Monday, December 1, 2008

Another View on John Hanson's Whereabouts

The note below was posted the other day as a comment on a post about John Hanson that we ran on October 14. Rather than let it get lost in the distant past of our blog, I've elected to reproduce it here. I'll get back to our findings in the Aboriginal Locus of Port Tobacco tomorrow.


From Peter Hanson Michael

Certainly a primary cause of the nation's faded memory of John Hanson is that the location of his grave is unknown. Unlike Washington’s much visited tomb at Mount Vernon, there is no grave known today for the nation to visit to pay its respects to John Hanson.

John Hanson died at the home of his nephew Thomas Hanson at Oxon Hill, Prince George's County, Maryland, November 22, 1783, a year after completing his term as president of the United States. He would have been buried in one of three places: there at Oxon Hill Manor, 21 miles away in his family cemetery at his ancestral home at Mulberry Grove, or 95 miles away in Frederick, his home at the time of his death. Rumors and one or two unsubstantiated written claims have existed since the time of his death that Hanson was buried at his nephew's estate, a practice not uncommon at the time. For example, Harry Newman wrote in his 1940 book on Hanson that, “He [John Hanson] was interred in the ancient burying ground of the Addison family at Oxon Hill,” but Newman does not cite a source for this. The Addisons were relatives by marriage of the Hansons but I have not been able to determine what relationship they might have had to Thomas Hanson of Oxon Hill Manor. When several old burial tablets were uncovered in the estate's graveyard in the 1990s, it was theorized that one of these could be John Hanson's.

A stronger clue would be the grave of Hanson's wife, Jane Contee Hanson, which is at Mulberry Grove. When Jane died in Frederick in 1812, 29 years after her husband and having outlived all of her twelve children, her body was transported the 95 miles to Mulberry Grove for burial. If she had directed that she be buried at Mulberry Grove rather than in the existing family plot in Frederick, it is very likely that she would have done so to be buried beside her husband. There is a conspicuous unmarked sunken grave between hers and the graves of two Hanson children who died in infancy. But if the grave beside Jane's is that of John, why would it be unmarked?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Unfortunately, the grave mentioned by the contributer at Mulberry Grove is that of Peter Contee, not Jane. Peter was Jane's brother. That is not to say that Jane or John is not buried there.