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Randall Family of Ridge

Footnotes to Long Island History

Randall Family of Ridge

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


       The death of John G. Randall December 17 brought to a close a colorful era which the old Randall farm  occupied in the history of Ridge, dating back to 1728, when it was first settled by Stephen Randall, the first settler of this era, who carved his homestead and farm from a wilderness occupied only by the Indians.

            A hundred years ago this farm, with others in the vicinity, was a scene of great activity, especially during the winter months when cord wood cutting was the order of the day and every winter thousands of cords of wood were cut by the Negro wood cutters who came for the winter and lived in shacks on the farms and also built huts in the woods to live in while they were cutting wood.

            The wood was hauled by teams of horses to the north side and piled in great piles adjoining the landing roads that led down to the Sound Shore, ready to load on the wood sloops during the spring and summer for shipment to New York and up the Hudson to the brickyards at Haverstraw.

            Since its first settlement in 1728 the old Randall homestead has always been occupied by some member of the Randall family, which was a familiar name in the Ridge in the years gone by. One of the most famous men of this name was Rear Admiral Albert B. Randall, USNR, commandment of the U. S. Maritime service and retired commodore of the fleet of the United States lines. He was the only Merchant Marine officer ever to hold the rank of rear admiral in the United States Naval reserve. Born in 1879, he went to sea when he was 17 and never left it. During World War I he was a commodore of convoys and in 1921 became master of the S. S. America and later in the same year took command of the George Washington. During the next 15 years he was in command of many of the finest luxury liners afloat.

            He retired in 1939 and the President of the United States sent him a letter of congratulation in view if his acts of heroism and his brilliant career as commander of great ships. His retirement was brief. When the Second World War came on he was called back to active service, and in 1942 was made commandment of the United States Maritime service, with the headquarters in Washington. He died in 1945 and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National cemetery.

            The Randall farm has always been actively farmed and has through the years produced record crops of hay, grain, potatoes, corn and vegetables of all kinds. Around 1912 this section was actively engaged in pickle raising and every morning during the summer hundreds of barrels of cucumber pickles were hauled to Shoreham railroad station where they loaded in the special freight car which was picked up by the morning freight train and shipped to the pickle works in Bushwick and other places.

            During late years Mr. Randall made a specialty of raising strawberries and produced some fine crops of this fruit, which were shipped to the New York markets. One of the most progressive farmers of this locality, he studied farming in all phases and always was first to adopt new methods and new farm machinery. He retired from active farming two years ago and sole his farm, reserving a few acres and the house is which he lived. Still active this last summer, he grew hundreds of varieties of the largest and most beautiful dahlias ever to be seen in these parts.

                        Mr. Randall was born on the farm which he occupied until his death at the age of 79 years. He was interred in the family burying ground on the farm, maintained by the Randall Association, Inc., where also are buried the first settlers of this farm and of Ridge, Stephen and his wife, Elizabeth Swezey Randall.

            Mr. Randall was a true friend, a kind neighbor and his name stands out as one of those fast disappearing types whose simple, plain and kindly ways made them true aristocracy of our nation.

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