Biographies and Family Stories from Early Long Island

  • Raynor Rock Smith and the Wreck of the "Mexico"
  • The Brentwood Cave Man
  • Richard Smith and The Bull Story
  • The Story of Isaac Van Scoy - Early East Hampton
  • Murder On The High Sea - Capt. Thomas carpenter
  • No Parade For This Soldier - George Coles Carpenter
  • John Smith (1801-1896) 1st of his family to arrive in US
  • Huntington's Horrible "Tar Town" Murder
  • East Hampton and "Home Sweet Home"
  • Slander and Witchcraft in East Hampton
  • The First Lady in America
  • The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown
  • Renewed Effort to Save Historic House

  • Murder On The High Sea
    by John L. Carpenter

    Sunday morning came as any other morning to this small sailing community. It was November 21,1886 and the community was preparing for the thanksgiving holiday. Glen Cove, New York is located on the north coast of Long Island situated near the mouth of Hempstead Harbor. On this particular sunday morning, Mr. C.L.Perkins was taking a morning stroll along the beach front when he noticed a schooner with all sails set. Mr.Perkins called out several times and received no reply. Upon further exploration he found that things were scattered about the cabin and there appeared to be blood stains on the deck and other areas. Mr. Perkins notified the local police.
    After investigating the police concluded that the schooner was the "Long Island" owned by James S. Carpenter & Sons. It had been sailed by Mr. Carpenter's nephew Thomas Dunham Carpenter of Sea Cliff, New York. It was determined that the stains on the schooner deck and other areas were blood, and signs of a struggle had taken place. Also there was a small amount of money left in the cabin area. The captain's trunk was not tampered with. The schooner could not have run ashore on its own at the place it did because of all the rocks about. The captain was missing. There was no doubt that he set sail from New York City on sunday afternoon, November 20, 1886. Its was not known if he was alone. The captain was last seen off Sands Point, about five miles west of where the schooner was found, by Capt. Peters of the tug boat "Glen Cove". Capt. Peters stated he saw the captain at the wheel and had not noticed anyone else about. Also missing was the boatman (1st-mate) Henry Francke. He had only been employed for the last two months. After Brooklyn police were notified they brought Mr. Francke to their 55th Street Station House for questioning. He had been staying at his mother's house at 611 Humboldt St. At the arraignment he gave the following statement: "I shipped with Capt. Carpenter two months ago. We two managed the schooner. I had a disagreement with Capt. Carpenter about my pay when we left Glen Cove for New York City on thursday last. I told him that I would leave him unless I get more pay. I received my months wages after we arrived in New York City, then I left the schooner. On Saturday I went to Jay Street Pier where the schooner was lying to see if the captain would give me more pay. He wouldn't so I went away. He then took the schooner out alone. I went off to my sister's house and slept the Saturday night there and to my mothers on sunday. I know nothing of what has come of Captain Carpenter." Mr. Francke was transferred to Glen Cove lockup for further questioning and arraignment before Justice Frost at Glen Cove. This transfer has caused some questions as well as controversy in brooklyn and by the Queens County authorities. It is believed, by Queens County authorities that the taking of the prisoner, Henry Francke, to Glen Cove was not approved by the queens county authorities. It is also uncertain that Glen Cove police actually have jurisdiction of this case, there being no actual proof to the locality of this crime. it would have been better, Brooklyn residents felt, if the investigation took place in brooklyn, where there is a trained detective force. the follow up on clues could have been done in a more professional manner. mr. Francke could have obtained the attendance of witnesses' At small expense if he was innocent.
    On friday, November 26,1886 Mr. Francke was brought before Justice Frost in Glen Cove. Mr. Flemming was district attorney prosecuting the case. as a result Mr. Francke was discharged because of insufficient evidence against him. Afterward he was held as a witness and privately examined . The results were not made public. Of course at this time there is no positive proof that Capt. Carpenter had been murdered and no body found. It is assumed by authorities that the captain was murdered, robbed, and thrown overboard. Then the perpetrators took the schooner to shore, where they made their escape, after putting out the fire in the forward cabin by pouring water over the coals. Some New York City authorities believe that river pirates could have committed this crime. A $50.00 reward is offered for the recovery of the body of Capt. Thomas D. Carpenter's body. He was 48 years old five feet eight inches tall, weighing one hundred and eighty pounds, with gray hair and a mustach.

    Capt. Carpenter's Body Found

    The mystery of the disappearance of Capt. Thomas D. Carpenter of the schooner "Long Island" was put to a end this day (May 28,1887) local fisherman were walking to their fishing spot at Matinecock on the northern shore of Glen Cove wheRe they came across a body that had apparently washed ashore. Local police were called to the scene. upon investigation of the body it was determined ,that the body had seven bullet holes and one leg and one arm missing; presumed eaten away by fish. There was evidence that the body had been anchored down by the murderer(s). Also there was a one dollar bill found in his pocket. He was later identified as the missing schooner Captain, Thomas Carpenter. A private funeral was held and the remains were interred in the family plot in Sea Cliff, Long Island, N.Y.


    Thomas Dunham Carpenter was born August 20 , 1838. His parents were Coles and Martha (Tuttle) Carpenter. Thomas was born on the old Carpenter homestead in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York. The homestead is the village of Sea Cliff now. Thomas was brought up with the sea. His father and uncle were ship owners the sailing community as were their ancestors as far back as 1740's. Thomas helped his dad and his uncle on their schooners As a teenager, in Sept. 1862, he enlisted in the Union Armies 5th Heavy Artillery Co. "C" at a New York rally along with his brother George. Thomas was discharged in Sept. 1863. Thomas was afflicted with chronic kidney ailment and rheumatism which was made worse by several overnight details in the rain. Shortly after his return he began working in coastal ship operations for his uncle James S. Carpenter. It was abound this time that he married Elizabeth Velsor at Syosset Long Island and returned home to live. He worked up seniority and became senior skipper of his uncle's ship the "Long Island." In September 1865 his daughter Aida died at 8 months of age. In 1866 Elizabeth died of consumption. In 1868, he married Hannah Strong at New York City. After a short time Thomas learned of her unfaithfulness to him and applied for a divorce. Finally on January 16, 1876 a divorce was granted. Thomas married Christina Nielson. She was 16 years old, he was now 28 years old. Their marriage was rough. They lived at Christina's parents home in Brooklyn New York. There was financial difficulties plus Thomas was out to sea frequently or down to the piers with his friends drinking heavily. After several years of difficulties, Christina and Thomas separated in 1884. Thomas lived most of the time on his Uncle's ship. It was his dream to some day own his own ship and have his own business but this dream came abruptly to a end on November 20, 1886. He is survived by his parents, 3 brothers, 4 sisters, and his wife Christina.


    It has been reported that Henry Francke who was long suspected of murdering Captain Thomas Carpenter, confessed on his death bed of the murder. He stated he was long haunted by what he described as the dead captain's ghost. Perhaps Mr. Francke was fearful of retaliation in the after life? Other details of his confession were not readily known.

    The author of this artice is John L. Carpenter He can be reached for comments at


    "A Mysterious Affair," The Sea Cliff News, Sea Cliff,
    New York November 27,1886

    "Blood Stained Schooner" The Roslyn News ,Roslyn, New York
    November 27, 1886.

    "Capt. Carpenter's Body Found ,The Roslyn News, Roslyn, New York, May 28,1887

    Carpenter, Daniel H., History & Genealogy Of The Carpenter Family, From The Settlement At
    Providence, Rhode Island, The

    Marion Press, Jamaica, New York, 1901.
    "River Pirates", The Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn New York November 24,1886

    Smith, Cecilia Mrs., family bible records, Glenwood
    Landing, New York, 1989

    Weidman, Bettes. & Martin, Linda b. ,Nassau County ,Long
    Island In Early Photographs, 1869-1940, Dover
    Publications, New York, 1981.

    Union Pension Records of Christina Carpenters application in 1925.

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    There Will Be No Parade For THIS SOLDIER
    by John L. Carpenter

    This story is about a Civil War Union soldier who never returned home to a hero's welcome, like some others did. Private George Coles Carpenter, of the New York 5th Heavy Artillery Company "E", is the soldier in this story. George was born on March 26, 1840 to Coles and Elizabeth Tuttle Carpenter of Sea Cliff/Glen Cove, New York. This Carpenter family was in the sailing business. Coles and his brother James had several schooners operating out of Hempstead Harbor, Long Island. George worked for both his father and uncle as a boatman. In 1860 George lived at home with four brothers and four sisters in the Roslyn section of Hempstead Harbor. On September 9, 1862, probably at a rally in New York, George joined the Army. Thomas, his brother, was doubtlessly with him for they served in the same Company. They joined Captain Crane's company of the 5th Heavy Artillery. George was 23 and his brother Thomas was 25 years old at that time.

     The 5th Heavy Artillery was in many battles during the Civil War. The final battle for George was "The Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia." The predawn raid by the Confederates came as quite a surprise to the Union Army camp. Most soldiers were still sleeping and were captured in their night clothes without clothing, guns or boots. George was taken with other prisoners to the Confederate camp for interrogation and later to various prisons. George arrived at Salisbury Prison in North Carolina on November 4, 1864. The prison, like all others, was crowded and dirty.

     Life in the prisons was for the most part unbearable. There was shortages of supplies, space and sanitation facilities. More often than not the drinking water was contaminated. This induced Diarrhea and gastrointestinal problems in both man and beast. The barracks were cold, wet and unsanitary. The filth built up, on both the inside and in the yards, inviting swarms of vermin. It was said by one prisoner that "The vermin were so plentiful that they could be doing close order drills in marching. Considering the living conditions, it is not a wonder that they died but rather that anyone managed to stay well. Nearly 50,000 died in camps or prisons. That was ten times the number of men killed in the "Battle of Gettysburg.

     Such was the fate of Private George Coles Carpenter of ""E"" Company, 5th Heavy Artillery, New York. He was admitted to the prison hospital on December 13, 1864 for Diarrhea. George became weaker, malnourished and died on December 21, 1864. The last the family had seen George was just before Christmas in 1863.

    The author of this artice is John L. Carpenter He can be reached for comments at

    Other interesting Carpenter information: Loads Slowly large graphic file Newspaper clippings

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    The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown

        The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown (FPCN) is the second-oldest church in New York City and the oldest church in Queens. The first building in 1652 was a combination church, town hall, parsonage, and courthouse located on present-day Broadway around Dongan Street in Elmhurst. The Quakers, in Flushing, did not build their meeting house until 40 years later. The Presbyterian church in Jamaica was founded in 1656.
    FPCN traces its origins to the village church in Newtown. In 1652, English settlers founded the village of Middleburgh on western Long Island. The settlers sometimes referred to the village as New Towne (later spelled Newtown) to distinguish it from an earlier abandoned English settlement in the same area. They soon built a town church erected on land purchased from Native Americans. This church building also served as school, court house, town hall and a home for the minister. John Moore was the Newtown church’s first minister. (Rev. Moore’s descendant, Clement Clarke Moore, wrote the poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”) On Sept. 23, 1715, the church received a charter from the Presbytery of Philadelphia and became the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown.
    The Newtown church was an early advocate of religious freedom in America. When Rev. Moore died in 1657, New Amsterdam Governor Peter Stuyvesant clamped down on religious diversity by banning non-conforming religions. The Remonstrance for Religious Freedom was signed by several people from Newtown, Jamaica, and Flushing. Some scholars believe that Hart’s descendants later attended the Newtown church. In 1681, Newtown’s citizens voted that their church should be supported by free will offerings, not by taxes as was customary. Church members protested when the New York
    Assembly passed the Ministry Act of 1693. Under this act, New Yorkers were to be taxed to support a minister in each county. Suspecting that the Assembly was trying to force the many non-Anglicans in Queens County to support a minister from the Church of England, the Newtown church asked two members to ask the Assembly to exempt Newtown. The Assembly agreed to exempt the town, but the governor refused to recognize the exemption.
    FPCN suffered greatly during the Revolutionary War because many of its members opposed British rule. At the urging of the Continental Congress in 1774, the church formed a Committee of Correspondence to communicate with other groups in the colonies who opposed British imperial policy. When the British captured Newtown during the war, they made life miserable for FPCN’s members. British troops imprisoned many church members, removed the church pews, used the church as a prison, and later demolished the church completely, salvaging a part of the pulpit for a horse post. Four years after the
    Revolution ended, the congregation erected a new church building, later dubbed the Old White Church.

    John Moore (1652-1657)
    by Robert Singleton

    Rev. Moore was an English immigrant who settled in New England when he was about twenty. In 1644, he moved to Southampton, Long Island. In 1646, he completed his studies at Harvard College, near Boston. In that same year, he obtained a license to preach. Since he was not a regularly ordained minister, Moore was not authorized to administer the sacraments. He moved to Hempstead, preaching the gospel there, as he had done at Southampton.
    In 1652, he moved to the newly formed Newtown and became the first minister in the village. In the winter of 1655-56, he returned to England, probably to receive ordination. Moore returned to America in 1657, and died in September of that year.
    Moore, described as an educated man and excellent preacher, had descendants who were prominent and influential in the town and church, including two bishops of the Episcopal Church, two presidents of Columbia College, and Clement Clark Moore, the author of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. The Moore family developed the Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan. The Moores’s ancient home in Newtown was tom down a few decades ago. A park off Broadway marks its location.
    Rev. Moore lies in the Town Burying Ground, now in a playground near Macy’s. No stone marks his grave; its exact location is unknown. The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown Newsletter (May 1994)

    The First Presbyterian Church of Newtown has its own web site from which much of this material came. Please visit their site and see what else they have to offer. They are looking for documents that are relevant to the history of their church. "History is the story of people, both past and present." Whether you have letters from your ancestor to their minister in 1820, posters from Scotch Night in the 1940s, or pictures from last Sunday’s service, they would like to hear from you.

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    Renewed Effort to Save Historic House / Town seeks alternative to razing
    By Bill Bleyer. Newsday STAFF WRITER

    Southold officials had been planning to resolve their Town Hall space crunch by demolishing most of the historic Whitaker House next door to construct an addition. But growing opposition from preservationists has sent the town back to the drawing board.
    "The town board has not made any decisions," Town Supervisor Jean Cochran said yesterday. "So there are options."
    When the town bought the Whitaker property last summer to expand Town Hall, preservationists were satisfied with the town's inclination to save only the facade of the house, built in the early 19th Century, and was later home to the town's first historian, Epher Whitaker.
    But in the past few months, preservationists began organizing to save the entire building, which is part of a recently approved national historic district. The Southold Historical Society began a letter-writing campaign. And one preservationist planned to attend last night's town board meeting to present the first 260 signatures on a petition supporting restoration.
    With the growing interest in saving the house, Cochran said the town will appropriate $600 to seek a two-for-one matching grant of $1,200 from the New York State Council for the Arts as suggested by members of the town Landmarks Preservation Commission. The funds would be used to hire a "forensic architect" to study the house to determine its historic
    value and possibilities for reuse.
    Cochran said a local architect has presented a site plan showing how an addition could be built behind the house in order to save the old building. She said another person has offered to move the house to save it while others have offered to restore it on its current site.
    The movement to save the house began when the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation wrote last spring to the town attorney stating that the agency was dismayed that the town was considering demolition of a house in a new national historic district that the town had supported.
    Southold Historical Society President Maureen Ostermann last month wrote the group's members urging them to write letters to town officials to save the Anchorage, as the Whitaker House was called. "If it can be destroyed, what will happen to other historic buildings in the area?" she asked.
    Jeff Goubeaud began circulating a petition to save the house after the town allowed it to be used as a "haunted house" for Halloween. "They shouldn't have bought the house if they were going to tear it down," he said. "People need to be able to look back and see what Southold was all about."
    The 22-year-old Town Hall is so overcrowded that several offices are located in the basement in violation of the state's Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. A computer is situated in a basement men's room. So the town paid $170,000 to the Thompson family last summer for the 0.4-acre Anchorage property.
    While the study of the house goes on, Cochran said the town would clear the rear of the property except for the big trees and try to relocate the carriage house.

    Copyright 1998, Newsday Inc.

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