Screenshot 2024 02 29 132218

Bill and Agnes McGunnigle

“Bill” and Agnes (Dittmeier) McGunnigle were Stony Brook’s last farmers.Bill’s real name is Stephen Joseph McGunnigle.No one knows why they called him Bill.

According to family records, his family came to America at the height of the “potato famine”/Great Hunger in Ireland.They settled down in Nassau County and became potato farmers themselves.

Following their marriage, Bill and Agnes paid $5000 for 126 acres of Stony Brook farmland in 1939. They went on to have five children, at least one of whom became a farmer elsewhere on the island.

The McGunnigles grew potatoes that were sold at market, as well as wheat and rye. Bill was among the last farmers to utilize the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751). which ceased production in the 1940s.

As life on the farm continued, changes were happening around it:the area was becoming more developed.When Ward Melville held the community meeting at the Three Village Inn to discuss his plans for a new village, Bill, Agnes, and their daughter Mary were in attendance.

The farm, primarily run by Bill, continued much as it always had untilAugust 1962, when a lightening strike set the barn ablaze. Filled with hay, the barn was rapidly engulfed by flames.All of the horses made it out alive, but Bill’s heart could not take the strain. He died outside of the barn from a massive heart attack.

After Bill’s passing, Agnes took over the daily operations of the farm. In 2010, Agnes died at the age of 92, leaving behind her five children, twenty-nine grandchildren and thirty great-grandchildren.

T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park - Beyond the Plaque
  1. Countess Nadia de Navarro-Farber
  2. Harrison C. Frisenda
  3. Anne Koslow
  4. Gene Mundie
  5. Margaret Swain
  6. Bill and Agnes McGunnigle
  7. Ellen Rappaport
  8. Marty & Lil
  9. Dr. Natalie Assalone Nizza
  10. T. Bayles Minuse
  11. Erene V Botkin, Mr. Daniel Botkin, Mr. and Mrs. William F. Howind, Ireland-Gannon Associates, Inc, Mrs. Elinore Minuse, North Shore Nursery Tree and Landscaping, Inc, Gloria and Richard Rocchio, Kevin Seaman, Esq. and William and Helen Voorhest
  12. Thomas Cascino
  13. Senator James J. Lack
  14. Jeremy Van Bemmelen
  15. Pindar Vineyards, North Fork Bank, TriMax Biosciences and John Kanas
  16. Dr. Magdalene Vardaros
  17. Mary F. Campbell