Authors Posts by Beverly C. Tyler

Beverly C. Tyler


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My grandparents on my mother’s side, Guy Carlton and Margaret King, were born in Alna and neighboring Whitefield, Maine, in 1882 and 1887, respectively. They married and moved to Port Jefferson in 1909, where he worked as a carpenter building the original Belle Terre Club. 

My grandmother’s postcard album contains a visual representation of her life history. Many of the postcards are of trips my grandparents took. Others are from friends and relatives and tell stories of travels and daily life. However, the vast majority were holiday cards, sent from Whitefield, Maine, after my grandparents finished building their house on the west side of Port Jefferson Harbor. 

The first decade of the 20th century were peak years for sending and collecting postcards, attractive color cards for the various holidays as well as black and white commercially printed photographs or photos developed and printed on postcard stock. My grandmother, as so many others, saved the postcards in postcard albums that tell stories of absent relatives and friends.

All of the postcards featured here were sent to my grandmother between 1907 and 1911 and addressed to her in Whitefield and then Port Jefferson. One of the 1907 postcards, featuring the Port Jefferson railroad station, was sent to her by her brother Fred King who came to Port Jefferson in 1907 and convinced Guy Carlton to join him in 1909.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit 

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Celebrating Thanksgiving Day as the end of the season of harvest was and still is an important milestone in people’s lives. Diaries, journals and letters provide some of the earliest records of seasonal activity and how people connected with each other to mark occasions. In America, before the telephone became a standard household item, family members and friends stayed in touch through the U.S. Postal Service.     

In 1873, a new phenomenon began when the United States Postal Service issued the first penny postcards. During the first six months, they sold 60 million. With the postcard, brevity was essential due to the small space provided. Long descriptive phrases and lengthy expressions of affection, which then were commonly used in letter writing, gave way to short greetings. 

The postcard was an easy and pleasant way to send a message. A postcard sent from one town in the morning or afternoon would usually arrive in a nearby town that afternoon or evening. A postcard sent from another state would not take much longer.

The feasting aspect of Thanksgiving has continued to be an essential part of the holiday and many of the postcards that were sent reflected that theme. In addition, the postcard helped to tie the family members together with those who were absent during the holiday.

As the telephone became more widely used, the postcard became less and less important as a means of daily communications. However, it provided us with a view of the early years of the 20th century that became a permanent record of contacts between family members and friends.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit 

— Postcards from Beverly C. Tyler’s collection

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Battle of Long Island engraving, 1874, from painting by Alonzo Chappel on display at Three Village Historical Society exhibit SPIES!

By Beverly C. Tyler

“The first major battle in the American Revolution following the Declaration of Independence was fought [beginning on August 27th] 1776 on the western part of Long Island in Brooklyn. This proved to be the largest battle of the entire war. It resulted in a devastating loss for General Washington. His army was vastly outnumbered. Many of his farmer-soldiers had no bayonets, little ammunition, and almost no training. They were fighting the most experienced, strongest and best-equipped army in the world.” (Three Village Historical Society exhibit SPIES!)

The British attack on American forces was described by Sir William Howe, British commander. “ … the British, with Colonel Donop’s corps of Chasseurs and Hessian Grenadiers, disembarked near Utrecht on Long Island without opposition, the whole being landed, with 40 pieces of cannon, in two hours and a half, under the direction of Commodore Hotham-Lieutenant-General Clinton commanding the first division of troops. … The general learning … that the Rebels had not occupied the [Jamaica] pass, detached a battalion of Light-infantry to secure it; and advancing with his corps … possessed [Brooklyn] Heights … the attack … by the main body of the Army … was commenced by the Light-infantry and Light-Dragoons upon large bodies of the Rebels … had they been permitted to go on, it is my opinion they would have carried the redoubt; but … I would not risk the loss that might have been sustained in the assault, and ordered them back.” (Long Island as America, A Documentary History — pages 75-78)

The next day British and Hessian troops pressed the attack on American lines and won the day. As detailed by Sir William Howe, “The force of the enemy … was not less, from the best account I have had, than ten thousand men … Their loss is computed at about three thousand three hundred killed, wounded, prisoners, and drowned, with five field-pieces and one howizer taken. In the evening of the 27th, the Army encamped in front of the enemy’s works. On the 28th, at night, broke ground six hundred yards from a redoubt upon their left, and on the 29th, at night, the Rebels evacuated their entrenchments … with the utmost silence … At daybreak on the 30th, their flight was discovered.”

General Howe’s estimate of American killed, wounded and captured is more than double the current estimate. By not pressing the attack, General Howe allowed time for the retreating American troops to regroup and eventually escape back to Manhattan. During the attack, General Washington sent additional troops from Manhattan to Brooklyn, including 15-year-old Private Joseph Plumb Martin, a native of Connecticut who would, years later, write a detailed story of his seven years in the army. Martin’s account is the singular most important recollection by an ordinary soldier telling the story of the Revolutionary War from the bottom up. Martin was in New York City with his regiment in June of 1776. In August, following the British attack, he wrote, 

“… the regiment was ordered to Long-Island, the British having landed in force there. . . We soon landed in Brooklyn … marched up the ascent from the ferry, to the plain. We now began to meet the wounded men, another sight I was unacquainted with, some with broken arms, some with broken legs, and some with broken heads. The sight of these a little daunted me, and made me think of home, but the sight and thought vanished together.” During the following day, Martin noted that the battles were often fought within sight of his unengaged regiment. The next day, as he wrote, “We were soon called upon to fall in and proceed … Just at dusk, I, with one or two others of our company, went off to a barn, about half a mile distant, with intent to get some straw to lodge upon, the ground and leaves being drenched in water, and we as wet as they … When I arrived [back at the regiment] the men were all paraded to march off the ground … We were strictly enjoined not to speak, or even cough, while on the march. All orders were given from officer to officer, and communicated to the men in whispers. What such secrecy could mean we could not devine. We marched on, however, until we arrived at the ferry, where we immediately embarked on board the batteaux, and were conveyed safely to New-York.” Memoir — Joseph Plumb Martin

Thus began Washington’s miraculous escape, the evacuation of troops from Long Island under the very noses of the British. It continued all night and into the next morning when a thick fog gave cover as the last of the soldiers were transported across the East River to Manhattan. Setauket’s Benjamin Tallmadge, also in his first engagement with the British, wrote in his autobiography a graphic account of the retreat after the battle.

“On the evening of the 29th, by 10 o’clock the troops began to retire from the line in such a manner that no chasm was made in the lines … General Washington took his station at the ferry, and superintended the embarkation of the troops. It was one of the most anxious, busy nights that I ever recollect, and being the third in which hardly any of us had closed our eyes in sleep, we were all greatly fatigued … When I stepped into one of the last boats … I left my horse tied to a post at the ferry … The troops having now all safely reached New York, and the fog continuing as thick as ever, I began to think of my favorite horse, and requested leave to return and bring him off. Having obtained permission, I called for a crew of volunteers to go with me, and guiding the boat myself, I obtained my horse and got off some distance into the river before the enemy appeared in Brooklyn. As soon as they reached the ferry we were saluted merrily from their musketry, and finally by their field pieces; but we returned in safety.” 

Much of the Battle of Brooklyn was fought across what is now Green-Wood Cemetery’s grounds. For years, the Old Stone House, as pictured in Alonzo Chappel’s painting, has partnered with Green-Wood to commemorate this important historic event on their grounds. For more information, see the list of events for Battle Week Aug. 20 through Aug. 28 at:

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

Image depicts what Patchogue looked like circa 1800.

By Beverly C. Tyler

William Bacon, my third great grandfather, left his home in the Midlands of England on June 12, 1794. He booked passage on a ship out of Liverpool on June 22 and arrived at New York’s South Street Seaport on Aug. 23. He then traveled to Patchogue, Long Island, arriving on Aug. 28, 1794. Letters from his father and brothers between 1798 and 1824 and numerous trips I made to the villages of his youth provided the basis for this fictional letter to his father and mother.

A letter from William Bacon’s father Matthew. Image from Beverly C. Tyler

In 1794, England was at war with France, as was most of Europe. The resultant curtailment of trade was having a very negative effect on the British economy. The impressment of American merchant ship crews by the British had brought America and England very close to war again. President George Washington was in his second term as the first president of the United States and had recently appointed Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a treaty of commerce with England.

On Long Island, Selah Strong was again elected as president of the trustees of the Town of Brookhaven, a post he had held every year since 1780, three years before the end of the Revolutionary War. In Patchogue, the Blue Point Iron Works, run by a Mr. Smith, was in full operation and looking to England, especially the Midlands, for young men like William Bacon who came from a long line of lead miners and iron workers.

July 4, 1794

M. Matthew Bacon
Parish of Wirksworth
Derbyshire, England

My Dearest Father & Mother,

I am writing this letter at sea. We are twelve days out from Liverpool and expect to arrive in New York before the end of next month. Today is Independence Day in America and as this is an American ship and crew, they celebrated the day with cannon fire and decorated the ship with flags. A special meal was prepared and the other passengers and I were included in the feast. Sitting with these new friends and enjoying their hospitality, I realized for the first time how much I already miss home and family.

Last month, the day before I left, as I sat on the hillside above our home, I realized that there was a part of me that would stay there forever. The green hills of Alderwasley will remain forever in my memory as will your kind smile and patience with me as I prepared to undertake this journey.

My resolve in going has not diminished in spite of my love for my family, for my home, and for the gentle rolling hills I have so often walked. The position in Mr. Smith’s iron works I regard as a chance to flourish in a land of opportunity as many others have done before me. America also offers the chance to live free of the will of the Lord of the Manor. He has been good to you, and generous, but he owns the very hills and valleys where I was born and grew up. In America my opportunities are limitless. 

Please write and tell me if any from Wirksworth or Alderwasley have volunteered for the cavalry or infantry and how the war goes. I will send you the prices of pig and bar iron in English money as well as the prices of beef and mutton in the same as soon as I can. If brother Samuel is still in Jamaica after I arrive, ask him to come and see me when he goes through New York. The same for my brother Matthew if he comes to Philadelphia to trade as he plans.

I continue with great hope and anticipation and a deep sorrow at parting.

Your loving son, 

William Bacon

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

A view of the Hawkins-Mount House, on the corner of Route 25A and Stony Brook Road. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

[email protected]

Major Jonas Hawkins, son of Major Eleazer and Ruth (Mills) Hawkins, was born in Stony Brook, Long Island, on April 28, 1752, in what is now known as the Hawkins-Mount House at the intersection of 25A and Stony Brook Road. Jonas married Ruth Mills on Jan. 1, 1775, a little more than three months before the first shots were fired at Concord and Lexington, Massachusetts on April 18 and 19, 1775, dates that marked the beginning of the Revolutionary War. 

Jonas was one of 73 men who signed the Association on June 8, 1775. The men who signed pledged themselves to protect against British tyranny. The list also included Selah Strong, Jonathan and Samuel Thompson, who supplied intelligence to General Washington in 1777 before becoming refugees in Connecticut after their spying was discovered. 

It appears that during the entire Revolutionary War, Jonas and Ruth remained at their home and farm in Stony Brook as six of their children were born there between 1776 and 1783. It is also known that Jonas made several trips into New York City to gather information that he supplied to General George Washington through the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring. Hawkins also needed to make trips to New York City to purchase dry goods and other items he needed for the general store and ordinary he ran out of his home in Stony Brook. 

A view of the Hawkins-Mount House, on the corner of Route 25A and Stony Brook Road. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Major Hawkins’ home was built in 1757, and the loading door on the third-story gable end still reads “Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary.” We don’t know exactly when the general store was started, but by 1780, and probably by the end of 1778, it was in full operation with Hawkins making frequent trips to New York City.

The bill of credit below, part of the Three Village Historical Society’s Local History Collection, is one of a number of handwritten bills that indicate the range of products that rural general store merchants stocked and had available. Bills of Credit for Jonas Hawkins from 1780 through 1784 indicate that he also made purchases from a number of wholesalers such as “Elijah & Isaac Cock,” “Woodhull and Dickinson,” “Pearsall Glover” and “Willet Seaman.” 

“Bought of Peter Smith & co .. Brooklyn, N.Y., Nov 17th 1780 

5 Razors at l/9 … 8 .. 9 (8 shillings, 9 pence) 

1 gross sleeve buttons 19..

1 Bladder Snuff 4/6 18..7

6 u(units) pepper @ 3/6. 1. .. 1 (1 pound, 1


Mr. Jonas Hawkins” 

The range of items Jonas purchased is quite extensive and indicates that local residents, especially after the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), had a wide range of goods available from the country general store. Jonas Hawkins, bought quantities of “Callico” (imported’ cotton textile), “Linnen,” “Superfine cloth” (finely woven linen), “Durant” (A variety of worsted wool),” “Cambruk” (cambric, linen or fine white cotton glazed on one side), “gause, thread, narrow Blk binding, cordarry” (corduroy) (and) calimmink” (calimanco-a European woolen cloth of satin weave in an imitation of camel’s hair). 

Hawkins also purchased tea, nutmegs, clover seed, barrels of sugar, raisins, rum, gin, wine, and tobacco. From another supplier, he received “twist” (mottled woolens), buttons, bibles, pins, writing paper, shoe bindings and sewing silk as well as other cloths called “blue Tabareen” (Tabbinet-an Irish-made poplin), “Blue Morine” (Moreen:-a stout ,water- embossed finished fabric of wool or wool and cotton), and “black Tafaty” (taffeta-a rich thin silk). From yet another supplier, he received sickles, scythes, pen knives, tobacco boxes, and something listed as “1 doz Tomatum.” From Andrew Van Tuyh he received over 100 yards of green, brown and “mixt German Sarge” (serge) as well as metal buttons and 1 doz silver spurs. Locally, “Mr. Hawkins bought of Edward Dayton — 8 paire of shoes at 7s (shillings a) pair.”

Before the Revolutionary War, the seemingly inexhaustible supply of American lumber and timbers, plus a few manufactured items such as barrels went from U.S. ports to the West Indies where they were traded for rum, molasses and sugar. This island produce was then shipped to England to be traded for manufactured goods; clothing, glass, china, and tea, to name just a few. This movement of goods was known as a “Triangle Trade.” 

After the Revolutionary War, this Triangle Trade, was extended to other European countries and to China as American ships began to bring their own tea, spices and other commodities back to the United States from all corners of the world. This increased trade brought the country general store into its own as an institution. It was an original American idea, an outgrowth of independence, an example of Yankee know-how and frontier enterprise at its best. 

In large part, no money changed hands between the country general store owner and the importer or between the merchant and the local seller of eggs and bacon. Bills of credit were commonly given by the importers and continued to be the general practice until late in the 19th century. The country merchant’s major asset was the produce that he collected by barter. The general store owner was in contact with the large general stores in New York City, which sold both wholesale and retail, as well as, with the coast-wise schooner captains, freight shippers, money brokers and various jobbing houses. 

The country general store was a natural gathering place for residents of the community, especially in the cold winter months, when many farmers, farmhands and seaman had nothing better to do. There was often a bench in the store, placed outside in the warmer months, called the liar’s bench. In the colder weather, the men who came to the store would find places close by the stove, which often sat in the open near the middle of the room. It was here that stories were told, tall tales were spun, and the latest information on the state of the nation and the world was discussed. It was often the store owner who had the latest newspaper from New York City or there was a ship captain who had just arrived with fresh news from one of the major ports. 

Benjamin Franklin Thompson (his father called him Franklin) was just 16 years old in 1801. He was a hard, if not willing, worker on his father’s farm in Setauket, and he was often sent to “Jonas Hawkins Store and Ordinary” for a variety of items. “November 18, 1800 – Tuesday … Franklin rides to Major Hawkins to carry 36 yards of cloth, gets half a pound paper of tobacco at 0/9 (0 shillings/9 pence) carries 2 bushels of wheat to mill (Stony Brook Grist Mill) and fetches it home.” 

About half the entries in Samuel Thompson’s diary, which detail trips to the general stores in Setauket and Stony Brook, indicate that Samuel went himself. “July 23, 1800 – Wednesday . . . Ride to Major Hawkins yesterday fetch 2 gall Rum pay 17/. Buye six yards of callonnick for my wife a pettecoat pay 24/ for it.”

It was usual for Samuel Thompson to visit the home and store of Jonas Hawkins since he was one of the few doctors in the community, and the general store was a vital source of news about local residents, as well as being the source of many of Dr. Thompson’s medicines. “October 9, 1800 – Thursday . . . I ride to see Betsey Kelly then to Major Hawkins in the afternoon pay 10/ for a gallon of rum get 10 oz common Peruvian Bark pay 3/11.” Dr. Thompson also listed Senna, Quaccuim and white viltrol as medicines that he purchased during the year 1800 from Major Hawkins Store. 

The country general store owners were usually a fairly easy-going lot, and they put up with a great deal of tomfoolery from the bench warmers. They were also a very no-nonsense breed who recognized a good product or a good worker. One general store owner, the story goes, was sweeping out his store under the watchful eye of an early morning customer. “Where’s Benny? Sick today?” asked the small, thin woman as she reached across the counter to inspect the latest calico. “Gone two days,” the merchant said. The lady, seemingly absorbed in her inspection, added, “Anyone you considering to fill the vacancy?” The store owner went on with his sweeping and, without pausing to reflect on the question, replied, “Not expecting to, Benny didn’t leave no vacancy.” 

Samuel Thompson recorded in his diary an average of one trip a month to the general store of Major Jonas Hawkins. His purchases for 10 months included 12 gallons of rum, (Dr. Thompson had a 200-acre farm and at least 5 farmhands, most of whom were slaves) 1½ gallons of [gugg], plus small quantities of sherry, gin and brandy. He also records the purchase of earthen cups, pipes, a pitcher and pins.

As the 19th century began, the country general store began to change and grow. In 1805, Artemas Kennedy of Arlington, Massachusetts, (near Boston) started the Kennedy Biscuit Company. The first “sea biscuits” were supplied to clipper ships as a staple for sailors on the long voyages around the horn to California. The sea biscuit or cracker soon became popular on land as well as at sea, and the cracker barrel soon became a standard item in the country stores.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

“It is so cool that [Setauket] school has so much history around it and that it looks like it’s just a regular school.” (Mount Elementary School fourth grade student during this year’s Founders Day Original Settlement guided tours)

On April 11 and 12, Three Village fourth grade students in 19 classes came to the Setauket Elementary School auditorium in celebration of Brookhaven Town Founders Day to learn about the history of Setauket/Brookhaven through the murals of artist Vance Locke. Most of the students from the other four Three Village elementary schools raised their hands when asked, “Is this the first time you have seen these murals in the auditorium?”

Town of Brookhaven historian Barbara Russell and local historian Bev Tyler discussed each of the murals and the students heard from local artist Katherine Downs-Reuter. She described how the murals, the polychrome statues and the New York State Coat of Arms, which they now see in their original brilliant colors, were restored. Students were also treated to stories of Long Island’s indigenous people by Helen Sells, a Setalcott Native American descendant who, like both Russell and Tyler, attended Setauket school and viewed the murals as a student. Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich, who also served this year as a guide, showed students a map of Brookhaven and how the town grew from 1655 in Setauket to encompass 323 square miles and stretch from Long Island Sound to the Great South Bay.   

For the next two hours, each class, led by guides from the Three Village Historical Society, explored the Original Settlement area that surrounds the Setauket Village Green. The tour began with the polychrome statues of Setauket’s early leaders Richard Woodhull and General Washington’s intelligence chief Benjamin Tallmadge on the gables of the auditorium and gymnasium. On the front pediment of the school is the New York State Coat of Arms. Students learned about each restored artifact and about the U.S. Postal Service’s mile marker, encased in brick, that has stood along the road in front of the school since the first half of the 19th century. 

Walking into the Setauket Presbyterian Church cemetery, students identified the gravestones of three ship captains who moved commerce around the Atlantic coast and voyaged as far as China and Japan. They were also introduced to genre artist William Sidney Mount, one of the first artists to portray African Americans, both enslaved and free, as everyday people doing everyday activities. The last stop in the cemetery was at the grave and memorial to Setauket’s farmer and Culper spy ring leader Abraham Woodhull.  

At the Caroline Church cemetery, students learned about the 1751 gravestone of Elizabeth Moore, an inscription-carved rock, which was found during the 1937 restoration of the church. “Was she an indentured servant? Was she an enslaved person? We may never know.” The fourth graders were also introduced to philanthropist Thomas Hodgkins, his niece Emma Clark and the Melville family — Frank, Jennie, Ward and Dorothy — philanthropists all.

At the Setauket Village Green, students learned about the long history of Long Island’s indigenous people and the Setalcott Native Americans who signed land deed agreements with Brookhaven’s original English settlers on April 14, 1655. At the veterans memorial, they saw and discussed the diversity of immigrants who lived and worked here, as well as the world-wide ancestry of the Three Village soldiers whose war-time deaths are memorialized here.

In the Frank Melville Memorial Park, our fourth grade boys and girls learned about the importance of gristmills, millers, blacksmiths, post offices and the story of one of the Original Settlement’s 17th century homes.

The next stop was at the location of the Tyler Bros. General Store, which offered people the opportunity to purchase needed supplies, pick up mail, visit to hear about the news of the day, or buy penny candy. Lucy Hart, when she was six or seven, used to stop at the general store on her way home from school. There was a glass case in the store which contained a number of selections of sweets. Lucy remembered, “You would get four of five round things for a penny. Jaw Breakers, three or four for a penny; and stick candy was a penny a stick.”  

At the Amos Smith House, students saw how the house changed and grew over more than 200 years. They discussed the seven generations that lived in the house with as many as nine children in two of the families. They heard that the house and property were donated to the Three Village Community Trust in 2017 and will be environmentally and historically preserved forever. 

At the Setauket Neighborhood House, students learned about travel and transportation from the era of the indigenous people on Long Island to colonial travel with overnight stops at inns and ordinaries, which provided essential services. They saw how railroad lines were established on Long Island in the 19th century, significantly increasing travel and tourism from New York City to Long Island. The railroads also helped bring the industrial revolution to the area with Setauket factories hiring European immigrants who flooded into New York City; the new workers producing pianos and rubber goods. The fourth graders saw, heard and discussed how the Elderkin Hotel progressed from a hotel, with stage coach service from the Lakeland Railroad Station, to a tourist home, called the Lake House, with station wagon service from the Long Island Railroad’s Stony Brook station, and finally to its present name and its use as a meeting place for the entire community.

 Patriot’s Rock, a remnant of the last glacier and a Native American meeting place, provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Revolutionary War Battle of Setauket and Caleb Brewster, an artillery officer who directed the cannon fire. Also, how Brewster was an important member of the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring. “I thought that it was so cool that we got to stand on the battlefield of the American Revolutionary War.” (Mount fourth grade student)

“Founders Day is more than learning about our local history,” said Brookhaven Town Historian and Founder’s Day Committee Member Barbara Russell, “It is an historical experience for our Three Village fourth grade students … Learning that the Emma S. Clark library is not just the place to find books or attend a program, but is an architecturally interesting structure that was built by a local resident [Thomas Hodgkins] as a gift to the community; and there really was a person named Emma S. Clark is enlightening to fourth graders. Then they walk toward the Caroline Church and see the Hodgkins and Clark headstones — it all comes together in this fascinating look on a student’s face that they have just put it all together.”

 At the end of the tour, each student receives a copy of the Founders Day Companion (walking tour) Book prepared by the Three Village Historical Society, courtesy of the Three Village Central School District. Students, who can now be considered knowledgeable guides to the area’s local history, are encouraged to take their family members on the walking tour.

Setauket school fourth grade students were so inspired by the 2018 Founders Day tour that they decided to produce a video story of each of the Vance Locke murals in the Setauket School auditorium. The students were led by Three Village Schools District Lead Teacher for Instructional Technology, Andy Weik, and fourth-grade teacher Eric Gustafson. The students recorded the videos and they were produced with a QR code added at the base of each mural. All but two were completed in time for Culper Day, a community-wide celebration of the Setauket-based Culper Spy Ring with a wide range of community organizations and businesses taking part. For the first time, due to the student videos, the Setauket School auditorium was opened on a Saturday to take part in the celebration. A number of the students who worked on the video stories were present in the auditorium, in colonial costumes, to answer questions and talk to some of the 800 people who bought tickets for the Culper Day celebration as well as a few who wandered in to see what was happening. Setauket School principal Karen Mizell noted that this year the Setauket school auditorium will once again be open to the public on Culper Day, Saturday, Sept. 10.  

This year marked the 17th year that Three Village fourth grade students have come to the Setauket school auditorium to learn about the murals of the history of Setauket/Brookhaven and the eighth year the Founders Day Program has included the Original Settlement Walking Tour. The Founders Day program is updated every year, bringing new concepts and ideas needed within a changing curriculum. We hope that every fourth grade student will continue to experience the wonder of our local history and be excited to learn more of the stories of the people who lived here and what they contributed to our history.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

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Main Street in East Setauket looking east about 1935. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

The appearance of Main Street in East Setauket has changed considerably over the years with the needs of the business community. Today, this small historic business area is seeing a revitalization. Old businesses are sprucing up and new businesses are moving in. The park along the waterway is a delightful and favorite addition. Businesses looking for a local historic flavor should take a closer look at available locations along this small area of Route 25A.

harles E. Smith and Sportin’ Bill in front of Smith’s general store in East Setauket. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

In the 1800s, the business district of East Setauket was confined to an area between South Street, now Gnarled Hollow Road, and Baptist Avenue, now Shore Road. The village blacksmith shop, run by William Smith, stood where East Setauket Automotive is now and to the east were two wooden bridges that spanned the stream that still runs under 25A. The road was much lower then and the north side of the bridge was ideal for thirsty horses that were permitted to drink. The blacksmith shop was moved in the 1850s to a location on Gnarled Hollow Road where it was purchased in 1875 by Samuel West.

Over the years, the stores on the south side of Main Street changed with names such as Jones, Jayne, Smith, Bossey, Darling, Bellows and Rogers prominent among shop owners. Shops included a general store, meat market, shoe store, tailor, clothing shop and the usual combination of general store and post office. One of the shop owners in the late 1890s was Charles E. Smith. C.E., as he became known, was born in 1841 on his family’s farm in South Setauket. Before he was 20 years old, he was running a butcher wagon and had a large trade in the area. He established, according to the Port Jefferson Times, the first permanent meat market at East Setauket and later became the owner of the general store founded by his father-in-law, Carlton Jayne. His brother, Orlando Smith, ran a butcher shop in Stony Brook.

Charles E. Smith was very successful and eventually owned a great deal of property, including acreage where the Stony Brook University is now and other land across Route 25A from the old East Setauket schoolhouse. The house on the southwest corner of Coach Road and 25A became his home by the early years of the 20th century and his general store stood on the present empty lot west of what is now HSBC Bank.

All his life, he was a lover of good trotting horses and delighted in driving them. His last horse was a spirited one named Sporting Bill. He used to race Bill at the Hulse track in East Setauket and the story of the race between Irish Mag and Sporting Bill is detailed in the book, “Setauket, The First 300 Years.” Sporting Bill was stabled in the Hawkins barn that was later destroyed to make way for a housing development along Old Town Road.

East Setauket Mai Street looking west. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

Charlie Bickford remembered working with the horse for C.E. “I was scared of him as a boy. The horse was skittish and even bit me on the shoulder once. One day, C.E. told one of the fellows to get Bill out of the barn and brush him down. They didn’t like that. When you went into the stall Bill would turn his head the other way and squeeze you against the stall. I worked a few summers for C.E. plowing his fields and spreading manure. One day, I was driving Bill to the fields behind the Stony Brook Railroad Station when he darted into the brush and nearly upset the wagon. He used to do that kind of thing quite often to brush the flies off his back.”

At the age of 82, Charles Smith was fatally injured when he was dragged under the teeth of a hay rake attached to his horse Sporting Bill. C.E. died on April 22, 1923, and was buried at Caroline Church in Setauket. The store of Charles Smith continued to operate as a general store through the 1950s.

Many other changes have taken place over the years. In 1926, the road was paved for the first time, and in 1928, the property on the southwest corner of 25A and Gnarled Hollow Road, called “Colonial Corners” by its owner Mr. LaRoche, was changed to its present appearance with the addition of a group of stores. The house on this site, which was at one time the home of blacksmith William Smith, remained behind the stores, but the entrance was changed so it faced Gnarled Hollow Road. When this writer was growing up it was the home of Sarah Ann Sells who worked as a laundress. I remember stopping there from time to time with school friend Larry Payne. Mrs. Sells always offered us a peanut butter sandwich.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

Above, Main Street in East Setauket looking east about 1935. Below, Charles E. Smith and Sportin’ Bill in front of Smith’s general store in East Setauket. Photos from Beverly C. Tyler

Writer Beverly C. Tyler, right, with Al Meyer at the wedding of Amy Tyler and John Worrell on June 9, 1996, at the Caroline Church in Setauket. Photo from Beverly C. Tyler

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together … there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart … I’ll always be with you.” — Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh (from the 1997 Disney film “Pooh’s Grand Adventure”)

Al Meyer, right, enjoy a walk with Barbara Tyler and his wife, Bonnie, in Munich English Gardens, Germany. August 2000.

I first met Al Meyer when he and his family were living on Main Street in Setauket, just opposite Celia Hawkins’ red barn. It was probably about 1959 when we were both serving in the U.S. Navy as quartermasters and I was home on leave and living with my parents farther north on Main Street. Al served four years on a number of U.S. Navy destroyers where he was also a qualified signalman.

We met again after we both joined the Old Field Point Power Squadron, a safe boating organization, where we spent many years together teaching courses from boat handling to celestial navigation and serving in various capacities where we did many projects together. It was the beginning of a long friendship that eventually included our wives and families. Barbara and I were married in 1962, and Al married Bonnie Robertson in 1966, the same year our first daughter Jennifer was born. Each of our families had two daughters and over the years we boated together with Two Sisters and Mischief — the names of our boats. The girls had good times together on our boats, and in later years we visited their homes and at Al and Bonnie’s for many get-togethers and special occasions.

Al worked mostly at Macy’s and A&S department stores ending up as manager of Macy’s Furniture Clearance Center near Roosevelt Field before retiring in 1997. He had a break for almost a decade in the 1970s when he started his own marine supply company, The Suffolk Boat Locker, along Route 25 in Centereach. This was perfect for me. Al’s store was on my way home from Long Island MacArthur Airport, and I would stop there whenever I could, even finishing two desks for my daughters for one Christmas. I think it actually took me more than a year working in the basement of Al’s store. Being there also gave us more time to talk about family, boating vacations and the local community.

Sometimes, probably too often, I would say, “We should [do this or that]” and Al would come back with, “We — do you have a mouse in your pocket?” It became a phrase Al used a lot, but we actually did many “mouse” projects together over the years with the Old Field Point Power Squadron, Three Village Historical Society, Caroline Episcopal Church and Frank Melville Memorial Park Foundation. Al was the quiet, insightful one. I was the loud “let’s jump into it” one. I guess we were a good combination, at least from my perspective. He was excellent with financial matters and served as treasurer from time to time in all four organizations. Al was the organized one, and he kept me in line with many discussions that prevented me, most of the time, from jumping in with both feet before finding out if it was a good idea. I do remember many evenings together in my cellar running off multiple-page newsletters, photos and cards over the years on my rotary press.

Al was very much at home on the water but didn’t like heights. I wanted to show Al some of the Island from the air, especially the inlets, harbor entrances where we boated and some of the shoal areas we discussed in boating classes. We took a Cessna 150 out of MacArthur Airport, and by the time we landed, Al was gripping the bar on the dash so hard his knuckles were white. I realized then that friends do things together that might be uncomfortable for one or another. Thanks, Al!

In 2000, Al, Bonnie, Barbara and I joined a few other friends on a two-week bus tour of Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, ending with the once-in-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play. In Switzerland, the entire bus group took a tour up a mountain in a cog railway car. As we traveled up, Al was telling jokes and making the funniest and loudest comments I can ever remember about him. He was usually pretty quiet. He had the whole car in stitches laughing by the time we got to the top. It was Al’s way of getting through the ride with thousand-foot drops on each side all along the route. The area around the ski lodge at the top was beautiful, and we could see cows and hear cowbells echoing off the hills for miles around.

About 2011, Al and Bonnie decided to move near Wilmington, North Carolina, where their daughter Tracy and grandson Griffin live. We missed the parents a lot but were able to get together at their home a number of times and have them stay with us when they came north to see us and the many other friends they have on Long Island. We also stayed in touch by phone and email. Al and I also exchanged many messages about sailing and especially about the America’s Cup competitions which we both followed.

Rest in peace good friend — Albert Henry Meyer. God bless you!

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

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Inside the Three Village Historical Society's outside gift shop. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Three Village Historical Society, WUSB 90.1 FM and 107.3 FM Stony Brook and Gallery North are pleased to present The Holiday Market, a series of outdoor holiday shopping events, located on the grounds of Three Village Historical Society and Gallery North at 93 and 90 North Country Road, respectively. Each day features music, as well as a variety of food trucks. We invite you to shop for unique, artisan goods and gifts from local artists and makers in a free, safe and socially distant setting.

A portion of the many vendors at the Holiday Market on Nov. 27. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Get to know your local artists and find a one-of-a-kind gift for your loved ones this holiday season! Join us from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. This year our historical/cultural organizations, as well as all our local shops, need our support as never before. They also provide a variety of gifts you won’t find anywhere else. Shopping at the locations will help these local organizations continue to bring to residents the engaging and dynamic programs that have marked them as important places of discovery and education.

Holiday shopping at the local stores that help give our historic communities a sense of place just makes good sense. The upcoming Christmas and winter holidays are also good times to purchase a few of the wonderful gifts and books about the local area and to pay a relaxing visit to the many local shops that deserve our support. 

Here are a few ideas that will help our local communities get through this winter season.

Walk into locals first

Discover the varied offerings of independent shops and not-for-profit organizations in our area.

Look for specific local websites

Look first at the offerings of specific local shops on the web, as well as not-for-profit sites such as those listed below.

Local gift cards and gift certificates

Many local shops and restaurants provide these great gift ideas that you will not see in many commercial gift card displays.

Bring and encourage friends

You can increase the income of our shops just by telling a few friends in person or through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, etc. how great you found the selections in the shop or on the websites of local businesses.

Be respectful

It is important to protect the shops and restaurants you visit this season by protecting both yourself and others. Use the latest official health recommendations when you visit local businesses. If you are feeling even slightly under the weather, don’t visit.

These three not-for-profit gift shops are especially geared up for holiday sales of unique items. 

A view across to Gallery North. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

Gallery North, 90 North Country Road, Setauket

Gallery North is pleased to present Deck the Halls, an annual group exhibition of small original works for holiday giving. Enjoy artworks by over 50 local and regional artists in a range of media, including painting, printmaking, works on paper, sculpture, glassware and more. The exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to support local artists and local businesses and features a diverse selection of affordable, exciting, original artworks for everyone on your list. 

In addition, Gallery North also features a large assortment of artisan-created jewelry, handmade crafts and decorations within the Shop at Gallery North, as well as clothing and artist-made greeting cards produced in the Studio at Gallery North. The gallery also offers the gift of an art class or workshop to an aspiring artist, child or adult. Gallery North is open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Deck the Halls will be open through Dec. 19. Call 631-751-2676 or visit for more information. 

Reboli Center, 64 Main Street, Stony Brook 

The Reboli Center is in the former bank building on Main Street in Stony Brook.

There are wonderful paintings by various local artists as well as a Design Shop featuring many unique gifts made by fine craftspeople. Stop in and see all the Reboli Center has to offer. The Reboli Center is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The center will close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. The current exhibition, Celebrate the Season II, will be open until Jan. 23, 2022. Call 631-751-7707 or visit for more information. 

In addition to these three gift shops, there are many other wonderful local shops in the Stony Brook Village Shopping Center, Setauket, East Setauket and in the Village of Port Jefferson. Finding a special or unusual gift is not only a good idea, it supports our local businesses and brings us closer together as a community. 

Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket 

The society’s gift shop  offers a large variety of local history books and gifts for all ages. It will be open Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday noon to 4 p.m., Thursday noon to 6 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m until Tuesday, Dec. 21. It is also opened Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. by appointment only until Dec. 19. The gift shop is closed Wednesdays and Saturdays. The newest book is “Down The Ways — The Wooden Ship Era” written by and with photographs by yours truly Beverly Tyler. Discover the stories of the shipbuilders, ship captains and their wives who voyaged up and down the Atlantic coast and around the world in vessels built along Shore Road in East Setauket. Sunday tours of the exhibits SPIES! and Chicken Hill are available by appointment only through Dec. 19. The online gift shop is open 24/7. The last day to order online to ensure delivery before Christmas via USPS is Dec. 12 by midnight. Visit for more information.

Beverly C. Tyler is a Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730. or visit

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Abraham Woodhull and Caleb Brewster meet to convey intelligence for General Washington. (Locke mural Setauket Elementary School)

“… by the assistance of a 355 [lady] of my acquaintance, shall be able to outwit them all.” (Abraham Woodhull to BenjaminTallmadge 15 August 1779 — The Washington Papers, Library of Congress)

BENJAMIN TALLMADGE, organizer and leader of the Revolutionary War Setauket spies, was born in Setauket in 1754. He was the son of the minister of the Setauket Presbyterian Church. The home where he was born is still standing in Setauket at the end of Runs Road. Tallmadge grew up in Setauket and attended school here with his close friend Abraham Woodhull.

When the Revolution began in 1775, Tallmadge enlisted in the Continental Army and by February 1777, he had been promoted to the rank of major. In the summer of 1778, General Washington appointed him head of his secret service and tasked Tallmadge with establishing an espionage network against the British in New York City. To conduct this vital undercover operation on Long Island, Tallmadge chose his boyhood friend Abraham Woodhull. Tallmadge and Woodhull chose other friends and neighbors from Setauket to assist them; men and women who could be trusted and who would prove to be so discreet in all their contacts that many of their identities would never be discovered.

ABRAHAM WOODHULL was a descendant of Richard Woodhull, an early Brookhaven Town leader and magistrate. He was born in 1750 on his family’s farm in Setauket, and he was a farmer by occupation. From the beginning of the Setauket Spies in 1778, Woodhull was in charge of day-to-day operations. His code name was Samuel Culper, and the spy operation came to be known as the Culper Ring. Woodhull was referred to as Samuel Culper Senior after he recruited Robert Townsend, who was given the code name Samuel Culper Junior. Not only did Woodhull direct field activities, but he also risked his life countless times by personally collecting information in New York and on Long Island.

Woodhull was responsible for evaluating the reports received from all sources, determining what was to go forward to Washington’s headquarters and seeing that the dispatches were carried across the Sound by Caleb Brewster. Woodhull’s health was poor, and he lived in constant fear of discovery. Despite his fears, Woodhull carried on his duties as a Patriot spy and in a 10 April 1779 letter to Tallmadge wrote, “… and rest assured that I endevour to collect and convey the most accurate and explicit intelligence that I possibly can. And hope it may be of some service toward alleviating the misery of our distressed Country, nothing but that could have induced me to undertake it. . .” (The Washington Papers, Library of Congress)

CALEB BREWSTER was perhaps the most bold and daring of the spies. After the August 1776 Battle of Long Island in Brooklyn, Brewster joined the Continental Army with the rank of a lieutenant of artillery.

In spite of his service designation, one of Brewster’s tasks throughout the war was to command a fleet of fast-sailing whaleboats, operating from the Connecticut shore against British and Loyalist shipping on Long Island Sound (known as the “Devil’s Belt”). Each whaleboat was about 30 feet in length, equipped with sails and oars, and with 12-15 fully armed men. This, together with his knowledge of the Long Island shoreline, his work as a mate on sailing ships, and his boyhood association with Benjamin Tallmadge, made him an ideal choice to carry intelligence back and forth across the Sound.

ANNA SMITH STRONG, great grand-daughter of Setauket’s Lord of the Manor William “Tangier” Smith, devised a wash line signal system, according to Morton Pennypacker in his book “George Washington’s Spies on Long Island and in New York,” published 1939, to identify for Abraham Woodhull the whereabouts of Caleb Brewster’s whaleboats, so Woodhull could find him and pass along messages for General Washington.

As detailed by Pennypacker and embellished by Strong family historian Kate Strong, to avoid detection by the British it was necessary for Brewster to hide his boat in six different places, each identified by a number. Nancy Strong, as she was known by friends and family, hung her laundry from the line in a code formation to direct Woodhull to Brewster’s location. A black petticoat was the signal that Brewster was nearby, and the number of handkerchiefs scattered among the other garments showed the meeting place. Using the most ordinary of personal items and improvising on the most ordinary of personal tasks, she made an extraordinary contribution to the Patriot cause. Kate Strong’s True Tales indicate her information was corroborated by scraps of paper, deeds and letters in her possession, as well as documents she saw or was told about by Pennypacker (True Tales, “In Defense of Nancy’s Clothesline,” 1969).

CAPTAIN AUSTIN ROE, as the courier later known as Long Island’s Paul Revere, was the member of the Setauket Spies most visible to the British and Tories in Brookhaven. Roe ran a tavern in East Setauket where food and drink were served and where travelers could stay overnight on their way to or from the east end of Long Island. The original location of the tavern (it was moved in 1936) was along what is now Route 25A, just west of Bayview Avenue. The site is marked by a state road sign which details a few of the most important facts about Austin Roe and the tavern.

Austin Roe used his position as a tavern owner to justify his 110-mile round trips. While in New York, Roe gathered supplies he needed for the tavern, and expensive materials and goods for Nancy Strong. These trips provided the cover he needed to obtain spy messages. Roe made numerous trips to Manhattan, sometimes as often as once a week. The roads were heavily traveled by British and Loyalist troops and by highwaymen (thieves and robbers). Roe would receive intelligence directly from Robert Townsend, the messages written in code or invisible ink. He would ride back to Setauket and pass the information to Abraham Woodhull.

ROBERT TOWNSEND (code name Samuel Culper, Jr.) coordinated the efforts of the spy network in New York. We will probably never know all the spies who contributed information on British movements, but we do know that Townsend, a resident of Oyster Bay before and after the Revolutionary War, was the principal contact in New York for most of the period between June 1779 and November 1783.

The valuable intelligence transmitted by the spies led to the capture of Major Andre, who was hanged as a spy on orders of General Washington, and the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s plot to turn over West Point to the British. The Culper Spy Ring also supplied Washington with information that enabled him to prevent the British from attacking the French army and navy after they arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, in July 1780 to support General Washington. The most important contribution of the Culper Spy Ring was to provide General Washington with accurate and detailed intelligence. In many instances, Washington was able to check the veracity of information received from other sources by comparing it with intelligence received from the Culper Spy Ring.

Beverly C. Tyler is Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the society at 93 North Country Road, Setauket. For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit