Famous & Notable Burials of Cypress Hills Cemetery

In addition to the book about our notables, we’re always finding more as historians & history enthusiasts pass through our grounds

Cypress-Hills-BookCypress Hills Cemetery has 160 years of historical significance. Many of our residents have had a profound impact in the development of our community, cultural ideals, and the nation as a whole. Each one can be associated with a different piece of history from the early 1800s all the way to the late 1900s. Included in the application you will find a detailed map of all our notables, a description of their impact in history, and their location within the cemetery grounds. Also included is our book, “Images of America: Cypress Hills Cemetery,” by Stephen C. Duer and Allen B. Smith, which provides an expansive view of the development of the Cemetery, the distinct characteristics of monuments and their different artistic styles, and the impact the Cemetery has had on the community. Below you will find a sample of some of our notable burials and associations and their significance in history. These individuals memorialized at Cypress Hills are known for shaping our culture in regards to civil rights and the advancement of African-Americans in all aspects of life:

Thomas Downing Thomas Downing (1791-1866): An early pioneer of equal rights, Downing used the basement of his popular restaurant as a hideaway for fleeing slaves traveling the Underground Railroad. He also helped fund the first African-American schools in the greater New York area.
Elizabeth-Jennings Elizabeth Jennings Graham (1830-1901): She played a major role in establishing equal rights in New York during the mid 1800’s as an activist. She is regarded as the “Rosa Parks” or the mid 19th Century.
Aturo-Schomburg Arturo Schomburg (1874-1938): Writer, cultural activist, and dedicated collector of books, manuscripts, and paintings directly related to the history of black culture.
JamesMcCuneSmith2 James McCune Smith (1813-1865): A physician, apothecary, and active abolitionist. He was the first African-American to earn a medical degree in the United States.

Graphic drawing of Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson (1919-1972): Famous baseball player who is known for becoming the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball.

Police Arlington

This area was the first police memorial of its kind created in the United States. The Police Arlington Memorial was established in 1871 by the Metropolitan Police Benevolent Association. The memorial was designed to be a place of pride and to honor the bravery of police officers. To this date, the PBA holds an annual memorial service at the site for those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

We are also represented by many soldiers who have served in our military from the following wars:
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star War of 1812
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star Korean War
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star American Civil War
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star Vietnam War
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star Spanish American War
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star Operation Desert Storm
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star WWI and WWII
graphic of olive leaf surrounding a miitary star Operation Iraqi Freedom
Notable veteran of the War of 1812:

Hiram Cronk Hiram Cronk: Lived until the age of 103 and became known for being the last surviving member of the War of 1812.

Medal of Honor recipients from the Civil War include:
  • Benjamin Levy
  • John G. Morrison
  • Alex Forman
  • James Horton
  • Joseph Hibson


Medal of Honor recipient from the Spanish American War:
  • Joseph Franklin


Medal of Honor recipient from the USS Philadelphia:
  • Henry A. Eilers

Cypress Hills National Cemetery

A portion of the Cemetery serves as a military burial ground for soldiers of the American Civil War, which in 1941 received the bodies of 235 Confederate prisoners who died on Hart Island.

Here is a list of other notables who have made their mark on history through their achievements in fine arts and community development:
Mae-West Mae West: Famous actress and playwright who created the prototype of the ultimate Hollywood “sex symbol.”
Piet-Mondrian Piet Mondrian: Prolific 20th Century Dutch painter. He is highly regarded in the art community for his abstract art.
JuniusStearns Junius B. Sterns: Famous American painter, most known for his depiction of George Washington addressing the Constitutional Convention. This painting was later used as a U.S. postage stamp.
John-Pitkin John Pitkin: Successful land developer responsible for the development of East New York and the Woodhaven area of Queens.


For a complete listing of all the notables, along with biographies, please visit the office for a complimentary Notable Map.

Or Download a PDF of the Notable Map