Great History: So who were the famous Four Sisters of Patchogue?


by Carol Tvelia |

Perhaps the most notable of monuments in Lakeview Cemetery is that of the Four Sisters. Although the monument is very prominent, the history of the sisters might not be so well known to all.

The Four Sisters on the Monument itself represent Faith, Hope, Charity, and Liberty.

Micah Smith and Betsey Newey Smith, residents of Patchogue in the late 1700s, had 10 children, six boys and four girls. The girls became famous and wealthy in their own right and played an important role in Patchogue’s history in the 1800s.

Charlotte, Ruth, Augusta, and Betsey were born between the years of 1823 and 1835 at their homestead on Ocean Avenue in Patchogue. As young women, the sisters worked as seamstresses in the cloak house of Mme. Pinchon of New York.

The women were industrious and frugal and managed to amass great wealth. After serving as employees for several years, the sisters went into business for themselves at 1168 Broadway, New York and retired after 10 years.  

During their decade in business, the sisters made 26  voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, visiting every country in Europe and purchasing material and supplies for their cloak business and keeping abreast of the current fashion of the day.

The sisters used their wealth in philanthropic works throughout Patchogue.

Among their “good” works was the purchase and donation of the Sailors’ Memorial plot in Lakeview Cemetery for the victims of the schooner of Louis V. Place, which sunk during a winter gale as they were trying to dock off Fire Island. Eight sailors died in the incident.

They also donated the Ocean Avenue Chapel to the Patchogue Congregational Church. The sisters gave substantial, yearly Christmas gifts to the poor and needy of Patchogue. They accumulated valuable real estate in both Patchogue and Brooklyn. 

In addition, they donated land for a large public park, as well as future money for a fence around the park and a monument identifying the park as the Four Sisters Park.

Along with their philanthropy, at least one of the sisters had her idiosyncrasies.

Augusta, who died in her home at age 70, had a lifelong fear of being buried alive.

According to Augusta’s will, her body should be kept in a warm room and her clothing not be removed after her death. Her body should not be buried for five or more days and no ice or embalming fluid be applied to her body or face either externally or internally. 

This article was written by a member of the Friends of Lakeview Cemeteries, which is part of nonprofit Greater Patchogue Foundation and publishes vignettes about some of the famous and infamous people and places of Lakeview Cemetery. Click here to read more.

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