Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tombstone Tuesday–Merritt Howell Jr.

My 4th great-grandfather Merritt Howell, Jr. died in Riverhead, Suffolk County, New York on 4 December 1857 at the age of 74.  (See previous post The Life of Merritt Howell, Jr. and The Will of Merritt Howell, Jr.)  He had outlived his wife and several of his children.

Merritt Howell
Dec. 1, 1857
AE. 74 years 4 days 
(there is an inscription at the bottom that is, unfortunately, very difficult to now read)
Riverhead Cemetery, Riverhead, New York

The photo for FindAGrave, added by Joy Ann Strasser in 2013, shows the writing as much clearer.     It is astonishing to note the deterioration that has occurred in 6 years.

  • I noticed the death date on the stone as 1 December and I have found it listed elsewhere as 4 December.  Hmm...I need Church records and perhaps a Family Bible?
  • After I read Codicil One where Merritt directed “As for the tombstones for myself and my said wife it is my will that my Executor shall pay forty dollars for each and that he shall enclose our graves and that of my deceased child Elenor Ann with a substantial iron fence” I looked again at the photo and realized there was no iron fence.  On the ground I can see what might have been part of a stone base and stone posts and wonder if perhaps an iron fence one day had been connected to that?
  • I hadn’t realized until I was recently researching Merritt that he was buried in the Riverhead Cemetery.  While visiting New York during the Holidays I decided I ‘needed’ to go to the Cemetery and find his grave, as any good Genealogist would need to do, in order to get my own photo and pay my respects.  (Yes, there was already a photo on FindAGrave but I needed my own photo.)
  • My father, step-mother and I set out on a quest to find the grave.  How difficult could that be?  His grave was listed as Grave #1 for the cemetery and my father knew where the original entrance had been.  I drove in to the cemetery and parked.  We fanned out in different directions looking for a stone that said Howell.  We walked and walked only to realize, eventually, that Merritt's grave was right next to the right bumper of the car.  Without realizing it I had parked right next to the Howell plot.
  • I found it very interesting that as I stood there behind his grave and looked up, this is what I saw 

there in the background stood the school (Pulaski Street School) I had worked at for 11 years, right there adjacent to the cemetery!  For most of those years I even had classrooms on the side overlooking the end of the cemetery where my ancestors lay.  You just never know the connections you may have to a specific area.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,