History of Patchogue has Strange Beginning

Footnotes to Long Island History

History of Patchogue Has Strange Beginning


Thomas R. Bayles


            Few villages on Long Island had a stranger beginning than Patchogue had.

            After this land was purchased in 1664 by Gov. Winthrop of Connecticut it lay undeveloped for many years.  This consisted of nine necks of land, and two were sold in 1749 to John Brewster and Thomas Strong.  In 1752 Humphrey Avery of New London, Conn. purchased the other seven necks for about 2600 pounds.  In 1756 he was in need of money and received permission from the Governor and General Assembly to sell his tract of land by lottery.  There were 8000 lottery tickets issued and it was such a success that Avery was able to pay off his debts and buy back a part of the land, on which one of his descendants is now living and conducting a nursery.

            According to Ross’ history a mill was built on the Patchogue River before 1750.  The stream was considered so valuable for this purpose that other mills for grinding grain were soon built on it, and were later devoted to more important industries.

First Factory

          The first factory in Patchogue was a paper mill built in 1798 near the site of the lace mill.  This mill was owned by Jonas Wicks, who made strawboard and wrapping paper.  It was destroyed by fire in 1850.

            About 1800 a cotton twine mill was located just to the west of the paper mill and owned by Frederick Odell, who sold it to Justus Roe of Setauket, on of Washington’s spies during the Revolution.  In later years this mill was rebuilt and formed a part of the early lace mill.

            John E Roe had a twine mill on Swan Creek on the east side of the same dam on which the Swezet grist mill stood until it was destroyed by fire several years ago.

            In 1880 John S Havens, owner of the west mill, leased it to Carlslow, Henderson & Co, of Scotland, who began the manufacture of crinoline.  Later they imported lace curtains and bleached and finished them.  In 1890 the mill was sold to the Patchogue Lace Mfg. Co. 

            In 1822 Daniel Haff owned a two story woolen mill which stood on the site of the old electric light plant at the Patchogue Lake dam, near the present lace mill.  The farmers for miles around brought their wool to this mill to be carded, spun, and woven into blankets of cloth.  Another mill was located on the old dam across Tuttle’s Creek at West Lake.  At Canaan Lake there was an old paper mill owned by John S Havens, which burned down many years ago.


          Shipbuilding was an important industry in Patchogue about 1850, and probably did more towards building up the village than any other industry.  In 1869 Edwin Baily started the lumber business of E Bailey & Sons which employed about 300 men for many years.

            In 1878 Justus Roe, great grandson of Capt. Austin Roe began the manufacture of steel tapes and reels for surveyors use, which is still an important business in Patchogue.

            The first church in Brookhaven town was the old “town church” built in Setauket in 1670, and as the settlements on the south side around Mastic and South Haven grew after 1700 the need for a church nearer by was felt, so about 1740 a Presbyterian church was built at South Haven, which was the only church on the south side of the town until the Congregational church was built in Patchogue on the east corner of Main Street and Waverly Ave. in 1794.  This meeting house was built jointly by the Methodist and the Congregational Society.  The Methodist church was organized in 1791 and the Congregational church in 1793, and the building was used by both churches until 1820, when the Methodists sold their interest to the Congregational church.  For several years they had no church building but in 1833 they built a new church in the same neighborhood which they used until 1854, when they sold it to the Catholics.  A new Methodist church was built about this time on the southeast corner of Railroad Avenue and Church Street.  The present church was built in 1891, when the parish was 100 years old.

Stage Coach Stop

            Roe’s hotel was a famous stopping place over a hundred years ago when the stage coaches traveled through the Island, and was a half way station between Sag Harbor and Brooklyn.  It was built in 1810 by Justus Roe, and many well known men enjoyed the hospitality of this old inn.  It was under the management of Austin Roe, who was the son of the original proprietor, that this famous old hostlery attained its greatest popularity.  Uncle Austin, as he was called, was known to about everyone throughout the Island.

            In the early years the mail was carried through the Island by post riders on horseback once a week and in later years by stage coach.  In 1830 mail was dispatched from New York for Islip, Patchogue, Moriches and Sag Harbor and the Hamptons every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 am.

            When the railroad was opened through to Greenport on the main line it was a time of great rejoicing by the inhabitants.  The long looked for iron horse had finally come, and a trip to the city that had taken two or three days by stage coach now only took three hours.  For several years Medford was the station for Patchogue and nearby south side villages, and Chauncey Chichester of Center Moriches operated a stage that met the trains at Medford and carried the mail to Patchogue and the villages east to East Moriches.  The mail was all put in one bag and at each post office he waited until the postmaster sorted out the mail for that office, and then the bag was relocked and he went on to the next post office.  A post office was established at Patchogue in 1803 with Nathan Mulford as the first postmaster.

1759 School District

            Patchogue had a school district as early as 1795 but the town was not divided into school districts until 1813 by the vote of the people at a town meeting held at Coram.  In that year Patchogue was a small village and Ocean Avenue was a lane with bars across it and was called “Slippery Lane.”  Main Street was known as Fulton Street.  In1852 there were 609 children of school age and later on four school districts were consolidated and in 1871 a schoolhouse was built on the east side of Ocean Ave. just north of the railroad tracts.

            The railroad was not opened to Patchogue until 1868, which was the terminal until 1881 when it was extended to Eastport to connect with the line from Manorville to the Hamptons and Sag Harbor. 

            During the Revolution Patchogue together with all Long Island was in the hands of the British soldiers for the seven long years until peace was declared, and life was made miserable for those living on the Island.  Many of them fled to Connecticut to escape the British.  The Presbyterian churches at Setauket and South Haven were used by the British as barracks and horse stables, and the farms taken over and property destroyed.

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