Today I am obsessed with finding Roger’s grave. I have to. Pure and simple. I begin to hit dead ends with  calling Evelyn, who, when I finally GET her, says she’ll give me a map of the cemetery on Sunday that shows me where Roger is buried. She doesn’t tell me where the cemetery is.

Early this morning I asked the woman at the deli if she knew Beacon. She answered proudly that she’s lived here all her life. People really DO live here, I’ve found….anyway, she begins puzzling about really OLD cemeteries and says if I just go down Washington and take that LEFT fork (that’s real near to where I live) that road will take me way up behind the obvious cemetery and there’s an old one up THERE. But then, if I take Liberty Ave off of Washingtnon the OTHER way, there’s another old one out THERE. Those are the only two she knows of. I’m feeling really confident that I’ll just FIND it.

I am JUST heading out the door when Kim appears, ready to go off PLANT hunting at a nursery. Hmmmm. Best we get the plant hunting done first before her three year old melts down for lack of a nap. So off we go. I see things I want to plant of Roger’s grave, but not having a clue as to where it is, it’s foolish to buy anything….but I do anyway. I buy a white Moth Mullein, as I know it will survive just about anything and leave wondrous seed stalks standing.

We come back, I check messages and emails, there’s a message from Evelyn that she has some information for me, but she’s not there when I call back. That’s OK, I really want to do this myself.

Off I go, take that left fork and begin winding my way up and around. I am seeing NOTHING remotely resembling any cemetery. WAY up at the very top of East Main Street, I come upon a guy washing his four-wheel motorbike thing. I begin to ask him about old cemeteries….REALLY old. He tells me about Fairview, but it isn’t even really a cemetery, just a bunch of old headstones, but he’s never seen anything from the 1700’s, just mid 1800’s and he’s been going through there since he was a kid. (I TOLD you people really do live here) But when I explain Evelyn’s bemoaning the lack of care of THIS particular cemetery, he begins to talk about the ‘dummy light’ in Beacon…..ah yes, THAT one – an ODD blinking light right after you go over these train tracks and everyone is supposed to go AROUND it…THAT light. Well, he says to turn RIGHT there and go to Verplanck Ave and turn left onto that (you’ll see some historic bar that has had the FOR SALE sign in it forever….) and stay on Verpklanck past the school and then you’ll get to Brett Ave…..OK, now THAT sounds truly promising.

And off I go again. Verplanck Ave never seems to have a Brett Ave crossing it, but when I see Walnut Street I begin to think the DeliWoman may have mentioned something about that. I have a car on my tail and miss Walnut, but manage to double back through side-streets. I’m about to give up, having seen nothing but houses RIGHT next to each other with little postage stamp yards.

I’m coming to another intersection and truly do not know which way to turn. I just RELAX – stop TRYING so hard…..and look up. There, RIGHT across the next intersection is a sorry-looking old cemetery…..Bingo.

I pull my car over, get out my camera and start walking. There are SO many broken stones, missing stones, stones with writing so faded that I simply cannot tell what they say at all. Most of the stones I CAN read are from the mid-1800’s. I am just beginning to  get discouraged that I am NOT going to be able to find Roger’s grave when I come upon a monument, rather than a stone, with the name BRETT at the bottom

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– an obelisk, with a separate top on it, but not Roger’s name. Just BRETT at the bottom and a B at the top….there IS writing on three sides of this obelisk, but try as I do, I simply cannot READ it. I try and try to read the beautiful script, but it’s too worn, too faded.

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I even try to ‘read’ it by running my fingers over it, but I can feel microscopic crumbs of stone coming off on my fingertips and I know that I MUSTN’T do that, but still I MUST.

I begin to grow very, VERY sad…these stones just will not TALK to me. There ARE three stones to the right of this monument, or foundations for stones, anyway.Image

One is missing altogether, one has a stone atop it, but the name seems to be HARRIET BRETTImage

….which makes no sense to me, and the third stone as well is just missing. There is a stone flush with the ground on which I can see the name BRETT, and I’m almost ready to say DAUGHTER….but I just can’t read it. A whole section of that stone is missing too. I MAY just be looking at a whole wrong generation here. I just don’t know, and THAT is making me sad. I would have been happy to find Roger’s grave, to care for it and plant something there, but I just don’t know WHAT I have found. And that is terribly sad. I wanted to KNOW. I wanted to feel it just by BEING there. I want the monument to be for Roger and the three stones to be their three sons, but nothing will tell me.

I take photos and eventually leave, sad and discouraged. It’s dreadfully hot today for early May.

I come back home, help Kim and Jyasi plant the herb beds and finally go in to call Evelyn back around 6. This INFORMATION is merely that the aerial photography couldn’t be done of the Homestead today as it was so hazy, so it’s on for Monday in which case, if I was planning on doing anything with the gardens, that would NOT be the day to do it. They don’t want any cars on the property. But while I’ve GOT her, I tell her that I think I found the cemetery on Walnut Street. No, she says kindly, you couldn’t be farther from it. Wrong side of town. However, she isn’t aware that there seem to be Brett stones in there and certainly Harriet Brett rings no bells with her. I ask her to explain where the cemetery is that she KNOWS Roger is buried in. She explains about the intersection of Wolcott and Teller, then turn on Sargeant, then onto South Ave and past the radio station building., Count three or four houses and it’s right on the bend in the road. Fortunately, she warns me not to expect an actual cemetery and to not to expect to be able to SEE the stones as they’re really BURIED. It’s really sad, but when the folks in that neighborhood clean out their OWN yards, they dump the debris on THAT piece of property.

Again, she expresses her dismay that it never has been cared for, marked off; there are 150 DAR members in this chapter, but only a handful do the work.

Well, now I’m ALL excited again and my disappointment from this afternoon vanishes as I announce to Kim and Jyasi that I am OFF TO LOOK FOR ROGER! I take all the turns Evelyn tells me, but all I see past the 3rd house are woods. I go AROUND that bend, see that it is Newlin Mill Road, which is promising as one other source said it was near the Newlin Homestead. I turn around and come back up the hill and notice orange flagging tape in the woods with wooden crosses inside. At the foot of the wooden cross I see a PORTION of a headstone. This can’t be IT! PIECES of headstones buried in the woods? Now I’m REALLY discouraged. I get out of my car, peer at the first one I see…it says Stephen, possibly Kessler, and the date is 18-something.,…oh no. I see a few more headstones marked this way but I truly CANNOT get to them as the entire piece of land is well-guarded by Poison Ivy.

I am determined to find Roger and so I drive all the way home, don baggy long pants, socks and my high rubber boots and drive back. I wade into the poison ivy and can read NOTHING of the other two stones. There is one stone lying flat towards the back that is for Marta, wife of Martin Wiltse who died in 1797 at the age of 33…but that’s still nearly 80 YEARS after Roger.

I can see places where someone else has pushed aside the myrtle that carpets the dry ground to expose a very natural looking stone, not truly looking like a proper headstone at all. There are quite a few of those. I even try to do some ‘testing’ as I stand at each of these, but with each one, my body pushes back, telling me NO. I am growing more discouraged and sad by the minute. I so wanted to FIND him. I really feel that he’s here SOMEwhere and Evelyn has a map that will tell me for sure, but I SO wanted to find him myself.

But this is WOODS. The floor of the forest builds upon itself. Everyone buried here is buried deeper and deeper with each passing year., Roger was buried 283 years ago. He’s way more than SIX FEET UNDER. How am I EVER going to find him? I wander and wander, scuffling around in the weeds. I’ll never find him like THIS, he could be ANYwhere.

But I feel a tremendous sadness here. I keep getting flashes of this young widow with three young boys, the eldest of which is only 11. Catharyna was 16 when she married Roger and 31 when he died. I still don’t know how old HE was, but they were married for 15 years, nearly half her life. And suddenly he’s gone.

I may, in my reading tomorrow, find out that she’d leave the boys with the servants and come and talk to Roger alone. Or just come and lay flowers at his grave. I am quite sure she is NOT pleased with her love’s grave being unrecognizable now, far beneath a dumping ground for suburban scruff.

The whole concept of her not re-marrying at a time when no woman in her right mind would remain a widow for more than a few months, either points to incredible stubbornness, or to truly loving him. I have a feeling she did not want to do what her mother did, which was to Marry Again just in order to support her seven children. Catharyna’s parents were each married THREE times.

I stayed in the woods until the light was truly fading, trying to go wherever my body was pulling me, but I could not find him. Now I will have to wait ’til Sunday when Evelyn says she will give me a map that will tell me EXACTLY where Roger is buried. Looking at this, I can’t imagine how anyone could know for sure. After all these years, all these CENTURIES, he could be under one of those huge old trees.

But no, if Catharyna’s ghost is anywhere around Beacon, she’s NOT pleased about this. And if I possibly can, I will whatever it takes to honor where her love is buried.

I like to think that her eventual dashing sense of style, the uncharacteristic flair she possessed for a woman of her time came from having been well-loved and simply not needing ANOTHER man. She’d had Roger’s love for the 15 years before the River took him and that was all she needed, although I still cannot imagine how she ever managed to bury Rivery without Roger by her side.

Just can’t imagine.

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