Jesse Merritt was born on September 4, 1889. The house he was born in was built in 1699 by Thomas Whitson, one of his ancestors.
He attended the Farmingdale Grammar School before attending Friends Academy and Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. From 1917 to 1924, he was the clerk of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors.
He served as part of the 7th New York Infantry Regiment, Company C 1916 and did a tour of duty on the Mexican border. During World War I, he was attached to the 27th Division and served in France and Belgium. His regiment was with the British when they broke through the Hindenburg Line. He received the Victory Medal, the Cross of Honor, and the Mexican Border Medal.
Jesse became Official historian Village of Farmingdale in 1920 and the historian for Nassau County in 1936. As part of his job as Nassau County Historian, he visited the White House and interviewed President Herbert Hoover. He has written three books: Two Hundredth Anniversary of Mattituck Meeting, Locust Valley, Long Island, 1724-1924, Essays on Walt Whitman, and Story of Nassau County, New York.
He was a lifetime member of the New York State Historical Society. Jesse was a member of the Mortin Lodge in Hempstead and became President in 1921. Was a charter member of the Bethpage Lodge in Farmingdale.
He was married Mabel Elva Witte on April 3, 1917 and they had two daughters. In 1920, he founded The Farmingdale Post. The village designated it as the official village newspaper. On April 9, 1923 the Women’s Club of Farmingdale met with representatives from various organizations of the village at Jesse Merritt’s home for the express purpose of forming a library. Jesse Merritt was elected the first President of the Farmingdale Library Association. He wrote a request for a library charter to Albany and it was granted in May of 1923. The library’s name was then changed to the Farmingdale Free library.
In 1932, Jesse suggested the name Bethpage State Park of the park recently built to Robert Moses, who agreed. Jesse Merritt died in 1957.
Farmingdale’s Story: Farms to Flights. Junior Historical Society of Farmingdale, 1956
Halpin, James R. History of the Farmingdale Public Library. Master’s Thesis for Long Island University, 1965
Long Island: A History of Two Great Counties, Nassau and Suffolk. Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1949