Yaphank Grew with the Years

Footnotes to Long Island History


MARCH 1,1951


Thomas R. Bayles

       Yaphank, the area community which has become nationally known because of its proximity to an active Army training center in two wars, is located in what was once known as the parish of Middletown. Yaphank itself was called Millville and later got the name it now bears from a stream which flows into Carman's river at Brookhaven.

       Two valuable mill sites were furnished by the river which runs through the village. The one occupied by Swezey's mill, sometimes called the 'Upper Mill" was the first to be used. This mill was established under a grant from the town trustees to Captain Robert Robinson on February 12, 1739, giving the full benefit of the river for the use of a mil, and the consideration was 6 shillings.

       The site and water privilege for the lower or "Gerard's Mill" was granted to Daniel Homan on February 4, 1771 by the town trustees. To this the farmers from miles around brought their grain to be ground. Mr.. Homan owned a saw mill that had been set up at the same place.

       An abandoned site about half a mile north of the upper mills was known as the old "fulling mill." Just when this mill 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.

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

       The Presbyterian church was built in 1851, as a branch of the Middle Island church and in 1871 a church was organized. It was composed of members who had withdrawn from the old church at Middle Island. In 1882 the church had 71 members.

       St. Andrew's Episcopal church part of the village was built in 1853 and services have been conducted since that time, although much of the time it has had no resident clergyman.

       The Baptist church was organized in 1853 by Henry Bromly acting as a missionary. It had 19 members at first and at one time had as many as 124. Forty- three were dismissed at one time to form the Baptist church at Port Jefferson. A church building was dedicated July 4, 1854 on the main street near the residence of Dr. Baker. It was sold in 1873, and moved and converted to a school house in Comsewogue, near Port Jefferson. Money received for the building was used to build a Baptist church at Northport. A small burial ground adjoined the church and may still be seen.

       The Yaphank cemetery association was organized April 1, 1870. Four acres of land were bought of John P. Mills and opened as cemetery. The first trustees were John Hammond, Alfred Ackerly, John P. Mills, Sylvester Homan and James I. Baker.

       The Suffolk County home was located on a 170- acre farm near the railroad station, and was built in 1871. The farm was purchased in 1870 for $12,700 and in 1879 another farm of 80 acres was purchased for $5,000.The work of clearing the land was done by the inmates of the institution.

       The main building was 35 by 90 feet, three stories high with two story wings on either side 40 by 80 feet. The building was supplied with all the latest improvements and ranked among the foremost of its kind in the state.

       In 1880 there were 180 inmates and the average cost for food and clothing was 12 cents per day per person. In that year 2,000 bushels of ears of corn 2,100 bushels of potatoes, 1,000 bushels of turnips,800 bushels of wheat 420 bushels of oats,130 tons of hay and other crops of less importance were produced on the farm with the labor done by the inmates.

       The children's home was build on the east side of the road in 1879. About 20 children were cared for at first at a cost of 15 cents a day each for food and clothing.

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