Finding Matt McCarthy

I spent today and yesterday in Albany for the annual Researching New York conference. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with friends I only see once or twice a year and learn from all of the smart presenters. But this year, I had an additional agenda for my annual pilgrimage to Albany: I was going to find Matt McCarthy.

If Jack had anyone resembling an owner, it would have been Matt, the baggagemaster at the Union Station in Albany. By all accounts, Matt and Jack were close and Matt provided a good deal of Jack’s care when the dog passed through Albany. I had been researching McCarthy, but I couldn’t find when he died. I saw that many other members of his family were buried in the St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands, NY, so I deduced that Matt was probably there, too. Before coming out to Albany, I contacted the cemetery office and they confirmed that Matt was indeed buried there. He died on 2/7/1904 at age 53 of kidney disease. He shared the plot with 11 of his family members, including his 4 children, their spouses, and his wife.

With the plot information in hand, I headed over to the cemetery before the conference started. The cemetery office workers gave me a map and directions and I was off. The section of the cemetery Matt is buried in is up a decent hill and I hoofed it up from the parking lot at the bottom. After a little directionally-challenged wandering, I found where the plot should have been according to the map. But I didn’t see a headstone with the family name.

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The McCarthy plot from the road. See, it doesn’t look like anything is there.

I walked up a steep little incline to what looked like an open space and there I saw 4 flat stones. One that said “McCarthy,” one that said “Quirk” (his daughter Mary’s married name), and one each for his son Dennis and Dennis’ wife Anna. And that was it. I wandered more, wondering if I was missing the others. But I wasn’t. They weren’t there. I admit that I became a little emotional when I realized that Matt’s grave wasn’t specifically marked. He was so important to Jack, so important to my story, that it felt unfair. I wanted him to have more.

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Walking up the hill, things start to change. There are the 4 markers.

Still, disappointment aside, this in itself was telling. I need to spend more time researching the family and their finances. I’m glad that even though Jack is still missing, that I at least know where one of his best friends rests.

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All that is there to mark Matt McCarthy’s grave

I’m still looking to talk to anyone who is a descendant of Matt McCarthy in the hopes that there might be some Jack-related family stories that have been passed down. Please reach out if you know anything!

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