The Early History of Hempstead (Long Island) (Classic Reprint)
The early history of this town requires that dates be clearly stated, and places be kept distinct. Both have often been confused.
Long Island could be approached from many directions. Its possession was coveted by the English, then in New England, on the north and east, and by the Dutch at the west, where the passage was narrow. It had numerous bands of Indians, with whom the whites of both nations for several years traded. Both English and Dutch were actively in pursuit of beaver. The fur trade was profitable. Fishing, also, was an important business: for food was scarce. The English coming in crowds, sought fish more than the Dutch. The long ocean beach afforded facilities for getting wampum, which greatly added to the attractions. There were struggles between English and Dutch about the western part of the island, but none (unless merely on paper), for the eastern half.
The villages of Southampton and Southold, at the east, in the year 1640, were settled by Englishmen, who bargained with the agent of Lord Sterling, under his English patent, and with the Indians, and who took possession without the slightest opposition, and without interference from the Dutch. These villages, afterwards the centres of townships, were about eighty-five or ninety miles in a direct line from New York, and were separated from each other by Peconic Bay. Southampton was east of Shinecock Bay, which could be entered at the south from the ocean, and from which the whites and Indians could readily communicate with Peconic Bay at Canoe-place :and thence across Peconic Bay, or across Shelter Island, with Southold. The communications westwardly on the north side of Long Island, by the Sound, and on the south side by the great South Bay, were also comparatively easy. Canoes or small boats were used for travel, and occasionally larger vessels.
The principal beaver-dams were west of both these villages. The vacant space between them and the Dutch - occupied only by Indians - was large: embracing necks of land projecting out on each side, north and south, many miles, which were separated from each other by bays. Into many of the bays small streams ran, called rivers, being as large as many of the rivers of England, and which generally started from swamps far inland.
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Extracts From The Diary Of Robert Meeke: To Which Are Added Notes, Illustrations, And A Brief Sketch Of His Life And Character (1874)