John Washburn Stoddard (1826-1889)

John W. Stoddard (my 3rd G-Grandfather) has been an interesting man to investigate…and there is much more to know. John W. was born on 26 Feb 1826 in East Windsor, CT (John Stoddard of Wethersfield, by D. Williams Patterson, 1873) and the date of his death was not quite clear, although often listed as August 1889. Also interesting was his Civil War service in 2nd Light Artillery Regiment of CT…until I discovered a pension record after his death that listed his widow as Martha Matthews Stoddard. John Washburn Stoddard, my ancestor, was married to Mary Ann Goodwin in Burlington, CT, in 1848…so the Civil War soldier pension record pointed to a potential confusion. After digging into the Civil War records and following those leads, I discovered a John W. Stoddard (possibly John Wesley Stoddard) of New Haven, who did marry Martha Matthews, and they are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in New Haven, CT…not “my John W.” Back to the drawing board to untangle the tangled records.

What I do know of John Washburn Stoddard is that he married Mary Ann Goodwin in Burlington, CT (I have a certified copy of this). I also know that they lived in Farmington, CT, for several years and he worked as a farmer. I believe they had 5 children, Nathan William Stoddard being one of those children and my 2nd G-Grandfather. One of their children, John L. Stoddard, died very young (3 years, 9 months) in 1856. As I searched for additional details of John W. and Mary Ann Stoddard, the census reports and the city directories led me to Meriden, CT; where for some reason they moved after leaving their farm in Farmington in 1885. John worked at the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Co., for just a few years until he died on 15 December 1889 (again, I am fortunate to have a copy of his record of death from Meriden). Understandable confusion since the John W. Stoddard of New Haven died in August 1889. But where did my “John W.” go? A thorough search of the cemeteries in Meriden revealed nothing; and then a review of the local papers revealed an obituary that noted “his remains were brought to Farmington” (Meriden Daily Republican, 16 Dec 1889). Back to Farmington!

RiversideCem-Stod2A thorough review of the headstones and cemetery information in Farmington, CT only revealed one family member: John L. Stoddard, died at age 3 years, 9 months. I went out to the Riverside Cemetery to find the young man’s grave, hoping to pay my respects and also to perhaps find some undocumented grave markers close by. I wandered through the cemetery, fascinated by the sheer number of Cowles family members in the Riverside Cemetery, until I finally found the grave marker for young John L. Stoddard. I was quite happy, both in finding his resting place and also for beating the rain that was looming in the dark clouds above my head. I continued to look in the general area for other family members, but found nothing. However, I did discover something quite interesting in the “nothing” that I did find. As the posted picture of the general area reveals, there seemed to be an amazing absence of grave markers around young John L. Stoddard…something didn’t seem quite right here.

RiversideCem-Stod1I returned home and looked up the phone number for the office of Riverside Cemetery. Briefly explaining my research to the kind woman on the phone, I told her I could only find one Stoddard family member in the Riverside Cemetery. She asked me to hold as she retrieved the map of the cemetery for a closer look. After a short review, I heard her say, “no, there are several Stoddard family members buried there, right next to John L. Stoddard.” And not one of them was marked! She proceeded to tell me of the burial spots for John Washburn Stoddard; his wife, “Mrs. John W. Stoddard”; Sabra Goodwin (Mary Ann’s mother); daughters Ella and Jane (known as Jenny); and Dwight James Stoddard. A total of 7 family members buried in a family plot with space for 8, but only John L. had a marker. My sense of discovery was great, but then I quickly wondered why so many family members would be buried without markers on their graves. This, unfortunately, is where the story ends today, but I am still on the search for answers.