( Continued from page 4S)
take an oath of office.
Most important to us, however, on this January morning, was the feet that Powell
disposed of his Huntington holdings and then purchased from the Massapequa Indians,
in the period 1688- 1699, a tract of land five and one- half miles long and approximately
three miles wide to which he gave the biblical name Bethphage ( shortened in usage
to Bethpage) because it mirrored the geographical position of the Holy Land town of
Bethphage, which also lay between a Jericho and a Jerusalem.
Starting in the southwest corner of Powell's purchase we drove north on Stewart
Avenue, Plainedge, turned east on Central Avenue, Bethpage ( once Central Park),
and crossed the Long Island Rail Road tracks at the Motor Parkway bridge. Here, on
the north side of the road we climbed a low hill through thick brush to find the worn
stone door sill, the crude foundation and the mortised ends of several charred beams
where the Christopher Stymus house once stood.
This house had been built in the " Broad Hollow**, immediately east of the hill, before
1768 and is mentioned in the Oyster Bay Town Records as situated on Jericho
Road ( now Central Avenue): " beginning there and running four rods wide along by
Christofer Stymuts ( sic) house and so into the rim of the Wods ( sic).'* In 1841 when
the Long Island Rail Road was extended from Hicksville to Suffolk Station, the embankment
created a local drainage problem and the house was dismembered and moved
to higher ground.
Next, we stopped at " Broad Spring," a pioneer landmark in the triangle where
Quaker Meeting House Road divides to meet Merritt Road. The pond was almost dry
and choked with flags but a small pool glistened between the reeds.
Now we drove northeastward toward the Bethpage Clubhouse, finding on the left only
an old orchard marking the approximate place where John ( 2) Powell, and his wife,
Margaret Hallock, had lived and raised nine children. Among the nine was Phebe,
born in 1716, one time clerk of the Westbury Monthly Meeting of Friends, who in
1765 married John Hicks, father of Elias Hicks, later to become the revered Quaker
preacher. Elias was secenteen years old when his father took Phebe as a second
We stopped for a look at the familiar Quaker Meeting House, built in 1741. The
shutters were closed but we knew that Clerk Jean Merritt Hubbard, descendant of
Thomas Powell, opened them each Sunday for the eleven o'clock service.
On the road once more, we slowed beside the site of the Daniel ( 3) Powell home-staed
( near present riding academy stable) as we drove northward across the purchase.
Although we found no trace of this homestead, we did see •• The Mirey Place"
( just south of Claremont Street), a landmark belonging to Moses ( 3) Powell and near
the site of his no longer existent pre- revolutionary home. Also, to the east of
Crescent Avenue was Wait ( 3) Powell's '^ lay Pit" the colonial beginning of the Old
Bethpage brick industry.
We turned eastward down Winding Road and, after rounding a sharp bend, saw below
us on the left the gray, hand- split shingle roof of the Joshua ( 3) Powell house ( circa
1750). Joshua had married Phebe Post in 1744 and filled this home with seven children.
Many times, we thought, he had hitched his team and fetched the hay from the
Hempstead Plains along what was then called " Joshua Powell's Plain Hay Path."
This path now bears the redundant name, Plain Hay Path Road.
Across the street from Joshua's house, we inquired of mushroom gatherers if
they had seen any old foundations in the nearby wood. They replied that they had not,
so we searched the wood ourselves to no avail. We then put our question to a few boys
engaged in a mock war upon the ruins of a Motor Parkway bridge. They told of an
abandoned house in a field at the end of a narrow gravel path about a half mile beyond
us. This path we followed to the east and found the house which proved to be a nineteenth
Our digression was nevertheless rewarding for under a bright sun we came upon
Thomas ( 1) Whitson's " Great Field" so named in colonial days because it contained
one hundred thirty- three cleared acres. Whitson, an apprentice of Thomas Powell
in the cordwaining trade, was originally from Hempstead and had followed his master
from Huntington to Bethpage. In 1700 he obtained one- third of the Powell lands and
built a house on Merritt Road, opposite the second Powell homestead.
We now retraced our route to Winding Road and proceeded south along Crescent
Avenue to Battle Row, where we passed the site of Elisha ( 2) Powell's house on the
brow of a hill to the north. Across the street had once stood the house of his son- in-law,
Thomas Davis, the husband of Isabel Powell, and further south the home of
Thomas Pearsall who married Rachel Powell, a daughter of John ( 2). This Elisha
Powell left a will upon his death in 1739 which read: •• Sell my negro boy, Ben, and
oxen and give my wife Rebecca the proceeds thereof." Freedom- loving Quakers,
however, under the influence of leaders like John Woolman ( a friend of Amos ( 2)
Powell) were among the first to recognize slavery as an evil. We find in the town
records a long list of negroes freed and generously helped in the establishment of
their own farms and homes.
Beyond the sites of the houses thataredescribed above, we came to a fork in Battle
Row and saw on our right two stables vertically boarded and roofed with hand- split
shingles. A large house stood nearby, partly covered with asphalt siding, but revealing
hand- split shingles on one side and in the rear. These shingles were apparently
pre- revolutionary. The land where this house stands is marked on the Samuel
Willis map as belonging to John Pearsall, whose father, Henry, had acquired property
in the Bethpage Purchase from the executors of Elisha Powell's estate.
Turning out of Battle Row Swamp Road, passing Joshua we rode north along Round
Powell's •' Half- Mile Island," an eighty- six acre field on the left, north of Hay Path
Road, and on which the Nassau County Sanatorium now stands.
Beyond Old Country Road we asked a farmer if he had over heard of the Whitson
homestead or " Round IV> nd" which was in the vicinity and, according to a notation of
Samuel Willis, " in the use of all the proprietors." Although he knew of no old house,
he said there was an unnamed pond on his farm. We followed a dog- leg trail through
the woods which corresponded in shape to the road shown on the Samuel Willis Survey
of 1732- 1768 and came to " Round Pond" or " Round Swamp," approximately one
hundred feet in diameter, iced over and semi- circled by a few tall trees.
We continued north to the Mannetto Hill Road and turned southwestward, following
the line of the purchase to Plainview Road. On the southeast side of this intersection
and not more than three hundred feet from the new Plainview elementary school, we
found " The Dirty Hole" or " Moscopass" as the Indians called it. Filled with mud,
weeds and cattails, it was fenced off from a herd of dairy cows which roamed the
slope beyond. As we stood there a phrase from Powell's 1695 deed came to mind:
" Beginning at the west corner at a dirty hole upon the bushy plains near Manetto
Kill—" and one from his March 12, 1699 deed to the Rim of Woods lands, • thence
along by a Ridge of Trees between the bushy plains until it comes to a swamp or
hole of water called by the Indian name Moscopac ( sic)."
From the Samuel Willis map we knew that the Richard ( 3) Powell house ( built
about 1739) had been located a short distance south of the Dirty Hole on the northeast
corner of Old Country and Plainview Roads. At this point we found a weathered
dwelling which former owners assured us was " more than two hundred years old"
in its basic structure. This house, soon to be torn down, is possibly the original
dwelling. Bunker relates that Richard was married to Freelove Weeks in 1737 by a
Justice of the Peace, contrary to Quaker doctrine.
Richard later wrote the following letter to the Westbury Society of Friends:
" These lines may acquaint you that I am under concern of mind for my misstep
in ye way that I was married. . „ . without ye counsel and advise ( I did) procure a
license from the Governor and was married by a Justice of the Peace. Which hasty
and unadvised marriage. . . I do condemn, and do desire for the future I may walk
Now we moved along Plainview Road toward the town of Bethpage and passed an
area known to the Powells as ' « Commons." We searched westward on Haypath Road
for signs of the William Beadle ( about 1768), Robert Shadbolt ( before 1760), and
Amery Shadbolt ( prior to 1770) houses. Beadle interested us since Bethpage ( Central
Park) was originally called " Bedelltown." The Bedell is a corruption of the old
Welsh name Beadle and for this reason most oldtimers refer to the town as " Beadle"
or " Beetle Town"
From Haypath Road we followed Farmer's Avenue southwestward to Stewart Avenue
and saw the Joshua Hubbs' house ( before 1830) on the northeast corner. This
house has recently been restored and is one of the oldest homes in the village of
Stewart Avenue led us south to Cherry Street where we turned left and came to
Broadway, the main street of Bethpage. Just north of this point, the Rowland Pearsall
house, built about 1720, once stood. An early Bedelltown schoolhouse was later
erected nearby. Rowland married Anna ( 4) Powell and according to a local 19th
century legend George Washington dined at their home.
We next took Plainview Road which leads through the State Park and past the site
( beyond the woods to the east) of Thomas Whitson's •' Little Field" which contained
107 acres, only 23 less than his •' Great Field" previously mentioned. The Thomas
( 4) Powell homestead ( probably built before 1790) once stood in the present Picnic
Ahead of us now lay the heart of the Bethpage PurcJiase. At Broad Spring we
curved around Merritt's Hill and saw the second Thomas ( 1) Powell homestead to
which he moved after giving the original house ( built on the north side of Hempstead
Turnpike just west of the Babylon Branch of the Long Island Rail Road) to
Thomas ( 2) Powell as a wedding present. This original house, known in the 20th
century as the I^ wrence Farm, was torn down in 1931. It was there that Powell
entertained Captain Seaman of the pequod Indian Wars and Hempstead Militia who in
1694 named Powell as " overseer" of his will.
We went further south on Merritt Road across the Hempstead Turnpike looking
for the house of John Whitson for whom the hollow to the west ( Bethpage Spur of
Southern State Parkway) is named. While in this area we also ranged through southern
Farmingdale circling " the slough" and looking for the houses of Abraham
Wansor ( 1768), John and James Merritt ( 1788), without success. Wansor had bought
one eighth of John ( 2) Powell's land right prior to 1768.
Later we returned to the Thomas Powell house and drew to a stop beside the door-yard
pond. Here, Walt Whitman's words seemed appropriate: " And the infinite
separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily
The late D. Rob
ert and Mrs. Merritt
resides in Munches
ter Center, Vermont
were the owners of
the ' Aulde House'
prior to the sale of
the Thomas Powell
at 33 Merritt Road,
Klesh has filled the
homestead with her
has been completely
restored to its Colonial
McCourt & Trudden Funeral Directors
385 Main Street,
( Opposite Post Of( ice)
CHapel 9- 1303
' also Richmond Hill Chapel
130- 02 Liberty Avenue
Dignified and reverent
at moderate east
Farmingdale Observer Supplement Thursday, April 6, 1967 5S
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