For as long as anyone alive today can remember, the Village of Lynbrook, has always been the Village of Lynbrook. But did you know, this wasn’t always the case? Now many of you may have heard the name Pearsalls. Probably because you’ve been to Pearsalls Station for dinner and a few drinks. Interestingly enough, between 1643 and 2022 a span of 379 years, the area we now know as Lynbrook has gone by nine different names.
Prior to the English settlement of Hempstead, the Rockaway Peninsula, and most of what is now southern Nassau, was inhabited by the Rockaway Indians, a band of Algonquin speaking people who called their home, Rokawanhaka, which means “A sandy place”. After 1643, and until about 1670, the entire area, including the Village of Hempstead, that had been purchased from the local natives was simply known to the English as Rockaway. The place name Near Rockaway first appears in Hempstead Town ledgers, around 1671. Its name derives from its relative proximity to Hempstead, which it was “near”. Near Rockaway had once consisted of modern day East Rockaway, Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, and a small portion of Oceanside. Although Near Rockaway remained its official name for many years, prior to 1790, the inhabitants of a small settlement located at the corner of Long Lane (Ocean Avenue), and Merrick Road began calling their hamlet “Clink-Town”. According to Lynbrook Village Historian Arthur Mattson, “Clink-Town” was named for a local Native Cheif who once lived on the corner of Rocklyn Ave, and Merrick Road. By 1785, “Clink-Town” consisted of 40 houses and farms. The small hamlet would eventually grow out of its name, and in 1790 took the name Parsons Corners, named for the Old Sand Hole Church and Parsonage that once stood near the intersection. Parsons Corners included a general store (and Post Office), a one room school house, and its own tavern. It would remain the center of life in that area until the middle of the 19th century.
In 1849, some members of the community, including many congregants of the Old Sand Hole Church, split off to start their own village. In 1853, the residents west of the Mill River, which for a short time was known as Parsonage Creek, named their hamlet Bloomfield. The folks on the east side of the river named their new village Rockville Centre, after their beloved Reverend, Mordecai “Rock” Smith. The name Bloomfield wouldn’t last long at all. As the village grew, it began to creep westward towards a place, known today as the Five Corners. A place where five roads come to a single intersection. Atlantic Avenue, Broadway, Hempstead Avenue and Merrick Road. In 1855, this new transportation and economic and hub, would take the name Pearsall’s Corner’s. Named for a man named Wright Pearsall, a successful merchant, who’s family had been apart of Long Island’s History since the founding of Hempstead in 1644. By 1867, the arrival of the South Side Rail Road had ushered in a period of exponential growth. Merchants, and residents wanted to show the world that they weren’t just some back county crossroads. In 1870, they settled on the name Pearsallville. Again, this name wouldn’t last long. For some reason people were still confused as to the name of the village. Some residents still called it Pearsall’s Corners, and some Pearsallville. In 1873, the Post Office put an end to this confusion, when they settled on the name Pearsalls, a name it would retain for over two decades.
Like much of America, the decades leading up to the turn of the century brought immense change to Pearsalls. The vast farms that once dominated the landscape were subdivided into suburban neighborhoods that seemed to sprawl on forever. The economic machine that fed off the fuel of new residents, was hungry for expansion. As people left their farm for jobs in the offices and factory’s of the big city, local merchants and businessmen pushed for a place name that would be more enticing to city folk they wished would come commute back and forth from their newly established bedroom community. This change wasn’t always welcome. Many residents resented change. They were use to the way things were, and wanted it to stay that way. This letter penned by a man known only by his initials S.S. so eloquently expresses his frustrations.
“It is not in accordance with a spirit of progress to change things simply because they are old or connect our thoughts with the events of long ago. Traditions and local history should be carefully preserved; and nothing is more repugnant to the preservation of these traditions than the pernicious and foolish habit, which seems to have become so popular of late on Long Island, of altering the names of old villages. Some were named after the original inhabitants of the place, as for instance Hallet Cove, which has been changed to the meaningless Astoria. Cow Neck, which was long and justly famous for its excellent pasture land, has been named Manhasset, which is the name of an Indian tribe on Shelter Island, thus being totally inapplicable to Cow Neck. More recently, the village of Baldwins, bearing the name of one of Long Island’s oldest families, has been given the senseless cognomen, Millburn. And now we are informed that the village of Pearsalls – also named after an old Long Island family – is to have its name changed to the singularly inappropriate one of Wyndemere, and as an alternative it is suggested that it be called Lynbrook, which is a word recently manufactured for the purpose, and absolutely meaningless. Perhaps it will not be out of place to repeat the warning given by Mr. Thompson, the historian of Long Island: ‘Old names, like old friends, should not be changed for light and transient causes, much less for whim and caprice’.” – S.S. , Hempstead, LI 8/18/1893
On April 4, 1894, an informal vote was held. Although many of the long time, more established residents of Pearsalls vehemently apposed a change, it passed by a landslide. So many newcomers had flooded into the village since the arrival of the railroad, that the establishment had lost touch with the masses. The name Lynbrook, which had been, for all intents and purposes, chosen to attract city folks from places like Brooklyn, and Manhattan, went into effect on May 1, 1894. The post office adopted the name, and added it to address lines, and the rest they say, is history.