The Lives They Lived

Grave Pictures 079Hello, my name is Matthew Moskowitz and I am an intern here at Historic Huguenot Street. It has been a long time since this blog has been updated, yet I have been doing some interesting work. My current topic of research is the Jacob Elting Burial Ground located in New Paltz. I have been looking up genealogical information on the interred people and posting it on the website, Find-A-Grave, an online database of cemetery records.

Throughout this project I have had to use a variety of both primary and secondary sources to discover who is buried in the cemetery, and to learn about these people’s lives. My first stop was the book, Old Gravestones of Ulster County by Dr. J. Wilson Poucher and Byron Terwilliger. This book contains the names of all the people buried in a selection of Ulster County cemeteries, including the Elting Burial Ground.

I began with a list of the interred and some of their birth and death dates. My next step was to cross reference this list with a list that appeared on a map of the cemetery from 1962 that we have here at Huguenot Street. This map was one of the maps that I catalogued and organized during one of my previous internships here. It was satisfying to be able to reference something that I had spent time working on previously.

I am currently working on finding out who these people were and to discover their stories. Many of the people buried in the cemetery have the same last names. I also wanted to find out what were the relationships between these people. I have since gone to the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Library to look up obituaries from local newspapers. Obituaries are a fascinating historical resource, as they are summations of a person’s entire life in a brief paragraph. I have discovered some interesting facts about these people, such as Alfred Harcourt, who as a publisher was associated with writers such as Robert Frost and Virginia Woolf. I also learned that one of the people buried in the cemetery, John Elting, died by falling down an elevator shaft in India.

As the Find-A-Grave database grows, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My hope is that people who are searching for information on family members might be able to learn something from the work that I have done. That would be the greatest achievement of all.

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3 Responses to The Lives They Lived

  1. Denise Shelton says:

    Dear Matthow,

    What a great project. As a former Huguenot Street tour guide and an avid genealogist, I applaud the efforts of researchers like you, upon whom so many us rely. (I’m also jealous as hell! ;) )

  2. Matthew, glad to see you’re working on Elting history again. It was JOHN Elting who died in the elevator shaft in India. Such a sad ending for a talented young man. His father, Victor, wrote a limited edition book about John after the accident. Very interesting. He credited John with the effort to save the Elting Homestead on Huguenot Street where he and his branch of our huge extended Elting family spent many vacation times and gathered there for holiday meals. It was this branch of the family that DONATED the house to the HHS. I’m sure someone on staff told you to contact Dina DuBois regarding anything to do with the Elting Burial Ground? If not, HHS will have her contact information. All but a very few (Col John Elting and his wife, Ann, for example) of the burials in the Elting Burial Ground are from Jacob Elting’s family. Other branches, such as my direct ancestors, are buried at the New Paltz Rural Cemetery on Plains Road.

    Thanks for your dedication and interest!

    Grace Elting Castle

    • Thank you for your appreciative and informative comment. I have fixed the name to John Elting. I had known that it was John who had died in India but I accidentally wrote his father’s name instead of his.

      Thanks again,
      Matthew Moskowitz

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