On Sunday last, on my way home to visit my folks in Massachusetts, I drove through Niagara Falls again. Of course, I had to stop and poke around St. Mary’s/ Sacred Heart Cemetery again to see if I could reproduce the fantastic luck I’d had a few days before finding the grave of my great-great-great grandparents, Michael and Elizabeth Gavin!
It was a lovely sunny but chilly day, just a smidge below freezing–perfect, really, for a nice walk through a graveyard. Though the mud from the thaw had almost frozen entirely, I played it safe and parked my car faaaaaaaaar away from the muddy carriage tracks in the center of the cemetery that almost trapped me on Thursday.
I hiked all the way down the northern side of the graveyard, with no success locating any more Gavins or a single McCabe. So I switched to the southern side and began trudging back up to my car. One quarter of the way back I found my great-great grandparents, Michael Gavin Jr. and his wife Ellen, along with assorted children and Michael’s second wife, Annie.
“Great!” I said to myself, “Now all I have to do is find the McCabes!”
And not 300 feet later, I did.
I had indeed found my other set of Irish great-great-great grandparents Thomas and Ellen McCabe and my great-great grandfather Owen McCabe, but I discovered to my horror that I could just barely make out their epitaphs! The gravestone was sandstone and 120 years of Western New York winters had taken a hard toll on the inscriptions.
It was only by tracing my finger along the shallow letters that I was able to “read” the inscriptions and learn that the McCabes were natives of County Sligo, Ireland. I am so intensely grateful that I happened upon the stone now and not twenty years from now–the sandstone epitaphs will not last much longer, I’m sure.
And that’s what I’d call a fine week’s work in genealogy. Not only have I discovered the counties of origin of the Gavins (Clare) and the McCabes (Sligo), I’ve also found their graves.
I feel a great sense of peace having found them. I know that even if I never uncover another piece of genealogical information about them, I always know where they are and where to visit them, and this is, in a way, the ultimate goal for me. I can stand in the graveyard grass beside my ancestors and be together with them at long last.
Such a hopeless romantic, me!