By Tara Vocino
On Tuesday morning, northern California residents Francis and Lori McDermott flew in from California to visit their relatives – the Pratt family – buried at the Rumney Marsh Burial Ground.
“It’s a privilege to be here,” Lori (May) McDermott said, who found them through Ancestry.com. “It’s thrilling, mind-blowing and special. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”
Her 26 relatives, who were Revere farmers who owned Rumney Marsh area land, were buried there. That lineage goes back six generations to the 1600s, starting with her paternal grandmother, Ruth Pratt.
Lori McDermott said her descendants were an important part of the community, as they were some of the first settlers in Revere. For instance, her fourth-generation grandparents Abigail Wilcott and Daniel Pratt Jr. are interred there. She said that they must have had tenacity to live without electricity and to prepare for winter.
Other relatives were buried at Bell Rock Cemetery on Green Street in Malden, she added. Lori McDermott said they were buried at Revere’s only cemetery, because they were Revere residents.
“They’re fortunate that they were buried together at home,” she said. “Back in the 1600s, they didn’t have proper burial procedures for most.”
Her husband, Francis, who was adopted, said it’s interesting to watch his wife find out about her roots. “I walk into the computer room and see her checking out her lineage several times a week,” Francis McDermott said. “She’s family-oriented and close to her family. I’d say the genetic testing is fairly accurate.”
Event Organizer Bill Reedy, a Veterans’ Services volunteer, said he couldn’t wait for this day to come. It is been in the works since August.
“I looked up everything I could,” Reedy said at the American Legion, where he took them back to look at a collection book after the cemetery tour. “It was a gorgeous day, and we had a good time. Other people have family buried here, but they don’t take the time to travel here from out-of-state.”
Lori McDermott said she loved the little stories that she learned, including the fact that Lt. Thomas Pratt was builder of Slade’s Spice Mill on the Creek.
She became involved after her father, David May, died, and she wanted to continue his legacy of following their family tree. When Lori McDermott broke her arm and couldn’t work thereafter, she needed a hobby.
The Pratt name is English, French Normandy, and Scandinavian. Her mother’s side is Swiss and German, according to Lori McDermott. She plans to donate an undisclosed amount of money to help preserve the cemetery.
Tara Vocino may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Advocate photos by Tara Vocino)