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At the core of Southold Historical Museum’s mission is education.  The organization’s bylaws describe two standing committees dedicated solely to education as well as many other committees who promote education via various other methods (exhibitions, collections, lighthouse, museum docents, etc.) Those two dedicated committees are entitled Education of Youth, which focuses on programs for local students and Museum Education which encompasses education of various populations.


Recently, the Museum Education Committee has been focusing on writing.  The committee is composed of a number of volunteers who are published fiction and non-fiction writers as well as researchers. Southold Historical Museum is pleased to offer “History As You Like It.”  “History As You Like It” column is a history-based column with periodic selections written by our Museum Education Committee.  Some articles will have a creative flair.  Other writers will employ a document-based approach with notes and references.  It will depend on the style of the writer.  All of the articles will have a connection to Southold and are meant to spark interest in our local history! 


The committee is particularly looking for YOUR FEEDBACK.  Would you consider sending us a line or giving us a ring to let us know what you think about “History As You Like It”? or 631.765.5500 ext 2.

Setting the Record Straight by Mary Korpi

Augustin Fresnel (1788-1827) was a French physicist who developed the Fresnel lens through tedious trial and error, revolutionizing lighthouse beacons worldwide. History often paints Augustin as an unlikely innovator when, in fact, he was uniquely qualified to achieve this goal. Described as shy, socially awkward, and having a sickly constitution, at just 20 years of age, Augustin completed his training as a civil engineer. He then attended the School of Bridge and Roads, graduating in 1809. Fresnel worked as a civil engineer who developed roads and canals throughout France. Work he found tedious.

Masts on Main Road By Joel Reitman

This is a story about a young man who lived in an English Settlement on Long Island around the mid-1600s. We will give him a name, Maxwell Terry. Actually, there was a family among the first Southold settlers named Terry, and their plot of land was about where Max might have lived. The only thing not real is Max. However, his story is probably typical of young men that would be like him. So, let’s meet Max.

Traveling Lighthouse Libraries  by Mary Korpi

Children of lighthouse keepers contributed to the daily work of maintaining the light.  All family members assisted with cleaning the windows and the lens, keeping the light supplied with oil and the wicks trimmed, ready to be lit before nightfall or if storm clouds blocked the sun.  Since lighthouses fall under federal control, keepers and their families were subjected to quarterly military-style inspections of the tower, its equipment, and even their living quarters.  The daily maintenance required of them to battle the whims of mother nature in these highly exposed locations was a continuous grind of routine yet essential chores. 

The Train Stops Here by Joel Reitman

It’s about two o’clock, and there is a silver and blue diesel train that’s pulling two double decker passenger cars as it rumbles and clatters past the Post Office (Jefferson Store) on Peconic Lane heading eastbound to the seasonal Village of Greenport. This is one of the now daily trips the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) makes from Riverhead to Greenport.

Let There Be Light! by Melissa Andruski

In January 1903, a group of women were agitating the subject of lighting the streets.  It was time for Southold, walking in darkness since 1640, to shed some light on the matter.  The Long Island Traveler printed an earnest invitation for Southold women to meet at the home of Mrs. Joseph M. Hartranft for the purpose of forming a Ladies Village Improvement Society and to bring pencils for the purpose of electing officers by ballot.

North Fork Food Trail by Joel Reitman

Here I am wishing I could go back in time and do a phantom food tour of this wondrous place I call home, Southold, New York. What say we do just that? Come with me, hop in my car and off we shall go down a historic look at what was and what I now call the ‘North Fork Food Trail.’ Heard of the wine trail? Well on the this trail you feast on food not wine. So, it’s turn the key, release the clutch, step on the gas, hit the FM button and listen to Frankie Vali as we go east.

Oyster Saloon by Jacqueline Dinan

Nineteenth-century Southold Town, a strong-hold of temperance, did approve of a particular kind of saloon—the oyster saloon. German immigrant Charles Barth advertised oysters in 1872, prepared stewed or raw. Response was enthusiastic because two years later, he’d rebranded his business as an oyster saloon “prepared to serve oysters in every style.” He reminded customers that no refreshments would be served on Sunday, suggesting that the saloon-keeper sold beer and liquor the other six days of the week. 

New Suffolk by Joel Reitman

This essay is like the title, small, interesting to a few, and legendary. Therefore I’ll just drop a few crumbs along the pathway of crushed shells, and let you explore more on your own. I will keep to one topic, submarines that were berthed in New Suffolk. Believe it or not, submarines were really there.

Containers of Yore by Rosemary McKinley

The barrel found in the Museum’s collection is a true relic of the past and on display in the barn as a reminder of the containers that were used all those years ago for a purpose. This barrel is believed to have been brought over to Southold from England circa 1640 by Barnabas Horton.

Old Ink by Joel Reitman

As I turn the brass knob on the faded blue door, the smell of printer’s ink invades my senses, as it always did when I came here to write my stories. This building has been here a long time; no wonder the hinges scowl and the floor creaks as I walk a past the now idle press. It’s Tuesday, and we didn’t print the The Traveler-Watchman until the night before publication - a schedule followed since 1871, set by Llewellyn F. Terry, the Long Island Traveler’s first owner and editor. I walk upstairs, and yes, those still creak, even the small, bare writers’ room creaks as the wind howls through the siding. 

Corn Pounder Headstone by Melissa Andruski

Among the grave markers in the three acre Willow Hill Cemetery, is one that stands out.  Not because it’s the tallest or most elaborate, but because of its uniqueness.  

A samp mortar made from granite marks the resting place of octogenarian Cutchogue farmer, horse-trainer, and auctioneer Charles F. Smith.  His name is engraved in the stone with his birth and death dates, 1840-1924, and can be found in the southeast section of the cemetery.

Epher Whitaker’s Lasting Legacy by Jacqueline Dinan

Although the name Epher Whitaker evokes sentimental nostalgia among long-time residents of Southold, newcomers may stumble over its pronunciation and wonder—what’s the big deal? 

An Interview With Horton by Joel Reitman

Wow, the lighthouse is so big and so white, and it’s right here in Southold. You wonder, why am I here? Well, my editor asked me to do a piece about the eight lighthouses in our town. I chose this one first, since it’s easy to get to being the only one accessible by land.

The Icehouse Cometh by Rosemary McKinley

My fascination with ice houses stems from my past. My grandfather was an ice man in Sea Cliff, NY in the 1920’s on. So, when I stepped into an icehouse in Southold, from long ago, I was hooked.

Mary Who? by Jacqueline Dinan


“Behind every great man is a great woman,” as the saying goes. In the case of Barnabas Horton (1600–1680), the great or more precisely, the influential woman was his second wife, Mary Langton. Their marriage of convenience propelled Barnabas to New England and ultimately to Southold. Without Mary, Barnabas would have probably died in England, unknown in America today.

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