We wanted to showcase our local heritage as the center of the duck industry in the United States from about 1874 until their peak in 1970.
Local farmers often raised a few ducks for their own families needs, but it was Warren Washington Hallock who started raising ducks as a business on Brushy Neck in 1858. Still, duck farming didn’t really take off until the introduction of the Pekin Duck to the Unites States in 1863. By the early 1880’s, duck-raising in the Speonk and Eastport area had become a full time industry rather than just an activity to supplement farming, fishing and boarding summer visitors.
A display map in the exhibit showed locations of some 50 duck farms and related businesses throughout the local area. In 1885 Warren W. Hallock’s farm was annually marketing 4,000-5,000 Pekin ducks. By 1938 the farm was said to be the largest in the country and the most profitable poultry farm in the world. Warren’s grandson Lewis, was by then shipping 260,000 ducks per year.
Duck farms in the Riverhead area were producing around 500,000 ducks a year in the 1960’s. New York State began to place restrictions on the business due to pollution from excrement and spoiling feed. Many of the smaller duck farms found that they had to close. A few of the larger farms remained until the 70’s but today there are only two duck farms still operating locally on Long Island: the Massey Farm in Eastport and the Corwin-Crescent Farm in Aquebogue that processes about 900,000 duck a year – which today is only 4% of the country’s Pekin duck production. Still quite an accomplishment for one duck farm!
Several families – Wilcox, Hallock, Culver, Raynor and Tuttles among them, shared their personal memories and dug deep into their own archives to find artifacts toshare with the museum. The part these businesses and their families played inthe development of our community had never before been displayed. We were proud to share this vital part of our local history with neighbors and visitors alike. These families are still a valued part of our community today.