Celebrating Juneteenth in New Paltz

July 2022
Sharon Roth

Pastor Limina Grace opened the celebration of Juneteenth at the New Paltz Rural Cemetery on June 19, 2022.  She dressed in white, which is often done at these celebrations remembering June 19, 1865, the day 250,000 enslaved in Texas celebrated their freedom by buying new clothing.

Kate Hymes-Flanagan read the names of the 200 African Americans buried in our local cemetery. Some children placed flowers on each of those gravestones or gravesites. Many of the names were those of the original New Paltz Duzine families: Lefevre, Dubois, Deyo.

A lesson in history that they too were slave owners, which was not openly acknowledged for hundreds of years. When the new dorms and dining hall were built at SUNY New Paltz in 1968, they were named after six founding families. In March 2019, those names were changed to Shawangunk, Awosting, Minnewaska, Mohonk, Ashokan, and Peregrine.

Fulton Cox is buried in the oldest section of the grounds, which was for Civil War soldiers. He was born about 1825 in Georgia. During the Civil War, he met Peter Elting who, after the war brought him to New Paltz. In 1868, Fulton and his wife Jane purchased a house from Edmund Elting for $400 on Pencil Hill, across the street from the future home of the AME Zion Church, which was completed it in 1871. In 1877, he was expelled from that church because he worshiped with Whites at the Methodist Church. In 1888, he died in a carriage accident. His will stated that his home would be donated to the Methodist Church after Jane‘s death, which happened in 1893. That house is still standing.