Paying for your pigs and keeping looters away

Town hosts history day and gets back to colonial roots


At the Town of Islip’s Living History Day, held on Saturday, June 11, town historian (a position that has been part of the Town of Islip’s structure since its English colony days) George Munkenbeck played the supervisor at a moot town board meeting based on the events of 1798, and the audience had questions to ask about the problems facing the town at that time. 

In 1798, the annual meeting was on the first Tuesday in April and was held in a store, home, or tavern.  It was not until 1850 that there was a writing box to hold the town records, and the first Town Hall was built on what is now Grant Avenue in Islip, in 1870. 

“We do not know for certain if any of the houses that were used still survive, but Snedecor’s Inn is now part of the clubhouse of the South Side Sportsmen’s Club, now Connetquot State Park Preserve,” said Munkenbeck, adding, “as an aside, all voting was done in the English way; that is, a division of the room in the open.  Secret ballots came later; besides, with a small population and only male property owners (freeholders), there were not that many, and the meetings were probably much like the meetings of the House of Commons.  Since many of the residents were related, everyone pretty much knew what was on the other’s mind anyway.”

On the items to be discussed for the 1798 meeting were the Hog Acts of 1788 and 1793.

The 1788 Hog Act renewed the 1753 and 1757 acts of the Precinct of Islip.  Only yoked (that is. hogs wearing a wooden-frame collar) were allowed to run free on the Common and no owner of yoked hogs would have to pay damages to enclosed areas unless the fencing was sufficient, that is strong.  Owners of unyoked hogs that have done damage within an enclosure would be required to pay a fine.

The 1793 Hog Act added that no boars were allowed to run on the Common from the first day of May until the first day of December, under threat that they would be castrated by any person who finds them.

The owner of the boar was required to pay 4 shillings to the person who castrated the boar, and that was enforceable by any Justice of the Peace.

Some other questions from the “colonial” Town residents included:

“Will the Town take action to ensure that the slaughterhouses are moved away from the settlements?  Our homes especially in Islip stink.”

“How will the Town stop Huntington residents from stealing our salt hay and poaching our shellfish and other game?”


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