“Indian gift”

On November 4, 1677, Unkechaug and Massapequa sachems, along with other Long Island Native Americans protested to Governor Andros concerning ongoing land disputes. One of their complaints was that Samuel Dayton had built a house on lands Tobacus had given to Governor Winthrop many years earlier and Sam had not paid them for settling there.

The Native Americans knew Sam because he had represented Brookhaven in negotiations for adjacent land three years earlier. Winthrop had died in 1676 and now the group argued that the land was a gift to Winthrop only, for his use, and other Whites needed to compensate them for their use of the land.

I find the situation very interesting because one would assume that Sam’s awareness of cultural differences and his healthy relationship with Native Americans before this time would have alerted him to be cautious.

Author J.A. Strong (2011) says that Governor Andros had probably already investigated their claim because he informed the group that Samuel claimed that his farm was actually not on the Winthrop tract. The Governor added that the investigation was continuing and we assume the dispute was soon resolved since there are no other references to it in the public record.

If Sam constructed his house and farm close to the primitive cart way that might have been the northern boundary of Winthrop’s land, one can certainly understand the potential for misunderstanding and conflict.

Two years later, on this day, December 2, the town voted to grant Sam an additional one hundred acres near his existing 50 acres, establishing what would come to be called Dayton’s Neck in today’s hamlet of Brookhaven.

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