It is a lucky day for a genealogist when the tombstone carries magical information.
Here is what my third-great grandfather's stone says:
Sacred to the Memory of Stephen Madden
Died May 28, 1877, aged 75 years
Born in the Parish of Kilbragen
Town of Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland.
And his wife's says:
Sacred to the Memory of
Wife of Stephen Madden
Died August 23, 1870 age 72 years 3 mo.
Born in the Parish of Kilbragen
Town of Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland
And the following inscription is on both of them:
When the hours of life are past
And death's dark shades arrives at last,
It is not sleep, it is no rest,
'Tis Glory opening to blest.
These stones are in the Madden plot at Holy Cross Cemetery in Mendota, Illinois.
Stephen and Hanorah (found sometimes as Honorah, and occasionally shown as "Nora") arrived in the United States sometime between June of 1830 and July of 1834. They brought three children with them: Julia, b 1825; Timothy b abt 1828; and John C., b 10 June 1830. Settling in Taunton, Massachusetts, their last child, Ellen, was born there on 10 July 1834. She was my second-great grandmother.
On the 1850 census records Stephen is shown as a "laborer." By this time son Timothy had gone to California (and was never heard from again,) and daughter Julia had married Peter Donohue. In 1853 the records in St. Mary's Church show that son John had married Mary Sullivan and Ellen had married Robert Whitters, a young man from Ireland. Unfortunately Robert died in 1855, leaving Ellen a young widow with Edward, a year-old child.
All the Madden family except for Ellen moved to Mendota, LaSalle County, Illinois in 1853. But after her husband's death she took Edward and followed her family. It was there that she met and married Chester Stevens in 1857. Edward Whitters retained his birth name but was raised in the Stevens family as the oldest son.
Stephen and Hannorah were devout Catholics and were not too pleased at their daughter Ellen marrying outside the faith, according to a letter in the possession of granddaughter Lucile G. Fulton York in 1969. Written to a grandson of Julia Madden Donohue, these are the salient parts:
My Grandmother, Ellen, was, I think, the only member of her family born in this country. She married Robert Whitters and they had a son before he was killed, leaving her a young widow with a baby son....I think, but am not sure, that Grandfather [Chester]Stevens was in the same business as Uncle Pete and was selling machinery - traveling around. Grandfather was from English parents and Steven's Point, Wisconsin is named that because they founded the town. When they were married, Grandfather and Grandmother migrated to Raymond, Kansas.Nothing more is known about Steven and Hanorah
The reason our branch of the family knows little about Grandma's people is that Grandfather was not Catholic and her people were displeased. He died around the turn of the century so I didn't know him. His sister, Sophronia, married Gen. Steven Hurlbut and he and Grandma were frequent visitors at the White House after Grant became President. Grandma was a great gal, walked like a queen, and had a combination of Irish and Bostonion accent that was really something....I have a remnant of a paisley shawl, which was a wedding gift and which I am putting in small antique frames for the grandchildren, along with the records I have...."