2015-06-25 / Columnists

Golden oldies of Babylon Village

by Stanis Beck

210 Deer Park Avenue 210 Deer Park Avenue There is a romantic “golden oldie” in Babylon Village which once housed a very handsome and significant Village resident and sometimes, because a home once housed someone considered important, it can become eligible for listing on the state and national registers of historic places. The grey and berry-trimmed doubledoor Italianate-style house at 206/210 Deer Park Avenue, directly across the street from the United Methodist Church in Babylon Vill a g e ( n o w known as the Babylon Consult ation Center) may be eligible for listing on the state and nat ional regis- ters of historic places because someone of great local significance, indeed, had once lived there. This person’s portrait is hanging up in Babylon Village Hall, as he was once the “president” of Babylon Village, namely - Edward Daily. (The local top official of the Village had originally been referred to as “president” rather than “mayor.”) President Daily has also had the distinction of being the supervisor of the Town of Babylon for the longest consecutive time in office, 13 years! Mr. Daily had purchased this home in 1902 from a W.D. Lewis and the property had originally been owned by a Mr. Isaac Willets of Huntington. Back in the 1870s, the property deed required the following condition: “The owners shall build and erect and his heirs and assigns shall forever maintain at their own cost and expense a good and sufficient fence.” (A white picket fence is still in evidence at the north and east sides of this house!) According to the Suffolk County archives, the home had a number of owners over the years but it became generally known as the Daily house, once the renowned Edward Daily and his family made it their permanent residence until June of 1973. (71 years!) Rumor has it that, way back in time however, it had once been referred to as a bordello and in the 1980s it had been transformed into a beauty salon, a very versatile house indeed and perhaps with many hidden secrets!

Ed Daily Ed Daily Supervisor Edward Daily was born in Babylon Village on Feb. 6, 1851 (died May 25, 1912). His parents were Nicholas Daily and Ann Corcoran Daily. Edward’s father was from County Westmeath, Ireland, and came to America in 1847, settling in Babylon. The Daily homestead, built by Nicholas, was on Prospect Street, which was originally called “Cork Avenue,” reflecting the number of residents living in the area, originally from Ireland (and perhaps County Cork!). Cork Avenue was later changed to Prospect Street due to the lovely vistas of the bay, easily visible from this vintage street. The Dailys had seven children and Edward was the eldest. He attended a private school until age 10 and then the local public school. “A little after 10 he went into the private service of a gentleman to act as a boy of general utility, and here remained for a time, his wages being $3 a week.” He learned the art of paper-making, working at a paper mill in Babylon, and at age 16, was in charge of exercising a group of race horses for a local merchant from Islip. He actually helped to train the famous trotter, named Dexter, who set a world record which stood for a few years. He accumulated some money during this time and in 1871 he opened a livery stable (with two horses and a light wagon) at the back of the old Sumpwams House, originally a hotel on Main Street, which later became known as the Fishel block. A very versatile young man, in 1875, the year he married Miss Catherine Horan, daughter of Hugh and Ann Burns Horan, he started his undertaking business and was in this line of work for 37 years. He was known as a general furnishing undertaker and his office was on Main Street in the Village. (There is still an imprint with the name “Daily” on the building just to the west of the First Presbyterian Church in Babylon.) An old ad for his undertaking business read: “Caskets, Burial Cases, Coffins, Chairs and all Funeral Requisites at reasonable rates. Orders received for tombstones and monuments of all kinds. Full charge taken of burials.” Many deceased were laid out in their own homes at the time, rather than in funeral parlors so there would have been a need for renting additional chairs for visitors at these common home wakes.

In the 1870s, when President Ulysses S. Grant came to visit the farm of his brother-in-law, Gen. Casey in West Deer Park, it was Edward Daily’s carriage which later escorted the president to the Watson House, a very fashionable hotel in Babylon Village on Fire Island Avenue. (This hotel was equipped to seat 300 for dinner and the boudoirs had 20ft. ceilings! Fit for a king!) Mr. Daily would have had a number of carriages at his disposal for his livery and undertaking business and “…in this line he had attended nearly every family of his hometown. Ever honorable in his business dealings, affable and agreeable with all, he quickly made friends, and they always stood by him, as he remained firm in his friendships. He was of untiring energy, optimistic and thrifty, all of which qualities aided in his successful career, both as a businessman and as a politician. He was a strong Democrat and had held several important offices of his Town and Village.” He served as deputy sheriff, served as local registrar of vital statistics and was a member of Village and Town health boards. He was said to be an avid campaigner and was elected again and again even though his party was in the minority most of the time. In 1876 he was elected highway commissioner, in 1883 he was elected “overseer of the poor.” He was active in the incorporation of Babylon Village, served four terms as a trustee and was elected president of the Village in 1900. In 1899, he had also been elected supervisor of the Town of Babylon and served for 13 years, one month and 19 days, and was still in office when he died. Ironically, Supervisor Daily, always healthy and robust, had been said to fear getting a “carbuncle” on his neck, from which he did ultimately suffer, causing him several sleepless nights. (“For 40 years he had not worn a collar button at the back of his neck for fear of it wearing against the flesh and developing a carbuncle.”) Two weeks after taking ill, he died of the diabetes which had impacted him for approximately one year. In his obituary it stated, “Friends from all parts of the Island gathered to pay their last tribute to Mr. Daily and the Board of Supervisors, and the Babylon Town Board and other officials of Babylon Town came in a body. All business throughout the Village was suspended, the stores closing from 2:00 until 4:00 and as a mark of respect the local trolley stopped running between these hours and all work for the Village in the highway department was suspended for the afternoon. Internment was in the family plot in the Rural Cemetery…” Services had apparently been held at his late home at 206 Deer Park Avenue and the floral display was said to be the largest seen at a funeral here, evidence of how he was so beloved by his many friends. “Kind hearted in the extreme, his may philanthropic acts will never be known. With always a pleasant greeting for every one, his cheery ‘hey there, boy’ as he greeted old and young, will be missed by all. He was a friend indeed, in the truest sense of the word.” (On the ground floor of Supervisor Edward Daily’s former home, there are in fact, two parlors, the first of which was probably used to wake this very significant and prolific person, both to the Village and the Town of Babylon as well.) Stop in and see President Edward Daily’s portrait, handsomely distinguished with his wavy white hair and handlebar mustache, hanging on the wall of Babylon Village Hall, amidst the portraits of all of the fellow mayors of Babylon Village over the years. (The local rumor among some funeral directors that, back in the day, it was an undertaker named Daily who long ago buried a fellow in his undergarments, surreptitiously removing a suit the fellow’s family had just bought from the mortician, and shockingly discovered at the gravesite when a family member demanded just one more look, had to have been a very distant relative, or no relation at all, to this very honorable man.)

Information gathered for this article comes mainly from the Town of Babylon Historical Museum as well as the Babylon Public Library, and the Suffolk County archives in Riverhead. If you own or know of a “golden oldie” in the Village of Babylon, please advise Stanis Beck, director, BV Heritage Conservancy, P.O. Box 423 Babylon, NY or email

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