www.COMMACK HISTORY.org
By Robert A. Saal

                                           
                                            ~
The Carll Family ~

     One of the early families of Huntington were the Carll’s, which in the early town records is sometimes spelt Carle, or Karle. Timothy the son of Captain Thomas Carll and Sarah Halsted, of Hempstead, was the first to move to the area. It is not known just when he came here but it is said that he was not living here when he married Mary Platt of Huntington around 1697. The story that has come down through the family is that he was offered free land by the town of Huntington in exchange for training the militia and helping to protect the people. He was said to be a man of great military skill and tactics, and well versed in politics and the law. Later members of the family researching this story have said they could not find any records, or papers, to document the story of any free land but that he was a military man and all his land deals afterwards were well documented.

                                                                                                            Sagtikos Manor

     In 1701 Timothy Carll purchased Dick’s Hills, next to Whitman’s Hollow and the Winnecomac lands, from Richard and Deborah Soper. The land was named after Dick Beacham an Indian who had originally lived there. He also bought a large tract of land along
the south shore for harvesting salt hay. Then in 1707 he bought the 1200 acre Van Cortland Estate known as Sagtikos Manor from Stephen Van Cortland, a New York merchant who had purchased the land the Indians called Compowams in 1703.

     Ananias Carll (1701-1750) like his father became a well respected man in the area. He was one of the original land owners when Islip was founded around 1720, a Captain in the military, and a Trustee for the town of Huntington from 1739-41. When he was married in 1728 to Hannah Platt they were given the Manor by his father and eventually all the land Timothy had purchased when he first came here including Dick’s Hills and his holdings on the south shore.

     Ananias had become quite a wealthy land owner around this time and was said to have been present in 1726 to watch Robert Crooke make his official survey of the Winnecomac patent which shared a large western boundary with the Carll’s land. He would also probably have been very interested in seeing where the new Middle Country Road was going to run. When the section of the road running through Huntington was completed it followed along the northern boundary of his Dick’s Hills land.

     In 1750 at the age of forty nine Capt. Ananias Carll passed away at his home, the Sagtikos Manor. It must have been known he was ill because the will was made up a year earlier. The land and his all of his belongings were then divided amongst the family.  His wife Hannah was given the right to live in two of the rooms on the west side of the house for the rest of her life. She was to be given food and supplies to live on by the family plus two fields and three cattle along with a Negro male laborer and a Negro woman. If it was found that the woman’s services were no longer needed then she was to be sold for fifty pounds. Timothy and Mary each received a horse and some money. John and Phebe received money while Ananias Jr. was given all of the sundry lands east of Jeremiah Platt’s and south to Whitman’s Hollow, and a tract of land and meadow on the south shore near the creek. Both Platt and Samuel were left the homestead but where told they were not to infringe on their mother’s privileges. Silas was to have all of the Neck at South where the salt hay was gathered.

     Phebe was the youngest daughter and by the time she was five her mother had married the Rev Ebenezer Prime, a well respected man in the Presbyterian church. She grew up in the Prime house and was well educated, and very religious. Her company was always sought out by both clergy and the well educated when they were passing through the area.

                                                                                               The Carll Farm Commack Road

     Ananias Jr. took possession of Sagtikos Manor and sold the estate to his brother Silas who was fifteen at the time. Eight years later in 1758 at the age of twenty three Silas sold the manor and bought some of the land from Ananias Jr. along the Commack Road south of Whitman’s Hollow. He then spent the next two years cutting and clearing trees from a heavily wooded area and built the first house starting what would become known for generations to come as the Carll farm of Commack.

     Not much is known about the original house and later family members stories seem to vary as to just where it actually stood on the old farm. Some say it was built just behind the new house near where the garage is today because there are remains of an old Dutch oven and a large kitchen there. Others say it was further back by the out buildings and that part of an original wall can still be seen in one of the cribs. The only real description comes from John Howard Carll a great grandson of Silas who remembers being told that the house had a very large kitchen with doors on both ends and that they would open them up and drive a team of oxen through with large logs behind them that were then rolled into the fire place where they were said to burn for days. The sheep barn that is still standing today is said to be one of the last original farm buildings from c.1760.

     John Howard was also told that there had been a small old house by Daly Road that had been used by slaves to live in and that some of the family along with a few slaves and farm hands had originally been buried in a small cemetery on the farm. Later just the family members, along with their head stones, were moved up to the Commack Cemetery.
He said the grave mounds could still be seen when he was a child and were located behind one of the barns under some trees. The pigs were always rooting them and the spot later grew over and was forgotten about. There is also a large Carll family cemetery from the 1700’s located south of the farm in Dick’s Hills. ( S/W corner of Deer Park Ave. and the Motor Parkway.)

                                                                                                      The Revolutionary War

     The Carll’s were one of many families deeply touched by the war. Most of Ananias’s children, now grown, were affected in some way. The most notable was Timothy Carll who being a Captain stayed with some of the militia in Huntington, while his brother, John, a Sergeant, fled to Connecticut during the war. Even with sons in the militia Silas eventually lost his wagons and horses. Platt Carll was hung inside his Dick’s Hills Inn on the Middle Country Road by British soldiers looking for money, but was cut down before he died. Of his two sisters Mary was the Widow Mary Platt who ran the tavern on the Huntington Green where the rebels would often meet and Phebe, who had been raised by The Rev Prime, married Lt. Henry Scudder of Crab Meadow.

     At their home Phebe Carll Scudder became a well respected host and entertainer. When the British came to the house looking for her husband he hid in the fire place chimney, and when Phebe was threatened with death she still claimed not to know where he was. Captain Coffin, of the British army, after searching the house said if he did not find Lt. Scudder he would be dead. A few days later while Captain Coffin sat at a table playing cards and drinking at The Inn at the Cedars a group of rebels led by Lt. Henry Scudder surrounded the inn, burst in, shot the Captain dead at his table and took 16 prisoners.

     Scudder was known by the Loyalists to be assisting Captain Tallmadge and his men cross the sound from Connecticut and harass British troupes on the Island. For this his Crab Meadow property was laid to waste, and all buildings except the house were burned along with his stock being driven off, except for some cattle an old slave was said to have hidden somewhere away from the farm.

     Of all the Carll family, Timothy seems to be remembered the most for his actions while under British occupation. As the Captain of the Dicks Hills Militia he was forced to take his men, with shovels and picks, and clear the Huntington town cemetery for the construction of a new British fort named Golgotha that was to be built on the sight. Refusing the demand to desecrate the graveyard, Captain Carll was finally forced to take his men and do the job even many of the British soldiers seemed reluctant to get involved in. To add to the insult of having destroyed the local burial ground, the men were then made to take the old tombstones and build fireplaces with them for the soldiers, or even use them as front steps leading to the entranceways of some of the buildings located at the fort.

     When the work was finally done, in just under two weeks, never a day passed that the soldiers were not reminded of what they had done. All the bread that was made in the tombstone ovens came out with peoples names baked into the bottoms of the loafs from the headstones. It’s said that many of the British soldiers were not amused by this end result.

     On the corner of the North Country Road (25A) and Bread and Cheese Hollow Road a sign was posted by Loyalists to warn any persons in the area of Huntington and Smithtown that they should beware of Rebels in the area and not to associate with them. They named Nathaniel Platt, Platt Carll, Thomas Tredwell, and Samuel Phillips. It was noted that the rebels had secret meeting places in the area where they gathered when on raids from Connecticut. Loyalists were warned that there was little protection for them in the area and should take cautions while traveling through here.

                                                                             Silas Carll who established the Carll Farm passes away

       In 1808 Silas Carll, who had been farming the land he originally settled fifty years earlier on the west side of the Comac Road, died. He was laid to rest in the small family cemetery by the big trees behind the barns. In the will he stated that his sons John and James were both to take ownership of all his property and buildings, and their sister Mary was to be allowed to live in the house until married. When the land was divided John took ownership of the family farm in Comac. Although slavery had ended in New York ten years ago people still had servants, and Silas wrote also that their servant Bill was to be set free in six months.

                                                                                                           The Strong Family

     Almost directly across the way from the Carll’s on Comac Road stood a small house that was said to have been Daniel Waters cabinet shop in the early 1800’s. By 1825 the Carll's good friend Silas Strong was now living there with his family. Here he continued in the business of wood working. Two of his children, Tredwell and Hannah, would marry into the Carll family. John Howard Carll (1889-1977) still remembered the shop, and some of the story’s his Uncle Tredwell Strong told of the old days.

            “That used to be the Strong’s coffin shop where they made coffins and wood-working parts. They also used to make pumps over there. They would drill a hole out of the log and use that in place of a pipe, and they had to keep drilling it out bigger and bigger until they got it to the size that they wanted. An interesting fact about the coffins that Uncle Tredwell told me was that they had to be screwed together because it was bad luck to drive a nail into a coffin. 

            I remember Uncle Tredwell’s tools. And I tried to collect them all up one time after I had left Comac but they had all disappeared. I was told by the family that they didn’t know what the tools were and had sold them for scrap iron.”

            Silas Strong was said to have had a large farm and when his son Tredwell married Mary Ann Carll he built a house for them just west of the South School on Wick’s road. Living here he could still help in the shop, and Mary Ann would still be close to her family.

                                                                                                       Slaves and Cemeteries

     In the small cemeteries can be seen the graves of slaves buried along side the family’s they worked for, or knew when they died and given a proper burial. However they were not given regular head stones, instead a large round rock was placed at their head to mark their burying spot. The Wick’s cemetery on New Highway was said to have a row of stones in the front that marked where the slaves were buried. Charlie Harned who grew up across from the graveyard remembers seeing the stones when he was young and being told they were for the slaves. John Howard Carll had seen the graves on the Carll farm where they
were buried by the trees behind the barn along with family members. He recalled one particular grave marker on Selah Carll's orchard farm on Townline Road were the North Ridge School is today.

            “The old cemetery that was there was a Carll cemetery and it was much larger then it is now, c.1970’s. I’m not sure that part of it isn’t in the highway at the present time. I well remember a little white stone there, and it must have been a young slave child because on it was marked “Safe in the arms of Jesus”.

                                                                                     John Carll takes ownership of the Carll Farm

     In 1858 the family celebrated John’s marriage to their good neighbor Silas Strong’s daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Strong. When John’s father died in 1842 his two brother's and he were given the house and property, and John later became the owner when he was married to Hannah. Two years later, in 1860, John had the original house his grandfather built one hundred years earlier torn down and a new larger house constructed in its place. This is probably about the same time that Silas Strong had a house built near the South School for his son Tredwell when he married John Carll’s sister Mary Ann, who still wanted to remain near her family.

     John Call (1825-1901) was remembered as a hard working man with a good farm, like many people he made money in many different ways. His main crops were hay, grain, and corn, plus fruit from their apple and peach orchards. He also raised cattle for dairy, had sheep, and worked with horses as well.

Owning large amounts of woodland lumber and cordwood were another side of his business. He sold railroad ties that had to be delivered to certain places by wagon and then unloaded. The cordwood was cut and brought to the Brentwood Station for delivery to the city. Cedar trees were good for making fence posts since the wood wouldn't rot in the  ground. Later on he also sold poles to the telephone companies that also had to be delivered by him to a certain place, or taken to the station.

     Hannah Elizabeth Strong died in 1858 and John Carll  was now a widower, he had also lost three of his four children, two by the age of ten. His only surviving daughter, Fanny Strong Carll (1862-1919), grew up to become a nurse. She lived and worked at the state psychiatric hospital in Brentwood and would write her father often.

     “ I will try to make it home sometime in the Spring if the roads are not that bad. I wish I could come visit more, I know the last time was at Christmas, but I am so busy here. It’s hard to believe the number of  people that need help, there’s so many. I try to do the best I can for them. The doctors that I work with here are all very good.”

                                                                                                          Carrie Wicks Carll

    When Selah Wicks died in 1881 his daughter's were left alone and without money, their mother Juliana Smith Wicks died in 1876. For the next few years they tried to get by the best they could running the farm, that would later become the Harned sawmill. but just could not make it. They were now about to lose the house and the family was moving in Brooklyn to live with relatives and work as seamstresses. Carrie A. Wicks (1858-1948) wanting to stay in Commack married John Carll in 1884 bringing together two of the oldest families in the area. With in a year they had their first child, a daughter, Marion E. Carll, followed soon after by four more children, John, Howard, Edith, and Ralph.

                                                                                                       Life on the Carll Farm

     There was plenty of work to be done on the farm and all the children were expected to help out. On the Carll farm John and his second wife Carrie were raising their five children. John Howard Carll (1890-1977) remembers at the age of ten what he had to do to help out on the family farm.

     We're going back to the horse and buggy days when I was a boy and my father was quite a businessman. He had a very large farm and summertime was harvesting the hay and grain and corn and in the wintertime it was on to wood. There was cordwood, cross ties, and telephone poles.  The telephone poles used to go to the Babylon electric light company. The ties went to the Long Island Rail Road. Wood was sold on the South Shore and also by train or by carloads to New York.

     When I was a boy, things were different than they are now.  People worked longer hours and had less conveniences. I remember when I was a boy that I had certain chores to do when I was only 8 or 9 years old.  The cattle had to be taken out of the fields where there was no water and led to, driven to, the ponds to fill up and then back into the pastures, And the haying, why I was always pitching hay on the lower ties, I had to pitch it, and I was supposed to keep it treaded down in the hay mows.

     Everybody then used to have large gardens and raise their own vegetables. I remember the potato patches where I would take a milk pan and go along the rows and knock the bugs down into it. When I got a full pan I would put some kerosene on them.

     Sometimes we had to shuttle cows over to the south side and deliver them. I would start them out and my father would do the driving. After we were gone for a while I would get in the carriage and ride with him. The people coming out for the summer would rent one for the season. They would pay $60 deposit on a cow and he would  give them $30 back in the Fall when they moved back to the city. Then we would collect them up the same way and I would walk quite a few miles. He would sometimes overtake me and do business ahead then when I caught up I would be able to ride with him. He was surprised how far I would get sometimes.

     There were Apple and Peach orchards up on the Selah Carll place, site of the Northridge School today. Father used to pick the peaches up there and sell them on the South side. There was a house with a shed on the side that was the only building up there. He used to take a cow that had a calf and tie the calf in the shed and turn the cow loose. And she would eat around there and also go to the pond for her water.”

     The following are a few of John Carll’s letters pertaining to business and life on the farm.

                                                                                                          ---------------------

                                                                                                                                                                                               Smithtown
                                                                                                                                                                                                June 22/84

John Carll

Sir

     I most apologize for taking your horse in your absence but I thought you would approve of what I did. I left with your man a form of receipt and told him if you would send it to me by mail I would send you the check for $250 by next mail. I believe the receipt’s in the terms you agreed. I shall be at home Monday but am going to New York on Tuesday. You can send the receipt here tomorrow, or Monday. I shall return Tuesday night.

            Allow me to congratulate you in your recent good. I am sure a man who gets so good a person for his wife as I learn yours is, is worthy of congratulations.

                                                                                                                                                                                           Very Truly
                                                                                                                                                                                       Lawrence Smith
                                                                                                           ---------------------

      Wicks & Smith
 Dry Goods, Groceries,
Boots, Shoes, Feed and Grain.                                                                                                                                         Bay Shore, NY. Aug 28 1889


John Carll

                     Dear Sir

                      Please bring on Friday morning unless stormy,

                                    5 (5)    Baskets Peaches

                                    2 (2)         “       Pears

                        If  very stormy will not want until it clears away.

                                                                                            Yours in haste

                                                                                              J. P. Smith                                 

 

            The family side of life on the farm is brought out in some of the personal letters sent back and forth between the Carll’s.

--------------------

Dear Carrie

     I did not have any rule for the stuffed peppers as near as I can remember it was a little horse-radish, two or three onions & chopped cabbage,  salt to taste fill the peppers and cover with cold vinegar. I don’t think they want to be stuffed to hard.

     If you have not used all the white brandy will you give it to Uncle Tredwell to bring to me. I sent for some but there was a mistake and I fear my fruit will spoil before the second order is answered.

     I could send you some red brandy by Uncle Tredwell tomorrow or white brandy the first of the week. I think we have some horse radish , if so will send you some tomorrow.

     If you send the brandy please tie a string over the cork.

                                                                                                           ---------------------

                                                                                                                                                                             Brooklyn NY
                                                                                                                                                                             June 8th 1898

   Dear Sister,

     I now take time to drop you a few lines to let you know we are all well as usual except Linda and she is doing as well as can be expected. I will send your bridle out Friday by express to East Northport in care of the stage driver. Marion will find her long promised bridle in the same package. As for the bill it has been paid long ago with interest.

     Enclosed you will find a bottle of Little’s  Phenyl don’t hesitate to use it for hives, exema, or any eruption of the skin, it cured Ralph of the worst exema I ever saw. You can use it to bath the horse’s sores and blothes with great success.

                                                                                                            Your Brother

                                                                                                            R. V. Wicks

     Marion don’t pull to hard on that Bridle till Gray gets used to it.

                                                                                                           ---------------------

     Marion was fifteen in 1898, since she was the oldest she had to ride a horse down to Commack Corners to pick up the mail on the days that it came. Sometimes she would also have to stop on the way and have the horse shod at John Keenan’s Blacksmith shop.

                                                                                 John Carll dies and Carrie and the family carry on

     In 1901 John Carll died and Carrie was left to raise their five children and manage the farm. In his will he left his daughter Fanny, from his first marriage, one hundred acres of land along the Commack Road south of the farm. Fanny had married her cousin Dr.
Henry P. Carll and they had two sons George and Henry Russell. The two boys would later turn their mothers land into an immense chicken farm.

            To his second wife, Carrie Wicks, was left the house and all of his remaining land. Now, again on her own, she knew this time that she wasn’t going to lose the family farm and went about running it in a very strict manner with all the children helping out. John Howard remembers what his mother did after his father died.

            “Mother rented out the Strong house and we recovered some of our old land and put it to corn and other crops. There were two fields my father had been growing and cutting hay in that we also used but the rest was pretty well grown up and we didn’t bother with them.”

                                                                                                The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway

     By 1906 William K. Vanderbilt was acquiring land across the island and constructing his own racecourse 43 miles long from Great Neck to Lake Ronkonkoma. He stated that when not in use by the racers the road was to be opened to the public by toll. People were then asked to donate land, or sell at a low price, since the road would benefit all, but few did.

     With the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway planned to run through southern Commack and this being home to such families as the Burrs and Havemeyers the price of land began to increase dramatically. With much of the North Shore bought up already the wealthy were looking inland. What better property to own than along the new Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. Land adjoining the proposed road was now fetching over $250 an acre. For the Carlls who still owned a good amount of land in Dix Hills the offers started coming in. So great was the land deals of 1907 that the Brooklyn Eagle wrote a special on the story.

 

BOOM HAS REACHED COMMACK

 

1,000 Acres of Big Carll Farm Said

to Have Been Sold For

$60,000.

 

     Northport, L. I., March 12, 1907. The real-estate boom has been felt greatly in Commack. In the extreme southern part during the past few weeks several farms have changed owners, and as high as $250 an acre has been paid in several instances.

     The most talked of sale, however, is that made by Mrs. John Carll, who, it is reported, has sold 1,000 acres for $60,000 to a New York syndicate. Two members of the syndicate, it is said, are sons of ex-Mayor Grace. One rumor is that the property will be converted into a country club.

     A few years ago, when John Carll died, leaving a young widow, several children and a 1,300 acre farm, but little cash, neighbors wondered how the family was going to get along. Mrs. Carll looked the situation fairly in the face, and since has managed affairs very successfully. It was no uncommon thing to see her in the field plowing and doing other farm work, and the children, who were big enough did their share. But if the story of the sale of the farm is true Mrs. Carll need worry no longer.

     Carrie Carll’s grandson, Sherman, who lives just north of the original family farm remembers being told of the sale of the land to the W. R. Grace steamship company when he was growing up.

     “ W. R. Grace had originally planned to construct a castle for himself in 1907 along the lines of the Otto Kahn castle in South Huntington. He planned to use the high land about a mile south of the house to build an imposing estate.”

     When the parkway was being built through this area the surveyors stayed on the Carll farm. This house was the only one with separate living quarters for the farm hands which were used up until the time John Carll died in 1901. So special an occasion it was to have the men staying at the house that a family portrait was taken in the sitting room.

                                                                                                             Changing Times

     Fanny Carll’s son George began to notice that all around there were signs that things in Commack were changing and a way of life was possibly disappearing. Gone were the two one room school houses where his entire family had been educated. The Carll
farm, originally thousands of acres was now down to only three hundred. The famous Burr Horse Training Academy was on its way out as cars were becoming more popular. And the Whitman’s some years before had finally sold the General store after running it for over a hundred years. George S. Carll decided to write an article in 1908 for The Brooklyn Eagle on the way his town used to be in about the 1850’s.

THE BROOKLYN EAGLE

Saturday April 4, 1908
 

OLD TIMES IN COMMACK

     Commack sixty years ago was a prosperous though small village. It contained a unpretentious hotel, a thriving general store, were every thing from New England rum to a paper of pins could be bought. All the freight came from Northport, and it's said that James Waters the proprietor of the store had more stuff brought from New York than all the stores in Northport. The hotel was kept by Matthew Gardiner. The general training day was sometimes held at Commack, on which occasion the Militia, both on horses and foot, met and went trough various evaluations, winding up with a good dinner washed down by a draft of pure cider or something stronger. General training day was one of the red letter days, and like General Putnam, the militia left the plow in the field and the cattle to care of the women, and they decked out in all there glory, mounted the best horse and went to general training.

     Some of the swords and articles are to be found in various homes in and around Commack. Some polished and proudly hung on walls, others stored away in attics.

     Besides the hotel and general store, there were two churches, both Methodists, one being the Stillwellite, a blacksmith’s shop and a wheel-wright’s shop, two small school houses and a post office. The postmaster was Charles A. Cutting, one of the older members of the well known Cutting family, of New York. He was a courtly and cultivated old gentleman, and was looked upon as an authority, especially on pronunciation, by the less educated of the citizens. He retained his position as long as he lived, literally dying in harness.           

     Among the inhabitants was an Honorable Charles A Floyd, member of the assembly, county clerk of Suffolk County, also Supervisor of the Town of Huntington. He was an able lawyer, and he and his wife were among the best known and respected inhabitants of the vicinity, Mrs. Floyd being a leader in society. Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Smith were also much respected. Dr. Darling B. Whitney was a well known and much liked physician. He went to the Assembly for one year returning to Commack to practice the healing art again. Smith Burr, father of Carll S. Burr SR, had a small hotel and was much interested in breeding horses.

     Sixty years ago Commack got its mail only twice a week, and consequently there were no daily papers taken, most of the inhabitants contenting themselves with a weekly. Some years later a weekly Tribune was taken by quite a number, and every four weeks there was an installment of “Dumbey and son” sent from England, which was read with avidity by some, while others thought it poor reading. Such is fame.

     There was two district school houses, about 3/4 of a mile apart. During the summer months a woman teacher usually held sway, while in the winter, when the “big boys” came to school, a man presided. This constant change of teachers was very bad. Sometimes the pupils were fortunate enough to get to have the same teacher for several consecutive winters, but the women seldom came the second year. Of course, this was changed after a few years, but this was the state of affairs sixty years ago.

     This change of teachers was a waste for the dull and idle children, but those who were bright and studious did succeed in getting a common education in the rudimentary branches, and in spelling. I am sure the boys and girls of sixty years ago would have out- stripped or out-spelled the boys and girls of today. There were often spelling matches, and the old Webster spelling book was poured over and studied so thoroughly that on the day of the match there were few spelled down, for if a word was missed the one who missed sat down, having nothing further to do.

     One of the teachers in the south school was Thomas W. Conklin who afterward studied medicine and took his diploma, but later went back to his old vocation and was principal in one of the New York public schools for a number of years. He finally retired and spent the evening of his days at his summer residence in Naugatuck, Connecticut where he died in the 1890’s.

     Another teacher in the South School was Uriah Hinds, a native of Main, and a good teacher and well liked by his pupils.

     The inhabitants of Commack at this time were mostly farmers, leading quite, uneventful lives. They were men of sterling character, honest, and kindly, and doing their duty as they saw it. Among these were three brothers by the name of Harned, Amos, Joel and John. They were all highly respected and their memory is kept green in the hearts of their descendants and the hearts of many still living who recall their sterling worth. 

                         Far from the madding crowds and ignoble strife,
                            Their sober wishes never learned to stray,
                              Along the cool, sequestered vale of life,
                            They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

     There was little poverty and no great wealth, and all were on about one plane in society. Mrs. Floyd and Mrs. Smith were the leaders in social matters, but all were on equal terms, a state of affairs which is said to still exists in a measure in the quiet little village. The name has undergone a change in spelling, as it used to be spelt Comac. Some say the change was because it sounded so much like Coram, a village in the same county, that many letters went astray. Others say the name is of Indian origin and used to be called Winnecomac. Some of the inhabitants of Commack sixty years ago are still living, well advanced in years. One DR. A. F. Jayne is living in Centerport, with a mind as vigorous as a man half his age. He met with a serious accident a number of months ago, which crippled him physically but left his bright intellect undimmed.

      One of the two Commack churches, the south church, for lack of support ceased to be represented in the conference, and ministers of various denominations spoke there at different intervals, until finally the congregational synod took it in hand and for awhile a minister was installed.

     While under the Stillwellites they had a minister by the name of James Smith, a native of the North Ireland, and a determined and outspoken man. One Sunday, after having failed to arouse the sinners as he wished to do, he began to berate them in no measured terms. He said  “I have preached in many of the United States, and in several of Her Majesties dominions, but I have never met before such a Heaven daring and hell deserving set as I have found in Commack. This so aroused his hearers, though not in a way he wished, that he did not remain much longer in that church.

     Just a few miles east of Commack is the beautiful little pond from whose clear depths Daniel Webster used to delight in drawing the speckled trout. This distinguished orator and statesmen spent many hours enjoying his favorite sport of fishing, and numerous are the tales still related of his wit and good fellowship during these excursions.

     There are many still living who can verify these rambling notes, as they will recall with pleasure the old times of sixty years ago in dear old Commack, and drop a tear on some of the graves in the little churchyard by the old North Church. 

                                                                                                                                                                             George Strong Carll.

                                                                                                           The First Tractors

     The Carll’s had the first tractors in the area and they had them delivered to Brindley Field since they could have large machinery brought in, otherwise they would have been dropped off at the East Northport train station. Later they sold one of them to the Havemeyer's.

                                                                                                            Family Weddings

     Carrie Carll’s two son’s John “Howard” Carll and “John” Sherman Carll were both married in 1919. John “Howard” married Clara Ketcham and they eventually moved to Connecticut. His sister Edith had married Hiram Ketcham, Clara’s brother, in 1909. “John” Sherman wed Alice Bennett from Northport and they where remembered by Ann Lindstadt

     “After Alice and he got married they lived up there, and the Bennett’s lived across the street. Alice Carll's parents lived in the white house next to the nursery, they built that house. She was a very sweet person with a high voice. She would come to see my mother all the time and sit and talk.”

     When they where married Alice Bennett’s parent’s moved to Commack and built a house just north of the Carll’s and her father farmed some land there. The two lived with John’s mother Carrie on the Carll farm for some years and had a daughter who died young, and son Sherman. Later on they moved into Alice’s parent’s house where Sherman lives today.

                                                                                                         From Farm to Sky Ranch

     One of Charlie Harned's interests in life had always been planes. Maybe it was from when he was younger and would go with his brother Amos over to Curtiss Field and watch the planes fly, or ever since the day he saw Lindbergh fly over the Carll farm on his way to France. He also remembers John Carll having planes on the Carll farm.

     “Johnny Carll had an Avian and I would hold the wing for him as he went down the field. Then I would hold on real hard to make the plane turn. Sometimes he would take me with him, other times he wouldn’t. Then he brought a Piper Cub which was good, and another one that he just let rot in the hanger.”

     For awhile John Carll had been taking flying lessons and one day came home in an old plane he had bought over at Mitchell Field. His mother was against the idea of his flying but he kept it on the farm anyway, making an overhang behind the out buildings, and using a dirt road across the fields as the runway.

     John’s Carll's little airport soon started growing when a man named Dr. Skyles from Islip began paying rent to keep his planes there. He was a dealer in Piper Cubs, and also gave flying lessons as well.

     At one point there were almost a dozen planes on the farm and John changed the name to the Carll Sky Ranch and put a sign by the road advertising airplane rides for a nickel. The idea came from his favorite radio show where one of the characters had some property called the Sky Ranch. To add to the western ranch feeling he would sometimes dress in  cowboy clothes with a large hat and two six shooters on his sides, occasionally shooting both of the guns in the air for fun.

     He had an old biplane that was kept behind the barns and never used. Nobody remembers him flying it, or how it got there originally. Later one of Charlie Harned’s sons took the model and serial number of the control stick and years later got copies of the original blue prints, but the plane was beyond repair at that point.

     Being a farm and not an airport it wasn’t always a smooth landing when coming down on the dirt road in the fields. One time John Carll decided to fly a Piper Cub belonging to Skyles and crashed it while trying to land. His mother eventually paid for the plane and later, after the Avian, he bought one from him.

     Paul Sauer’s brother worked there as a farm hand and he would go along on Sundays to help out and remembers the airplanes and John Carll.

     “My brother Bill was a milker, he would milk the cows every day. When I was a kid he used to bring me down here on Sundays and I would carry the milk from the barn to the cooling house. That was only after my father lost the farm, before that he always had work to do on ours.

     I remember John Carll. He was a nice guy, always a gentleman. I always saw him when I came there on Sundays to help my brother milk the cows, and he had another worker named Ed Horn. During the week after they were done they would clean out the manure, and take care of the corn and things like that also.

     As for the planes Doc Skyles took me up a couple of times, but only for rides I didn’t fly them. He was a dealer in Piper Cubs and didn’t have anywhere to land them. Him and Johnny were good friends so he let him use the place.”

                                                                                                               Election Day

     Ann Lindstadt recalls back when the fire house was used as a polling place during elections.

     "Elections were held in the fire house, which was the old frame school they moved across Jericho when the brick school was built. Carrie Carll used to come visit my mother on election day. I think her daughter, Marion, used to drive her in the car. She was small and could barley see over the front the dashboard. Carrie used to come walking across the lawn afterwards and my mother would yell at us "Turn off the radio here comes Carrie Carll" and you couldn't have a sound in the house. She would come and sit with my grandmother for about an hour and talk while the kids had to sit quite as mice because Carrie didn’t like noise, or radios and things."

                                                                                                    Working on the Carll farm

     Just after the war Bill Scudder returned to his families home on the south shore but the fishing already was on the decline and he went looking for work else where. It was through a friend that that he heard of a man needing some help on his farm in Commack. Bill went and talked to John Carll in 1948 and got a job helping him with the old farm. There was plenty of work to be done in the fields and repairs made to the many barns. After John’s death he still stayed on to help Marion run the place and care for her ponies.

     “It was 1948, I was 25 and my friend had a bulldozing job here with John Carll, and John needed a man to help him dynamite. So my friend came to me and said, “You have to help this man dynamite.” He had ten acres over on Wicks Road and we cleared that whole piece of land off. After that was all clear he rented it to a farmer who planted carrots there. The carrots that he had left over we would go and get in the winter time and bring back to feed to the cows. In 1949 he started to rent out the farm land here to a man who grew potatoes.

      John had an airplane here, and planes used to take off and land here all the time. John had two airplanes of his own. He was a character! He would always take me for a ride and  say “Bill the work can get done tomorrow come on” He never hollered at you, or at least me, because he knew the work would get done. He had a double wing bi-plan that he kept in the sheep barn and we built a large tin roof extension over it. He never flew it and then one day he pulled it out and put it on the side and just let it go.


     I was working here just a few weeks when Carrie died. I remember John came up to me and said “ I’m going to have to let you go, my mother just passed away” He got in touch with me a few weeks later and I came back. Then after he died I helped his wife a lot over there. We would go and cut down trees in the woods and bring the logs back to where we had a little mill. We had to make fire wood to heat the two houses. In the winter we were busy cutting wood all the time.


     There was a large water tank on the farm that used to supply water to the house and the barn, but was gone before I came here. The ice house was still standing and had a roof on it, but that just slowly went too. They used to have milk cows here before the war and you had to have ice in the summer time to keep the milk cool. Then as the years went by and they got electricity, they put a cooler in the milk house to keep the milk cool. When you put the milk in a ten gallon can you have to put it in a cooler to cool it.

     The building next to the crib was a mill. We had a big milling machine in there, not just a little wheel, a machine. You would put the entire ear of corn in there and grind it down to corn meal. You would feed that to the animals. When they had the milk cows here both silos would be filled with corn because you had to feed them in the winter time. You fed them corn, and hay. In the winter time you feed them hay and you don’t get much milk. But in the summer when there eating green grass you get more milk and it tastes better. You can taste the difference from winter to summer. In the spring if the cows eat the scallion grass you’ll taste the onion in the milk, I’ve had that before. When I was a kid each evening I would have to walk to the east end with a milk can and get 2 quarts of milk. Sometimes you could taste the onion grass in the milk.

     There was a shed out in the field for the cows. It must have been 80ft long. These were cows that stayed out all year round. When the weather got bad they would just go under this long roof. When Marion took over she had me tear it down because she didn’t have any more cows. There were no more cows here after John died except for about 3 years in the fifties when Marion rented the barn and fields to this man for his milk cows. I had to build a new milk house on to the barn for the man.

     Marion used to keep some ducks. Then I got some more. We used to raise wild ducks and eat them. They were real good. I brought about 15 over and kept them here. They would have babies and the young would stay where they were born, so they wouldn’t go away. Plus there were other ducks here and we would lock them all up at night.

     When John died and left Marion the farm she had to pay inheritance tax, which was a lot of money for her. So she rented out the west corner of the property for a nine hole golf course. With that money she fixed the barns and started raising the ponies, she had about 15. Then the owner let the golf course go and the money started running out. That’s when she rented all 18 acres to a man named Jacobson who built the 18 hole golf course.

     I had to do a lot of work on the buildings when I was here. I replaced the roof, and rebuilt one wall of the barn by myself. I had a guy on the ground helping but I did all the work on a ladder.  I must have re-shingled all the roofs on all the barns. The sheep barn took me a long time by myself. We didn’t use the old sheep barn to store hay because the floor up on top was falling through. I rebuilt the walls and doors of the carriage house and extended the whole back out. There was an old car in there, and a road grading machine. Alberta Ketcham’s brother-in-law rebuilt the steps on the side of the carriage house. You couldn’t walk up them at all. He also tore down the old horse barn. You could see right

trough it, all the wood was worm eaten. The old foundation is still there, and you can see were the horse stalls were. And the cement ramp for the carriage. When I came here the house hadn’t been painted in 30 years. John had me scrape it down and repaint the whole entire house. Then he had me paint all the barns different colors like the Lollipop farm that was in Syosset. Then Marion had me repaint the house and barns again in the 60’s. I had a lot of work to do here.”

     Suddenly in 1951 John Carll fell ill and was rushed to the hospital where he died two days later. Two years earlier Carrie Carll had died and now Marion was left with the farm to herself. She held a public auction on April, 26. 1952 to remove two hundred years worth of accumulated things. One trait the family was remembered for was never throwing anything out. The Islip Press ran a story on the sale of the century.

      “Three hundred motor cars eagerly converged upon the two century old Carll estate on Commack Road last Saturday afternoon. Under the ancient maple and locust trees, greening with the new spring leaves, the throng thoughtlessly trampled violets and tulip beds in eagerness to bid on a curious assortment of objects, ranging from ox yokes, a sleigh, a surrey, saddles and harness to modern farm equipment and a flying machine.

     Seldom, if ever, have relics from so many by-gone generations been displayed at an auction sale in Suffolk County. From the ox cart to the airplane was the wide span of time covered. A number of articles placed on the block were over a hundred years old.

      John Sherman Wicks Carll, owner of the estate, died a few months ago. The auction sale was ordered by his sister and heir, Miss Marion E. Carll, the administratrix, to dispose of surplus equipment which had accumulated during the continued residence on the property of seven generations of the family.”

                                                                         Marion Carll leads tour commemorating Commack's history

     Marion Carll watched as the Commack she knew so well, and where her family had lived for two hundred years began to disappear. She decided that for the 300th anniversary of the town of Huntington 1653-1953 she would put together a tour of the area to show the historic sights in the community before they were gone forever. A number of houses were picked for the program and historic white markers were placed on the buildings. Then with the help of  a map drawn by Joseph Watterson Marion wrote up a tour guide complete with notes on the different houses and sites they would be stopping at during the day.

     In May of 1953 Marion Carll gave the historical tour of Commack to a large group of almost one hundred people, often stopping to tell a story, or point out something of importance on the way. The newspapers were also on hand to witness this historic event that took a last look at old Comac.

May 1953

                                                                                           Commack’s historical tour pleases many.

      About a hundred people from various sections of Huntington gathered near the Commack Dinner last Saturday to begin a tour of Commack. The plans were drawn and supervised by Miss Marion Carll and Joseph Watterson to view 53 old sites and houses which had been distinctly marked. A bulletin containing a map to scale and descriptions and history’s had been prepared for each tourist. Among the sites of interest was the old Toll Gate House on the Smithtown Huntington Turnpike, the site of a store on Whitman’s Hollow conducted by forebears of Walt Whitman, the drill grounds for the western regiment of Suffolk County during revolutionary times, the site of the first annual Fair and Cattle show of western Suffolk, The site of the home of David Bryant owner and trainer of Lady Suffolk, a famous old time racing horse, site of the Smith Burr home and Hotel, and the Burr Stables and race track, and the home of Edward Lang who was one of Long Islands famous landscape painters.

     This Marion Carll, who’s family were among the early settlers of the region, and who at one time owned most of the Winnecomac land south of the turnpike, drew on her extensive knowledge of Commack history and entertained her audience with facts and reminiscences as she stood on the stump of an old tree on land of her ancestral estate.

     Mrs. E. C. Hoyt who lives in the John Wicks house most graciously admitted the party to see some of things of interest, as well as the gorgeous double flowering pink cherry trees, paintings of old ships and race horses, and Currier and Ives prints.

     R.L. Simpson, town historian, who was present pronounced it one of the most enjoyable events yet promoted by a village in the township of Huntington


Oldest Methodist Church in the state
.

     The reverend Randy Robert’s, pastor of the Commack Methodist Church invited the group to view the interior of the church, claiming there was very little change since its erection in 1789. In a brief talk Mr. Robert’s said the church will soon have to have a parish house for the church school if its growth continues. There are seventy children enrolled now, and attendance is close to fifty five every Sunday with classes meeting in groups about the body of the church an in the balconies.

     In 1783 a hundred and seventy years ago at the close of the revolutionary war a group of British soldiers in Huntington had a John Philips as a tailor. Philips was a Methodist Preacher and once when he was preaching in Cow Harbor Northport James Hubbs invited him to preach to Commack. A group of people formed a society and this went along for six years with meetings probably held in the homes, then this building was put up.

     The first change was made forty seven years later when the center door was replaced by two, and stairways were erected up to the gallery which was lowered two feet at that time. The pulpit was high so those in the gallery could see the preacher. It was lowered again in 1869 and then in 1889 it was brought to its present level do to those down stairs complaining of the strain on their neck. The pews were put in 1886, but thirty of forty years ago someone pulled out the pews from the center, replacing them with chair benches. There was no stove or heating in the early days. Someone remarked that the gallery was built for the slaves to occupy. Mrs. John Shea of the Sunday School told Mr. Roberts that she remembers in 1897 that the men and women were separated in the church. He said the custom goes back to the Jews, Jesus sat in the synagogue with his mother until he was twelve and then he joined the men.

     The three pulpit chairs were given by a group of Stillwellite when they discontinued there church. They were a group under John Stillwell who broke away from the Methodist church and started a new group at Centerport and then brought their church to Commack from there. Later they adopted the congregation form, but when they couldn’t get a congregational Minister they got a Presbyterian one and worshipped in their own church a short distance down the road.

     Commack contains one of the land marks of Methodism, the oldest Methodist church building in its original condition in New York state.

 Antiques show and refreshments.

      The tour ended at the Commack Fire House where the Ladies Auxiliary of the church had sandwiches, cakes, pies and coffee to refresh the group. Arranged around the hall were exhibits of heirlooms from the old families of Commack. Everyone found these very fascinating . There were cradles, a baby carriage, a youths sleigh, chairs, exquisite needle work, wedding dresses, albums, glass, brass, silver, pewter, a desk from the first school, maps, newspapers, books, and house hold utensils.
 

This site created and maintained by Robert A. Saal 2013

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