Samuel2 Terrill and Yamphank Neck 1686 Forward

By Nancy Tyrrel Theodore, January 2010

This article is part 3 of a multi-part series on Samuel2 Terrill (part 1 is Samuel2 Terrill in Easthampton (Long Island, NY) records, 1675-1682; part 2 is Samuel2 Terrill to Brookhaven, 1680-1685).

The documents referenced in this article (with bold blue dates) can be found in its companion article, Brookhaven, Long Island, NY records concerning Samuel2 Terrill/Tyrrell 1686-1699 with related documents. You will also find references and links to photocopies of original documents there.

Click here for transcriptions of the bold blue documents

By 1686, Samuel2 Terrill had sold his holdings in northern Brookhaven and settled in south Brookhaven's "old purchase of 1664." This purchase was between the inhabitants of Brookhaven and the Indian Tobaccus, Sachem of Unchachaug, for land that was eventually to include the Hamlets of Brookhaven (Fire Place) and South Haven, and the Village of Bellport. It was a very unlawyerly document, loosely describing the land and laying out a utopian vision of sharing the land with the liberty for fishing and hunting without molestation, providing the Indians had sufficient planting land for themselves, "the true Native proprieters." Brookhaven paid fifty fathom of wampum.... that would be 300 feet.... the downpayment being four coats, with a balance of 6/10s, for which the Indians gave Brookhaven a receipt on 31 March 1665.a Such a deal!.... for the settlers.

Little by little starting in 1675, the Brookhaven settlers moved onto this land, putting down roots.... and roots were not a part of the original understanding, at least by the Indians. In 1686 the Indians, evidently seeing settlement of these lands as inevitable, appealed to the governor of New York for more equitable compensation. Samuel and his neighbors... Samuel Dayton, Jonathan Rose and Walter Jones... were ordered to appear before the New York colonial council on 7 July 1686 to answer Tashanisk's 15 April petition, "on behalfe of himselfe and Other Indians," to New York governor Thomas Dongan regarding the land the Indians called Unkechalk.

Tachanick's complaint was that they had sold land to the inhabitants of Brookhaven "westward of East Conecticutt"b (now called Carmen's River) to pasture and "make yards" for the fattening of their cattle, but they "have built houses & broken up land there without making any satisfaction" to the petitioners. On 6 September 1686, the council sent three men to look over the situation in Unkechalk.

There seems to be no record of the council's decision, but Brookhaven must have made things right with the Indians as Samuel and Samuel Dayton were undoubtedly still neighbors on 15 May 1688 when Samuel Terrill and his wife "Abigaill" witnessed a deed in south Brookhaven for Samuel Dayton and his wife Elizabeth.

This places Samuel in greater Bellport in 1686-88.... Samuel Dayton was an early settler in the area of Bellport and Fire Place and had land named after him, Dayton's Neck, and Jonathan Rose was the earliest settler in Bell Port.c We know that Samuel Terrill's land was largely in Bellport with some land in the Fire Place or Brookhaven Village area. (map)

On 19 June 1688 "Samuell Terrell of Brookhaven," Long Island sold his inherited interest in the family home lot and house in Milford, Connecticut to his brother "Daniel Terrell" of Milford for sixteen pounds. He appeared in Milford to effect this deed, and ten days later his brother, "Thomas Terrell" of East Hampton, Long Island was also in Milford to sell his inherited portion to Daniel.... the only two of the siblings to sell land at that time. These transactions further signalled that Samuel and Thomas, the only children of Roger and Abigail living outside of Connecticut, did not intend to call Connecticut home.

Later that same year, Samuel's status on Long Island was enhanced.... on 13 November 1688 he was "gifted" the land of Yamphank Neck (Indian word meaning "the bank of a river"), now a part of the village of South Haven, (map) from Wopehege, a Porridge Indian. At the time, this piece of land (shown in dark gray on the map), was not a part of the old purchase of 1664 or other purchases. It was northeast of the land Samuel owned in Bellport and Brookhaven Village, and was to be the cause of speculation and protracted wrangling.

Speculation.... Wopehege gave the land to Samuel for "good will and affection," a term usually reserved for family members. And further, "without any monny or other things," having already received "full sattisfaction by sundry Gifts and benefits on mee bee fore the Date of this present... " This wording led to the speculation that Samuel's wife, Abigail, was an Indian. There is no proof for this except by inference. Another likely explanation is that Samuel put his blacksmithing skills to good use for the Indians and went out of his way to be friendy, or had already given them items the Indians would consider valuable.

Wrangling.... Yamphank Neck was the subject of endless disputes over ownership with a Col. Smith and his heirs.... a final resolution being reached 230 years later by a New York Appellate Supreme Court decision of 1918! Some of the cause of the wrangling seemed to center on ownership of Carmen river land, land that could be utilized for mills on the river.

This legal situation developed when a Col. William "Tangier" Smith (so called as he was from Morocco) purchased on 25 May 1691, from the Indian John Mayhew, a Sachem Chief, an enormous acreage later to be known as the Manor of St. George. This transaction was approved and the land granted to Smith by New York Gov. Fletcher's patent in 1693.

By this and others patents, Smith managed to acquire nearly all of modern Brookhaven Hamlet from Carman's River eastward to the Town of Southampton, and from the Atlantic ocean to the middle of Long Island, about 90 square miles. Included in these lands is Samuel's Yamphank Neck which he held by right of his Indian deed given five years prior to Smith's claims.d

For over two hundred years there were legal disputes because of the overlapping claims. Yamphank Neck remained theoretically in the jurisdiction of the Lord of St. George's Manor until 1798 when the Manor was formally dissolved and the land area annexed to the Town of Brookhaven.e As a practical matter, however, the Brookhaven Town records made clear at a meeting of the Trustees on 11 April 1738 that "Samuel Terrill [was the] proprieter.... And [was] the propers owner of Yemkhamp Neck.

The sticking point for title to the land lay in the fact that by the Act of 23 October 1685, land purchased from the Indians had to be confirmed by the Governor of New York. And, although Brookhaven said the land was Samuel's, he didn't have the governor's patent. Thus the cloud on the title.

The legal question in the 1918 case was over the claims of ownership between Smith's sons and daughters, culminating in a ruling by the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, on 20 December 1918.... "The question is whether the land under water opposite it [Yamphank Neck] to the center of the Connecticut river is owned by the plaintiffs [William E. T. Smith, heir of William Smith's sons] or the defendant [John J. Bartlett, heir of William Smith's daughters]. The decision depended upon the will of Col. William Smith, who died in 1704.

To sum up the 1918 dispute, "If Smith devised Yaphank Neck to his daughters, they took to the center of the river. Otherwise, his sons [whose land was opposite Yamphank Neck], under whom plaintiffs claim, and to whome he made devises on the easterly side of the river, took the whole bed of the river."

The ruling goes into the details as to the location of the Yamphank Neck, Smith's claim and the history of the dispute. A previous trial in 1737 was called the Crook-Murison-Homan litigation. And, the ruling in this case "indicates very clearly that Homan got a title from Terrill that, as the jury found, entitled Homan the possession of Yaphank Neck. It is conceded that the defendant has the present title, and, as I conclude, from Terrill. It is also an inference of equal value that neither Homan or Terrill took title from Col Smith's daughters, or under his will; but the evidence before the court, then as now, indicates that Terrill held in hostility to such title."

This action was followed by the second trial in 1738, and although the pleadings and judgment are not found, it is evident that Terrill's conveyence and the subsequent chain of possession of Yamphank Neck was confirmed. The reason this is so important to the 1918 trial is that if Yamphank Neck was not included in the land Smith left to his daughters, and Samuel and those to whom Samuel sold Yamphank Neck held possession, then the Smith sons claim of the disputed river bed (through their undisputed ownership of land on the eastern side of the river) was good.

The 1918 decision ruled that Smith didn't include Yamphank Neck in his 1704 will, and that the court may not correct the description. So, the defendants in this case, Smith's daughters, did not get the land under water in the river.

But there was something else to settle, the title. The disputed "case of Crook exdem. Murison v Homan decided the question of possession, but not necessarily the question of title. The findings should be amended accordingly and also so far as it is found that Col. Smith did not have title to Yaphank Neck..." Thus the question between the daughters and sons of Smith ruled in favor of the sons insofar as the land under the river, but the question of possession and title of Yamphank Neck (on the western side of the river) was affirmed for Samuel. At last! f

At the time of his Yamphank Neck deed from the Indians in 1688, Samuel couldn't have foreseen such a protracted legal dispute. For the next years the Brookhaven records remain fairly quiet about Samuel's activities until 1698. On 17 October 1698 Samuel purchased from Jacob Doughty lands further east of Yamphank Neck, in the Moriches, an area called Waracta, "on ye Southside of Nassau [Long] Island bounded on ye East by a Creeke called Meriches [now called Terrell River] and on ye west by a Creeke called Sweniches [known today as Senix Creek]." (map) Waracta is roughly 7 miles east of South Haven (Yamphank) in Moriches.

Then, on 1 December 1698, disaster struck Samuel. A fire kindled in the thatch of his home "consumed to ashes" his house, goods, clothes and provisions although his wife and six children were spared. Samuel petitioned, and was granted, charity from the governor of New York. It was a grim prospect Samuel and his family faced the winter of 1698-1699.

This fire raises a question... where was Samuel actually living at the time of the fire? Most accounts surmise Samuel didn't live at Yamphank Neck at the time of the fire as he had also acquired ownership of Waracta Neck and lived there at the time. But, was there enough time from the purchase in mid-October until the first of December to actually establish his residence at Waracta Neck? Less than a month and a half. It doesn't seem plausible. He could have still been living on the lands he initially purchased in the Bellport and Brookhaven Village area. (This land is covered in the part 2 article.) On 6 January 1699, one day after Samuel received authority to collect charity because of the fire, he sold this property in the Bellport and Brookhaven Village area to Jonathan Rose. He obviously needed funds to rebuild.

Thus, it would seem more likely that if Samuel lived at Waracta Neck, it was after the fire. The river on the eastern boundary of this Waracta Neck was named the Terrell River, some say in Samuel's honor by the Indians called Paquatuck.g Samuel sold this Waracta Neck holding to Sarah Scudder Conkling, widow of John Conkling, of the Town of Southold, by deed dated 5 Aug 1714, and described in her will dated 19 Jan 1732, proved 1 Apr 1755. The dam and mills on the Terrill River were erected in 1737 by Oliver Smith, after Terrill sold the property.h

So, did Samuel ever actually live on the Yamphank (or Yaphank) Neck land that was deeded to him in 1688? Seemingly, at least for the ten-year period between 1688 and 1698. The deed of October 1698 (before the fire) from Jacob Doughty says "Samuel Terrill late of Brookhaven." "Late of" means where a person previously lived. Since the Yaphank and Yamphank Neck area were technically under the juristiction of the Manor of St. George at the time, (as was Waracta Neck) if he was living at Yamphank Neck at the time of the fire he would no longer be considered a Brookhaven resident.

What were Samuel's activities between 1699 and 1714 at which time he sold his Waracta Neck property, and is there any record of him after he sold this property? What do we know of his children? We'll follow Samuel's trail in the next article.


a "History of Brookhaven Village", by Osborne Shaw of Bellport, 5 October 1933, page 3:

b The Indian Place-Names on Long Island and Islands Adjacent With Their Probable Significations, by William Wallace Tooker, pages 48-49. "CONNECTICUT: a creek or river in Brookhaven town, now called Carman's river.... This river in the early days was sometimes designated as 'East Connecticut.'" Pages 48-49.

c Shaw (see above) p. 5 and p. 6.

d Illustrated History of The Moriches Bay Area, by Van and Mary Field, for the Moriches Bay Historical Society.

e "St. George Manor," Brookhaven/South Haven Hamlets, Long Island, NY.

f For the complete ruling, see: The New York Supplement, containing the decisions of the Supreme and Lower Courts of Record of New York State (St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1919), vol. 173, pp. 537-546 (Smith v. Bartlett).

g "Waracta Neck and its relationship to Yaphank Neck," from Brookhaven and South Haven Hamlets.

h Ibid. The history of "Yaphank Neck (South Haven Hamlet)"