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Hannah Burbank Stanchfield Blaisdell: A $65.00 “Touchstone” to The Revolution

Alice Stanchfield Bowman worried about what was going to happen to her mother’s gravesite and headstone in Layman’s Cemetery.

by Sue Hunter Weir

In 1925 Alice Stanchfield Bowman worried about what was going to happen to her mother’s gravesite and headstone in Layman’s Cemetery.  Alice was 79 years old and almost blind but she could read well enough to follow the newspaper stories about the bodies that were being removed from the cemetery, sometimes at the rate of several hundred a day.  She wrote to Marion Satterlee, first president of the Minneapolis Cemetery Protective Association, to let him know that her brother, his wife, and several of their children were buried in the Stanchfield family plot.  In addition she had many friends buried there, but it was her mother, Hannah Burbank Stanchfield Blaisdell, that she was most concerned about.

Hannah Burbank was born in Maine on March 3, 1806.  She married Ezra Stanchfield, Alice’s father, in 1827.  They had at least ten children.  Alice, born in 1846, was one of the youngest.  Her father died in 1851 when Alice was five.  Hannah Stanchfield married again; her second husband was Timothy Blaisdell.  Sometime after he died, Hannah moved to Minneapolis.  When the 1880 census was taken, Hannah, aged 75, was living in Minneapolis and working in a boarding house run by Alice and one of Alice’s brothers.

Hannah died on July 19, 1892, from old age at the age of 86 years.    She was buried in the family plot at Layman’s Cemetery in a plot that Alice said her mother had purchased from Charles Layman “when she was very old.”

In 1884, about eight years before her mother died, Alice married Sidney Bowman. They had two children.  In 1941 their son Jay Bowman applied for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.  His application included the names, and birth and death dates of his mother’s relatives going back to 1684 when the family arrived in what was to become the United States.  Hannah’s paternal grandfather, John Burbank, was one of those who played a part in forming that new country.  Six days after Paul Revere made his famous ride, John Burbank enlisted in Colonel Moses Little’s Regiment.  Hannah Blaisdell was Alice’s link to that chapter of the family story.

In her letter to Marion Satterlee, Alice wrote:  “I…am too old to go out to meetings but I hope to do my part in keeping up the place where my mother and others are buried.”  She added a postscript to another of her letters:  “I paid 65 dollars for a tombstone which can be seen at any time.”  After 120 years the marker that Alice bought for her mother in 1892 is still standing although it is a little the worse for wear.  Lichen, air pollution and Minnesota weather have taken their toll and the inscription is hard to make out.  Next spring we’ll clean it and see how much of the inscription that Alice chose for her mother remains.

Alice Stanchfield Bowman died on April 14, 1926, a little less than a year after she first wrote to Marion Satterlee.  She suffered a stroke and died at the age of 80; she is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.

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