Thanks so much for the great response to this blog!
A special thank you to those who have passed it on to others. We are heading quickly to amazing page visits to this blog! Welcome to folks from all over the country and other countries as well, including Lisbon!!

The "Village", as it was called, is located in the northwest corner of the city of Taunton, Massachusetts U.S.A. It covers about 1 square mile with the center being School Street. A large portion of the Village population was Portuguese when I was growing up.

This blog covers a lot of the history of the Village, much to do with my years as a child there: 1940 through the late 1950's. I do have many wonderful photos and information prior to that that and will share those as well. Always looking for MORE PHOTOS AND MORE STORIES TO TELL.

If you would like to send photos or share a memory of growing up in the Village
e-mail me at
feel free to comment on the posts. Directions are on the right side of the blog posts. Jump in, the water is fine and it is easy!!!

I will be posting photographs but not identifying individuals unless I have permission or they are a matter of public record. It you wish to give me permission, please let me know.

I am looking for any and all photos of the Village...

Please note: the way blogs work is that the latest post is first. It you would like to start from the beginning of the blog, check out the post labels on the right of the blog and go from there. Thanks.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Beginning this Memorial Day series of Posts, I decided to forego chronological order.  The story of the rocking chair so captured my imagination that I used writer's prerogative to start with it.  I shall return to the origins of Memorial Day in Taunton, and the Village, in the next post.
 I am still doing more research, as well.

There are three cemeteries along E. Brittania St. in Taunton: The Mayflower Cemetery (which also fronts along Broadway), St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery (which backs onto School Street ), and then in-between a small "Pauper's Cemetery" which we shall return to later.  In this post we will concentrate on the Mayflower, a public cemetery, and in this post, one particular monument.

 All cemeteries are of interest to historians and genealogists for they hold a
 trove of precious information.  Sometimes one finds something 
so fascinating that it deserves its own Post.

Thus it is with The Rocking Chair Monument. To those listed above with interest in cemeteries I shall now add paranormals.   This photo was taken by members of such an organization who were investigating reports of sightings of a small child sitting in this Empire style rocking chair. The recorder at the right of the photo must have been for listening….perhaps?

I was first alerted to this chair monument by a post by Stephen Kaska on I'm From Taunton Facebook page.  I had forgotten this monument and set to learn more with the Research Department at the Taunton Public Library and on the Internet.  It is a very unique story and one that gets told and retold over the decades as we shall see.

The Rocking Chair Monument
Mayflower Cemetery
Taunton, MA

What is the origin of this child's chair cast in stone?
 Why does it still appeal to children who, year after year, leave stuffed toys on and around the chair, as you can see so clearly here?

The chair is of white marble and marks the grave of Pearle French, a little girl who died of spinal meningitis in Boston, Sunday, March 26, 1882 - yes, 1882! 

 Note that the toys on the grave are all of recent vintage.
Local lore had it that there had been a fire and a child had died.  Not true.  
Penny Humphrey, a Taunton Gazette reporter investigated and reported on the story in the March 27. 1995 issue of that newspaper "Laying Some Local Lore to Rest." 
Legend had it that the child had misbehaved and been told to sit in the chair and not move….fire took care of the rest. The other story was that the child was ill and was rocked
 in the chair in her mother's arms.  Also, not true.  Pearl died in a Boston Hospital 
and was buried in this plot owned by her father.
There are no birth records for the child, only the death record. Old records that do exist show that the cost of the plot was $10.  There is no record of parents or an address.  Pearl's grave is over 100 years old and now you can see why it is beloved by paranormals and by children who over the years have all sat in that chair at one time or another. 

Later, Patricia Corey, office manager at Rex Monuments across E. Brittania St., researched other stones and found that Pearl's parents were  Edwin French who died in 1920, and Emma J. Leonard, who died in 1902.  Mr. French worked in Boston but had lived for some time in Taunton.

The grave is still marked by flowers. When the chair was smashed by vandals almost a decade ago, Mrs. Corey gathered all the pieces of marble for safe keeping. Mr. Rex, a master stone mason and owner of Rex Monuments, repaired the beloved stone with all the pieces she had rescued and gifted it back to the City of Taunton.

The rocking chair apparently was inspired by this poem which at the time of Pearl's death had been published in a magazine.  Some or all of the poem may have been engraved on the stone. 
The words her vacant chair apparently can still be seen if one looks hard enough.

Right next to the chair is another monument, a scroll.  This was in memory of little Pearl's cousin
Veva L. Johnson, born Oct. 28, 1880 and who died of a "spinal disease" on April 26, 1884, 
two years and one month to the day after Pearl's death.  That era was filled with the 
sadness of high child mortality which thankfully no longer besets our children today thanks to antibiotics and medical advances.  

Note: the lights in the background are of cars going by on Broadway, I simply blurred them
for simplicity to see the monuments better.

Now here is an odd thing: I kept saving this post as I went along, but toward the end, the last parts of it kept disappearing, over and over.  
The other bits and pieces I had saved did the same thing.

That has never happened before.  Hmmmm.

Well, here I go again for the fourth time to finish this post.
This is the photograph I kept losing…

Alright girls, game is over….

Pinterest vintage photo

Sources for this Post

Aaron Cushman, Research Librarian, Taunton Public Library  with this article:
" Laying Some Local Lore to Rest", Pamela Humphrey, staff writer for
The Taunton Daily Gazette: March 27, 1995

"More Scary Folklore in Greater Taunton".  Jane H. Hennedy, Director: Bristol County
Historical Society, Taunton Daily Gazette, Oct. 30, 2008.


Paranormal investigators.  Photographs of Rocking Chair Momument
and reports.

Pinterest on the Internet for the Victorian photograph of the girls.


  1. Love, love, love this topic & your presentation! I always look forward to the latest installment of your blog! Thank you, Sandra.

  2. Many thanks, Kitty, your comment is much appreciated!

  3. A reader has indicated that Pat Corey was his aunt…small world! A personal touch to this tale.

  4. WOW, I grew up hearing the story about the fire and have passed that story onto my children. Im glad to have learned the true story. Thank you.

  5. my grandfather and his brother Manual and Joseph Cabral, were from Portugul . Manual was in the Brockton Enterprise News 1942 i believe, for helping and assisting the portugese with English and jobs and housing. very interesting.

  6. Love to hear all these stories, feel free to share any of your grandfather and his brother….did they live in Taunton? Thank you for commenting, much appreciated.

  7. I remember this rocking chair very well. Back in "My" day, our family visited the cemetery every Sunday afternoon. We walked to St. Joseph's via Mayflower cemetery and we often stopped and pondered the chair. Thank you for the information that you have presented here. Great work.

  8. Thank you for commenting! I cannot imagine how many children sat on the chair or were intrigued by it....that child has surely been remembered over the years. I very much appreciate your kind comments....keeps me going!!