Saturday, October 13, 2012

Woodsburgh at 100

This weekend, the Culluloo monument at the intersection of Wood and Keene Lanes will be the site of  ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Woodsburgh's incorporation.

The process of incorporation, which required a population of 400 and the consent of one-third of the property owners and twenty-five freeholders*,  was a trend in turn-of-the-century Nassau County (est. 1899) as residents tried to provide locally determined services and zoning which the new county would or could not.  Lawrence was the first of the Branch communities to do so (1897), followed by Cedarhurst (1910) and Woodsburgh (1912). During the 1920's Hewlett Neck , Hewlett Harbor and Hewlett Bay Park followed suit.  Hewlett, Woodmere and Inwood remained unincorporated hamlets, dependent on the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County for services and legislation. There was a referendum for incorporation of Woodmere in 1918, but it was defeated by eleven votes. (Hempstead Sentinel, January 31, 1918, p. 1)

About 100 early residents of the future Woodsburgh began meeting in 1910 as the Woodmere Improvement Society. Created to organize police and fire protection, maintain the roads, improve street lighting and establish rules for sanitation and public safety.  By November of 1910, representatives from Woodmere and Cedarhurst were joining colleagues in Lawrence to cooperate in efforts to build a sewer system and disposal plant which would serve the three communities.

An election was held on October 29th at the Keene Lane home of attorney Arthur F. Cosby, resulting in a unanimous vote of 28-0 for incorporation.  Among the participants at these events were Edward H. Pershing, physician; financiers Arthur Nelson Peck, Frederic H. Hatch, James L. Timpson and Robert Sloan; railroad capitalist James A. McCrea; and Henry Ziegler, President of Steinway Piano Company.  Other residents would include real estate developer Maximilian Morgenthau, his brother Julius C. Morgenthau; Carleton Macy, President of the Hewlett Bay Company; William Fox, founder of Fox Film Corporation; brothers Harold and Sanford Jacobi, founders of Schenley Distillers; attorney George deForest Lord; real estate developer George L. Stebbins; financiers George W. VanSiclen and Louden S. Wainwright, Sr.

Woodsburgh officially became an incorporated village on November 8, 1912, reviving the original name of the community, which had been changed to Woodmere in 1899.

*The term Freeholder, based in English common law, originally referred to all men who owned or held property free of any debts or encumbrances.

Mayors of Woodsburgh
(Information provided from Woodsburgh Village Clerk)

James A. McCrea (President)     1912-1914
Frederick H. Hatch (President)    1914-1926
Charles A. Marshall (President)   1926-1931
John H. Ballantine                      1931-1937
Newbold L. Herrick                     1937-1943
Sidney O. Crystal                      1943-1952
Arthur D. Marks                         1952-1959
Spencer B. Witty                       1959-1969
Donald S. Ruth                          1969-1975
Stephen S. Mukamal                  1975-1978
Jesse Halperin                           1978-1987
Julius Dintenfass                        1987-1989
Jack L. Libert                             1989-July 1994
Susan L. Schlaff                         1994-present

Further reading:

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