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Benjamin Tallmadge's home in Litchfield, Connecticut. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler 

The end of the Revolutionary War brought dramatic change for Patriots and for Continental Army officers. Benjamin Tallmadge was at the center of events as Gen. George Washington met with his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York prior to resigning his commission as commander in chief. Tallmadge also resigned his commission and began a new life as a citizen of Litchfield, Connecticut.

Just prior to the British withdrawal from New York City Nov. 25, 1783, Tallmadge, head of Washington’s Secret Service, received permission to go into the city to protect his spies following the Treaty of Paris on Sept. 3, 1783. A little earlier he wrote to Washington:

“Should I not have the opportunity to pay my personal respects to your Excellency before you retire from the Army, give me leave at this time, with the warmest gratitude, to assure your Excellency that I shall ever entertain the liveliest sense of the many marks of attention which I have rec’d from your Excellency’s hands. Whatever may have been the result, it gives me great pleasure to reflect, that during my service in the Army, it has ever been my highest ambition to promote the Welfare of my Country & thereby merit your Excellency’s approbation.

“In the calm retirements of domestic life, may you continue to enjoy health, & find increasing satisfaction from the reflection of having conducted the arms of America thro’ a War so peculiarly distressing to the obtainment of an honorable peace, & of having been the Instrument, under God, in obtaining the freedom & Independence of this country. … Adieu, my dear General, & in every situation of life I pray you to believe that my best wishes will attend you, & that I shall continue to be, as I am at this time,

“With every sentiment of respect & esteem, Your Excellency’s most Obed’t & very H’ble Serv’t, Benj Tallmadge.”

Tallmadge’s farewell to Washington was written from his home at 47 North St., Litchfield, Connecticut, Aug. 16, 1783.

3V historical society tour

I will lead a bus tour, sponsored by the Three Village Historical Society, to Litchfield, Connecticut, Saturday, Nov. 9. Participants will tour the Litchfield Historical Society museum, including the exhibit Litchfield at 300 which closes Nov. 24. The party will visit the Tallmadge archival collection, walk through the town where the Tallmadge family lived and finally see the East Cemetery where he and his family are buried. Along the way attendees will learn more about the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring and about Tallmadge, one of the genuine heroes of the Revolutionary War. For tickets and information, visit www.tvhs.org or call 631-751-3730.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. 

A male box turtle, above, approximately 30 years old, was discovered in Patriots Hollow State Forest. Photo from Three Village Community Trust

Scientists have discovered natural wonders in a Setauket forest.

Researcher Luke Gervase stands between a couple of the large trees found in Patriots Hollow State Forest. Photo from Three Village Community Trust

Researchers from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry took to the 43-acre woods of Patriots Hollow State Forest, along Route 25A, across from Stop & Shop, to collect information on the forest composition and structure Aug. 8 and 9. The researchers hoped to develop management recommendations that would enhance the forest for biodiversity conservation and environmental education. The survey was funded by a grant from Avalon Park & Preserve, according to a press release from Three Village Community Trust.

In 2018, the community trust set up a steering committee led by Setauket resident and former teacher Leonard Carolan to clean up the woods and add a trail for people to walk through the forest, something which is currently difficult with downed trees and invasive plants, including Norway maple, Japanese aralia, Oriental bittersweet, black locust and Japanese stiltgrass.

After Carolan approached the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and state Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) to seek help in cleaning up the forest, the community trust signed a stewardship agreement with the DEC. Carolan said the initial reports are encouraging.

“It looks like we’ll be able to restore it to an original native forest,” Carolan said.

He added that, in the future, there would be a loop trail near Route 25A and another one near the Main Street section, but before they are created some cleanup needs to be done and funds raised, which could take years.

Don Leopold, distinguished teaching professor from SUNY-ESF’s Department of Environmental and Forest Biology, along with research assistant Samuel Quinn, was among the researchers.

Leopold said it was his first visit to the forest, and he was impressed with the findings. Despite invasive plants and past agriculture that didn’t leave many remnant trees, he said they discovered many beautiful oak and hickory trees, adding that he had seen black oak and sassafras all over the Eastern United States, and amongst the largest he has seen were in Patriots Hollow.

“We went by some really great trees,” he said. “Ideally the trails will swing by those. They can’t miss these. There are really impressive specimens of some black oaks and some hickories, and we really enjoyed seeing them.”

Researcher Luke Gervase stands by a sassafras tree found in Patriots Hollow State Forest. Photo from Three Village Community Trust

The researcher said they also found spicebush in the forest.

“Spicebush is one of our most important native shrubs,” Leopold said. “It’s so important for wildlife coming for food. It’s a source of food for the spicebush swallowtail [butterfly].”

Leopold and Quinn discussed management of invasive plants in the forest with Bill Jacobs, Luke Gervase and Caroline Schnabl of Long Island Invasive Species Management Area who joined in the survey. Leopold said that they are optimistic that the invasives could be eliminated, which is vital for the growth of new trees.

Leopold added that a male box turtle, approximately 30 years old, was found in the wooded area. He said the species can live to be more than 100 years old, and the one they saw in Patriots Hollow reminded him a pumpkin with legs, as it was especially big and colorful.

The researcher said they encountered tick bombs while in the forest, with 100 to 200 small tick larvae starting to disperse at one time. He said when the lone star ticks are older their bites can cause problems as they can carry a disease that makes a person allergic to red meat.

“Until there are trails, and until some of these issues are addressed, it would be good to not have a bunch of folks running through here because the tick infestation can be a public health hazard,” he said.

Brian Leydet of SUNY-ESF will analyze ticks collected during the survey so recommendations can be made to the community trust and DEC about ways to reduce human-to-tick contact.

The 3VCT’s steering committee will look to include the community in the planning process and will work with the trust itself to seek grants and contributions. The initial implementation of the restoration and management plan will be funded by a grant of $500,000 secured by state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) in 2018, according to a press release from the trust.

Belleau was a faithful parishioner at Saint James R.C. Church in East Setauket where he was an eucharistic minister, member of the parish finance committee as well as a be member and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Photo from Bryant Funeral Home

Thomas F. Belleau, 76, of Setauket, died Aug. 4.

He was born March 27, 1943, in Adams, Massachusetts and was the son of Clare and Donald Belleau.

Tom attended Saint Joseph’s Catholic High School in North Adams and the University of Notre Dame where he graduated from the class of 1965. He was an avid Fighting Irish fan and supporter. He attended graduate school in finance at New York University where he earned his CPA and MBA degree. He worked as an accountant and chief financial officer in Melville.

Tom was a faithful parishioner at Saint James R.C. Church in East Setauket where he was an eucharistic minister, member of the parish finance committee and member and Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus. 

Tom was an active member of St George’s Golf Club and the Old Field Club. He was a devoted community servant and was actively involved and had been a board member of the Three Village Community Trust, the Three Village Historical Society and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The Three Village Community Trust informed their members in an email of his passing and described the past treasurer of the trust as “a valued pillar of the community” who was responsible for digitizing the trust’s financial records during his tenure.

Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Olga; daughters Maria and Renee; son-in-law John and grandchildren Peter, Michael, Hannah, Jacob and Zachary.

Services were held at St. James R.C. Church Aug. 8. Interment followed at the St. James R.C. Churchyard Cemetery.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Bryant Funeral Home of Setauket. Visit www.bryantfh.com to sign the online guest book. 

The family has designated the University of Notre Dame and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for memorial contributions.

Memorial contributions may be made to the University of Notre Dame online at www.giving.nd.edu, by phone at 574-631-5150 or by mail: University of Notre Dame, Department of Development, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.

Memorial contributions to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center may be made at www.giving.mskcc.org.

 

Barbara, 86, and Bruce, 85, were married for 64 years, they were residents of Setauket from 1960 to 2005. Photo from the McNaughton Family

By Donald McNaughton

Barbara and Bruce McNaughton, formerly of Setauket, died in Fort Myers, Florida, July 2 and July 24, respectively.

Barbara was 86 and Bruce was 85. Married for 64 years, they were residents of Setauket from 1960 to 2005, raising their three sons Cameron, Donald and Andrew there and contributing to the community they so loved. They will be laid to rest at the Setauket Presbyterian Church under a headstone simply marked “Home.”

Bruce Angus McNaughton

Bruce, an only child, was born in Brooklyn Jan. 14, 1934. His father was a broadcasting executive who specialized in turning around failing radio stations. This took Bruce at a young age to Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, before he graduated from Ossining High School in Ossining, New York. He then attended the University of Illinois.

He met Barbara when they each had their first jobs after college at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency in New York City. After a stint writing for The New York Times, Bruce found his calling in the magazine business, selling advertising space. Following stops at Business Week, Look and McCall’s, he was hired by Time Incorporated in the mid-’60s to work for Life Magazine during its last years as a weekly publication. When Life ceased as a weekly in 1972, he moved to Time Inc.’s Fortune magazine, where he spent twenty years. At Fortune, he oversaw a new category, imported car advertising, growing it to be a source of significant revenue for the magazine. All in all, before retiring in 1994, Bruce spent more than 30 years at Time Inc. during its heyday as the leading magazine publisher in the United States, relishing the work, his colleagues, New York City and his place in the publishing world.

Bruce was nothing if not passionate about his many community involvements and his various pastimes. He helped to restore the sanctuary and steeple of the Setauket Presbyterian Church and worked on the committee to place the church on the National Register of Historic Places. He put his publishing experience to work to help establish a weekly newspaper in the Three Villages, The Village Times, now known as The Village Times Herald. He served on the board of the Stony Brook Community Fund, now the Ward Melville Heritage Organization. And he was a longtime board member of the Frank Melville Memorial Park, serving as its president and overseeing major renovations to the park’s buildings and grounds.

Bruce was an ardent lacrosse fan, voracious reader, Civil War history buff and lover of English cars, Winston Churchill, trains and all things Scotland. He was never more alive than when in the ocean surf or playing golf at St. George’s Country Club, where he and Barbara were members for 25 years.

Barbara Ann Hill McNaughton

Barbara, the eldest of four, was born in Queens March 4, 1933. Her father worked for New York State, helping to resettle returning World War II veterans.  This took the Hill family to Washington, D.C., during part of her childhood, but she mostly grew up in the New York area. She attended William Smith College in Geneva, New York, and graduated from the University of Vermont.

After meeting and marrying Bruce in New York City, Barbara gave birth to Cameron, the first of their three boys, in 1955. With the arrival in 1959 of their second, Donald, the young family moved east from New York City to Setauket, where Barbara’s parents kept a summer cottage on West Meadow Beach. The couple added a third child, Andrew, in 1963.

During these childrearing years, Barbara received her master’s degree from Stony Brook University and later worked in the library there for many years. She served as president of the  Play Groups School in Old Field and was an elder and longtime choir member of the Setauket Presbyterian Church.

Barbara was a boundless reader, enjoyed The New York Times crossword puzzle and loved sitting at the Brookhaven Beach Club with her friends. She was a fan of many sports, played tennis and golf and enjoyed watching baseball, Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods in her later years. She drove a stick well, and loved to watch her sons play lacrosse. Above all else, she was a devoted mother.

Upon leaving Setauket in 2005, Barbara and Bruce moved to Shell Point, a retirement community outside of Fort Myers where they quite happily spent their remaining years. 

In addition to their three sons, Barbara and Bruce leave behind two daughters-in-law, Karen Walsh McNaughton and Alison Pyne McNaughton, and five grandchildren: William Walsh McNaughton, Robert Cameron McNaughton, Alexander Gilchrist McNaughton, Holloway Elise McNaughton and Katherine Ann McNaughton. They were thrilled to live to see the birth of twin great- grandchildren, Charlotte Reilly McNaughton and Cameron Walsh McNaughton. Barbara is also survived by a sister, Jane Hill Burr, and a brother, David C. Hill.

A private family interment will be held this fall. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Shell Point for the benefit of the Waterside Health Center.

 

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File photo
Photo from SCPD

 

Police  are trying to identify and locate a man who allegedly attempted to use a debit card he stole from a Stony Brook business.

A man allegedly stole cash and a debit card from a wallet belonging to an employee at North Country Gas, located at 105 Main Street July 19. Later that day, the man then allegedly attempted to use the debit card to purchase gift cards at Target, located at 255 Pond Path in Setauket, but the purchase was declined.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 800-220-TIPS (8477) or texting “SCPD” and your message to “CRIMES” (274637). All calls and text messages will be kept confidential.

Supervisor Ed Romaine during his State of the Town address. Photo by Kyle Barr

Click on the inset pictures to get a better view of which homes are in each defunct district.

Town of Brookhaven residents can soon expect a check in the mail after the Town Board unanimously voted to pass a resolution that would return remaining fund balances to taxpayers in six dissolved special water districts. 

A map of the defunct Sound Beach water district showing where residents will be receiving refunds. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

“This is part of the $20 million grant that the town got to consolidate shared services to improve efficiency,” Ed Romaine, town supervisor, said at the June 27 town meeting. 

The Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Plan is designed to consolidate town services and create shared services with other local municipalities to help cut costs. The dissolution of the six water districts was part of that consolidation, and when they were dissolved there were outstanding fund balances. 

The plan dates back to the 2018 $20 million grant that was awarded by New York State, which went toward modernizing services while reducing the burden on taxpayers by reducing redundancy in local governments and pursuing opportunities for increasing shared services. 

“All of that money is going back to the residents of those water districts,” the supervisor said. “They will get a check in the mail — [the amount] will vary from district to district.”

The town supervisor mentioned one of the benefits of consolidating services and eliminating the special districts, is that people who are now covered by the Suffolk County Water Authority but were once part of paper districts will get some of that money back. 

In total, the town will return approximately $500,000 to taxpayers. The money is from remaining fund balances from fiscal year 2018 that earned interest in 2019. 

The highest refund will go to the taxpayers who were served by the dissolved Sound Beach Water Supply District. The district, as of December 2018, had a remaining fund balance of $274,018.97. 

A map of the defunct West Setauket water district showing where residents will be receiving refunds. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Kevin Molloy, Brookhaven Town spokesperson, said residents of the special district that covered over 3,000 parcels will get an average refund of $89. The range of the refunds for Sound Beach varies from as low as 49 cents to as high as $2,638. 

The West Setauket Water Supply District had a remaining fund balance of $71,363.35, and each resident is expected to receive an average refund of $126, according to Molloy. 

Refunds will range from 14 cents to $476. 

Molloy said the amount residents get will depend on the evaluation of their property in their respective district. 

The refund will be handled by the town’s commissioner of finance who is authorized to remit all remaining fund balances of the dissolved special water districts, plus all accrued interest to the Town of Brookhaven tax receiver. 

“Residents will be getting a check in the mail starting the beginning of [this] month and no later than August 31,” Molloy said. 

Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario's restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy
Firefighters battle a kitchen fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket that traveled into the ceiling. Photo by Donna Deedy

In the early morning hours of July 30, members of the Setauket Fire Department along with firefighters from surrounding companies battled a kitchen grease fire at Mario’s restaurant in East Setauket.

Lou Lasser IV of Mario’s said no one was in the restaurant when the fire, which spread to the ceiling, broke out.

Due to the heat, tents were set up in the adjoining parking lot to keep the first responders cool.

The restaurant is closed until further notice.

the Sound of a Chord barbershop quartet from the 1980s, with Russ Tobin, Al Mastrangelo, Fred Conway and Don Van der Kolk. Photo from Conway

“I’ll be singing for the rest of my life,” said Fred Conway, a longtime barbershop singer and six-time president of the local Harbormen Chorus barbershop group. 

Conway receives a Barbershopper of the Year award at a chorus event. Photo from Conway

Earlier this month, the Miller Place resident was honored by the worldwide Barbershop Harmony Society at an international convention in Salt Lake City for 50 years of talented service. 

“That was definitely a bucket list item for me, getting to 50 years,” Conway said. 

His career began innocently enough. Conway reminisced about that moment. It was the day of the 1969 Super Bowl and his neighbor at the time showed him an ad in the paper looking for barbershop singers. 

“It sounded interesting to me, I hadn’t taken any music lessons at the time, but I knew I had a good voice,” he said. “I went over there the following night and have stuck with it [singing barbershop] ever since.”

Since then, Conway has sung lead in nine quartets in his career, and he is currently a member of the Harbormen, Twin Shores Chorus as well as the Antiquity Quartet. Over the years, he has performed at some notable venues including the St. Petersburg Hall in Russia, Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. The Miller Place resident has also received the Barbershopper of the Year award by the Barbershop Harmony Society. 

As much as Conway dedicates his time to singing barbershop, he also pursued another passion — teaching and counseling. He graduated from St. John’s University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education before attending C.W. Post to get a professional diploma. 

During his education career, Conway served as a guidance counselor and coached various sports team for the Miller Place School District. 

Conway coached women’s cross-country, the men’s golf team and men’s/women’s track and field. He would later become the first commissioner of cross-country and track and field in the Diocese of Rockville Centre for 12 years and has served as the first executive of Section XI for women’s cross-country for 10 years. 

“From about 1975-1986, Miller Place had some great teams,” said the Miller Place resident. 

David Lance, a fellow member of the Harbormen Chorus, can attest to Conway’s dedicated to the craft of barbershopping. 

“He is a real mover and shaker, he gets things done,” he said. 

Lance has known Conway for the past 15 years and first got introduced to the chorus when a member had to leave due to health issues. 

“They were looking for a tenor and they recruited me,” he said. “When I got there his voice [Conway’s] really stuck out to me.”

Conway leads members of the Harbormen Chorus in a sarenade at the TBR News Media offices February, 2018. File Photo

Lance mentioned practically everywhere they go and perform, Conway always seems to run into someone he knows. 

“He’s a great guy and friend,” he said. “His ambition is contagious.”

Lance, along with the other Harbormen members, have also performed at various senior and assisted living homes throughout Long Island and have welcomed returning veterans fighting overseas at MacArthur airport. 

Gary Wilson, a fellow member of the Antiquity Quartet, has known Conway for over 30 years 

“He asked me if I wanted to join quartet and I said yes,” Wilson said. “We found two other guys and we formed Harmony Hotline.”

The quartet performed together for some time but had to disband after two other members moved away. 

“He is a self-taught singer, he has such a unique sound,” Wilson said. 

Currently, Conway lives with his wife of 39 years, Lesley, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He is also a six-year Vestry member of St. Anselm’s Episcopal Church in Shoreham. 

“Through the years he has made a lot of people happy,” Lance said. “He is the personality of the quartet and brings a personal touch to his performances.”

The Miller Place resident said he doesn’t see himself stopping doing what he loves. 

“I’ll be singing forever,” he reiterated.   

The Harbormen Chorus are actively looking for new members and Conway said anyone interested in singing four-part harmony to visit them on Monday nights, except national holidays, at 7:30 p.m. for practice at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall at 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket, which is north of the firehouse, next to the new synagogue. People can call 631-644-0129 for more information.

Security footage of man and woman who allegedly robbed South Setauket Target. Photos from SCPD

Suffolk County police are looking to identify and locate a man and woman who allegedly stole merchandise from a South Setauket store back in June.

A man and woman allegedly stole an electric sound bar from Target, located at 265 Pond Path, on June 21 at around 12:15 p.m.

 

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Jack Raybin, center, on his 100th birthday receives a proclamation from New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright while his wife, Anne Raybin, looks on. Photo by Maria Hoffman

Not many can say a state legislator attended their birthday party, but that’s exactly what happened when Jack Raybin, a 52-year Setauket resident, celebrated his 100th birthday.

Jack Raybin checks out a gift from his grandchildren a few days after this 100th birthday. Photo by Rita J. Egan

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) stopped by Raybin’s party July 4 to present the centenarian with a proclamation. Englebright said it’s a practice of the assembly members to recognize those who distinguish themselves through unique gifts and generosity.

The assemblyman said when Raybin was a young man, he put aside his dreams to become a civil engineer to serve his country in the U.S. Army during World War II. After telling the party guests that the proclamation bears the seal of the State of New York in solid gold, he turned to Raybin to present the certificate and said, “You, sir, are solid gold.”

A few days after the party, sporting a Brooklyn Dodgers hat, the centenarian said he had a nice time at the party that featured baseball-themed decorations lining the driveway and a cake shaped like the former Ebbets Field stadium. Like many of his generation, Raybin was a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers until the team moved from the borough to Los Angeles in 1957. He then went on to root for the New York Mets.

Born in the East New York section of Brooklyn July 4, 1919, he graduated from Erasmus Hall High School. While he originally studied civil engineering at City College uptown, Raybin said he wound up joining the Army during World War II. He was stationed on the Atlantic Ocean side of Panama. He said he volunteered to join the Army, and at the time there were openings in Fort Tilden and Fort Hamilton in New York, and he expected to serve for a year at either one of them. However, due to there being no volunteers for Panama, names were chosen randomly, and Raybin was selected to serve in that country.

“It was the best thing that happened to me,” he said.

Members of the armed services at Tilden and Hamilton eventually were sent to Europe to fight in World War II; however, he remained in Panama for four years. It was during this time that he met former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was visiting the troops. He was a captain at the time, and Roosevelt had a question for him.

“Captain, which is your best mess hall?” Roosevelt said.

“That one,” he said, indicating a nearby hall.

“I took one look at her, and I guess I must have fallen in love.”

— Jack Raybin, about when he first met his wife

“Captain, they all should be the best,” she said.

When he returned from Panama, he went back to City College but then transferred to Baruch College, where he majored in business administration. After graduation, he got a job in the field working for a wholesale liquor company. After retiring at 65, he began working at his son-in-law’s company which deals with the laser industry until he was 96, helping with the books and the business side of the operation.

“I was in good health, so I kept working,” he said.

Raybin’s wife, Anne, said the couple moved to Setauket 52 years ago due to its proximity to the beach and the Long Island Rail Road. They raised their children Linda and Paul in the Three Village area.

The two met at Banner Lodge in Connecticut in 1947, and eight months later were married. The centenarian said he remembered she came to the lodge visiting a friend.

“I took one look at her, and I guess I must have fallen in love,” he said.

He said he also remembers taking her on the Ferris wheel where he put his arm around her in the hopes of making out with her.

His wife also remembers the encounter.

“He may be quiet, but he makes his moves,” Anne Raybin said.

When it comes to marital advice, Jack Raybin said it’s about give and take.

“You got to treat your partner as a partner,” he said.

Raybin has seen a lot of change in the world since he was growing up in Brooklyn. He said he remembers going to the store for his mother to pick up ice to keep food cold in an icebox and keeping items such as milk outside the window on a platform in the winter. The centenarian said he still calls a refrigerator an icebox. His family would also have to go to a store if they had a phone call, he said, as the neighborhood phone was in a nearby candy store. An employee would run to a person’s apartment to tell them they had a call, and then they would have to walk down to the store.

Raybin is a grandfather to five and great-grandfather to one, and he said he’s always willing to share his stories about the old days with his family.

“If they’re interested, they’ll ask me about it, and I’ll tell them,” he said.