East Rockaway Public Library
Map of East Rockaway
& Pearsall's Corner (Lynbrook) - 1873
East Rockaway History (1933 Nassau Daily Star Article)
East Rockaway Historical Sketch (1959 Article written for 50th Anniversary )
East Rockaway History 75th Anniversary
East Rockaway History 100th Anniversary
East Rockaway Library History
Important Figures in East Rockaway's Development (1939 Nassau Daily Star Article)
East Rockaway Grist Mill Museum
More Long Island and Local History Websites
Historically, East Rockaway is like the child that received a thwack on the head early in life and stopped growing until the other kids were head and shoulders over it. The old village of Near Rockaway in the early eighties gave promise of being the south shore's largest village. The thwack on the head was the coming of the railroad a half century ago. It killed Near Rockaway’s extensive water commerce, and left the village high and dry three miles from a railroad station. The "child" has only recently started to recover. Early Seaport
In the 17th century, Near Rockaway began to develop away from the ordinary run of straggling farms and meadow land that comprised all the south shore villages when they were just the Old South woods of Hempstead town. It got its boost from the relatively deep channel connecting the shore line with Hog Inlet (now East Rockaway inlet) and the fact that the quickly growing farms of the Pearsalls Corners, (Lynbrook) Fosters’ Meadow (Valley Stream) Christian Hook, (Oceanside) and other nearby areas needed cheap transportation to supply the New York city and other metropolitan markets at a profit. Jones inlet was just cutting through in those days. Hog inlet was the only navigable inlet in the section and Near Rockaway was the most accessible mainland point. Thereby came its nomination as the first logical shipping and trading center of the old south shore.
Just how early sloops and packet boats began to make a practice of tying up at the head of East Rockaway channel is not known but in 1688, enough trade had developed for Joseph Haviland to figure the place a good spot for a grist mill. Prior to that, the milling had been done at Fosters’ Meadow or Hempstead and flour trucked to New York over old Hempstead turnpike or by packet to and from Near Rockaway or Freeport. Haviland figured he could beat competition in the milling game by having a mill right at the shipping point. Therefore we find the town fathers assembled in solemn conclave in 1688 giving Haviland a grant of town land and "to have liberty to set up a grist mill at Rockaway swamp to grind the towns corn for 1-12 of a part thereof." The 1-12 was two points short of the usual miller's tenth so Haviland can be listed as the south shores first cut-throat competitor. He succeeded in building up a good business and it was around the grist mill that the Near Rockaway settlement began to take form. With most of the farmers raising grain and corn as the principal crop, milling competition was keen.
Milling and shipping both could be done at the Near Rockaway mill however, and Haviland’s mill prospered. It was sold by Haviland to Aaron Alburtis and deeded by Alburtis to Isaac Bloom in 1760, The price was 1,002 English pounds and considerable acreage and a baker's oven which by that time had been built about where the Rhame store is today, went with the mill.
That oven was Near Rockaway’s first bakery, Prior to the revolution there was already enough trading at the point to permit the miller to do a side business supplying the farmers and sloop owners with bread.
From Bloom, the mill is believed to have gone to the Hewlett family who came to Near Rockaway in 1765 although the record on that point is not clear. There is no doubt the Hewlett's operated the mill for a considerable period but the, date is not definite. The next recorded sale is in 1818 when Losea Van Nostrand of Flushing deeded the mill property to Alexander Davison one of several sons of Robert Davison. The father had operated it for a number of years before the actual deed was made out. The sale date has been quoted as 1816 but the recorded deed shows 1818.
When Colonel Richard Hewlett of the Queen's Royal militia came to Near Rockaway in 1765, he bought a tract of land running from Mill River clear to the present village of Hewlett from a John Townsend. Whether the mill was included is not clear, but at any rate, the Hewletts operated the mill for a number of years in addition to conducting a lucrative shipping business. An extensive collection of branding irons used to mark flour barrels is still in the possession of the family. A crow's foot was the sign of the cheapest grade and superfine the best.
The mill remained in the possession of the Davison family for over a century. It was left to Alexander's three sons, Oliver, Charles and Alexander Jr., in 1868, and was used by Charles, after the retirement of his brothers, from 1882 to 1906. It was used by Charles’ three sons, Robert, Herbert and John until 1920 when the family sold their water rights and moved the main building to the present lumber yard site. It is now a lumber shed.
Accessibility Made Village Early Port
With the setting up of custom house in New York City, Near Rockaway and Raynortown (Freeport) became the two most widely used free ports on the south shore. Numerous sloops, known as packets, plied from Near Rockaway to New York city, Albany and other coastwise and foreign points for a half century prior to 1800. Alexander Davison and Hewlett a son of Colonel Hewlett, were among the more prominent sloop owners of the early eighties.
Alexander had the original trading "racket". He started off with nothing but an empty boat and came back with a ship full of lumber and supplies. Alexander and his crew would put out from the village dock with an empty ship. They anchored in the bay until they got a load of oysters and clams. They proceeded to New York and traded part of the shellfish for staples, They sailed up on the Hudson to Albany, trading the remainder of the shellfish and the staples for lumber, They had enough money left over to purchase more staples at New York on the way back, thereby arriving in Near Rockaway with both lumber and staples, which they traded to the farmers.
Shellfish were not always obtainable, however, and the average trips were made with flour and farm products as the outgoing cargo and manufactured articles and staples brought back.
Oliver Hewlett had a schooner, "The Experiment." It was a ship of
70 tons burden and plied to points as far away as the West Indies and England
and Spain. The ship in 1793 under the signatures of George
Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Richard Varich,
mayor of New York.
It was written in three languages, English, French and Dutch, giving the vessel the right to ply between New York and Cadiz, Spain. Early bills of The Hewlett family still have in their possession a parchment passport issued for lading still in the family's possession show cargos of superfine flour, boards and beeswax.
Colonel Hewlett was the only Near Rockaway resident who fought for the British during the revolution as far as can be learned. A member of Queen's Loyal militia, he came to his new found home in Near Rockaway at an inopportune time, 11 years before the declaration of independence. He fought during the war and subsequently lost all his holdings along with other Loyalists whose property was confiscated.
At the close of the war, Colonel Hewlett took his family to Canada with funds provided by the English Government. He died there and it was not until 1795 that his wife brought .her several sons back to Near Rockaway. How they regained possession of their property is not known but they did and deeds from then on are from the various members of the family.
Colonel Hewlett’s first home was about where the Carman home is now located at Main street between Grant and Carman Avenues. Oliver Hewlett, one of his sons, bought the present Hewlett property at Ocean Avenue and Main Street from Sylvanus Smith in 1800. He remodeled the house a year later and made it two full stories. It was further added to in later years and at one time was a tavern. It passed on to Peter T. Hewlett, Oliver's son, and Robert Titus Hewlett, Peter's son.
Robert built a home of his own a 100 feet east and opened a room in one wing about 1850. It burned to the ground in 1898, the night after the Maine blew up, and was later rebuilt into the present Hewlett residence. The present Oliver Titus Hewlett, Robert's son, operated a store there until 1918.
War of 1812
Near Rockaway saw some real action in the War of 1812. Sergeant David Jackson, whose son, Thomas still live on Ocean Avenue, and General Ben Bigell (later changed to Bedell) were sent with a company of men from their station at Fort Green to Long Beach to guard Hog's Inlet from an expected British landing party which had planned to seize the inlet and hamper commerce.
They found a British man-of-war standing off the beach about opposite where
the present Hotel Nassau stands. A boatload of soldiers was about to land and Bigell got excited, ordering his company to charge. The
boat turned back and the man-of-war let go a broadside that sprayed sand high
in the air and sent cannonballs inland clear to the meadows. One ball is still
in possession of the Hewlett family. Actual fighting also took place in the
revolution with a company of Tories entrenched where the village park is now
during the battle of Long
The ship's disasters were laid at Near Rockaway’s door in 1836. Men of the
village formed the only life-saving corps in those days and a lifeboat stood
ready for use in the Squire Oliver Denton home near the village dock. It was
rowed to Long Beach when a ship was in distress, picked up and carried across
the beach to the surf. Until a Dr. Auerbach arrived
in 1850, Near Rockaway had no physician and for many years the sick depended on
Dr. Sally, a midwife, who lived at Ocean Avenue near Merrick road about 1800.
While she was deemed highly competent, rumors circulated that she dug up
corpses from the Old Sand Hole cemetery and sold them to New York medical
centers. The rumors were never substantiated. For many years , due to the
presence of lingering groups of Rockaway Indians who for some time hung on to
their encampment where Waverly avenue is now, Near Rockaway inhabitants buried
their dead right on the premises. A hearthstone in the old Rhame
store is a reversed headstone.
Village Hit Early Peak in Civil War
Near Rockaway reached the peak of its development about the time of the
Civil war. It had a hotel, a lumber yard, coal yard, shipyard and close to 40 buildings, including homes, in the business area.
Houses extended a block each way from the public dock and sites for new streets
were already being laid out according to a map drawn in 1867 by Clinton F. Combes, proprietor of one of the general stores, a
surveyor, and one of the first village school teachers. His son, Glentworth D. moved to Rockville Centre later. George D. A.
Combes is his grandson.
The first schoolhouse was built on the site of the present village hall prior to the revolution. The one room building was moved to Front Street and became part of the house now occupied by Jim Bedell. The present village hall was also used as a schoolhouse for many years.
Prior to 1869, the village received its mail at Hubbard Smith's post office at Ocean Avenue and Merrick Road. In 1869, the first post office in Near Rockaway was established with Lorenzo D. Simons and Richard Carman keeping it in the general store that later became the White Cannon Inn. An attempt was made to change the village name to Atlantic but duplication was discovered in the state and the compromise, East Rockaway was decided upon.
Mail was carried on a stage coach operated by Jack Curtis over the old plank road (Merrick Road), from Merrick to Fulton ferry and to East Rockaway via Ocean Avenue. The coach started its trips from Wright's hotel (now Henri's) which adjoined the village green. The firehouse was built on the old green. The stage was later run by Henry Floyd Johnson. The fire department was organized in 1894 with the same Johnson as first foreman. A $600 Gleason and Braille hand pumper was the first equipment. George H. Schiffmacher was assistant foreman; Alexander Davison Jr., secretary, and 0. T. Hewlett, financial secretary.
Although the coming of the Montauk division of the railroad gave East Rockaway’s commerce a set-back, the building of the Long Beach line started the influx of summer residents and commuters responsible for much of the later development. The village was incorporated in 1900 with Floyd Johnson as president. It progressed steadily from that point on with the greatest building development coming during the 1920-1930 boom.
James E. Jenkins "Nassau Daily Star"
October 5. 1939
Almost a half century after East Rockaway reached the zenith of its early development, just prior to the Civil war and the coming of the railroad, which ruined its shipping trade and left the community stranded off the beaten path, the village began its second stage of growth. It was during this period, at the turn of the twentieth century, that brought with it incorporation, better school and fire fighting facilities and growth of a community church. Standing out conspicuously we find the names of Lorenzo D. Simons, Henry Floyd Johnson, and Tredwell Adams as leaders in these early movements.
Although East Rockaway had started off promisingly as an upend coming little village as far back as the late sixties, most of its growth was confined to trade expansion and little if anything, was done in those days for improvement of the community Itself.
The situation was not confined to East Rockaway (or Near Rockaway as it was first known) but was similar in most of the early south shore communities. The early settlers bad come for one purpose - to settle quietly on farms and make a living without molestation.
The villages got along nicely without civic organizations, improvement leagues and the hectic annual round of local political battles. The settlers for the most part were farmers in extremely moderate circumstances and they were satisfied to go their way making a living which in those days meant having enough to eat the year round and cash enough over to purchase clothing, and other necessities.
Between the churches and the taverns, in those days the taverns had far the better of it. They required no assessments and furnished a meeting place that cost the villager nothing except the few pennies he spent for his rounds of ale. Religion was taken largely as a matter of conduct and there was no thought in the rural areas of the large and expensive church buildings that now constitute our religious centers.
The farmer figured he did his duty to God if he and his family attended church on a Sunday and did their share toward providing a meeting house where a circuit preacher could make intermittent stops to conduct public worship.
Even the school received only passing consideration from the early settlers and many of the rural population of the early eighties grew to adulthood without being able to read and write. While willing to have their children taught these hard-bitten citizens saw in school development mounting levies against their land, and there was bred in them an abiding fear of such levies resulting ultimately in confiscation.
It was with reluctance they consented, to even the old-time one room schoolhouse and part-time teacher, and one of the hardest working public citizens of the old days was the energetic individual who undertook the task of collecting school district taxes.
Such was the situation presented when Lorenzo D. Simons, a New York city businessman, came to East Rockaway in the middle eighties. It was ruminated on about the same time by Henry Floyd Johnson from the top of a stage be ran to Brooklyn, and Tredwell Adams dwelt on it reflectively between moments of toil on his father's farm.
Simons came from a religious family and had associated a large part of his
life with church doings. He was considerable perturbed when he arrived in East
Rockaway to find religion playing a small part in the doings of the community.
True, the Land Hole church, which at that time served Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, and Norwood (Malverne) in addition to East Rockaway, was only a mile or so distant, but even that mile was too much for many not overly religious East Rockaway citizens.
The greatest blow to Simons was the fact that many of the village children were receiving no religious instruction except what they were able to pick up in their homes, and he set about to organize a Sunday school as the most urgent community need.
With no church of any kind in the village, he turned to the district school, a two room structure that stood about where the monument is now in Memorial Park. It was later remodeled and moved to the present location where it serves as a village hall.
Simons got the Sunday school started in 1866 with a round dozen pupils. It was destined to be a successful enterprise. Formed as a congregational organization, it was a happy compromise for more sharply defined denominations and most of the young children of the village were attending it in a few years time. Simons was superintendent and taught classes many years.
The success of the Sunday school resulted in a group of adults getting together in 1884 and making a momentous decision...the formation of the first village church. Cash was scarce in those days and it was only by making real sacrifices that enough money was gotten together to erect a plain frame building on a site at Main Street.
Despite the fact that several of the more opulent families of the village joined in making contributions to the first building fund, there was scarcely enough money to complete the church building.
There were not enough funds left to buy furniture but that failed to daunt the hardy religionists of those days. There were plenty of boxes and boards to be had and the first services of Bethany Congregational Church were conducted with the congregation sitting on rows of boards stretched between boxes.
It was a bit uncomfortable perhaps, but the congregation bad definite ideas about the virtues of "pay as you go" finance and they refused into debt for church or any other kind of furniture. Later on, as more money was raised through pledges, the church was fully equipped. It served the community until recently, when it was replaced by the modern brick building that now occupies the same site. The old church building was moved to the rear and is now a parish hall. In recent years, the term "Congregational" has been dropped and the church designated as Bethany Community Church.
In 1869, when the first post office was established in East Rockaway, saving the village from going to Hubbard Smith's at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue, Lynbrook, for their mail, it was Simons who opened it. He and Richard Carmen operated the post office along with a general store for many years in the building that was later made into the White Cannon Inn. The inn was turned into an American Legion headquarters this year. Simons also served on the district school board and took an active part in other local affairs. He died in 1897.
Since the days when village life centered about the dock, taverns, general stores, and most of the homes were concentrated in that area. East Rockaway has been exceedingly community conscious. It was not unusual that when the home rule question began to become an issue East Rockaway was one of the first south shore municipalities to consider incorporation.
And it was not surprising that Henry Floyd Johnson, who had seen considerably of the world as compared to some of his stay-at-home farmer neighbors, should be one of the first to advocate incorporation as the best method of retaining home rule.
Although raised on a farm, Johnson early forsook the plow for the more lucrative and less laborious butcher and marketing business. He attended the New York markets and his contacts with outsiders widened his perspective considerably.
Later on, when he found the stage line operating from Merrick to Jamaica and Fulton Ferry over the planked Merrick road for sale, Johnson bought it and operated it for several years. The coming of the railroad put a decided crimp in stage operation and the line was abandoned.
Johnson received an appointment as captain of the Long Beach lifesaving station later and also conducted an oyster business, constructing his own sloops and sailing them himself.
Prior to the incorporation movement, which was begun about 1897, Johnson was among the leaders of a group who worked strenuously for the formation of a fire department, the first major village improvement paid for by the citizens of East Rockaway as a separate district. It was the satisfactory way in which this improvement was managed that started the idea of forming an incorporated village to make possible getting all improvements under the home rule system.
The need of a fire department had been felt more and more as larger buildings were constructed and Johnson took the lead in 1893 in openly urging it as a needed village improvement. There were kicks from a few of the larger land owners but Johnson and several colleagues got the majority of the residents on their side and it was organized in 1894 with himself as foreman.
Johnson supervised the purchase of the first engine, a $600 Gleason and Bailey hand pumper that was quite the last word in fire fighting apparatus at the time, Special wells were sunk at several points near the central residential section for a water supply and the department performed efficiently - at least within the area used and other residents bad to be content with bucket brigade service. On a few occasions, attempts were made to pump from regular house wells but they resulted in clogging up the pump with stones and Johnson forbade the practice further.
With Hempstead, Freeport, and Rockville Center operating satisfactorily as an incorporated areas prior to 1898, Johnson became imbued with the idea of putting East Rockaway under home rule, especially as Lawrence, a smaller community, obtained incorporation papers the same years.
Opposition to the movement grew from property holders who feared the move might lead to a jump in taxes but Johnson assured them there was no necessity of increased taxes if they were careful in electing the right men to office. He pointed out that under corporation they would be forced to pay only for those improvements installed in their own area while under the town government, they would have to pay a pro rata share in improvements throughout the entire town.
The idea took hold and the citizenry not only voted in favor of incorporation but elected Johnson their first village president. it was his last service to the community. He died the following year.
Tredwell Abrams, prominent Republican leader who had supported the incorporation movement at the risk of incurring displeasure of town politicians, was elected shortly after to the village presidency and he followed the Johnson policy of proceeding cautiously with public expenditures.
The village budget, which amounted to little more than provision for supporting the fire department and road repairs, was watched with for supporting the fire department and road repairs, was watched with the greatest care and no expenditures were increased unless there was a definite majority of taxpayers in favor of them. The policy was so clearly laid down by Johnson, Abrams, and other early officials that ten years after incorporation the village budget was so small that taxes on the average house amounted to less than $20.
Tredwell Abrams took the village presidency towards the close of a long and varied career that made him one of the foremost leaders of the Republican party even before the formation of Nassau county when the entire Long Island area west of Suffolk was part of Queens, At various times he secured county improvements for his home village and took part in many activities of his home community.
A descendant of one of East Rockaway’s first settlers, Abrams elaborated on his farm business by adding a slaughterhouse to it. He bought up calves and poultry from farmers throughout the south shore, butchered them at his slaughterhouse, and shipped them to New York markets. He gained substantial wealth and acquaintances throughout the county through the business and had a firm background for the political career that took up the latter part of his life.
Abrams won his first political office of town assessor by administering a defeat to Samuel Rhame, also of East Rockaway, who ran on the Democratic ticket. He later held the job of superintendent of the poor when the town poorhouse was on Barnum Island, now Island Park. He was one of the most famous of the old-time county leaders who laid the groundwork for the Republican trend that was later to become traditional with Nassau.
When land values began to rise and make farming comparatively unprofitable. Abrams subdivided the family farm, which centered about the old homestead still standing, at the corner of McKinley and Atlantic Avenues. He later sold the development to William Ridge a real estate man, and a prosperous residential section was the result.
Although the early improvements of the Simons-Johnson-Abrams period might seem consequential in comparison with the wide strides taken later on, they laid the groundwork for the boom periods.
Although East Rockaway is now celebrating only the 50th anniversary of its incorporation, the roots of the community go back to the 17th Century when the little settlement of Near Rockaway grew up around the grist mill built by Joseph Haviland in 1688. The name Rockaway, or Rohanowahaha as the Indians pronounced it, was first applied to most of the land from Jamaica to the Hempstead Plains, and Near Rockaway derived its adjective from the fact that it was near the main settlement at Hempstead. In addition to its grist mill, Near Rockaway boasted a flourishing sea port, whose business increased when the building of the New York City Customs House left this Village and Raynortown (Freeport) as the only free ports of entry in the vicinity.
The first schoolhouse in East Rockaway was constructed in pre-Revolutionary days on the site of the present Memorial Park; and the early days of the republic witnessed a continued increase in the community's prosperity. Oyster and clam fisheries and a thriving lumber business operated by the Davison family contributed in no little measure to this period of growth. Soon a new two room school building, the present Village Hall., was built; and East Rockaway well on its way to becoming the Metropolis of the South Shore. Butin 1869 the construction of the Montauk Branch of the Long Island Railroad drew the center of trade from this Village to Pearsall's Corners, and several years later the causeway for the Long Beach Branch put an end to East Rockaway’s days as a seaport.
The growth of community life in the post civil War era was slow. The two room district school was the only educational institution and there was no Church in the Village. Attempts to organize and build a Village School failed because of the fear that such a move would result in increased taxation; and the Villagers who were Church minded were content to attend the Sand Hole Church on the corner of what is now Ocean Avenue and Merrick Road. However, in the 1860’s there came to East Rockaway, Lorenzo D. Simons, a New York businessman, who felt deeply the lack of religious instruction in his new home-town. He succeeded in establishing a Sunday school in the Village schoolhouse, served as Superintendent and Teacher for many years. The Sunday school program was so successful that it led with Simon's help to the formation of the Bethany Congregational Church and the construction of the first Church in East Rockaway, which now serves Bethany as a Parish House. Simons and Richard Carman were also instrumental in establishing East Rockaway’s first post office in the latter's store, which later became the White Cannon Inn, recently destroyed by fire.
As community spirit grow, far-seeing men like Carman, Simons and Henry Floyd Johnson, who operated a stage line along the plank Merrick Road to Jamaica and Fulton Ferry, sought new ways to improve community life. Their early attempts at civic improvements were doomed to failure by the deep-seated aversion of the larger property holders to local taxation. However, in 1894, Johnson and Oliver Hewlett succeeded in organizing a volunteer fire department which was named Vigilant Engine Company. A $650.00 Gleason and Bailiey hand pumper was purchased and Johnson was chosen as first foreman of the department. Soon after, Protector Hook, Ladder and Hose Company were formed; and in 1897 the present fire headquarters on Main Street was built to house the apparatus. In the years that followed, Liberty Hose Company, East Rockaway Hose Company No.1 and the Emergency Relief Squad were added to the Department to give East Rockaway one of the best equipped and trained fire fighting organizations on Long Island.
In 1898 under the leadership of Walter E Johnson, son of Henry Floyd Johnson, the Woods Avenue School was built with Richard Carman as builder and Israel Langdon as foreman of construction. Johnson was elected first President of the East Rockaway School Board on which he served for 25 years.
The formation of the Fire Department and the construction of the now school paved the way for further community action; and in 1900 occurred the incorporation of the Village golden anniversary, which we are now celebrating. Once again it was Henry Floyd Johnson who led the way, overcoming the still present fear of taxation that had so often impeded the growth of the Village. Johnson was elected first president of the Incorporated Village of East Rockaway with Charles Davison and Richard Combos as Trustees, Oliver Hewlett a Treasurer., and Clarkson Smith as Collector of Taxes. The population of the newly incorporated area was 969.
Soon after the incorporation of the village, the library was established and in 1908, was housed in the Baisley House, built with funds obtained through Mrs. Russell Sage, Miss Baisley, Mrs. Grace Davison and Miss Amilia Davison, prominent crusader for women's rights, were the leading spirits of this free library which for many years was operated by volunteer librarians.
In 1904, Treadwell Abrams, uncle of Henry Floyd Johnson, and prominent Republican leader in the County politics, became the second president of the Village, Ho served until 1908, when Dennis Shane was elected to the office. During the term of Shane, the East Rockaway Civic Association was formed to promote Village improvement. Austin A. Crary later Village Postmaster, was the first president, and Doctor William Strong, Roman Dobler, Herman Budelman, James Ferguson, Seymour Frasick and John Lynch were early leaders of the movement. The Civic Association was instrumental in gaining street lights, mail delivery and equalization of taxes for the community; and in 1911-1912 when Dr. Strong was president of the Village, the Association published the tax rolls and under the leadership of George Wallace Smith, engineered the numbering of houses and plots in the Village, At that time the assessed valuation of property in the Village was $708,000.00.
As the community grew, other denominations formed congregations and built churches. In 1909 St. Raymond's Catholic Church was built, and since that time has played a large part in the life of the community. The founding of St. Raymond's school and the development of its expensive Youth Program has contributed greatly to the young people of East Rockaway. In 1913 the Beulah Mission of Oceanside met to form a Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene; and the following year the church building on Ocean Avenue was completed.
In 1918 Walter E. Johnson succeeded Dr. Strong as Village President and served through the years until 1922. During his term of office money was appropriated for concrete roads to repave the dirt and oyster shell roads still in existence, and the Memorial Park was dedicated. In the meantime an active Parent Teacher Association had campaigned successfully for additions and improved facilities for the Woods Avenue School. While the young men of the Village were serving in the Armed Forces during World War I, those who stayed at home did their part in Red Cross Work and in Liberty Loan Drives.
James F. Reynolds succeeded Walter Johnson as Village President and served until 1925 when Frank Donnelly took of office. In the meantime East Rockaway had outgrown the Woods Avenue School, and in 1925 the Centre Avenue School was built at a cost of $205,000.00. The following year an additional $196,000.00 was spent for the Rhame Avenue School. It was in 1925 that Harold K. Studwell, our present Superintendent of Schools was chosen as Supervising Principal of the School District, a position that was changed to Superintendent of Schools in 1930 when the State Education Department took a school census and designated the East Rockaway District as a Village Superintendency. In 1928, the Woods Avenue School was made into a Junior High School, but local students still had to journey to Lynbrook or Rockville Centre for high school classes. By 1932, conditions in both the Lynbrook and Rockville High Schools wore so crowded that neither school board could promise room for East Rockaway students in the future. In 1933a Committee of seven citizens headed by A. J. Edwards was appointed to cooperate with the School Board in readying plans for a High School. The proposition was passed by the voters of the District, and three years later the first classes, moved into the now building. In 1949 the School Board with the aid of a Committee of sixteen citizens presented a plan for an expansion of the High School building and the construction of an auditorium and a shop. This proposal was passed on May 31st 1949, and the work is now nearing completion.
While school affairs wore advancing so favorably the Village continued to prosper under Mayor Ossian Weig, Alonson and since 1937, Edward Talfor. Under Mayor Talfor the Village has grown to its present prosperity and he and the Board of Trustees have seen to it that Civic Improvements have kept pace with Community Advancement From 969 inhabitants at the time of its incorporation the population of East Rockaway has grown to about 8,000 and the assessed valuation of property within the Village is now in excess $15,000,000.00. Three well equipped schools have replaced the old frame building on Woods Avenue. The old hand pumper of the Fire Department has been supplanted by the most modern fire-fighting equipment. The Baisley Free Library has become The East Rockaway Free Library located in a fine colonial brick building donated by Miss Irene Davison. To this expansion and growth many Village organizations have contributed, among them, the East Rockaway Board of Trade, the League for Women Voters, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign wars, The Garden Club, the Republican and Democratic Clubs, the Parent Teacher Association of the three schools, the Inter County Co-operative Nursery School and the newly organized Hewlett East Rockaway Jewish Community Center.
Yes, East Rockaway has grown since Joseph Haviland built his Grist Mill on the bank of Mill River, and the very street names in the Village serve as reminders of the families which contributed to much of this growth, the Rhames, the Carmans, the Davisons, the Dentons, the Hewletts, the Smiths, the Phipps and many others. It is to them that this brief sketch is dedicated.
The writer wishes to express his indebtedness to those who made this history
possible by supplying information and records of Village life. I wish
particularly to thank Mrs. Matthew Kuckens, and Mrs.
Abraham Regen, Miss Agnes Hickman, Miss Helen
Brown and Mr. Roman Dobler.
Written by Mr. M. Douglas Sackman in 1950, especially for the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the incorporation of the Village of East Rockaway. Mr. Sackman is Director of Pupil Personnel Services of the East Rockaway Public Schools. He was also a Trustee of the East Rockaway Free Library. (January 1965)