Saturday, 9 January 2016

Find A Grave ~ Jane Byrne’s Final Resting Place

Last month, I noticed a new (to me, at least) genealogy website, called Catholic Cemeteries, Diocese of BrooklynI’ve known for a while my third great-grandmother, Jane Byrne, was buried in St John’s Cemetery, New York. She died in December 1901. Now, I’ve found the exact coordinates of her grave. 

So, I thought I’d try to find her headstone. It’s not as if I have to go to all the way to New York, although that has a certain appeal. You see, there is now a website called Find A Grave where volunteers, who visit graveyards around the world, record details of the headstones they find. 

This way, descendants, who no longer remember where their ancestors are buried or, who live thousands of miles away, can find their graves. They can pay their respects and even leave a virtual bunch of flowers. Really!! They can request a photograph of the headstone in the hopes someone might visit the cemetery and oblige.

When I first checked Find A Grave for a memorial for Jane Byrne, I found one had already been created, but only with the information contained in her published obituary. Obviously, this did not have the grave coordinates, so, I couldn’t request a photograph of her headstone.

St John Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest Catholic cemeteries in New York, encompassing some 190 acres. No one would find the grave, without specific directions - imagine addressing a letter to ‘Jane Byrne, New York’ and expecting it to arrive at its intended destination.

But, when I found the grave coordinates, I requested the photograph and sat back to wait.

And, within two weeks, I received a reply. Fancy that!

Gravesite, Jane Byrne, St John Cemetery, Middle Village, Queens, NY. 

There is no headstone marking Jane's grave. Once, I may have been saddened to discover this. But, Jane Byrne’s grave is not so unusual. Until my great-grandparents’ generation, few of my direct ancestors had headstones. Their families saved their hard-earned cash to sustain the living, and prayed for the souls of the dead instead. Maybe, a wooden cross, now long since perished, once marked the spot where she was buried.

Who do you think planted the tree right at the head of Jane’s grave? It seems well established now. I’d like to think Jane’s family planted it at the time of her passing - a living monument to commemorate her life and mark her final resting place.  What do you think?

With many thanks to Find A Grave volunteer, JP Rayder, who took the time to visit Jane’s grave, said a few prayers and took this photograph to share with us. You can visit her virtual memorial, here. Go on - leave flowers! 

How we're related to Jane Byrne

© Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Dara, I did not know about that website either. It is a wonderful resource. I have relatives in New York City Catholic cemeteries, although not Brooklyn. Perhaps there are other sites for the other boroughs. Thanks for the heads up. I will look into it.

  2. I hope you find someone too, Colleen.


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