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2017-05-17 / Columnists

Jacob Hartmann's pond, an acre and a half – Part 2

by Sandi Brewster-walker

Within the Town of Babylon, the Village of Amityville and the Hamlet of North Amityville, the Hartmann Pond played a major role in Jacob Hartmann’s businesses. He would also conduct business and land transactions with other immigrants, and the indigenous families living in the area.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper reported on Aug. 21, 1897, the highway commissioner and Jacob were at a stalemate over Hartmann’s dam. It seems where the Amityville Creek flowed through Jacob’s property, he had constructed a barrier to hold back water as it flowed to the Great South Bay, which would raise his pond level.

The commissioner believed that the dam “encroaches upon the highway on Oak Street.” He also claimed that the pond had been widened at the expense of the sidewalk. In the winter, the new pond would freeze creating a new business, the Hartmann Ice Houses

When Jacob operated his commercial Hartmann Ice Houses, the South Side Signal newspaper on Feb. 16, 1901 reported, “Jacob Hartmann has an abundant supply, and all the private ice houses are full as they can be.”


Vulcanite Factory- Lindenhurst Vulcanite Factory- Lindenhurst Commercial ice houses were used to store ice before the home refrigerators became popular. During winter, ice was harvested and cut into blocks from ponds like the Hartmann. The ice blocks were usually carried by wagon or sled to be stored in buildings insulated with straw or saw dust to keep it frozen for months. Delivery men would transport and sell the ice blocks to local families.

There was risk in harvesting ice from local ponds, as illustrated on Sat., Feb. 23, 1901 by a South Side Signal article. The newspaper reported that in Lindenhurst, the ice housed by John Kruger “may be regarded as perfectly safe to use, as before the pond froze it was entirely shut off."


Ice Box Ice Box The newspaper continued, “Since filling his ice house Mr. Kruger has observed live fish in his pond and in the stream above it. He therefore feels sure that as yet no acid from the Vulcanite Factory (named Vulcanite Manufacturing Company) has found its way into his pond. The swamp above his pond and along the main brook is, however, saturated with the acid, and when the heavy spring rains come the poisonous matter will, it is feared, also be washed down the brook.”

Two of the milk men in Lindenhurst were concerned when watering their cows, “In the stream below the South Road, there seems to be danger of the animals being poisoned and their milk affected.”

Finally, the article stated, “This is a really important matter – one that the health authorities and factory management should endeavor to adjust as soon as possible.”

Back in Amityville, business must have been good, since on Oct. 16, 1900, Jacob began the purchase of the Fountain Hotel from G.R. Fountain for $7,000. It would be renamed the Hartmann Hotel; however Jacob’s bottling company was his main business!

As mentioned in Part 1, Schaefer Brewing Company shipped beer by Long Island Railroad refrigerated cars to be bottled in Amityville.

The Schaefer company was founded in 1842 by brothers Frederick (1817- 97), and Maximilian Schaefer (1819-1904), immigrants from Wetzlar, Prussia, Germany. First, the company had a large brewery on Park Avenue in New York City. In the early 1900s, the company moved to a new brewery in Brooklyn, where Maximilian’s son Rudolph would become president.

On Jan. 24, 1902, Jacob gave a bond in the amount of $1,500 (inflation value $26,895) to the Schaefer Company.

The Schaefer Company treasurer also confirmed receipt of a mortgage bond in a letter dated March 5, 1902. Jacob and wife Caroline had mortgaged lots #6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 that appear on the Map of Property of William P. Austin (1890) as collateral. This was part of the same property William and his wife had deeded to Hattie Murray on Nov. 3, 1892 located between Lake Street, Oak Street and Austin Avenue.

The Schaefer Company letter continued with an important P.S. at the bottom of the letter, “We thought it advisable to ship your Bock beer (a dark German beer) order today, and enclose bill for the 20 quarters herewith.”

Jacob would also receive beer to bottle in barrels transported from Welz & Zerweck Brewing Company. During the Prohibition Era (1920- 33), Welz & Zerweck Brewing Company closed their business, and Jacob began to bottle more soda beverages at his facility.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 3, 1902, reported that a preliminary survey was being prepared for an extension of the water city system (Brooklyn). The surveyors had reached the Hartmann Pond “…just east of this Village and one of the largest in western Suffolk.”

The newspaper continued, “…which is about an acre and a half in extent…” The pond is described as being owned by Jacob Hartmann, who bottled beer and mineral waters, and was located a few hundred feet north of Oak Street (known as the New Road) and about one quarter mile east of the Village. It was “…fed by springs that flow through the woods north of the railroad tracts.” It was “surrounded by a grove in which are the residence and grounds of the owner. On the banks of the pond are buildings used by Mr. Hartmann for his bottling establishment.” The article ends with, “The people of Suffolk are aroused because Brooklyn wants to enter their domain for water.”

Jacob would also conduct business and land transactions with other immigrants, and the indigenous families living in the area. Admitted in his personal papers, Jacob had an envelope addressed to his friend Charles Devine Brewster, a Native American veteran of the Civil War. The envelope was from the Commissioner of Pensions, Washington, DC dated July 26, 1899. It was addressed, Mr. Charles D. Brewster, Amityville, Suffolk County, NY, and it managed to reach its destination without a house number, or street address. Another friend of Jacob's must have been Adam Schlegel.

On March 4, 1882, Stephen Steele, a Native American, and wife Anna deeded to the Sisters of the Dominic, and Adam Schlegel, two acres of land on the east side of Albany Avenue (opposite what is now Smith Street). The location of the property was north of the Village, and three-quarters of a mile from the Southern Railroad (now Long Island Railroad). The property was bounded as follows: north by Aaron Steele, east by the Amityville Creek and Richard Brewster’s property; and west along Brewster’s land to the street.

But three years later, Adam

Schlegel died, and according to a Sag Harbor Express article on July 29, 1886, he left a large amount of property in New York City, Brooklyn, and on Long Island. His will stated that after the death of his wife Mary Elizabeth, the property would go to the Roman Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity, Brooklyn.

The former Steele property would be conveyed to the Nuns by Mary Elizabeth, executrix of Adam’s will by deed on March 14, 1887. Six years later, the widow Mary Elizabeth died on June 5, and was interred in the convent cemetery.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle on April 13, 1890 stated, “The novitiate of the same order is at Amityville, Suffolk County, where there are 250 professed sisters, 18 novices and 26 postulants,” in referencing to the Sisters of St. Dominic, a German Institution.

On March 4, 1894, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced that a new public Catholic school house would be built by Winfield Velsor, of Islip, who bid $19,300. Velsor was the builder of St. Mary’s Hospital in North Amityville for the Sisters of St. Dominick.

On Sept. 27, 1916, the Nuns of the Order of St. Dominick of Brooklyn, deeded to Jacob Hartman, what is described as the same piece of property originally owned by Stephen Steele. Sister M. Augustine Fleck represented the Order of St. Dominick in the transaction. Jacob would continue to interact on land transactions until his death on May 1, 1922 throughout Lindenhurst, Village of Amityville, and the Hamlet of North Amityville.

Why Jacob’s father Samuel Hartmann, and his family left Prussia is not known; however like early European settlers, many were escaping religious and political persecution, seeking economic opportunity, or adventure. Upon arriving, the new immigrants remained close to their ethnic neighborhoods, fellow countryman because of language, practiced their religion and culture.

The Eye Witness to History online site states, “I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, found out three things: first, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all and third, I was expected to pave them.”

Sandi Brewster-walker is an independent historian, genealogist, freelance writer and business owner. She is the chair of the Board of Trustees and acting executive director of the Indigenous People Museum & Research Institute. She has served in President Bill Clinton’s Administration as deputy director of the Office of Communications at the United States Department of Agriculture. Readers can reach her in c/o the LI.Indiginous.people.museum@gmail.com.

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