Sunday, October 16, 2005

Saint Francis Cemetery Teutopolis Illinois

Finding my great great grandmother in Teutopolis was the easiest thing that we did on our October 14 trip.
T-Town, population 1584, is located very near Effingham Illinois. There is one four way stop sign in the middle of town and all of the homes and businesses fan out from there.

I had previously talked with the ladies who work for Saint Francis Parish and they would be looking for me when we got to the Church. We entered town from the north and saw a big cemetery before anything else. It was Saint Francis. T-Town has a wonderful Catholic heritage and many connections to Saint Francis. The Church was Saint Francis, and the Cemetery. Later we also noticed an old steeple that was standing alone and decided to take a look.

This proved to be the former entrance the the Franciscan Monastery established in T-Town in 1860. All that remains is the entry, two statues, an altar and one monument. The monument explained that this belonged to the former Monastery and was now being used as a Memorial for the Unborn. This intrigued me. Without Bridget and all the generations who followed her, would I have been unborn? Urban areas tend to take abortion for granted. Small rural towns do not.

But before we would get to these places we stopped at the Cemetery. I had been given instructions over the phone as to where the oldest part of the cemetery was but no assurances that Bridget and her grave would be identifiable. We parked and walked over a closed road covered with shade and up a slight hill to the sunshine. A bright glen with very few grave stones awaited us. But first we saw a large monument near the old road that had three stone vertical slabs and a cross with engraving. These are pictured left. I surmise that many of the oldest stones were becoming weather worn and unreadable so the good citizens of T-Town took matters into their own hands. The created a monument for the many folks who helped start T-Town. They wanted the deceased remembered as well as the unborn. "Bridget Foley 1873" read the inscription on the monument. We were very impressed with the quality of the stone and the serenity of its location overlooking a small lake.

On the rolling hill below there were few stones and we began to look for Bridget. I found her in about ten minutes. Her stone was covered with moss on the side where the inscription was but I could make out several letters. We scraped the moss off and took pictures. It is very legible, amazing since it was the original 1873 stone.

The last thing that struck me was the shape of her grave stone. Hers and her husband Michael's gravestones were the same style and shape though they are buried in different places and died 16 years apart. When Michael died in 1889 it is clear that one of his children made the decision to give him a stone like Bridget had been given. That they might be together again symbolically. That little bit of their humanity spoke volumes about their children's love for them.

Our next stop was Saint Francis Church to pick up a record of Bridget's death. The ladies had looked it up for me. It was written in Latin:
1873 27, Februarii Brigitta Foley
Die 1pm Marti sepelivo Brigitta O'Brine Foley

There is one last sentence that is illegible except for one word "sacramentis". I believe this was a recording of Bridget being given the Last Rites.

The pictures above do not do this cemetery justice. The tallest stone near the center of these pictures is Bridget Foley's grave.


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