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Indian Place Names Here

Footnotes to Long Island History

Indian Place Names Here

by

Thomas R. Bayles


        Indian place names in Brookhaven Town still used by the residents apply mostly to the villages of Coram, Mastic, Patchogue, Setauket, and Yaphank. Prof. Seville says "Indian place names generally expressed what the locality meant to the aborigines.  Our early settlers considered them important, and always retained the Indian boundary designations and set them forth in the Indian deeds.

        Coram or  "Moncorum" means low country, or a valley between hills.  Mastic was the Indian name for one of the necks of land in Brookhaven Town, and  "the river called Mastick," means the great or tidal river.  The meaning of the word Patchogue seems somewhat in doubt.  Tooker says the popular meaning is a "place of many streams."  Setauket is where the first settlement of Brookhaven Town was made in 1655, and there are many variations in the spelling.  Setauke 1657; Setokett, 1660: Setawke, 1664; Setaket, 1575; Setaukett, 1670;  Setalcott, 1681; all to be found in Brookhaven Town records.  It means  "the land at the mouth of the creek or river."  Yaphank was the name originally given to a creek some distance south from the village of Yaphank.  Tobaccus gives an Indian deed June 10, 1664 bounded  "on the east with a river called Yamphanke."  The word denotes the bank of a river.

       Here are some Indian place names little used now.  Accombamack, the neck of land on which is located the village of Bellport, meaning  "over against" or near the fishing place.  Areshunk, a neck of the land at Center Moriches, meaning "to forget" or  "the forgetter."  Asawsunce a swamp south of the village of Yaphank, from an Indian who lived at the swamp during the early years.  Cataconnock,  near Setauket,  " the great neck of land," deeded by Wyandanch to the inhabitants of "Setalcott."  Connecticut, the name of a river now called Carman's River, and meaning the "long river." Cumsewogue, where Port Jefferson Station is located, meaning "a walking place."

        Cutsgunsuck, a brook or creek between the towns of Smithtown and Brookhaven at the village of Stony Brook, "the stony creek."  Kitchaminchok, the place now called Moriches Island at the north side of the bay at East Moriches, meaning a boundary, "the beginning Island."  Mamanock is a neck of land at East Moriches,  It joins with another neck of land Marigies, or Meritces meaning "it joins together."  The Indians called the great south beach  "Matthabanks."  "Namkee" was a brook on the western bound Brookhaven Town in Blue Point, meaning  "where fish are taken or caught."  Napock is another boundary of Brookhaven, meaning  "a water place."  Nemauk also means " at the fishing place." Mount Sinai was called Nonowantuck by the Indians Pattersquash is a small island opposite a creek in Mastic.  Pomiches, a creek at East Moriches, "crossing." Poosepatuck,  northeast part of Mastic neck where the Indian tribe Unkechaugs lived, and where a small remnant of the tribe still live.

       Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Gen. William Floyd visited Poosepatuck in 1791 and obtained some of the Indian language.  Jefferson left a note saying,  "There are but three persons remaining who can speak the language.  A young woman was also present who knew something of it."  Poosepatuck is said to mean "uniting of a river with the bay."

         Pumcatawe, a tract of land recorded in the Fletcher patent for the Manor of St. George in 1693, is evidently the name of an Indian who at one time occupied the land.  Qualican, a locality on Mastic Neck meaning "measured land."  Quanch, an island in Great South Bay opposite Bellport near Whale House Point in 1773.  Lake Ronkonkoma.  "the boundary fishing place."  Seabamuck, another neck of land at Mastic.  Seatuck is the name of the bound between Southampton and Brookhaven Towns, and means " mouth of the river."  Squassacks, a point of land on the Connecticut River, a personal name where once lived an Indian "pot maker."  Wampmissic, large swamp between Manorville and Yaphank meaning  "place of chestnut trees."

 

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