The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife–Book Signing

July 28, 2018

(note to self – get more pictures on this blog)

Last night I had the honor of meeting Maryann McFadden as a local library as a book signing. Remember I don’t read books, cover to cover, with this exception. I wanted to hear her speak about this book.


I was totally impressed, but from what I do in my spare time. Family History Research. She is obviously a writer, but her journey in how this book became real, might be the same or similar journey for us.

Someone nudging us along the way, dropping hints, following those leads, investigating (searching) other leads or hints, making sure we have the right information, evaluating the evidence, and writing it down. In Maryann’s case, writing the story.

This story is about a long, young lady, who was murdered in our little town. Swept under the rug and forgotten by most. But a monument in her honor, is at the highest point in the major cemetery in town.

Maryann told us what she believes is the Tilley Smith story. Tilly can’t be forgotten, and now we have her story told through a 21st century person Rachel. (oh, my Grandmother’s name was Rachel, and I need to tell her story). But I wondered how much of Rachel, is the voice of Maryann herself.

If I heard “between the lines” that Tilley has had a close eye on Maryann, dropping hints for years, hoping she would pick them up.

My earlier blog posts, and the ones to come (hopefully) I have mentioned that I could sit and home reading this book, and visualize the places that were in the story, making the story in the book real.

I’m not a reader, let along a writer, but I have done family research for another family, who is buried in this cemetery and have taken many, many pictures in the cemetery. I fact a couple of photos from this cemetery are in one of my talks.

One other, small event, that Maryann talked about at the book signing, and is in the book, I also experienced.

Being a murder, there was some references to a trial. That story is in a different book, but Maryann was called for jury duty in our local county. I sat in the same waiting room, and went into the same court room, waiting to be called. (fortunately for me, I wasn’t called). I knew about Tilley Smith, had taken many pictures of the monument, but didn’t make the connection until I read about it in the book and during the talk last night.

I was clearly reminded that WE, as family researchers, need to get beyond the Names, Dates, and Places, and get those stories that we develop “out there”. I have chosen a blog post or two, but beside the “cousin bait” use of a Blog, Telling our Ancestor’s story “out there” is another use for a blog.

DearMYRTLE and I have a Genealogy Game Show, “Who’s In My Line”, designed specifically for that purpose.

Bottom Line, after listening to Maryann McFadden, Follow those “voices” that we hear, some one (our Ancestors) want to be found! It’s our job to tell that story.

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife (2018)

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife-the Bridge

June 20, 2018

continuing from my reading of The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, by Maryann McFadden.

In The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife–#2 I mentioned the Musconetcong River. The Bridge was accurately described, but there is more.

A very short walk or drive, you approach this bridge.


Ordinary, you can see the “river” to the right, can’t see the left side yet.

The trick to this bridge, beside the noise as you cross it, is that this picture is in Warren County, and the tree ahead is in Morris County.


The drives Find-A-Grave folks crazy, especially locals. On that website, you won’t find Union Cemetery, Hackettstown, in Morris County. All of the headstones are in that county (Morris). Yes, there is a back entrance, from Morris County into the Cemetery.

Looking back across the bridge, back into Warren County is this.


I think that the author described it well. Oh, and I have driven across it many times in a pick up truck.

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife–the Office

June 19, 2018

More from my reading of The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, by Maryann McFadden.

Early on, after “Rachel” arrives at her new home, she is introduced to “The Seven Dwarf’s Cottage”, but officially The Office.



I had to look through my photograph’s to find a picture, but who takes a picture of the Office, when your mission is the photograph headstones??

Later in the book, her description of the inside of the office was that of someone who had been inside. I have, at least once. I could see the office from the description.

I was trying to locate a grave site, but they didn’t have a database. I had the map, so they told me in what area, so I went.

As I normally do, I tried to find someone who might have inventoried the cemetery. They had, but I am sure it isn’t as accurate as “Rachel” would have had it.


I think that of all of the times I have visited, have I only seen some one at the office that one time. The database is on the local Historical Society website.




The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife–The Gate

June 17, 2018

… continuing from my reading of The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, by Maryann McFadden.

As a researcher or a photographer taking pictures for the Find A Grave website, my first photo is that of a sign or an entrance to the Cemetery. I didn’t have to look hard for that, as I have visited it many times and have taken many pictures of the gate. I try to “book end” the pictures taken at that cemetery. (first and last photo of that series)


The problem with this is the wires. (no photo editing for me).

There is an interesting part of this cemetery is that the entrance and official location of the Cemetery and where folks are buried, are in two different counties. There is a genealogy point of interest in this. To my knowledge, no one is buried in the county where this cemetery can be found on Find A Grave. But, I digress.

Oh, the sign:


It’s been around for a while, established in 1857 according to a website. Historic Hackettstown – The Union Cemetery.

On my way out today, this is from the other side of the gate.


Many parades have come though this gate, the annual Memorial Day Parade. You may hear about this in the book.

As my visit today was shortly after Memorial Day, there are flags all over the cemetery (for a later blog post), but the gate also has a left over of the parade.


For a small town, they do it up right.


The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife–#2

June 16, 2018

More from my reading of The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife, by Maryann McFadden.

We had a hurricane in our area in September 2011. In the book, we hear about the Musconetcong River in this book. From my photograph collection from Union Cemetery, here are a couple of pictures of the results of the rain from that hurricane.

This first one is from the “office”, which you will read about, that wet day.


The office:


I do have other pictures of the office, but that’s for another time.

The “Shop”


Our local Canadian Geese had more “room to play” on this day.


Read a book ? Not me

June 15, 2018

I can not tell you the last time that I actually read a real book, cover to cover. Well, at least not until something let me to this book.

The Cemetery Keeper’s Wife (08 May 2018) by Maryann McFadden

You know you live in a small town when you can read a book and know exactly where the events described in the book took place. The focus is a local Cemetery. I have posted on the Find A Grave website about 30 photographs from this cemetery, including several that are in my Find A Grave Presentation. Actually, I have 129 photographs from that website, including this one.



This book is about HER, Tillie Smith.

What kept me reading this book, was the connections between the characters in the book. It also reinforced my interest in moving from Collecting Names and Dates, to gather information that might help tell a story about individuals that I might research.

As I read the book, there was one thing that really didn’t make sense. But, that was answered on the last page of the book. (after the story ended). Just below the answer was a Surname, in that Cemetery, that I have researched.

Small town: This story took place within a couple of miles from my house. I knew of the story, but hadn’t paid much attention to it.

I had to keep reminding myself that it is a Novel. As I could visualize the places in the book. I have pictures of those places in my photo gallery.

The kicker, is that the author lives in the area.

Lastly, there is a small, side story that reminded me of my friend, The Legal Genealogist. But, that’s another story.

A Find-A-Grave Experience

June 24, 2013

I am not sure how I feel about this:

On Thursday, I am going to Arlington National Cemetery for the burial of my uncle, Americus Lamberti (1917 – 2012). We knew he was going to be buried there, just not when. We have been in contact with Arlington and the funeral home. On Saturday, we received a call from the funeral home and checked the Arlington National Cemetery website to get the information that we knew would be posted there.

I decided to go to my uncles file in my genealogy database program and there was a shaky leaf. Now I know I haven’t followed all of them, and hadn’t looked at Uncle Max’s profile for a while. The first HINT, from Ancestry, was to their index to Find-A-Grave.

It looks like the funeral home created the memorial in Find-A-Grave 2 days after my uncle died.

Find-A-Grave Memorial #10230107

Since I have been to the twin’s plot, took pictures, I checked to see if I have posted the pictures on Find-A-Grave. I had not. Took care of one of the twins and I realized that the second twin was not listed. Took care of that, with a picture. Will post a picture of Uncle Max after the service on Thursday.

I have seen conversations, in blogs and online, about how quickly information is posted on Find-A-Grave. I now “get it” and what that means. His obituary was online, on Find-A-Grave 2 days after he died, a memorial was created on Find-A-Grave, but he won’t be buried for 4 more days. Also, it was picked up by and I had a shaky leaf.

Now if some of our other ancestors would show up that fast.


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