Wantagh Local History
In 1643 Captain John Seaman and Robert Jackson crossed the Long Island Sound from Stamford, Connecticut and purchased 6,000 acres from the Mericoke and Marsapeaque Indians living in the area that today comprises Wantagh and Seaford. In 1644 Robert Jackson built the first dwelling in the area that still exists today.
Jackson was elected a delegate to the Duke’s Law Convention in 1665 and became one of Hempstead’s founding fathers. In 1666 a charter was given to the settlers of the area that they named “Jerusalem “(Today’s North Wantagh/South Levittown). The original name for the area was influenced by the Quakers that settled and farmed the land.
The South Shore Railroad arrived in South Jerusalem in 1867 and named the community’s depot Ridgewood Station. The U.S. Post Office refused to recognize the area for a Post Office because a town named “Ridgewood” already existed in Western Queens County (The three Eastern towns broke away and became Nassau County on January 1, 1899).
In 1891, the members of the Congregational Church held a contest to rename the village and “Wantagh “was chosen. Wantagh was a Sachem (chief) of the Montauk Indians.
For the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries Jerusalem was a rural farming community that also provided fishing and hunting excursions to residents of nearby New York City. The 20th century brought tremendous changes to Wantagh, as the village became a vacation destination during the summer for city dwellers between the world wars. After World War II the need for housing for returning veterans brought about an explosion of home construction resulting in a new living environment now called Suburbia. The last of the farms disappeared into housing developments and the settlement of Jerusalem faded away to become North Wantagh and South Levittown (named after the family construction company of many of the new housing developments).
Wantagh today is a vibrant community that provides its citizens with many diversions to recreation such as “Jones Beach “, athletic fields and parks for boating and pools. As well as churches, restaurants, shopping, excellent schools and convenient transportation.
Scope of Collection
Pictorial history of Wantagh, New York during the 19th and 20th centuries.