Geographic Note: The title “Between the Creeks” might be a bit misleading to residents today, for whom the reference to Champlin and Orowoc Creeks means the large bodies of water that appear to be located between the Great South Bay and Montauk highway/Main Street.  The head waters for those creeks, however, are small streams that originate to the north in the area of the Southern State Parkway, the service road of which is Islip Hamlet’s northern border.  (See the yellow-highlighted area of the above map labeled "ANDREW GIBB 1692").
The late 1600’s brought structure and settlement to Long Island, and this is when our story of the development of Islip Hamlet begins.  The greater Town of Islip had already started its formation in 1683, as attorney William Nicoll made his first patent purchase of the surrounding lands from the native region chief, Sachem Winnequaheagh of Connetquot. Nicoll named his plantation Islip Grange, in honor of his family home in Islip, Northamptonshire, England. Nicoll’s patent incorporated most of the land surrounding the Hamlet of Islip, but excluded the land between the creeks--- our hamlet.

In the 1690’s, Nicoll’s colleague, attorney Andrew Gibb, had come to the area and applied for a patent of his own, for “All that tract of vacant land commonly called by the name of Winganhauppauge or Champlin’s Creek, and on the west by the Orowoc Creek”. He was granted his patent on March 26, 1692, from Governor Richard Ingoldsby in the name of William and Mary, sovereigns of England. This defined the boundaries of what was to become Islip Hamlet.  Though the Gibb Patent was a smaller, 3,500 acre tract of land, the purchase was significant in that it was the center of commerce in the region, and developed into both a social community, as well as the seat of the Town Government.

Though records of Andrew Gibb’s death have not been found, we know that his second son, William, held various Town offices between 1721 and 1731.  The Gibb name has not been located in any other records beyond those years.

“In 1772 most of the Gibb tract was still in one piece and was owned by Captain Benijah Strong, a brother-in-law of Colonel William Floyd, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Benijah was the son of Selah of St. Georges Manor on Strong’s Neck, Setauket.  Benijah, in 1776, was chosen Captain of the Islip Militia Company and received a commission in Col. Floyd’s Regiment.  In 1790, he was a volunteer in Major Benjamin Tallmadge’s daring raid on Fort St. George in Mastic.  So the then owner of the neck was a hero of the American Revolution.  Islip town records show that Benijah was subsequently, in 1787, elected Supervisor and also served as Town Clerk in 1788 and 1795.” 

By the 1790 census, 106 families were documented in Islip Hamlet.  The “Log House”, located on the north side of Main Street, east of Route 111, was owned by John Douglas and was the only documented store at that time.  It may have also operated as the local tavern.  But, more importantly, it served at the meetinghouse for the annual town board meeting, through the 1780’s and into the 1820’s.

Development of Islip Hamlet was slow through the 1800’s, until the coming of the South Shore Railroad in the 1860’s. With it, came summer tourism and wealth, as hotels and summer estates of the wealthy began to develop along the waters of Islip Hamlet. The proximity to the popular South Side Sportman’s Club, and the peaceful quaint charm of the hamlet, attracted many wealthy tourists eager to escape the heat of NYC summers. The Hamlet began to flourish as greater wealth flowed into the area.

By the end of the 19th century, Islip Hamlet was the most important business center of the area.  In addition to being the seat of Town Government, Orowoc Creek, the only navigable waterway reaching South Country road in the area, became an important bustling landing, lined with shipyards and mills, and businesses like the Doxsee Clam Industry achieved national fame. Main Street was lined with produce markets, butchers, general stores, and livery stables.  Hotels and rooming houses nestled between the large, wealthysummer estates of the Peters, the Havemeyers, the Dicks, and later, William Kingsland Macy.

By the turn of the century, reporting 1,727 residents, Islip Hamlet proudly graced the south shore with its beautiful churches, thriving commerce, and held the distinction of building the finest school in all of Suffolk County.  W.H. Moffit’s Willow Brook Race Track provided much entertainment for the community, deemed the finest track in Suffolk County. The town drew further acclaim as Islip’s own Captain Hank Haff defended the America’s Cup four times in 14 years.Even the streets of Islip Hamlet were well known and talked about, for they were paved in glimmering white crushed shells from the Doxsee Clam factory, enhancing the beauty of this charming town.

The early 1900’s brought a few set-backs, as two major fires broke out within the first decade, destroying much of both the north and south sides of Main Street. But Islip Hamlet prevailed and the “Roaring ‘20s” remained a glorious time in Islip.  A public beach was opened, through the generous donation of land by H.O. Havemeyer.  The development of aviation brought more prestige to Islip, as aeronautical engineer Charles Lawrance opened Islip Airport in 1928, with Amelia Earhart delivering the opening dedications.  Islip Airport had the distinction of holding the first direct flights between Long Island and Connecticut.

Though WWII and the Great Depression changed the face of our nation, Islip Hamlet held together admirably through both, and though in time many of the large summer estates gave way to expansion of more middle-class homes, the charm, grace, and esteem of this lovely hamlet remains.
[1] Excerpt from Carl Starace’s “A Brief History of Islip Hamlet”.  Mr. Starace was the Islip Town Historian from the 1970's to the 1980's.

Composed 2016 by Victoria Berger with contributions and editing by Nancy Porta-Libert, Rob Finnegan and Dick Baldwin.
The Islip Land Patents
Est. 1992 Historical Society of Islip Hamlet