Whiskey Road

by the late Town Historian, Osborn Shaw

The late Osborn Shaw, Historian of the town of Brookhaven, wrote the following account of the origin of the name of Whiskey Road. "As for the Whiskey Road, there is some uncertainty as to when the first -part of it was laid out. What is very probably the west part was laid out in 1753 and recorded in Book B of our town records on the 4th of June, that year. The road is stated to run from near Jonathan Edowes (Edwards) 'As the conveniency of ye Land will Admit of for a Cart Road to ye Northwest Corner of Stephen Sweazeys Cleared lot.' As the approximate locations are known of where Jonathan Edowes or Edwards and Stephen Swezey lived, this description, though vague, puts the road definitely in Swezeytown for it is well known that Stephen Swezey was the one after whom that community was named.

"About that time, 1753, the Randall family settled in the north part of 'The Ridge', cast and northeast of Middle Island. Quite a number of years later, one of the Randall boys fell in love with one of the Swezey girls and he, like most ardent lovers, had frequent calls to make on her but he had, oh such a long roundabout way to go to reach her house!

"Traditions had it that he or his father got several of his friends to join in petitioning the town to extend the old road of 1753 eastward which would shorten the distance to the Swezey home and so in May 1796, the road commissioners laid out a road frorn Mr. Swezey's gate, 'Unto Stephen Randals' and 'to a pine tree eastward of Jeremiah Randals house' and so on to the Wading River Road."

"Work of clearing the road was started right away, the tradition continues, and as an inducement to speed up the work for the young lover to reach his sweetheart, a jug of whiskey (some say it was a cask) was set a rod ahead of the workmen. When the road was cleared of stumps and trees up to the jug, all were given a good drink. The jug would then be moved ahead another rod and so on until the road was completed.

"The jug was not always placed in line where the road was supposed to go and this, together with the large amount of whiskey drunk, not only gave the road its name but is said to have been the cause of its being so crooked that three years later and several times afterward, the town had to take measures to straighten out some of the worse crooks of this crooked but romantic road."

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