Farmingville historians renew call to help find answers on mysterious 1800s death
A Suffolk community is being asked to help uncover answers on a mysterious death that dates all the way back to the 1800s.
A young woman named Aris Smith died in Farmingville, near what is now called College Hills, on July 5, 1873. Her father, Eliphalet Smith, was described as a poor farmer of many children.
Eliphalet Smith buried Aris Smith near her horse somewhere in the field behind the Bald Hill School House, remarking that she wasn't fit to be buried in a cemetery with decent folks.
He supposedly planted a lilac bush at the head of the grave and a rose bush at the foot of it. The foundation says when doing brief research on Eliphalet Smith, and daughter Aris Smith, very little information was available.
The society is now garnering the help of the local community to uncover the mystery of what happened to Smith.
"We think she might have been buried just west of the Bald Hill Schoolhouse supposedly with her horse," says Jennifer Ross, of the Farmingville Historical Society. "It was a way for us to engage the community by creating a contest, a little challenge," says Ross.
Many Long Island historical sites -- museums and other points of interest that relied on community participation to raise funds for their operations -- have struggled during the pandemic. So the Farmingville Historical Society went outside the box.
Besides the mystery challenge, the historical society offers a virtual online field trip at the Bald Hill Schoolhouse built in 1850, where you can see things like a lunch pail that the kids used to carry.
Louise Scarola is one of the participants in the mystery challenge. She says she loves the virtual sleuthing and unlocking her inner Sherlock Holmes.
"I enjoy researching, I love a challenge, I love a puzzle, so I've got into it," says Scarola.
There is a $100 prize for the person who comes up with the most clues that help the Farmingville Historical Society solve the mystery. More information can be found HERE.