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Saturday, November 22, 2014
Guest Column
Fosters Meadow: A German farming community
By Raymond A. Hoeffner of the Franklin Square Historical Society
Herman Hotel, 1905

The Franklin Square Historical Society announces a new website for the preservation of the memory of Fosters Meadow — a German farming community that was established in the 1850s.

Fosters Meadow was originally a large sheep pasture that was purchased by Thomas and Christopher Foster in 1650. Today, this area corresponds to Elmont, Rosedale, Laurelton, North Valley Stream, Valley Stream, Springfield Gardens, Cambria Heights, Franklin Square in the towns of Jamaica and Hempstead, and influenced the Germanic development of New Hyde Park, Floral Park and Queens Village.

The website shows the most comprehensive documented data of this community, with intentions of preserving it’s history and heritage. The website, FostersMeadow.com, allows this preservation project to enter the homes of all through the use of internet. Numerous photos, family histories, documents and more can be viewed.

Prior to the German migration to this area in the 1850s, it was populated by descendants of Dutch and English immigrants who established a vibrant farming community. Newly arrived Germans to America populated this area starting in the early 1850s.

The establishment of two German-speaking churches — St. Boniface RC Church in 1854 and St Paul’s German Evangelical Church in 1864 — encouraged additional German immigrants to migrate to the area and established Fosters Meadow as the cultural center for German speaking population.

In the early 1850s, word got out about the fertile soil in this area. Many German-speaking people who were previously in areas of Brooklyn and western Queens moved to this area. As time progressed, hotels and general stores were built and the area continued to thrive as an agricultural community. Social groups, like the Young Farmers Light Guard and the St. Joseph’s Society, were organized. The spoken language of the community was German and various dialects representing the different regions from where they came from in Germany.

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