The History of the Sackett/Kelly/Howell Estate
This information was submitted by Owen Clough.

Note:  The source of the data below are from Old Newtown – Selections for the scrapbook originally written by the town clerk, William O’Gorman – from the pages of the Newtown Register – Queens Borough Public Library, Sept. 1 1887; Woodside Queens, NY a Historical Perspective 1652 – 1994, Catherine Gregory; “Woodside of Long Ago, The Woodsider, March 1983.

The Sackett Family

The history of the estate begins with the Sackett family.  They were of Puritan stock from England, settled by Simon Sackett in Cambridge, Mass. in 1628.  He died there leaving 2 sons, Simon and John.  The former left one son, Joseph, who was adopted b his uncle, Daniel Bloomfield who carried his sister’s son to Newtown, Queens, New York.  Joseph Sackett married 3 times:  first to Elizabeth, the daughter of Captain Richard Betts, which gave him a prominent position in the town affairs.  Joseph Sackett died in 1719 leaving 4 sons and 3 daughters.  Two of his sons, William and John, inherited his lands in the area of today’s Woodside.  This generation married in to the families of the Moores, Alsops, Hazards, and Lawrences, all prominent Newtown families.  One of the sons, John Sackett, remained a farmer on the Sackett estate in Newtown.  One of the progenies of John’s brother, Joseph, was Augustus Sackett, who founded Sackett’s Harbor on Lake Ontario, NY in 1802.  One of the battles of the war of 1812 was fought at Sackett’s Harbor.

John Sackett inherited 2 large lots separated by Hurl Gate Ferry Road (today’s Woodside Avenue).  His 115 acre lot extended to the Moore property near today’s Broadway, and bordered his brother William’s property on the east and on Woodside Ave. on the west.  The lot on the south side extended to the Bett’s property south of today’s 47th Ave.  In 1768 John Sackett died.

William Sackett, son of John, married his first cousin, Anna Lawrence.  They lived on the Sackett Farm and increased the farmhouse into a manor house.  William died as a widower in 1802.  He left the 115 farm to his son, John.  John died in 1819 and his heirs sold the farm to John A. Kelly and his sister in law, Catherine B. (Friedle) Buddy. 

The Mansion

The mansion faced south at the foot Betts Ave. (today’s 58th St.) and along the old east-west Hurl Gate Road from Hallett’s Cove to Newtown village (today’s Woodside.).  The position of the mansion on the main highway gave it a commanding influence in eyes of military men.  The mansion was the elite of colonial days, noted for its beauty and quaint old architecture.  Surround the mansion were picturesque stretches of woodlawn, large cider houses, and sheep folds.The front door had 2 sections with a grand brass knocker, leading to the front hall that was 12 feet wide.  The grand parlor on the right had was 17 feet each way, and on each side of the fireplace were two glass cases built in to the side walls, each on enclosed by an imitation gigantic sea scallop shell.  The back room had a corner fireplace surmounted with closets.  There were rooms on the other side of the hall and beyond them the kitchen with a spacious fireplace.  There was a well in front of the house and in back a barn and a cider house.  Nearby was cemetery for slaves.  The Sackett cider press was famous throughout Newtown where the Newtown pippin apples were abundant. 

Historical Events

During the French and Indian War, French officers were held prisoners of war in the families of the Sacketts, Halletts, Lawrences, Rikers and Betts who were paid 7 shillings per week for the board of each French officer.  During the Revolutionary War, Hessian officers were billeted in the Sackett House.  William Sackett was removed to the corner house in Newtown Village due to his patriotic leaning.  The Hessian occupation of the Sackett house lasted 8 years.   John A.F. Kelly, son of the next owner of the property, found an old Hessian sword in the rafters of the house under which the officers were billeted.  The steel blade was 18 inches long and highly ornamented with the engraving of a boar on one side and a stag on the other indicating the instrument to be a hunting sword.  The handle was deer horn but the brass hilt was broken.  The sword was donated to the Long Island Historical Society by the town clerk. 

During the construction of an addition in about 1856, John A.F. Kelly deposited a tin box with newspaper articles of the day and several coins.  When it was unearthed in 1896, the coins were gone and the newspaper turned to pulp.

There was a circular mound on the edge of the wood opposite the well where the remains of a hut for shelter for the sentry on duty at the junction of the roads.  Within a hundred yards of the mount is buried the body of Michael Hagan, a deserter shot by Thomas Cumbersome, whose door was forced open by Hagan and two comrades.  They wee deserters from a British Regiment stationed in Flatbush.

The Kelly/Howell Family

On October 8, 1826 the heirs of John Sackett:  Elizabeth Sackett, William Sackett and his wife Gertrude, Emma Sackett, Mary Lawrence, Patience Sackett, Elizabeth Gibbs Sackett, and Amy Leverich Sackett sold the 115 acres of land, 2 roads and 31 perches (square rods) for $11,000 to John A. Kelly and his sister in law, Catherine Barbara (Friedle) Buddy. 

John A. Kelly was born 10 October 1792 in Charleston, SC and died in New York City on 6 January 1833.  His family,  Kolle/Khele, came from Blauburen, Baden Wurtemberg, Germany and emigrated to Charleston in 1742 aboard the ship John and Mary.  His father, also John Kelly, was a merchant in Charleston until his death in 1791.  His son, John A. Kelly, was also a merchant and had a shop with his mother Mary on 116 King St. in Charleston.  John A. Kelly married Anna Maria Friedle on 8 March 1821.

Anna Maria Friedle was born 2 August 1795 in Roigheim, Baden Wurtemberg, Germany and died in Woodside on 2 December 1882.  The Friedle family emigrated from Germany in 1804 but disembarked on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea.  The remained there until the emigrated to New York City in 1811.  The Friedle family had ample means and set up an artificial flower factory on 117 William St. in Manhattan, near Wall St.  The business flourished for several years, employing at one point over 100 people.  However, due to debts and competition from the French, the business closed.  The family then purchased property on 280 Broadway and opened a wax museum.  A large part of the artificial flower market was in the south, and presumably due to this Anna Maria Friedle and her brother, Andreas, moved to Charleston, SC.  Here Anna Maria set up a millinery shop on King St. and her brother established

John A. Kelly and Anna Maria Friedle had 4 children:  John A.F. Kelly born in Charleston, SC in 1822, died Woodside, NY 1897; Maria Henrica (Kelly) Riker born in 1824 Charleston, SC, died Woodside, NY 1898; John Constantine Kelly, born New York City 1827, died in Woodside, NY 1910; Anna Maria (Kelly) (Terrett) Crandall, born New York City 1831, died Woodside NY 1882.  After the death of John A. Kelly, his widow married Caleb Tappan Howell, born Chester New Jersey 4 June 1798, died Woodside, NY 20 November 1878.  The Howells continued to live on 117 William St. in Manhattan and presumably used the Woodside estate as a weekend and summer retreat.  Sometime in the early 1840’s (they were listed in Longworth’s City Directory until 1843), the Howells moved permanently to the estate in Woodside.  The Howells lived on the estate with their extended family:  the 2 Kelly boys; the Rikers (Maria Henrica had married Alpheus Pierson Riker).  They had one son, Caleb Tappan Howell (1835-1911).  Caleb Tappan Howell, Sr. was a farmer and died in 1878.

Prior to the death of the Howells, they agreed to sell off a large portion of their property to a developer, Benjamin Hitchcock who laid out plots for sale in 1867.  This was the start of housing development in Woodside.  Hitchcock took the name Woodside from the writings of John A.F. Kelly who was a newspaperman and wrote articles from his home on the Kelly/Howell estate entitled “Letters from Woodside” owing to the lush woodland surrounding the house.

After the death of Anna Maria (Friedle) (Kelly) Howell, the heirs rented out the house with its 25 rooms.  The manor house eventually fell into disrepair and was sold by the heirs of John A. Kelly to St. Sebastian’s Roman Catholic Church in 1895.  The Borges family purchased the parcel running along the west side of 58th St. Woodside Ave. The Kelly/Howell mansion lay mainly on the Borges parcel.  In 1896, the mansion was razed and the Borges deeded the property to the church.  A church was built on the site and eventually a school was built.  In 1956 a new church was built on the old Loews theater property across the street.  Late in the twentieth century the old church was torn down to make way for a school parking lot.  Today, Woodside is a thriving ethnic diverse community.