Westbury, New York

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Westbury incorporated in 1932 as a village in Nassau County, New York in the United States. The population was 14,263 at the 2000 census.

The Village of Westbury is in the Town of North Hempstead.

Westbury is a very diverse community, made up of Italian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanic Americans. Many of the Hispanics are of Salvadoran origin. However, the neighborhood has more recently seen an influx of Arab-Americans and Indian-Americans. Many of the Italian-Americans in the village trace their origins to the town of Durazzano in Southern Italy, and are closely related. A great number still reside on the Hill across from Saint Brigid's Church. The nickname for the village since the mid-1970s has been "A Community for All Seasons" (presumably, because residents tend to live there 12 months of the year).

Contents

History

The first settlers arrived in 1658 in the region known as the Hempstead Plains. Many of the early settlers were Quakers. The village was incorporated in 1932.

Westbury's Jericho Turnpike was once a trail used by the Massapequa Indians. As far back as the 17th century, it served as a divider between the early homesteads north of the Turnpike and the great plains to its south. Today, it serves as a state highway complex.

In 1657, Captain J. Seaman purchased 12,000 acres (49 km2) from the Algonquian Tribe of the Massapequa Indians. In 1658, Richard Stites and his family built their homestead in this area. Theirs was the only family farm until an English Quaker, Edmond Titus and his son, Samuel, joined them and settled in an area of Hempstead Plains known to us today as the Village of Westbury. In 1675 Henry Willis, also an English Quaker, named the area "Westbury", after his hometown in England. Other Quaker families who were also seeking a place to freely express their religious beliefs joined the Tituses and Willises. The first Society of Friends meeting house was built in 1700. The early history of Westbury and that of the Friends are so interconnected that they are essentially the same.

These settlers, like many other landowners throughout the colonies, owned slaves. In 1775, compelled by their religious beliefs, the Quakers freed all 154 African-Americans that they had enslaved. Many of these freed men and women built their own homesteads on the open land near the sheep grazing pastures. Their new community consisted of farms and dairies. In 1834, with Quaker assistance, they and their descendants built the New Light Baptist Church. Now known as the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the building still stands on the corner of Union Ave. and Cross St.

The outbreak of the American Revolution disrupted Westbury's tranquility. From the beginning of the war until 1783, British soldiers and German mercenaries occupied local homes, confiscated livestock and cleared the woods for troop firewood. With the close of the war, Westbury received its third group of settlers, the German Hessians, who chose not to return to their home country. Instead, they remained in what is now known as New Cassel. This name was chosen after the section of Germany from which many mercenaries had come.

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