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The Prime family of Long Island

Huntington's Early Primes
Roy E. Lott March 1958

    Two brothers Prime, Mark and James, came to Milford, Connecticut, from England in 1644. ,mark stayed on the main, helped to found New Milford on the Housatonic River, and left many descendants there.
    James had a son James who was the father of Ebenezer. In 1718, Ebenezer graduated from an advanced school of learning which later became Yale College, then while still a student of theology, he came to Long Island to assist the Reverend Mr. Jones who, having been Huntington's minister for fifty-tour years, was approaching the age of retirement.
    On June 21, 1719, the young minister-to-be delivered his first sermon from the pulpit of Huntington's Old First Church. Four years later he was ordained as the regular preacher and continued as such until some time after 1776. Soon after taking charge of the church lie purchased a farm and residence nearby which remained in the possession of his direct decedents for more than one hundred fifty years.
    Immediately after August 27, 1776, the British took possession of Huntington and those who espoused the cause of the colonists were the victims of British and Tory vengeance. Enemy troops were quartered on the inhabitants; the church of which Mr. Prime was pastor was used for a military depot, and finally on November 30, 1782, the same day the preliminary treaty was signed, the church was torn down and the material used to build Fart Golgotha.
    The desecration of the church had apparently hastened Mr. Prime's death, and on September 25, 1779 he was laid to rest. Their son, Benjamin Young Prime, born December, 1733, became an eminent physician. He was a true patriot, and on the passage of the Stamp Act wrote a song for the Sons of Liberty which was used to stir up the spirit of patriotism. On December 18, 1774, Dr. Benjamin Prime married Mary Wheelwright whose grandfather had commanded a regiment in the war between the French and English, which regiment later took part in the battle of Bunker Hill.
    Because of his patriotic exploits, Dr. Prime was in no position to receive the English masters of Long Island when they came to Huntington, so he, with his wife and family, fled to Connecticut. In their haste to evacuate, they were forced to leave behind all their property, including a valuable library, furniture, and a silver service, which had come to Mrs. Prime as a wedding dowry.
    No one else knew it at the time, but before their hurried departure Mary Wheelwright Prime put that silver service in a cloth sack and  dropped it down the well at the rear of their home. When they returned to the home seven years later, it was drawn up from the confines of the well in perfect preservation. It is now the prized heirloom of members of the Prime family, a reminder of their Huntington ancestors who helped form the colonies into one nation. Mary Wheelwright had come from New Hampshire aristocracy, and Col. Thompson, a Tory who leveled the local church, and was in charge of enemy troops in Huntington during the Revolution, had hailed from the same area.
    Of the five children born to Dr. Benjamin and Mary Prime, the youngest became the Rev. Nathaniel, who in 1845 wrote an ecclesiastical history of Long Island. Dr. Benjamin Prime who had studied religion under his father, died at Huntington on October 31, 1791, culminating a life in which he had catered to both the physical and spiritual needs of many local people. Commenting on his failure to save one patient from death he wrote

Well! I have done; I can do no more,
But must my baffled aim deplore;
I'll lay  my drugs and cordials by,
For art is vain, and he must die.

Huntington's Old Thimble Factory
Martha K. Hall, Librarian

    Huntington Historical Society According to the Long Islander, Huntington, February 26, 1898, Ezra C. Prime "was probably the oldest thimble manufacturer in the United States." Although Ezra was born in New York in 1810, his father Ebenezer was a native of Huntington where the family was deep-rooted and included the Long Island historian, Nathaniel S. Prime. Ezra moved to Huntington with his parents when he was four years old and attended the local school until he was sixteen. Returning to Huntington when still a young man, he established the thimble factory, described as one of the largest in the country, in 1836. He operated it for forty years and died at the age of 88 at the Brunswick Home in Amityville.