The story of the Halletts on Long Island begins with a desperate escape from Connecticut in the late 1640's – an escape of a man, a woman and their infant son that took place in the dark of night by ship across the Long Island Sound with little more than the clothes on their back. An escape that ultimately landed them in Hallett's Cove on Long Island in the days of Dutch control under Governor Peter Stuyvesant. It was an escape born of scandal and threats of prosecution, one made possible only with the help of John Winthrop, Jr., the son of John Winthrop, the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is the story of an industrious and clever man and an amazing and intriguing woman with bloodlines to those very same Winthrops, a woman of strength and courage, a woman whose life has been the subject of a novel, a made for TV movie, and an historical biography. While much of her remarkable story of hardships, scandal and intrigue takes place in the 1630's and 1640's before she even sets foot on Long Island, there was so much more for this woman and her family yet to come.
This woman, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake, having lost her first husband to tragic drowning and her second to mental illness, had two sons by her third husband, one William Hallett, a shrewd businessman who ultimately amassed over 2200 acres on Long Island, encompassing all of what is now modern day Astoria. William was a man who, despite his business success and political prowess, found himself at one point banished by the very same Dutch Governor, Peter Stuyvesant, who had arranged for their safe entry into New Netherlands only a few short years earlier. William's crime was entertaining an Episcopal minister at his home, but ultimately he fought for and was resinstated by Dutch society. William and Elizabeth's early days were filled with even more hardships: As if being chased from Connecticut and banishment over religious intolerance wasn't enough, their original farmhouse at Hallett's Cove was burned to the ground by the Indians, forcing them to make an escape to Flushing. Along the way they and their children forged a life in a new world and became a part of early American history, as each participated in the remarkable: Her actions in Connecticut helped establish the rights of women to own property, and his banishment and reinstatement became instrumental in setting the stage for protests such as the Flushing Remonstrance – an event that would help establish the basic principles of freedom of religion in America.
This site follows the lives of one particular line of Hallett descendants, a line that spans 11 generations. It is a line that has lived on Long Island through the centuries and continues to live there to this day. And while the site focuses on this particular line, there are far more stories to be heard and told – because from these remarkable early american pioneers and their two sons, William, born in 1648 in Connecticut, and Samuel, born in 1650 on Long Island, the Hallett bloodlines have become a part of the fabric of America and have spread across the country. From Bill Gates to John Kerry to my own family and perhaps yours, people who can trace their bloodlines to the Halletts of Halletts Cove can be found from California to Nova Scotia, from Maine to Florida, from the Carolinas to Arizona and New Mexico. What is your Hallett family heritage? Write and let us know! Send your Hallett story to [email protected] !