Category Archives: Local History

Commemorating the Centennial of the Death of Theodore Roosevelt Today

January 6, 1919. Theodore Roosevelt died around 4 a.m. at his beloved home, Sagamore Hill home. He had been a NYS Assemblyman, NYC Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of the Rough Riders, NY Governor and U.S. Vice President assuming the office of President when William McKinley was assassinated. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating peace after the Russo-Japanese War. These were his official roles. He was also a rancher, a hunter, a conservationist, and an author (more than 30 books and somewhere around 150,000 letters).

Hard to believe that he was only 60 when he died. He left a legacy of civic engagement, conservation and an active lifestyle.

The Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune eulogized him on its front page: “In the passing of Theodore Roosevelt the world loses a man. No matter how widely opinions may differ as to his politics and his methods, there is universal appreciation of those sterling qualities of virile manhood …. The life of Theodore Roosevelt marks an epoch in the development of America. He lived earnestly and sincerely. …His memory will be cherished for his genuine Americanism, his unswerving loyalty and his devotion to the public weal.”

Some Theodore Roosevelt related activities:

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    Visit our first floor book display of his life and work.

  • Join the Syosset library for a book discussion of Mark Lee Gardner’s Rough Riders January 8 at 7:30 p.m.
  • On Thursday January 17 at 2 we will have a lecture on “Roosevelt’s Life and Legacy”.
  • Roosevelt’s Oyster Bay home, Sagamore Hill, is a short drive away.
  • A train ride away is the NYC American Museum of Natural History (of which his father was a founder) where he contributed many species of birds, mammals, and amphibians he had collected during a 1914 trip to the Brazilian jungles.
  • Or start planning a summer vacation to see his profile at Mount Rushmore and his Elkhorn cabin at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Be careful of the bison out there!

-posted by Brenda, Reference Services

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Preservation Workshop

preservation workshop pic“Your personal collection may include scrapbooks, photographs, letters, Bibles, christening gowns, home movies, and so much more.  What I’d like to provide for your community is an opportunity to learn how damage occurs and how to protect those items from any future damage, so that their family’s history can endure for as long as possible.”

Nicole Menchise, archivist and collections manager

Oyster Bay Historical Society

Thursday, April 9 2015 at 2:00 pm.

Refreshments will be served.

Nicole Menchise will speak about preserving the items we hold most dear – our unique family treasures – including a discussion of best practices for handling, displaying and long-term storage for papers, books, textiles, photographs and film.

Included in the workshop are examples taken from the collection of the Society.  Attendees are encouraged to bring items that they feel need to be discussed specifically.  No appraisals will be given as this is strictly regarding preservation practices.

– posted by Barney, Local History services

A Talk About Long Island’s William Floyd Estate

william floyd estateOn Feb 26 the Syosset Library will present a talk on the Floyd Estate. Located in Mastic Beach, this is the family home of William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Park Ranger MaryLaura Lamont will discuss the eight generations of the family which owned the property from 1718 until 1976 when it was given to the National Park Service.

William_floydWillliam Floyd is the most historically well known of the family. Born in 1734 he was a plantation owner and an active political figure on Long Island and in New York. He was a member of the New York Senate and was active in the colonial militia. He was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and was the first of the New York delegates to sign the Declaration of Independence.

If you want to jump start your study of the family and its historic property, visit the Oyster Bay Historical Society’s current  exhibition (January 11-other sideMarch 29) at the Angela Koenig Center. Titled “The Other Side–Charles, Cesar, Harry, Sam, Pompey, Lon and Isaac” , it is a photographic look by artist Xiomáro at the estate property, as well as interior rooms often not seen by the public. But the title of the exhibit comes from the collection of photos of plain wooden crosses found in the cemetery marking the graves of slaves and household servants of color. The crosses were erected in the 1870s. By then the family had moved away from slavery and supported the Union cause in the Civil War.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Services

Theodore Roosevelt: A Man for All Seasons and Reasons

theodore rooseveltSyosset resident Milton Elis will present a fascinating and

informative program on the private and public life of

Theodore Roosevelt at the Syosset Public Library

on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 2 PM.

Mr. Elis is a long-time volunteer at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. One of his many jobs at Sagamore Hill has been conducting tours of the Roosevelt home. Mr. Elis has also worked with the curator to reserve artifacts in the collection as Sagamore Hill.

Hope to see you there!

– posted by Barney, Reference Services

Slavery on Long Island?

 As the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, I started thinking about how slavery was practiced in colonial New York. Slavery? On Long Island? Yes. In 1625 The Dutch West Indies Company imported the first eleven Africans into the colony.  And Nathaniel Sylvester brought the first slaves to Long Island in 1654 (or some historians think it was his wife who did so in 1653). One historian notes that “until thirty years before the American revolution, Islanders held more enslaved Africans than colonists in New England or mid-Atlantic colonies.” It is estimated that in 1698 there were 1,100 slaves on Long Island and by 1775 there were 5,000. Most Long Islanders owned few slaves. It was a matter of economy and not of benevolence to limit ownership.  It was not until 1827 that slaves in New York were set free.

There are contemporary newspaper ads mentioning runaway slaves, wills passing slaves to family members and census records indicating the slave population. But there is little written history of slaves and their lives.

manorI just finished the new book about Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island. Author Mac Griswold does an amazing job tracing the three centuries of the Sylvester family in her book, The Manor: Three Centuries at a Slave Plantation on Long Island.  Nathaniel Sylvester and his wife, Grizzell, were the first Europeans to live at this Shelter Island plantation where trees were grown for wooden barrels, and food and livestock were produced to supply the Barbados plantation owned by Nathaniel’s brother, Constant, and two partners. There were certainly not enough European settlers to make this provisioning plantation successful. It relied on the labor of African slaves, Native Americans and indentured servants.

The author presents fascinating research about the horticulture and archaeology of the island and she delves into the cultural, political and religious trends that influenced the owners of the plantation. But it was her study of slavery that held my attention.

jupiter hammonPerhaps you have heard of Jupiter Hammon, the first published African- American poet. He was a slave in the household of the Lloyd family in nearby Lloyd Harbor. Read about his life and poetry here.

Add a strange twist to the story: Grizzell Sylvester, daughter of Nathaniel and Grizzell, married James Lloyd in 1676. They were the parents of Henry who owned the Lloyd Manor when Jupiter Hammon was born. When Henry died, Jupiter lived with James’ Lloyd’s grandson, Joseph. Jupiter accompanied Joseph when he fled the British forces on Long Island during the American Revolution.

For more on the topic of slavery consider Grania Bolton Marcus’s A Forgotten People: Discovering the Black Experience in Suffolk County, Mary Feeney Vahey’s A Hidden History: Slavery Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Cow Neck and on Long Island, Samuel McKee’s Labor in Colonial New York and Thomas Davis’ Rumor of Revolt.

Hofstra University has a summary of the history of “the peculiar institution” on Long Island.

If you want to take a quick road trip, you can visit the Sylvester Plantation or Lloyd Manor at Caumsett State Park.

– posted by Brenda, Reference Librarian

Lollipop Farm Train Back on Track!

lollipop tractorThe newly restored Lollipop Farm Train will make its debut this weekend at the Greenlawn Pickle Festival.  On Saturday, September 21, the Greenlawn-Centerport Historical Association will host the 34th annual Pickle Festival at the John Gardiner Farm, located at 900 Park Avenue, Huntington. Among the many events and activities, the highlight will be the opening of the original Lollipop Farm Train, which has recently been restored by members of the Historical Association. The train will be open for children to enjoy a ride and experience a piece of Syosset history.  The train was a prime attraction at the Lollipop Farm petting zoo, located at Jericho Turnpike and Jackson Avenue. The original train locomotive has been fitted with a new engine, and the train has been repainted to its original yellow and red color scheme.

In addition to the train, the Pickle Festival will feature hay rides, a corn maze, potato digging demonstrations, antique cars and trucks, home-baked goods and local farm produce. For more information about the Pickle Festival call 631-754-1180. The John Gardiner Farm is located at 900 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY.

– posted by Barney, Reference Services