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Blessing of Gravestones – May 25, 2008

The Journey of Four Slate Gravestones

Please join us after the 10:00am service on Sunday, May 25. Peter will be blessing four early 19 century slate gravestones which were recently returned to St. Mary’s cemetery by John Rodman, a member of the Board of Directors of the Newton Historical Society. John was cleaning out a garage in Newton and found the stones. He realized the probable significance of the stones, photographed the, and brought the photos to Susan Abele, Curator of Manuscripts and Photographs at the Jackson Homestead for identification. Susan did research on the family names of Neal, Daniell, and Mills, but could find no tie to any burials in the three historic Newton Cemeteries.

Beverly Hurney, our cemetery superintendent recognized the names as belonging to Lower Falls families. Why the stones were removed from, or never set in, St. Mary’s cemetery will remain a mystery. What we do know is that they were discovered in 1965, in the house at 2321 Washington Street by the Gale Construction Company. The house, adjacent to the church property, was being razed for the development of an apartment building on the lot owned from 1837 to 1905 by the Neal family. Two of the stones had the family name of Neal. From the house on Washington Street the stones were removed for safe keeping to the garage where John Rodman found them more than 40 years later.

Of historic and genealogical interest to St. Mary’s: Mrs. Eunice (Daniell) Neal is sister to Mr. Jeremiah F. Daniell. Mr. Benjamin Neal was the first organist at St. Mary’s and served for fifty years.

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