Senator Kemp Hannon
6th District New York
Introduction to Island Trees

The story of Island Trees begins with the story of the Hempstead Plains, sixty thousand acres of flat, treeless grasslands that was once considered the largest prairie in the eastern United States. It was here, in 1644, that a group of English colonists established Hempstead, the first permanent settlement in what later became Nassau County. Subsequently, through various grants and land deals, Hempstead was divided into territories, one of which became known as Island Trees, likely because it contained a tall group of pine trees that, from a distance, resembled an island unto itself.

The few early residents of Island Trees were mainly farmers of English descent. When the Long Island Rail Road extended its tracks from Jamaica to Hicksville in 1836, the Island Trees farmers found themselves with a new, more convenient means of transporting their goods to market - and for receiving shipments of feed and fertilizer. This made the area surrounding Hicksville highly attractive to German land developers, who soon purchased large parcels of land in the railroad's vicinity, which included Island Trees. Over the next several decades, small villages of immigrants, most from Germany, sprouted up around the area.

Island Trees' main cash crops in the late 1800s were cabbage and cucumbers, until a severe blight hit the area in 1912 and farmers shifted their attention to potato farming. Island Trees soon became the center of potato farming in Nassau County. But then, in the mid 1930s, farmers in the area suddenly began to experience serious potato crop damage brought on by a dreaded critter called the golden nematode. It was  at the onset of this crisis that Abraham Levitt and his sons, Alfred and William, purchased an abandoned potato field in Island Trees at a "greatly reduced price."
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