Tombstone Tuesday: J. N. Lynch

JN [John Nelson] Lynch • Born Sept. 5, 1850 / Died June 6, 1917

[Rosanna Frances] his wife • Born Feb. 28, 1857 / Died May 1, 1928

Leitchfield, Grayson County, Ky.

Marker for John Nelson Lynch and his wife, Rosanna Frances (Dennison).

Today I cross over to my husband’s paternal side of the family, who, in contrast to my relatively recent immigrant ancestors, are Lynches descended from William Lynch, an 18th-century resident of Brunswick County, Va. William had an excitingly high number of children — 34 by one count. My husband and children descend from William’s son Meredith.

Although I really enjoyed discussing genealogy with my late father-in-law, there’s no way I could claim expertise on this family, which is a genealogical cottage industry in its own right. A fascinating book called “Our Lynch Line” (1975), compiled by Cecil Pryor, brings together an enormous amount of data and is in the holdings of the Family History Library.

This headstone belongs to John Nelson Lynch, my husband’s great-grandfather,  Sept. 5, 1860-June 6, 1917, and his wife, Rosanna Frances (Dennison), Feb. 28 1857-May 1, 1928. John Nelson was born in Washington County, Ky. but as an adult lived in Grayson County, where he farmed and taught school. He was also a Baptist preacher who rode from church to church on horseback, according to my father-in-law, who was four when John Nelson died.

I haven’t yet visited this cemetery myself — the photo is from one of my sisters-in-law. Even several years ago when it was taken, the condition of the stone presented a challenge, so I wonder what the situation is now. At any rate, since I live pretty far away from this churchyard, I’m glad to have this photo.


Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph F. Haigney

I had a perfect summer day for my trip to Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn last year. Knowing the size and scope of the place, I was hoping at least to get a lot of exercise and a nice photo of my grandparents’ grave. As it turned out, I came away with new information on three gravesites, including today’s Tombstone Tuesday post: my great-grandfather Joseph F. Haigney.

Joseph F. and I have had our ups and downs. I still don’t know as much as I’d like to about his youth and his decision to leave Watervliet, NY and move to Brooklyn in 1900. And where exactly this family group was in 1900 is still a bit of a mystery.

Marker for Joseph F. Haigney and family, Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY.

What’s neat about this gravesite is a key piece of information that isn’t even carved on the tombstone. We see here Joseph F., his wife, my great-grandmother Catherine (Connors) Haigney, and two of their children: my great-uncle Joseph C. and Anne M. (“Anna”), my great-aunt by adoption.

However, according to the cemetery records, there is a fifth person here: my young great-uncle Leo, who died in 1901, at the age of 3. The cemetery listing gave me the specific time frame I needed to confirm that this was my Leo’s death certificate in the New York City Municipal Archives index. And on the death certificate itself, I learned that when little Leo died of meningitis in February 1901, he and his family had only been living in Brooklyn for five months.

Gradually the murky picture of this family’s whereabouts in 1900 is coming into clearer focus. From census digging, I know Joseph is likely to have been living apart from his family in Jersey City, NJ in June 1900.

And from Leo’s death certificate, I now know that he and his family were living in Brooklyn by September or October of 1900. So after a period of transition and separation, the family came together for what sadly turned out to be a very brief time before Leo’s illness and death.

I was very glad to have the knowledge the cemetery records gave me about who is actually in this grave. As it happened, the littlest occupant’s story had a great deal to tell me about a key event in the family timeline.


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