Port cemeteries

By Chris Bain

Let’s focus on Port Washington cemeteries, of which there are many.  In no particular order, here is a list of  our town’s cemeteries, with the locations.

Monfort Cemetery (Old Dutch Cemetery), on a hill behind the Post Office

Mitchell Cemetery (off New Street & 5th Avenue)

Hillside Cemetery (exact location undetermined; on several old maps,
off present day Preston St., approximately)

Sands Cemetery (on private property in Sands Point)

- Cornwell Cemetery (in Soundview, on a small hill, near Sousa, surrounded by houses)

Pleasant Avenue Cemetery (tiny fenced in cemetery, just east of the Happy Montessory School)

Free Church Cemetery (Harbor Road, on a hillside between the Dodge Homestead and the Tennis Academy)

-Nassau Knolls Cemetery (the subject of this column)

Toward the latter half of the 19th Century, the “town cemetery” was the Free Church Cemetery, overlooking Harbor Road, between the Dodge Homestead and today's Tennis Academy.  Some reports state that it was falling into disrepair by the 1890’s, and talk turned to the founding of a new cemetery, on the outskirts of town, on property owned by the Onderdonk family.  Several prominent businessmen, led by Charles F. Lewis, secured the property in 1900, and Nassau Knolls Cemetery was born.

There are numerous fascinating aspects to this beautiful cemetery, though I’ll just focus on three of them.  First, at one point there was a beautiful reflecting pool near the entrance of the property.  Called the Mirror Pool, and shown in this postcard, it was eventually absorbed into the rest of the needed real estate that makes up the cemetery.  Still, it looks beautiful in this 1930’s era postcard:


Second: Here was one drawing of the proposed entrance in the 1930, when they were probably adding the front wall and a new entry:

NassauKnolls 1936 proposal.jpg

Third, and more intersting, are all of the town names present in that one cemetery.  Some you’ll recognize as the names of streets, or real estate companies, docks, landings, mill owners, land owners, sand mine owners, and other prominent family names;  Others are just old Port Washington names.  All of these names were photographed in the older area of Nassau Knolls, and it is by no means a complete list of who’s who in Port.  Just a random sampling.  Take a look and see how many names you recognize:

Some have streets named after them.  Some built Landmarks.  All of them contributed to making this town the special place that we all know, which once upon a time was called Cow Neck.  There are thousands of others, resting in peace in our many cemeteries.  Remember them well, quietylly, with respect, and often.

Here is some information about the names listed above


Of course, via the magic of high-resolution panoramic photography, we can visit one of these places where our town’s ancestors rest.  Start off in the oldest part of Nassau Knolls cemetery just last Sunday afternoon.  This beautiful cemetery has graced Port Washington Boulevard since 1900, and is beautifully maintained to this day. There is a hotspot that transports you back to last Spring, when tulip trees (or are they magnolias?) were in full bloom.  Then link around town, from hotspot to hotspot.

Visit the Nassau Knolls cemetery in a 360 degree virtual tour!

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