Fantinekill Falls is a small, yet beautiful waterfall located at the Fantinekill Cemetery in Ellenville, Ulster County. The Fantinekill name comes from the small, 18th-century settlement that was once located in the area, then about one mile north of the village of Ellenville.
The name “Fantinekill” is probably best known in history for the massacre that occurred on May 4, 1779 during the American Revolution when British Loyalists and Native Americans brutally killed nine people from the Bevier and Sax families at the Fantinekill settlement. That tragic event is today known as the Fantinekill Massacre. Those killed included Elizabeth Bevier (age 62) and her sons Solomon Bevier (29) and Josiah Bevier (23); Johannah Sax (59) and her children Mariah Sax (29), Peter Sax (23), Hester Sax (18), Dorothy Sax (16) and Jacob Sax (14).
There is a memorial located along Route 209 in Ellenville that marks the graves of those killed at the Fantinekill Massacre. The monument was unveiled on Memorial Day, May 30, 1903 with a large public ceremony that included a parade, the singing of patriotic songs and a number of well-received speeches from distinguished guests. The monument was constructed from a massive boulder of Shawangunk grit that weighed several tons and bears a bronze tablet containing the names of the nine victims and the date of the massacre. The monument, costing about $400, was largely funded by the “public-spirited citizens of the neighborhood.”
Upon the unveiling of the monument, the Honorable Thomas E. Benedict spoke that “After one hundred and twenty-four years we have erected this monument as a shrine to our ancestors who lived and died like heroes. They were the men and women who built up the republic in which we live, and they died that the republic might live. These mothers were the first Daughters of the American Revolution, and they are entitled to the first honors of the day. The coming daughters should be led to possess all the virtues which their ancestors had. Let the Fantinekill be a monument to which the younger generations shall go, and may they express the sentiment which is in bronze on the monument we have erected today.” (‘Impressive Ceremonies.” Kingston Daily Freeman. June 1, 1903.)
The History of Ulster County, New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester provides some background on the Fantinekill Cemetery, where the falls are located. “This [Fantine Kill Cemetery Association] organization was effected at a meeting held May 27, 1871, at the First National Bank of Ellenville. A. S. Schoonmaker was chairman, and C. A. Van Wagener secretary. The trustees chosen were Uriah C. Enderly, Gilbert Du Bois, C. A. Van Wagener, Alfred Neafie, Isaac Corbin, Andrew S. Schoonmaker, Hiram H. Gale, John McElhone, Newton Le Fever. The proceedings were verified before John Lyon, notary public, and recorded May 31, 1871. The grounds of this association bear an appropriate name, not only from the Fantine Kill itself, but in memory of the “Fantine Kill massacre” elsewhere mentioned.” (Page 268.)