Hassells found, Hassle-free!

A few years ago I determined I had enough solid information on the final resting places of my 4th Great-Grandfather Dr. John Hassell, his (third?) wife Margaret, his eldest son Samuel, Sam’s wife Josephine, and a bunch of their kids, to warrant the creation of memorials on findagrave.com. So the memorials have been online for about four years now, but never included headstone photos. Until today.

A little background. First: the Hassells were featured most prominently in this earlier post. They were the most recent of my English ancestors to cross the pond, from Birmingham, circa 1830. Dr. John’s daughter Sarah was the mother of Josephine Wood Watson, my Great-great-grandmother.

Also – a long time ago, a colleague contacted Calvary Cemetery, a  massive cluster of cemeteries in Woodside, Queens, NYC, asking for a list of which Hassells they had in their various properties. Calvary is Roman Catholic, and her reply came from the Trustees of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The letter did include a list of Hassell relatives (nine of them – plus a mother-in-law), but it also included a new request – contact information for any living relatives who might see fit to settle the outstanding bills for the maintenance of said memorial(s).

[Upon] examination of our records, we find that there are outstanding annual care charges due on this graveholding in the amount of $2,641.00. The annual care charges are $144.00 making the total amount due $5,247.00.

She “conveniently forgot” about the request, but presumably the figure is significantly higher today. So a word of warning to you, intrepid genealogists: Be careful who you ask for help – the answer you get may be expensive!

But back to the actual point… the graves! At the time I created the memorials on findagrave, I also submitted a request for photos of the pertinent headstones. Sometimes these requests go nowhere; sometimes they pan out. In this case, there’s a dedicated photographer who makes a project of shooting stones in this specific cemetery. After a day’s work he pulls up findagrave looking for matches. I was the match today – and the kind volunteer (BronxCop, as he’s known on the site) dropped me an email that the memorials now had photographs.

The kicker: There was just one single memorial for all nine people on the list. And since the marker is an obelisk-shaped number, seeking it out would have been like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The needle:

The haystack – seriously:


My most grateful and humble thanks to Bronx Cop. There are still good people in the world!

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