WELCOME TO THE ONLINE EXHIBIT OF
CHICKEN HILL: A COMMUNITY LOST TO TIME
Why exhibit Chicken Hill? The small working class enclave of Chicken Hill is typical of many such neighborhoods throughout the United States. These communities arose, functioned and disappeared for all kinds of local reasons but their legacy persists in the fabric of the communities that followed.
At Setauket, the Chicken Hill neighborhood was a mutli-national, multi-religious polyglot combining Eastern Europeans with Native Americans and African Americans. It's origins were mid-nineteenth century. As the wave of suburbanization in the 1960's swept over Chicken Hill, most were forced from their rented homes and the fabric of Chicken Hill was torn. Some were able to remain in the Three Village Community to raise their families.
The youngsters that forged relationships on Chicken Hill became the adults that established the core of the new community. They became government employees and representatives. They volunteered at fire departments. They formed and presided over fraternal organizations and church societies. To understand this subtle history of these people's lives is to provide insight into how and why our communities work today.
Today the community of Chicken Hill is far from its original housing and cultural form and the people who lived there have lost their personal, cultural and social past. At present, as a consequence of all this, they also risk losing even that important and precious heritage that one cannot and should not renounce: the memory and collective history of Chicken Hill.
Rather than fade away, he made a beeline to a ninety-acre farm he had purchased in Setauket in 1854. Nunns probably learned of the area from Stony Brook piano makers or from his longtime employee Bryant C. Hawkins, a Setauket native. In any event, he and his sons borrowed enough money from family and neighbors by 1861 to build a new, four story, steam-powered factory on their land atop the hill in Setauket astride what is now New York State Route 25a. Nunns imported his skilled workers from New York City. He employed eighteen men in 1865, including twelve foreign-born workers. Germans figures prominently among these workers, as they did throughout the American Piano industry. At $46 per month, they were the highest paid artisans in northern Brookhaven. These craftsmen manufactured ninety pianos per year using a limited division of labor.
Excerpt from: The Long Island Historical Journal Fall 19991 Vol. 4 No. 1
Stern, Marc J., The Social Utility of Failure: Long Island’s Rubber Industry and the Setauket Shtetle, 1876-1911.
Rubber Factory Names
Long Island Rubber Company, 1876-1878
L.B. Smith Rubber Company, 1878-1888
Brookhaven Rubber Company, 1888-1890
Manhattan Rubber Shoe Company, 1890-1893
Brookhaven Rubber Company, 1893-1895
North American Rubber Company, 1895-1897
Liberty Shoe Company, 1897-1898
Empire State Rubber Company, 1898
Anchor Rubber Tire Manufacturing Company, 1903-1904
Suffolk Rubber Company, 1905-1907
Co-operative Rubber Company, 1911-1942
Fry Rubber Company, ?
Smith was a member of the Eastern Progressive Chapter of the International Order of the Odd Fellows, (I.O.O.F.) at Chicken Hill, Setauket. These lodges were limited to people of color.
Also on display at the Three Village Historical Society is a Masonic Robe. The purple ceremonial robe and cap were used by Sells for official activities in his capacity as Master Mason in Alpha Lodge #57 at Setauket.
Because many of the workers maintained kosher homes, there was a demand in the community for merchants to supply these needs. The Pinnes and Eikov families opened kosher markets. Isaac and later Sam Golden operated a bar and Herman (Hymie) Golden a general store. By 1920, when the rubber factory finally closed, the workers left but the merchants remained to service the diversity of incoming residents of “Chicken Hill.” With this new generation came Jack P. Michaels, Sam Golden’s brother-in-law, who opened “The Country Corner.”
Theodore A. Green (1927 - 2007) was known as "Ted" as an adult, "Fessor," short for professor, in his school days and "Chief Blue Medicine" as a native American. He was the genealogist and first Chief of the Setalcott Nation. Ted's research established the validity of the local descendants the Setalcotts claim for recognition as a Native American Tribe.