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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Entries in Cemetery (8)

Tuesday
Jan102012

Tombstone Tuesday: Calvary Cemetery -The Graves Have Eyes

For some people, cemeteries are creepy- but not to me! I find them fascinating! On a recent trip to Calvary Cemetery in Queens, NY I saw something I've never seen before at any other cemetery...actual pictures preserved right on the tombstones. When walking through a cemetery I often wonder about the lives of the people buried beneath me. A picture on a tombstone really brings the name and tombstone to life!

For some of these people, I wonder if these could potentially be the only known picture left of them. This has taught me a lesson, finding an ancestor's grave could yield amazing results. Especially for those in my tree who I have no picture of. I never would have thought a tombstone could preserve an image as well as these have. And many of these pictures are almost a hundred years old (according to the death dates).

The picture to the left is of Carmela Mancino, born-1884 died- 1925.  

 

Click to enlarge the pictures.

 

One grave in particular really stuck with me, that of Rosaria Fidanza. She died when she was just 22 years old. Below is her grave and picture. There will be a follow up post on Rosaria with more information. I couldn't help myself and did a little digging on ancestry.com for more of her story.

The translated inscription says: "Erected by Nicola Fidanza, in memory of his adorned wife Rosaria Fidanza. Born Buttafuoco (maiden name) August 25, 1903 Died December 6, 1925"

This is Giuseppe Blanco who died in 1925 at the age of 31.

Have you seen this trend before? Calvary Cemetery is a catholic cemetery with a high population of Italian burials. In the section I was exploring (First Calvary Cemetery, Section 6B) the pictures were predominately found on Italian tombstones. I don't know if this is an Italian trend, a period trend (many died around 1925), a catholic trend, or a trend specific to this cemetery or tombstone designer- but I love it!! I would be so happy to find a picture of my ancestor on their tombstone. I'll be keeping an eye out for this trend in other cemeteries. I'd love to hear any stories you might have relating to pictures and tombstones!

Tuesday
Dec062011

Tombstone Tuesday: A Trip to Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh, Scotland

I can't believe it's been almost a month since I last posted! Things get so crazy around the holidays. But don't worry, I'm still desperate to learn and share with lots of stories and adventures!

Last year I watched a 2 hour special on the History Channel, Afraid of the Dark. I really enjoyed the scary stories and history of our innate fear of the dark. Several areas of the world are covered and one of my favorites  was about Edinburgh, Scotland. Not only was I obsessed with the accent of the Scottish guide, but the the creepy scarey stories of the haunted Greyfriars Kirkyard and the underground moors fascinated me. I can be big baby and get scared easy, but for whatever reason I love creepy cemeteries!

When I had the amazing opportunity to visit Scotland this past September I just had to get to Edinburgh to see these sights for myself. I visited Greyfriars during the day, it was beautiful! The crypts and tombstones were very elaborate. This graveyard is supposedly haunted, but since I visited during the day I don't have any spooky stories to share of my own. They have nighttime tours, but there were just too many to chose from and I read that some people felt that the tours were not always respectful of the graveyard. They left garbage and disrupted the area. Not wanting to take part I decided not to take a nighttime tour. 

  

The ornate tombstones in on the western side of the graveyard sit right up against the back of the buildings. Can you imagine having this veiw literally right outside your window? You could almost touch the stones from the windows! I don't know if I could do it...

 

I just couldn't stop taking pictures of all the intricate details in stone...lots of skulls and cross bones!

 

To the right is a picture of the Covenanter's Prison, where thousands of Presbyterian's supporting the National Covenant were imprisoned. Hundreds died and were buried here. This area is behind a locked gate so I couldn't walk down the land to view to areas, but from what I could see, you wouldn't want to stay there.

 

 

Edinburgh is a great city for sightseeing, eating, and shopping. After the graveyard we had wee pint of local Scottish ale at the Greyfriars Bobby's Bar just around the corner. Another spot I recommend is Lebowskis Bar. We are huge fans of "The Dude" from the movie The Big Lebowski and this bar is an ode to all things dude, most importantly to his favorite drink, the white russian. They have many different variations of white russians, we loved them.

I really enjoyed my visit and recommend you take a trip to Greyfriars next time you're in Edinburgh, Scotland. If you have gone on a haunted tour I'd LOVE to hear about your experience!

Tuesday
Nov012011

Tombstone Tuesday: The Shaw Plot in Castlewellan, County Down, Ireland

The Shaw branch of my family tree was one of my strongest limbs to hang on when I first started my genealogy journey. My great grandmother Edith Shaw Middleton passed tons of their pictures and documents down to my grandmother and luckily they found their way to me. Edith's parents, Samuel Shaw and Ann Robinson, were both born in Ireland. I have a lot of information on their family, Samuel and Ann had 10 children, but only a little information about their family in Ireland. 

After some research, I learned that my ggg grandparents (Samuel's parents) Samuel Shaw (1818-1906) and Agnes Wallace (1819-1892) are buried in St. Paul's Church Cemetery in Castlewellan, County Down, Ireland. One of the researchers I connected with through ancestry.com was from New Zealand! What a small world! She sent me Samuel Shaw Sr.'s will, found through the searchable Will Calendar database from the Public Records of Northern Ireland (PRONI). In his will, Samuel asks that his children take care of his and their mothers grave. After reading that I knew I had a definite responsibility to get eyes on that grave!

I was so excited when I learned my mother and father in law, Carol and Rob, were planning a trip to Northern Ireland. It was Carol who first inspired my passion for genealogy and family history. She has done extensive research for her and Rob's family. Her stories and excitement were contagious. So having this shared passion, I hoped she wouldn't mind taking a trip through Castlewellan to do some investigating for me. They found St. Paul's Church Cemetery and their grave! (pictured left)

Carol and Rob called me while they were standing at the Shaw grave, it was such an amazing moment! I wonder if my ggg grandparents ever thought their ggg granddaughter from America would ask her in laws to take a picture of their grave 106 years after they were laid to rest?! Hopefully someday I will be able to personally visit and share this special place with my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren...

St. Pauls Church Cemetery                                                    Shaw Plot - My GGG Grandparents

Thank you so much Carol and Rob for these wonderful pictures!!

Thursday
May122011

* having lunch with some old friends in trinity cemetery 

On such a beautiful day as today was in NYC, it was impossible not to be outside. I found a beautiful green respite just steps away from Wall Street to welcome the warm sunny weather. And these "old friends"...

aren't really friends. But they could have been! I was in Trinity Cemetery. It was the perfect place to enjoy a sunny afternoon lunch. There were benches, stone steps, tables...plenty of seating options. No one was talking loudly on their cellphones. It was so peaceful. I almost feel like I'm giving up a really big secret here...it wasn't anything like Union Square or Madison Square Park during lunchtime on a beautiful day. It makes me so proud of our city and those who work so hard to preserve these delicate memorials. You're swarmed by tourists and the Wall Street hubbub as soon as you step out of the churchyard. The obvious respect New Yorkers and tourists pay to this cemetery is evident in it's welcoming and serene condition. A popular tourist attraction STEPS from Wall Street and it continues to be an area of peace and remembrance. As I read the tombstones- the history, names, and loving memories blocked out the entire city, I could have been in the middle of nowhere.

A picture I took of the cemetery 3 days after the Dec 2010 Christmas Blizzard...looks like a completely different place!

 

 

Despite the best efforts to preserve burial grounds and tombstones, mother nature rules all. A lot of the stones are from the 1700's and the inscriptions have been completely weathered away; snow, rain, hail, and wind have taken their toll on these precious historical artifacts.

For whatever reason this tombstone really caught my attention. Just a little snapshot left to capture of this memorial.

 

Some inscriptions and engravings have withheld the test of time, but for many all that is left is an anonymous blank slate.

This was my first cemetery lunch, and I have to say- I enjoyed it! Do you have an ancestor buried in Trinity Cemetery? You can search through recorded Trinity Cemetery burials on findagrave.com. I'm sure your ancestors would love a lunch date!