Situated in the middle of a blockful of buildings at 96th Street and Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, Queens, the Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery is a relic of the area’s early history. The 85 x 266 foot tract is named for two families of Dutch descent who, around 1785, set aside equal portions of their adjoining farms for a local burying ground. About 200 area residents, including members of the Lott, Eldert, Suydam, Snedeker, and Wyckoff families, were buried there until it ceased to be used in the late 1800s.
Abandoned as descendants of the old families died out or moved away, the Wyckoff-Snediker Cemetery became neglected and dilapidated during the early 20th century. In 1901, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church was built on 96th Street, abutting the west side of the cemetery, and single-family homes and other buildings gradually surrounded the remainder of the graveyard. A 421-foot path from Jamaica Avenue, a perpetual right-of-way to the burying ground, transformed into an alley lined with garages. In 1962, St. Matthew’s Church purchased the cemetery for $500 at city auction after it had been seized for non-payment of taxes. Members of the parish, along with volunteers from the Queens Historical Society and Woodhaven Historical Society, have worked to restore the site, periodically clearing it of growth and debris and righting toppled tombstones. Around 100 gravestones are still present in the cemetery today, ranging from early fieldstone and brownstone markers to later marble and granite monuments. About 30 trees, all over 100 years old, also remain, adding to the bucolic atmosphere of the old graveyard.
Sources: Description of Private and Family Cemeteries in the Borough of Queens (Powell & Meigs 1932), 48-53; The Story of Woodhaven and Ozone Park (Seyfried 1985), 9; “Children Play Among Gravestones,” Long Island Daily Press, Sept. 18, 1935; “Two Old Cemeteries Auctioned Off by City,” Long Island Star Journal, Feb. 9, 1962; “A Cemetery in Woodhaven,” Leader-Observer, Oct. 31, 1974; “The Dead of New York,” The Economist, Jan. 18, 2008; Hyde’s 1912 Atlas of the Borough of Queens 1:Pl. 4; NYCityMap.