Queens County, an original county, was organized in 1683, and now contains
all that part of Long Island which is bounded easterly by Suffolk county,
southerly by the Atlantic ocean, northerly by Long Island sound, and westerly
by Kings county, including Lloyds Neck or Queens Village, the islands called
North and South Brother, Riker's Island, and some other islands lying in
the sound opposite the said bounds and southerly of the main channel. The
courts of the county were originally holden for the most part at Hempstead,
at which place the governor on various occasions ordered meetings of the
delegates from the different towns. By the act of the Assembly in 1683,
by which the counties and towns upon Long Island were organized and established,
the county courts were required thereafter to be held at the village of
Jamaica. They were held there for about seven years in the old stone church
which stood in the middle of the present Fulton street, opposite Union
Hall street. In the year 1690, a courthouse and jail were erected
upon the site now occupied by the female academy, and continued to be used
for the.purpose of holding the courts of the county until the present courthouse
was built upon the north side of Hempstead plains, in the town of North
Hempstead, in the year 1788. The county is divided into six towns.
Hempstead, incorporated in 1784, was originally the south part of the ancient town of Hempstead. It has a level surface and a soil of sandy loam, much of which is rendered quite productive by a judicious cultivation. Pop. 7,619. The first permanent settlement in the town is supposed to have been commenced on the site of the present village of Hempstead, in 1643, by a few emigrants from New England, who obtained a patent from the Dutch governor Kieft. These emigrants came originally from a place commonly called Hemel-Hempstead, 23 miles from London. The annexed engraving shows the appearance of Hempstead village as it is entered from the north by the branch railroad, two miles in length, which connects the village with the Long Island railroad. It is pleasantly situated on the southern margin of the great " Hempstead plains," 21 miles from New York, and three from the courthouse in North Hempstead. These plains consist of about 17,000 acres of unenclosed lands, which the inhabitants of the town own in common: The village has within a square mile 200 dwellings, and about 1,400 inhabitants; there are three churches, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Episcopal, and 1 Methodist, and the Hempstead Seminary, a fine specimen of modern architecture. There is a newspaper printing office in the village. The village of Jerusalem, upon the eastern border of the town, contains about 150 inhabitants. The village of Near Rockaway is about 5 miles SW. of Hempstead village, at the head of Rockaway bay, which can be approached by vessels of 60 or 80 tons. It is a place of some business: here are several stores, a lumber and ship yard, &c. Far Rockaway, about 29 miles from New York, has grown into importance as a fashionable watering place. The "Marine Pavilion," a splendid hotel, was erected here in 1834, near the beach, 70 rods from the ocean. Raynortown is a small village 5 miles SE. from Hempstead village.
The annexed engraving is a representation of the monument erected to commemorate the terrible loss of life by the wreck of the Bristol and Mexico,, on the south shore of this town in 1836-7. The grave is about 3 feet high, 9 wide, and 100 feet long, and contains the bodies of nearly 100 individuals. It is situated adjoining the Methodist burial ground at Near Rockaway, in this town, 4 miles southeast of Hempstead village. This monument is 18 feet in height from the bottom of the mound, and is constructed of white marble from the quarries of Westchester county.
To the memory of 77 persons, chiefly emigrants from England and Ireland,
being the only remains of 100 souls, comprising the passengers and crew
of the American ship Bristol, Captain McKown, wrecked on Far Rockaway beach,
November 21, 1836.
West side. All the bodies of the Bristol and 11lexico, recovered from the ocean, and decently interred near this spot, were followed to the grave by a large concourse of citizens and strangers, and an address delivered suited to the occasion.
Forth side.-To the memory of sixtytwo persons, chiefly emigrants from Eng land and Ireland ; being the only remains of 115 souls, forming the passengers and crew of the American barque Mexico, Capt. Winslow, wrecked on Hempstead beach, Jan. 2d, 1837.
East side.-To commemorate the melancholy fate of the unfortunate sufferers belonging to the Bristol and Mexico, this monument was erected ; partly by the money found upon their persons, and partly by the contributions of the benevolent and humane in the county of Queens.
NORTH HEMPSTEAD, the county town, was formed from Hempstead in 1784. This
town has produced several eminent men, among whom was the late Samuel L.
Mitchell, Professor of Natural History, &c., in Columbia college. He
was born August 20,1764, and died September 7, 1831. Manhasset is the name
lately substituted for Cow Neck, and designates a rich and fertile tract
in this town. Situated on this tract, on the North Hempstead turnpike,
is a small cluster of buildings, consisting of three houses of public worship,
a tavern, academy, and a few private dwellings. At the most
northerly part of Manhasset is the Sands' point lighthouse in the vicinity
of which formerly was the celebrated Kidd's Rock, near which it is generally
believed that notorious freebooter made valuable deposits.
Durnig the revolution bands of marauders were accustomed to land upon these
shores in the night, and rob and cruelly treat the inhabitants. In one
instance a Mr. Jarvis, aided by an old lady living in the same house, succeeded
in beating off one of these gangs, killing and wounding several of the
assailants. Three miles easterly of the Manhasset churches,
beautifully located at the head of the bay, is the village of Hempstead
Harbor, containing about 40 dwellings. North Hempstead and
Lakeville are small settlements ; at the former are the county buildings.
The first paper-mill erected in the state was established here about a
century since by Andrew Onderdonk, ancestor of Bishop Onderdonk of the
Episcopal church. Pop. 3,891.
OYSTER BAY embraces a larger extent of territory than any other town in the county, and includes Lloyds Neck or Queens village, and Hog Island. Pop. 5,864. In 1640, an attempt was made by some persons from Lynn, Mass., to form a settlement upon the present site of the village of Oyster Bay; but meeting with opposition from the Dutch, the settlement was abandoned. The first permanent settlement was made in 1653, by the English, on the site of this village. Oyster Bay village, on the south side of the harbor, is 28 miles N from New York and contains about 350 inhabitants. On the high ground, near the Baptist church, are the remains of a fortification erected during the revolution, to prevent any hostile American force from entering the bay.
In the year 1660, Mary Wright, a very poor and ignorant woman of Oyster Bay was suspected of having a secret correspondence with the author of evil. She was arrested, but as there existed no tribunal here which the people considered competent to try her case, she was sent to Massachusetts, to stand her trial for witchcraft. She was acquitted of this crime, but nevertheless was convicted of being a Quaker, and sentenced to be banished out of the jurisdiction.
The first Baptist church in this village was erected in 1724, and still remains a curious relic of that age. It is about 20 feet square, with a quadrangular pointed roof, and no longer used "for lodging folk disposed to sleep;" having lately been converted into a stable. The present church was built in 1801. Glen Cove is a considerable village on the east side of Hempstead harbor. The Dutch church at Wolver Hollow was built in 1732, and having stood just 100 years, was followed by the present church in 1832. The village of Jericho contains about 250 inhabitants. The Friends meeting-house was first erected at this place in 1689, at which time several families of Friends took up their residence here, and soon after on the neighboring lands about Westbury. This place was for a considerable period the residence of Elias Hicks, the founder of the sect of Hicksite Quakers, so called in distinction from the orthodox Friends; he settled here in 1771, and died in 1830. He was born in the town of North Hempstead, on the 19th of March, 1748. His education was extremely limited. At the age of 17, he was apprenticed to a carpenter. He began his public labors in the society of Friends in 1795, and travelled at different periods over a great portion of the United States, from Maine to Ohio, and in the province of Canada. It is supposed that during his public ministry he travelled over 10,000 miles, and that he pronounced at least 1,000 public discourses. He likewise found time to write and publish much upon religious subjects, upon war and the practice of negro slavery. "He was a person of rough exterior, but of vigorous intellect; and making no pretensions to elegance of style, he reasoned with much force, and addressed himself to the everyday common sense, rather than the imagination of his auditors."
Norwich is a small village, 3 miles S. of Oyster Bay. Hicksville, 2 miles S. of Jericho, is located upon the eastern part of the great plains at the present termination of the Long Island railroad. In the vicinity of Bethpage is Fort Neck, so called on account of two old Indian forts, the remains of which are still very conspicuous. The village of Cold Spring is situated at the head and upon both sides of Cold Spring harbor, and partly in the town of Huntington. It contains about 500 inhabitants and several large manufacturing establishments, and is possessed likewise of considerable shipping.
In May, 1779, Maj. Gen. Silliman, superintendent of the coast of Fairfield, in Connecticut, was taken prisoner in the night, by a party of refugees who crossed over the sound from Lloyds Neck in a whale boat. The boat returned here with their prisoner, and he was soon after conveyed to New York. At that time there was no prisoner in possession of the Americans whom the British would accept for the general. After some consideration it was determined to procure one. The person selected was Hon. Thomas Jones, of Fort Neck, Long bland, at that time a justice of the supreme court of the province of New York. On the evening of the 4th of November, he was captured by a party of volunteers under Capt. Hawley, who had crossed over the sound for the purpose. The judge was conveyed to Connecticut, and became an inmate in the family of Mrs. Silliman ; and during the several days that he remained in her house, she used every means in her power to make his situation agreeable. But although few ladies could contribute more effectually to this purpose, the judge was distant, reserved, and sullen. An exchange was effected sometinie afterward. The grave of Capt. John Underhill, who was so celebrated in the Indian wars in New England, is in this town. He lived here for a number of years, and died upon his farm in 1672.