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Origins and etymology - Brookhaven
The c. 1665 Brewster House is the oldest extant structure in the Town of Brookhaven and is within the town's first settlement, Setauket
The first known inhabitants were Algonquian-speaking Native Americans, of the Setauket and Unkechaug tribes. The first English settlers arrived around 1640, and in 1655, several purchased Brookhaven's land from its tribal inhabitants. The latter founding year was recognized in 1976, when the Brookhaven Town Bicentennial Commission proposed setting the date on the seal to 1655 in line with this first deed of settlement of the Town of Brookhaven at Setauket on April 14, 1655. Considering this founding year of 1655, Brookhaven is the fifth English township on Long Island following Southampton, Southold, Huntington, and East Hampton.
The Caroline Church in Setauket, was built in 1729 and is the oldest extant church in Brookhaven
The first English settlement was named Setauket after the Native American tribe. Brookhaven is the anglicized version of the Algonquin name Setauket. These terms were initially used interchangeably to describe the village or the town. The verbal division between the smaller hamlet of Setauket and township of Brookhaven was not set until well into the 19th century. A point of confusion is the existence of the hamlet named Brookhaven, which was in fact named for the township in 1879. Other names used in the settlement's first decades were Ashford, after Ashford, Kent in England, and Cromwell Bay, for English Protestant leader Oliver Cromwell.
The Dongan seal of Brookhaven, in use since 1686
The original purchase from the native Setalcott tribe that took place in 1655 encompassed the land making up present-day Setauket, Stony Brook, and Port Jefferson. A second purchase was made by Richard Woodhull in 1664 expanded this tract eastward along the North Shore to additionally include all lands from the Old Mans area (Mount Sinai and Miller Place) to Wading River. Richard Woodhull was the direct heir of Eustace de Vesci, a British noble who was a signator of the Magna Charta. Another land purchase in the same year expanded Brookhaven to the South Shore of Long Island.
Brookhaven was integrated into the Province of New York following that colony's establishment in 1664, and in 1666 Governor Richard Nicolls granted a patent for the town which confirmed title to the lands purchased. Governor Thomas Dongan issued a patent in 1686 which granted powers to the town and established a representative form of government. The town seal was authorized at this time. The central element of the town seal, the letter “D”, was designated to the Town of Brookhaven as its official cattle earmark by the Duke’s Laws of 1665. Although no records exist dating to the town seal's original design plan, it is generally thought that the seal's olive branch signified peace and the whaling tools signified the most lucrative business in the Town of Brookhaven at the time. The current seal is a redesign, retaining the original elements, but adding the Town of Brookhaven and its 1655 date of settlement.
The Miller Place Academy schoolhouse, c.1834
Early English settlers farmed, fished, and hunted whales. Brookhaven was largely agrarian, with each hamlet being limited to a handful of families yet containing miles of land. This economy was supplemented in coastal sections with fishing. A major commercial center did non exist in Brookhaven until the early 19th century.
Brookhaven was founded primarily by English colonists that partook in the settlement of Southold, New York, and was likewise under the jurisdiction of the theocratic New Haven Colony in the modern state of Connecticut. Brookhaven was transferred to the more secular Hartford-led Connecticut Colony in 1662. Following the English takeover of New Netherland in 1664, the new English colony of New York laid claim to Long Island and brought Brookhaven into its jurisdiction.
Revolutionary War era
During the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, Brookhaven and the rest of Long Island were captured by British forces, and many residents sided with the British as loyalists to the English crown. Nevertheless, Brookhaven had multiple episodes of celebrated American activity during the war. This included the actions of the Culper Spy Ring, a spy network working for George Washington that largely consisted of Brookhaveners working in occupied territory. Another episode was Benjamin Tallmadge's successful raid from across Long Island to the British stronghold at the Manor St. George, wherein his raiding party rowed from Connecticut to Cedar Beach and marched across Long Island, culminating in the Battle of Fort St. George and burning of the defensive structure. A more minor skirmish occurred within the settlement of Setauket, where the British had repurposed the local Protestant church as a fortress. Gunshots were fired and some bullet holes remain within the walls of the adjacent Caroline Church.