Although western Long Island was originally settled by the Dutch migrating from Manhattan Island, the areas farther east were settled by the English who come across the Sound from Connecticut as early as 1640. Land purchases from Huntington’s earliest residents, the Mattinecock Indians, marked the beginning of the town. In 1660, the town was placed under the protection of the colony of Connecticut and from 1662 to 1664 was admitted as part of the colony. In 1664, Huntington along with all of Long Island and Manhattan Island came under complete British control and the jurisdiction of the Duke of York. A copy of the “Duke’s Laws” can still be found in the town’s first volume of court records. The town was incorporated in 1666 by a patent defining Huntington’s territory and boundaries.
Signs of discontentment with British rule first appeared in 1774 in the form of a Declaration of Rights, which challenged British authority to levy taxes without representation.
Following the American Defeat at the Battle of Long Island, the British began their violent and bitter seven-year occupation of Long Island, of which Huntington bore the brunt.
The largest British encampment, Fort Franklin was located at Lloyd’s Neck. The Battle of Fort Franklin continues today to be reenacted by the Huntington Militia on the Caumsett State park grounds.
A renowned patriot, Captain Nathan Hale landed at Huntington from Connecticut to gather information on British activities for General George Washington. Unfortunately, he was captured and executed, but his brave last words will remain immortal; “I regret that I have but one life to lose for my Country.”
Early residents earned their livelihoods in a wide variety of industries from agriculture to shipbuilding. Fleets of coastal trading ships that called at the town’s harbors achieved shipment of farming produce, timber and other goods from Huntington to other coastal ports. Shipbuilding became a major industry of which Northport became the most productive. In Northport between 1814 and 1884, over one hundred and eighty vessels were built. Cold Spring Harbor became Suffolk County’s second’s largest whaling port which is still remembered today at the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum.
By 1867, the Long Island Railroad connected Huntington with the bustling City of New York thereby making the town no longer