ADDRESS OF 1849.
This town was purchased as far eastward as Montauk in 1648 by Theophilus
Eaton, Governor of the Colony of New Haven, and Edward Hopkins, Governor
of the Colony of Connecticut, for the benefit of the original settlers,
and was assigned to them by Eaton and Hopkins in the spring of 1651, in
consideration of the sum of œœ30, 4s, 8d sterling.(*)
Gardiner's Island had been purchased and was settled by Lion Gardiner in 1639. Southampton and Southold were settled in 1640.
At what precise date the first inhabitants of this town planted themselves upon the soil is not known. It was probably in the spring or summer of 1649. The earliest instrument I find on record indicating their residence here is a letter of attorney from John Hand in relation to some lands in Stanstede, in Kent, England; it bears date Oct. 31st, 1649.
As many of the inhabitants came from Maidstone, in the county of Kent, in England, they first called their plantation by that name. As early as 1650, and within a year from the first settlement it is mentioned on the Records by its present name.
At the time of the first occupation of this new territory the Indians were numerous, and situated on every side. On the East, at Montaukett, the Royal Wyandanch swayed the sceptre. On the North, at Shelter Island, his brother, Poggatacut, ruled the tribe of Manhassetts; and a third brother, by the name of Nowedinah presided over the destinies of the Shinecock tribe. Little or no intercourse was held between East-Hampton and Southampton through the unbroken wilderness which intervened.
What a bold and daring step was that: to leave behind the comforts, the conveniences and the joys of their native land; leave far, and perhaps forever, their friends so dear to them. Forsake their homes and their firesides, and, arrived at Salem, at Boston, or Lynn, to leave still behind those flourishing towns and bend their steps hitherward. And here, in the dark and gloomy wilderness, in silence unbroken save by the Indian war-whoop, by the hideous cry of the wild beast, or the solemn and majestic roar of Father Ocean, take up their final earthly resting-place and home.
Interesting to us would it be did we know more of the character and
circumstances of those first few families. We should like to paint them
as they were, in life and being--what undaunted resolution--what firm religious
trust spoke upon their countenances and told of the soul within. What high
purposes, what sublime hopes lighted up their eyes and swelled their bosoms--what
intellectual cultivation sat upon their brows? We should like to set before
you their stalwart forms and iron frames, but their bones have long since
reposed in the cemetery of their own selection, and no painters canvass
secures their earthly form.
The first settlers of East-Hampton were
THOMAS TALMAGE, JR.
JOHN STRETTON, SEN'R
The following became very early their associates:
THOMAS OSBORN, JR.
The first six of the original nine settlers came from Lynn, Massachusetts, to this place. The father of Talmage was a large proprietor of Lynn and was made a freeman of that town previous to 1638. Howe had been a sea captain and had lived in Salem, Massachusetts; in 1650 he sold his possessions in East-Hampton to Thomas Baker, and removed to England. Hand was from the hamlet of Stanstede, in the County of Kent, England. Thomson came here from New London. Barnes and Mulford arrived at Salem, from England, but a short time previous, it is said. It has, however, been a tradition in the Mulford family that he came to East-Hampton from Southampton. Perhaps he made but a short stay in Southampton. Ralph Dayton came from England to Boston and thence here. Thomas Baker came from Milford, Connecticut, in 1650; he was an inhabitant of that town as early as 1639. Thomas James and his father came to Charlestown, in Massachusetts, in 1632; they afterwards went to New-Haven, Connecticut, and Thomas James removed from thence to East-Hampton as early as 1651; and became their first Minister of the Gospel. The father of Charles Barnes resided in Eastwinch, in the County of Norfolk, in England; he died in 1663, leaving property to his son. Charles Barnes was the first schoolmaster. Joshua Garlicke was the miller. The family of Fithian have a tradition that their first ancestor in this town came from Southampton.
The family of Schellenger are mentioned in the Town Records as early
as 1657. Thomas Edwards is mentioned as early as 1651. Lion Gardiner removod
from Gardiner's Island to this town in 1653.
Few facts in relation to the family history of our early ancestors remain. The hand of time has moved on with sure, resistless progress, and left on record but few memorials of the dead.
It is said that of the first settlers:
Ralph Dayton died in 1657.
John Hand and Lion Gardiner in 1663.
Robert Rose, who was the father of Thomas Rose of Southampton, must have died previous to as appears by the record of conveyance of his lands, by his son Thomas, to George Miller, dated 19th Dec., 1665. 1665.
William Hedges died about 1674.
Many of our ancestors, however, lived to a very great age. Their simple habits, correct life, and perhaps an originally strong constitution lengthened out their days far beyond the ordinary life of man.
Richard Stretton died June 7th, 1698
William Barnes, Sen'r Dec'r 1st, 1698.
Joshua Garlicke, aged about 100 years March 7th, 1700.
Richard Shaw Oct'r 18th, 1708.
Thomas Osborne, aged 90 years Sept. 12th, 1712.
Robert Dayton, a son of Ralph Dayton, aged 84 years April 16th, 1712.
Samuel Parsons, aged 84 years July 6th, 1714.
Steven Hedges, a son of William Hedges, lacking 6 months of 100 years old July 7th, 1734.
He must have been familiar with the origin of this town, and with its history for at least 85 years.
Joseph Osborn, (a son of Thomas Osborn, one of the first settlers,)
died here, in this Temple of our fathers, while wor. shiping, a little
more than one hundred years since. The following is a literal copy of the
record of his death as contained in the Records of the Rev. Nathaniel Huntting,
the then minister of the town:
"Oct. 2nd, 1743 :--Joseph Osborn, son of Tho's Osborn deceased, sunk down and died in ye Meeting House just after morning prayer was begun, a quarter after ten, aged almost 83 years. He never spake a word but expired at once."
The first inhabitants of this town settled in the Southern part of the main street and on each side of what is now Town Pond. At that time however there was no collection of water, and a swamp or marsh covered the centre of the street. A small rivulet or drain communicated with and ran into the swamp from the North.
The following are the names of those who lived upon the East side of
the street, commencing with the Southern extremity and succeeding in the
The following are a few of those who lived upon the West side, without
any reference to order, it being difficult to locate them.
The church stood near the old burying-ground or on its site, on the
east side of the street. A highway ran from near where the church now stands,
over the swamp east, and afterwards was the travelled road to the village
of Amagansett. Their houses were small, with thatched roofs. The
Church was of similar dimensions--thatched roof and boarded sides.
The original allotments of land were thirty-four in number. The lots were
from eight to twelve acres each, laid out between the street and Hook Pond,
and the Swamp East and what was then common land West, (probably now the
highway.) The Mill stood at the South end of the town and gave the name
to the lane which leads to the beach. It was then called "Mill-Lane."(*)
Thomas Baker kept the Tavern or Ordinary. Before the Church was erected
the meetings were held at his house, for which he was to have "the sum
of œœ0 1s. 6d. each Sabbath."
The licensing of Baker to keep Tavern in 1654 is thus concisely expressed upon the Records:
"June 29th, 1654.--It is ordered that Thomas Baker shall keep the Ordinary."--Town Records, book 2, p. 33.
Perhaps nothing is more conspicuous in the character of our forefathers than their untiring energy, activity and enterprize. Having arrived at the chosen place of their residence they set themselves at work with ceaseless industry and perseverance until their object had been accomplished. While they were busied in laying the foundations of government, education and morals they were equally active in their daily toil and occupation.
As early as 1653 they allotted and improved the Northwest and Acabonac meadows. They soon subdued a great extent of wilderness and brought it under cultivation. As early as 1653 nearly all the arable land in the Eastern and (*)This Mill was driven by cattle. Western Plains, a circuit of two miles, was under some degree of cultivation.
The first settlers, (although undoubtedly well educated men, as their records and laws most equivocally prove,) were chiefly farmers. They suffered many inconveniences for the want of mechanics. They sent to Southold for a weaver; to Huntington for a blacksmith, and to Wethersfield for a carpenter. The invitation to the weaver is on record in the following words:
"February 2nd, 1653.--It is Ordered yt there shall bee an invitation sent to Goodman Morgan of Southold, if hee will come and live here and weave all the Townswork, hee shall come in free from all former charges and the Town will give him 5 and break him up 2 ackres of Land."--See Town Records, book 2, p. 31.
The country afforded a wide range and abundant pasture for cattle, and hence large flocks were kept. The first stock consisted of goats; afterwards large herds of cows and horses were maintained. They were driven out in the morning by the shepherd and back at night. The whole town's-herd were pastured together, and each one took his turn in succession in tending them.
Among their other pursuits was that of whaling. They very early made this a source of profit as well as amusement Doubtless it was congenial to their bold and adventurou spirits. I find the following early reference to that business.
"November the 6th, 1651.--It was Ordered that Goodman Mulford shall call out ye Town by succession to loke out for whale."--Book No. 2, page 20.
Their difficulties were oftentimes occasioned by conflicting claims to shares of the whales taken by them. In 1653 upon a difficulty of that kind they "Ordered that the share of whale now in controversie between the Widow Talmage and Thomas Talmage shall be divided between them as the lot is."--Book No. 2, p. 30.
Even in our day we have heard the old and venerable fathers speak, with the enthusiasm and fire of other days, of the sports and perils of the whale chase and of their success. And tradition still informs us that Abigail Baker, who was married in 1702 to Daniel Hcdges, the first settler of the name in Sagg, in her day in riding from East-Hampton to Bridge-Hampton, saw thirteen whales on the shore at that time between the two places. Whaling suffered sad misfortunes in that day:
"Feb. 24, 1719.--This day a whale-boat being alone the men struck a whale and she coming under ye boat in part staved it, and tho ye men were not hurt with the whale yet, before any help came to them four men were tired and chilled and fell off ye boat and oars to which they hung and were drowned, viz.: Henry Parsons, William Schellinger, Junior, Lewis Mulford, Jeremiah Conkling, Junr."--Records of Rev. Nathaniel Huntting.
We may discover the wisdom and foresight of our ancestors in establishing a free and popular Government for themselves--in laying deep and broad the foundations of their little commonwealth upon the basis of education and good morals.
The Government of the town was vested in the People. They, assembled at their Town Meetings, had all power and all authority. They elected officers; constituted courts; allotted lands; made laws; tried difficult and important causes, and from their decision there was no appeal. This Town Meeting, or "General Court," as it was sometimes called, probably met once a month. Every freeholder was required to be present at its meetings and take upon himself a part in the burdens of government; all delinquents were fined 12d. for non attendance at each meeting. It is almost impossible to specify the numerous and diverse acts of authority and orders made and done by this assembly. It provided school teachers and made regulations for the education of the youth. It hired the minister; assessed his salary by tax upon the property of individuals.(*) It built churches, and provided for the payment of building in the same manner. It admitted or excluded inhabitants or proposed settlers from its society and privileges. No person was allowed to buy or sell lands without the license and consent of the town. Hired laborers were liable to be excluded from the bounds and hospitality of the town. Their laws were made not only for the purpose of establishing order and securing justice, but they every where breathe a deep solicitude to prevent disputes and difficulty. The following is an illustration.
"19th April, 1659.--It is Ordered that every man shall sett the two letters for his name at each end of his fence, in large letters, on the inside of the Post, above the upper Raile, upon penalty," &c.--Book No. 2, p. 33.
The only other Court constituted by the original inhabitants was a Court of Three Justices, sometimes called the "Court of the Three Men." The first three Justices who composed this Court were John Mulford, Thomas Baker, and Robert Bond. Thomas Talmage Jr. was the first Recorder or Secretary.
This Court met "at eight o'clock in the morning on the 2nd day of the 1st week in every month." It had cognizance of affairs of minor importance, and in cases of danger had power to call a special Meeting of the Town. It tried causes where the matter in controversy did not exceed five pounds. It remitted fines under that amount. An appeal might be (*)The salary of Mr. James, the first minister, was œœ50 per annum, and afterwards œœ60; besides many very valuable privileges, and an exemption from taxation.
The salary of the Schoolmaster was œœ33 per annum. had from the decision of this Court to the General Court or Town Meeting, as appears from the following order:
"Oct'r 1652. Ordered if any man be aggrieved by any thing that is done by the men in authority that he shall have libertie to make his appeal to the next General Court, or when the men are assembled together on the public occasions."
An illustration at once of their tender regard for their rights and their distrust of any authority irresponsible to the people. No set of men ever knew better than they that authority should never be delegated by the people "upon the presumption that it will not be abused."
Besides these three Judges their only officers were a Secretary or Recorder and a Constable. The Constable was the executive officer. He held an important station--was generally a man of some consequence. He presided as moderator in their Town Meetings.
The Records of this Court still remain. They are written in a very singular hand, by a skilful penman; but those antique hieroglyphics defy the curiosity of any but the most patient and persevering investigator.
The reports or records of adjudged cases are perhaps the best illustrations of the habits, character and severe morals of our fathers that any where exist. They gave all a hearing. The Indian or foreigner, citizen or stranger, rich or poor were admitted to their courts and received at their hands the same equal justice.
In the year 1658 Wyandanch, Sachem of Montaukett, Plaintiff, prosecuted Jeremy Daily, Defendant, for an injury done to his "great cannow." The case was tried by the "three men," and the Jury in the cause rendered a verdict of ten shillings as damages for the plaintiff.(*)
At the same time that the people provided for an appeal (*)For an account of this trial see Appendix. to themselves from the decision of the Special Court of the three men, they nobly sustained their magistrates in the discharge of their duty. They gave them repeated tokens of their confidence; often conferred upon them important trusts, and protected them from insult and injury. As early as 1651 they passed the following order:
"Nov. 17th, 1651. The 3 men chosen for Town Officers are ordered to sett out the place for a Meeting-House, and they shall have power to marrie during the year."
The General Court upon another occasion when an individual had derided and insulted their magistrates, passed the following order:
Oct'r 3d 1655. It is ordered that William Simons for his provoking speeches to the 3 men in authoritie, being a disturbance to them in their proceedings, that he shall forthwith pay 5 shillings, which is to be disposed of to make a paire of stocks."--Book 2, p. 39.
While our ancestors admitted the equal rights of all within their commonity, they deemed themselves as having also a perfect right to exclude any from their number who were loose in their morals and dangerous to the well being of the young. Nothing can exceed the tender solicitude with which they watched over the moral and spiritual interests of their rising village. In 1651 they ordered:
"That Goodman Meggs' lot shall not be laid out for James Still to go to work on, and that he shall not stay here."--Book 2, p. 21.
"East-Hampton. April 7th, 1657.--It is agreed by the voate of the town that the bargain yt Goodman Davis, made with Goodman Birdsall in selling of his lands is annulified and not to stand."--Book 2, p. 44.
At the same time they designed to take no undue advantage over others in the exercise of their authority. On the decease of Nathaniel Foster, a son of Christopher Foster of Southampton, they passed the following:
"The beginning of October 1660.--At our Meeting, upon Goodman Foster's request, he was accepted to possess as an inhabitant, his sonne Nathaniel's lott, to live upon it himselfe or put in such an inhabitant as the town should accept of, and hee to defray all charges."--Book 2, p. 85.
This town at first took its laws from the Colony of Connecticut, selecting such as it deemed applicable to its peculiar circumstances, and moulding them to suit its wants. The laws were chosen by them, not forced or imposed upon them by any superior. They therefore exhibit the living, breathing spirit of the people; the uninfluenced and spontaneous choice of their own minds--clothed in the quaint language, and in some measure partaking of the spirit of the times.
They provided in 1656 that slander should be punished "by a fine not above œœ5 as the men in authoritie see meet."--Book 2, p. 45.
At the same period they enacted a law against personal violence in the following words:
"It is ordered yt whosoever shal rise up in anger against his neighbor and strike him, he shall forthwith pay ten shillings to ye town and stand to the censure of the Court and if in smiting he shall hurt or wound another he shall pay for the cure, and also for his time that he is thereby hindered."--Book 2, p. 45.
It would seem that they felt deeply and most solemnly the obligation of an oath, and detested and despised perjury as an abominable crime, richly meriting the most severe punishment. They enacted the following law against that crime:
"Februarie 12th, 1656.--It is ordered yt whosoever shall rise up as a false witness against any man to testifie yt which is wrong, there shall be done to him as he had thought to have done unto his neighbour, whether it be to the taking away of Life, Limbe, or Goods."--Book 2, p. 45.
Another striking fact to be borne in mind--speaking volumes for the good principles of our forefathers, and their dealings with others--is that they never had any serious difficulty with the Indians. Doubtless this was partly owing to the friendly regard of Wyandanch, the mighty Sachem of the Island. That he used his great name as a shield for the prevention of difficulty and bloodshed is well known. He had acted an important part in assisting, as
an ally, the early settlers of New England in their war against the Pequots, and acquired a hard and well earned fame by his martial achievements in that deadly contest.
Worthy was the barbarian Chieftain of an immortal fame! Worthy rival of his white compeers in the generous and kindly impulses that ennoble and adorn the human soul.(*)
The powerful intercession of Lion Gardiner, (that sterling Puritan,) no doubt often had its influence in averting threatened and impending difficulties with the Indians.
But, be it ever remembered, that every foot of soil which their labors redeemed from nature's wildness, and made to smile with the luxuriant harvest, was fairly purchased by our ancestors of the Aborigines of the forest. The stipulated price was honestly paid. The Indians themselves bore the highest testimonials of their kindness and hospitality, and gratefully acknowledged it in some of their conveyances to the whites.
After the tribe had been almost exterminated in the fatal battle on Block Island; they came about the year 1660, from Montauk and resided upon the parsonage at
(*)Wyandanch died about 1659. the south end of the Town Street, under the immediate protection of the whites. Their burying ground, made in the parsonage at that time, within a few years might have been seen.
Truth, however, demands the acknowledgement that there was once a time when much danger was apprehended from the Indians. In the year 1653 the Narraghansetts and other tribes had endeavored to form an alliance of all their forces against the whites. They attempted to seduce Wyandanch from his friendship to them. With his tribe they partly succeeded. A murder was committed by the Indians at Southampton, and they assumed a hostile attitude.
The records of this period show that our ancestors shrank not from the crisis. They never dreamed of deserting their post. Providence, as they thought, had led them to this spot as their home. Wild and savage as it was, they had planted their feet upon its soil--erected their rude habitations--begun their struggle in subduing the wilderness; and, where providence had led them, there, under God, they would remain and abide like men the destiny that awaited them. They were not regardless of the danger. They set a watch of two by night and one by day. They gave power to the "three men" to call a Town Meeting at a half hour's notice. They sent to Connecticut River for "a firkin of powder and shot equivalent," as their order expressed it. They never thought however of abandoning the Sanctuary. Their worship must not cease. The Sabbath morning breaks. The sun casts his rays upon the scene. The primeval forest rises in majesty, unruffled by the breeze. The virgin fields smile with the harvest. From many a habitation the curling smoke ascends. How quiet, how peaceful that Sabbath morn appears, as it illuminates the little village. The morning prayer has been offered under every roof,--but still no sound of busy life or labor breaks upon the ear. The hours pass on--higher the sun ascends. At length the sound of the warlike drum rises from the front of their little church; it sends farther and farther its pealing notes,--it is the summons to prepare for the services of the Sanctuary. An hour elapses and again at the drum's beat the villagers pour from their dwellings,--infancy, manhood, and tottering age--matron and maiden, all throng to the Church. The sun flashes upon the armor they bear. Thomas James, their Pastor, follows--small in stature, sprightly and undaunted in step and bearing--and takes his seat to minister the word of Life. There sit our ancestors, solemn, anxious, hopeful, and praise and worship the Most High, with their arms and warlike equipments by their side. We see them in their devotions. We hear them say--"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed--we are perplexed,
but not in despair--persecuted, but not forsaken--cast down, but not destroyed."
When, ye spirits of our sires; when shall we see the like again?--such wisdom in the council?--such valor in the field?
This, however, was only an alarm, although its aspect was for a time so serious. And it is believed, and to the honor of all be it said, that Indians and whites never drew from each other a drop of blood in murderous contest, from the date of the earliest settlement to our present peaceful times.
It was under the influence of such energy of character, purity of morals, wise precaution and forethought for the future, that this little settlement, under providence, prospered and grew on every side. It spread with great rapidity. Adjoining villages soon rose up, almost in rivalry of their more venerable and early home.
It was but a short period after the first settlement of the town before
some families colonized the villages of Wainscott and Amagansett. As early
as 1670 John Osborn exchanged his lands here, with the town and with individuals,
and procured a tract of land bounded "South by the Ocean and East by Wainscott
Pond." It is probable that about this time Wainscott and Amagansett were
settled. And it is said that as early as 1700 those villages had attained
nearly if not quite their present size.
Wainscott was originally settled by the families of Hand, Hopping and Osborn. Amagansett is said to have been settled originally by the families of Hand, Conkling, Schellenger and Barnes.
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