Yaphank History

Yaphank History

“Not a town, not a village, but all roads nonetheless lead to Yaphank. Situated between its two lakes in the town of Brookhaven, Yaphank is nearly the geographic center of Long Island. In the 17th century, the Unkechaug Indians, who had their headquarters in nearby Mastic, built temporary campsites near what was later known as Weeks Pond while they hunted waterfowl on the Carmans River. According to Brookhaven Town records, the Unkechaugs were disarmed in 1689, even though they had always shown themselves to be peaceful. By the time early settlers reached the river area in 1726, however, the Indians had sold their land and given up fishing and hunting rights. Finding it hard to survive, many of the Indians worked for the new landowners.

 In 1739, Capt. Robert Robinson was granted permission to dam the river and build the Upper Mill, or Swezey’s Mill. Twenty-three years later and farther downstream, John Homan was granted the right to build a sawmill and later a gristmill below his house on the river. The road that ran along its northern bank between the mills became Main Street, and the village that was centered there became known as Millville. In 1800, Millville was primarily a farming settlement, but the milling industry allowed the village to thrive and grow. In 1844, the Long Island Railroad was extended through the village, and by 1845, Millville had changed its name to Yaphank, based on the Native American word Yamphanke, or “the bank of a river”. 


  - Images of America - Yaphank, Tricia Foley and Karen Mouzakes

Yaphank History - Camp Siegfried

In 1935, children of German heritage came out for summer camp to canoe, swim, and participate in sports and enjoy the forest/lakes setting, just as others came to the Girl Scout camps, Boy Scout camps, Greek heritage camps along the lakes for years. Then more families started to arrive, and spend time here on weekends originally enjoying German culture, music, and food, and they started building small summer bungalows along the lake. The crowds grew on Sundays, with trains full of people coming from the city to spend the day here and they supported the local farms and shops and restaurants on the lakes which had been hurting since the depression and the decline of the mills- the village economy was helped with their buying beer, ice cream, lunches and picnic food, and no one thought anything of it.