In the beginning....
TIMELINE OF HELME HOUSE
This saga begins with a land exchange entry in the Brookhaven Town Records (Book A, Part 1)
14 July 1677
(William) Iane have exchanged the halue alottment being **(akers) at the ould mans that he and Thomas helmes bought of Richard floyd this he exchanged with Thomas helmes **(for) halue that home lot that was Robert wolles aIoyning (Thomas) wards that is to say Thomas helmes is to haue (and to hould) that 34 akers wholly at the ould mans (that) thay bought of Richard floyd and William Iane is (to) haue to hould all that home lott that was Robart (wolles) a Ioyning to Thomas ward memorandum that Thomas helmes is to haue the same previdg in the halue (of) the whome lott tell this time twelmonth as he had formerly.
We find the following indenture entry in the Brookhaven Town Records (Book B) relating that Thomas Helme (I) acquired an additonal fifteen (15) acres near his land and that of Andrew Miller.
18 februry 1681
These presents wittnesseth that Thomas Helmes doth ingaege to aReckt and buld a suffissiant frame of a house akording to the dementions for lenkth and bredth of John woods house with a leanto of one siede of it this to be bult for John Roe upon land neere drowned medow as alsoe the aboue saide John Roe is to help the halue to get and shaued shingle clapbord fitt to lay on them the saide helmes is to naile them on both shingell and clapbord
And the saide John Roe is to bring all to place and in concideration of the aboue saide the aboue saide John Roe doth giue for his selue and his haires fifteen akers of land unto the aboue saide Thomas helmes and his haires to haue and to hould for ever this 15 akers lyeth by Thomas helmes and Andrew miller number 4 and this aboue saide land is for payment for the foremenchoned hous: and further Thomas helmes is to sett up a catted chimnie in the aboue saide house and John Roe is to giue tenn schillens for the same and this aboue saide house to be sett up and finish what he haue to doe at or before the 5 of November next ensueing the date hereof
Please refer to the section on TOWN RECORDS for additional information on property holdings.
We find that Thomas Helme (I) did not build on the land at the “ould mans” as he continued to live in East Setauket, NY. It is purported that his homelot was located in the vicinity of the existing Sherwood-Jayne House near the intersection of Old Post and Coach Roads. At the time of death, his will reveals that his homelot was at a place called (Dyer?) Neck which is north of North Country Road where it is bi-sected by Coach Road on the south side.
1710 - 1720'S
Thomas Helme (I) died in 1710. Please refer to ARCHIVES link above to view a transcription of the 1708 will.
The property in Miller Place was willed to his son, Thomas Helme (II) who built a house there in the late 1720’s. About this time, Thomas married Johanna Miller, daughter of Andrew Miller (II). The Miller homestead had been only several hundred feet away from the Helme property and to the north side of the swamp and country road.
1730 - 1740's
After the untimely death of Thomas Helme (II) about 1731, we have no record who lived in the house until his son, Thomas Helme (III) came of age and occupied the house. The widow, Johanna, married John Roe of Drowned Meadow (now known as Port Jefferson). We find that Andrew Miller (III) and brother to Johanna Miller, Helme was guardian to young Thomas. In a receipt dated 1744 it states that Andrew Miller released an inheritance of 51 pounds 12 schilling eight pence helf penny to William Helme, uncle of Thomas. At that time Thomas would have been sixteen years of age.
1750 - 1760's
In 1753 Thomas Helme (III) married Hannah Smith of the Manor of St. George in Mastic. The marriage took place at the Old Smithtown Presbyterian Church and officiated by Napthale Doggert for a fee of six shillings. They raised six children in the 1720's House.
1770 - 1780's
As unrest in the thirteen colonies was stirring and upon the recommendation of the Continental Congress, Committees of Observation were organized throughout the towns. The Committee of Observation met at Coram and the followng members being present; John Woodhull, Thomas Helme, John Robinson, Thomas Fanning and others. Thomas and his two sons (Thomas IV and William Henry) signed a document known as the "Association" at this time.
In July 1775 Thomas Helme (IV) died at 21 years of age, being the first born son of Thomas (III) and Hannah Helme. Compounding the grief of this family, was the August 1775 death of Johanna Helme, Roe (nee Miller), mother of Thomas (III).
As tensions heightened, the Continental Congress recommended that a new committee replace the existing one and be known as the Committee of Safety to monitor the actions of the Tories or loyalists in the town. A Town Meeting was convened on the 16th of April A.D. 1776 at Coram to establish the new Committee of Safety of which Thomas Helme Esqr. was one of the chosen representatives.
History relates that during the American Revolution that British officers were billeted in the 1720's House at least once and the soldiers they commanded were encamped in the field across the country road. The occupation of the Helme House began. With a billet issued the British Army could require lodging, food, supplies for the soldiers as well as their horses. Please refer to the ARCHIVES link above to view two (2) pages from the "Orderly Book of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment" when they were headquartered in Miller Place on August 26th and August 27th of 1778.
From the diary of Ebenezer Miller of Miller Place, NY covering the years 1752 - 1768 there is a receipt dated August 14, 1780 showing that Ebenezer, his brother Timothy Miller and Thomas Helme delivered hay to the Queen Ranger Hussars camped at Coram. In November of 1780 the British foraged hay supply at Coram was burned under the command of Major Benjamin Tallmadge and with the blessing of General George Washington.
Hannah Smith, Helme wife of Thomas (III), died in 1789 at 60 years of age.
1790 - 1800
During the 1790's Caleb Helme (the youngest son of Thomas) along with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Eliza, were living in the house with his father. Upon Caleb's death in 1798, we find that his will states that the property with the house was for the use of his wife and his father and not part of the estate. The widow Elizabeth Helme married for the second time to Nathaniel Davis of Miller Place.
1800 - 1811
About 1805 Thomas' second son, William Henry Helme, moved back to Miller Place from Southold where he and his family had been residing for at least ten years as recorded in Southold Town Records. There is no evidence as to whether or not they resided with Thomas or resided in another house in the vicinity. William Henry had a sizeable family and that would give good cause for consideration of a newer and larger home being built on the site. One can only imagine the anticipation, planning and actual construction along with the recyling of many elements of the 1720's house into the labor intensive building of this "new" home. But William Henry died on 8 June 1812 and now it would become the undertaking of Thomas at eighty years of age and his grandsons to complete this enterprise.
Thomas Helme (III) was 80 years of age when the 1812 Helme House was being built. He had lived the majority of his life in the 1720's House that his father had built on the Miller Place property.
In the attic of the house the date 1812 appears in chalk in old styled numbers on the north wall. Was this an indication as to the start of construction or date of completion we never will be sure. Their vision proved to be a Federal style home that was so popular during the period following the American Revolution as there was a need for this new nation to establish an identity uniquely American. The plan for this house followed that ideal. Please refer to THE 1812 HOUSE.
1813 - 1820's
Thomas Helme (III) died in 1818 and the house lot was left to his grandson, William Henry Helme (Jr.).
The first Miller Place Post Office was established April 25, 1825 with William Henry Helme (Jr.) as the first postmaster. In those days the post office was maintained in the 1812 House. After the death of William the position of postmaster was continued by his brother, Thomas S. Helme.
William Henry Helme (Jr.) died at 35 years of age in 1829.
1830 - 1840's
The estate of property and land was then inherited by Thomas S. Helme who was the oldest son of William Henry Helme. Thomas moved his family here from Newburgh, NY where they had been residing. From an Indenture dated 1815 we find that Thomas also owned property in Pennsylvania. Additionally, there is documentation that Thomas maintained a store across the road from Helme House.
During this period of time, a relative to Sarah Phillips Helme by the name of William Henry Helme Moore was attending the Academy in Miller Place and penned letters home to this parents, Jeremiah and Julia Moore of Greenport, NY. This sampling is part of the Pennypacker Collection housed in the East Hampton Library. To view this interesting glimpse of life in Miller Place simply click on the highlighted LETTERS 1835-1839 link.
1850 - 1890's
Thomas Helme House ca. 1890
Thomas S. Helme died in 1853 and the homelot became the property of his second son, George Phillips Helme. The oldest son, Timothy, built his home about 1860 and approximately one mile south of the old family homestead on Miller Place Road. The house is still in use as a private residence.
1900 - 1910's
George and Hannah Helme had an adoped daugher, Maria Sweet who married his nephew Cornelius H. Helme. The 1895 will of George P. Helme that was probated in 1901 reads that "bequeathed unto Maria S. Helme the home place where I now live at Miller's Place in Suffolk County, for and during the term of her natural life and no longer, and upon her decease I give devise and bequeath the same unto her son George P. Helme to have and enjoy as his own forever". At this time the homelot comprised of approximately 40 acres.
Maria Sweet, Helme died in 1904 when her son was only ten years of age. Cornelius H. Helme later remarried and resided in Terryville, NY.
1920 - 1950's
Thomas Helme House
It is known that a family by the name of Gladis (spelling ?) were tenants on the property and that George P. Helme took up residence on the homestead in the 1920's and married Marion Davis on January 25,1936. George died in 1950, his widow in 1957 and at this point in time the consecutive ownership of this property passed from the Helme Family (1677 -1957). The Estate then sold the house and property to Arthur S. Lambert of New York City who resided there until his death in November 2000.
1960 - 2000'S
The Thomas Helme House was inducted into the New York State Register of Historic Places in 1974 and the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as part the Miller Place Historic District. In 2004 additional information was submitted to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the following Certificate has been issued.