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Beverly C. Tyler

Photo by David Ackerman

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Maybe it sounds like I’m tooting our horn too much, but I have to say how proud I am of the columnists who write for our papers and website. They are clearly bright and offer the reader information and knowledge that aren’t usually found even in a big metro daily or a glossy magazine. They are, collectively and individually, one of the main reasons our hometown newspapers have managed to survive while so many of our colleagues, 25% of them in the nation, have had to shut their doors.

Readers want to learn from our regular columnists, who, by the way, are local residents. That’s not surprising, though, because the population we serve is exceptional, accomplished in their own right, and can be expected to harbor such talent. Let me explain.

The columnists are found in the second section of the newspaper, called Arts & Lifestyles. In the interest of full disclosure and without false modesty, I point out and salute my youngest son, Dr. David Dunaief. He is a physician totally committed to helping his patients, and the high regard is returned by them in equal measure, as testimonials about him confirm. In addition, he writes every week about current medical problems and brings readers up to date with the latest research and thinking regarding common ailments. I know him to be a voracious reader of medical journals and he footnotes his sources of expertise at the end of every “Medical Compass” column. 

Dr. Matthew Kearns is a longtime popular veterinarian who writes “Ask the Vet,” keeping our beloved pets healthy. Michael E. Russell is a successful, retired financial professional who cannot cut the cord with Wall Street, and  shares his thoughts on the economy and suggesting current buys on the stock market. He will also throw in something irreverent, or even askance, to keep you tuned in. 

Also writing knowledgeably on the contemporary scene about finance and the economy is Michael Christodoulou, who is also an active financial advisor. Ever try to read your auto insurance policies? If I had trouble falling asleep, they would knock me out by the second paragraph. Enter A. Craig Purcell, a partner in a long-established local law firm, who is attempting to explain auto insurance coverage, a merciful endeavor, with his column. His words do not put me to sleep. Shannon Malone will alternate the writing for us. Michael Ardolino, a well-known realtor, somehow manages to make both ends of a real estate transaction, for buyers and sellers, sound promising at this time. 

Our lead movie and book reviewer is the highly talented Jeffrey Sanzel. In addition to being a terrific actor, he is a gifted writer and almost always feels the same way about what he is reviewing as I do. No wonder I think he is brilliant.  Father Frank has been writing for the papers for many years and always with great integrity and compassion. 

John Turner, famous naturalist and noted author and lecturer, keeps us apprised of challenges to nature. This is a niche for all residents near the shorelines of Long Island. He also writes “Living Lightly,” about being a responsible earth dweller. Bob Lipinski is the wine connoisseur who travels the world and keeps us aware of best wines and cheeses.

Lisa Scott and Nancy Marr of the Suffolk County League of Women Voters, keep us informed about upcoming elections, new laws and important propositions. Elder law attorney Nancy Burner tells us about Medicare, estate planning, wills gifting, trustees, trusts and other critical issues as we age.

The last columnist I will mention is Daniel Dunaief, who, like bookends for my salute, is also my son. Among several other articles, he writes “The Power of Three,” explaining some of the research that is performed at Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Labs and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He makes a deep dive into the science in such a way that layman readers can understand what is happening in the labs. He has been paid the ultimate compliment by the scientists for a journalist: they pick up the phone and willingly talk to him, unafraid that he will get the story wrong or misquote them. In fact, he has been told a rewarding number of times by the researchers that his questions for the articles have helped them further direct their work.

When my sons began writing for TBR News Media, a few readers accused me of nepotism. I haven’t heard that charge now in years.

P.S. Of course, we can’t forget Beverly C. Tyler and Kenneth Brady, stellar historians both.

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 www.tvhs.org. 

— Postcards from Beverly C. Tyler’s collection

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 www.tvhs.org.

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 www.tvhs.org.

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 www.tvhs.org.

The cover of 'Founders Day'

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

4th grade students from the Three Village School District take a tour of Setauket. Photo from TVHS

The Three Village Historical Society has published an excellent series of short works highlighting the North Shore region. Founders Day: Discovering Setauket, Brookhaven’s Original Settlement is “a walking tour guide for families who love exploring and bringing history to life.” It joins several other excellent offerings from the Society. The slender volumes are colorful and well-researched, with dozens of illustrations and photos. The goal is “to create meaningful experiences for families interested in exploring community.” Previous publications include George Washington’s LI Spy Ring, Down the Ways – The Wooden Ship Era, and Setauket and Brookhaven History (the latter two recently reviewed in TBR News Media). 

Founders Day is written by the Society’s Founders Day Committee: Katherine Downs-Reuter, Barbara M. Russell, Donna Smith, Lindsey Steward-Goldberg, and Beverly C. Tyler. The impetus (Founders Day, created in 2006) was to “enhance [the] Three Village Central School District’s fourth grade students’ understanding of local history […] using the Vance Locke murals displayed in the Setauket Elementary School auditorium.”

The cover of ‘Founders Day’

As in previous guides, there is a well-balanced combination of archival documents, paintings dating back to the eighteenth century, and historical and current photographs. The book gives clear and concise instructions, with the tour beginning in front of the Setauket School, Main Street, Setauket, and concluding at the Emma S. Clark Library. Throughout, there are detailed explanations of building markers (coats of arms, inscriptions, plaques), archaeological points of interest, and architectural details. The writers even point out errors: “The date on the plaque on Patriot’s Rock, August 23, is wrong by two days. Information on historical markers can sometimes be wrong. It is always a good idea to check with a more original source.” This detail presents a valuable and telling lesson in the pursuit of history and historical accuracy. 

Brief family genealogies are provided in appropriate circumstances. Some sites get a thorough background. The Setauket Grist Mill rightfully warrants an entire page, given its importance to the community. A detailed account of Tyler Bros. General Store receives two detailed pages that include quotes from Lucy Hart, born in February 1899. Here, there is a discussion about the lives and fates of African Americans in the Setauket area. The text is clear, concise, and descriptive, ideal for the walking tour and a stimulus for further and deeper investigations of the various locales. 

4th grade students from the Three Village School District take a tour of Setauket. Photo from TVHS

Travel and transportation, farming, fishing, and folklore are all included. In addition, the final page contains a list of vocabulary words and terms used within the book. This inclusion further emphasizes that Founders Day, along with the many works of the Three Village Historical Society, are ideal for classroom use and an opportunity for families to explore the area in which they live.

An important note. All the recent publications carry a version of this message: “We wish to acknowledge that we are sitting on the land of the Setalcott indigenous people in Setauket and we pay respect to the Setalcott people whose land is where we live, work and explore.” This note embraces an important and growing awareness, recognizing the impact of the area’s indigenous people. 

Once again, the Three Village Historical Society has produced a novel and valuable tool for community discovery.

Copies of Founders Day: Discovering Setauket, Brookhaven’s Original Settlement are available at the Three Village Historical Society Gift Shop, 93 North Country Road, Setauket and online at www.tvhs.org.

For more information, call 631-751-3730.

'Down the Ways' cover

Reviewed by Jeffrey Sanzel

“The success of Long Island shipbuilding was due in part to its rural location and the three things Long Island had in abundance — water, men and material. Surrounded by water, Long Island was an ideal location for shipbuilding.”

Above, author Beverly C. Tyler at the helm of America’s Cup yacht NZ41 in the Hauraki Gulf, from Auckland, New Zealand in September, 2002. Photo courtesy of NZ 40/41

Last fall, History Close at Hand published Beverly C. Tyler’s informative Setauket and Brookhaven History Through the Murals of Vance Locke. His most recent offering is Down the Ways – The Wooden Ship Era. Subtitled “East Setauket Shipbuilders, Ship Captains, Maritime Trades and Dyer’s Neck Homes,” the book is a celebration of an industry seen through a very local prism. 

As with his earlier work, Tyler leads with the deepest and sincerest respect for the indigenous people of Long Island — and, in particular, the Setalcotts. And while the title suggests a narrow exploration, the introductory pages place the topic in context. Fiscal, political, and agricultural information is presented, including the influence of the Erie Canal and the effects of the War of 1812.

Tyler references a wide range of sources, some dating back to the seventeen century. His research is meticulous, organized, and marvelously well-documented, with facts and figures as well as many dates to give the arc of the shipbuilding experience. Here are shipbuilders and ship workers, captains and crewmen. The rise and fall of the whaling industry and life on the sea give additional scope. Tyler does not shy away from touching on complicated issues, including slavery and the freed descendants whose treatment onboard was little better.

The focus of the book is on one area adjacent to Setauket Harbor. Tyler has cleverly constructed Down the Ways as a tour of the Dyer’s Neck Historic District. There are thirty-two stops, beginning on Bayview Avenue and ending with Scott’s Cove. A history of the place, its relationship to the shipbuilding industry, and the home’s inhabitants are vividly presented with each location. Facts blend with interesting trivia. These include Thomas W. Rowland, who had twelve children — six by each of his two wives; Mary Swift Jones’ voyage to eastern Asia, including Japan and China; Town of Brookhaven historian Barbara M. Russell’s account of Shore Acres boarding house; among other anecdotes. 

In addition, detailed but succinct descriptions of a range of careers and businesses, including blacksmith, ship joiner, carpenter, and ship chandlery, are explained. (A special note of the use of color in the text will make it easier for younger readers to discern the shift in focus and allow for easy location of information. Little doubt that this book will be an excellent resource for both the general reader and the student studying Long Island history.)

A special section focuses on the author’s grandfather, Captain Beverly Swift Tyler, who was a ship captain, boat builder, racing sailor, and boarding house owner. This unique and personal inclusion further brings to life the living history element of the writer’s undertaking.

Visually, this is a striking tome. Down the Ways includes reproductions of maps, paintings, murals, clips of period newspapers, and a wealth of beautiful photos, both historical and current. All of them have been richly integrated into the text. In addition, dozens of pictures juxtaposing the current residence with those from early periods display both the changes and what remains the same. 

Down the Ways is more than just a book. It is an opportunity to explore a Long Island neighborhood in a completely different way. So, pick up a copy of the book, make your way to 41 Bayview Avenue, and let Beverly C. Tyler guide you on a course that will take you on an enlightening journey through time and place


Beverly C. Tyler is a writer, author, photographer and lecturer on local history. He has conducted walking tours and field trips as Revolutionary War farmer and spy Abraham Woodhull and as a 19th-century ship captain. 

Mr. Tyler writes a local history column “History Close at Hand” for the TBR Newspapers’ Village Times Herald. He has written more than 900 local history articles since 1975. His most recent book, Setauket and Brookhaven History through the Murals of Vance Locke was published in November 2020.

Down the Ways — The Wooden Ship Era is available through the Three Village Historical Society online gift shop at www.tvhs.org.


Photo by Beverly C. Tyler


Beverly C. Tyler snapped this photo of a groundhog at his home in Setauket on Aug. 1. He writes, ‘A visitor to our backyard who did not see his shadow.’ In addition to this cutie, the Tylers have had many wildlife visitors this year including  quail, fox, turkey, red-tailed hawks, snakes and deer

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]newspapers.com


Three Village Historical Society’s Director of Education Donna Smith and historian Beverly C. Tyler. Photo from TVHS

Join the Three Village Historical Society, 93 North Country Road, Setauket for a special event – Spy Stories on the Porch – with TVHS Historian Bev Tyler and TVHS Education Director Donna Smith on Thursday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. (rescheduled from Aug. 4 due to weather). Stories include Benjamin Tallmadge and Nathan Hale at Yale at 6 p.m.; Selah Strong and Caleb Brewster on Strong’s Neck cliff at 6:30 p.m.; Benjamin Floyd, Loyalist and friend of Abraham Woodhull at 7 p.m.; and Austin Roe Rides to meet President George Washington at 7:30 p.m. Free. Bring seating. This event will be live streamed on the TVHS Facebook page as well.  For more information, call 631-751-3730 or visit www.tvhs.org.

*This post was updated Aug. 4.

Little Bay during a quiet moment before motorboats and skiers arrived. The life preserver allows free arm movement in the canoe. Photo by Beverly C. Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

In the June 24 edition of the various editions of the TBR News Media newspapers, editor and publisher Leah Dunaief wrote in her weekly column “Between You and Me” about a pleasant Sunday sail in Port Jefferson Harbor in her 16-foot Hobie Cat with her son and daughter-in-law. The sail ended in a capsizing when the wind provided a sudden unexpected gust. Dunaief wrote, “It took us several minutes to sort ourselves out … We worked to untangle ourselves as we clung to the side of one of the overturned pontoons. Then the boat became caught in a mooring into which the wind had blown us. We hoped one of the two boats that came along would stop to help. They passed us by, but one slowed down to take a video of us struggling in the water.”

Fortunately, sailors came by and Dunaief was able, with help, to climb up the boat’s swim ladder to safety. They also assisted in getting the catamaran righted and the two younger Dunaiefs sailed off just as a police boat and fire boat came by “checking to see if all was well. It seems some alert person in a waterfront home in Belle Terre, witnessed the mishap and called 911.” The boaters then took Dunaief home, as she noted, “a drenched dog.”

This incident, which may or may not have been reported and detailed by the police and thus included in the New York State 2021 Recreational Boating Report, ended on a positive note due to the help of these Good Samaritans, rather than the help of other boaters. This incident is a dramatic reminder to everyone who takes to the water that they need to be aware of their responsibility as members of the boating public.

“Rendering Assistance (Good Samaritan Law) — According to Section 41.3 of the Navigation Law: It shall be the duty of every master or pilot of any vessel to render such assistance as he can possibly give to any other vessel coming under his observation and being in distress on account of accident, collision or otherwise.

“If you come across another vessel that is in distress, the law requires you to assist them to the best of your abilities. You are excused from this duty if such assistance: endangers your own vessel — endangers your passengers — interferes with other rescue efforts or law enforcement — will cause further or more extensive damage. Even if you determine that there is a risk to your vessel and passengers you should stay at the scene until a competent rescue team comes on the scene and releases you … If you find that you must put someone in the water to assist another vessel or passenger make sure they are wearing a life jacket.”

In 2020, in the most recent compilation of boating statistics, there were 240 boating accidents reported in New York. Among those accidents there were 127 injuries and 31 fatalities, the highest New York has had since 2003. In Suffolk County in 2020, there were 56 accidents, 40 injuries and five fatalities. The use of a life jacket may have saved many of these victims. A collision between two or more vessels is still the most common type of boating accident and results in the most injuries. The two most common factors in boating collisions are operator inattention and operator inexperience. There is no single answer to reducing either fatalities or collisions, although a little common sense and consideration of other boaters would be a good start. Boating education classes help, but boaters must be willing to apply what they have learned. As detailed in the Recreational Boating Report, “With the continued phasing in of Brianna’s Law continuing in 2022 and ending in 2025 with all ages required to take a Safe Boating Course, we can bring these numbers back down with the hope that New York residents can continue to have a fun but safe experience on the water.”

Yes! The most important part of boating safety is to begin with a boating safety education course. This is especially true for our young people, since they are the future of boating and boating safety.

On an August Monday, my wife and I were canoeing in Little Bay, just west of Setauket Harbor. It was high tide and two high-speed motorboats appeared pulling water skiers. One of these boats, operated by a young man, had no observer on board to watch the skier, a violation of both the boating law and common sense.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Suffolk County Police Marine Division, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons, also known as America’s Boating Club, have been working together in the areas of education and prevention to make recreational boating safe as well as enjoyable.

“One of the rules that boaters may not know,” commented Old Field Point Power Squadron Commander Ron Guzewich, “is that operation of a personal watercraft (PWC) is actually prohibited from sunset to sunrise. And there are other restrictions on the operation of personal watercraft as well. Personal watercraft comprise about 10% of the total registered vessels in New York, yet they are involved in a disproportionate share of accidents.”

Boating courses are available through the United States Power Squadrons — America’s Boating Club at: americasboatingclub.org/learn/online-boating-education/americas-boating-course. In addition, a listing of New York State boating courses may be accessed at nysparks.com/recreation/boating/education.aspx.

The New York State Parks and Recreation Department recommends “The Safe Skipper’s Pledge,” a version of which is recommended by every boating organization. It reads:

• I will assist those in need and report any boating accident in which I’m involved.

• My boat will have USCG approved life jackets, of the proper size, in good condition and readily accessible.

• I will operate in a safe and careful manner, never recklessly, and never while under the influence.

• I will understand and follow the Rules of the Road.

• I will take a boating safety course.

• I will carry the proper equipment while underway, always in good condition and always readily accessible.

• Navigation aids serve as the road signs of the water. I will understand and obey them.

• I will understand and follow the legal requirements for operating a personal watercraft.

• I will remember to follow the rules of safe boating, whether I am pulling skiers or tubers, skin diving, fishing or hunting.

• If my boat has a motor, I will register it with the Department of Motor Vehicles.”

As I wish to end this article on a positive note, I’m including a report contained in the Recreational Boating Report from May 2010. “Long Island Man Recognized for Rescue — A National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Award of Commendation is going to a New York man, Scott Stokkers, of Huntington, for his bravery and selflessness in saving three young lives on Long Island Sound last summer. On the evening of August 14, 2009, Stokkers responded to cries for help from three young boaters whose 10-foot boat took on water and sank in the dark waters of Makamah Beach. Without life jackets, the three young boaters were unable to swim the nearly half mile to shore due to exhaustion. Stokkers carefully approach the panicked boaters, getting them aboard his canoe and safely ashore.”

This commendation also notes the number one cause of boating fatalities in New York State, the lack of a required life preserver, also called PFD, personal flotation device. These boys were lucky for more than one reason.

The Recreational Boating Report notes, “What causes recreational boating accidents fatalities on the water in New York? The obvious answer on the leading type of boating deaths is drowning. During the period 2005 – 2020, 82% of all victims were not wearing a PFD. It is impossible to tell how many people have been saved by wearing a PFD, but the potential consequences of not wearing one are clear.

Improvements in PFDs have made them far more comfortable to wear. Specific PFDs have been developed to maximize safety for specific on water activities such as wake boarding and personal watercraft operation, as well as a new labeling system rolling out on future PFD’s making it easier for users to know the effectiveness of the PFD’s being used.”

It is up to everyone who enjoys boating on the waters surrounding Long Island and, on our lakes, bays and rivers to practice safe boating. We can all have enjoyable experiences on the water if we are knowledgeable, prepared and aware of what is going on around us.     

Past Commander Beverly Tyler is currently chaplain and historian for the Old Field Point Power Squadron with the rank of Senior Navigator, having completed every course of study and practical application of safe boating operation, coastwise and celestial navigation in the United States Power Squadrons — America’s Boating Club.