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FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
Seals of Suffolk County’s Ten Towns
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Seals of Suffolk County’s Ten Towns. (Image from the Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Suffolk County, created in 1683, today has ten familiar towns: Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton, and Southold, each with its own governing board.
In 1683, however, according to Laws of the Colony of New York (1894), an act to divide the New York colony into counties, which passed on November 1, 1683, stated: “The County of Suffolk to contain the several towns of Huntington, Smithfield [Smithtown], Brookhaven, Southampton, Southold, Easthampton to Montauk Point, Shelter Island, the Isle of Wight [Gardiners Island], Fishers Island, and Plumb Island….” Over time changes occurred. Riverhead, for example, once a part of Southold town, became a town of its own in 1792. Similary, Babylon, known as Huntington South, was a part of the town of Huntington until 1872, when it became a town with its own governing unit.
The towns of Suffolk County were all settled by English immigrants. In fact, Suffolk County is the oldest county of purely English settlements within New York state.
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