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What's in a Name: Comsewogue or Cumsewogue

The name was originally derived from variations on an Indian word that means “a walking place.”

The is hostingan exhibit featuring old photos of Port Jefferson Station and Terryville titled the spelling of which which Ken Brady the Port Jefferson village historian insists is not an error.

"To make things confusing, however, it's the Comsewogue Public Library and Comsewogue School District," he said.

This brings to mind the various spellings and names for the area now known as Port Jefferson Station. In the past, it has been alternately known as Cumsewogue, Comsewogue, Echo and even Comsewagye.

According to Brady, in the book he called a classic, "The Indian Place-Names of Long Island" by William W. Tooker, the author gives the original spelling as "Cumsewogue."

Tooker describes Cumsewogue as "a farming district upon the high level plain, about a mile south of Port Jefferson."

"The only early record we have been able to find is as follows: In 1805 the Commissions of Highways are called ‘to view a road or highway near Setauket at a place called Comsewagye," Tooker wrote.

He also points out another variant: Cumsewogue used in 1835.

"Modernly the name is Cumsewogue," Tooker wrote in the book published in 1911. "A post-office having been established here, the name in accordance with orders from the P. O. Department has been changed to Echo, which is to be regretted."

He says that the name "probably refers to some road or trail originally established by the Indians."

Tooker cites various words from Native American languages that mean "to walk."

"The etymology is, therefore, Cumsewauke, 'a walking place,'" he wrote.

As for the name of the show at the Village Center and also the Cumsewogue Historical Society that is helping to sponsor the photograph exhibit, Brady says it's a matter of authenticity.

"The Cumsewogue Historical Society wanted to be accurate," he said. "Therefore, it uses a 'u' in its name."

The photo of the pond at Cedarwood Farm is from the historical section of the Port Jefferson village website from the Ken Brady Collection. Please visit the website for more historical photos and to purchase prints of select images.

kenneth himmel October 28, 2011 at 08:08 PM
echo was the name of a famous local racehorse in the 1800s

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