While sitting in New England libraries over the last month we have accumulated quite a list of places where ancestors died. So on our way south (now that the leaves have fallen) we thought we would look for some gravesites.
In Mendon, Massachusetts, we were quite successful, finding that the National Aldrich Association had recently placed a bronze plaque to commemorate the burial site of our progenitor, George Aldrich.
But something happened when we crossed the border into Rhode Island. Instead of having a few cemeteries, each with hundreds of graves, Rhode Island towns seem to have dozens or hundreds of cemeteries, each with a few graves! Aldrich memorial Furthermore, many of these graveyards have not been maintained for centuries. As a result, the process of finding ancestors' graves in Rhode Island is something quite different from Massachusetts.
We went to the library in tiny Smithfield, and a neighboring library faxed over a six-page list of cemeteries. We visited one of them, where we expected to find 21 graves, but we saw just one large stone, broken in half, and three or four tiny footstones. Oh, dear.
Our next stop was Exeter, R. I. We saw a cemetery by the side of the road, a good sized one, so we stopped and walked around. An attendant was grooming the cemetery, and he walked us over to the earliest graves, which were a hundred years newer than the ones we were seeking. So he sent us to the combination town hall and library, where we discovered one of the arcane mysteries of Rhode Island. The kinds of records we had seen in county courthouses all over the United States - copies of deeds, records of birth, marriages and deaths - were all kept in the town hall. One poor title searcher was on her way to eight different towns to check property records so her company could issue a title insurance policy.
Exeter had published a wonderful book describing their cemeteries, more than a hundred of them. We found that the ancestors we were seeking were either not buried in Exeter or else had unmarked graves.
So we proceeded to Westerly, where we have 11 dead ancestors. Tomorrow we will try to find them.