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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unmarked Graves

The "unmarked grave" has a literal and metaphorical meaning.  As a figure of speech, it generally means that it is a grave marked by disgrace or shame.  In reality, it can mean that the cost of the headstone or marker was just more than the family could afford or wanted to spend.  I recently spoke with Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California, and was advised very nicely that sometimes the death was just too upsetting and the family never got back to the task of ordering the headstone.

I know for a fact that Thomas Michael McLaughlin and Ellen Maxwell McLaughlin (a pair of my great great grandparents) have unmarked graves at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California.  I know that by the time of their passing, they did not have much money.  Their graves are located behind a Lorenz headstone.  That makes me sad but did not really surprise me after I had discovered that something happened to Thomas by 1904 that prevented him from working his farmland.  Thomas and Ellen appear to have hit on hard times in their older years.

What really hit me a few weeks back was a discovery about my Flanagan's.  While my great grandparents and grandparents who are Flanagan's and all buried in a family plot area at Tulocay under a beautiful tree have headstones, I have a list of Flanagan's who don't.  Wow, I am almost in a bit of confusion over that.  It's hard to digest.

I have many relatives buried at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California including but not limited to Vienop's, Borchers', McLaughlin's, Flanagan's and cousin's including Ruffino's, Reidenbach's, Fratessa's, and Gruenhagen's.  It would appear that the older generation of Flanagan's and McLaughlin's have unmarked graves.  They are, however, located in the family plot section of the cemetery.  My Mom refers to it as the old section at Tulocay.

As I write this, I still am questioning why Patrick, Kate, Agnes, Ignatius, Edward and Leo Flanagan have unmarked graves.  Pat's and Kate's other children appear to be nearby.  Mary Catherine and Louis Flanagan might have grave markers.  I won't know until I get there.  Is their son, Richard Flanagan, also buried near Mary and Louis?  I wonder if Richard and his wife, Mary Towey Flanagan, are buried with the Flanagan's or maybe with the Towey's somewhere else.  Richard's descendants may know.  One of their other sons', my great grandfather, Jack Flanagan, is buried in his own family plot at this cemetery.

So when Anges Flanagan died at the age of 23-24 in 1895 followed by her father, Patrick Flanagan, in 1896, was Kate Flanagan just too upset to deal with the burial arrangements to put a marker?  I know that she was an "interesting" person but I don't think the markers are missing for lack of affordability at the time.  It was the 1890s and maybe she just never got back to attending to the family plot.  What about Ignatius and Leo though?  They passed away in the 1910s.  Leo was a married medical doctor, yet, no headstone.  What about Edward?  I am not even exactly sure what year he passed away.   I have to wonder.   Even Kate's grave is unmarked.  She passed away in 1928.

Tulocay Cemetery told me that burials after 1912 are in their computer database and they have precise locations of burial plots.  Anything before that date is not as specific and must be looked up in their archive books.  

Suffice it to say John "Jack" Francis Flanagan and Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin Flanagan are buried in a separate Flanagan Family plot with a few of their children and a couple of grandchildren.  It's a beautiful spot with grave markers!

I guess at this point it is all a "wait and see".  While I've been to Jack's and Minnie's graves more than once, I have not yet visited where Patrick and Kate Flanagan are buried.  I need to make my way there soon.  It should be an interesting experience.  I did ask Tulocay how much a basic headstone/marker costs nowadays.  The minimum cost for a marker made of bronze is $1600.  Here's wishing that the grave markers were already there.......

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