Forty Years Landmarked!


This 1896 lantern slide might be the oldest known image of the Gravesend Cemetery. The view is looking northeast toward the Samuel Hubbard House (hidden behind the trees) at 2338 Gravesend (now McDonald) Avenue. {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the designation of the Gravesend and Van Sicklen Family Cemeteries as official New York City landmarks! Click here to read the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report from March 23, 1976.

The Gravesend Cemetery, established as early as 1650, is the oldest surviving burial ground in New York City. It remained in sporadic use as late as 1968. The adjacent Van Sicklen Family Cemetery received its first burial in 1842, and its last in 1992. My current guesstimate counts 84 interments in the Van Sicklen Cemetery, and somewhere in the ballpark of 1,300 in the Gravesend Cemetery proper. Only about 600 graves are marked.

I am actively collecting information about the people buried in the two cemeteries, and am happy to share what I can if I’ve found something on your particular ancestor. And if you have documentation on any person buried here, please send it my way, along with any stories you might have heard or read about the graveyards, EXCEPT for those impossible-to-quash rumors of tunnels connecting it to various places in Gravesend. Unless, of course, you’ve got proof. And no, sorry, but your grandmother insisting there’s a tunnel does not count as proof. If you’ve got video of her emerging from a hole in the ground, then we’ll talk!

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (



Filed under Gravesend Cemetery, Van Sicklen Cemetery

10 responses to “Forty Years Landmarked!

  1. janice dougherty

    If and when there is a plaque for Lady Moody’s house, I think an inclusive tour might be in order, put me on the listC!

  2. Speaking of this cemetery, I’ve noticed someone in there working in the soil. Maybe planting flowers? And later when I went back to check I saw those areas in the cemetery with sticks acting as a border around the soil. Do you know what is going on?

    • Very good question! I noticed the same thing; there are little sticks in the ground near the tool shed. I’m guessing they’re marking plantings of some kind.

      • Those little sticks are all over the grounds. You can see a lot more of them on Village Road South. I did see a woman in there months ago. I wondered how she got in.

  3. Kevin

    Do you have any burial information on a relative by the name of Thomas Applegate who was buried in Gravesend in 1662? I’ve seen a reference at the “Old Dutch Church” but cant find any Church that goes by that name in the area. I’m thinking it is gone now.

    • Hi Kevin. The Gravesend Reformed Dutch Church existed as an independent entity until 1979 when it federated with the Advent Lutheran Church to form the Advent-Gravesend Church at 1209 Avenue P, Brooklyn. Although some old maps and records refer to the Gravesend Cemetery as the “Reformed Dutch Churchyard” (or something along those lines), the cemetery never really belonged to the church. It’s just that it was the only graveyard in the town of Gravesend, so, naturally, that’s where everyone buried their dead, including members of several Methodist and African Methodist Episcopal churches. I’m afraid that burials earlier than the 1700s are not well documented. The earliest known transcription of the gravestones, done in 1863, does not include any burials earlier than about 1750.

  4. Mindy Martin

    My great, great etc. etc. Grandfather Peter Van Sicklen lived and died in Gravesend. I visited the cemetery a couple of years ago. Any idea where he and his family may be buried? All the info I have says Gravesend. This was in the 1600’s

    • Hi Mindy. I’m afraid none of the surviving transcriptions of the Gravesend Cemetery include stones earlier than the mid-1700s. I know of somewhere in the ballpark of 1,400 burials in the Gravesend Cemetery, but only about 600 or 700 have markers. So, as you can see, a great number of folks lie in unmarked (or no-longer-marked) graves. The adjacent Van Sicklen Family Cemetery was established in 1842 and holds about 75 burials, all of them descendants of John and Maria (Johnson) Van Sicklen.

  5. Hi!
    I was wondering if you knew if any people with the last name DePrizio buried in this cemetery? Could also be spelled DiPrizio. My family came from Italy and lived in this neighborhood in the early 1900’s. Thank you

    • No, sorry. So far as I know, there no Italians buried in the Gravesend Cemetery. Although technically nonsectarian, it was used mainly by several area Protestant churches: Gravesend Dutch Reformed, Sheepshead Bay Methodist, Cropsey Avenue Methodist, and Gravesend African Methodist Episcopal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s