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Six Men Settled Town

Footnotes to Long Island History

Six Men First Settled Town

by

Thomas R. Bayles


 

By Thomas R. Bayles

 

            It was early in the year 1655 when a party of six men from the colonies across the sound and from the recently established settlement at Southold arranged an interview with the chief men of the Setalcott tribe of Indians.  Their settlements were around the shores of those beautiful bays and coves which cluster around the present villages of Setauket and Port Jefferson.

            These six men, whose names were John Scudder, John Swesie, Jonathan Porter, Thomas Mabbs, Robert Cheston and Thomas Charles, purchased from the Indians a tract of land for the first settlement in Brookhaven town, the bounds of which were rather vaguely described as follows:  “next adjoining to the bounds of Nesequagg, and from thence being bounded by a river, or great napock, nearly nemaukak, eastward, and being bounded next unto Nesquakee bounds, as by trees doth appear.” (Stony Brook to Port Jefferson.)

            The settlers were given the right to let their cattle run beyond the bounds of their purchase, and to cut timber as far east as they pleased.  The bounds were to be renewed every two years, and the Indians agreed not to “entertain unfriendly Indians near the white settlers.”

            The deed to this tract of land was dated April 14, 1655, and contained the signature marks of the Setalcott Sachem Warawakmy, and 14 of his tribesmen.  The consideration given for this purchase was 10 coats, 12 hoes, 12 hatchets, 50 “muxes,” 100 needles, 6 kettles, 10 fathoms of wampum, 7 pepx (pipe bowls) of powder, 1 pair of child's stockings, 10 pounds of lead and one dozen knives.

            After these first white men had concluded their purchase of land, and had made the location for the establishment of a settlement, they returned to the mainland and within a short time returned to the mainland and within a short time returned with several families and started the first settlement in the village of Setauket, around the “Green,” where is located the historic old Caroline Episcopal church and the Presbyterian church.  The exact number of the first settlers seems uncertain but within five years the number of men comprising the colony most of them probably heads of families, was less than 30, and it was several years before the number increased to the 54 proprietors mentioned in the old records.

            Within a short time the settlers explored this part of the Island and crossed to the south side, and we find that on July 20, 11657, they purchased a tract of meadow land at Mastic from Wyandanch, the sachem of Montauk, and grand sachem of all the Long Island Indians.  This purchase was described “as two great necks of meadow, lying from a river called Connecticut, and so to a river called Wegonthotak, eastward, which meadows Mr. Richard Woodhull have bought for himself and the rest of his neighbors in the Town.”  The price was the usual assortment of articles that appealed to the Indians.

            In 1658 Lion Gardiner leased from Wyandanch a tract of beach land extending from the western bounds of Southampton town westward to “where it is separated by the waters of the sea, coming bound southward by the Great Sea, and northwards by the inland water, the land and the grass thereof for a range to feed horses and cattle on.”

            The Indians reserved the right to any whales that should be cast upon the beach, also the right to cut in the summer time flags, bullrushes and such things as they made their mats of, as long as they did no harm to the horses and cattle that ranged on the beach.

            In 1663 it was agreed at a town meeting that all the inhabitants of Setauket should be partners with Daniel Lane, in the purchase of land he bought off the Indians in the Little Neck, (Strongs Neck).

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