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Celebrating July Fourth In 1863

Hundreds of residents from Farmingdale and other neighboring towns celebrated the Fourth of July as if the clock was turned back to 1863 at the Old Bethpage Restoration Independence Day celebration.  

With actors dressed in 1800s attire and everyone getting into the historical spirit, activities included a demonstration of  ‘old time baseball’ – a game played by the rules of 1864; a demonstration of military drills and firing rounds by the 119th Regiment NY Volunteers Co. H Historical Society, a parade through the restoration village leading up to the Noon Inn and various other activities taking place throughout their numerous historically preserved houses.  

“It’s a terrific way to celebrate our nation’s birthday,” one Plainview resident and mother of two children said, who were outside the Bach Blacksmith Shop.  “The kids can learn something and have fun at the same time.”

Families could be seen throughout the village, enduring the hot and humid weather with pride as they walked from location to location, absorbing the knowledge and historical flare of the restoration.

The Blacksmith Shop, which educated spectators about the craft back in the 1800s, was one of the many event-long attractions, including candle making at the Ritch House, Leatherwork at the Luyster General Store, storytelling near the schoolhouse and fiddle and dulcimer music in the Luyster Field.  Singing at the Manetto Hill Church and Pottery at the Schenck Barn were also favorites throughout the day.

The 119th Regiment NY Volunteers Co. H Historical Society drew the largest crowd of the day – members of the regiment were originally recruited on Long Island during the Civil War. Based out of the restoration, the unit’s C.O. (Commanding Officer) is Robert Webber of Farmingdale, who explained to the crowd about how the militia would load their Enfeild 577 Caliber Muskets, which were reproductions.

“Today’s turnout was great, it’s always a benefit when you can teach people something in this kind of way,” Webber said.

As the regiment fired away outside the Noon Inn under the American flag, onlookers held their ears and jumped slightly at the powerful explosions, giving everyone a taste of what was heard loud and clear in Civil War battles.

Members of the regiment hail from towns across Nassau County as well as Queens.

The Noon Inn remained the center of attention for most of the day, as well as the John M. Layton Grocery and General Store.  The Inn is restored to 1850, and was originally located on Prospect Avenue in East Meadow.

The day concluded with a parade from the Powell House to the Noon Inn featuring the Old Bethpage Village Brass Band, where a gathering of nearly everyone attending sung The Star-Spangled Banner and listened to duettists’ The Sisters of Liberty, as well as sermons and readings in 1800s fashion to celebrate Independence Day.