Finding the Amadons

The first round of cleaning.

Back in April I attended the biennial conference of the New England Regional Genealogical Consortium (NERGC) in Springfield, Massachusetts. Knowing that I had ancestors who lived in Springfield, I was excited about what I might find at the local repositories. I was not disappointed.

My first order of business was to find the graves of my great-great-great-great-great-grandparents, Titus and Sabra (Gilbert) Amadon. Titus was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having enlisted in the Continental Army just before his 17th birthday. According to his own statement in his pension record, he was “present and in view of Maj. Andre at the time he was hung at Tappan.”

Years later, Sabra filed for a widow’s pension. In her statement she said, “I have often heard my husband speak of being on duty as camp guard at the time of the execution of Major Andre, and describe the appearance of General Washington at this time.” I’ve been wanting to locate their graves ever since first reading through the pension record.

A few years ago I found a listing for them on FindAGrave.com stating that they were interred at Springfield Cemetery. However, when I first visited the cemetery the person in the office could not find a record of them. I set the issue aside at the time but decided that I would try again on my next trip to Springfield.

With a map of the plot in hand, I went to find them.

This year when I visited the office, I spoke to a different person who was able to track down a record indicating they were, indeed, at that cemetery. With a map of the plot in hand, I went to find them. There were six other Amadon graves on this plot, all with headstones, but Titus and Sabra were not in sight.

Using the map, I looked in the area where I thought they should be. All I saw were two small collections of leaves which had apparently settled into two indentations in the ground. I brushed away the leaves and saw what very well could be the headstones. Once I pulled away a bit of the sod, I knew I had found them.

I headed back to the cemetery office to see if anyone could uncover these headstones for me, but the answer was no. They were short-staffed and the grounds crew was already busy preparing for Memorial Day. Would they mind if I dug up the stones myself? Surprisingly, no.

I wish I could tell you that this was the first time I’ve been seen on my hands and knees digging in a cemetery to find ancestors, but this was honestly the most digging I’ve had to do. The stones had apparently broken off at the base, fallen over, and had sunk several inches down into the ground over what I can only assume was many years.

The second round of cleaning — progress made!

I knew I needed some expert advice on options for surfacing the headstones. Because I was in town for a conference, the convention center up the street was full of expert genealogists. I was able to chat with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist at NEHGS, who suggested that the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution might have funds available to surface and repair the stones. He told me I should talk to Dave Robison, a member of the local SAR and an organizer of the conference. Well, Dave happens to be a cousin! He and I had met two years earlier and discovered that we are both descendants of Deacon Samuel Chapin, one of the founders of Springfield.

Dave is now my “man on the ground” in Springfield, in touch with both the SAR and people at the Springfield Cemetery to help find a way to have the stones reset and perhaps add a bronze marker identifying Titus as a soldier of the Revolution. And information that appears on the headstones provided the final documentation I needed to file a supplemental application with the Daughters of the American Revolution. I’m excited to think that, in the new year, Titus and Sabra’s headstones may finally take their proper place on the family plot.

Patty Vitale

About Patty Vitale

Patty Vitale is an attorney and works as Chief of Staff to Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal in Rockville, Maryland. Born and raised in Massachusetts, she has lived in the Washington, D.C. area since 1986. She has a B.S. Business Administration from Boston University and a J.D. from American University. Patty is a member of the Society of Mayflower Descendants as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution, Hungerford’s Tavern Chapter, where she serves as the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee.

12 thoughts on “Finding the Amadons

  1. I enjoyed your story. I have paid to have the gravestones of ancestors re-positioned. Perpetual care only covers care of the grounds, not the stones. Some stones have broken in multiple places and need further support; the ideal way to do that does not seem to have been discovered. I have a friend who used his Viet Nam War bayonet to probe the ground to find flat stones that had been covered by turf. He had used it to probe for mines.

  2. I also enjoyed your story and your perseverence in finding the graves. By the way, according to my previouis family ancestry research, Deacon Samuel Chapin is my 9x greatgrandfather!!

  3. I’m a Samuel Chapin/Cicely Penny descendant, too! One cautionary note: Some states have laws against probing, digging, or otherwise disturbing a potential grave site. It’s always best to check first, to see what is and isn’t allowed, even if the answer leaves you frustrated.

  4. Just receI’ve a return email from my second cousin Sam Chapin saying that the minute he saw Springfield he knew why I had forwarded this post to him.

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