Electric Christmas Lights Were Put on a Christmas Tree in 1882

1850 Christmas TreeElectric Christmas Lights were added to the Christmas tree in 1882.  Before then, candles were used to create glimmer and sparkle.

The Christmas tree in the 1850 Bald Hill SchoolHouse does not have electric lights and would not have had electric lights in 1850.  In addition to candles, cranberries, pine cones, dolls, candy and fruits were strung and used as decorations.

Christmas lights have been one of the most popular Christmas decorations for the past century. In 1882, three years after Edison invented the first sensible light bulb, Edward H. Johnson created the first Christmas lights in his home in New York City. The tree was hand-wired and lit with 80 red, white, and blue globes. The tree slowling revolved and the lights blinked and twinkled.

Christmas lights were first made available for sale in 1890.  However, they were so expensive that most people could not afford them. They were a symbol of status among the wealthy and many people rented lights instead of buying them. In 1903, one set of 24 Christmas lights sold for $12.00. Considering the average person made about $9 a week, this was far too expensive for the average family. In addition to the cost of the lights, you needed to hire someone to wire the lights and, if the house was not electrically powered, they also needed to purchase a generator to run the lights.

Christmas lights did not become practical for the average family until the 1930s. By this time, homes were decorated with electric lights and stores, community Christmas trees, and government buildings were also decorated with the beautiful lights.

General Electric began to sponsor community lighting competitions in the 1920s, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that it was common to see rows of houses lit on the outside. And now, in 2017, lights are used extensively during the holiday season to brighten houses and entire neighborhoods.



Conquer the Hills is Back as a Trail Run

Conquer the Hills 5K launched as a road race in March 2010. The race left from Lynwood Avenue Elementary School and conquered the hills of Farmingville including the infamous hills of Adirondack and Berkshire.  Conquer the Hills took place in 2010, 2011 and 2013.

The Farmingville Historical Society decided to relaunch Conquer the Hills in 2017 as a Trail Run and Hike in Farmingville Hills County Park.  This park is a 102-acre parcel of land right in the middle of Farmingville and has a few access points including the main entrance at 503 Horseblock Road.  The park has 2 marked trails including a blue and orange route.  The trails are terrific and there are plenty of hills to conquer within the park depending on the route you take!  Many local residents hike and run the trails and also walk their dogs in this park!

The Farmingville Historical Society created a 5K run route and a 2.6K hike on Black Friday with 100% of the proceeds going to support the restoration and use of both the Historic Schoolhouse and Terry House.  The race launched Friday, November 24, 2017 with over 60 pre-registrants!  A special thank you to those who skipped the Black Friday shopping and spent a few hours outdoors on a beautiful Friday morning!

A special thank you to all of our sponsors including Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore, Suffolk County Historic Services, Ace Marketing & Promotions, and HeartBeet Farms. And a VERY special thank you to the members of the Sachem East History Honor Society and their leaders, Samantha and Ilyssa, who volunteered their time to help on the Conquer the Hills course.  They helped to make sure our runners and hikers were safe and stayed on course!

Congratulations to our top 3 male and female finishers, pictured with their medals!  We will see you next year on Black Friday, November 23, 2018.

Local Elementary Students Honored with History Awards

This week, the Farmingville Historical Society honored three fifth grade Sachem elementary school students with a History Award.  The Farmingville Historical Society established a 5th Grade History Award to honor one special student at Lynwood Avenue Elementary School, Waverly Avenue Elementary School and Chippewa Elementary School.

The student was selected by the 5th grade teachers at the specific school. The teachers were asked to identify that one student who has an innate passion for learning about history. This sounds like a very basic description but most teachers know right away who that one student is.

This History Honor includes 3 important awards:

  • A plaque to remind him or her about this accomplishment.
  • A family membership to the Suffolk Museum in Riverhead so they can continue their passion for learning history.
  • A book entitled “LI Our Story” to also support their love for learning about history.

Congratulations to our first annual Farmingville History Award recipients!  The History Award honorees and their bios are listed below…

Lynwood Avenue Elementary School:  Giovanni Crisanti

Giovanni Crisanti enjoys learning about all topics regarding history. He is fascinated with learning about past leaders and wars. His interest in history started to take off in the 3rd grade. In 4th grade Giovanni’s curiosity about history grew even more while studying about the US and he made an informative slideshow about the Battle of Bunker Hill. This year his appreciation for history is apparent during lessons. He always contributes pertinent information to class discussions. It is rare to find him without a history book in hand. Giovanni is always searching for additional information about the topics we are studying and shares his findings with others.

Waverly Avenue Elementary School:  Andrew Morgan

Andrew Morgan has lived an exciting life considering he is just 10 years old. His father is a marine. He lived in Japan when he was a toddler and then moved to California! He first came to Sachem last year as a 4th grader. Andrew is a good student, but his passion is studying history. When he is given a choice for independent reading, he usually grabs a book about World War II or a famous American. Recently, the 5th graders were asked to research someone famous and write a biography. It was no surprise that Andrew chose Andrew Jackson, the 7th US president and famous general. He puts effort into all of his subject areas and is a role model for other student.

Chippewa Elementary School:  Justin Crowe

Justin was new to Chippewa this year. He has always lived on Long Island but he is interested in learning about the rest of the world. Someday he would like to travel to England and see firsthand what life is like there. For independent reading time in class, Justin brought the adult book Flag of Our Fathers to school. When asked why he enjoyed reading the book Flag of Our Fathers, Justin said he was interested in reading about the people and learning about Iwo Jima. His interest may have come from his grandfather who Justin said was in the Air Force. Justin does enjoy watching the History Channel with his dad and grandpa. He has shown an interest in joining the military some day and would probably enjoy visiting the places he has read about. Whenever Social Studies is discussed in school, Justin’s ears perk up and he always has a lot to offer. His interest during the Farmingville Historical Society visit was commendable. Justin has maintained an A average in Social Studies this year and is very deserving of this award.

A Third Grade Trip to the Year 1850

127 3rd graders from Lynwood Avenue Elementary School visited the Bald Hill One-Room Schoolhouse on April 27 and 28, 2017.  Ms. BJ welcomed them as they departed from the bus at Farmingville Hills County Park.  She explained how Farmingville Hills County Park used to be the home of the Bussing Family who owned one of the best orchards and farms in Long Island.  The Bussings were known for their fruit trees and bountiful vegetables and fruits.

Ms. BJ led the children on the trail through the woods to the Schoolhouse where Ms. Jen took over from there.

The children entered the historic schoolhouse, separated by gender and sitting on opposite sides of the schoolhouse.  They participated in Read More →

An Interview with Gene Farmer, Our First History Intern

During the 2016 fall semester, the Farmingville Historical Society was very fortunate to have a History Intern from Stony Brook University.  The purpose of the internship was to provide a student with an opportunity to apply the skills he has acquired as a History Major through hands-on experience and assistance with the Historical Society’s educational, preservation, and research projects. The students also receive class credit for the internship.

This fall, Gene Farmer joined our team as our first intern.  Gene worked aggressively on sorting

Gene Farmer - Stony Brook History Intern to Farmingville Historical Society

Mike Sweeney (Left), FVHS Board Member & Gene Farmer (Right), FVHS Stony Brook University History Intern

through and organizing many historical documents, maps and photos.  While working on those tasks, Gene also began the work on building and writing the history for a few influential Farmingville families including the Terry’s, Overton’s and Bussing’s.  His work can be seen throughout the website.

Based on the success of our work with Gene, we are continuing to collaborate with the Stony Brook History Department and will be bringing on new interns every semester.

Below is an interview with Gene Farmer:

1. Where did you grow up and attend school?
I moved around a lot when I was younger. Simply put, I grew up on Long Island. I went to William Floyd Elementary, Center Moriches Elementary, Charles E. Walters, Our Lady of Lourdes, Longwood Middle School, Dawnwood Middle School, Centereach High School, Newfield High School, Sanford Brown Institute, Suffolk County Community College and Stony Brook University. Read More →

Schoolhouse Opens for Holiday Hot Cider and Candy

Bald Hills Schoolhouse Opens for Holiday and is decoratedOn Sunday, December 11, 2016 from 1PM – 3:00PM, the Bald Hills Schoolhouse will be open.  Stop by with your family, friends, and kids to check out the inside of the schoolhouse and enjoy some free hot cider and rock candy for the kids!!

Schoolhouse volunteers decorated the Schoolhouse today!  But they didn’t go to the store to purchase decorations.  They gathered their decorations from Farmingville Hills County Park and local farms to replicate how it would have been decorated in 1850!   The decorations include varieties of pine cones, cranberries, oranges, popcorn, pine and holly.  Come check out the Schoolhouse on Sunday, December 11th. We are only open from 1PM-3:00PM.  And then, right after, head over to the Tree at Triangle Park for the Holiday Tree lighting festivities!


Lynwood 3rd Graders Visit 1850 One Room School House

Third Graders Experience 19th Century History

1850 Bald Hill One Room School HouseSixty-six third-graders from Lynwood Avenue Elementary School took a field trip to the 1850 One Room School House on May 23, 2016 to learn about what school was like in the 1850’s.

The bus arrived at Farmingville Hills County Park where the students were introduced to the Park Bussing Family Fruit Farmand hiking trails.  The Park was formerly the home of the Bussings and the Bussing fruit farm.  Mr. George Bussing was a fruit farmer. George and his wife, Marie Bussing, were married for over 50 years.  Originally from Brooklyn, they moved to Farmingville and lived here for over 41 years. They had 3 daughters, 2 sons and 10 grandchildren. When Marie Bussing passed at 86 years old, she had 18 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren.

1850 Bald Hill School House TrailThe Lynwood students had an opportunity to walk the path that students walked in 1850 to attend the 1850 One Room School House.  There was no electricity and no buses.  Students primarily walked to school even in the winter months!  Horses were sometimes used.


One Room School House Teacher Takes Students Back to 1850

When arriving at the 1850 School House, Sue Gill, our 1850 One Room School House teacher, greeted the students and assigned chores to two boys.  One boy needed to gather the wood, while the other needed to get the water.  In 1850, water would have been retrieved from a well.

Upon entering the house, Ms. Gill assigned girls to one side and boys to the other.  The wood was One Room School House Teacherput into the stove to heat the school house.  The water was put into a pail and used for drinking water for all students.  The same ladle was shared among all students!

Ms. Gill had the students examine the 1850 One Room School House for what appeared the same vs. what appeared different from Lynwood Avenue Elementary School.  She took the students through a typical school day in 1850 which included arithmetic, reading, and reciting lessons.  In 1850, a one room school house Lynwood Third Grade Students at Bald Hill School Housewould include grades 1 through 8, ages 5 through 14! Many of the students were related.

Our last class of the day, Mrs. Jackson’s 3rd Grade Lynwood class, was joined by Brookhaven Town Councilman, Kevin LaValle.  Councilman LaValle experienced the 1850 class with the Lynwood 3rd Graders!  The students had a very educational, authentic, and fun experience at a local historical Farmingville landmark!  For more information on our historic field trip programs, contact us!



History of Farmingville at Sachem Library

With over 80 guests in attendance, the Farmingville Historical Society presented the History of Farmingville at Sachem Public Library.

Farmingville was known as South Koram Hills, Hamlet of Bald Hills, Mooney Ponds and became known as Farmingville around 1900. The area was settled in 1783 by Brewster Terry. Within 10 years there were 5 houses in the town of Bald Hills. The earliest homes said to be built between 1790 and 1797 were owned by Daniel Terry, Brewster Terry, David Overton and the Hammond Family. In 1749 Daniel Terry became the first tax payer in Brookhaven. Here you can see the original deed. Daniel Terry was deeded 1000 acres for 17 shillings and 10 pence, an amount equal to 7 or 8 days wages for a craftsman in the building trade. Read More →

Board Visits Historic Firehouse To Assess Possible Move

Historic FirehouseThe Farmingville Historical Society Board met with developer Michael Kelly on January 30, 2016 to take a closer look at the historic firehouse that exists on the property that he currently owns. Michael Kelly is the developer for the future arboretum project on Portion/Horseblock Road, across the street from the 1850 Schoolhouse.

We met with Michael to view the historic firehouse and and assess its condition. Read More →

New One-Room Schoolteacher Teaches Students at the 1850 Schoolhouse

one room schoolteacherThe Farmingville Historical Society is hosting a few upcoming schoolhouse field trips in the Spring of 2016 and was in search of a new one-room schoolteacher.  We are working with Susan Gil, a historic expert when it comes to one-room schoolhouses.  Susan joined us in December, 2015 to host a school session with our Farmingville Historical Society Board and some local students ranging from age 8 to 14.

Read More →