By Brianne Ledda and Frank Gargano
Zachariah Greene had six fingers and toes, fought in the American Revolution at 17 and still walks around a Setauket cemetery sometimes.
He’s been dead for nearly two hundred years, but he’s a favorite for Morton Rosen, a volunteer with the Three Village Historical Society who portrays people like Greene in the society’s annual Spirits Tour.
The Three Village Historical Society, a Setauket-based organization that “explores local history through education,” according to its website, is recognizing Rosen and nine others for their work to preserve and foster interest in local heritage with an awards ceremony on Wednesday, March 27.
“Knowing where we came from tells us a lot about where we are,” Rosen, who joined the society about 30 years ago to learn more about local history, said.
Other honorees include the Setauket Harbor Task Force, which won the rarely received Robert Cushman Murphy Memorial Award for its efforts to improve water quality in the Setauket Harbor, and two TBR Media employees, who won an award for producing a movie on local history.
“Every year we have a different number, and we have six society awards as well as three community award certificates,” Janette Handley, the co-chair of the awards committee, said. “One of the society awards must go to one of the members of the historical society itself. The others can be given out to people who have helped the society with their mission of preservation and conservation of the environment.”
Originally settled by the Lenape tribe and then by Europeans in the 17th century, Long Island is littered with hundreds of historical sites. There are over 50 historical societies across its two counties, and Setauket in particular is famous for its role in the American Revolution.
“This area is called the ‘cradle of history’ on Long Island,” Leah Dunaief, editor and publisher at TBR News media, said. “A lot of revolutionary war history has gone on in this area.”
Setauket is home to the infamous Culper Spy Ring, which passed along warnings to General George Washington throughout the war. It’s credited with uncovering information that led to the discovery of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal and British plans to ambush the newly arrived French army in Rhode Island. At least two of the awardees, including Dunaief, made a movie on the spy ring called “One Life to Give.”
“[Our community is] awarding every person and every organization that took the time, love, energy, effort and in some cases money, to bring these stories to life, and I was glad I was able to be the one to produce that,” Michael Tessler, an awardee and LA-based writer and producer who worked on the film “One Life to Give,” said. “It’s a wonderful thing that a community celebrates its history, and celebrates the people that bring history to life.”