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Middle Island P.O. Oldest

Footnotes to Long Island History

Middle Island PO Oldest

November 4, 1954

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


          Middle Island has the distinction of having the oldest postoffice in Brookhaven town, and it was established as Middletown in 1796 with Apollus Wetmore as the first postmaster.  A few years later the name was changed to Brookhaven, as the town clerk’s office for Brookhaven town was located down the Yaphank road.  In 1821 the name was changed to Middle Island.

          The old house shown in the picture was built about 1750 by Daniel Brewster, grandson of the Rev. William Brewster, first minister to the old town church at Setauket in 1665.  This house was the postoffice for Middle Island from 1835 until 1901, and was torn down a few years ago.  The sand and gravel plant of Horton Bros., is located there now.

          The location of the first postoffice is not known but in 1811 Benjamin Hutchinson became postmaster and kept the postoffice in his home, which was located on the present site of the house occupied by Leo Lentin.  About 1834 his son, Benjamin T. Hutchinson purchased the farm down the hill, which we have just described, and in 1835 became postmaster.  He held the office until 1877, when his sister, Miss Cynthia Hutchinson, was appointed postmaster and kept the office in the same old house until her death in 1901.

          From that time to and including the present, the postoffice has been in the hands of the Pfeiffer family, (with the exception of two years), and has been located in the country store kept for many years by Edward Pfeiffer, and now by his son, Everett.

          About 1830 mail was dispatched from New York city by stagecoach for Jericho, Coram, Middle Island, and Suffolk courthouse, (Riverhead) at 8 a. m. every Tuesday and Thursday.  Between 1811 and 1830 the receipts of the postoffice ranged from $3 to $8 a quarter.  An old record book, showing the incoming and outgoing mail with the rates of postage covering the years 1805 to 1810, is in the hands of the writer.

          The old Hutchinson homestead had a colorful history, and not only was postoffice for so many years, but was the location of the towns clerk’s office for Brookhaven town for about 40 years, from 1848 until 1890, with Mr. Hutchinson and his son holding the office for virtually all those years.

          About 1840 Mr. Hutchinson opened a store and tavern in the old house, and for several years it was a stage coach stop for the mail and passenger stages running along the old country road to the east end villages.  After the railroad was built to Greenport in 1844 this business fell off and the stage coaches ran no more.

          This old homestead was also the voting place for Middle Island, Yaphank, Ridge and Coram for many years, and many a vote was bought under the old horse sheds adjoining the house.

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