Sturdy walking shoes and a good memory

St. Patrick's Cemetery, Natick, MA

St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Natick, MA

A short update from my last research trip to Natick, MA, in search of the final resting place of my great-grandparents, George and Julia Perkins. Research would indicate that St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Natick was the place that was most likely to look for my great-grandparents’ graves, so my father and I headed up there with energy and determination. We arrived mid-morning and walked around, and walked around, and walked around…we finally met the cemetery director and verified my great-grandparents’ graves were not located at St. Patrick’s. However, we did locate my great-great-grandparents’ burial site (Julia’s parents, as shown) so we were happy to have achieved this important find. We headed across the street to the Dell Park Cemetery, where people of any religious background are allowed to be buried…no luck there either. More than just the steady rain had dampened our spirits, so we headed into town to check the Town Clerk’s Office and the Reference Library. No luck in either place, but the librarian gave us a great recommendation for lunch.

As we headed across the town green toward our lunch spot, the Everett Funeral Home was just off the town center to our left. I had heard from a cousin that he was pretty sure the folks at Everett were responsible for the funeral arrangements for my great-grandparents. After satisfying our hunger, we planned to head over to the Everett Funeral Home to satisfy our search for some questions. Lunch was very good and upon arriving at the Everett Funeral Home, we were greeted by some very nice people. We asked our questions and wrote down all the information we had…and then left with their promise to look up the information in their records. The funeral home was very beautiful and we commented that we were surprised our cousin mentioned he had to stoop to enter the funeral home during our grandmother’s funeral. A long story short: no luck on obtaining any information about George or Julia Perkins from their records, but the mention of the memory of stooping to arrive at the funeral home had prompted the memory of someone who had worked at the funeral home for some time – he said that the Mitchell Funeral Home had a very low ceiling during the 1960’s and 1970’s. A few more calls and….YES, I received information that the Mitchell Funeral Home had indeed held Julia Perkins’ funeral and she is buried in Braintree, MA, at the Plain Street Cemetery!! No record of George Perkins, but my hope is that he is buried alongside Julia, his wife.

My next adventure will likely take place in the area of Braintree…and I might as well keep on going to Plymouth County and visit the sites of my many other ancestors in that area. Stay tuned for more!!

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.