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Sep 29, 2014 9:00 PM

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Sometimes you just can't find your ancestors, unless you ask for help

The HEALEY family plot, Central Cemetery, Beverly, Massachusetts

Last year Vincent and I drove Mom around and around the Central Cemetery in Beverly, Massachusetts looking for the graves of ancestors. I had many family members buried there in the 1800s and 1900s with names like HOOGERZEIL, HITCHINGS, HEALEY, ROBERTS and BLADES. These are names that should have been easy to find, not like Smith or Jones.

My first mistake was in not realizing how huge this cemetery was, and how many tombstones we would have to examine. After the fact I checked the Find A Grave website and saw that there were almost 17,000 interments at Central Cemetery. Even though I was born in Beverly, and I knew it was a large city, I had been living in Cow Hampshire much too long! My usual method of showing up at a rural cemetery and poking around doesn't work in large urban cemeteries, so I decided to do some pre-planning for our next trip. This is good advice for anyone searching in a city cemetery, and you can read below how it helped.

Since Central Cemetery is a municipal cemetery, I called the city hall and asked for the cemetery department. I was lucky enough to reach a sympathetic young woman named Kerin Cotter. Her advice to was to email her the list of names, and she would find out where they were buried. I didn't hear from her for a while because I sent her quite a long list of about 20 names. But it was worth the wait.
paperwork from Beverly, Massachusetts with maps of Central Cemetery

Ms. Cotter sent me a large manila envelope which included a map of the entire cemetery, plot cards for each family (seven family groups) or individual plot and section maps with the graves highlighted. With all this paperwork and maps we set out again to Beverly and searched the cemetery. We found all but one plot. It wasn't simple, but it was easier with all the maps.

The Healey Family Plot

Here is the first plot we found. As you can see, one stone is sunk, one is missing, and the large one is facing away from the paved lane. No wonder we couldn't find this one on our own.

Plot #4 is the Healey Family Plot on this large scale map

Above is a closer view of where to look for the Healey family.
Below is the plot card

Month Day Year Name Age
Yrs Months
8 -22-1909 1 Matilda W. Healey 83 10
2 J. Edwin Healey Lost at sea
Mar. 28 1947 3 L. Gertrude Healey 72 6
Aug. 15 1951 4 John E. Healey 94 5
Oct. 26 2001 5 Ruth Moroni 89

My 3x great grandparents were Joseph Edwin Healey and Matilda Weston. Joseph Edwin Healey was born 12 August 1823 in either Belfast, Maine or Yarmouth, Nova Scotia (some records list one place, other records list the other place) and he died on 17 June 1862, during the Civil War, at the Battle of Saint Charles in Arkansas. He was in the navy, and his ship, the USS Mound City, an iron clad, was hit with bullets and the steam engine exploded, either scalding to death or drowning the men on board. The plot card only says "lost at sea", not that he died in action during the Civil War even though he has a military or government issued headstone.


You can see that the military headstone lists "Edward Healey" and it is in nice shape. Matilda's headstone has sunk so much that her inscription is underground. She died in 1909, having lived as a widow for 47 years.

The other people on the card are John Edwin Healey, my 2nd great uncle, and his wife Lizzie Gertrude Woodbury. Their daughter, Ruth, who was born about 1913 is also listed as a cremation and her remains must be interred here in the spot indicated, but there was no stone. The large stone is in nice shape, and the inscription faces away from the road, not in the same direction as the military stone.

1857 JOHN HEALEY 1954
1874 L. GERTRUDE 1947

Click here to read more about John Healey:

Click here to read about my Civil War ancestor, Joseph Edwin Healey (3 part series, including a boo boo of epic proportions by the City of Beverly, Massachusetts)



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Copyright (c) 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


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