Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Elias Billing Brown's Life

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Elias Billings Brown's Life

EBB (also called Billings) lived an interesting life and it is sad that the headstones in this Brown plot are so hard to read. I decided not to try to enhance them (which is time consuming)  so instead I looked at what is posted at Find a Grave, which is how non- genealogists and genealogists look for gravestones. I found this entry with a photograph taken by Joanna Case.

The plot that I identified as Brown Plot One is plot 12-498. In huge cemeteries it is handy to know this and I like that people are adding the plot numbers to Find-A-Grave memorials. 

The first document that I located that was not a vital record or census page, it was a Passport for him with a description of this wealthy and prominent Mystic native. 

On 16 Nov 1857 at age 40 in Brooklyn, New York, EBB was six feet tall, had blue eyes a Roman nose, a medium mouth, a round chin, light complexion and brown hair. On 1 July 1863 he registered for the draft for the Civil War also in Brooklyn New York. 

Elias Billings Brown was the son of Elias Brown, Esq. and his wife Mary Louisa Burrows. He was one of nine children.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Elias Billings Brown Monument

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

This is the Elias Billings Brown monument with the simple birth and death dates of he and his wife, Eliza Avery.

Elias Billings Brown was the son of Elias Brown and his wife Mary Louisa Burrows. The Burrows genealogy (which is only at Ancestry.com) was published in 1975 and on the back side of this title page gives the author's address. I easily found an obituary for him and he passed away on 17 Dec 1993.

 It is typewritten and contains dates of death for some persons that I can't verify as yet.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Eliza Frances Denison

Tombstone Tuesday: Eliza Frances Denison
wife of John A. Schoonover

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Before I asked Brian Zoldak if he had photographed these "Brown" gravestones, I had a heart-stopping moment when I looked at some research done a long time ago about my 2nd great grandmother, Eliza Fish Denison. The researcher made an understandable error because she couldn't find my Eliza in the 1850 census living with her parents and siblings. 

From my notes, I remembered that it was because she was living with another family, relatives of her mother, Levina Fish, wife of Isaac Denison. Tracing women with the name Eliza and Denison became a challenge for a few days just to be sure that I had the correct women with the right family. It had to be done. When it was complete, I was sure my previous research was fine. That's always good.

THIS Eliza Frances Denison was my 2nd cousin, 2x removed. She was born 22 April 1884, the daughter of Frederic DENISON (1856-1935) and his wife Mary Fanny BROWN (1856-1932). She did not marry John until she was 34 in 1918. My 2nd great grandmother was 22 and that was considered "spinster" except that my 2nd great grandfather was an established businessman at the age of 33. 

Eliza Frances Denison died at the age of 94 sometime in 1978.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: John A. Schoonover

John A. Schoonover
Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Information at Find a Grave
I am going to write these first two blog posts out of order of the two Brown plots because this married couple is the reason that I went seeking these gravestone in the first place. When I read that John A. Schoonover was a pall bearer at my maternal uncle's funeral, I did not know who he was.

I asked my friend Jane Preston (since she used to live in Mystic) if she knew of him and she told me that this couple was very active in the Denison Society. Since I own the 1963 edition of the complied Descendants of George Denison, I started at the pages in the beginning of the book where the officers and board of trustees are written and sure enough, there is his name.

John was not my direct descendant but his wife was my 2nd cousin 2x removed. This couple was childless. John was a stock broker and a member of the Congregational Church.

It was nice of him to be available to be a pallbearer at my uncle's funeral. It must have been an awful day. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Brown Plot 2

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Brown Plot 2

Next "door" to the first Brown plot is this second one with the same arrangements of headstones and monument. Note the stone step leading into the entrance for viewing of the headstones and for moving new burials into the enclosure. It may have been added because of the erosion of the ground. It looks newer than it should.

This monument not only lists the patriarchal father and his wife, the sides are carved with the names of their children that are buried here.  Unlike the other Brown plot, this one doesn't have anything carved on the entrance posts, so viewers (and photographers) must enter the plot to examine each burial. 

In the background is the stone building is the Elm Grove Chapel. It has been renovated so that it provided an alternative for a graveside service. The history of this large cemetery is available in a document on the Web site. Since I have grandparents and several generations back, I have put this document in my family history papers. 

It is advisable to read the Web page for your own family's cemetery. It may be online. Sometimes information is available at the Town or City Hall, or it may be recorded on Find a Grave.

Elm Grove Cemetery at Find a Grave

I will be using the information at Find a Grave along with other sources for this Brown Project. Some of the headstones are identified with a plot number. Joanna Case has been photographing the whole cemetery with the permission of the cemetery board of trustees and the cemetery superintendent. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Brown Plot 1

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Oldest Brown Plot
(Brown Plot 1)

When photographing sections of gravestones, it is easier to do those that have an enclosure like this one. This is a common arrangement of gravestones in New England cemeteries. Instead of placing burials in a neat row, the plot is enclosed with stone pillars and the patriarch of the plot (and his wife or wives) is carved on a monument in the center. This monument with a cross, shows right away that this is a Christian family. 

The vine probably looked nice in the beginning with green ivy but now that is growing out of control and covering the carving on it. Each person buried here had their own headstone. The casket was (probably) placed with the head at he base of the individual headstone and the feet were pointing toward the base of the center monument.

The entrance posts are also carved with the name and the post resemble broken tree trunks symbolizing life cut short.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Brown, Period.

Photo by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission

Tombstone Tuesday: Brown

For a while, I will be investigating two plots of of gravestones at Elm Grove Cemetery, in Mystic, CT of people with the surname Brown. As I have been looking closely at each headstone and monument, I noticed that the monument maker added a period at the end of the surname as you can see by this cropped photo.

As I am transcribing stones I tend to say them out loud, so this says, "Brown, Period". The punctuation in gravestone work can be significant but this seems odd to me. Maybe they didn't center it correctly?

In my other blog, "The Highly Caffeinated Genealogist", I have discussed why I chose these two plots of gravestones to work on. Rather than repeat that here, where all the posts about the stones will appear, this is the link to that post from last Sunday.

Surnames in this project are Brown, Denison, Avery, Schoonover, Billings, Fellows and Burrows.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Funeral and Burial Notices

The Day. New London, CT, Evening Day, page 17, 2 Feb 1951. (image 9)
Funeral and Burial Notices

While using the Google News Archive, I stumbled across this short obituary for my maternal uncle in the newspaper archives of "The Day" a newspaper that covers New London county in Connecticut. I was very surprised because I couldn't find much in the Columbus, Ohio area where the death record of my uncle was found.

Master Sargent Evans Stewart, Jr. (previous blog post)

Knowing that he is buried with his parents (my grandparents) in Mystic (Stonington, CT), I see that this mention of the actual burial gives me a date when the burial took place. the news article does contain errors but it also contains information NOT found in my family Bible. 

It confirms the name of his wife, but doesn't mention that he was my mother's brother. As I suspected, my grandparents were of the Episcopal faith.  My parents were married in an Episcopal Church in 1946 in Cranston, RI and why my mother wanted to join an Episcopal Church.

Sentimental Sunday: Seeing God (previous blog post)

It was when I began to read the list the pall bearers, I see that my father, Thomas Broadfoot's name is written incorrectly but it is certainly him. James Aiken worked with my grandfather and I remember him. Owen Miner was my grandfather's first cousin and lived near to the area but in Groton, CT.

But, who was J. Alpheus Schoonover? ( it turns out that he is the husband of my 2nd cousin 2x removed) 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: The Rest of the Plot

Photos by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission
(These headstones are much more clearly photographed than mine.)

The Rest of the Plot

One of the challenges that I have faced when teaching others to photograph, research and record gravestones is to examine the headstones and monuments around the one or two you went to find. Every book says to do this but in the moment, it is a hard thing to do.

Plots are often purchased by one person who wanted to set off a section for his or her family. A problem can occur with the unexpected death of a younger family member, a divorce, or a difference in religion. 

My maternal grandfather purchased four plots. One for himself and his wife (as you saw last week) and two more for his son and daughter. 

As you can see, my grandfather's brother, Dudley W. Stewart (Jr.), my grandfather's brother, died first in 1943. Yes, he was married but his widow chose to be buried with her family in another location and it took me a long time to find that out. They were not divorced. She was native to the town she lived in and she did not remarry. I don't think my grandparents cared where she went after great uncle Dudley died.

My grandmother told me that when Dudley died, my grandfather purchased 4 granite headstones and had three set here. My grandparents headstones, had their birth year and the death year was blank. When my grandparents son died (an awful suicide in 1951), they added the inscription on the fourth headstone. My mother, was now left out. But, she married my father in 1946 so they planned to be buried in another cemetery and bought their own stone. So, that solved the problem.

It was intended that the people buried here (behind the big monument), have their information be carved on the reverse side This back side of the monument already had some carving but those names and dates are very hard to read because the stone was not polished in the same way as the front and sides.  It took several trips and many photographs taken at different times of day and the use of a mirror to take clear photos. Notice that my uncle's dates are not full dates. The circumstances of his death and the fact that my grandparents had to bury a their son, stopped them from making a consistent decision. 

My grandmother told me, the worst moment of her life was realizing she had to bury her child even if he was an adult. Parents should not outlive their children.

As a result, she made me promise not to put anymore names and dates on the big stone. "Too much money", she said. New England people don't like big public displays of heartache.

Next week: finding out about my uncle's suicide and burial.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Maternal Grandparents

Photos by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission
(These headstones are much more clearly photographed than mine.)

My Maternal Grandparents
(Elm Grove Cemetery History)
Blog post #1

When I decided to photograph the gravestones of my ancestral families, I didn't realize that I was going to get so involved with it. I didn't have a plan at all! I just wanted to get them recorded and to leave behind, in my records, the name of the cemetery and where "my people" were buried. I started the day I buried my mother, who was the daughter of these people in this photograph. It was a focused, purposeful start to my "modern genealogy". That was in 2002.

Evans and Jo were my rock. As you can see, these are their headstones. It is a long time between 1955 and 1992. When we buried my grandmother's ashes, we had to wait until spring. I didn't know that cemeteries did that. My husband, my parents and my daughter were with me the day we buried her ashes. It was just a graveside service. The headstones were already in place and my mother had contacted a carver to add the date. My mother was not in the mood to answer questions, so I started a list in the car on the way home. 

Prior to this, it was both of my families, paternal and maternal, to go to the cemetery near or on Memorial Day. My grandmother was very good at explaining that my grandfather's parents and grandparents were buried there too. She told me that Grandpa was buried in a casket but she wanted to be cremated. Under no circumstances was I to waste money putting their names on the back side of the big Denison monument. "Yes, grandma", I said, obediently. 

Later, when I took photographs of all of the people in that section, I found out why she said that and that will be part of my next blog post.

This is the "Denison" section of Elm Grove Cemetery, Mystic, New London, Connecticut.
Photos by Brian Zoldak, 2016, used with permission