I arrived at the Sexton's office and asked for the grave location of Patrick and Bridget Madigan. I was surprised to learn that my great grandmother, Bridget Thompson Madigan, was buried with three of her sons, Thomas, James and Harry, but not her husband, Patrick. A separate location was given for him. I thought it strange but assumed when I took off on foot to find the graves they would be close to each other. They were not!
After finding Bridget Thompson Madigan's grave, I nearly walked across the entire cemetery to an area that had very few markers. With much traipsing back and forth over bumpy ground I still was unable to locate his grave so I went back to the Sexton's office. He provided me with the name of an individual who was also buried in the same large plot and who had a military grave marker. Back I went and found the plot of land with the military stone but no other markers. However, the Sexton had now provided me with was a copy of all the individuals who were buried with my great grandfather. Nine additional names. I thought "Wow" these must all be cousins or some other relations I don't know about.
Over time I researched these individuals, many of whom were infants or very young children. I found little information beyond date of death and no link to my Patrick Madigan.
I always felt sad my great grandfather had no marker on his grave. This past summer when my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday I said, "a gravestone for Patrick Madigan." He had heard me speak of my great grandfather and the absence of a marker so it wasn't that much of a surprise. He also does family genealogy and he truly understood why I even asked for such a gift.
On my birthday we went to Gast Monuments and picked out and designed the stone. It was installed last week. When I went to visit the grave this weekend it gave me such a warm feeling to know, after 123 years, Patrick Madigan's gravesite was now identified, but even more importantly, he was not forgotten.
And, what about all those others who were buried with him? Well, while working with the cemetery and the monument company to install the marker, I was told Patrick's grave was a charity grave and all the individuals buried with Patrick Madigan, like him, were individuals whose families could not afford to purchase a grave for their loved ones. At the time of Patrick's death of pneumonia he was 39 with six children and one on the way. I'm sure his family had no money either.
At least now I know why Patrick is buried in a different location than his wife and children. I wish we had the money, I would have bought a huge monument and had all ten names inscribed. But, I am happy my great grandfather has his stone. Perhaps family members of the other interred individuals will someday put a stone on their relative's grave. I know it would make them feel "real good" inside.
|Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Illinois, Gravecard, Front and Back|
Photo and images: Elaine M. Beaudoin