This is the second in a series of posts on The Hallett Burial Grounds. For part 1, please click here.
It is no great revelation to say that Hallett's Cove in the year 1877 was a very different place than it is today, nearly a century and a half later. At that time, it was still relatively sparsely populated, but already larger properties in the area were being rapidly subdivided and sold as the population of the town, recently re-minted as Astoria, began it's rapid climb from it's agricultural roots to a dense, urban area. Also not surprisingly, the inhabitants of Astoria in the 1870's were already starting to look back at their own history, perhaps sensing the change themselves. This attached article is from what was apparently a series of pieces in the newspaper of record for it's time, The Newtown Register. The series looked at the old cemeteries in the area in what I'm sure was an attempt to give the readers of the day a look at what was, and who lived there in times gone by. I would like to believe the author, who goes uncredited, would be pleased that his or her work is still enjoyed and is of such value to us today.
THE NEWTOWN REGISTER
NEWTOWN, L.I., THURSDAY, AUGUST 16, 1877
WALKS THROUGH OLD CEMETERIES
THE OLD HALLETT BURYING GROUND, ASTORIA.
The most venerable headstone of the Hallett Cemetery dates 1724, cut in the oldrude fashion on hard stone which seems in all the old cemeteries to defy time and to preserve their edges as sharp as the day they were split off the parent rocks.
This old stone bears S. H. 1724, and marks the last dwelling of Samuel Hallett, who was proprietor of the soil, both of the yard and the adjoining Methodist Church. The ground is covered with similar rude tablets, as follows:
John Hallett, 1788 ; L.H., 1759; S.H., aged 78 ; B. H., 1747 ; L. H., l760 ; E. H., 1776 ; I. H, 1781 ; S. H., 1763 ; L. H., 1798; S. H , 1760; S. H., 1752 ; I. H., 1760: M. H., 1747; E. H., 1791; A. H. 1802; J. White, 1826 ; D. D. B. R., 1777 ; May Trafford, 1803 ; N. S; 1777; I. R.,1809 ; J. J., 1810; Samuel Hallett, 1817; Mary Hallett, 1842 ; I. H., 1806; J. H., 1802; James Hallett, 1852 ; Samuel Hallett, 1852 ; Rebecca Hallett, 1802 ; Stephen Hallett, 1822; Mary Hallett, 1804; James James Hallett, 1838 ; Stephen Hallett, 1841; Lydia Hallett, 1845; Rebecca Hallett 1853; Nat. Hicks, 1858. ; Eliza Hallett,1860; Charity Hallett, 1861.; David Greenoak, I856 ; Tiny Stratton, 1822; William Stratton, 1836 ; Mary Anne Hallett. 1829; Samuel Hallett, 1832; James Hallett, 1852; Abraham Ludlam, 18l0; John Ludlam, 1820; George Frankford, 1823.
An equal number of stones without name or date mark the now forgotten members of the same family.
This numerous, wealthy and active race, who gave name to Hallett's Cove afterwards changed for sound's sake into Astoria, is now represented in the neighborhood by the single name of Charles W. Hallett, President of the Common Council, which position tradition will hand down as accorded to him from personal merit alone, and not from political favor, present report making him a unit in that respect.
However, the original founder of the family was William Hallett of 1652, to whom a "brief" of 162 acres was granted in Astoria, on which he built a house to be burned by the Indians in a couple of years afterwards in testimony of their respect to the advice of old Stuyvesant who just at that time required their friendship. The old Governor who never was at rest save in a quarrel, then dismissed Hallett from the office of Sheriff, in Flushing, for giving a dinner to a Rhode Island divine, and added fine and imprisonment; but Mr. Hallett had ample time for revenge and died under the British in his 90th year, A. D. 1705. He was a prudent man, for in 1664 he had purchased the whole of Hell Gate Neck, Riker's and Berrien's Islands from the Indians for the sum of 58 fathom of wampum, 7 coats. 1 blanket, 4 kettles.
What may be the quotation price of wampum in Wall street the tourist is unable to say, but we must suppose the consideration paid to the Indians, Erramose ,Shawescont, and Mattano for the entire of Astoria and adjacent Islands to have been the selling price of real estate in those days. The last official act of Gov. Stuyvesant and simultaneous with the stopping up the windows on the New York side of his palace was a parting shot at Mr. Hallett in the form of a grant to the Rikers of the Island, which grant was afterwards affirmed by the British.
The article lists of course many Hallett ancestors (I have hyperlinked a few to their individual pages on this site) and gives an interesting version of William Hallett's claim to Berrien Island and Riker's Island, inferring that Peter Stuyvesant denied the claim out of spite over past grievances as much as anything else. Whether there is any truth to this really can't be said, all we know for certain is that the British, once they gained control of New Amsterdam, upheld William's claims on the mainland of Long Island in Hallett's Cove, Newtown, but denied his claims to Rikers Island and Berrien island.
It is also curious that the article features a reference to Charles Wesley Hallett, Sr., and infers what James Riker noted in the Annals of Newtown would write some 20 years later, that the Halletts were "mostly removed" from Astoria, noting that the family was now represented in the town by him as "the single name". At first this struck me as somewhat surprising, but after thought, perhaps not, due to two factors: The country was growing and there was a natural migration occuring within our own borders, and the Revolutionary War clearly had a hand in redistributing some prominent family members from Hallett's Cove to Nova Scotia, a subject that I will cover in depth at some point in the future. For the time being, however, it left my particular branch here, and we would remain here due in large part to the Funeral business, begun in 1854 by the very same Charles Wesley Hallett from this article – another topic that I promise to cover in depth in the future.