As early as 1712, meadows in Speonk were leased to cattle owners from Southampton. Most of the early residents came west from Southampton and Bridgehampton in the 1740s, building farms and clearing the forests of wood. In the 1880s, duck farms thrived in Speonk, but few survived past the turn of the century. The name Speonk was inspired by a Native American word meaning high place. An 1897 Long Island Rail Road catalog listed Speonk, noting that that name “certainly sounds like the call of a frog.” Railroad conductors frequently accentuated the name when calling it out as the next station. Some residents pressed to change the name to Remsenburg, after prominent resident Charles Remsen donated a new Presbyterian Church. Today, both names remain is use, each covering different areas of the community.
Before the white men arrived, they sent their cows. As early as 1712, the meadows along the South Shore in what was then Speonk were leased to cattle owners from Southampton. Eventually, the cattlemen found it easier to build small houses near the meadows to tend the herds. Most of the early residents came west from Southampton and Bridgehampton in the 1740s, built farms and cleared the forests of cordwood. In the 1880s, duck farms thrived in Speonk, but few survived past the turn of the century.
Supposedly inspired by Indian words meaning ‘a high place,’ the name Speonk enchanted some residents and disgusted others. A Long Island Rail Road catalog in 1897 listed Speonk, noting that it’s a “place that certainly sounds like the call of a frog.” So it follows that a faction of the community in 1895 jumped at the chance to change the name to Remsenburg, in recognition of Charles Remsen, a prominent resident who donated a new brick Presbyterian church. The dispute got nasty when Remsenburgers removed the Speonk sign at the railroad station and replaced it with Remsenburg. The Speonk sign was restored and the hard feelings eased with time, but Speonk remained split.
British-born humorist P.G. Wodehouse wrote many of the escapades of Bertie Wooster and his man, Jeeves, from a home on Basket Neck Lane in Remsenburg. Other local celebrities included songwriter Frank Loesser, playwright Guy Bolton, and Dave Garroway. The hamlets also attracted prominent visitors. One snapshot caught Alfred Hitchcock, still looking rather sinister, his wife and Mrs. Guy Bolton posing in front a South Country Road home in the 1940s.