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Descendants take back Catholic cemetery in Blackhead

White crosses we placed on unmarked graves last Friday at the old Catholic cemetery in Gussetts Cove. — Submitted photo
White crosses we placed on unmarked graves last Friday at the old Catholic cemetery in Gussetts Cove. — Submitted photo

Two summers of work pays off, with more to be done to keep vegetation at bay

BLACKHEAD, NL — The final resting place for some of the earliest families to settle along the north shore of Conception Bay North can be found in a small cemetery in Blackhead.

Located in a part of town historically known as Gussetts Cove, the old Roman Catholic cemetery used to have a church standing beside it that's now long gone. Some graves date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. A path connected to Gander Road leads there.

The site itself has been in rough shape for quite some time, overgrown with vegetation. Headstones have fallen and the names in some cases have nearly vanished due to the passage of time.

But over the course of two summers, close to two dozen residents and folks with family ties to the area have joined forces to give the cemetery a new lease on life.

They started last summer by clearing 30 years’ worth of brush, trees and weeds.

"There were weeds up to here and trees," said Cindy Salvato of Rhode Island, raising her hand upward. "You couldn't see anything."

Salvato's grandmother, Mary Theresa O'Leary, grew up in Kingston and moved to Massachusetts in the 1927. Salvato has multiple ancestors buried in the cemetery.

"I said, 'I have this crazy idea. Why don't we get everybody together and clean up the cemetery?'"

Among the headstones still standing in the cemetery is one for Salvato's great-great-great-grandfather, Jeremiah Leary. He died at the age of 50 in a snowstorm. As the story goes, Jeremiah got lost after leaving his sawmill near Perry's Cove and fell into a ditch.

"In Perry's Cove coming down over what we call the high lands, which is the old road coming down to Spout Cove, there's a place up there in Perry's Cove where we were told as children that we were not to go past Jerry Leary's hill," explained Jane O'Leary, a cousin of Salvato who lives in Kingston.

This summer, they raised some fallen headstones and cleared more land. Last Friday, they were due to place white crosses on unmarked graves, of which there are many in the cemetery.

Their work isn't done after this summer. The consensus is people will need to tackle the vegetation each summer for at least five years to keep it from returning to an overgrown cemetery.

editor@cbncompass.ca

Names of those known to be buried in Gussetts Cove:

• Patrick Murphy (10/13/1891 at 67, Gussetts Cove)

• Elizabeth Travers (7/5/1891 at 51, Bay de Verde)

• Alice King (3/12/1892 at 77, Western Bay)

• Mary Southwell King (9/1/1893 at 84, Small Point)

• Ita Forristal (11/10/1893 at 1.5, Gussetts Cove)

• William Murphy (2/5/1894 at 27, Gussetts Cove)

• John Forristal (4/14/1894 at 33, Gussetts Cove)

• Catherine Gear (4/17/1895 at 1 month, Small Point)

• Bridget Oliver Morrisey (6/3/1894 at 68, Small Point)

• John Hurley (8/12/1894 at 58, Small Point)

• Meary Joseph (2/6/1895 at 3, Small Point)

• Honora Murphy (7/28/1895 at 23, Gussetts Cove)

• Patrick King (11/24/1895 at 11, Small Point)

• Bridget King (8/11/1896 at 22, Small Point)

• Catherine Forristal (8/9/1897 at 71, Small Point)

• Richard Banville (12/24/1901 at 58, Gussetts Cove)

• Mary Pike (7/4/1898 at 7 weeks, Adams Cove)

• Mary King (7/20/1898 at 12, Small Point)

• Teresa O'Leary (9/14/1898 at 57, Gussetts Cove)

• Edmund Hurley (12/19/1899 at 3, Small Point)

• Ellen Short (2/6/1900 at 1.5, Small Point)

• Mark Romayne (3/16/1900 at 14, Small Point)

• Mary Joseph Hurley (5/11/1900 at 5, Small Point)

• Thomas Hurley (11/30/1900 at 21, Small Point)

• Joannah Moore (10/2/1900 at 53, Small Point)

• John Murphy (1/3/1901 at 54, Gussetts Cove)

• Susanna Hurley (8/14/1902 at 1 week, Small Point)

• John King (2/1/1904 at 69, Small Point)

• Mark Forristal (3/20/1905 at 50, Gussetts Cove)

• Martin Forristal (3/20/1905 at 81, Gussetts Cove)

• John Traverse (9/12/1905 at 80, Small Point)

• Jane Forristal (1/27/1906 at 65, Small Point)

• Richard King (1/27/1906 at 6, Small Poiont)

• William J. Short (2/10/1906 at 1.5, Small Point)

• Cisely King (2/26/1906 at 1.5, Small Point)

• Elizabeth Romayne (3/19/1906 at 50, Small Point)

• Mary Hurley (3/19/1906 at 4 months, Small Point)

• Alice King (12/28/1908 at 30, Small Point)

• Patrick Forristal (12/29/1908 at 69, Gussetts Cove)

• Theresa Bannville (1917 at 70, Gussetts Cove)

• Ellen Murphy (9/27/1908 at 85, Spaniard's Bay)

• Nicholas Bannville (11/18/1918 at 77, Gussetts Cove)

• Michael Ronan (11/21/1908 at 67, Adams Cove)

• Patrick English (9/13/1921 at 1, Jobs Cove)

• Grace Hayden (2/7/1922 at 88, Harbour Grace)

• John Murphy (8/25/1922 at 37, Adams Cove)

• Ellen Murphy (9/10/1926 at 81, Western Bay)

• Anne Murphy (12/17/1926 at 50, Adams Cove)

• Agnes Murphy (8/11/1923 at 6, Adams Cove)

• Mary Forristal (5/25/1925 at 87, Jobs Cove)

• William Murphy (1943 at 65/66)

• Bridget Murphy (1957 at 80/81)

• Thomas Murphy (1962 at 50/51)

• Josie Hayden (2/9/1896 at 8 months)

• Martha Hayden (10/31/1903 at 43)

• Jeremiah Leary (1/14/1849 at 50)

• John Leary (9/19/1907 at 27)

• Samuel Short (1/23/1906 at 64)

• Laurence Fitzgerald (5/27/1905 at 23)

• Jane Short (11/14/1907 at 40)

• Lucy King (9/?/?)

• Richard F. King (?/?/? at 3)

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