In 1664, the proprietors of the Town of Brookhaven purchased a large tract of land, known as "the Old Purchase at South," from the native peoples. Soon after this purchase, the land immediately along the Great South Bay was subdivided into fifteen acre meadow lots. While the meadow lots were an important agricultural resource, because of the marshy nature of the meadow lots, they were not suitable for permanent settlement.
The first road to the area from the more settled communities of the Town of Brookhaven on the north shore was Old Town road. This road provided north to south access to the meadow lots for the proprietors of the Town. Remnants of this road remain as Old Town road, Fire Place Neck road, and Bay road. South Country road was soon developed as the main east-west highway along the south shore branching east and west as it came to Fireplace neck.
In 1676, additional fifteen acre shares were laid out of upland as near or adjoining each man's meadow share as could be done. The major dimension of these lots (now totaling 30 acres) were north-south. They were known as "the long lots." North of these shares additional lots were laid out, the major dimension being east-west. These were know as "the short lots," that is, the short side was north-south. (For a more detailed description of these lots see p. 4, Shaw's "History.") Because the new lots now included upland, they were suitable for permanent settlement. This pattern of lots can still be seen in modern property lines and aerial views.
The first permanent European settlers on Fireplace neck were probably members of the Thomas Rose family, perhaps in the late seventeenth century, but certainly by the early eighteenth century. Fireplace was important as a farming area, and, because it gave easy access to the Bay and to the Ocean through the Inlet directly opposite Carman's River (now known as "Old Inlet," which has since filled in), was also home to fishermen and baymen.
Beaver Dam Road, which crosses the Neck east to west, was laid out in 1735 to give farmers access to the River and to their various lots; this road was laid out essentially along the north end of the long lots. By 1836, there were thirteen residences on Beaver Dam Road, many farmhouses owned by the Rose family descendants.
Late in the 19th century, as the farming and fishing dwindled, and travel between New York City improved because of rail road transport, the area became a favored summer retreat for artists and writers.
Many of the early houses remain, several unchanged in appearance. The area also retains many of its local family cemeteries.
The old Southaven Church was moved to Brookhaven Hamlet in 1958 (See Br09A, "Old South Haven Presbyterian Church"). The church now stands on a rise at the corner of Beaver Dam road and South Country road, on land purchased from the Post Family. (See Br09B, "Post Homestead"). This family also donated to the Village Association land at the bottom of Beaver Dam Road known as Squassux Landing (see Br16). Boats have been tied up there for over two hundred years.
For a more comprehensive history of the Hamlet, see Shaw's "History" elsewhere on this site.
[This section has been extensively rewritten and updated from the original survey form.]