Wittberg Family

Gibney Home
Neal Wittberg

Swedish native Oliver Wittberg came to the United States in 1888 and settled in Brooklyn. Two years later, he came to Brentwood and took a job as an engineer at the Austral Hotel. While working there, he met Harriet Mead Johnson, daughter of popular local resident John L.Watson,whose family home was on Brentwood Road next to the Austral Hotel. Oliver and Harriet fell in love and later married. When the Austral Hotel failed, Oliver took another engineering job at Central Islip State Hospital. He stayed there for fifteen years, until an accident nearly killed him. He and another employee were lifting a heavy machine with the help of two patients, one of whom suffered an epileptic seizure, fell, and dropped his end of the machine. Oliver suffered internal injuries. Harriet gave birth to their daughter, Genevieve, on June 24,1900. As a young child, the girl became very ill. Nothing helped her ,until a family friend suggested that she be given cow’s milk. But milk was scarce at the time because Brentwood had no dairy. Oliver bought a milch cow, who they named Dolly. Genevieve was then given milk through a medicine dropper several times a day. Her condition immediately improved, and she fully recovered. Oliver then realized that he had a golden opportunity, so he bought more cows and established the first dairy in Brentwood. Genevieve later married Robert Gibney, son of a popular local family. Oliver died in Brentwood in 1934, and Harriet passed away ten years later. N. Zinno -- July 2007 -- Local History Newsletter

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