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Mastic Beach's newly appointed village historian wants to celebrate village's heritage

Mastic Beach Village historian Jamie Reason stands next

Mastic Beach Village historian Jamie Reason stands next to Nathaniel Woodhull's tombstone at Woodhull Cemetery in Mastic Beach on Sept. 3, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Mastic Beach's newly appointed historian is back to finish the job he couldn't complete in his first tenure in that post -- spreading the word of the village's rich past.

Jamie Reason, 68, said few residents know about the history that occurred in the village and is still present for those who go looking for it. He not only wants them to know about the past, but also envisions outdoor stage plays and performances bringing the golden days of the village back to life.

"Many residents don't know about the history of the village. They have no clue what it was or has been," said Reason, who counts among his ancestors Revolutionary War officer George McDaniel, who spent the harsh winter of 1777-78 with Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this summer, the board of trustees reappointed Reason as village historian, his second time in the voluntary position. He was originally appointed by the village's first mayor, Paul Breschard, in 2011, but resigned when the mayor decided to leave his post midway through his first term.

In his resignation letter, Reason noted that he was willing to stay on in his role, but said the succeeding administration opted not to have a village historian.

Now that he is once again Mastic Beach's historian, and as a believer in promoting the past, he said he wants to find ways to celebrate the village's heritage.

"We're just as important as Boston or Philadelphia," he said.

Back in the early 17th century, before Europeans arrived, American Indians considered the area on the South Shore a mystical place, with bays and creeks filled with fish and shellfish, along with fertile land to grow corn and squash, and flocks of birds and abundant game, Reason said.

He told of how what is now called Bayview Park, off Neighborhood Road, was once part of a large American Indian village that extended more than three miles south toward Smith Point.

Up to 1,000 Indians resided in the village until the majority of them were exposed to such deadly diseases as smallpox by European colonists and explorers, he said.

He spoke of Setauket resident Richard Floyd, who was an ancestor of William Floyd, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, noting that in 1672 Richard Floyd brought African slaves to what is now Brookhaven Town.

He said he is not sure how many village residents know about the village's most historical treasures, such as the William Floyd Estate, now managed by the National Park Service, or that Revolutionary War Gen. Nathaniel Woodhull's home was at the intersection of what is now Corn Court and Washington Avenue, where a cream-colored, single-level bungalow now stands.

In his new role, Reason said he will make it a priority that they find out.

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