Graveyard tour at St. Thomas Cemetery to tell "untold stories" of Irish and Italian immigrants in Southington

Published on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 19:54


SOUTHINGTON - Those curious to learn untold stories of how Catholicism came to Southington are invited to accompany Bonnie Plourde, caretaker of the Barnes Museum, next week on a tour of St. Thomas Cemetery.

The tour will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2, from 4:15 to 6:30 p.m., with a rain date of Oct. 9. Those who wish to join the tour can either meet at the Southington Library at 255 Main St. at 4:15 or come directly to the cemetery on Meriden Avenue at 4:30. Parking at the cemetery is limited. The tour will take approximately an hour and a half.

During the tour, Plourde will discuss the symbols found on the gravestones, the types of stones used and how these markers and engravings reflect cultural changes over the years.

“What I like to do is not talk about the spooky aspect but the markings that our culture left behind in the stones and the layout of the cemetery,” said Plourde. “There is a beautiful, rich history of Italian and Irish immigration there. This tour won’t focus on the famous names, but on more untold stories. We will talk about the first person buried at St. Thomas and how, after St. Thomas Church was erected in 1860, there used to be graves on the site on Bristol Street. Then, when it became full, land was purchased on Meriden Avenue. In 1903, the pastor at the time decided that all parishioners should be laid to rest together and the bodies from the older graves were moved. ”

The idea for this tour came from Nicole Kent, the library’s teen and reference librarian, and Plourde was asked to lead it due to her longtime interest in archeology.

“I’ve been interested in archeology since I was little,” said Plourde. “My mother used to bring me to cemeteries all the time. It’s fascinating what you can learn. This will be my first talk in a cemetery, but I have done multiple PowerPoint presentations on graveyards. I came to the Barnes Museum after visiting it during a career day. We recently learned that there is a connection between St. Thomas Cemetery and the Barnes Museum, but you’ll have to come on the tour to find out what it is.”

“Nicole Kent, teen and reference librarian, approached me with the idea for a graveyard program for tweens and teens,” said Sandy DiCicco, the library’s assistant director/head of reference. “We asked Bonnie if she would be interested in helping us with this program, and she ran with it. Her enthusiasm and passion for history and for Southington really shines. The program developed into one that we decided to open up to adults, too. We are very excited to bring this program to the community.”

To register, visit and click on the events calendar or call the reference desk at 860-628-0947, option 5.

Permission slips are required for teens and tweens not accompanied by an adult.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Southington Herald on Tuesday, 24 September 2019 19:54. Updated: Tuesday, 24 September 2019 19:56.