Letter from S. S. Wickham to Eliza Helme - prior to 1806
You wished me to give you a description of East Hampton. I hardly know how to undertake, but will endeavor to proceed. It is situated on the East End of Long Island & is bounded by Gardiner's Bay on the north & on the south & east by the Atlantic Ocean & on the west by Southampton. In the northern villages it is a light sandy soil & is well adapted to the raising of Indian corn. In the South part of the town, the soil is of a stronger kind & is well suited to the raising of hay, grain & fruit, it has been said that fruit trees would not flourish in this part of the town, but this opinion is not well founded, for those that have attempted to cultivate them have succeeded very well. The productions are wheat, rye, oats, barley, Indian corn & flax. Of the vegetables are such as cabbages, peas, beans, ets. Neat cattle is the staple commodity of which great numbers are raised on Montauk, the western extremity of the town & of Long Island. The land is good for pasture & is owned by a number of proprietors & is divided into shares, each share pasturing a fixed number of cattle. The inhabitants are mostly farmers & mechanics who are an industrious sober people. The religion is Presbyterian.
Montauk is inhabited by a tribe of Indians about 40 or 50 in number who live in wigwams. They manufacture baskets which they sell to the people of East Hampton. They are hospitable to strangers & make a free use of spirituous liquors & a few of them are religious. In East Hampton are a number of free negroes who live in a hamlet called Freetown. E. Hampton was settled in the year 1620 they consisted of 101 souls.
This is from your friend S. S. Wickham