Cross-Roads Village to a Modern Suburbia Long Island's Commack

Back in 1900, a little village sprouted up on Long Island called "Comac" along the Huntington/Smithtown town line. Located in the little hollow created by the gently rolling hills that surrounded the intersection of Jericho Turnpike and the Commack/Townline Road, it was a cross-roads community that stretched out to the north, south east and west from Comac Corners.

"Comac is a name derived from the Algonquin Indian word of Winnecomac which means "pleasant land" or "beautiful place" and it was the name that the native inhabitants gave to the region," says town historian Brad Harris. "The little cross-roads community was known as Comac at the turn of the last century and then suddenly, around 1906, the spelling of the name changed to Commack. Why? Apparently the mail for Comac kept getting mixed up with the mail for Coram and the U.S. Postal Service changed the spelling of the name to end the confusion."

According to the Smithtown Historical Society, the Smithtown portion of Commack was originally part of Richard Smythe's colonial land grant in 1665 for the town of Smithtown, and part of another land grant known as the Winnecomac Patent in 1689. Settlement in the Comac area was mostly by homesteaders who were farmers and some of their pre-Revolutionary War houses are still to be found in the area. By 1783 there were enough residents in Comac to form a Methodist congregation and by 1789 the congregation erected its first church that is still standing on Town Line Road just north of the Commack Corners.

Commack, at the turn of the century, was a thriving, bustling little village that had a sizeable population and a history that was already over two hundred years old.

"Commack had two hotels, a general store, a candy store, a large centrally located school building (the Frame School, 1899-1924), a wheelwright shop, a blacksmith, a butcher shop, a Methodist Church, a Presbyterian Church, a cabinet maker, sawmills, racetracks and many large homes and farms," says Harris. "Commack also had its share of wealthy and influential residents."

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5 Comments

  • Michael V Hendricksen on Monday, October 27, 2008 4:37 PM
    Do you know anything about the race horses that Carl S Burr owned? Names? I have about 25 large photos of horses that I was told belonged to Carl S Burr. my website www.kitetrack.com Also a painting of Lady Suffolf's barn by A.E.Lent. Any help would be great, Thanks
  • from a 1932 airplane photo of commack it seems that the 1 mile burr track is on the west side of townline road-yet all the books said it was on the east side where commack high school is today- please clarify this-photo is in the school districts history book in the library
  • I believe there were 2 tracks , one a half mile & one a mile track! I now have the book "Lady Suffolk" I'll check and see if I can say for sure! This book did help ID the barn I was interested in( the painting that I have) My email is on my website, > www.kitetrack.com < .Thanks, Mike
  • John R. Capelluto on Monday, May 10, 2010 3:14 PM
    I grew up in Commack and can recall circa 1960-1961 as I walked to the Cedar Road Elementary school everyday I would have to traipse over a potatoe field. I don't know if the potatoes were actually marketed or not but I seem to also recall a tractor tending the field on at least one occasion.
  • There were indeed many potato Farms in the area back then. My family moved to comnack in 1962 before I was born and my older siblings used to work in some of those farms. My sister was fired for bringing a stool! There was no sitting on the job. Not in those days. She was not cut out to be a farmer anyway. They grew a lot of strawberries too. It's sad that they're all gone now.