Though western Queens is well-known for its vast cemeteries, there are also a number of very small ones. A small section of Juniper Valley Park at Juniper Blvd. North and 81st Street is given over to the Pullis Farm Cemetery, once the property of farmer Thomas Pullis, who purchased 32 acres in the area in 1822. Pullis prohibited the sale of the cemetery in his will, and it continues to be marked and protected. A memorial marker has replaced the cemetery’s old tombstones.
For years, the Pullis Farm Cemetery sat in Juniper Valley Park, unmarked and overgrown with weeds, but gated. In 1996, restoration of the graveyard was completed due to the efforts of the Juniper Park Civic Association’s Ed Shusterich, with the addition of a new headstone donated by Lutheran /All-Faiths Cemetery.
Juniper Valley Park itself dates only to the 1940s, when NYC acquired 100-acre Juniper Valley Swamp to settle a $225,000 claim in back taxes against gangster Arnold Rothstein, who, it’s believed, had the Chicago White Sox in his back pocket in 1919 when the Sox threw the World Series against Cincinnati. The old swamp is now one of Queens’ most beautiful parks.
Here’s an excerpt from a Dripps Queens County map from 1852, showing the Pullis property, which I’ve helpfully circled in red. Middle Village was mostly farmland then and would continue to be until the 1910s, after the Queensboro Bridge brought more settlers in and a street grid and houses were constructed. There were only a few roads then; I’ve labelled what the roads evolved into on today’s map.