Friday, July 10, 2015

Finding Grandma

Today's primary mission: Finding Grandma! My father's mother, Margaret Carroll Jordan, passed away when my father was a young boy. Dad never knew where she was buried, and his father didn't want to talk about it. Dad knew that his older sister had attempted to find their mother's gravestone many years before with no luck. So how was I to accomplish this mission that the previous generation could not?

Well, back in 2011, I requested a copy of my grandmother's death certificate from the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (acquiring this document was another adventure!). The certificate stated that she was buried on June 1, 1949 at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, NJ, so that's where I headed. Since I did not know what plot I was looking for, my first stop when I reached the cemetery was the cemetery office.

The woman behind the desk was super helpful when I indicated I was trying to find my grandmother, and quickly located the burial card for the last name and burial date - which was not for Margaret Jordan, but Mary Jordan! But now I had a location: Section F, Lot 49, Grave 4. To my surprise and delight, I was also provided with the original burial book to view, where the information was first recorded.
Original Burial Book
Again, she was listed as Mary, but the address of 145 Springfield Ave was correct for 1949 - although the book listed it as Jersey City instead of Rutherford - but this was still a confirming bit of evidence. And a new piece of information was provided, one that had been purposefully blanked out of the death certificate (part of that other adventure) - my grandmother's cause of death, heart disease.

I asked who else was buried in the plot, in search of more clues. My grandfather had three wives, and my father knows he is buried in St. Mary of the Lake Cemetery in Lakewood, NJ, and not with my grandmother, his first wife. The card for Section F, Lot 49 was produced...and contained three names I'd never heard of, all with the last name Kelly! Were these more family members to hunt down?
Burial Card for Section F, Lot 49, Graves 3 and 4
A mystery to pursue at a later time, as now I had a grave site to visit. My hostess gave me a map of the cemetery and directed me to Section F.

I proceeded on to Section F, and about an hour later, another mystery was solved. Now I know why my aunt could not find my grandmother in the cemetery when she searched - THERE IS NO HEADSTONE. Not for my grandmother, or any of the Kellys she is buried with. Section F may contain many graves, but it is rather lacking in markers.
Section F

This evening I returned home to my parents' house, where I presented all my findings of the day to my father: where his mother was buried, what she died of, why his sister could never find her grave. And he was able to shed light on one of the new mysteries - he knew who the Kellys were. Getrude Kelly, the other person buried in grave 4 with my grandmother, was my grandmother's best friend, who passed away in 1976. Grave 3 contained her parents - Gertrude's father had died in 1946, which is why the family had the plot. Best friends together forever!

Gertrude Kelly and Margaret (Carroll) Jordan

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