• Cemetery
  • May5

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    Emma S Clark Memorial Library DoorBack when our kids were fairly small, my wife started a terrific tradition while looking for things to do in the otherwise lazy summertime: Library Field Trips.

    She began to seek out various libraries in our county of Suffolk on Long Island and they would pack up some things for snacks and/or lunch, pick a town and just browse the library there. As a life-long book and library fiend, I am aghast that such a thing never occurred to me, except maybe for larger libraries such as the New York Public Library in Manhattan.

    The kids have loved it – an opportunity to find new books they’ve never seen before along with at least the small sense of adventure one feels when visiting a new place. We’ve found some wonderful libraries, and also found that even though they’re all in the same county system, the facilities – and rules – can vary greatly. We’ve toyed with the idea of creating a dedicated blog for these trips, and now I regret not creating one a few years back. (Especially now that our son is 12 and less inclined to find the adventure. *sadface*)

    Stained Glass WindowToday I believe we have found my favorite Long Island library: The Setauket’s Emma S. Clark Memorial Library, opened in 1892 in memory of Miss Clark, who was the niece of millionaire confectioner Thomas Hodgkins.

    The library has been greatly (and beautifully) expanded several times since that first day, when the annual membership charge was a whopping 10¢ per year. The magazine area is housed in the original structure, constructed of arches and old wood that creaks comfortably beneath one’s feet.

    As my wife and son perused other areas of the library, my daughter Lily and I sat in this wonderful spot. I could easily imagine people running up to the overlarge entrance door in older times, shaking off the snow, pulling a volume from a shelf and sitting in the nook beside the fireplace and golden bottle-glass adorned windows.

    Clark Library StairsLily read quietly as I imagined these ancient goings on, and spoke only once to say “It is so peaceful here!” *Sigh.*

    As an added bonus to the library itself is that the area is of historical significance and has some beautiful churches and cemeteries to explore nearby. Walking out through the library’s nice plantings we then crossed the village green to learn that the Revolutionary War Battle of Setauket was fought here.

    Lily in a Flowering Tree




    For those who are viewers of the show Turn: Washington’s Spies on AMC, you might recognize the location name. (I have requested the first season from my own library, so please don’t tell me who wins!)

    NYS Historical Sign for Setauket village GreenThe area still has a nice rural feel to it, and it is easy to imagine carriages and soldiers milling about while crossing the triangle-shaped green on our trek over to the Setauket Presbyterian Church. As usual, the headstones in the cemetery called to us and we wandered through for the better part of an hour.

    Setauket Presbyterian Church

    Grave of Abraham WoodhullWe noted a few Revolutionary war soldiers as we walked through, and more than a few DAR markers. Then we stumbled upon one raised memorial that appeared to be built over the original headstone and had coins and stones scattered across its face.

    Abraham Woodhull PlaqueThe plaque on the top of the memorial informed us it was for Abraham Woodhull, “Friend and confidant of George Washington, head of Long Island Secret Service during the Revolution, and operated under the Alias of Samuel Culper, Sr.”

    Overall, an excellent field trip day, I must say.

  • Mar11

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    I’ve just finished watching the documentary One Million Dubliners, which at it’s simplest is a study of Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, the “home” to 1.5 million people of all sorts, including people like Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell.

    One Million Dubliners PosterWhile I am sure some may find the delivery of the film to be slow, I found the the pace of the film and the multifaceted approach to telling the story were very well done, incorporating both historical and everyday figures, the creation and restoration of the cemetery itself, and perhaps most importantly the inclusion of the more mundane aspects of running a cemetery and the thoughts of those involved.

    While this latter information may fare only slightly higher on many peoples’ lists than watching paint dry, the people interviewed in these daily roles of the cemetery each show a different angle of the goings-on and in sum provide an almost surprisingly philosophical treatise on the process of death and the power surrounding one’s final resting place.

    However, the thread that holds this film together, without question, are the stories and perspectives of the cemetery’s historian Shane MacThomáis. His love of the historical subject matter and of Glasnevin itself is apparent. His wonderful interactions leading cemetery tours for both young people and adults truly draw us in with humor and pathos.

    As you are reading this review on my genealogy blog, it is highly likely at least part of many a day’s thoughts are taken up by the interaction of history, family, lost stories, loss itself, and the task of trying to find meaning in their conjunction. If so, I highly suggest your taking the time to find and watch this film.

    A word of warning: I began watching without any prior knowledge of the film beyond a recent mention online. When soon after I found it available on Hoopla Digital (streaming offered free via my local library), I thought that I had to give it a shot.

    As I got to the end of the film, I truly was more than a bit M. Night Shyamalan-ed. I do not want to say more.

    I would suggest if you know no more than I did, Do Not research the cemetery and names I mention here – just watch. You can always go online later and learn more.

  • Mar10

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    Yesterday during lunch I was perusing the New York City Municipal Deaths index (as one does) and happened upon a pair of records that appear to be relevant to a particularly elusive branch of my wife’s Irish Duffy family. Of course, as is usual for this branch these records are not only conflict with each other, they also conflict in a few other ways. So, that will be the subject of a future post as I try to hammer out the dents in my timeline.

    To help me clear things up, I immediately ordered the death certificate. But, as any genealogist knows, one can not easily sit still after ordering a record. Especially when afflicted with a bad case of conflictionitis. Luckily, the death index noted the person of record was buried at Calvary cemetery in Queens. It also included a burial date, which is needed to inquire about the plot at Calvary’s office.

    So, a quick lunch time field trip to the cemetery was in order. While at Calvary, I always like to wander a bit and investigate any interesting grave markers. I also always seem to find an unrelated Tierney grave when I visit. (I assume unrelated, as my Tierneys are somewhat mysterious in their own right.)

    Calvary Cemetery with Manhattan Background
    Today was no different. I photographed a grave of Jeremiah and Mary Tierney and added them to Findagrave in an effort to pay it forward for other Tierney folk. I also happened upon a very interesting, but heavily damaged statue at a grave marked only SCOTILLO. I am not sure, but it appears to have been a man in uniform, perhaps World War I era?

    It is a shame to see the many broken monuments at Calvary. This one is especially eye-catching in its ruinous state as Mr. Scotillo takes a well-deserved breather behind his stone.

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Scotillo Grave Statue BottomScotillo Grave Statue Reclining Torso

    The only name I saw on the stone next to it was the surname SCOTILLO.

    I wonder if it is for a Private Paul Scotillo who appears in a list of New Yorkers who died in WWI?

    Here’s a related Draft Card: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6JZ-GVK
    …and likely that same Paul Scotillo in the 1910 census: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M57M-5NT
    …and his 1896 NYC birth record in the index: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WSJ-HG8