Amazing life unearthed


There is a gravestone in the St. Aloysius Cemetery indicating that John Barry was interred there at the advanced age of 117. 

Dates on the stone show he was born March 27, 1768, in County Cork, Ireland, and his total time of life was 117 years and 99 days. The date of his death is listed as July 5, 1885. 

If those dates are correct, Barry had the third longest life in America up to now, but it is hard to find accurate records to prove it. A Sarah Knaues is recorded as living to 119 and 97 days and Lucy Hannah outlived Barry by 199 days, passing away at the age of 117 years and 298 days. 

Barry’s marker stands in the middle of the cemetery and has a dedication to his wife, who is also buried there. The inscription states in part, “Mary Hogan wife of John Barry, died of quick consumption March 2, 1853; age 55 years.”

He arrived Edgar County in 1833 and lived here for the remainder of his long life. From 1816 until his 1833 settlement here, Barry is known to have lived in Canada, Buffalo, New York, and Franklin, Kentucky. More information about his life is in the sidebar duplicating his July 10, 1885, obituary in the Paris Beacon.  

Dan Pigg discovered the extreme age listed on the stone while he was repairing the Barry monument about 10 years ago. Pigg was recognized several years ago in the Beacon-News for his attempt to improve the appearance of many markers in Edgar County cemeteries.  

His commitment to old tombstones may have started when he was helping Ed Hiddle officially

open and close graves, and he got a close look at the conditions found in the cemeteries. 

Upon retirement, Pigg wanted to keep busy and he turned his attention to restoring cemeteries. He said being busy is a personal reward especially if what he has done was done well. 

Doctors take an oath to first do no harm, and Pigg approached working on grave markers with the same philosophy. He never wanted to make a bigger problem than the one he set out to correct. 

While working with a caretaker of the Sugar Grove Cemetery, he questioned why the older plots in the back were not as well cared for as the newer graves in front. He likened that to someone washing a car and only washing half of it and then knowing it was not well done. 

He worked at restoring cemeteries and mowing them with the permission of trustees and caretakers. He got paid for his work, but not excessively. 

The before and after photos of cemetery projects Pigg keeps in a scrapbook collection documents his work in western Indiana and cemeteries within Edgar County’s Elbridge, Symmes, Hunter and Brouilletts Creek townships. The photo history confirms some of the sites were especially difficult to work because of brush growth and the stones toppled over and in horrible shape.  

Pigg no longer does the heavy work of repairing broken stones but while walking around St. Aloysius Cemetery, he carried a pumice stone to remove dirt and algae off some stones. 

The information on the Barry stone might have been lost without a dedicated man caring for it. Pigg has preserved our history written on the stones of Edgar County.