Remembering Our Ancestors: Thomas Mulford

Here lyes Buried the Body of Mr. Thomas Mulford, Dec’d Nov. Ye 2d, 1732, in Ye 77th Year of his Age.

So says the grave marker of our 8th (and 9th) great-grandfather Thomas Mulford of East Hampton, Suffolk Co., NY, laid to rest there in South End Cemetery.  The Mulfords were among the early European settlers of Long Island, along with the Hedges, Gardiners, Conklings and other illustrious names of the time.  In fact, East Hampton was the first European settlement on Long Island, which had hitherto been inhabited by Native American tribes.

Thomas Mulford, born this day 364 years ago, on 8 Feb 1655, was one of two (known and attested) sons of William Mulford and Sarah Akers.  William Mulford and his brother John had come to Salem, MA, and thence to East Hampton, in 1643 from Devonshire, England.  William and Sarah had three sons and two daughters, with Thomas, our direct ancestor, being the oldest son.  Sarah Akers had also been born in Devonshire, England and immigrated before 1648, when she married William.  William took to farming as soon as he had settled in East Hampton, while his brother John was more interested with the political affairs of the new settlement and later became a judge.

When he was 26 years old, Thomas Mulford married a young lady by the name of Mary Gardiner Conkling, daughter of Jeremiah Conkling and Mary Gardiner and thus the grand-daughter of Lion Gardiner.  The two lived all their life in East Hampton and had many children together, ten or maybe even twelve, before Thomas died on 2 Nov 1732.  Mary outlived him by ten years.  Both are buried in East Hampton.

If you go to East Hampton today, you will find there the old Mulford farmhouse, which overlooks the Village Green.  It is one of the oldest in the county of Suffolk, and one of the nation’s most significant, intact English colonial farmsteads.  Together with the barn, it is now operated as a living museum.

mulford house
Mulford Farm on James Lane, East Hampton, Suffolk County, NY, built in 1680

The farmhouse was built in 1680, not by the Mulfords, but for Josiah Hobart, another prominent early settler of East Hampton.  Thomas Mulford’s cousin Samuel Mulford bought the farm in 1712 when the first owner died.  Along with the wonderfully well preserved 17th-century English colonial house, the Mulford Barn, which dates to 1721, is also still standing.  In fact, the Mulford Barn is one of the most intact early 18thcentury English-plan barn forms in New York State and is recognized as an outstanding example of early 18thcentury construction methods and materials.  The location of the barn also provides insight into the history of settlement patterns in this region of New York.  It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Mulford Barn
Mulford Barn, built in 1721

Viewed as an artifact which has been shaped to fit the needs and desires of those who have lived in it, the house itself has much to tell about the origins of colonial New England society.  The survival of this house is remarkable since it has been left largely unchanged since 1750.  The majority of the framing and wood members have been left undisturbed, enabling scholars to tell the story of the successive changes over time.  In addition to the house’s architectural significance, the home has remained in Mulford hands for the majority of its existence, so the lives and spirit of this family still echo throughout the house, if you know how to listen.  When the house was restored to make it a museum, period appropriate furnishings and authentic decorative arts were used.

PantigoWindmill and Mulford Farm
Pantigo Windmill next to the Mulford Farm

The museum is located at 10 James Lane, off Montauk Highway, East Hampton, NY.  It is open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.  Worth a visit, IMHO!

Mulford Farmstead sign


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