THE HISTORIC WYCKOFF-SNEDICKER CEMETERY
“Dutch settlers whose large families by nature increase spilled over from Flatlands and New Lots into virgin acres of southern Queens. Nearly all the farm folks had ties to the Dutch Reformed Church and Sundays they drove their carriages to worship in the old Dutch Church at New Lots and Schenck Ave in East New York and to socialize afterward with their friends and neighbors. Some Woodhaven folk buried their dead in the churchyard, but about 1785 the Wyckoffs and the Snedickers each deeded a plot about 80 x 266 feet on the border line along their respective farms and established a local burying ground. Between 1791 and 1900 over 200 local residents were buried here.” (The Story Of Woodhaven and Ozone Park, by Vincent F. Seyfried)
The families still retained their ties to the Dutch Church in New Lots, as described by Peter Rapelje in his recollections of the town of New Lots.
“The rural Community of New Lots around 1885 as described by Peter Rapelje, who grew up on the Rapelje farm on the east end of New Lots Road, in the Town of New Lots, Brooklyn. (Written in the year 1940). By this community I mean the group of families centered around the New Lots Dutch Reformed Church. Around that time Jerome Vanderveer, with his family, rode to this church from their home on the south west corner of Woodhaven Lane and Metropolitan Avenue with his wife and sons James, Walter and John. Peter Lott, also from that section, came every Sunday as did the Snedekers, Drews, and Elderts from Elderts Lane.” [Peter Rapelje’s Remembrances of Old New Lots, Brooklyn, with Collateral Entries from the 1892 and 1893 Diaries of Sara Louisa Crossman Duryea, Richard Alan McCool, Annotator February 1996 Columbus,Ohio].
The Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery has, like most of the family burial grounds in Queens, been ignored and vandalized for years. As early as 1934, just 2 years after Charles Powell, an engineer for the City’s topographical bureau surveyed the cemetery; the Leader Observer ran articles regarding its neglected condition.
In 1963, the City auctioned off the cemetery. The parishioners of the adjacent St. Matthews Church purchased it for $600, according to Allan Smith, the Church's warden and historian, to give respect to the dead. The Church landscaped the area and tried to make it into a garden-like park. In 1995 Stanley Cogan, president of the Queens Historical Society, formed a group to work for the preservation of the Queens Family Graveyards. It is at this time, that the compilers of this history became involved with Mr. Cogan's project. They had discovered their ancestors were buried in the vandalized Southside Cemetery in Ozone Park. In 1999 the City placed a plaque on this cemetery honoring the families buried there.
In 1997, Stanley Cogan gave a slide presentation of the 23 Queens family cemeteries, first to the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society and then at St. Matthews Church.Interest grew and a group was formed to refurbish the Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery.
A group of volunteers from the Church, from the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society,and from the Queens Historical Society met every Saturday for 2 years. Using amap provided by Powell’s survey, Allan Smith, an architect and Arthur O’Meally, an engineer and a trustee of the Queens Historical Society, worked with the volunteers to re-erect stones in their original location. A fence was erected through a grant provided to the Woodhaven Cutural and Historical Society from Senator Serphin Maltese.
On Sunday, October 31,1999, St. Matthews Church held a rededication service after which the congregation proceeded to the burial ground for an outdoor blessing.
On December 2, 1999 in a ceremony at Flushing Town Hall, Borough President Claire Shulman honored Smith and O'Meally for their preservation work on the Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery. ( excerpt from The Chronicle 1999 ). Following is Allan B. Smith’s acceptance speech given when the award was presented:
“It is indeed a great honor to receive this Queens Preservation Award and it is also an honor and a privilege to have been part of a local community project that so intimately is associated with the history of Queens County.
Therefore we should remember Charity, Farnrnatie, Tunis, Tarlton, Gitty Maria, Elijah, Dowe, Domenicus, Gary and the others of the 136 early Dutch settlers who are interred here.
When we initiated this project over two years ago, no one realized the extent of the undertaking. I guess that makes us undertakers. Please bier with me.
As we are now beginning to see the fruits of our endeavors leading to the final stages of completion, I can only say the personal rewards have far outweighed the dirt, the mud, the strained back, insect bites and bramble cuts. The reason for my involvement was to give some sense of dignity and respect to a hidden piece of property that was once abandoned, vandalized and desecrated.
The family of Henry Wyckoff who died in 1851 got it right when they decided on this inscription for his tombstone: " WE WHO SHARED HIS WARM AFFECTION AND REALIZED HIS WORTH, DELIGHT TO DWELL UPON HIS MEMORY AND WILL
HONOR HIS REMAINS"
It is likewise my delight to have worked with such a dedicated group of volunteers from the Queens Historical Society, The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in bringing honor to God's Little Yz Acre.•
Rather than a topographical surveyor a genealogical survey, the compilers have done a family history on those who are buried in the Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery. Basic datesand names of spouses and children tell only part of their story. To be able to discover more about their era, their area and more about them as living people is important. We find they were people much like ourselves. They loved and honored their God, their families, their Country, their King and President. They lived their' daily lives as we live ours. The men worked hard at their jobs and the women worked equally as hard taking care of the horne and family. They served their Country when asked. Lawrence Losee died in 1863, a member of the 139th Reg. N.Y. Vol. Much like our own families, the first generations farmed, followed trades, went to sea and owned hotels and inns during the heyday of the Union Course Race Track. Their children turned to the law, medicine, realestate, banking and development. One developed a summer resort in Rockaway Beach and one married the daughter of John Pitkin, the developer of Woodhaven.
Although their lives had much sorrow with high infant mortality, death in childbirth and early death from disease, they lived with Faith and Joy.”
List of Inscriptions in Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery
Maria S. Conklin Van Dine aged 30 years l l months, died in childbirth with son.
Dearest one you have gone
Far from this world of care
On earth your work is done
For Heaven's now your home.
Abbey Amelia Eldert aged 11 years 4 months 13days
Dearest Abbey thou hast left us
From this world of care & pain
Love's strong ties cold death may sever
But we trust to meet again.
Mary Brasier aged 22 years.
Here blooming youth & beauty be
A form once radiant with an angel's mind
All that could touch the heart or charm the eye
To dust & darkness now consigned.
Here aft is heard the mother's cry
Here still the tear of friendship flows
Till death shall give that heart repose.
Nicholas Lott aged 49 years 1 1 month 7 days
My flesh shall slumber in the ground
'Till the last trumpet's joyful sound;
Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour's image rise.
Garchy Suydam Nostrand aged 40 years 5 month 10 days
Sweet is the memory of the just
Their virtues never die
The Lord will raise their sleeping dust
To dwell with Christ on high.