A Capsule History of the Village of Lindenhurst
The Village of Lindenhurst traces its beginning back to the Indians, when Secatogue and Massapequa tribes roamed the “Lindenhurst” woods in search of food. The area was then called Neguntatogue, which means, “forsaken land.”
The Huntington farmers of English origin were the first white people to discover the territory. They came in search of salt hay. It was found growing abundantly in our marshland.
In 1657 Jonas Wood, a Huntington farmer, and his neighbors signed a treaty with the Secatogues for five necks of land, including Santapogue Neck (now Venetian Shores). Little Neck, which is the land west of the Lindenhurst Canal, was acquired a short time later.
Although the Huntington farmers came here in the 1600s, there was no settlement established at the time. In the 1780s Jesse Ketcham and his wife, the former Temperance Brush, built a home on what is now Montauk Highway just east of Washington Avenue. Other early settlers in “Huntington South” (as this area was then called) were the Strongs, the Bartos, the Smiths, the Van Nostrands and the Fleets. They lived quiet, farm lives until 1867 when the South Side Rail Road laid a single track to Babylon. The area was then opened, with travel to New York City being quicker and easier.
Thomas Wellwood, an Irishman, and his wife Abby, had bought some acreage as early as 1861. After the arrival of the railroad, they purchased vast amounts of land. By 1870 they owned so much land that the railroad’s timetable listed a “Wellwood Station.” Around this time Thomas Wellwood met Charles S. Schleier, a native of Breslau, Germany. He had come to America in 1850 and settled in Brooklyn. Schleier has a great dream to build a “place where German immigrants can live and work.” Charles Schleier had soon sold Thomas Wellwood on the idea of establishing a “City of Breslau.”
Together they formed the “Breslau Cooperative Building Association.” They brought “city people” into this community by excursion trains with the hope of selling property to them to build homes and living here. The City of Breslau was formally dedicated on Pfingst (Pentacost) Monday, June 6, 1870.
The growth of industry was encouraged. Before the turn of the 20the century, numerous factories and businesses flourished in the new Village, providing many local families with employment. The rapid growth of the Village soon made our early settlers realize the need for a fire company. In 1877 the “Breslau Feuer Wehr” (Fire Protection) was formed. Four years later the name was changed to the Breslau Engine Company, as it is still known today. This same year, the “Union Hook & Ladder Company” was organized. In 1884 the “Library Hose Company” was formed. By 1885 these three companies, with a total of 44 men, combined and became known as the “Breslau Fire Department.”
In 1891 the Village’s name was changed to “Lindenhurst.” It became the Incorporated Village of Lindenhurst in 1923. One year later the Lindenhurst Police Department was organized. It served the Village until 1960 when it was incorporated into the Suffolk County Police Department.
The Huntington farmers, who built a one-room schoolhouse on what is West Montauk Highway, established our present public school system in 1841. In 1870 the German settlers established another school on School Street. A new wooden school was built in 1876.
The early settlers brought their religion with them and soon built houses of worship. Ground was broken for the first Catholic Church on June 21, 1870. In 1913 the Village’s first parochial school was completed to educate the children of the local parish. Others soon followed. On August 28, 1872, formal dedication ceremonies were held for a newly built Lutheran Church on present West John Street. In 1874 a religious group founded the Jewish Congregation “Neta Szarschea.” This group was short-lived and a generation later it was replaced by the Lindenhurst Hebrew Congregation incorporated on December 18, 1913. Grace United Methodist Church was founded September 19, 1926, and the congregation of Bethel Baptist Church, now First Baptist Church, was organized in 1942. St. Boniface’s Episcopal Church was organized in 1951.
Today with a population of more than 29,000, the Incorporated Village of Lindenhurst is the largest village in Suffolk County and the fourth largest in New York State (NYS). Lindenhurst is larger than the four eastern towns on Long Island. It is also larger than 39 of the 62 cities in NYS.