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Jul 15, 2009 1:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

A brief history: Quogue's 350 years

Jul 15, 2009 1:56 PM

Originally known as Quaquanantuck, Quogue Village has undergone many changes over the past 350 years.

What was originally founded as a small rural community, one inhabited by those who primarily made their livings off the land, quickly evolved, over a 10-year period in the early 1900s, into a high-end resort destination, according to “Heritage Road,” a booklet written by Quogue Village Historian Frances Ryan and Quogue Historical Society members Dick Gardner and Melissa Cook.

The region’s first white settlers began arriving in Quogue on May 12, 1659, when English land prospector John Ogden purchased a large swath of land from Chief Wyandanch, Sachem of the Montauk Tribe, for 400 pounds. The acquisition, now referred to as the Quogue Purchase, also included land that, using modern boundaries, includes parts of Hampton Bays, Flanders and Quiogue.

According to “Heritage Road,” early settlers found the word Quaquanantuck, which means “trembling land,” difficult to pronounce, so it was eventually shortened to Quogue.

Prior to the mid-18th century, the land was mainly used as grazing land for livestock owned by settlers. The only buildings in the area were small shacks used by shepherds who were tending to their flocks.

“It was all woods and fields,” said Chris Stress, a member of 3rd New York Regiment, a Revolutionary War reenactment group, and who also conducted a considerable amount of research for Quogue’s 350th anniversary.

In the 1730s, the first permanent structures were built and Quogue slowly developed into a year-round community. Among the founding families were the Howells, the Jessups, the Cooks, the Fosters and the Posts. Some of their descendants still live in the village today, according to Mr. Stress.

The first Quogue residents were buried, starting in the 1740s, in the Lamb Avenue cemetery, which Mr. Stress said is one of the oldest graveyards still open on Long Island.

Mr. Stress explained that because of Quogue’s fertile land and easy access to the ocean, most residents made their living as farmers, fishermen and whalers, at least until the late 19th century.

Fishing and whaling were popular ways of making a living in those days because Quogue was the only place, between Rockaway and Southampton, that offered direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. That changed after settlers dug the Quogue Canal in 1895, which connected Quantuck and Shinnecock bays.

Prior to any schools being built in the area, students were educated in the living rooms of village elders, including early Quogue settler Josiah Foster. A one-room schoolhouse was built in the area in 1822. Today, that building serves as a museum that is located directly behind the Quogue Library on Quogue Street.

According to handouts provided at the museum, the school was closed in 1893 when a two-room schoolhouse opened at the site of the current fire department headquarters on Jessup Avenue. That school was expanded to a four-room building in 1905 to accommodate the growing population. The building served as the Quogue elementary school until the Quogue School on Edgewood Road was built in 1935.

When the Long Island Rail Road extended its lines to the East End in the late 1800s, New York City residents began migrating to the area in droves and, again, Quogue began to change. Affluent New Yorkers started building large estates and the area slowly evolved from a farming community to an exclusive resort destination, Mr. Stress said.

“It went right from farming to a vacation stop,” he said.

It was around that time that residents, who had been served by Southampton Town, desired more oversight of their community. From 1905 until 1926, the Quogue Village Improvement Society assisted the town by overseeing the area’s traffic and lighting concerns.

A movement to incorporate began to swell and, in 1928, area residents voted to incorporate and Quogue Village was born and Sherman Joost was elected to serve as its first mayor.

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