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Town Meeting Sober in ‘83

Footnotes to Long Island History

Town Meeting Sober in ‘83

by

Thomas R. Bayles


The following account of an annual spring town meeting was published in The Advance in April, 1883, which was the next to the last year in which these elections were held at Coram. The last one was held in 1884.

      "Well, another town meeting has come and gone. The town meeting is an interesting occasion to the average Brookhavenite; indeed it may well be termed a season of communion and of renewing old time friendships. From the Manor of St. George, yes even to the banks of Lake Ronkonkoma, they come to greet old friends, cast the usual ballot, and relate to each other incidents of interest which have occurred during the past twelve months, and which might have escaped the town’s newspaper men’s notice. Yes, and here too family matters, marriages, births and deaths, form interesting topics of conversation, while the farm, the garden, the seed time and harvest are discussed with interest.

        “Usually too the convivial cup is made to do active service, but this year although a “license granting man” was elected, little drunkenness was observed, indeed the only man ‘under the influence’ proved to be a vendor of cider, who, disgusted at the slowness of his sales, became his own best customer, and finally found rest behind the barn. But the usual number of peanut vendors, oyster dealers, bakers and farming implement salesmen were to be seen. The war on the poor oyster was terrific, even carried to the ballot box where the result showed lot oystering was in bad color in our town.

        “The number of voters at Coram was not up to last year, the total registered being but 1,469. At this election the following officials were elected. Supervisor, Nicoll Floyd; Town Clerk, Henry Hutchinson; Tax Collector, John Roe Smith; Justices of the Peace, G.W. Hopkin, A. H. Mills; President of Trustees, Austin Culver; Trustees, Austin Culver, Henry T. Osborn, Joseph T. French, Charles S. Rose, Albert Hutchinson, Charles E. Rose, John R. Davis; Commissioners of Highways, DeForrest Hulse and J. W. Matthews; Assessors, George D. Gerard and J. H. Randall; Overseers of the Poor, S. S. Hammond and H. T. Bayles.

        “For Commissioner of Excise the fight, although lively, was not equaled to that of last year, 1,267 votes being cast, of which Mr. Philips, the Prohibition candidate, received 507 and the Liquor candidate 760, or a majority of 253 in favor of granting license.

        “The total expenses last year for the maintenance of the town poor in and out of the County House was $5,900. $1,500 was voted to be raised for the support of the town poor for the coming year in addition to the surplus coming in to the Overseers hands from the trustees and other sources.

        “The application for $750 for the improvement of the road leading from Patchogue to Port Jefferson was lost.”

        The article closes with the following remarks:

        “Other matters of interest to the towns people might here be alluded to, but as the Trustees elsewhere present’ to the people a detailed report, we will close by saying the day was pleasant, and the voters orderly, temperate and respectable; and the election was throughout comparatively free from the demoralizing influences which of late days make politics odious, and bring politicians into disfavor with respectable citizens.”

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