Yaphank in the Early Days

Footnotes to Long Island History

Yaphank in the early Days


Thomas R. Bayles

     Yaphank is located in the south eastern part of what was once the parish of Middletown and was locally known as Millville   

  The name Yaphank was taken from an Indian name, "Yamphank" (meaning bank of a river), given to  a small stream that joins the Connecticut or Carman's river about four miles below this place.

   Two valuable mill sites were furnished by the river which runs through the village. The one occupied by Swezey's Mills sometimes called the "Upper Mills," was the first to be used. This mill was established under a grant from the town trustees  to Captain Robert Robinson in 1739. The consideration given was 6 shillings. The site and water privilege for the lower mill were granted by the trustees in February, 1771 to Daniel Homan who at that time owned a saw mill that had been set up at the same place.

    A long abandoned site about a half mile north of the upper mills was known as the "old fulling mill." When this was established is not known, but on February 20, 1792 the town trustees granted to Ebenezer Homan for 3 pounds "the town right and no more" to the stream north of his fulling mill or so much of it as should be necessary for the working of the mill.

   The following items are taken from an old diary in 1838 of one of the Hutchinson's who lived in Middle Island.

       July 26th; At night our rolls were brought home from the machine. (carding mill down the river) I began to spin them. Very good rolls.

       August 14, we got up very early in the morning. I got to spinning about sunrise, having had breakfast by candle light. Carded mixed wool for stocking yarn.

       February 15, 1799, a road was laid out from the east end of the Granny road to the Yaphank road across the "old fulling Mill dam." This road was closed again 1823.

     A fourth mill site was about half a mile below the lower mill. A saw mill was established on it and a grant for the site was given May 4, 1820, by the trustees to Daniel Homan. This was abandoned before long.

     The following item is taken from the records of the Middle Island Presbyterian church. In 1851 funds were raised and a chapel erected in the southern part of the parish which was to be governed by????  land church, but with separate trustees. The funds for this improvement were raised by the ladies Sewing society which was organized at the parsonage January 14, 1846. The chapel at Yaphank was dedicated December 25, 1851 and services were held there every second Sunday afternoon.

The Presbyterian church of Yaphank was organized by action of the Presbytery October 17, 1871, and was composed of 60 members from the Middle Island church.

St. Andrews Episcopal church was built in 1854 through the efforts of Mr.. and Mrs. James H. Weeks, whose property adjoined the church.

Directly opposite the church is the birthplace and old home of Mary Louise Booth, who was born the 19th of April, 1831. She was widely known as the editor of Harpers Bazaar from 1867 until her death in 1889. Her history of new York city was the first complete work on the subject.

The Suffolk County home was built in 1871 on a farm of 170 acres, purchased in 1870 at a cost of $12,700. Another farm of 80 acres was purchased in 1879 on the east side of the avenue for $5,000. The original building which was torn down when the present building was built several years ago, was three stories high, and was 35 by 90 feet, with a wing on either side, 40 by 80 feet.

In 1880 the cost of feeding the inmates was about 12 cents a day. The children's home was established in 1879 and was located on the east side of the road.

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