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Captain Norton Fought 2 Wars

Footnotes to Long Island History

Capt. Norton Fought 2 Wars

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


      A native son of Brookhaven town who contributed much to the freedom and independence of his country was Nathaniel Norton.  He was born in Brookhaven in 1742, was descended from one of the early settlers of Brookhaven town, and his son, Dr. Samuel F. Norton lived in Coram and was for many years an honored and faithful physician in the locality.  His daughter, Miss Emma Norton, was postmistress at Coram for many years.

Captain Norton volunteered as a private in the provincial corps in the French War (which commenced in 1756) under General Bradstreet, and in 1760 was stationed at Oswego.  He displayed on all occasions the characteristics of a brave and loyal soldier. 

In the early part of the year 1776 he was commissioned as lieutenant in the 4th New York Continental regiment, under Colonel Henry B. Livingston.

He remained attached to that outfit until toward the end of 1781, when he was secretly commissioned by Governor Clinton to obtain loans of money from the wealthy residents of Long Island.  In order to conceal this objective, he was appointed to the command of a small of a small national vessel called the Suffolk, in which he cruised the Sound between Sand's Point and New Haven.  He was very successful in the undertaking and obtained large sums of money on the credit of the government, which he regularly turned over to the governor. 

Capt. Norton was connected with the reserve corps in 1778 in the battle of Monmouth on June 28 of that year, and was engaged with the artillery in that action.  He afterwards went with General Sullivan in the expedition at Bemis Heights and Stillwater which led to the capture of Burgoyne.

When the war was over he retired to his farm in this town and became an elder, and later minister of the Baptist church at Coram, and later occupied churches in Connecticut and Herkimer County.

The Baptist church in Coram was built and organized in 1747, and stood on the present site of the Methodist church.  This was the first Baptist church in Suffolk County, and was for many years the only one of that denomination. 

       There seems to be no record of its activities during the years it was located in Coram.  One historian makes the following notes regarding this church.  "Its existence is wrapped in much obscurity and was probably but feebly sustained, but that membership and eldership in the church was an honorable mark is shown by the fact that their mention is engraved on the tombstones in yonder church yard, where many of the forefathers of Coram sleep.  Among these is that of 'Rev. Noah Hammond, Minister of the Gospel and Pastor of the Baptist Church of Christ in Coram, was born Feb. 24, 1718 died Nov. 4, 1744'."

This old Baptist church was probably owned by individuals in shares, as was sometimes done in those days, according to an item from an old paper dated in 1789.  This states that Samuel Bishop, for the consideration of two pounds, quitclaimed all his interest in Baptist Meeting house and ground in Coram, to David Overton.

         In 1847 the old Baptist meeting house, having served its day and generation, was torn down and its materials sold to Alanson Overton, who used them in building a house in Port Jefferson.

About the year 1805 Capt. Norton retired from the ministry and returned to his farm.  He died October 7, 1837, while on a visit to his daughter in New York city.  His remains were brought to the old Baptist burying ground at Coram, "accompanied by his brethren of the Cincinnati Society, (which was composed of officers of the Revolution) and there amid the solemn and impressive ceremonies of that order he was laid to rest, among the graves of his Baptist brethren and the surroundings of his erst while home."

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