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Tarrytown, New York, Tomb of Elva A. McKenzie, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, photo

Tarrytown, New York, Tomb of Elva A. McKenzie, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, photo

The tomb of Elva A. McKenzie in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, New York. This unusual tomb is a large stone boulder that has been sawed into two parts. The boulder was then hollowed out and the body placed within and sealed. The plaque on the side reads:

Elva A. McKenzie
Wife of
Alexander McKenzie
Died May 23, 1922

The life of Elva McKenzie is something of a mystery. Her husband, Alexander McKenzie, was considered a political boss or power broker and sometimes known as "Alexander the Great" in Dakota Territory during the 1880's and 1890's. McKenzie County, North Dakota is named after him. Alexander McKenzie was born of Scottish immigrants on April 3, 1850 (possibly 1851) in Canada and came to Dakota Territory at the age of sixteen. After a series of occupations, he became involved in politics and held a number of political offices. At the same time he was involved in various business ventures with many investments in mining projects. Over time he became wealthy and exerted his considerable influence over the region. One business venture involving the Alaska Gold Mining Company was determined to be fraudulent and landed McKenzie in prison. After serving three months of a one year sentence, he was able to secure a pardon from President McKinley in 1901.

In November of 1873, Alexander McKenzie married his first wife, Mary Ellen Hayes. In 1887, McKenzie divorced or separated from his wife. One of the daughters of this marriage stated that her parents never divorced. Mary Ellen McKenzie died June 27, 1897 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Now begins the mystery of Elva A. McKenzie.* A marriage certificate exists that shows that Alexander McKenzie and Elva Crapper married on August 13, 1890 in Troy, New York. The 1900 census however lists the year of marriage as 1886 which if correct would overlap the years of his first marriage. The 1900 census also shows the birth year of their first daughter, Jeanette, as 1888 in Canada which agrees with other records. A letter from Alexander to Elva in 1889 is signed as "... your husband". Did Alexander and Elva marry in Canada in 1886 and then again in New York in 1890? Regardless of when the McKenzie's married, the marriage was kept a closely guarded secret. On May 23, 1922, Elva McKenzie died. Less than a month later, Alexander McKenzie died on June 22, 1922 in Ramsay County, Minnesota. It was not until after the death of Alexander McKenzie and his will was filed for probate that even his closest friends and associates learned that he had a second wife. The following is a news article published in the New York Times on June 30, 1922:

"St. Paul, Minn., June 29. - The filing for probate here today of the will of Alexander McKenzie, one time "political boss" of North Dakota, disclosed for the first time, even to many intimate friends, that he had married a second time, and had two sons and a daughter in Yonkers, N. Y. His second wife, Mrs. Elva McKenzie, died in Yonkers on May 23. Mr. McKenzie died here last week, closing an adventurous career. Specific bequests, totaling $265,000, are made in the will, and the residue is left to two daughters by his first wife, Mrs. Anna McKenzie McDonald of Reguad, Quebec, and Mary B. McKenzie Foster of Westmount, Quebec, who filed a petition. Bequests of $50,000 are made to his second wife, now deceased, and equal amounts to Jeanette McKenzie, an unmarried daughter; Alexander J. McKenzie and Thomas O. McKenzie, sons, all of Yonkers."

Alexander McKenzie is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Bismarck, North Dakota. Elva McKenzie is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Tarrytown, New York.

*This was a second marriage for Elva as she was previously married to a David A. Tyler.

Tarrytown is a village in the town of Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York.

See also: Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow

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