Fair Haven man’s urn hidden away for decades

Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 6:50 PM EST
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FAIR HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - An urn that was supposed to be buried 37 years ago recently turned up instead in a Rutland County law office. Katharine Huntley reports on how locals are trying to reunite Thomas Hamilton with his family.

Thomas Hamilton was born in Fair Haven in 1905. He died in Florida back in 1985. His urn and ashes were sent back to Vermont for burial but that never happened. Just a few weeks ago, his cremated remains were found in a vault at a former law firm in Poultney. Now, Fair Haven town staff and the local historical society are looking to get Hamilton where he belongs.

“No one really knew anything about it,” said Jennifer Deppert, who worked at DeBonis, Wright and Carris in Poultney, the law firm that oversaw Hamilton’s estate. In January, the firm was closing and she came across his urn in the vault as she was helping clean out the office. “I felt like he needed his final resting place because he was in such a nice urn he must have been meant to go somewhere.”

Deppert says the only person who might know why Hamilton was in the vault is the firm’s founder, who now lives in a nursing home and is unable to answer questions. She contacted the Fair Haven town offices who then got the Historical Society involved.

“This Historical Society has been in existence since 1985, so he squeezed in at the right time and we have all the obituaries of Fair Haven people from that time on,” said the society’s Lorraine Brown.

She says they used Hamilton’s obituary to locate his wife Beatrice’s information. She died five years after her husband. The couple had no children. They discovered Beatrice is likely buried near Thomas’s parents at the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Fair Haven.

On Tuesday they went to the cemetery looking for the graves of Beatrice and her mother and father-in-law but they had trouble locating the graves because it was too icy. They’ll keep trying, and when they do find Hamilton’s family, the volunteers plan to bury his urn with them.

Fair Haven Town Manager Joe Gunter says that it’s all about respect and taking care of another Vermonter. “We all have this shared history here in Vermont and I think we all would want to treat others as we would want to be treated. And for Mr. Hamiltion, it’s making sure he gets to where he needs to go,” he said.

The volunteers are also looking for any potential relatives of Hamilton who might like to attend his burial -- hopefully this spring.

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