Oyster Bay Town Historian John Hammond has written another book. Supervisor John Venditto made the announcement that the town now has available a guide for genealogists entitled Historic Cemeteries of Oyster Bay. Mr. Hammond said, "My phone has been going crazy after an article by Bill Beyer in the Sunday, March 18 issue of Newsday." The book is only available by calling him at his office in town hall.
The Pine Hollow Cemetery is one of those covered in the new book by John Hammond, Historic Cemeteries of Oyster Bay [Township].
"There are 126 cemeteries in the Township of Oyster Bay; that is what the story is about. In the Oyster Bay hamlet itself there are about 12 and in the surrounding incorporated villages there are about 35 to 40 within two miles of it. There are 52 pages of names of people buried in the township. That, the names, is the significance of what this project is all about," he said.
The most visible cemetery in Oyster Bay is the Pine Hollow Cemetery on Pine Hollow Road. Mr. Hammond said unfortunately the record of those names has disappeared. "But, we have some records done a hundred years ago although they are sketchy. But we know there are seven Black Civil War veterans buried there," he added.
Oyster Bay Historical Society Director Tom Kuehhas said, "It is extremely unfortunate the records were lost. They went back to the 1840s and are believed to have been destroyed."
Mr. Kuehhas is familiar with people doing genealogical searches for which people across the country contact the society. He said of Mr. Hammond's book, "It is a very valuable guide especially for someone from afar who doesn't know what the Town of Oyster Bay encompasses. If you are a genealogist you may know your ancestor is from Oyster Bay, but you don't know exactly where in Oyster Bay. In the past it meant the Town of Oyster Bay and it didn't differentiate between the communities. The most it would say was the north or south shore."
He said, "That changed somewhat with the arrival of the Long Island Rail Road. After it was established as a terminus, Hicksville was settled around it in the 1840s. It was the railroad terminus that caused Hicksville to develop. We have a history of Long Island from the 1840s and it was not too complimentary of Hicksville saying it would not last."
Mr. Kuehhas complimented the work of Mr. Hammond. "He did a really good job of bringing all these different sources of cemetery records together as well as listing thousands of names of people buried in cemeteries. It is good for the beginning genealogist. A one-stop source if you have an ancestor buried here.
"There are several cemeteries in East Norwich as there are in the hamlet where there are about a dozen: between family cemeteries and ones associated with churches. There is Fort Hill Cemetery, a Townsend cemetery and some Townsends are buried near the Top of the Harbor complex. The original Townsends were buried on Lake Avenue that was originally called Mill River Road. The current Mill River Road was called Poverty Hollow Road. People who moved here didn't want to live on Poverty Hollow Road and changed it to Mill River Road and the original Mill River Road which runs along the Mill Pond became Lake Avenue," said Mr. Kuehhas who always has interesting tidbits about local history to tell.
"When Town Historian John Hammond approached me with his idea to create a guide to historic cemeteries in the Town of Oyster Bay, I was enthusiastic," Supervisor Venditto said. "Whether it's to provide children with a sense of who their ancestors were, to compile a family medical history or simply to satisfy a curiosity about oneself, people are trying to get in touch with their roots, and this guide to historic cemeteries in our town is a genealogist's dream tool. Cemeteries are an important resource for many people delving into genealogy, and John has done the leg work by documenting every known pre-1920 cemetery in the Town."
Mr. Kuehhas explained that a recent thrust of genealogy is to see what medical problems a family may be prone to as a way to prevent illness in present and future generations.
The supervisor added that the book is a tool for the serious genealogist. It includes a listing of 121 cemeteries, some of which no longer exist and some of which are still active, and where transcription records can be found. The listing is done first by present day locality and then alphabetically by the most commonly known name. The guide goes on to list, in alphabetical order, several thousand names of those interred in the cemeteries.
"Genealogy is a rewarding, but challenging avocation," Supervisor Venditto added. "It can take a genealogist years to find one specific piece of information. Because of the importance cemeteries play in piecing together a family history, the information contained in the pages of this comprehensive guide will prove invaluable to genealogists who trace their family history to Oyster Bay."
To obtain a copy of Historic Cemeteries of Oyster Bay, contact Town Historian John Hammond at 624-6359.