|The following excerpt is from Cynthia Hutchinson's diary, a Middle Island resident who eventually married Dr. Samuel Norton. Her diary of 1809, reprinted in the Long Island Advance on Jan. 19, 1952, page 23, provides an intriguing sketch of daily life of Middle Island families.
FOOTNOTES TO L.I. HISTORY
"Beach Parties in 1809, Too"
by Thomas R. Bayles
In 1808, Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, was rounding out his second term as the nation's chief executive. Daniel D. Tompkins was serving as New York state's fifth governor, and Long Island was a sparsely settled community in a progressive state having a population of about 900,000 people.
Here are extracts from the diary of one of Long Island's residents, a Middle Island woman (Cynthia Hutchinson Norton) in the year 1808, and the years following:
May 16, 1808--3 men planting corn. It is very late. Luther Case is going to the New Country where he has property.
May 29-- I sat in a cool room and took the ague and had a fit of sickness which lasted until the 29th of August. Remitting fever and ague.
Aug. 29-- Attended singing school and rode horseback. Rev. Moses Swezey preached Sunday. Singing school was held in the afternoon. Mr. Hubbard spoken of as a school teacher.
Sept. 5--Singing school on Sunday afternoon so well attended that those who came late could hardly find seats.
Sept. 28--Mr. Joseph Gerard from new York called. he is paying his respects to Miss Charry Swezey. Loading sloop (probably with cord wood on Sound shore) frequently spoken of.
Nov. 1--Thrashed clover seed. Simeon Hulse died after three weeks sickness with lung fever.
Nov. 5--Funeral of young woman Matilda Yarrington at Coram. There seem to be funerals oftener than any other meeting.
Nov. 6--reading meeting. Few people out. Evening meetings at Coram were very largely attended and frequent and held very late.
Nov. 18--A night meeting was held at the meeting house.
Nov. 29--Paul (probably the indian preacher Paul Cuffee) preached.
Feb. 3, 109--At the schoolhouse in the evening Mr. Allen, who had been hired to preach 4 Sundays, preached.
Feb. 19--Rev. Woolworth of Bridgehampton preached and a number taken into the church. Spinning flax seemed to be the order of the day.
March 17--Papa went to Coram to Republican meeting. Mrs. Gerard expects to move down the river before long.
March 26--Mr. Woodruff read a sermon. Had a full meeting so that they had to remove into the meeting house. (Perhaps they met in the schoolhouse.)
April 7--Daniel Terry of Oysterponds (Orient) called. He has been at Albany on the Assembly two months. He went away in the morning "with the post."
April 18--In the evening Debby and I went to meeting, which was very melancholy, there were but few who did not shed tears. Mr. John Turner and his cousins Isaac and Charry, who we can't expect to ever see again as they are going to move a great way off up in the "new country."
May 21--Mr. Daggett preached in A.M. and went to Fire Place in the afternoon.
June 5--A company training was held at Christopher Swezey's.
June 14--General training. A gala day and women and all went to see it. (In July twin children of Mr. G. Brown died a week apart. the funeral of the second child is thus described.) Just as we got there Mr. Corwin came and made a short prayer and then went to the meeting house. The corpse was carried to the door by its parents, then Debby and Polly Howell carried it into the meeting house. Mr. Corwin preached. After the service Debby and I carried it to the burying ground across from the meeting house.
Aug 3.--In the morning I went to the store and got a gallon of rum. Mr. Petty and Mr. Hulse are to work here today.
Aug. 18--Mr. Brown's beach party took place. Papa went, also old Mr. Joshua Swezey and Harmony and Mr. and Mrs. Wooster. Reached home 11 o'clock at night.
Sun. Aug. 20--Meeting inthe schoolhouse in the evening very much crowded and very warm. Miss Harmony Swezey almost fainted away, it was so warm. Her brother Joshua and her cousin Sylvanus Overton carried her home in a chair.
Sept. 30--Jeffrey Randall's wife died. At the funeral there were so many in attendance that the services were held in the edge of the woods instead of in the meeting house. Mr. Robinson preached. Quilting, knitting and spinning are common occupations.
Jan. 9, 1810--Daniel and Charles Swezey called, going to meeting at Mr. Davis' where Mr. Hallock preached. Mr. Hubbard is school teacher, boarding around still.
Feb. 3-- Mr. Brown came running in and told Papa to get his horses immediately and go after his father and mother. He said their horse had run away and they were both thrown out of the wagon and hurt. He went as quick as possible and brought them back, and then went after the doctor. He came and bled grandfather and believes there are no bones broke. Uncle John went after the horse, which ran to Patchogue. He came back about places.
Men on their way from New York to the eastern part of the island frequently call and stay all night. (Evidently conducted an inn.)
April 3--Vendue of Joel Swezey attended. They are going to move to the new country.
May 30--Jonathan Edwards came and warned us all to training. Cherries were plentiful at Mr. Brown's and Joshua Swezey's place's.
July 29--Papa and Mama went to the carding machine (down the river). Stayed all night and got home the next day.
Dec. 18--Mr. Brown had his barn raised. Charity Hulse married to lewis Ritch.
Jan. 1, 1811--Dr. Norton had a singing school about this time in the Coram school house.
Aprl 23--Mr. Woodruff and family left for the new country.
June 23--Mr. King moved here June 6th. (The Rev. Ezra King, pastor of Presbyterian Church at Middle island and South Haven for over 30 yers.) Mr. King and Mr. Prime of Fresh Pond exchanged pulpits at times.