Van Cortlandt Park

Kingsbridge Burial Ground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

What was here before?

The Kingsbridge Burial Ground is located on the grounds of Van Cortlandt Park and dates to the 17th century. This plot of land was used by some of the area's earliest colonial settlers including members of the Tippett, Berrian, Betts, Bashford, Ackerman, and Warner families. The plot was first used by the Tippett and Betts families and retained for their use even after they sold the adjacent property to the Van Cortlandts who, in turn, transferred their estate to New York City between 1888 and 1890. The cemetery remained in use through the early 19th century.

Dorcas Berrian (d.1794), daughter of George Tippett, and her husband Samuel Berrian (d.1795) were buried in this location. Samuel and Dorcas Berrian were farmers sympathetic to patriots during the American Revolution. The Revolution created a rift in the Tippett family between the patriots and the loyalists. During the war, Samuel and Dorcas’s farm in Spuyten Duyvil was confiscated by the British Governor and granted to their neighbor, Gilbert Tippett, Dorcas’ loyalist nephew. After the British defeat, Gilbert fled to Canada with the other loyalist family members. Samuel and Dorcas Berrian stayed and inherited all of the land in Spuyten Duyvil that had belonged to their fleeing family members. For years thereafter, Spuyten Duyvil would be known as "Berrian's Neck."

According to an account from 1905, workers unearthed human remains east of this burial ground when the New York and Northern Railroad (today's Putnam Greenway) was under construction in the 1870s. These unmarked graves are believed to be those of enslaved Africans that worked on neighboring estates and the Van Cortlandt Plantation.

How did this site become a park?

On December 12, 1888, the City of New York took title to a massive 4,000 acres of parkland in the Bronx to create Bronx, Claremont, Crotona, St. Mary’s, Van Cortlandt, and Pelham Bay Parks, as well as Crotona, Mosholu, and Bronx-Pelham Parkways.

When the City acquired the Van Cortlandt estate, the nearby Parade Ground was initially set aside for the National Guard and opened for public use in 1901. The National Guard used the field for drills, mock battles, and polo matches until World War I (1914-1918), when the Army used the entire park as a training facility, which regularly drew spectators. During this time the Kingsbridge Burial Ground sustained significant damage before being enclosed by a fence.

The remaining headstones were removed due to their poor condition in the 1970s.

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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