ICYMI: Family plots: Part Two

[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 19 October 2015.]

Riffing on something Chris Child wrote about collecting photos of family members in July, I thought I might do something similar with information about family burial plots. Such an exercise leans heavily on Findagrave.com (where some of the images may be found), although in my case I also have the notes compiled by my great-aunt Margaret Steward in 1966 as a resource for my research.

My grandparents are easy: my father’s parents (and stepmother) are buried at Hamilton Cemetery in Massachusetts, while my mother’s parents (and stepmother) are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. I was present for my paternal grandfather’s memorial service in 1991, my maternal grandfather’s burial in 1994, and for my paternal step-grandmother’s memorial service in 1996.

The further back one goes, the more complex the landscape becomes. My Steward great-grandparents were buried in the family burial ground in Goshen, New York, but when the family property there was sold – as recounted in Aunt Margaret’s notes – their remains were moved to Slate Hill Cemetery, also in Goshen. My Ayer great-grandparents are buried in separate places; it’s hard to know whether that reflects a cleavage in the relationship or just my great-grandfather’s desire to be buried with his father and mother. In any case, my great-grandfather Ayer is buried in the family plot at Lowell Cemetery in Lowell, Massachusetts; his first wife is buried near my grandparents at Hamilton Cemetery; and his second wife – who outlived him by 43 years – lies with her family at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Glidden plot Druid RidgeMy Bell great-grandparents are buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia; again, though, my maternal grandfather’s parents were buried in the same plot, while his stepmother lies elsewhere, near her mother and brother. On the other hand, my estranged (perhaps even divorced) Glidden great-grandparents are buried together at Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, outside Baltimore; their daughter Miriam is there with them, while her husband is buried elsewhere with his family.

The further back one goes, the more complex the landscape becomes.

As Chris found, with great-great-grandparents the distances (and the absence of documentation) can prove troublesome. I assume the Stewards were moved to Slate Hill; the Beeckmans are buried with their son and daughter-in-law at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow (Tarrytown), New York. The Ayers – my great-great-grandfather, his two wives, one son (my great-grandfather), daughter, and son-in-law – lie in Lowell Cemetery. The Ilsleys are at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey, as are their two sons.

My Bell great-great-grandparents, who died in Norfolk, are buried near my great-great-grandmother’s family at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. My rascal great-great-grandfather O. D. Jackson (1848–1915) lies at Forest Lawn Cemetery near his daughter (my great-grandmother), while I cannot find his widow – who moved to Phoenix and then Long Beach, surviving the great earthquake of 1933 and dying (as Jennie Waterman) in 1937 – in a California cemetery. My Glidden great-great-grandparents are buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, while my Boucher great-great-grandparents are to be found in a handsome plot at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore County along with my matrilineal great-great-great-grandmother, Mary Josephine Eliza (McNulty) Malloy (1825?–1891).

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

11 thoughts on “ICYMI: Family plots: Part Two

  1. Scott, any idea where Jennie Waterman is buried? I’ll be in Long Beach later this month visiting family and would be happy to check the local cemeteries for you. There are basically two major ones so it’s not a stretch to check.


    1. Jeff, that would be fantastic! I haven’t a clue, of course — the obituary refers to her sons by their initials, to save space, so there isn’t a lot of data to be found there. A look at Findagrave for her as Jennie Waterman or Jennie Jackson yields nothing. Her full name is Rebecca Jane (Eggleston) (Jackson) Waterman, and she was born in Ohio in 1856 and died in Long Beach in (September?) 1937. Oddly enough my grandfather and my great-aunt both cycled through Long Beach during the 1930s, but I’ve never seen a photo of either one — or my mother, who was born in 1932 — with anyone who could be Mrs. Waterman, my grandfather’s grandmother. It seems odd! So thank you for thinking about it — I would welcome your visit to the cemeteries, but understand if that turns out not to work out. Any advice you could give on where to look next would be welcome, too!

  2. I recently discovered that my deceased mother has two different headstones with her name on them with 2 different husbands. And, in two different states.

    1. And perhaps I have mentioned previously, once while in England, I saw a headstone of a man who listed each of his 3 wives by name. A genealogist’s dream……

  3. Jennie Waterman’s death notice was published 7 Sep 1937, Pierce Brother’s (Los Angeles Times page 37.) Death certificate (index) says she died 5 Sep, 1937. Her death certificate says she was cremated, at “L A Crem”


    (Image 1373 of 2689 of California, County Birth and Death Records, 1849-1994, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Death Certificates 1937 no 12100-13831. Accessed through Ancestry but images from FamilySearch.org


  4. My parents, paternal grandparents, paternal great grandparents are buried in a cemetery here in Eureka, CA. I don’t have where that grandmother’s family are buried, but I do know where the two sides of that family lived in Sweden. I have two more generations of my father’s line buried in Humboldt County, one in an unmarked grave on his land after he was killed by Indians in 1862. The grave was hidden so that no further depredations could happen. I realize that I haven’t gone to the graves before that in that part of my family.
    On my mother’s side, I have photos of the graves of any who had headstones going back to the early 1800s. In some cases, it was those Find a Grave photos that helped me get the lineage information to look for other documentation. These folks are scattered all over the South.

  5. Helpful hint with cemeteries in general. Thomas and Eliza Wallace were both of Irish heritage, married in Canada and eventually settled in Rochester, NY. I had no family information. Thinking they were probably Catholic I searched those cemeteries first. After finding one daughter listed in a Protestant church record, I switched tactics and assumed they were probably of Protestant faith and most likely from northern Ireland. They are buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester which has great burial records. After reading almost every record I found the section and plot. In that plot there were other Wallace people buried. My assumption was that they were all related. I obtained death certificates for everyone in that plot. My assumption was correct. One individual, Robert Wallace, was transferred to another section in the same cemetery with his own family. After almost 20 years of digging, a DNA test shows that Robert and Thomas had to be brothers. Robert’s family traced him to Ashfield, County Cavan, Ireland which is a border area and predominantly Protestant. At least I now have a general location, maybe some day I’ll actually find a birth record for Thomas.

  6. While searching for an ancestors grave at an old cemetery on the county line, I noticed a farm/tractor shed across the road and someone milling about. I went over and asked if they knew anything about the cemetery, imagine my surprise when the old fellow offered to get out the sextons book!

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