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Early Post Offices Here

Footnotes to Long Island History

EARLY POST OFFICES HERE

DEC. 8, 1960

by

Thomas R. Bayles


       The first office established in Brookhaven town was in Middle Island, in 1796,which was then known as Middletown. A few years later the name was changed to Brookhaven, and in 1821. It was changed to its present name, Middle Island. The first postmaster was Apollus Wetmore.

       According to post office records in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. There were 10 post offices in Brookhaven town in 1830, and their name date established, and first postmaster in each follows;

       The second post office opened was at Drown, Meadow (Port Jefferson) in 1801, with Zechariah Hawkins as postmaster.

       Moriches was opened in 1802 with William Smith as postmaster,

       Patchogue came next on January 1, 1803, with Nathan Mulford as first postmaster.

       Fireplace (Brookhaven village) was opened about in 1803, and in 1871 the name was changed to Brookhaven. The first postmaster was Robert Ellison.

       Setauket was established in August 1821, with Samuel Thompson as postmaster.

       Wading river was opened in February 1825,with Zophar M. Miller as first postmaster.

       Miller's place was established on April 2, 1825 with William H. Helme as postmaster.

       Next was Stony Brook, which was opened in March 1807, with Nathaniel Hallock as postmaster.

       The tenth post office to be open in the town was Coram on May 30, 1826, with Richard W. Smith as first postmaster.

       In the early years, the mail carried through the Island by post riders on horseback, and later by stage coach until the railroad was opened on the main line to Greenport in 1844. For years after that the mail was carried across the Island from the main line railroad stations to the South side villages by stage coach. According to Skinner's New York State register for 1830, mail was dispatched for the north side of the Island every Sunday and Tuesday. The villages included were Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, Stony Brook, Setauket, Drown Meadow (Port Jefferson) Miller's Place, Wading River, Mattituck, Cutchogue, Southold and Oyster Ponds (Orient).

       Mail for the middle of the island was sent out every Monday and Friday to North Hempstead, Jericho, West Hills, Smithtown, Coram, Middle Island, and Suffolk Court House(Riverhead).

       On the South side, mail was dispatched every Tuesday and Thursday for Hempstead, Huntington South, Islip, Patchogue, Fireplace (Brookhaven) Moriches, Speonk, Quogue, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Bridgehampton and East Hampton.

       Rates of postage in 1824 on single letters (one sheet of paper) were six cents up to 30 miles; from 30 to 80 miles,10 cents; from 80 to 150 miles, 12 1/2 cents; from 150 to 400 miles, 18 1/2, cents, and over 400 miles, 25 cents.

       Double letters, or those composed of two sheets of paper were double those rates, and triple letters of three sheets of paper, triple those rates. Newspaper were carried to any place within the state for one cent, and magazines were rated by the sheet at one cent per sheet up to 50 miles and two cents for over 100 miles.

       If a letter in writing was put any newspaper a fine of five dollars was made and the package liable to letter postage.

        At first most of the letters were sent with the postage to be collected on the delivery end, and an old record book of the postmaster at Middle Island for 1805 shows letters sent collect on delivery to Newyork; 31 cents, Brooklyn, 11cents, Huntington, 9 cents, Setauket, 24 cents, Southold, 8 cents. This was the total business for that day, March 5,1805.

       The postmaster General reported 195 post office in 1792; in 1812, 2610 offices and in 1828, 7651 offices.

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