Early Days of Patchogue Pt.3

Footnotes to Long Island History


JULY 14,1960


Thomas R. Bayles

       During the early years, the mail was carried through the Island by post riders on horseback once a week, and in later years before the opening of the railroad, it was carried by stage coaches. According to skinner's New York State Register for 1830, mails were dispatched from New York for Islip, Patchogue, Fireplace, Moriches, the Hamptons and Sag Harbor every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 a.m.

       After the railroad was opened to Greenport on the main line in July 1844, Medford was the station for Patchogue and Port Jefferson and the stages met the trains and carried the mail and passengers to the north and south side villages. The railroad didn't come to Patchogue until 1868, and to Port Jefferson until 1872.

       Chauncey Chichester of Center Moriches operated a stage line connecting with the trains at Medford for several years. The mail was all put in one bag and at each post office he waited until it was sorted for that office, and then the bag was locked again and he took it on to the next post office and so on until he reached East Moriches, which was end of his route.

       According to the post office records in the National Archives at Washington, a post office was established at Patchogue shortly before the first of January 1803, which was the date of the first return to the postmaster General. Nathan Mulford was the first postmaster at Patchogue, but he didn't keep the office long, for in July of 1803,Jonathan Burwell was appointed and on July 1, 1804,Samuel Rogers was appointed. In 1806, James Sowden received the appointment: in 1807 Walter Syrian, and the same year, William Bacon. Justus Roe took office in 1810, and John Mills in 1816: then Nathaniel Smith, who held the office until 1831,when Smith Rider was appointed: in 1840, James Ketcham: in 1846,William Wickham: in 1849, Joseph Wilcox, and in 1853, John S. Havens received the appointment.

       When Brookhaven town was divided into school districts in 1813, Patchogue contained three districts, each of which had a small schoolhouse. According to the late Mr. Osborn Shaw, Patchogue had a school district of its own as early as 1795, and the document to prove it is  preserved among the town trustees papers in the town hall. This paper shows that Isaac Overton, Jacob Baker and John Bun were appointed trustees of the Patchogue school district in 1795.

       In 1813, Ocean Avenue was a lane with a fence at the end of it not far below Main Street. It was called "Slippery Lane, and main street was known as Fulton Street. In 1852 the school census showed 609 children of school age. Eventually four districts served the village each with its own schoolhouse, but in 1869 those were consolidated and in 1871 a schoolhouse was built on the east side of Ocean Avenue just north of the railroad tracks, with A.M. Drummond as its first principal.

       After the railroad was opened to Patchogue in 1868, it remained as the terminal until 1881, when it was extended to Eastport, where it connected with the line running from Manorville to Sag Harbor.

       "The New Long Island," published in 1879, contains the following:  "It is long since the opinion that there is nothing beyond Patchogue but a sandy barren waste, but in point of the truth it is simply absurd. It must be admitted that at Patchogue, the traveler by rail, as he steps from the cars, will probably feel like a lesser Stanley on the border of a Sahara. There is a super abundance of sand and the train dumps its passengers into a sand bank, and then with a fiendish shriek of delight, crawls away from the platform to contemplate their misery. Stage after stage rolls away from the depot, with everyone full to overflowing. There must be something beyond, thinks the weary travelers, as his stage whirls along the road to Bellport, his spirits rise at every turn."

       And so in a little over 100 years, Patchogue grew from a real estate lottery to a thriving village of factories, churches and schools and since the turn of the century its growth has been spectacular.

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