by Christopher Bain
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 the old cemetery was falling into disrepair by the 1890’s. 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 much needed real estate that makes up the cemetery. Still, it looks beautiful in this rare 1930’s era linen 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:
Third, and more interesting, are all of the familiar town names present in that one cemetery. Some you’ll recognize as the names of streets, or real estate companies, or 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 this is by no means a complete list of who’s who in Port. Just a random sampling that I shot on one afternoon. Take a look and see how many names you recognize. Then see the big list-o-names at the bottomof this page.
Who are all these people?
Here are some hints, some guesses, and some answers.