Headstone tells sad story of my cousins

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Yesterday a friend of mine posted a photo of this headstone on her Facebook page because she has a very special love for and interest in cemeteries. 

When I read that it was the headstone of “Stoddard Children, 1786, Winchenden, Massachusetts” it piqued my curiosity. I have ancestors from Massachusetts in that time period. With some poking around on FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and my own RootsMagic database, I found my connection to the children buried here.

These children of David and Sybil (Leavitt) Stoddard are

  • Noah, b. 4 Sep 1777, d. 2 Jan 1786 (8 yrs, 3 mo, 29 days)
  • Jotham, b. 25 Jun 1779, d. 7 Jan 1786 (6 yrs, 3 days)
  • Sula, b. 16 Feb 1782, d. 3 Jan 1786 (3 yrs, 10 mos, 18 days 
  • Rachel, b. 12 Oct 1784, d. 2 Jan, 1786 (1 yr, 2 mos, 21 days)

They’re buried in the Old Centre Burial Ground, Winchendon, Worcester, Massachusetts. I just can’t imagine the grief the parents felt at losing four of their children within those five days, and the fatigue and exhaustion they must have felt after taking care of such small and young dying children. My research shows that the father and mother were about 44 years old, surviving children Abraham was 18, Joanna was 16, Sibyl was 13, David  was 11 and Rebecca was 7. The grief was felt by so many in the family.

This chart shows how I’m related to this family.  

I’m a 4th cousin 5 generations removed of each of these children. My 8th great grandparents John Leavitt and Sarah Gilman Leavitt were the 3rd great grandparents of the Stoddard children. David lived another 32 years after the deaths of these children and Sybil, their mother, lived another 40 years. 

I’m glad the picture of the childrens’ headstone was shared on Facebook so this came to my attention, and I’m happy to have more information about distant cousins, but it sure saddens me to learn of the tragedy this family endured. 

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