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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Genealogy Works on Stubborn Stains

From the Medfield (Mass.) Press:

Soiled name restored for Stain
By Amanda J. Mantone/ Staff Writer
Thursday, June 30, 2005

One of Medfield's most famed criminals is getting a long-due redemption.

David Leighton Stain, wrongly convicted of murder and then shunned the rest of his life because of it, lies in an unmarked grave in Vine Lake Cemetery. Next week, he'll get a headstone for the first time since his death in 1915, thanks to a long-lost descendant who became unexpectedly entwined in his story while mapping her genealogy.

"It really started when I had my own child. As I was trying to fill in my son's baby book, I asked my mother what her grandfather's name was, and she didn't know," said Rhoda Boutin, a Pittsburgh native who now lives in Florida. "I was president of a small neighborhood women's club, and one day we had a genealogy specialist to a lunch meeting. She came to talk to us about how to research our roots, and that kind of sparked me."

That was five years ago. She could barely use a computer, but by typing the only thing she knew about her grandfather, his last name - Stain - into www.ancestry.com, she hit upon a murder trial from 1888, Stain and Cromwell v. the State of Maine.

"I said to myself, 'hmm, my grandmother must have had some relatives that got in trouble,'" said Boutin.

She traced the case to a magazine article from the 1890's, where she read about an unknown chapter of her family's past: David Stain, her great-grandfather and a longtime Medfield resident, and his son-in-law Oliver Cromwell, were charged with a murder in Maine in 1887, for which they were later pardoned and released from prison in 1901. Armed with that basic information, Boutin called Medfield Town Clerk Carol Mayer to help trace the family.

[snip]

Stain was released when his son Charlie, later thought to be mentally ill, confessed that he had lied about Stain's involvement while testifying, spilling the scoop to a sensationalist New York newspaper reporter that wined and dined him in exchange for the story. Barron's death was never resolved.

[snip]

On Thursday, July 7 Rhoda and her husband Mike will unveil the long-awaited gravestone, next to the stone that marks Stain's wife's grave in Vine Lake Cemetery. It's cut in the same style as other markers from that period in the cemetery, and sits shaded by a tree on a hill overlooking route 109. It reads simply, "David Leighton Stain, born Jan. 20, 1830, died July 7, 1915. An innocent shoemaker."

[snip]

[Read the whole story]

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