Bethpage Purchase

Bethpage Purchase

The Bethpage Purchase was a 1687 land transaction, in which Thomas Powell bought more than convert|15|sqmi|km2 in central Long Island, New York for £140 (English pounds sterling) from local Indian tribes, including the Marsapeque, Matinecoc, and Sacatogue.Eight years later, October 18, 1695, Mawmee (alias Serewanos), William Chepy, Seurushung, and Wamussum made their marks on the sheepskin deed. The deed from the Indians to Powell is recorded in the Queens County Clerks office, and in it the Indians reserved the right to pick berries and hunt on the property sold. [] cite book |title= The history of Long Island, from its discovery to the present time : with many important and interesting matters, including notices of numerous individuals and families, also a particular account of the different churches and ministers |author=Benjamin F Thompson, Walt Whitman |publisher=Gould, Banks & Co. |location= New York |year=1843 |edition= 2nd ed. |OCLC= 1484958 |quote=Bethpage is an old though scattered settlement, near the east line of the town [Town of Oyster Bay] , and through which the Long Island Rail Road now passes. The new village of Farmingdale is in its immediate neighborhood, and promises to become a place of considerable consequence. A friends' meeting house was built at Bethpage more than sixty years ago, and the methodists have just completed another at Farmingdale.] This land, which includes present day Bethpage, East Farmingdale, Farmingdale, Old Bethpage, Plainedge, Plainview, South Farmingdale, and part of Melville is approximately convert|3.5|mi|km east to west and convert|5|mi|km north to south. At that time, people would fish in the Massatayun River that ran through the area, roughly where Route 135 now is, just west of Merritts Road.

Powell was a Quaker farmer, born August 1641 in Wales, who had emigrated about 1661 to Huntington, New York. He called the land he purchased "Bethphage", because it was situated between two other places on Long Island, Jericho and Jerusalem, just as the biblical town of Bethphage (meaning "house of figs") was situated between Jericho and Jerusalem in Israel. Today, the Long Island place formerly called Jerusalem is known as Wantagh and Island Trees, while the placename Jericho, also a Quaker settlement at that time, still has that name. Over time, "Bethpage" was spelled without the second "H".One of two houses he built in the area (circa 1700) still stands on Merritts Road in Farmingdale, just north of the Bethpage-Hempstead Turnpike.

In 1699, in what is called the "Rim of the Woods Purchase", Powell also purchased from the Indians [] land to the west of the original Bethpage Purchase - including most of present-day Bethpage, and all the land in the northern section of the present Plainedge (Boundary Ave. north to Old Motor Parkway and Hicksville Road east to Cedar Drive). [] Thomas Whitson bought one-third of the Bethpage Purchase in 1700, and died there in 1742 at the age of ninety. [] After Powell's death in 1731, his remaining property was divided among his fourteen children and their heirs, and so it evolved into several farming communities.

The deed

The deed reads as follows:

quotation|To all christian people to whome this p'sent writing shall come, or in any wise concerne. Bee itt knowne that we, Mawmee, alias Serewanos, William Chepy, with ye rest of ye Indian proprietors whose names are hereunto subscribed, Indian proprietors of Massapege, upon Long Island, for and in consideration of £140, in hand paid, and by us ye sd Indians received, in full payment and satisfaction, have granted, sold, &c., unto Thomas Powell, sen'r, a certaine percell or tract of land, beginning att ye west corner, att a dirty hole upon ye Brushy plaines, near Mannatto Hill, from thence up a Hollow on ye south side of Mannatto Hill, and out of that Hollow a Cross ye hills, eastward pretty near Huntington, south line, to ye Brushy plaine on ye east side ye hills, and so along ye east side of ye vallee that goes to ye east branch of Massapege Swamp, the head of ye swamp being the S. E. corner, and from thence to rang along William ffrost line until wee come to west neck, north-east bounder, belonging to Oyster Bay, and from ye said N. E. bounder of ye west neck, and soe to Run on the west side of ye Hollow that comes from ye west branch of Massepege Swamp, so far as there is any trees, and from thense to ye sd Hole of dirt and water near Mannatto Hill, called by the Indians Messtoppass, part of above bounded lands having been in ye possession of ye sd Thomas Powell above seven years before the signing and dellevry hereof.

And ye aforesamentioned Indians have put ye sd Thomas Powell in lawfull and peaceable possession by ye dillevery of Turf and Twigg: Only the sd Indians doe reserve ye liberty of hunting and gathering huckleberrys upon ye sd land, as they shall see cause. In witness whereof, we, ye above named Indians, have set our hands and seals, this 18th day of ye 8th [Note that at that time the year began on 25 March.] month, 1695.


....SEREWANOS, X his mark, [L. s.]

....WILLIAM CHEPY, X his mark, [L. s.]

....SEURUSHRUNG, X his mark, [L. s.]

....WAMUSSUM, X his mark, [L. s.]

A map using some present day landmarks is available [] .

Bethpage and Hardscrabble: modern Farmingdale

The original Bethpage Friends Meeting House, on Quaker Meeting House Road, Farmingdale, built in 1741, was the first house of worship constructed in the Bethpage Purchase area. The [ present structure] , built in 1890, is the third meeting house at this site, the previous two having been destroyed by fire. It is nearly surrounded by Farmingdale's oldest cemetery.

In the 1830s, anticipating construction of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), land developer Ambrose George purchased a large tract of land in the eastern part of the Bethpage Purchase lands, between the community then known as "Bethpage" and a large area in Suffolk County called "Hardscrabble". [cite web
title= Geological map of Long & Staten islands with the environs of New York
authors= W.W. Mather, geologist of the First District of New York, from the topographical surveys of J. Calvin Smith
publisher= New York Public Library
date= 1842?
(The location marked "Bethpage" is near Merritts Road, just north of the Bethpage Turnpike. An unbounded large area further east in Suffolk County is marked "Hardscrabble", where there were as yet no settlements, and the general opinion was that the land there could not be cultivated. The map is dated 1842 in pencil with a question mark. Neither Farmingdale nor Hicksville appears on the map. The Hicksville LIRR station opened in 1837, and its absence suggests an earlier date for the map. The LIRR also had taken a diferent route east of Hicksville, arriving in Farmingdale in 1841.)
] [cite web
author=Eddy, John Henry
title=Map of the country thirty miles round the city of New York
publisher=Disturnell, John
publisher=NY Public Library
(The location marked Bethpage extends into Suffolk County. This is in accord with maps of the Bethpage Purchase of 1695. This map shows Hicksville, where the LIRR had a station in 1837, but the planned route east of there was changed.)
] He built a general store just east of the Bethpage community, and named his property "Farmingdale". When the LIRR started service to the area in October 1841, [] [(Whether "late Bethpage" is meant to indicate 1> a flag stop at the community near Merritts Road, or 2> that the area near the Farmingdale LIRR station had lately been called "Bethpage", or 3> that the Merrits Road community had been a temporary stop until the Farmingdale station was completed has not yet been determined.)] it used the name "Farmingdale" for its latest stop, here, on the line it was building to Greenport. Stagecoaches took people from the Farmingdale station to Islip, Babylon, Patchogue, Oyster Bay South, and West Neck (Huntington area). By December 1841, construction was completed to the next stop on the LIRR, a temporary stop called Babylon Station, [ (No mention of Bethpage here.)] and later to a permanent station called Deer Park, [cite web |url= |title=1842 Brooklyn Eagle article |date=1842-03-14 Next was a station then called "Thompson": [ 1842-07-02 Brooklyn Eagle LIRR schedule] .Then "Suffolk Station: [ 1842-08-15 Brooklyn Eagle LIRR schedule] By July 27, 1844, LIRR service extended all the way to Greenport: [ 1844-07-27 Brooklyn Eagle LIRR schedule] ] reducing some, but not all, [] stagecoach traffic from Farmingdale.

In March 1842, Ambrose George donated some of his land for the construction of the first Methodist meeting house in Farmingdale. Until that time, the only other place of worship was the Quaker Meeting House northwest of the Farmingdale LIRR station. [cite web |url= |title=History of the Farmingdale United Methodist Church] A post office opened July 31 1845 using the name "Farmingdale".] The name "Hardscrabble" continued to appear on maps for the area further east in Suffolk County, in the vicinity of present-day Wyandanch. [cite web |url=,gottscho,detr,nfor,wpa,aap,cwar,bbpix,cowellbib,calbkbib,consrvbib,bdsbib,dag,fsaall,gmd,pan,vv,presp,varstg,suffrg,nawbib,horyd,wtc,toddbib,mgw,ncr,ngp,musdibib,hlaw,papr,lhbumbib,rbpebib,lbcoll,alad,hh,aaodyssey,magbell,bbcards,dcm,raelbib,runyon,dukesm,lomaxbib,mtj,gottlieb,aep,qlt,coolbib,fpnas,aasm,scsm,denn,relpet,amss,aaeo,mffbib,afc911bib,mjm,mnwp,rbcmillerbib,molden,ww2map,mfdipbib,afcnyebib,klpmap,hawp,omhbib,rbaapcbib,mal,ncpsbib,ncpm,lhbprbib,ftvbib,afcreed,aipn,cwband,flwpabib,wpapos,cmns,psbib,pin,coplandbib,cola,tccc,curt,mharendt,lhbcbbib,eaa,haybib,mesnbib,fine,cwnyhs,svybib,mmorse,afcwwgbib,mymhiwebib,uncall,afcwip,mtaft,manz,llstbib,fawbib,berl,fmuever,cdn,afcesnbib,hurstonbib,mreynoldsbib,spaldingbib,sgproto,upboverbib,mussm,cic,afcpearl,awh,awhbib,wright,lhbtnbib&title=Travellers%20map%20of%20Long%20Island |title=1857 Map of Long Island |date=1857 |publisher=Library of Congress ("Hardscrabble" again appears in Suffolk County. Several maps in the 1840s mistakenly showed "Farmingdale" where "Hardscrabble" is on this map.)] In 1912, the New York State School of Agriculture on Long Island [] opened in East Farmingdale.

Early in the 20th century, Benjamin Franklin Yoakum, a wealthy railroad executive, acquired convert|1368|acre|km2|1 of these holdings [] which contained an 18 hole golf course, the Lenox Hills Country Club, designed by Devereux Emmet and opened for play in 1923. When he died in 1929, there was conflict over usage of the lands, which in 1932 became Bethpage State Park.

Bedelltown, Jerusalem Station (and Jerusalem), Central Park: modern Bethpage

An early name for the northern section of present-day Bethpage was "Bedelltown",cite web |url= |title=1873 map of Town of Oyster Bay |publisher= New York Public Library |accessdate=2008-04-07] [] a name in use for over 100 years. [cite web |url= |title=excerpt from "Bethpage, the Years of Development, 1840-1910"cite book
title= Bethpage, the Years of Development, 1840-1910
author=Terry Hunt
The name is prominent in the 1873 maps referenced elsewhere on this page.
] The Bedells, with 15 families in the area, were one of the larger families present when the federal census of 1790 was taken, and were later responsible for the first school in the district. [] Bedelltown was the name of one of the local school districts [ [ Brooklyn Eagle 1899-11-19] [ Brooklyn Eagle 1899-09-05] [ Brooklyn Eagle 1897-09-08] ] [] before the formation of the present Bethpage Union Free School District, and was still in use in 1928. []

In 1841, [ cite web |url= |title=Early LIRR History] train service began to the Farmingdale LIRR station.In 1851, there is still no indication of any stop between Hicksville and Farmingdale. [] By 1854, there is reference to a "Jerusalem Station", likely near the current Bethpage LIRR station. [ cite news |url= |title= RAILROADS |date=1854-04-13 |pages=p7 |publisher= New York Times |accessdate=2008-04-07] On January 29, 1857 a local post office opened, also named "Jerusalem Station". [Jerusalem was a community to the south, now called Wantagh. One of the reasons later given for changing the name from "Jerusalem Station" was that residents wanted to establish an identity of their own that did not depend on their being a station for another community.] LIRR schedules listed the station also as simply "Jerusalem". [cite web |url= |title= 1863 LIRR timetable |accessdate=2008-04-07The schedule shows Jerusalem is convert|2|mi|km from Farmingdale and convert|3|mi|km from Hicksville, the same distances as of 2008.] Residents succeeded in changing the name of the post office to "Central Park", effective March 1, 1867 (respelled as "Centralpark" from 1895 to 1899).cite web |url= |title=Nassau County Post Offices 1794-1879 |author=David Roberts |accessdate=2007-12-23 cite book |title=New York Postal History: The Post Offices & First Postmasters from 1775 to 1980 |author=John L. Kay & Chester M. Smith, Jr.|publisher=American Philatelic Society|date=1982] [Central Park in Manhattan had opened in 1859.]

By 1873, the "Central Railroad of Long Island" had a regularly-scheduled stop, using both the name "Central Park" and "Jerusalem", near Stewart Avenue and Motor Lane in Plainedge, approximately convert|0.75|mi|km south of the present station. [] [] []

In 1908, William Kissam Vanderbilt II began construction of the Long Island Motor Parkway, one of the country's first highways. Eventually stretching convert|45|mi|km from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, a portion of the parkway ran nearby. Famous people came out to watch the races and stayed at the Beau Sejour Hotel. []

The Central Park Fire Company was organized in April 1910, and incorporated in May 1911. In May 1923 the Central Park Water District was created.

Following the opening of nearby Bethpage State Park in 1932, local residents again petitioned to change the name of the post office, this time to "Bethpage". The name "Bethpage" was, however, already in use by an adjacent community, which resisted suggestions of a merger and instead renamed itself Old Bethpage. The change from Central Park to Bethpage, effective October 1, 1936, was one of the last complete name changes of Nassau County's post offices.

From 1936 until 1994, Bethpage was home to the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, which made, among other things, the F-14 Tomcat and the Apollo Lunar Module for moon landings. (Bethpage is thus mentioned in the film "Apollo 13".) Cablevision Systems Corporation, a Fortune 500 company, is headquartered in Grumman's former main office.

Bethpage: modern Old Bethpage

A railroad spur completed in 1873, known as the Bethpage Branch of the "Central Railroad of Long Island", [ cite web |url= |title=Railroad Extension| date=1873-08-01| accessdate=2008-04-01 |publisher=NY Times] ran to a brickworks plant which had opened in the Old Bethpage area in the 1860s. The railway was built to transport bricks for the construction of A.T. Stewart's Garden City. [ [ Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce] ] [ cite web |url= |title=Stewart Line and Stewart Brick Works] For a few years, regularly-scheduled passenger traffic also appeared in timetables, with the station being called "Bethpage". The line was abandoned in 1942. Remnants of a locomotive turntable can be found in the woods of Bethpage State Park on the east side of Round Swamp Road. [ [ Central Railroad of Long Island- Bethpage Turntable] ] [ [ Long Island Motor Parkway Exploration Continuation Page 2 ] ]

The name "Bethpage" also features prominently as the name of the school district in a map of 1873.

In 1932, under the auspices of Long Island State Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses, Bethpage State Park, was opened. The park and its convert|1400|acre|km2, was built on the former estate of railroad tycoon, Benjamin F. Yoakum, and is located almost entirely within Old Bethpage. In 1936, the adjacent hamlet of Central Park petitioned the post office to change its name to Bethpage. [] Since there were only fifty residents in the original Bethpage, the post office suggested that the two communities merge and granted the request. Residents of the original Bethpage, resisting the merger suggestion, changed the name of their school district to "Old Bethpage". Residents also used "Old Bethpage" as their postal address, though, there being no such post office until 1965,cite web |url=
title=A Hop, Skip and Jump to Life's Amenities |publisher= NY Times|date=1996-08-18|accessdate=2008-04-01
] mail addressed to "Old Bethpage" was handled by the Plainview post office. As of 2008, Old Bethpage and Plainview continue to have joint school, library, fire, and water districts.There was no movement to rename Bethpage State Park, and so some mistakenly believe it is located mostly in Bethpage.

Old Bethpage is home to the [ Old Bethpage Village Restoration] , opened in 1963, on a former Powell family farm. The restoration is an authentic recreation of a pre-Civil War, Long Island farming village, complete with original mid-19th century structures moved from various areas of the island, including farmhouses, a blacksmith, general store, cobbler, schoolhouse (1845), and church. [ [ Field] ] [] Costumed staff demonstrate crafts from that period.


External links

* [ Thomas Powell, genealogy of first of Powell family on Long Island]
** [ his will]
* [ of the Bethpage Purchase]

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