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The Journey of Four Slate Gravestones

After the 10:00 a.m. 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 where he found the stones. He realized the probable historic significance of the stones, photographed them, 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!

The stones were made of local slate, carved and signed by A.A. Park, R.K. Park and J. Park of Groton and each bore one of the following inscriptions:

“MARY ELIZABETH/daughter of/Mr. Jeremiah F. &/Mrs. Sarah Daniell/died Feb. 16, 1832/AEt. (aetatis, Latin for “at the age of”) 3 yrs. & 8 mos” “ELIZABETH L./daughter of/William &/Mary A. Mills/died Nov. 11, 1838/AEt. 17 yrs” “HORATIO/son of/Mr. Benjamin &/Mrs. Eunice Neal/died May 22, 1831/AEt. 4 yrs” “SARAH MANN/daughter of/Mr. Benjamin & Mrs. Eunice Neal/died Aug. 30, 1826/AEt 15 mos”

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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