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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays from the Long Island History Blog

"Children's Room at Hempstead Library. Children reading at tables. Christmas tree on table."

Original date unknown.

Long Island Memories,376

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Meaning of Sunsquam

I believe I have found out the meaning of the name Sunsquam, as I wondered in my previous post. Note the following translations of Algonquin words:

Squam: Pleasant Water Place

Sunapee: Rocky Pond

Suncook: Rocky Point

So from there is it not a far reach to say Sunsquam means something like "Rocky Pleasant Water Place" in Algonquin.

Wilbur, C. Keith. The New England Indians. 1978, The Globe Pequot Press: Connecticut

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Many Names of Melville

Melville, pictured in the map in the previous post, has had a number of names in the past:

The native Americans called the area Sunsquams (if you know what that name means, please leave a comment).

It was then after known as Samuel Ketcham's Valley, named after an early resident. Melville is a valley (though not in the most dramatic sense) between West Hills and Dix Hills/Half Hollow Hills.

After that it became know as Sweet Hollow, supposedly for the honey found in its trees.

Which also leads us to Melville which became its name in the 1850s. It was not named for Herman Melville as some think, but for the Latin word for honey. Thus Melville means Honey Town.

Newsday: Melville
N.Y. Times: Melville, Along the Lanes, and Behind the Gates

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

1946 Huntington Planning Map

Former Long Island resident Mike Sussman has a web page devoted to a 1946 planning map of the Town of Huntington. In the excerpt of the map above, you can see the Northern State Parkway terminating near Melville (known long ago as Sweet Hollow). Mike has lots more info on his website:

Mike Sussman: 1946 Huntington Town Planning Map

Direct link to the hi-res file on wikimedia commons

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Monday, May 26, 2008

Notes on the Quakers in colonial Long Island

There was not the seperation of church and state that we know today, political and religous leaders were the same people in colonial times. There were laws about church construction and attendance. Newcomers were screened before they could settle in a community, sometimes they would be forced to move on. The Quakers were widely persecuted and were not allowed into many communities. They were "fined, imprisoned, whipped, shorn of their ears, had their tongues bored with hot irons and put to death." (Bookbinder, 47). On Long Island, Peter Stuyvesant made it a crime to give the Quakers shelter, talk to them, or bring them into the area by ship.

There were some residents how opposed this discrimination. In 1657, the Flushing Remonstrance was issued objecting to the anti-Quaker laws on moral grounds. Stuyvesant responded by outlawing town meetings in Flushing. He also banished a Quaker leader, but was rebuked by the West India Company, whose position was similar to that of the group in Flushing.

The Quakers recieved better treatment from the English. George Fox, founder of the Quakers, visited Long Island in 1672. His visit included Shelter Island, a Quaker haven.

The Quakers were persecuted because of their beliefs. Their refusal to take oaths was seen as a defiance of authority and as subversive. Bookbinder says that the Quakers were "not always orderly. For example, they sometimes would 'bear testimony' by running naked through the streets, cursing all who differed with them." I wonder what that means exactly.

Source: Bookbinder, Bernie. Long Island: People and Places, Past and Present. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1983 (Illustrations © 1983 Newsday)

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brooklyn Bridge!

The Brooklyn Bridge turns 125 years old today. Here are some notes and facts about the bridge from Wikipedia:
  • It is the oldest suspension bridge of its size in the U.S.
  • The bridge is 5,989 feet long
  • The bridge has a pedestrian and bicycle path above the roadway
  • Construction began in 1870 and the bridge opened in 1883
  • 27 People died during construction
  • Robert E. Odlum was the first person to jump off the bridge, back in 1885
  • He survived the jump but later died of his injuries

There are plenty more facts like these on Wikipedia, and there are plenty of celebrations going on by the bridge if you happen to be over there!

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