Foster’s Meadow: A German farming community

[Via Elmont Herald]

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,, 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.

Courtesy of Philip N. Hoeffner Family



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.

Market Wagon - Frederick Erb



These farmers were known as market or truck farmers, transporting their produce first, by horse and wagon, then by motorized trucks to the various markets in the cities of Brooklyn and New York where it would be sold. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the descendants of the German immigrants were the dominant ethnic group in what continued as an active agricultural area serving the large population centers to the west.

The launching of the website by the Franklin Square Historical Society is just one of the projects that are underway by the society. New developments are occurring in the construction of the museum, along with the planning of fall festivities. A look at our website will surely give you a feeling of what life was like over 150 years ago. The Fosters Meadow committee, Helene Christ, Honorary Chairperson, Steve Herman, Bal Hoeffner, Raymond Hoeffner, Paul Hoffman and Paul van Wie, President of the Franklin Square Historical Society, are in continual research for information regarding Fosters Meadow, please contact us at

Courtesy of John Mazur



[Elmont Herald; Raymond A. Hoeffner, Franklin Square Historical Society]


2 thoughts on “Foster’s Meadow: A German farming community

  1. This is like the stories my grandmother told me about Elmont . She told me they spoke German then as they sold the farms off they had a trolley along Hempstead Turnpike her mother would take her on . Huge houses along the turnpike that no longer exist . I think she said they redevelop the area and moved the Queens border , divided the Farms up some builders for chunks and build homes. Argo , Crest , on spot builders ,


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