Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Some interesting opportunities have resulted from my research of Elizabeth Oakes-Smith. Two weeks ago I contacted the Historical Society and joined. The group invited me to a fall picnic at an old farm in Southold Long Island owned by Mr. R. Bush. One of the amazing historic barns on the property houses Mr. Bush's collection of antique farming equipment and tools. He also has early pictures of farm life in Suffolk county, and in particular, his family's farm. It was very fascinating to visit his property, especially since I had just completed reading a history book on the farming industry on Long Island in the 1800's.
Learning about the economic and cultural landscape of Long Island helps me better understand the Patchogue, and New York State, that Seba and Elizabeth Oakes-Smith knew, a landscape that is drastically different from what it once was. In their time Patchogue was considered very rural country. The main industries were farming and fishing. By World War II those livelihoods were dying out on Long Island. On the North and South fork of Long Island, more of that past life is preserved. Despite the invasion of malls and Lowe's Home Improvement stores, we still have the greatest farm stands, and a booming wine industry.
Nineteenth Century Long Island looked drastically different compared to today, in most parts. In a previous post I mentioned how shocked Elizabeth and Seba would be if they stepped out of their graves and found a YMCA where their house once stood. They would be stunned by today's Patchogue. The Smiths moved out to the country, (Patchogue), to escape city life in 1859. Previously, in the early 1850's they lived at 86 Clinton St. which is now part of the Brooklyn Heights historic district. In 1855 they moved back to New York City into a brownstone on 46 Stuyvesant Street across from St. Mark's Church. The picture here is of their NYC home (taken from Wikipedia).
At the picnic I met some of the members of the historical society and shared with them my research on Elizabeth Oakes-Smith. They invited me to do a presentation on her life this Spring at one of their meetings. I am very thrilled about this opportunity to share my project!
In addition, I received an email this morning from a grand-daughter of Elizabeth Oakes-Smith, descended from her son Appleton. I bet you can imagine how thrilling it was to make such a connection! Shown throughout this post are some pictures from my day at the Bush Farm.
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.