BRINCKERHOFF CEMETERY, Fresh Meadows

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On 182nd Street just north of 73rd Avenue you will see what appears to be a weedy, empty lot, with ivy and ancient trees. This, though, is the cemetery of one of the farming families in the area, the Brinckerhoffs; there are 76 plots here dating from between 1736 and 1872. The tombstones have been long ago stolen or are buried underground.

In the summer of 2012, the Brinckerhoff Cemetery was designated a landmark, ending a multi-decade tug of war between preservationists and developers hoping to build atop the cemetery.

The Landmark Preservation Commission: In 1982, the late Queens historian Vincent Seyfried wrote of early burial grounds:

Long before there were any cemeteries or tombstone makers, Long Island settlers  were faced with death and the need for burial. The earliest solution was to fence off a corner of the family farm and make it into a private burying ground. There were many such plots in Queens once, but the break-up of old farms into housing developments and the cutting of streets through estates either destroyed the grounds or left them isolated and exposed to vandalism and neglect. Today only a handful remain… The earliest burials in Queens date from the early 1700s. Since there were no stonecutters at such an early date, the families had to use crude fieldstones in their natural shape. The initials of the deceased, his or her age, and sometimes a year were chiseled into the stone and that was all. By 1720 native stonecutters had become numerous… 

The Brinckerhoff family arrived in New Netherland in the 1630s and had acquired land in what would be Fresh Meadows by 1730, and the family cemetery was instituted near the farm shortly after.

 

The earliest known grave marker in this burial ground, inscribed “R.A.” with the date 1730, is believed to be the grave of Rem Adriance, owner of a farm some distance to the east and married to Sarah Brinckerhoff; several of their descendants are also buried here. Dirck Brinckerhoff’s first wife, Aeltje Couwehoven Brinckerhoff, is buried here – she is the only known person with an inscribed gravestone from a family who actually owned one of the two farms containing the burial ground. Charyty Anthony, also buried here, was presumably a relative of Elizabeth Anthony, Dirck Brinckerhoff’s second wife. LPC

The history of the Brinckerhoff far, and associated properties is a complicated one, related in the LPC report linked above. The cemetery was in active use until he late 1800s. Though surrounding properties changed hands often in the early 20th Century the cemetery and neighboring Brinckerhoff homestead were always excepted.

The cemetery was subject to frequent vandalism and the homestead was demolished in 1934. The cemetery property was transferred to the city to the DeDomenico family in the 1960s, which sold it to Linda’s CAI Trading in 2010. No gravestones are currently visible in the cemetery but some may remain underground.

1/10/13





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10 Responses to BRINCKERHOFF CEMETERY, Fresh Meadows

  1. zosimo says:

    as usual, an interesting post by Forgotten-ny! Its a shame that the cemetery was allowed by the locals etc to fade away to its current condition. Besides, who would build anything on this site knowing its a cemetery? (hint-the movie ‘Poltergist’ (sp?) comes to mind!)

  2. Walt Gosden says:

    Vin Seyfreid was a really great historian. I got to know him fairly well through our membership in the Association of Public Historians of NY State . He gave a few talks about trolley cars on long island to the Floral Park Historical Society, and donated to them the bound hard copies of a local Floral Park newspaper from the 1920s he had saved when they were being discarded by a library in Queens . He had these and many other bound volumes of newspapers for various communities in the basement of his house. Over a decade ago he was thrilled that my then, very young son was so interested in Egyptology which was another one of his interests . When he moved from his home in Garden City he called me up and told me to come visit and to be sure to drive over in my pre war Packard sedan. He then proceeded to give me a cast brass light fixture that he said came from the ceiling of one of the first electric trains ever used by the LIRR, he said ” as a token of friendship”. I was in shock, and treasure that fixture to this day.

    • NY2AZ says:

      Dear Walt:
      I’m pretty sure that you’ve written for or have been written about in Hemmings Classic Car. Am I correct?

  3. Tom says:

    Glad to see this was designated a landmark. I’ve read about it in the past. The transfer to the DeDomenico family was for a relatively low amount because of the knowledge of the cemetery on the grounds.

  4. Elliot Traister says:

    We lived on 193rd Street, between 73rd and 75th Avenues. Never knew about the cemetery. I remember a farm on 73rd Avenue, between the Fresh Meadows houses and PS26. Was that farm owned by the Brinckerhoff family?

  5. Yolanda delacruz Gallagher says:

    The Friends of Brinckerhoff Colonial Cemetery Inc. is a duly registered non-profit organization with 501-C-3 , as approved by IRS on Sept. 17, 2014. The purpose of our organization is to purchase back the colonial cemetery from Le Dan Cai Trading Corp.; and to preserve, refurbish, and renovate, the decrepit state of the cemetery and enhance the historical values and education of our school children. With limited resources, our community volunteers continued to persevere , to preserve the historical legacy and heritage of the early Dutch settlers of Flushing. We are now requesting your financial support in our endeavor . You may send us your tax-deductible check donation to our mailing address at: 69-23 181st Street, Fresh Meadows, NY 11365. Thank you.
    Yolanda delacruz-Gallagher – President

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