East Rockaway, an early community on the south shore of Long Island, first appeared as Neare Rockaway in 1665. The Town of Hempstead, at a town meeting held December 28, 1688, granted Joseph Haviland the right to construct a grist mill within one year. If said mill shall be ‘uncapable’ to grind in one year, then ‘streame and Land is to reterne to ye towne againe.’ The Haviland Grist Mill was built in 1689 and became the center of the social, economic and political life of the area. East Rockaway prospered as a seaport with packet boats carrying oyster and farm produce to New York City and lumber and grain farther north. It also developed an early but short lived trans-Atlantic trade. East Rockaway had several churches, schools and an early post office and library.
Near Rockaway at one time included East Rockaway, Lynbrook and Oceanside but that changed when East Rockaway was incorporated in 1900 by village fathers who maintained an anathema to taxation and who controlled all aspects of the village from the fire department, grain and shipping industries, religion and education.