Our library’s professional genealogist is adept at suggesting interesting genealogy research projects. A couple of years ago he mentioned that some of the Irish tombstones in the Old St. Rose Cemetery contained place of origin. He thought it would be great to capture this information, publish it in Connecticut Ancestry, and post it on the Genealogy Club of Newtown’s website. I took the bait.
With no experience at tombstone transcription or plan I walked the cemetery looking for stones that had county and/or parish information included. I found some women’s stones listed maiden names. I quickly realized these stones were a veritable gold mine for those researching their Irish ancestors.
The above stone belongs to Peter Cavanaugh who died 22 Nov 1862 at the age of 34. The back of the stone states he was a native of “Ballanabrackee” Kings County, Ireland.
This project led to a transcription of all Irish tombstones in Fairfield County, CT that include “native of” information. Those transcriptions have all been published in Connecticut Ancestry.
I loved walking the cemetery and getting to know these long ago souls, and I learned some valuable lessons.
· Always respect the cemetery and the stones; get permission from the church and/or cemetery association when necessary or if in doubt.
· Have a plan; plot out the cemetery so you can easily find the stones again.
· Safety first - carry a cell phone; work in pairs.
· Carry water and a soft vegetable brush to clean the stones.
· Never use harsh detergents, bleach or wire scrub brushes.
· If stones are down, carefully cut the grass around them with an edging tool.
· Carefully brush the grass from the stone, squirt water, and gently brush.
· Carry a mirror to help see the inscriptions; time of day and lighting are important.
· Visit www.ctgravestones.com for further step-by-step instructions.
· And most of all enjoy this exhilarating experience.