Miss Kate W. Strong of Strong's Neck, Setauket, had coitributed 397 "True Tales" when she died at 98 in 1977. This article appeared in the May 1946 issue. Miss Kate, as she was affectionately known, chose a few of her essays each year and had the editor of the Forum arange to have them printed in pamphlets which she sent out at Christmastime to family and friends. They are collector's items nowadays.
It was in the early days of the settlement, approximately
1665, that Foulk Davis came to Old Mans, now Mt. Sinai. Shortly afterwards
he built his house on the east shore of Mt. Sinai Harbor. This building
still stands, and is joined to a handsome brick house, built by his descendant,
Daniel Woodhull Davis, in 1848. This latter Mr. Davis married December
31,1860, for his seoond wife, Miss Laura Davis.
Ten years of married life brings one to a "Tin Wedding". It was decided in the Davis family to make it a grand affair. Fortunately a full account has come down to us in a letter Miss Emma Davis, sister to Mrs. Daniel Davis, wrote to her sister Estelle. A copy of this letter is now in the possession of Mr. Amherst Davis who has kindly allowed me to write this tale from that account.
December 30th was the day' chosen for the party, but preparations were being made long before that. First came the writing of invitations, two hundred and fifty of them! It took a whole day for the two sisters to make out the list and then Miss Emma wrote them all. For food they roasted six turkeys, made 300 crullers and cakes "to ballence them". Besides there were four batches of bread and 300 biscuits.
The room was trimmed with Christanas greens and wreaths. Doors and windows were also trimmed with greens and there were four silk flags. In the dining room there were two extension tables, each with a turkey in the middle encircled by boxwood and little white flowers. It was decorated with curlicues of beets and carrots. A plate ofbeef was decorated in the satne way. Besides this were plates of every kind of cake they had made, and New Years cakes from the baker's. I suppose the bread and biscuits were there also, but they were not mentioned. A hundred and fifty of those invited accepted.
They had put a table for the tin presents in the west room, but that proved far too small, so they put boards on chairs to make a great table in order to hold all gifts. I think there must have been many clever tinsmiths in those days to have made some of the presents mentioned. The most interesting ones are still in the possession of their grand-son, Mr. Amherst Davis.
The first gift presented was a set of tin jewelry, which the bride wore all evening, catching the earrings in her hair. This set consisted of a pin about three inches long, diamond shaped; the earrings were also diamond shaped and nearly an inch in size. There was a wide bracelet and a ring with a round button of tin, instead of a stone. Then a tin shaker, which was a regular oldfashioned shaker bonnet big enough for Mrs. Davis to wear. Charlie Hallock gave a man size tin high hat; Ben Tooker pair of women's slippers of tin which showed Mrs. Davis had very dainty feet. There was also a very large tin watch with its key. All these I have seen, but I think what Miss Davis calls a partial list of the rest of the presents, would be of interest.
A monstrous clay pipe and tobacco box (in one of those dinner boxes that come from John Elbert), and a great big tin horn, a dipper with a handle over a yard long, a cake basket, 3 splendid cake pails, two bedroom sets (pitcher, bathtub and slopper), 2 lanterns, 5 lunch boxes, 3 little waiters, 2 sauce pans, 2 large milk pans and one small one, dish pan, 2 cake turners, cake tins, teapot, pint and quart cups, a tea strainer, a large Bible with a tin casing, a paper holder, a corn popper, 3 or 4 flutes, children's toys, 5 tea canisters, 2 broilers and lots of other things. No wonder they had to have something bigger than an ordinary table to put them
Miss Emma Davis who wrote the letter, said that everything went off beautifully and everybody thought it was a wonderful paty. She said she was worn out before the evening was over but she stayed on the next day to help her sister put the house in order. Truly I think one might search not only the county but the country far and wide to find another such tin wedding. It seems to me there must have been no tin goods to be bought in this part of the world for some time to come.
March 21, 1879 - July 22, 1977
"From Orient beaches to East River banks
Every Long Islander owes you thanks."
“Sonnet to Miss Kate 1965."
The following article is copyrighted by the "Long Island Forum," and appears here with their generous permission
The most constant contributor to the Long Island
Forum, Miss Kate W. Strong, became aware of Paul Bailey's new magazine
soon after its founding. The Jan.1939 issue carries a letter from her,
titled "Taxes In The Good Old Days." Two months later she encouraged the
editor by writing, "I think your paper gets better and better."
She might not yet have realized it, but Miss Kate was hooked, to Paul Bailey's delight. Her first article, "Nancy's Magic Clothesline" was indicative of the future in which she would write of true happenings. Thus began her career as a magazine-writing local historian. Her "True Tales" have appeared in the Forum with remarkable regularity, a total of 397 of them.
Miss Kate can be remembered as the gentle lady with the ready smile, and with the twinkling eyes that could not see. She loved people and she smiled instinctively when they came to her.
In her latter, sightless years-perhaps a quarter of the 98 - Miss Kate seemed to sense the needs of her visitors. Sometimes they were little people, eager to laugh at short stories of her own childhood, and to cautiously touch relics preserved from by-gone days. Often they were teenagers, uncertained how to react to the fragile woman who could not see them.
Her smile wrapped them in its warmth and they were soon conversing like intimates. She knew about young people; she had taught Sunday School for sixty years!
More often, the pilgrims were seekers of some elusive genealogical or historical fact. Men and women intent in their quest, having practiced how they might best unlock this storehouse of mostly forgotten information. They came quietly, speaking in hushed tones. Miss Kate didn't let them get away with that approach. She smiled at them, spoke over and through their solemnity. Soon they were at ease, like the children, and the probe became a conversation.
We cannot know what it was like to be surrounded by basic sources-papers from a family of lawyers-and suddenly be unable to open the brittle documents and decipher their contents. Miss Kate only smiled and shrugged off questions, with a complimentary reference to her current secretary-companion. She had several of them through the years, each one dedicated to putting her thoughts on paper so that the "True Tales" would provide her with a constant interest, and continue to educate and entertain her readers.
We owe a debt to these loyal and devoted ladies of whom Jean Rademacher was the last. She was with Miss Kate when she sank wearily into her easy chair one morning and drifted into a sleep from which she never fully awakened.
Miss Kate rests from her long life surrounded by family, including Madame Martha and William "Tangier" Smith, about whom she wrote a good deal. The Smiths and Strongs repose in a wooded section of Ye Little Neck, now known as Strong's Neck, in Setauket. Her ancestors fought in the Revolution, spied for Washington, served in the early assemblies and later Congress. They were lawyers, judges, landowners and churchmen. They were intelligent, resourceful and God-fearing. So was Miss Kate.
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