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Richard Cornell Graveyard
Far Rockaway, Queens County, New York

richard cornell graveyard
Richard Cornell Graveyard

GPS: 40.600015, -73.749530

Caffrey Ave
Queens, NY 11691

Published: August 18, 2016
Total records: 9

Richard Cornell Graveyard is owned and maintained by the City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation.


Historically known as Cornell Burying Ground, it is now officially designated as, "Richard Cornell Graveyard".

Cornell Burying Ground, despite its small size, is one of the most historically significant parts of the Queens landscape. On August 23, 1687, Richard Cornell (1625-1693), an ironmaster from Flushing, New York, purchased all of the area now known as Rockaway from John Palmer, who had inherited the land two years earlier. In 1690, Cornell settled on the Rockaway penninsula with his wife Elizabeth and their five sons and two daughters. He built a house on Far Rockaway, near what is now Beach 19th Street. This home was likely the first ever built on Rockaway by a European settler.

Several members of the Cornell family are buried in the cemetery, though it is not known whether Richard Cornell himself is buried here. Thomas Cornell (1703-1764), who represented Queens in the Colonial Assembly of the State of New York for 27 years, is among those whose remains lie in the cemetery. The last interment at the cemetery was probably in 1821. The site is one of the few 18th century cemeteries still in existence in New York City. In 1970, the cemetery was designated a landmark.

In 1991, Stanley Cogan and the Queens Historical Society formed the Cornell Cemetery Corporation, a restoration task force of community members concerned about the state of the cemetery. The group cleaned the area, recovered some of the cemetery's missing headstones and artifacts, and initiated an archaeological excavation to study the cemetery.

The Cornell Cemetery Corporation approached City officials about transferring the plot of land adjacent to the cemetery from the Department of General Services to Park. In 1992, Parks took possession of the lot, which serves as a sitting area and the entranceway to the cemetery. The lot, which was vacant in the early 1990s, was the former site of the American Cable Company.

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