My Burial Plot Cost is Covered!

Mar 19, 2014 by

Stombstoneince my mother’s recent death, I seem suddenly to have become more interested in my maternal family history. Luckily—since I’m instinctively lazy—much of the investigative work has already been done for me. My great Uncle William Coffeen did a lot of genealogical research and, during his latter years, wrote short biographies of many family members, including each of the Coffeens from whom I am a direct lineal descendent, back to the first Coffeen to immigrate to North America: Michael Coffeen, in 1722 or 1723.

One of Michael Coffeen’s offspring, Capt. John Coffeen, founded the town of Cavendish, Vermont in 1769 after establishing a lone farm in the Vermont wilderness. (If you’re wondering about the Captain moniker: John Coffeen served in the militia from 1775 until at least 1787.) Capt. John Coffeen is my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.

My great Uncle Bill’s biography of Capt. John Coffeen includes a transcript of the Captain’s will. This section in particular caught my interest:

will excerpt

Excerpt from my great, great, great, great, great Grandfather Capt. John Coffeen’s will.

First, you gotta love the writing style. No OMGs or BFFs, for one thing. And the references to “a large Butternut tree” and “Stake and Stones” as seemingly perpetual landmarks is charming. And what’s a rod? But the big news: Apparently I don’t have to set aside money for a burial plot, as Capt. John has provided a “Piece of Land for a Burying Place” for his “Heirs & Connections, their Heirs and after Generations,” and that includes me!

Have You Provided for Your “Final Expenses”?

This brings up the related money issue: have you provided for your, as the insurance company commercials call them, “final expenses?” I haven’t specifically, but I’d like to think my estate will be plenty large enough that my heirs won’t mind spending a little money on my cremation and ‘disposal.’ I really wouldn’t want one of those morose and expensive funeral home services where everyone stands around pretending like they thought a lot of me, so that’s a big cost and a lot of fakery avoided. As far as disposal of my ashes, I sort of would like “the Donny treatment” as depicted in The Big Lebowski: Folgers can, scattered into the wind and all over my best friends. 🙂

And Now I Have a Burial Plot!

But if  instead I decide to have my ashes (the funeral industry calls them “cremains”) interred in the ground, now I have at least one option, thanks to Capt. John Coffeen!

The area that Capt. John’s will describes is 5 rods by 6 rods. I believe that’s 82.5 feet by 99 feet, or about 8,200 square feet. This is a wild guess, but I believe the entire Coffeen family tree in North America since Michael’s immigration comprises about 300 individuals. That then works out to about 27 square feet per descendant. That’s a space roughly 5.2 feet square, or a rectangular space 3 feet x 9 feet, for example.

This is plenty of space for both myself and Ms. Money Counselor to be interred! I’m speaking hypothetically, of course.

But I’ve never been to Cavendish. For all I know a Burger King now occupies the space Capt. John willed to me when he died in 1802. As a vegan, I certainly would not want to be interred where I’d be engulfed in Whopper fumes for eternity.

What About You?

Are your “final expenses” handled? Have you avoided thinking about this sort of stuff?

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  • Wow, that’s actually pretty neat! Not only digging into your ancestry like that, but also finding out that you have that covered. I haven’t ever considered “final expenses”, because it’s not that pleasant a thing to think about. I have life insurance and savings, so I guess that would cover them!

  • squirrelers

    That’s interesting! If nothing else, it might make you wonder what that location is actually like these days. The butternut tree reference was cool.

    This is something I’ve procrastinated thinking about for myself….well, actually I just haven’t given it thought. Man, let’s hope I can put that off for quite some time!

    • One of my brothers visited the cemetery about a decade ago. I’d forgotten that! He recently sent me some photos. It’s still very much intact and appeared to be well cared for, and remains in a largely undeveloped area.

  • Lisa

    Hello Kurt,
    I am one of your cousins. I descend from Lorinda daughter of Michael son of John Coffeen. I was wondering where I could get copies of the bios your great Uncle wrote? I would be interested in finding out more about internment in Cavendish. I already have a plot in OK from my in laws who bought plots for each 3 sons & a wife for each.
    I’m thankful you had time to spend with your Mom before her passing. She sounds like a blessed lady.
    May she rest in peace. My mom is on her 80s too.
    We seem to be fairly long lived family.
    Nice to have a chance to say Hi,

    • Hi Lisa. I sent an email to the address you provided when making this comment. 🙂

  • Linda Coffeen Gonzalez

    Greetings, cousin! I too am curious about these short biographies your great uncle William Coffeen has written. My Coffeen family is in Indiana, as I am discovering by way of Watertown, NY then through Wisconsin during the Civil War. I think there are many more than 300 Coffeens in the US. Perhaps a family reunion in Coffeen, Illinois is in order?

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