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History of Old Hutchinson Homestead

Footnotes to Long Island History

History of Old Hutchinson Homestead

March 27, 1955

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


          The Old Hutchinson Homestead at Middle Island has had a long and varied history, and was first a tavern and store, then post office, office of the town clerk of Brookhaven town, and then polling place for the large mid-Island area.

          The house was located on the middle country road at the foot of the hill near Pfeiffer’s store, and was purchased a few years ago by Horton Bros and torn down.  The site has since been a cement block factory and sand and gravel works.

          Middle Island had the first post office in Brookhaven town and the first postmaster was Apollus Wetmore in 1796.  Post riders on horseback carried the mail through the Island in the first years, and the mail came from New York once of twice a week.  After a few years it was carried by the stage coaches that came through the middle of the Island, and furnished the only means of transportation for the people of the mid-island settlements.

          The post office was at first named Brookhaven and was not given the mane of Middle Island until about 1818.  During these early years the postal receipts were light, and records of the office shown that the quarterly receipts between 1811 and 1830 ran from $3.00 to $8.00 a quarter.

          Following Apollus Wetmore as postmaster came Zachariah Hawkins in 1798, Mordecai Homan, Jr in 1803, Jehiel Woodruff in 1810 and in 1811 Benjamin Hutchinson became postmaster, and it remained in the Hutchinson family with the exception of one year until 1901.

          The old Hutchinson homestead was built around 1750 by Daniel Brewster, Jr a grandson of Nathaniel Brewster, the first minister of the old town church at Setauket.  The house and farm on which it stood were purchased in 1834 by Benjamin T Hutchinson and store and post office moved there, where it remained until taken over by Edward Pfeiffer in 1901.  In 1840 Mr. Hutchinson opened a tavern also, which was the regular breakfast stop for the mail and passenger stages passing through.  Besides serving as post office, tavern and store, this house was also the town clerk’s office for Brookhaven town for 30 years.

          Mr Hutchinson was elected town clerk in 1848, and in 1850 elected county clerk, and in 1860 was again elected town clerk.  During the intervening years the office went to New Village, Center Reach.)  Mr Hutchinson remained in office until his death in 1877, when his son, Henry P Hutchinson was elected and remained as town clerk until 1890, when Roswell Davis of Yaphank was elected, and the office moved to Yaphank.  It was the custom in those days for the office to be located in the home of the lecte4d official.

          After the death of Mr Hutchinson in 1877 the office of the postmaster was taken over by his daughter Miss Cynthia Hutchinson, and her appointment dated October 16, 1877, and signed by David M Key, Postmaster General, is on exhibition along with the old post office boxes and fixtures in Emil’s museum in Middle Island.  Miss Hutchinson continued as postmaster until her death in 1901.

          For many years this old house also served as polling place for the voters from Middle Island, Yaphank, Ridge, Coram and Selden for all the regular spring and fall elections, and many a political deal was mad under the horse sheds to the east of the house.  In those days election day was a social event and dinners were served for 50 cents.  It was a day of great activity and continued until at the stroke of six o’clock inspector John Jones used to step to the door and call out, “Hear ye; Hear ye; I know declare these polls closed.”  Among those who served for many years on the election board besides Mr Jones were Richard M Bayles, Fred Ehlers, Thomas Lee, Robert Lyon, Noah Terry and Elbert Homan.

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