Friday, February 24, 2017

Fathers of the Five Towns: Harold and Sanford Jacobi

In the early Twentieth Century, the first wave of real estate development in Hewlett saw Carleton Macy's Hewlett Bay Park Corporation erect large homes in varied styles on five-acre plots in what is today the incorporated village of Hewlett Bay Park.  These served as seasonal homes, sometimes rented to other summer vacationers, if their owners planned on yachting at Newport rather than on the Long Island shore.  Most did not have heating plants and so were inhospitable during the colder months.

The area attracted a wealthy population to the area and, to accommodate their lifestyle, facilities like the Seawane Club, the Woodmere Club and the Inwood Club joined the Rockaway Hunting Club in providing recreational services to their clientele.  Mobster Arnold Rothstein opened a beachfront casino at Hewlett Harbor in 1916 and the area was well-known for rum-running in the 1920's.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, many of the formerly wealthy landowners were forced to sell their property in the "country" and when money again became available, builders and speculators subdivided the large estates and sold them to the new middle class as well as the affluent who had retained their fortunes. 

Sanford Jacobi

Brothers Sanford (1879-1938) and Harold Jacobi (1884-1938), the founders of the Schenley Distillers Corporation, built homes in Hewlett Harbor during the 1930's, on property from several of the original Hewlett Bay Company properties.  With origins in Germany, their grandfather, Simon, (listed as a mohel in census records) emigrated to New Orleans before 1850.   After resettling in New York, the family returned to New Orleans, where Sanford was born.  Emile Jacobi, their father moved the family to Alabama, where the boys grew up.  By they had established themselves in the distilling industry. Their careers brought them to Chicago  and, eventually, New York.  After the  repeal of Prohibition, they became affiliated with the Schenley Products  Company, rising through the ranks to eventually found their own division.

Harold Jacobi house (photo courtesy of Cornell University,
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections)
Both brothers commissioned houses in Woodmere from designs by Olive Tjaden of Garden City one of only a handful of women who were licensed architects at that time. Harold Jacobi’s house, a Tudor mansion built in 1931, was the subject of a 1935 article in Good Housekeeping.  Attached to her copy of the article, Tjaden was quick to note that she was responsible for the design of the interior woodwork and several interior color schemes attributed to Mrs. Jacobi, in addition to the external features:

 “…[I] also designed the landscaping, which won the Herald Tribune prize.  The site was just a flat, bare several acres of land.  I brought up car loads of Rhodendron [sic] from source also special stone for waterfalls and picturesque pool.  Designed and built greenhouse and cutting gardens, along with new garage, potting rm. and living quarters above.”

Tjaden considered these houses among her major works.  Sanford’s house, built before 1935, was a white Georgian Colonial with extensive gardens.  In her notes, Tjaden describes 10,000 tulips which awaited the installation of statuary.  There was a separate building for the water pumping station which was used for the sprinkler and air conditioning systems.   Tjaden also designed more modest houses on Willow Road in Woodmere for Harold's two daughters.

In Although their principal residences were in Manhattan, both brothers were active in the Five Towns communities.  They were members of Temple Israel in Lawrence and the Woodmere and Inwood Country Clubs.   Since both he and son-in-law Arthur Marks were members of the Inwood Country Club, Harold was probably influential in commissioning Olive Tjaden as the architect  for the 1938 Inwood Beach Club.  Sanford was a Vice President and a Trustee of the Hospital for Joint Diseases in Manhattan.  And both families were active in many Jewish philanthropies.

Harold Jacobi and family
(photo courtesy of American Jewish Historical Society.
Center for Jewish History)

Tragically, Sanford Jacobi died at age 59 in November of 1938 and Harold died of a stroke at the age of 54 a little more than a month later on December 31.  Over 350 attended a memorial service at his home on Short Cut  Road.  Harold's wife, Freda also succumbed to a stroke in January 1939 at the age of 52.   Within a few years, their daughters relocated and the properties were sold. 

In 1941, the firm of Jaeger Brothers purchased both sites, which totaled about 20 acres, from the Jacobi estates.  Bordered on the North and South by East Rockaway Road and Everit Avenue and by Auerbach Avenue and Schenks Lane on the East and West, their development of forty homes was called The Birches at Hewlett Harbor The homes were built on plots which were a minimum of 1/3 acre and sold for between $16,500 and $25,000.

Further information:
  • Guide to the Papers of the Jacobi-Schlossberg Family (American Jewish Historical Society. Center for Jewish History)
  • Olive Tjaden Papers, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University.
  • "350 Attend Rites for Harold Jacobi," The New York Times, January 3, 1939, p. 17.
  • "Sanford Jacobi, 59, Schenley Official," The New York Times, November 29, 1938, p. 23.
  • "Rites for Mrs. Jacobi," The New York Times, January 21, 1939, p. 15.
  • "Schlossbergs Off for Southland," Newsday, September 11, 1941, p. 19.
  • “Plan Fine Home Community on Hewlett Harbor Estate,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 27, 1941, p. 30.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Baseball in the Branch

1880, 1889,
Alexander Cartwright published the first rules of baseball for the New York Knickerbockers in 1845.  The game quickly gained popularity and local teams played in community fields all over the country.    

By the 1870's,Woodsburgh had become a popular summer vacation destination and the community formed a team - both for their own pleasure and the entertainment of vacationers.  The Modocs (named for a Native American tribe) were respected competitors and their principal rivals were the Nationals of Pearsalls (today's Lynbrook), the Colonials of Far Rockaway and the Unions of East Rockaway.  

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 3, 1895, p. 7

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 24, 1904, p.8

 In 1889, several amateur teams began to explore the possibility of forming a league.  By 1899, six teams,  including Freeport, Hempstead, Valley Stream, Rockville Centre and  Wantagh combined to form the South Side LeagueBaldwin and Amityville soon joined, but the Woodmere team did not apply for membership.  However, in 1903, the Cedarhurst team did apply and by 1905, the team proved a formidable opponent in the league.
For ftlh blog July 2016
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 30, 1905, p. 11


  In 1909, philanthropist Olivia Sage (Mrs. Russell Sage) purchased the Cedarhurst baseball grounds in 1909, for the purpose of erecting affordable housing for working people.  The Cedarhurst Field Club, which had been formed in 1903 played under the management of Thomas J. Brown of Cedarhurst.  Samuel N. Hinckley (1881-1931) eventually a Harvard-educated stock broker and real estate investor, spent three years playing first base with the Cedarhurst semi-professional team.  Cedarhurst Justice of the Peace Lewis Raisig often served as umpire. The team played home games at the Nassau Trade School Field on Lawrence Avenue in Lawrence on Saturdays and holidays until the construction of a new field on Fifth Avenue between Rockaway Turnpike and Washington Avenue in 1915.  Away games were played on Sundays. (BDE, 6/1/1913, p.11)  In 1914, Cedarhurst played Inwood for the Championship of the Rockaway Branch.
    ( BDE 9/16/1914, p. 8)

for ftlh blog July 2016
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 20, 1915 – Page 9
The attraction of the local leagues was accessibility and the fun of watching neighbors and friends, but it could not compare to the excitement of the major leagues once they developed.  In 1903, Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the defunct Baltimore franchise of the American League for $18,000 and then move the team to Manhattan.  After 1913 season, this team would be known as the Yankees.  Their popularity and performance increased dramatically after the acquisition of Babe Ruth in 1920.  During the period from 1912 to 1915, James Gaffney of Cedarhurst was the owner of the National League's  Boston Braves.

The "Dead-Ball Era" is the sobriquet usually given to the years between 1900 and 1919, a time of low scoring games.   One source elaborates:
The term also accurately describes the condition of the baseball itself. Baseballs cost three dollars apiece, a hefty sum at the time, which in 1900 would be equal to $85 today; club owners were therefore reluctant to spend much money on new balls if not necessary. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game. By the end of the game, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, and tobacco juice, and it would be misshapen and lumpy from contact with the bat. Balls were only replaced if they were hit into the crowd and lost, and many clubs employed security guards expressly for the purpose of retrieving balls hit into the stands—a practice unthinkable today.
As a consequence, home runs were rare, and the "inside game" dominated—singles, bunts, stolen bases, the hit-and-run play, and other tactics dominated the strategies of the time.
For amateur and semi-professional teams, the conditions must have been even worse.

In 1937, Max Rosner, owner of the Brooklyn Bushwicks and Bill Leuschner of Nat Strong, Inc.,  organized the Metropolitan Baseball Association for semi pro teams in the Greater New York Area. To qualify, teams had to have a quality home field with lights for night games.  Because of the ban on night games during World War II, the association was suspended, but re-formed in 1946. (Kroessler, p. 125-6.)

The Cedarhurst Municipal Stadium was located near the intersection of Peninsula Boulevard and Rockaway Turnpike, on the site of today's Lawrence Senior High School. It was built by the Village of Cedarhurst in 1937 with workers furnished by the WPA. 
Between 1937 and 1941, it hosted semi-professional Metropolitan Baseball League teams, including the New York Black Yankees and the Brooklyn Royal Giants of the Negro National League.  Negro League baseball stars like Marion "Sugar" Caine and Barney Brown played at Cedarhurst during the 1939 season. 

The home team was the Cedarhurst Cedars.

As a young man, Bert Moser played in the minor leagues for a short time.  
"Born on August 6, 1918 in Cedarhurst, he spent his early years watching the teams at Cedarhurst Stadium. According to Bert, they played some of the best teams in their class such as the Bushwicks, House of David, Detroit Clowns, Black Yankees or Giants, Cuban All Stars and Springfield Grays. He would stand out there with a little mitt on Sunday afternoon catching balls, and when the game started sneak up into the stands or sell peanuts." 
(Interview with Bert Moser, Society for American Baseball Research website)  

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 16 Oct 1938,Page 39

 The Cedarhurst Baseball Club disbanded in the summer of 1949,  The previous season, the Cedars had reduced their games from three nights a week to just Sunday evenings. While they had one of the top semi-pro teams in the East, they lost many of their players and their fans dwindled to an average of 300 per game. Competition from major league teams, television, and night harness racing ll contributed to the demise of semi-professional baseball in the New York area.  As black baseball players found positions in the major leagues, the stars that made semi-pro baseball a draw were gone and eventually, so was baseball in the Branch.

Further information

Federal Writers' Project (New York). The story of the five towns : Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere and Hewlett, Nassau County, Long Island. [Rockville Centre, NY] : Nassau Daily Review-Star, 1941.

Harvard College. Class of 1905, Secretary's Second Report, p. 123.

Kroessler, Jeffrey A. Greater New York Sport Chronology (New York : Columbia University Press, 2009.)

"Victorious Woodsburghers," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 3, 1895, p. 7. 

History of Baseball in the United States  (Wikipedia) 

Cycleback's Online Museum of Early Baseball History Memorabilia 

Secretary's Report Harvard College, Class of 1905 (p. 123) 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle 

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Hewlett Homestead

May is Preservation Month

While a British citizen might describe a Victorian structure as "new," most Long Islanders would envision an "old building" as one which predates 1970.

The area known today as the Five Towns is fortunate to have a number of historic buildings - homes, schools and stores -- which date back to the early Twentieth Century and some much older.  Many of the original Victorian "cottages" in Lawrence's Isle of Wight still retain their original character.  The original Brower homestead at 989 East Broadway in Woodmere is one of the oldest in the area. Although it has been modernized, property records date it back to 1763.  Rock Hall in Lawrence, an ancestral home of the Hewlett family, is museum of colonial life administered by the Town of Hempstead. And the Hewlett Homestead at 86 East Rockaway Road in Hewlett was the home of many members of the Hewlett family from 1749 until 1986.

George Hewlett, the first Hewlett to settle in this area, was born in England in 1634.  He was part of an English community which emigrated to Long Island - by way of Connecticut - and negotiated treaties with the Dutch governors and native inhabitants to establish a population center in what is now Hempstead.  According to his descendant,  Charles W. Hewlett, the family soon established several farms along the wagon trail that stretched from today's Broadway (once an Indian trail) to Near Rockaway (today's East Rockaway).

 Photographs of the Hewlett house taken c.1984.

The site of George Hewlett's original home, was alled "The House at the Head of the Vly,"  and was situated at the head of George's Creek near Willow pond in present-day Hewlett Bay Park.  After George's death, his grandson Daniel lived in the house until his purchase of Richard Green's farmhouse (the current Hewlett house) and its surrounding two hundred acres of land.  At the time the Green property was surrounded by woods.  Joel Morris writes:
 No public road led to the house. An immense gate on the Rockaway main highway opened to an inviting lane which, flanked by the tall trees on either side, led to the house and farm buildings.   (p. 14).
 The Hewletts were a large and influential family in 19th and 20th century Long Island.  As farmers, dry goods merchants, members of Trinity Church, and Nassau County's early Republican party, Hewletts were active in the Branch communities. This culminated in Augustus Hewlett's 1897 donation of land for the renamed Hewlett railroad station, which in 1893 had been changed to Fenhurst.

Nassau County Historical Society Journal (1966), p.12
George Wilson Hewlett (1887-1969) and his wife, Cerecies (nee Watts) were the last Hewletts to reside in the house. George W. served forty years on the Hewlett Fire Department and was a member of its Board of Commissioners.  He served on the School Board of District 14 for forty-six years and was its President for thirty-four years.  The Hewlett-Woodmere School District's high school is named in honor of George W. Hewlett. After his death in 1969, Cerecies lived in the house until her death in 1984.  She deeded the house to the  Hewlett-Woodmere School District Board of Education in 1974, with the right of life tenancy.  Unfortunately, the District could not afford the restoration and upkeep on the property and by May 1997 school district voters approved the sale of one-half acre of the property to Nassau County for $1. The school district retained the remaining land.

Controversy has surrounded the property since the death of Cerecies Hewlett as family, community and government try to determine the best course for its management and preservation.   Since 2001, the Hewlett house, designated a local landmark by the Town of Hempstead, has been the home of 1 in 9: the Long Island Breast Cancer Action Coalition. 

May is National Preservation Month.  This is a wonderful opportunity for groups and individuals to show their concern for our local history and the buildings that reflect our past.  Let others know which places matter to you!

Further Information: (some links may require H-WPL Library card login.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Fathers of the Five Towns: William Adams

Residence of S.F. Morris*, Hewlett 
One hundred years ago, the Branch communities were renowned for their beautiful homes and gardens.  The summer season, which attracted vacationers from all over the world, was the perfect time for gracious outdoor entertaining in these seaside locales, and this was reflected in  grand lawns and spacious areas for entertaining.

Among the celebrated architects creating these magnificent country homes, was William Adams (1870-1956), a resident of Lawrence.

Adams was the grandson of the Rev. William Adams, pastor of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and a founder of Union Theological Seminary.   The younger Adams attended Yale University and later studied at Columbia University's School of Architecture.  According to the Michigan Society of Architects Monthly 30 (April, 1956), p. 11,

"The earliest recorded work by William Adams is the remodelling [sic] of his own house, a handsome Greek Revival residence at No. 23 West 10th Street, in 1893. The following year, he formed a practice, which lasted until at least 1911, with Charles P. Warren and, in association, Professor A.D.F. Hamlin, former head of the School of Architecture at Columbia University."
On New Years Day of 1894, Adams married Boston socialite Alice Cameron Greenleaf.  Their wedding in the Berkshires  was a high point of the New York and Boston society calendars.  Their family soon grew to include three sons: William (b.1894), Lewis Greenleaf (1897-1977), and John Thatcher (b.1908).   By 1900, the couple  had left Manhattan for Lawrence.

William Adams house at 80 Causeway
Adams' house - Living Room

Adams designed and built his home at 80 Causeway, not far from real estate magnates  Samuel P. Hinckley and  Robert Burton, financiers James R. Keene, J. Henry Work, Talbot J. Taylor and Albert Francke.  Francke, a classmate at Yale, was an usher at Adams' wedding.  He was also a client.  The home which Adams designed for Francke, built around 1899, is featured in the January 17, 1912 issue of American Architect and Building News.

William Adams showed a great sensitivity for designing his houses to complement their location, and for the location to enhance the house's design.
"[H]is plans capitalized on their sites, [he was admired] for the straightforward arrangement and good proportion of his rooms, and for the appropriateness of his designs to the Long Island landscape. "  -- MacKay, p. 38
Most of the houses are designed in the Georgian or Federal Revival styles.  
According to MacKay (p.38):
 Houses by Adams have many features in common.  In each, the main public rooms (entry hall, living room, dining room, and den or library) occupy the ground floor of the main block, with sun rooms in one wing and kitchen and service rooms in another wing on the opposite side of the main block. 

In addition to the house designed for  Albert Francke, Adams designed several other houses in the area:
  • with Charles Peck Warren, Federal Revival shingled house with a gambrel roof for Mrs. S.P. Sampson, Lawrence, c.1900
  • for Howard Summers Kniffin, Sr. (1870-1929), financier and partner in Kniffin and  Caffrey (a hemp and jute brokerage firm) at 515 Ocean Avenue, Lawrence.  The house, Restleigh was a Georgian Revival home, built in 1911. The home was later owned by Robert Morrow.
  • for realty broker John F. Scott (d.1934), a brick Federal Revival-style house in Hewlett Bay Park.

House of John F. Scott, Hewlett Bay Park
  • for attorney Norton Perkins, (1875-1925), a partner in McCurdy and Yard, and a trustee of the village of Lawrence. The Georgian Revival-style house, Whale Acres was located at 350 Ocean Avenue in Lawrence and was built c.1914. It was later owned by merchant and financier Samuel Sloan Achincloss, Sr. (1873-1934).
  • for C.Lawrence Perkins, a financier involved with railroads in Hewlett, (American Architect & Building News, January 17, 1912).
  • for financier Alfred Oliphant Norris (b.1901)  at 70 Causeway, Lawrence, in 1897, the house was subsequently purchased by the architect's son, William Adams III (b1895), Landfall   The younger Adams was a capitalist and builder.  He owned the house until 1951, when it was sold to Stephen Baker Finch.  It was renovated in 2006.
  • for stock broker Stuyvesant Fish Morris (d.1925), a descendent of President Martin Van Buren,
    *The photograph labeled "Residence of S.F. Norris" which appears in American Architect and  Building News, January 17, 1912 was, in this author's opinion, the home of Stuyvesant Fish Morris which is located on Everit Avenue between Hewlett Lane and Auerbach Avenue (now 235 Everit Avenue) in Hewlett Bay Park
  • for financier Arthur Nelson Peck, a shingled house, c.1912 on Channel Road in Woodsburgh. Peck was the president of Walters, Peck, and Co., a stock brokerage firm.  The house is featured in a 1912 issue of House Beautiful (v. 31) Feb 1912: 183.

Adams also designed the 1913 Lawrence High School building, the 1914 Woodmere Academy and the No. 4 School in Inwood, which opened in 1911 and is still in use.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 17, 1911, p. 6

 A practicing architect for forty years, Adams retired in 1932.  He was a member emeritus of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the University Club of New York and the Rockaway Hunting Club.  William Adams died in 1956 and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

    Further information (some links may require H-WPL library card number)

House of C.Lawrence Perkins, Hewlett

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hungry Harbor and Sunken City

Throughout the more than 300-year history of Long Island's English-speaking inhabitants, some quirky place-names have developed, many of which are retained today.   Some owe their origins to the native American inhabitants who preceded Long Island's 17th century Dutch and English settlers. Other places are named for those settlers and their descendants, and some names reflect people or events whose stories have been lost to modern memory.

In the Five Towns,  such a place is Hungry Harbor Road.  Inhabitants of the homes built in the area which has variously been called Lord's Woods (when owned by the Lord Family) or later Woodmere Woods, may not know that the area has been called Hungry Harbor (or Harbour) since colonial times.

Gathering Salt Hay
While the 1643 agreement between Long Island's English settlers and Native tribes established the borders for the Town of Hempstead, boundary disputes with the settlers at Jamaica (originally the Dutch settlement of Rustdorp) were not infrequent.  The Dongan Patent agreements of 1681 between the Towns of Jamaica and Hempstead defined the boundary line:

Whereas it mentioned in ye agreement that Jemaica bounds shall run to Rockaway Swampes mouth it is to be understood that Rockaway River that runs out of Rockaway Swamp shall be Jemaicaes east bounds and
all ye midows lying on ye west side of ye said River shall
belonge to Jemaica as wittneseth our hands the day before

The name "Hungry Harbor" was in use as early as 1682,  when John Tredwell of Hemsted [sic] deeded meadow land at Hungry Harbor to Jonathan Smith, Jr. of the same place.   (NY Genealogical and Biographical Record, vol. 42).  Although Hungry Harbor, a swamp, was not a good place to grow food crops, (hence one of the explanations for its name), it yielded salt hay -- a valuable commodity.  (More information about the salt hay industry appears in the FTLH blog of 8/20/2009.)

Samuel Carmen's will of 1728 mentions Hungry Harbor as Carmen's "plantation on Long Island." Several other documents of the period (a 1738 bill of sale from George Clarke to Josiah Martin (owner of Rock Hall),  and the wills of Edward Cornell (October 1770 and Nathaniel Frost, (March 1782) mention salt meadows "lying in Hungry Harbour."

Salt Marsh, Oceanside, NY

An 1854 article in Knickerbocker Magazine ("Editor's Table," v. 43, p. 191) mentions Mr. Pemberton, a merchant of New York City.  Pemberton contracted "fever-and ague which was in his eyes more to be dreaded than cholera, yellow fever or the plague," during his youth at Hungry Harbor and never returned to the Rockaways.

As early as the seventeenth century, Hungry Harbor became known as a haven for squatters and poachers.*  The meadows and swamps were town lands, leased to individual tenants, but not every resident was an paying tenant.  A 1909 New York Times article chronicles the eviction of a 76 year-old squatter, the indigent granddaughter of a Revolutionary War soldier.  Others lived on boats.   In a 1932 article, William Eibler (1861-1941), reminisced about his childhood in Rosedale and his impressions of Hungry Harbor.  Eibler retells a pre-Civil War story of a group of Massachusetts explorers who got lost in the swamp and starved to death.  This is similar to a story told in Oregon about a bay called Hungry Harbor along the Columbia River:
Hungry Harbor, a bay on the north bank of the Columbia River east of Megler in Pacific County.  Fishermen claim that seven men drifted into the bay and starved to death.  It is an ideal shelter for small boats and fishermen frequently anchor there to eat their meals, which may be another origin of the name. --- (Washington Historical Quarterly)
Harold Ruehl, author of the History of Valley Stream, 1840-1975, writes that the area was

so called because it was largely a settlement of squatters, and the squatters went hungry a goodly part of the time. True, it was a harbor because it was the only area of farmland that possessed rich fertile land in addition to having access to the sea.

During the last decades of the Nineteenth Century, members of the Lord family (FTLH blog of 8/6/2015) owned vast tracts of land in what is now Cedarhurst and Woodmere; their land holdings stretched from the Rockaway line LIRR tracks to the Queens border.  Attorney Franklin B. Lord was President of the Long Island Water Company, whose pumping station also occupied some of this property.  Although much of his land consisted of woodlands, low-lying bog and marshland, Lord constructed a country home on the property.  The home was well-maintained during Lord's life, but after his death in 1916, 

" it met with fire and vandalization, and fell into general disrepair.  After World War II the [Dr. William] Lee family acquired the Lord house and much of its surrounding land, and completely restored, renovated and modernized the dwelling, completing the major portion of this work in the early 1950's."  --  In the Matter of Town of Hempstead, Respondent, v. Lee Associates, Inc., Appellant.  Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Department. February 17, 1981.

Dr. Robert M. Lee, a dentist, bought the property with an eye towards development and after 1952 was developing other properties in the area  To this end, he created a private lake and used the dredged land from the lake as landfill for adjacent lots.   

Other parts of Hungry Harbor became Rogers Airfield, then Curtiss Field and, later, Green Acres Mall.

Sunken City
At the Hewlett end of the Lord's Woods, another squatters community existed as late as the 1950s. (see Newsday article below).  During and after the Great Depression, whole families squatted in abandoned houses along the route of the yet-to-be-constructed Peninsula Boulevard.  Their children attended school and, occasionally were the recipients of charity from their more affluent neighbors. Those living in the neighborhood considered Sunken City, whom appear in the 1940 U.S. Census, were white, native born Americans with an elementary school education. The head of the house was working (but for very low comparative wages) to support large families with many children.  A number of men worked as laborers for the WPA.  Truck drivers and gardeners were also common professions.  For these people, prosperity was still very far away.

The end of World War II signaled an unprecedented construction boom and the remaining fields and swamps soon gave was to housing developments.   In his evocative book The Lord's Woods, Robert Arbib chronicles the destruction of the woods and its development into the single-family housing units which epitomized the American Dream of post-WWII Long Island. 

Notes and Further information: (database articles may require H-WPL login)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cedarhurst Soldiers' Memorial

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day–a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans–living or dead–but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.   -- History Channel web site
The ceremonies held at Andrew Parise Park on Veteran's Day 2015  evoked the memory another ceremony at the park (then Cedarhurst Park) in November of 1923. Then, the newly formed Lawrence-Cedarhurst American Legion Post 339 erected a memorial to nine local veterans of World War I who had died in service.  They found themselves at the center of controversy  the local Ku Klux Klan attempted to lay a wreath at the Thanksgiving dedication ceremony.

New York Times, Nov. 30, 1923, p. 1
As the attached articles recount, the ceremony was about to begin when three members of the Klan - who did not wear their traditional robes or hoods on this occasion -- brought a wreath to the ceremony and desired to place it on the memorial.  The family of Lawrence Wood, one of the deceased servicemen,   wanted the Klansmen to place their wreath. The Legionnaires opposed them and the situation deteriorated, with fist fights breaking out.  The agitated crowd of about 1500 was eventually calmed by the efforts of  Col. Wickersham, the Legion post commander and by Rabbi Isaac Landman's impassioned speech in which he stated that the men that they honored that day did not die so "that America should be torn by racial hatred and religious conflict."  New York Times, 11/30/1923, p. 3).   The situation did not resolve itself until the police came and the Klan members retreated.

In researching this story, this author found that, as the participants feared, the ceremony overshadowed the reason for the memorial -- the nine young men who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country. It seems appropriate, almost one hundred years later, to offer the names and stories of the men honored on the granite monument in Parise Park. 

SGT. Harry P. Bruhn lived at "Fair Oaks" on Pacific Avenue in Cedarhurst
Born on April 6, 1895, the son of a Danish immigrant carpenter, Sgt. Bruhn was a machine gunner with the 7th New York Infantry.  He died September 24, 1918 of wounds received in action and is buried at Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in France. (Obituary: The Sun, October 18, 1918, p. 12.)

CPL. John R. Lantry , Jr. lived on Washington Avenue in Cedarhurst.
He was born July 30, 1891, and when he went into the Army he was 5'6" of a medium build with blue eyes and black hair.  John Lantry was single and worked with his father as a mason before he went into the Army.  He served in the 305th Infantry, Company M and died of lobar pneumonia on December 30, 1917 at Camp Upton, before ever seeing combat. He is buried in St. Mary's Star of the Sea Cemetery in Lawrence.
2nd LT. John Edward Mitchell lived on Pearsall Avenue in Cedarhurst.
He was born October 6, 1895 and on his draft registration, he is described as tall and slender with blue eyes and light hair.  Before the war he was single and worked as a clerk for Hard and Rand in New York City.  He served in the 23rd Infantry, Company F and died of disease on his birthday in 1918 at the age of 23.  Lt. Mitchell is buried in Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

1st LT. Gordon L. Rand was born on September 3, 1892, the youngest of six children. 
He graduated from Yale University in 1912 and went into business with his father's coffee-importing firm, Hard and Rand.  He enlisted in the Army in 1915 and served with the Cavalry on the Mexican Border in 1916.  When his unit was recalled in 1917, Rand enlisted in the American Ambulance Corps.    He was wounded the chest and side from artillery fire and was discharged because of his wounds.  He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for penetrating a zone of fire to deliver medical supplies to men who desperately needed them.  Although he was himself wounded, he completed the task and helped evacuate the men before seeking treatment.  When he recovered, he enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Air Service Signal Corps, a precursor of the U.S. Air Force.   Lt. Rand died from wounds received in action on February 5, 1918.  There is a headstone memorial at Trinity-St. John's Church in Hewlett, but Lt. Rand is buried at the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial.  An  article in the Buffalo Evening Courier chronicles an event witnessed by Rand while he was in his plane and his efforts to create a memorial for the French soldiers lost in that skirmish.


1st LT Philip Newbold Rhinelander was in Harvard University's Class of 1918 when the war broke out.  Born in 1895, he came from a patrician family and was educated at preparatory schools in Newport, RI and California.  Philip Rhinelander left Harvard to join the American Field Service in July 1916 and in 1917 enlisted as an aviator.  Attached to the 20th Day Bombing Squadron.  Lt. Rhinelander was shot down during aerial combat over France, falling to his death on September 26, 1918 at Murville, over the German lines.  He is buried at Murville, Meurthe-et-Moselle in France.  There is an extensive and personal tribute to Philip Rhinelander at


Because James Laurence Scanlan had red hair,  his nickname was "Red".
Born August 10, 1892, his enlistment application of September 1918 lists his hair color, blue eyes, medium build and his mother's name and his address: Cedarhurst Avenue in Cedarhurst.  At the time of enlistment he was working for the Remington Arms Company in Hoboken, NJ.  This information omitted the fact that was already a war hero.  He had joined the French Foreign Legion in 1914.  A battle-related leg injury in 1915 ended his infantry career and left him with one leg shorter than the other.   After a lengthy recovery, he registered for the Lafayette Escadrille  (an all-American  squadron fighting the Germans during the time before America officially entered the war).   "Red" Scanlan had a colorful career in the Lafayette Escadrille, resulting in several dramatic crashes, before he retired in 1917.  The movies Flyboys (2006) and The Lafayette Escadrille (1958) portray some of the exploits of these American heroes.  Although Scanlan later registered for the draft in the U.S., his war wounds continued to plague him and he died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Far Rockaway on November 25, 1921 at the age of 28. (Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 11/29/1921, p. 26.) He is buried in St. Mary's Star of the Sea Cemetery in Lawrence.

PFC. John J. Sullivan was from Cedarhurst. 
He served in Company C of the 106th Infantry.  He died of wounds November 17, 1918.

PVT. Ralph B. Watts  served with Company B of the 102nd Infantry.  He enlisted at Hartford, Connecticut in 1916 and during the summer of that year, served on the Mexican border.  Deployed to France, he died April 1, 1918 and  is buried at Saint Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial in France. (The Daily Long Island Farmer, April 12, 1918, p. 1)

Apprentice Seaman (US Navy) Lawrence Lockharte Wood was born in January 1896 and lived at the corner of Oak and Center Streets in Cedarhurst. He enlisted in the Navy in 1916 and died of pneumonia while at the Naval Training School at Newport, RI on, June 6, 1917.    Lawrence Wood was the first young man from the Rockaways to die in service in World War I (South Side Observer, March 1,1918, p. 1)

In addition to the nine men listed on the memorial, the
World War I Roll of Honor: Nassau County, New York  June 1, 1922

also lists the following servicemen from the Branch communities who were lost in World

War I, the war to end all wars:

  • Artuse, Bruno        Mott St., Inwood, L. I. N. Y.        Pvt., Co. I., 28th Inf.        Died of wounds, November 13, 1918   
  • Batta, Alfred M.        Henry St. Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., 1st cl., Co. I., 308th Inf.        Killed in action, October 6, 1918   
  • Carmen, Timothy E.        Woodmere, N. Y.        Sgt., Co. G., 306th Inf.        Died of wounds, September 3, 1918   
  • De Mott, Thomas S.        West Broadway, Woodmere, N. Y.        Pvt., 1st cl., Btry. C., 311th F. A.        Died of broncho pneumonia, February 28, 1919   
  • De Ponso, Lidovico        Lawrence Ave., Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., Btry., F. 301st F. A.        Died of broncho pneumonia, October 14, 1918   
  • Desimore, Generino        Henry St., Inwood, N. Y.        Pvt., Co. B., 305th Inf.        Died of wounds, September 27, 1918   
  • Dramis, Theodore        Henry St., Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., 1st cl., Co. M., 113th Inf.        Died of wounds, October 11, 1918   
  • Harigel, John        Lawrence, L. I., N. Y.        Pvt., Co. C., 83rd, Inf.        Died of influenza, October 14, 1918   
  • Hirsch, Ike        Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., Co. F., 325th Inf.        Died of pneumonia, October 9, 1918   
  • Kalley, Nelson        Jeannette Ave., Inwood, L. I., N. Y.        Pvt., 1st cl., Co. C. 106th Inf.        Killed in action, September 27, 1918   
  • McGinn, Frank J.        52 Red Wood Ave., Inwood, L. I., N. Y.        Pvt., Hdqrs. Co. 57th Arty.        Killed in action, October 31, 1918
  • Monaghan, Edward        Ocean Ave., Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., 1st cl., Co. M., 113th Inf.        Killed in action, October 10, 1918   
  • Sullivan, John        Central Ave., Lawrence, N. Y.        Pvt., Co. M. Ord. Dept., U. S. A.        Died of broncho pneumonia, October 19, 1918  (not the same as John J. Sullivan from Cedarhurst)
Listed in Haulsee, et al.  Soldiers of the Great War In Three Volumes (Soldiers Record Publishing Association, 1920)
  • Hicks, Charles Reeves, Jr.     Cedarhurst          Died of Disease       Sgt.  [born November 21, 1890]

Additional Information:

Incident at Cedarhurst Park, November 29, 1923

Veterans' Day and Those Who Served