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Kevin Airrington is a professional genealogist & historian with 15+ years experience. Specializing in adoptions - It's Who I Am!™
Genealogy Tip of the Day!
A Mortgagor Usually Signs

If you’re confused in reading a mortgage‚ remember that the mortgagor is usually the one who signs the document and is the one who is borrowing the money.

Aurora Which Model - Susan A GavinThe witch was an eccentric woman who lived alone in Aurora back in the 1800′s. There is no specific information available about her but according to the tale she was prone to public displays of very odd behavior and at the time people generally accepted the fact that she was indeed a witch. Then one year when the crops failed; the run of bad luck was blamed on the witch and her wicked ways. Everyone agreed that she had surely cast an evil spell over the entire town.

So in a tirade a group of vigilantes hung the witch to put an end to the evil. In some versions of the story the witch is actually burned at the stake. Personally I’ve never been quite been able to buy that one even if it is more historically ”witchy”. What?

When I visited the witch’s grave a few years ago it was a haunting experience but not in the way I expected. I found the general ambiance of the place to be one of deep sadness. It just oozed an aura of despair and loneliness. I was surprised to see an array of gifts that had been placed on the grave by previous visitors. There were dolls figurines stuffed animals piles of coins and various bouquets of flowers spread out over the entire grave and its surrounding area.

Taken from the Aurora Cemetery Walking Tour information:

1. Susan Gavan (184-188):
Catholic Cemetery-East-#104(

According to the 1880 Census

Both Frank And Susans parents were from Ireland.

Frank was Born in England

Frank was a brick Mason

Susan was a Homemaker [keeping house]

Sons Frank & Mathias were farmers

All of their children except Mariah and Mary were born in New York.  Mariah & Mary were born in Nebraska.

They had 6 children:

Fannie E. Gavan 17
Mathias Gavan 15
Frank Gavan 13
Carnelius Gavan 8
Mariah Gavan 4
Mary S. Gavan 1

Mary is reported to have died and is buried with her.   However in May 188 she had another child named May.  There was a 7 month old child her died and was buried with her.  I have not researched beyond this…but my guess it is May with her in that grave and not Mary.  May to November is….7 months.  Although I have not inspected the gravestone I have heard that her daughter Mays name is on the marker.  There are also records of Mary C. Gavin working as a Social Investigator in New York when she was 3.

One question I have for you is what documentation do you have for their wedding date?  The reason I ask is Frank was born in England.  I found some immigration records and I am not sure if they line up with your marriage date.  It is entirely possible I have the wrong Frank Gavin.

Francis P. "Frank" Gavin NaturlizationThe information I have is he arrived on the City of Chester Ship on 17 Apr 1880.  Others have them married on October 311861.  19 years before my Frank arrived in the United States.  His real name is Francis. Well…well…well…a search of immigration records for Francis P Gavin…we have a naturalization of  Oct 24 1856.

In Surrey England Francis Gavin was imprisoned for  House breaking…equivalent to breaking and entering. That cannot be the same Francis Gavin since he was convicted on 18 May 1857.

Frank served during the Civil War 1st Sgt. Co. B 159th NY Infantry.  Frank is not buried at the same cemetery as his wife.

Susan Gavan was born in Orange County New York on April 11 1842. She married Frank Gavan on October 311861. Mr. and Mrs. Gavan came to Aurora NE in 1875 where Frank was a contractor and a trustee for the village of Aurora in 188 and 188. Mrs. Gavan died November 27 188 after a sudden illness. Buried along with Mrs. Gavan is her seven month old daughter Mary. [See above, Mary came from Kris Dersten and other reports, however in investigation I believe it to be youngest daughter May.]Mrs. Gavan was given a Catholic service and was buried in the section that five months later was officially established as the St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery. The iron posts and chains that decorate the grave simulate a 4-poster bed accented with tassels. For years these two factors have fed the legend that she was a witch who was buried in a remote part and her spirit was contained within the chains. Historical evidence proves that she was a young mother who was fondly remembered.


Hamilton County News Friday 1 December 1882

Death of Mrs. Gavan.
It becomes the painful duty of THE NEWS to announce the death of Mrs. Gavan wife of Mr. F. P. Gavan Aurora which occurred on Monday last at 9 oclock a.m. after a short illness. On Saturday last her family and many friends were rejoicing to think she was better and out of danger. She was worse Sunday and died Monday as above stated. She had lived many years in this county and was beloved by a host of acquaintances. A husband and several children mourn the loss of a wife and mother—dearest friend on earth—while the community realize that from our midst in life has gone an estimable lady and extend heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved family.

Hamilton County News Friday 24 November 1882Mrs. Ellenwood and Mrs. Gavan both referred to last week as being very sick we are pleased to announce are better.

Some of the information was gathered from:


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