Do you smell smoke?

I work at an Episcopal Church that was established in 1841. Certainly not one of the earliest such churches in CT, but old enough that we receive the occasional inquiry about births, deaths, marriages, etc., especially prior to the 1940’s. The unfortunate complication to some of these requests is the damage suffered and the precious records lost due to a fire in 1991. As someone interested in family research myself, I try to find as much information as possible but the long shadow of the fire continues to complicate research requests.

With this in mind, I am planning a trip to the Boston area in the hopes of finding the grave sites of my great-grandparents. I am rather confident that they both were buried somewhere in Natick, MA, but a thorough search (along with many phone calls to every cemetery in town) has yielded no concrete evidence. I was able to discover that my great-grandparents’ first child died before his first birthday and town records indicate he was buried at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. I have also discovered town records that indicate my great-great-grandfather was buried at St. Pat’s as well. Full of hope I called St. Patrick’s Cemetery, but there are no records to indicate the burial of my great-grandparents. However, I am told there was a large fire in the 1970’s and anything is possible. The upcoming trip will be a walk-about to determine what records are no longer able to tell me. If there is a hopeful Eagle Scout looking for a project, maybe you could catalog the names and information on all the grave markers at St. Pat’s!

Finally, I also tried to determine the early years of my great-grandfather’s mother (Mary L. Gaiten) born in Lowell, MA, and married there in the 1860’s. A few phone calls led to disappointing results and the reason for the difficulty…a large fire in 1904. The fire of St. Patrick’s Church is documented very well and a wonderful story may be found on the blog “Forgotten New England” – <select here>.  All of these stories help me to appreciate the digital media we have today and the requirements for the local towns to gather the information and protect it for future generations. Research is fun, but the persistent threat of fire makes one become creative…I will soon be walking through the cemetery of St. Pat’s with my father – I hope the granite is more forthcoming with information.

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