We make frequent trips to New England, partly because we love it so, partly because we have both roots and family there. Our visits often begin and end at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law’s home in Vermont. On one such visit, we took a fascinating field trip to, of all places, a cemetery.
But not just any cemetery. I had a specific reason for wanting to see Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT, where the Italian immigrant stonecutters crafted magnificent monuments for themselves, their loved ones, their co-workers, with staggering Old World skill. Vermont, it turns out, isn’t just about the magnificent Green Mountains, but also about what lies beneath. Vermont calls itself the “granite capital of the world,” and Danby Quarry in Vermont is billed as “the largest marble quarry in the world.”
Apart from seeing the legendary sculptures that mark Hope Cemetery’s graves, I knew that at least one of my great or great-great uncles, immigrants from the village of Centrache in Calabria, had worked in a marble or granite quarry in Vermont. I wondered if perhaps he’d been buried in Hope Cemetery.
I plodded through one website after another, trying to find a family name among the available records of quarry workers and cemetery maps. Although the on-line search came up dry, and I never found a headstone with a familiar name, I still felt a satisfying sense of lineage walking through the cemetery.