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Hunter's Garden Association Organized Over 100 Years Ago.

Footnotes to Long Island History

Hunter’s Garden Association

Organized Over 100 Yrs. Ago

by

Thomas R. Bayles


 

            It was back in 1833 that seven deer hunters met on the Quogue plains, between Eastport and Riverhead, to sow rye for the deer then remaining in that part of Long Island.  This place was called Brewster’s Lots and from that time to the present it has been the custom to meet and sow rye.  Later on a garden was planted in the spring and the produce gathered in the fall was used for a dinner in the woods.  Those first seven hunters were Captain Josiah Smith, “Uncle” Wells Tuttle, Ebenezer Jayne, William Gordon, Brewster Tuttle, Parshall Tuttle and Salem Wells.  They were organized in 1833 with Wells Tuttle as president.

            Twice a year on the third Thursday of May and October the Hunter’s Garden Association meets and the following item appeared in the Eastport news of The Patchogue Advance May 23, 1894.

            “The semi annual gathering of the Hunter’s Garden met at Brewsters Lots May 17 and proceeded to prepare eels and potatoes for the usual chowder, which was ‘par excellence.’  This gathering is strictly a stag affair and is a day of reunion and feasting.  No one goes hungry as there is plenty of chowder for all.  The fees of 25 cents are small, but the treasurer has a small balance on hand to pay for fall oysters and to extend the tables, G. Frank Tuttle, is president and E. W. Tuttle, secretary.  No four year terms of office, but elected for life, unless the chowder kills you before four years roll around.”

            According to an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle May 21, 1909, “Uncle Frank Tuttle” a nephew of the original president, was still active at the age of 87.  This goes on to say that “yesterday was the third Thursday in May and 99 of the old hunters and their descendants were at the meeting place, Brewster’s Lots, which is in a grassy valley half way from Eastport to Riverhead, four miles from village or hamlet, a fit place for a hunting reunion.

            “The dinner is a primitive Long Island meal, eel chowder being the main dish.  Parshall Tuttle, one of the seven original men, presided over the pot yesterday.  He is a son of “Uncle Wells Tuttle” the first president, and his son John Parshall, a lad of 60 is taking lessons at each meet.”

            Charles Robinson of Speonk was treasurer of the association in 1909 and Eckford J. Robinson was secretary.  He was a Civil War veteran and was with Sherman “on the march to the sea.”  The 99 who responded to the call for dinner in 1909 paid 30 cents each.  Before this the price had been 25 cents but “everything has gone up” said the committee.  It took 100 pounds of eels, a barrel of potatoes and 20 pounds of salt pork to make the chowder.

            A special meeting of the Hunter’s Association was held back in February, 1884, at Terry’s Hall in Riverhead, when a badge was presented to Wells Tuttle, the president, with the inscription, “Presented to Wells Tuttle, the oldest member and president of the Hunter’s Association with the pleasant memories of 50 years, 1833-1883.”

            Hunter’s Garden day is still observed by a large group of men and eel chowder is still the favorite dish.

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