Tags Posts tagged with "Beverly Tyler"

Beverly Tyler

Snaden is a vote for stability

On Monday, June 5, I ran my last public meeting as mayor of Port Jefferson Village. Over my 14-year tenure, I have run and attended well over 6,700 meetings and spent countless hours serving and representing this great village.

It has truly been my great honor to serve, protect and build our community, stabilizing the tax base, building our reserves now to well over $2 million, while improving our parks, paving our streets and reducing crime (as Suffolk County police reported at our last meeting).

It is hard work, committed work and work that doesn’t result from a crash course. It is work that comes from spending lots of time sitting in the seat, getting to know your partners, revenue streams, who to call and when to call. It takes thick skin, the ability to listen and most of all — the ability to know when it’s time.

I am endorsing Deputy Mayor Kathianne Snaden to be our next mayor — to be my mayor. Why? Because she is ready – she has trained for five years, is more than capable and she cares and has passion for this community.

I made the decision to retire because I knew my successor was ready, willing and able. You can’t learn this job in under a year — it’s not possible. And for goodness sake, why would we want a neophyte mayor when we can elect Kathianne and keep our trustees in place so they can continue to learn and serve? 

Doing otherwise would be so detrimental to the trajectory of this village — it would wreak havoc and result in a devastating, unstable and inexperienced board creating damage that might be irreparable for years to come. 

A vote for Deputy Mayor Snaden is a vote for stability and to keep your board intact so we can move onward and upward together. Please be responsible and get out to vote on June 20 at the Village Center. After our 14 years together, please help me in this one last request: To vote for Katharine Snaden to protect our beloved Port Jefferson and ensure it remains our very own beautiful destination — for a lifetime or a day.

Margot J. Garant

Mayor, Village of Port Jefferson

Sheprow will shake up status quo

As a lifelong resident and former trustee of Port Jeff, I am enthusiastically supporting Lauren Sheprow for village mayor. 

A vote for the opponent will maintain the status quo at Village Hall. We cannot afford to continue the fiscal and land-use policies of the current administration. 

In 2008, when I was a trustee, a significant and illegal situation in a residential area was brought to the board’s attention. Shockingly, 14 years later, the problem persists. We need a mayor who will be proactive, respond quickly to problems and represent all of us. That person is Lauren Sheprow. 

Sheprow will ensure land-use decisions are made with the advice of village professionals, taking into account the need to preserve the character of our cherished village while revitalizing certain areas. We can and must do better.

Please join me by writing in “Lauren Sheprow” in the write-in space for mayor on the ballot.

Virginia Capon

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Snaden’s commitment to public safety

As someone with a career in law enforcement, I admit to being very impressed by Kathianne Snaden. 

Deputy Mayor Snaden’s ongoing dedication to public safety has truly been something to behold. Even as a new trustee, I often remember seeing her at the Suffolk County Police Department 6th Precinct monthly meetings, engaging with the department, taking notes and advocating for more involvement by SCPD within the village. This was going on since day one of her being an elected official.

 Her involvement with SCPD over the years — both at Village Hall and at the 6th Precinct — still continues to this very day. There have been ever evolving improvements with our own code officers, her many different initiatives such as having code officers on bicycles, code officers meeting every inbound train uptown and working with the schools to allow code officers to be a presence there, again to name a few. 

She is always interacting with the 6th Precinct Whiskey Unit every summer, always being on call and present whenever necessary at any time of day or night. She has even gone on a few ride-alongs to really dig deep and be involved in every aspect of public safety. It’s so refreshing to see.

It is true, the flowers in the village are beautiful. However, what is more beautiful is an elected official who has worked on improving the safety of our village for years since day one. I am confident Kathianne will use this experience and institutional knowledge as our mayor to continue making Port Jeff the best it can be.

Keith Ottendorfer

Port Jefferson

Sheprow will bring change

Experience counts, but wisdom counts more. Networks, contacts and vision count more.

Lauren Sheprow brings to our village a wide range of professional management experience, an extensive network of contacts in the village — including myself, Stony Brook University and beyond, and a tradition of resident enfranchisement. She will also bring integrity.

You will need to write in Lauren’s name on June 20, and you will need to write in exactly as prescribed. This, because your current establishment continues its tradition of unfair dealing; this, because your current establishment throws out petitions on technicalities — instead of saying, “Take this back, you forgot something.”

The opposition response? Getting a little scared? Eliminate the competition. We are seeing character assassination in the form of unsigned attacks.

Do you know your village history? Seems a lot like what happened to Mark Lyon when he was trustee. (Mark had made a negative comment on the Lombardi’s renovation to Port Jefferson Country Club, a last-minute leak that cost him his seat.)

I have a lot to say about Port Jefferson, but I say it in signed letters or in an open public forum.

There is much that is not being done and much that needs to change.

Remember our recent code enforcement scandal? It didn’t have to happen. I warned the board of trustees of this. 

We need to look to our future. We are losing 50% of our power plant revenue but we could lose the other 50% starting in 2027.

Decommissioning

It is time to attend to this. Lauren will reach out and bring in people with the networks to address these issues. Conversations with LIPA, PSEG, National Grid and the new public LIPA. Conversations about future technologies — here in Port Jefferson.

LIPA, LIRR, Lawrence Aviation, revenue from solar installation battery storage — here in Port Jefferson. We need to start attending to all of these big issues.

Lauren will bring in the people of Port Jefferson who can make it happen. Lauren will lead.

Bruce Miller 

Port Jefferson

Editor’s note: The writer is a former Port Jefferson Village trustee.

Is this your village?

It is changing. Is it changing for the better? Behemoth apartments. A code enforcement group that seems out of control.

I put in much time and effort working with the Grassroots Committee to Repower Port Jefferson. The whole community was involved. What happened to that community effort? It seems like little is happening. It seems like it has all been pulled inside the village. All is secret.

The school district and the community are no longer involved. No efforts are being made for a positive economic future. Are we just awaiting taxes doubling? There are alternative sources of tax revenue but they are not being pursued. Ms. Snaden suggests “experience” in her campaign. Experience in what? Our planning department is just a rubber stamp for developers. Code enforcement?

Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency

This committee is giving your tax dollars and services away to multimillionaire developers. Apartment buildings are not “industrial.” Where are the long-term jobs the IDA was designed to create? The first village development on Texaco Avenue was well through the planning process as a private sector investment. The IDA board was scrambling to throw money at this development and win favor with this developer — and future developers — before time ran out and the plans approved.

Uptown is a mess. But why? We have ordinances to ensure decent commercial housing. Were these ordinances ever enforced? Or were these four blocks allowed to deteriorate to give developers greater leverage for more dense development through more dense zoning? (Speaking of dense zoning: Maryhaven? Really?)

Above-ground parking garages? We are looking more like Queens every year.

What’s your comfort level with our current Village Hall? Let us not be intimidated by one joker with an iPhone. Let’s reopen Village Hall to our villagers.

 Remember, Lauren is for the residents.

Molly Mason

Port Jefferson

AHEPA upholds American ideals

Almost exactly 100 years ago, in the summer of 1922, the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association was established.

The organization was formed in response to attacks on Greek immigrants by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist and anti-immigrant groups operating across the country. Although now, several generations later, Greeks are successful and well established in American society, to this day AHEPA remains active and continues to promote the best qualities of Ancient Greek society, including philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, integrity, family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. 

Always faithful to its history, AHEPA was instrumental in the restoration of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, through which millions of immigrants flowed, often with little more than one or two pieces of hand luggage and a dream.

This past weekend, I was invited by AHEPA and the local Greek-American community to be recognized for public service. To receive an award from an organization of this quality was truly humbling, and I am very thankful to the community for its kindness. 

Reflecting on the history of AHEPA, I was reminded that although Greek immigrants ultimately overcame their challenges, successive groups of immigrants continue to face the same fears, the same attacks and the same bigotry.

People rarely leave their native countries and immigrate to the United States because things are going great for them at home. The choice to leave behind their food, language and culture is a painful decision, never taken lightly, and very often in desperation. 

But Lady Liberty doesn’t just open her arms to the wealthy, the gainfully employed and the highly educated. Her invitation extends to “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me” [Emma Lazarus’ famous 1883 sonnet, “The New Colossus”].

Fortunately, throughout history there have been those with compassion and courage who have stood up to defend true American ideals. Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and although immigrants sometimes arrive with empty pockets, they have that hustle which helped build America into the amazing land of opportunity it is today. 

I am so proud to know the good people of AHEPA and my many friends within the Greek community who have been a beacon of moral courage, compassionate leadership and democracy not just for 100 years, but for thousands.

Jonathan Kornreich

Councilmember, Town of Brookhaven

Stony Brook

Carlton “Hub” Edwards: an uplifting story

Congratulations to Rita J. Egan and The Village Times Herald for a wonderfully uplifting story on Carlton “Hub” Edwards [“Veteran Stories” series in Arts & Lifestyles section, also TBR News Media website, May 25]. 

A Korean War veteran, he’s been a knowledgeable, affable, active and patriotic fixture in our community for many, many decades.

One of Ms. Egan’s many interesting highlights features Hub unquestioningly trading his baseball glove and local team jersey for the uniform of our United States Army. What people may not know is he made that switch after being drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who happened to be one of the top three or four Major League teams in 1951.

The pitcher of three no-hitters simply said, “Uncle Sam took first precedence,” feeling even today that the military can provide much-needed discipline for young people.

Whether it’s been Hub’s work at the American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766, his Bethel AME Church or our Three Village Historical Society, the post’s community liaison Joe Bova summed up things perfectly: “He really felt strongly about what his commitment to people should be and that just transferred over to the community he belongs to.”

Talking to Hub or his lovely wife, Nellie, whether it be at the Memorial Day ceremony or during a Frank Melville Memorial Park concert, is both a treat and an enriching experience. Here’s hoping those who haven’t read the article will now take the opportunity to do so.

Jim Soviero

East Setauket

Yes, words do matter

I found the title to Shoshana Hershkowitz’s recent letter on the immigration debacle taking place quite ironic [“Words matter in immigration dialogue,” May 25]. Let’s examine “words matter” for a moment, shall we? 

I wonder if anyone remembers when people were caught entering our country illegally, they were referred to as illegal aliens. That term was legally accurate, yet deemed offensive to progressives. The acceptable words to describe a person in our country illegally then became undocumented immigrant. 

Now, the words (that matter) have become “asylum seeker.” Asylum is defined as protection granted to a political refugee. It was not intended to bypass the legal immigration process for people that want to enjoy all of the benefits of living in the United States. I think honest people can agree that not everyone coming over our border illegally is a political refugee. 

I fully support legal immigration. No one is above the law in the U.S. Once again, the compassion and goodness of the people of this country is being taken advantage of by progressives that created this unprecedented and unsustainable surge. 

I read that Vice President Kamala Harris [D] was supposed to be figuring out the “root cause” of the surge at our border. I have not seen her give an explanation yet. Could it be progressive policies? For example, in New York, politicians declared a sanctuary state and gave out over $2 billion of taxpayer money to noncitizens through the Excluded Workers Fund. Is that an incentive to come here illegally?

Ms. Hershkowitz quoted Kevin McCaffrey [R-Lindenhurst], presiding officer of the county Legislature, stating, “We don’t know who’s coming over.” Is that not a true and fair statement? Ms. Hershkowitz says asking that question implies that asylum seekers are a danger to us. How extremely disingenuous of her. 

Our leaders cannot ask simple, reasonable questions about who enters our country now? Can Ms. Hershkowitz personally vouch for all of these people? In New York City, the mayor was housing some of these people in public school facilities. Our governor is considering using our taxpayer-funded universities to house these people in our neighborhoods, and our elected officials cannot ask any questions without being labeled xenophobic or accused of demonization? 

Seems like Ms. Hershkowitz’s rhetoric is a bit extreme to me. Does constantly labeling people who you don’t agree with politically as evil or dangerous, just for asking questions, bring us together or divide us?

Words matter … indeed.

Charles Tramontana

East Setauket

Open letter to Assemblyman Ed Flood

Dear Assemblyman,

I urge you to vote for the Birds and Bees Protection Act when it comes before you this week. The bill (A7640/S1856A) will protect honey bees and other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids which are having a devastating impact on bees.

You might not be aware, but the original bill was worked on by Maria Hoffman, my wife and longtime state Assembly staffer and local Setauket beekeeper, in response to the massive die-off of bees caused by these new genetically manufactured nerve agents that are coated on corn and soybean seeds and then spread by contact with bees as they forage for nectar and pollen.

You should also know that the bill is very specific and bans only neonic-coated corn and soy seeds and does allow farmers to use locally applied pesticides if their crops are threatened.

Beyond the partisan wrangling of our elected officials that seem to take up so much of government lately, you should know that your Assembly district has a strong environmental leaning by both Democrat and Republican residents of the district. The Birds and Bees Protection Act has strong support districtwide and your constituents will appreciate your leadership on this important bill.

George Hoffman

Setauket

Another Birds and Bees plea to Assemblyman Flood 

How disheartening to think the state environmental bill A7640/S1856A, the Birds and Bees Protection Act, that has the bipartisan support of Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine [R] and other local legislators, may not be supported by our new state legislator Assemblyman Ed Flood [R-Port Jefferson]. 

Maria Hoffman, a local Setauket beekeeper who originally helped formulate this bill, was a steadfast advocate for environmental protection and a dear friend who passed away last year. Many in the community knew and respected Maria.

We are very dedicated to protecting our waterways in this district and wholeheartedly support this bill. Its intent is to protect honey bees as well as all other pollinators from neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. 

These nerve agents are coated on corn, soy and other seeds prophylactically to avoid agricultural pests. They are now widely used by large nurseries as well to avoid pests during transport of stock to local stores. 

There is significant opportunity for misapplication by both farmers and homeowners which leads to residue of these toxins in field margins, local waterways and potentially the produce we eat. Integrated pest management, regulated by the EPA, would still permit farmers to treat threatened crops. 

I urge Mr. Flood to respect the strong environmental leaning of both Democrat and Republican residents of his district. These constituents will value leadership in passing this important bill.

Anne Chimelis

East Setauket

Boating safety is necessary

Thanks to TBR News Media for their timely editorial on boating safety [“Safety key to a successful summer,” May 25].

The sobering facts about boating safety should be of concern to everyone who enjoys the water this year. There is little doubt that the use of a personal flotation device, or life jacket, would have contributed to saving a number of lives lost due to drowning.

There are a number of organizations which offer short courses that provide a New York State boating safety certificate or its equivalent, including the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons — America’s Boating Club.

Just this past spring, the Mount Sinai Yacht Club, in association with the Suffolk County Police Department, ran a boating certificate course for the general public. These courses give you an opportunity to talk to instructors and get all your questions and concerns answered.

The requirement for all operators of a motorized vessel to have a boating safety certificate is being phased in by age. As of Jan. 1, 2025, every operator of a motorized vessel in New York state waters will be required to have a boating safety certificate or its equivalent.

Beverly Tyler

Certified instructor and past commander

Old Field Point Power Squadron

MTA’s continued staffing, safety failures

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority inspector general’s report on excess employee overtime and safety issues is nothing new for Port Jefferson Branch riders.

Every generation of MTA chairmen, agency presidents, board members, finance officers and executive management who manage agency budgets has made the wrong choice. They believed it would be cheaper to pay overtime than hire additional employees, whose critical specialized skills were necessary for maintaining functioning safe and reliable transportation operations.

They thought it would be less expensive by avoiding the costs of training, full-time salary plus fringe benefits, medical insurance and pensions by not increasing the headcounts of various departments. This has contributed to excessive overtime and potential safety issues.

The LIRR should have the ability to hire more full-time and part-time employees to deal with routine and emergency workloads. This would provide a larger pool of employees resulting in less overtime, excessive and unsafe work hours for employees.

Another option is upon reaching retirement eligibility, allow employees to collect 50% of their pensions while still being able to work part time. MTA Chairman Janno Lieber and LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi should include both in the next round of contract negotiations with SMART Transportation Division 505 Union General Chairman Anthony Simon.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Severe lead poisoning of local swan

We live in Port Jefferson, close to Mount Sinai Harbor. Last Sunday, a swan came to visit us, which was most unusual because they never come up from the harbor. This juvenile looked really sick. We called Lisa Jaeger, who rescues animals, and she trapped the swan and brought him out to the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center in Hampton Bays, where he was diagnosed with severe lead poisoning. The swan may not survive. He will be at the wildlife rescue center for a long time.

Severe lead poisoning? How did this happen? We have learned that duck hunters often use lead shot — even though it’s illegal — and it falls to the bottom of the harbor and gets ingested by swans.

How much lead is sitting at the bottom of the harbor? Are the clams, mussels and oysters that fishermen dig up from the harbor contaminated, too? People kayak and swim here and walk their dogs, and we worry that the dogs could also ingest the lead.

We want Port Jefferson residents to be aware of how our harbor is being polluted. Perhaps we can work together to ensure that no other swans suffer as this juvenile is suffering.

Cynthia Kravitz

Peter Boerboom

Port Jefferson

A sad episode for Smithtown

How ironic it is that those who ran Martine Francois-DePass out of town with their bigoted and hateful social media campaign are themselves Exhibit A for exactly that which they so passionately deny: Namely, that racist discrimination against Black people, far from being a thing of the past, is still very much with us. [See June 1 story, The Times of Smithtown.]

It’s yet another reminder that America in general and Smithtown in particular continue to be far from the ideal of a color-blind society to which we all aspire.

What a missed opportunity. An opportunity to expose Smithtown children to a positive authority figure from a minority background. An opportunity to move the needle on the perception of Smithtown as a community hostile to non-whites. An opportunity to stand up and defeat fear and bigotry. The decision of Ms. Francois-DePass to withdraw from consideration as principal of Smithtown Elementary in the face of a campaign of vilification and hate against her is our loss, not hers.

Does anybody seriously believe that if Ms. Francois-DePass was white, her every word on social media would have been subjected to the same kind of aggressive and invidious scrutiny? Not that there was anything troubling about her social media posts. She supports Black Lives Matter and racial justice. What a surprise. Is that the litmus test? If it is, it amounts to a frankly racist refusal to countenance the hiring of just about any Black person.

One Smithtown parent stood up at a school board meeting and proclaimed that Ms. Francois-DePass was unqualified. What nonsense. She has degrees from Boston University, SUNY Stony Brook and an advanced degree from Fordham. She also has an advanced certificate in educational leadership and administration from Long Island University, experience as a New York City school teacher for 18 years and as an assistant principal here in Suffolk in the Longwood school district for four years.

Another parent posted that he was going to tell his child not to recognize this “piece of trash” and to “disregard any guidance/direction given by this person.” What a great example for his child.

Is this how some parents want to be “involved” in their children’s education? Racism is still very much with us largely because it’s passed down from generation to generation. What a sad, sad episode this is for our Smithtown community.

David Friedman

St. James

Donna Smith, director of education at Three Village Historical Society, welcomes every fourth-grade class in the Three Village school district to the Setauket Elementary School’s auditorium. Photo from Three Village Historical Society

The Three Village area is filled with history and no one knows this better than educator Donna Smith.

A former four grade teacher at Setauket Elementary School and the current director of education at the Three Village Historical Society, Smith has gone above and beyond to ensure that residents of all ages are educated on the importance of the area’s history. In addition to her work with the historical society, she is also an active member of Stony Brook Community Church, where her co-lay leader Gail Chase described her as “an energizer bunny,” who just keeps going and going. 

Smith’s daughter, Kerri, credits her mother’s energy to being young at heart. Describing her mother as her best friend, she said Smith, who grew up in Stony Brook and still lives in the hamlet, loves connecting with the community, especially when it comes to sharing her knowledge of local history.

Smith dresses as Alice Parsons. who went missing in Stony Brook in 1937, for the 2018 Spirits Tour. Photos from Three Village Historical Society

The subject was often a point of conversation in the Smith home, where Kerri, who is now a history teacher, said she and her brother Brendan heard many history stories from their mother and father, James. Kerri Smith said she feels her mother developed her passion for the subject growing up with a father who was passionate about education and giving back to the community.

“I think it was just growing up here and having a fascination with understanding our roots and sharing that with other people,” her daughter said.

Beverly Tyler, TVHS historian, has known Smith since the 1990s when she invited him to talk to her fourth-grade students. One of her projects involved the children choosing a historic house in the community and learning more about it. They would often ask the homeowners questions, but when they weren’t available, they would talk to Tyler — or if they chose a church or library, someone associated with the entity.

During her tenure with the school district, Smith and Tyler worked together on a countrywide/local history manual project called Pathways through the American Association for State and Local History.

Smith was about to retire from teaching when her husband died in 2005, so she decided to remain with the school district for another few years. For the 350th anniversary of the Town of Brookhaven, Tyler said she invited all fourth-graders in the town to the Village Green to be part of the reenactment of Native Americans signing over their territory. The day inspired the Founders Day program, where Smith and Tyler joined forces with town historian Barbara Russell. Tyler said Smith was instrumental in convincing the school district that the program was important.

The duo later added a walking tour of various historical properties in the area to the project and, for a period of time, the auditorium of Setauket Elementary School was opened for all to view the Vance Locke murals depicting local history.

This summer, the American Association for State and Local History presented an award of excellence to the historical society for the program.

“The person who really coalesces this together was Donna,” Tyler said. “She’s the teacher. She’s the one who knows how to ask the right questions, how to pose things and do it in a way that would reach the kids.”

Smith continues to educate through her work at the historical society with in-school programs that at times can have 50 children on the Woodhull walking tours, where Tyler and Smith teach one class each.

“She’s been very instrumental in being the person who really helps to coordinate this whole activity with the kids in the school, and has gotten the educational program going in the Three Village Historical Society,” he said.

Donna Smith, right, with her daughter on Culper Spy Day. Photo by Micheal Rosengard

The local historian said Smith took history programs used by the society in the past and narrowed them down to the activities she knew people wanted. In conjunction with Betsy Knox, a librarian at R.C. Murphy Junior High School, Smith and Tyler worked with a history club at the school toward an updated Founders Day program geared at the junior high school level. They also work with high school students, using original historical documents and encouraging them to be active in the discussions.

“Without Donna it would have been impossible to do any of these programs,” Tyler said, adding she has an incredible grasp of teaching methods.

The historian said Smith worked with him on the book “Discover Setauket, Brookhaven’s Original Settlement,” and he said she was instrumental in producing the book and getting it to a point where it was more effective.

In addition to her work on the educational side of the historical society, Smith assists at many of its events and has played characters in the society’s annual Spirits Tour as well as at Culper Spy Day.

Chase agreed that Smith is impressive when it comes to history.

“She has certainly made that come alive, and she takes those responsibilities very seriously,” Chase said. “It’s a pleasure to watch her in action when she gives her talks about the local history and her involvement with the Culper Spy story.”

Chase said Smith’s passion for community extends beyond history with her church work, and added that she’s known the educator since the 1960s. As a co-lay leader, Smith sits in on every committee, and is co-chair of the church council and the church’s annual Apple Festival. In the past, she has also contributed to the church community as a Sunday school teacher and superintendent. 

“She had and has a very active life in the church and is very important to us,” Chase said.

Chase described Smith as outgoing, welcoming and loyal in her friendships.

“She really takes pleasure in doing things for other people, especially welcoming new members of the church,” Chase said. “If anyone is ill or having a tough time, she will often make them a dinner. She’s just a terrific person.”

 

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Robert Townsend was one of the main spies of the Culper Spy Ring that received help from auxiliary spies who lived on Long Island and in Manhattan. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly Tyler

General George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, based in Setauket, with spies operating in Manhattan, on Long Island and in many other locations in the theater of the Revolutionary War, was unusual for a number of reasons. These were the only spies to have an organization specifically organized by Washington and the only long-term operation provided with a specific purpose — to keep Washington informed on British activities in the city and on Long Island.

Members of the Culper Spy Ring were also the only spies with an extensive code list, a specific invisible ink formula and procedures for their use outlined by Washington and the head of the spy ring in Setauket Abraham Woodhull.

The Culper Spy Ring, a name that was given to the group’s operations because the two main spies, farmer Abraham Woodhull in Setauket and shop owner Robert Townsend in New York City, were given the identities Samuel Culper Sr. and Samuel Culper Jr. Townsend gathered intelligence in New York City and sent it to Woodhull in Setauket who coordinated the efforts of the other members of the spy ring.

Austin Roe, a Setauket tavern owner, was the courier who traveled to Manhattan on a regular basis to order supplies for his tavern and brought back written and verbal intelligence he delivered to Woodhull. Captain Caleb Brewster then carried the spy information across Long Island Sound to Fairfield, Connecticut.

The grave of spy Abraham Woodhull can be found in the cemetery of the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo by Beverly Tyler

Since Woodhull could not meet openly with Brewster, it fell to Anna Smith Strong to let him know where Brewster was hiding with his whaleboats and crews. This was the group of spies known as the Culper Spy Ring; however, they did not operate without a large number of auxiliary spies, both in New York City and on Long Island, who provided them with intelligence as well as information that supported their efforts and helped to keep them safe.

Spies in New York City who assisted the Culper Spy Ring included James Rivington, a New York City businessman and editor of Rivington’s Royalist Gazette, and Amos and Mary Underhill, who ran a boarding house in Manhattan where Abraham Woodhull stayed on his trips to New York to gather intelligence.

Mary was Woodhull’s sister and her husband Amos was from Oyster Bay. He was also a second cousin to Robert Townsend.

Hercules Mulligan ran a New York City tailoring business and was a good friend of Alexander Hamilton. He was an effective spy for Washington and communicated intelligence through Robert Townsend.

Cato was an African American slave and spy courier for Hercules Mulligan, while Haym Salomon was a New York City shop owner and spy who was a suspected Patriot.

Hugh Mulligan, brother of Hercules, ran Kortright & Co. that had contracts with the British Army. He provided valuable intelligence.

Daniel Bissell was a spy for Washington who infiltrated into New York City and joined Benedict Arnold’s American Legion to provide intelligence on their movements and to seek a way to bring Arnold to justice.

Lewis Costigin worked as a spy for Washington in New York City in 1778 and 1779.

There was also Abraham Patten who unfortunately was hung as a spy in New York City in 1777, before the Culper Spy Ring was organized.

Nathan Hale was the Continental Army captain who was the best friend of Benjamin Tallmadge at Yale. They both graduated in 1773 and became school teachers in Connecticut. As a member of Knowlton’s Rangers in 1776, Hale volunteered to go to Long Island for Washington, as a spy, to find out British plans for attacking and capturing Manhattan. He was unfortunately captured before he could complete his mission. He was hanged in Manhattan as a spy. His death and the words attributed to him, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” inspired many to join the Patriot cause and others to remain in the Continental Army.

In October, 1780, intelligence chief Benjamin Tallmadge wrote to Washington concerning the former Continental Army general and then traitor Benedict Arnold who had joined the British in New York City and was rounding up suspected Patriots to locate the members of the Culper Spy Ring. “The conduct of Arnold, since his arrival at N.Y. has been such, that though he know not a single link in the chain of my correspondence, still those who have assisted us in this way, are at present too apprehensive of danger to give their immediate useful intelligence. I hope as the tumult subsides matters will go on in their old channels.”

Austin Roe was the courier who traveled to Manhattan to order supplies for his tavern and bring back written and verbal intelligence. Photo from Beverly Tyler

Spies on Long Island who assisted the Culper Spy Ring included Joshua Davis, known in spy letter correspondence as J.D., was Brewster’s deputy, and Captain Nathan Woodhull, a second cousin of Abraham Woodhull, who provided intelligence to his cousin in Setauket and to Brewster from his location in Old Man’s (Mount Sinai).

Nathaniel Ruggles was placed at Old Man’s by Benjamin Tallmadge to gather intelligence and was saved from exposure as a spy by the efforts of Selah Strong, husband of Culper spy Anna Smith Strong.

Nathaniel Roe and Phillips Roe were both cousins of Culper Spy Ring courier Austin Roe. They provided intelligence through Culper spy Brewster from their home in Drowned Meadow (now Port Jefferson).

Samuel Townsend, the father of Robert Townsend and an Oyster Bay town leader, was often in conflict with the other town leaders of Oyster Bay who suspected him of Patriot leaning. 

George Smith, a resident of Smithtown, was noted in spy letters and correspondence as S.G. Selah Strong, a Brookhaven Town leader and husband of Culper spy Anna Smith Strong, is listed as executor of the will of Nathaniel Ruggles and as having saved Ruggles’ life by his effort he, “hath snatched me from the jaws of my adversaries and befriended me in every difficulty as far as was consistant with his duty as an honest man.” Strong was also a good friend and cousin of both Abraham Woodhull and Brewster.

Isaac Thompson remained at his home and estate during the Revolutionary War. His home (now Sagtikos Manor) was visited by President Washington in April, 1790, and was one of four places Washington stayed to thank the Culper spies for their help. Thompson’s mother was Abraham Woodhull’s aunt. He grew up in Setauket and both his father and brother were active as captains in the Long Island militias and all three served with Selah Strong on the Brookhaven Town Board at one time or another.

Benjamin Havens was an innkeeper in Center Moriches who married Selah Strong’s sister Abigail in 1754. Another sister, Submit, married Phillips Roe of Drowned Meadow, and yet another sister, Zipporah, married Rev. Benjamin Tallmadge, father of Washington’s Chief of Intelligence Benjamin Tallmadge.

There are many other family connections. Haven’s was also a member of the Patriot Committee of Safety in Brookhaven together with Abraham Woodhull of Setauket and his cousin General Nathaniel Woodhull of Mastic. In addition, Rivington’s Royalist Gazette reported in July 1779, “Last week a party of Rebels had a feast at the home of Benj. Havens at Moriches (a most pernicious caitiff), and several of the inhabitants attended at this frolic. Wm. Phillips, Benajah Strong and  Brewster gave this entertainment.” Havens is also believed to have provided intelligence to Major Benjamin Tallmadge that assisted his successful raid on Fort St. George in Mastic in November of 1780.

Lieutenant Henry Scudder, a resident of Crab Meadow (Northport area), was a spy for the Continental Army. Scudder often penetrated enemy lines sending back important information on troop movements. Scudder and Bryant Scidmore drew a plan of Fort Slongo, which led to a successful attack on the fort.

Beverly 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 www.tvhs.org.

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Copy of drawing of the Strong house in Mount Misery. This house, circa 1796, replaced the original house, which burned. Photo from Long Island Forum

By Beverly Tyler

First in a two-part series.

May 1, 1790, Selah Strong of Setauket shared his Patriot views with Robert Heaton of London.

“Almost every one is partial in favour of their own government, and perhaps you will charge me with being prejudiced in favour of ours, but it is my opinion, that this government is much better calculated for the enjoyment of our Civil Rights, than the Constitution of Great Britain.”

Strong was born Dec. 25, 1737, in a house built by his father Thomas at Mount Misery, now Belle Terre, Long Island. His mother Susannah was the daughter of Samuel Thompson, a family connection that extended from the community of Setauket to the Town of Brookhaven where Jonathan Thompson and his sons Samuel and Isaac, and Selah Strong served as town trustees before and after the Revolutionary War. Strong was elected a trustee of the Town of Brookhaven each year from 1767 to 1777, and as a representative to the first Provincial Congress of New York in 1775.

Samuel and Susannah Thompson’s son Jonathan and his son Dr. Samuel Thompson served in Long Island militia companies in 1775, and most likely as captains in the Continental Army in Connecticut during the Revolutionary War, as they were refugees to Connecticut following the British occupation of Long Island in August 1776. Strong was a captain in Colonel Josiah Smith’s regiment in 1775 and Captain of the Brookhaven minutemen in 1776. A refugee as well, Strong also most likely served as a captain in the Continental Army in Connecticut.

Jonathan Thompson was married to Mary Woodhull, Revolutionary war spy Abraham Woodhull’s aunt. To add more intrigue to the extended family lines, Jonathan Thompson’s second son Isaac, who lived in what is now Sagtikos Manor in Bay Shore, remained on Long Island during the war and is believed to have been a spy for the Culper Spy Ring in Setauket. President George Washington spent the second night of his Long Island trip in 1790, at “the home of Squire Thompson,” to thank the spies who had provided much needed intelligence during the war.

In 1760, Strong married Anna Smith, great-granddaughter of the Lord of the Manor William “Tangier” Smith. The Smith homestead was on Little Neck, now Strong’s Neck, in Setauket. After the British took control of Long Island in 1776, many Long Island patriots became refugees in Connecticut. The couple remained on Long Island with their five children, probably at Strong’s family home at Mount Misery. Strong was still a town trustee. However, in the election of 1777 he and Jonathan Thompson were replaced by more Loyalist-leaning Brookhaven Town residents.

In January of 1778, Strong was arrested and imprisoned in a sugarhouse prison in Manhattan “for surreptitious correspondence with the enemy.” Strong’s position as a Patriot captain and outspoken town leader probably made it easy for someone, possibly a Loyalist Brookhaven town trustee, to suggest that Strong might be a person of interest to the British authorities. At some point his wife Anna, known to her family and friends as “Nancy,” obtained his release by appealing to her Loyalist relative in Manhattan. Strong did not then return to his home on Long Island but became a refugee in Connecticut and probably a great help to the soon to be developed Culper Spy Ring in Setauket.

It is easy to connect Strong with the Culper Spy Ring as one of the known spies was Nathaniel Ruggles. Ruggles was placed as a spy at Old Man’s (Mt. Sinai) by Benjamin Tallmadge, General Washington’s chief of intelligence.

Long Island Historian Kate Wheeler Strong, great-great-granddaughter of Anna Smith Strong, wrote the following article in her 1941 “True Tales,” published by the Long Island Forum. “It is evident that my great-great-grandfather (Selah Strong) must have helped Nathaniel Ruggles, one of Washington’s Spies. This is shown by an abstract from a will of Ruggles dated 1793, left in my great-great-grandfather’s keeping. In appointing him one of his executors Ruggles wrote: ‘I appoint my worthy patron Selah Strong Esq. Late judge of the COUNTY of Suffolk who hath snatched me from the jaws of my adversaries and befriended me in every difficulty as far as was consistant with his duty as an honest man.’”

Beverly 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 www.tvhs.org.

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In 1985 members of a crane company removed the Caroline Church’s steeple bell to protect it from Hurricane Gloria. Photo from Caroline Church archives

By Beverly Tyler

In the archives of Setauket’s Caroline Church of Brookhaven is a beautifully written receipt dated September 17, 1729, written with a quill pen in elegantly flowing script. Addressed to Colonel Benjamin Floyd, senior warden at the church, the receipt details the purchase of the 132½-pound bell that still rings the call to Sunday church services at the historic white colonial building at the Setauket Village Green.

In 1936, the church began a restoration including a return to a colonial appearance. The restoration was financed by local philanthropist and businessman Ward Melville and was carried out by his architect Richard Haviland Smythe. During the restoration, a musket ball was discovered embedded in one of the white oak beams in the tower that holds the bell. During the Battle of Setauket on August 22, 1777, it seems likely that one of the Patriots, firing from about the location of Patriot’s Rock, was trying to ring the bell and missed. At the time the bell was visible in the tower as there were no louvers around the bell as there are today.

In September 1985, with the path of Hurricane Gloria expected to take it directly across the middle of Long Island, it was decided to remove the 30-foot steeple and bell. According to a 1985 article in Newsday, “The Rev. Paul Wancura, church rector, said, ‘We were concerned that with the storm coming, it might blow away and cause some real damage.’” Near the end of the hurricane season the bell and steeple were returned to their exalted positions atop the church tower.

Beverly 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 www.tvhs.org.

While going through items in his mother’s house Three Village historian Beverly Tyler discovers more about his family’s history, which included ownership of Tyler General Store circa 1890. Photo from Beverly Tyler

Beverly Tyler

Growing up in Setauket, first in my grandmother’s house and post office and then in the family home that dates to about 1740, I was aware that my ancestors had lived there for four generations. However, I was not conscious of the details of those families, nor did I realize that the material collection of those four generations was still in the house, packed, in most cases, carefully away in trunks, chests, barrels, boxes, tins and other assorted containers.

My mom died in August of last year, and my family members and I began the process of preparing for an estate sale of the contents of the house. We didn’t have to concern ourselves with the house itself as Mom made a wonderful deal with the Three Village Community Trust, which will eventually take ownership of the house and three acres.

While going through items in his mother’s house, above circa 1900, Three Village historian Beverly Tyler discovers more about his family’s history. Photo from Beverly Tyler

As we began opening trunks, boxes and closets, we discovered clothing, china, glassware, photographs and many other objects dating from the 19th century and even a few items dating to the 18th century. One of the discoveries was music composed and written by my great-grandfather, George Washington Hale Griffin, who worked at various times with both Christy’s and Hooley’s Minstrels in New York City and Chicago. I even discovered at least one piece of church music he wrote.

While I was growing up, I learned, through her letters home, about my great aunt, Mary Swift Jones, who voyaged to China and Japan from 1858 to 1861, in a 150-foot bark built in East Setauket Harbor by her Uncle William Bacon, whose father left England in 1796 to come to Long Island to work in the Blue Point Iron Works. His journal entries were among family papers I researched, even traveling to his hometown in Derbyshire, England, to discover where he came from and why he left. Many of these archival papers and artifacts, dating to the last three centuries, have been given to various Long Island museums and historical societies, while others are to be included in the estate sale.

What I didn’t realize was that the first two generations to live in the house were direct ancestors of my wife Barbara and that the original part of the house had just three bedrooms, which was home to families that each had five children.

When the house and farm were sold to my ancestors in the first decade of the 19th century, it became home to two generations of nine children, still in a home with three bedrooms. It was not until 1879 that an addition was added with two additional bedrooms upstairs, well after my grandfather and six of his eight siblings had married and moved on.

When the house and farm were sold to my ancestors in the first decade of the 19th century, it became home to two generations of nine children, still in a home with three bedrooms.”

I knew from an early age that my great-grandfather, Charles B. Tyler, and my two unmarried great aunts, Annie and Corinne, had remained in the house their entire lives. My family ran a general store for about 100 years in front of our house on the corner of Main Street and Old Field Road. After Charles died in 1899, Annie ran the post office, except for two terms of the President Cleveland administration when the postmaster position was given to party loyalists, and Corinne ran the general store. In the 1930s they closed the store and donated the building to the local American Legion post. The legion moved the building up Main Street where it sits today near the Setauket Methodist Church.

I treasure the knowledge that my ancestors left so many records of their existence. However, many of the individual photographs and photo albums, especially those dating to the 19th century, are of people I do not recognize and are, for the most part, unidentified. Only their clothing, hair styles and poses give hints to their time period and possibly their identity. Everyone I meet who has come face to face with family material from the past says the same thing, “I wish I had asked more questions when I had the opportunity.”

There are many avenues to explore to discover more about the people we love and the ancestors we know so little about. Take the time to learn more about your heritage and the history of the community where you live and label your photographs. The Three Village Historical Society and the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library are both good places to start, with helpful people who have the time, the talent and the desire to help you discover the links to your family and community history.

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

Three Village Historical Society president Stephen Healy, Kristin Moller, Brookhaven Town historian Barbara Russell and Katherine Johnson at the society’s annual awards dinner. Photo by Beverly Tyler

By Beverly Tyler

The Three Village Historical Society’s R. Sherman Mills Young Historian Award was presented to Kristin Moller and Katherine Johnson, at the society’s annual awards dinner at the Old Field Club March 22. Moller and Johnson, both Ward Melville High School seniors, have been volunteers at the Three Village Historical Society for the past couple of years.

Both of these young women have made a positive impression on society staff members as well as the general public. Moller and Johnson work as docents at the history center’s SPIES! Exhibit, where they take visitors of all ages through the exhibit and answer questions about it and the men and women who were a part of the Culper Spy Ring.

Johnson and Moller pose with their awards. Photo by Beverly Tyler

Moeller has also volunteered for the society’s Spirits of the Three Village Cemetery Tour and the Candlelight House Tour. Johnson participated in Cupler Day, a daylong event about the Revolutionary War spies with organizations from Stony Brook and Port Jefferson.

In addition to volunteer efforts at the society, this year Moller participated in a walk on the Greenway Trail to support the Open Door Exchange, and also in a Martin Luther King festival.

“Kristin is a wonderful, cheerful and knowledgeable young lady,” Mary Folz Doherty, society volunteer, said. “She enjoys learning about our local history and she loves sharing what she learns with the community.”

“Krissy is a delightful young lady who has shown an interest in the community where she has grown up,” Karin Lynch, the society’s former treasurer, said.

Johnson has been a volunteer at Stony Brook Hospital for the past two years, one year in pediatric oncology and one year
in radiology.

“There is nothing better for a museum than to have excited young people greeting you with their youthful enthusiasm.”

— Donna Smith

“One cold, cloudy day when no one came to the exhibit, Katherine created an artistic expression of the Culper Spy Ring story on the white board, which was enthusiastically viewed by staff and visitors for many weeks,” Donna Smith, society education director, said.

“These two girls,” Smith said, “learned how to engage people. I’ve seen them grow in confidence. When they first started as docents, they were a bit shy. It’s exciting to see how confident they have become — engaging people and answering questions. We are especially pleased to have them as they worked with so many children who come to the exhibit, working with them on spy codes and invisible ink and helping children understand the importance of spies during the Revolutionary War. There is nothing better for a museum than to have excited young people greeting you with their youthful enthusiasm.”

At the society’s awards dinner, award presenter Barbara Russell, Brookhaven Town historian, noted how important it is for our youth to volunteer, especially to volunteer to help promote local history and how these two high school seniors have excelled as advocates for our area’s extensive local history and culture.

For more information about the society’s youth volunteer and other programs, contact the Three Village Historical Society.

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

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Mom first met her great-great-grandson Aiman on July 13, 2016. Photo by Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

Growing up in Setauket, I learned a great deal from my father by his example, but encouragement and support came from Mom. My sister Ann, my brother Guy and I were taught that we were not only a family but a part of a community that extended from our relatives and neighbors across the street to our relatives and friends everywhere.

We lived with my Grandma Edith Tyler until I was 12 and then we moved into the house down the street where my father’s half sister Carrie had lived with her two aunts, Annie and Corinne, until their deaths. Soon after we moved, my Grandma Tyler moved in and lived with us until her death in 1963. A few years later my grandmother Margaret Carlton (Nana) moved from her home in Port Jefferson to our home and lived with us until her death in 1980.

During all this time, these transitions seemed very normal to me. Mom never said a cross word that I was ever aware of, nor any indication that it was the least bit difficult for her sharing a kitchen and dealing with a strong-willed mother-in-law and an equally strong-willed mother. I always loved and appreciated my grandmothers. They were, like Mom, independent women who had run households of their own.

Grandma and my grandfather Tyler owned and ran a boarding house (now Setauket Neighborhood House) until they sold it in 1918 to Eversley Childs. After my grandfather died in 1926, Grandma took the job of Setauket’s postmaster, and then as librarian at Emma Clark Memorial Library.

Grandma Carlton, Nana to us kids, had married Guy Carlton in 1909 in Alna, Maine, and the couple immediately moved to Port Jefferson where my grandfather Carlton, Pup-Pup to us kids, worked building the original Belle Terre Club. A master carpenter and cabinet maker, Pup-Pup built his house in Port Jefferson, overlooking the harbor, and my grandmother insisted that they have indoor plumbing. This was in 1909, when outhouses were the norm.

One summer (1948) I went to work with my grandfather in Crystal Brook. He was building a full bar in the basement of one of the houses. It was a beautiful piece of furniture with cabinets behind the bar in the game room of the summer cottages, and he told me, “Don’t tell your grandmother, she wouldn’t approve.” My grandfather was a tough man, but my grandmother was the strength of the family.

Mom took all of this in stride. She also believed in letting go and letting her kids explore and discover the world. When I was about 8, I was allowed to cross Main Street in Setauket on my own and take my 4-year-old sister and 3-year-old brother with me to Mrs. Celia Hawkins’ farm. We loved going across to the farm with cows, pigs, geese and a few chickens running through the house. We grew up on the buttermilk and candy corn Celia provided for us every day.

On a number of occasions, I unsuccessfully tried to milk the cows. I could never get the hang of it, but Celia let us churn the butter until our arms gave out and we collapsed on the porch. We also enjoyed mornings when we could help collect the eggs, learning quickly how to avoid having our hands pecked by the chickens.

Mom and Dad also took us on vacations to historic and natural sites from Williamsburg, Virginia, and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to Niagara Falls and the Reversing Falls Rapids in St. John, New Brunswick.

Dad drove and Mom made up games for us to play in the car, usually looking for things outside as we drove. I didn’t realize it at the time, but although Dad was the tour guide and historian, it was Mom who put the fun into the trips with details about interesting signs, structures and people along the route.

“One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.”

— Beverly Tyler

As adults, we took Mom on a few trips, including one to Maine for the burial service of my Aunt Etta, who died when she was 105. Going through one town, Mom suddenly burst out laughing. She pointed out a Chinese restaurant named Mi Sen Gui, and exclaimed, “That’s my son, guy.”

Mom sang a number of years with the Greg Smith singers, even traveling with them to Europe. She played bridge with a group of friends and enjoyed the Setauket Library book study group, even traveling with members of the club to London.

Mom and Dad were members of the Old Field Point Power Squadron and Mom completed every advanced grade course, including celestial navigation. I remember that after completing that last tough course, her warm, aromatic chocolate chip cookies reappeared after a few years absence. Mom was also an excellent cook whose pie crusts have no equal and my wife will attest to that.

Mom enjoyed golf, bowling, boating, car trips and other outdoor activities with my father until his death in a terrible auto accident in 1975. Mom married her second husband Lewis Davis in 1978 and together they enjoyed golf, bowling, trips to Florida and trips all over the world, making a few lasting friends in Australia and other countries as well as closer to home. I especially got to know and appreciate Mom as a friend as well as a mom after Lew died in 2008, in his 94th year.

By the time Lew died, Mom had developed paralysis due to an inherited condition that strikes different people in our family at all different ages and with varied intensities. By the last few years of her life, Mom struggled with special shoes and braces on both legs. I hardly ever heard her complain or let her paralysis slow her down. By this year she was almost completely wheelchair-bound but was still able, with assistance, to move short distances, including in and out of vehicles.

Mom has always been able to take a problem, evaluate it, and after a day, make a decision that is best for everyone around her as well as for herself. Mom always wanted her colonial era home and property to be preserved. Working through state legislator Steven Englebright, this has been accomplished and the property will now go to the Three Village Community Trust.

Mom never lost her sense of humor. Recently, her companion Elizabeth was rubbing some lotion, with a pleasing but distinctive aroma, on her feet. Mom turned and looked very seriously at Elizabeth and said, “Will this clash with my perfume?”

Mom was always able to set herself a goal and stick to it. Elizabeth said that Mom is the only person she knows who could eat one dark chocolate candy kiss and put the bag of candy back in the refrigerator.

Mom’s concern even extended to our parish priest. A week ago we all feared the end of her life was near, but we didn’t know she knew. I told her that our rector, Canon Visconti, was on the way to see her and she whispered to me, “Does he know the situation?” That’s Mom, always one step ahead of the rest of us.

Mom died Thursday, Aug. 25, in her 102nd year, just a few hours after her fourth great-great-grandchild was born in Tennessee. Mom is survived by sons Beverly (Barbara) and Guy, daughter Ann Taylor (Frank), two stepdaughters Sukie Crandall (Steve) and Nancy Rosenberg, seven grandchildren, one step-granddaughter, 21 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

One in; one out. Life goes on and we have a plethora of memories and stories to keep in our hearts.

The funeral will be Friday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. at the Caroline Church, 1 Dyke Rd., Setauket. There will be a wake at Bryant Funeral Home, 411 Old Town Rd. in Setauket Sept. 8 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m.

Beverly Tyler is a lifelong resident of Setauket, Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from Three Village Historical Society.

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Aunt Amy’s Creek at West Meadow Creek, site of an early Native American village and an archaeological exploration by New York State Archaeologist William Ritchie. Photo from Beverly Tyler

By Beverly C. Tyler

From Native American hunter-gatherers through Colonial times, West Meadow Beach, West Meadow Creek and the adjacent tidal wetlands were a valuable resource.

On Saturday, July 16, an historic walk will be conducted by Barbara Russell, historian, Town of Brookhaven, and Beverly Tyler, historian, Three Village Historical Society. The walk, along Trustees Road from the pavilion at West Meadow Beach to the Gamecock Cottage, is sponsored by the Town of Brookhaven and cosponsored by the Three Village Historical Society.

Come and explore the area that sustained Native Americans and provided needed materials for settlers from the Colonial period to the present day. The walk is free and open to the public. No pre-registration required, however be on time as the walk will commence at 10:30 a.m. sharp. An exhibit in the Gamecock Cottage at the end of the walk will include artifacts gathered from the West Meadow Creek area.

We don’t know all the details about life on Long Island before the Europeans came because the people living here did not leave us a written or photographic record of their lives.

Archaeological excavations have given us most of the details of how people lived in this area as early as 5,000 years ago. One of the most famous sites in New York State was a nearby shell midden named The Stony Brook Site, excavated by State Archaeologist William Ritchie in 1955.

From archaeological digs by Ritchie and others, we know that, between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago, the native people were hunters and gatherers, dependent upon hunting local animals and gathering plants, stones, and clay for food, shelter, tools, clothes, and medicines.

The Fischetti Site, a prehistoric Indian site for manufacturing tools and spear points, was discovered during a cultural resource investigation of a proposed residential development in November 1980. Salvage excavations continued through October 1981.

The site, on the east side of West Meadow Creek, opposite the horse show grounds, was occupied by Algonquin Indians about 3,000 years ago. We know they used this location then because of the type of arrow and spear points and blades recovered. The major activity here, on the edge of Stony Brook creek, was making stone tools. We know this by the large quantities of stone flakes and roughed-out stones.

The almost total absence of food remains at the site shows that this was not the location of a village. However, a village site, The Stony Brook Site, did exist about 800 yards to the south, along what is now known as Aunt Amy’s Creek, during the same time period.

For thousands of years the Indians used natural resources, wood, stone, and animals, to make their housing, tools, and clothing. About 3,000 years ago, their way of life changed with the introduction of three things: pottery, the bow and arrow, and horticulture (farming). Like the earlier Indians, the Woodland Indians continued to rely on natural resources.

The artifacts taken from The Fischetti Site are part of the collection of the Three Village Historical Society. Artifacts from the Ritchie site are a part of the collection of the New York State Museum.

Beverly Tyler is the Three Village Historical Society historian and author of books available from the Three Village Historical Society.