Trip Through Long Island. In 1744

Footnotes to Long Island History

 Trip Through Long Island  In 1744


Thomas R. Bayles

Pfeiffer's general store, mentioned in Dr. Hamilton's journey.

        Wednesday July 11, 1744: We arrived at a scattered ton called Brookhaven or by the Indians Setoquoet (setauket) about two o'clock afternoon and dined at one Buchanan's there. Brookhaven is a small scattered settlement near the sea. In this town is a small windmill for sawing plank and a wooden church with a small steeple.

     While we were at Buchananan's an old fellow named Smith called at the house. He said he was a traveling to York to get a commission or license from the governor to go a privateering and swore he would not be under any commander, but would be chief man himself. He showed us several antic tricks, such as jumping out touching high on his bum, without touching any other part of his body or the floor. Then he turned and did the same upon his belly. Then he stood upright on his head. He told us he was seventy five-year old and swore damn his old shoes if any man in America could do the like.

     He asked me whence I came and whither i went. I answered him I came from California and was going to Lanthern Land. He swore damn his old shoes again if he had not been a sailor all his life and yet never had hears of such places. Mr. Parker made him believe he was captain of a privateer and for a mug of cider made him Friday next promising to make him his lieutenant for nothing else would satisfy the old fellow. At last he wanted to borrow a little advance money of Parker which when he could obtain he drank up his cider and swore he would not go.

     We took horse again at half an hour after five o'clock and had scarcely got a mile from Brookhaven when we lost our way but were directed right by a man we met. After riding ten miles which we were pestered by mosquitoes we arrived at 8 o'clock a night at one Brewster's (now Pfeiffer's store in Middle Island). Where we put up for all night and in this horse could not get nothing either to eat or drink and so were obligated to go to bed fasting and suppperless. I was conducted upstairs to a large chamber. The people in this house seemed quite savage and rude.

      Thursday July 12: When i waked this morning i found two beds in the room beside the one in which great hulking fellows with long black beards and not so much as half a night cap between both them. I took them for weavers not only from their greasy appearance but because a ance but because i observed a weavers loom at each side of the room. In the other bed was a ram boned boy, who with the two lubber huddled on his clothes and went reeling down the stairs making as much noise as three horses.

     We set out from this desolated place at six o'clock in the morning and rid 18 miles through very barren and waste land. Here we passed through a plain six or eight miles long where was nothing but oak brush or bushes two feet high very thick and replenished with acorns, and thinly scattered over the plain were several old naked pines at about two or three hundred feet distance from one another most of them decayed and broken.

      In all this way we met not one living soul, nor saw any house but one in ruins. Some of the inhabitants call this place the desert of Arabia. (middle country road to riverhead.) I t is very much infected with mosquitoes. We breakfasted at one Fanning's . Near his house a decayed wooden building and close by his door runs a small rivulet into an arm of the sea about twenty miles distant. (peconic river at Riverhead.)

      The day was rainy but we took horse and rid ten miles further to one Hubbard's where we rested half an hour then proceeded eight miles farther to the town of Southold, near which the road is level, firm and pleasant and in the neighborhood are a great many windmills. The houses are pretty thick along the road here. We put up at one Mrs. Moore's at Southold. In her house appeared nothing but industry. She and her grand-daughters were busied in carding and spinning of wool. After dinner we sent to inquire for a boat to cross the sound.

      At night the house was crowded with a company of patched coats and tattered jackets. A comical old fellow among the rest inquired if I had come from the new country. We asked him what entertainment we could have at the oyster pond. where we designed to take a boat across the sound.

      While we were at supper there came in a peddler with his pack along with one Doctor Hull, practioner of physic in the town. We were told the doctor was a man of great learning and very much of a gentlemen. The peddler went to show him some linen by candle light and told him he would be on his honor with him and recommended to him the best of his wares. We left this company at Nine o'cloc and went upstairs to bed al in one chamber.

      Fridays July 13: We took horse after six in the morning and rid five or six miles close by the sound till we came to one Brown's who was to give us passage seven miles farther and stopped at one King's were all busy in preparing dinner which consisted chiefly in garden stuff. Here we saw some handsome country girls one of whom wore a perpetual smile upon her face and prepared the chocolate for our breakfast. At one o'clock we dined with the family upon fat pork and green peas. At two o'clock we observed the boat falling down the river and having provided ourselves with a store of bread and cheese an some rum and sugar in case of being detained upon the water we put our horses on board and set sail with a fair wind from the Oyster Pond.

      At three o'clock we crossed the Gut a rapid current by the tides.  Gardiner Island bore east by north about three leagues distance. This island has been in the possession of one man and takes its name from him. It had been a prey to the French privateers in Queen Anne's war who used to land upon ants of their stock and provisions the island lying very bleak upon the ocean just as the casternmost entry of the sound between Long Island the main of Connecticut.

       (The foregoing account has bee taken from a book entitled "Hamilton's Itinerary", which was printed for private distribution by William K. Bixby in St. Louis in 1907.)

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