Holy Cross Cemetery wasn’t the only place that I visited during my October 2013 visit to Malden, Massachusetts. I also stopped by the Malden Public Library with hopes of finding Lizzie’s obituary.
Converse Memorial Library was donated to the city by Elisha S. and Mary D. Converse in 1885. For some reason, the building’s rounded features coupled with its brown, Longmeadow sandstone looked familiar to me. I found out why while researching its history. The library was designed by H.H. Richardson, the American architect who also designed Trinity Church in Boston.
In 1996, the city added onto the north side of the library. Once inside, I was disappointed to learn that the old section was closed to the public.
A nice woman named Wendy asked if she could help me. I explained my quest, and before I knew it, she was thumbing through postcard-sized microfiche transparencies. She placed one onto an EYECOM reading machine, adjusted it expertly, yet didn’t find anything. Undeterred, she dug back into the tray and tried another…and another. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, she said, “I’m sorry. I can’t find anything under that name.”
I couldn’t believe it. Lizzie had lived in Malden for over a half-decade. Could no written account of her death exist? Just as disappointment was starting to creep over me, Wendy asked, “Perhaps it’s listed under her husband’s name?”
I offered Patrick’s name, but wasn’t hopeful. He died in the 1800s. Why would it be listed that way? I thought. Thankfully, both Wendy’s experience and faith proved more solid than mine. “Here it is,” she said, “listed under Mrs. Patrick Milligan.”
I expected her to hit the print button and hand me the obituary, but evidently, the microfiche only contained an index to it. Obtaining a hardcopy would require a trip to the city’s Local History Historical Society, which was located in the old part of the library. The good news? I’d be able to see the original part of the library after all. The bad news? It wouldn’t be open until later that evening.
Since I had to hang out in Malden anyway, I used the time to search for Lizzie’s grave at Holy Cross Cemetery.
I returned to the library at about 6:00 p.m.. The double doors that had been locked earlier that morning were now open. A few steps later and I found myself standing at the threshold of an absolutely stunning room.
Polished hardwood floors reflected the yellow light of incandescent bulbs. Solid wooden tables invited me to sit and work–their elegantly varnished tops revealing the gentle wear from over a century of visitors who had accepted that same invitation. Thousands of cloth-bound books were stacked two stories high on handcrafted shelves. Richardson Romanesque wooden columns demonstrated that the library was more than a place for research. It was also a work of art.
A man named Stephen pointed me toward a card catalog system–a research tool that I hadn’t used in well over 25 years. I pulled the drawer labeled, “MILLET- MOURE R” and found Lizzie’s card located very close to the front.
MILLIGAN, MRS, PATRICK J (ELIZABETH NESTOR)
News Feb 5, 1962 p.5 c.3.
Stephen took that information and returned with a small box containing a roll of microfilm. He threaded the spool through the machine, gave me some cursory training, and left to help other visitor. A few moments later and I had scrolled my way clumsily to the spot that contained page 5, column 3 of the Malden Evening News.
Mrs. Elizabeth (Nestor) Milligan, formerly of 5 Robinson rd., Malden, died Saturday at a nursing home in Billerica.
She was the widow of Patrick J. Milligan, who died many years ago. A native of Montreal, she resided in Malden for 60 years.
She leaves a brother, John Nestor of Everett. She was a sister of the late Mrs. Ellen Cardinal. Mrs. Milligan’s son, Edward J., died in 1935.
The funeral will be from the Norton Funeral Home, 287 Main st., Malden sq. Tuesday at 9 o’clock with a requiem high mass at the Sacred Hearts Church, Malden, at 9. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.
The second column, labeled “Death Notices,” presented similar information in another format.
MILLIGAN — formerly of 5 Robinson rd., Malden, Feb 3, Elizabeth (Nestor), beloved wife of the late Patrick Milligan. Mother of the late Edward J. Milligan. Sister of John Nestor of Everett and the late Mrs. Ellen Cardinal. Funeral from the Leo M. Norton Funeral Home, 287 Main st.., Malden sq. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 8:30. Requiem High Mass in the Sacred Hearts Church at 9 o’clock. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours Monday 3-5 and 7-10.
Although I already knew most of this information, some new clues added a little more color to Lizzie’s story.
- Lizzie never remarried, choosing to remain known as Mrs. Elizabeth Milligan for 77 years.
- She outlived her younger sister, Ellen, who Lizzie lived with for at least 60 years
- Her brother, John Nestor, lived in Everett, Massachusetts in 1962. This could prove helpful as we try to find living relatives.
- Her home parish was Sacred Hearts Church, located in Malden, Massachusetts.
Since I was there, I used the opportunity to search for other obituaries. And although I also came up empty for Patrick, Edward, and Lizzie’s mother, Mary, I did find obits for Joseph & Ellen Cardinal, and their son, Nestor Francis Cardinal.
The journey continues.
Sources used in this post: