The Wye at Valley Stream and the Settlement of 1870

see History Hidden in Plain Sight link for September 2023 presentation:

The Wye at Valley Stream and the Settlement of 1870

Cows & Railroad Tracks Don't Mix

This rare postcard, circa 1910, is the handiwork of George Woodhull Wheeler (1879-1937). Yes, that Wheeler - the surname for which Wheeler Avenue is named. The avenue, in fact, was named for George's father, Eustace H. Wheeler (1849-1917): judge, insurance attorney, Justice of the Peace, editor of the Recorder (Lynbrook newspaper), and Common School lawmaker and referee for school issues, especially re-districting. 

The Wheelers moved to Valley Stream, from Brooklyn, circa 1892. George attended NYU and became a history and civics teacher in Queens. In summers, he managed a youth camp in upstate New York. He married but had no children—his students became his beloved offspring. George's most favorite past-time was taking photos of Valley Stream. The historical society has many scenic Valley Stream images in their archive, thanks to George's keen eye. 

John Kurzenhauser operated a dairy farm on Wheeler Avenue during the early 1900s. The farm was approximately a fifth of a mile west of Eustace Wheeler's homestead - a minute's walk. Although I have no primary source documentation to confirm the postcard image is the Kurzenhauser's dairy farm, the proximity to Wheeler's abode and the number of livestock in the 1909 ad, makes a convincing argument.

In 1990, the historical society received a letter from Ernest Henry Tempel (1908-1999), addressed to Helen Zang, a board trustee at the time. The letter was written in the hopes that is would be published in the Panorama, the Society's monthly newsletter. After reviewing all the Panoramas to-date, we learn that Ernest's precious memory never made it to print. Tempel was a long-time resident of Valley Stream, and through the years he contributed many valuable stories and ephemera to the Society. His 1987 oral history recording is one of our best.

In the spirit of "better late than never," the Society is pleased to share both George's artistic talent with a camera, and Ernest's way with a pen: 

"I wonder how many people remember when the L.I.R.R. was on the ground? At each crossing there were corrugated pieces of metal or heavy clay extending out between the tracks about ten to twelve feet at each side of the crossing. Probably were put there in the eighteen hundreds. The purpose was to keep the cows from wandering on to the tracks. Their cloven hooves would get caught between the ridges, so they would back off.

There were lots of cows in Valley Stream, before the first World War. Lots of families kept them, for their own use or to sell [their milk]. A couple [of] families come to mind. The Pills family lived on Rockaway Ave. just south of Roosevelt Ave. (Rockaway Road) and Dr. Foster's father on Rockaway Ave. between Foster's Brook and Seventh St."

October 1, 1990 - letter from Ernest Tempel to the Valley Stream Historical Society 
ca. 1910 - postcard by George Woodhull Wheeler

July 2, 1909 (Long Island Farmer). Kasper Kurzenhauser was the son of dairy farmer John Kurzenhauser

1914 - E. Belcher Hyde map