Straggling Setauket, August 1895

By Thomas J. Vivian

"The north shore of Long Island from Sandy Point to Mattituck maybe likened to a mild and miniature Norway..."
Part of title page from Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly, Volume 40 and page 139 from the August issue.. Page 140: "... Every yacht owner who has ever pulled a whistle cord or hauled in a sheet on the Sound knows Port Jefferson. ... Time was when the noon bell at Port Jefferson was the signal for nearly a thousand men to drop the adze and calking tools, for here, as in many another town along these shores the building of swift and clean-cut American vessels used to be a thriving trade. With the decay of that industry Port Jefferson went to sleep, but now is waking up again and is trading on pleasure. But while many know Port Jefferson, few know Setauket. Yet Setauket is but a short hail, for from Port Jefferson Bay open out two other bays, and at the head of one of these lies Setauket. The other "bay" called Conscience Bay, is little more than a tidal river and can only be reached on the water side by going up through the Narrows between the bar on one side and the mainland which ends in Oldfield Point and lighthouse on the other side...." Page 141: [Old Shinglesides illustrated] "... walk over from Port Jefferson. The start is on a long half mile up the west side hill .... Then the road down for another half-mile,... Up another hill, and sharply to the right, and the religious quarter of the village is reached. First come the Methodist and Catholic churches, both comparatively modern structures; then more gardens and a dull-red brick mansion set back in a cool and shadowy lawn [the current location of the Setauket School] and then the village green, with the Presbyterian Church to the right and the Episcopal Church of Caroline just ahead. The first as may be soon by the sketch is of the sketch is of the Hanoverian no-order, sometimes called the Colonial, and was built early in the present century.... The present church has largely taken the place of that known as "the old church," which was built in 1760 and which survived the peppering of the British soldiery (who turned it into a barracks) in a sharp Revolutionary skirmish, only to be prosaically burned down some years after..."
Page 142: "...  old churchyard ... one would think all the dead Floyds of Long Island. The importance of two of the Floyds dead is shown by the slab gravestones of sandstone given in the illustration, while the importance of these Floyds living is set forth in the tablets let into tho face of these stones. One of these tablets has either been ground down into utter illegibility by the passing of the years, or else it was covered by a brass, which has been lost - or stolen; but the other, which is of a peculiarly hard, fine slate, still retains the following inscription as clear as though cut yesterday:

Here lies ye Body of
Richard Floyd Esqre,
late Collonel of this
County & a Judge
of ye Court of Common
Pleas, who Dec'd Febr'y
ye 28, 1737, in ye
73rd year of his age

This means that Colonel Floyd was born in 1664, or the very year in which New Amsterdam became New York....

But this is not by any means the earliest record to be found in the place, for nearer to the church, and half hidden in tho rank grass, is a broken gravestone which faintly tells us that beneath it is the dust of Jayne Egre, Gent, who was born in Bristol, England, in 1618, and who died here in 1714, in the ninety-sixth year of his age...."
Page 143: "...If the Presbyterian church is of no order, surely then the Episcopal church cannot be to belong to any.... Not only do the walls lean in or lean out, but the tower is so twisted and by wind and weather that from a front one can accomplish the feat of looking around corner and seeing the side door. The interior noteworthy for its unusually good stained-glass windows, which are new, and for its deliciously quaint gallery, which is as old as the church....

Coming back on the Port Jefferson road one should not fail to stop at what is the gem of the whole place. It is a shingled house nearly opposite the first turn down to the bay. The cluster of chimneys in the centre of the roof the frayed condition of the gray wall shingles the big shrubs of box filling the posy yard with a pungent smell the small paned windows and its general air of respectable old age cannot fail to attract one's attention and if you are fortunate enough to be admitted by the sweet faced old lady who is the pink of antique perfection from her spotless black cloth slippers to the white handkerchief over her head you will find that the interior more than bears out the promise of the outside ..."
Page 144: " [continued description of the house] ... It is all real, no jimcrack imitation - a parlor in which children used to conic tiptoed on Sunday afternoons two hundred years ago. So declares the sweet-faced old lady, who says, with pathetic simplicity: "I was born in 1806 and Captain Jones brought me to this house when I was a bride of eighteen. That was in 1824, and the house was just as old then as it is now. Yes," she adds, with a snap of pride in the faded eyes, "I have lived in this house, bride, wife and widow, for seventy years, and when Captain Jones died he left it all to me."..."
Although this is labeled "Three Old Places" as if by the same author, they are not. Place one (beginning on page 130) is about Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and place two is about Schoharie in the Catskills. There are two copies of the book containing these pages in Google books, but with different titles. The scanning varies so, if you wish to download the volumes, I recommend saving both versions. For viewing online, see: and for an alternate scan, see

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