The Mitchell Burial Ground

The Mitchell Burial Ground, located off New Street and 5th Ave.,  was a family cemetery in use from the late 18th century through the early 20th century. The cemetery was established to be the final resting place of Benjamin Mitchell, who was murdered in 1783. Another notable internment is John Mitchell, a Patriot who fought in the American Revolution and father of Benjamin Mitchell. Only 12 headstones and 5 footstones have survived as the cemetery is abandoned and in poor condition.  

by Kathryn Keiserman

Historic Mitchell Farms

by George Williams (with editorial input from Ross Lumpkin)

The Mitchell family from Old Windsor, County of Berks, England, was represented in America in the 17th century by Robert Mitchell, Sr. (1670-1743) who came to New York in 1694 and was a farmer in North Hempstead. He married twice, Phebe Denton Thorne and Hannah Van Wyck Cornwell, members of distinguished Long Island families. Two of his children were prominent members of the Cow Neck community, as Port Washington was known before 1857. One  son, Robert Jr. (1732-1789) married Mary, daughter of William Latham who owned the Plandome Mill along with extensive land holdings in the area of present day Leeds Pond. Robert and Mary’s children, one of whom. Dr. Samuel Latham Mitchell, became a United States senator, inherited the Latham property.

Mitchell Farms in Cow Neck (Port Washington)

#1. Another son of Robert, Sr. John Mitchell (1716-1792) had received 50 pounds as well as a share in the proceeds of selling land from his father’s estate. In the 1760’s John purchased land for a farm. The land was bordered by the Baxter property to the north; Onderdonk to the east; Kissam-Whitehead to the south and Manhasset Bay (or Cow Bay) to the west. Originally this land was part of the Thomas Hicks’ patent.

 

#2. John Mitchell married Deborah Prince (d. 1806). In 1769 he secured the lumber to build his home called “Manhasset Hall” (said to have contained 36 rooms by the Mitchells). (After 1887 that home was known as “The Anchorage,” so named by the Stannard family.)

 

#4. John and Deborah’s son John Mitchell (1743 - 1823) married twice, first (#5) Rebecca Hewlett and then her sister (na)  Jane, daughters of Benjamin Hewlett and Susannah Whitehead. John Jr. was an ardent patriot dicing the War of Independence. In 1783 a raiding party which broke into the Mitchell home murdered his son (#6) Benjamin (1766-1783).

The Mitchells established a cemetery where many of John Sr.’s descendants, including Benjamin, are buried; that cemetery is off New Street and Fifth Avenue. John Jr.’s son (#9) Captain Whitehead Mitchell (1782-1862) was the captain of a sloop named “Sydney Darling.” The family continued to farm the land; he is listed as owning 138 acres of land. Whitehead lived during a period of time when the predominately agricultural economy in Port Washington was beginning to change. Oysters had been planted in Manhasset Bay and Port Washington was becoming a center for harvesting them. Baymen were coming to Port to earn a living, and in 1860, Whitehead sold building property to the Van Pelts, Jarvises, Thatchers and Thompsons along Shore Road (now Lower Main Street) in the areas between today’s Second and Third Avenues.

(#10) Margaret E. Cornwell, married to Whitehead, had a son (#17) Charles W. (1816-1902): Charles W. foresaw the enormous potential for land development in Port. Rather than farm he drove a stagecoach from Mitchell’s landing on the waterfront, west of his home, to Sands Point where the Sands Point Hotel, from 1850 to 1898, had become a well established resort. 

Charles W. had married (#18) Hannah Covert (1816-1902). an heiress to the Jacob Covert property. which was adjacent to Mitchell’s land. It is on Hannah’s property which extends to Main Street, that Carlton Avenue was built. That road goes through the Covert property and runs into the Mitchell Farm property. Charles W. Mitchell established Carlton Avenue in 1863 and it was during this same period of time that much of his property was divided by survey into building lots. A survey of 1855 contained 1097 lots. Mitchell began to sell land where Carlton, Second, Third, Fifth and Bayview Avenues are today. The baymen who were thriving with the clam and oyster industry were eager to buy lots from Mitchell. Later, of course, this same land would be purchased by men who worked for the sand and gravel companies as well as commuters, who after 1898 when the railroad was extended to Port Washington from Great Neck, found the trip into New York City convenient. From 1862 until 1877. Charles W. Mitchell with his wife (#18)Hanna and his sister (#16) Phoebe sold over sixty parcels of former Mitchell farm land. A large piece of property near the Mitchell homestead extending from the bay eastward to near present-day Mackey Avenue was retained by the family. The home, nearby land and waterfront property were purchased in 1887 by Elbert Stannard who was in the salvaging business. By the end of the 19th century Dr. D. Preston Wysong secured a sizeable piece of property to the east of Carlton Avenue, as did John Murray, the owner of a sand and gravel company.

Charles W. Mitchell was a pioneer land developer in Port Washington. It should be noted that his daughter (#19) Wilhelmina (d.1927) helped to establish the Port Washington Library and became its first librarian. Her brother (#27) Samuel (1847-1916) became commissioner of highways for the Town of North Hempstead. While Samuel’s children and grandchildren were born in Port Washington, the family no longer lives here.

In an oral history for the Port Washington Library, Cynthia Gaeta (nee Floherty), remembers going to the library as a little girl (c.1920) and meeting Wilhelmina. “She took me by the hand and showed me where the children’s books were. She was so sweet… Goodness just shown through her eyes.”

The portrait of Miss Wilhelmina Mitchell, painted by George Taggart, hung in the Reading Room of the Belleview Avenue library from 1926 to 1970. It is now on the east wall of the Reference Room at the present library

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COW NECK PENINSULA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

336 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, New York 11050
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