OLD TOWN ROAD. When the first settlers came to Southampton in 1640, they followed an Indian trail from North Sea to that part of the Village called today Old Town. The site of their first homes in marked near the Southampton Hospital. These homes were probably cellars dug in the ground with rafters overhead covered with boughs or sod. Twenty men and their families with all “Their worldly goods” made their way through the forest, built their homes and their church, and lived there eight years.
Of these twenty only the names of Howell, Sayre, Walton, Halsey, and Terry are found in Southampton today. A little later came Bishops, Burnetts, Cooks, Fosters, Goldsmiths, Hands, Herricks, Hildreths, Jaggers, Moores, Piersons, Posts, Raynors, Rogers, Roses, Smythes, Wells, and Whites. These inhabitants outgrew the settlement around Old Town Pond, and in March, 1648, held a town meeting to consider “A town plot and home accommodations that shall be most suitable to the comfort, peace, and welfare of this plantation.”
MAIN STREET. The Main Street of Southampton retains to this day divisions made at that time, although many changes have been made in the ownership—home lots of three acres. Each house holder’s portion was: --his house lot, twelve acres of farm land, about thirty-four acres of meadow and upland, and a certain number of shares in undivided common land. These shares were given according to the amount of money a man had pad toward the expenses of the settlement. All this land except the Indian fields had to be cleared. The woodland north of the village was divided into The North and The South Division and each man was given his share.
MEETING HOUSE LANE. After the Main Street, or Town Street, as it was called then, Meeting House Land was opened. The oldest church Meeting House stood near the present rear entrance of the Southampton Hospital.
TOYLESOME LANE. The road from the old town to the new was “The Land called Toylesome,” and opposite its entrance on the Main Street was Horsemill Lane. Just when this was closed, we do not know. What fun it would be to be able to walk down Main Street to the beach and point out the houses where the first settlers lived. This is possible for old maps show who owned the land in those early days. Thomas Sayre lived north of the present library.
JOB’S LANE. Job’s Lane, “opened 1664,” was then the cow path down which young Job Sayre drove his cows every morning to pasture. Walking south, the Presbyterian parsonage stands on exactly the same plot of ground that was allotted for the house of “Ye Minister,” in 1648. The second church building stood just across the street from the minister’s house, and in the old graveyard we may still read the names of some of the earliest inhabitants. The old house called the Hollyhocks is the oldest of the original houses remaining and was built by Thomas Halsey about 1660. On the opposite side of the street, the house now owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution was built about 1790 by the Foster family. The old Mackie house, which is across the street from the Episcopal church, was built by John Mackie who came from Scotland and copied, in shingle, the stone house he had left in Dundee.
YE MILL PATH. Ye Mill Path (we call it Bridgehampton Road today) was the road to Edward Howell’s watermill. The mill was built in 1644, and is still standing, and from it Water Mill Village takes its name.
THE ROAD TO WICKAPOGUE. The Road to Wickapoque is one of the early ones. The name is first found in the division of land in 1688, “Thomas Goldsmith at the end of his home lot, the rest by Goodman Halsey’s a Weequapoug.” The name means “at the end of the pond or waterplace,” and the Ponds of Wickapogue are there still as they were in 1688.
LITTLE PLAINS ROAD. The Little Plains were fields where the settlers tilled their land. Always in the early days, one man stood watch while the others cultivated the fields, Each man took his turn. Little Plain was bounded on the east by Old Town Pond, on the west by Town Pond (Lake Agawam), on the north by Frog Pond, and on the south by the beach. This tract of land was originally three lots deep north and south. The ocean has encroached upon the land so much since the settlers came, that Frost Pond is now under the water. I can remember heading my grandfather say that the hitching posts that stood north of the beach banks when he was a boy are now in the breakers.
GREAT PLAINS ROAD. The Great Plain was farm land west of Town Pond (Agawam). It was called also the general field. First Neck, Cooper’s Neck, Halsey’s Neck, and Captain’s Neck were parts of it and are kept in our memories today by the road bearing their names.
OX PASTURE ROAD. The Ox Pasture was in two divisions—north and south, and its use is known today by its name. Ox Pasture Road was its southern boundary and the main highway to Shinnecock, its north.
Let us walk through the village to trace the old streets. It will not be hard. As we have seen Main Street follows the same course today that it did in 1648. When it was laid out, most of the people lived in the south end of the town. We can trace, if we will, in many places the three acre home lots, and if we look in Howell’s Early History of Southampton, we can find a map that will show us where Edward Howell, the leader of the little colony, lived. We can trace the path where Job Sayre drove his cows to the pasture by the Town Pond. We can find the place where the wife of Thomas Halsey was murdered by the Indians. We can walk with the people on Sunday morning to their Meeting House. We can go with the children on Monday morning to their schoolmaster, Richard Mills. We can see the settlers at work on the Little Plains, the watchman standing on guard to give the alarm if anything goes wrong. Perhaps we see a man riding down the mill path with his bags of grain to be ground into flour at the watermill or a man building his house from forest trees in the new part of the town called Jagger Lane. If we follow the trail to North Sea, we may meet an Indian. Fortunately, the Shinnecock Indians are friendly to the white settlers, for we must go to North Sea.
NORTH SEA ROAD. North Sea Road is the only way to reach the port where Captain Daniel Howe’s sloop lands, brining new settlers from the Mainland.
***from The Southampton Press
Southampton’s oldest thoroughfare is the North Sea Road, called in our earliest records “the North Sea Path.” This has been made forever sacred by the feet of those earliest colonists as they made their way through the dense forest to the ridge of land overlooking the ocean to the north of Old Town Pond, where they made their first settlement. The Indians living on fish and game, made their habitations around the creeks and bays of the north shore as we learn from the shell helps and the mounds which have been unearthed at various times in more recent years. When the settlers landed at North Sea they found it the camping ground of the Sachem of the Shinnecocks. The Indians knew the place where they could grown the best corn and had cleared land just north of the beach banks. The patch which the colonists trod on that eventful day in June, 1640, was without doubt the trail long made by the Indians to their planting land by the ocean. The vessel which brought the settlers from Lynn was to return, making three trips a year, brining inhabitants and goods, and for many years North Sea Harbor was the only outlet for the little colony in its isolation. The path hither soon became a well worn road. For 150 years North Sea was the port of entry for Southampton and fell into disuse only after Sag Harbor, (the harbor of Sagg) became a growing port. In 1726 we find a record when at a Town Meeting a complaint was brought that the road was too narrow, and a very definite description is given: “Beginning at Southampton Street one highway leading to ye harbor at North Sea, goes down by the house that was Heathcotes and is now the Townes.” This latter is the old North End Burying ground and the highway was laid out six poles wide all the way to John Rose’s at North Sea.
The forest through which our colonists found their way so long ago has remained unbroken these nearly 300 years, except for the axe of the woodsman who felled the trees for firewood and left the wood to grow for another generation and more. William Henry and Joseph Kiah have perhaps without intention become the pioneers of the home development with has so recently overtaken the North Sea Path.
The State of New York during this past year has added the crown to this new development with the building of the concrete [highway?] which can now speed our way so smoothly and joyously; and in another five years or less, will have disappeared ,except in memory, the shady oaks through which we drove so contentedly our farm teams to the beach at North Sea.
THE MAIN STREET
Southampton’s Main Street was laid out in 1648, eight years after the first settlement at Old Towne. This for many years is known in the records as “Ye Towne Street,” and it was on this street that a “home-lott” of three acres was apportioned to each settler, with farm land in out lying districts. On March 27th, 1648, “It is ordered that ye whole town shall be called together at ye settings of ye sunne to consider of a Town plot of such home accommodations as may be most suitable to ye comfort, peace and welfare of this plantation.” The “home-lotts” were laid out and taken up on both side of the street, beginning at the planting land at the Little Plains and extending north, “three acres to every 50 pound lot or share, to every man his proportion according to his taking up.”
The homes built along this street were no longer the rude cabins of the earlier settlement. Though of the utmost simplicity of design they were sturdy and substantial and a number of these have lasted on within the memory of the present generation.
“The Hollyhocks” built 1662, remains with its southern gable still unchanged, to remind us of the homes first built along “Ye Towne Street,”
In the hall of the Library entrance to the Colonial Room, may be seem a framed copy of the map of Southampton’s “Towne Street.” This map was compiled by Historian William S. Pelletreu and on it is indicated the home plots with the names of their successive owners, from the first laying out until very recent years. It is interesting to note that the surveys of today are still based on the boundaries established in that earliest laying out of the Towne Street.
HILL STREET OR SHINNECOCK ROAD. This street was laid out as early as 1650 and later became a part of the main highway running east and west down Long Island, which was known in Colonial days as “the King’s Highway.” Until very recent years, Hill Street, or “up the Hill,” as it was often called, was most appropriately named, for the road from the foot of Job’s Lane rose quite sharply and the grade was very much up-hill. The land on which stand the Irving Garage and the adjoining buildings was the hill where stood the windmill, which for 170 years ground the grist for the community, and was an outstanding landmark for miles around. With the moving of the mill (1888) and the disposal of the soil, a new level was created, and in 1906 the village so grade and improved the street that the name is now only a reminder of its earlier outlines. Hill Street fortunately has remained the wide thoroughfare so well suited to our modern needs.
WINDMILL LANE. Windmill Lane dates back to the earliest days of the settlement, and is known in the early records as “Ye Weste Street.” A t that time the Town Pond extended low and swampy as far north as the higher land, which in recent years we know as Bowden Square. To avoid the water which in times of freshet was close up to the higher land on the west, the road for some time lay along the ridge. The present name is derived from the windmills which at various times through the years have occupied this higher land. The most prominent of these, built in 1713, stood on the corner of the lane and Hill Street. This mill is now in the garden of the Summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur B. Clafflin on Shinnecock Hills.
Another mill which stood to the north of this is now the Summer home of ex-Congressman Lathrop D. Brown, on the cliff overlooking the ocean at Montauk Point. It was on “Ye Weste Street” that the first school house was built in 1664. This was a building 15 by 20 feet and stood a short distance south of the plot where 225 years later was built the Union School (1889). The first schoolmaster---Jonas Houldsworth—was to receive 30 pounds per annum with [?] 12 days in the year for his own “particular occasions.” Here for many years the county courts were held, and through the first little old school house has been several times replaced, each in a different location, children of the village have ever since been going to school on Windmill Lane.
JAGGAR LANE. The short street connecting Main Street and Windmill Lane is one of the very old streets of the Village. This was a lane through the home-lott granted to John Jaggar in 1651. The settlers whose farmland was to the west of the Town Pond very early felt the need of a nearer approach than to pass to the end of the swamp at Bowden Square. This lane across John Jaggar’s lot was established in 1653 and originally wound up over the hill crossing “ye West Street and coming out on Hill Street” before reaching the entrance to First Neck Lane, which was laid out in 1644.
This was very early in the history of the village, some years before the building of the mill and the lowering of “Ye Weste Street,” and Job’s Lane had not yet been opened.
During the years since, this little street has been known by various names, memories of those who have lived beside it-Hunting Lane, Captain George White’s Lane, Seymour’s Lane, and in the Village book (1908) we notice it is called School Street. When the Village Trustees, a few years since, renewed the street signs they returned quite appropriately to the name of the original owner through whose land the lane was first made.
NARROW LANE. We find a new sign along our highways, one we have not seen until recently, although the street it designates has been an open thoroughfare since the very early days of the village. Although connecting two important localities, yet is has remained so seemingly remote and so little used that it has escaped, until recently, the notice of the village fathers, who are seeing to tit that the streets of Southampton are so carefully and attractively marked. As we drive along our highways, the quaint old name are particularly in evidence and add a charm and distinction in keeping with its history, for Southampton will soon be celebrating it 300th birthday.
This little street, true to its name, is at present quite isolated but it is destined in the near future to become a much-used thoroughfare. In Vol. V., pp. 178, 232, of the Town Records, we find that in 1676 Richard Howell sells to Obadiah Rogers “one-half acre of my Close land at Wicapogue, bounded west by land of Thomas Jessup, north by Obadiah Rogers, south by highway, and is to run north and south quite through the length of my said Close.” Dated October 14, 1676.
The notes added by W.S. Pelletreau, to whose careful transcriptions we owe six volumes of Southampton Town Records, tell us that the strip of land above is the Narrow Lane on the north side of Wickapogue Street. The home of Thomas Jessup is the property long since occupied by Moses Phillips, and on which his family still reside. Richard Howell was a son of Edward Howell, the leader of the Southampton colony. Obadiah Rogers was a son of William Rogers, who in 1645 was granted as his “home-lott” the land on “Ye Towne Street” for a number of years occupied by the late Samuel L. Parrish.
From the record it is very plain that the narrow strip of land was purchased by Obadiah Rogers to afford a right-of-way to the land he owned just north of Richard Howell, and it was no doubt continued by him and adjacent owners out to the “King’s Highway,” or “the road to ye Watermill.” The lane may be as little used as in those early days when Obadiah Rogers drove his oxen hither to his farm land, and in driving through the lane one can easily imagine one’s self back in that early time, so isolated and shut away it seems from the present Southampton. We soon return to this however, as we approach the Frankenback gardens, and glad also of a swifter passage than that furnished by the equipment of an earlier day.
Let us cherish these ancient localities and keep alive the names given them so long ago, by those who laid for us such sure foundations.
POND LANE. In the year 1675, when the “Towne” purchased from John Cooper his house and lot for the use of the minister, an allotment of 30 acres of land in the ox-pasture was also made, these “to remain forever to the use of the ministry in this Towne.” The “Home-lott” is still the Presbyterian parsonage, and the land in the ox-pasture is known to us as the Summer home of the late Salem H. Wales.
This is one of several pieces of land which in the records is called “Parsonage land,” and it was expressly stated that cart-way should be left beside the Town Pond for passing to and fro and for the watering of cattle.
In 1701, “It is ordered James Cooper and Joseph Fordham shall take up fence from the old pound and carry it and set it up by Mr. Whiting’s cow-pasture, adjoining to the John Foster’s Close and Isaac Halsey’s, leaving a good highway between ye fence and ye Town Pond, for ye inhabitants of ye and Towne to cart, drive and water their creatures, and to find more fence so to finish and enclose said cow-pasture at ye said Towne’s charge.” The highway established at this time was to be 8’ poles in width between the fence and the pond. “Mr. Whiting” was the Rev. Joseph Whiting, sixth minister in the Church—1683-1723. John Foster’s Close is now the property of the Hon. Elihu H. Root. The narrow lane on the south and joining Ox-Pasture Road is first mentioned in 1676.
In the record of the Town survey of 1852, we find the road leading from the Country Road in Hill street to and along the Town Pond to First Neck Lane, near the house of John White, “laid out but not described of record.” The road by the pond was at this time narrowed to five rods. In 1888, after Mr. Wales had purchased the property, some changed were again made in the frontage on the pond. It was about this time that the Indian name Agawam was recalled for the Town Pond and it is interesting to be reminded that when Mr. Wales desired a name for his newly acquired property he used the name of “The Ox-Pasture.”
The name on the sign-posts of that highway as above described read “Pond Lane” and the date of its opening is coincident with that of the Parsonage allotment in 1675.
When the land on the pond ceased to be “parsonage land” we have still to discover, but until recent years the front along the pond has been common land used by the people for their pleasure and necessities. On the south hill of the “Parsonage land” were the big “try-kettles where the [whale blubber was boiled] in days of steamships, whales were much more numerous along the coast than now and the off-shore whaling was one of the earliest industries established by the settlers. It was an exciting time in the village when the rally sounded and everybody hastened to the beach to see the manning of the whale-boats and to watch the crews start off for the chase. It was a lively time also, when the crews returned and the monster lay on the beach (and sometimes more than one). The small boys as well as many others did not leave the beach until the whale was cut up and the blubber carted, and sometimes floated, down the pond to be tried out in the big kettles on the hill. Until recent years a point of land ran well out into the pond directly opposite this hill.
This was the swimming place for the boys in Summer and a harbor for the skaters in Winter. The Point was also convenient during the ice harvest and an ice house stood on the hill near the try-kettles, within the memory of several whom we have interviewed.
The pond north of the Point was thick with lily-pads and further north as far as Job’s Lane was a flaggy swamp. On this swampy land for a number of years was the little old shop where drinks were sold by one known as “Old John Ware.” Across the lane on the hill, which lately has been leveled to give place for the American Legion Community Building was a small liberty pole and an old cannon where the “boys” were wont to celebrate on patriotic occasions. One 4th of July morning, we were told, John Ware poured into the cannon such a charge of powder that it blew itself to pieces and the windows in the shop were shattered, as well as in neighboring places. As a pleasant contrast to the above we like to remember the well-kept cottage—still standing, but beyond recognition in its concrete covering—where lived Phyrrhus Concer and his wife Rachel. To the little dock just opposite on the pond was moored the sailboat in which every day in Summer—except Sundays—Phyrrhus made as many trips to the ocean as the wind would allow, ferrying the Summer boarders and others to the bathing beach—but the story of Phyrrhus is a narrative by itself.
After the Summer residents began to build their homes along the Pond the sailboats became numerous and many a half-holiday was spent in watching the boat races up and down the Pond. (Has anyone forgotten the Bennett Catamaran?) After motors were used there was trouble for the propellers were constantly mixed up with the grass, which the swans in recent years were imported to diminish.
Courtesy Lizbeth Halsey White Files, Southampton Historical Museum Archives and Research Center