Was John O’Connell Buried Twice

Last October I wrote about How My Brick Wall Came Tumbling Down. I had finally found a death certificate for my great-great grandfather John O’Connell and with that I posted a query on ancestry.com’s message boards for help with an obituary. My facebook friend, Peter, was helpful and went to the library and looked it up for me.

As always with this line, there is another twist in John’s story. According to his obituary, John was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery on Washington St., in Fair Haven, VT. Now, I had already visited John’s Final Resting Place in Hudson Falls, NY (this has been verified through church records). But, I thought maybe he could have been buried originally in VT and then the family moved him home to Hudson Falls. Obviously, a phone call to St. Mary’s was in order.

I spent a few days searching for any cemetery information on St. Mary’s and found nothing. I reached out to Peter again to see if he could get me a phone number. Again, he was extremely helpful and sent me the number and told me that the church goes by Our Lady of  Seven Dolars.

Today, I knew I would be at work about an hour early with some time to myself. So, this was the day I was going to make my calls to the east cost cemeteries. I placed the first call to a CT cemetery for my MIL’s line, but that is a post for another day. I then called St. Mary’s/Our Lady of Seven Dolars and spoke with a very nice woman who pulled out her file on J. O’Connell. She said that there was no information in his file and she believed no one was buried there. She then asked if I could hold on for a minute and she would check the map of the cemetery to see if that would give us any information. When she got back on the phone, she advised that there are 2 lots and no one is buried there.

So, what happens to these 2 unused burial plots? That was my next question. She said that unless they were bequeathed to someone in a will, the lots will remain there, unused. As a family there is nothing we can do. Not that I am looking to be buried in VT, for gosh sake, I have never even visited the state! But, could we even donate them to a family in need, something? The short answer, NO – not unless it was left to someone in a will. Can you guess what my next step will be? That’s right, will and probate records! I need to see what became of John’s property after his death.

Here are the thoughts that crossed my mind since this phone call:

  • John died during the Depression in 1931
  • He had been living in Fair Haven, VT for six years
  • As far as my research goes, all his children were in NY and Canada
  • His half-sister Alice live in Fair Haven, VT as well

With the facts I have on John and his family, this is the scenario I have come up with…

Alice started the planning for John’s service’s and must not have known that he had already purchased plots at St. Mary’s (though why his wife did not say anything I have no clue). His children arrive and decide they want to bury him at home in Hudson Falls, NY. Leaving behind the 2 plots at St. Mary’s in VT.

I also want to add that John’s first wife is buried at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Granville, NY with no other family around her (and many empty spaces as well). Are there more family lots there? I sent an email to the church month’s ago asking this very question, I never received a reply.

This was a poor family (in 1930 John owned his home and it was valued at $1,200 in the 1930 census), I cannot see them wasting money by purchasing multiple burial plots and not using them.

What are your thoughts? Would love to hear from anyone on this.



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  1. What about the paper that the obituary appeared in? How often was it published? If the obituary ran before the actual burial took place, might there have been a correction or retraction in the next edition?

    1. I never thought about that. The end all is, he is buried in NY but I will see if I can find a correction/retraction. Thanks.

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