Thursday, 10 June 2010

Finding Grandma Norris

It has been a long time since I've posted anything to this blog, time being so hard to find these days. However, I have not been completely idle with the research and have made a couple of breakthroughs which have been nagging me for years.

The first breakthrough was finding "Grandma Norris"...

My paternal grandfather, George Leo Donovan (aka "Did"), died before he could locate the grave of the grandmother who raised him, Julia Ann (Kennedy) Norris. I remember my father talking about how they had looked, but never did find it.

When I learned of the pilot search at, I thought I would try to find Grandma Norris one more time. So, I typed in her name and the location of Massachusetts, USA. To my surprise and amazement, there was a listing for her record of death!

After selecting the record for more information, I noticed that there was an image available for viewing. That's when I found Grandma Norris. Not only was there her date of death and circumstances, but the location of her the town where I was raised!

Being so excited at this find, I contacted my cousins who still live in the town and asked them to go to the cemetery (Cavalry Cemetery) to try to find the grave and take photos of the headstone.

Two of my cousins made the quick trip to see this long-lost ancestor's final resting place. Finding the gravesite was the challenge, as there was no one in the caretaker's building at the entrance to the cemetery to help. By chance, an elderly grounds keeper happened by and asked my cousin if he could be of assistance. He then proceeded to pull out a worn and torn plot map, which they poured over to find Grandma Norris' location. There it was! But...the sad news is that there is no marker on the gravesite.

A call was made to The Catholic Cemetery Association of the Archdiocese of Boston (administrators of Cavalry Cemetery) for more information. They confirmed that this was the correct location of the gravesite, but would not provide any further information about whom was buried in the plot. Of course, if we wanted to pay for the information ($35), there would be no problem. The only other way to find out information about the plot would be to erect a headstone on the site. Then, they would be more than happy to tell us about the plot - for free!

Erecting a headstone on this gravesite is what I would like to do, anyway. However, living in another country makes investigating this difficult for me. Some day, though, I would like to have a stone placed on the site as a tribute to Grandma Norris and to finish what Did set out to do.

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