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Early Years in Coram Told

Footnotes to Long Island History

Early Years in Coram Told

by

Thomas R. Bayles


       The first settlement in Brookhaven Town was made at Setauket in 1655 and by 1700, some homesteads had been located in Mastic.  Between 1730 and 1750, settlements were made in Middle Island and Coram and the records show that John Smith had a homestead at Coram, or Wincorum, as it was called by the Indians.  In 1734, lands were distributed along both sides of the middle county road and farms were cleared and homes built through Middle Island.  This mid-island area had been used before that as a hunting ground by the roving bands of Indians who had their camps on the north and south sides of the Island near the water.

          The first church was a Baptist Church built in 1747 in Coram, on the site of the present Methodist Church.  That stood for about 100 years, but apparently was not very active, as little is known about it, except the old graveyard across the road which contains the graves of many of the first settlers of Coram.

          In 1841, a Methodist Church was built in Middle Island, adjoining the old grave-yard across from Tommy Lynn’s store and in 1858 it was moved to Coram, where it stands today on the site of the old Baptist Church.  About this time, another Methodist Church was built on the Yaphank Road in Middle Island, which has been used for several years by the Lutherans.

          In 1766 the Presbyterian Church was built in Middle Island and the pastor was the Rev. David Rose, who was also pastor of the South Haven Church until his death in 1799.  In 1837, the present Presbyterian Church was built just to the rear of the old one.

          The cemetery across from the church was opened about 1766 and incorporated in 1869 and was reincorporated in February 1960 as the Union Cemetery Association of Middle Island.  This cemetery has no connection with the church across the road and is governed by its own officers.

          Coram was the headquarters for the town government for many years, as it was a more central place than Setauket after settlements were made on the south side and the present home of Lester H. Davis was used for this purpose from about 1790 until 1885.  It was here the annual town meetings were held in April and the voters came from all over Brookhaven Town, most of them in horse-drawn wagons.

          Town meeting day was an important event in the lives of the people and here horses were swapped, news of the day discussed, conditions of the crops talked over and a social good time enjoyed by all.

          The Riverhead peanut man was always there with his “here you go, your three legged, hump backed, double-jointed peanuts, five cents a pint.

          “Dinner was served in the town house for 50 cents, but most of the farmers brought their lunch.

          The west front room of the house was used for voting and the justices of the peace acted as inspectors.  Voting lasted until sundown, when one of the justices stepped out on the front porch and called out, “Hear ye, Hear ye; these polls are now closed.”

          Counting the votes often lasted until midnight or later and the shaded oil lamps threw a dim light over the table and the interested candidates stood looking over the shoulders of the election workers.

          In 1884, it was voted to divide the town into election districts and this was the end of the “town meeting days in Coram.”

          An incident during the Revolution took place at the home of Goldsmith Davis in Coram, now the home of Lester H. Davis.  A company of British soldiers came to his home and demanded some information from Mr. Davis, which he refused to give them, so they took him and tied his feet to the windlass of the well and left him hanging there with his head down.  After the soldiers left, one of the women members of his family, who had been watching from a hiding place, ran for a neighbor, who helped release him from certain death.

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