RHHS LogoThe Richmond Hill Historical Society___________________________________________

Back To RHHSMapsResourcesEarly YearsQuick Info
Guest Page

The Early Years of Maple Grove Cemetery / Alfred H. Grebe Obituaries / More about Alfred H. Grebe
Historic Places of Richmond Hill, NY / Noteworthy People of Richmond Hill

The following famed list was researched and compiled by Jeff Gottlieb from his article "The Famed at Maple Grove Cemetery" (c) 1999
The Famed at Maple Grove Cemetery
by Jeff Gottlieb

 Opened in 1875, Maple Grove Cemetery is a beautiful, 65-acre burial ground in Kew Gardens, with its main entrance on Kew Gardens Road and Lefferts Boulevard. It was modeled, in part, after the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, a 478-acre tract, also well above (478 feet) sea level, and established in 1838 as a rural cemetery and horticultural garden, Maple Grove, like Greenwood, is an oasis in an urban environment.
 Bordered on the west by the Park Vendome, Park Chateau and Imperial, undistinguished apartment buildings built by the Lefraks, in the north by noisy Queens Boulevard (Hoffman Boulevard), the widest (over 250 feet in parts of Forest Hills) street in New York City. Bordered on the east side by the Van Wyck Expressway, a Robert Moses highway overcrowded in its first week of use, our verdant section is not only a fine spot for contemplation but also contains the remains of some distinguished individuals who left a mark on Central Queens culture.
 

  •  John H. Sutphin (1835-1907): Born in Hicksville on August 18th, 1835. Mr. Sutphin was elected justice of the peace of Jamaica (1864), deputy county clerk of Queens, and then county clerk of Queens (1867). Enjoying the political world, he was chairman of the Queens Democrat County Committee (1867-1897) before being deposed by associates of Tammanyís Richard Croker. Living south of Jamaica Avenue, on present-day 164th Street, he helped organize Maple Grove Cemetery in 1875, created the Bank of Jamaica (1895), and was president of the Jamaica Savings Bank (1898-1907). He donated access land near the planned Long Island Railroad station in downtown Jamaica. Thus, Sutphin Boulevard came into being.

  •  
  •  Theodore F. Archer (1837-1893): Born in Monroe County, New York, Theodore Archer established a business in Greenpoint, Long Island, and then a general store in Middle Village. Despite losing his shirt in the 1873 Depression, Archer came back to become a builder, real estate developer, and auctioneer. Archer died of kidney disease in 1893; John H. Stuphin was a pallbearer at his funeral. His business was taken over by son Theodore F. Archer (1866-1950), with its name changed to Theodore F. Archer & Sons (brother James C. Archer was an associate). Son Theodore F. rose to the post of auctioneer of the Port of New York.

  •  
  •  J. Harvey Smedley (1840-1925): organized the Long Island City Savings Bank and started the public school savings bank system. A member of the Queensborough Chamber of Commerce, Smedley established, in 1865, the first lard oil manufacturing plant, in Long Island City. He then went on to a successful banking career. A graduate of the Rochester Institute College and a warden of St. Johnís Episcopal Church, Smedley is known for the street named after him in Brairwood and for his sonís accomplishments. Mason O. Smedley was a graduate of Trinity College and an accountant who, in the 1890ís, became sheriff of Queens County. Attaching himself to politician Maurice Connollyís rising political star, he was hand-picked to be Queens County Democratic leader (1917-1928). Unfortunately, when Borough President Connolly was brought down by a sewer scandal, Mason O. gave way to John Theofel as Democratic leader of Queens.

  •  
  • Joseph B. Everitt (1822-1884): was the Jamaica town undertaker, a successful owner of a livery business, and an active member of the Jamaica First Presbyterian Church. Son William E. Everitt (1859-1939) was also in the livery business, supervisor of the town of Jamaica, and town clerk (1886-1893). Both father and son were affiliated with Maple Grove and buried numerous blacks in the Groveís Southern Border, a segregated internment area.

  •  
  •  Edward Mandel (1869-1942): Proof of Maple Groveís non-sectarian policy, Mandel was a Jewish educator. A graduate of P.S. 75 (1883) and City College (1888), where he was captain of the Chess Team, Mandel taught in three Manhattan schools before becoming principal of P.S. 34 (1903) and P.S. 188 (1904). His next post was principal of Junior High School 97 in 1920. From 1921 to 1923, he headed a large Queens school district before being made an associate superintendent of schools. Mandel also received his M.A. at City College in 1890 and was admitted to the Bar in 1891. From 1891 to 1912, he was principal of the firm of Frankenstien and Mandel. Busy life! Mr. Mandel also wrote a series of language texts and was a founder of the teacherís pension system. He formed a law partnership with son Austin ďRedĒ Mandel (1901-1963), a stalwart of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, located above the Inwood (now Cinemart) Movie Theatre, on Metropolitan Avenue, Forest Hills. Austin became an assemblyman, in 1936, with his one legislative success being the exemption of the teachers from jury duty. He was adventurous, first showing this trait by being an under-age volunteer in World War 1 and later in life by taking on Robert Moses in an attempt to prevent the extension of Jewel Avenue to the Grand Central Parkway service road. The Mandel family lived at 108-43 Jewel Avenue, Forest Hills, with P. S. 220 being named, in 1956, after the senior Mandel.

  •  
  • Don Marquis (1878-1937): was a popular New York newspaper columnist, short story writer and humorist from 1912 through the mid-1930s. He wrote for The Sun, the New York Tribune and numerous magazines, and he authored a half-dozen plays and 27 books. He is best known for the fanciful characters created in his columns, including Archy and Mehitabel, a cockroach and alley cat whose exploits filled three books, and the Old Soak, a determined foe of Prohibition who was the subject of two books, a hit Broadway play and two movies. He lived at 51 Wendover Road in Forest Hills.
     
  • Harold G. Campbell (1884-1942): Superintendent of New York City schools from 1934 to 1942, Campbell was born in Scotland and came to the United States in 1888. After receiving his B.A. at Brooklyn Poly (1908) and M.A. at NYU (1910), he taught at Eastern District High School before being appointed principal of Flushing High School (1920-1924). He moved up to deputy superintendent of schools before attaining the rank of superintendent, in 1943, and being re-elected, for a six-year term, in 1940, at $25,000 a year. Nice sum of money in 1940. He was tarnished in the Parental School abuse scandal of 1934. Despite a valiant Board of Education defense of school practices, the Flushing institute was shuttered, eventually opening as Queens College in 1937. Campbell was later memorialized (in 1956) by having Junior High School 218, on Main Street, Flushing, named after him. No luck, here, as it later was closed in 1982 and reopened as the City University of New York law School, in 1986.

  •  
  • Issac E. Failor (1851-1925): The former superintendent of the Richmond Hill Village Schools and a teacher at Boys High School (1892-1897), he was appointed the first principal, in 1899, of Richmond Hill High School. There were only three faculty members at this time, besides himself. An avid astronomer, he had an observatory built at the school. Living at 84-23 113th Street, Richmond Hill, Failor retired in 1917.

  •  
  •  John E Backus (1846-1911): was born the son of the famed Ascan Backus, a large-scale truck farmer in the area now known as Forest Hills. John Backus was educated at the Flushing Institute and became manager of his fatherís estate, besides being treasurer of the Citizens Water Supply Company and a commissioner of the Jamaica Normal School. In April 1873, he married Phoebe S. Vanderveer, granddaughter of the famed John R. Pitkin, founder of Woodhaven. Among John Backusí most famous accomplishments was his work as deputy bridge commissioner for Queens. He strongly and successfully urged the building of the Queensborough Bridge.

  •  
  •  John Townsend Suydam (1856-1930): had Woodhaven properties. A Republican who held several minor offices, his family background showed the intense intermarriage customs of the Dutch-descendents settlers. Suydamís wife, Anna J. Debevoise, of Jamaica, was active in the Reformed Church of Jamaica. Sister Sarah Suydam married Charles Lott, a retired farmer, while sister Ida C. Suydam married John A. Vanderveer, a Flatlands farmer.

  •  
  •  Williams H. Simonson (1860-1923): ran the Queens County mortuary when it was located at 94th Street and 101st Avenue, Ozone Park. A businessman, he became well known even before son Clarence F. Simonson (1895-1958) moved the business to its present location, at 119-04 Hillside Avenue, Richmond Hill, in 1920. It is one of the last independent funeral homes.

  •  
  •  Dr. Edgar Dubs Shimer (1853-1933): was a forty-eight year veteran (1857-1923) of the New York City public school system. A graduate of Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1874, Dr. Shimer was first intent on becoming a minister. After teaching at P.S. 42, Manhattan, Shimer was appointed principal in 1896 and an assistant superintendent in 1902. Living at 88-21 162nd Street, Jamaica, he was a professor of psychology at New York University. Dr. Shimer was also locally prominent, being a director of the Jamaica Savings Bank and an elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Jamaica. Shimer Junior High School (P.S. 142), Jamaica, was named after him in 1923. This Linden Boulevard institute is now called ďThe School for Career DevelopmentĒ.

  •  
  •  Frederick W. Dunton (1851-1931): Born in Newton, New Hampshire, Dunton was blessed with his motherís being a sister to Austin Corbin, president of the Long Island Railroad. Frederick Dunton went on to found Hollis (1884) and then Dunton (now Morris Park), southeast of Richmond Hill. His residence, called Holliswood Hall, had a fine view of the Atlantic Ocean! Among Duntonís accomplishments was his help in founding the Bank of Jamaica, his election (1869) and re-election (1896) to the Board of Supervisors of Queens County, and his being supervisor of the Town of Jamaica.

  •  
  •  Charles Albert Vosburgh (1876-1967): started his teaching career in 1896 at Jamaica High School, then located at Hillside Avenue, off 162nd Street. The institution in 1896 was a kindergarten through twelfth grade school, with four teachers and eighty students. Vosburgh became principal of Jamaica High School in 1919 and remained there until retirement in 1946.

  • Charles Vosburgh had many civic accomplishments, including presidency of the Long Island Branch, Holland Society of New York, and being president of the Queens Council, Boy Scouts of America. He was a Mason for seventy years and lived at 68-07 Burns Street, Forest Hills.
     
  •  Albon Platt Man (1845-1920): elder brother of Alrick Man, founder of Kew Gardens, and son of Albon Platt Man, founder of Richmond Hill. An engineer, he joined with Alrick to form the Kew Gardens Corporation in order to develop the Richmond Hill Golf Course into prime real estate property, with over 300 homes.

  •  
  •  Rev. Dr. William Agur Matson (1819-1904): an Episcopal clergyman with a distinguished career. Ordained to the ministry by Bishop DeLancey in 1840, he was, for fifteen years, secretary of the Diocese of Western New York State. He was recording secretary of the General Board of Missions (1867-1877) and third rector of the Richmond Hill Church of the Resurrection Episcopal (1877-1885, 1886-1887). His daughter Kate wrote a history of Richmond Hill in 1905. Dr. Matson lived at 115-01 84th Avenue (then called Division Avenue) and then, after a disastrous 1895 fire, moved to the servantsí quarters at 115-05 84th Avenue. This wealthy divine was a graduate of Hobart College.

  •  
  •  Charles C. Protheroe (1857-1912): Law partner (1884) of Kew Gardens founder Alrick Man, Protheroe was a classmate of Manís at City College and Columbia Law School. He specialized in trusts and corporation law, arguing motions in court while Alrick Man handled office operations. His home was across Church Street (118th  Street, today) from Manís.

  •  
  •  Elizabeth Riis (1835-1905): wife of reformer Jacob Riis. They lived at 84-39 120th Street. Richmond Hill, from 1886 on. A friend of Police Commissioner, and later president, Theodore Roosevelt, Jake Riis championed playgrounds for youths and the Croton Water Supply, preserving drinking water for New York City.

  •  
  •  John Budion (d. 1948): A stone mason and monument maker, Budion worked on the 83rd Avenue side of Maple Grove Cemetery, in his own stone works.

  •  
  • Frederick D. Backus (1850-1937): Treasurer and director of the Cord Meyer Development Company, builders of early Forest Hills, he was a Jamaica Savings Bank trustee. Backus (brother of John E. Backus) obtained his power from his father, Ascan Backus (1864-1880), a son of a German farmer who came to New York on July 4th, 1829. A successful farmer, he passed on his wealth to his sons in 1880, consisting of Forest Hills acreage, which passed into Cord Meyers hands in the first decade of this century.

  • The Early Years of Maple Grove Cemetery / Back To Top / Alfred H. Grebe Obituaries / More about Alfred H. Grebe
    Historic Places of Richmond Hill, NY / Noteworthy People of Richmond Hill