Tag Archives: Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery

Gravestone from Woodhaven cemetery found in local backyard

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Project Woodhaven

For many months, volunteers associated with the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society have worked to beautify and remove weeds from the Wyckoff-Snediker Family Cemetery, a graveyard located near All Saints Episcopal Church that dates back to the late 1700s.

The efforts, conducted in cooperation with the church (formerly St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church), have been both successful and rewarding, according to Ed Wendell of the society — and led to some amazing discoveries along the way.

During their most recent cleanup of the 98th Street site on July 11, Wendell received word from Irene Scheid, who lives adjacent to the cemetery, that her family recently unearthed what appeared to be a tombstone from her backyard. Volunteers came by Scheid’s home to pick up the thin stone tablet marked with the initials “G.S.B.”

Through research, Wendell said, it was determined that the gravestone once marked the burial site of Garret S. Bennet, who died in 1825 and was interred at the Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery. Wendell said the connection between the stone and cemetery was confirmed through a review of a cemetery survey conducted in 1919, which noted the extent of every graveyard “down to the square foot.”

Bennet’s grave was indicated in the 1919 survey, but the tombstone was listed as missing.

“It’s been out of the cemetery for at least 96 years, probably longer, and it ended up in this woman’s backyard,” Wendell said.

Not much is known about Bennet’s life other than the dates of his death and birth (in 1792, during George Washington’s first term as president) and the fact that several of his relatives, including daughter Ida, are also interred at Wyckoff-Snediker. They all died at young ages during the 1825 cholera epidemic that struck the area, according to Wendell.

Now that the century-old headstone mystery has been solved, Wendell noted it shouldn’t be too difficult to restore the headstone to Bennet’s grave. Along with clearing overgrowth and removing litter from the cemetery, volunteers have been restoring monuments that were either tipped or moved by vandals.

“We know where it’s supposed to go. We know where he is and we can finally put his tombstone back where it belongs,” he said.


Photo courtesy of Project Woodhaven
Along from restoring a piece of neighborhood history, Wendell hopes that the cemetery — once beautification efforts are complete — could be transformed into a passive community space where local residents can sit in peace and quiet and enjoy nature. The society hopes to hold an “open house” in October revealing to the public the extent of their efforts to that point.

“We don’t want it to be a place for loud music or play — just a nice, quiet space,” Wendell said. “To have something like that a few feet off Jamaica Avenue would be really nice for the community.”


Historic Woodhaven cemetery gets new life

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Ed Wendell

Only one month ago, the historic Wyckoff-Snediker Family Cemetery in Woodhaven was completely covered in foliage and debris.

Now, after several clean-up sessions, volunteers have reclaimed a large portion of the land, located at 85-45 96th St. on the grounds of All Saints Episcopal Church.

“The cemetery clean-up has turned into a nice combination of neighborhood beautification and education for young students,” said Ed Wendell, organizer of the clean-up and president of the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society. “Still a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re making solid progress.”

About two dozen volunteers came out on Aug. 9 for the clean-up and gathered close to 70 bags of garbage and cut down half a dozen dead and rotted trees to uncover historic tombstones in the cemetery. Their efforts have cleared nearly 50 percent of the cemetery already and Wendell hopes to keep this going until it is completely reclaimed.

Once the tombstones are cleared and legible, Wendell encourages the student volunteers do genealogy research and find some of the rich history that is present in the cemetery.

He said having the students do the genealogy research is a great learning experience but doing this works goes a step further than technical education.

“Not only are students learning how to do genealogy and research,” he said, “they are learning about using tools. When it came to cutting down the trees, the experienced hands we had on site explained how to properly tie down a tree so it could be taken down safely.”

The clean-up project is sponsored by both the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society and the St. Thomas the Apostle Woodhaven History Club. It takes place every second Saturday of the month and the society welcomes students from all over to participate. To find out more on the clean-up go to projectwoodhaven.com.





Richmond Hill church moving to former Saint Matthew’s Church of Woodhaven

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Residents in Woodhaven are saying hallelujah as one of the borough’s most historic churches will soon reopen.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Richmond Hill is moving to the former Saint Matthew’s Church on 96th Street, which shut its doors in 2011.

Father Norman Whitmire Jr. will be the rector of the church and has already began overseeing the restoration of the new location.

“There were a lot of concerns about what was going to happening to that church, to that building, to that property,” said Ed Wendell of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. “To hear that a new congregation is going to make it its new home, that is really good news, because that means that the building is going to have new life.”

The church and its famous Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery, located behind it, are currently undergoing a renovation. The floors, chandeliers and furniture are being redone on the inside and a new sidewalk was already placed. Also, the entrance to the church has been made handicap accessible.

The church itself is one of the remaining churches of old English Gothic architecture. The inside has a distinct look with stained glass windows and arches.

“You just can’t build buildings like this anymore,” Whitmire said. “It’s very expensive and it’s hard to find the craftsman who can do the stone work like those.”

The cemetery is also a historic piece. A few families that lived on farms in the area from 1792 to 1893 were buried in the private, half-acre land, which is behind the church and hidden from the street.

After the church closed, the cemetery was left to ruin but in the late 1990s volunteers came together and revitalized it. The church will be consecrated on Friday, October 25.