Historic South Haven Church

Footnotes to Long Island History


MAY 26 1960


Thomas R. Bayles

       South Haven- An extensive re-development program has been adopted by the Brookhaven- South Haven Presbyterian Church, which calls for moving the historic old Presbyterian church from its site on the Montauk Highway in South Haven, to a newly purchased six-acre tract of land at South Country Road and Beaver Dam Road in Brookhaven. An addition may be made to the church to take care of the rapidly growing congregation, but it will be carefully restored and preserved to its historic position which it has occupied through so many years since it was built in 1828.

       The church which is under the leadership of Rev Charles A Kellogg, will welcome the support of interested friends and former residents of the area, who would like to see this church restored to active service again. At present the Presbyterian are using the former Methodist Chapel on Beaver Dam road in Brookhaven, which has become too small for the growing membership.

       The first church was built in 1740 just west of the going over on Connecticut (Carman's) River in South Haven, where the South County Road crossed the river. In those early years, this spot was the center of activities for this neighborhood, with Mastic to the east and Brookhaven, (Fireplace) to the west and was also the point where several roads from north side villages came together. The old grist and saw mill was just to the north on the river, to which the farmers for mills around came. Then Sam Carman's Tavern and country store was just across the way, which was a stopping place for the stages that ran from the city to Sag Harbor and East Hampton. His store supplied the farmers with their supplies, and also the boats that sailed up the river and anchored near his store.

       That first "meeting house" was a plain building with timbers hewn by hand from the nearby forest, and siding sawed at the mill nearby from logs brought from the farms of those settlers. However primitive that first building may have been, it breathed the quiet dignity of those sturdy people who wanted a church of their own. It was a long trip to the old town church in Setauket, and there was no church at that time between Ketchabonack.(Westhampton) and Babylon on the south side. Several minister preached in this early church but the first important resident pastor was Rev David Rose, who came in 1765 and continued until his death in 1799.

       Shortly after his arrival, the war clouds of the Revolution were gathering, and "Priest Rose" as he was called by his people was very active in his patriotic enthusiasm for the defense of the country, and he was no doubt responsible for the large number of men who were actively engaged in the war several of whom have been remembered as leaders in the early life of our nation. Among them was Gen .William Floyd, who was a representative of New York at all the sessions of the Continental Congress, and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

       Then there was Gen. Nathaniel Woodhull, who was one of the first notable martyr to the American cause, and was the first president of the Provincial Congress of New York. The day after the disastrous Battle of Long Island in August 1776, he waited near Jamaica with a company of men for orders from the continental congress, which was in session in New York at the time. He was captured by a party of British soldiers one of whom ordered him to say "God save the King," and he replied, "God save us all," when the cowardly officer attacked him with his sword and wounded him so severely that he died of his wounds on Sept 20th and was buried near his home at Mastic.

       General William Smith was active in the struggle for liberty and was a delegate to the Provincial Congress, and also occupied other important offices. Col. Josiah Smith of Moriches was a South Haven church member and led a regiment in the Battle of Long Island and the Church pastor Rev David Rose, was fighting along with him.

       During those long dark years when Long Island was occupied by the British, these men and many others took their families to Connecticut for safety, where they remained until the war was over. After the war they returned and found their estates ruined by occupation of the British soldiers.

       The Presbyterian churches were a special target for the British and South Haven Church was used as a horse stable by them. After the war "Priest Rose" returned with his family and began the task of reopening and restoring the two churches of his parish. (The Middle Island church was organized by him in 1766.)

       After his death in 1766, Rev Ezra King came as a pastor in 1810 and remained in charge of the two churches until 1839. He was active in building a new church the present one) in South Haven in 1828, and also the present Middle Island Church in 1837. It was an active life these early minister led as they covered their immense parishes on horseback their saddle bags stuffed with drugs medicines and a Bible. They were also farmers  and the ear marks of their cattle are recorded in the town office at Patchogue.  Rev. David Rose lived on his farm at South Haven and Rev Ezra King on his farm at Middle Island.

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