To the editor:
This is an open letter to the people of Gloucester.
You are so honored to have two exemplary representatives of your town diligently volunteering their time preserving and sharing Gloucester’s history.
Jane Walsh and Sarah Dunlap are to be congratulated, thanked and shown some appreciation for all that they do. Anyone seeking out Gloucester history is so very fortunate to have such wonderful volunteers as Jane and Sarah volunteering in the Archives Department.
Recently, I discovered that my family’s humble beginnings in this country began right here in Gloucester in the mid 1800s. The history preserved has allowed me to learn so much about my own family’s history. My namesake, Master Mariner Michael B. Murray, raised his large family here at 23 Mt. Vernon St. His father, William Murray, also immigrated from Ireland and in Aug. of 1877 died in a dry dock shipping accident.
The schooner Mathew M. Murray was illegally boarded by the British off the coast of Newfoundland in international waters. Later, Michael B. Murray gave congressional testimony about this incident that was later used in President Rutherford B. Hayes State of the Union address.
Fourteen Murrays are all buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. However, due to vandalism and cemetery conditions over the years, including loss of records and loss of cemetery mapping by the church custodial caretakers, I couldn’t find a trace of any of them.
After considerable anguish on my part Jane and Sarah were able to find family lot locations despite this being a church-owned cemetery. In old paperwork, they fortunately unearthed the only known map of Oak Hill Cemetery to exist. It is extremely brittle, so it will now be photographed and preserved for other people’s future reference.
Sarah and Jane, Thank you for all your assistance in helping me find my lost relatives. I salute you!