Mark MacNish welcomed people to the old schoolhouse in Cutchogue Green Village on June 14 in celebration of Flag Day. It’s an appropriate place to talk about the local men and women who served during WWI.

From 1840 to 1903, the schoolhouse was used to educate Cutchogue’s students. Other historic buildings on Village Green are managed by the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Historical Commission, including a Wickham farmhouse dating back to the 17th centuryday century and coach house.

Referring to the American flag on Flag Day, Mr. McNish, who is the committee’s executive director, said, “Our flag honors the veterans of World War I, the last of whom died around 10 years ago. years ago.”

In recent weeks Mr McNish has mounted an exhibition in the coach house commemorating the men and women of Kachoge and New Suffolk who served in that war. One theme of the exhibit, he said, is “to show how we unite for our soldiers, how we support them.”

(Image credit: Steve Wick)

On the rear wall of the coach house is a large plaque bearing the names of over 30 soldiers from Cutchogue and New Suffolk who served in that war. One was Mr McNish’s great-uncle, Gordon McNish, who served in World Wars I and XI. Gordon McNish died in 1953.

A photograph shows the dedication of local servicemen’s honor rolls at the Cutchogue in front of what was then Bett’s Hotel on September 6, 1918, two months before World War I ended with an armistice.

Photos showed a large crowd gathered in front of the hotel, with young boys on the roof watching the game.

“That hotel is on the corner of Main Road and New Suffolk Road,” he said. “It’s an estate office now. But you can see how the community came together to honor the soldiers.”

Also in the carriage house is a 1912 American flag with 49 stars, as well as so-called “service flags,” sometimes “mother’s flags,” honoring soldiers during those years.

A tour of the historic home with Mr. MacNish shows how the council has adapted and changed in recent years to be more inclusive of history. “I’m really committed to telling stories that haven’t been told,” he said.

This commitment is evident in the old house, which, over the decades, is said to be the oldest English-built house in the state, dating from the 1840s. The story has been challenged. Wood core tests (known as dendrochronology) show that the wood used to build the frame of the house was felled in 1698. Therefore, houses should have been built after that.

Additionally, the 1699 deed of sale of the land surrounding the house does not describe the houses on the property at all. Now suppose the house was built by Joseph Wickham, who bought the land in 1699.

The way history is being told now has changed even more, taking place inside old houses. A recently placed plaque on one wall tells the story of a slave girl named Keturah who lived in the house. Includes stories of enslaved men, women, and children who lived and worked in North Fork before slavery ended in New York State in 1827, which is new to the local historical society.

“I’m proud we have this in our home,” Mr. McNish said, pointing to the story on the plaque.

Keturah’s mother was Zipporah, whose property was owned by then mayor Samuel Landon. Keturah is believed to have been born in 1789.

“Zipporah and her daughter Keturah were inherited by Jared Landon from his father Samuel,” the plaque reads. “Jared owned and lived in the old house. Zipporah and Keturah would sleep in a room on the third floor and help with the housework, raising the kids and working in the kitchen.

“In his will, Jared Landon released Keturah and she was officially released in 1817,” the plaque reads.

Asked about the dramatic change in how history is now being told here, Mr McNish said, “We want to tell more of the history that happened here. We’re committed to that.”

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