History of the Moore Family and Estate
Moore Family (from the Colonial Settlement [1652–1775])
The Rev. John Moore, ancestor of the Moore family of northern Woodside, was a landholder in the 1656 purchase of Middelburg from the Native Americans. He was an Independent and had preached in New England and Hempstead before moving on to become the first minister in Middelburg. Although not authorized to administer the sacraments, he preached and held services in the town house until his death in 1657.
Capt. Samuel Moore, the Reverent Moore's son, purchased a farm near Poor Bowery from Willam Hallett, Sr. in 1684. He resided there with his son, Joseph, who eventually came in possession of the farm. Joseph was married successively to two of Joseph Sackett's daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah.
Another son of Capt. Samuel Moore, also entitled Capt. Samuel Moore, married Charity Hallett, a granddaughter of William Hallett, Sr., in 1705. They lived in a stone farmhouse north of today’s 32nd Avenue and west of today’s 54th Street. Following the death of Capt. Samuel Moore, several generations of descendants continued to occupy the farmhouse. An 1827 deed described the Moore farm as more than 100 acres of farmland and woodland. The farm bordered Bowery Bay Road (51st Street) on the west and the former Sackett land (at approximately Broadway) on the south. On the east was the main ditch that flowed northeastward and led to Trains Meadow (crossing Northern Boulevard at 64th Street). By 1887, several people had been owners of the farm, and it was then mapped out for development. William O’Gorman, a columnist for The Newtown Register, described the farmhouse after his visit to it that year: it had fine chimney pieces and fireplaces, double doors, and solid sash windows, but it bore the pressure of the years with difficulty. The historic home stood until 1901.
In 1721, Samuel Moore joined with five of his neighbors to establish the first schoolhouse in Newtown. The school was situated on Newtown Road in what later became the hamlet of Middletown, a short distance northwest of the Moore home. The family’s interest in education continued. Samuel and Charity’s son, William, who was born in 1717 and died single in 1752, was a schoolmaster and surveyor. Their grandson by their son, Samuel, called Samuel III, devoted his life to teaching.
Samuel and Charity’s son, Nathaniel, born in 1723, was married to Rebecca, the widowed daughter of Jacob Blackwell. He succeeded to the paternal farm and was the owner during the Revolutionary War, when his loyalist home was well known for its British occupation. When Nathaniel died in 1802, the house and farm passed on to this son, Nathaniel Jr., who died in 1827. Nathaniel Jr. specified in his will that his real estate on both sides of Bowery Bay Road was to be sold in the April after his death. The family burial grounds, however, were not to be sold. To his wife, Martha, he left furniture for two rooms and a horse and gig. To the two grandsons named after him, Nathaniel Moore Riker and Nathaniel Moore Purdy, he left $250 each.
Margaret Riker, a daughter of Nathaniel Jr. and Martha, purchased the Moore property on the west side of 51st Street. It was across the road from the farmhouse and north of her own home. Excepting the reserved ¼-acre family burial grounds, daughter Elizabeth Jane’s husband, Robert Blackwell, purchased the extensive Moore farmland and woodland on the east side of 51st Street. He got that property for $10,250 on November 28, 1827. Blackwell died the year after he bought the farm, and his newly purchased property was resold. Jacob Bindernagel was the proprietor for only a short time when he and his wife sold the land to Samuel B. Townsend on April 2, 1832. Townsend and his wife sold it to Charles Kneeland on March 1, 1853. Kneeland, a resident of Flushing, sold the tract to John A. Mecke on April 15, 1863. Each sale specifically excluded the ¼-acre Moore family burial grounds.
The Moore family burial grounds were a short distance east of Bowery Bay Road and north of the family home. Samuel and Charity Moore had a large family and many of their descendants are buried in the family burial grounds. Nathaniel Moore, Jr., stipulated in his will that the burial grounds were not be sold with his farmland but kept for family burials:
I except from the sale of my farm and give to my executives in trust one quarter of an acre of ground to include the land now used as a burial ground together with enough more to make up said quarter of an acre to be taken from the ground adjoining on the north and west side for the purpose of a burial ground for the family.
From Nathaniel Moore, Jr.’s, Last Will and Testament, 1827
John C. Jackson married Martha Riker, a granddaughter of Nathaniel Moore, Jr., and lived across the road from the cemetery. Forty years after Nathaniel Moore, Jr., died, when the tract was being broken up for land development, Jackson extended the cemetery in a straight line to Bowery Bay Road. On June 29, 1867, he purchased from the assignee of John A. Mecke all the land (.3 acre) between Bowery Bay Road and the cemetery for $300. The cemetery then became more than half an acre, from today’s 51st Street to 54th Street. Title to the cemetery is vested in the heirs of both John C. Jackson and Nathaniel Moore, Jr. Jackson, however, was buried in the Riker-Jackson plot, in the churchyard cemetery of St. James Protestant Episcopal Church in Elmhurst. In 1909, the family transferred all the remains in that Riker-Jackson plot to the new John L. Riker plot in Woodlawn Cemetery. The transferral took place upon the death of Mary Anne Riker, the daughter of John C. Jackson and wife of John L. Riker.
A fieldstone slab, which is no longer identifiable, was inscribed SxR, dyed May ye 29th, 1733. It may be the cemetery’s earliest-known recorded stone and dates Moore Cemetery to at least 1733. When that fieldstone was identified, however, there were some brownstones on which the inscriptions were already rotted off or not discernible. The earliest gravestone that is legible today, marked AxM, dyd th 23rd Novr., 1769, is that of Augustine Moore, a grandson of Samuel and Charity. Brownstones belonging to Samuel Hallett Moore, who died in 1813, and Margaret Rapelye, who died as a child in 1790, are also legible. Members of the Rapelye family buried in the cemetery were relatives of the Moore family: Nathaniel Moore, Jr.’s wife and Margaret Rapelye’s mother, Martha and Deborah, were sisters.
When Queens Topographical Bureau workers surveyed Moore Cemetery in July 1919, there were 42 monuments varying in condition from poor to excellent. Inscriptions on the gravestones revealed a high rate of infant mortality. They also revealed that the private family burial grounds served for John A. Mecke’s interment. Mecke bought the former Moore farmland in 1863 and died on July 21, 1867. He is the last-known person buried in Moore Cemetery, joining his two daughters who were born in Woodside and died at the ages of 9 months and 13 months.
In 1924, when construction for a development of private houses began south of Moore Cemetery, no one maintained the cemetery and people threw rubbish into it. At that time, a greenhouse was on the northwest corner of 54th Street/32nd Avenue, alongside the cemetery. At the suggestion of the Queens Topographical Bureau in the mid-1930s, workers refurbished the cemetery. They regraded the grounds several feet higher to be level with the adjoining new street. The workers also repaired and set up the fallen gravestones in new locations, in neat rows at the cemetery’s eastern end on 54th Street. Concrete posts with iron chain links were then placed around that part.
The family burial grounds have gone through long periods of neglect, followed by rediscoveries and cleanups. In September 1937, the Department of Health issued an order to clear the lot of weeds and litter. The 38 WPA workers assigned to the task were astonished to discover gravestones hidden within the tall weeds and to learn that the property was a historic cemetery. In July 1954, a developer attempted to have the cemetery property foreclosed for nonpayment of taxes, with the city taking over Moore Cemetery in a delinquent tax action. Queens County records showed, however, that the burial grounds were exempt from taxation, and the cemetery land was not transferred. After that incident, Queens Borough workers cleaned the cemetery: mowing, raking, and hauling away junk.
A patriotic organization purchased and installed a 10-foot mesh fence around Moore Cemetery after a new article in 1956 called attention to the neglected condition of the old graveyard. Since then, concerned community members have at times shown interest in maintaining the cemetery. In the 1970s, they made an effort to have the cemetery declared a New York City landmark.
There are fewer gravestones today than at the time of the last recorded burial in 1867. Yet, the remains of the historic family burial grounds recall the presence of the Moore family at this site long ago. Several neighboring residents have been concerned in recent years about preservation of the colonial cemetery and have respectfully maintained the grounds. One may see the burial grounds, now named Moore-Jackson Cemetery, at 54th Street between 31st Avenue and 32nd Avenue.
The Breakup of Estates
John A. F. Kelly described Woodside residents in the Brooklyn Times as fun-loving and social people in 1867: the Croquet Club flourished for the general amusement of all, Woodside Glee Club nightly kept the place alive with melody, and parties of all kinds were held in the mansions of Woodside for neighbors to enjoy. Yet, the end of an era had come. Although the development that had been taking place near Woodside subsided during the Civil War, the war created a stimulus to another wave of development and settlement in Queens. Woodside was to succumb to the forces of a new era.
Jackson Avenue, today’s Northern Boulevard, split the former Moore estate when it opened in 1860. The larger part, north of Northern Boulevard, became Charlotteville when laid out in building lots seven years later. Lots were sold, but only several clusters of houses were built. At Northern Boulevard, the few hotels with recreational parks were popular for group outings. Charlotteville remained a country place. Its residents, for the most part, used the services of Woodside. By the turn of the century, the name of the community changed from Charlotteville to North Woodside.
The breakup of the former Moore estate began after John A. Mecke bought the tract from Charles Kneeland on April 15, 1863, for $50,000. Mecke’s purchase excluded the ¼-acre Moore family burial grounds and the part deeded in 1859 to Hunter’s Point, Newtown and Flushing Turnpike Company for Jackson Avenue. The purchase was also subject to the lease of Kneeland’s tenant, Francis Briell.
Mecke, a native of Bremen, Germany, led the way to the settlement of northern Woodside by German families. Most of them had come to New York circa 1850, during heavy emigration from Germany. It appears that Mecke intended to subdivide his tract into large plots: he sold off a 10-acre plot and a 5-acre plot, each along the south side of Northern Boulevard, during the four years that he lived after buying the property. The former name of today’s 62nd Street south of Northern Boulevard, on the 10-acre plot, is Mecke Street.
Adam Dengler, a native of Germany who came to America in 1852, entered into a 5-year lease with John A. Mecke on January 15, 1864. He rented the building on the northwest corner of today’s Northern Boulevard/60th Street, where he served travelers along the newly built turnpike as a hotelkeeper. Dengler subsequently purchased that property and the adjoining lots. His building, with an adjacent carriage shed for his customers’ horses and wagons, became Charlotteville Hotel. He conducted the business until his death in 1893, at the age of 71. Besides operating Charlotteville Hotel, Dengler was a co-founder in 1867 of St. Jacobus Evangelical Lutheran Church in Locust Grove. That church, situated at today’s 43rd Avenue and 72nd Street, is now within the eastern border of Woodside.
In 1868, August H. Eberhardt married Elizabeth Dengler, a daughter of Adam and Elizabeth. Eberhardt, born in 1846, was a popular resident and took a leading role in community activities. He was a member of the governing board of the Woodside school district and a charter member of the Woodside volunteer fire company. As a sportsman, he was an officer of the local gun club. Eberhardt established a business partnership with his father-in-law. They called their hotel grounds, at the rear of the hotel, Charlotteville Park and advertised the park as a place for Sunday outings. After Adam Dengler died, the business continued as Eberhardt’s Charlotteville Hotel. In the early twentieth century, Henry Heugel, a native of Germany, operated Charlotteville Hotel. Heugel and his family were among the early settlers of Charlotteville.
Shortly after the rental agreement with Dengler, John and Julia Mecke sold a 10-acre plot south of Northern Boulevard on March 4, 1864. Charles F. Erhard of Newtown purchased that plot, at the southeast corner of Mecke’s tract, for $6,000. Erhard’s triangular plot bordered 61st Street on the west and Northern Boulevard on the north. The brook that drained into Trains Meadow, from today’s Broadway/61st Street to Northern Boulevard east of 64th Street, was on the southeast. He laid out his property on the Map of 131,2 Building Lots belonging to Charles F. Erhard, filed July 28, 1869. It remained sparsely settled, however, into the twentieth century. Charles F. Erhard was a native of Dresden, Germany, and his wife, Johanna, was from Germany, too. The Erhard family came to America in 1850. After moving to Woodside, they spent the rest of their lives at their home on Kelly Avenue, today’s 61st Street. Erhard was a gardener, and his tract had several large greenhouses. His descendants stayed in Woodside and continued the floral business into the early twentieth century.
As we know from Mecke’s transfer of property to Windmuller in 1867, Mecke was bankrupt and died that same year. His widow, Julia, had to sell the former Moore farm. Excepting the Moore family burial grounds, she sold the remainder of the tract on September 18, 1867, for $68,250. Julia Mecke and George Mosle, assignee for John Mecke, transferred the property to Henry G. Schmidt and Emil Cuntz. The purchasers were carpenters, composing the firm of Henry G. Schmidt & Co. of New York City. That firm laid out the property north of Northern Boulevard in building lots and gave it the name Charlotteville.
Building lots in Charlotteville were auctioned off in 1868 at prices ranging from $200 to $400. To handle mortgage problems over the next several years, Henry G. Schmidt and Emil Cuntz sold lots to the Bricklayers’ Cooperative Building Association. That corporation was a “Building Mutual Loan and Accumulating Fund Association.” Schmidt and Cuntz lived in New Jersey on March 30, 1871, when they sold most of eastern Charlotteville to the corporation for $157,000.
Renaming of Streets
Moore Estate: east of 51st Street and mostly north of Northern Boulevard
Bowery Bay Road became 51st Street/Hobart Street
Grand Avenue (also Street) became 57th Street
Townsend Street became 60th Street (south of N. Blvd.)
Mecke Street became 62nd Street (south of N. Blvd.)
Jamaica Avenue - Patterson Avenue became 31st Avenue (from 51st Street to 57th Street)
Charlotte Avenue - Burnside Avenue became 32nd Avenue
Excerpted from Catherine Gregory's book titled, Woodside, Queens County, New York, A Historical Perspective, 1652–1994.