Across the landscape of New York City and its suburbs, Jewish names appear on streets, parks, schools, and other points on the map. We often expect such names to appear in visibly Jewish neighborhoods, honoring rabbis, politicians, and activists. But as Brad Kolodny notes in his research, much of Long Island’s early Jewish history began further to the east. He is the founder of the Jewish Historical Society of Long Island, which highlighted Hartmann’s Pond in Amityville as one such example.
“There’s a lack of awareness of Jewish history on Long Island,” Kolodny told a Newsday reporter at a historical sign dedication this past Sunday. “It has been my mission to bring these facts forward.”
The pond’s namesake is Jacob Hartmann, an immigrant from Germany who established the Suffolk County Bottling Company in Amityville on land next to this pond. During the winter season, Hartmann harvested ice from the pond, and mapmakers put his name on the waterway. He sold the bottling company in 1902, while continuing his ice business.
“Jacob was an active member of the very small Jewish community that existed at the time in the Lindenhurst/Amityville area,” Kolodny wrote. “In 1887 he was chairman of the Breslau Hebrew Cemetery Association and is buried in the Jewish section of the Breslau Cemetery in Lindenhurst.” His grave is easy to find, as the Jewish section is separated from the rest of the cemetery by a row of trees and a fence.
Along with German Jews, Long Island attracted many ethnic German immigrants. Breslau was renamed Lindenhurst in 1891, but the village cemetery preserves its original name. There are no shuls today in Amityville, the closest being in neighboring Massapequa, which has a Reform temple and a Chabad House.
Hartmann Pond is the centerpiece of Peterkin Park, a typical village green space that includes a playground, gazebo, book donation box, and another historical sign noting the founding of Suffolk County in 1683.
Documents and tools of Hartmann’s trade can be seen at the Long Island Jewish History Museum, which is organized by Kolodny and hosted by the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove. It is part of an exhibit titled “Earning A Living: 300 Years of Jewish Businesses on Long Island.” Kolodny received artifacts relating to the bottling company from Hartmann’s descendants, some of whom live on Long Island.
The historical sign dedication was sponsored by the William C. Pomeroy Foundation, which provides grants for roadside markers and plaques relating to local history. Since its founding in 2005, it has funded nearly 2,000 signs across the country to explain historical events, personalities, and namesakes.
At Hartmann Pond, the sign notes that Hartmann was a Jewish immigrant.
“That was the original name when it was created and it’s going back to its original namesake,” said David Blumberg of East Northport, Hartmann’s great-great grandson, at the dedication. “Naturally, that’s an emotional and desirable thing for us.”
By Sergey Kadinsky