Dix Hills is named after a local native, Dick Pechagan, likely a Secatogue Indian who had a wigwam and farmed in this area around circa 1689. Overtime, the name was shortened and the spelling changed from “Dick’s” to “Dix.” In 1700, Pechagan sold this area to the Town of Huntington.
In the 17th century, Melville was known as Samuel Ketcham’s Valley, named after one of the earlier natives residing in the area. It is believed that it was later called Sweet Hollow probably due to the large population of honey bees and wild honey found in the hollow of trees in the area. In 1854, school records indicate that the name changed to Melville, likely derived from the Latin word “Mel”, which means “honey.”
At the turn of the century, the Dix Hills-Melville hamlets, once primarily a rural farming community, underwent a drastic change in their landscapes. There was a building boom in the decades following the end of World War II as farms were bought out by housing projects and the population of the area skyrocketed. Melville saw the development of a large corporate district along Route 110. One can see remnants of the old farming community that the area once was in its farms, churches, and old houses that have gracefully withstood the test of time.
Dix Hills marked the outside boundary of three local tribes of the Algonquin Montauk people: the Matinecocks (lived from the hills, northward to the Sound), the Secatogues (lived to the south up into the hills), and the Massapequas (lived in the Half Way Hollow Hills and westward). “Half Way Hollows” was the halfway resting point of farmers on their way to the marshes on the Great South Bay to obtain salt hay for their farm animals.
1653: The first English settlers establish Huntington.
1683: King Charles II of England sets up Suffolk County. There are less than 1000 people in the county, and only a few families in the Dix Hills-Melville area.
1701: Timothy Carll purchases more than 6000 acres of land between what is now Deer Park Road and Commack Road. He builds a log cabin one mile north of Candlewood. His land is later subdivided between his descendants.
Mid-18th Century: Carll’s Straight Path is built, connecting the two Carll farms in Dix Hills and Babylon.
1775-1783: Most residents of the Dix Hills-Melville area join the revolt against England. Many local men enlist in the local “minutemen” defense units or other units of the Continental Army. Carll’s tavern serves as a training center for the local militia until the English takeover in 1776.
1784-1800: Farms are subdivided for new families. These farms average 200-300 acres, of which many have one or two slaves. There are about 40 families living in the area. The first school and post office are established.
1812: State legislature sets up the public school system. Attendance is about 30-50 students.
1817: The Old East-West trail, which was the main Indian trail across Long Island, is expanded, and is now called Jericho Turnpike.
1842: Long Island Railroad station opens at Deer Park, drastically
improving connectivity with the outside world.
1860: Civil War breaks out, and several local men enlist in the Union Army, fighting in the battles at Gettysburg and Virginia.
Circa 1900: Several old farms receive new owners, of whom many are German and Italian. Many large estates are built, such as the Vanderbilt Estate on both sides of Bagatelle Road and the Gould Estate between Wolf Hill and Caledonia Roads.
1908: William K. Vanderbilt opens Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the nation’s first paved, limited access highway.
1925: The populations of Dix Hills and Melville each reach 200 persons.
1928: Plans are developed for Pilgrim State Hospital, the world’s largest mental hospital. The first units open in 1931.
1931-1932: Old schools at Dix Hills and Half Hollow merge. Hills School opens on Deer Park Road. The population gradually increases, and many new single family homes are built on land from old farms breaking up.
1950: Northern State Parkway reaches Commack Road. The post-war housing boom begins.
1954: Half Hollow Hills School District forms after merging Dix Hills and Melville.
1962: Long Island Expressway construction reaches Melville.
Dix Hills-Melville Historical Association
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