Coming to America as a guest in the Stranger's Tomb
Last weekend I took a short trip to Boston Massachusetts to embark on a new Belcombe adventure! You're probably wondering what in the world is a Belcombe adventure doing in Boston? Remember when I said the Belcombes were classy and liked to travel and have fun? This sense of adventure was not ignored by Henry Meek Mountford Belcombe.
The Reverend Henry M. M. Belcombe, Percy’s second eldest brother, was baptized on December 14th, 1819 in Newcastle Under Lyme in St. Giles church. (P.s. The same place as Percy, and then the family moved to York in 1822.)
As luck would have it for me, he made a trip to the US in 1845 but unfortunately died while in Boston. But with him being in Boston I was able to take the quick trip in hopes of taking a selfie with his gravestone without it being as crazy as the time I flew to the UK for 2 days to take a selfie with Percy's...
On May 21, 1845, the Rev landed in Philadelphia Pennsylvania on board the Bark Fair Mount. In an affidavit from 1853 listing the deaths of her immediate family members, Percy states that Henry left England in 1844. This vessel came from St. Thomas so I hope he went there to have a nice vacation on the beach. Or maybe he was doing mission work? I need to find out what type of Reverend he was; CoE, Methodist, something else? He eventually ended up staying at the Tremont House in Boston, Massachusetts. The Tremont House was a famous hotel built in 1829 “the pioneer, first class hotel in America.” I’ve always said those Belcombes had class.
Henry died while staying at the Tremont House with the cause of death listed as Apoplexy, the term used for a stroke at the time. And sadly enough he was listed as a “stranger” at Tremont House.
So he arrives in the US at the end of May in Philadelphia and then dies by July 16th in Boston. Was the term stranger used to mean something specific? You would think it would say “guest at Tremont House”? I’ll have to look into that further. Maybe he had just arrived and hadn’t had a chance to get to know anyone and really was a ‘stranger’. His obit in the York Herald says he died after a short illness so either he had been in communication with his family that he was sick, or someone in Boston notified them. Which you would assume if someone else notified them, then he wasn’t necessarily a stranger. So many questions, as always!
So you may be asking yourself where is the selfie? Well, funny story! There is no gravestone for poor Henry. At the time because of its popularity, the Tremont House bought a plot (#324) in Mount Auburn cemetery to bury people who died while staying there. This was before embalming became widespread and the cost of transporting dead people was the equivalent of overnighting breast milk from Australia to Greenland. Tremont House erected a 6-foot tall octagonal tomb for its guests. It held 36 spots and allegedly there were plaques for the people buried within.
Eventually, due to its low occupancy rate, the tomb was taken down and the people were buried in the ground. Why in the world would you do that? Why wouldn't you just put more people in the tomb that already exists? If you don't like that it's empty, fill the bastard up. I'm very disappointed in whoever made that decision. Because now Henry and I are selfie-less. But in the tomb's place, they planted a Beech tree which you can see in the photos from my visit. It really is a beautiful cemetery.
Since there was no gravestone and no hope for a new Belcombe selfie I took a seat on the hill next to Henry's tree and I recorded a video while I sat there randomly talking about Henry and the Belcombes.
I first got to know Henry through the affidavit signed by Percy in 1853 regarding her family history and so I've always referred to him as Henry Mountford Meek Belcombe. But he has more records so far with Meek Mountford as his middle name so I would assume that is correct. But you'll notice in my video below I still refer to him by the latter quite a bit.
If you'd like more history on The Stranger's Tomb check out Mount Auburn's video!
When it comes to my Belcombe physical gravestone collection I am now 2 (non-existent) -13 (found) - 2 (not yet visited). Not a bad record I'd say.