Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Laid to Rest

Laid to Rest
Originally uploaded by midgefrazel
Graveyard Rabbits Carnival Post, April, 2009 [Burial Customs]

Eliza Fish (Denison) Stewart, my 2nd great grandmother, died long before I was born but this is a favorite obituary in my family. I have both this original copy which looks like it is from The Westerly Sun, a family owned newspaper, still in existence today and a photocopy from the North Stonington, CT Historical Society.

On the reverse side is an advertisement for Easter clothes. She died 5 April 1909 at the age of seventy-five. [Easter was on April 11, 1909]

Eliza was "laid out" at the home of her son for the funeral. Notice the reference to the floral tributes.

Her son, Charles Edward Stewart, and his wife Adah Ann Evans, must have taken care of Eliza in her last years as she lived with them after her husband Dudley Wheeler Stewart died. She is listed in the 1900 census as living in Westerly with them and their sons Evans [my grandfather] and Dudley. The year after Eliza died, Charles and family moved to nearby Stonington, CT.

Because Evans was 13 in 1900, he grew up listening to the "Denison" stories from his grandmother and in turn, she passed them on to his wife and in a small way to me. I have two chairs and a writing desk that belonged to Eliza and probably other items too.

My mother-in-law, after I read this obituary to her, exclaimed, "THAT'S an obituary!" and bemoned the fact that write-ups of today are somewhat lacking. I asked her what she thought of having the funeral at home and she told me that was commonplace in many families that had enough room in their houses. People were "laid out" in the parlor and the visiting hours and funeral were held there. Notice that this obituary shows both her status in the community, her church and her family.

I know that the headstones [Eliza's headstone] and the monument were already in place when Eliza passed away because I have the orders for the stone and the payment. It is opposite the Denison plot and partly faces a cemetery street called "Pilgrim Path" which is fitting as both Eliza and her husband Dudley were Mayflower descendants.

1 comment:

Linda Hughes Hiser said...

I have two comments....first, the first house I purchased had a hole in the diningroom floor and I was told that the hole had something to do with funerals and when the deceased was laid out in the house....spooky!!! Secondly, I wonder if this type of obit was common at the turn of the century. Both my great grandfather and gg grandfather died in 1904 and they had long and informative obituaries, too.

Thank you for sharing yours.