Johnson Burial Ground

The Johnson Burial Ground site. The site slopes upward from behind the apartment buildings toward the Long Island Motor Parkway Trail.
The Johnson Burial Ground site. The site slopes upward from behind the apartment buildings toward the Long Island Motor Parkway Trail (Mary French)

A small hill tucked between a section of the Long Island Motor Parkway Trail and apartment buildings of the Alley Pond Owners Corp. in Bayside, Queens, may contain the remains of a 19th century African American burial ground. Little is known about the burial site, but an 1870 notice briefly describes it:

Dutch Jake, Jacob Johnson, elderly colored resident of the Alley, was buried in the colored burying ground near Rocky Hill, which he had reserved for the use of his brethren when disposing of a piece of property he owned in that vicinity. (Flushing Journal, Nov. 12, 1870, p. 2).

An 1873 map of Bayside, including the area that is referred to in the notice, identifies a “Mrs. Johnson” located in the vicinity, but the burial ground is not shown.  Property records for the Alley Pond Owners Corp. apartments, which were built just after World War II, specifically exclude the “quarter acre burial ground plot” from the apartment complex and describe the burial ground as located 14.39 feet south of the Long Island Motor Parkway Trail, with a depth of 149 feet and a frontage of 72 feet.   Currently owned by the city, the site is unmarked, contains no headstones, and is covered with debris and vegetation.

1873 map of Bayside, showing “Mrs. Johnson” located between Rocky Hill Road (present day Springfield Blvd) and Alley Pond (Beers 1873)
Current location of the Johnson Burial Ground (NYCityMap)
Johnson Burial Ground (Mary French)

Sources: Beers’ Atlas of Long Island Pl 58; NYCityMap; Deed, Alley Pond Owners Corp., 10/5/1985, p. 4

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