Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Here lies Mathew Madigan

Some time ago, I called up Calvary Cemetery to find the grave location of my great-great-great-grandfather, Mathew Madigan, but was told that they had no record of his burial, despite the fact that all indications - in his death certificate and his obituary - were that he'd been buried there. Commenter Mitch Waxman told me that there'd been a fire in the 1890s that destroyed some records, and suggested many useful work arounds, but I tried a different route. Knowing that Mathew's son James Madigan had died just a few years later in 1894, but not knowing where he was buried, I took a shot in the dark. I called up Calvary and asked for the location of James Madigan's grave, providing his date of death, and just keeping my mouth shut about the fact that I didn't actually know whether he was interred at Calvary at all.

I got lucky! Calvary was easily able to provide me with the location of James's gravesite. They were able to tell me that there are 8 people interred at the site, but couldn't tell me who without great expense. And then I got more lucky, and moved into my new apartment to discover that I could see Calvary Cemetery from my house! While I took a field trip down to Calvary the first week I moved in, and found the Madigan grave in just minutes.

 The front of the stone reads
to the memory of
Mathew Madigan
Died Sept 11 1892
Aged 50 years
also his wife
Margaret Madigan
Born May 20 1837
Died July 13 1882
Aged 45 years
also Mathew Joseph
Aged 1 year & 7 months"

The back reads
Died Oct 9 1894
Aged 23 years
Mathew W. Roche
John Roche

I had hoped that finding the grave would give me some information about Margaret Sullivan Madigan, but I never imagined I'd find a birth and a death date! I started my afternoon knowing less about her than any other member of the family, and ended up knowing more. Mathew Madigan remarried after Margaret died, and I believe young Mathew Joseph was his son by his second wife, unless he had a son named Mathew who died young in each of his marriages. The stone lists 6 names; Calvary told me there were 8 bodies. I suspect that the last two belong to two other children of Mathew and his second wife Johanna. Both young Mathew and a daughter named Josephine were recorded on the 1892 NYS Census and nowhere else, but Johanna's answers in 1910 to the question "Mother of how many children?" indicated 4 children born but only 1 still living. Loretta was the child who lived to adulthood, and Josephine and Mathew died young, but I believe that the 8th body is that of the still-unidentified 4 child.

I don't know exactly who John and Mathew W. Roche are. Mathew Madigan's second wife was a Roche by birth, but his daughter Margaret was a Roche by marriage, marrying a Michael Roche who may have been a relative of her stepmother Johanna. The two boys may have been Mathew and Margaret's grandsons, the sons of their daughter Margaret, or they may have otherwise been relatives of Mathew through his second wife Johanna.

The other interesting thing to note is that James Madigan's death date doesn't match the date that his sister gave in her application for letters of administration for his estate. According to the probate records, he died 9 Aug 1894. That was the date I gave the cemetery when I called. According to the gravestone, he didn't died until 9 Oct 1894. I don't have his death certificate, but the index at italiangen.org confirms the earlier date. My best guess is that there was simply an error inscribing the stone.

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