Early Mills in Patchogue

Footnotes to Long Island History


SEPT 7 1950


Thomas R. Bayles

       Tobaccos Sachem of the Unkechaug Indian tribe, sold to Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut, on June 10, 1664, all that tract of Land extending from a small pond near the bay in the extreme western part of Bellport to Namkee creek in Blue Point. This now comprises the villages of East Patchogue, Patchogue and Blue Point.

       This tract was composed of nine necks of land and became known as Winthrop's Patent in 1680. The two eastern necks were sold in 1749 to John Brewster and Thomas Strong. On March 27, 1752, Humphrey Avery of Preston, New London county, Conn., bought the other seven necks of land for about 2,600 pounds. He later needed money and in 1756 asked and received permission from the Governor and General Assembly to sell his tract of land by lottery.

       There were 8,000 tickets issued and sold at 30 shillings each and the drawing was made in June 1758. It was such a success that Avery was able to pay off his debts and buy back a part of the land, on which one of his descendants, bearing his name is now living and operating a nursery.

       According to Ross' history, a mill was built on the Patchogue river before 1750. The stream was considered so valuable for this purpose that other mills for grinding grain were soon built upon it, and were later devoted to more important industries. This territory developed very slowly at first and it was not until February 6 1773, that it was annexed to Brookhaven town by an act of the Colonial General Assembly. From that time on it grew more rapidly, especially after the Revolution.

       The first factory in Patchogue was a paper mill built in 1798, and located near the site of the present lace mill. This mill was owned by Jonas Wicks, who made strawboard and wrapping paper. It was destroyed by fire in 1850.

       About 1800 a cotton twine mill was established just to the west of the paper mill, by Frederick Odell. He sold it to Justus Roe in 1816, who was a son of Capt. Austin Roe of East Setauket one of Washington's spies during the Revolution. In later years this mill was rebuilt by John E. Roe and formed a part of the early lace mill. John E. Roe had another twine mill on Swan creek, on the east side of the same dam on which the Swezey grist mill stood until it was destroyed by fire several years ago.

       In 1880, John S Havens, then owner of the west mill, leased it to Carslow, Henderson and company, of Scotland who began the manufacture of crinoline. Later they imported lace curtains and bleached and finished them. In 1890 the mill was sold to the Patchogue Lace Manufacturing company.

       In 1822, Daniel Haff owned a two story woolen mill which stood on the site of the old electric light plant at the Patchogue lake dam, adjacent to the present lace mill. The farmers for miles around brought their wool to this mill to be carded, spun and woven into blankets of cloth .

       Another mill was built by Nathaniel Smith and Daniel C. Gillette in 1832 on the old dam across Tuttle's creek at west lake. Other industries around that time included an iron forge, several tanneries, and a shop making machines for manufacturing envelopes.

       On Canaan lake there was an old paper mill owned by John S. Havens which burned down 50 or more years ago.

       The Patchogue mill, which in 1892 was owned by the Patchogue Electric Light company, and operated by Charles E. Rose and Son, was erected in 1783, and enlarged about 1832 to meet the increasing demand for its products. The old over shot water wheel which furnished the power was retained until 1887. The mill had three run of stone which ground coarse flour and feed.

       G. G. Swezey was the proprietor of the Swan River mill, in the eastern part of the village, and did a large business grinding fine flour and coarse meal and feed. It was built about 1840 by Austin and John Roe. To these mills came the farmers from neighboring villages and while waiting for their grain to be ground they  would discuss the news of the day.

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