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About the Village
In the fall of 1643, two enterprising gentlemen, The Reverend Robert Fordham and John Carman, crossed Long Island Sound by rowboat to negotiate with the local Indians for a tract of land upon which to establish a new community. Representatives of the Massapequak Mericoke, Matinecock, and Rockaway tribes met with the gentlemen at a site slightly west of the current Denton Green. The Indians sold approximately 64,000 acres, the present day Towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead, for items worth less than $100 in today’s market.
It has been suggested that the new settlement was called Hempstead as a reminder of the English town of Hemel-Hempstead where most of the original settlers were born. In 1664, the new settlement adopted the Duke’s Laws, an austere set of laws that became the basis upon which the laws of many colonies were to be founded. For a time, Hempstead became known as "Old Blue" as a result of the "Blue Laws."
Growth of Hempstead
As the years passed, the population of Hempstead increased, as did its importance and prestige. In 1703, St. George’s Church received a silver communion service from England’s Queen Anne. George Washington and other prominent leaders of the Revolution often stayed in Hempstead. In the 1800’s Hempstead became increasingly important as a trading center for all of Long Island. In 1853 it became the first self-governing incorporated village. Many prominent families such as the Vanderbilts and the Belmonts built large homes here. Hempstead became a large center of Long Island society. During the Spanish-American War, Camp Black was established in Hempstead as a training facility and a point of embarkation for troops. After World War I, the population greatly increased as city dwellers were attracted to the benefits of suburban living. Hempstead became a desirable place to live as it was a well-established community with convenient shopping, already existing public services, and it is within commuting distance from Manhattan. Today the Incorporated Village of Hempstead is a full service community with a population in excess of 53,000 people encompassing an area of 3.7 square miles.