Interesting Gravestones in Brookhaven Town

Footnotes to Long Island History

Interesting Gravestones in Brookhaven Town



Thomas R. Bayles


       One of the most historic spots in Brookhaven town is the ancient burying ground at Setauket, adjoining the Presbyterian church, on the east side of the “Green.”  Here are the graves of those who first settled here, some of which are unmarked as the stones have long since crumbled away.

It was nearly 300 years ago, in 1655, that the first settlers located their homes around this Green, and here was established the first cemetery in the town.

The inscriptions on some of the stones are interesting, and among them is that of Richard Woodhull and his son:

“Richard Woodhull, born in Thenford, Eng., 1620; settled in Setauket 1656, Died Oct. 17, 1690.  Every inch a nobleman.

Richard, 2nd. Born 1649 Died 1699. A genuine son of his father.

The tombs of these men destroyed by British soldiers in 1777.  A reverent son restores in 1901.

          Richard Woodhull was an important man in the early life of the town, and in addition to being a surveyor, was appointed to many offices and commissions in which he always acted for the best interests of the settlers.  He was appointed a magistrate for the town by the court at Hartford on May 16th, 1661, and held this position for many years.  According to history, his was a character “which for principles of honor and justice, unselfish motives, far seeing discretion, kindliness of manners and constant zeal in public service had few superiors among the honored names that grace the first pages of American history.”

          Tradition has it that the stone marking the grave of the Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, the first minister in the town, was destroyed by the British soldiers and the location of his grave is unknown.  That of his daughter Hannah reads:

“Here lieth the body of Hannah Brewster, wife of Samuel Thompson and daughter of Sarah Ludlow and Rev. Nathaniel Brewster first minister in this place.  Born May 19, 1679, Died Nov. 17,1775”

“Here lieth the body of Mr. Samuel Thompson, Born March 4, 1668, Died July 14, 1749.”

          The tablet over the grave of Abraham Woodhull carries the following inscription.

“Friend and confidant of George Washington, head of Long Island secret service during the Revolution and operated under the alias of Samuel Culper, Sr.

“To him and his associates have been credited a large share in the success of the army of the Revolution.

“Born in Setauket October 7, 1750 in the original Woodhull homestead, son of Richard Woodhull and Margaret Smith, fifth generation from Richard Woodhull, the original grantee of large portion of Brookhaven town.  He was a Presbyterian occupying a Pew of Authority in the old church, and doing much toward the building of the new church, was a man of integrity, punctual and precise in his business relation.  He freed his slave long before they were legally free.  Filled numerous important positions, being magistrate in Setauket many years.  Judge of the court of Common Pleas 1793 to 1799.  First judge of Suffolk County from 1799 to 1810.

“This memorial conceived and erected by Mayflower Chapter, Daughters of the Revolution, Setauket, L. I. June 25, 1936.”

The inscription on another early stone is:

“Here lyes the body of William Jayne.  Born in Bristol, Eng., Jany. 25th 1618.  Decd. March 24th, 1714.”

          The stone at the grave of Richard Floyd carries the following inscription:

“In memory of Richard Floyd Esq. the Colonel of the County and Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, who departed this life Apr. 21, 1771.  Aged 68 years.”

“Here lies the body of Richard Floyd Esq. late Colonel of this County and a Judge of Ye Court of Common Pleas, who Dec’d Febry ye 28th 1737/8 in the 73rd year of his age.”

          The oldest legible stone in the Town of Brookhaven is that of Col. William Smith, who is buried near his original homestead on Little Neck, (Strong’s Neck) in Setauket.  He died February 18, 1704.

“Chief Justice and President of Ye Council for Ye Province of New York.”

          Col. Smith came to Setauket in 1686 and purchased Little Neck where he established his homestead overlooking Setauket harbor and Long Island Sound.  He acquired a vast tract of land extending from Connecticut river east to Mastic river and north to the middle of the Island, under the title of “Manor of St. George.”  He was a man of importance in the early life of the town and worshipped at the old “town church” in Setauket, where his wife was accorded the privilege of being the only woman allowed to sit at the table in the church with the honored justices and those who paid 40 shillings or more towards the minister’s salary.  His descendants still occupy the old Manor house at Mastic, and the old homestead at “Longwood” north of Yaphank.

          Another stone of interest is that marking the grave of William Sidney Mount, the painter, on which is carved the following:

“William Sidney Mount.  Born at Setauket Nov. 26, 1807.  Died Nov. 19, 1868.

“As a painter eminent and original.  As a man exemplary and beloved.”

          In the Mount Sinai cemetery the grave of the Rev. Noah Hallock is marked with a stone carrying the following simple inscription:

                   “In Memory of Rev. Noah Hallock, who died Oct. 25, 1818.”

          The Rev. Mr. Hallock organized the Mount Sinai Congregational church on December 23, 1789 with nine members and was its first pastor.  He also organized the Patchogue Congregational church in 1793.

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