First stop this morning was the North Cemetery/Calvary Cemetery complex just north of downtown Butler on Rt. 8. We found George O., who managed the office there. He was a huge help, gave us lots of time and let us peruse the old records as much as we wanted, and gave us a handy map of the sections.
We spent a lot of time looking at the various Anderson families. James McGee, brother of our great-grandfather Benjamin, married one Amelia Anderson. They had at least five children together, but by all accounts he was a pretty bad provider, and in 1913 she committed suicide by hanging. We hoped to find her grave at this place, but no; it’s entirely possible that, it being a suicide, she was simply dumped into one of the unmarked graves along the edges of the grounds. We did find lots of other Andersons that may or may not be related. At some point I’ll probably throw them all up as a slideshow so that maybe someone doing Anderson research will find them.
But I digress.
George’s most interesting story was about the former St. Paul’s R.C. church graveyard. Adjacent to the church itself downtown, the land was needed for a new high school complex. So they dug up the bodies, such as they were, and re-interred them at North in a mass grave. We have reason to believe that great-great grandfather John was buried there circa 1902, and so moved along with the rest of them.
The parishoners at St. Paul felt it was important that the grave be marked somehow, but the school district claimed it didn’t have the money. So they went to North’s management, asking if they could put in a word. So the management said they needed to have some kind of marker so that in the future it would be known that there were bodies already there, and they couldn’t just go digging around in there because, well, it would be wrong.
We also learned how GGGF McGee died. This from his obituary in the June 12, 1902 edition of the Butler Citizen:
John McGee of Elm St. was thrown from his buggy while on the road to Millerstown last Thursday and lay in the gutter unconscious until discovered next day. The accident was caused by one of the front wheels of the buggy coming off. Mr. McGee’s collar bone was broken and he received other injuries. He was 70 years of age.
His death occurred Saturday afternoon.
For what it’s worth, the spelling of my surname seems to have been a matter of how one felt at any given moment. “McGee” and “Magee” were essentially interchangeable. Here’s another brief obituary of my great-aunt Blanche:
McGEE At the Butler Hospital, Dec. 25, 1904. Miss Blanche, daughter of Ben Magee, aged 16 years.
My grandfather would have been just six years old when his big sister died on Christmas Day. He’d lost mother the year before. A tough way to start life.
[googleMap name=”Butler, PA” directions_to=”false”]Butler, PA[/googleMap]