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Freeport History Encyclopedia: O

Freeport History Encyclopedia includes authoritative information about Freeport's past. This guide is perfect for anyone wanting to know more about our village.

Oak Street

Oak Street was renamed Jackson Place.

 

Source:

Zimmerman, Charles J. "What Ever Happened To Randolph, Claude and Jerome?" The Leader. October 15, 1992, 24

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 29, 2016.

Oak Tree Place

Oak Tree Place (also known as the Bedell Farm) was an 80-acre farm located in northwest Freeport.  In 1885, this farm was purchased for $15,000 by John J. Randall, who developed the property into Randall Park.

See Also:

Randall, John J.

Randall Park (North Freeport)

 

Source:

"Sale of Long Island Real Estate." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. September 20, 1885, 1, Accessed October 18, 2016. http://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/50406160/?terms=hotels%2Bfreeport.

 

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, October 15, 2016.

Observer-Post, The

The Observer-Post was a 12-page newspaper owned by James E. Stiles.  The newspaper was the result of a merger between The Nassau Post and The South Side Observer in 1918.  After it merged in 1920 with the Nassau County Review and the Hempstead Inquirer, the resulting newspaper was the Nassau Daily Review.

See Also:

Freeport Press

Freeport Times

Hempstead Inquirer

Nassau County Review

Nassau Daily Review-Star

Nassau Post, The

Queens County Review

South Side Herald

South Side Observer

 

Source:

Hodges, Arthur Lewis. Long Island's Greatest Newspaper. NY: Nassau Daily Review, 1931.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, June 30, 2016.

Ocean Avenue

Ocean Avenue was originally called Bergen Street. At one time, it was also called Carman's Lane.

 

Source:

Fourteen Years Ago." Nassau County Review. August 26, 1910, 1. Accessed May 28, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1910-08-26/ed-1/seq-1/

Historic Freeport: 70th Anniversary Issue. [1962].

 

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 28, 2016.

Odd Fellows' Building

Odd Fellows' Building (also known as Odd Fellows' Block) was a three story wooden building with a cupola, which stood on Fulton Street near Church Street (approximately 23 West Merrick Road today). In 1896, Charles D. Allee's drug store occupied retail space in the building. Later, Thomas Johnston's Pharmacy occupied the building's first floor. 

In 1916, the building was renovated with a new front.

Click here for images related to the Odd Fellows' Building.

See Also:

Johnston's Pharmacy

 

Sources:

E. A. Dorlon [advertisement].  Nassau County Review. May 12,1899, 3. Accessed July 7. 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1899-05-12/ed-1/seq-3/.

"Freeport." Nassau County Review. August 4, 1916, 1. Accessed July 6, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1916-08-04/ed-1/seq-1/.

Metz, Clinton E. "How Freeport Looked in 1900." The Leader. October 31, 1961, 6.  Accessed July 6, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1963-10-31/ed-1/seq-6/.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, July 6, 2018.

Ogden Brothers Garage

Ogden Brothers Garage (also known as Ogden Bros. Garage) was originally located 101 East Merrick Road, and later at 66 East Merrick Road.  The garage was owned by Harry Ogden (1905-2001).  Harry Ogden was also a race car driver at theFreeport Municipal Stadium.

The Ogden family lived at 39 Elinor Place. 

See Also:

Freeport Stadium

 

Sources:

Clark, Charles H. "Nostalgic Look at Freeport Speedway." Newsday. December 27, 1983, 56. 

Ogden Bros. Garage [advertisement].  The Leader. February 13, 1947, 7. Accessed November 20, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1947-02-13/ed-1/seq-7/.

"Thank You Neighbors" [letters to the editor]. The Leader.  January 18, 2001, 10. Accessed November 20, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071065/2001-01-18/ed-1/seq-10/.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, November 20, 2018.

Olive Boulevard

Olive Boulevard was the name of the street that was later renamed Sunrise Highway.  Before Sunrise Highway opened in 1929, as the gateway to the south shore, there was a smaller road that ran through Freeport known by a few different names: Mud Lane; Dirt Road; Gooseneck Avenue; City Street; Long Island Boulevard; Nameless Boulevard; Park Boulevard; Pipe Line, and Aqua Boulevard.

In 1912, the Village Board agreed to give the road the official name "Olive Boulevard" at the request of Jacob Post.  Post, a real estate developer, built the "Olive Building" in 1911 on the southeast corner of South Main Street and what he called Olive Boulevard.  When completed, the Olive Building was the largest building in the Village.  Olive was the name of Jacob Post's daughter.

See also:

Olive Building

Smith, Olive Post

 

Sources:

Historic Freeport: 70th Anniversary Issue. [1962].

"Olive Boulevard It Is." Brooklyn Daily Eagle.  May 19, 1912, 5.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, May 18, 2016.
 

Olive Building

Olive Building is a four-story red brick building constructed by Jacob Post in 1911.  It is located at the southeast corner of South Main Street and Sunrise Highway (which had different names at the time of the building's construction, including New Boulevard and later Olive Boulevard). The building was named for Post's daughter, Olive Post Smith (1903-1993).  The building had over 60 feet of frontage on South Main Street and 125 feet of frontage on Olive Boulevard.  When it was completed, the building was said to be the largest building in Freeport.  One of the Olive Building's first tenants was I. DaSilva who ran a five, ten, and 25 cent store from the southern half of the location.  The Post Realty Company operated from the Olive Building.

Forrest DeMott operated bowling alleys and a "sporting room" in the basement of the Olive Building in 1911.  The bowling alley included four Blake-Collander alleys.  That same year Professor Edward S. Tebbutt opened a music studio in the building

It was reported in 1914 that Post was installing fire escapes on the Olive Building. In 1917, Congregation B'nai Israel held some of its early organization meetings in the building.  The William Clinton Story American Legion Post 342 was organized in a room at the Olive Building in 1919.  A daredevil known "The Human Fly" scaled the Olive Building in the fall of 1920.

During Prohibition, Chubbuck's proprietor Ernest Ault was arrested in 1926 by Federal Agent George Lederer for violating the Volstead Act .  A fire on March 17, 1935 caused $125,000 worth of damage to the Olive Building.

In 1954, William N. Hesse, the general agent for the Mutual Trust Life Insurance Company, moved his office from Brooklyn to the Olive Building.

The newspaper, The Leader, moved its offices to the fourth floor of the Olive Building in 1981.

In 2017, the building was renovated.  Retail space is located on the first floor; office space is on the second floor; and the third and fourth floors are residential space.

Click her for images related to the Olive Building.

See Also:

American Legion, William Clinton Story Post 342

DaSilva, Isaac

Post, Jacob

Smith, Olive Post

 

Sources:

"About the Churches." Nassau County Review. December 14, 1917, 5. Accessed December 12, 2017.  http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1917-12-14/ed-1/seq-5/.

Bermudez, Miguel and Donald Giordano. An Illustrated History of the Freeport Fire Department, 1893-2008. Freeport, NY, Freeport Fire Department, 2008.

"Freeport." South Side Messenger. February 4, 1914, 1. Accessed December 12, 2017.  http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn96083504/1914-02-04/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Freeport Is Metropolis Of Southside, Long Island." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. April 4, 1920, 58.  Accessed December 12, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/55568058/?terms=%22olive%2Bbuilding%22%2Bfreeport.

"Freeport News." Nassau County Review. July 28, 1911, 8. Accessed December 12, 2017. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1911-07-28/ed-1/seq-8/.

"Freeport News." Nassau County Review. October 13, 1911, 1. Accessed August 31, 2017. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1911-10-13/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Held on Liquor Charge." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. June 1, 1926, 11. Accessed August 31, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/57480099/?terms=%22Chubbuck's%22%2Bfreeport.

"Hesse Moves Offices to New Olive Building." The Leader. November 11, 1954, 11. Accessed August 29, 2017. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1954-11-11/ed-1/seq-11/.

"Human Fly Thrills." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 28, 1920. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/57088663/?terms="olive+building"+freeport.

"Leader Moving to Olive Building." The Leader. February 5, 1981, 1. Accessed August 29, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1981-02-05/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Legion's Post Will Own Home Free and Clear." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 14, 1941, 28. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/52672293/?terms=%22olive%2Bbuilding%22%2Bfreeport.

"Olive Boulevard It Is." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. May 19, 1912, 29. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/54443878/?terms=%22olive%2Bbuilding%22%2Bfreeport.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 12, 2017

 

On Stage

O'Neill, John J.

John Joseph O'Neill (1889-1953) was the science editor for the New York Herald Tribune. He began his 45-year career a newspaper reporter in 1908 at The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. He was also on staff at the South Side Observer and the Nassau Post. In 1919, he was the editor of the Freeport News. From 1918 to 1922, he served as a feature editor for the Eagle (including radio editor, auto editor, aviation editor, and science editor). In 1934, he began working for the Tribune reporting on scientific subjects.  O'Neill moved to Freeport in 1920.

In 1937, O'Neill shared a Pulitzer Prize with four others for their coverage of science at the tercentenary of Harvard University. In 1944, O'Neill published the first full-length biography of his personal friend Nikola Tesla, the inventor (Prodigal Genius: The Life of Nikola Tesla).  

O'Neill was one of the first reporters to tell the public about the United States' successful experiment in releasing atomic energy.  He was also one of the founding members of the American Newspaper Guild and a former president of the National Association of Science Writers.  O'Neill was also a fellow of the American Geographic Society.  Other memberships included: the American Geographic Society, Arctic Institute of North America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Amateur Astronomers Association, American Academy of Political and Social Science, Academy of Political Science, American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Though his education was limited to public school, correspondence courses, and night school, O'Neill's vast knowledge of science was credited to "omnivorous reading and independent study."  In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he won the Westinghouse Distinguished Science Writing Medal of the American Association for Advancement of Science in 1936.  In 1938, O'Neill was awarded the Best Science Story of the Year by the University of Kansas.

John J. O'Neill died at his home, located at 209 North Long Beach Avenue, at the age of 64.

 

Sources:

"John J. O'Neill Dies; Was Science Editor." The Leader. September 3, 1953. Accessed December 14, 2017. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1953-09-03/ed-1/seq-1/.

"John O'Neill Dies: Science Editor, 64." The New York Times. August 31, 1953, 17.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, December 14, 2017.

Onslow-Moore

Onslow-Moore Company was a realty business that developed the Bayview (also known as Bay View) section of Freeport around 1906.  This section included Elliott Street, Onslow Place and the western part of Archer Street.  Gilbert Elliot was the president of the company. It was reported that the name Onslow-Moore was derived from two counties in North Carolina.

Onslow-Moore's headquarters were located in the Temple Bar building at 44 Court Street, Brooklyn.  It also had an office in Freeport located near the train station.

Click here for images related to Onslow-Moore.

Click here for a map of the Onslow-Moore property.

See Also:

Elliott Street

Onslow Place

 

Source:

"Freeport's Social Centre is Bayview." The Nassau Post. May 30, 1914, 7. Accessed August 9, 2017. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071434/1914-05-30/ed-1/seq-7/.

Research by Regina G. Feeney, August 10, 2017.

Onslow Place

Onslow Place was named for the real estate company Onslow-Moore.  This company was the developer of the Bayview Estates.

Researched by Cynthia J. Krieg, May 27, 2016.

Opera Hall

Opera Hall was a second floor auditorium in a building located on the triangle bounded by South Main Street and Church Street. This area was often referred to as "Opera Hall Block."  Opera Hall was constructed by Henry P. Libby and Charles P. Hayward.  Though the date of its construction is unknown, the first mention of the building in the press occurred in 1895.

In the early 1900s, Opera Hall was the largest public gathering place in Freeport, and had with a seating capacity of less than 300. 

Calls for the construction of a larger venue began in 1903.  An article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle described Opera Hall as having a small stage, a narrow entrance, two exits, and no modern conveniences.

Opera Hall was used for civic, government, and religious gatherings.  In 1908, Freeport High School played basketball games at this location.  

In 1909, the building was moved to Brooklyn Avenue when the City of New York added new water pipes under the land.  The structure was renamed the Crystal Theatre,

Click here for more information related to Opera Hall.

See Also:

Libby, Henry P.

 

Sources:

"Basket Ball." The Student. Freeport, NY: Freeport High School. March-April 1908. 

"It Happened... Years Ago!"  The Leader. February 19, 1987, 8. Accessed January 3, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1987-02-19/ed-1/seq-8/.

"Village Officers Nominated." The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. August 31, 1895, 7. Accessed January 3, 2018. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/50412849/?terms=%22opera%2Bhall%22%2Bfreeport.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, January 3, 2018.

Opera Hall Block

Opera Hall Block was the area located on the triangle formed by Church Street and South Main Street.  It was named for the Opera Hall which was a second floor auditorium located in the building constructed by Henry P. Libby and Charles P. Heyward.  The first mention of Opera Hall Block in the press is in 1898.

In 1909, the buildings located at the south end of Opera Hall Block were demolished to make way for water pipes installed by the City of New York. Opera Hall was relocated to Brooklyn Avenue.

See Also:

Libby, Henry P.

 

Sources:

'Freeport News." Nassau County Review." October 15, 1909, 1. Accessed January 3, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1909-10-15/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Local." Queens County Review. August 19, 1898, 3.  Accessed January 3, 2018. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071432/1898-08-19/ed-1/seq-3/.

"Pipe Line In Freeport." The Brooklyn Daily. October 17, 1909, 15. Accessed January 3, 2018. https://bklyn.newspapers.com/image/53943818/?terms=%22opera%2Bhall%22%2Bfreeport.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, January 13, 2018.

O'Toole, John L.

Reverend John Lawrence O'Toole (1874-1935) was the pastor of Our Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church.  He began his tenure at OHR in 1913.  He would serve as pastor of the church for 22 years.  Rev. O'Toole is credited renovating the interior of the new church (this Romanesque church was built under the tenure of Rev. Charles L. Logue, O'Toole's predecessor).   Rev. O'Toole also established a Catholic school with 12 classrooms and an auditorium that seated 1,000 people.  During the 1920s, he fought against the bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Rev. O'Toole celebrated his 25th Jubilee as a priest in 1923.  He was also a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Elks Club.  He died of a heart attack at the age of 61 and is buried in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, NY.

Click here for images related to Rev. John L. O'Toole.

 

Sources:

Hazelton, Henry Isham. The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens Counties of Nassau and Suffolk Long Island, New York 1609-1924 (Volume 5). New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1925.

Obituary of Rev. John L. O'Toole. The County Review. September 05, 1935, 4. Accessed July 13, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn84035791/1935-09-05/ed-1/seq-4/.

Sixtieth Anniversary of Our Holy Redeemer Parish and the Solemn Dedication of the New Rectory and Convent and Addition to the School. Freeport, NY: Our Holy Redeemer, 1962.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, July 13, 2016.

Otten Building

Otten Building (also known as the Hub Building or Realty Building) was a three-story brick building located on Church Street and Railroad Avenue.  In 1908, ground was broken for the building and construction costs were said to be $25,000.  The building was designed by H. L. Trubenback and was constructed of brick and blue stone.  The owner was John W. Otten of Brooklyn who operated a cafe on the first floor of the building. In addition to the cafe, the Otten Building included stores, lodge rooms and offices.  In December of 1908, the Village Board approved Otten's application for electric lights.  It was reported in 1909 that George A. Stone of 24 Brooklyn Avenue had been awarded the painting and decorating contract for the Otten Building.  That same year, the Junior Order of United American Mechanics No. 57 leased space in the building for their meetings.  This meeting room space was known as Mechanics' Hall and was often sub-let to other organizations. 

In 1909, the building was sold to George Christians who changed its name to the Realty Building.  In 1914, Christians sold the building to Thomas Forbes for around $40,000.  On March 6, 1914, a fire broke out in or near a closet in Mechanics' Hall causing extensive damage to the entire building.

By the 1920s, the building was referred to as the Hub Building.

This building later became part of Freeport's Plaza West.  As part of a redevelopment plan, the building and adjacent structures were razed in the 1990s.

Click here for images related to the Otten Building.

 

Sources:

"Fire Wrecks Realty Building. Nassau County Review. March 06, 1914, 1. Accessed August 1, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1914-03-06/ed-1/seq-1/.

Nassau County Review. August 28, 1908, 1. Accessed August 1, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1908-08-28/ed-1/seq-1/.​​​​​

South Side Messenger.  December 18, 1908, 1. Accessed August 1, 2016.  http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn96083504/1908-12-18/ed-1/seq-1/.

South Side Messenger. January 1, 1909, 1. Accessed August 1, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn96083504/1909-01-01/ed-1/seq-1/.

"The Stroller." South Side Messenger. October 8, 1909, 1, Accessed August 1, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn96083504/1909-10-08/ed-1/seq-1/.

"Village Trustees." Nassau County Review. December 25, 1908, 1. Accessed  August 1, 2016. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071433/1908-12-25/ed-1/seq-1/,

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, August 1, 2016.

Otto's Sea Grill

Otto's Sea Grill, located at 271 Woodcleft Avenue, Otto's is the oldest restaurant on the Nautical Mile and possibly the oldest in Freeport.  It was opened in 1929 by Otto Koglin (1904-1972) and his wife, Helen.  Koglin came to the United States from Kaeselin, Germany in the 1920s and worked in New York City as a waiter before opening Otto's.   The couple and their daughter, Barbara, lived in an apartment above the restaurant.

In 1939, Otto's added a new addition to accommodate large parties and the restaurant was entirely redecorated. 

Barbara Koglin (1932-2020), a life-long Freeporter, graduated Freeport High School in 1950.  She was also a member of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, Nautical Mile Merchants Association, and a founding member of the Freeport Festival. Koglin married Arnim Jagnow (1929-2014), a native of Hanover, Germany, in 1955.  Their daughter, Ilona, is now the third generation to run this iconic Freeport restaurant.

In 2012, during Superstorm Sandy, 5 1/2 feet of water destroyed Otto's kitchen and dining room.  In less than a year, this iconic restaurant was reopened for business.

Click her for images related to Otto's.

 

Sources:

Ancestry.com

Marcus, Erica. "Welcome Back to the Nautical Mile Freeport Stretch, Hard Hit by Sandy, Makes a Summer Comeback." Newsday. June 27, 2013, B6.

Vogel, Scott. "Best of the Nautical Mile: Restaurant Hopping on Freeport's Woodcleft Canal, Sampling Seafood at Every Stop." Newsday. August 9, 2019, 2.  

"Business Notes." Nassau Daily Review-Star. March 2, 1939, 14. Accessed September 2, 2020.  http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn83031113/1939-03-02/ed-1/seq-14/.

Researched by Regina G. Feeney, September 3, 2020.

Outrigger Restaurant

Outrigger Restaurant was located at 445 South Main Street as part of the Freeport Motor Inn.  Both the inn and the restaurant opened in 1964.  Originally, the restaurant had a Polynesian theme.  Those associated with the restaurant included Joe Creamer, Jack Gorme, and Abner and Florence Subin.

See Also:

Freeport Motor Inn and Marina

 

 

Sources:

"Exotic Touch Draws Diners to Outrigger." Newsday. August 9, 1965, 15C.

Vasil, Eddie. "News and View." The Leader. June 11, 1964, 1. Accessed January 13, 2020. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1964-06-11/ed-1/seq-1/

Researched Regina G. Feeney, March 25, 2020.

Overton Street

Overton Street was named for John J. Randall's second wife, Mary Overton Randall.

Researched by Cynthia J. Krieg, May 27, 2016.

Oyster Industry

Oyster Industry thrived in Freeport in the late 1800s. The oyster industry was brought to western Long Island in the mid 1850s.  Oysters, according to Village historian Clinton Metz, did not propagate naturally in Freeport's waterways.  However, locals successfully created underwater oyster farms using seed oysters from Patchogue and Connecticut.  By the late 1880s, oyster farmers in the Town of Hempstead were shipping nearly a quarter of a million dollars worth of oysters to market.  Oyster farming in Freeport peaked at around the turn of the twentieth century.

It is believed that Freeporter John B. Raynor entered the oyster industry in 1858.  He was followed by Ditmus Pearsall around 1860.  Within 20 years, Pearsall was annually shipping 300 barrels of oysters to Europe and two thousand bushels of oysters to New York City.

Oystermen leased the underwater land by the acre in both the bays and the creeks from the Town of Hempstead to farm their oysters.  In order to "fatten" up the oysters before bringing them to market, Freeport's oystermen would move their oysters from the saltwater bay to areas of fresh water such as the Freeport Creek (also known as the Freeport River). This became problematic in 1891 when local oystermen became alarmed at Brooklyn's encroachment on local watersheds.  That year, fresh water diverted from Freeport Creek and the Merrick River left 3,000 bushels of oysters stranded high and dry. 

Many oystermen were forced to run water pipes to their oyster beds to keep their oysters hydrated.  At the time it was reported there were 40 oyster planters in Freeport who employed several hundred people.  Revenue for the oyster industry in Freeport were said to be over $800,000 annually.  Local oystermen formed a committee in 1896 to protect their industry from Brooklyn's diversion of fresh water.  The committee hired attorney Henry A. Monfort of Jamaica to advise them on this matter. 

A 1892 United States Engineer Office letter reported that 40 oyster boats navigated the Freeport Creek.  The letter also described Freeport's oyster industry as employing 100 people and bring into the creek from 30,000 to 50,000 bushels of oyster annually.

In 1899, oystermen operating in Freeport included: William H. Patterson, F. Pearsall & Co., Bedell Raynor, J. W. Raynor, James Whaley, S. Foster Sprague, Chauncey (sometimes spelled Chauncy) T. Sprague, Zopher Smith, Jr., and George T. Weygant. 

By 1897, it was reported that Brooklyn was pumping over four million gallons of water daily from driven wells in Freeport.  S. Foster Sprague (circa 1843-1920) filed a lawsuit in 1900 against the City of New York.  The suit was brought to stop the city from pumping fresh water from Freeport to Brooklyn.  Sprague claimed that the pumping stations exhausted the fresh water supply to the Freeport Creek, which made the waterway unnavigable and unfit for the "freshening" oysters.  If the courts found in favor of Sprague, $500,000 in judgments could have been awarded to local oystermen.  However, in 1902, Justice Wilmot M. Smith dismissed Sprague's lawsuit.

To combat theft of their oyster crops, Hempstead oystermen formed the Oyster Planters' Protective Association in 1900.  Officers included: Thomas T. Ramsden of Oceanside, president; William H. Patterson of Freeport, vice president; Henry B. Driscoll of Oceanside, secretary; and Wallace H. Cornwell of Baldwin, treasurer. S. Foster Sprague of Freeport, William H. Patterson of Freeport, Wesley B. Smith of Baldwin, and Isaac Terrell of Oceanside served on the board of governors. The association formed with 30 members, representing ownership of 125 acres of oyster beds.  The Oyster Planters' Protective Association agreed to offer a $100 reward for the "detection and conviction" of any person illegally disturbing oyster beds and a $200 reward for the conviction of anyone receiving stolen oysters.

More trouble for oyster planters occurred in 1905 when local independent baymen and clammers brought legal action against the Town of Hempstead over the use of the bays. The clammers contended that the Town of Hempstead had no right to grant licenses to oyster planters. In 1907, the courts ruled in favor of the Town.  

Freeport oystermen lost money in 1910 when oysters failed to matureBy mid-decade, the impact of the seepage of sewage into Freeport's waters became an issue.  To calm fears of the spread of disease from shellfish, Dr. William H. Runcie, local health officer, had the water in the oyster fields tested in 1916.  The results of the anaylsis were published in the Nassau County Review with the headline "Oysters Chemically O. K."  

By the second decade of the twentieth century, Freeport's once thriving oyster industry began to wane. Long time oysterman William H. Patterson sold his oyster business in 1921. Though oyster farming was largely discontinued by 1923, former oystermen continued to meet under the auspices of the Freeport Oyster Club.  In 1933, the club celebrated the 77th birthday of Captain Abe Smith in one of the last of the oyster houses that stood on the banks of the Freeport Creek.  When this waterway was widened in 1933, Smith's oyster house was moved eastward from the Mill Road side to the Hanse Avenue side of the creek.  In the 1940s. Chauncey T. Sprague's oyster house on South Main Street became the restaurant and later antique shop, The Old Oyster Wharf.

In 1895, one of Freeport's first political parties, the People's Party, adopted the symbol of two oysters on the half shell. Oysters also played a role in the Village's infrastructure; oyster shells were used pave the streets in Freeport.  In 1902, Street Commissioner John J. Randall reported to the Village Board that he spread 5,680 bushels of oyster shells on various streets including Main Street, Grove Street, Church Street, Bedell Street, Ocean Avenue, Railroad Avenue, and Mill Road.

Click here for images related to Freeport's oyster industry.

 

Sources:

Brooklyn Water Supply. " The New York Times. February 8, 1902, 8.

"Brooklyn Water Question. The New York Times. January 3, 1897, 17. 

Cacciatore, Anna Jean. Some Aspects of the Development of Freeport, Long Island 1897-1900.

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Sanders, Richard. "Visit to Another Land." The Leader.  September 1, 1977, 10. Accessed January 31, 2019. http://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn95071064/1977-09-01/ed-1/seq-10/.

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Researched by Regina G. Feeney, January 31, 2019.

Updated by Regina G. Feeney, May 31, 2019.