Chestnut Pound (Site of the West Middle Island School)

Donald Bayles
September, 2000
American Chestnut trees made for excellent poles. In this picture they are being put in the Middle Island area.

One of Webster's definitions of pound is "an enclosure for sheltering, keeping, confining or trapping animals". I recall reading somewhere that this is the definition that applied to this particular case. "Chestnut" implies that there must have been a lot of chestnut trees in this particular pound. A reference to Chestnut Pound is found in the records of the Town of Brookhaven which is basically as follows:

Brookhaven September ye 25th anno dom 1752 We ye commissioners of ye Town by ye request of Stephen, James and Christopher Swezey have laid out a road begining from ye land of James and Stephen Swezey by the Chestnot pound and running eastward to ye northwest end of certain pond called ye half mile pond twenty foots wide.

This was seven years after Stephen Swezey bought his first land in Middle Island. The road would pass by Christopher's home which was about 1000 ft. west of the pond. The record for December 10, 1749 concerning a request by the inhabitants of "Corom" refers to Joshua Smith's "fifty acre lot commonly called ye Chusnot pound". Evidently Stephen Swezey had not bought this land at that time but had by 1752.

In the Town records for December 10, 1749 the Commissioners for the Town describe laying out a road from the Country Road running (north) to the southwest corner of Joshua Smith's fifty acre lot commonly called Chestnut Pound and then continuing to a path called Tuthill Path. I think that Tuthill Path became Swezey Lane and the 50 acre lot referred to bordered what is now the north line of Wellington Farms.

There was a tract of land about that size that did not conform to the orientation of the surrounding properties in that it was rotated about 30 degrees counterclockwise. During my teenage years there were three fields on the west side of what was later Swezey Lane. Each field was about 4 1/2 acres and they were separated by wooded hedges. The east field belonged to George Edwards, the next which my father used for raising corn and strawberries belonged to Alice Albin, and the west field belonged to Hewlett Mott. This was what we called Chestnut Pound and reached by using a farm
road that snaked through a long overgrown field from Half Mile Pond Road which then was only open from Swezeytown Road east.

There was also a farm road running north to the Coram-Swezeytown Road which George Edwards used and which was widened about 1935 to become Swezey Lane.

In 1954 while working for a surveyor in Patchogue I surveyed these fields for the site of a new West Middle Island School using diagrams that my grandfather had made many years earlier. The three fields were part of a parcel of land which belonged to Frank M. Edwards who died unmarried in 1907.

Chestnut Pound Map

Apparently one brother Leon received his home lot in Swezeytown and the Chestnut Pound property was divided between his brother George, his sister Alice Albin and his cousin Hewlett Mott.


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