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Preserving Hicksville’s History

If you’ve ever wondered what Hicksville was like back in the 1800s, James Janis is the person to ask. Janis is the Hicksville historian as well as a reference librarian at the Hicksville Public Library. He works on organizing the archives of Hicksville’s history, as well as preparing them for the future.

“I’m working in the past, I’m trying to prepare for the future, and at the same time, I’m working in the present,” said Janis.

The archives have original material that go back as far as 1896 and research articles that go back to the 1840’s. Some of Janis’ prized possessions in his archives include the Silver Star and Purple Heart of a Hicksville resident named James Madden who was killed during World War II, as well as a letter from the Western Union informing the parents of Charles Wagner that he died in World War I.

Janis received his masters in Library Science from Queens College and starting working at the the library five years ago.

Many people come in to the library to do research on families, Hicksville history, as well as school assignments. People also like to look at the yearbooks, and the library has a good collection of the yearbooks starting from the early 1930’s.

“I try and pay attention to what goes on in Hicksville and if something interesting happens, I try and preserve it and put it in the archives," said Janis. He collects vertical files on anything about Hicksville including horses in Hicksville, and even famous murders and serial killers from Hicksville.

“Everything is eventually going to be digitalized, and the archives should eventually be available online,” said Janis.

One of Janis’ daily duties include searching the The New York Times archives to find articles that have any mention of Hicksville. “The first article about Hicksville was in 1854,” he said. “It was about a woman named Betsy Baldwin, who fell down a well and the news made it into The New York Times.”

Janis is currently working on a program about Hicksville residents in World War I. He has previously done programs with Hicksville in World War II and Hicksville in the Spanish American War. The programs received good reviews and Janis plans on continuing with more programs, until he eventually covers Hicksville in all of the wars.    

“While working on these programs I do a lot of original research,” he said. “I end up tracking grandparents or descendants, I find documentation, and I find out things that nobody knew about Hicksville.”

Janis hopes to present the program on Hicksville in World War I in time for Memorial Day.

For more information, visit www.hicksvillelibrary.org

News

Local veterans groups and residents gathered at Hicksville Middle School Veterans Memorial Park recently to honor brave servicemen and woman, past and present. William M. Gouse Jr. Post 3211 hosted Hicksville’s annual Veterans Day ceremony on Nov. 11.

The ceremonies began with the pledge and national anthem sung by Hicksville High School student Cassie Pursoo, accompanied by trumpeter Conner Hoelzer. Monsignor Thomas Costa from Our Lady of Church in Hicksville gave the invocation.

On Nov. 10, a dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the completion of a beautiful new two-story house in Hicksville. However, while new dwellings are an ordinary occurrence on Long Island, this one was unique and special in a way that very few are.

The house at 77 Thorman Ave. was built in memory of Navy Lieutenant and posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy, a Long Island native who tragically died in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2005. However, this house represents more than just the dedicated service of a man to his country; it represents the beginning of a new life full of hope for a brother-in-arms and his family as well.


Sports

Football was Mike Torrellas’ heart and soul. He also liked a good Turkey Bowl.  

Unfortunately, the Hicksville Crusaders co-founder wasn’t able to witness the program’s inaugural event, which took place Saturday, Nov. 8.

Torrellas passed away suddenly last December due to a blood clot, but the spirit and drive of the man who wore the number 53 and tragically passed at that age still surrounds the Crusaders football program.

The Long Island Fight for Charity will be hosting its 11th annual Charity Boxing Event on Nov. 24 at the Hilton in Melville. Among the 20 volunteers putting up their fists for funds will be Hicksville business owner Mell Goldman, who will be fighting under the nickname “The Kid.”  

Goldman is the President of All Boro Cleaning Services. He stated that he was enticed at the opportunity and wanted to contribute to charity.


Calendar

Model Railroad Open House

November 28-30

Popcorn Balls

November 30

Craft Fair

November 30



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com