Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Roches and Rickerts

When I talked to Betty and John a few weeks ago about my plans to go to Holy Cross and go grave-hunting, John said he thought the Roches and the Rickerts were buried there. He said he wasn't sure, but there was a tombstone for Roches and Rickerts in Holy Cross and he assumed it had to be related to our Roches and Rickerts.

I thought that was weird. He just knew that there happened to be a Roche/Rickert gravestone in Holy Cross? It's not a small cemetery - it's impressive to find a gravestone you weren't looking for, even if, as John told me, he did work there during college.

But then, a week and a half ago, as I pulled into Holy Cross and made a left turn, this stone - placed conveniently on the corner and with the last names in big, bold, block letters - screamed at me! "Roche! Rickert!" it yelled. "We're right here!" I pulled over in a hurry and jumped out of the car. They are, without a doubt, our Roches and Rickerts. The Roches are parents Michael and Bridget, and their children, John Roche, Michael Roche, and Johanna Roche Madigan. (That it's spelled "Joanna" here leads me to believe that potentially, she really did use that spelling.) Not listed is Mary, the younger daughter, who died sometime after age 10, which was her age on the 1880 census. The Rickerts are Johanna's only surviving child, Loretta Madigan Rickert (I never had a date of death for her - this gives it as February 8, 1978) and her husband, Joseph J. Rickert, who, according to this, died August 22, 1961.

The inscription confused me for a few minutes - it seemed to be saying that it marked the burial of the Roches and their "dear parents," the Rickerts. That's actually quite the opposite of what's the case, and in reality - as far as I can tell - the monument was erected by the Rickert children (Elizabeth, Fr. Joseph, and Fr. Gene), thus the reference to their "dear parents."

One other interesting absence is that of Johanna's husband, and Loretta's father, Matthew Madigan. Matthew was buried at Calvary, not Holy Cross. No mention, too, of whether their other (at least) 2 children, Josephine and Matthew, are buried here, or whether they were buried with their father, their deaths being much closer in time to his.

I was surprised, initially, to find that Johanna wasn't buried with Matthew. The more I think about it, though, the more it makes sense. She was married to him for less than 10 years. Probably closer to 5. She never remarried. She lost 3 of her 4 children very young. She lived another 30 years raising her one surviving daughter alone - likely very much with the help of her family, with whom she seems to have been close. I imagine Johanna and Loretta being a little like Lorelei and Rory in the Gilmore Girls. Matthew was dead by the time Loretta was 5. Father and husband though he was, what kind of influence might he have had on their lives in those 30 years after his death?

That was my rambling, discursive Tombstone Tuesday post, that I'll try to squeeze in under the deadline so it still qualifies for Tuesday.

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