The Mott family farm once stood near the corner of 55th Street and Maspeth Avenue before succumbing to the encroaching tide of Queens industrialization. Originally called Smith’s Island, the property was later called Mott’s Island while that family was in residence and Furman’s Island after they sold it to Garrit Furman in 1815. By 1950, all that remained was the family cemetery, its last recorded burial in 1877. Her stout stone walls stood some 25 feet high and 5 feet thick, but they could not keep out change and vandals bent on mischief for much longer. The Motts were devout Quakers, so the New York Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends gave permission to disinter the remaining family members and relocate them to their cemetery in Prospect Park.
The former residents of the venerable plot could trace their proud family history in New York to the 17th century. Dr. Valentine Mott, a renowned surgeon of the 19th century, founder of the NYU School of Medicine and president of the NY Academy of Medicine, spent his boyhood at Mott’s Island and his parents were among those originally interred in the Maspeth plot.
Commenting on the transfer of the last remains from the graveyard, a wistful Samuel Williams of the Society of Friends noted, “This was all farmland at one time. Today … it is in the heart of an industrial area.”