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Form Ridge District in 1813

Footnotes to Long Island History

Form Ridge District in 1813

by

Thomas R. Bayles


        The first schools on Long Island were similar to those of New England and most of the early teachers came from there. Brookhaven town was settled in 1655 at Setauket, which for many years was seat of the town government. In 1678 Robert Rider was engaged as the first teacher of the old town school at a town meeting held in that year.

      Illiteracy ran very high in those days, it was considered no disgrace not be able to read and write and  little attention was paid to education except in some private schools which were conducted in the homes of the teachers. The town granted land for schoolhouse sites wherever common land was held in the various settlements but beyond that the town paid little attention to public education during the colonial period.

     In 1813 Brookhaven town was divided into school district and the Ridge school was organized as District 22, according to the town records. "No. 22 is the embrace the inhabitants East of Thomas Aldrich in Middletown, extending east to the Wading River Line."

     The territory covered by this school district was covered with thousands of acres of timber lands when it was first settled by Stephen Randall in 1738, whose ancestors came from England to Rhode Island in 1667. For many years the cutting and shipping of cordwood was an important industry among the farmers in this locality. Most of it was hauled to the Sound shore where it was loaded on sloops and shipped to New York City and up the Hudson river to the brick yards at Haverstraw. One off the large operators, Charles Randall had thousands of cords of wood cut every winter.

     The schoolhouse recently in use before the new one just built and dedicated on November 1 was erected in 1872 and was also used for conducting religious services by the Presbyterian church at Middle Island for several years. The first teacher in this school house was Miss Cynthia Hutchinson, who was later postmistress at Middle Island for Several years.

      There seems to be no record of any previous school house, but it seems likely there was one that covered the period from when the district was organized in 1813 to the time when the schoolhouse was built in 1872.

      The early settlers in the ridge were mostly members of the Randall families and several of those who received their early education there and in later years made their mark in life might be mentioned.

      One was captain Sylvester Randall who for 38 years operated a sailing packet line between Port Jefferson and Bridgeport before the steamboat line was put into operation.

      Then there was another Sylvester Randall, who for 38 years operated a sailing packet between Port jefferson and Bridgeport, before the steamboat line was put into operation.

       Then there was another Sylvester Randall, who made a strike in the gold fields of California during the "49" gold rush; Jason Randall who took  a load of supplies up the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush- to the miners who were in danger of starving in the frozen north; Captain Henry M. Randall who was a sea captain for many years and afterwards became president of the Bank of Port Jefferson; J. Sturgis Randall who helped build the city of Norwalk, Conn., and Elbert Smith who managed a sheep ranch in the cascade mountains of California. 

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