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South Haven Focal Point in Early Days

Footnotes to Long Island History

South Haven Focal Point in Early Days

by

Thomas R. Bayles


     The Connecticut river was one reason for the importance of the community of South Haven during the early years of its settlement. This river named after an old Indian name meaning  "the long river" turned the wheels of perhaps more mills than any other river on the Island. Four dams were across it at various points, furnishing water power for the fulling, grist and saw mills of those days. The mill, owned by Samuel Carman across the road from Presbyterian church, is still standing, the water still pouring through its mill race. Inside are the large mill stones between which the corn and the wheat of the neighborhood were grounded. The remains of the old machinery by which the pine and oak logs were sawed into timber can still be seen.

    This mill which was in operation in 1745 and which may have been built by Samuel Terrell on the land that had once borne the name of Yaphank Neck was purchased by Samuel Carman from Ebenezer Homan, soon after he came from Hempstead in 1789. Included in the purchase was the famous tavern by the "goin over" of the Connecticut river later to be known as Carman's river, which was a regular stopping place for the weekly stage that ran between Brooklyn and East Hampton and Sag Harbor. On March 5, 1772, for instance the company advertised " a stage will run once a week as follows: From Brooklyn ferry to Samuel Nicholls on Hempstead Plains where passengers will stay all night: fare four shillings. To Epenetus Smiths at Smithtown, Four shillings. To Benjamin Haven's in St. Georges Manor four shillings and stay all night.

    Mr. Carman's tavern besides serving travelers food and lodging and spirituous liquors also had a certain prestige as a place to hold political meetings and elections. There some of the prominent men of the day lodged and there the towns people would gather to discuss the latest news brought in by visitors from the outside world. There letters and packages for people in the settlements round about were left.

With the meeting house and the mills, this was the point around which the life of the communities in the southern part of Brookhaven town revolved. Here the farmers came to get their mail and their grain, and to purchase the many small things at Sam Carman's store which they could not make at home. He must of have had a partner for on the cover of an old account book are the words "book no.4 Carmen and Read September 30th 1789." Entered in this old account book under the names of the various purchasers are a great variety of articles among which are thimbles, needles, thread, power, shot, trousers, coats, shoes, hogsheads, paper, tobacco, molasses, tea, knives, combs, cloth, spices salt, books, snuff, rum, whips, wheels, rice etc By far the largest items sold was rum. People drove to this store from Moriches, Middle Island, Coram, Yaphank, Fire Place, Bellport, and Mastic came such distinguished customers as William Floyd and Judge William Smith..

    Money was lent at this tore and skins were dressed as Hugh Smith was charged 9 Shillings for "Dressing 2 Deer skins." An exchange was also conducted as "1 green coat, 2 pare velvet breeches, 2 pare nankeen breeches, 1 Nan keen vest" were left to be sold.

    Boats sailed up the Connecticut river anchored and sent rowboats to the store for provisions. The entries in the old account book which were numerous in the year following September 30th 1789 when became meager from 1790 to 1798 when the day book ends.

(note: the material in this article has been taken from Rev. George Bothwick's history of the South haven church).

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