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My grave-robbing ancestors

Dude. My mom recently collected old family stories from her side, via various far-flung cousins, and this one stands out. To say the least.

The Nolans were a large family of Irish Catholic immigrants living in the Midwest in the 1870s, and were devastated when the mother died of illness. In accordance with her deathbed wish, her daughter Rosa willingly joined a Catholic girls' school in Iowa. After that, at about age 16, feeling that the best way to help her bereaved father and brothers was to pray for them and serve God, she joined a convent.

Her dad and brothers didn't entirely like this idea, as this was the type of convent where once you got in, you didn't talk to the outside world anymore. In fact, the nuns enforced the rule so strictly that when Rosa died some time later, nobody informed her family. Her father only found out by traveling to the convent and asking about her. The nuns' explanation was something to the effect that Rosa belonged to God/The Church now and not to the world.

Well, the dad did what any good father would. He went home and collected his sons, and they all drove the wagon back to the convent under cover of night, snuck into the cemetery, dug up Rosa's coffin, and took it home to rebury it, allegedly somewhere on the farm.

As you can imagine, Nolan family feelings for Catholicism after that point weren't of the fondest, but apparently several did remain with the church.

But seriously. Dude. Grave robbing. I am so going to write a short story about this.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2008 05:12 pm (UTC)
Hee, neat story.

Interested in any family history research? Not sure if it would scare up more stories like that, but I can always try :)
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Heheh. I can't afford any official research, but I did think of you when I typed this one up! I ought to send your name to my mom and my parents-in-law. They're all fairly keen on finding their family histories, at least on occasion.
Jun. 30th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
Well, I am working for free right now, so while I'm not a professional yet, each bit of research I do will help me get there :) Feel free to pass along my name/email address, though ask that if they do contact me, that they mention you somewhere in the subject line so I know who sent them.
Jul. 5th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
Ooh, cool. In that case I'll definitely pass along your info! My mom and parents-in-law have been the ones collecting family stories; I get muddled about dates and names after about one generation. :) But this particular story was too good to pass up.
Jul. 6th, 2008 05:13 pm (UTC)

As it turns out, my mom and folks-in-law do have some research ideas for you. Should I forward them to your daughterofnyx address or a different one?

Thanks so much! :D
Jul. 8th, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)
Yup, the daughterofnyx one is fine!

Actually, strike that. To be more professional, forward them my Gmail address. It is (all lowercase letters) - myfirstname.mylastname@gmail.com (since you are on my Facebook, you can fill in the blanks with my actual name - just be sure to spell my last name correctly!).

Edited at 2008-07-08 02:27 am (UTC)
Jun. 29th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Awesome story. When my paternal grandfather (then seven) and his siblings were in line for medical inspection at Ellis Island, the guy in front of them had a "P" for "pink eye" chalked on his jacket and would have been sent back to Poland to be beaten up by anti-Semites (not to mention eventually exterminated by Hitler) had my grandfather's older brothers not rubbed the chalk off his jacket for him. Hooray for my bureaucracy-flouting ancestors!
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:50 pm (UTC)
Good for them! Probably seemed like a small enough gesture at the time, but thank goodness they did it. (I've had pinkeye; it isn't that big a deal anyway.) :)
Jun. 29th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's FABULOUS! Some of those old family stories are amazing.
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Does make me wonder what else is lurking in my family tree...
Jun. 29th, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
That is so interesting! You should write a story about it! :-)
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
I shall indeed, in some form or another.

Ooh, pretty Twilight icon! What does the scribble say? This browser isn't the best with graphics for some reason...
Jul. 6th, 2008 06:17 am (UTC)
The icon is by bleeding_muse. :-) I can't read the scribble, either, but it is pretty!
Jun. 29th, 2008 11:16 pm (UTC)
So cool!

You really need to write that one up... You could use some of mine as well if needed. My family tree is really dark.
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Indeed, from just the ones you've mentioned, yours has the true Southern Gothic thing going on. :)
Jun. 29th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
That's an amazing story, and ALL my sympathy is with Rosa's father and brothers. What a horrible thing for the convent to do!

Write the story, it's certainly an excellent subject.

All I've got in my past are two convicts, sent to Van Dieman's Land for machine-breaking.
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
My sympathy's with them too. I'd be consumed with grief and fury if that happened to any sister/daughter of mine.

Convicts aren't a bad start. And you never know what else is lurking in the family tree. I never heard about this one till just now. :)
Jun. 30th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Not telling them where she'd be reburied seems fitting, really.
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
Indeed. And makes it handy since I plan to turn it into a ghost story. Misplaced graves are good for those.
Jun. 30th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Ha! That's brilliant!
Jun. 30th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
Kinda makes me wonder what else my sweet little ancestors got up to...
Sep. 8th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC)
very interesting & i like the gost story angle
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )