Throughout this class, I’ve been curious as to the young death of my mom’s sister, Patricia Marie McGraw. I hesitated to ask my mom about it because I didn’t want to upset her by bringing up any sad memories. After so much research, I only had a birth date and death date, along with the places of her birth and death, which seemed odd because I thought I would find something in a newspaper archive. Last week Dr. Lawton even helped me look through all of the available databases to find anything on Patsy McGraw, and there was nothing! How could there be absolutely no documentation of her death?! Not even a social security death index?! Then, right after class, my mom emailed me with some new photos and records I could look through, including a newspaper article about her sister’s death.
As I read this, I was shocked I never knew that my Aunt was struck by lightning. It’s also interesting that I couldn’t find this article any time before. When I finally learned more about her, I decided to search for her grave on find a grave. It wasn’t indexed, and my mom had said that she was buried with my grandmother and grandfather. I went ahead and added a memorial for her and my grandfather, James Francis McGraw. After sending in photo requests for each of these graves, I just got notified that someone added the pictures. I had never seen the headstones before, so I was interested to see them.
Other than the news of finding my Aunt’s cause of death, I also discovered a famous cousin! Francis Xavier McGraw, my first cousin 2x removed, was a World War II hero. Born in 1918, Francis was only 26 when he went to war. After asking my mom about more information, she directed me to a website dedicated to him. I even found out he has his own Wikipedia page! I was able to find out so much information about him, his home in New Jersey, where he went to school, and even that he played baseball. The most exciting news was the fact that he was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor after his death for his courageous efforts in the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest in Germany. He was also awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. I couldn’t believe the story of such bravery he exhibited during this battle, and I am truly honored to have such character in my extended family.