Death and Twizzlers: Livingston Cemetery to open on Veterans Day


LIVINGSTON, NJ – The Livingston Historical Society will be holding public tours of Ely Cemetery – a private cemetery with a connection to Twizzler’s candy and some incidents that were less than sweet – this Thursday for Veterans Day.

The cemetery was established in 1777 by Captain William Ely, a French and Indian war veteran, on a rood (quarter acre) of his land. He built after his daughter Elizabeth Ely Jones, her husband Frederick Jones and their young son Benonni all died within two weeks of each other. (The group is unsure of the exact cause of the deaths, but believe they were due to a disease such as smallpox.)

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After that, the cemetery became the private burial place of many of Ely’s other relatives. It also included members of prominent families who married into the Ely family, such as the Vanderpoel, Dow, Goddard and Halsey families.

Among those buried is socialite Julia Smylie Dow, widow of Major Charles A. Smylie of New York. Smylie, a Spanish-American War veteran, was also president of Young and Smylie (Y&S), maker of Twizzlers liquorice candy.

The company will offer public tours of the site from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. It is located near the corner of the Hillside site and Hillside Terrace.

More history

The plot was enlarged to its current size in 1864 by Ambrose Ely, the historical society said. The stone wall that surrounds the cemetery is made from rocks quarried from Riker Hill on the Ely family’s property, the historical society said.

“Notable internments include the monuments of Smith Ely, Jr. who served as mayor of New York City in 1877-1878, as well as two terms as a member of the United States Congress,” says the company, “and Edwin A. Ely, author from Personal Memoirs of Edwin E. Ely and Benefactor of the Livingston Library. “

The cemetery also contains examples of ancient sandstone slabs, granite gravestones, and marble tablets, some with carvings of New England cherubs.

The last burial at the ceremony was that of Janet Halsey Olstead in 1978. She was an eighth generation descendant of Captain Ely.

According to the company, the cemetery was abandoned for many years until 1983, when guardianship was granted to the group by order of the New Jersey Superior Court.

The volunteers cleared and repaired the plots. The Livingston Department of Public Works has also
helped maintain the lawn and fallen trees along the cemetery wall.

Upcoming tours are free, but a donation of $ 5 per person is suggested to help with maintenance. COVID-19 protocols will be observed during the visit.

For more information see: Fhttps: // livingstonnjhistoire …

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