Brookhaven Town History
|Barbara M. Russell
Click here to view a list of
historic sites in Brookhaven
|One Independence Hill
Farmingville, NY 11738
Click here to view a list of
Town owned historic sites
On this Day:
April 14, 1655 - 359 years ago, the first deed of purchase for the Town of Brookhaven was made with the Setalcott Indians for land in Setauket. Happy Founders Day. A copy of the deed can be viewed in the large case in the lobby of Brookhaven Town Hall.
April 14, 1740 - 274 years ago, Anna Smith was born to Col. William Henry Smith and his wife, Margaret Lloyd Smith. She later married Selah Strong II. Are you watching the AMC TV Series TURN, about the Culper Spy ring? That is the Anna Smith Strong you see.
As you can see, many of the town-owned structures are open to the public by appointment via our Town Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Department or on a non-daily basis, except for the Longwood Estate which is open the hours listed. Our town wishes to create public-private non-profit relationships with organizations willing to host tours and help us to steward these critical historic structures. Please contact your local councilmember or the Supervisors office if your organization (Historical Society, Boy/Girl Scouting organization, Civic Association, homeowners association, Senior Club, etc) would like to assist our town open these structures on a more regular basis.
The first residents of the Town of Brookhaven were Algonkian-speaking Native Americans, the Setalcotts (or Setaukets), and the Unkechaugs. The boundaries of the Town of Brookhaven coincide almost exactly with the tribal lands of these two groups or “tribes.”
English settlers arrived on the north shore of the Town in 1655. The six men, land agents, purchased eight square miles stretching from Stony Brook to Port Jefferson in exchange for tools, wampum, lead, powder and "1 pair of children's stockings." The first settlers came from eastern Long Island and New England. The first settlement was named after the native Americans it was purchased from: Setauket. More land purchases followed over the years, and in 1666, after Long Island became a part of the Colony of New York, Governor Richard Nicholl granted a Patent, which fixed the name of Brookhaven, confirmed title to the lands already purchased, and allowed for additional purchases. In 1686, Governor Thomas Dongan issued a Patent which granted extensive powers to the Town, and established a representative form of government.
Early Brookhaven residents were engaged in farming, fishing and whaling. By the nineteenth century, the shipbuilding, and cordword industries became important as well. The advent of the Long Island Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century through the Town of Brookhaven made travel and transport of goods and materials easier and faster. The history of the United States of America includes many residents of the Town of Brookhaven. William Floyd of Mastic was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; General George Washington relied on information supplied by a spy ring, which operated out of Setauket, during the War for American Independence; and Camp Upton in Yaphank was used during World War I and World War II as a training area for soldiers. The Town of Brookhaven has seen its residents represent our country in every major conflict.
The twentieth century witnessed the Town of Brookhaven expand from an agrarian community to a leader in communications, technology, and education. Home now to Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Stony Brook University and Health Sciences Center, Brookhaven stands proudly at the forefront of the world's leading research fields, while its 480,000 residents can still appreciate its natural resources and beauty that brought the original settlers over 350 years ago.