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Middle Island Cemetery

Footnotes to Long Island History

Middle Island Cemetery

by

Thomas R. Bayles

 


       The cemetery at Middle Island opposite the Presbyterian church was established about the time the first

 Meeting house was built across the road in 1766. Five acres additional were purchased in 1867 and the cemetery was incorporated in that year under the name of “Union Cemetery association.” It still goes under this name and contrary to popular belief has no connection with the Presbyterian church across the road.  

            Among the prominent men who have been buried in this historic old cemetery was Alonzo Chappel, the famous artist, who lived the latter part of his life on his estate east of Artist lake, which was named for him. Among the books illustrated by him is a two-volume set entitled “Portrait Gallery of Eminent Americans.” He died December 4, 1987, and his grave is marked by a simple stone.

            Another prominent man in the life of Brookhaven town buried there was Mordecai Homan, a town clerk of Brookhaven town for 42 years, the longest time anyone ever held that office. Mr. Homan, who lived on the Yaphank road on what has in recent years been known as the Vanderbilt farm, kept his office in his home. It is recorded of him that during all the years of his public life not a word was spoken against him. No one doubted Squire Homan’s veracity and honor, no one questioned his decisions. He died March 8, 1854, and was laid to rest in the cemetery opposite the church where for many years he had been clerk and leader of music.

            The Rev. Ezra King, who was pastor of the Middle Island Presbyterian church for 34 years from 1810 to 1844, and of South Haven church most of that time, is buried there, and the monument erected to his memory shows the esteem in which he was held by the members of his congregations. It carries the following inscription: “Grateful friends have erected this monument in memory of their beloved pastor, who thirty four years devoted the vigor of his life to the united parishes of Middletown and South Haven, and by his ardent piety, eloquent preaching and fervent prayers, his warm affection, true friendship and courteous dignity he has left and enduring example to both church and the world.

            The Rev. Jacob Corwin’s grave is also located at this cemetery. He lived near Artist Lake, which was called Corwin’s pond at that time, and was one of the first pastors of the Wading River Congregational church which had been organized in 1785. He was also the first pastor of the New Village Congregational church, now called Centereach, which was organized in 1815.

            Several members of the Hutchinson family are also buried there, including Benjamin T. Hutchinson, who together with his son, Henry P. Hutchinson, held the office of town clerk from 1861 to 1890. This office was kept in their home, which was the old house on the Middle Country road at the foot of the hill where Horton’s cement block factory was located for several years. He died in 1877.

            There are also the graves of Lester H. Davis and many members of his family. Mr. Davis was a prominent man of Coram and his home was for many years the “town capital,” and the annual town meetings were held there until 1884. He was for over 50 years treasurer of the church across the road. He died October 26, 1886.

            The oldest stones in the cemetery are those of members of the Brewster family, and the oldest of these is that of Daniel Brewster, grandson of the Rev. Nathaniel Brewster, first minister of the old “Town church” at Setauket in 1665. Daniel Brewster died June 15, 1748. The Brewsters lived in the house which is now part of Pfeiffer’s store, and in the old Hutchinson house at the foot of the hill.

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