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Notable Freeport immigrants from around the world

Guy Lombardo
Guy Lombardo
Courtesy of the Freeport Historical Society

Part two of two 

The Freeport Historical Society celebrated Immigrant Heritage Month in June by featuring some of the people from Freeport’s history who were born outside the United States and their accomplishments.

Edith Gertrude Selene Evans (England) (1878-1948) was a noted Egyptologist, archeologist, and artist.  Born in England, Evans bought a house in Freeport at 350 South Main Street (today the museum of the Freeport Historical Society).  In 1907, she married Dr. Thomas Horace Evans.

Anna Feile (Germany) (1907-1998) was the owner of Atlantic Nursery and Garden Shop.  Born near Stuttgart, Germany, she came to the United States in 1929. That same year, her brother Karl, who had come to America two years prior, started a gardening maintenance business. Feile joined this business in 1940. When Karl died suddenly of a heart attack in 1957, Feile took over the nursery. In 1968, Feile became the first woman to be voted Nurseryman of the Year. Four years later, she was inducted into the New York State Nursery and Landscape Association Hall of Fame.  

William Foreman (England/Canada) (1847-1896) was the owner of the William Foreman Lumber Yard in Freeport.  Foreman emigrated from England, the country of his birth, with his parents. The family went first to Canada; later Foreman came to the United States in 1871 and became a teacher in local schools.  He was a member of the Presbyterian Church where he served as a trustee, elder, and superintendent of the Sunday school. Foreman was a member of the Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company, the Union League, Hempstead Bay Yacht Club, and the Freeport Bicycle Club; he was also vice-president of the Freeport Bank, director of the Freeport Land Company, and president of the board of education.

Cadman Henry Frederick (St. Vincent, British West Indies) (1880-1961) was a leading real estate developer and banker who is said to have accumulated his first million dollars by the time he was 21 years old. Born on the island of St. Vincent, British West Indies, Frederick came to the United States around the age of 14; he became a naturalized American citizen at 22.  Frederick was active in Our Holy Redeemer Church.  It was reported that he donated the main altar, Italian marble railing, and a pipe organ valued at $4,000 to the church.  He also donated land for the construction of a firehouse to the Merrick Hook and Ladder Company No. 2. 

Chester A. Fulton (Canada) (1871-1953) was the owner of the Fulton Funeral Home in Freeport. He was born in Canada to a farming family.  As a young man, Fulton found employment in a casket factory in Buffalo and later with the New York and Brooklyn Casket Company.  He eventually became an embalmer. He conducted business in Freeport for 49 years.  He endeared himself to so many people that he became known as “Dad” Fulton.

Joseph J. Grgurevich (Yugoslavia) (also spelled Gregurevich) (1872-1955) was one of the original ten agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Grgurevich was born in Yugoslavia and educated at the University of Vienna.  It was reported that he spoke ten languages.  Grgurevich came to the United States in 1891 and served in the United States military during the Spanish American War.   At the time of his death, Grgurevich lived 129 Atlantic Avenue.

Henry Frederick Harms (Germany) (1867-1928) sold groceries, meats and provisions on South Main Street at the corner of Pine Street in a building known as The Harms Building.  He was born in Germany. 

Edward L. Hong (China) (1899-1974) was the owner of the Savoy Inn. Hong was known for his civic involvement.  He organized a dance at the Elks Club to raise money for China Relief. He served as the chairman of the advance gifts committee of the National War Fund Drive in 1943.  In 1945, Hong became the president of the Freeport Lions Club, the first Chinese merchant on Long Island to head a service organization.

Isaac Horsfall (England) (1834-1902) operated a grist, flour, and saw mill in Freeport.  Born in England, Horsfall settled in Freeport and established a successful mill on the Freeport Creek.  He later sold his pond to the Brooklyn City Water Department and the mill was demolished.  He built a new mill on Henry Street which he operated until about 1899.

Alvin Johnson (Sweden) (1874-1933) served as Village justice from 1919 to 1933. Born in Sweden, Albin’s family, led by his father and mother (August and Bertha), immigrated to the United States in 1886. He graduated from the Freeport public schools in 1893 and was the first president of the Alumni Association. Johnson was called the “Great Joiner” and it was said he belonged to more fraternal organizations than any other resident of Freeport.

Henry Lampe (Germany) (1876-1961) was the original owner of the Sea Breeze Restaurant. Born in Schroda, Germany, Lampe immigrated to the United States in 1890, and was naturalized in 1900. He married his wife, Louise (Louisa) Miller, in 1898.  The Lampe family moved to Freeport around 1916 and lived with their daughter, Henrietta (Guthy), at 38 Morris Street.

Adolph Levy (Russia) (1854-?) was a local businessman in Freeport and the father of George Morton Levy, who was a prominent attorney.  Adolph Levy was born in Nizhni-Novgorod, Russia in 1854, where he became a successful merchant. Levy came to America and worked as a salesman; he later opened a hotel that was known as “Adolph’s Place.”  After moving to Freeport, Levy purchased a haberdashery.  The store became the successful men’s clothing store, Adolph Levy and Son. 

Guy Lombardo (Canada) (1912-1977) was a bandleader famous for his New Years’ Eve performances of Auld Lang Syne with his band, the Royal Canadians.  Lombardo was born Gaetano Alberto Lombardo in London, Ontario, Canada.  His father immigrated to Canada from Italy. In 1933, Lombardo and his wife, Lilliebell, spent the summer on a 55-foot cruiser named Tempo docked in Freeport. The Lombardos liked Freeport so much, they built a house in the Village in 1940. Lombardo’s house was located at 710 South Grove Street (approximately 756 Guy Lombardo Ave today). 

Luis D. Lovelace (Dominican Republic) (1938-1993) led the Hispanic congregation at the Freeport United Methodist Church for 17 years.  Lovelace was born in the Dominican Republic.

Anna J. Martin (Northern Ireland) (1885-1977) was the first woman to run for trustee in the Village of Freeport.  Born in Belfast, Martin came to New York with her family at the age of two. In 1928, Martin ran for Village trustee on the Democratic ticket. It was said that even her husband opposed her candidacy.  In a five-way trustee’s race, Martin came in last place.  Martin was a member of many local civic organizations and helped found the Freeport Community Concert Association in 1948; she was president of this organization for 20 years.

Jacob Maier (Germany) established Maier’s Bakery on South Main Street in 1917. Maier was born in Germany in 1871.

Morris Miller (Weseritz, Bohemia, today Czech Republic) (circa 1845-1922) was a prominent merchant and patriarch of one of the earliest Jewish families in the village. Miller is considered one of the pioneering merchants in Freeport.

David Cairns “Smiling Dave” Pettigrew (Scotland) (1894-1934) was a sergeant with the Freeport Police Department.  He emigrated from Scotland in 1904, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.  Pettigrew was the second Freeport police officer to die in the line of duty.

Moxey Rigby (Bahamas) (circa 1894-1962) was a graduate of Freeport High School and a long-time village resident.  When elected to the District Court in 1959, he became the first African American to hold an elected office in the County of Nassau.  Judge Rigby was vice-chairman of the Freeport Housing Authority, an agency which he helped to create, and was also involved in numerous public organizations.

Hyman Schloss (Russia) (1870-1947) was a prominent merchant in Freeport. Born in Russia, Schloss immigrated to the United States and settled in Freeport around 1890.  Schloss’ store was at one time the largest department store in Freeport. Schloss was a charter member of the Wide Awake Engine Co. No. 1, as well as a charter member of the Freeport Exempt Firemen’s Association.  Schloss was also a charter member of the Sunrise Lodge (Masons) and a charter member of the Elks Club.

Reverend Dr. Reginald H. Scott (Canada) (1880-1959) served for 42 years as the pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and was also a civic leader in Freeport.  Reverend Scott was born in Norwich, Ontario, Canada and was named for Bishop Reginald Heber of India. Under Scott’s leadership, Transfiguration moved from its original wooden edifice to a larger brick church in 1951.  Scott was also a library board member.

Godofredo “Mike” Ruiz de Zarate (Cuba) (1939-2006) was an electrical engineer and became the superintendent of buildings in 1981.  He also served on the village’s Electrical Board. Ruiz de Zarate served as a medic in the U.S. Army and was an honorary captain of Emergency Rescue Co. No. 9 and ex-captain of the Fire Police of the Freeport Fire Department.

Dr. Curtis Skeete (Barbados) (1890-1977) was one of the first African Americans to practice medicine in Nassau County.  Skeete was born in Barbados, attended Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and graduated medical school at Tufts University in 1925. Three years later, Skeete opened a medical practice in Freeport.  

Hugo Stearns (Germany) came to the United States in 1888 and began a business career which culminated in his control of the ostrich feather market.  Around 1905, he purchased a large tract of land in Freeport along Pennsylvania Avenue which became known as Stearns Park.

Cord Viebrock (Germany) was the owner of Viebrock’s restaurant, president of the Freeport Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Freeport Planning Board (1946-1948), a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (1948), a village trustee for eight years, a member of the Freeport Merchants Association, and chairman of the Freeport Housing Authority. Viebrock came to the United States from Hanover, Germany at the age of 14. His son John died during the Battle of the Bulge as a member of the U.S. Army infantry.

Christian L. Utz (Germany) (1860-1902) was born in Germany and moved to the United States in 1880.  He settled in Freeport and worked as a farmer.  Tragically, in 1902, he was kicked by a horse and died.  Utz Street is named for his family.

George Wallace (Canada) (1849-1918) served as the third president (mayor) of Freeport (1900 to 1902).  Wallace is credited with selecting the name “Nassau” for Nassau County. Wallace was born in Elora, Canada. Wallace established the newspaper South Side Observer in 1869. He assisted in organizing the Freeport Fire Department and served as the first foreman of Hose Co. No. 1.