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.