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Pattersquash Island

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Table of Contents
Introduction
Oral History
History
Legends and Lore
Translation

Introduction

Pattersquash is an island located in what was originally Unkechaug territory. Pattersquash was first documented in 1670 in a land transaction. Pattersquash is also mentioned in the published Nesaquake Tales, compiled by Rufus B. Langhans. He writes the Indians are credited with believing that Lake Ronkonkoma was bottomless and connected with the Great South Bay at a place called by them Pattersquash. Pattersquash translated becomes “little round place.”

Oral History

Pattersquash Island is used by the Unkechaug as a sacred place for initiation ceremonies and vision quests. The island is directly south of the Poospatuck Reservation in Mastic.

History

Pattersquash, an island in Brookhaven town, is considered an alternate spelling of Paterquos (Potauntash), to blow the fire, or from a kindred word for whale, referring to the whale’s blowing water.1

1670

The name Pattersquash is first documented in 1670 in a land deed reading, “a tract of land running from the head of Pattersquas – which is to be understood, all the land and meadows comonly called pattersquas2

Variations of Pattersquash include Patterquash, 1790; Patterquos, Paterquas, Pattersquash (various maps).

1740-50

Azariah Horton, a non-Indian Christian missionary born in Southold, NY, visited the area of Pattersquash to preach to a group of Indians living in the area. The route included Rockaway, Merrick, Fortneck, Islip, Mastic, Pattersquash, Moriches, and Shinnecock.3

Name Origin

William Wallace Tooker suggests that Pattersquash Island may be named after an Indian person who lived on the island or in the area of Mastic Neck. The area is commonly referred to as Pattersqua’s land and meadow.4

During the 17th century, an Indian named Paterquam lived in Mastic. His name is on William Smith’s deed to Indian in 1700.

  1. William M. Beauchamp, Aboriginal Place Name of New York State, NY State Museum pp. 219
  2. B. H. R., vol. i., p. 27
  3. Gaynell Stone, The History & Archaeology of the Montauk, 1933 pp 172
  4. William Wallace Tooker, Indian Place Names on Long Island, 1911 pp. 181

Legends and Lore

Pattersquash is mentioned in the published Nesaquake Tales compiled by Rufus B. Langhans1;

The Indians are credited with believing that the lake was bottomless and connected with the Great South Bay at a place called by them Pattersquash. “Pattersquash” translated becomes “little round place.”

The Indians, and some whites too, believed that a body which sank in Ronkonkoma came up at Pattersquash. The body even became a white body at times and at other times that of a Negro.

  1. Rufus B. Langhans, Nesaquake Tales: Being a Compilation of the Poetry, Legends and Drama Concerning Richard “Bull” Smith and the Town He Founded, 1965

Translation

James Hammond Trumbull, who studied Native American dialects and published The Composition of Indian Geographical Names (1870), The Best Methods of Studying the Indian Languages (1871), Indian Names of Places in Connecticut (1881) and other similar works, had mentioned a similar name in Connecticut1;

“It might be from petuquis, ’round’; -as or -es, diminutive; petuqu-as ‘a small round place,’ ‘hill,’ ‘wigwam, ‘or sweat house.’

  1. William Wallace Tooker, Indian Place Names on Long Island, 1911 pp. 181