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Historical Society Erects Commemorative Sign on Route 25a

The Rocky Point Historical Society unveiled a sign that represents freed African-American families and farmers from the 18th Century.

To commemorate an 18th century settlement of free African-Americans in Rocky Point, the historical society unveiled a new blue iron sign on Route 25a to remind passerby's of all of the families and farmers from 1790-1850 that were freed.

"This was a free community, way before the Manumission Act, way before the Emancipation Proclamation, that they were farming their own land," said Natalie Stiefel, historical society president to Newsday."It's a wonderful story, and we want to share it with everybody."

According to the report, the sign location was picked near where archaeologists from the New York State Museum in 1991 excavated the foundations of a house owned by a free African-American. That house ended up belonging to Betsey Prince. Although very little information is known, a descendant of one of the residents, Titus Sells, said this sign means more than people might realize.

"There are many of us that have contributed to history, but it's not talked about," said Helen Sells, 72, of Middle Island.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said this unveiling marked an important day in the town's history. "We had free Africans who were not slaves, and they settled here, and it's part of the early history of the Rocky Point community."

The sign was funded by the Syracuse-based William G. Pomeroy Foundation.

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