Southold Town Milestone #23
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Just east of this stone is Maple Lane, which was once the driveway of the estate of Henry Merkel, who was a businessman from Queens. Originally from Germany, Merkel and his brothers started a butcher’s store, which eventually spun into 43 stores spread across Queens and Brooklyn. Looking to get away from work, Merkel purchased a summer estate with 1,200 feet of shoreline on Peconic Bay. Being thrifty he wanted the property to pay for itself; so he established a dairy farm on the estate.
Backstory and Context
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Southold Town has across the length of the town a series of granite milestones. In 1829, New York State mandated that, “It shall be the duty of the commissioners of highways of each town, to cause mile-boards or stones, to be erected, where not already erected, on the post-roads, and such other public roads in their town, so they may think proper, at the distance of one mile from each other, with such fair and legible inscriptions as they may think proper.” (New York State. The Revised Statutes of the State of New York. Albany, New York: Packard and van Benthuysen, 1829. 503)
Since Southold only had one road that ran from west to east, the stones were installed along the length of the town on what was then the King’s Highway. The miles on the stone indicated the distance between the stone and the county offices in what was then Suffolk Courthouse (Suffolk CH), now known as Riverhead.
All of the stones were originally set up on the south side or east bound side of the road. Today the majority of the stones remain where they were originally set. While the stones are interesting in themselves – after saying that the stones are made from granite and weigh about 450 pounds each – there is not a lot to say about them.
Some of the stones sit in places that are dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists. Please be aware of traffic! Also most of the stones are on the edge of private property, please be respectful.
Abbott, Katharine M. Old Paths and Legends of the New England Border. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907.
Brooklyn Eagle. "One-Man Meat Shop 50 Yrs. Ago Now Chain of 49 Stores." November 18, 1952: 12.
Earle, Alice Morse. Home Life in Colonial Days. London, England: Macmillian Company, 1898.
Folk, Amy Kasuga. "Southold History/European Settlement of Southold." Southold Town Laserfiche Town Historian Folder. October 19, 2019. https://www.southoldtownny.gov/ (accessed May 17, 2020).
Kasuga Folk, Amy. Milestones of Southold Town. Lecture, Southold, New York: unpublished, 2015.
Ridgewood Times. "Merkel Products Tops in Quality Since 1898." October 8, 1959: S60.
State, New York. The Revised Statutes of the State of New York. Albany, New York: Packard and van Benthuysen, 1829.
The County Review. "Maple Lane Farm, Model Greenport Dairy, Proud of Its Guernsey Herd." October 16, 1941: 26.
Tuthill, Seth H. "Southold Town Records, Liber E." Southold, New York: Unpublished, n.d.
Amy Kasuga Folk