A Virtual Tour of the Old North End, Part 1

Updated: Apr 3, 2021

On Thursday, April 29th at 11am author and historian Anne Halsey will be giving a lecture live on Zoom detailing the interesting history of Southampton's Main Street through the stories left behind by those who lived there. Including some of Anne's own relatives. To RSVP for her talk please click here!


The blog entry below comes directly from Anne as an early look at some of the info she will talk about in her virtual talk in April.


Also if you're interested, you can buy your very own copy of "In Old Southampton" from our online store if you click here!

 

by Anne Halsey

Circa 1920 postcard of North Main Street in Southampton
In Old Southampton by Abigail Fithian Halsey

For the first eight years of the Southampton settlement, the Puritan “undertakers” made their homes at the head of Old Town Pond, near the present site of Southampton Hospital. In 1648, they moved the settlement about three-quarters of a mile west, establishing the South End and North End of the town and began clearing lots and building houses along the south end of Ye Towne Street. According to former Southampton Town Historian, Abigail Fithian Halsey (1873-1946), the “long Main Street of today, winding from the ocean to the woods, follows the general plan of Towne Street of 1648” with the sea “cast like a mantle” around the little town.

Detail of the North End on Southampton map c1900

In 1651, John Jagger came to Southampton from Stamford, Connecticut, and was given by the town a fifty-pound lot in the new North End neighborhood, on condition that he would “use his trade to the best of his power for the use of the inhabitants.” His neighbors there soon included members of the Sayres, Johnes, Post, Halsey, Howell, Bower, Bishop, and Barnes families. Until 1664, when Job’s Lane was created, Jagger Lane was the only way residents could get around the swamp at the north end of Agawam Lake to their farms on the Great Playne.


Windmill Lane, part of the original town plan and then known as West Street, runs from the old swamp land north of Agawam Lake and intersects with North Sea Road and Bowden Square, in what is the heart of the Old North End. Around 1713, windmills, which ground the grist for the town, stood at both ends of Windmill Lane. According to Abigail Halsey, the “first recorded schoolhouse probably stood in the West Street [Windmill Lane], opposite Jagger Lane and south of the present North End Graveyard. After 1683, it housed the county courts as well as the village school.”

Windmill illustration from In Old Southampton

By the 19th century, the North End was a close community of primarily established families who held strict religious beliefs, coupled with superstitions and customs gleaned by years of seafaring. And they weren’t particularly welcoming to newcomers. Helen Halsey Haroutunian (1914-2003), in her introduction to the collection Incident on the Bark Columbia, letters between Southampton whaler Captain Samuel McCorkle and his neighbor Charles Halsey, a farmer, “In the early 1820s, James McCorkle of Scotch-Irish descent, settled in ‘the Old North End,’ a seeming-nice neighborhood of Southampton, Long Island. The simple farming community revealed to the pioneer in a new land few aristocratic symptoms. Probably, his wife and daughters discovered sooner than he that ‘the Old North End’ was less a geographic neighborhood than a spiritual one possessed by a few families who reckoned back to 1640” and marked by an “indefinable local chill.”