We will be commemorating Independence Day with our 5th BLM/Justice ride through Bellport & East Patchogue on Saturday, the 4th of July, at 4 pm, leaving from Boys & Girls Club.
And below, celebrate Independence Day with Richard Thomas' brief HISTORY of the South Haven parish and our community on July 4, 1776.
Commemorate Independence Day!
https://www.art101.com/peace/peace.mp3 "A Song of Peace," a patriotic song, with "My Country 'Tis of Thee." The words of "A Song of Peace/This Is My Song," are from a poem by Lloyd Stone, a poet laureate of Hawaii. He authored the poem about 1934 or slightly earlier. The music is from the hymn-like portion of Finlandia composed by Jean Sibelius in 1899-1900. The singers are Harmonious Combustion, consisting of Nan Geary, Linda Girton, and Mary Walker.
The Parish of South Haven and the Revolutionary War, the Situation on 04 July 1776
In 1776, General Nathaniel Woodhull , William Floyd, and William Smith were members of the South Haven congregation.
Contrary to your expectations, perhaps, William Floyd was not signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The six-member New York delegation in Philadelphia hadn't even voted in favor of the Declaration. They had abstained. Their New York Provincial Congress had not yet declared for independence. (The New York delegation didn't receive permission to sign the Declaration until July 15.)
Despite the lofty principles contained in the Declaration, General Nathaniel Woodhull, William Floyd, and William Smith – who were pillars of the Parish of South Haven, all had slaves. (On Long Island, the working class generally did not have slaves, it was mostly only the relatively wealthy and very wealthy—the top 1%.)
In the census of that year, The Number of Inhabitants in the Several Towns of Suffolk County, New-York, July, 1776, the "Negroes" in each family are classified only as "Above 16 years" and "Under 16 years" and are not separately numbered as "males" or females."
The census shows that in 1776 the William Floyd household included ten "Negroes" over 16 years and two under (total 12). In the household of his older first cousin, Richard Floyd IV, (who was a Loyalist), there were five "Negroes" over 16 years and seven under (total 12).
There were fifteen "Negroes" in the Nathaniel Woodhull family, but only four over the age of 16.
William Smith's household included eight "Negroes," six over 16 and two under.
Nathaniel Woodhull had fought in the French and Indian War. He was a major in a New York battalion in 1758 and promoted to the rank of Colonel in March 1760. He led New York's 3rd Regiment on an expedition to Canada during that war.
It is unlikely that there were any Loyalists who were also members of the congregation. In the Town of Brookhaven, the Loyalists generally preferred to attend the Anglican church in Setauket as the pastors of the dissenting churches (Presbyterian) had long been hostile to the royal government. (And the royal governors had been equally hostile to the dissenters, especially Lord Cornbury who had attempted to quash the assessment of taxes for the support of non-Anglicans and their pastors. Lord Cornbury had even, through deception, managed to take the parsonage of the Presbyterian pastor in Jamaica, by claiming he and his family needed a place to stay outside Manhattan because of a yellow fever epidemic. After he had ousted their pastor, he took their meeting house as well and gave both to the Anglicans.)
Here's what was happening in the Parish of South Haven in July 1776.
A civil war was already in progress. The people of eastern Long Island were in a high state of anxiety and preparing for armed conflict.
Although most of populace supported the rebellion, it was a civil war, and neighbors sometimes found themselves on opposite sides.
Richard Floyd IV of Mastic was an unwavering Loyalist. He had been appointed Lt. Colonel of the Suffolk County militia in 1773. (Richard Floyd I was a founding settler of the Town of Brookhaven. In 1683, Richard Floyd I had purchased Floyd's Neck in Mastic after the Town had taken it from its Native American owners for nonpayment of a fine! Richard II had rejected his "Presbyterian" upbringing and converted to Anglicanism, and his son, Richard III, helped establish the Caroline Church in Setauket.)
William Floyd lived on a large estate directly east of Richard Floyd IV and was Richard's first cousin.
In December 1775, those who opposed the royal government had formed a company of minute men, but the community had no way of supplying them with an adequate number of guns or with the powder that would be needed should an actual conflict break out.
General Washington had driven Howe out of Boston in March 1776. General Howe and his troops had sailed to Nova Scotia, but the looming question was "Where would the British troops go next?"
On June 27, 1776, William "Tangier" Smith of the Manor of St. George and General Nathaniel Woodhull of Mastic had been elected to the 4th New York Provincial Congress, which was scheduled to meet on July 9 in White Plains. The colonists of New York had formed their own Provincial Congress in 1775, as they no longer felt the New York Assembly represented their interests, as its acts were subject to approval by the royal governor.
Nathaniel Woodhull had been elected President of the 2nd Provincial Congress on Dec. 6, 1775, and he was re-elected to preside at the third congress held on May 18, 1776, and would again be elected President of the 4th Congress when it met at White Plains on July 9.
The war had been a long time coming. The British had expended considerable sums (and incurred a heavy debt) protecting their American colonies in the fighting of the French and Indian War, and after winning that war in 1763, Parliament felt it was time for the colonists to repay some of the costs. The colonists, many of whom had fought in the battles and who had sacrificed their lives and their fortunes, had a different view. Silas Wood, in his history of Long Island writes:
December 28th, 1768, the assembly of New York adopted a number of spirited resolutions; and among other things, they in substance, resolved unanimously—that the people the colonies enjoyed the same rights as the people of England in not being liable to be taxed but by their own representatives; that the rights and privileges of the legislatures could not be abridged, superseded, abrogated, or annulled; and that they had a right to consult with the other colonies, in matters wherein their liberties might be affected.
The royal governor of the Colony of New York, Sir Henry Moore, had a simple response to these resolutions. He dissolved the assembly. When a new assembly was allowed to be formed in 1769, Col. Nathaniel Woodhull was elected to represent Suffolk County, which he continued to do until the colonial assembly was permanently dissolved in 1775.
After the Boston Tea Party on 16 Dec 1773, (to protest the tax on tea), Parliament had passed an act to block up the port of Boston, and the act said the port would remain blocked up until the people of Boston agreed to pay for all the damage they had caused.
The inhabitants of the Parish of South Haven protested.
The frame of our present building is partially made up of beams and joists from the meeting house that preceded it, so, on Sunday, we may be meeting within parts of the same structure in which the people of the parish met in 1774.
Everything had gotten much worse since that meeting in June 1774.
Four thousand British regulars had been sent to Boston, and on the night of 18 Apr 1775; seven hundred of them were sent to seize guns and stores of gunpowder and ammunition at Concord. And, as Ralph Waldo Emerson would later write ("Concord Hymn," 1837), a shot was fired that was heard round the world.
https://youtu.be/W1ApkEnMCwc "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, sung by the Choir of First Parish Church, Concord, Massachusetts
By July 1775, the Continental Congress had sent George Washington to Boston to take charge of the effort to seize the city.
In December 1775, the Manor of St. George enlisted 70 of the men of the area as minute men. William Smith and Capt. Josiah "Bull" Smith (of the Patentship of Moriches) wrote the Provincial Congress, "The minute men want powder, ball, guns, drum, colors, &c., which are not to be had here; and if to be bought, a great part of the company not able to purchase."
In January 1776, William Smith informed the New York Congress that the militia of Suffolk County now numbered but a little more than 2000, and he hoped "because of the great exposedness of the east end," that a number of Continental troops might be available to protect the county. He went on to say:
"We have a number of poor men who are good soldiers and friends to the cause, and would be glad to enlist as minute men, but have no guns. We should be glad to know if some could be procured at the public expense."
At Boston, in early March 1776, the Americans were able to bring heavy cannon—the cannon had been captured by the forces of Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold at Fort Ticonderoga--to the hills overlooking the city (Dorchester Heights). Then Washington's Continental Army was able to expel the British.
After being forced out of Boston, the British sailed to Nova Scotia--where would General Howe go next?
New York, but where would he come ashore?
Thinking that surely Howe's forces would soon arrive, it was decided it would be prudent to put people on watch for the British fleet, and the leaders did so beginning in March, 1776.
The British ships are seen at Staten island on June 30, 1776.
General Washington began assembling his troops in Manhattan and on Long Island.
Soon over 400 British ships and boats, with more than 34,000 troops, filled New York Harbor.
Nathaniel Woodhull and William Smith attended the 4th Congress at White Plains on July 9, where Woodhull was again selected to preside.
On July 23, 1776, the Declaration of the General Congress of the "freedom and independence of the Thirteen United Colonies" was read in Huntington, with beat of drum, which was "approved and applauded with animated shouts of the people." The people then made an effigy of George III, lined with gunpowder and wrapped in a Union jack, which was hung on a gallows, exploded, and burnt to ashes.
In the evening, they drank 13 patriotic toasts.
On Aug. 24, 1776, the New York Congress directed half of the western regiments of Suffolk County to go to the west part of Queens. Some would join the lines of the Continental Army. General Nathaniel Woodhull was directed to round up all the cattle and send them onto the Hempstead Plain so they would not fall into the hands of the British.
On Aug. 27, 1776, the Battle of Brooklyn was fought (and decisively won by the British).
https://youtu.be/xNABR37HM8A "The Battle of Brooklyn: The Revolutionary War in Four Minutes"
Nathaniel Woodhull was captured on Aug. 28, 1776. Purportedly, a British officer had raised his sword and commanded him to say "God save the King." Woodhull instead replied, "God save us all." Down came the sword, injuring his arm and head. [The story about what was said in the confrontation of Woodhull and the officer did not appear until 1821 and is not generally believed to be true.]
Regardless of what may or may not have been said, Woodhull was injured and taken to a prison ship in Graveshead Bay, but because of his wounds, he was soon transferred to a house in Brooklyn where his arm was amputated.
He survived long enough for his wife (Ruth Floyd, sister of William) to reach his bedside. Nathaniel Woodhull died on 20 Sep 1776.
British troops poured onto Long Island; some moving eastward to take full control of the island and its resources.
The wharves of Sag Harbor were soon crowded with Long Island families desperately hoping to find space on a ship so that they might flee to Connecticut.
Did the first meeting house burn to ground during the Revolutionary War?
It is true that there is a legend that the first meeting house was burned by the colonists (the rebels) during the Revolutionary War, but I have been unable to find any support for this supposition dating earlier than 1915.
It is certainly true that by the twentieth century, the legend had become as firmly established as the one about Daniel Webster and his "mammoth trout."
Oddly, the historians of Long Island writing in the early nineteenth century wrote nothing about the burning of the 1740 meeting house.
Benjamin F. Thompson in 1839 wrote
"The Presbyterian church at Fire-place was erected in 1740, and rebuilt in 1828."
I think that is the most reliable information we have.
Of course, the church's web site and other places quote Rev. Borthwick's book, but then Borthwick fell for the big fish story too. The burning of the first meeting house is even a part of the historical plays we have sometimes done at Old South Haven. (Of course, those are also based on Borthwick's book.)
I'm skeptical of interesting or entertaining "historical" events about which not a single word was written until many, many decades after they supposedly occurred.
Rev. David Rose, the Parish's Minister, in Connecticut
A photo of the gravestone of Hannah (Mulford) Rose can be seen here:
The gravestone says:
In Memory of
Mrs HANNAH ROSE
the amiable Consort of the
Revd DAVID ROSE,
Pastor of the Church of Christ
in South Haven Long Island.
She died in Branford Febry 24th
A.D.: 1781 in the 45th
Year of her Age.
"David Rose, a vocal Patriot, and family were forced to leave his parish in South Haven, NY, during British Revolutionary War occupation of Long Island."
The family took refuge in David Rose's native town of Branford, Connecticut.
After a long illness, Hannah died a refugee in Connecticut, age 44 (that is, in her 45th year). On the lower portion of her stone is the inscription:
From british Tyrany she fled
and made a safe retreat
She now is free among the dead
her Soul Immortal great.
Unfortunately, that part of the grave stone is deteriorating, and if not already unreadable, soon will be.
David Rose's second wife was Berusha. She is buried near her husband in Old South Haven's ancient burying ground in South Haven.
I don't know Berusha's surname.
Her stone had fallen over and was buried for a long time. It is hard to read. I think it says:
In Memory of
Mrs: BERUSHA, wife
of the Revd David
Rose who departed
this Life May 14th
A.D. 1 7 8 4
in the 36th Year
of her Age.
The "36" is uncertain as viewed in the photos. The "6" is very clear, but the digit that precedes it could be "3," "5", or even "7," though based on Rev. Rose's age, "3" seems likely.
Rev. Rose and his second wife had no known children.
His third wife was Sarah Strong, the widow of Selah Havens and the daughter of Selah and Hannah (Woodhull) Strong.