2005-03-25 / Community

Tell Me Why...

The Hotel Guest
By John Ellis Kordes Village Historian

By John Ellis Kordes
Village Historian

Q. I just read a book on the Civil War and it mentioned that Union General Joseph Hooker died in Garden City in 1879. Could he have been living in a hotel here at that time. If so, could you tell me why?

“Old soldiers never die... they just fade away.” Well, after the American Civil War, there were plenty of “old soldiers” that would soon fade away into history. Many lived out their days recounting stories of the famous war between the states. Many stories were embellished and many needed no embellishing whatsoever.

One such old soldier was Northern General Joseph Hooker. He was known by his men as “Fighting Joe” for his intense spirit and President Lincoln liked him as an aggressive, hard-driving general. After the war “Fighting Joe” retired and after searching for a place to spend his remaining years, he settled on a new hotel. It was built in 1874 and was the centerpiece of a new city being built on Long Island. General Joseph Hooker was one of the first permanent residents of the first Garden City Hotel.

He lived out his life there, telling many a story, before dying in 1879. Today, however, we remember him for something else. You see, as a general Hooker would often provide “ladies” for his troops’ “entertainment” and they become known as “Hooker’s Girls.” That’s right. The term “hooker” for a prostitute derives from this general of the Civil War who spent his last years here in Garden City.

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