Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Kellys, Sussdorfs, and Windmullers in Woodside

The other day I showed a tintype of my great-grandfather's home in Woodside, Queens. When he moved his family there in 1867 the village had only two other homes large enough to be considered mansions. One belonged to John A. Kelly, the other to Gustav Sussdorf.

Kelly had bought the house and adjoining 115 acre farm of the Sackett family in 1825 or '26 and thereafter split his time between that place and a residence in Manhattan.[1] In about 1859 Sussdorf had bought a much smaller property nearby and he also split his time between city and country residences.[2] I don't have a photo of Sussdorf's place, but this is was what the Kelly Mansion looked like.

{Kelly Mansion at the foot of Betts Ave.; source: Queens Borough Hall via longislandgenealogy.com}

Woodside's other houses were ancient farmsteads or new small-lot single-family homes. This photo shows one of the old houses. Built about 1732, it belonged to the Leverich family whose ancestors had settled in Newtown in 1662.[3]

This photo shows the newer homes. It was taken in 1923 but depicts nonetheless the mixture of open land, woods, and "development" that began to characterize Woodside in the late 1860s and later. It shows the area north of the Kelly Mansion, to the east of Windmuller's and Sussdorf's estates.

{General view - Queens - Roosevelt Avenue - Woodside Avenue. "A general view N.W. from Roosevelt Ave., at its intersection with Woodside Ave., showing a section of Newtown known as Woodside, as seen from the elevated structure of the I.R.T. and B.M.T. subway lines; same running on Roosevelt Ave. at this point. About 1923. Creator: Armbruster, Eugene L., 1865-1943 -- Photographer; source: NYPL Digital Gallery}

This detail lets you see a type of frame house that was common in the area. It also shows that there was much that was "unimproved" about Woodside even in 1923: unpaved roads and in general a rural feeling.

In this detail you can see Hell Gate Bridge (indistinctly) on the horizon at right. The dark horizontal line just below it is the New York Connecting Railroad. The Windmuller and Sussdorf properties are too far off to the left (west) to be in view.

This 1922 map shows the rough location of the Windmuller and Sussdorf properties, the location of the photographer, and the direction the camera lens was pointing.

{source: Library of Congress}

Here's a satellite view covering a smaller area but showing much the same. The Lawrence Virgilio Playground and Doughboy Plaza are both within the City's Windmuller Park. Louis Windmuller had died in 1913 and his wife Annie lived until 1929. When hew will cleared probate after her death, her two children owned the old estate outright. Late in the 1930s they gave some of the land to the City for this park. A few years later they sold the remaining land for construction of apartment buildings. (The Sussdorf property had been sold for apartment buildings in the late teens of the century.)


Some sources:

The annals of Newtown, in Queens County, New York; containing its history from its first settlement, together with many interesting facts concerning the adjacent towns by James Riker (Fanshaw, 1852)

"Old Newtown – Selections for the scrapbook originally written by the town clerk, William O’Gorman" in The History of the Sackett/Kelly/Howell Estate by Owen Clough (taken from the pages of the Newtown Register, 1887, in Queens Borough Public Library, from Woodside Queens; NY a Historical Perspective 1652 – 1994, Catherine Gregory; and from Woodside of Long Ago, The Woodsider, March 1983)

The Founding Families of Woodside, Queens, New York by Owen Clough: Excerpt: "The Kelly surname started out as Kollen, and future generations changed to Kollin, Kolle, and finally to Kelly/Kelley. The family of Johann Jakob Kölle migrated to S.C. in 1752 arriving about the first of December on the Brigantine John and Mary (SC Gazette, issue of 4 Dec 1752)."


Newtown Frauds--Over a Million Dollars Worth of Property Not on the Assessment Roll, New York Times, December 22, 1870

Old Queens, N.Y., in early photographs by Vincent F. Seyfried and William Asadorian (Courier Dover Publications, 1991)

HISTORY OF QUEENS COUNTY with illustrations, Portraits & Sketches of Prominent Families and Individuals (New York: W.W. Munsell & Co.; 1882)

The buildings of Charleston by Jonathan H. Poston (Historic Charleston Foundation, Univ of South Carolina Press, 1997)

Sohncke Square, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Excerpt: "The surrounding neighborhood of Woodside, called 'Suicide’s Paradise' by the colonials for its harsh environment, was settled in the late 17th century by Joseph Sackett. Between 1830 and 1860, the area grew and became home to mansions owned by John Kelly, William Schroeder, Gustav Sussdorf, and Louis Windmuller, all men from Charleston, South Carolina. Woodside’s moniker comes from a correspondence written by John Andrew Kelly to his son, John A. F. Kelly, entitled 'Letters from Woodside,' inspired by the unending run of trees visible from his writing desk. The younger Kelly, publisher of The Brooklyn Times, printed the letters for the enjoyment of the paper’s readers. Laid out in 1869, Woodside exists today as a patchwork of industrial, commercial and residential areas."

JOHANNES WERNER FAMILY contributed by Carl W. Nichols, Siegbert Frick & Ann Corum

Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1859)

If You're Thinking of Living In/Woodside, Queens; A Polyglot Enclave, At First, 'Irishtown', New York Times, 1999

Reside in Woodside Historically rich microcosm of city by Ruth Bashinsky, New York Daily News, October 27, 2002

Directory of the city of Charleston (J.H. Bagget., 1851)

Herman Gustaf Leiding. Excerpt: "Herman Gustaf Leiding was born August 06, 1828 in Germany, and died December 06, 1896 in Charleston, Charleston Co., SC. He married Catherine Jenkins Prentiss on April 06, 1874 in Charleston, Charleston Co., SC, daughter of Rev. William Otis Prentiss and Maria C. Jenkins. Marriage: April 06, 1874, Charleston, Charleston Co., SC."

Directories for the city of Charleston, South Carolina: for the years 1849 (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1998)

The buildings of Charleston: a guide to the city's architecture

The New York Connecting Railroad



[1] Having arrived in Dutch times, the Sacketts were one of the oldest families of Newtown, the place out of which Woodside was carved in the middle of the 19th century. It's irrelevant to my story, but still interesting, that the Sacketts were thus neighbors of Thornes and Kissams, both of them members of my family's ancestral line. You can trace the associations in Riker's Annals of Newtown. Regarding John A. Kelly, see The Founding Families of Woodside, Queens, New York by Owen Clough.

[2] In 1859 Sussdorf sold his fancy goods business and the building that housed it and moved to New York (see The buildings of Charleston by Jonathan H. Poston (Historic Charleston Foundation, Univ of South Carolina Press, 1997)). I don't have the exact date he built his mansion in Woodside, but it was probably within a year or two of then. His second home in Manhattan is listed in an 1859 city directory: (Trow's New York city directory (J. F. Trow., 1859)).

[3] The first Leverich in Newtown was the Rev. William Leverich, an Anglican priest — born 1603, died 1677 — who had emigrated from England in 1633. I've written about the Leverich family before. See Windmuller sits for a portrait, flourishing, ranting quakers, and Newtown families.

1 comment:

Owen Clough said...

Great blog - this is the first time that I have come across it. My family, the Kelly's bought the land in Woodside in 1826 - I have a copy of the original deed. Do you have access to Catherine Gregory's history of Woodside? It contains a treatment of your family as well as a photo of the Windmuller estate. I copied much of the material so I could email you one. You can also view a copy of it at the library on Skillman Ave. across from PS11. John A. Kelly who died in 1833 was the son of John Kelly who fought in the Revolutionary War and was a prisoner of war after the battle of Charleston.