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Long Wood
Chester G. Osborne - 1968

    South and west of Brookhaven National Laboratory is a stretch of rolling countryside which was cnce called Long Swamp, and is now known as Long Wood. New highways are bringing the rush of traffic to its borders; aircraft from Mastic strip and Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation whistle overhead; the tide of population is sweeping in, with schools to fill its needs: one modernistic structure perpetuates the place-name. But centuries ago there were few settlers, and the tranquility of forest and swampland was seldom interrupted save by the low of cattle and the chop of the woodsmans ax.
    Before that there were the Indians who came and went with moccasined tread, following trail or river bank (their word for river bank was Yaphank); sometimes they paused to hunt for game or to search for berries or chestnuts in season. The name of one native who camped there survives in Asawsunce, a swamp south of Yaphank; as is nearly inevitable with Indian words, there are other spellings: Oosence and Oosunk.
    There is more swampland; in the Brookhaven records, the historian Shaw identifies "The Long Swamp" as "the headwaters of the Connecticut River, lying west of the road from Yaphank village to Middle Island." And three or four miles east is Wampmissic, "the place of chestnuts", remembered now in a road and avenue of that name. An early map in the Tangier S m i t h Papers shows this, too, to have been called "Long Swamp" with the name written in at a fork in the headwaters of the "Peaconack River".Both areas were once part of the vast holdings of Colonel William "Tangier" Smith. On May 12, 1689, Smith bought from the Indians a tract called Sebomack Neck, between Unkachock Creek and the Connecticut River, "the whole river included md term powle west", to the "head of ye said river Connecticut Together with all Timbers Trees Wood and Underwood Swamps Crickes rivers. . ."A "powle" or pole is an ancient measurement, equal to a rod or five and a half yards; thus Smith bought the whole river and fifty-five yards west, which assured him of riparian rights on that side, too, including any considerable t i d a 1 rise or change. No price was mentioned.
    On June 10, 1690, Smith bought a tract east of the first, paying the natives thirty pounds. And on April 8, 1692, he paid seventy pounds more for land, "the east bounds from the Mayne Sea alonge the River or Brooke Northwards called Yaphanke and from the head of said Yaphanke north into the woods to the Midle of the Island, North Bounds beinge the Middle of the Island and the South Bounds beeing the Mayne Sea allways excepted land. . . in a patent to Richard Floyd", and the Eburne patents of some four hundred acres and "Medow Next to the Bay" which belonged to the Town. \Vth this deed, "Tangier" Smith secured parts of the South Beach, Mo-riches Bay. all of the Narrow Bay, the Mastics, Moriches, Longwood. Ridge and parts of Middle Island, Yaphank and South Haven. These and other holdings were patented on October 9, 1693, as the Manor of St. George.
    On April 24, 1739, a "List of Lots Laid out at ye Long Swamp . . . on ye South Side of the Cuntry Road" was entered in the Brookhaven Town Records; fifty-five lots were indicated, for nearly as many individuals.
    A lawsuit occurred when the Trustees, on December 5, 1743, authorized Robert Robinson and John Hallock to "carry on the holl afare In a law sute between the Town and William Smith . . .at a place known by the Name of the long swamp which tract . . . we (the Trustees) dame as our lawful Est(ate)". In March, 1746/47, William Nicoll was employed by the Town on that matter. The next August, the Trustees were still trying: they "concluded to Commence a Law suit against William Smith . . . for ye South Beach and ye Long Swamp. . . " On May 3, 1748, it was voted "by the Majority of the freeholders, that the Trustees do Sell Some Scraps of Land to defray the Charges of the lawsuit for the Beach and Longswamp.
,, " A certain Nathaniel Biggs protested against that vote and dissented to the sale of land for any such use.
    More than five years elapsed; then in August, 1753, Smith and the Town agreed to submit their dispute to arbitration. On December 18 following, the Trustees agreed that "releases should be made to William Smith in Pursuance of ye Arbitrators Award . . . and the Trustees released all the lands to him lying Eastward of a North Line" from the head of Yaphank River between the middle of the island and Country Road and the east line of Brookhaven Town, and meadow at Connecticut River, north of a tree marked by the arbitrators. This was in addition to certain properties farther south. It should be remarked that this William Smith was J u d g e William (1720-1799), a grandson of the original proprietor.Another descendant of "Tangier" Smith, Colonel Henry Smith of Brookhaven, "Gentleman" in "consideration of the natural affection" which he bore for his son Dr. Gilbert Smith, and for one hundred pounds New York money, conveyed to Gilbert on February 2, 1756, "all that tract of land called. . . Long Swamp."
    The account books of Judge William Smith contain several references to the place: on October 1, 1743, Daniel Terry was debtor to "trees at Long Swamp", for £2. In 1768, Judge Smith "Sent to Long Swamp 233 old Sheep & 52 Lambs and 1 Ewe & Lamb of Zeb. Homans". In May, 1772, he sent 186 old sheep and 46 lambs.
    The area was still "Long Swamp" or "the Swamp" in 1775; on April 4, the Judge wrote "Nathil. Brown, Cr. to getting timber at the Swamp and bring one Load down. Cr. to 43 days work £7 13 . . 0". During the Revolutionary War, the rolling countryside was not only good for pasturing, but also for a hiding place for livestock; in the flat country farther south the sheep and cattle were easy prey for foragers from British forces. The Loyalist historian Jones wrote that "In the summer of 1780, General Clinton established a post at Smiths farm, (at Mastic) upon the south side of Long Island, in the manor of St. George consisting of (Tory) refugees who left Rhode Island upon its evacuation the preceding autumn. It consisted of about 200 men. . . They took possession of the place, erected a fort, were allowed rations, and plundered the inhabitants far and near. . . " No orders were given "to put an end to the depredations of this worthless vagabond, thieving, bandittf.Judge Smiths erstwhile prosperity aroused a certain amount of envy among his neighbors, including those of various political persuasion, as we recorded in the stories of the feud at Punks Hole. And there is a bit of folklore which states that Smiths ambition was to own enough sheep to reach in a line from Smiths Point to Manorville, and that this ambition was never realized because the Punks Holers kept picking off the sheep at the northern end of the line.
    Smith was far from his Manor for most of the war, serving in the Senate of the State of New York. In his absence, management of the place went first to his son John; and when John was forced to flee the Island as a much-wanted rebel, supervision was in the hands of a mysterious figure named Wilham Booth. Booth it was who helped turn over the British
fort to Major Benjamin Tallmadge in the famous raid of November 23, 1780. And Booth is mentioned in the next Long Swamp fragment, a report in Judge Smiths handwriting on "several persons tresspassing":
    "Gilliad Mills informs me that when I had desired him to Aquint any person that was about to Assist in getting off or receive any of the Grain Growing t h e n at ye long Swamp--that he told Elnathan Davis he must not Assist Zacha. Booth any way about the Grain then at the long Swamp. Christopher Moger and Stephen Randal being then present --he told the Same to Daniel Terry before he went to work for Zack Booth. He also informs me that Daniell Terry kept his horse in my pasture while he was at work for Booth--he bePeves that Wm. Davis son of Elnathan Davis knows where the Grane went.
    "John Booth Says the hay on the beach was judged to be 10 (?) load 2 he brought off Capn. Rose ½ a load also that Morris Homan drove Cattle to the long Swamp to pasture in the Year 1782. Also that he warned Stephen Ran-do! not to Ditch on Wm. Smiths Meadow, that Randal said he did not regard it. for Cohl. Floyd was able to leave (?) him harmless, and pay all Dammage. The same he told Richard Floyd, & he thinks he told the Same also to Daniell Petty.
    "He says further that he saw William Booth bring as he thinks 30 or 40 Logs at least he was told the logs w a s booths, and he Saw him Actually Cuting and Carting Some of the loggs. "he informs also that West Sell pastured under Zack Booth between fifteen and twenty Cattle the Season at the long Swamp also informed that Mordicai Homan living at Yaphank drove cattle, that is four stears if they did not belong to him, he also informs that Daniel Rose pastured three horses at the Swamp, and that Doctor Punderson had one horse pastured there from ye first of May untill ye 22nd July, also a pair of oxen belonging to John Jones and Joseph Scribner of Winthrops Patent. And a Maire and Colt from the old mans that he Dont know the oners Name."
    "Old Mans" may be a location in this reference; it was the name for Mt. Sinai. The Judge refers to many of the individuals in his account books. Christopher Moger, for instance, lived at Long Swamp; in April, 1785, he paid Smith ten bushels of rye for a years rental of a place there.
    Around 1790, a homestead w a s established at L o n g Swamp by William Smith (1769-1803), a son of Judge Smith. Young William married Hannah Phoenix Smith, daughter of Philetus Smith of Smithtown, and had three children: William Sidney; Apollos, who died in 1816; and Ruth Amelia, who was to marry Robert M. Russell.Young Williams wife Hannah may have been a relation of the patriot Capt. Daniel Phoenix, of New York City; there is a short business letter with his signature in the Judge Smith papers, dated April 20, 1773. Playing guessing games with genealogy can be hazardous, but if Hannah was a relation, this would explain the appearance of the names Sidney and Amelia in the Tangier Smith line; among Daniels children were Amelia, who died young, and Sidney, who died unmarried.
    William Sidney Smith was born at Long Swamp on July 8, 1796; as an orphan at age seven he was placed under the guardianship of his uncle, General and U.S. Senator John Smith of Mastic. He attended the common schools, and later went into the offices of Cotheal and Russell, New York City merchants; one of thefirm was Robert M. Russell, his brother-in-law, in whose home he stayed. In 1815, William was commissioned an ensign in the 142nd Regiment of the State infantry, and by 1823 had risen to brigade-major.
    Soon after, he took possession of his estate, a tract of several thousand acres; the historian Pelletreau says that for the remainder of his life he devoted his attention to the cultivation of his farm; he had a part in the management of the Long Island Railroad, and of flouring mills and a woolen factory at Yaphank. In 1829 he was elected Supervisor of the Town of Brookhaven, and served five years. He was County Treasurer in 1834, and a State Assemblyman for several terms.
    The estate was still Long Swamp in an 1810 address. By October 5, 1829, however, the name Long Wood had come into use for it appeared on a letter by William Sidney Smith. An 1833 map includes "Longswamp or now called Long wood. . . " And it is mentioned in the first edition of Thompsons history (1839) as a name "lately conferred upon a part of Col. Smiths purchase between the north and south c o u n t r y roads, owned by one of his descendants, William Sidney Smith."
    On May 7, 1823, "Long Wood Smith" married Eleanor Jones; this was on her eighteenth birthday; she was the sixth child of Major Wi!ham Jones of Cold Spring, and his wife, the former Kezia Youngs. When William Sidney Smith died on January 19, 1879, he left his wife and ten children: William Henry, Robert Russell, Elbert Jones, Charles Jeffrey, Amelia, Sidney Tangier, James Weeks, John Tredwell, Susan Maria, and Apollos. Robert Russell Smith married Cornelia Thorne and had three children, among whom was Helen Tangier Smith, who lived at LongWood until her death in 1955.
    Long Wood then went to Elbert C. Smith, a great-grandson of William Sidney Smith; he was born September 12, 1907; before his death on June 4, 1967, he served as president of the Middle Island Central School District; in 1960, he donated some fifty acres of land as a site for the school which now bears the place-name.
    Among the many distinguished members of the Long Wood branch of the Smith family was the geologist, William Sidney Tangier Smith (1869-1962), a son of Charles Jeffrey Smith (above). In a memorial essay by Woodford, with material assembled by Dr. Ruth Tangier Smith, published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin (1963) it is stated that "All later students of southern California geology are indebted to him. . . " He received his Ph. D. from the University of California in 1896; his research was continuous, and was published in about thirty papers between 1897 and 1943.

First appearing in the LI Forum 1960 No Copyright Information Data Found