On April 14th, we observed the founding of the Town of Brookhaven 365 years ago. Seven men traveled across Long Island Sound, landing in Setauket, where they purchased land from the Setalcotts. A small piece of that land still stands as the Setauket Village Green. The agreement for this purchase in 1655 can be seen in the display case, located in the lobby of Brookhaven Town Hall.
A formal commemoration is not possible due to the Pause enacted to slow the spread of the Covid-19 Virus. This worldwide pandemic becomes part of our local history as it affects our residents as well as those across the globe. Historians in New York State have been asked to record this event in their local municipalities, so I ask you all in the days, weeks and months ahead to share your experiences with me. You can write, video, create visual art, even clip your local newspaper articles. Let your neighbors and family and friends know they are welcome to contribute. Let us turn our town’s anniversary into an opportunity to record an unprecedented moment of time for future generations to know and understand.
Just a few weeks ago, as we were learning to adjust our daily routines to stay home, I returned a phone call from a Stony Brook resident. He told me the story of his grandparents from Brooklyn, who wanted to get the family away from the rampant Spanish Influenza virus in 1918. They rented a little wooden cottage at a place called West Meadow Beach. His uncles used to tell him they waited for low tide, so they could wade across the water, walk into this little hamlet of Stony Brook and buy groceries. This story, with the teller’s permission, is one of the few in the Town’s historical collection regarding the Flu Pandemic of a century ago.
Please consider sharing your thoughts and experiences. Most importantly, stay paused and stay healthy.
-Barbara M. Russell
Town of Brookhaven Historian
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line: Quarantine Stories to submit your story, video or image.