Hewlett Family Papers

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Hewlett Family Papers

Collection Facts


Historical Context

The nature and content of the Hewlett Family Papers reflects to a large extent both the occupations and political positions of family members. Whether as founder of St. George’s Church in Hempstead (Lewis S.I., 1703) or officer in the French and Indian Wars (Richard Hewlett, 1750s), or chairman of the Queens County Agricultural Society (Lewis S. II, 1817), or President of the Port Washington School Board (Samuel Lewis IV, 1890s). The family dispersed to various parts of Long Island- some to the South Shore, where the town of Hewlett was named after the family and to Rock Hall in Lawrence, now a well-preserved museum. Others went to the North Shore where they built homesteads at Cold Spring Harbor, Great Neck, Roslyn, Port Washington and Plandome.

As Long Island agriculture shifted to vegetable gardening for city markets in the early 1800s, the Hewletts were at the forefront. As investor attitudes shifted away from packet ships to steamboats in the mid-1800s, the Hewlett’s stock holdings changed. As new technologies and industrialization were introduced into farming communities in the late 19th century, the Hewletts were among the innovators in farming machinery and labor-saving devices. And as private sector methods were used to accomplish the transportation revolution on Long Island in the second half of the 19th century, the Hewletts were among the movers and shakers. Prominent landowners, farmers, manufacturers, lawyers, merchants and entrepreneurs, the Hewlett’s status in the community over eight generations placed them in a unique position to collect, and hand down important written information concerning the growth and development of their hometown.

Scope of Collection

Because of the wide net cast by the Hewletts on Long Island, their correspondence and business papers cover a larger area than Port Washington, although the bulk of their papers deal with local matters.

Each succeeding generation of Hewlett sons passed on to the next the correspondence and papers relating to his public office. Similarly, the family businesses were a thread that held generations together, from George Hulet’s (sic) earliest farming accounts to James Hewlett’s packet ship business records, to William Henry Hewlett’s paper and cotton manufacturing and saw mill books, to Samuel Hewlett IV’s canning factory accounts, recipes and correspondence and up until the family’s historic first automobile dealership, with John F. Remsen, in Roslyn in 1892.

In 1984 Elizabeth Hewlett gifted two collections to the Port Washington Public Library’s Local History Center – the Hewlett Family papers (1685-1916) and the Edwin A. & Mary Hopper Hopkins Family papers (1735-1963). The massive Hewlett Family papers represented generations of Hewlett’s who built their homestead at the southern end of Port Washington peninsula and from their developed a large farm, trade and shipping in the packet trade, built a cannery business in the late 1800’s. The Hopkins family also arrived in the 1700s at Oyster Bay in what is now Glen Cove and there they built their homestead called “Aarberg.” The Hopper family of Philadelphia were prominent Quakers involved with the abolitionist movement. The Hopkins collection named for Edwin A. married Mary Hopper (the daughter of Isaac T. Hopper and the half-sister of Abby Hopper Gibbons) in 1858. The collection includes two Civil War diaries kept by Abby Hopper Gibbons (half-sister of Mary Hopper Hopkins) and several items related to the Attmore family. The marriage of Milton Hopkins Jr. (the grandson of Mary Hopper) to Elizabeth Robbins Hewlett in 1945 brought together two of Long Island’s oldest North Shore families and created the connection to the Hopkins Family Papers gifted to the Port Washington Public Library.

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