Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday, Clues from a Cemetery Plot Card

This cemetery plot card from the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts revealed many family relationships, but most were a complete mystery to me. Using online resources I was able to place almost all of the names on my family tree.  I was also disappointed to learn from this card that the person I was looking for was no longer buried here, but had been removed to another cemetery in Boston.  It goes to show that if you just visit a cemetery, and do not ask for more information at the office, you can miss out on a lot of genealogy clues.

Major General Henry Dearborn (1751 - 1829) is my first cousin, 8 generations removed.  Our common ancestors are John Dearborn (1666 - 1750) and his wife, Abigail Batchelder (1667 - 1736).  I descend from John Dearborn's daughter, Elizabeth, and General Dearborn's father was Elizabeth's brother, Simon Dearborn.

General Henry Dearborn was born 23 February 1751 in Hampton, New Hampshire and he died on 6 June 1829 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He started life as a physician, and was also the captain of the local militia which participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  This was the start of his illustrious military career during the Revolutionary War, where he was at the Battles of Ticonderoga, Valley Force, Monmouth, and was on the staff of General George Washington.  He was a member of the US House of Representatives for Massachusetts and Secretary of War.  He was Major General during the War of 1812.

General Henry Dearborn was married three times, first to Mary Bartlett, second to Mrs. Dorcas (Osgood) Marble, and third to Sarah Bowdoin.  His second wife was buried here at Mount Auburn with him, but their bodies and their son Henry Alexander Dearborn were removed to Forest Hill Cemetery on 13 July 1848.  (See the note that bodies 1, 2 and 5 were removed in 1848?  Number 7 was removed to Forest Hill in 1856, and then 10 and 11 were removed to Montclair, New Jersey at some unknown date.)

The third person listed on the cemetery plot card was G. R. Dearborn.  I noticed that the first three bodies were all listed under the same date, 17 June 1834.  This date doesn't match any of their death dates, so were they previously buried elsewhere and moved here together in 1834.  General Dearborn died in 1829, his wife Dorcas died in 1810, and son George Raleigh Dearborn had died in 1806.  According to their website, Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts opened in 1831, so I'm sure they were probably buried someplace else first.  And now they rest at Forest Hill Cemetery in Boston.

The fourth person listed was Major M. P. Lomax.  I couldn't find him in the family tree.  At Google Books I found this excerpt in a book, Genealogy of the Virginia Family of Lomax, by Edward Lloyd Lomax, Chicago: Rand McNally Publishers, 1913.  In it, on page 40, it describes how Major Mann Page Lomax was stationed at the Watertown, Massachusetts arsenal (down the street from the Mount Auburn Cemetery), and died of consumption. He was not a family member, but probably a friend and fellow military officer.

This excerpt ends with Henry Alexander Dearborn giving a speech at Mount Auburn Cemetery over the grave of Major Lomax.  He was the son of Major General Henry Dearborn and his wife Dorcas.  He was married to Hannah Swett Lee on 20 April 1807 in Salem, Massachusetts.  He died in 1851.  He was original proprietor of this cemetery plot.

The fifth person on the plot card is Henry Dearborn, who was buried on 6 September 1842.  This is the infant grandson of Henry A. Dearborn, and the great grandson of Major General Henry Deaborn.  Baby Henry Dearborn was born 10 October 1841 in Salem, and died 5 September 1842 in Roxbury, of dysentery.

The sixth person listed on the plot card was another military officer, General J. Wingate , Jr., who died on 6 November 1843.  He was the husband of Julia Cascaline Dearborn, daughter of Major General Dearborn.  General Joshua Wingate was a Harvard graduate, and he was the secretary to General Dearborn while he was Secretary of War.  He held many illustrious positions, such as Postmaster of Portland, Maine, and ran twice as a candidate for Governor of Maine (and was twice defeated).  He was also one of the founding members of the Maine Historical Society. That is where I was able to find a gold mine of information on his family.  The website of the Maine Memory Network also had information on the Wingates.

Person #7 remains a mystery to me.  Susannah Sanford is probably a married name, but I cannot place her in the Dearborn family tree.  I'm still looking!

The eighth person is Julia Cascaline Dearborn (1781 - 1867), mentioned above.  I was able to find her painting at the Maine Historical Society, as well as several photographs.

This painting of Julia Dearborn Wingate
hangs at the Maine Historical Society, Portland, Maine

The ninth person listed on the card is Julia Ocatavia Wingate Clapp, the mother of General Wingate.  She was married to Charles Quincy Clapp on 20 September 1820, but he is not buried here.  According to Find A Grave he is buried at the Eastern Cemetery in Portland, Maine.

Mrs. Winthrop G. Ray
from The Court Circles of the Republic 
by Mrs. E. F. Ellett and Mrs. R. E. Mack,
Hartford, Conn: Hartford Publishing Col, 1869, page 120

The tenth and eleventh family members listed on the card are Winthrop Gray Ray and Georgianna Ray.  She is the daughter of Julia and Charles Clapp, and she was married to Winthrop Gray Ray on 10 November 1845.  The twelfth person on the card is Mary Gray Ray, their daughter, who was born on 20 October 1846 and it appears she never married.  Mary G. Ray was the last proprietor of this cemetery plot.  I found her portrait above using Google Books, and I also found the Clapp Family Papers at the Library of Congress whilst using a regular Google search.

Mount Auburn Cemetery

Forest Hill Cemetery, Boston

Maine Historical Society

The Maine Memory Network

Library of Congress, finding aid for the Clapp Family Papers


Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo


  1. Heather: When I attended Kimball School, an elementary school in Concord, NH, in the early 1960s, the Principal was a "Miss Dearborn." She was an older woman at the time and I believe she died around 1963 or so. Is she by any chance part of your Dearborn family?

    1. I have no idea, John, because my Dearborn family daughtered out early. There are many Dearborn books and compiled genealogies. But it seems to me that someone from NH named DEARBORN is probably from this early family!

  2. What a lovely post, Heather - with so much information found through a cemetery plot record! I don't think I've done as much extended family research as you clearly have done - another tip in gathering information.

  3. I agree - cemetery plot cards can have interesting information included. I recently acquired one that prompted a few questions and I hope to blog about it before too long.

  4. What a lot of rich information you have about your ancestors! I'm sure there are many reasons that people move bodies to other cemeteries, but I am not familiar with this area and can't think why.

    What beautiful paintings of the two women! Classy.

    Is the Sarah Bowdoin you mention connected at all to the Bowdoin College in Maine?

    1. I have no idea about the Bowdoin Ccllege question. I'm in Europe now, typing this on an iPad. If Imwere home I could probably find the answer online somewhere...

  5. Another ancestor connection for us! I also descend from Dearborns - same line through Elizabeth, daughter of John & Abigail (Batchelder) Dearborn. I hope you're having a wonderful time in Spain!

  6. I have just written about what I found on a plot card from Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. See Tombstone Tuesday - Greeley Plot Card at From Maine to Kentucky.