23 Aug 2014
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Missing Headstone Returned to Port Washington Cemetery

The 1774 headstone belonged to 2-year-old Elizabeth Schenck whose father was a founder of North Hempstead.

Missing Headstone Returned to Port Washington Cemetery Missing Headstone Returned to Port Washington Cemetery Missing Headstone Returned to Port Washington Cemetery

A missing headstone of girl who died at age two is finally in its proper place: next to her parents at the Monfort Cemetery in Port Washington. 

Elizabeth Schenck died May 23, 1774 at age two, just 2 weeks before her 8-month-old sister, Sarah, whose headstone remains missing.

The girls, whose sister Catherine lived until age 25, were the daughters of Martin and Agnus Schenck, a prominent family who residend in Cow Neck Peninsula. Martin Schenck fought in the Revolutionary War and signed a declaration of independence from Hempstead.

“And in so doing, declared their independence of the British Crown,” Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman said during a brief ceremony on Wednesday.

The headstone was noted in a Census taken in the 1890s, said Glen J. DeSalvo, a Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society trustee.

But in a 2009 survey it was recorded as missing. DeSalvo said an architectural historian found the headstone in Old Bethpage Village Restoration, where the Schenck’s 1735 house had been relocated. The headstone was then moved to the Dodge Homestead, the Port Washington property that is under the auspices of the Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society, “with the intention that it would come here,” to Monfort Cemetery, once the historical society had conducted its due diligence and proper research, DeSalvo said.

Meanwhile, Charlie Rubin of Merrick was visiting his daughter, a tenant at the Dodge Homestead in Port Washington, when he spotted the headstone.

“It was propped up against a stone wall,” he said. “I figured kids had stolen it.”

He contacted North Hempstead Town Historian Howard Kroplick, who picked up the headstone with the intention of returning it to its rightful place.

Nearly a month ago, DeSalvo saw a story in Newsday , learning it was no longer at the Dodge Homestead. That came as a surprise to DeSalvo.

Still, the historical society and the town worked together, leading to the Wednesday morning ceremony.

At the ceremony, Town Clerk Leslie Gross pointed out that the town now maintains the cemetery.

“When a cemetery is abandoned the care of that cemetery falls to the town – the Monfort Cemetery is one such cemetery,” she said. The gated cemetery is located near what's known as the "Monfort steps," not far from the . 

“The Town of North Hempstead has a very, very rich history,” said Councilwoman Dina De Giorgio. “It’s very important for the town and the local historical society to remember that history and preserve it the best way that we can.”

That struck a chord with the 20 or so who gathered at Monfort Cemetery.

“It was such a great feeling to know that it was put back –  that this two-year-old daughter’s headstone was put back next to her parents,” Kroplick said.

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