Busy Weekend IV

Robin update as of late Thursday evening, July 1: And then there was one. We heard much screaming while we were entertaining dinner guests. Larry went to check and the big yellow cat had gotten the two babies. Mrs. R. could do nothing. Now there’s one egg in the nest and we don’t hold out much hope. It’s almost Darwin award time.

As it is now Thursday, I’m finishing up the summary of the weekend activities before the next one rolls around. During the upcoming few days I plan to do as little as possible.

I felt better on Sunday having spent all day Saturday in bed except for excursions for soup. In fact, I felt well enough to walk over to get the Times and the Hartford Courant, which ran “Lost in Hartford’s Old North Cemetery.” Almost immediately I heard from a gentleman whose family is buried in a cemetery in New York that is as neglected as Old North. John Lucker emailed me with a link to his web site. He has filed suit when he learned that Congregation Shaare Zedek had used funds allocated for perpetual care to repair the roof of the synagogue.We’re talking fraud and breach of fiduciary duty here.

Since then, I’ve had time to reflect on what seems to be a pervasive problem. Before the story appeared I had been in email contact with a woman who has encountered missing graves at Old North. She was headed there to clear brush on a day when I wasn’t able to go, but I’m hoping we’ll be back in touch.

Then I realized that two of the six people on “Who Do You Think You Are?” experienced similar problems. Emmitt Smith found the burial vault of the white woman who owned his family in Monroe County, Alabama. Her husband may have been half-brother to Smith’s fourth-generation great-grandmother. But when he asked about the graves of the black members of the family, genealogist Marjorie Sholes told him, “This is the white cemetery.” She gestured toward a chainlink fence with a copse dense with vines and weeds on the other side and said the blacks would be buried in there. Not one grave was visible. It was a moving sight to see the magnificent Emmitt Smith, his shoulders hunched in pain and tears in his eyes regretting that he cannot visit the last resting place of his ancestors. I saw this episode not long before Larry and I stumbled around in Old North looking for Willis and Anna James.

Then a couple of weeks ago I watched the “Who Do You Think You Are?” episode with Susan Sarandon. She traced her maternal line and found that her great-grandparents and several of their children (but not her grandmother) are buried in a cemetery in New York. She located the area where the family plot was supposed to be, but there were no markers for the nine people. At least the grass was mowed in that cemetery.

Today I talked to another woman who could not find her relatives’ graves in Zion Hill Cemetery, which is in Hartford’s South End and so is subject to the vandalism of Trinity College students. She had the same experience I did launching an unsuccessful search through deep weeds. She eventually contacted the man in charge of maintenance. He has seven men to care for all of Hartford’s many parks and cemeteries. They have an impossible task because some of those parks cover acres and acres. This woman eventually found the graves of her relatives but the third plot, which was supposed to be empty, contains the body of a child who died in 1955 and who is no relation to the family.

Still no word from the city.

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One Response to “Busy Weekend IV”

  1. David Petti Says:

    Dear Liz,

    I happened to come across your blog when I searched for info on the Rev. John J. Tivenan. I was sad to hear about REDS’ death. Strangely, I was just thinking about REDS, John and my time in Middletown and Wesleyan.

    Do you think you could give me John’s email address or way to contact him? I don’t know why I have been thinking of these people after 21 years, but something is calling me to make contact.

    Thanks,

    David Petti

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