Queens County, NY
From: Gazetteer of the State of New York
By: J. H. French, LL.D.


This work contained many footnotes that were not readable. These were not included in the online work even though they contained much valuable information.

Also see Towns of Queens County.

THIS county was organized Nov. 1, 1683, having previously been included in the North and West Ridings of Yorkshire. Its original bounds have not been changed. It lies upon Long Island, near the W. extremity, is centrally distant 133 mi. from Albany, and contains 410 sq. mi. It extends across the island, bordering both upon Long Island Sound and the ocean. Its coasts are deeply indented by irregular inlets, bays, and harbors. The principal of these upon the sound are Oyster Bay, Cold Spring and Oyster Harbors, Mill Neck Creek, Hempstead Harbor, Manhasset Bay, Little Neck Bay, Little Bay, Powells Cove, Flushing Bay, and Bowery Bay. Upon the East River are Halletts Cove and the narrow passage of Hell Gate, and upon the S. shore, Jamaica, Hempstead, and South Oyster Bays. Along these bays and the creeks that flow into them are wide salt meadows, the most extensive being upon the s. shore. Outside of the bays on the ocean side is a series of beaches and shifting sand-ridges, affording a complete protection from the storms of the ocean. These beaches are divided into distinct parts by several inlets opening into the bays.

Inclosed in the bays within the beaches is a great number of low, marshy islands separated by narrow tidal streams and covered with sedges. A wide strip bordering immediately upon the bays is of the same marshy character. Along the deep bays upon the N. coast are small patches of salt meadow; but the greater part of the laud upon the capes, necks, and promontories is of a most excellent character. A range of hills 100 to 300 feet high extends in a general E. and w. direction through the co., a little N. of the center, and irregular spurs extend northward to the sound. From the base of the ridge a wide, unbroken plain extends to the s. to the salt marshes which surround the bays.

The streams of the Co. are mostly small, and afford but a limited amount of water-power. At the mouth of several of the creeks on both the N. and s. shores the ebbing tide is used for hydraulic purposes. At the head of several of the streams are little, fresh water ponds,7 the principal of which is Success Pond, near the top of the high ridge in the S. E. corner of Flushing. The soil upon the N. side is a productive, sandy loam, in some places mixed with clay. The plains have a coarse, sandy soil, which is rendered productive only at considerable cost. Along the borders of the salt meadows is a strip of light, sandy soil, easily cultivated and of moderate fertility.

The people are principally engaged in agriculture and market gardening. Fishing and the taking of oysters afford occupation to a large number of people. An extensive coasting trade is carried on, and the Co. each year furnishes a large quota of sailors. Manufactures are extensive and various, and are confined principally to the N. shore.

The co. courthouse is situated upon the plains of North Hempstead, a little N. W. of Mineola station and p. o., and near the geographical center of the co.

The jail occupies a portion of the courthouse building. The county records are kept in a spacious brick building in the village of Jamaica; and in the same building are offices for the Surrogate and Beard of Supervisors. The co. has no poorhouse; but each town provides for the accommodation of its own paupers.

The Brooklyn and Jamaica R. R., extending w. from Jamaica to the co. line, is leased by the Long Island R. R., which extends E. from Jamaica through Hempstead, North Hempstead, and Oyster Bay. The Flushing R. R. extends w. from Flushing Village through Newtown to the mouth of Newtown Creek. The Syosset Branch R. R. connects Hicksville, upon the L. I. R. R., with the village of Syosset, 3½ mi. N.

There are 7 newspapers published in the co.; 2 at Jamaica, 2 at Hempstead, 2 at Flushing, and 1 at Glen Cove.

The co. was mostly settled by English immigrants, under the authority of the Dutch Government during the last 20 years of its existence. The E. extremity of Long Island was claimed by the English colonies of New England; and the boundary line was the subject of a long and angry dispute, which was never entirely settled until the final subjugation of New York by the British in 1664. The whole of this co. was under the Dutch, except Oyster Bay, which was a disputed territory. The first planters came on in considerable numbers, and were associated in the purchase of the lands from the Indians. They were mostly united by a common religious faith; and they were invested with certain civil rights, which were afterward confirmed by the English Government of New York, and some of which continue to the present time. The people chose a duplicate set of magistrates and municipal officers, from which the Dutch Governor selected such as he pleased.

The people employed their own minister, and enjoyed comparative religious freedom. The Dutch, however, did not faithfully carry out the agreement which they had entered into with the settlers, and., in 1653, delegates were sent to the city to remonstrate against certain abuses. This was not heeded, and when the people again met for a like purpose they were ordered to disperse. The inhabitants rejoiced when the Dutch rule was finally broken and they came under the protection of the English. Gov. Nicoll, the first English Governor, convened deputies from the several towns upon Long Island, who met at Hempstead in the spring of 1665. A code of laws and ordinances was adopted, a shire was erected, the names of towns were changed, boundaries were settled, and affairs were regulated to meet the views of the new government. From this time no land could be taken without purchase from the Indians and patent from the Governor.

During the Revolution considerable numbers of the people joined the loyalists, and the co. was mostly in quiet possession of the enemy. Robberies were common, especially along the N. shore. Presbyterian churches were everywhere used for military purposes. A petty warfare was carried on in whaleboats, and daring exploits were performed by partisans of both sides.

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