Ridge Cordwood Played Big Part In Early Brick Making Industry

Ridge Cordwood Played Big Part
In Early Brick-Making Industry

Feb. 25, 1947
By Thomas H. Bayles

When Brookhaven town was divided’ into school districts in 1813, the Ridge school was organized, as district No. 22. According to the town records, “No. 22 is to Embrace the Inhabitants East of Thomas Aldrich in Middletown, extending East to the Wading River Line.”

The territory covered by this school district was covered with thousands of acres of woodland when it was settled some time before 1750, and for a great many years the cutting and shipping of cordwood was an important industry with the farmers in this locality. Most of it was hauled to the Sound Shore where it was loaded on sloops and shipped to New York and also up the river to the brick yards at Haverstraw.

The early settlers in what was then an isolated section were mostly of the Randall families, and a few of the men who received their early education in this school, and who in later years made their mark in the world included: Capt. Sylvester Randall, who for 33 years conducted a sailing packet line between Port Jefferson and Bridgeport, before the steamboat line was put into operation, Then there was another Sylvester Randall who made a strike in the gold fields of California during the “forty nine” gold rush; Josiah B. Randall; who for years was manager of a large general store in Port Jefferson. Joseph Lewis Randall, who was working for the U. S. Christian Mission during the Civil War, and who lost his life at Newbern, N. C.

 Another was Jason Randall, who took a load of supplies up the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush to the miners who were in dancer of starving in the frozen north. Another prominent man was Capt. Henry M. Randall, who was a sea captain for many years and afterward became president of the Bank of Port Jefferson. Elbert Smith, who managed a sheep ranch in the Cascade Mountains of California.. Sturgis Randall, who helped build the city of Norwalk, Conn. Stephen M. Randall, who was a contractor and builder and who helped develop the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. William G. Miller, who was a bank president and Representative in the State Legislature from Queens - Nassau counties for several years. John G. Randall, who is called the “Father of Freeport,” and was influential in the building and development of Freeport.

The schoolhouse now in use was built in 1372, and was also used for holding religions services in connection with the Presbyterian church at Middle Island. Services were conducted on Sunday afternoons for many years. The first schoolteacher in the present schoolhouse was Miss Cynthia Hutchinson, who was post­mistress in Middle Island for several years.

The district includes “Longwood,” with its famous old Manor house, built before 1790. The old homestead is still maintained by the present owner, Miss Helen Tangier Smith, a direct descendant of Col. William Smith, who settled in Setauket in 1686. He acquired a vast territory extending along the middle country road eastward from the Connecticut River in Middle Island to Horn tavern, and extending south to the ocean. This was known as the Manor of St. George, and was no t annexed to Brookhaven until 1788.

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