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Purchase of Huntington

Footnotes to Long Island History

Purchase of Huntington 

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


            The town of Huntington originally covered the whole width of the Island at the west end of Suffolk county. The first settlers made their purchase of lands from the powerful Matinecock tribe of Indians, who occupied this territory.

            This tract, covering six square miles in the northwest corner of the present town, was known as the “Old Purchase.” The price paid for it was six bottles, six coats, six hatchets, 30 eel spears, 30 needles, six shovels, 10 knives and 10 fathoms of wampum.

            The town plot where the first settlement was made, was located on the present site of Huntington village. This was divided into house lots and distributed among the settlers to be occupied and improved by them individually, while the remaining lands were held and used in common.

                       

                                                Early Church

            Upon one of the beautiful hills in the neighborhood of the original town plot stands the First Presbyterian church, the lineal successor to the first church established within the bounds of this town. Its history completes the chain by which the present is bound to the first settlement. The first church organization was formed about the year 1658, and the first minister was the Rev. William Leverich, who came to Salem, Mass., in 1633 from England. He was followed by the Rev. Ebenezer Prime, who spent his life among this congregation, and it fell to his lot to be head of this church during the troublesome years of the Revolution. He died in 1779, after having seen the British soldiers take possession of his own house and while the invaders were still making havoc of his property.

            The first church was built in 1665 in a valley a short distance west of the present church, and remained in use until 1715 when the frame of a new one was raised in its place. The site did not agree with the wishes of the congregation so the frame was taken down and moved to the top of the hill, where it was completed and remained in service until Long Island fell into the hands of the British at the beginning of the Revolution. The British soldiers stripped the church of its inside equipment and used it for military purposes.

 

                                                Bell Taken

 

            The bell, which had been an object of admiration and pride, was carried away, broken and finally returned. The church itself was finally torn down by the same hands and the timbers used in construction of barracks for the soldiers quartered in the town.

            During the latter part of the Revolution an earthwork fortification was thrown up in the center of the old “Burying Hill,” which contained the graves of the first settlers. The graves were leveled down and the tombstones used in the construction  of rude ovens and fireplaces for temporary use, and many of them were broken. These acts of desecration to the memories of the dead were directed by one Benjamin Thompson. a Massachusetts Tory, who had command over British troops stationed there.

            In addition to the outrage already mentioned, Dr. Prime in his history states, “It would seem that during the whole war no stone was left unturned to annoy the persons and injure the property of the inhabitants. Their orchards were cut down, their fences burned, and the scanty crops they were able to raise were taken by a lawless force for the use of the soldiers.”

            When the troops first entered the town, the officers housed their horses in the pastor’s stables, and cursed the “old rebel,” as they called him. They took his house for their quarters, broke the furniture and tore leaves from his most valuable books so as to make them worthless. This was a sample of the treatment accorded the residents of Long Island during those seven long years when the British were in possession of the Island. The present church in Huntington was built in 1784. 

            Boilers abroad the Navy’s new aircraft carrier Forrestal provide steam for a plant of more than 200,000 horsepower.

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