The Gravestone Whisperer

Barb at Stephen Rowe Bradley houseBoth my husband and I are working on our respective genealogies.  With a vengeance. He is a Son of the American Revolution and a Mayflower Descendant.  I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution wannabe (paperwork done just not submitted it yet).  And my family missed the Mayflower by about 5-10 years.  Oh well.

What is the lure of genealogy?  It certainly has grabbed many people and they haven’t wanted to let go.  Perhaps it is the draw for stability in a world in which many people move around.  The days of raising your children in the house in which you were raised, and your parents before you and their parents before them are over for many families, at least in the area in which we live.

So we delve into our roots.  In a previous blog post, A Non-Morbid Cemetery Tour , I talked about how interesting this search is, and would be, on our vacation this summer.

Well, it was that and more.  My husband and I decided to go to New England for our vacation and while doing normal vacation things, to look up the towns where our ancestors lived, as well as where they are buried.

It turns out that I’m a gravestone whisperer.

The first cemetery we went to was to find the graves of Jonathan Dorr Bradley (1803-1862) and his wife Susan Mina Crossman (1811-1892).  They are buried in the Prospect Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro, Vermont.  If any relative I’ve never heard of is reading this, feel free to contact me.

We go to the cemetery and it starts to rain just as I am getting out of the car.  This is just a partial view of the cemetery.  I should have tried to take a picture of the whole thing, but would have had to be in the Space Station to get it all in one photo. Okay, okay, I’m exaggerating.  But it was BIG.  Like maybe 1,500-2,000 graves big.

brattleboro-prospecthill partial imageMy husband pulls up in front of this much-bigger-than-this-pic shows cemetery.  I told him to just give me a few minutes because you never know.  I imagined him sighing.  I take off in one direction, getting wet, and he steps out of the car in the other direction.

After 3 minutes tops, I yelled “Found Them.”  He couldn’t believe it.

The Gravestone Whisperer.

Susan Mina Crossman gravestone  susan mina crossman Sorry, Susan Mina Crossman Bradley, but you look pretty terrifying in this portrait.  I think I would rather be yelled at by my mother.

Jonathan Dorr Bradley gravestone jonathan dorr bradley Jonathan Dorr Bradley graduated from Yale and Yale Law School.  He has that lawyer look about him so I wouldn’t have wanted to be the grandchild that got in his way, either.  They are my grandparents X 4 generations.

Belfast Maine 1Then we traveled into Belfast, Maine to find relaxation and new experiences on the coast of Maine, as well as the graves of Simon Knowles and Lydia Fuller.  Simon Knowles, my husband’s grandfather X  some number of generations, was a Revolutionary War soldier. His wife, Lydia Fuller Knowles, was descended from Samuel Fuller, who came here on the Mayflower.

We had the address of the cemetery, put it in our GPS and it took us down a rural road. Then to a dirt road.  Then to a broken down bridge past where the GPS said we should be.  We looked at each other.  Then retraced our steps and sure enough, we had gone to the right street.  Lots of beautiful dense trees.  Nothing else.  More trees.

Cemetery in Belfast MaineAnd then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a tombstone in the woods.  We parked and walked up into the woods a bit and saw a tiny cemetery with just a handful of graves.


There we found the resting place of Lydia Fuller Knowles and Simon Knowles.Lydia Fuller Knowles gravestone Simon Knowles gravestone

Found because I’m the Gravestone Whisperer.

About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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13 Responses to The Gravestone Whisperer

  1. This is so cool. Next you should try doing one of these cemetery expeditions on All Saints’ (or Souls’) Day. I always like to visit cemeteries in the Autumn. Very peaceful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      The first two times I went searching in cemeteries in Connecticut, it was between 95-100 degrees. My husband said not to die of heat stroke and I thought he had a point. Fall sounds lovely.


  2. Ann Coleman says:

    How cool that you can trace your family’s history so far back! I have the names up to my great, great grandparents, and that’s it. I know some of the family stories, and I’ve decided to write them down for future generations. Good for you for pursuing yours with such diligence!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. richholschuh says:

    The Bradleys are a very well-known name in these parts (Brattleboro). I live in town and am a local history buff. The Bradley Law Office, just up the road in Westminster, VT is a treasure (William Czar Bradley, father of your Jonathan Dorr Bradley. And Richards Bradley, Jonathan’s son, was another lawyer and wealthy landowner/farmer on the north end of town. His former mansion is now a home for elderly residents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      William Czar Bradley is buried in the tomb/mausoleum with his father and the gang. I wish I knew about his mansion when we were there. I’m definitely going back to Brattleboro and visit the Historic Society. I’m so glad you commented here. Thank you for reading this post! I have other genealogy posts sprinkled in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • richholschuh says:

        Let me know if you return to Brattleboro – my email is rich dot holschuh at gmail dot com. My own particular interests go back past the Mayflower and Revolution, to the Native people of this land. It is an amazing exploration and rediscovery.

  4. What an adventure! It’s cool but also a tad freaky…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. atreeclimber says:

    Excellent – from another (English) genealogy addict.

    Liked by 1 person

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