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Local History Resources: Early Descriptions of Freeport

Freeport

Finding information about Freeport in early newspapers and other primary sources can be difficult because different names were used to describe this area until 1853. Below are the names and the approximate dates when they were used:


1659

Wasburn’s Neck
Raynor’s Neck

1725
Rayor’s Neck
South Woods
Great South Woods

Early 1800s
Raynor Town
Raynortown

1845
Raynor South

1853
The official town name was chosen after several town names were considered, including:
Raynor Town
Bayside Village
Raynor Village
Freeport



On August 22, 1853, the following resolution was adopted: “Resolved, unanimously, that this village he hereafter known by the name of FREEPORT, and not by those of Raynor Town, Raynor South, and South Hempstead, as heretofore.”

Freeport received its first post office in 1853 and was incorporated on October 22, 1892.


Other names associated with this area:

Hick’s Neck – used until the late 1700s to describe Baldwin.
Milburn Corners – began being used after the Revolutionary War to describe Baldwin.
Greenwich Point – used until 1902 to describe Roosevelt.
Coe’s Neck – Area around Bayview Avenue in south Freeport that became part of the Village of Freeport in 1892.

Freeport in the U.S. Census: (Using the very common Freeport surname “Raynor” on Ancestry.com, these are the approximate locations used in the Census for Freeport):

Census Year/Location

1790 – South Hempstead, Queens County
1800 – South Hempstead, Queens County
1810 – Hempstead, Queens County
1820 – Queens, New York
1830 – South Hempstead (Hampstead), Queens County
1840 – Hempstead, Queens
1850 – Hempstead, Queens
1860 – Hempstead, Queens
1870 – Hempstead, Queens
1880 – Freeport, Queens

 

Sources:

Metz, Clinton. Freeport As It Was. Freeport, NY 1976.

Winsche, Richard A. History of Nassau County Community Place-Names. Hempstead, NY: Hosftra University, 1999.

1839

RAYNORTOWN lies 5 miles southeast from Hempstead village, near South bay; here are 2 taverns, 2 stores, and about 20 dwellings. This neighborhood is much resorted to by sportsmen, in pursuit of fish and fowl.

 

Source:

Description of the Cities, Townships, and Principal Villages and Settlements Within Thirty Miles of the City of New York: Being a Guide to the Most Fashionable Resorts, and Water Places in the Vicinity. New York: Colton & Disturnell, 1839, 33.

1845

Raynor South or Raynortown is about 2 miles east of Hick's Neck, and between 5 and 6 miles from the village. It lies on the East Meadow Brook, which discharges into the bay, forming one of the best mill seats in the County. It has a fine landing, and is a place of considerable business. Here a Presbyterian Chapel was erected in 1840, through the exertions of the past at the village, by whom it is regularly supplied. No separate ecclesiastical organization has yet been made here, but it bids fair to become a respectable congregation.

 

Source:

Prime, Nathaniel S. A History of Long Island: From Its First Settlement by Europeans to the Year 1845, With Special Reference to Its Ecclesiastical Concerns. [1845], 291.
 

1856

FREEPORT, town of Hempstead, Queens Co. (Long Island), N.Y., formerly known as Raynor South. By Fulton Ferry (p.27); at 12:30 P.M., to Brooklyn; thence by Amityville stage, from depot No. 26 Fulton street, 25 miles. Returning, the stage leaves FREEPORT for Brooklyn and New York at 5 3/4 A.M. Ferriage, 2 cents, stage 62 cents.

WILLETT CHARLICK, postmaster. No telegraph station available. Packages, etc. can be sent to and fro by the stage driver.

 

Source:

Dinsmore, Towndrow T. Dinsmore's Thirty Miles Around New York, By Railroad, Stage, Steamboat, Express and Telegraph, Or How To Get In And Out Of The Metropolis. New York: Dinsmore & Co. 1856, 66.

1869

Freeport has about 150 buildings, including three hotels, three stores, a wheelwright and blacksmith shop, two churches (Methodist and Episcopal), a tailor shop and Temperance Lodge; also two schools and a telegraph office. The town is improving and the land increasing in value.  Good farms may be purchased at about $100 an acre.  Lots, 50x100 feet, sell for from $300 to $500 each.  This village is situated near the bay, and it presents a favorable appearance to the visitor. Commutation yearly, $70.  Three daily trains.

 

Source: 

"Homes in the Country. Where They Are and What they Cost." New York Tribune. April 12, 1869, 1.

[Please Note: In 1869, the Freeport churches included a Methodist Episcopal Church and a Presbyterian Church.  The first Episcopal church service in Freeport was 1892].

1879

FREEPORT 22 3/4  miles from Long Island City. Population 500. Post Office. Methodist Church. Trains each way daily. Fare, 65 cents ; excursion, $1.15 ; 6 months, $50 ; 12 months, $77.

HOTELS.- Central Hotel, George D. Smith, transient guests only. Walton House, Edgar Wright, transient guests only.

BOARDING HOUSE.- Mrs. Richard Smith Accommodates 30, $7.50.

 

Source:

New Long Island Hand Book of Summer Travel: Designed for the Use and Information of Visitors to Long Island and Its Watering Places, 1879, 92.

1882

FREEPORT

Twenty-two and three-quarter miles from Long Island City; popular, 1,217; telegraph and post office. Trains each way daily; fare, 70 cents; excursion, $1.25; 1 month, $14; 3 months $33; 6 months, $52; 12 months, $78.

Hotels - Central Hotel, Benj. T. Smith; Freeport House, G. B. Smith.  Boarding House - Mrs. Rich'd Smith 30 guests, $7.50 per week.

Churches - Methodist and Presbyterian.

 

Source:

Long Island Rail Road. Long Island Illustrated. The Long Island Railway Company, 1882.

1882

MINOR VILLAGES
FREEPORT


The beautiful village (former known as Hempstead South, or Raynorville) is one of the oldest in the town.  It is on the Southern Railroad, about twenty-three miles form Long Island City, and like Baldwins, boarders on the bay.  It is a great oyster depot, some of the residents being the first to inaugurate the business on the south side of the island.  Aside from the depot and school building there are two churches, Presbyterian and Methodist: two large hotels, the baker of Mead & White, Golder's drug store, the grist, flouring and saw mill of Isaac Horsfall, the dry goods and grocery store of Nelson H. Smith and Franklin P. Smith, the boot and shoe store of William Raynor, the harness shop of J. H. Smith, the barber shop and store of Frederick Blankerhorn, etc.  The hotels managed by B.T. Smith and George D. Smith.  Both hotels are first-class.  The streets of Freeport are well laid out and cared for, and a general air of thrift is apparent.

 

Source:

History of Queens County, New York with Portraits, and Sketches of Prominent Families and Individuals. New York: W. W. Munsell & Co., 1882, 167.

1884

Freeport

22 Miles from New York or Brooklyn

12 Trains daily

4 Trains Sunday

This is larger than its neighbors, and merits gratitude of New Yorkers for the immense number of oysters - luscious Rockaways - which its citizens rake up from Hempstead Bay and ship to the city. It has long been popular summer boarding place, and, though the sea air is breathed there, it is as truly rustic, with its groves, its smiling farms, its babbling streams, shining ponds and shaded lanes, as if it were in Middle England - although, to tell the truth, it is so much more like a bit of Holland, that perhaps, it should be called a "Dutch Interior." A pleasant walk or drive soon ends at the bay.  There are two hotels, the telegraph, post-office, and Methodist and Presbyterian Churches.

Source:

Heald, Charles M.  Long Island of Today. 1884.

1890

Beauties of Freeport
An Enterprising Village on the South Side
The home of the famous Prospect Gun Club—attractions of Randall Park—a venerable homestead

If there is one name on Long Island more than another that calls up pleasant memories, especially to the epicure, it is Freeport.  Who has not heard of the famous Freeport oyster?  Thousands are acquainted with this superior bivalve who have no knowledge whatever of the beautiful village which sends it forth. And yet, although without large reputation, Freeport is destined to become as well known for its attractiveness as a summer resort as for the products of its waters.  Distant only twenty-one miles from Brooklyn, on the southern branch of the Long Island railroad, it possesses very many features that give promise of large growth and prosperity.
 

The land is rolling and well timbered.  In consequence of the high ground the contractors in laying the pipes of the Brooklyn water extension have to dig deeper passing through Freeport than any other section.  The soil is sandy, the air pure and general health of the place so good that the able local physicians must drive long distances to find remunerative practices.  Even the playful mosquito that is said to abound at certain nameless spots on Long Island finds a poor living at Freeport and obtrudes his unwelcome presence as little as possible.
Possessed of all the advantages of bay and meadow, with wealth of game and facilities for fishing and sailing, yet old Neptune comes so close that the roar of the breakers is easily heard at night and the breezes come direct form the ocean cool and invigorating.  Enterprising men, backed by abundant means and with clear headed business sagacity, have opened up tracts of land for building purposes, have laid out broad avenues and started such improvements that must eventually count for much in the growth of the place.  This work is not a scheme for land speculation.  There is no “boom” in villa sites and none proposed.  There have been no auction sales with brass band and clambake attachments.  No effort is being made to induce a speedy rush of city prospectors.  As lots are prepared ready to build upon a fair price is set on them, together with numerous restrictions which will insure a good class of houses, and the owners wait patiently for buyers who know a good thing when they see it.

The village has a population of nearly 2,000.  It has three churches, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist.  The Methodists are erecting a new church that will cost over $15,000.  The Presbyterians have a commodious church and handsome chapel.  The pastor, Rev. Mr. Bell, is the finest bicycle rider in the town, and he is as good a preacher as he is a cyclist.  Rev. Mr. Hand, the Methodist dominie, is eloquent in the pulpit and popular among the people.  Freeport has a brass brand that is envied by all the south side villages and drum corps that is the pride of the town.

The local fire department has a good record and the base ball team and the young men’s athletic club are organizations with reputations extending the length of the island.  The athletic grounds recently opened are as fine as any in the county.

To the summer visitor the attractions of the bay are principally sought after.  If there is anyone whose authority on the subject of fishing and gunning is unquestioned it is certainly Henry Adams, county treasurer of Kings County.  He says that Freeport is pre-eminently the finest fishing and hunting ground on Long Island.  It is not surprising, therefore, that Mr. Adams and his friends have a club house there.  The Prospect gun club is one of the attractions of the place.  It was organized twelve years ago as the Bedford bowling club.  As a social organization it was a success and its development into the Prospect Gun Club, with buildings and paraphernalia, was an easy step.  The club house is located on the meadows one mile from the village of Freeport and about two miles along the coast from Long Beach.  It is reached from the Freeport dock by a short sail in the club’s yacht, Marjorie sailed by Captain Abe Smith.  The club owns twenty-four acres of land and a club house that is commodious and attractive and supplied with every convenience.  A steward is on hand the entire season to cater to the hungry fisherman.  From ten to twenty members of the club are at the house daily and on Saturdays and Sundays the number is more than doubled.  The duck and snipe shooting is excellent this year in particular, while the blue fishing has been the best in many seasons.  That the members of this club are experts in all these sports goes without saying.  The membership of the Prospect is said to represent a wealth of $2,000,000.  Here are the names, and anyone so inclined can satisfy himself on this point. 

 

Messrs. C. F. Dotter, president; W.E. Trott, vice president; John Lee, secretary and treasurer; C. E. Sneviley, W. M. Sawyer, H. H. Adams, G. A. Raisbeck, P. Sutter, C. G. Street, F. Steiner, J. D. Adams, F. W. Rebham, E. Haydenreich, W. M. Ellsworth, M. R. King, John J. White, W. J.  La Roche, A. A. Jeannot, W. C. Horn, Francis H. Bawo, George J. Gordon, John P. Hudson, M. F. McDermott, A. F. Allen, John J. Moran, Dr. F. R. Newman, William A. Furey, P. Renaud, C. F. Whitney, A. Busch.

Until four years ago there was little about the village of Freeport engage the attention of the traveler on the railroad.  Now Randall park on the north side of the tracks with its wealth of foliage and handsome cottages, is certain to attract the notice of the passerby  This park, which comprises many acres, is regularly laid out with broad avenues lined with shade trees and already has nearly forty cottages, many of them models of architecture and costly in construction.  The park is owned by Mr. J. J. Randall and Mr. W. G. Miller, two well known builders in Greenpoint.  Two of the handsomest houses and both just alike are occupied by Messrs. Randall and Miller.  Mr. Seth L. Keeney and family occupy a handsome cottage in the park and also Mr. John McNamee, member of the Brooklyn board of education.  Both of these gentlemen are interested in the water works extension.  Mr. Kenny, deputy controller of New York City, owns an attractive villa.  Among other Brooklyn residents in the park are Mr. Ousterhout, city surveyor; Mr. George Van Riper, Mr. J. H. Coons, Mr. G. L. Burnett and Mr. Baker.  Messrs. Randall and Miller recently purchased the farm owned by Mr. Samuel Carman, which contains about 260 acres of land fronting on the bay and extending from Randall park to the water.  Streets are being laid out; those toward the bay will extend to deep water, thus doing away with the present tedious method of sailing on the narrow winding creek.  New cottages will go up as soon as possible, and within a few years, if the improvements proposed are carried out, residents of Freeport will have much to be proud of.
 

Many Brooklyn people have sought summer homes in Freeport, and not a few have, in recent years, become permanent residents.  One of them is owned by Mr. George W. Bergen, who has spared no expense in building and in laying out the grounds, and has the satisfaction of knowing that he has one of the finest places in town.  Mr. Bergen is superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school, and is one of the elders of the church.  Just west of his house is the old Carman homestead, where Mr. Bergen’s wife was born.  The house is 175 years old, and is one of the notable landmarks on the island.  It is situated on Long Beach Avenue, and is in the excellent state of preservation.

At the corner of the old South Side Turnpike better known, perhaps, as Fulton Street, and Long Beach Avenues is the substantial residence of Mr. Elbert Verity, who came from Brooklyn a few years ago, having for many years resided on Carlton Avenue.  The grounds are spacious, revealing well kept lawns and abundant shrubbery.  There is a small colony of Brooklynites who are enjoying this summer the comforts of this hospitable home.  Among the number are Mr. and Mrs. William B. Higgins (Mr. Higgins is a brother of ex-Bridge Trustee Charles Higgins, and, while not as good a fisherman as his well known brother, he is far handsomer and is more honest story teller), ex-Member of the Board of Education George E. Moulton and wife, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Bailey of South Fifth Street; Mr. William Verity and family, of Hancock Street, and Mr. H. F. Gunnison and family.

New by is the handsome residence of Mr. Frederick Braman, who has recently given up his Brooklyn home to enjoy the pleasures of suburban life.  Mr. George Shaffer and Mr. Carman Pearsall are other ex-Brooklynites.  Among other Brooklyn people who are spending the summer in Freeport are: Mr. and Mrs. George Bogart, Mr. and Brs. Burr, Professors Holt and Brown, both of the Adelphi academy, the former being the teacher of elocution and the later the head writing master; and Mr. J. Cheshire and family.  At the residence of Mr. D.T. Bond, next to the Bergen mansion, are stopping for the summer Mrs. Rush and Mrs. Parson, both of Chicago.  The Wallace brothers, known throughout Long Island, are residents of Freeport.

 

Source:

"Beauties of Freeport," Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 27, 1890, 9.

1895

Freeport is the largest village of the south side of Long Island between Jamaica and Patchogue; and since 1887 440 new dwellings have been erected there besides numerous business houses.  A great many families from New York and Brooklyn who go to Freeport to spend a summer become permanent residents of the place.  Well-shaded and finely kept streets add much to the natural attractions of the place, while oyster beds and good fishing furnish both business and pleasure for the residents.  Randall & Miller have recently expended about $40,000 in making and deepening a channel from the mainland to Long Beach Channel, where the water is sixteen deep at low tide.  Freeport has five churches, the largest brick school building within twenty-five miles of the city, and a village of homes, seven-eighths of the dwellings being occupied by the owners.  The place has a flourishing bank, and all the business concerns seem to thrive.  The village owns its water plant, which is of a high order.  There are six miles of water mains and about 100 fire hydrants. “The South Side Observer.” The official newspaper of Queens County, has an office in Freeport, where Charles L. Wallace, the editor lives.  The paper is published in Rockville Centre by Wallace Brothers.

Source:

“Where Cool Breezes Blow: Delightful Nearby On Long Island’s South Side, The New York Daily Tribune, May 20, 1895, 4.

1900

Freeport bears on its very face the always distinguishable marks of prosperity.  It is a town of comfortable and attractive homes, well-stocked shops, and fine churches. It has an exceptionally good society, and is the home of many well-to-do people, who have demonstrated their aesthetic tastes by creating two town parks, which are kept in excellent conditions.  An attractive hotel, the Woodcleft Inn, is located at Freeport.  It has accommodations for one hundred and twenty guests, and is well managed.  The country around Freeport, and through which the railroad passes, is one of the great natural attractiveness beauty.  It is dry and rolling, and hence health. Its gentle slope is toward the sea, from which there is, during the summer season, an ever-refreshing and tonic-laden breeze.  A newly erected railroad station, handsome and commodious, just completed, adds very materially to the comfort and convenience of passengers.

 

Source:

Long Island Rail Road. Long Island Illustrated. The Long Island Railway Passenger Department, 1900.

1903

Freeport 23 Miles from New York.  Freeport bears the always distinguishable marks of progress.  It is a town of comfortable and attractive homes, well-stocked stores, inviting churches.  It is home of many well-to-do people, who have demonstrated their aesthetic tastes by creating two town parks, which are kept in excellent conditions.  Three good hotels are located at Freeport, the Grove Park Hotel, the Crystal Lake House and the Woodcleft Inn.  They each have accommodations for more than one hundred and twenty guests, and are well managed.  The country around Freeport and through which the railroad passes, is one of great natural attractiveness and beauty.  It is dry and rolling, and hence healthful.  Its gentle slope reaches to the Great South Bay, and from the ocean there is, during the summer season, an ever-refreshing and tonic-laden breeze. A recently erected railroad station, handsome and commodious, adds very materially to the comfort and the convenience of passengers.

 

Source:

Long Island Rail Road. Long Island Illustrated. The Long Island Railway Passenger Department, 1903.

1909

Twenty-two and seven-tenths miles out; population, 6,000.  Has the following churches: Baptist, Methodist, A. M. E. , Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Catholic.  The two financial institutions are: The State Bank of Freeport, with $30,000 capital and $550,000 in deposits, and the First National Bank of Freeport, with $25,000 capital and $150,000 in deposits.  This village has had a tremendous growth the past few years.  This is due to the extensive advertising and to the excellent steam and electric railroad service enjoyed.  This village is entirely a commuting town, there being no industries of any kind.  The four schools, having a total value of $130,000, employ 35 teachers, presiding over 1,215 students.

 
Source: 

1927

Freeport: Population (1925 Census) 13,903 ; Estimated, 1926, 7,000.

The locality was originally part of the Great South Woods, and was known as Washburn's Neck. The village was first settled by Edward Raynor, who came here in 1644 and died in 1686. It was later known as Raynor's South, sometimes called Raynortown, until 1873, when the leading citizens met and decided to adopt the present name. In the township of Hempstead and County of Nassau. 24.7 miles from New York City.

 

Source: 

The Long Island Almanac and Year Book 1927. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1927, 230.

1930-1931

Freeport

Statistical Facts


Form of Government - Village (mayor and board of trustees).
Population - 20,000, estimated.
Assessed Valuation - $55,382,612
Village's Bonded Debt - $2,319,500 (total).
Financial - 3 banks, with total deposits of $9,916,216.87 and resources of $11,653,034.95
Post-Office Receipts - $76,692.86 (1929)
Telephones in Service - 6,500, estimated.
Churches - 15, leading denominations.
Newspapers - 1 daily.
Hotels - 2 ample accommodations.
Railroads - Long Island R.R.
Amusements - 2 theatres with total seating capacity of 2,000 persons.
Education - 6 schools, including 1 high and 1 parochial. Number of pupils in public schools, 3,206. Number of teachers 122. Value of all school property, public and private, approximately $5,000,000.
Volumes in Library - 10,000
Village Statistics - Total street mileage, 74 with 40 miles paved and 4 miles under construction.
Capacity of water works (municipal), 4,200,000 gallons, with daily average pump of 1,500,000 gallons, g7 miles of mains. Value of fire department with property, 200,000. Police department has 1 station and 5 pieces of motor equipment.

 

General Review

Freeport occupies the unique position of the largest incorporated village in the greatest state in Union. Being only about thirty minutes by train from Broadway, New York, it has all the suburban attractions with many urban advantages.

It was settled about 1650. Before that time it was populated by the Meroke Indians, and relics and legends of those early days still abound. It was once known as Raynortown, because the Raynors predominated, but about the time of the Civil War it was given the name Freeport, which name it is said to have received because it could be reached from the Atlantic Ocean through Jones Inlet.

Its educational growth and facilities have kept pace with its rapidly-growing population, now about 20,000. It has 90 trains daily and over 2,500 commuters, 5 public schools including a fine high school, three active banks with resources of $11,653,034.95, fifteen churches, thirteen of the leading fraternal societies, two yacht clubs, ten social clubs and two bus lines.

Freeport has its own municipal water and light plant and has a splendid public memorial library, a fine fire and police department and other civic requirements.

With the well-known Great South Bay and its various inland waterways, it affords unusual boating, fishing and bathing advantages.

Freeport has long been recognized as an ideal all-year-round place for those engaged in New York City to have their homes and bring up their families. As a result also those investing in homes here have materially increased their material wealth at the same time they have enjoyed the uplift and inspiration of living in an ideal community.

 

Source:

Polk's Freeport Directory 1930-31.

1930

Freeport (Township of Hempstead)

24.7 miles from New York
Population, 19,000; Number of trains: Weekdays, 82; Sundays, 51; additional Saturday, 7. Latest train from New York, 2:37 a.m. Running time: Minimum 36 minutes; Maximum, 55 minutes. Average commuters per month, 1929, 2,888. 60-trip $29.54; to Brooklyn $26.79. 20-trip ticket to N.Y., $13.20; to Brooklyn, $12.15. Beeline Bus Service to and from this point.

FREEPORT, a bright , happy, refined place, looks as if everyone owned his house and enjoyed living here. The shops are large and well-stocked, the schools and churches and societies are marks of pride. With a bracing climate, shaded avenues, and shore pleasures. Freeport is known as a “Commuter’s Paradise,” near New York and having excellent train service.
.
This attractive and progress village offers an ideal home spot for the New York business man. The Village is most attractive and is substantial in character, conservative in growth. It has gas, electric light, water supply, fire and police protection, three banks, three theatres, two newspapers, a library, clubs and well-stocked stores. Bus lines connect it with the adjoining villages and with the water front. It has churches of every denomination, and excellent grade and high schools.

The development to the south embraces practically the entire water front section of Freeport. It affords city conveniences and adds thereto the advantages and pleasures of country life. Many houses of the bungalow type fringe the built-up section of Freeport, and being but a short walk from the station, compel attention. In fraternal orders it has the Masons, Knights of Columbus, I.O.O.F., Elks, Foresters, Mechanics and Daughters of America.

 

Source: 

Long Island: The Sunrise Homeland, Island Wide Survey of Communities , 193069-71.