Beginnings: Unlike much of the Hempstead Plains, Indians used this area because the Massatayun stream flowed through it, providing a source of fish. When Englishman Thomas Powell purchased the area from the Marsapeques, he noted the hamlets of Jericho and Jerusalem (now Wantagh) and turned to the gospel of Matthew in naming his purchase: `` . . . as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him, and when they drew night unto Jerusalem and were come to Bethphage . . . then sent Jesus two disciples.'' Powell changed the spelling, supposedly because he didn't like words with too many h's in them. When Powell died in 1721, the Bethpage purchase was divided among his 14 children.
Photo: The Clubhouse and adjoining areas at Bethpage State Park renovated for the upcoming 2002 US Open. (Newsday/David l. Pokress)