History of Moriches

Footnotes to Long Island History

History of Moriches:  Farming and Fishing Were Main Occupations

October 20, 1966


Thomas R. Bayles


Editor’s Note:  Our review of the history of the Moriches Bay area takes a step backwards in time this week to take a closer look at the area in its early days.  This information comes from the book “Historical Sketches of Suffolk County” by Richard M. Bayles.  The book was published in 1874.  Thomas R. Bayles, the son of Richard M. Bayles, has supplied the following information:

          Moriches is the general name, derived from the Indians who once occupied the territory, no applied to a continuous settlement extending along the Country road from the head of Forge river to within two miles of the east line of the town, a distance of about five miles.  It is divided into three villages, West, Center and East Moriches, each of which has a post office.  Farming and fishing are the principal occupations of the people.

          West Moriches contains a store, grist mill, saw mill and paper mill and thirty-five house, is located at the head of Forge river about three miles from the bay.  the river is navigable for small vessels nearly up to this point.  an iron forge was established here by Col. Floyd in the early part of the present century, but did not continue long.  Post office opened 1827, with James M. Fanning as postmaster.

          Center Moriches, a village of 600 inhabitants, is beautifully situated near the East bay.  It contains two churches, four stores, two hotels and a number of tradesmen.  A grist mill is located on Terrell’s river, which forms the boundary line between this and East Moriches.  The village is largely visited during the summer season, and two large boarding houses are located near the shore.  A large number families accommodate summer boarders.  A bathing station on the South Beach opposite here affords excellent facilities for surf bathing, and a number of sail boats make connection with that point daily.  The first church of this village was built in 1809.

          Although the origin of the settlement must date back nearly two centuries, and a church organization has been sustained here for half a century, no house of worship appears to have been located here intil 1809, when a building for the use of all.

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