In the colonial period only a very few people lived in what is now the hamlet of Laurel. It was then a rural place known as the "Middle District" was set between the new Town of Riverhead, created in 1792, and the much older town of Southold. Part of the middle district was in each of the two towns.
As more people moved into the district to farm they gave it the name Franklinville, after Benjamin Franklin. Eventually, about 30 or 40 houses were built there. After a while, someone in Albany found out that there were two Franklinvilles in New York State. Only one could have a post office so the residents changed its name - this time to Laurel.
Laurel was once the site of the Franklinville Academy where students paid a dollar a week to board. Probably the best known person to come from the hamlet was Anna Symmes who married President William Henry Harrison in 1795. She was also grandmother to President Benjamin Harrison.
Laurel boasts several old and attractive homes such as the Israel Fanning house built in 1836. Another house of note is Hedgewood Farms and yet another is the McCarthy-Kuester house built around 1800. They're all private homes.