Thursday, June 5, 2014

The case of the reburied ancestor

    Years ago, when I was very new to genealogy, I tried to find where John Rupp, who died in Buffalo in 1883, was buried.  I contacted all the cemeteries in the Buffalo area and never found him, even though I had his death date.  
    In addition, I couldn't find anything about John's widow, Genovefa, until I discovered she had remarried.  It was when I obtained her probate record and found a receipt for “a foundation in Lot 77, Section QQ,” that I had any luck finding John's grave.     
United G & F Cem., QQ-77, 1985
    I knew the United German & French R.C. Cemetery at Pine Hill in Cheektowaga had sections with names like QQ.  There I found a large monument with RUPP on one side and GOHN on the other and markers for John Rupp, Genovefa Rupp and their son, Louis Rupp.  Markers for Joseph Gohn and his wife, Elizabeth Rupp, and several other Gohn family members were also there.
I revisited the cemetery office to see why they hadn't known about John's interment.  When I identifid the plot, I was told it had been purchased by Joseph Gohn and Ida Rupp in 1891, when Ida's husband, Louis Rupp, died.  Joseph and Ida were Gohn siblings, who were married to Rupp siblings, children of John Rupp.

    According to the section-lot book, which I did not see, John Rupp's remains had been transferred from St. Joseph’s Cemetery, a burial ground on Main Street in Elysville, adjacent to the Erie County Poor House.  The site was owned by St. Joseph’s R.C. Church, which removed the bodies circa 1926 to make way for a school building.
    Had the death records of St. Joseph’s Church not been lost, I probably would have found a record of John’s funeral and initial burial place, since he and Genovefa had been married there in 1853.  There might even have been a note about where his body was reburied.  As for United G & F Cemetery - their interment records are kept chronologically, not by name, so there is no record of John Rupp in 1883, and their plot records are kept under the name of the purchaser, or owner (in this case, probably indexed under Gohn).

    Years later, after the records of the United German  & French Cemetery had been microfilmed, I was able to view the section-lot book and note that there was no date for John's transfer from St. Joseph Cemetery.  His burial was listed between burials in 1891 (Louis) and 1903 (Genovefa).  I searched through the registers of interments from 1883 through 1936 and never found him.  The only record the cemetery has of John Rupp is the undated entry in the secton-lot book.

Photograph from Buffalogen's collection