Why Catherine Shackford Was Buried in Edward W Rowland’s Plot — What We Can Learn by Visiting Cemeteries!!! (Blog 349)

NOTE:  Information regarding relationships described in this blog have been found to be incorrect and are corrected in Blog 406.  Keeping this blog as it is to show how we’ve learned from our initial errors in reviewing Anna’s will.

In June 2016 we wrote about visiting my great great grandmother’s grave site at the beautiful  Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston and discovering that Catherine and her daughter Kate May Shackford were buried in a plot belonging to Edward W Rowland.  We had no knowledge of any connection to a Rowland family so started searching and discovered that our visit to the cemetery was well worth the trip as we’ve learned some possible new clues about our own ancestry from this visit.

While at the Forest Hills Cemetery, we first visited the office to learn where Catherine was buried and were given a map and a copy of a cemetery plot card which let us know that she was buried in Edward Rowland’s plot and that Edward had been buried on January 2, 1873 and his wife, Anna J Rowland had been buried on August 25, 1893.  We used this information to search in Ancestry.com for a couple with these names and approximate death dates. This search gave us a link to Anna’s will which mentioned a sister Catherine Shackford and another sister Mary A Lehman !!!  This was a totally new family connection only discovered because we’d visited the cemetery!!!

We also discovered that Anna appointed Charles H Isburgh and Charles F Donnelly to be her executers, stated that she is to be buried in the burial lot in Forest Hill Cemetery with her husband Edward W Rowland, gave large sums to multiple charitable organizations in Boston, to the Catholic church, to relatives, and  to two sisters (Mary A Lehman and Catherine Shackford), and her husband’s brother.  The section of the will mentioning my great great grandmother is shown below:

Anna J Rowland's Will Names Catherine Shackford
Part of Anna J Rowland’s Will

Ninth  The rest, residue and remainder of my estate I give, devise and bequeath to Mary A. Leman, Catherine Shackford and Frank H Rowland, the first being sisters and the last names a brother of my late husband said rest residue and remainder to go to them share and share alike.

It appears that Anna was quite wealthy – from the 1870 census record, we see that Edward worked at a carriage depot and had real estate valued at $8500 and personal estate valued at $20000!  We’ve also recently discovered that Edward died of smallpox and that his carriage company was called Isburg & Rowland.

We’d always thought that Catherine’s maiden name was Mullett based on her marriage record but Anna’s marriage record reflects a maiden name of McCawley.   Anna’s marriage record and her death records list a birth location of St John, New Brunswick and a father’s first name of Patrick.  Her death record lists a mother named Catherine Quinn.  This means that we need to do some further research to see if perhaps Catherine was previously married to a Mullet who died before she was married to William B Shackford or perhaps her mother remarried someone.

So from our cemetery visit and resulting research, we learned that Catherine had two sisters, Anna and Mary, that Anna’s parents were Patrick McCawley and Catherine Quinn.  This is our first indication of Catherine’s mothers last name!!! [Note:  This assumption has since been found to be incorrect – see blog 406.]

Here’s our research plan to learn more about these relationships — hopefully we can possibly learn more about Catherine Shackford’s (and my) ancestors:

Search for any other information about Edward W Rowland, his obituary, the company Isburg & Rowland.  Since he was wealthy, perhaps there were newspaper articles about his death.

Search for any other information about Anna Rowland and any associations to church organizations.  Look for her obituary.  Also research the many names listed in her will.

Search for a possible first marriage for Catherine to a Mullett.

Search for any information about Mary McCawley m. a Lehman.  Also in 1865, Catherine and her children were living with Thomas and Mary Christian – is this the same Mary mentioned in Anna’s will (perhaps a first marriage?) or is this a different Mary.

Review all sources for Catherine and Anna and eventually Mary to see if can determine where they and their parents were born – list this in a spreadsheet with each source as the data seems to differ between some of the sources.


“Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 August 2016), Anna Rowland.