June 29th, 2008

Gothic Choir

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.