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English Pages 242
In America the streets were paved with gold. That was the mistaken notion of many an immigrant to the United States in t
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Introduction to Easter Island -- Roggeveen's misfortune -- Viceroy names the Island: San Carlos -- Captain Cook
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The Island of Desire (1944) by Robert Dean Frisbie, a writer of autobiographical travel novels about South Pacific, tell
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LD3907 . E3 Herre, Henry Curtis, 19051942 Cclonial Long island; a collection of .H4 historical facts and folk material of early Long island... New Yoik *194£3 3p. 1. ,>:i,222 typewritten lea-ves . illus. 29cm. Pinal document (Ed.D.) - Uew York university, School of education, 1942. "Sources of information and "bibliography'1 : p.c220=-222. A394SO Shelf List
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COLONIAL LONG ISLAND A Collection of Historical Pacts and Polk Material of Early Long Island
H» CURTIS BERGE
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education In the School of Education of New York University.
Some pages may have indistinct print. Filmed as received.
University Microfilms, A Xerox Education Company
"Ever since Europeans began to settle on this continent, Long Island has been a sort of front door-step. "Prom the seventeenth century on men found Its climate good and its location usefulj sailors, fishermen, boat builders and, traders succeeded one another along its coastline; dissidents from the religious camps of Massachusetts arid Rhode Island settled on it; pa triots, preachers, painters and poets made it their stamping ground. Prom Nathan Hale to Theodore Roosevelt, from James Penimore Cooper to Walt Whitman, from George Fox to Henry Ward Beecher, from Captain Kida to Prank Buck there's a galaxy of famous men to hold your attention."
•••Harry Hansen, Literary Editor of the fl» Y. World-Telegram.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction
. . .i
I. II. III.
Our Indian Predecessors. . . . . . . . Indian Legends
Colonial Life, Customs, and Folklore .44 A. Dutch Home Life B. English Colonial Life C. Folktales from Long Island Child Life In Colonial Days
A. Colonial Schools B. Amusements V.
Family Customs A. Christenings B. Marriages C. Funerals P. Epitaphs
Colonial Courts and Justice. „ • • • 112
Watermills and Windmills • • • • . . 116
Gentlemen of Fortune 129 A. Captain Kidd B. Teunis Van Gelder C. Popular Ballad on "Robert Kidd" D. Pieces of Eight The Whaling Industry on Long Island. 155 A. Excerpts from "Long Island Whaling" B. Whaling Legends and Ballads
X. XI. XII.
Tidewater Humor. A. South Shore Whoppers B. North Shore Whoppers Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
INTRODUCTION To most people, the term "folklore" immediately suggests ballads, weird tales, and legends of tribes or races that have ceased to exist; and for many the sea chanties of the Norse explorers, the tribal rites of our American aborigines, and the religious beliefs of the Pygmies of the Malay Archipelago are folk material worth reading or studying.
Few people realize that right here
on Long Island, the bedroom of the greatest metropolis on earth, there was a fusion of three cultures - Indian, Dutch, and English - the vestiges of which can still be traced in our twentieth century attitudes, customs, and beliefs. As a life-long resident of Long Island, I came to realize several years ago that an opportunity existed for one to collect local folklore material.
By virtue of
having lived in the manse of an old Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn, I acquired a deep-rooted interest in local antiquities even as a boy.
Unconsciously I absorbed much
of the historical background arid ecclesiastical history that was constantly being rehearsed.
At times I wondered
whether my parents and the members of the church thought more of the past than they did of the present; but I, too
developed an appreciation for the charm of the Colonial period*
Later, I was again fortunate to reside in the
parsonage of the old Dutch Ref owned Church at College Point on the North Shore.
There again, I was steeped In
the lore of the early Long Island settlers. When I became a teacher of English and of social studies in the Port Washington Junior High School In 1928, I made the acquaintance of Miss Charlotte Merriman, Principal of the Main Street School and author of the stimulating volume, "Tales from Slnt Sink"i
It was Miss
Merriman who collected Indian stories of that community, Cow Bay, and who wrote them In such an attractive style that students in her school were eager to read them*
I say that her volume made me realize the possibilities that were available for one who would collect folk material for all of Long Island and the need for such material in the class room? As an instructor of junior and senior high school English, as the principal of the elementary school In Bayvllle, and as the supervising principal of the Bellmore Schools, I have been constantly on the alert for new stories,.: superstitions, beliefs, customs, and legends that were related to Long Island in the period before the American Revolution. Having lived in several Long Island communities, I have had numerous opportunities to meet many old natives who have weathered the transition In the island's development and who possess rich stores of local legends and 11
Many of these I recorded and filed away for
future use* Three years ago, I was happy to make the acquaintance of Miss Jacqueline Overton, who Is the author of the very popular history, "Long Island's Story", and who is also the chief librarian at the Robert Bacon Memorial Children's Library at Westbury, Long Ialand*
Gradually, Miss Overton
has succeeded in building a very unusual collection of Long Island antiquities as a reference section in the library. At present she has upward of two hundred rare volumes, first editions, private printings, and files of newspaper clippings of Long Island History.
I was fortunate In being able to
use this collection on numerous occasions*
was most gracious in assisting me to locate certain volumes that contained worthwhile material and also permitted me to use her manuscript on "Long Island Indians" which she syndicated several years ago*
It was through Miss Overton's
suggestion that I spent a week at the Morton Pennypacker Collection at the East Hampton Library, which contains the best source material In this field* Miss Overton's advice to meet Mr. Morton Pennypacker proved most valuable to me*
Since my visit to the East
Hampton Public Library, I feel under special obligation to Mr. Pennypacker*
In his priceless collection, I found much
of the material Incorporated in the following chapters* Mr* Pennypacker's kindly advice and timely suggestions In
selecting materials saved many needless hours of research* To William Golder, a Ballmore druggist, a note of thanks is Inadequate; Indeed, his long standing hobby in collecting Indian folk material and archeological remains was the stimulus needed to study Indian culture more deeply* In this connection, I feel it is fitting to mention that permission was granted me to use two chapters from "Indian LJfe of Long Ago in the City of New York" by Ivy Bolton, a daughter of the author, the late Reginald Pelham Bolton, with this notation:
"I know it would have pleased
my father to have it used in this way for he had such a special love for children*"
Mr. Bolton's book, in my
opinion, Is the best that can be found on Indian life of this region.
It was for this reason that I Incorporated
two chapters in this collection* Mr. Paul Bailey, publisher-editor of "The Long Ialand Forum", probably more than any other man, Is responsible for popularizing Long Island history and folklore*
indebted to Mr* Bailey for permission to use several articles which appeared in various issues of his publication. It is my belief that the stories seleoted represent the best that can be found and I have therefore used them verbatim. One of the most thrilling afternoons that I have spent In collecting material for this volume was the time I visited the late Honorable Judge Harry Ludlum of Mill Neck. Although I recorded several of his legends and stories which I used,
I was particularly pleased to have his permission to print the address he gave at the dedication of a memorial window bo Robert Feekes, his lineal ancestor, in the Baptist-Church in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
His address, slightly abridged,
i's used here for the section on English Colonial Life. I am particularly fortunate in having a neighbor who has made a life hobby in collecting Long Island folktales and who has published several very delightful and informal books.
Mr. Birdsall Jackson of Wantagh has been called
Long Island's James whitcomb Riley.
His "Pipe Dreams and
Twilight Tales", "Stories of Old Long Island", and "How They Lived" bubble with humor.
Mr. Jackson is extremely inter-
ested in my attempt to bring to school children the folk materials of our Colonial Period and I am appreciative of his fatherly advice and counsel.
In the chapter on Tall
Tales, I am using some of Mr. Jackson's South Shore Whoppers. Mr. Albert Flower, who holds the enviable record of being the President of the Board of Education in Bayville for thirty-five consecutive years, is also my benefactor. Few know the history of the North Shore so well as he.
found it a pleasure to hear his many stories and to be permitted to use a few in the chapter on Tall Tales. At this point, I want to acknowledge the generous' assistance, the scholarly advice, and the constant inspiration I received from Dr. Walter Barnes, Professor of Education at New York University and chairman of my v.
No one could have been more p a t i e n t
nor more c o n s i s t e n t l y objective than he*
To the other
members of my Sponsoring Committee, Professor Howard R* Driggs, Professor Hughes Mearns, and Professor E a r l R* Gabler, I am more than g r a t e f u l f o r t h e i r c o l l e c t i v e i n t e r e s t , and guidance* I t would be u n f o r t u n a t e , t o say the l e a s t , i f mention were not made of the many p a r e n t s , co-workers, and former students who have contributed t o t h i s collection* At t h e back of t h i s volume, a complete bibliography i s given of the source m a t e r i a l s I have used; and, In add i t i o n , an appendix I s provided which l i s t s the sources f o r p a r t i c u l a r s t o r i e s , legends, sayings, etc*
This i s done so
t h a t students who become i n t e r e s t e d in t h i s f i e l d may f i n d not only the o r i g i n a l m a t e r i a l but may also be i n s p i r e d t o read a d d i t i o n a l and enjoyable s t o r i e s which cannot be I n corporated here because of space l i m i t a t i o n s * In conclusion, i t i s r i g h t to p o i n t out t h a t Long I s land i s r i c h In legendary sources which a r e untapped*
dents who develop a love f o r a n t i q u i t i e s w i l l find g r e a t joy i n discovering the p o s s i b i l i t i e s t h a t l i e In c o l l e c t i n g b a l l a d s , proverbs, murder t a l e s , sea chanties and f i s h i n g stories*
Very l i t t l e has been done In t h i s f i e l d on Long
I t i s p o s s i b l e t o make a l i f e hobby and a c q u i r e
great q u a n t i t i e s of m a t e r i a l from every small l o c a l i t y * I t i s with the hope t h a t some few may be stimulated t o vl
"follow s u i t " and l e a r n t o know the fun In what Emerson c a l l s , "the c a t l i k e love of g a r r e t s , p r e s s e s , and cornchambers, and of the conveniences of long housekeeping" t h a t I p r e s e n t the c o l l e c t i o n - Incomplete as I t Is*
PREFACE To Long Island Boys and Girls Who Read Thl3 Book -*-::-*
If you are In your early teens, you are like other boys and girls your age. You are naturally curious; everything intrigues you*
For you to ask questions Is as natural
as it Is for you to eat. Probably this is why the social studies program for New York State is constructed In the manner it Is* When you were small you were mainly concerned with things you could see*
Down in the primary
grades you were Interested in your immediate environment your home, your school, and your community*
you grew older, you broadened your horizon until now in the seventh grade you not only have a concept of type communities throughout the world but you are also discovering the answers to many of your own questions about New York State and particularly about Long Island where you live* It may be your curiosity is not yet satisfied for in studying the history of Long Island and its present governmental organization you are learning of events, people, and records*
You may want to know more of the exciting story
of Colonial Long Island - what people did to amuse themselves in the Dutch settlements, how an Indian girl became engaged, what the English boys and girls did at Christmas vlli
time, whether Captain Kidd buried gold in sand dunes, and why wine was served at funerals*
In reading this book you
will come to realize that we have Inherited much from the three distinct cultures, Indian, Dutch, and English, which became fused after we became a nation* This collection contains many stories, legends, customs* beliefs, superstitions and references to historical events of the Colonial period of Long Island,
and our mode of living have changed but our human behavior with our dread of the unknown is deep-rooted* Many of us think the days of superstitions axe past* Such a supposition is purely imaginary*
Our Indian prede-
cessors were very superstitious; so were the white settlers. One needs but visit the Long Island Belmont or Aqueduct Race Tracks in the racing season to see how men and women in all walks of life are subject to this human weakness. The following is an excerpt that clearly illustrates the point: "Some believe that they are more successful in picking the right horse, if they wear some particular article of dress - a certain scarf pin or an umbrella.
'plunger* who has made a fortune of $16,000. on a single race, pins his luck Into his scarf, in the shape of a small gold horseshoe, and would not part with It for any money ... A celebrated pugilist, who turned his attention to the turf, firmly believed in the wonderful winning powers of an old blue serge coat, contrasting strangely with his tasty
A hunchback I s b e l i e v e d t o possess p e c u l i a r
q u a l i t i e s , and many derive a comfortable income from t h e p r i v i l e g e accorded t o gamblers of rubbing t h e i r s h o u l d e r s , a t twenty-five c e n t s apiece*
Every follower of t h e races
firmly b e l i e v e s i n 'Jonah' and there Is always a considerable amount of dodging to avoid an encounter w i t h 1 anyone looked upon a s such*" One of the most famous spots t h a t i l l u s t r a t e s how man has become subjected t o s u p e r s t i t i o n i s Block I s l a n d , a small i s l a n d adjacent t o Long Island*
t o t h e v i l l a g e r s , can b e seen p e r i o d i c a l l y the ghost of phantom ships which were burned or wrecked along the shore in years gone by,
The famous p o e t , John Greenleaf W h l t t l e r ,
describes " t h e t e r r i b l e ghost of P a l a t i n e " i n h i s "Tent on the Beach".
I t i s said t h a t n a t i v e s of Block I s l a n d have
acted i n a mysterious manner on the occasions when t h e ghost ship has been s i g h t e d and i t i s claimed t h a t t h e r e have been v i s i t a t i o n s of the Holy S p i r i t * If you as a student in a seventh grade s o c i a l s t u d i e s c l a s s were assigned t h e t a s k of c o l l e c t i n g Long I s l a n d f o l k t a l e s and f o l k l o r e , you would soon become so absorbed i n your assignment t h a t l i t t l e time would be l e f t f o r the regul a r work*
To a s s i s t you students in your attempt to gain a
f u l l e r p i c t u r e of l i f e and of events on Long I s l a n d i n the
1* The I n t e r n a t i o n a l Cyclopedia, Vol* XIV, p . 99, a r t i c l e on S u p e r s t i t i o n * x
Colonial period just preceding the American Revolution this collection is presented.
It is not to be considered
conclusive or final; but it Is compiled with the hope that eventually a much larger collection will be made and that you may become better acquainted with the folk material and history of your native soil*
CHAPTER I OUR INDIAN PREDECESSORS Origin The Algonquin Indians are believed to have come from Asia by way of Bering Strait and to have traveled eastward until they reached the Atlantic Ocean.
Before the advent
of the white man, the Algonquins had spread out and had occupied the land from Labrador to North Carolina,
were the ancestors of the Long Island Indians, thirteen small tribes that were scattered the length and breadth of the island domain. or sachem;
Each tribe had its own name and chief,
each had its own territory.
A trail or a stream,
a few stones in a pile, a hill or a large oak tree marked the bounds of a territory, and no neighboring tribe passed over that boundary to hunt or fish.
This was the un-
written law of the Long Island Red man; and, if the white man had been as careful to respect this law, little trouble would have occurred during the period of colonisation. Long Island Indian Tribes The Canarsie tribe occupied that part of Long Island which later became Brooklyn and part of Jamaica.
is now Queens County and a part of Nassau County, lived the Rockaways, the Meracockes, and the Massapeques. on the North Shore lived the Matlnecocks.
On the east end
of the island lived the Nissaquogues, Setaukets, Corchaugs,
2 Secatogues, Shinecocs, Patchogues, and Montauks.
on Shelter Island, Ram Island, and Hog Island lived the Manhasets*
The Montauks, the largest of the Long Island
tribes, Inhabited the east point and Gardiner's Island* Sachems Although each tribe had its sachem or chief, the sachem of the Montauks was chief of all the tribes. "Grand Sachem of Paumanacke" was his high sounding title* Paumanacke was the Indian name for Long Island. Legends are told about a few of these sachems.
Mongotaoksee, once chief of the Montauks, a giant in size, dug a canal from Shlnnecock Bay to Peconlc Bay so that canoes might pass through*
The canal is deep and wide to-
day, wide enough for good sized cabin cruisers, but the name "Canoe Place" still remains; and legend says that the
winds blow over the sand dunes and scrub oaks of eastern 1 Long Island still sing the praises of the giant sachem* Skills and Activities The Indian men, who were slender, graceful, and of medium height, spent their time doing other things than manufacturing wampum*
They hunted deer, which were
1* Although the construction of the Shlnnecock Canal actually started In 1885, Martha Bocke Flint, a Long Island historian, In a book published in 1896, expressed an opinion that the Indians either had, or attempted to have, a canal at this place hundreds of years ago. Pyle, Edward Frederick, The Shlnnecock Canal, Long Island Forum, October, 1939, p. 5
they trapped foxes, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels,
They also fished for cod and sturgeon in the
deep waters adjacent to the island, and they were known to have been very skillful in whaling. clams, and scallops.
They gathered oysters,
Their watermanship was famed;
soon as the English discovered the uses of whale oil, the braves were prized along the South Shore as crewmen and harpooner3. During winter months, the men of the various tribes spent long hours making, resharpening, and polishing tools. They made grooved axes for their wives'' use and adzes for garden work.
The more creative designed bannerstones and
gorgets for personal adornment.
They also manufactured
many things from bones - needles from deer ribs, awls from bird or deer bones, and fish hooks cut with flint knives from flat bone slabs.
Antlers were worked into arrowpolnts,
chisels, and punches.
Fishing nets were hand made, and
notched stones were used as sinkers in bottom fishing. These varied activities of the braves contradict the general belief that Indians on Long Island were shiftless or lazy. work. tobacco.
On the contrary, the men and women shared the day's The squaws planted maize, beans, squash, and some They also dressed skins with stone scrapers
and sewed them with sinews through holes made with bone awls. The women made moccasins, fur capes for winter, and buskins, which were the high shoes that Indians wore in the cold weather.
It is doubtlessly true that the Long Island
4 Indians were not as artistic as the Indians of the Middle and far West*
Museum pieces show that our local Indians
made some pottery, which they decorated either with Impressions from scallop shells or with their thumb nails* They also spent some time In weaving or in gathering hickory nuts, acorns, roots, and berries for food* Beautiful blankets, pottery and beadwork were made by the Indians of the West and North, but the Long Island Indians excelled In making only one thing - wampum* Sewan or Wampum Industry Paumanacke was rich In Its supply of quehaug and periwinkle shells. Little wonder then that the Indians found use for the beautiful shells that lined the beaches. At first, our Indian predecessors used sewan, as it was also called, as a medium for passing on information, for recording deeds and treaties, and for personal adornment* Gradually, It became a precious medium of exchange both to Indians and the white men in a land where there was no gold or silver and where furs were not always plentiful* Wampum became so precious after the arrival of the white man that its value was regulated by law*
In other areas manufactured 3ome sewan, nowhere was it made in such quantities as on Long Island*
Remains of great
shell heaps may still be found in parts of the island and many a boy has dug energetically, hoping to find flint arrow heads or stone axes.
5 Skill was needed to turn clam shells into wampum with the Indians' crude tools.
Shells were clipped to a certain
size, a hole was drilled through the middle and then the shells were rubbed smooth upon a large stone.
then strung together with sinews of small animals;
white and black sometimes were interwoven and made into belts.
The black and purple shells were the most valuable.
A black shell bead, about the size of a pea in diameter and one third of an inch long, bored longitudinally and highly polished, was the gold of the Indians.
Indian maidens and
squaws bedecked themselves with wampum ornaments.
and girdles were made of it; and it was used for head bands, for bracelets, necklaces and links to hang in the ears. Early Dutch and English settlers bartered for sewan with their European made knives, combs, scissors, needles, awls, looking glasses, hatchets, hoes, guns, black cloth, and, until laws prohibited it, rum and whiskey.
With the ac-
quired sewan, the whites bought furs, corn, and venison from the Indians further inland, who in turn bought like articles from tribes living in the interior of the country. Wampum, in the form of belts, was sent with messages and was preserved as tribal records of important transactions between Indian nations.
If a message were sent
without such a belt, it was considered an empty word, unworthy of remembrance.
If the belt were returned, it
signified the message was not acceptable.
6 It is fitting to mention that with the rise to power of the Iroquois Indians, our Long Island Indians, who were of Alconquin stock and believed to be related to the Delawares, were subjugated.
Their status became one of servitude*
The braves of the Iroquois nations had little time and no materials for making wampum, so, at stated intervals, the Long Island Indians were made to deliver certain quantities of wampum as tribute to their conquerors. This was promptly paid because Long Island Indians feared their fierce and powerful neighbors.
Once in 1635 the wampum tax was held
back through mistaken advice of the Dutch, and the Iroquois promptly took revenge. The warriors from the north attacked the surprised Indians of the island, swept east through tribe after tribe, doing great havoc* tribe was almost entirely destroyed.
The Dutch, who were
largely responsible for the incident, thereafter acted as agents and were very careful to see that the wampum was paid regularly. Gradually, as wampum gained wider circulation among Indian tribes, it was used to confirm alliances, seal friendships, cement peace, and ratify treaties. Tribal conflicts, family quarrels, and even murder were often forgotten if wampum were used in payment for the absolution*
An Indian maiden's dowery consisted largely of
wampum, and the greater the amount, the more furtunate the brave who won her. With all these demands for wampum, it is little
7 wonder that the Long Island Indians became the bankers of the Indian nations. It Is not difficult, therefore, for us to understand why the cockleshell was as valuable to the Long Island Indian as gold and silver are to us. Family Life One of the most delightful and authorative treatments of the Long Island Indians was written b y the late Reginald P. Bolton, who made a life study and wrote a book called, "Indian Life of Long Ago In the City of New York"*
better description of Indian family life and customs can be found anywhere, " ••• All our American Indians have had some fixed practices, and one of them has always been to swaddle an infant on a board, and thus cause it to grow straight and upright.
In this situation it did not lack attention or
care, but was always close to its mother, while it hampered her actions very little*
Children grew up inured to priva-
tion and used to stern control* control.
They were trained to self
One old writer says they were 'as great as if they
had neither spleen or lungs,' Their voices were subdued and well controlled. Very young children were dipped into cold water of a river to harden them, perhaps also to wash them* "The little ones played around much as other children do; they threw stones, fought each other and warestled together*
We have found fragments of tiny earthenware vessels,
which may have been made for little girls to use in play at house-keeping*
Some of the blunt arrow-points unearthed are
8 possibly those with which little boys practiced shooting at a mark, at which they became very expert, a child of seven years of age being able to shoot a bird on the wing* It may be that some of the little stone blades we find were toy knives with which they pretended to kill or scalp their imaginary enemies. "Children were taught to swim like ducks. The method was similar to an animal pawing Its way through water, cutting the liquid with the right shoulder. The children learned to catch fish with their hands by cautiously feeling under the stones where the fish hide*
We may be sure
that they were expert In hunting birds' nests, "They learned the ways of nature..• they were taught to know the trees, the plants, the wild fruits, wild animals and their ways, birds and their habits* insects and their doings* "A boy was expected to learn the cry of wild creatures, to imitate the call of the wild turkey, the quack of the duck, and the honk of the goose*
He had to be trained in
the use of the various weapons of the chase, the dagger, the spear, the scalping knife, and to make and sharpen all the Implements of which he tnade use*
Besides this, the
children had to learn the language, the beliefs and the social customs of the tribe*
When a native was grown up,
he had learned all these things, and had become astonishingly familiar with the details of nature*
There is a story
told of the amusements of some natives when a white settler
9 admitted that he could not tell the difference between the patter of a dog's feet or the walk of a wolf, which the Indian easily recognized* "The domestic life of our natives probably included many of the games which have been found in use among their kindred and their descendants.
Indoor amusements included
guessing where an object was hidden under a row of mocassins, outdoor sports comprised a form of football, a game of skill in winter In which sticks were skidded over an icy or snowy surface, and trials of skill with bow and arrow, or competitions in throwing spears* "Another game was played with a number of small sticks, and a favorite gamble was played with fine small bones, which were colored partly black, "Outdoor sports included a sort of football on any level surface, while the boys and women looked on, sang songs and danced* "Some rattles were made of tortoise or turtle shells, of which one was found at Pe.lham Bay Park. These may have been for the amusement of babies or for use in ceremonies or dances. Our Indians seem to have been devoted to their children.
In a child's grave at Tottenville there was a
collection of objects which must have had considerable value to those who had lost the child.
A child's skeleton at
Throg's Neck was found under a mass of shells, but the head had been carefully protected between large stones, and above the grave a pottery vessel of most unusual form and
10 beauty had been smashed to pieces, perhaps by the disconsolate mother, "Harrington found from these Indians' descendants that the children inherited from their mother their nationality or membership In a clan or chieftaincy. "The boy became a member of an order or brotherhood by means of any vision or dream which would connect him in some way with t'ae order. "Boys at a certain age were usually turned out of their homes to make their way through the wild woods, until they became somewhat used to woodland life. Then they were made to stay in the forest for several days entirely dependent upon their own exertions for food and shelter.
situation it might be considered natural for a youth to spend some troubled nights, surrounded by the wild creatures who shared with him the place of his rest. And it was natural that his waking impressions or dreams took form, or were connected with some creature or its doings. "Such a dream would constitute, upon his return to his home, a communication from the spirit domiciled in the object of the dream, granting to the boy a special relation to the subject of the dream, and enduing him with spiritual support throughout his future career. "Girls received less opportunities of that nature, and were accorded less consideration.
Their instruction was
concerned with the manifold duties of a household; they had to learn to cook, to clean skins, to prepare clothing, to
11 do sewing, to care for the babies, and to carry on agricultural work. Marriage Customs "...Young people married at what we should consider an immature age, a girl being considered to be in marriageable condition at fifteen years of age, and a young man at. seventeen or eighteen. "A match was not particularly romantic.
The girl was
supposed to announce her willingness to become a bride by some adornment, such as a crown of shells or a mantle of feathers placed on her head. "It is related that some girls would wrap themselves in furs and finery and sit thus covered in the middle of the way, where a passing suitor or unattached bachelor might take notice of her. tantes today.
We observe the same practice with debu-
Sometimes the Indian maidens placed ornaments of
shell-beads across the forehead, and wound round their necks a necklace, on the arm a bracelet, and sometimes they strung beads around their naked waists.
In their hair
they tied a stone ornament, made of a thin slab of stone or slate, in which two holes were bored.
These stone are
sometimes styled by collectors, 'amulets', and they may have been regarded as token or bearers of good fortune.
case they were highly prized. "A suitor being thus informed, decided upon and selected his mate, visited her home, and made a formal present to her parents.
If the presents were accepted the parents
12 consent was indicated, and the visitor walked off with his bride* "The marrlage-tle does not seem to have been particularly binding, and the couple sometimes separated, the children then being taken by the woman. "Regarding the woman's duties In the household and the community, we may find that they were not unnecessarily onerous, "Work had to be done, and the division of necessary tasks between men and women was probably quite as much a matter of convenience or convention as our our household customs of today. "The woman controlled the home, and it is probable that she was regarded as the owner of the dwelling*
The man had
a definite share in the duties of domestic existence*
regarded as the protector of the home, and was expected to be ready and to be in proper condition at all times to ward off enemies, to drive away wild beasts, to kill off rodents, to hunt for the supply of meat or to gather in fish food, to prepare the materials for trade, to undertake long journeys for that purpose, and to make and to maintain the weapons and tools he used, besides the simple implements which were used by the family.
This division left to the woman the household tasks,
which have been and still are to a great extent the accepted duties of womankind, and with the added work of cultivation of the field, her life was much the same as that of women, in many other countries. Such habits and methods were crude, but
13 were formed upon definite plans, and sometimes with a 1 practical purpose*" Sports and Amusements The Indians were not stolid, grim or morose*
they were racially emotional and had a lively, not delicate sense of humor*
They played and enjoyed oompetitve games
in which they could gamble. When they played football, they hung their weapons in trees out of reach lest In the heat of the contest they should lose their tempers* The Indians found time for gaiety and sport and ceremonial dances.
On these occasions the men frequently tied
a few feathers to a lock of hair on their heads and they would decorate their faces with red, white, and black pigment.
The pigment was made by mixing earthy substances or
vegetables with liquids. They would adorn their breasts with stones, or wampum pendants, suspended from a stone or shell necklace*
The Long Island Indians did not wear war
bonnets of feathers though Indians of the mid-continental plains practiced this custom* Beliefs and Superstitions The play spirit was evident sometimes In their dances; but, for the most part, the dancing was ceremonial and a dramatization of their religious beliefs which they expressed with awe and veneration.
They were deeply religious and very
1* This description Is taken by permission from "Indian Life of Long Ago in the City of New York," by Reginald P.' Bolton, Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, published In New York, 1934.
14 superstitious. The Indian believed that every object held within it a hidden something. F"or example, a pretty quartz pebble, picked up In the beach, held a spirit, a supernatural power*
This interest in the unknown caused
the Indians to believe in taboos and charms. If they were taken 111, they called in the medicine man to drive the evil spirits away. Not far from Sag Harbor, in the woods by the roadside, the Indians kept a shallow hole clean of leaves and sticks. Until very recently, no one of them passed without stopping to pick out stray leaves, twigs, or stones that might have fallen into the depression*
Once, they claimed, a Montauk
chief, who was held in great esteem by the Indians, was being borne to his final resting place when the pall bearers stood the corpse upright at the spot called Bukskill (Indian word meaning "resting place")*
The ground on which
the chieftain was placed was thereafter looked upon as 1 sacred ground* The owl and the hawk were the totems of the Lang Island Indians and were treated with reverence.
If the great white
owl lighted near a village in the evening and hooted, it was a sign that he was displeased and the sachem at once assembled his warriors in council to decide the offering that must be made to appease it* Bl.ood and wampum were believed to be the most acceptable gJftw*
1* Whooping Boy's Hollow is another version of this legend*
15 The Indians never complained or spoke ill of the elements.
They treated with respect storms, frost, snow,
They endured great heat,or cold without com-
They feared that if they murmured of the clouds
or storms they might be shut up in caves in the mountains where no light could enter.
They thought that to complain
of heat or the glare of the sun would subject them to blindness. These primitive people believed in an after-life in the "West". When the dead were burled their knees were flexed toward the chest and the hands were placed under or near the head*
The body was wrapped in matting or boughs
and laid on its side in the grave. Moral Code The Indian was contented and happy in his own way* He had none of the luxuries we now enjoy, but he was satisfied with what he had and made little attempt to Improve his status.
If an Indian were hungry, he would help him-
self to any available food, and he did not seem to realize the implications. If he were punished or told that it was stealing, he felt he was being mistreated. Nomadic Habits For the most part, the Indians were peace-loving, friendly, and good-willed.
They lived in wigwams made of
matting or thatch which was placed over bent saplings with a hole in the top center to let out smoke*
moved their tents or wigwams two or three times a year.
16 Their moving was frequently a necessity as health habits, garbage disposal, and piles of debris spoke for themselves. Their principal quarters were where they planted corn and had good hunting and fishing*
The winter quarters were
selected with great care. Food supply was important but so was protection from wind and weather. Advent of the White Man In 1609 Henry Hudson, believed to have been the first white man to see Long Island, landed on a stretch of beach now known as Coney Island*
The Indians who greeted him
must have been of the Canarsie tribe*
They were friendly
to the white men and seemed glad of their coming. The Indians exchanged green tobacco for knives and beads* Lion Gardiner, who bought land from the Earl of Sterling in 1639, respected the Indians and paid them for the land*
He settled on what is now called Gardiner's
land, Before settling, he made friends with Wyandanch, who was perhaps the most famous Montauk sachem*
ship lasted their entire lifetime. Early settlers of eastern Long Island had Lion Gardiner to thank for their freedom from trouble with the savages. The Indians played little or no part In making Long Island history after the Dutch and English settlers came* There was never any suffering on Long Island from Indian attacks such as occurred on the mainland*
The only time
the British settlers had serious trouble with the Indians was in 1653, At that time, the Massapeague tribe had be-
17 come resentful of the English and had destroyed crops and driven off the white man's cattle and horses and had killed a few settlers.
Captain John Underbill led a band of white
men against the Indians and killed so many of them that the Indians never molested the English again.
Once there was
trouble in what is now Queens County but the fault lay with the governor.
Pie was unkind and unfair to the Indians and
they sought revenge.
The governor was replaced by Peter
Stuyvesant who ruled the Indians as a father would his children.
He protected them from unfair treatment by the white
men, insisted that the Indians be paid for work they performed, that they be compensated for lands the white men bought, and that no strong drink be sold to them. Epidemics and Disease Smallpox, to which the Indians were very susceptible, wiped out one third of the Indians within fifty years of the coming of the white men.
By 1761 they had almost van-
ished from some parts of Long Island; the once powerful Montauks numbered only 162. Name Places Indian names are scattered over Long Island - villages, towns, bays, roads, and streams are known by such names as Canarsie, Rockaway, Massapequa, Matinecock, Nissequogue, Setaukei, Shlnnecock, Patchogue, Montauk, and Manhasset,
CHAPTER I I INDIAN LEGENDS Introduction Boys and girls in every land find stimulation and pleasure In reading the classical mythology of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Norse civilizations.
There is a uni-
versal interest In fables, legends, myths, and in stories of gods and goddesses. Modern authors have taken the popular myths and arranged them so that youth finds subject matter that is entertaining, intensely human, and adventuresome* Our Indians of Long Island, who stood in awe of nature and were both religious and superstitious, experienced horror, mystery, and unnamed fears just as the primitive peoples in other times and in other lands. Since the Indians were aware of nature's dark secrets, they allowed their imaginations to explain in fanciful stories that which they could not solve. Only a few Indian legends are presented here. Whereever there were two or more versions of the same legend, the more whimsical, amusing, or romantic was selected.
of them are taken by permission directly from authors who have made a hobby of collecting Indian folk material.
The following i s an Indian legend t h a t has many variations.
To the b e s t of my knowledge, t h i s p a r t i c u l a r
version has never been published.
I give i t j u s t as I
discovered i t w r i t t e n by K. M. Forbes, on August 5, 1850, in the guest book of the Appaquogue House owned by Abraham Candy: Whooping Boys' Hollow The Turnpike, which l i e s between East Hampton and Sag Harbor, l i e s through an open country not p e c u l i a r f o r any beauty-of scenery or d i v e r s i t y of landscape.
Sag Harbor, I t has been cut through a wood now p a r t i a l l y . cleared on e i t h e r s i d e . As we advance towards East Hampton, the p l a i n becomes more open, vegetation more luxuriant and v a r i e d , and we soon discover the h i l l s of sand t h a t g i r d the I s l a n d , and p r o t e c t i t from the encroachment of the ocean. About h a l f way on t h i s road, the land seems more broken, and the t a l l t r e e s spring from the v a l l e y on e i t h e r side.
In one ravine in p a r t i c u l a r now quite overgrown with
the rapid springing up of the f o r e s t s , t r e e s t h a t are often cut, you w i l l observe a more sudden d e c l i v i t y . There are those l i v i n g who have heard strange noises there - shouts, c r i e s of agony and defiance.
breath of wind has been s t i r r i n g , the t a l l t r e e s bent t h e i r heads down to the ground or were waved around as in a tempest.
Sometimes these sounds have followed the t r a v -
e l e r as f a r as East Hampton.
Tradition s a i t h t h a t strange
deeds have been enacted on t h i s spot.
The i n h a b i t a n t s c a l l
20 It "Whooping Boys' Hollow" and among the many versions of the history of its name, I have been made acquainted with the following, nor doubt that it is the only true interpretation of those mysterious sights and sounds. Many years since, ere the white man's head was familiar with the sward of this beautiful island, ere the forests were invaded by the stranger or the deer and the wild bird learned to cover before the lightning of the English rifle, the Montauks held undisputed sway over this part of the Island.
Their canoes resounded through the deep
forest, their bows brought down the bird from the sky, or the deer from the thicket.
The smoke of their council fires
curled over a hundred hills, and their war-whoops awoke to battle a thousand warriors. They were universally respected by the neighboring tribes for their virtues, and feared for their courage and address. Men of brave hearts, undaunted minds and noble souls, they united the bravery and cunning of the Indian race, with the wildness of a more polished; Ye have melted away once powerful tribe, like the snow flake on the river, gone, gone, forever like a name written in the sand, destroyed by the overflowing tide of the white man's voices. Heathen brethern accuse not us Christians at the bar of the Great Judge* A ship from England, bound for Virginia had prosperously sped out storms and winds and was rapidly nearlng the shores of this newly discovered country*
Her sea-wearied freight
of adventurers saw with delight the hills of Montauk and already felt their tedious voyage at an end.
In the excite-
21 ment of the hour no one observed the approach of a storm. The sun went down, the wind increased, it grew to a tempest, the captain was entirely unacquainted with the soundings and the terrible sea raged with such violence that he could not keep his vessel off shore.
When morning broke, the tempest
was over, but the wreck of a noble vessel strewed the beach of Montauk,
Every vestige of life had perished, save an in-
fant lashed to a plank and a dog which sat watching with the most intense anxiety by the side of the unconscious sufferer. The fearful scene was witnessed by a party of Indians who now came down to the shore.
One man approached the res-
cued pair, and raised the plank which held the baby;
at first gave a low growl, but seeing that no harm was intended he allowed the Indian to unbind the boy and lift him in his stout arms.
The others all crowded round, looking on
the white child with unfeigned, uncontrollable surprise. They patted their hands over his face, they wound his flaxen locks, now heavy with sea brine, they gazed at him and then pointing to the wreck, uttered expressions of deep compassion. The Indian, who had at first discovered the boy, now pressed him to his bosom and bore him away to the Montauk village. The dog though very much exhausted followed very close at hand.
The rest of the party remained to examine the wreck.
The infant warmed in the bosom of his deliverer began to move and to utter low moanings of distress.
The young man pressed
more rapidly forward, until he stood before a wigwam.
spoke - but without waiting for an answer, he raised the blanket and held out his burden to a beautiful young squaw,
22 who, seated on a mat, was nursing an infant. She started up at this sudden entrance of her husband, and gazed with dilated eyes upon the strange visitant. few words sufficed to explain the matter.
Nature is the
same in every human heart, and a mother's love, an instinct from heaven, differs not in the tawny breast of the savage or the snowy bosom of the European. took the baby, embraced it kindly;
The young Indian woman she allowed it to share
the nourishment of her own child, sure that this balm would soon renovate the little sufferer. Nor was she mistaken;
in a short time, the wee little
head was raised, the blue eyes were opened, the piteous cries were lulled, snd the white arms were outstretched the woman felt that instead of one - she had two children. The little white child attracted much attention for a time, but the novelty wore off in time though he was ever regarded as a visitant from a favored land.
beauty increased daily and there were many who envied Maraho her treasure.
She was a gentle mother, and while she daily
cared for her own children, she was not neglectful of her adopted son, Vifinsoic, or "saved from the waters" as the name implies.
His companion, the dog, made it his duty to
watch over the infant where ever he might be suspended from a tree or in the wigwam. When he began to walk and talk his foster father noticed him with delight and would take the little foundling in his arms and address words to him, while the boy laughed and chatted and played with the ornaments that adorned the neck of
the b r a v e .
At t h i s time, Maraho's own c h i l d d i e d .
the b i t t e r grief had subsided and her l i t t l e papoose had been duly forwarded to the land of S p i r i t s with the sad r i t e s of b u r i a l , the bereaved mother clasped Winsoic t o her bosom and smoothing down h i s flaxen h a i r she s a i d , "Come stranger b i r d with shining f e a t h e r s , come to t h i s next; thou has i t a l l to thyself now." Then the boy kissed h e r cold l i p s and wiped away with h i s l i t t l e hand the t e a r s from her swarthy cheeks and gazed anxiously down i n t o her eye3, so f u l l of s i l e n t agony, u n t i l , her soul answered to h i s sympathy and the f o r l o r n Indian woman was comforted by the love of her adopted son. To run, t o l e a p , to swim, to guide a canoe, and t o use a bow, to b r i n g home b i r d s , and other small game were accomplishments which the white boy readily acquired. He was the constant companion of h i s f a t h e r on a l l h i s e x p e d i t i o n s , the f a v o r i t e of the t r i b e , the foremost in every f e a t of daring and amusement.
His a f f e c t i o n f o r h i s adopted
people was very strong and when rumors reached the t r i b e t h a t a t the other extremity of the Island there were settlements of white men, i t was the delight of the young Indians t o t h r e a t e n Winsoic t h a t he should now be sent to h i s own p e o p l e .
grew h i s brow dark and lowering, then quivered h i s proud l i p , and h i s hand convulxlvely grasped h i s brow.
He would vow deathly
enmity to t h e white, and death to any one who dared c a l l him "pale face" - "No", exclaimed he in the language of t h e t r i b e , " I am a Montauk; a Montauk I w i l l l i v e , or a Montauk, I w i l l die."
24 Then he would rush away into the forest, raising the war-whoop, nor return until the shade of evening fell. The rumors of the progress of the whites increased; the reports of the wars of the Pequat and Narragansetta reached the island, exaggeration spread of the enmity of the strangers • councils were held and various plans formed to anticipate the invasion of the v/hite. Parties dispersed to the north to gain Intelligence and were absent many days, but returned without bringing any news of the expected enemy. The foster father of Winsoic with his own son and the dog ventured quite out of sight into the sound. However, days passed and tidings were heard of their canoes. The Indians became alarmed for the fate of their favorite but in a time he was forgotten in more important fears. Maraho came from her wigwam and demanded of the scouting parties intelligence; they could give none. She then set out herself in search of them but returned haggard and heart broken at t he end of a fortnight without news of her lost ones.
She collected all the
little treasures of her boy and carefully concealing them, she became very melancholy and no one could guess the bitterness of her heart. Some of the tribe proposed making a direct descent upon the opposite shore to avenge the death of their companion, but others, more wary were willing to await a more convenient and less hazardous opportunity.
The man, they
knew, if not murdered, would find his way back, and the boy they supposed had been recognized and required by his people.
25 Weeks, months, years passed by*
Rumors were constantly
reaching the tribe, still they were unmolested.
Indian was not forgotten, nor had Maraho lost the memory of her foster child. Green In her heart lived the joys and sorrows of his young life, and she gazed anxiously forth from the hill summits, expecting to see him come bounding from the thicket. To the loving heart, hope never dies. The hunting season was just commencing.
There was a
great promise of game. The whole tribe was collected together on a point of land about a mile to the west of East Hempton near a place now called Appaquogue.
The game here
was plentiful, and here it is said was the favorite place of resort. - Arrow heads and knives and other implements of Indian sport are often turned up by the plough, which proves that in olden times, as at the present day, Georgisin Lake, Lily Pond, and the fair fields of Appaquogue were as celebrated for game. At any rate, the tribe was in the vicinity of this spot. They were about to leave their squaws and children and set out on a long hunt on the morrow. All was hilarity - their preparations were completed and though the sky was clouded in obscurity, many still sat or lay on the grass in low guttural tones talking over the deeds of the Montauks in war and the chase. Suddenly there resounded through the forest the shrill war whoop of the tribe:
loud and clear, it up-
rose and reverberated and reechoed through the woods - again and again it rose mingled now with the hov/l of a dog, and now
26 a 3harp cry as of human agony*
The Indians started to their
feet; they seized their weapons, torches glared, and in breathless haste they rushed forward, hundreds of dashing warriors, their strong, naked limbs, their fierce countenances, their flashing eyes, all rendered more terrific by the torch light which gave them the appearance of a horde of giants* They stood listening and their quick ears 3©on caught the sound of an advancing body of men*
An ambush was quickly
laid - all was quiet, the torches extinguished*
The foe came
on; one hundred whites, certain to surprise the unprepared Indians.
Guided by a boy who had been brought up among the
Montauks, they had successfully reached the outskirts of the encampment - that hollow in the wood, which I spoke of above* They were certain of success and they dwelt with delight at the prospect of an easy conquest. Judge then of their dismay when their guide, the white Indian boy, suddenly paused and uttered that fearful cry*
At first the whites thought that
they had fallen Into an ambush, but when they found that lfc proceeded from the guide, they suspected his treachery and immediately caught the offender and ordered him to confess or die*
He said he meant no harm and professed to be quiet
the rest of the journey*
The whites were again deceived, but
they pinioned the boy and kept him under strict guard, holding fire arms directly behind him In case he attempted to open his mouth again*
No sounds meeting their ears they de-
cided to press forward but in less than ten minutes they were in ambush.
A most bloody battle ensued, the Indians having
the advantage In knowing the ground, the darkness prevented
27 the fire arms from taking effect and when morning broke, not one white man survived to tell the tale.
The soil of Suffolk
was red with blood of the whites for the first time. Winsoic had been discovered and liberated.
His dog had
been shot in the fray, but the boy fought with desperation, and was borne in triumph to the encampment.
When the victo-
ry had been celebrated the forests effectively searched and the stormy joy of war was over, Winsoic found time to tell that four years previous, his father and he attended by his dog had neared the shore of Connecticut. His father had been slain and he had been taken captive. He was recognized as a white and treated with leniency.
At length he was considered
as weaned from his Indian propensities and set at liberty. He learned to speak the language of M s forefathers and adopted for a time the habits and dress of the English resolving however that sooner or later he would avenge the death of his foster father. Being as cute and as active as he was he was very useful in giving information of Indian habits and warfare, he conducted many scouting parties, made successful attacks on tribes he knew to be hostile to the Montauks, and became at length a most useful associate to his capturers. At length he described to them the beajrtles of the opposite island; the wealth of the forests and streams. He dwelt on the advantages that would arise from an alliance with the Montauks, He secretly pined once more to return to his home, but not before he had revenged his father's death. Thus did he allure the English to come over to make an
28 Invasion of the Island. Winsoic directed the affg/ajr* He named what he called a lusty day for well did he know on what day the tribe would be assembled*
He led on the unsus-
picious whites, until he reached the hollow.
There he knew
how far his voice could be heard, and he knew also that the war-whoop could not be mistaken*
With a heart throbbing with
hope and fear, he collected all his strength just before reaching the spot and then gave forth that wild shriek that saved his tribe* His success in this affair gave him additional claim to the affection of the Montauks. They were charmed by his sagacity and as he advanced to manhood, his faculties developed to a remarkable degree, winning for him respect and admiration* He lived many years after this event, the fear of rival tribes, the hope of the Montauks during the stormy periods of the white settlement*
He eventually became their chief*
By his sagacity and prudence, alliances were formed with the strangers and those evils attendant- on the introduction of the English in a great measure were avoided. His foster mother had the happiness to find he ever cherished the affection for her and while he was yet in the height of his power, she was lost to sleep with her kindred* The great chief never married; he left none to boast of his blood.
The tribe were his children, their welfare, his
only care. He died while on an expedition to Shelter Island* The Indians bore his body back to Montauk with great solemnity. On their way they paused to rest.
They reposed the body in a
29 natural excavation which they found there, when with their wailings for the dead, there was suddenly blended the warwhoop of the Montauks. They started up and hurried forward. When at the hollow, the unearthly cry again arose; they knew it was the spirit of the warrior visiting the scene of his former thriumph.
They raised the body from its resting place,
carefully removed all leaves, stones, and other obstructions from the spot and then bore their precious burden forward t6 its burial. You may still see that bowl-like excavation where the body of the chief was reposed.
The true Montauks
reverently keep it free from all obstructions, and the shrill cry of the '.Vhooping Boys' Hollow may still be heard as if the great chieftain would scare away all intruders from his beloved hunting grounds of Montauk.
30 1 Devil's Rock, Orient Geologists today tell us that in ages past a glacier deposited the huge rocks that are scattered along the North Shore from one end of the island to the other.
knew nothing of glaciers but in their primitive way they sought explanation for the oddity. Many qu^aint legends concerning the boulders of the North Shore were prevalent when the English settlers began to appear. One of the most Interesting of these stories concerns the cloven footprint that can be seen to this day on the top of a huge rock at Orient, near the beautiful waters of the Sound. The legend here recorded would have died away In ages past if It were not for the fact that directly across the sound at Saybrook Point another cloven footprint can be found that is the exact size and shape as the one at Orient. The unbeliever has cause to wonder for the footprints are pointed in the same direction. The story that has come down to us relates that the Indians had endured a most severe winter only to be further afflicted in the spring of the year by an epidemic of such extreme proportions that the tribe faced annihilation*
medicine men feared that faith in their powers would be lost for do what they would, it availed nothing.
1, The Indian believed in an Evil Spirit and not in the devil yet oddly enough the rock is known as Devil's Rock.
31 chief called a council to determine what should be done to regain the favor of the Great Spirit. A plan was agreed upon for driving out the evil spirit that had plagued them. A time was set for the survivors to assemble and at the command of their chief they went forth in search of the evil one. After many weary hours of search, they suddenly came upon his ominous shadow in the forest. With torches lifted high and with blood-curdling yells, the warriors pressed forward, but ever in advance of them loomed the shadow.
Growing more bold and ferocious the savages
pursued the shadow; and, not until they reached the shore of the sound, did they slacken their pace. For a brief moment the devil stood poised on the huge rock and then he jumped across the waters of the sound and disappeared from sight. The menacing disease that had such epidemic proportions subsided as mysteriously as it had appeared.
The evil spirit
had been driven out and the evidence of his departure was recorded for all time in the rock at Orient, The Devil's Stepping Stones Another legend that amusingly accounts for the numerous boulders and cobble stones on the North Shore had its origin in a feud that existed between the Evil Spirit and the Indians in Connecticut, It 3eems that the Evil Spirit took a sudden and peculiar interest in the region directly across the sound, so much so that he thought he would change his abode. The
32 Indians, however, were of a different frame of mind*
saw no reason for relinquishing their right to their domain without a contest and so they made preparations to withstand his satanlc majesty, no matter what happened. When the Evil Spirit arrived to claim title to the Connecticut shore, he was driven back in great haste.
making his rapid departure, he was fortunate in the fact that the tide was low and he made a successful retreat by stepping from rock to rock at Throgg's point. Naturally, the devil was in no good humor at this turn of events; and, being fatigued and vexed of spirit, he sat himself down In the neighborhood of Coram, the center of the Island, to reconnoitre. He did not remain dejected long* self, he sought revenge*
Quickly he gathered together all
the boulders and cobblestones that were available*
followed several days of arduous labor as the devil ambitiously piled his ammunition in a huge pile at Cold Spring Harbor. Finally the day arrived for retaliation. Seating himself on top of a huge heap of stones, the devil entertained himself by hurling thousands of boulders across the sound onto the luxuriant and fertile fields of Connecticut. The Long Island Indians delighted in recounting this story to the early settlers, many of whom were skeptics* Those white men who had the opportunity to see with their own eyes the cloven footprints In the rocks at the eastern end of Long Island and to see the remains of the rock piles at Cold Spring Harbor did not long remain in doubt.
33 Ronkonkoma Pond In the centre of Long Island, there lies a fresh water pond that is entirely surrounded by white and sparkling sand* Before the first white settlement here, the Indians had named the body of water, Ronkonkonma, for its white, sandy shores. According to the Indians, the most interesting facts concerning this la*ke was its fathomless depth and the magical hidden springs that always kept the water level fixed in spite of drought or uncommon rainfall. It was natural that the Indians regarded the pond with reverence. They were not only perturbed but they lost patience with the first white settlers after they arrived and proceeded to fish in the lake. The Indians were of the conviction that the fish in this enchanted lake were placed there by the Great Spirit* 1 Legend of Madnan's Neck Many, many years ago when witches, ugly goblins, and other creatures of the underworld roamed about this earth at will, a wicked creature, who had the ability to change himself from man to beast or into anything he fancied at the moment, acquired a liking for the region now generally known as the North Shore*
There he ruled supreme for many
years; and, since his troublesome attendants were numerous, he created considerable unrest among the Indians and early
1* Madnan's Neck is now the community of Great Neck.
34 white settlers*
The following is a story that was told to
children to frighten them when they had been bad*
how the story varied, it always ended with this admonition: "Mad Nan will get you if you're naughty1" Whenever the cunning helpmates of the wicked creature described above came upon an Indian in the woods, they subdued him and whisked him away to their hide out. By casting a spell upon the Indian, the leader was usually successful in making the poor, frightened captive do his bidding.
the Indian were changed Into a gnome or some other spirit creature, he was permitted to join the band.
If the ordeal
so frightened the captive red man that he died of fright, his body was turned Into a stone or boulder and was left upon the field or it was cast into the salty waters of the sound. It was said that white men too were captured; but, if they were Christians and had faith, they remained unharmed by these creatures.
It was natural that the region wherein
this wicked band held court soon came to be feared as an accursed spot and everyone evaded It if he possibly could. There came into that section at this time a white settler who was told to beware of the evil-doing of these satanic spirits. He was much amused by the stories told him by the silly Indians and white settlers. Nothing that was said could alter his Intent to build a house in the woodland that was the supposed seat of the operations of the bedeviled creatures*
He was not superstitious, he said.
The newcomer had a beautiful daughter who, like her
35 father, was afraid of nothing* After they had lived in their new home for awhile, the daughter developed a habit of going out into the night after the chores of the day were done*
She enjoyed the solitude and the relaxation of
the night. Nilght after night, she sang beneath the stars. One evening, as the father was returning from the neighboring town, he was suddenly choked by the chill hands of the sorcerer. As he was being born through the air to be cast into the briny deep, his daughter, who had been singing as usual in the woodland, observed the evil spirits as they were bearing her father. Recognizing him, she cried out in anguish that she be taken with her loved one* Although the spirits tarried for a moment, they would not grant her request. Suddenly, bereft of reason, she called upon the heavens to assist her*
But there was no answer. Panic-3trlcken and
crazed by grief, she sang to God but He did not hear. In final desperation she sang with deep emotion to the winds that she might be carried away.
There was no response to
her pleading but the moaning of the breeze. Tearing her clothing to shreds and with her hair streaming in the wind, she began to dance madly and to sing a wildly spiteful song*
The faster she danced, the wilder grew the
••• and now on dark and stormy nights the shrill scream the natives hear recalls to them the story of Mad Nan.
36 1 Mannatto Hill Mannatto Hill lies in the center of Long Island In the township of Oyster Bay. The Indians gave it its name. They said it was where the Great Spirit of the Algonquins lived*
This spirit could do strange and wonderful things.
Once, they said there was a great drought. dians were dying for lack of water.
In their distress they
prayed to the great Spirit Sachem on Mannatto Hill and he told them to shoot an arrow into the air and where the arrow fell to dig*
This they did and where the arrow fell they found a spring of sweet water. 1 Turf and Twig When an Indian came to sign the deed that was to give away his right to a piece of land, he always brought with him a sod of earth and a twig from a tree and gave them both to the new owner*. 1 Indian Summer Cold frosty days came in early November and found Indians still camped near the sea where they had been all summer digging clams, building canoes, gathering rushes or picking berries. "It is time to go back to the woods where It is warm," said the children. But the old folks shook their heads. 1* See note In Appendix concerning source of these legends.
37 "Not Yet," they said, "This will pass.
It is just
Squaw Winter. Indian Summer has not yet come* Before the real winter comes we will have Indian Summer." A few days later the air grew warm, almost as warm as June and a haze-like blue smoke hung over everything*
the old people said was because a great Manito, 3on of the West Wind who traveled over the earth each Autumn had once more visited his people, the Algonquins, to see how life was with them* As he passed by he stopped to rest and built a fire which warmed the earth once more and the smoke as it drifted down over the hills and fields and the seashore looked like a beautiful blue haze. This was Indian Summer. 1 Two Indian Princes or Isaac's Grotto The following story of Isaac's Grotto is told by Miss Cornelia Hosford who lives at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island*
Sylvester Manor has belonged to Miss Hosford's
family for many generations. About 1834 after the emancipation of slavery in New York State,two little Indian princes (the descendants of Pogattlcut, Yoho and Wyandanch) named Isaac and William Pharoh were what was called "bound out" to Mr* Samuel Smith Gardiner of Sylvester Manor until they should be twenty years old*
1, See note in Appendix concerning source of these legends.
38 They were lively little rascal3 like any other little boys and one of their duties was to polish the mahogany dining-room table. They had each a brick wrapped up in soft cloths and wet with something used for polishing. With these they rubbed and rubbed the tables.
If they were
left alone for a minute they dashed out doors and chased and tumbled over each other until they were caught and brought back to their work. Later they were promoted to waving a peacock feather fan over Mrs. Gardiner*3 head during meal3 to keep off the flies. These boys slept in t he garret at the Manor House and on the rough boards today are drawings of ships made in chalk and also cut with a knife by William Pharoh who ran away to sea before he was free. Isaac Pharoh remained with the family until his death* Mr. Gardiner at one time brought a servant from New York, a very handsome and fascinating Irish girl with whom most of the young men on the island, including Isaac, promptly fell in love. She used to make patchwork quilts and Isaac went to Greenport and brought back some gayly colored printed cottom which he cut Into squares for her*
These she did not
like and refused to look at, which made Isaac very mad Indeed* About 1840, Isaac constructed a grotto in a cliff on the east side of the creek.
It was hollowed out and boarded
and lined with stone. Here in hot weather the young ladles of the house and their guests took their reading and em-
39 broidery and spent their mornings.
There was no bridge
across the creek then and the reed-grown sandflats had not yet appeared.
The water of the harbor splashed gayly
against a pebbly beach at their feet, and over a stretch of blue water they watched for Mr. Gardiner's sailboat to come back from Greenport and go up the creek and anchor off the old stone bridge. Years passed and this grotto fell in and was lost to sight although it was remembered and talked about to the children of the next generation. The summer of 1923, being confined to the upstairs piazza of the Manor House for several weeks, I began to long to see the boats and the harbor. First I had fifteen elm trees about thirty feet high cut down, but still the harbor was not plain enough, so I had the lower branches of an Austrian pine removed, making it look more like the stone pines of Italy.
Now I could see the races and the
pleasure boats in the harbor* When I could walk again to see what had been done, behold!
where the trees had been cleared there were the
ruins of Isaac's lost grottol 1 Daniel Treadwell's Diary A hundred years ago a boy named Daniel freadwell lived on the South Shore of Long Island and he kept a diary of the things he did from day to day.
Here Is a story of a
1. See note in Appendix concerning source of these legends
40 trip he made with his father: Friday, September 20, 1839 We went out to the Bay yesterday with my father - on the way out we passed many Indian shell heaps bleached as white as snow, which they resemble at a distance. Some of them on the banks of the creek extend from fifteen to thirty feet upon the bank and under the water. My father is greatly Interested in these 3hell heaps - and especially the ones on our farm. He has preserved with great care all arrowheads, stone axes, bones of animals, etc., - He knew these shells to be the remains of Indians who had Inhabited this country. There was a difference in the shells found !onnthe farm and those of the mounds nearer the ocean.
Those on the farm,
my father claimed, were the remains of clams opened for food. Those on the shore were the remains of wampum manufacture. He knew thl3 to be so because a large number of the shells on the farm had never been broken while on the other mounds a search failed to reveal any whole shells. Among the shells found on the farm were many skimmer clam shells. None of these were found on the wampum heap. The shells of this clam were used by the Indians in working and hlll^ing their corn. Later the white people used ihem as skimmers in taking the cream on the top of milk.
is how it got its name, skimmer. The old people in our neighborhood said that the shell
41 heaps on our farm were the remains of a great tribal feast or powwow - when a gigantic clam-bake was served to thousands of braves. 1 Zopher Hawkins, Indian Captive By Kate W. Strong A graveyard seems hardly the place for an interesting tale, but in an old burying ground in South Setauket on a mossy 3tone, one finds the brief record of a life as exciting as that of many a western pioneer. Zopher Hawkins was born in 1756 in an old house on the edge of the land now belonging to St. George's Golf Links. In those days the hillsides were dotted with the wigwams of the friendly Setauket Indians, and I imagine Zopher had many good times with them. One day he was herding cattle near Lake Ronkonkoma when he was captured by hostile Indians. Tradition says they carried him far away, but where no one seems to know. Long and earnestly did his family search for him; helped no doubt by the Setaukets, but all in vain. Three years Zophar dwelt among the Indians and they married him to an Indian wife. At last his chance came. He escaped, guiding himself by the stars, as his Indian friends had taught him. When morning was breaking, he crawled into a hollow log*' The Indians traced him there.
1. Taken by permission of Paul Bailey, Publisher, from the "Long Island Forum", Bay Shore, N. Y., February, 1940, Colume III, Numb"er 2.
42 They beat on the log and kicked it around, only to discover as the enemies of Bruce did long ago, that a spider h had spun its web across the opening.
They then gave up
the log in disgust and looked elsewhere. At nightfall, Zopher, cramped and stiff, crawled out and started on his way. After long traveling he reached home at last, to the joy of allhls people. It was after the beginning of the Revolutionary War, and I think after the battle of Setauket Green, that word was brought to South Setauket that there were exciting doings down by Setauket pond*
Zopher Hawkins who perhaps
found life a bit quiet after his earlier excitements, and his friend Arthur Smith, decided to go down and see what was going on* They found that a small party of British soldiers, after having landed from a whaleboat, had marched to Tyler's Tavern in search of deserters.
This tavern was not the
present Community House, but one that used to stand near the road a little farther on. The house was later moved up on the hill and still shows the bullet holes made on that occasion* As the soldiers entered the building, Redfern, the school teacher, rushed upstairs and called to two girls who were sleeping there, that they were safer in bed. He had only come four steps downstairs when a stray bullet struck and killed him*
Two other men were killed and a third es-
caped by climbing up the great chimney.
43 Zopher and Arthur were hanging around outside. The British soldiers catching sight of them, fired and killed Arthur and, as they thought, Zopher. But Zopher had dropped as they fired and lay for dead, and Indian trick.
said that when the soldiers had gone, Zopher jumped to his feet and ran so fast for home that "you couldn't 3ee his fieels for the dustU Zopher later fought in the Revolution and came through unwounded.
It was years before he took a wife and then she
was a young girl twenty-one years his junior*
a nice big one decorated with her Initials "J. H." and a heart, evidently a wedding present, also the brass warming pan with which she warmed the beds on many a cold night, her flax and wool wheels, and the family chimes of sleigh bells, a different tone for each family, are among our treasures. Father bought them years ago at an auction at the old Hawkins house. Zopher and his wife Julianer sleep side by side in the quiet graveyard, she having died in 1872. His tombstone reads: ZOPHER HAWKINS who died Oct. 26, 1847 In the 91st year of His Age* •.o
He served his country faithfully in the Revolution and was a captive among the Indians three years. .. •
He lived a quiet and peaceful life, was happy and resigned in death. ...
One wonders whether he waited so long to marry because of his boyhood bride, the little girl of years before.
CHAPTER III COLONIAL LIFE AND CUSTOMS Introduction Three centuries of white man's civilization on Long Island have produced a place of contrasts. More than four and a half million people now reside within its 1,373 square miles of area. Most of these people live within easy commuting distance of New York City, while the two rural counties, Nassau and Suffolk, contain only 604,103 residents in their broad expanse of territory.
last decade, huge office buildings, apartment houses, and governmental housing projects have been erected In Brooklyn, Queens, and in certain sections of Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Almost within the shadow of these monuments to engineering skill can be found the remnants of an agricultural period:
squat little farmhouses and unpainted
barns and stables. Landed estates, numerous yacht clubs and golf course, and pretentious mansions are scattered here and there; but Long Island also has its slums and its thousands of one-family houses, built so close together that two people would have difficulty to walk abreast between them. Yes, here on "The Sunrise Homeland" there are many "million dollar school" buildings, harboring thousands of students under one roof and providing for fortunate students a modern and enriched curriculum; while less than
45 an hour's ride away can be found little, incommodious one-room and two-room school buildings with very little to offer students beyond the traditional course of study. It is also interesting to recall that here on Long Island in the Flushing Meadows was located the World's Fair of 1939 and 1940, which was visited by millions of people from all parts of the earth. A few miles further out on Long Island, there is' an Indian reservation for the Shlnnecock Indians; here is a bleak reminder that our civilization is of recent origin. As may be imagined, the early settlers brotight with them their native customs, their religious beliefs, and their superstitions. left in Europe.
The folkways of their native lands were not In short, the history of the early Long
Islanders is a parallel to the history of men in other primitive settings. Althou h each settler came here with the hope of building a new life, he soon showed his human failings. Some were ruthless in their dealings with the red men and with one another; and the records of the few Indian conflicts indicate how quickly the white men resorted to armed intervention whenever their desires and ambitions were challenged.
underneath the rugged pioneering and the constant struggle for a livelihood in the Long Island wilderness, there remained a way of life - a daily routine in each farmhouse that was directed by the customs of the people and the immediate community.
46 Although three centuries have elapsed since the period of the Dutch and English colonization, still we remain Indebted to the early settlers for many of our customs and beliefs. Honor and respect is due them for laying the foundation stones of the civilization we now enjoy.
Walt Whitman's B i r t h p l a c e Huntington
Leffert's House - Brooklyn - 1777
Dutch Home Life
One of the most popular Sunday amusements today in our metropolitan area is to pack the family and all the picnic baskets, deck chairs, bathing suits, and blankets into the automobile, station wagon, or delivery truck and head for one of the many State Parks on Long Island, The relaxation afforded by these excursions is augmented by the rare beauty and plcturesqueness of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, It is exceedingly difficult for us in this day and age to visiialize the Long Island of two hundred years ago. Most of us have heard at one time or another the rather trite expression, "Oh, for the good old days'," Not long ago Nassau Island, which v/as the legal name given Long Island in 1693 in honor of William of Nassau, was a rugged, pioneer country.
The colonists, whether
Dutch or English, endured the same hardships that were suffered by those who penetrated other sections of the new land. In spite of time, there are many original homesteads, windmills, and churches still standing.
In order that we
may better picture the home life, common here more than two hundred years ago, let us imagine ourselves visiting one of the Dutch Colonial homes.
It is late October and
the time is seven o'clock in the evening.
visit let us keep in mind whether we would want to return to "the good old days" and relinquish our streamlined com-
48 fort of automatic heat, labor-saving devices, and shower baths for the quaint cheer of the typical Dutch home of the period. One of the first things
that one notices as he ap-
proaches the farmhouse is its low, rambling nature.
house is but a story and a half high; and the roof, which is very steep and sloping, extends at one section in the front to roof the "stoep". Here on the veranda the Dutch farmer and his neighbor are sitting silently in crude, home-made rocker^, smoking their long-stemmed clay pipes and watching the children at play.
The buxom and talka-
tive wives and older daughters are busily knitting in the gathering gloom. Handy to all on a low oak bench are several earthenware mugs and a huge pewter tankard partly filled with home-brewed ale. Even the children interrupt their vigorous play to quench their thirst.
these children are playing games we all know well.
older boys are playing touch, one youngster spins an Amsterdam top, and the girls are engaged at hopscotch. Now as the twilight deepens, the neighboring farmer and his wife exchange farewells with their hosts, call the younger children, who in turn, volubly but politely express their leavetaking, and disappear down the dirt roadway. When darkness falls, it is time for man to rest; and, since everyone arises at sun-up, these industrious and frugal Dutch farmers need all the reserve energy they can get.
The habits of the family are such that the parents
49 have no need of expressing to the children the hour to retire has arrived.
Games are quickly dispensed with; and,
after the "stoep" is tidied, the entire family enters to prepare for night. Let us enter too so that we may observe the quaint interior and the activity within. Here in the kitchen, the most important room in the house and the only place of warmth this chill October evening, we see the father, in front of the huge fieldstone fireplace, busily tending the fire so that it will last through the night. The oldest son has just entered with an armful of logs to be used in the early morning; his sisters are washing and drying the beer mugs, which they carefully place on the shelves of the cabinet; and the mother, now finished with the polishing of the pewter tankard, is placing it between the candle sticks on the broad oak table. Except for the spirited fire on the hearth, the only other light in the room is given by the feeble glow of the candles on the table.
ing lights reflect themselves In the many treasures - the blue and white serving platters, dinner plates, and bowls which are so evenly spaced on the Dutch shelf that encircles the room a few feet beneath the open-beamed ceiling. While each member of this hardy family is occupied with his several nightly chores, let us look more carefully at this interesting room. Yes, there in the corner is the spinning wheel, the indispensable machine for spinning yarn, and beside it is a huge bag of wool that awaits the dexterous fingers of the womenfolk.
On the low bench against the
50 wall lies a heap of rough linsey-woolsey, the fabric that will later be used in making a patchwork quilt for the boys' cold bedroom. In the opposite corner stands the churn, another symbol of home industry; and beside it, resting on a small oak platform, is the brass-hooped and highly ornamented keg of home-brewed ale. That baywlndow, just opposite the hearth, is the ingenious creation of the Jack-of-all-trades farmer.
It certainly must have been a difficult task to con-
struct such an architectural delight with the crude tools and Inadequate equipment that were available. Each small pane of glass was either brought from Holland or purchased 1 from the local glazier. These pioneer farmers of Long Island seldom bought anything that could be made at home.
In the absence of much
money the barter system was prevalent and it was possible to obtain through this means a few essentials from the wheelwright, the miller, or the blacksmith.
Colonist was by nature an artisan and a small matter of constructing a baywindow was no different from the ability
1* In 1621 several Italian glass-workers were manufacturing beads for the Indians in a glass factory that was destroyed the next year..,. A glass-maker, Jan Smeedes, received an allotment of land on Manhattan island, among the early Dutch settlers, and the business which he carried on gave the name "Glass-makers' Street" to the present South Williams Street of New York. In 1754 a Dutch gentleman, Bamber, built glass-works in Brooklyn...and the first bottl© blown by him, bearing the name and date# is In the Historical Society Collection, The International Cyclopedia. Vol., VI, P. 724
51 of the housewife who gave charm to the interior through her decorative skill. Numerous little flower pots, resting on the handhewn sill, contain brilliant red geraniums and multicolored tulips. Here beside the window seat, with Its blue and white cushion, stands a straight-backed chair, a family luxury because of its rush bottom*
the rest of the furniture in the room is made of native oak and is the product of the family ingenuity* Crude though the broad dining table with its two benches on either side may seem to the unthinking, they were fashioned for durability from the raw products of the neighboring forest.
The dresser or cabinet near the door
is a family heirloom, brought from Holland, and on its shelves rest the few precious china ornaments that are guarded so carefully. Let us look again at what these people are doing as the preparations for the night are nearing completion. The oldest son has just returned from the open stone well where he filled the big iron kettle with water he had drawn by hand.
This well is located immediately out-
side the rear kitchen door in a small vestibule. Does it seem odd that with so much land available that the well was dug so close to the house,
Indeed, this was shrewd
planning for the Indians in those days could not be relied upon and it would be foolhardy at night to walk a quarter of a mile from the house for drinking water. Now
52 the youth carries the big kettle to the fireplace where he places it conveniently near the fire so that warm water is available for washing in the morning. While that door to the adjoining shed was open, did you catch a fleeting glance of the very interesting pantry? It is, in fact, a veritable store house for winter supplies. Smoked hams, a haunch or two of venison, ears of Indian corn, barrels of apples and potatoes, strings of dried apples and peaches, preserved fruit and vegetables, cabbages and pumpkin, and probably many other foodstuffs are conveniently stored away. Yes, and there in a corner was a small cask of rare wine, to be reserved for the next family funeral, whenever that may be. One curious thing that is visible in the pantry are the heavy shutters, closed and securely fastened from within. But did you notice those moon-shaped apertures?
windows in the house have shutters and all have cresentshaped cuttings in them. You are right; they are not for architectural effect nor doe3 the moon-shaped design have any significance. These openings are the peep-holes or portholes through which the trusty old rifle is poked when it became necessary for the "pale-faced" farmer to show the red man that he meant to protect his family and his belongings. And now as the children line up for tallow dips to light their way to their respective bedrooms, the father and the mother kiss each child good night and bid each one
53 a peaceful sleep. As the creaking of the wide-planked floors dies away with the exit of the children, the Dutch farmer throws the night latch of the outside doors while the mother patterns the white eea sand on the floor with her home made corn broom. Taking up the candles from the table, they too retire to their room, the show place of the house. Seldom are the children admitted here and only on special occasions such as a wedding or a christening. Although there is an expansive fireplace on the north side of the room, It is not in use tonight. Like the one in the kitchen, this fire-place is sufficient In width to accommodate the entire family in a circle before the fire. The huge andirons, the fire-shovel, and the tongs are rarely used and no meat is cured or smoked in this fireplace. No, this hearth is something to admire rather than use. The jambs here are not faced with the usual fieldstone.
These are set with
glazed blue delft-ware tiles, all imported from Holland. Part of each child's early education lies In interpreting the Biblical scenes and parables on these tiles. Since books are scarce, these parents were possessed of an excellent technique for teaching Scripture stories. This room, like the kitchen, is low-bowed and uncoiled, exposing the heavy hand hewn beams, upon which the upper floor planks were laid.
The high posted bed
is an object which readily catches tee eye as one looks around.
This ponderous and unwieldly bedstead betokens
the s o c i a l standing of the family.
In f a c t , a l l the
equipment and furnishings of t h i s master bedroom d e t e r mine t h e i r s o c i a l p r e s t i g e , which i s the envy of humbler neighbors.
Like a l l the beds of the p e r i o d , i t has no
c o l l springs or inner spring m a t t r e s s .
On the contrary,
there are ropes that run cross-wise and lengthwise.
these ropes r e s t 3 a m a t t r e s s f i l l e d with comhusks.
top of t h i s are two f e a t h e r m a t t r e s s e s , one f o r the s l e e p e r to r e s t upon, and the second of l i g h t e r we.'ght f o r a covering.
Even the t e x t u r e of the p i l l o w c a s e s , the lace
window c u r t a i n s and valances, and the drugget rug on the f l o o r beside the bed are evidences of s o c i a l importance* The public i s given opportunity to view t h i s f i n e r y on s t a t e occasions, a t t e a p a r t i e s , and when Important personages are e n t e r t a i n e d .
The drop-leaf t a b l e , the
china t e a s e t , and the s i l v e r spoons are displayed.
of these are cherished by the Dutch farmer's wife f o r they were brought from the home l a n d . As darkness f a l l s , the peaceful farmhouse becomes dark and s i l e n t .
As the f l i c k e r i n g candle i n the master
bedroom i s snuffed out by the Dutch farmer, we leave t h i s hardy pioneer family to r e s t . . . a r e s t well earned and deserved.
English Colonial Life
On October 25, 1936, the late Honorable Judge Harry W. Ludlum of Mill Neck, Long Island, a direct descendant of one of the earliest settlers of Oyster Bay, delivered the dedicatory address at the unveiling of the memorial stained glass window to Robert Feeks, the first ordained minister in the first Baptist Church in New York State* Through the courtesy of Judge Ludlum, his famous address is reproduced belov/* No better means could be found for painting an accurate picture of typical English colonial life on Long Island than this authentic picture* No school child, no, not even our sophisticated suburbanite, can read this paper of Judge Ludlum's without developing a keen respect for those hardy forebears who labored here in building towns and villages more than two centuries ago. "Robert Feeks" "Unfortunately, we canr.ot tell you the exact date when John Peeks, the father of Robert, came to this part of the country nor can we find any record of the date when he bought the property on the west side of Beaver Swamp, where Robert was born, from our examination of the Town Records. The Town Records show that in 1772 John Peeks signed a petition with seven other Quakers addressed to the "Governor of New Yorke" In which they prayed to be excused from certain.taxes levied for the purpose of building a fort in "New Yorke." During the same year, 1772, he
Clinton Academy-1783 East Hampton
"Home Sweet Home"-top East Hampton ©Gottscho
Whaling Museum, Sag Harbor ©Lester
Old Mill-1771, East Hampton ' ©Gottscho
57 undoubtedly assisted in building the Quaker Meeting House which stood on the west side of South Street and was afterwards moved up to the street line and became the store of Elbert Tappen. It was torn down only a few months ago. John Feeks became a disciple of the famous Quaker preacher, George Fox, while he was here and preaching from the rock, as a platform, which is still on the west side of the Mill Pond and few feet west of Lake Avenue.
John was a very
ardent Quaker and preached many times in the old Meeting House here in Oyster Bay and probably elsewhere. He also seems to have been a good business man, for by 1683 the assessors recorded him as the richest man in town. He was then worth the munificent sum of 130 pounds, which when translated into our money of the present day, would be about 650 dollars. Nor did he stop here, but continued to buy and sell property and to improve the same until at least 1714, when he was a goodly age. The spot chosen for a homestead was about one hundred and fifty feet above the west side of Beaver Swamp and near a spring which gushed forth from the hills, for good clear spring water was a most important thing to have near at hand.
of the house is in a clump of large trees standing on the northeast corner made by Feek's Lane as it extends up the hill from the end of Beaver Dam and Factory Pond Road. "This sturdy pioneer had the hardihood to go out into the forest and cut oak trees, hew their sides, mortice and tennon their ends, fitting them into frames which he erected to form the sides of his house when he had covered them with
s h i n g l e s , which he s p l i t with a froe from 3hort c h e s t n u t logs.
The n a i l s , i f n a i l s he used, were forged by hand,
one a t a t i m e .
A man would forge a hundred a day, p e r -
haps, and the n a i l s he used were probably Imported since 0y3ter Bay i s not known to have had a blacksmith u n t i l John Thompson came here in 1668.
Thompson seemed t o have
had a n a t u r a l a n t i p a t h y to the Indians and had t o be r e placed by one Abraham Allen b y 1678.
When the p i o n e e r s
did n o t have n a i l s , they bored holes and drove i n wooden plugs.
Our e n e r g e t i c John next b u i l t some kind of shed
or barn and a stockade around the whole to keep h i s domestic animals i n and the wild animals, the bear and the wolf, o u t .
He had t o turn out a t dabreak and a f t e r b u i l d -
ing a f i r e with f l i n t , s t e e l and tinder in the open f i r e p l a c e , went out to do h i s chores - watering and feeding the h o r s e , cow, sheep and p i g s , milking, c u t t i n g wood and carrying i t in t o keep the home f i r e s burning f o r cooking and warmth during the day.
Meanwhile, the good wife,
E l i z a b e t h , was busy preparing the morning meal of the simplest though most h e a l t h f u l kind.
Perhaps, she even
had t o grind the corn or g r a i n for t h a t prupose, since there could have been no m i l l s in those very e a r l y days. "After t h i s f r u g a l r e p a s t , John repaired t o h i s f i e l d s , plowing, seeding or reaping or perhaps he was c l e a r i n g additional fields.
There were none of those e f f i c i e n t plows,
harrows and t r a c t o r s of today.
The plow they used was a
cumbersome wooden a f f a i r armed with an iron p o i n t which
59 stirred the ground up but did not turn it over. Cultivating was done with the plow or heavy, unwieldly hoes J and reaping with the sickle.
They did not have the im-
proved strains of animals and plants.
The yield was
smaller and the labor vastly greater.
Meanwhile, the wife
was busy preparing the other meals, grinding the corn, picking and cleaning a bird or two or skinning a rabbit. She roasted them on the spit turning before, the fire, fried them in a spider or boiled them In a skillet hanging from a crane with a trammel to regulate the height above the flame.
Then there was wool to be carded and
flax to be heckled. Both were then spun into yarn or thread after which she used them for knitting, darning, patching and mending or making new clothes or had them woven into cloth. Mutton tallow had to be tried out to be molded or dipped to make candles. Dipping was accomplished by saturating the wick with the molten tallow,. allowing it to cool and then dipping it quickly again and again, cooling each time until it grew to candle size. Soap?
Yes, they had soap but it was not formed into
pretty little cakes, perfumed to suit the ladies' taste. Wood ashes were placed in a big iron pot and oaovered with water to leach out the lye, after which the solution of lye was drained off and mixed with hot greases to saponify. It was efficient, it cleaned thoroughly, but It al3o cleaned the skin right off one's hands. "Many of our forefathers had bunks, but where they had
69 bedsteads they did not have spring mattresses. The frames were strung with heavy cordage, back and forth across and lengthwise.
This was usually covered with a tick filled
with straw upon which they slept during hot weather.
straw was generally preferred, because it was shorter and more springy, but in the morning one could count the straws in the bed by the marks on your back together with those left by the cords. In winter they used the famous feather bed.
One climbed up a 3mall stepladder to get high enough*
When at the top one long step and a flop, a tug at the cover, which was another feather bed, and you were in —— into an icehouse unless a hot stone or warming pan had been placed there ahead of you. But sleep, ohj
Feathers were always saved, especially duck and goose feathers. "They could not turn on the electricity and have the vacuum cleaner pull all the dirt up into a bag and then go out and shake that out at just such a time and place that the wind would carry the dust over to a neighbor's clothesline full of clothes.
In those days they had to raise the
broom corn. When It was ripe, cut it, and hang it in the attic to dry before it could be bound onto the broomstick and used to sweep the floors. "There is an old adage that ' a man's work Is from sun to sun, while a woman's work is never done.' This did not originlate in those days for their work was from daybreak to dark and the women's work was ever more emphatically never done, especially if compared with today. Even
61 on Sunday, ('First Day' to John) so loudly proclaimed as a day of rest, the day when work had been interdicted by the Lord, it was necessary to do the chores and to watch the flock that they might not stray away and be devoured by the wolves. And, by the way, the old 'wolf pit' stood just to the west of the present Mill Pond, somewhat up the hill from the rock that George Fox preached from. Sunday was, however, the great day of the week, a sort of safety valve for mental energies pent up during a week of hard and continuous work. and, ohl
On Sunday they went to meeting
how their tongues did chatter.
their tongues were fast in the middle and loose at both ends. "This picture, incomplete at the best, Is of a home, where in the year 1684, we find a cradle rocking by the open fireside. It was one of those old fashioned wooden affairs, coarse and heavy but substantial, with a canopy of wood over it to keep the draughts off the occupant. It was being rocked by a little girl and we can see the gleam in her eyes as little Elizabeth gently sways her pride, her newborn brother, Robert Feeks, to and fro.
was the Robert Peeks whose descendants, the Ludlum families, take pleasure in memorializing by presenting to this the Baptist Church of Oyster Bay a plaoque and a window on this the 25th day of October, 1936. The infancy and childhood of our little newcomer we can only conjecture, but we do knww that his playmates were few and very far between, for
62 their nearest neighbor was the better part of a mile away and what village there was required a walk of two miles to reach. When Robert was ten years.old his father commenced to build a saw mill In conjunction with three other men and we can assume that the youngster absorbed a great deal by watching the construction of the mill and hearing the comments and the gossip of his father and the other men helping him. He was, undoubtedly, learning his three R's rapidly at home for we find that when he was sixteen his sister was well educated for a girl of those days and signed her name as a witness to a deed, "Elizabeth Feek, Junr." ....... "In the year 1703 when Robert Peeks was but ninteen he was entrusted with the laying out of five highways and some eighteen parcels of land, one of which was by "meiths and bounds".
On July 3, 1711, he had eighty pounds of "Baken",
which was more than anybody else In the township possessed. In the same year he was chosen at a Town meeting as one of two constables to prevent oysters being taken out of the Township, 'patten', (patent) and again in 1723. In 1719 he is mentioned in one of the town records as a blacksmith. Prom 1717 to 1727 he was elected and re-elected either one ofthe two Town Surveyors or to a position of trust, under various names, to settle estates. He continued surveying various properties until 1731, at least. For many years after that he was active in the buying and selling of real estate and would seem to have had a keen insight into various business transactions, values and the trend of the times.....
63 "Thus was our friend, Robert Feeks, born to a pioneer life In the woods with all the hardships, dangers and difficulties which that kind of life entails. In his infancy and childhood there were none of those pretty rattles, teething rings, doll babies and animals, toy automobiles, express wagons or electric trains and erector sets which the modern boy mu3t have. His older sister and a younger brother were probably the only playmates except, perhaps on Sunday for a short time, and as the sister became old enough she had chores to do which prevented her from spending much of her time with him.
If, by chance, he
wandered away into the woods where the wolves might get him or he did any of those other mischievous things which always come into the child mind he received a good old fashioned Quaker spanking. Robert, please don't;' It was do or don't.
There was none of this, 'Now
'Oh. Robert you must not do that.'
Obedience was the first law and It
was thoroughly impressed upon the child mind, from the bottom up*
As he grew older his father or mother (and,
doubtless, his si3ter was an able assistant) began to teach him his A.B.C's,
Did he scribble a letter or two on a piece
of paper and then throw it into the open fire? Unthinkable! Paper was too scarce and costly and where could he have gotten the pencils?
Do you think he used a slate as we did
in our early days?
Probably not. It is more likely that he
had to use a smooth, dry chip of wood from the woodpile and a piece of charcoal in the place of chalk or pencil. More likely yet, he learned to form his letters and write with a
s t i c k in the d i r t in f r o n t of t h e i r doorway or i n the snow*
When i t came t o penmanship, he did not get a
fountain pen for his b i r t h d a y , i t was a goose q u i l l and he had to l e a r r to cut thepolnt on i t and to make h i s own ink* "As f o r schooling, i t surely was but l i t t l e and probab l y none.
His f a t h e r and mother were b e t t e r able to teach
him than anyone e l s e in the country around here and so f a r we have found no reference to a school in Oyster Bay a t that early date.
His primer, h i s r e a d e r , h i s s t o r y book
and h i s l i t e r a t u r e were bound within the single covers of one book, the Holy B i b l e ,
He read i t f i r s t , l e t t e r by
l e t t e r , s i t t i n g on h i s f a t h e r ' s lap and l a t e r by the f l i c k e r ing l i g h t of a tallow c a n d l e .
While he learned much from
h i s f a t h e r and mother, p a r t i c u l a r l y h i s f a t h e r , when h e , the f a t h e r was c o n s t r u c t i v e l y thinking out and expounding h i s b e l i e f s a t home, to h i s f r i e n d s and neighbors and e s p e c i a l l y a t the Quaker Meeting House here i n Oyster Bay, where he i s presumed t o have been moved by the S p i r i t r e g u l a r l y on F i r s t Day,
His g r e a t e s t and most profound teacher was, however,
As a c h i l d he had seen h i s f a t h e r and neighbors
gather together to help one another a t " r a i s i n g s " , when they r a i s e d the frame of a house or barn; a t " k i l l i n g s " , when they butchered an animal f o r the meat, hide and f a t ; a t "shearings", when they sheared the sheep In the springtime f o r the wool, and various other f u n c t i o n s .
He had seen h i s
mother and s i s t e r , perhaps even helped them, prepare the dinners for these neighbors when they came to h i s father's
65 place. He had seen his mother prepare delicacies for and, perhaps, as a bigger boy had even taken her, sitting on a postillion behind him, to quilting parties, carding bees, where they carded the wool, or to the killlTngs, raisings or shearings to help the other women. As a bigger boy, he doubtless went to many of these parties or bees and applied his own strength and skill on the pike hole, the shears or the knife. "Helpfulness was one of the first laws of nature in those trying days among the pioneers. It was an unwritten law, a vital necessity.
It has to be instilled into the
very life and consciousness of every man, woman and child. The shirker was condemned in the most positive terms and there were no excuses save childhood and old age infirmities. One dark and dreary night, Robert sat by the table. The wind was howling through the tree tops and the rain was pattering against the side of the house. The candle flickered, almost went out and burned bright again. He opened the great book and read, a word or two at a time, "whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them.' That was experience.
That was life*
There was nothing controversial about
it and Robert knew that he understood it. As he sat with the very thought coursing through his veins there was a knock on the door and the bent form of a woman stumbled in, breathless and bedraggled.
'Jacob is very sick.'
word, Robert grabbed his great coat from the wooden peg in the corner, went out and mounter' his best horse and galloped away to Hempstead through the dark and the murk of the night,
66 through the rain and the sleet, through the depths of the forest primeval and across the open plains. Though the hor3e might shy at a bear or a wolf, they never faltered till there 'was a knock on a cabin door and the doctor was on his way. When they placed the rough hewn wooden box in the old farm cart, Robert was there to lead the procession to toe brow of the hill, and as it was gently lowered away he had a few words of cheer to the widow and orphans.
The next day he
threw a bag of meal across his horse's back and with a slab of bacon in one hand and an axe in the other, he was off to the little saddened home in the valley that they might not suffer from either hunger or cold •
"Civiliz^ion has advanced since the days of Robert Peeks.
Instead of the open fire roasting us on one side
and freezing us on the other, we have steam heat.
of cutting the wood and carrying it to a pile on the fire, a big truck drives up and pours gallons of oil into a tank, while all we have to do Is to write the eheck*
rest is automatic. We do not have to carry water for washing and cooking. We open a faucet and there it is, hot or cold as we wish. We do not have to spend hours scrubbing the bottoms of copper pots to get the soot off.
brought to us in pipes and our cooking is done on a clean flame.
We have quilting parties a3 of yore but the quilts
worked on are decks of cards and boxes of cigarettes and the tea is sometimes fermented in a cask, served out of a flask, cooled with ice cubes made by electricity and diluted with a carbonated beverage*
It is taken in summer to keep
67 us cool and to keep us warm in winter. Your success or failure at the party depends upon your saying 'I bet you five' at the right moment. The men have their raisings, killings, and shearings today, but they are held in comfortable club houses under such euphonious titles as Ministers' Councils, Medical Associations, Lawyers' Associations, Bankers' Associations^ unions of a thousand different kinds, and Republican and Democratic Clubs, where they gather together and proceed to tell us how we must pay them so and so much; we must not work them long enough to tire them, out of which we must give them smoking, eating and washing time and time to go back to the shop and hunt for a candle; we must furnish them with Insurance and transportation otherwise they will not lift a finger. And the joke is that if we do not give them work, we must support them anyway.
The ox cart of today is
rubber tired, cushioned with air, body sprung, spring seats with a hair mattress on top. They put from eighty to one hundred and twenty horses in front of us. We go out, press a button and the door opens, step into the cart and press a lever
when the horses begin to neigh and stamp, press
another lever and we are off to the- store just around the corner at thirty miles an hour, to the job at forty miles an hour, or to the club or fishing party at from fifty to 1 seventy miles per hour........
1. Most of the material -used in preparing this article was obtained by Judge Ludlum from the official minutes of the old Baptist Church in Oyster Bay. These minutes, according to the Judge, have since disappeared.
68 . C.
Folktales from Long Island
Lloyd's Neck and Huntington, during the American Revolution, were fortified and garrisoned by British and Hessian troops; and it is, therefore, natural to expect that many legends have been handed down concerning the foraging parties that were made along the North Shore to provide food for cavalrymen and horses. Judge Ludlum, a direct descendant of Joseph Ludlum* the first to acquire property rights on Center Island, (Hog Island), recently recalled for me a story that has been in his family many, many generations as affecting the raids upon farmers in that region. According to the Ludlum geneology, Hoseph died in 1698 and left to the elder of his two sons, Joseph II, the entire island. British law or not, Joseph felt that it was unjust to his brother, Charles. Therefore, he divided the island in half and kept for himself the southern half. Charles accepted the northern half of the island and, with his wife, Elizabeth Feeks Ludlum, devoted themselves to the cultivation and raising of cattle and hogs.
By the time their
son, Charles II, Inherited the property, there had been created an orderly and promising estate. For approximately eight years, the surrounding territory was in the hands of the British. According to the legend, one of the winters was particularly severe and the cold was 30 intense that the harbor and the sound were completely frozen over. This made it quite convenient for the
69 foraging Hessian troops to swoop down upon the farms along the shore. Charles II, who owned the property during the Revolution, anticipated the intent of the Hessians and had taken every precaution to secrete his cattle in a natural amphitheatre or gully, deep in the woodland.
put his negro slaves to tend the livestock and keep them from observation. Fortunately, a heavy snow had blotted out all traces of their whereabouts. After the Hessians had ravaged the island and had been unsuccessful in finding any loot, they stormed the homestead in search of the owner.
Daringly, they entered
the house, seized their victim, and dragged him to the doorstep.
To the lamp hook beside the trim doorway, they
hanged poor Charles Ludlum, and left the island. According to fehe story, Charles feigned death; but In the gathering gloom the roistering executioners had failed to note the extreme height, of the dangling farmer, who kept his toes upon the doorstep. Biding her time until the Invaders had departed, the brave wife cut down her husband, who was little harmed by the harrowing experience.
Following this dastardly trick, Charles Ludlum grew increasingly hateful of the British; and, although he was of British extraction himself, he took delight in developing schemes to defeat the purposes of toe British* History recounts that the British fleet was active in
70 the Sound*
On one occasion, a flotilla was engaged in
cannon practise just off the shore at Centre Island. Apparently, the gunners found sport in shooting directly at the negro slaves who worked in the fields on the Ludlum farm. When the barrage had finished, irate farmer Ludlum vowed his intent to retrieve every cannon ball that had landed in his fields and to put them to good
against the British. Under cover of darkness, these cannon balls were ferried across the Sound to the Connecticut side, hauled to Fort Tlconderoga in northern New York, and successfully used by the American forces in battle with the British. The Ballad of Nathan Hale In Halsite, Huntington, the re is a huge boulder that marks the spot where Nathan Hale landed from Connecticut on his ill-fated quest for Information on the movements of the British troops in 1776. History records the actual adventure of Washington's famous spy.
Following is an
anonymous tribute that was sung on Long Island following General Howe's order to execute Nathan Hale: The breeze went steadily through the tall pines, A-saying "ohl hu-shl "a-saying "ohl hu-shi" As stilly stole by a bold legion of horse, For Hale in the bush,for Hale in the bush*
71 "Keep still!" said the thrush as 3he nestled her young In a nest by the road; in a nest by the road, tyFor the tyrants are near, and with them appear What bode3 us no good, what bodes us no good. The brave captain heard It, and thought of his home In a cot by the brook; in a cot by the brook. With mother and sister and memories dear, He so gayly forsook; he so gayly forsook. Cooling shades of the night were coming apace, The tattoo had beat; the tattoo had beat* The noble one sprang from his dark lurking-place, To make his retreat; to make his retreat. He warily trod on the dry rustling leaves, As he passed through the wood; as he passed through the wood; And silently gained his rude launch on the shore, As she played with the flood; as she played with the flood. The guards of the camp, on that dark, drearynight, Had a murderous will; had a murderous will. They took him and bore him afar from the shore, To a hut on the hill; to a hut fin the hill* No mother was there, nor a friend who could cheer, In that little stone cell; in that little stone cell. But he trusted in love, from his Father above* In his heart, all was well; in his heart, all was well.
72 An ominous owl, with his solemn bass voice, Sat moaning hard by; sat moaning hard by: "The Tyrantfe proud minions most gladly rejoice, For he must soon die; for he must soon die." The brave fellow told them, nothing restrained,— The cruel generalI
The cruel generalJ
His errand from camp, of the ends to be gained, And said that was all; and said that was all. They took him and bound him and bore him away, Down the hill's grassy side; down the hill's grassy side. "Twas there the base hirelings, In royal array, His cause did deride; his cause did deride. Five minutes were given, short moments no more, For him to repent; for him to repent. He prayed for his mother, he asked not another, To Heaven he went; to Heaven he went* The faith of a martyr the tragedy showed, As he trod the last stage; as he trod the last stage. And Britons will shudder at Gallant Hale's blood, As his words do presage; as his words do presage. "Thou pale king of terrors, thou life's gloomy foe, Go frighten the slave, go frighten the slave; Tell tyrants , to you their allegiance they owe. No fears for the brave; no fears for the brave."
73 1 A Ghost at Commack By Simon W. Cooper A full century has elapsed since David Rice, a native of Newry, in the North of Ireland, removed from New York City to a small farm in the little hamlet of Commack, in the middle of Long Island,
It was while living there and
conducting his farm that he had the experience which it is my purpose to relate - an experience that has never been satisfactorily explained.
The story involves a bit of Long
Island folklore, with some family history intermingled. David Rice was both an operative and a speculative Ma son. He had learned the stone mason's trade in his native Ireland, and had also been made a Free Mason there had been raised in a blue lodge, exalted in a chapter of Royal Arch Masons and attained the degree of Knight Templar* It is doubtful that he ever sat within tiled walls after coming to Suffolk County, but he certainly had done so many times while a resident of New York.
But "once a Mason,
always a Mason," was true In his case, and he never lost his Interest in the ancient craft.
The square and compass
are still visible on the stone that marks his grave in the little "God's Acre" at Commack. David Rice was truly what Is known as a "marrying man",
1* Taken by permission of Paul Bailey, Publisher, from the "Long Island Forum," Bay Shore, N. Y., Month Of August, 1U40V Volume III, Number 8
74 having had four wives. Three were taken from him by death. The fourth, who survived him by many years, was, when she took his name, the widow of Isaac Arthur, a member of the old Long Island family of that name. She was a daughter of the Reverend Joshua Hartt, a noted Presbyterian clergyman of his day, and was born at what no?/ is Fort Salonga, but then was known as Fresh Ponds. Prior to coming to Commack Mr. and Mrs. Rice were living In Broome Street, in Old New York, where was born their only child, Glorlana S. Rice, who later became the wife of the late James B. Cooper, Sr., of Babylon. So much by way of back-ground. Now let us proceed to the story of the adventure which befell David Rice one Autumn evening more than 90 years ago. When he came to Commack Mr. Rice brought with him his kit of stone mason's tools, no doubt believing that if agriculture did not meet his expectations, he dould find work at his trade.
It so happened that he was called upon
to do some mason work for a neighbor, and on the day of his adventure had driven a few miles from his home to do such a job*
Just at dusk he was on his way home, jogging
along behind his faithful horse, "Tip", with his tools in a canvas bag at his feet. As he drove under the overhanging limb of a big oak tree by the roadside he was astonished to see something drop Into the back of his old-fashioned box-wagon*
must be admitted that Mr. Rice was of a superstitious nature*
75 Like many Irishmen of his generation he believed In the existence of fairies and gnomes - "the little people," as he termed them - and he was quite badly frightened. He declared afterward - and stuck to it to toe last day of his life - that "the thing", as he always termed it, spoke to him when he reached for his mason's hammer, saying, "Hal
You have steel; well, I'm not afraid of steel."
He drove on as rapidly as he could, occasionally glancing into the rear of his wagon, and as he neared home was relieved to see that "the thing" had disappeared. Reaching home, he stabled and fed his horse and made his way to the house, where Mrs. Rice was about to put supper on the table. As he entered toe kitchen Mrs. Rice, noting his white, drawn face, exclaimed: the matter?
"Why, David, what is
You're white as a sheet and all of a tremble."
"I have been worse frightened tonight than I ever was in my life," said her husband.
"But let's not talk
about it now; give me some supper, and bye and bye I'll tell you the whole story." The evening meal was eaten in complete silence, but when the table had been cleared off and the dishes washed and the kitchen "readied up," and Uncle David had taken his seat in his favorite armchair, with his pipe filled and lighted up, he told his wife what had happened. He described the place where he had encountered the "thing" and how it had talked to him.
He even told how it was
dressed In a green colored garment and wore a tiny cap, Mrs. Rice listened closely, but with an air of dis-
76 approval - even disgust*
She was a woman of strong charac-
ter who scoffed at all supernatural things, and when her husband had finished his story she said, tersely:
and nonsense! That's all some more of your Irish superstition. You either fell asleep while driving home and dreamed all that yarn you've been telling, or else you had too many drinks of Smith Carll's hard cider.
thing for you to do Is to go to bed and think no more about it. In the morning you will have forgotten that anything of the kind ever happened." Uncle David, however, insisted that what he had told her had actually occurred, and never could he be convinced to the contrary. As long as he lived he declared that he had experienced an encounter with one of the "little people" on that Autumn evening. It may be said in passing that, while not a total abstainer, Uncle David was a temperate man; but it must also be admitted that the neighbor for whom he worked on that occasion was known to have in his cellar some very old cider that carried with it a real "kick". On the following day, while her husband was husking corn In one of his lots, Mrs. Rice harnessed the horse to the same wagon and set off for the mill at Smithtown, where she was to have several b ags of wheat ground into flour. Her road let under the same tree from which "the thing" had dropped into Uncle David's wagon the night before*
drove along, not thinking of the incident at all, but as she passed under the overhanging limb the horse shied
77 violently, nearly throwing her from her seat, and broke into a run. She had some difficulty in getting the frightened animal under control. Now, while it is possible that Uncle David had partaken too freely of the potent cider on the previous evening, certain it is that his faithful old horse had not, for horses do not drink elder. Something had happened to frighten the animal, and there was nothing In sight. Of that Mrs. Rice was absolutely certain* The story of Uncle David's experience got noised about the vicinity and was discussed wherever men (and some women as well) met.
The consensus was that it was
a case of imagination, due to one drink too many.
someone recalled that s small traveling menagerie which had exhibited shortly before at Huntington had passed through Commack on its way to the South Side.
pointed out that the menagerie consisted in part of a number of monkeys, and that one of them might have escaped from its cage and from the limb of the oak tree have dropped into the rear of David Rice's wagon. But while monkeys do chatter, they do not talk, and Uncle David always insisted that "the thing" spoke to him so plainly as to be understood. The Rice homestead still stands at the foot of a lane running from toe Commack-Babylon road, but it has long since passed into other hands.
The big oak in
question, with Its overhanging limb, is still to be
78 seen on the road over which Uncle David drove that Autumn night.
Speeding motor cars now drive under it, but the
occupants are not the victims of any such experience as befell David Rice. There probably is no one living today who knew Mr, Rice but the story has been a family tradition for many years. The armchair in which the old man sat that night when he related his story to his wife is a cherished heirloom in the possession of one of his grandsons, who also had frames, the traveling certificate issued by the Masonic Lodge in Newry to Brother David Rice when he left the land of Erin for America.
It hangs on the wall of the grand-
son's library, where it attracts much attention from members of the craft who notice it. The grandson is a Mason, as is Brother Rice's great-grandson. Unlike their ancestor, neither has attained more "light" than is to be had in a symbolic lodge, but both have served their lodges as Master - the grandson in two Grand Jurisdictions; the great-grandson in one. 1 "Gone to Yorke" By Kate W. Strong "Where's t h a t f a t h e i f e r ? " demanded a B r i t i s h s o l d i e r . "Gone to Yorke," answered the farmer with what appeared to be s u l l e n r e s i g n a t i o n . 1. Taken by permission of Paul Bailey, P u b l i s h e r , from the "Long I s l a n d Forum," Bay Shore, New York, August, 1940, iSTolume H I , No. 8
79 Such a statement was often heard in Smithtown during the Revolution.
For, like the rest of Long Island, Smith-
town suffered greatly during those times. An old account book of those days shows the number of "meals victuals" owed for, horses and drivers used, and so on.
These accounts are signed by the officers, Col. Hewlett
and "Bloody Tarlton" among them. No accounts are marked paid. At his house at Willow Pond, now the Wyandanch Club, lived Caleb Smith, a Yale graduate of the class of 1744. Hearing that he had refused to swear allegiance to the King British soldiers dragged him from his bed at midnight and lashed him up and down the mill dam with"hickory gads." house.
When exhausted he was allowed to return to his
There a British officer challenged him with,
"Now will you sign the oath of allegiance to his Majesty?" "No, I will not," replied Caleb. "Then say, 'God Bless King George'." "God Bless all honest men", answered Caleb as he slammed the door in time to escape a blow from the officer's sword, which deeply dented the door, but did no real harm to anything but the officer's feelings, and perhaps his sword* Not all the British officers were cruel. Take the time when soldiers broke into the house of Isaac Blydenburgh.
It was night and, finding a keg of hard cider,
80 they grew ugly and troublesome. Mrs. Blydenburgh let a small servant girl out the window and she ran and told their officers.
The officers came at once and not only
drove the soldiers out, but paddled them so with the flat of their swords that, I guess, they did not sit down in a hurry. What has all this to do with Yorke?
Well, suppose a
farmer had a fine animal the British wanted, and it disappeared?
He would be in trouble. But'if he could swear
truthfully that it had gone to Yorke, they would think someone had been anead of them. Today if you follow the road from Smithtown to Islip and turn on the road known as Joshua's Path, you will find shortly one of those strange "well hollows" left by glacier ice, so deep that tall trees at the bottom barely show their tops above the surface. This was the farmer's "Yorke." bottom of it.
Paths led down to the
There safely hidden away after some secret
night drive, many fine horses and fat beef cattle, to say nothing of nice tender calves, were saved from the enemy. Few know it even to this day. Certainly not the modern picnickers who have left their trail of trash over the trails which lead down to the depths of that strange Yorke, which spelled safety to the farmer's precious creatures, many years ago.
CHAPTER IV CHILD LIFE IN COLONIAL DAYS
If a child in a modern and progressive Long Island school of today were suddenly transported to a Dutch or English Colonial school of approximately 1670, his shock at being chastised, disciplined, and coerced by a strict master whose reaction to a student who dared to express himself verbally when not called upon would be sufficient to make him. awe some. Washington Irving's portrait of a typical Dutch school master is undoubtedly authentic. Since education was purely a local concern, as is shown by the fact that no Colonial act required the need of its public support until after the Revolution, Itinerant teachers were employed, many times grudgingly, for a term or longer by the parents themselves. Our modern teachers whose tenure status is usually well established would smart under the terms of a contract In vogue then. Some amusing documents remain; one "provided that for seven months in the warmer part of the year the master should every day begin to teach at seven o'clock in the morning and dismiss the scholars at five in the afternoon, while in the colder and darker months of the remainder of the year he was to begin at eight and
82 close at four.
There was to be a midday intermission
from eleven to one, except on Monday, when the master shall call his scholars together between twelve and one of the clock to examine
them what they have learned, at
which time also he shall take notice of any misdemeanor or outrage that any of his scholars shall have committed on the sabbath, to the end that at some convenient time due admonition and correction may be administered. "He shall diligently instruct both in humane and good literature, and likewise in point of good manners and dutiful behavior towards all, especially their superiors. Every day of the week at two o'clock in the afternoon, he shall catechise his scholars in the principles of the Christian religion. "He shall faithfully do his best to benefit his scholars, and not remain away from school unless necessary. He shall equally and impartially teach such as are placed in his care, no matter whether their parents be poor or rich. "It is to be a chief part of the schoolmaster's religious care to commend his scholars and his labors amongst them unto God by prayer morning and evening taking care that his scholars do reverently attend during the same. "The rod of correction is a rule of God necessary sometimes to be used upon children.
The schoolmaster shall
have full power to punish all or any of his scholars, no matter who they are. No parent or other person living in
83 the place shall go about to hinder the master In this. But if any parent or others shall think there is just cause for complaint against the master for too much severity, they shall have liberty to tell him so In 1 friendly and loving way." In addition to the routine duties listed above, the average schoolmaster performed such other duties as the following:
"He rang the church bell on Sunday, read the
Bible at service in church, and led the singing; sometimes he read the sermon. He provided the water for baptisms, bread and wine for communion, and in fact performed all the duties now done by a sexton, including sweeping out the church. He delivered Invitations to funerals and carried messages. Sometimes he dug the 2 graves, and often he visited and comforted the sick." And the remuneration?
If toe schoolmaster happened
to be anything but resourceful and given to agricultural pursuits, he lived at a bare subsistence level. Usually he was paid in beaver skins, Indian corn, peas, wheat, strings of wampum, beans, or any other farm product.
wonder many masters became discouraged and moved on to the next community to try their luck. Many were given to
1. Johnson, Clifton.
2* Earle, A. M.
Old-Time Schools and School Books, New York: Macmillan and Company, 1904, p* 10 and 11
Colonial L^fe In Colonial Days, New York: Macmillan and Company, 1909, p. 75
d r i n k , a s well may be imagined; and according t o old records t h e i r I n s o b r i e t y was often r e f l e c t e d in .their r e l a t i o n s towards students on "blue Monday". What q u a l i f i c a t i o n s were necessary to be considered a p r o f e s s o r of the three R's i s n o t well e s t a b l i s h e d , and apparently many a s h i f t l e s s fellow t r i e d h i s hand a t teaching If he were able to convince a group of p a r e n t s t h a t he knew a r i t h m e t i c , could read toe Bible with i n t o n a t i o n , and was a good penman. Today the great Empire S t a t e has an educational system t h a t i s among the leading s t a t e s in the n a t i o n . wrought many changes in two and a h a l f c e n t u r i e s .
Time has Unlike
today, where every community on Long Island has imposing e d i f i c e s dedicated to public education, the school houses of the Colonial period were incommodious and unpretentious structures.
The ornamented facade and a r c h i t e c t u r a l em-
bellishments on modern school b u i l d i n g s a r e not h e r e d i t a r y . No, p a i n t and p l a s t e r were f a r removed from.the minds of our f o r e f a t h e r s when they erected s c h o o l s .
perserverance were c h a r a c t e r o b j e c t i v e s ; c e r t a i n l y no c h i l d could be-properly directed i f the avenues of learning were paved with l u x u r i e s , ease, or refinements! If the e x t e r i o r of the school b u i l d i n g s was drab, the I n - t e r l o r was more so.
The e a r l i e s t schools were small,
one-room s t r u c t u r e s that were heated during the winter school term by wide, f l e l d s t o n e f i r e p l a c e s .
children were not p i t i e d , but i t I s recorded t h a t an im-
85 provement in heating technique was made in the form of a Dutch stove, which was probably also inadequate when the wind whistled through the numerou-s crevices of the floor beams and the wainscot. Even with improved heating, the students "hugged" the stove till noontime; by the time for afternoon dismissal, the room was usually comfortable. Quantities of wood were probably consumed as the scholars who tended the stove were uninterested in economy.
The responsibility of tending the fire gave but
momentary opportunity to escape from the severity of an eagle-eyed master.
The cord wood was usually supplied
by parents, each father taking his turn in delivering a load. Custodi.an engineers, matrons, firemen, and janitors are relatively a new invention.
The little Dutch boys
had individual responsibilities and chores in the classroom.
Some were made to carry in the day's supply of wood
for fuel, others were obliged to keep the drinking water replenished, and everyone was obliged, if he were the first to arrive in the morning, to run to the nearest farmhouse with a footstove for a few live coals with which to start the fire. Edtication in most communities was for boys only and the school session was frequently restricted to the winter months, except in the wealthier districts. Spring and summer were periods when every hand was needed upon the
In the more enlightened centers of toe Dutch colony,
girls were permitted to attend school with the boys, while in other districts a special term was Instituted solely for girls. It was not uncommon for boys in their late teens and early twenties to be enrolled in the same classroom with youngsters ten and under.
This Is probably the reason why
poetry and fiction have immortalized the sentimental tales of flogging, dunce caps, and tricks played upon the master. As was the case with heating the school building, the students were also required to keep the room clean. Old woodcuts show boys with palls of water, which they have filled at the neighboring well, on their way to participate in the ; eneral scrubbing.
This was done according to the
whim of the master. Some were meticulous but many were not.
Sweeping the floor, however, was usually a delegated
chore or a punishment. Most masters did not interest themselves with class organization as it was not so much needed as today where we have hundreds of children in each school. Class lessons were heard according to the ability of each student and not according to his chronological age. A precocious child of eight might recite in the same class with a gangling youth of seventeen, whose education might have been started rather late. Many parents were interested only in their children's ability to read the Bible, to cipher, and to write with legibility the ordinary business transactions. Old prints show Interior views of Colonial classrooms.
87 Before Individual desks were employed, students sat on long oaken benches, dangling their feet and stooping forward because of the lack of any back support. Punishments for disobeying the rules or the master were most severe. Lying children were flogged and flatshaped pieces of wood were used for striking the palm of the scholar's hand. Birch rods were used for beating children and the crowning insult was charging a child a >f ee for the cost of the rods used upon him* Another punishment was to send an offending child out to cut a small branch from a tree.
The teacher would make
a split in one end of the branch, hang it on toe child's nose, and cause him to stand in front of the class, painfully pinched and the object of everyone's ridicule. Sometimes two naughty children were yoked together in a yoke made with two bows like an ox yoke.
a boy and a girl yoked together - a terrible disgrace. Children were sometimes seated upon a unipod, a stool with one leg.
It was extremely tiring to balance such a seat.
Stupid students were made to sit on dunce seats with conical hats upon their heads, sometimes with heavy leather eye-glasses on, and a sign hung around their necks telling of their offense.
One teacher forced naughty children to
hold a heavy book, such as a dictionary, by a single leaf. Of course, any restless motion caused the leaf to tear another offense. One other schoolmaster, employed to teach the children English, would punish those who spoke Dutch by handing the
88 first offender of the day a coin. This unfortunate one passed it on toe second offender who erred in speaking Dutch.
So It passed from one to another until the end
of the day.
The last offender was whipped.
One New York master was reputed to have had a small ladder in the front of the room; and, when he ordered a disobedient pupil to the front for punishment, the pupil climbed up a few rungs of the ladder before the lashing was administered in the sight of all. Textbooks were scarce. What few did exist were imported from England and they were usually toe property of the master.
The beginning reader u3ed what was widely
known as a hornbook, which oddly enough was not a book at all.
It consisted of a sheet of printed paper attached to
a paddle-shaped board.
The printed surface of the paper
was protected with a sheet of yellowish horn and the outer edges were bound with thin strips of brass. In the handle of the board was a 'hole through which a cord was run so that the scholar could carry it suspended from his neck. A few of these hornbooks still exist and are regarded as treasured heirloom. Picture if you will the poorly printed, unattractive, and colorless sheet with which all beginning readers struggled.
At the top of toe sheet appeared in order the
lower and upper case letters of the alphabet; and then the vowels and combinations of consonants and vowels. Beneath was the benediction:
"In the name of the Father, and of
89 the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen;" then followed the Lord'3 Prayer. The hornbook was given other names by students and teachers.
Absey-book, horn-bat, born-gig, and battle-
doore-book, were commonly used.
The Dutch students called
it the "A-B-Boordje". Printers were myriad once they were popularized, and every publisher injected some variation in the content.
The "reading boards" that were In use in
1786 in Erasmus Hall, the famous school of Flatbush, Brooklyn, were thin slabs of wood about fifteen inches long, covered on both sides with printed sheets that presented simple reading lessons and no religious matter, A century before, the clergy in every Long Island community were alert in their supervision of the schools. Since the church was supported by all the townspeople, and its administration was centered in the town meeting, the pastor was an important town official. Every clergyman was interested in the welfare of the children in his pastorate. He therefore visited the schools weekly and taught children their catechism, explained the philosophy of the church, and even questioned students on the content of the sermon of the previous week.
In many towns on Long Island the ministers
were also the school masters.
In such cases the parents
were not subject to the whims of Itinerent school teachers. These colonial schools had no visual aids such as globes, maps, or blackboards, and slates did not appear until after the Revolution*
As for lead pencils, they did
not come into general use until almost the middle of the
nineteenth century. Paper was very scarce and what l i t t l e t h e r e was was used very s p a r i n g l y .
The paper of t h a t p e r i o d was ex-
tremely rough, course, and dark.
Birch bark was p l e n t i f u l
and ingenious students manufactured t h e i r own copy books. In the w e a l t h i e r towns where paper was used, t h e unruled foolscap was folded to make pages approximately 10" x 12". Any number of these sheets were bound t o g e t h e r between a course cardboard which was decorated with c o l o r f u l w a l l paper.
Once the copy book was bound, each s c h o l a r r u l e d
the pages with plummets, which were s t r i p s of lead t h a t were molded l o c a l l y and sharpened to a p o i n t by the master* Children t i e d these plummets to t h e i r r u l e r s so t h a t they were c o n s t a n t l y a c c e s s i b l e . Several museums on Long Island contain old copy book3 wonderfully preserved, and one gains the impression a f t e r examining a few t h a t the penmanship of students i n Colonial days was much superior to t h a t of today.
masters were employed solely for t h e i r "wrlghting" a b i l i t y . I t mattered not whether one's s p e l l i n g wa3 c o r r e c t ; l e g i b i l i t y was the c r i t e r i o n . Home made ink was the medium used by s c h o l a r s i n f i l l ing the pages of t h e i r manuscript copy books with proverbs, sums, and f a b l e s .
Ink was not provided by the master;
children and p a r e n t s concoted toeir own by d i s s o l v i n g an ink-powder i n water.
I f money were not a v a i l a b l e f o r the
purchase of powders, children manufactured t h e i r own ink.
91 The bark of the swamp-maple was boiled in the Iron kettle in the open fireplace. If the proper color tone was not obtained through boiling, copperas was added. Many of these homemade concoctions resulted in weak, pallid Inks. The goose-quills, unlike the ink, were an accomplishment of toe master.
The reputation of a teacher often
rested upon three laurels: his ability to maintain discipline, his penmanship, and his skill in making, sharpening, and repairing goose-quills. With the introduction of "The New England Primer" In Boston, the hornbooks disappeared.
Soon every home pos-
sessed a copy and the schools of Long Island were prompt in changing to a more modern text. It became the school book of American dissenters and its popularity was manifest in its tremendous sales. Special editions appeared under different titles such as the "New York Primer" and "The Columbian Primer". curriculum.
Children now had an enriched
The front pages of the primer were devoted
to syllable combinations and several pages of words, ranging from one to six syllable words. Most of the remainder of the text is given to moral and religious material. The rhyming technique for teaching the alphabet antedates "The New England Primer" but our Long Island students found new challenges because of the meter and the pictures that accompanied the verses. New but minor features were Introduced with every separate edition; but the Apostle's Creed, the Lord's Prayer, the Cradle Hymn,
92 and the page of "Instructive Questions and Answers" were retained in all. The section of "Instructive Questions and Answers" could hardly be called enllghtning today but every scholar recited them by rote: Who was the first Man?
Who was the oldest Man?
Who was the patlentest Man?
Who was toe meekest Man?
Who was the hard-heartedest Man?
Who made iron swim?
Who was in the Whale's Belly?
Following are other excerpts taken from the primer and serve to illustrate the contrast between the early Long Island schools and those of today: 1 Alphabet of Lessons In Adam's Fall We sinned all. Thy life to mend This Book attend. The Cat doth play And after slay. A Bog will bite The Thief at Night.
1. New English Tutor, London, 1702* Later brought to America and incorporated in the New England Primer.
An Eagle's flight Is out of sight. The Idle Fool, Is shipt at school* As runs the Glass Man'3 Life doth pass. My Book and Heart Shall never part. Job feels the rod Yet Blessed GOD. Our King the good No man of blood. The Lion bold The Lamb doth hold. The Moon gives light In time of night* Nightingales sing In Time of Spring. The Royal Oak it was the Tree That sav'd His Royal Majestle*
94 Peter denies His Lord and cries. Queen Esther comes in Royal State To Save the Jew3 from dismal Fate. RachaaL doth mourn For her first born* Samuel anoints Whom God appoints. Time cuts down all Both great and small. Uriah's beauteous Wife Made David seek his life. Whales In the Sea God's Voice obey. Xerxes the great did die And so must you and I* Youth forward slips Death soonest nips. Zacheus he Did climb the Tree Hi3 Lord to see.
95 Now the Child being entered in his Letters and Spelling, let him learn these and such like Sentences by Heart, whereby he will be both instructed in his Duty, and encouraged in his Learning. #•>>::-
The Dutiful Child's Promise I will fear GOD, and honour the King. I will honour my Father and Mother. I will obey my Superlours. I will submit to my Elders. I will Love my Friends. I will hate no Man. I will forgive my Enemies, and pray to God for them. I will as much as in me lies keep all God's Holy Commandments. I will learn my Catechism. I will keep the Lord's Day Holy. I will reverence God's sanctuary, FOR OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE, Verses I in the Burying Place may see Graves Shorter there than I; From Death's Arrest no Age is free; Young Children too may die; My God, may such an awful sight, Awakening be to me! Oh!
that by early Grace I might For Death prepared be.
96 Good Children Must Fear God all Day,
Love Christ alway,
In secret Pray,
No False thing Say,
Mind little Play,
By no Sin Stray,
Make no delay,
In doing Good. Awake, arise, behold thou hast Thy Life a Leaf, thy Breath a Blast; At Night lye down prepar'd to have Thy sleep, thy death, thy bed, thy grave*
Learn These Four Lines by Heart Have communion with few. Be Intimate with ONE. Deal justly with all. Speak Evil of none. 1 Now I Lay We Down to S l e e p . Now I lay me down t o take my s l e e p , I pray the Lord my a o u l to keep* If I should d i e b e f o r e I wake I pray the Lord my s o u l t o t a k e .
1. This u n i v e r s a l c h i l d ' s p r a y e r was f i r s t p r i n t e d i n the e d i t i o n of 1737. " I pray toe Lord" undoubtedly was a misprint f o r " I p r a y Thee, Lord," but toe e r r o r was never c o r r e c t e d .
97. Noah Webster was the revolutionary force that caused "The New England Primer" to die a very sudden death. In 1783, he published "The First Part of a Grammatical Institute of the English Language", later changed to "The American Spelling Book".
Its success was phenomenal;
the best seller of the century was launched.
spelling swept the nation and daily spelling bees in school were the most vital phase of the day's routine. Although spelling was the core of the curriculum, children were also made to struggle with "arithmetick"* Such knotty and impractical measures and rules as these were memorized, recited, and applied to problems*
measure, long measure, rule of three, wool measure, liquid measure, ale measure, etc. Problems in barrels of salmon, eels, and herring were mixed with goose-quills, barrels of cider, and religious matter: "Divide 4j gallons of brandy equally among 144 1 soldiers. Answer: 1 gill a piece."
" An ignorant fop wanting to purchase an elegant house, a facetious gentlemen told him he had one which he would sell him on these moderate terms, via. that he should give him a penny for the first door, 2d. for the second, 4d. for the third, and so on, doubling at every door which were 36 in all.
1. Johnson, C , Old-Tlme Schools and School-Books, New York, Macmillan and company: TS04, pp. 30 5-307
:Tt is a bargain!' cried the simpleton, 'and here
is a guinea to bind it.' "Pray, what would the house have cost him? 1 L286331153,ls., and 3d."
"What I s the difference between six dozen doaen and 1 half a dozen dozen? Answer: 792
1. Johnson, C , Old-Tlme Schools and School-Books, New York, Macmilland and Company: T504, Pp. 305-307
The happiest time of the year in the life of a Colonial youngster was Christmas. Children in the English section of Long Island observed the season in much the same way that "Merrie England" kept the occasion with its yulelog, holly, mistletoe, candles, caroling, plum pudding, sweet cakes, and pies.
The early English set-
tlers did not out-live the customs of the homeland; however, they did frown upon the Dutch "Sanctus Klaas" and the exchange of gifts v/as in no proportion with that of today. Every member of the family was thoughtful of the re3t, and in the absence of large department stores their love for each other was expressed in less pretentious ways. Christmas was a time for happiness, feasting, bobbing for apples, stockings full of sweetmeats, and square dancing. The Dutch celebrated the day with their typical mirth.
Energy and effort were not spared in making the
time for St. Nick or Sanctus Klaas a time for charity and good will.
If quilting bees and funerals helped relieve
the monotony of Colonial life, Christmas v/as a time for special festivity. If St. Nicholas stimulated the Dutch children to ent
joy l i f e
to the f u l l , New Year's Eve was a t i r o s e t a p a r t
for adult holiday.
What with gun f i r i n g a t t h e stroke of
midnight, the c e l e b r a t i o n continued with u n r e s t r a i n e d merriment f a r i n t o the morning. for sports events;
New Y e a r ' s Day was a day
t a r g e t shooting, bowling ( i f t h e
100 weather permitted), and athletic contests.
The day was
topped off with a generous feast of roast pig, wild turkey, venison, vegetables, fruits, cider, and strong ale. Open House existed in every homestead and the burden of the undertaking fell upon the industrious housewife, who never dreamed of uttering a complaint. "Vrouwen dagh", our St. Vslentlne's Day, was women's day in the Dutch Colony.
Coy and demure young ladies
took courage, for the joyous occasion allowed them to express their affections in much the same way we celebrate Leap Year.
According to Furman:
"Every girl provided
herself with a cord without a knot in the end, and; on the morning of this day, she would sally forth, and every lad she met was sure to have three or four smart strokes from the cord bestowed upon his shoulders. These we presume were in those days considered as 'love taps', and, in that light, answered all the purposes of the 'valentine' of 1 more modern times." "Pauch" or E a s t e r Sunday was a day s e t a p a r t i n b o t h the Dutch and the English settlements f o r r e l i g i o u s observances, b u t the custom of giving c o l o r f u l eggs t o f r i e n d s and r e l a t i v e s was not confined to E a s t e r Sunday c h i l d r e n continued i t throughout the week, Hallowe'en on Long I s l a n d wa3 a time f o r w i t c h e s ,
1. Furman, G a b r i e l .
A n t i q u i t i e s of Long I s l a n d , New York: J . W. B O u t o n , 1 8 7 5 . p *
goblins, and black c a t s .
Children had p a r t i e s where
bobbing f o r apples, w i t c h e s ' t a l e s , and ghost s t o r i e s were more meaningful than today.
before the h e a r t h and experienced c h i l l i n g sensations as wlerd s t o r i e s were n a r r a t e d before the cracking and dying embers. As for other c h i l d r e n ' s t o y s , games, and pastimes, a s u r p r i s e i s in s t o r e f o r anyone who reads Alice M. E a r l e ' s "Child Life i n Colonial Days," Chapters 12 and 13, may learn t h a t k i t e f l y i n g , p r i s o n e r ' s base, blowing soap bubbles, playing squat tag, bllndman's buff, marbles, t i c k tack, r i n g games, " I sent a l e t t e r t o my l o v e , " "London Bridge i s f a l l i n g down," and engaging in w h i s t l e making, swimming, f i s h i n g , top spinning, end leap frog were common p a s t i m e s . been invented.
One wonders if anything new has
These f a m i l i a r games are i l l u s t r a t i v e of
the f a c t t h a t children seldom If ever learn games from reading r u l e s from p r i n t e d pages of explanation.
p e r s i s t e n t survival i s evidence of toe way s u p e r s t i t i o n s , f o l k t a l e s , and b a l l a d s a r e passed on from one generation t o another.
CHAPTER V FAMILY CUSTOMS In view of the fact that the English settlements on Long Island were so closely allied with those of New England, much that is known to have been customary there may also be said to have existed here. Students will, therefore, understand that any reference made to the Massachusetts Colony has its Long Island parallel, A,
Puritan babies were baptized within a few days of birth, and the ceremony took place In the meeting house. Since the meeting houses were extremely cold and cheerless, a child was fortunate to be born in the summer rather than in the cold of winter. Half the children born on Long Island had no more drawn breath than they were carried through windy, cold lanes to become Christians in the eyes of the church. When the party reached the meeting house, very often the ice had to be broken in the christening bowl.
It was a cold and disheartening re-
ception into the Puritan church; so, many were born but lived only a short time. The death rate among infants was great; they died singly and in little groups. Mothers made fine christening blankets for their little babies. They were often made of silk and were beautifully embroidered, sometimes with a text of
The coverlets were lace-bordered or edged
with a narrow home-woven silk fringe. B.
In colonial times on Long Island, the governor had charge of marriage licenses. This added to his income and made the cost of getting married a little more costly. In 1673 New York had an officer whose duty it was to hear and decide matrimonial difficulties. He was called "The First commissioner of marriage affairs". If there were but one such officer at the present day, he would lead a very busy life. There are no records that show that child marriages were as common in America as they were in England,
England princes and princesses were married by proxy, for reasons of state, while still infants. Arrangements were also made for the marriage of others than the royal family in early childhood.
This was usually caused because some
land and its maintenance was involved or a desire to evade the Crown's guardianship of orphans. Some people thought that a child of fifteen was of mature years.
John Winthrop, Governor of Massachusetts,
was married at seventeen and evidently thought his son, John, who was fourteen, was a capable and responsible person because the governor made a will making the boy executor of it. Child marriages were not abolished in America because children were judged mature at a later age; for up to the
104 Revolution boys reached man's e s t a t e a t s i x t e e n years of age and became taxpayers and served i n the m i l i t i a .
marriages were c o n t r o l l e d by law and one such law s t a t e d noT t h a t an orphaned g i r l , during h e r minority, should A be given in marriage by anyone except with the approbation of the majority of the selectmen of the town in which she r e s i d e d . C.
Long Island children were imbued with a familiarity with death in other ways than reading or talking about it. Their presence at funerals was expected.
Colonial times were social functions as well as solemn ones; they were reunions of friends and relatives. Funerals were ceremonials of great expense and pomp with much feasting and drinking. Everybody went to everyone else's funeral. The population was small and funerals were rare.
If the school
teacher of the town were absent, it was cause for much comment.
So school would be dismissed on the day of a
funeral. Little girls were pall bearers at toe funerals of their childish mates and young unmarried girls at those of their companions,. Dressed in white, with uncovered heads, or veiled, • these little girls made a touching sight. "Among the Dutch settlers the art of stone cutting does not appear to have been used ... with but few exceptions, and their old burying groxinds are strewn with rough headstones which bear no inscriptions ... Another
105 reason for not finding any very old tombstones in the Dutch settlements was, that they early adopted the practice of having family burial places on their farms, without monuments, and not unfrequently private burials, both of which the Governor and Colonial Literature, in 1664 and 1684 deemed of sufficient importance to merit legislative interference, and declared that all persons should be publicly buried in some parish burial place; but as there was no specific penalty attached to the breach of these laws, the custom of burying in private burial places still continued, and is practiced to a considerable extent at the present day. "The Legistlature of the State of New York on the 6th day of April, 1796, passed an Act authorizing the inhabitants of Flatbush to establish a night watch in that town. The object designed by this watch was to prevent the taking up of recently buried bodies from their graves in the churchyard, to be used for anatomical examinations in the City of New York, and elsewhere; which it was said had been previously done in some instances, and caused much excitement in the community, as well as grief to the surviving relatives ... This watch was usually kept every night in the cemetery for eight or ten days after the interment, depending on the season of the year.
The friends of the
deceased supplied the watch each night with provisions and refreshments to be consumed during their vigils.
"Funerals were very expensive.
I t was customary to
lay up a stock of superior wine t o be used on such occ a s i o n s ; frequently, a t those f u n e r a l s t h e r e was wine so choice and excellent t h a t i t could scarcely be equalled. I t was handed to a l l persons attending the f u n e r a l .
the house from which the f u n e r a l was to proceed, i t was custom to prepare a large q u a n t i t y ( i n r u r a l areas part i c u l a r l y ) of cold provisions such as r o a s t turkey, boiled ham, r o a s t beef, e t c . which were set upon a table i n a room opened for the purpose and every one went there and helped himself as he p l e a s e d .
Also, rum, brandy, gin,
with p i p e s , tobacco and c i g a r s were handed around among the people during t h e i r s t a y , i t being considered inhospitable not to do so; and I t was n o t an unusual thing to see the farmers congregate, in warm weather, under the shade trees near the house, smoking t h e i r long pipes and drinking, hearing and t e l l i n g the news, and laughing and t a l k i n g f o r two or three hours before the funeral would move.
sometimes occasioned scenes of much n o i s e , and very inappropriate to toe purpose f o r which they had assembled. "And i t was a l s o u s u a l , when the e s t a t e of the deceased could afford i t (and even In many cases where i t could n o t ) , to give to each of the p a l l b e a r e r s , clergymen, and physicians a t t e n d i n g , a scarf of white linen s u f f i c i e n t in quantity to make a s h i r t which was worn by them across the shoulder; and al3o a p a i r of gloves, e i t h e r s i l k or k i d .
If the deceased was old or married, the scarf
107 was tied with a black ribbon, and the gloves were black; but if the deceased was young and unmarried, the scarf was fastened with a white ribbon and the gloves were white. The custom of giving gloves and scarfs at funerals is not entirely gone today. "At the more superior order of funerals, it was custom to give gold mourning rings of sterling silver and 1 mourning spoons to each person who attended." After the death of Washington, mourning designs, deploring our national loss and significant of our affection and respect for that honored name, appeared in vast numbers. Framed prints of these designs hung on every wall, table china in large numbers and variety bore these funereal emblems, and laudatory and sad mottoes*
As other Rev-
olutionary heroes passed away, similar designs appeared in more limited numbers, and the reign of embroidered "mourning pieces" may be said to have begun at this time* Washington - so to speak- set the fashion*
with the hideous Apotheosis pitcher or the gloomy Washinton's Tomb teacups set on a festal board, special mourning embroideries did not seem oversad for decorative purposecs, and soon no properly ambitious household was without one.
They were even embroidered when the family
circle was unbroken, and an empty space was left yawning like an open grave for some one to die*
The Tree of LJfe
1. Furman, Gabriel, Antiquities of Long Island, New York:
J. W. Bontonri595r P* 159-161
108 was a favorite. A conventional tree was hung at wide intervals with apples, bearing the names of toe various virtues and estimable traits of humanity, such as Honor, Modesty, Silence, Patience, etc. The sparse harvest of these emblematic fruits seemed to Indicate a cynical belief in scant nobility of nature; but there was hope of improvement, for a white-winged aigel assiduously watered the roots of the tree with a/realistic watering-pot.
devil, never absent in that day from art, science, or literature, also loomed in blackness beneath the branches, but sadly handicapped from activity by being forced to carry a colossal pitchfork and a tail of gigantic proportions. "Judge Samuel Sewall, In his diary, never refers to punishing his servants, nor to any need of punishing them* There is some evidence of their faithfulness and of his satisfaction in it, especially in toe references to his negro man servant, Boston, who, after a life of faithful service, was buried like a gentlemen, with a ceremonious funeral, a notice of his death in toe News Letter, a wellwarmed parlor, chairs set in orderly rows, and wine, and 1 doubtless gloves."
1. Earle, A. M., Child Life in Colonial Days, New York; Macmillan and Company, 1009, p. 205
109 A crisis was reached In Boston when funerals had to be prohibited on Sundays because the vast concourse of children and servants, that followed the coffin through the streets, became a noisy rabble toat profaned the sacred day. Death-bed scenes continued to be full of living interest.
"The Good Child's Little Hymnbook" represents the
taste of the times. One poem is on the death and burial of twins, and thus is doubly interesting. Another is on "Dying".
The child asks whether he is going to die and
"look white and awful and be put in the pithole with other dead people". And yet the preface runs: "Mama See what a Pretty Book At Day's Pappa has bought, That I may at the pictures look And ay the words be taught*" "The painfully religious tales of James Janeway were not the only ones to familiarize death to toe reading child.
'The Fairchlld Family' was once deemed as most
charming, as it was certainly a most earnest book, and it has ever had popularity, for within a few years it has been reprinted in a large edition. We wonder how many death-bed scenes and references there are in that book! Nor are ordinary death-beds the saddest or most gruesome scenes.
The little Fairchllds having lost their little
tempers and pommelled each other somewhat, their father takes them as a shocking object-lesson to see the body of
110 a man hung in chains on a gibbet. The horror of the progress through the gloomy wood to this revolting sight, the father's unsparing comments, the hideous account of the thing, rattling, swinging, turning its horrible countenance while Mr. Fairchlld described and explained and gloated over it, and finally kneeled and prayed, all this through several pages no carefully reared child today would be permitted to read.
Mr. Fairchlld's reason
for taking them to this gibbeted corpse should not be omitted from this account; it was 'to show them something which I think they will remember a3 long as they live, that they may love each other with perfect and heavenly 1 love'." D.
According to Mrs. Morton Pennypacker of Easthampton, a story exists in that town concerning an old settler who attempted to commit suicide. His friends wrote the following epitaph and Inscribed it upon a tombstone for his use: Oh sad and mournful was his fate. Serene was all his hope. He loved to steal awhile away With a good manilla rope. Beneath the cold and silent ground The brave old man doth lie*
1* Earle, A. M., Child Life in Colonial Day3t New York: Manmillan and Company, 1909, p.295-297
Ill H e ' l l sleep in peace ' t i l G a b r i e l ' s horn Doth c a l l him t o the sky. In a cemetery a t Southold Is a tombstone that bears the following i n s c r i p t i o n : "Here l i e s ye body of William Wells of Southold, gent, j u s t i c e of ye peace, and f i r s t Sheriffe of New Yorkshire upon Long I s l a n d , who departed t h i s l i f e November 13, 1671, aged 6 3 . " "Yea here he l i e s , who speaketh y e t , t h o ' dead, On wings of f a i t h h i s soule to Heaven is f l e d , His pious deedes and c h a r i t y was such, That of h i s p r a i s e no pen can write too much. As was h i s l i f e so was h i s b l e s t decease, He l i v e d in love and sweetly dy'd in peace."
1* Furman, Gabriel, A n t i q u i t i e s of Long I s l a n d , New York: J , wY Bonton, 1575. p . 157
CHAPTER VI COLONIAL COURTS AND JUSTICE Early Long Island courts were established for the interpretation and enforcement of law and for the preservation of the rights of society and of individuals. Everything in the community was made to tend to the preservation of civil relations between the residents, as is plainly shown by the Colonial records. Present day writers are inclined to make fun of the early law-suits for slander, scandal-mongering, name-calling, lying, and stealing.
charges as calling another names, making wry faces, or jeering at others seem very petty; but laws against them helped to preserve peace*
The child who saw a man fined for lying
or saw another set in the stocks for calling his neighbor names grew up with a wholesome regard or fear for the law. Sometimes children were bound out to masters. Very often the masters treated their apprentices brutually.
least one little child died from toe treatment of a harsh master.
In some Long Island towns men were elected who had
the power to whip children and servants, who behaved disobediently and disorderly toward their parents, masters, and governors. Minor offenses were tried in town courts in the Dutch settlements on Long Island, without appeal; but graver cases were appealed to the Dutch governor in New Amsterdam*
113 In 1665 the English governor ordered a convention to assemble at Hempstead*
Here were drawn up the "Duke's
Laws," a written copy of which remains on file In some of the towns to this day. In 1683 the General Assembly repealed some of the objectionable laws and appointed town courts to be held monthly and a court of sessions to be held annually at Jamaica*
At this session of toe Assembly, Queens County
was created from what had been Yorkshire. A short time later other branches of the courts were established, but most of toe original court records have been lost* On court days there was usually considerable excitement about the courthouse and grounds. Farmers and others often made a festive holiday of it*
Many met at toe court-
house to transact business and to meet acquaintances. Stands and booths for the sale of oysters, cake and beer, and other refreshments abounded.
Sometimes there were
complaints that the people became too hilarious. It was said that the Court of Queens County was the least orderly of any court and that the entrance of the courthouse was lined with sellers of liquor and people who had drunk too much. Even after we became a nation and as late as 1827, the sheriff was prohibited from selling liquor in toe courthouse, and he evaded the law by erecting a shed against toe front of the building and selling liquor through a window into the courthouse. The Judges of the early Long Island courts were pom-
114 pons p e o p l e .
Those of the Supreme Court wore red s i l k
gowns, flowing wigs of powdered h a i r , breeches buckled a t the knee, stockings and shoes fastened on with very large s i l v e r b u c k l e s .
They had a high sense of dignity*
At the beginning of a c o u r t a body of s o l d i e r s escorted the judge from h i s lodgings to the courthouse.
with much company i n g r e a t pomp, with trumpets and other musical Instruments b l a r i n g , t h e j u s t i c e e n t e r e d . The Colonists t r i e d to keep s t r a n g e r s of unknown character out of v i l l a g e bounds.
No v i s i t o r was allowed
to stay over a day and a n i g h t unless h i s host would b e come surety f o r h i s good behavior and save the town from any expense on h i s account* among them.
But by degrees bad men got
Wealthy farmers a l s o had s l a v e s , who being
ignorant and b r u t a l and sometimes overworked and I l l t r e a t e d , became l a w l e s s . There were no j a i l s i n Queens County before 1670, and criminals were sometimes sent t o New York f o r Imprisonment* For minor offenses the punishments were speedy.
were banished, whipped, set i n the stocks or p i l l o r y , and sometimes branded o r "stigmatized" with a hot i r o n .
miscreant s l a v e s , toe punishments were more s e v e r e .
York, f o r example, slaves were broken on the wheel f o r murdering a white person.
At another time the p e n a l t y f o r
such a crime was to suspend the g u i l t y negro a l i v e in an iron cage bound i n chains t o a gibbet where he was l e f t t o starve.
115 Our forefathers inflicted peculiar punishments. One man living in Newtown who stole pigs was beaten severely with rods, marked with a hot iron, and banished.
Newtown resident had to sit for two hours in the stocks for stealing two hens; and his wife, for her misbehavior, had to sit two days in toe stocks. One man was sentenced to a fine of £5 or to an infliction of ten stripes for hog stealing, while another, a slave in Jamaica, was given thirty-nine stripes and branded on the forehead with a hot iron for stealing some linen, Qn January 15, 1764, John Jennings because he stole some law papers was placed in stocks for two hours with a paper pinned on his breast signifying his crime.
cember 4, 1727, David Wallace and David Wilson were found guilty of passing counterfeit bills.
They were sentenced
to stand in the pillory at Jamaica one hour, then to be placed In a cart so as to be publicly seen with a halter about their necks, given many stripes' and imprisoned. Every sailing enthusiast on the North Shore of Long Island knows the light house at Execution Rock,
about this grim old rock are numerous, but the generally accepted story dates hack to the Colonial period when merciless judges sentenced prisoners to death. cruelty lay in the method.
The Condemned were chained
to rings set in the rock at the extreme low water mark. The rising tide accomplished the desired result*
CHAPTER VII WATER MILLS AND WINDMILLS Today people move to a community on Long Island largely because of the conveniences that maybe found there. Shopping areas, rapid transit, banks, churches, and schools play an important part in attracting new residents. Fortunate was the early Colonial settlement that could boast of either a watermill or a windmill. Small Long Island hamlets in 1650 became villages of considerable Importance by 1700 largely because immigrant or pioneer settlers wanted to be conveniently near a mill* Town fathers were quick to recognize the advantages of having a miller in their midst; and they, therefore, sent attractive offers to these artisans. In response, millers in England and Holland left for the land of opportunity.
Many came to Long Island where they found them-
selves important and respected citizens in their new communities. Arleigh N. Van Nostrand, a resident of Manhasset, Long Island, recently made a thorough study of the tide and fresh water mills In what is now Nassau County. Mr. Van Nostrand succeeded in locating fifty-four original mill sites. Seven of these were located along one stream Meadow Brook. Meadow Brook has since become famous for projects other than water mills. A county hospital, a country club and a beautiful parkway now bear Its name.
The Old Papermill - Roslyn
Bowne House - Flushing - 1661
117 One old tide water grist mill on the Eldrldge estate of Saddle Rock, Great Neck, has been grinding grain almost continuously since the Colonial period.
where one may still witness the entrancing process of grinding, receives its power from tide water which is impounded in an adjacent pond. With a normal tide rise, the mill can operate for at least five hours. The old paper mill at Roslyn is also In excellent condition.
Visitors are told that when our new nation
embarked upon its first efforts In making paper money, the paper mill at Roslyn was approved by George Washington as the source of supply for the paper. Colonial mills and millers played an important role in the development of Long Island. Although the mills are too numerous to mention, the article which follows tells in a very informal and entertaining manner the story of windmills, which dotted toe landscape of Suffolk County. The Windmills of Long Island By Edith Derby Robinson Fropi the earliest times, until the latter part of the nineteenth century, the principle of grinding grist was the same - the. crushing of the grain between two whirling millstones; at first, and for many centuries, by hand, and then by machinery, for which wind or water furnished the power. To many who are more or less familiar with our
118 eastern Long Island windmills, it comes as a surprise to learn that toe ten windmills between Shlnnecock Canal and Montauk Point, - eight on the mainland, and one each on Shelter Island and Gardiner's Island - are the only mills of this type in America, with the exception of a few at Cape Cod and Rhode Island. Please don't call them "Dutch" windmills! This is a common error, but a comparison, even of pictures, will show that the type is quite different. They are another proof that Eastern Long Island Is closely akin to New England, and an English ancestry.
The mills are of the English type,
known as "smock" mills. The word smock in this connection puzzled me*
I found that "smock" mills, according to the
dictionary, are mills with a rotating cap. I also found that the name "petticoat mill" was formerly applied to this type of windmill.
I am open to correction, but it seems
possible that the rotating cap bore a resemblance, in some vivid imagination, to the full smock of the rural English farmer, or a woman's skirt, as they flounced around to catch the. passing breezes. Sometimes, I think, I would like to write for my grandchildren the Story of a Little Girl Who Lived in an Old Mill. The little girl, of course,was myself.
I didn't actually
live in the mill, but in toe Mill Cottage next door - on the site of the house built for the first minister of East Hampton, Thomas James. The mill, now known as the Gardiner Mill, was for many years owned by my grandfatoer, Owen Derby, and
119 carried on by my father for many years after his father's death. Across the narrow street, now known as "James Lane" was the cemetery, with many of the old "table" gravestones, which made perfect settings for the many tea parties which we children gave. Over the Mill Cottage and the cemetery brooded the Mill, the shadows of its long arms playing at hide-and-seek among the stones in the cemetery.
And In the Mill I spent
many happy hours, "helping" my father tend mill.
It was in
the early eighties, when East Hampton was just being "discovered" by the artists and writers, with the Tile Club pioneering.
The lovely view of the mill, the cemetery, and
the Town Pond, was painted many times by these artists, who were also constant visitors to the mill. The mill itself, and its workings, were a source of never-ending joy. A number of vivid impressions stand out strongly; watching the grain pour from a long trough into the "eye" of the millstones on the second floor of the mill; the big square hoppers that held the grain; it was such fun to let one's arms sink in up to the elbows, and as the wheat went on down through, always more coming in to take its place. As the ground grain went through to the lower floor, it passed through a long cylinder covered with several layers of the finest bolting cloth - a silk fabric of very fine weave, but rather open mesh; a beautiful material, of which I always toought when in later years I read of King Arthur's "robe of white samite, mystic, wonderful".
It was also used
for fancywork in those days:
f i l l e d witv> toe s i l k y f i b r e s
and dark burst-open seeds of the milkweed pods i t made such b e a u t i f u l "throws".
The floixr v/as the f i n e s t product t h a t
passed through the b o l t i n g c l o t h ; next was the l i g h t c a n a i l l e , then the dark c a n a i l l e , and l a s t , toe b r a n ; each of the p r o ducts being conducted i n t o i t s own container - a bag fastened under an opening in the long b i n . Another d e l i g h t for myself and my chums was to take a handful of the f r e s h , unground wheat, and "chew i t into chev/ing gum".
Chewing gum, p e r s e , was s t r i c t l y taboo.
t h a t made a very good s u b s t i t u t e , we thought, and you probab l y know t h a t some of our well-known experts today strongly urge t h i s chewing of raw wheat. All of toe m i l l s on Eastern Long I s l a n d are b u i l t a f t e r approximately the same plan and dimensions; octagonal sided, topped by the r o t a t i n g cap.
None of them have foundations,
b u t a r e leveled up by stones under the eight c o r n e r s .
were covered with h a n d s p l l t cedar s h i n g l e s , and the timbers were made of the strongest wood o b t a i n a b l e ; white oak, combined with hickory or ash. were 60 f e e t long.
The spars which c a r r i e d the s a i l s
My f i r s t t r i p t o New York was at t h e age
of f i v e , when I went with my f a t h e r down to South S t r e e t , the New York City water f r o n t t o buy a new spar f o r t h e m i l l . The t r i p was made by steamer from Sag Harbor - an a l l - n i g h t trip.
My f a t h e r used t o make the s a i l s himself on the old
sewing machine t h a t had been a p a r t of my mother's wedding o u t f i t , and which, he used to say, could make baby clothes
121 and mill sails equally well. The dimensions of the mills are all approximately the same:
height, about forty feet; base, twenty-two feet, and
top, fifteen feet.
The millstones, the heart of the mill,
reached their maximum efficiency at one hundred twenty revolutions per minute. Near the Gardiner Mill there Is, or was until recent years, part of an old millstone that burst at one hundred sixty revolutions per minute when centrifugal force got the better of it. The Water Mill mill is somewhat smaller than standard size, and was originally used to grind herbs and cattle fodder.
There are, as in all the
other mills, three floors, the top floor, containing the machinery; the second floor, where the millston®s were, and the ground floor, where the finished products were. The miller's fee was always one eighth of the grist, and was taken out before the customer's was ground.
grist had precedence over any other, and was always ground first, no matter how many others were waiting*
prevailed in all of the mills. The first of the old mills to be seen as one travels east is on the Claflin estate on Shlnnecock Hills.
of the summer cottagers built windmills on their estates, to look like toe old ones, perhaps this would not be recognized as a real antique.
It is, however, the oldest of the
windmills, having been built in 1715. This mill was formerly, and for many years, on the property of Barney Roe Green in Southampton*
It was probably built on this property, which
122 at one time comprised a large part of the central part of Southampton, Including what is now Lake Agawam.
for many years at what is now the corner of Hill Street (or Montauk Highway) and Windmill Lane, near the site of the traffic light which is now just east of toe Southampton Theatre.
It was removed from there to its present position
on Shlnnecock Hills. Another windmill that formerly stood on Windmill Lane in Southampton Is now a part of the Lathrop Brown estate near Montauk, and is easily visible from the Highway.
was built in So'utoampton in 1763; later removed to Wainscott and from there to the Brown property at Montauk, where it forms part of the residence. Now Southampton, though it still has a "Windmill Lane", has no windmills, except for a modern model of one that may be seen near the east end of the village, and which is said to be complete In every detail. The Water Mill mill has been referred to as being smaller than standard size. It was built in Sag Harbor In 1800, and was hauled to its present position in 1814 by James Corwlth, using twelve yoke of oxen*
It ground grist until 1887.
It Is now owned and maintained by toe Village Improvement Association, and is used as a museum* Next comes the Hay Ground mill*
This was built in 1801
by Abram Rose, Benjamin Rogers and Ellas Topping.
the last of the Long Island mills to grind commercially, having ground Its last grist in 1919, the miller being Maltbie
123 Rose, a descendant of one of the original owners. The mill and toe miller appeared in Mary Pickford's old silent picture, "Huldah from Holland," and it is said that the miller jokingly boasted until the end of his life about "the time he played in the movies with Mary Pickford."
The mill was in
possession of the Rose family until within the last few years, when it was sold, and is now used as an antique shop* So far, all of the mills mentioned are visible from the highway, without even leaving one's car.
however, rather a famous mill is not visible from the highway, but is on the estate of Mrs. John E. Berwind.
This mill is
known as the "Flag on the Mill, Ship in the Bay" mill, for it was built on Sleight's Hill, in the old whaling town of Sag Harbor, in 1820, When one of the whaling ships returned, often after a three years' cruise, a flag was flown from this mill, and as the above mentioned slogan was passed from lip to lip, the streets were soon filled with relatives and friends of the returning seamen. The mill was moved to Brldgehampton in 1837. East Hampton comes next, and this is truly "Windmill Village", for It is the proud possessor of three finely preserved specimens, all, again close to toe highway.
Gardiner Mill, which has been the mainspring of the first part of this story, was built in 1771. Up until the recent hurricane, the Gardlners, who now own the mill, were proud of the fact that although the mill had not been In use for many years, it was still in good running order and could be
124 put into operation on two hours notice.
This was done at
the time of the visit of the New York Historical Society in 1932, and was probably one of the most interesting features of the trip. Although the mill shows no outward signs of hurricane damage, I understand that there will be some repairs needed to the machinery before it will run again. This mill has the most beautiful setting of all the windmills, with the Village Green, the Old South End Cemetery, and the Town Pond facing it, and "Home, Sweet Home" just a stone's throw away.
Many artists have painted this view,
among them Thomas Moran, East Hampton's Price; and Mary Nlmmo Moran, greatest of American women etchers, has given us some lovely impressions of it; to say nothing of many lesser lights. You will note how often and how far these mills seem to have traveled.
This seems to have been an easy matter owing
to their construction.
The windmill now in the grounds of
"Home, Sweet Home" has had several such peregrinations.
was built in 1771, at a place called "The Old Man's", for Huntting Miller; and there seemingly having been no fitting place to put it, an artificial hill was constructed at the north end of Town Pond, almost opposite the Episcopal Church, It has always been known as Mill Hill although the mill was moved many years ago to Pantigo Hill, the high land halfway between East Hampton and Amagansett*
It stood there for many
years, unused, in disrepair, and almost falling down, George Buek, who bought toe old home of John Howard Payne and made
125 of it the shrine that it now is, then: bought the old mill, had it restored and moved onto his property, where it fits the setting perfectly.
It is now used as a museum, where
old farm implements, e t c , are displayed. Last of the East Hampton mills is the Dominy mill, at the north end of the Village Street, also, like the Gardiner mill, overlooking a cemetery and a pond, though not so picturesquely as the Gardiner mill; and the pond, which was once fair sized, is about dried up now. Like most of the other mills, this one has an interesting history.
The original Dominy mill was built in 1737, but was
destroyed - blown down or something - and the present mill was built by Nathanial Dominy the clockmaker; and it Is interesting to conjecture that he carried his knowledge of wheels, cogs, and gears, from the delicate machinery of toe beautiful clocks which are still in perfect working order, to the wooden mechanism of the mill.
All of the parts, even the smalDe st,
were cut on Gardiner's Island, according to carefully drawn specifications. Probably the reason was because it was the best place to get the proper wood. The date is not quite certain; but it was either 1805 or 1806, Some of toe old records say that "three Indians from Montauk and a negro named Shem" assisted in the cutting. The timbers and other parts were then brought to the mainland on a float propelled by a sailboat and landed at Fireplace, and then conveyed to its present site. The mill was always noted for the quality of its grain, which was last ground there commercially in 1914, the miller being Felix Dominy,
126 i n whose family the m i l l had always remained. But the day of toe homeground f l o u r and cornmeal was over.
The old m i l l f e l l Into sad days, as cojnpared with
I t s former high e s t a t e .
I t had i t s turn too, serving as
an antique shop, but the manager moved eventually to a more profitable location.
The old Dominy m i l l seemed doomed when
the Village of East Hampton purchased i t and had i t put i n t o running order; and b e s t of a l l , they got a "Dominy" as m i l l e r . Charles Dominy, a descendant of the old family, and who p r a c t i c a l l y "grew up " i n the m i l l , i s the m i l l e r now, and what he c a n ' t t e l l you about the m i l l and i t s mechanism j u s t i s n ' t worth knowing! He w i l l t e l l you very much b e t t e r than I have been able to do, a l l about what makes the wheels go round.
He. will show you toe m i l l s t o n e s ; those f o r wheat
are "burr s t o n e s " , s e t in concrete and p l a s t e r of P a r i s ,
w i l l t e l l you t h a t the surfaces of the b u r r s tones a r e f i n e l y honeycombed, b u t you would not be able t o see the honeycombing, even if you looked c l o s e l y , because of the f l o u r t h a t f i l l s the t i n y c r e v i c e s . These stones have to be sharpened occasionally - I think i t was about every six weeks when they were i n constant use.
There i s a b u i l t - i n crane t h a t l i f t s off the upper
m i l l s t o n e and turns i t over, so t h a t the grinding surfaces of b o t h are exposed f o r sharpening.
There i s also an odd
contrivance (which I d o n ' t remember in my f a t h e r ' s m i l l , though i t may have been there) called a "Cob-crusher".
shelled corn was fed i n t o t h i s , which chopped up corn, cob
127 and all. Mr. Dominy will tell you jokingly that he supposes they were trying to fool the animals, but it seemed to work all right.
(After all, isn't toat about the same
as our use of "roughage"?) Mayor Banister of East Hampton has had two hundred pounds of corn ground at the mill, and each visitor who registers is given a package of the freshly ground corn meal;
"Enough", says Miller Dominy, "to make a mess of
corn bread such as you've never tasted before".
have been eight hundred visitors representing twenty-six states registered since the mill was opened the past summero There are still two more mill3 to be noted:
Island Mills, one on Gardiners Island and one on Shelter Island,
The former was built in 1803, and differs from all
the others because it is painted white.
It is well known
to all yachtsmen as a landmark. The Sylvester Manor mill on Shelter Island was built in Southold in 1795, by Nathaniel Dominy the clockmaker, and moved to its present location by barge and ox teams. Miss Cornelia Horsford, the present owner of the Manor and a descendent of the original owner of it, has carefully preserved It.
It was built to replace a much older mill which
the records say "was crazy and gone to decay."
World War grain was ground in this mill to assist in food conservation. The occupation of the miller depended upon the mill* No wind, no grinding!
It is told of Huntting Miller, who
128 owned and operated the Mill H i l l In East Hampton, that he was on Montauk during one of those periods of dead calm t h a t occasionally descended - and Montauk was very much f a r t h e r from East Hampton than i t i s now, in p o i n t of time. At midnight one n i g h t he was awakened by the sound of toe wind.
He immediately rose and dressed, and with a l l the
speed possible journeyed back to East Hampton, so t h a t he mi^it miss no more than p o s s i b l e of the God-given breeze. Of t h i s same Huntting M i l l e r the story has come down t h a t one Sabbath morning, as the godly people were gathered in the meeting house, the wind sprang up a f t e r a long period of calm.
The m i n i s t e r closed h i s Bible and announced "The
meeting i s dismissed.
Huntting Miller go to your m i l l ! "
I t used to bother me why everybody had to go home.
But i t
was many years l a t e r explained to me t h a t the r e s t of toe 1 people had to go home to b r i n g t h e i r g r i s t to the m i l l !
Taken by permission of Paul Bailey, Publisher, from the "Long Island Forum," Bay Shore, New York, January, 1940, Volume I I I , No. 1
CHAPTER VIII GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE A.
No character in Long Island folklore is more colorful or picturesque than Captain Kidd, whose swaggering activity brought him to these shores on numerous occasions. Nothing kindles the imagination of a child more quickly than the black pirate banner and the skull and cross bones, flying at the mast-head of a sailing ship. William Kidd, later known as Robert In various versions of ballads popular at his execution in London in 1701, was the son of a clergyman. Having had a nautical career in the British navy, during the reign of William III, he was appointed by the earl of Bellomont, then governor of the Province of New York, to aid in the suppression of piracy which was rampant on the high seas. The King, realizing that Captain Kidd was a capable and courageous seaman, issued two commissions whereby the Captain was to plrateer against the traditional enemy, France, and to pursue and wipe out freebooters wherever he might find them. In 1696, Captain Kidd put out from Plymouth, England, In the galley, "Adventure," which was equipped with thirty guns and a crew of eighty sailors. This was the beginning of a career that shall live forever. The American colonists were openly showing signs of the
130 chafing of taxation.
As colonial trading grew, it was
natural to expect Illicit trade would be carried on along the shore.
Tories and Whigs both were engaged in a traffic
which none openly approved but all tolerated.
that "there is hardly a town on the Island, the history of which in that period, which does not contain accounts of raids by marauders. Most parts of the Island, and particularly along the Sound, suffered greatly from depredations of little bands of piratical plunderers, designated •whalemen' from the fact of their craft resembling those used in whaling along shore. .With these they would make frequent descents under cover of night, attack detached houses, rifle the inhabitants of their money, plate, and other possessions.
Indeed so great was the apprehension of these
sudden attacks that many of the inhabitants had their doors and windows protected by iron bars; and it became usual for people to pass the nights in the woods and other secret places, to avoid violence.
In many cases, these whaleboat
men were downright robbers and pirates, who plundered Whigs and Tories without discrimination, and were often guilty of murder, either wantonly or under some flimsy pretext.,.,,, "After the separation (Revolutionary War), no motive of patriotism stood in the way of indulgence in the use of British goods, and with the facilities which the long stretch of the north coast, with its numerous estuaries, inlets and harbors, and the narrow Sound beyond, afforded for smuggling, it is not surprising that Yankee shrewdness should elude the
131 sleepy vigilance of government officials; and the people of Connecticut came to be well supplied with goods toat had been brought from New York ostensibly to supply the wants of loyal Long Islanders. All the ordinary devices of smuggling were resorted to, and even collusions were entered into with the piratical whaleboat men, and stores were robbed and the goods taken across the Sound, the owners, of course, sharing the profits of the adventure.
In many cases, govern-
ment officials winked at this trade, because it supplied 1 necessaries that were difficult to procure otherwise." If a condition such as this existed, it is natural to suppose the steps to piracy were swift and easy. Wealth, adventure, Spanish treasure towns, and the gold-filled galleons on their homeward journey were attractions that some could not resist. With a Colonial condition that was the concern of every law-abiding citizen, Captain Kidd was royally received in New York. All felt that an end to freebootlng was at hand; there was Strangth in such a men.
Kidd took on more men to
strengthen a crew to a compliment of 155 men and set forth in good faith. Whether pirateers and pirates were too illusive, whether the blue waters of the West Indies were too monotonous, or whether the temptation of pirateerlng was too strong will probably never be settled, but Captain Kidd was rumored to have weakened in his desire to restore law
1. Stiles, Henry R. & Others; History of Suffolk County. W. W* Munsell Co., 30 Vesey St., New York City, New York, 1882
132 and order*
Strange tales began to trickle back to
Ballomont; and, when the stories of dire deeds were supposedly authenticated, a man-o'-war was dispatched to bring him back.
In 1699, Captain Kidd suddenly sailed into the
bay at Gardiner's Island and dropped anchor.
the proprietor of the manor, was courageous enough to find out what was the purpose of an armed vessel at his roadstead. Whether Gardiner knew of the reputation of toe buccaneer is not known, but Captain Kidd received him graciously and informed him that he was on his way to Boston where h© planned to meet the earl of Bellomont. At this first meeting, Kidd courteously requested permission to leave one negro girl and two negro boys at the manor until some future time when they would be called for* Gardiner consented to toe plan.
The next day, John Gardiner
was sent for and this time the request was for food; sheep for the commissary. succession:
Strange requests came in rapid
cider for the menl
Kidd was not ungrateful;
no, in payment he gave two pieces of Bengal muslin to Mrs. Gardiner, offered to pay for the food and drink, and gave Gardiner's men four pieces of gold for their kindnesses. That evening he bade farewell, set sail, and fired a four gun salute as a compliment to Gardiner and his hospitality. Three days later he was back at the basin again, but this time his demeanor wa3 more reserved for he ordered Gardiner to his ship for a conference.
This time Kidd commanded
Gardiner to receive and to secrete a part of his precious
a box of gold and jewels, four bales of goods, and
a bundle of quilts. These things were concealed in a dell near the Manor House, now known as "Kidd's Valley*"
time the bucaneer's manner was defiant for he explosively sputtered:
"If I call for It and it's gone, I will take
your head and your son's!"
Kidd must have been tempera-
mental for he was very generous and gallant to Mrs, Gardiner again.
This time in appreciation for the roast suckling pig,
which Mrs. Gardiner prepared at the Captain's request, he gave her a large piece of gold-threaded silk fabric, fragments of which still remain at the East Hampton Public Library and at the.Manor House. Before Kidd's departure, he dispatched letters to the earl of Bellomont, "earnestly declaring that all the piracies which had occurred had been done by his men in a state of mutiny and never with his connivance; that, indeed^ they had set aside his positive commands, and had locked him up in his cabin while committing their crimes,..Furthermore, from Block Island he had also dispatched a present of jewels to 1 Lady Bellomont," which were reluctantly surrendered later on. There was no r e t u r n f o r Captain Kidd.
a r r i v e d i n Boston f u l l y confident t h a t he could convince B e llomont of h i s innocence and perhaps win him over t o
1 . Lathrop, G. P . , The True Story of Captain Kidd, i n Wilson, R. R., H i s t o r i c Long I s l a n d , New York, 1902, p p . 355-356"
134 leniency once the value of the cargo was made known, Kidd was thrown into prison and charged with the murder of the gunner on the "Adventure", Had Captain Kidd foreseen toe nature of his reception in Boston, he would probably never have returned. The treasures at Gardiner's Island were sent for, John Gardiner again playing an important role.
The booty must
have incriminated Kidd even though the charge was murder, not piracy.
An inventory of the cache made by Gardiner is
1111 ounces of gold, 2,353 ounces of
silver, 57 bags of sugar, 41 bales of goods (containing gems, rings, precious stones, etc.) and 17 pieces of canvas* Bellomont- was adamant; Captain Kidd was sent to England, against the better judgment of Judge Samuel Sewell, tried and found guilty of murder and on five separate indictments for piracy, and condemned and executed at Execution Dock. With Captain Kidd's having paid the penalty, rumors were bruited abroad that Immense treasures were hidden all along the Atlantic Coast. Feverish activity began, no place being more popular for digging than the shores of Gardiner's and Block Islands. For more than two hundred years the quest has endured and tons of sand and dirt have been shoveled in fruitless search.
mantic stories, and ballads have their origin in the activity of Captain Kidd and the treasure chests, supposedly hidden away In numerous spots on both the South and the North Shores of Long Island.
Teunis Van Gelder
Within easy commuting d i s t a n c e of the great City of New York there are s e v e r a l peninsulas and rocky p o i n t s which j u t out i n t o Long I s l a n d Sound.
The major p o r t i o n
of our story has i t s s e t t i n g on one of these p o i n t s t h a t derived i t s name from a t r i b e of Indians t h a t resided there long before the Dutch and the English a r r i v e d to argue about property r i g h t s and r e l i g i o n .
Matinecock Point s t i l l
r e t a i n s much of the f o r e s t f a s t n e s s that appealed to Teunis Van Gelder, who came t o the neighborhood a f t e r New Amsterdam c a p i t u l a t e d to t h e E n g l i s h . Even though Teunis had been a staunch campaigner and a s u p p o r t e r of P e t e r Stuyvesant i n the defense of Nlew Amsterdam, he did n o t r e l i s h the thought of becoming an English subject so he took possession of a t r a c t of land on the North Shore f a r enough removed, he thought, from the English sphere t o assure peace and q u i e t . After months of arduous work, he completed the cons t r u c t i o n of a l a r g e , rambling, log house, made up of gables and a n g l e s , with a low roof. No sooner had t h i s s t a r k old warrior e s t a b l i s h e d himself in his new domain than trouble appeared upon the horizon.
The English pioneer s e t t l e r s came to inform
Teunis that he had no r i g h t to the p r o p e r t y and t h a t he would have to vacate the house.
As proof of t h e i r l e g a l
r i g h t to the property, the English presented a parchment, signed with the h i e r o g l i p h i c s of four Matinecock sachems.
136 To them it was proof enough that they owned the several thousand acres of land in the neighborhood and they pointed out that for three shirts, and one shoe, these lands belonged jointly to Ebenezer Cock, Eliphalet Frost, and Sampson Latting. Ebenezer Cock, a tall, hard-fisted pioneer from New England, little realized with whom he was to contend when he approached Teunis with such a demand.
disposition of the old Dutchman was aflame in a moment. His mouth snapped shut like a steel trap and from beneath his shaggy eyebrows his eyes flashed as his ire kindled. Pointing with his finger to the slash across his nose and part of his cheek as if from a sword cut, he snarled back that no Englishman was man enoiigh to drive him from his house.
Had he' not fought in many a battle with toe English
and had they ever been skillful enough to do him bodily harm beyond the scratch he bore? an eviction.
He dared them to attempt
The Englishmen withdrew.
Teunis prepared to defend his property even with recourse to arms.
Ever shadowed by his devoted negro, Ryck,
and his square-nosed dogge, Teunis made elaborate preparations and each day his emotions grew more turbulent as he thumped around spitting out invectives against the English. He continued to nourish his hatred for Ebenezer Cock particularly for he felt the impending assault upon his domain was but the continuation of the wrongs which had driven him from Niew Amsterdam.
In consequence, Teunis
137 was more than willing, as his period of waiting grew from weeks Into months, to take to his bosom anyone who avowed animosity to the English. At this time Captain Kidd, who had grown notorious for his buccaneering, was reported seen off Long Island shores. One rumor was to the effect that the old pirate was at Montauk, and at another off Sandy Hook,
Time would pass by
and suddenly there would be someone who would tell of the arrival of a ship, chased by the redoubted "Rover" in the Carribbean Sea. Late one afternoon, a tall gaunt currier mounted on a switch-tall mare galloped through the country in hot hasteo
Quickly he spread the alarm that Captain Kidd had
landed at Sag Harbor and had sacked toe town. When old Teunis heard this, he lighted up with glee and for days there was a venomous glow in his eyes.
Secretly he longed
for a sight of the freebooter who was visiting upon English commerce, the wrongs which that nation had inflicted upon Nlew Amsterdam. That night awakened by the boom of a cannon, Teunis opened his casement window. Always alert for a trick or a plot of the English from neighboring Oyster Bay, Teunis grabbed his gun and made ready for any emergency. distance he saw lights dancing on the Sound.
lights approached the land. An abrupt and boisterous " Halloo" rent the quiet. Teunis thrust his head out the window and bellowed answer. Guided by his voice, the
138 stranger groped his way through the forest to Teunis' door. At his door stood a square built, storm-beaten fellow, wito keen, watchftil eye, a nose like a hawk's and a mouth like a bull frog's. He wore a cutlass and a pair of pistols in his belt. Teunis eyed him warily and warmed to him as a kindred spirit. Brief conversation sufficed to explain he was second in command of Kidd's ship, now at anchor in the harbor. Teunis was overjoyed; no visitor was more acceptable. He placed his house and all he possessed at Kidd's disposal*
For upward of a week, slashing fellows armed to
the teeth, were seen hanging about Van Gelder's, carousing, shooting at marks, cursing, and making Matin Woods resound wito revelry.
Teunis drank in their encounters and finally
swore to Kidd that he loved him as his own son. Naturally, Kidd was impressed by Teunis, too. He took him into his confidence. His need of supplies was merely a pretext. His ship was laden with treasure and he sought a place to secrete it. He thought well of Matinecock but Teunis cautioned him against the marauding spirit of toe neighborhood. He suggested Sand's Point as more remote and safer and added "Ry'ck can show you the way." That night at midnight, several small boats, heavily . laden, set off. Teunis took a warm interest'in the proceedings, accompanied them to the boats, and swore to watch over the treasure as if it were his own. He gave Ryck
139 minute directions and remained on shore until the boats were hidden by the darkness. At dawn Ryck returned grinning with satisfaction and proudly showing the gold piece which Kidd bestowed upon him. An hour's conference of Teunis and Ryck ended with the resolution that each would remain true to the trust. After Kidd's capture and subsequent execution In England, the English visited Teunis to examine him. He was then of extreme age, gaunt, grisly, with dim eyes, like an old hound, and tottered up and down before his house, supported by a decrepit and withered old negro, Ryck* Teunis heard their questioning in savage silence. He refused to give them any information. Ryck was equally taciturn and the English departed with their mission unaccomplished. One week later, Teunis departed this life. Ryck, languished and failed noticeably after the death of his master. He was finally found dead, sitting on his old master's grave. The Van Gelder property passed to a lineal descendant, one Volkert; he was a little, dried-up, all rimmed spectacled fellow.
The animosity kept alive by Teunis gradually
died away, Volkert spent most of his time ferretting some unsavory fact or useless piece of information. He specialized in legend, fact and fable mingled, HJJ.S delight was to visit a spot where some ghost had been seen or where some murder had been committed.
He regarded a superannuated
140 negro as a mine of legendary wealth and he would question him by the hour of some incident recollected by the negro's great-grandmother.
Volkert's foibles became noised abroad
and every vagabond who desired a meal or lodging came to him with a plausible story, the product of his imagination* Zeb, a negro, now an old codger had been in his youth a reprobate; his name and the gallows were frequently mentioned together, yet he had steered clear of toe halter. As he grew older he became proportionately steady In his habits and his evil name peeled off. a good reputation.
In his infirmity he acquired
Nevertheless, he retained from his
shadowy past the aptitude for telling marvellous stories and a pertinacity to stick to them. He was a store house for encounters with spirits of every denomination. All of Dosoris, Matinecock, Oak Neck and Lattlngtown was a region f©r ghostly adventure.
Volkert gleaned from him toe full
particulars of the countless ghost episodes.
These he put
down in writing and stowed them av/ay in a book-case, long before become voluminous. Zeb's crony, not of his own color, was equally versed in legendary lore. Leather-skinned, red nosed, moist eyed and widely known as Nick Wanzer. All of Nick's family had gone abroad to seek their fortune, but not Nick. He was a strong believer of the old proverb, "A rolling atone gathers no moss," and stayed at home to fish, and dig clams. He grew no richer but he did acquire in the course of time a kind of mos3 grown look as if he were reaping the reward of his resolution.
141 Addicted to s t r o n g drink and t o t a l l s t o r i e s , h i s indulgences in b o t h were a constant m a t t e r .
t o t h a t c l a s s of worthies, one or two of whom can be found i n most every Long Island v i l l a g e , and who p a s s through l i f e always i n s i g h t , l i v i n g no one knows how or where, and who u s u a l l y terminate toeir careers by b e i n g found dead under some hedge row or in a farmer's hay-mow. In h i s youth, he knew every rock and shoal from Stepping Stones to Eaton Neck, and there was not a swamp or woodland grove between Roslyn and Oyster Bay, which he had not t r a v e r s e d wito h i s t r u s t y dog and gun, A termagant wife, long before deposited i n the l i t t l e Lattingtown graveyard, was l a i d away with a heavy stone over h e r t o terminate h i s h a r r i e d l i f e .
I t was a g r e a t r e l i e f
when she was l a i d to r e s t and thereby ended the s t r i n g e n t p e t t i c o a t government t h a t had kept him so cowed.
a f t e r , Zeb and Nick's affection for one another prospered and they were frequently in a r i c k i t y b o a t paddling about i n search of f i s h . Volkert Van Gelder's t a s t e for Nick Increased.
of being an occasional l o i t e r e r about the p l a c e , he became an appendage to I t running errands, catching f i s h , b u t c h e r ing the p i g s .
The one strong affection f o r Nick and the
g r e a t s e c r e t of t h e i r intimacy was a c e r t a i n adventure which Nick had many years previously, in which Teunis Van Gelder bore a conspicuous p a r t ,
Volkert took a strange
p r i d e in the e v i l odor which hung around the s k i r t s of h i s a n c e s t o r , Teunis.
142 The adventure, as recounted by Nick to Volkert, and oft pointed to as pure f a b r i c a t i o n of Nick's drunken imagining, i s now a p a r t of h i s t o r i c l o r e , which runs as follows: Nick Wanzer's Adventure Nick had been passing an evening at a husking frolic. In his element there, ready for fight or frolic, full of recklessness, merriment became boisterous. He took leave of host, shook hands, and kissed the prettiest girl farewell. Although the road was dark and gloomy, he knew every Inch. He was mellow with ale, apple jack, and hard cider. True, he knew the drear stretch ahead and all the tales connected with it of ghosts, hobgoblins, Captain Kidd and old Teunis Van Gelder. Nick had a small boat drawn up in a creek near Peacock's point.
As the road became somewhat unsteady, he decided to
go home by water, By a cross cut through swamp, he floundered and found his boat. He pulled out into the Sound.
a perfect, still night; a huge moon was in the sky, and scarcely a ripple cut the water. Confused thoughts of the night oppressed his brain: the farmer's daughter, tales of Kidd, apple jack, and treasure all terribly jumbled. Uppermost were thoughts of the freebooter Kidd, his treasure, deep speculation of the hiding place, how he would relish the possibility of finding a Kidd treasure, buy a good farm and marry the farmer's daughter. Suddenly his attention was arrested by:
143 "Boat ahoy! Boat ahoy!" Although the voice seemed but fifty feet away in the darkness, Nick judged the person shouting must be on Matlnicock Point. He dropped his oars and listened. "Boat a-h-o-yi"
Nick looked in every direction to ascertain If any other craft was in sight. Nothing - - "Come ashore!"
Nick d i d n ' t r e l i s h the i d e a .
As he approached, he
saw a figure seated on a rock a t the w a t e r ' s edge.
person was a s t r a n g e r , a gaunt weather beaten man, dressed i n an outlandish r i g such as was worn by seamen of the previous century.
A dark slouched hat perched upon h i s
head; and i n h i s hand was a c l u b . There he s a t glowering a t Nick with a stony s t a r e t h a t made h i s blood creep, crooning an old sea chanty, "Do you want me?" gulped Nick. "Not I , " r e p l i e d the gruff seaman, "You?
"Your want me!"
I never l a i d eyes on you b e f o r e , " said Nick.
" I ' v e been a t your elbow f o r the l a s t half-hour, ever since you were thinking of Kidd's money." "Whew-wl"
wito a s o r t of drunken g r a v i t y from Nick,
"Then you know what I was thinking of?" The other nodded, "You're not Kidd?" asked Nick, The s t r a n g e r shook h i s head, "Nor Teunis Van Gelder?" "No."
144 "Then you must be - " wish to be disrespectful,
Nick paused as he did not "You must be - "
"I was boatswain with Kidd. hid.
I know where his treasure's
I keep an eye on it because a share of it is mine!" Nick pondered as best he could in his muddled state of
mind and said, "If you and Kidd was shipmates, so long ago so many years ago - you must be very old - or - or - ."He hesitated. "Dead," said the figure, "I am." Nick was at a loss for words. Finally, he gained courage and in a braggadocian and insinuating tone continued: "Perhaps, as you are dead, and as Kidd is dead, and there is no one alive who can take care of that money, it would be prudent for you to tell me where it is; so that I can keep a watch over it for you, when you're away." The stranger gave vent to a strange sepulchral chuckle, and replied, "Dying doesn't make a man a fool." Nick was quick to remark In the hope of removing. the wrong impression: "Besides, come what may, you shall have your full share." This stood well with the stranger for he said gravely: "When I was alive, Mr. Wanzer, I was a man, of honor*
promised never to tell where that gold is. Do you think that my being dead, alters the case?" "Of course, it does,"
said Nick, "and being already
dead, as you say you are, I suppose that whatever is to
145 happen to you has happened before this, so that a little mistake of that kind cannot hurt you much." "Besides," added Nick, "as I said before, if I get the money, I would do something handsome for you - very handsome." The apparition pondered and at last he aaid:
mind Kidd so much. He's bad enough, and has some desperate fellows leagued with him; but the worst of all is that hardheaded old Dutchman named Van Gelder.
Since he came into
our quarters, he and Kidd have struck up a kind of partnership and I've led a dog's life with them*" "But they can't use the money now," replied Nick. "Can any miser use his money?" inquired the other; "yet no miser will part with it* there.
They like to know it is
I tell you," said he, striking the club hard on the
ground for emphasis*
"I tell you, if I lost that money,
they'd make my guts too hot to hold me." "How can they find it out unless you tell them?" from Nick. "Can I rely on you, Mr. Wanzer?" Nick was vociferous in vindication of his trustworthiness. "But I must have my share*" said the spirit.
do nothing without it." Once again Nick assured the stranger. "Enough, then", answered the figure, boat and pull for Sand's Point,
"Jump into your
I'll meet you there,"
Nick waited for no second bidding.
He sprang into his
boat, pushed off from shore, and tugged lustily for hours at
146 the oars for Sands Point. The exercise tended to weaken the effect of. the liquor he had drunk.
When the boat
grounded on the beach, he found the stranger standing there wito a shovel in his hand.
He beckoned to Nick to follow*
They shortly came upon a huge boulder, still known as Kidd's Rock. Here he paused, threw the shovel to Nick, and told him to dig. Nick parleyed, finally started to dig and after a few moments struck something solid.
It was an old sea
chest. "Now then,"
the stranger planted himself upon the
chest, "here's your money. Remember your promise. Now give me your hand on the bargain." They were in this act when a loud, unearthly shout rang through the silent midnight air. Nick bounded from the excavation into the nearby boat. Two figures pounced directly on the stranger still in the pit. A fierce encounter resulted in their floundering in the pit, on the beach, and beneath the rock.
In the moonlight, Nick could
see his friend hard beset and noticed particularly he was most beset by a grim old fellow in a cocked hat, with a slash across his nose. The other was squarer built, with pistols in hl3 belt and a dagger at his side. In trepidation, Nick doubted how the battle would end so he put off a short distance from shore to watch the result. Shortly he heard his name shouted from the beach; he kept silent.
The noise and uproar lasted some time longer,
147 and then grew more and more distant, until it died away in toe wood of Cow Bay,
Left alone, Nick shortly took to his rowing and continued to pull a strong oar against the tide until he finally reached his own domain in Matinecock, never free of the apprehension that his late visitor might be seated in the bow of the boat. As he stepped ashore, he discovered the stranger seat ed on a rock, as cool as If nothing happened, but on closer examination he presented a disheveled and begrimed "I hope you're not hurt," said Nick.
"Those fellows were a
little too much for you." "I told you how it would be," said the apparition.
got wind of it all right." "Who were they?" "No matter." "And the money?" inquired Nick Wanzer. "It's where you left it," replied the stranger. can get it If you like. You know our bargain.
your hand." "Not until I handle the money," replied Nick.
less you are more lucky than you have been tonight, I don't think you'll put me in the way of doing it In a hurry." "Mr. Wanzer, do you mean to break our bargain?" "If you mean," said Nick, "that I should take the money while those two gents are mounting guard over it, you are mistaken.
And if you mean that I am to get it as I can and
b® pestered by those two as long as I live, - I won't do it.
148 Do you think I did not know old Teunis Van Gelder; I've seen his portrait in his house too often.
If he's too
much for you, I'd like to know how I'd come off in a scuffle with him; and if he and Captain Kidd hunt in couples, I'll have nothing to do with that treasure." "You're resolved?" said toe other, sternly* "I am!" said Nick. "Then take this -". He raised his club to strike Nick, but at that moment toe same loud, unearthly yell, which had startled him before, rang through the air, and two figures sprang toward them; one In a cocked hat, gray and grim, the other armed to the teeth. Before the club could descend on Nick's head, the stranger bounded from the rock and disappeared In the direction of Dosoris, the two following in full cry at his heels. Nick lost no time either in heading for his cabin, where Zeb found him next morning in a sound sleep - so deep that Zeb thought it might have been the result of deep potations; but which Nick himself attributed to his utter fatigue because of the excitement of the night previous at 1 Sand3 Point and Matinecock.
1. See note in Appendix concerning the author of this legend and the source*
Popular Ballad on "Robert"Kldd
Although the most talked of person in the world in the Spring of 1701 was probably Captain William Kidd, there are very few Long Islanders who know part or all of the popular ballad that told the tragic story of the brave buccaneer who was hanged at Execution Dock, London.
The song was
hawked for as little as a tuppence in the streets of London; and, although the name "Robert" appears in all the present versions, we know that "William" was correct.
This may be
accounted for in the fact that sea chanties and fo'castle songs were usually sung by sailors as entertainment and seldom recorded.
Perhaps the men on shore leave heard the
song, attempted to memorize it, but resorted to creating new lines - frequently changing the entire form. The following is the form that appears in Elolse Linlscott's, "Polk Songs of Old New England".
sion that is equally interesting appears in Harold Thompson's "Body, Boots and Britches". I Oh! my name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed, Oh, my name was Robert Kidd, as I sailed, as I sailed, My name was Robert Kidd, God's laws I did forbid, And most wickedly, I did, a3 I sailed, as I sailed, And most wickedly, I did, as I sailed, as I sailed. II Oh, my parents taught me well, as I sailed, as I sailed, Oh, my parents taught me well, as I sailed, as I sailed, My parents taught me well, to shun the gates of hell,
150 But against them I rebelled, as I sailed, as I sailed But against them I rebelled, as I sailed, as I sailed. Ill I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed, I murdered William Moore, as I sailed, as I sailed, I murdered William Moore-and I left him in his gore, Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed,as I sailed, Not many leagues from shore, as I sailed,as I sailed. IV ' And being cruel still, as I sailed, as I sailed, And being cruel still, as I sailed, as I sailed, And being cruel still, my gunner I did kill, And his precious blood did spill, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. And his precious blood did spill, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. V My mate was sick and died, as I sailed, as I sailed, My mate was sick and died, as I sailed, as I sailed, My mate was sick and died, which me much terrified. He ca lied me to his bedside, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed, He called me to his bedside, as I sailed, as I sailed, As I sailed. VI And unto me did say, "See me die, see me die" And unto me did say, "See me die, see me die"
151 And unto me did say "Take warning now by me There comes a reckoning day, you must die, you must die you must die, There comes a reckoning day, you must die, you must die you must die.
VII I steered from sound to sound, as I sailed, as I sailed, I steered from sound to sound, as I sailed, as I sailed, I steered from sound to sound, and many ships I found And most of them I burned, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed And most of them I burned, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. VIII I spied three ships from France, as I sailed, as I sailed, I spied three ships from France, as I s a i l e d , as I sailed, I spied three ships from France, to them I did advance, And took them a l l by chance, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. And took them a l l by chance, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed, IX I spied three ships from Spain, as I sailed, as I sailed, I spied three ships from Spain, as I sailed, as I sailed, I spied three 3hips from Spain, I fired on them amain, Till most of them were slain, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed
152 Till most of them were slain, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. X I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed, as I sailed I'd ninety bars of gold, as I sailed, as I sailed I'd ninety bars of gold, and dollars manifold, With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed With riches uncontrolled, as I sailed, as I sailed, as I sailed. XI Then fourteen ships I saw, as I sailed, as I sailed, Then fourteen ships I saw, as I sailed, as I sailed, Then fourteen ships I saw, and brave men they were Ah, they were too much for me, as I sailed, as I sailed as I sailed, Ah, they were too much for me, as I sailed, as I sailed as I sailed. XII To Newgate I am cast, and must die, and must die, To Newgate I am cast, and must die, and must die, To Newgate I am cast, wito a sad and heavy heart, To receive my just dessert, I must die, I must die, I must die To receive my just dessert, I must die, I must die, I must die. XIII Take warning now by me, for I must die, I must die, Take warning now by me, for I must die, I must die,
153 Take warning now by me, and shun bad company, Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die, Lest you come to hell with me, for I must die*
Nearly all of the text of this fo'castle song, Mrs. Lucy Palmer Johnson of Somerville, Massachusetts, remembers from the singing of her mother, in whose family it has been traditional. D.
Pieces of Eight
The following is a legend that still endures In several communities on the South Shore. The best version of it appears in Birdsall Jackson's book, "Stories of Old Long Island".
Mr. Jackson, a friend and neighbor whom I admire
greatly for his success in collecting, editing, and publishing folktales, has given me permission to use it here: ...It seems to be well authenticated that the Beach got its name from the Jones family who settled on the mainland directly opposite at Fort Neck, now a part of Massapequa* Their manor house was an unusual one for those times, being built of brick.
It was located conveniently near the shore
of the Great South Bay and was said to have been the fitting out place for various expeditions of one of toe older members of the Jones family, who followed the sea.
1. Linscott, Eloise, Polk Songs of Old New England, p. 131
154 This Captain Jones must have been a very unusual character, judging from the many rumors concerning hlra, some of which still persist. He was variously stated to have been a smuggler, a freebooter, a pirate, and a slave trader. His vessel was a veritable will-o'-the-wisp, so the story goes, eluding all pursuers, and he could sail in or out of Jones Inlet, which was said to have been named after him, by day or by night and under all conditions of wind and tide. Whether he could or could not do this, nobody else has ever been able to do it since. There are many dark whisperings of booty hidden in the sands on Jones Beach, and years after the Captain's death, treasure hunters dug among the dunes for pirate gold. None of them ever brought back any coin. At a later period, the stories became old wives' tales, to be told to the children at twilight, and usually ended somewhat like this, "And so, children, when your great-grandfather rowed Captain Jones ashore from his ship, they came near the landing at dusk, and a large cask rolled off the bank and fell with a big spjash into toe water and went straight to the bottom. Your great-grandfather had heard the jingling of money and went there the next day to look for the cask, but it was gone. And that, children, is how the Joneses got all their money,"
CHAPTER IX THE YZHALINC INDUSTRY ON LONG ISLAND
Introduction One of the richest sources of folktales on Long Island is Sag Harbor, which was for many years the cradle of the whaling industry in America. A most thrilling experience is in store for students who may have an opportunity to visit this old port. scription of this
The following is an historic de-
"Hardships and perils quickly beset the English pilgrims who settled Southampton in 1640. The first small boatload to arrive were almost immediately expelled by the Dutch who ruled New York and claimed all of Long Island, although they had made no attempt to settle its eastern end.
The next contingent disembarked within a month, de-
fiant to any power threatening their establishment of a colony free of religious and political oppression. Finding toe Atlantic rife with whales, they plunged quickly into the exciting and hazardous business of hunting them for a llvllhood.
For whale oil was light. A European
market awaited the shipment of whalebone. And soon wealthy Londoners were to clamour for candles made from spermacetti, a waxy solid extracted from sperm oil imported from American Colonies. "Only the timely Intervention of Wyandanch, powerful
156 chieftain of the friendly Montauks, prevented a complete annihilation of the colony by four surrounding Indian tribes who by threats and Intrigue were pledged to the Dutch to destroy all Englishmen living on Long Island. Foraging wild animals meanwhile doomed the colonists' farm crops to miserable failure for several years. When asked what they endured on through those despairing days, one pioneer later replied, 'Clams, 3and and ancestry! * "With the English finally in command of New York, Southampton's first era of real prosperity, ushered in with the turn of the seventeenth century, bore toe taint of ruinous tax levied on whaling products by a line of Royal gov-" ernors.
Continued meddlesome taxing of the colonists while
denying them representation in matters of government resulted eventually in revolution. Events led swiftly to the occupation of Long Island by the British forces.
with four regiments became stationed at Southampton.
old Herrick homestead which served as his headquarters stands on Main Street, and the earthworks thrown up by his troops are still evident near the Union School building. "At a point on Noyac Road, where today sun-polished bays and sand cliffs and wooded headlands merge Into a broad view of magical splendor, Colonel Meggs in 1777 landed with 170 continentals in open whalsboats and proceeded under cover of night to Sag Harbor where he destroyed a fleet of thirteen British brigs, killed or captured the enemy's garrison stationed on land, and returned without a single casualty among his own men to his Connecticut station.
157 "The end of the Revolution found Sag Harbor handling more tons of square-rigged shipping than the port of New York. Here was erected the first Customs House in the United States, and here were fitted out great whaling fleets which operated from the Arctic to.the South Seas.
The Argonaut, a
Sag Harbor whaler, was the first ship to round Cape Horn into the Pacific, in 1817. And not until the whaler Manhattan, manned by Southampton seamen, sailed in 1845 into the forbidden port of Jeddo had any white mariner dared defy toe Japanese emperor's decree sealing that nation's ports to all Christian shipping. "The discovery of petroleum in Pennsylvania came as a severe blow to Southampton whalemen.
For already whales
were becoming scarce and more elusive, and vessels fitted out for expeditions lasting upward of two and three years were being operated at huge financial losses for toeir owners.
The news of gold In California next addled men's
minds, and discouraged seamen deserted whale ships at every opportunity to join the mad rush of '49. The decline of 1 whaling thereafter was rapid." Sag Harbor can boast of several famous inns, which played an important part in the social life of the community before the Revolution.
Kings' Highway, which was begun in
1. Hlldreth, J. Augustus, Southampton Township, in Suffolk County's Ten Great Townships of Long Island, Board of Supervisors, Riverhead, New York, p. 67
158 1704, was the Impetus for the erection of gay roadside inns throughout Long Island, but it was not until 1772 that toe lumbering stage coach was able to wend Its dusty way from Brooklyn Ferry to Sag Harbor. This was a trip that took several days, and the genial inn-keepers along toe route graciously entertained, wined, and dined the weary travellers. Since the inns in Sag Harbor were the vortexes for swaggering whale fishermen, it is natural that a novelist like James Fenimore Cooper would seek the company of men who were engaged in the most hazardous enterprise of the day.
It was at Nathan Fordham's Inn, which was located
near the present Long Island Railroad Station, that Cooper wrote his thrilling novel, "Sea Lions,"
There 13 much folk-
lore to this story and his "Leatherstocking Tales" in that he used local Characters: Dr, Ebenezer Sage and Captain Hand, Evidently Mr, Cooper was more than passively interested in whaling as it is recorded that he held a share 1 in one of the ships that put out of Sag Harbor, Oddly enough the whaling industry did not begin In Sag Harbor, As was pointed out in the historic account, toe enterprise was centered along the south shore for many years and until the whale began to disappear.
In the Hamptons,
small huts dotted the landscape and beside each was a tall
1, Davis, Elizabeth E,, James Fenimore Cooper Lived Here, Long Island Forum, December, 1940, p. 253
During certain seasons of the year, these huts
were occupied by watchers whose duties consisted of maintaining a constant watch for the "blow". Whenever these watchers sighted a whale they raised the flag on the staff as a signal*
Immediately, the men folk of toe community
would drop whatever they were doing, rush to the shore, wheel their open whaleboats into the breakers, and launch out to the prize. The gamble with life and death began. The Indian or white harpooner in the prow of the boat had to be both courageous and dexterous. Whenever these small whaleboats were not in use during the summer season, they were placed in the shade of some huge tree to keep them from drying out. Frequently several families would make an agreement during the building of these boats:
share in the revenue derived, keep the boat
and implements in condition, establish a watch, and arrange for the clergyman's due in the profits, 1 An old account of the industry states toat In the summer of 1699 thirteen whales were caught along the south shore.
Later in 1711, it was claimed that four were ob-
tained at Montauk, two and a calf at Brookhaven, eight at Southampton, two at Moriches, two at Islip, and one that furnished twenty barrels of sperm oil. As late as 1721, the natives were still wuccessful in
1. Stiles, Henry R, and Others, History of Suffolk County, 1683-1SS2, published by W. M. Munsell & Company, New York, 1882.
160 taking sufficient whale to make the industry profitable along the shore, but gradually the drift whales began to disappear. By 1825 only an occasional whale was sighted along the shore and the whaling boom had shifted to Sag Harbor* The years following the Revolution were lean years for the residents of Sag Ha rbor.
The War of 1812 was another
deterrent, but the great fire of 1817 swept the town's business area and left little of the quaint village standing.
Whaling centers at New Bedford, Massachusetts, Nan-
tucket, Rhode Island, and New London, Connecticut were the necessary jog.
Ships were being fitted out to scour the
seven seas for whale oil. Momentum began and once more Sag Harbor became the capital of the industry.
By 1836 there
were twenty-one ships that made Sag Harbor the home port. The next ten years doubled the number and Sag Harbor became a flourishing community. Besides ship building, men were employed in numerous allied trades such as sailraaking, coopers for barrelmaklng, caulkers, riggers, and masons for "try-pot" construction.
The revitalized village was light-
hearted and optimistic, but gradually the expeditions were becoming less and less profitable.
The bustle of seamen was
short-lived and by the time of the Civil War only a few boats were putting out from the long wharf at Sag Harbor.
Excerpts From Long Island Whaling By N. R. Howell
The early maritime accounts report an abundance of whales.
Captain John Smith, as he explored toe coast north-
wa rd from Virginia in 1614 found whales very plentiful. Ships coming to New England bearing the early colonists came in contact with schools of whales. As one writer, on a visit to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, puts it "Mighty Whales spewing up water in the air, like smoke out of a chimney and making the sea about them white and hoary, as is said in Job, 'of such incredible bigness that I will never wonder that the body of Jonah could be in the belly of a whale.' * Before the colonization of America, the Indians not only made use of the whales that drifted ashore, but put out In their canoes and captured them.
They had rude wooden or
bone harpoons. They went out as a band in many canoes, harpooned the whale and when he came up after he dived to escape, they would shoot him to death, filling him full of arrows. They would bring him to shore, call all the chief men together and sing a song of joy.
The sagamores divided
the whale giving each man a share. The pieces would be hung about the houses for food:
The fat they would mix with
their corn or peas when they cooked them.
Not all of the
whale's body is blubber; there is a lean streak of meat between it and the skeleton.
The choicest parts of the whale
to the Indian were the tail and fins.
In the early deed of
East Hampton town the Indian grantors were allowed to keep
162 the tail and the fins of all the whales that drifted ashore.... Governor Dongan claimed that the crown should have the benefit of all drift whales.
It was he that placed a duty
of one-sixth of every gallon of whale oil and tried to compel the whalers to obtain licenses.
In this way he thought
he could have toe oil flowing through New York harbor. He even went so far as to place armed vessels in the Sound to intercept those going to New England with oil, but this didn't stop them* It was Samuel Mulf ord of East Hampton who became the champion of the whalers. He fought the colonial officers and the governor to remove this restriction but to no avail* Finally, he went to England in 1716 and appealed to the English government directly.
They listened to him with
great respect and his request was granted. from then on a great man in the Hamptons*
Mulford was One of the stories
told about him is that while in England he was greatly troubled by pickpockets, so he hit upon the idea of fastening fishhooks to the inside of M s pockets.
In this manner he
caught a number of hands trying to relieve him of his cash* The publicity resulting from this brought him into the limelight and helped his cause. The first whales to receive attention from Southampton, East Hampton and other settlements were those that floated ashore or died during a storm. These were known as drift whales. At first they were the common property of all toe people and all shared alike, except those that cut them up and they received a double portion. Each took his share of
• 163 blubber and bone home with him.
They tried out the oil from
the blubber and stored it in barrels for future use, to pay their taxes or to barter for necessities. This task of trying out blubber gave off obnoxious odors but the people employed in it seemed to accustom themselves to it and became almost insensible to what others were unable to endure.
This was the case in Southampton.
engaged in trying-out the blubber were so close to the main street that passers-by were annoyed so much that it was ordered by the town meeting in 1669 that no one should be within twenty-five poles (rods) of the main street while extracting oil. In time the drift whales became so scarce that the settlers established lookouts on the ocean shore to watch for whales that swam by.
Men took turns watching and when
one was 3ited the lookou.t waved his coat. whale came the faster the man waved.
The nearer the
The town was aroused
by the blowing of horns and all the people flocked to the shore, men, women snd children.
The men launched, their
whaleboats and put out after tre whale. After killing it they would tow it to shore,.,,... The first ships that went in search of whales were small sloops built of native oak.
They carried casks to put the
blubber in and had only six weeks provisions as they ventured only two or three hundred miles from port, usually to the southeast of Montauk. After the whalers had killed a whale they removed toe
164 blubber and brought it to Sag Harbor. There by the side of the docks they erected pots to try-out the oil. This type of whaling was carried on until the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
The first ship that sailed from Sag
Harbor carrying a complete outfit for trying-out the blubber at sea was the "Hope," owned by the Gardlners, in 1785* Farther and farther away from home Long Islanders ventured to find whales. By 1790 ships were operating off the coast of Brazil. By 1817 they had gone around Cape Horn and struck whales off the coast of Chili. Atlantic whales had not only become less plentiful but had sought other places where they would be free from their conquering enemies.
The last field that the old-time whalers entered
was the Arctic and off the coast of Alaska. Sag Harbor had the honor of sending the first whaling ship, the Superior of Long Island, to enter the Arctic Ocean.,
In its time the whaling industry was the greatest industry the island had.
To understand this industy, so inti-
mately connected with toe history of Long Island, one needs to do more than visit the American Museum of Natural History. He needs to know about the whale. There are several kinds of whales.
The sperm, right, sulphur, bottom, finback and
humpback are the varieties that are of commercial value* The first two were caught off our coast and are now seen occasionally sporting in the waters. Whalers tell the difference at a distance because the sperm whale has but one spout while the right whale has two. The sperm whale 13 the more ferocious of the two. It has jaws extending
165 one-third the length of its body.
Also, it has teeth,
while toe right whale has none but has layers of fringed whalebone, through which it strains water to retain minute animal life*
The 3perm whale depends on its jaws to pro-
tect Itself, while the right whalw uses its huge tail and flukes. From toe sperm whale is obtained spermacetti or sperm oil from whish sperm candles are made.
This oil is found
in a liquid state in a cavity in the head.
When it is re-
moved and cooled it solidifies and has no fishy or other disagreeable odor. Regular oil is obtained from the rest of the animal. More oil is obtained from the right whale than from the sperm whale*... ,r In the Oakland Cemetery at Sag Harbor is a marble monument commerating the captains who died at sea while engaged in whaling. A splintered mast stands above a base on which is earved a broken hawser and the following inscription: To commemorate that noble enterprise The whale fishing And a tribute of lasting respect To those bold and enterprising ship masters, Sons of Southampton, Who periled their lives in a daring profession And perished in actual encounter With the monsters of the deep, 1 Entombed in toe ocean, they live in our memory* 1* Taken by permission'of Paul Bailey, Publisher, from the "Long Island Forum",Bay Shore, New York, September, 1941, Volume IV, No. 9
Legends and Ballads
One of the natives of Sag Harbor but who later Tnoved to California and wrote several ballads in recollection of his Long Island youth presents the whaling industry and its dangers in a grand manner. The Master Mariner My grands ire sailed three years from home And slew unmoved toe sounding whale: Here on a windless beach I roam And watch far out the hardy sail* The lions of the surf that cry Upon this lion-colored 3hore On reefs of midnight met his eye: He knew their fangs as I their roar. My grandsire sailed uncharted seas, And toll of their leagues he took: I scan the shallow bays at ease, And tell their colors in a book. The anchor-chains his music made And wind in shrouds and running-gear: The thrush at dawn beguiles my glade, And once, 'tis said, I woke to hearo My grandsire in his ample fiat The long harpoon upheld to men: Beheld obedient to my wrist A gray gull's-feather for my pen!
167 Upon my g r a n d s i r e ' 3 l e a t h e r n cheek Five zones toeir b i t t e r bronze had s e t : Some day t h e i r hazards I w i l l speak, I promise me a t times.
Not y e t .
I think my g r a n d s i r e now would t u r n A mild b u t speculative eye On me, my pen and i t s concern, Then gaze again t o sea - and sigh* Another of h i s d e l i g h t f u l accounts of t h e whaling i n dustry i s found i n h i s "The Ballad of the Swabs", in which he t e l l s t h a t the good s h i p , "Thomas Dickinson", was bound f o r home p o r t a f t e r a two-year c r u i s e that had taken the whalemen f a r from home.
In s i g h t of home, the men refused
to obey the c a p t a i n ' s orders to swab the decks.
The b a l l a d
t e l l s of the manner i n which he d i s c i p l i n e d h i s weary men: Back t o the A t l a n t i c blue The ordered course was l a i d , And both mates used f a m i l i a r words U n t i l new swabs were made. Out of s i g h t of land or s p i r e , Far from k i t h and kind, Long they heard the creaking yards Speak of d i s c i p l i n e . Three f u l l days they swabbed the deck With most p a i n s t a k i n g c a r e , T i l l Dolly Madison h e r s e l f Could h a ' e a t h e r supper there
Again they lifted high Montauk And low Block Island's sands; But till they saw the roofs of home 1 Those swabs were in their hands. From William Halsey's "Sketches from Long Island History", the two following narratives were obtained: "During the height of the whaling industry in Sag Ha rbor, the oil ba rrels had to be made by hand.
made the trade of a cooper very Important. Many times a smart man would draw two shares on a whaleship, one as a cooper, the other as a sailor. Poles for barrel hoops were in great demand. A man was found by the owner cutting hoop poles in his woodland and asked him by what right he was so doing.
The intruder replied that^'custom had es-
tablished a law by which a cooper had the right to go into any man's woodland to cut hoop poles for as far as he could throw his axe.' "'But,' said the owner, 'you a re much farther than that.* "'I know I am,' said toe cooper, 'but custom has recently changed that law, so that now he can go as far as he can throw It twice.'"
., Ballad of the October, 1925.
169 A Diplomat "During the whaling days, Sag Harbor was sending ships to the seven seas following the Industry. "Many foreigners came to this port on returning whaleships, and often among them were Kanakas or native of the Pacific Islands. These men took naturally to the water and were great divers and swimmers. "One day a workman dropped a calking mallet overboard and offered a Kanaka a quarter to go down to get It* He at once went to the bottom but he could not find it. Then, he was offered a half dollar. He went down again, but in vain* The caulker prized his mallet very highly and said, 'If you will get that mallet for me, I will give you one dollar.' The Kanaka at once agreed to try again, went to the bottom, and came right up wito the mal3e t."
CHAPTER X SUPERSTITIONS Many of the superstitions that were common in the Colonial days on Long Island have been traced to earlier European origins. Picture if you can an old pioneer grandmother a3 she imparts the following "scientific" information to her grand-daughter: Never out a baby's nails until he is a year old lest you make a thief out of him: or, When to Manicure Cut them on Monday, cut them for health, Cut them on Tuesday, cut them for wealth, Cut them on Wednesday, cut for a letter. Cut them on Thursday, for something better. Cut them on Friday, you cut for a wife. Cut them on Saturday, cut for a long life. Cut them on Sunday, you cut them for evil. For all of that week you'll be ruled by the devil. There are many other superstitions toat have been handed down to us by word of mouth and seldom if ever recorded.
Those that have been recorded in books for us
are now available, but the folk-lorist occasionally meets some old resident of Eastern Long Island who 3till treasures an old copy book of a great-grand-father who wrote a jingle, a rime, a proverb, or a maxim that was common here on Long
171 Island a few c e n t u r i e s ago.
Later, a v a r i a t i o n of the same
j i n g l e , rime, proverb, or maxim i s told the f o l k - l o r i s t by an octogenarian In Flushing who was taught i t by h i s g r e a t uncle* We l i k e to f e e l t h a t our enlightened age has brought wisdom and toat we are not handicapped in every move we make by the s i l l y s u p e r s t i t i o n s t h a t d i r e c t e d the l i v e s of t h e e a r l y Long I s l a n d C o l o n i s t s .
The i n t e l l i g e n t boys and g i r l s
i n our schools today a r e l e s s r e s t r a i n e d than toe youngsters who worked on farms i n 1742; b u t question your classmates p a r t i c u l a r l y those who have never seen some of the following s u p e r s t i t i o n s i n p r i n t - and you w i l l be s u r p r i s e d t o learn how many of them a r e known* them?
Where did these children l e a r n
Ask! When to Sneeze Sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger. Sneeze on Tuesday, y o u ' l l k i s s a s t r a n g e r . Sneeze on Wednesday, sneeze f o r a l e t t e r . Sneeze on Thursday, y o u ' l l g e t something b e t t e r . Sneeze on Friday, you sneeze for sorrow. Sneeze on Saturday, see your sweetheart tomorrow. When To Be Born Monday's c h i l d i s f a i r in face; Tuesday's c h i l d i s f u l l of grace; Wednesday's c h i l d i s f u l l of woe; Thursday's c h i l d has f a r to go; F r i d a y ' s c h i l d i s loving and giving:
S a t u r d a y ' s c h i l d works hard f o r a l i v i n g ,
172 And a child that's born on the Sabbath day Is fair and wise and good and gay. If your left ear rings, you will hear bad news.
your right, godd news. If the bottom of your feet itch, you will walk on strange ground.
If the paliuof your left hand Itches, you will receive money.
If your right, you are to pay It out.
If you see the new moon over your left shoulder, you will have bad luck for that entire month. To sit at table when the company numbers thirteen means bad luck for all. If you walk under a ladder, you will experience 111 luck. If you accidentally spill salt, you will have bad luck unless you immediately put some in the fire or throw some over your left shoulder. If at table you drop a knife, you. will entertain company, probably a man. If a fork, a woman; if a spoon, a child. When a family moved to a new abode, salt and a new broom should be carried in first for good luck.
Some of the lesser known superstitions that Natives claim were very prevalent here on Long Island in the latter part of the seventeenth century are the following:
173 If you touch a corpse, you will never die of the disease which caused the death. Company is coming, if a rooster stands on your doorstep and crows. Never begin a piece of work on a Friday unless you can finish it that day.
Should It be a garment, that per-
son will never live to wear it out. If a door hinge creaks, it is a sign of death. If rain falls into a newly dug grave, someone else in the same family will die that same year. One should always stir batter or cake dough clockwise with the sun or it will be heavy. If a burning candle that is blown In a draft makes what is called a 1'wlndlng sheet", it is a sign of death. If you kill the first snake you see in the spring, you will conquer all your enemies. A newborn child should be carried upstairs for good luck before it is ever taken down stairs or out of the house. In renovating a house, never put a door where a window has been or it will result in bad luck. In a privately printed history, entitled "Sketches from Local History", printed in Brldgehampton in 1935, William D. Halsey wrote the following amusing story to illustrate how our early settlers were influenced by their beliefs in their daily lives: "An old resident of Shelter Island named Cartwright
174 lived with his wife in a very plain and 3imple dwelling. "It was before the days when window shades were in general use, and only the well-to-do families had them; and even among that class, some were slow to adopt any new idea* sincerely believing that it was folly, and not only an unnecessary expense, but contrary to the natural law as laid down in the Bible as a guide for mankind. "One day Cartwrlght was busily engaged with his farm work, when a peddler came to the house offering his wares. Among them were paper window shades, very attractive and pretty in color. "Mrs, Cartwrlght was very much pleased wito them and bought what she needed.
She lost no time, but made haste in
putting them up, thinking she would give her husband a happy surprise. "When he came home, she ushered him to the best room, to show him the new furnishings. The light was subdued, and glaring rays of the sun shut out, giving the room to her mind, a most restful, refreshing, and quieting influence and appearance. "He stood In silence for several moments, and to her dismay, said:
'Mother, the 'Good Book' tells us that God said,
'Let there be light, and there was light, and God saw that it was good.'
So it mu3t ever bei»
"Whereupon, he proceeded at once to tear down the beautiful, new shades, and to throw them in the fire where they were consumed."
175 Spells, Omens, and Charms of Love and Marriage In these days of enlightenment, we pride ourselves with the fact that most people can read snd write.
this was not true in Colonial Long Island when few but the itinerant school teacher and the village preacher could read or write.
The time in which man has been subjected to civi-
lizing influences is relatively short compared with the centuries spent in cultural development.
It is quite natural,
therefore, that traditions should be deeply rooted and persist in spite of education. One needs only the ability to see to note the influences of the past.
Our every day life is conditioned in such ways
as knocking wood on Friday the thirteenth, avoiding the possibility of walking under a ladder on the sidewalk, being highly annoyed when a black cat crosses our path, etc. A famous English folklorist, Marion R. Cox, advanced the belief that man's concept of the soul came as the result of primitive man's inability to distinguish between dream life and real life. Evil spirits, ghosts, and witches, he felt, were an out-growth of the dream world and men's universal fear of the future resulted in witchcraft, sorcery, practices of charms, and finally in established religion. it so or not, we are all slaves to tradition.
Who is there
who would fail to give his bride-te-be an engagement ring or fall to participate in the rice throwing after a wedding? spark of superstition lingers and the most rational being today is swayed by customs whose origins are so remote we
176 cannot trace them. Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with Albert Flower in Bayville, Long Island.
In his reminiscense3
of childhood days spent in Matlnnecock was the story of his grand-mother, also a native Long Islander, who was extremely religious and also superstitious. He recounted for me several of her quaint beliefs, which he felt were significant and typical: An indoor pastime among the Long Island young folk was to sit about the family dining table and pare apples while first one then another took the unbroken peeling in the right hand, tossed it over the left shoulder, and eagerly examined the parings for the initials of the future wife or husband. The first night of a new moon, Hallowe'en, a Friday night, and New Year's Eve were generally considered the most opportune for prophesying the future and for the working of charms. Another labour of love here on Long Island was the reading of one's future in the white of an egg. All that was needed was a cup of water and a very small amount of the white of an ©gg»
By dropping the egg white into the water and allowing
it to settle, one's future could be foretold merely by toe shape the substance assumed.
Contentment came to him who
could see a star; a long trip by water or an unexpected, visitor who would come by water was to him who could see a fish, a crab, or a lobster; misfortune and bad luck if a cross; great wealth and wedded bliss if an animal of any kind; marriage within the year if a ring; and romance if a heart.
177 In the Roman days, no enterprise, business venture, or conquest was undertaken but the advice of the oracle was sought. An interesting variation of this was prevalent here many years ago.
The method was to open the Bible at random,
place the finger upon the word in the upper left corner of the left page.
If the number of letters of that word were
even, it signified a good omen; if odd in number, ill luck. Almost every American boy and girl has read "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" and found keen pleasure in the superstitions, charms and omens of that era. Huck's charm for being rid of warts Is little different from that used by many a Long Island maiden, who because of a quarrel with her lover, would prick the blood from toe ring finger of the left hand, write with her blood the name of her estranged lover upon a piece of paper, and encircle the name within a ring of the same red fluid.
This paper was then folded
seven times and buried carefully and secretly in the garden at night.
This charm was supposed to be very effective if
followed out carefully.
The estranged lover knew no rest
until the quarrel was arbitrated. A rainy day or a Friday were generally considered unlucky for weddings. He also recalled that he was taught to believe that the howling of a dog on toe eve of a w edding foreboded no good; but, if a cat were to sneeze, it was an omen of good fortune. Numerous other customs and superstitions that pertain to marriage and narrated by Mr. Flower are amusing. Apparently, more than one hundred fifty years ago the follow-
178 lng were in vogue: If a young lady became anxious about her prospects of marriage, she gathered together three articles: a ring, a coin, and a piece of black ribbon. She then secreted each in a different part of the kitchen.
If the ring were
discovered first, the young lady would marry; if the coin first, she would marry into wealth; and if the black ribbon first, she would forever remain a spinster. Ihe marriage ceremonies over, the bride invariably threw her bouquet to her maids of honor.
Lucky was she
who was so fortunate as to catch the flowers for it foretold toe next to marry. Another superstition that seems likely never to die out is one wherein a spinster who sleeps with a piece of wedding cake beneath her pillow will dream of her future husband, and the failure to dream implied her status would ever remain that of being a spinster. Weather Lore of the Early Long Island Colonists Animals as Prophets In these days when children are transported to school by buses, trains, subways, automobiles, and bicycles, they are apt to look with curiosity upon a horse drawn vehicle. The age of mechanisation is affecting our daily lives; and it is, therefore, little wonder that school-conducted field trips are conducted to the county fair, the zoo, or the model dairy. Pew youngsters have the opportunity now to see a cow, a pig, or a yew lamb except in a picture book.
179 It is hard for us to realize the greap part that insects and animals played in the lives of eighteen century residents of Long Island. As has already been shown, the farmer of 1700 was extremely superstitious about most things that stirrounded him. He was naturally so about the beliavior of insects and animals. Scientific weather forecasting had not been dreamed of, nor were there any accurate instruments for indicating changes. Here are a few of the beliefs by which he forecast the weather conditions: It is a sure sign of rain if a cat sneezes. If a fox barks during the night, it will rain. If toe coat of a deer be gray in October, it will be a severe winter. If a dog eats grass in the morning, it will rain before night fall. If the tracts of a bear are seen after the first snow storm, it will be a mild winter. If sheep in the pasture scatter or ascend into the hills, the weather will be clear; but, if they bleat and seek shelter, it will snow. When hogs are seen running about with leaves or straw in their mouths in order to make themselves warm beds, it is a sign of severe weather.
Our early settlers brought
with them the belief that pigs could see the wind and that they were restless and noisy before a storm. The ordinary-house cat played an important part In foretelling weather conditions. If a cat were observed sleeping
180 on Its back, it was a sign of rainy weather. Furthermore, cats always rubbed themselves against objects before a storm; and, if tabby washed herself behind her ears, It Indicated the end of fair v/eather. Can you imagine a farmer's wife being able to tell the direction the wind would blow on the morrow?
Many had great faith in the belief that
the wind would blow from the direction in which the cat sat when she washed her face. The average seaman has always been superstitious about cats; seldom were they welcome on board ship. A superstition that had its origin probably centuries ago, but persisted down through our Colonial period, was in relation to the behavior of a cat while aboard.
To our Long Island Sound and
coastal fishermen, toe cat was as good as a barometer. Just so long as toe pet was active or frisky, there was little fear of being becalmed; but, if the cat were lanquid and sleepy, the portend was cessation of breeze or a lull*
the fisherman's patience was exhausted, he usually resorted to ducking toe cat overboard - a sure way to raise sufficient breeze to fill the sail. Another domestic animal whose actions augured changes in weather was the dog.
It was said by those who kept a
dog in the days of our great, great grand-fathers that if the animal turned around three or four times before lying down, in just so many days there would be a hard, cold, storm.
Other peculiar actions of a dog, such as howling when
anyone left the house, digging a deep hole in the yard, or refusing to eat his dinner of meat, were signs of impending storm.
181 Cattle were brought to Long Island as early as 1625, probably because of the abundant grass and vast pasture lands.
Raising stock grew to be the great Industry of our
early settlers. I have been told by a native octogenerlan whose ancestors were always in the dairy business that cattle were their most dependable weather soothsayers. As a boy he was led to believe that when a cow scratched herself against a fence post, or lay on her right side, or refused to go to pasture and had to be driven, or lay down in the field in the early morning, or looked into the sky while lowing, or returned to the barn-yard before noon seeking shelter, it meant rain within twenty-four hours* Our earliest Long Island weather prophets also used the following means for prophesying:
When cattle were let out
of the barn, it was important to note whether the bull or the cows led the way to pasture.
If the bull were to lead,
it was an omen of rain; if the cows were to precede, it was a sign of fair and calm weather. Sayings, Signs, and Weather Omens Mark Twain once said that everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about It. It has been ever thus; certainly the paramount topic of conversation in the social gathering of a Long Island farmhouse of 1700 must have been mainly toe weather.
The following sayings,
signs, and charms, most of which were collected by Mrs. Morton Pennypacker from her neighbors In East Hampton over a period of many years and given to me just as she obtained
182 them, are an Indication of the importance of weather In the lives of Long Islanders: A green Christmas, a fat churchyard. If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, There will be two winters that year. Snow like fea thers, clearing weather; Snow like meal, snow a good deal. April showers bring May Flowers. Mackeral scales and mare's tails Make seafaring men lower their sails; or Mackeral sky and mare's tails Make lofty ships carry low sails. Evening red and morning gray Sends the traveller on his way: Evening gray and morning red Sends the traveller back to bed; or Brings down rain upon his head. Rain before seven, Clear before eleven. Rainbow in the morning, sailors take warning; Rainbow at night, sailor's delight. A sunshiny shower, Wont last an hour.
183 Thunder in the morning, sailors take warning; Thunder at night, sailor's delight. Summer lightning is never frightening, But winter's thunder is the world's wonder. When the wind is in the East, 'Tls poison to man and beast. When toe wind is in toe South, It blows the bait into the fishes' mouth. When the wind is in toe North, The skillful sailor goes not forth. But when the wind's in the East, Then 'tis at its very best. Phases of the Moon If the moon shows like a silver shield, Be not afraid to reap your field; But if she rises haloed round, Soon we'll tread on moistened ground. One Long Island historian in commenting upon the beliefs of the natives here wrote: "If the new moon laid on its back so that it could hold water, it indicated dry weather.
If it stood up, so
the water could run off, it would be wet*
If It laid flat
so that a powder horn could be hung on it, stay at home for it would be wet and stormy.
If you could not hang a horn
184 on it, then go hunting, go hunting, for the weather would 1 be good." St. Swithin's Day if it doth rain For forty days rain will remain; St. Swlthln's Day, if it doth pour For forty days 'twill rain no more. Woe to the farmer who on Valentine's Day Doesn't have half his grain and his hay.
1. Halsey, William D., "Sketches for Local History", Private Printing, Brldgehampton, 1935, p. 176
CHAPTER XI WITCHCRAFT The average school boy or girl finds It extremely difficult to believe that witchcraft actually existed on Long Island during the Colonial period. Although there are but three actual cases recorded on Long Island wherein persons were openly accused of being witches, nevertheless many innocent old ladies, who by virtue of the fact that they may have acted eccentrically or lived alone In an isolated spot, were suspected of sorcery. Goodwife Garlicke and her husband moved to E. st Hampton in 1657. As is the case today in many of our remote communities where strangers move in, "Goody" Garlicke wa3 regarded with suspicion and busy gossips created tales that boded her no good, Salem town looked askance upon "foreigners" and so did East Hampton.
Good-wife Garlicke became an
ominous individual who caused children to become suddenly ill, horses to limp, and cattle to dry. Goodwife Howell's illness, attributed to the evildoings of that person "suspected for a Witch", was sufficient cause for bringing "Goody" Garlicke to trial at a town meeting. Colonel Lion Gardiner, her former employer, came to her rescue as did several other influential friends. It was pointed out in the town meeting that East Hampton v/as under the court jurisdiction of Hartford, "Kenlticut". "Goody" Garlicke wa3 ordered to stand trial and to be taken to Hartford.
186 Lion Gardiner's defense of Goodwife Garlicke was so effective that she was granted an acquittal, but toe records show toat she did employ herbs for different purposed, that she had no serious objection to being thought a witch, and that she preferred pleasing Satan rather than displeasing him. Salem wltchcraft continued to radiate its dire effects. Here on Long Island there was a seething under current toat occasionally reared its head.
Unquestionably, there were
fewer cases here but mysterious things continued to happen* Someone was always to blame. In October, 1665, Ralph Hall and Goodwife Mary Hall stood trial in New York for employing their wicked arts upon one George Wood of "Seatallcott".
evidence to prove that Wood had "dyed" as a result of the occult powers of the Hall's was inadequate; however, the written dispostlon of the case showed that there were strong suspicions. The most unfortunate person to be accused was Katherine Harrison, who has little direct relation with Long Island. Goodwife Katherine had migrated to the colonies in 1651. Her happiest days may have been the period from 1653 when she was married in Westchester until May, 1669, when as a widow she was openly accused of being a witch.
Thereafter she was a
victim of the court. Her property was disposed of, she languished in jail, she stood trial and was found guilty by her peers. The Hartford judges were unconvinced and she became a "football" for courts, judges, and governors.
187 in October 1670, she was exonerated and permitted to take up residence In Westchester again. More About Witches The following are items that have been collected by William Halsey in Brldgehampton, which is not far from the scene of Goodwife Garlicke's antics* Halsey tells a story about a field which never could be harvested of its hay by the farmer in view of the fact that although the day it was cut might be dry it would surely pour when being harvested. "As a precaution, the farmer prepared a gun loaded with silver buttons for shot, the only silver they had, and this he kept nearby, ....... They had only just gotten nicely at work, when a black cat appeared and started to run across the field.
One' of the men grabbed the gun and shot at toe cat,
(she was too far away to kill) but he hit her and she went away limping, and they, for the first time in all history got the hay in the barn, dry, and in good condition. "An old woman who lived in that neighborhood and who was suspected of being a witch was not seen for several days after the black cat was wounded as related above. When she did appear she was very lame and was obliged to use a cane for some time.
This was ample proof that she was a witch
and was the cause of the trouble. "
a witch would cross the ocean in an eggshell at
night, have a grand frolic in England and be back in the morning, or could ride a broom stick across the continent
188 to attend some conference, and ride back unnoticed, and not be missed while away.
The suspected one was usually an old
man or woman, thin, wizened and dried up, and the belief was that they could take on the form of an animal, such as a cat, and go about unsuspected, and if they were suspected and shot at, no harm could come to them if lead was used for shot, for it v/as only silver that would be effective. "If an ox or a horse was taken suddenly lame, there was but one cause.
If grain blighted or failed to ripen normally;
if any one had a sudden or peculiar pain or illness or sudden misfortune; if anything happened out of the ordinary, it was all laid to witches. "One of these myths was toat if a witch walked through a pasture where a herd of cows were grazing, as many as she bewitched would dry up their milk, or have some disease and die, or would fail to bring forth young, or would persistently break the fence and let the herd out of the pasture. "When Sag Harbor was a flourishing sea port, many of the Down East boats would come to this port, and most of them would have a horseshoe nailed to the mast and one over the cabin door, for a witch would never go or stay where there was a horseshoe. "Many a farmer kept a horseshoe nailed to the hog trough to keep the witches away from toe hogs.
When a pen
of hogs failed to thrive, and would squeal and run about the pen as if they were being chased, it was laid to witches, and a horseshoe was the remedy.
The year Brldgehampton was settled
189 witchcraft was at its height in England, and 120 victims were executed." .... .1
1. Halsey, William D.; Sketches From Local History, Brldgehampton, New York, p.p. 155-156
CHAPTER XII TIDE WATER HUMOR A.
South Shore Whoppers
This chapter is in no way related to Colonial Long Island but it 13 included here primarily because it illustrates the wry humor, so characteristic of our Long Island Daymen of a few generations past. Pew authors have the rare ability to tell a yarn in the dialect form so well as Mr. Birdsall Jackson, a lifelong resident of the South Shore. Until Mr. Jackson was nearly twenty years of age, he lived In Seaford where he had dally contact with old shoremen and boat builders. He can speak the language of these men and he has ably indicated his ability to record his experiences in "Stories of Old Long Island," from which these yarns were taken by his courteous permission: An old salt water liar sat In the sunshine by the doorway of his fishing shack on one of the meadow islands. His chair was tipped back against the side of the building, a corn-cob pipe was In his mouth, and a carefree and contented expression overspread his leathery features. A sign toat had been nailed up over the doorway read as follows: BATE AND TACKEL FOR SAIL As we tied our boat to the dock and came up the board walk, he gave a few preparatory puffs on his pipe, but was otherwise unconcerned.
Anyone could have told that he did
191 not owe us any money. "I cal'late you want some bait an' tackle," said he. "Yes, Captain, but what we want most of all is to get some extra strong bluefish lines for outside trolling." "Now, ain't that lucky?" said he, "You've jest happened to strike the right place to git the best there is anywheres." "But we must be sure it's extra strong.
after big fish." "The bigger, toe better," said he.
"You set right
down there on them planks an' I'll tell you 'bout my lines. My boy, Johnny, and me was out blue fishin' tother day. We went out in the small yawl boat and Johnny got fast to a big bluefish at the bow. So when he come nigh toe end of the line, Johnny hitched it to the ring in the stem-post an' that bluefish started towin' us up the inlet." "That must have been a very exciting ride you. had, Captain." "Yes, but that wasn't nothin' at all',' said he. was only the beginnin' of it.
I was settin' on the stern
watchin' Johnny an' his big bluefish an' I got sort of keerless, as a feller will sometimes, an' let my line run out free at the stern, an' all at once somethin' grabbed it, an' took it out full 2 e n g t h 'fore I could git hold of it. But I had tied it to the 3tern. It was one of them blamed porpuses. Wall, my porpus wanted us to go to sea with him an' Johnny's big bluefish wanted to take us up the inlet."
"What did you and Johnny do then, Captain?" "Oh, we c o u l d n ' t do n o t h i n " . We j e s t s e t s t i l l an' smoked our p i p e s an' l e t 'em f i g h t i t o u t .
porpu.s drug us four mile s t e r n f i r s t out to s e a .
b l u e f i s h done a l l he could on h i s end, but i t wasn't no use f o r him.
He w a s n ' t b i g enough.
out for nothin,
He j e s t t i r e d himself a l l
an' then Johnny r l z up an' p u l l e d him i n t o
the b o a t . " "How about the porpoise?" "Oh, we got him, too. break t h a t l i n e of mine.
He wore himself out t r y i n ' t o But we had some trouble gaffin'
him." " I d o n ' t see how you gaffed him a t a l l . " "We done i t with our small anchor an* p u l l e d him in wito the c a b l e , " said t h i s deep sea l i a r , taking a few short puffs on h i s p i p e , as a man w i l l sometimes, when he f e e l s very well s a t i s f i e d with himself.
Anyone who had
not bought b l u e f i s h limes r i g h t then and there would have been a very poor s p o r t . This yarn appeared In the Saturday Evening Post several years ago under the headline, --"Too N a t u r a l , " laughed about a l l over the country.
and I t was
His name was not
mentioned, but we knew i t was one of Captain Tom's s t o r i e s as soon as we read I t . brand of humor.
I t had a l l the earmarks of his
And we suspected t h a t t h e r e might be an
addendum to i t , as he had a way of adding t o h i s yarns and
sometimes g e t t i n g an e x t r a kick out of them. So a l i t t l e l a t e r , we went down to h i s boathouse one day and found him t h e r e ; b u t the decoys were a l l gone. "Sorry t o hear t h a t you had such bad luck with your duck s t o o l , Captain," "Yes," said he, " I ' v e been l o s i n ' very heavy l a t e l y . I ' v e been doin' my work too w e l l , " " I s i t possible t h a t you have l o s t more of them?" we asked. "Yes," he answered sadly, " I ' v e j e s t l o s t every blank one of 'em." "That'3 too bad.
How did i t happen?"
"All on account of my b e i n ' so f e r g i t f u l , " said he, looking a t us out of the corner of h i s eye.
" I fergot a n '
l e f t the boat-house door open, an' a strange dog run in here t h i s mornin' an' barked a t 'em an' the h u l l blank flock got scared a n ' jumped up an' flew r i g h t out of toe boat-house, an' I a i n ' t seen 'em since!" B.
North Shore Whoppers
Long Island, l i k e other sections of our country, has contributed i t s share t o our b o u n t i f u l crop of native humor. Nearly every community on Long Island has had i t s general s t o r e , toe meeting p l a c e and s o c i a l center of toe v i l l a g e . There Paul Bunyan3 poured out t h e i r s a l t water humor to any one who t a r r i e d long enough a t the cracker b a r r e l or beside toe p o t b e l l i e d stove to c r e a t e the proper atmosphere f o r the r e c i t a l .
These sea t a l e s were never t o l d twice i n
194 the same fashion; they usually were improved upon until the narrator eventually toought himself t he real hero. The following were told to me by Captain Albert Flower of Bayville, New York.
Gap-tain "Bert", as he is known on
the North Shore, was born in 1876 in Matinecock.
had a very colorful life and his versatility is apparent when one meets him in his home environment.
To sail a
sloop, make a violin, build a house, navigate by c ompass, guide one to the best fishing and clamming spots, and direct a meeting of the local Board of Education are just part of his nature.
It is natural to presume that because of
his long years of activity on Long Island he is in a position to tell sea yarns. Here are a few: Jake: Howdy, Bob. Haven't seen you in a long time. Where' ve you been? Bob:
At sea again, I suppose?'
Yes, been down to Charleston, South Carolina on the schooner "S. T. Wines."
Jake: Have a good trip? Bob: Jake: Bob:
Yes, half of it. What do you mean, half of it? Well, we had bully good weather goin' down the coast wind off shore all the way down to the mouth of the harbor. No wind all night - had to anchor. Next afternoon the Captain hailed a tug and towed us up to the dock.
Got unloaded two days later. Say!
Talk about Rats. too.
I never saw so many rats, whoppers,
I bet some was a hundred years old. Had tails
on 'em a f o o t long and about six inches of the end of 'em was bone and hard and s h a r p . them buggers s t i c k yer and b i t e . Jake: Bob:
Were they a l l the same color, Bob? I should say n o t .
They v/as a l l colors and kinds.
Chinese, Japanese mostly. Jake: Bob:
Did they get on board the schooner? What!
Yeah, got in the hold and gnawed through the
Got into the cabin and i n t o t he bunks and
when you got to sleep they'd run across your chest and ram you in the face with them t a i l s and drawed blood too,
I had a nasty f s e l i n ' about them r a t s I
know they carry the plague and fovor too sometimes. Jake: Bob:
When did you s t a r t for home? Oh, I think i t v/as about tv/o weeks a f t e r we unloaded. 7/e begun t o take on 9 load of watermelons. in about a week.
As soon as the l a s t melon was on
board, the Cap'n said v/e would have t o p u t to sea r i g h t away - so he h a i l e d a tug and she towed us outside the b a r and v/e s t a r t e d for lev/ York. sometimes calm. calm and h o t .
The wind v/as l i g h t ,
All night nnd next mornin' i t was About ten o'clock one of the s a i l o r s
complained about f e e l l n ' s i c k ,
(There v/as nine of us
on board - Cap'n, Mate, Second Mate, C a p ' n ' s daughter and f i v e of us s a i l o r s . )
fhe Mate looked him over
and said he c o u l d n ' t t e l l j u s t then what the trouble was.
Bub I caught the look in toe mate's eye.
made me shiver as I thought about the r a t s .
196 he would come back in about an hour and look him over again. By that time three more come sick and he said it was typhus. So all hands come sick with it one after another, except the Cap'n's daughter and myself.
The Cap'n's daughter had to do all the
cookin' and take care of the sick.
I felt a sort of
uneasiness being so far out of sight of land and the weather so stuffy and hot and I think to myself, if this don't feel like a nor'east gale I miss my guess. So I waited and in about fifteen minutes I spit on my finger and held it up to the light air wind and something tells me that I better be getting the sails in and put in a three reef all around.
everything fast and battened down the hatches and then begun to get the halyards ready. At the first clonk of the blocks, the Cap'n's daughter came runnin' up the companion way and says, "Bob, whatever is the matter?"
I says, "Never mind wots the matter.
Let's git these sails in and quick too. We ain't got no time ter lose."
We just got things tidied up when
she struck right square outer the nor'east a gale. The Cap'n's daughter went down in the cabin to keep from being blowed overboard.
I yelled to her to hand
me a stop so I could lash myself to the wheel to keep me from beln' washed overboard and for five days and five nights I steered that schooner all alone. Nobody to speak to even.
197 Jake: Bob:
Where was the Cap'n's daughter all this time? She had to stay in the cabin cuz the sea wa3 breakln' solid all over the cabin and me too.
Where did you find yourself when the gale stopped blowing?
I wasn't quite sure. Had to steer by dead reckonim'. When it let up after five days, the Cap'n's daughter opened the cabin doors and sez, "They are all gittin' better." sleepy.
She said, "Bob, you must be very hungry and Shall I get you something to eat?"
Just a drink of water, please.
Jake: And wasn't you hungry and sleepy? Bob:
Not hungry - jist wanted a drink of water.
storm calmed a little, I catight a flyin' fish as was flyin' over the after deck, close by me. I ate him and that seemed to stop my hunger. a calm.
The wind died to
Got all sails set, Cap'n's daughter takes the
wheel, and I git a wink of sleep.
I come out on deck
agin and take the wheel. Cap'n's daughter cooks a good supper of flying fish.
The rats spoiled all toe
food supplies. Was that supper goodl
I never tasted
anything so good in my life. Jake: Bob:
I didn't know flying fish were good to eat. Well, we ate 'em good or no good.
The Cap'n's daughter
took the wheel till eight bells. Then I took it the rest of the night.
The Cap'n and crew by morning were
quite themselves again.
I was gittin' kinder sleepy
by this time (just about break of day).
198 come up the companionway and yells, "Let her luff "(liked to scare me to death.)
In half a minit more
we v/ould have run over Sandy Hook Lightship.
we took a pilot up to New York Quarantine anchorage where we lay till the officer give ,U3 clearance papers.
Then up to New York City to unload.
^he market was so dull we couldn't git a bid fer them melons, so the Cap'n give orders to throw the hull lot of 'em overboard.
We opened the hatches and
began to heave 'em out.. It took us two days to unload, and all we could see up and down the river was melons, melons, melons! When the last melon had been chucked over, we begun cleaning the decks; and the Cap'n sez that he was goln' to fumigate the ship to get rid of them fever germs and to kill them rats. So he called all hands to the cabin and paid us off. The Cap'n, his daughter, and the crew gave me a hearty vote of thanks fer steerin' toat long trick at the wheel with the solid water rollin' over my head. None could understand why I wasn't washed overboard. I told 'em again how it was - toat I lashed myself to the wheel and couldn't be washed overboard. As I started to go ashore, the Cap'n and his daughter insisted that I come and pay them a visit soon. His plans cal led fer laying over awhile on the Jersey Flats till he could pick up another cargo. Well, we all said goodbye, and I sez to myself, "Bob, you got money enough to have a little fun all by
yourself now your i n New York." a news stand to buy a paper.
I look around f o r
I looked across the
s t r e e t and by-gum there stood a newsboy!
him over and he asked me what paper I wanted. him
to hurry up and give me a "World", "Sun", or any
When he p u l l e d out a "Sun" I asked him to give
me a half dozen of 'em as I h a d n ' t seen a newspaper few more 'an a month.
I searched the h e a d l i n e s , and
when I saw there wasn't much news I chucked 'em down a sewer.
Then I s t r o l l e d on lookin' a t the t a l l b u i l d -
ings and wonderln' how they put new panes of g l a s s in them sash up there i f one was broke o u t . . . . . A l l a t once, I heard a t w i t t e r i n ' and a singin'.
I sez to myself, "That sounds l i k e b i r d s " .
enough, r i g h t beside me v/as an open door and Inside was a room with I ' l l bet a hundred y e l l e r b i r d s , a l l s i z e s and k i n d s .
I walked in and the man in charge
sez, "You want t o buy a b i r d ? want?"
I s e z , "How much you
" I t ' s accordin' to whether you want a s i n g e r
or n o t , " he sez,
"Singers b r i n g two d o l l a r s and 'em
t h a t don't sing bring f i f t y c e n t s . " "Well," I sez, " I s h o u l d n ' t think any of 'em would sing shut up in a cage not b i g 'nuf for 'em to f l y around i n . "
him how many he had ' a t d i d n ' t sing a t t a l l and he sez he reckoned he had about f i f t y . a l l in one cage. here In the s t r e e t
I t o l d him t o p u t 'em
When he did, I sez, "Now, come out 0. K. open the door and l e t
"What f e r ?
wants to know. neither."
Are you crazy, mister?" he
"No," I t o l d him, " I a i n ' t crazy
I t was fun s e e i n ' them l i t t l e f e l l e r s when
they was l e t go. I h a d n ' t been home i n a long time so I sez to myself, "Guess I ' l l head f e r home."
Just my luck
'cause soon's I got back in town I seen an old man j i s t ahead of me walkin' t o r d the house.
I sez t o
myself, "He looks somethln' l i k e somebody I seen somewheres." knowed him. neighbor."
I ketched up with him j e s t to see i f I When I got long s i d e , I sez, "Howdy, And he turned t o me surprised l i k e an 1 I
sez, "Dad, don't you know me?" " ' t a i n ' t possible!
"Bob," he gulps,
Why, Bob, you've been away so long
I was wonderln' If we'd ever see you agin."
sure was happy to see Pop and Mom an' the g i r l s . One night a few months l a t e r , Bob was s i t t i n g In h i s usual s e a t , next to the b i g stove in the general s t o r e , when J u l i u s Tellng, o r d i n a r i l y a sympathetic l i s t e n e r but a l e r t to Bob's yarn-spinning propensity,happened i n .
He had long
nourished the hope of being able to out-whopper old Bob. The following conversation took p l a c e : Julius: Bob:
Hello, Bob, how's t r i c k s ?
Don't know what you mean, "how's t r i c k s " ,
tricky, Julius. Julius:
Wait a minute, Bob.
I d i d n ' t mean t o Imply t h a t
you were tricky or even crooked or - - - I thought
201 maybe you might be in the mood to tell about some of your trips, travels, troubles, or even... Bob:
Well, I'm in a little trouble up on my own place. in I've got a garden and/one corner there's some bees. I thought they was doin' fine making honey pretty fast and busy from sunrise to sunset.
Then my neigh-
bor tells me his bees is doin' bettern mine. Julius:
Say, speaking of bees, I have a friend who lives in California, the real bee country.
They make a liv-
ing in bee culture out there, but they are very clever in handling their bees.
They cross their
bees with lightning bugs so the bees can work night and day. Bob:
Well, they got me beat, but a feller can look fer almost anything to happen these days with all the schools and colleges fer learnin' 'em to be smart - - some of 'em is so smart a feller can almost feel 'em sting.
Up in northern Massachusetts in toe wooded section, the older boys who work on toe farms often go off In the woods and listen for wild bees.
quently find a swarm in an old tree toat has a hole in it. Bob:
I don't see how they could hear the bees in the woods like you sez,
Well, that calls to mind my hearing two old gentlemen who were talking about their woodlands. One of them asked the other if he had been down in his
202 back country recently. Yes, said the other, he had been but he hadn't stayed there very long because it was so still.
"Well," said the second old farmer,
"I was over in my north timber tract last week and It was so still up there too. In fact it was so still that I could hear the leaves grow."
It really does
get very quiet In a large timber tract, Bob; and it would be quite possible to hear the hum of a swarm of bees more than a hundred feet away. Bob:
I guess mebby. The next time that Julius encountered Bob was in the
Bob had had time to prepare himself and he desired
the opportunity to re-establish his yarn prestige. He had been overhauling his boat in preparation for the spring launching, but he had run out of copper paint just as he was nearing completion. As he desired just a small amount of copper paint, he sought Julius in his tool shed.
Bob made knovm his request and Julius, in his generous way, said, "Help yourself, Bob." Bob found a can on toe shelf, labeled "Copper Paint" and as he took up the container he shook it and turned it over several times without saying a word.
Finally in soliloquy he said, "Tis a little con-
stipated, ain't it? Guess I kin thin It with a little kerosene. Anyways I'll try it." Julius: Bob:
How you getting along with your pig pen, Bob?
Oh, I've got it about done, I guess.
I was over in Jericho last summer and built one for
203 one of the leading farmers. He sure was fussy because he wanted It built just as It was shown in the plan.
This one was for a sow and a little pig
so I put in two or three little doors for the little pig and one big door for the big pig. Bob:
Couldn't the little pig use the big door, - but talkin' 'bout pigs ain't in my line. Now I remember goin' to South America for a load of log wood jest afore the Spanish American War.
Got off the mouth
of the Amazon River 'bout dawn one Monday mornin'. We signaled for a pilot and we went up river for miles and miles to a little native village called, "The End".
Jest as we spied the town, one of them
tropical thunder storms come up.
It rained so hard
it raised the level of our ship two feet in half an hour.
Finally, the mate give orders to loosen up the
sails and dry 'em. The mate and I went ashore to arrange for warpin' toe ship up the river to the loading station.
our crsw was made up of Portuguese sailors who didn't know much English. . Well, we made arrangements fer warpin' the ship up toe river so the mate and I went back aboard 'cause the mate was wantin* some sleep. I was a bit sleepy too, having had to be up most of the night. Sometimes the channel run close to the bank and at others farther from shore. Finally, when the mate come on deck he called, fer me and sez, "Before we
204 reach the big timber, had'nt we better brail In toe yardarms?"
I sez, "Allright, I'll tend to it."
Whether it was the heat of the day, or what but I clean fergot all about it.
The mate just got through opening
toe forward loading ports and was coming up on deck when I felt the ship sort of list way tord the bank0 The limbs began to crack, thePortugese sailors began to yell and dive into the hold in the forpeak.
mate run up the riggin' and then I seen what all the trouble was about, A snake, must a been forty feet long and with a head about four or five feet from the deck, was swingin* all over the place. The mate had gone aloft and lashed the snake's tall to the masthead; then the J. ate run down the riggin', whipped out his knife, slipped up behind the snake's head, grabbed it around the neck, made a circling movement with the knife, rushed over to the rail, gave the "carcus" another quick jab, and the darn snake slid overboard and left his skin hanging there tied to the masthead. More Whoppers The following were recalled for me by Captain Flov/er and are recorded here in the manner in v/hich they were told. These stories come from the actual experiences of Captain Flower: We were talking about clocks...clocks with springs, clocks with weights, electric clocks, and which of toe three with equal care would keep toe best time for a period of six
We were near the point of decision, when Mr. Dudley
ca'me along and began telling us of losing his watch overboard in Oyster Bay Harbor near Moses Point about a year before. He stated that it was dredged up by an Oyster boat at Plum Point eight months later, and that it was still going and had lost thee minutes.
It's face was very dull and he said
he thought the tide had carried it along on the sandy bottom between the two points which kept it wound up. We were working on the garage doing some repair work. Dudley was doing the noonday chores around the barn; old Thomas wasjust passing and someone asked him how much stock there was on the place. He scratched his head and said in his brogue:
"two horses, two cows, two pigs, and DUDLEY."
(Thomas didn't like Dudley much.) We were talking with Captain "Helse" Hawks one day aboard the sloop "Lena" and the cook told him the grub was getting low, so Captain "Nelse" gave him four dollars and told him to go to Dick Sammis' and get some more.
way up the cook picked up a pal, and the two of them started to figure out how they could get a couple of drinks out of the four dollars and still get the groceries too. So they took two one dollar bills, pasted them carefully together, and luck happened to be with them.
The negro clerk gave
him the groceries and they gave him the newly manufactured bill in payment.
The clerk squinted his eyes and said, "I
done neber seed a leben dollar bill afore".
him it was good money, got their change, and beat it. Sammis came in a short while later, waited on a customer,
206 went to the till for change, looked at the eleven dollar bill, called the negro clerk and said, "Close up toe store; it's time to stop business when we begin taking in eleven dollar bills." Away back in 1870, farmers In this locality used to own their own sailing vessels, four or five of them owning one vessel jointly for carrying farm produce to toe City of New York and bringing manure back.
Farmer Ludlam was
one of this class of cooperative farmers. He had a fine farm on Centre Island.
The Willy estate now occupys part
or all of It. The Captain of the vessel belonging to this particular group was a real salt by the name of Thorp, usually called "Trip". On one of his return trips wito manure, Captain "Trip" arrived at the landing at low water and had to wait till next day to unload.
He went over the
hill to let Mr. Ludlam know he was in with the boat and on his way back he saw a flock of turkeys. He told us he took a stick about two feet long and threw it and hit a big gobbler In the neck. He ran and picked him up and took him aboard the sloop. Next day they had turkey for dinner and asked Mr. Ludlam to have a turkey dinner with them.
lam very graciously accepted the invitation. When they were about half through eating, Mr. Ludlam said he thought that the turkey was the best he ever ate. Captain "Trip" said, "It should be good!
It's one out of your flock, sir!"
Speaking of names, reminds me of an oysterman who lived at Five Mile River, Connecticut, and who owned a small oyster
207 sloop called the "Elsie May". Sometimes he worked on Bridgeport's natural-growth, oyster grounds.
a northeast storm came up, blowing hard all night. The next day it was very rough outside so about ten o'clock in the morning, George (his name was George Vincent Putnam Manuel Francis Delombrado and they put "Kerschlop" on the end to make it sound better) began to untie his sails. Someone asked him where he was going. He said, "I tink I bane go home".
"Better not," someone said, "it's better
laying at anchor in Bridgeport just now!"
"I guess ve go any vay, it's fair vind and I go." Arriving at Five Mile River dock, he said to his friends, "py golly! how ve did vent comln' 'omel"
209 APPENDIX I am d e e p l y a p p r e c i a t i v e of Miss J a c q u e l i n e
c o - o p e r a t i o n i n a s s i s t i n g me t o o b t a i n m a t e r i a l s i n t h e R o b e r t Bacon Memorial L i b r a r y i n Westbury where she i s librarian.
Miss Overton p l a c e d a t my d i s p o s a l h e r un-
p u b l i s h e d I n d i a n l e g e n d s and t h e many r e f e r e n c e s and o u t o f - p r i n t volumes on Long I s l a n d a n t i q u i t y t h a t she has collected for the
No one book was more h e l p f u l t o me t h a n Miss O v e r t o n ' s "Long I s l a n d ' s S t o r y " which may b e found i n more homes, s c h o o l l i b r a r i e s , and classroom s h e l v e s on Long I s l a n d t h a n any o t h e r one book r e l a t i n g t o toe h i s t o r y of t h i s r e g i o n . "Long I s l a n d ' s S t o r y " I s more t h a n a h i s t o r y .
I f no o t h e r
book were ever w r i t t e n t o d e s c r i b e Long I s l a n d ' s s i g n i f i c a n c e , t h i s one woixld s u f f i c e .
I t is
w e l l o r g a n i z e d , f i l l e d w i t h human i n t e r e s t from cover t o c o v e r , and a t t r a c t i v e l y i l l u s t r a t e d a n d bound. P a u l B a i l e y , t h e e d i t o r - p u b l i s h e r of t h e "Long I s l a n d Forum," was very w i l l i n g t h a t I s h o u l d u s e any of t h e mat e r i a l t h a t has a p p e a r e d i n h i s monthly p e r i o d i c a l .
of t h e a r t i c l e on w i n d m i l l s , much of t h e c h a p t e r on w h a l i n g , and s e v e r a l of t h e l e g e n d s were t a k e n from back i s s u e s of t h e "Forum". One of t h e r a r e p r i v i l e g e s t h a t I enjoyed i n t h e p r e p a r a t i o n of t h e c h a p t e r on E n g l i s h C o l o n i a l L i f e was my v i s i t a t toe r e s i d e n c e of t h e l a t e Judge H a r r y Ludlum I n M i l l Neck.
Here i s a f o l k - l o r i s t ' s p a r a d i s e .
The " J u d g e " , whose
mind was a s a l e r t as a s c h o o l b o y ' s , was g r a d u a t e d from
210 Cornell as an engineer many, many decades ago. As a direct descendent of one of the original settlers of Oyster Bay, he had been an ardent collector of historic materials from that locale all his life.
I found his address, delivered
at the dedication of the memorial window for Robert Peekes, his ancestor, so well done that I obtained his permission to use it for the chapter on English Colonial Life. Our Indian Predecessors According to George C. Heye, Director, Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, Mr. Reginald Pelham Bolton, the author of the volume "Indian Life of Long Ago In the City of New York," devoted more than thirty years to the study of the aboriginal inhabitants of the great metropolis, the City of New York; and one may judge after reading his manuscript that no one is better equipped to tell the story of the native Indian of this locality than he.
Mr. Bolton Is quoted here by permission for I regard
his account of Indian childhood and marriage customs as the most authentic available. One of the finest references that children and teachers may obtain on Indian lore is the mimeographed pamphlet, entitled "Eastern Algonquin Indians," by Eva Butler* A section on students' activities, a series of drawings depicting Indian life, and a bibliography make the booklet particularly valuable In toe classroom*
211 Indian Legends The legend, Devil's Rock, was told to me by Mr. Pennypacker who said that it was his favorite version of this old story. The Devil's Stepping Stones and Ronkonkoma Pond are Furman»s (see bibliography) but every native on the East End knows both of these stories. The Legend of Madnan's Neck was sent to me by Charlotte Merriman, the author of "Tales from Slnt Sink". Miss Merriman told me the story came from Jacobsen's "History of Great Neck." The legends, Mannatto Hill, Turf and Twigs, Indian Summer, Isaac's Grotto, and Daniel Treadwell's Diary, are used here by permission of Miss Overton, who some day hopes to publish a volume of Indian legends. The remaining legends were found in the back issues of "Long Island Forum".
Whooping Boys Hollow, by R. M. Forbes,
has never before appeared in print. Dutch Colonial Life The material for this chapter was gleaned from numerous sources.
One of the best was Alice Earle's "Child Life in
William Donaldson Halsey's "Sketches from
Local History" was used extensively in preparing this chapter as it was later on. His book, privately printed in Brldgehampton in 1935, is one of the best source books, for Mr. Halsey, once Town Historian for the Township of Southampton and later Vice-President of the Suffolk County Historical
212 Society, began collecting Long Island folk material, relics, and antiques when a boy in the 1870's. His collection now forms a large part of the exhibit in the Riverhead Library of the Suffolk County Historical Museum.
Only a few volumes
of his "Sketches" are available. Mr. Pennypacker furnished me with a copy. Two other references were used in obtaining facts about the Dutch; one was Stiles' "A History of toe City of Brooklyn". It contains a very exhaustive treatment of the political, civil, professional, and ecclesiastical history of the County of Kings from 1683 to 1884. The other reference is Rufus R. Wilson's "Historic Long Island", Chapter VI, entitled "Dutch Days and Ways". English Colonial Life This chapter, as previously explained, is the address of Judge Harry Ludlum of Mill Neck. Early Long Island Schools Stiles' treatment of this topic was very illuminating, as was Birdsall Jackson's; but I found Clifton Johnson's "Old Time Schools and School Books" the most useful. Ford's "The New England Primer" contains the quotations made to illustrate the content of old texts. Chapter 4 of Miss Overton's "Long Island's Story" also contains an account of the early Colonial schools; and, although Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" does not have its setting on Long Island, it is perhaps the most authentic account of Dutch school life in this area.
Other excellent accounts of early
schooling may be found on page 5 of the Long I s l a n d Forum of January 1942, e n t i t l e d "Colonial Education on Long I s l a n d , " by Dorothy Grant and pages 35 - 37 of " H i s t o r i c Long Island" by Rufus R. Wilson, Colonial Courts and J u s t i c e Here again S t i l e s ' "A History of Queens County" was the most complete in i t s d e s c r i p t i o n of pompous judges, court cases, and unusual d e c i s i o n s , while E a r l e ' s book contains some material on e a r l y slander lawsuits and on yoking as a punishment, Watermills and Windmills All of the m a t e r i a l on windmills i s U3ed by permission as explained in the footnote.
I t i s r e t o l d here in i t s
o r i g i n a l form as i t r e p r e s e n t s the most r e l i a b l e account t h a t can be found. Gentlemen of Fortune A.
There i s more material a v a i l a b l e on t h i s topic than any other Long Island folk m a t e r i a l .
Thompson's l i s t i n g of
available sources, page 507, in "Body, Boots and Britches" i s one of the b e s t .
For toe events p r i o r t o the t r i a l of
Captain Kidd, see Gardiner's "The Gardiners of Gardiner's Island,"
Miss Overton's Chapter IV i s an e x c e l l e n t treatment
of the f a c t s .
For an e n t e r t a i n i n g account of Captain Kidd,
see William 0. Steven's "Discovering Long I s l a n d " , Chapter I v ; but the b e s t standard reference a v a i l a b l e i s P . Gosse's
214 "The Pirates Who's Who, 1924." In recent years, a new and enlightening interpretation of Captain Kidd is being made.
Thompson presents a strong
thesis on his innocence and that he was a "victim of a greedy crew of noble hi-jackers who wouldn't even have the rogues' virtue of standing by a member of their gang." Appendix B in Rufus R, Wilson's "Historic Long Island" contains the "True Story of Captain Kidd as Told by George Parsons Lathrop", B. Teunis Van Gelder Icabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle are literary characters that every school child knows. As surprising as it may seem, Washington Irving, toe popular creator of these characters, had a nephew who possessed much of the genius of the famous uncle but who was destined to be forgotten.
Irving, who may be known to some as the author of '"The Attorney", and "Harry Harson", was a resident of Dosaris (Glen Cove), Long Island.
Like his uncle, John Irving
enjoyed nothing more than to collect legendary material, create characters to enact the story, and record it for all who would care to read it. His book, entitled "The Van Gelder Papers and Other Sketches," might have proved a sensation, for the stories are lively, filled with humor, and packed wito Long Island folklore; however, John T. Irving foolishly satirized several important Dosaris business men by using them as characters in his legends. His keen satire was not appreciated by his immediate family and toey dreaded the consequences if the book were circulated.
In spite of
the f a c t t h a t G. P . Putnam's Sons had agreed to p u b l i s h t h e book and had reached the moment for i t s d i s t r i b u t i o n in 1887, the family p r e v a i l e d .
When John T. I r v i n g began to
show i n c r e a s i n g signs of profligacy, the family succeeded i n having the e n t i r e e d i t i o n withdrawn and destroyed. One copy remains.
I t i s p a r t of the valuable Morton
Pennypacker Collection in toe Easthampton Public Library. How i t got there i s a long s t o r y , but anyone may read i t if a r e q u e s t i s made a t the l i b r a r y . The f i n e s t s t o r y in "The Van Gelder Papers" i s toe one which concerns Teunis Van Gelder.
I p r e s e n t i t here s l i g h t l y
abridged f o r your enjoyment. The Whaling Industry on Long Island I n addition to the a r t i c l e taken from the "Long Island Forum" and accounted f o r in the footnote, many f a c t s were obtained from the following:
E. J, Edwards and J . E.
R a t t r a y ' s "Whale Off"; H. D. S l e i g h t ' s "The Whale Fishery on Long I s l a n d " ; William D. Halsey's "Sketches from Local H i s t o r y " ; S t i l e s ' "History of Suffolk County"; and from Chapter XI of Wilson's"Historlc Long I s l a n d " . Superstitions Most of the s u p e r s t i t i o n s in t h i s chapter were obtained from three sources.
Mrs. Pennypacker gave me access t o h e r
c o l l e c t i o n t h a t she has made over many years and t h a t were given to her by f r i e n d s and natives In East Hampton.
Indicated i n the footnotes, several items were obtained from
216 Halsey's "Sketches of Local History"; and, finally, several of toe weather lore expressions are those recollected by Captain Flov/er of Bayville.
Many of my former students in
Port Washington and Bayville also contributed to this chapter. Witchcraft Thompson's "Body, Boots and Britches" has an excellent Interpretation of the three famous cases on pages 105 and 106.
Stiles' "History of Suffolk County" also gives an
account of the trials. Prime In his "History of Long Island" devotes pages 88 - 90 to an account of Goody Garlicke and of Ralph Hall and his wife. Halsey adds some local color to his account by pointing out that although actual charges were few, many women in the Hamptons were suspected. Customs of Birth, Marriage, Death The most authoritative record that can be found upon this field is Earle's "Child Life in Colonial Days." Halsey also records many of the customs that were common in Colonial days in Brldgehampton. Salt Water Tales The salt water yarns toat are used by the gracious permission of Birdsall Jackson were selected from many that appear in his delightful books. With a constant influx of the commuter resident and the summer colonist, the baymen of the South Shore are fast disappearing.
Mr. Jackson, a
civil engineer by profession and a folklorlst by nature, has been a native of Seaford and Wantagh all his life. He grew
217 up with an ability to speak the vernacular of the baymen. Mr. Jackson recalls some very amusing and colorful characters; in fact, no one has done more than he in recording the legendary history of Long Island. His diligence is remarkable; he is now planning several more books and articles th^.t will throw more light upon the days of yesteryear. One of the f ew remaining baymen on the North Shore is Captain Albert Flower, president of the Board of Education in the Village of Bayville and with v/hom I had the honor of working for three years as the principal of the Bayville School.
Captain Flower holds a unique honor; he has been
a member of the Board of Education for thirty-five
and he has lived all lis life in an area whose radius is not greater than five miles. Born in Mill Neck almost eighty years ago, no one is better acquainted with persons, places and things in that region than he.
On the numerous
occasions when I have fished or sailed wito him, I heard many amusing stories, I learned to respect his keen recollection of bayfolk - their whopping tales, their tendency to exaggerate, and their constant distrust for strangers. I have included a few of Captain Flower's tall tales which I attempted to record in the vernacular. Although these stories do not have their roots in the Colonial period as most of the folk material that I have used will show, still I feel there is a definite need for recording these yarns if for no otoer reason than to permit children to enjoy a type humor that is fast passing away.
218 From the very beginning of my endeavor to compile an anthology of Long Island folklore for children, I have been deeply Indebted to both Mr. and Mrs. Morton Pennypacker for their kindly advice and timely suggestions.
Much time would
have been vainly spent in browsing through hundreds of volumes if Mr. Pennypacker had not taken a personal interest in my project. The Pennypacker Long Island Collection, housed in the East Hampton Public Library and given to the village, contains many rare volumes, geneologies, town records, newspaper clippings, colonial deeds and wills, log books, ecclesiastical references, hotel registers, and school copybooks.
Here is a fair haven for students of Long Island
antiquity. Although I have not included chapters on ballads, sea chanties, proverbs, folk jingles, riddles, and autograph rhymes in this collection, I did acquire considerable material from Mrs. Pennypacker to stimulate my compiling a volume at some later date. For the present I recommend Dr. Harold Thompson's "Boyd, Boots and Britches" as a worthy source for this department of folklore. Another homey collection that contains singing games, square dance tunes, and ballads is Eloise Linscott's "Folk Songs of Old New England*
For whaling songs and chanties, Clifford Ashley's
"The Yankee Whaler" Is probably the best. Dorothy Howard's thesis on "Folk Jingles", New York University dissertation, is a matchless explanation of the origin andmigration of
219 rhymes and contains an unustial collect^ on of taboo rhymes, laments, songs and chants, and riddles, many being of Long Island flavor.
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T941 Bolton, Reginald S; Indian Life of Long Ago in the City of New York; Schoen Press, New York; 1914 Butler, Eva, L.; Eastern Algonquin Indians; mimeographed by Industrial Arts Cooperative Service, New York; 1933 Cornstook, Sarah; Old Roads From the Heart of New York; Putnam; New York; '1917*. Cutler, Carl C ; Greyhounds of the Sea; Halcyon House; New York; 1930 Earle, Alice M.; Child Life in Colonial Days; The Macmillan Company, New York; 1909 Earle, Alice M.; Colonial Days in Old New York; new edition, Empire State Book Company; 1938 Eberlein, Harold D.; Manor Houses & Historic Homes of Long Island and Staten Island; J. B'.' Lippincott; Philadelphia 1928. * Edwards & Rattray; Whale Off; East Hampton Star Ford, Paul L.; The New-England Primer; Dodd, Mead & Co.; New York, iSSS Furnam, Gabriel; Antiquities of Long Island; J. W. Bouton, New York; 1875 Gabriel, Ralph H.; The Evolution of Long Island; Yale University; New Haven, Connecticut, 1921?"' Halsey & Tower; The Homes of our Ancestors; Doubleday, Doran New York, 19^8" Halsey, William D.; Sketches from Local History; Brldgehampton, New York, 1935
221 Hungerford, Edward; Pathway of Empire; Robert Mc Bride & Company; New York, 1935. Jackson, Birdsall; Stories of Old Long Island; Paumanok Press; Rockville Centre, New York; 1934 Jackson, Birdsall; How They Lived; Paumanok Press, Rockville Centre, New York; 1941 Johnson, Clifton; Old-Time Schools and School-Books; The Macmillan Co,; New York; iy04 Lawson, Marie A.; Hall Columbia; Junior Literary Guild; New York; 1931 Long Island Association: Long Island; published by Long Island at the Fair Committee, 273 Pennsylvania Station, New York; 1939 Long Island Forum; published monthly since January, 1938; Paul Bailey, Publisher-Editor; Bay Shore, New York Medeker, Caroline D.; Black Crow, Legends of Long Island; .Doubleday Doran; Garden City; 1936 Mepham and Ducker; Exploring Long Island; Noble & Noble j New York, 1938 Overton, Jacqueline; Long Island's Story; Doubleday, Doran; New York; 1929 Pennypacker, Morton; General Washington's Spies; Long Island Historical Society; Brooklyn, New York; 1939 Pennypacker, Morton; Historic Oyster Bay; published by the North Shore Bank; Oyster Bay; New York; 1919 Pennypacker, Morton; The Two Spies; Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1930 Prime, Nathaniel S.; A History of Long Island; Robert Carter New York; 1845 Shannon, Joseph; Manual of the Corporation °£ the City of New York; E. Jones & Co.; NewYork; 1869 Sleigh, H. D.; Whale Fishery of Long l3land; Hampton Press; 1931 Southold Town Board; Southold Town; 1636 - 1939; Mattituck Press, Mattituck, New York; 1939 Sterling, George; Ballads of the Swabs* American Mercury; October; 1925
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