The story of a Long Island spy ring that helped foil the British and win the American Revolution came alive on special tour last Saturday, as history found a home with a little help from costumes, actors and cooking.
The Three Village Historical Society, Tri-Spy Tours, the Long Island Museum and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization presented a self-guided tour of spots involved in the spy ring’s history as part of the fifth annual Culper Spy Day activities.
The festivities involved costumes, re-enactments, cooking and music as these spies who helped win independence were commemorated.
“The Three Village area is full of hidden intrigue and stories of how America's first spy ring came together secretly to provide General George Washington the information he needed to turn the tide of the American Revolution,” according to organizers.
On September 14th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., adult visitors who paid $25, ($5 for children age six to 12 and free for those younger and veterans) traveled back in time.
“Build your own revolutionary war story,” according to the group. "Travel throughout the Long Island Heritage Trail from location to location. Tour historic sites, take part in interactive activities, view battle re-enactments and enjoy spy-themed dining.”
Time travelers got a crash course in Long Island's most famous spy ring, including Anna Smith Strong’s clothesline and the role it played, viewed Revolutionary War encampments and toured Caroline Church of Brookhaven and Setauket Presbyterian Church.
“Take part in an invisible ink demonstration,” organizers say of a a means used to send messages secretly and, ideally, safely.
The effort to revive history, part of history groups' push to keep the past alive, included a blacksmith, colonial music, colonial food and cooking demonstrations and original Culper Spy Ring letters written by George Washington and on display at Stony Brook University.
“Meet Benjamin Tallmadge, Abraham Woodhull, Robert Townsend, Anna Smith Strong and Big Bill the Tory,” organizers said of names out of the pages of history for the event that included visits to the "historic Brewster and Thompson Houses in Setauket.”