Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tombstone Tuesday/Jane Watkins of Manchester, NY

Jane Watkins

     I almost didn't write this blog, the subject is not a pleasant one.  A short time ago I wrote about Edwin Watkins, a former slave who along with his family lived in the small town of Manchester in upstate NY.  Edwin seemed to fit right in to Manchester, he was even elected to the position of school trustee in 1865.  His son Edwin Jr. married a woman named Jane whose fate was to die in childbirth, like so many of her 19th century sisters.  Edwin Jr. eventually moved to Auburn, NY and remarried. When he died in 1921, his widow wished to receive his Civil War pension--but first she had to prove the first wife's demise.  

     The story of how some prominent men of Manchester replaced Jane's broken tombstone and sent a photo of the new stone to the pension office is told here.  Thinking that stone might be of interest in a "Tombstone Tuesday" blog I decided to seek it out.  Oddly enough the stone wasn't listed in the online cemetery inventory, but the burial records showed Jane Watkins and infant in row 32, close to my 2nd great-grandfather Paul Worden. I also had a description of it's location from the news article (see above link).

    This should be easy enough to find I thought.  After pausing to say hi to Grandpa Paul I looked and looked...nothing.  Then I spotted a stone in the extreme south west corner almost completely hidden by tree branches.  Walking over I could see no inscription at all which struck me as odd, the stone wasn't all that old?  But it was blank, not a mark to be seen.  I started back to my car then stopped.  No. They didn't.  They wouldn't.  

     I retraced my steps back to the stone, and climbing in among the branches I looked at the back.  They did.  There on the back of the stone was the name Jane; to say I was horrified would be an understatement.  All the other stones in this cemetery faced the traditional east, Jane's faced west.  I couldn't get a good shot of the inscription since there was no light in the foliage.  I guess the residents of my hometown regressed a bit between 1860 and 1921.


  1. Regressed? Why did her tombstone face the wrong way, Ellie? Surely not because she was of African descent?

  2. I can't definitively say why, but her descent was probably it sadly enough. Put me in a funk for the rest of the day after I saw that.

  3. How incredibly sad! I just can't believe it and I don't blame you for being upset the rest of the day!

  4. Yes, it is sad, and depressing.