who in 1713 built a home just out of the heart of the village, which is still standing and is the home of Sylvester H. Woodhull. In 1828 John Perkins began making cloth at Upper Mills.
"Riverhead has been the county seat of Suffolk since an act was passed in 1727 to build a "county house and prison" and Riverhead was chosen as the most suitable place, and the first court house and jail on Main street is now occupied by Perkins & Co.
"The grounds of the Suffolk County Agricultural Society are here and annual fair is a big event for the inhabitants of the whole county. The old building of the Suffolk County Historical Society is located here, and Rev. William I Chalmers is the curator. Priceless treasures are stored in this old building and they have been carefully listed so that anyone may look them over.
Riverhead has more societies than one would believe could exist, and there are at least thirteen secret societies, and several Polish organizations. Beginning with the Masonic lodge, established in 1868, the list runs down through the Old Fellows, the Royal Arcanum, the American Mechanics, Red Men, G A R Post, Sons of Veterans, Ladies Aid Society, Foresters Knights of Columbus, Eastern Star, Woodmen, etc.
"Then there are church societies, euchre and whist clubs without number, dances are frequent, and plays by local talent draw big houses. There is a good brass band under the direction of J Fred Hallett, and also Polish brass band.
"There are three amusement halls and the Riverhead Lecture Association is one of the foremost of its kind in the county, giving expensive lectures and concerts during the winter months, which are attended by an average of 600 people. The Pot & Kettle Club is an exclusive organization which meets in the little clubhouse on Peconic river, where many fine dinners are served every month in a simple but generous style.   

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