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November 11, 2021
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Ely Cemetery

Hillside Avenue & Hillside Terrace
Livingston, NJ 07039
. Arlene Newcomb, Historical Society Secretary, visits the Ely Cemetery
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Historic Ely Cemetery Open on Veterans Day

Thursday, November 11, 2021

The Livingston Historical Society will open the historic Ely Cemetery, located near the corner of Hillside Avenue and Hillside Terrace for public tours on Veterans Day, Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 2 pm to 4 pm, weather permitting. Covid-19 protocols will be observed.

In case of inclement weather updates will be posted on the Livingston Historical Society’s website:

About the Ely Cemetery

The cemetery was established by Captain William Ely, a veteran of the French and Indian War, on a rood (quarter acre) of his land in 1777 when his daughter Elizabeth Ely Jones and her second husband, Frederick Jones, and their infant son, Benonni, all died within two weeks of each other. The plot was enlarged to its present size in 1864 by Ambrose Ely. The stone wall that surrounds the cemetery is made of rocks quarried from Riker Hill, which was part of the Ely Family’s property.

It is the private burial ground of generations of Ely’s and other prominent families with whom they intermarried such as the Vanderpoel, Dow, Goddard and Halsey families. 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 US Congressman; Edwin A. Ely, author of Personal Memoirs of Edwin E. Ely and generous benefactor of the Livingston Library and socialite Julia Smylie Dow, widow of Major Charles A. Smylie a New York. Mr. Smylie was a veteran of the Spanish American War and President of the Young and Smylie Company (Y&S) Company manufacturer of Twizzler’s licorice candy. 

The cemetery also contains several examples of antique sandstone slabs, granite headstones and marble tablets, some with typical New England cherub carvings while others are almost illegible due to age. 

The last person interred in the cemetery was Janet Halsey Olstead, an eighth generation descendent of Captain Ely, who died in 1978.

The cemetery was abandoned for many years until 1983, when trusteeship was granted to the Livingston Historical Society by order of the New Jersey Superior Court. Over the years volunteers have cleaned up the overgrowth of brush and repaired many plots. More recently, the Livingston Department of Public Works has helped to maintain the lawn and fallen trees surrounding the cemetery wall.

The public is invited to informal tours free of charge. A suggested donation of $5 per person to help with the upkeep of this historical landmark are gratefully accepted.

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