Photo of the Week | August 16, 2021


“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck 


Battery Gunning, Patchogue, 1900

by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian


Battery Gunning, Patchogue, Great South Bay, 1900, by Hal B. Fullerton. (Image from the Harry T. Tuthill Fullerton Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives [149.7.33]. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved). [To view Fullerton photograph, please visit]

In 1850, Long Island was a gunner’s and a duck hunter’s paradise. Thousands upon thousands of migratory waterfowl sought refuge on the island each spring and fall between their Arctic breeding grounds and southern wintering quarters. Many local hunters supplemented their income by market gunning because hunting ducks for NYC restaurants was a way to survive. Sportsmen and market gunners enjoyed profitable hunting with few restrictions until the waterfowl diminished. Then, in 1918, the International Migratory Bird Act ended commercial gunning and set limits for hunters.

In the nineteenth century, however, old-time duck hunting was a popular sport, and many hunting clubs sprung up across the island: the Pelican Club at Montauk’s Gin Beach, the Long Island Shooting Club, the Wyandanch Club in Smithtown, the Suffolk Club at South Haven, the Flanders Club, and the Southside Sportmen’s Club in West Sayville, among many others. The first such club may have been the Suffolk Club, located on the Carmans River in old Brookhaven. It was there that Daniel Webster rented a piece of land in 1823 and invited his friends to fish and hunt–including Martin Van Buren, who in 1837 would become our eighth U.S. president. The property would eventually become Suffolk County’s South Haven Park. In fact, many public parks resulted from the county’s acquisition of some of the gun clubs’ lands. In addition, Long Island shorebird and duck decoys are a legacy of the gunning era. Today, these hand-carved decoys are valued as both art and historical objects.

Suggested Reading: Gunners Paradise: Wildfowling and Decoys on Long Island, by E. Jane Townsend, 1979.


BOOK & BOTTLE Is Back! SEEKING SANCTUARY: 125 Years of Synagogues on Long Island, with Brad Kolodny, on Thursday, August 26, 2021 – 6:00 PM

$5 / RSVP & Prepayment Required: 631-727-2881 x100 Includes author lecture, light refreshments, and book sale & signing. Books will be available for purchase at the special discounted price of $40 each.

Come hear the story of how Judaism evolved on Long Island over the past 125 years—from the humble beginnings of the first synagogue built in 1896, to the massive growth following World War II, to today. Author and exhibit curator Brad Kolodny will discuss his four-year project photographing and documenting every synagogue that has ever existed in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In this lecture we will learn about the historic significance, architectural design features, and other unique characteristics of a sampling of synagogues.



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