This week, one of Woodhaven's beloved organizations returns from Summer hiatus. The Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society resumes its' monthly meetings on Wednesday, September 30th at 1 PM. (Note: They meet on the last Wednesday of every month at the Emmanuel United Church of Christ at the corner of 91st Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard.)

This month's guest is Eddie Costello "Antique Road Show" giving a talk on "Trash vs. Treasure."  Do you have something in your attic, or laying at the back of a closet someplace in your home -- something old, maybe a bit unusual or out of the ordinary?  Do you have something laying around your house that you look at once in a while and wonder if it's worth something -- maybe even a lot of money? 

Eddie Costello is a veteran appraiser with over 40 years experience.  Attendees are encouraged to bring an item -- and time permitting, Mr. Costello will try and evaluate it for you. For example, I have a nice little concertina that I suspect is worth something -- or, maybe it's garbage! On Wednesday, we'll find out which.

Leonora Lavan, President of the WCHS, will be a guest on Project Woodhaven Radio, LIVE on Monday Night at 7 PM.

Click here at 7 PM Monday to hear the show -- and if you would like to call in and ask Leonora a question -- or you just want to talk about Woodhaven -- the call in number is 646-378-1612.

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The Mystery of The Southside Cemetery Sign

This week, Leonora Lavan told us about a mystery that's recently emerged.  One of the things that the WCHS do is arrange for all those neat landmark signs (see the top of this page for examples).  A few years ago, they ordered 4 of them:

The Post Office on Forest Parkway
The Woodhaven Library
The Forest Park Carousel
The Southside Cemetery

Most readers of this site will be familiar with the first three locations - but the fourth may be new to most of you.  The Southside Cemetery is actually in Ozone Park.  Back in the late 1600's, much of this area was part of the Town of Jamaica.  At that time, a prominent family named Van Wicklen donated a small plot of their land to be used by all as a burial ground -- including families that were amongst the first to live in what is now known as Woodhaven.  Each family was given a portion -- those families included names such as the Durlands, the Fredericks, the Ryders, the Remsens, the Stoothoffs, and the Smiths.  Here is that cemetery today, hidden in plain sight at the corner of Redding St. and Albert Road (near the Crossbay Fields).   

Burial plots were buried over and re-used over the year and it was estimated that nearly two thousand souls were laid to rest here.  The fence is locked, but you can plainly see the few headstones that remain from the street.

This isn't just a burial ground.  It's where people came to say their final goodbyes to the ones they loved.  Many tears were shed on this plot of land.  And, over the years, many flowers were laid down at the headstones that remained standing.  If you close your eyes, and let your mind wander a bit, you can picture a funeral procession, marching through the woods and down the dirt roads - past the farms, maybe even through the snow - and ending up here, on what is now this little hidden corner in Queens.

The last person buried in the Southside Cemetery was Harry L. Van Wicklen in 1919.  By the late 1920's there were just under 80 headstones left and within a decade that number had crumbled to 10.  Construction in the area - on roads, sewers, and houses - all contributed to the decline of the burial ground, which over the years also went under the names Aqueduct Cemetery, Homestead Cemetery, Old Farmers' Cemetery, and Van Wicklen Cemetery.

So, what's the mystery?  Well, the way it works is that the WCHS orders the signs - they get delivered to the Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Parks Department puts them up.  Over the past few years, we've all seen the signs in front of the Post Office, the Library, and the Forest Park Carousel.  But, for whatever reason, no one ever made it down to the Southside Cemetery to see that sign -- and as you can tell by the pictures we've posted here . . . there isn't one

It was supposed to be delivered on September 27th, 2004 to 1 Forest Park (the Oak Ridge Building near the Golf Course).  The WCHS has checked with them and they have no recollection of a fourth sign.  The manufacturer of the signs no longer has records of the shipment - and the post office says they do not keep records of their shipments from 5 years ago.      

So, the best we can hope for is that it was delivered here in Woodhaven -- to the Post Office or to Oak Ridge -- perhaps it's sitting in the corner of someone's office, forgotten.  It's no small item -- these signs weigh 55 pounds each!  If you have any information about this sign -- or if you are interested in joining the Woodhaven Cultural & Historical Society -- you can e-mail Leonora Lavan at 

If you have any comments, or would like to suggest other projects, drop us a line at or 

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