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HICK'S NECK
The Story of Baldwin

FROM SETTLEMENT TO REVOLUTION

We do not know when the first settlers came to Baldwin, but by the year 1660 the piece of land between today's Parsonage Creek near Oceanside, and Milburn Creek near Freeport was called Hick's Neck. It was named after John Hick who moved to Hempstead Town about 1654.

In 1664, the English captured New Amsterdam and started the Colony of New York. After this, our area became an English territory. The Hick's Neck area became a part of Queens County and remained so for many years.

Building a Community
In 1686, the town gave "mill rights" to John Pine. Mr. Pine chose five acres near the northeast corner of today's Milburn Avenue and Merrick Road and began to dam Milburn Creek to create a millpond. This gristmill encouraged farmers to settle in this area to take advantage of its valuable service, and a community began.

As Pine's Mill grew, so did the number of roads in our community. Hick's Neck Road ran from Hempstead Village to Pine's Mill and on to the harbor. Another road branched off this one and went to Oceanside. These rough roads were the beginning of Milburn Avenue and Grand Avenue. The South Country Road, later a colonial post road, traveled just south of Pine's Mill. Today it is called Merrick Road. At first these were all dirt and sand paths, some were used by the Indians. Frequent use by the settlers made the roads wider and also put deeper ruts in them. Rain and snow muddied them and made travel even harder. Later on, some roads, such as Milburn Avenue, were covered with clam and oyster shells, which made for good hard road surfaces. For short trips, the most common way to travel the roads was by foot. If you were fortunate, you might saddle a farm horse. However, early villagers took wagons, carts, sleds pulled by oxen, and sleighs in the snow. Later, horse-drawn stagecoaches ran on the major roads.

Most families made their living farming the land and the shoreline bays. As local farms grew, they planted corn, rye, oats, wheat, buckwheat, flax for linen, vegetables in house gardens, and fruit orchards. Salt hay cut in the harbor marshes and on the islands in the bay made good feed for their animals. Farmers raised cattle, oxen, sheep, hogs, chickens, geese, horses, and other domestic animals. "Baymen" (fishermen and shore hunters) took fish, clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, ducks, geese, plover, and many other game birds from the wild to use in kitchens for meals. The men and women worked together to make a good life for their families, and the children did their share by milking cows, gathering eggs, churning butter, and more. During the first years, Pine's Mill newcomers were settling, and wood lots were cleared to supply fuel and building materials as well as more planting fields.

The Revolutionary War
In August 1776, the British Army defeated George Washington's Continental Army in Brooklyn at the Battle of Long Island. Many Hempstead Town patriots left for the safe haven of Connecticut. For seven long years, until 1783, the British army occupied this area. During this time, many buildings were damaged by the troops living in them. The British army for its needs took a great amount of fencing and firewood, grains and other crops, and farm animals. When the Continental Army finally won the war and the British troops left Long Island for Nova Scotia, England, and the British West Indies, many local loyalists left with them for fear they might be hurt by returning patriots. Now Hick's Neck in Hempstead Town, Queens County, was a part of the State of New York and not a British colony.

To join the Baldwin Historical Society, please call (516) 223-6900.

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Image
Grand Avenue
& Brooklyn Avenue,
1900
Southwest corner of the LIRR crossing at Grand Avenue. Baldwin had a population of about 200 at the time.

 


Foxhurst Road
& Grand Avenue,
1900

 

Image
Grand Avenue
& Merrick Road
1906
Fourth of July, Dr. Steele's Drug Store and the Sorrentino Building to the left, located at Grand Avenue and Merrick Road.

 

Image
Brooklyn East
of Grand Avenue,
1908
Railroad Plaza, L-R: R.R. Station, Post Office, Smith Hotel, Pearsall Livery Stable, and A.W. Pearsall Real Estate office, Grand Ave to the far with Amos Pearsall's house on Pipe Line Blvd., (later Sunrise Highway).  

 


Milburn Corners,
Merrick Road,
1909
Milburn Corners. Milburn Avenue looking east into Freeport at Merrick Road. Milburn Hotel and Fred Rebban's Hotel on the left.

 

Image
Train Station built
1878
The first train came through in 1868. The last stop was Merrick where the train turned around and went back to Jamaica.
(Photo taken in 1910)

 

Image
2420 Grand Avenue,
1915