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New Book Tells Seldom-Told Tales of Northport

Northport library Trustee Bob Little’s new book of vignettes provides a perspective into the community’s illustrious past.

Male riders of the Northport Trolley, which carried passengers from downtown to the train station from 1902 to 1922, were required to assist the crew in shoveling snow or pushing, if need be.

Also, conductors were authorized to collect only tickets, not produce or IOUs.

Those who attend Bob Little's talk at   on Tuesday, Nov. 9 will hear these stories and more little-known tidbits of local history that he shares in his new book, Snapshots in Time: Tales of Our Community.

Little, who is in his tenth year as a library trustee, has lived in the area for more than 40 years. He and  wife, Darcy, are staunch supporters of the  where Darcy presently serves as a trustee.

Little said that when he originally volunteered to write a column for the society he despaired of finding enough material to sustain it.

He needn't have worried.

"I have a wonderful time doing the research. I find out amazing things," said Little.

Little, who has taught composition at both the high school and college level, is a member of the  which meets at  He said that he seeks out a perspective which provides a unique framework for his story-telling.

The book, whose cover is adorned with photographs of four local historic markers taken by Kari-Ann Carr, contains 20 unique historical vignettes.

Among Little's personal favorites is the story of the Purple Heart, the distinguished military award whose inception has a surprisingly local connection.

General George Washington established this medal of honor to recognize those who are wounded or die while fighting for our country. The first recipient of the Purple Heart was Elijah Churchill, the only American soldier to be wounded in the Battle of Ft. Slongo.

Little also writes about the "Old Gray Mare." Immortalized in song, Lady Suffolk, a gray filly who hailed from an East Northport farm, became the stuff of legend after her owner followed up on a suggestion that the once ordinary workhorse was fast enough to race.

Thus began an illustrious career during which Lady Suffolk competed in 162 races across the country, invariably coming in first or second.

Being that East Northport is not generally considered "horse country," Little said that he was amazed to learn that "a farm northwest of the present intersection of Burr and Townline Roads produced one of the most fabled trotters in American history."

There are at least five worthy stories that he has yet to tell, and he's already contemplating a sequel, Little said.

One such story is that of Joseph Buffet, whose compassion cost him his life during the Revolutionary War. According to Little, Buffet was brought into the conflict when his cattle were stolen by the British, who  proceeded to march the herd towards Huntington. In an ironic twist of fate, Buffet was shot dead when he stepped out onto the main thoroughfare — now 25A — to hail the British troops, and save them being massacred by a band of patriots hiding in the surrounding woods.

All are invited to attend Little's talk at the library, which runs from 7:30 to 9 pm. For information, call 261-6930.

Little's book, which sells for $5, is available for purchase at Northport Historical Society's gift shop.


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