Trivia – March 2022

March 2021 – Post 13 Trivia
Police Arlington Cemetery
John Young, Patrolman 

Hope everybody enjoyed the summer. The newspapers carried stories about the Police Arlington located in Cypress Hill Cemetery, near the Brooklyn-Queens border. It was the Metropolitan Police Benevolent Burying Association (1869) that purchased the 37 plots (lot #357 to 394 except #368) as recorded on deed #4437, dated March 6, 1871. Lot #368 was later purchased on deed #4895 by the Association on July 15, 1873.

Plans with the deeds showed Section 18 having five rows of graves laid out in a half circle, totaling 352 graves. There was a police monument with a seven-foot statue of a uniformed policeman. Somebody stole the statue of Patrolman Lester Lewis, Broadway Squad, and other monument plaques in April 1966.

The deeds were found by Lou Matarazzo during the move from 250 Broadway to 40 Fulton Street in February 1992. As one of the deeds bore a Three dollar U.S. Internal Revenue stamp, Lou was kind enough to save it from the trash can and pass it along to a stamp collector. These deeds aroused my curiosity and eventually I paid a visit to Cypress Hill, where I obtained copies of the “Record of Interment” cards for the plots.

Police Arlington, as it’s now referred to is located in Section 18, next to the U.S. National Cemetery in Cypress Hill. The first interment was Charles Thompson (Dec. 1, 1867), probably taken from another site. A Rough Rider (Henry Haywood) killed at San Juan Hill was buried there on July 3, 1898, probably a New York cop with no relatives.

The association was created (1869) primarily for the burial of its members, but it became defunct, as most retired cops would usually be buried in family plots. One of the cemetery cards indicate that someone paid $3,000 for perpetual care in June 1920.

Life member certificates were issued (1918) to those officers who donated a dollar to the Metropolitan Police Burying Association, signed by Dominic Henry, President. A search of Article I records reveals Deputy Chief Henry joined NYPD in October 1890, and retired in January 1925. Note: every policeman was compelled to join the association.

Chief Inspector John O’Brien issued an order (September 1, 1931) saying that each precinct commander was to collect from each member of their command twenty-five cents so as to create a fund to take care of the plots. Remember the house tax?

A notice in the Spring 3100 (August 1946) reads, “A member of Metropolitan Police Burial Association may be buried at the Cypress Hill Cemetery, provided a payment is made for the opening of a grave.” The same message was on PBA letterhead listing the benefits available to its 19,308 membership. Patrick Harney was PBA president (1947) and the PBA office was located in room 404, World Building (63 Park Row) New York City.

NYPD Honor Legion took possession of Police Arlington in June 1951, and this author returned both deeds to the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for safekeeping.

Submitted by John Young