The street names shown on the black and white map are as they
were in 1935 and exist today.
Green markings are older street names and the site of the original church.
Sanborn insurance map (ca. 1890) with greater detail of area. (58k)
The church. The original Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel was established in 1841 at the corner of what are now 21st Street (Van Alst) and 25th Road in Astoria, Queens. The original land consisted of two plots donated by a James Shea and one-half plot donated (1) by Robert and Matilda Anderson. Money for the project ($849.25) was donated by 118 persons.
The first church built on the property was wooden frame, and it was expanded to twice its size some time after 1858.
The graveyard. Some time between 1841 and 1844, Henry L. Riker donated the plot just south of the church for use as a burial ground. It was used as a graveyard until the turn of the century, though far more Astorian Catholics of the era were interred in the larger Queens cemeteries such as Calvary.
In the tradition of mutating Queens place names, the graveyard was generally referred to in the early years as St. Mary's Cemetery. This is the name under which burials were logged in the Long Island City Death Registers, even after the church moved to Crescent Avenue and changed its name. In our ca. 1880s family papers, it was referred to as "St. John's Cemetery on Van Alst Street" perhaps after the street that formed as its southern border. See other sections of this Web site for further history.
(1) The deed for the latter half-plot (roughly 16 x 130 feet and south of the other two lots), entered into the Queens land ledgers Nov 11, 1841, actually sold the land to a "St John's Church, Astoria" for the nominal price of $21. (Liber 56 #21 or 22). Because I have not located any other primary sources material for the earliest days of the church, I don't know if the name of St. John's was ever in use. Adding to the confusion of names, the church was actually known as St. Mary's until some time during the 1860s or 70s, when it evolved into Blessed Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel and finally into Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
OTHER SOURCES (most are available at Queens Central Library in Jamaica)
Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of N.Y. State 1860
History of Queens County N.Y. NY., W.W. Munsell & Co. 1882. Notes taken by Helen Hinkeldey
History of Long Island City N.Y. - 1896, published by the Long Island Star
Undated postcard of Mt Carmel Church purchased on eBay, originally published by Oscar Pinkus, Astoria, LI
Above map is from a supplement volume to "Description of Private and Family Cemeteries in the Borough of Queens" Surveyed in 1935, published by Queens Borough Public Library (Long Island Division) in 1975. Also available at the Queens Borough President's Office and the Queens County Historical Society.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map available on microfilm in the Maps Division, New York Public Library, 42nd Street, NYC. They are also available on paper at The Queens Borough Public Library, Long Island Division Jamaica, Queens http://www.queenslibrary.org/central/longisland/index.asp
Thanks to my cousins Paul Stein and Helen Hinkeldey for copies of their printed material and to Jim Garrity for his personal report on the cemetery.
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