[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 19 October 2015.]
Riffing on something Chris Child wrote about collecting photos of family members in July, I thought I might do something similar with information about family burial plots. Such an exercise leans heavily on Findagrave.com (where some of the images may be found), although in my case I also have the notes compiled by my great-aunt Margaret Steward in 1966 as a resource for my research.
My grandparents are easy: my father’s parents (and stepmother) are buried at Hamilton Cemetery in Massachusetts, while my mother’s parents (and stepmother) are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. I was present for my paternal grandfather’s memorial service in 1991, my maternal grandfather’s burial in 1994, and for my paternal step-grandmother’s memorial service in 1996.
The further back one goes, the more complex the landscape becomes. My Steward great-grandparents were buried in the family burial ground in Goshen, New York, but when the family property there was sold – as recounted in Aunt Margaret’s notes – their remains were moved to Slate Hill Cemetery, also in Goshen. My Ayer great-grandparents are buried in separate places; it’s hard to know whether that reflects a cleavage in the relationship or just my great-grandfather’s desire to be buried with his father and mother. In any case, my great-grandfather Ayer is buried in the family plot at Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts; his first wife is buried near my grandparents at Hamilton Cemetery; and his second wife – who outlived him by 43 years – lies with her family at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
My Bell great-grandparents are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia; again, though, my maternal grandfather’s parents were buried in the same plot, while his stepmother lies elsewhere, near her mother and brother. On the other hand, my estranged (perhaps even divorced) Glidden great-grandparents are buried together at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, outside Baltimore; their daughter Miriam is there with them, while her husband is buried elsewhere with his family.
The further back one goes, the more complex the landscape becomes.
As Chris found, with great-great-grandparents the distances (and the absence of documentation) can prove troublesome. I assume the Stewards were moved to Slate Hill; the Beeckmans are buried with their son and daughter-in-law at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown), New York. The Ayers – my great-great-grandfather, his two wives, one son (my great-grandfather), daughter, and son-in-law – lie in Lowell Cemetery. The Ilsleys are at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey, as are their two sons.
My Bell great-great-grandparents, who died in Norfolk, are buried near my great-great-grandmother’s family at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. My rascal great-great-grandfather O. D. Jackson (1848–1915) lies at Forest Lawn Cemetery near his daughter (my great-grandmother), while I cannot find his widow – who moved to Phoenix and then Long Beach, surviving the great earthquake of 1933 and dying (as Jennie Waterman) in 1937 – in a California cemetery. My Glidden great-great-grandparents are buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, while my Boucher great-great-grandparents are to be found in a handsome plot at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore County along with my matrilineal great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Josephine Eliza (McNulty) Malloy (1825?–1891).