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Shelter Island memorial dedicated to Civil War hero
A memorial to Henry H. Preston, a Shelter Islander who was wounded in combat in Civil War, served in many town officers and was elected the first salaried sheriff in Suffolk County in 1903, was dedicated on the green in front of Shelter Island’s police headquarters Sunday afternoon by County Sheriff Vincent F. DeMarco.
The memorial was made from a foundation stone of the old county jail on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead, where Mr. Preston presided. It was torn down years ago. The Sheriff’s Office provided the stone and transported it to the Island to a site that was prepared by inmates from the County Jail.
Preston’s great-great-grandson Arthur Bloom led the family effort to see his ancestor memorialized.
“Like thousands of his fellow soldiers, he was injured during the Civil War and suffered from pain throughout his life,” Mr. DeMarco said. “His service and devotion to his country, in itself, makes him a hero.”
Despite pain and disabilities that resulted from his wound, Preston was appointed Shelter Island’s town constable in 1870. He went on to serve as tax assessor, justice of the peace and town clerk over the course of a career in town service that spanned 29 years from 1870 to 1899.
In 1903, he became the first salaried sheriff in Suffolk County. Among other achievements, he went on to establish the county’s Probation Department and to serve as a judge of the Court of Sessions.
The ceremony included a color guard from the Sheriff”s Office. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty offered remarks and Dr. Peter DeSanctis offered the prayer of dedication.