Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Ubiquitous Smith

Before I can really tell John Smith's story, I have one more Eureka! story to tell. I was in Calvary Cemetery in Brockton, MA. This is one of those old New England Catholic cemeteries that goes on for blocks. The cemetery office had experienced a fire in the early 20th century and had lost most of its records. I was searching for some of the other Irish cousins, the Ordways, and it was only by sheer happy circumstance that I had been able to find them. This was long before digital cameras, so I was copying down the information from the headstone. I happened to look up, and my eye spotted a Smith headstone a few rows over and across from where I was standing.

Nonsense, I snorted, as the thought came to me that I should record what was on the Smith headstone. If I stopped all my other research to record Smith information, I'd never get anything done! I went back to writing. Again I looked at the headstone. Another snort, and back to writing. Then it was as if two hands grabbed my head and made me look at the headstone a third time. Sigh. I felt as if the only way I would be able to record the Ordway information was to go over and record the information on the Smith headstone.

It listed Margaret Dunn and Catherine, Bridget and Mary Smith. After recording this information, I was able to finish the Ordway transcription in peace! Later that evening, as I was telling my dad about the Smith headstone, his face lit up like a lightbulb. Oh yes, he said - that was John's mother and sisters! He had forgotten that they were buried there until I had read the names. He remembered hearing a story about his grandfather having to drive into Boston to identify the body of his sister Mary, but since my dad would have been about six at the time, it's easy to see how he would have forgotten this story. Otherwise I had no clue that John's family came to the U.S. Maybe this fall I will be able to go back to Calvary and take real pictures of both headstones.
The moral of this story: listen to that little voice!!

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