Hauppauge Rural Cemetery Has Historic Roots

Over 200 years of local history are documented by headstones surrounding the church.

The rural cemetery of Hauppauge United Methodist Church offers standing testimony to over 200 years of local history.

Hauppauge Rural Cemetery is the final resting grounds of many famous Hauppauge and Smithtown's founding residents. Located at 473 Townline Road, the cemetery offers a quiet escape from busy roads whose tombstones read like a history book.

"It is a who's who of original Hauppaugians," said local historian Noel Gish.

The church's earliest congregants included well-known families such as  the Wheelers, Smiths and Blydenburghs. Gish said during these early times those who donated the most to the church were buried closest to the structure. There were also many buried in other locations, who were later moved by their families to the cemetery to be closer to the church.

Hauppauge residents will find the resting spots of Hauppauge's first family. The Wheelers played a major role in the early days of the community and founding Hauppauge United Methodist.

Originally Presbyterians, the Wheeler family switched to Methodist following. According to the manuscript A History of Hauppauge, Long Island, N.Y. by Simeon Woods, the original members of Hauppauge Methodist first met in an unfinished room of Richard Wheeler's home. Gish said the church was built across the street from the home of Thomas Wheeler, whose home was the first recognized settlement in Hauppauge.

One will also find the grave of Joseph Blydenburgh who fought in the Revolutionary War, within the cemetery. While you can no longer read his gravestone, a bronze plaque marks his grave site stating that he was a member of the Suffolk County Militia.

Blydenburgh was from a Smithtown family that the nearby county park is named after. According to Woods' writings, Blydenburgh's house once stood where the Locustdale Home for Children was located in the early 20th  century, where Brachnelli's now stands.

Gish said visitors of the cemetery will find the graves of other war veterans. There's Wessels Payne, who fought in the War of 1812, and George L.F. Booth who served in the Civil War with the 127th Regiment of the New York Volunteer Infantry.

Another local family name spotted among the tombstones is Donaldson. Wallace Donaldson once owned a store as well as the village post office in the early 1900s, east of the cemetery on Townline Road.

Many more family names can be found among the gravestones at Hauppauge Rural Cemetery.  While some gravestones made of Connecticut sandstone have faded with time, there are still others that can be read, as well as a number of stunning statues.

Correction: One of the photos accompanying this article was incorrectly identified as the grave of Thomas Wheeler, the founder of Hauppauge. While the grave does belong to a Thomas Wheeler, of the Wheeler family, is not that of the first homestead owner. 

Rachel West June 01, 2012 at 09:46 AM
I have always wondered who was maintaining the Wheeler cemetery (the one near the 7-11 on Townline). I grew up a couple of blocks away and from time to time I see landscapers mowing the lawn. They do not appear to be town workers. I have always been tempted to knock on the door of the surrounding homes to see if the residents have any info on who owns the land.
Charles donaldson September 04, 2012 at 06:10 PM
How are you doing? Do you have any info about the donaldson n the Donaldson general store thank you very much interested about this
Charles donaldson September 04, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Hauppauge is a great place 2 live people are great
Charles donaldson September 04, 2012 at 06:26 PM
How are you doing? Do you have any info about the donaldson n the Donaldson general store thank you very interested about this
Robert Maupin Hall February 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM
I have enjoyed reading the comments left above. I only wish I would have seen them years ago! Simeon Wood was my gggg-uncle. All of my life I have heard my Grandpa and his aunt talk about Hauppauge. About 5 years ago I had the chance to spend a few days there. I met a distant cousin who is from the area and she was very kind and spent her time showing us around the area. I remember the Wheeler Cemetery very well. The weeds were taller than my head ! I decided that I was going to go in and look around. I had waited a long time to get to this point and might not ever get back. I am seeing pictures now that show it cleaned up and with a fence. Someone did a great job. I am checking out having a stone put up for my ancestor, Theophilus Wood. I think the SAR will help me with that. I saw where someone said Uncle Simeon's book was $120, I bought several copies when I was at the library and I am sure they were less than $25. I corresponded with Jack Marr in the 1980's if I remember correctly. I would love to hear from anyone who is connected to Smithtown and Hauppauge. I descend from the Wood, Wheeler and Alexander Smith lines. Robert Maupin Hall maup-kid@comcast.net


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