Jericho's History


The Old Schoolhouse, Jericho, N.Y. by Linda E. Braner

A History of Jericho
(Adapted from "The History of Jericho", by Larry Leicht, 1978.)

Let us look back even further before Jericho (Lusum) was bought from the Indians; let us look back to 1621. This was the year the Robert Hicks, the great, great, great grandfather of Elias Hicks came from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1640, Robert's son John moved to Hempstead, Long Island. That same year, John had a son, Thomas. Seven years later, Robert died. That same year, Jonothan Seaman, great grandfather of Jemima Seaman, future wife of Elias Hicks, was born. Just one year later, in 1648, Robert Williams bought nine square miles of land, in a place known to the Indians as Lusum, from Pugnipan, chief of the Matinecock tribe, members of the great Algonquin Indians of Long Island. Below is a copy of the original deed, with the same spellings used by Pugnipan.

Be it known to all men at these pressants that I pugnipan Sacham of Toninnacik do for my selfre and in beehalfe of Nanamorous and Neponhew and pocipupon bargin and Sell and make over unto Robert Williames, of Himstead parte of the grete pleains lying northeast from Hemsted, or there abouts beegining At A Pointe of t res called by the Indians Ciscascate or Cantiag at A whit oake marked by me puginipan and from thence uppon a South line to the Middel of the plaine and from thence uppone A eat line to the end of the plaine, bounded with wodes one of the Este and Northeste and North or there aboutes all which tract of Lande I the sayed Pugnipan do for miselfe and in beehalfe of Nanamorrouas and Neponhew and Pocipupon bargin and sell and macke over unto the sayed Robert Williames his ares executores administrators and Asines for teme (them) pesaubly to ingay forever from us our ares and sucksessors for ever allso wee the boue sayed do acknolyeg in Trading Clothe for the fore menchaned tract of Plains lan in witness unto wee have set ouerbandes this twentieth day of May in the Yere of one Thousand Sixhundred forty eight

Pugnipan X his marke
Nanamorrouas X his marke
Neponhew X his marke
Pocipupon X his marke


Richard Willets
John Washburn
rasaocume Sachem X his marke
Ponanegan X his marke
Maschacur X his marke
Perawes X his marke
Nannuttung X his marke

Entered in the office of records at New York the I2thday of ffebry I666

Mathias Nicolls, Sec'y

"A true coppy taken from the original (both in substance and ortography) and entered by order of the proprieters. Revised and compaired by me Samuel Willis Recorder."

Williams did not actually live in Lusum until about twenty years later, when he settled there to live until his death eleven years later.

In 1672, seven years before the death of Mr. Williams, Mary Washburn Willets began her house. It was a small house, with only two rooms and a fire place, and with the Spring Pond only a few yards in front of it, it supplied farmers and travelers from all around with natural spring water. Since there was no meeting house in Jericho, Mary Washburn Willets opened her home in 1783 for Quaker Worship. The Milleridge Inn now embraces this building. Prior to this, it was known as the Maine Maid Inn, where delicious New England style food was served. However, the Valentine Hicks house is now known as the Maine Maid Inn.

In 1681, while in Maryland, Robert Williams, the person who signed the land deed with the Indians, died. Not much is known of the circumstances of his death. His wife continued to lead a healthful life in the old homestead until 1692, when she too passed away. That same year, the name of the town was officially changed from Lusum, meaning the farms in Indian, to Jericho and remains that way to this day.

In 1771, a name started to stand out among other names, and that was the name of Elias Hicks, famed Quaker minister of a group of Quakers who broke away from the main Quakers in Westbury, who now know them as "Hicksites". Though Elias designed and helped to construct the meeting house in Jericho, he preached all over the mid-western United States and Canada. He was also very active in the freeing of slaves in New York State. Elias lived all but a few months of his married life with his wife, Jemima, in the Jonothan Seaman House, formerly owned by Jemima's parents. They had eleven children: Martha, 1771-1862; David, 1773-1787; Elias, 1774-1789; Elizabeth, 1777-1779; Phebe, 1779-1800; Abigail, 1782-1800; Jonothan, 1784-1802; John, 1787-1805; Elizabeth, 1791-1871; Sarah, 1793-1835; and one child who died at birth. Only four of Elias' children were married, three of whom had children. Martha married Royal Aldrich in 1792 and had no children. Phebe married Joshua Willets in 1799 and had one child, Elias. Abigail married Valentine Hicks (cousin of Elias) and had five children - Caroline, Mary, Phebe, Elizabeth, Elias, Mary and Willet. The Hicks family stretches out even further, but we will not even begin to mention the names of Elias' great grandchildren. At this time, there are no descendants of Elias Hicks living in Jericho with the name of the Hicks family.

In 1787, the meeting house which Elias Hicks designed and partially built was completed. Six years later, in 1793, the first school in Jericho was built. It was the Friends School, located next to the meeting house.

In 1802, the first Post Office in Jericho was founded, and William Guthre became the second post master. Before this, it was probably tucked away in the corner of some private house. Ten years later, in 1812, Valentine Hicks moved into the house with his wife and three daughters where he would remain until his death in 1850. One hundred years later, this house became known as the Maine Maid Inn.

In 1830, Jericho felt a deep and saddened loss when Elias Hicks, after finishing a letter to a friend, got up from his chair and suffered a stroke. He was assisted by his family back to the chair. For two weeks, he lie in his bed, his entire right side paralyzed, and was waited on by his children and grandchildren. Finally, the man that meant so much to the Quaker population died.

In 1864, Robert Seaman, great grandson of Elias and Jemima Hicks, was born. In 1896, his wife, Hannah died in childbirth, while bearing their daughter, Phebe. The honor of laying the corner stone of the Robert Seaman Elementary School in Jericho was bestowed upon Robert himself. He lived to the ripe old age of 90.

In 1874, Daniel Underhill was born in the house which he would live in until his death in 1951.

In 1907, a two story school house was built on Cedar Swamp Road. In 1940, this was replaced by the Cedar Swamp School, consisting of eight rooms on six acres of land. That was the original part of what is today Jericho High School. This section of the school is still in use, though the building has grown considerably, and is on a larger piece of property.

Jericho remained pretty much a quiet little town until 1953, when Phebe Seaman, great great granddaughter of Elias and Jemima Hicks, and daughter of Robert Seaman, sold a large tract of land to a real estate company. The first development to rise out of this old time Jericho was Oakwood Estates, and in this development came the first "modern day" elementary school, Robert Seaman. Soon came the great cloverleaf, destroying many buildings in its path of connecting North Broadway and Jericho Turnpike, including the Hobby Horse Antique Shop, the General Store, the building that housed the Fire Department, the Post Office, and more. The Post Office was relocated next to the then new Waldbaums shopping center, and the Fire House across the street. Both buildings were built in colonial architecture to preserve some of Jericho's history.

The Long Island Expressway cuts diagonally through the back of Wicks Sod Farm, more developments pop up, and very little of the Quaker Population is left behind. The old spring pond, supplying water to farmers and residents from all around is filled in now also, and where it once stood there is a spurting water fountain, surrounded by a bed of flowers, the entrance to the Milleridge Inn in front of it, and the large clapboard mansion behind it. Now, in back of the Milleridge there are fourteen gift shops, built in the colonial style of architecture, with its keepers wearing the colonial style of clothing.

The Maine Maid Inn, and all of the houses surrounding it are hidden by Chemical Bank, and other office buildings. The clover leaf just misses these old homesteads.

The Quaker meeting house is also hidden, and the school is now a house for the caretaker. Though Elias and the rest of the forefathers are long gone, meetings are still held there every Sunday morning, and visitors are welcome to join in prayer, and see the cemetery with all the famous Quaker names buried in it.

More recently [readers please note: this was written in 1978], the zoning laws are threatening, and condominiums or a park are under planning for the rolling hills and ponds of the Underhill Estate. A Post Office for the Wicks Sod Farm site was overruled by the Civic Association and now two triple building office complexes are being constructed on that site. Across Jericho Turnpike, now a major speedway, seven office buildings are planned to rise up soon. The famous Lehman Estate on Jericho Turnpike met its end in 1977, when fire raged through and destroyed its large rooms. Still, other signs of old Jericho, other than the Milleridge Inn, Maine Maid Inn, Ketcham McAllister House, Elias Hicks' House and the Quaker meeting house property may still be seen. For example, there is an old farm on Route 106 where sheep can still be found grazing lazily near a pond, while chickens lay their eggs and horses frolick in the sun. The "great white oak", under which the land deed for the purchase of the nine square miles of land including Jericho was signed, has been replaced by a rock, called Cantiague Rock, and a New York State Historical marker has been placed on this site also, now the corner of W. John Street and Cantiague Rock Road.

1648 - Robert Williams land grant - he purchased nine square miles north of the Hempstead Plains from the Matinecock Indians.
1653 - Robert Williams settled at Lusum.
1681 - Robert Williams died in Maryland.
1692 - The name was changed from Lusum to Jericho.
1748 - Birth of Elias Hicks.
1788 - The Friends Meeting House was built.
1793 - A school was built next to the Quaker Meeting House.
1794 - The Charity Society of Jericho and Westbury Monthly Meetings was formed "for the use and benefit of the poor among the Black people and more especially for the education of their children."
1802 - A post office was established in Jericho.
1817 - Establishment of a "School for Negroes" in Jericho by the Quakers.
1817 - Slavery no longer existed in Jericho.
1830 - Death of Elias Hicks.
1931 - Volunteer Fire Department established.
1938 - Northern State Parkway cut through the South end of the village.
1939 - Cedar Swamp School was built. This is now part of the high school.
1952 - End of "old time" Jericho. Phebe Seaman, great, great granddaughter of Elias Hicks sold a large tract of land to a real estate development company.
1952 - The water tower was erected.
1953 - Robert Seaman school was built.
1957 - Jackson School was built.
1958 - Dedication of a new Fire Department building; the 25th anniversary of the Jericho Fire Department.
1959 - High School complex was built attached to the Cedar Swamp School. This complex housed the Junior and Senior High School.
1961 - Robert Williams school was built.
1963 - Cantiague School was built.
1966 - Opening of the Jericho Public Library in building donated by Franklin National Bank.
1972 - Opening of Jericho Library in new building.

Naturally, there have been many important events since this brief history was written. The Jericho Public Library maintains a special collection devoted to the history of Jericho.