Friends of Caleb Smith Preserve


History


Sachem Wyandanch, a powerful Indian leader, befriended Englishman
 Lion Gardiner, and as a gift in gratitude for helping to rescue his kidnapped daughter, Wyandanch deeded to Gardiner all the lands that would eventually become Smithtown . . . so named because the town’s founder, Richard Smythe acquired these lands from Gardiner in 1663.

Caleb Smith (1724-1800), the great grandson of Richard Smythe, was not a simple farmer.  He graduated from Yale University in 1744, was later a judge for the Court of Common Pleas of Suffolk County and a member of the State Assembly.   

In 1753 Caleb and his father Daniel Smith II, built the original house on the estate, which is now the Preserve.   Although it has has undergone many renovations, much of the original house still stands within the present building. 

            
                   
Six generations of Smiths held the land before it was acquired by the Brooklyn Gun Club in 1888, and used as a sportsman’s hunting and fishing preserve.  The name was changed to the “Wyandanch Club” in 1893 to honor the great Indian Sachem of earlier years.   The  Wyandanch Club played an important role in the community by hiring  care takers, guides and other staff; the property would not be a park today if it were not for the Club's efforts to preserve the land.

In 1963 the property was acquired from the Club by the State of New York for use as a State Park.  The name of the Park was later changed to “Caleb Smith State Park” to honor the Smith family for its role in the history and development of Smithtown.  A group of concerned citizens later petitioned the State to include the Park under special conservation provisions of the law, and the name was amended to “Caleb Smith State Park Preserve.”

Today, the State maintains the house as a Nature Museum, and the surrounding land as a wildlife preserve, with many walking trails and its fresh water tributaries stocked with trout for fly fishing enthusiasts.

Please be sure to view the introductory, interactive display in the Entrance Room of the Museum which gives a complete history of the Preserve and surrounding areas.

Make a Free Website with Yola.