Growth of Brookhaven

First Brookhaven Residents

The original inhabitants were Algonkian-speaking Native Americans, the Setalcotts (or Setaukets), and the Unkechaugs. The boundaries of the present Town of Brookhaven coincide almost exactly with the tribal lands of these two groups or “tribes.”

Black and white image of a train going across a small bridge

English Settlers

English settlers from New England and eastern Long Island arrived on the north shore of the Town in 1655. The six men, land agents, purchased eight square miles stretching from the present areas of Stony Brook to Port Jefferson in exchange for tools, wampum, lead, powder and "1 pair of children's stockings." The deed for this purchase exists, and can been seen in the lobby of Town Hall. The first settlement, Setauket, was named after the native Americans it was purchase. More land purchases followed over the years, and in 1666, after Long Island became a part of the Colony of New York, Governor Richard Nicholl granted a Patent, which fixed the name of Brookhaven, confirmed title to the lands already purchased, and allowed for additional purchases. In 1686, Governor Thomas Dongan issued a Patent which granted extensive powers to the Town, and established a representative form of government. The Dongan Patent can be viewed in the lobby of Town Hall.

Activities of Early Brookhaven Residents

Early Brookhaven residents were engaged in farming, fishing and whaling. By the nineteenth century, the shipbuilding, and cordwood industries became important as well. The advent of the Long Island Railroad in the mid-nineteenth century through the Town of Brookhaven made travel and transport of goods and materials easier and faster. The history of the United States of America includes many residents of the Town of Brookhaven. 

Black and white image of a beach pagoda above a beach

William Floyd of Mastic was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; General George Washington relied on information supplied by the Culper Spy Ring, which operated out of Setauket, during the War for American Independence; and Camp Upton in Yaphank was used during World War I and World War II as a training area for soldiers. The Town of Brookhaven has seen its residents represent our country in every major conflict.

Growth of Brookhaven

The twentieth century witnessed the Town of Brookhaven expand from an agrarian community to a leader in communications, technology, and education. Home now to Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Stony Brook University and Health Sciences Center, Brookhaven stands proudly at the forefront of the world's leading research fields, while its almost 500,000 residents can still appreciate its natural resources and beauty that brought the original settlers over 360 years ago.

Historic Sites

Many of the town-owned structures are open to the public by appointment via our Town Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Department or on a non-daily basis, except for the Longwood Estate which is open the hours listed. Our town wishes to create public-private non-profit relationships with organizations willing to host tours and help us to steward these critical historic structures. Please contact your local councilmember or the Supervisors office if your organization (Historical Society, Boy / Girl Scouting organization, Civic Association, homeowners association, Senior Club, etc) would like to assist our town open these structures on a more regular basis. Please see our links below to view historic sites in the Town.