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Early Names Were Colorful

Footnotes to Long Island History

Early Names Were Colorful

by

Thomas R. Bayles


       Much of the flavor of the early days on Long Island is reflected in the names of its villages, although several of the more picturesque names, some chosen by Indians, others by the settlers have disappeared.

      Amagansett was named from the Indian name of the locality Ameng-ensett meaning "the neighborhood of the fishing place."

      Aquebogue was known in the early days as Steeple Church.

      Bayport was at one time known as Middle Road.

      Bellport was named for Thomas and John Bell. Thomas Bell erected a house there in 1830 located on a neck of land called Accombomock.

      Blue point was known to the Indians as Manowtasqoutt.

      Brentwood was founded in 1851 by a band of reformers who bought a tract of land near what was then Thompson's Station. It was first called Modern Times. The present name was adopted in 1864.         

      Brookhaven village was known as Fire Place.

     Canoe place received its name from the Indian custom of carrying their canoes across from Peconic to Shinnecock bays. This isthmus was known to the Indians as Niamuck. Nearby Hampton Bays was called Good Ground.

      Coram or Corum as it was often spelled, is supposed to have taken its name from that of a local Indian chief.

      Cutchogue is named after the Corchaug tribe of Indians who had a village there.

      Glen cove was known as Musceta Coufe  or the "cove of the grass flats" at the time the land was purchased from the Indians by Joseph Carpenter. It is said that William Cullen Bryant was asked to name two villages on Hempstead harbor and named them after the two Scottish valleys of Roslyn and Glencoe, the Coe bring later spelled cove.

     Jamesport was developed about 1835, was first intended to be used as a whaling port, and a few whale ships were sent out from there.

       Lloyds neck was formerly called Horse neck and by the Indians Caumsett. It was purchased in 1654 from Ratiocan, the sachem of Cow Harbor. James Lloyd of Boston became the owner in 1679, and from him the neck received its present name.

      Jericho was known to the Indians by the name of Lusum the land of which the village stands was a part of a purchase made by Robert Williams in 1653. It was early settled by several Quaker families and was the residence of Elias Hicks the founder of the Hicksites.

      The great South beach was originally known to the Indians by a name meaning Seal islands, because of the seals that were at one time abundant on the shores. It is said that Five islands was the name given to them as there were five islands originally. Fire Island inlet is also said to have been known as Great Gut, and also called Nine Mile gut because it is said that the sea made a sweep through the beach about nine miles wide during a terrific storm in the winter of 1690. The first lighthouse was built there in 1858.

       Mt. Sinai was formerly known as Old Man's, and in Indian times as Nonowantuck. Tradition has it that the name Old Man's came from the fact that in the early days a small inn was kept by an old man, and an overnight traveler stayed at the "old man's" so the name was applied to the settlement.

      Selden was once called Westfield.

      South Huntington was known in the early years as Long Swamp.

       Speonk is an Indian name meaning "high land near the water."

       Stony Brook was known by the Indian name, Wopowog, and shells found in this locality is supposed to have been a favorite residence of the Indians. About the middle of the last century the village was a place of considerable shipbuilding. The present name came from a small stream which empties into the Harbor.

        Wading River was Pauguacumsuck to the Indians. This is a very old Settlement, having been settled in 1671by eight men, according to Brookhaven town.

        Yaphank was called at one time Millville. The name Yaphank or Yamphanke is of Indian origin meaning the "bank of a river." 

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