Monday, August 14, 2017

Major Thomas Jones

Major Thomas Jones was born about 1665 in Straubane, Ireland. His family was Welsh, but they lived in Ireland for some time. Major Jones served in in the Battle of the Boyne under James II.  He eventually gave up his seafaring life and settled in Warwick, Rhode Island. A prominent family, the Townsends, also lived in Warwick at the time. Thomas Townsend obtained a considerable amount of land on Long Island, including several hundred acres of land in what is now Massapequa. Thomas Jones met Thomas Towsend’s daughter Freelove and married her. On October 30, 1696, Thomas Townsend gifted Jones and Freelove a large tract of land in Massapequa.

Major Jones and his wife moved to the Fort Neck area of Massapequa. He built a home at the head of a creek on Merrick Road, near Biltmore Boulevard. The creek became known as Brick House Creek (It is now Massapequa Lake and Preserve). Thomas Jones enlarged his holdings until he had approximately 6,000 acres (Part of that land is now Jones Beach State Park). He was granted a commission of Captain in the Queens County Militia in 1702. In 1710, he was appointed Ranger General of the Island of Nassau by Governor Hunter.

Major Jones died in December 1713 and was laid to rest in a small family burial ground not far from the house. He wrote the inscription for his own headstone. It reads, “Here Lyes Interd the Body of Major Thomas Jones Who Came From Straubane In The Kingdom of Ireland Settle Here and Died December 1713. From Distant Lands To This Wild Waste He Came This Seat He Choose and Here He Fixed His Name. Long May His Sons This Peaceful Spot Injoy and No Ill Fate his Offspring Here Annoy.”

He and Freelove’s graves were moved to the graveyard at Old Grace Episcopal Church on Merrick Road. The two original tombstones mark the graves. His grave is the oldest historic object in Massapequa.

A few legends have emerged about Thomas Jones and his seafaring life. He was a privateer before settling on Long Island. Legend says that he buried some treasure near his house in Massapequa. As the story is told, he asked a young boy to guard the treasure and when the boy agreed, Jones supposedly killed the boy and threw his body upon the chest as he buried it. Residents spoke of hearing the boy’s cries in the swamp where the treasure was supposed to be laid. Legend has it that when Jones died, a big black bird flew into the room and perched upon his pillow. The bird remained in the room until Jones passed away and flew out of an oval window in the house.

After his passing, strange goings-on began to occur. The oval window which the bird flew through could not be closed and sightings of his ghost were seen entering the window and taking a walk. Jones’s sons and grandson did everything they could to close the window, to no avail. The family eventually gave up and moved out of the house for good.


Massapequa Post. An Illustrated History of Massapequa. Massapequa Publishing Co., 1968.

Panchyk, Richard. Hidden History of Long Island. History Press, 2016.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Police Commissioner Francis Looney

Francis Looney was born in the Looney farmhouse in 1916, the eighth of nine children. He attended St. Ignatius Parochial School from 1923 to 1931 and then went to Farmingdale High school from 1931 to 1935.  Francis Looney was drafted into the Army in November 1941. In 1942, he was assigned to military intelligence. Before he was drafted, Francis graduated from St. John’s Law School. He was the first Nassau County Police Officer with a law degree in the history of the department. After extensive training in counter-intelligence and espionage detection, he was ready for his first overseas assignment.

In February 1943, he was assigned to the Army Counter-Intelligence Crops in Algiers, North Africa. When he arrived, the American armies were engaged in battled with the Italian army and the German Afrika Corps. While there, he ferreted out spies and counter-intelligence agents whose activities were damaging the allied war effort.

His most exciting case was the Carla Costa affair. Carla Costa was on to the best spies in the German spy network. She was one of the most difficult spies to get information from.  She was captured enroute to Rome to gather intelligence. After five days of intensive questioning, she would not confess. She referred to her parents briefly and Francis was sent to Rome to find them. His report broke the case. It contained information from her parents and the confession of another spy, a friend of Carla’s. Upon hearing this, she gave a detailed account of German intelligence and several spies were arrested.

He was discharged in 1946 and rejoined the Nassau County Police Department. He began as a patrolman in a radio car.  By the end of his first year, he made Detective and passed the Sargent’s test a year later. .In 1948, he was made legal adviser to the Chief of Staff.  He was the Chief Inspector from 1961 to 1964.When Commissioner James J. Kelly resigned in 1964, Looney became the Commissioner. He served as Commissioner for five years. His proudest accomplishment was offering college training to all Nassau County Police Department personnel. The Police Department was the first one in the United States to require a two-year college degree for appointment and a four-year college degree for promotion.

During his time as Police Commissioner, Francis Looney recommended the creation of the Police Cade Program, created the Scientific Advisory Board, started the bi-monthly police publication Signal One, and opened a police library at the headquarters.

After his tenure, he served as Assistant to the New York City Police Department and then as Deputy Police Commissioner. In 1993, he served as a consultant advisory to the New York State Director of Criminal Justice. Francis Looney passed away in August 2003 at the age of 96.

Francis Looney served as President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Chairman or the Nassau County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

His awards include: Fellow of Adelphi University, Niagara University’s President’s Medal, Law Enforcement Man of the Year by the Nassau County Detectives’ Association, Nassau County Municipal Police Chiefs Association, and the Nassau County American Legion.

Francis B. Looney, Nassau County Police Commissioner 1966-1971.

Thompson, Ed. Farmingdale Biographies: A Look at the Lives of Some Prominent Citizens.