Thursday, November 1, 2007

Meeting 11.1.2007 of the Seaford Historical Society

Thomas Saltzman, historian of the Town of Hempstead, presented two Powerpoint CD shows that he and his office prepared. The first reviewed the history of record-keeping in the Town of Hempstead. The second was prepared for classes of fourth-graders, who study local history.
Many thanks to the volunteers of the Seaford Historical Society, who graciously and expeditiously offered this meeting. First, however, I must provide this link to a page outlining the history of the Town of Hempstead. I must also remind readers that Seaford, New York, does not have the status of village or city. It is an unincorporated section of the large Town of Hempstead. We have about 16,000 residents, but our local government is the Town of Hempstead, which counts about 750,000 residents.
Mr. Saltzman explained from 1643 to 1784 the Town of Hempstead extended from Long Island Sound to the Atlantic Ocean. During the Revolutionary War, the northern section tended to be "Patriot," siding with George Washington, and the southern section was "Loyalist," friendly to the King. In 1784, the town was split, a division that can be seen on the parking signs along Old Country Road! (In Westbury, those on the north side of that street are marked "Town of North Hempstead," on the south side "Town of Hempstead.") For a while after 1784, the term Town of South Hempstead was used.
It must also be noted that the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay formed part of Queens County until 1899, when Nassau County was established. As a result, certain county-level documents (some land deeds, for example) originating prior to 1899 are held in the Queens County record office on Sutphin Boulevard, Jamaica.
Until about 1870, the town records moved from house to house depending on who was Town Clerk. When the Town of Hempstead was split in 1784, the clerk happened to live in north of Old Country Road, so North Hempstead retained the older records. Some were later copied, by hand, of course. Through many years, there was only one town meeting a year, in April, and it considered few items of business. The records from 1784 to 1870 make six volumes. About 1870, the Town created a records office on Liberty Street, Hempstead, so the records would not thereafter be stored at the current clerk's home. Nowadays, there is a special department in Town Hall for the preservation of records.

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