BLOODGOOD Haviland Cutter (1817-1906) was a miller, potato farmer, property owner (he once owned the land where my garden apartment complex, Westmoreland Village, stands) and composer of light doggerel. He happened to be in company with Mark Twain on a visit to the Near East Holy Lands and insinuated himself into Twain’s acquaintance and generally made a nuisance of himself; in Innocents Abroad, Twain described him thusly:
“He is 50 years old, and small for his age. He dresses in home spun, and is a simple minded, honest, old fashioned farmer with a strange proclivity for writing rhymes. He writes them on all possible subjects and gets them printed on slips of paper with his portrait at the head. These he will give to any man that comes along, whether he has anything against him or not. He has already written interminable poems on ‘The Good Ship Quaker City’ and an ‘Ode to the Ocean’ and ‘Recollections of the Pleasant Time on Deck Last Night’, which pleasant time consisting in his reciting some 75 stanzas of his poetry to a large party of passengers convened on the upper deck.”
Shed no tears for Cutter, as he inherited or purchased large parcels in what are today’s Little Neck, Great Neck (where Cutter Avenue and Cutter Mill Road are named for him) and Plandome. He amassed a fortune of $750K and left much of it to the American Bible Society; the rest was divided among over 200 relatives.
Is there anything left in the area pointing to “Bloody” Cutter’s former presence? You have to look around. One place is the undefended border of Queens and Nassau Counties, where 41st Avenue and 41st Drive poke their noses into Nassau and change their names to Summit and Cutter Avenues. Elsewhere on the border, Queens numbered avenues can keep their numbers when entering Nassau, but not here. However, no property is located on either stub street. You can also find the rather longer Cutter Mill Road nearby.
On this 1909 map in which east is at the top, the Cutter heirs still owned a chunk of territory at what is now the heart of Little Neck at Little Neck Parkway and Northern Boulevard.
We often believe that where we live is generic territory and nothing special. But every place has a past, and I’m glad an eccentric like Cutter was part of Little Neck’s.
Much more on Cutter in Long Island Genealogy.
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