The Village of The Branch is part of the Township of Smithtown, one of 11 towns in Nassau and Suffolk County, Long Island.
There is a legend that Richard Smythe, one of the first settlers in the mid’1600’s, bought the Smithtown area from the Nesquake Indians who told him that he could own as much land that he could cover riding a bull in one day. He waited for the longest day of the year, rose at sunrise and covered an area that is approximately 27 square miles today. However, there is evidence that Smithtown was acquired by Lion Gardiner, an Englishman, who was a good friend of Chief Wyandanch, a Montauk Indian. Heather Flower, Wyandanch’s daughter, was kidnapped on her wedding day. Gardiner earned the Nesquake land as part of negotiations with Chief Wyandanch in the release of Heather Flower. Gardiner then handed the land over to Richard Smythe.
There were more than 700 residents in the Town of Smithtown in the 1700’s. History tells us that they suffered severely during the American revolution spreading debt and hardship. During the 19th century, the commercial center became known and the Village of the Branch where the first school was constructed.
The Village of the Branch was incorporated in 1927 with a population of 131 in an area of approximately one square mile comprised of large estates, open fields and cultivated areas. Today the village has almost no vacant land and is comprised of shopping centers, office buildings, residential subdivisions and historical sites. The populations exceeds 1,895 people.
In the 1920’s the unpaid Mayor and two Trustees administer the needs of the village holding only four meetings a year. Today the village has a budget of
over half a million dollars
, elects a Mayor, four Trustees and two Justices. An election is held every two years on the 3rd Tuesday of March. Monthly meetings address all village business.
The issue that sparked the movement to incorporate was the desire to establish a municipal water plant. A group against this plan decided to leave the jurisdiction of the Township of Smithtown by incorporating. They would thus gain control over such matters as zoning, planning, services such as water, highway maintenance, police and fire protection.
The proposition for the incorporation of the Village of The Brach, dated February 5th, 1927, was circulated. The proposition stated that the requirements for incorporation had been met, the territory did not exceed one square mile, it was situated entirely within the Town of Smithtown, it did not include any part of any other village, there was a populations of at least 50 but not more than 200 people.
The petition was followed by a consent to the proposed incorporations signed by owners of at least one-half of the real property value. On this document were such Smithtownites as Miller, Goetchius, Blydenburgh, Huntting, Walker, Lawrence, Hewlett, Nicodemus, Arthur, Arnold, Turrell, White, and, of course, Smith.
A public hearing on the subject was held on March 29, 1927, all of the 16 ballots were cast: 11 yes votes and 5 no votes.
Opposition to the incorporation took many forms. Some felt that it was only a threat to prevent the municipal water plant from being pursued while others felt it was the secret ambition of the gentry who wished the incorporation to ally themselves with the already incorporated Village of Nissequogue. Others felt that incorporating villages would mark the end of the town. In 1927 proceedings were started to form incorporations of the Village of The Landing, which fell on hard times and was dissolved a few years later.
After a court challenge to the incorporation process, the Village of The Branch became an incorporated village. Until this day, the village continues to work with the Town of Smithtown officials for the benefit of the residents.