Move Over Mary Poppins!

The real life adventures of one nanny, her husband, child, dogs, house, and whatever else crosses her path.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cemeteries of Dutchess County

In 1993, my Great Grandmother Wiggers passed away. She lived her whole life in the vicinity of Poughkeepsie, NY, most of that as the wife and widow of a toy shop owner. Her whole life until she got too frail to care for herself, and my mother arranged for her to come live with us. In retrospect, leaving Dutchess County probably broke her heart - she only survived central Massachusetts for a year or so before passing on, but at sixteen I didn't fully grasp the sheer hugeness of packing in and leaving your home of ninety-some years. Sure, she lived in more houses in those years than anyone can actually remember, but they were all within about a half hour's drive of one another.

She was interred next to her husband, on a hillside in a small cemetery in Clinton Corner, NY. I remember being there for the burial, and seeing long lost family members I barely knew. What else to do when a burial turns into a family reunion? Take lots of pictures. Pictures of family groups, pictures of headstones with family names on them; there's nothing like a roll of film shot in cemetery to earn a teen odd looks at the CVS 1-Hour counter...

Anyway, my mom and I are trying to compile and edit as much of our family tree as we can, including tracking down information that has been handed down through other branches of her parents' families. We've been investigating the internets all summer, but last month I had some vacation time, so we packed Felix in the car and headed back to Dutchess County to scope out cemeteries that might contain names and dates of family. We had some lists and some letters from cemetery offices and some tips from relatives, and that was all my mom needed to make a plan!

We struck out Monday morning, headed for Poughkeepsie, via my Grammie's houses in Clinton Corner and Poughkeepsie, and along the way we found two cemeteries with good potential for information. The easiest way to gather it? Digital camera, of course!

Grammie's little house in Clinton Corner is much as it was, with a fresh coat of paint. The house my grandmother grew up in is still there, and for sale! My great grandfather's eponymous toy store, however, has been torn down in favor of a soulless office building on the main drag.

After a picnic and a pleasant walk through the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, we headed north towards Hyde Park to stay for the night. With Felix along, we went for an early, casual dinner at the CIA's Apple Pie Bakery/Cafe. After that, back to the hotel for a bath and some sleep!

The next day's highlights included a drive through FDR's Presidential Library and the Vanderbilt House up the road from our hotel before we headed for the next cemetery. This one was in Rhinebeck, and we knew less about who we might find, so we took lots of shots, and we'll sort through the info the next time we've got time on our hands (when is that?). We looked for Sheep's Clothing, the Morehouse Merino store, only to learn that it was closed - boo. Guess I should have checked it out on Ravelry first. We got lunch at an orchard/deli/ice cream stand on a county highway somewhere off the Taconic Parkway and took ourselves back home.

We gathered a ton on information, and I'm sure a fair amount of it will have to be sifted out before we get to the good stuff, so my mom is headed to her cousin's house in PA in a few weeks to go through the family papers. Perhaps by year's end we'll have filled in some of the blanks...

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