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MARKERS IV 



The Journal 
of the 
Association 
for Gravestone 
Studies 



Edited by 

David Walters 



UNIVERSITY 
PRESS OF 
AMERICA 



MARKERS IV 



ine -lai 



9^ 



of the 
Association 
for Ciravestone 




. ...^.d... 



Edited by 

David Walters 



UNIVERSITY 
PRESS OF 
AMERICA 




LAXHAM • NEW YORK • LONDON 



Copyright © 1987 by 
University Press of America,® Inc. 

4720 Boston Way 
Lanham, MD 20706 

3 Henrietta Street 
London WC2E 8LU England 

All rights reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 

British Cataloging in Publication Information Available 



ISBN (Perfect): 0-8191-5957-3 
ISBN (Cloth): 0-8191-5956-5 
LCN: 81-642903 



Co-published by arrangement with the 
National Association for Gravestone Studies 



All University Press of America books are produced on acid-free 

paper which exceeds the minimum standards set by the National 

Historical Publication and Records Commission. 




Dedicated to 
Theodore Chase 



IV 



ASSOCIATION FOR GRAVESTONE STUDIES 
EDITORIAL BOARD 

David Watters, Editor 

John L. Brooke James A. Slater 

Jessie Lie Farber Richard F. Welch 



Manuscripts may be submitted for review for future 
volumes to Theodore Chase, 74 Farm St., Dover, MA 02030. 
Manuscripts should conform to The Chicago Manua l of 
Style and be accompanied by glossy black and white pho- 
tographs or black ink drawings. For information about 
other Association for Gravestone Studies publications, 
membership and activities, write AGS, c/o American An- 
tiquarian Society, Worcester, MA 01609. 

The editor wishes to thank the University of New 
Hampshire for support for this volume. All photographs 
are by the authors or as noted in text except: Fig. 18, 
p. 29, Duval and Rigby; Fig. 1, p. 108, Karen Lane; Fig. 
4, p. 112, John C. Belding; Figs. 1-5, pp. 132-37, Figs. 
1-3, pp. 140-42, Figs. 1-7, pp. 143-48, Fig. 1, p. 155, 
Figs. 1-3, pp. 158-59, Figs. 1-5, pp. 160-65, Figs. 1- 
4, pp. 167-68, Figs. 1-4, pp. 170-73, Daniel Farber. 
Articles appearing in this journal are annotated and 
indexed in Historical Abstracts and America; History 
aj)d Life . 



VI 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Page 

Acknowledgments v 

The New York and New Jersey 
Gravestone Carving Tradition 

Richard F. Welch 1 

Rural Southern Gravestones: 

Sacred Artifacts in the Upland South 

Folk Cemetery 

Gregory Jeane 55 

"Safe in the Arms of Jesus": 

Consolation on Delaware Children's Gravestones, 

1840-99 

Deborah A. Smith 85 

Death Italo-American Style: 
Reflections on Modern Matyrdom 

Robert L. McGrath 107 

New Mexico Village Camposantos 

Nancy Hunter Warren 115 

Stonecutters and Their Works 

Edited by Jessie Lie Farber 131 

Index of Carvers and Illustrations 177 

Contributors 186 



Vll 



The New York and New Jersey 

Gravestone Carving Tradition 

Richard F. Welch 

Valuable as much of the work on early American 
gravestones has been, almost all of it has suffered 
from a serious limitation: confinement to the New 
England region. Not that New England's monopoly on 
gravestone scholarship has been entirely unjustified. 
The New England colonies gave birth to the American 
gravestone carving tradition, and its practitioners 
were gifted and numerous. Additionally, many intra- 
regional schools of gravestone carving flourished be- 
fore the native vision was ultimately overwhelmed by 
neoclassicism. Nevertheless, the hypnotic effect of 
New England gravemarkers has led to the neglect of 
other important and distinctive regional schools of 
carving. Perhaps the most notable of these lies on the 
borders of New England itself — the New Jersey and New 
York gravestone cutting tradition (Map 1). 

The evolution of gravestone cutting in New York 
and New Jersey merits study for several reasons. The 
region's tradition is second only to New England in 
number of craftsmen and extant memorials. Lower Hudson 
River valley carvers possessed a rich vocabulary of 
funerary design distinct from New England patterns. 
The evolution of gravestone cutting in New York and New 
Jersey sheds light on emerging cultural patterns in a 
region vital in itself, and extends our knowledge of 
the development of funerary art throughout English 
North America. Lastly, the vibrancy of the New York- 
New Jersey tradition testifies further to the diversity 
and genius of the colonial and Federal carvers. 

Before 1664, New York and New Jersey comprised the 
bulk of the Dutch New Netherlands colony. While the 
Dutch, and their culture, predominated the colony, the 
area was much more heterogeneous than neighboring Eng- 
lish possessions. Huguenot, Walloon, German and Eng- 
lish communities were well established. No Dutch grave- 
markers from the period of their dominion remain and 
the records suggest that, other than the possible use 
of uninscribed field stones, the Dutch did not use 
gravemarkers at all. Dutch language gravestones are 
found from Brooklyn to Schenectady, but they date only 
from the 1740s, three generations after New Netherlands 
became New York and New Jersey. It seems clear that 




Map 1. New York and New Jersey locations in study. 

the Dutch adopted gravestones, and hereditary surnames, 
from the English. 

English settlements in New York began in 1640 when 
New England emigrants began to colonize eastern Long 
Island. The Dutch government in New Amsterdam invited 
other groups of New Englanders to settle on the western 
part of the Island where they established the towns of 
New Utrecht, Gravesend, Flushing, Newtown, and Hempstead. 
Consequently, when New Netherlands fell to the English 
in 1664, a sizable English contingent already existed. 
Plantation schemes in northern New Jersey, especially 
the Newark-Elizabeth area, drew English settlers from 
both eastern Long Island and New England itself. Later 
Dutch migrations from King's County on Long Island to 
Bergen and Passaic County in New Jersey not only added 
population, but also gave the latter areas a stronger 
Dutch character than it had under the New Netherland's 
government. 

By 1682, gravestones were being sent from New Eng- 
land to eastern Suffolk County on Long Island, an area 
that remained in a New England cultural zone until the 
Revolutionary War. New York and New Jersey carvers 



later penetrated the Suffolk market, but over ninety 
percent of the County's pre-1820 gravestones were New 
England imports. However, the earliest symbol deco- 
rated stone in New York is not a New England marker. 
Rather it is the memorial of Richard Churcher, 1681, 
standing in Manhattan's Trinity Church, and is probably 
an import from England (Fig. 1). The Churcher stone is 
carved on both sides, one bearing a stark skull and 
crossbones, the other an incised inscription. Neither 
the style of cutting nor the double-sided method was 
widely used in the colonies. The presence of such an 
early English import presages the importance of later 
immigrant stonecutters in the development of New York 
gravestone cutting. But imports, like the Churcher 
marker, had 1 ittle to do with the appearance of an 
indigenous tradition. 

The real beginnings of the Lower Hudson River 
valley gravestone cutting tradition took place not in 
New York, but in northern New Jersey during the second 
decade of the eighteenth century. The emergence of a 
distinctive New Jersey gravestone cutting school was 
facilitated by the presence of extensive sandstone de- 
posits in the Newark area. Until the 1790s, this New 
Jersey sandstone served as the most common medium for 




Figure 1. Richard Churcher, 1681, Trinity Churchyard. 

3 



almost all New York and New Jersey memorials. The New 
Jersey origins for the Lower Hudson gravestone tradi- 
tion may have been influenced by immigrants from New 
England and eastern Long Island who settled heavily in 
Essex and Union Counties. This opens the possibility 
that some New England stonecutters migrated to East 
Jersey, as it was then called, and continued to craft 
markers for the inhabitants. If relocated New England 
craftsmen were responsible for transplanting the prac- 
tice of erecting gravestones, the ensuing stylistic 
developments are distinctive to the New Jersey region. 

Unfortunately, an analysis of the genesis of grave- 
stone carving in New Jersey is hindered by the loss of 
the Old Newark burial ground which was New Jersey's 
oldest. However, most of the burial grounds from the 
other early settlements, especialy the large cemeteries 
at Elizabeth and Woodbridge have survived, permitting a 
reasonably accurate appraisal of the evolution of Lower 
Hudson River valley gravestone styles. 

The earliest professionally made gravestone mark- 
ers appeared ca. 1700-1720 when both graveslabs and 
gravestones came into use. The graveslabs are well 
represented by the sandstone memorial to Helen Gordon, 
1687, now in St. Peter's Churchyard, Perth Amboy (Fig. 
2). Her husband, Thomas, who died in 1722, received a 
similar monument, and it is likely both were carved 
after the latter's death. Most of the Gordon slab is 
taken up by an inscription fashioned with deeply cut 
archaic lettering. All the letters are upper case, and 
the cutter engaged in the practice of using ligatures. 
A large skul 1-and-crossbones and hourglass, both sym- 
bols of mortality, stand immediately beneath the in- 
scription. The Thomas Gordon stone is unadorned, with 
the inscription in Latin. Two similar slabs dated 1687 
are mounted on the walls of the Presbyterian Church in 
Elizabeth. These bear boldly engraved crossbones. 




Figure 2. Helen Gordon, 1687, Perth Amboy, 

4 



Gravestones proper also began to be carved in the 
1720s. TWO different types appeared; one consists 
entirely of death's heads, while the other combines 
death's heads and an idiosyncratic skull-soul effigy. 
Six examples of the first skull variety, dated 1723 to 
1729, survive. Five are located in Elizabeth and one 
in Woodbridge. These markers bear a compact, oval 
skull with the top row of teeth resting on crossbones, 
though one example has the full skull superimposed over 
crossbones. The Sarah Woodruff stone has subsidiary 
decoration in the form of an hourglass flanked by two 
birds, probably meant to be peacocks (Fig. 3). The use 
of peacocks in funerary symbol ogy dates to antiquity. 
Reputedly, the flesh of the peacock is incorruptible 
and the birds represented immortal ity--a reference to 
the continued existence of the soul. The pilasters are 
filled with a highly stylized vegetation pattern which 
occasionally extends around the tympanum. 

The second variety of first generation New Jersey 
gravestones features a winged skull or skull-soul effi- 
gy cut in a highly abstracted, planar fashion. The 
James Sayre stone well illustrates the more convention- 
al death's head (Fig. 4). Here the message of the 
skull is reiterated by the crossbones and hourglass 
which fill in the tympanum above it. The carver of the 
Sayre marker also crafted the more intriguing skull- 
soul effigy, as found on the Jonathan Ogden stone (Fig. 
5). On this pattern, the image retains the skull's 
mouth and nose cavity, but the eyes are cut as if 
closed in sleep, and a downturned cleft at the chin 
animates the effigy even further. Like the skull pat- 
tern, border decoration is a perfunctory vine motif. 
The second variety skull and skull-soul effigy stones 
are slightly later and more numerous than are the oval 
death's head stones. Fourteen of these memorials, 
dating from 1728 to 1733, remain extant — all but one in 
Elizabeth. The carvers of these interesting markers 
ceased production in the 1730s. By then a second gen- 
eration of northern New Jersey cutters had appeared to 
consolidate and expand the tradition. 

In the 1740s New Jersey stonecutters had entered a 
period of increasing production and diffusion which did 
not end until the entire tradition collapsed in the 
early nineteenth century. The rapid expansion of the 
New Jersey stonecutting school was based on the popula- 
rity of two designs, the products of the same workshop 
or group of carvers. The first symbol was a large, 
square-jawed winged death's head with uniform, rectan- 




Figure 3. Sarah Woodruff, 1727, Elizabeth, N. J. 

6 




Figure 4. James Sayre, 1731, Elizabeth, N. J. 

7 




•h^jrr Lyrlih ^J^O Jj of 






\. > i i J ' -, 




..*< 






Figure 5. Jonathan Ogden, 1732, Elizabeth, N. J. 





r Here L\-e.s y- Boc/i 
[orKieiiarcl Beets nui' 

iDec^Nov; 



I- 1 






Figure 6. Richard Beets, 1748, Jamaica, Long Island. 

gular teeth (Fig. 6). Occasionally, a crown, symboli- 
zing the triumph of death and the triumph over death 
was placed over the skull. The letters are deep and 
well-formed, with short bars and tucked under swashes. 
These markers, common in the burying grounds of nor- 
thern New Jersey, Manhattan, and Long Island, bear 
dates from the second decade of the eighteenth century 
to the 1770s. They were most numerous between 1740 and 
1770 (Table 1). Coinciding with the popularity of the 
massive-jawed death's head was the unknown workshop's 
second design, a soul effigy (Fig. 7). These gently 
molded, sad-looking images have oval faces and well ar- 
ticulated eyes, complete with eyebrows and lashes. 
Though on first glance they seem to have little in 
common with the square-jawed skull, a comparison of 
lettering quickly points to a common origin for most of 
them. 

The overlapping of the square- jawed skull and the 
soul effigy highlights the first great transformation 
in colonial funerary iconography — the shift from death's 
head to soul effigy. Since this stylistic change close- 
ly followed the Great Awakening, 1730-1740, it has 
become traditional to ascribe the shift to that major 




•^j^'r- j<^rr/ '■- •'.>^' ■'^'■/ N"-/- /-"(■-•• 







Figure 7. Sarah Ross, 1759, Elizabeth, N. J. 

10 




religious revival. According to this interpretation, 
the Great Awakening shifted the emphasis of funerary 
symbols from a traditional Calvinist fear of death to 
a joyous assurance of salvation. Hence the dour warning 
of the terribl e moment of j udgment at death was re- 
placed by the soul effigy depicting the soul secure in 
its heavenly abode. However, the skull-soul effigy 
change also occured among the non-Cal vinist population 
of the Lower Hudson River valley and New England itself. 
Nor did the mortality symbols disappear entirely. They 
showed surprising persistence right up to the Revolu- 
tionary War. Of equal significance is the fact that 
such a transformation had already taken place in Eng- 
land. Under the circumstances, it is likely the re- 
placement of the death's head by the soul effigy in the 
1750s was an illustration of the colonies following the 
English example. Accordingly, the change from skull to 
soul effigy in the region under study may indicate a 
cultural fashion shift rather than a response to a 
specific religious movement. 

The square- jawed skull did not fall into immediate 
disuse. In fact, it remained the anonymous workshop's 
preferred image through the 1760s. However, when the 
percentage of death's heads among all New York-New 
Jersey stones is calculated, the general pattern of 
displacement of death's heads by soul effigies during 
the 1750s becomes clear (Table 2). 

Some of the square-jawed skulls and common New 
Jersey soul effigies are inscribed with the distinctive 
long, lithe and sinuous letters typical of the work of 
Uzal Ward, a Newark carver who flourished ca. 1760- 
1790. The appearance of Ward's letters on the unattri- 
buted skulls and cherubs may suggest an apprenticeship 
before he established his own workshop. It might also 
simply mean he purchased some uninscribed stones from 
the unidentified carver and lettered them. 

By the 1770s, if not before. Ward (1726-93?) owned 
a sandstone quarry which he bought from Samuel Medlis. 
Newark sandstone was commonly used by the region's 
stonecutters for construction as well as ornamental 
work, and Ward stressed its provenance in an advertise- 
ment he placed in the New Y ork Gazette ^n^ Ms^J^lY 
Mercury . April 8, 1771.^ Here he explicitly stated he 
has several men working for him. Some of these may 
have been his apprentices in gravestone crafting, and, 
indeed, the quantity of extant Ward stones suggests 
more than one hand was at work. 

11 



Elizabeth Rahway Woodbridge Trinity Ch. Total 



1710-20 






5 


1 


6 


1721-30 


2 




5 


3 


10 


1731-40 


4 


4 


5 


16 


29 


1741-50 


3 


7 


22 


19 


51 


1751-60 


7 


8 


33 


8 


56 


1761-70 


6 


2 


18 


7 


33 


1771-80 


1 




3 


7 


11 


Illegible 












date 




1 


5 




6 


Total 


23 


22 


96 


66 


20 2 



Common Jersey Soul Effigy 



1710- 


-30 


















1731- 


-40 


3 




1 




2 




2 


8 


1741- 


-50 














6 


6 


1751- 


-60 


4 




1 




4 




4 


13 


1761- 


-7 






6 




2 




1 


9 


1771- 


-81 


















Illegible 


















date 












1 




3 


4 


Total 


7 




8 




9 




16 


40 


Tabl( 


2 1. 


Sc 


[uare- 


-Jawed 


Jers 


iey 


Skulls 







1680-1700 


2 


1701-10 




1711-20 


3 


1721-30 


4 


1731-40 


16 


1741-50 


20 


1751-60 


10 


1761-70 


11 


1771-80 


3 


1781-90 


6 


1791-1800 




1801-10 




1811-20 




Total 


75 


Table 2. 


Di 



Death' s head Soul Effigy Misc 



1 
4 
15 
25 
56 
21 
19 
6 



147 



Distribution of Symbol Types, Trinity 
Churchyard. 



Misc. 


Plain 


Total 
2 
3 


1 




6 




2 


22 


2 




37 


3 




38 


1 


3 


71 




13 


37 


1 


24 


50 


2 


90 


98 


2 


45 


47 


2 


24 


26 


14 


201 


437 



12 



Most of Ward's markers fall into two design cate- 
gories. The first is the earlier pattern found on the 
Nehemiah Smith stone which shows a square-jawed soul 
effigy with a striated ridge for a wig and a long nose 
which bulges slightly at the tip (Fig. 8). Two hour- 
glasses flank the effigy which is borne aloft by nar- 
row, arching wings. The hourglasses stand next to 
small rosettes and the floral motif is repeated by the 
vines spreading from the hourglasses to frame an eight- 
pointed star. Symbolically, the several motifs are an 
ingenious juxtaposition of mortality and resurrection 
symbols. Ward's second design is not found with subsi- 
diary ornamentation. This image, as seen on the Daniel 
Smith marker, bears the earlier Ward facial features 
but on a pear-shaped head (Fig. 9). Broad wings with 
quarter-moon cuts replace the wings of the first pat- 
tern. 

Uzal Ward's markers are most common from 1760 to 
1775, after which his output plummets precipitously. 
This drop coincides with the outbreak of the Revolu- 
tionary War. Ward may have served as a major in the 
New Jersey militia or the Continental line. Some of 
the perceived drop in his productivity may simply re- 
flect the loss of the Old Newark burial ground where 
the bulk of his work was probably placed. Additional- 
ly, in the 1750s the rapidly expanding New York school 
wrested the Manhattan, western Long Island and Hudson 
River valley territory from New Jersey carvers. Ward 
had been a popular cutter in New York's Trinity Church 
parish and may have felt this loss keenly. Indeed, in 
his 1771 advertisement he went out of his way to demon- 
strate his convenience to potential customers in New 
York. He had, so he wrote, "for the greater conveniency 
of such persons who may want to be supplied, . . . two 
boats constantly plying between New York and Newark." 

Ward had at least one imitator, William Grant, an 
emigrant from Boston who arrived in New York City in 
1740. Grant attempted to set himself up as a grave- 
stone carver near Trinity Church.^ However, his survi- 
ving work is more common in northern New Jersey and it 
is likely he removed there before 1760. Supporting 
evidence for such a move comes from the West Indies. 
In the old burying grounds on St. Eustatius stands a 
stone dated 1751 and^igned "Made by Wm. Grant of 
Newark, East Jersey." Grant stones certainly look 
like Ward's and the lettering is nearly identical. 
Grant's soul effigies are more squint-eyed, however, 
with slightly indented head shapes (Fig. 10). There 

13 




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Life 11 18 oTMaxr 
^V.Di-^CU|i^:2^ / 



Figure 8. Nehemiah Smith, 1750, Jamaica, Long Island. 

are sane markers, especially in Woodbridge, New Jersey, 
which seemingly combine the two carvers' styles. Since 
Grant did eventually move to Newark, it is not impos- 
sible the two men worked together at one time or anot- 
her. 

The removal of the Old Newark Burial Ground in 
1887 makes a totally accurate assessment of Uzal Ward's, 
and indeed, all New Jersey gravestones, difficult. 
Based on surviving evidence, the most successful and 
prolific gravestone workshop in the entire New Jersey- 
New York region was that established by Ebenezar Price 
of El izabethtown, now Elizabeth, New Jersey. Ebenezar 
Price (1728-1788) was a descendant of an eastern Long 
Island family which had migrated to Elizabeth. He was 
not only an industrious carver himself, but also em- 
ployed several assistants, three of whom are known by 
name: Jonathan Akin, David Jeffries and Abner Stewart. 
All three of Price's assistants carved in their mas- 
ter's style, making a Price workshop memorial readily 
identifiable. 

Price and his employees, all of whom frequently 
signed their work, cut three designs almost exclu- 



14 








aown.wno 



1 



I iiVlemory ol 
])cn|iel Smith Son ( 
Dftlrtijdiipth^ , 
Soii'of iMiaitfSiMlif < 
Tkeiitee oP'Slilln ^i^ 




inuT^rteai-oriii^:^ x- 






Figure 9. Daniel Smith, 1763, Nissequogue, 

15 










Figure 10. Jonathan Cook, 1754, Quogue, Long Island. 

16 



sively. The overwhelming favorite among their grave- 
stones was a soul effigy rendered quasi-natural istical ly, 
with molded or partly molded features. The cheeks bulge, 
the slightly wedge-shaped eyes are deeply set, and the 
mouth is invariably downturned. Closely set striated 
balls typically serve for a wig, and a cloud-like de- 
vice hovers over the effigy. The wings arch powerfully, 
projecting a disproportionately large appearance. 

Like most skilled cutters. Price could vary his 
image to suit individual taste and budget. His markers 
might be reduced to a small, almost drab pattern, or be 
cut in a large, boldand ornate rendition with much 
subsidiary decoration. The Moses Ogden stone reveals 
Price at his most elaborate, the heart-shaped inscrip- 
tion panel and vine and floral decoration providing an 
additional artistic flourish (Fig. 11). The Price work- 
shop generally employed a stone shape which boasted a 
series of lobes, usually seven, protruding from the 
tympanum, or central panel. By the 1790s this type of 
outline had become so popular in New Jersey that vir- 
tually every other Jersey carver adopted it. Indeed, 
the lobe-topped stone survived the demise of the sym- 
bols it was originally designed to bear. 

The Price workshop offered two other less popular 
motifs. The first was a tulip design, possibly a re- 
flection of Dutch or German influence in the area (Fig. 
12a). The other was a shell or fan motif (Fig. 12b). 
The shell is an ancient symbol of resurrection, while 
fan windows and arches are common on late Georgian and 
Federal period furniture design. It is unclear which 
symbol Price had in mind when he cut these memorials. 

The number of Price workshop soul effigies is 
large, especially in the early burial grounds of Eliza- 
beth, Rahway, and Woodbridge, and the slightly later 
cemetery at Westfield (Table 3). Not surprisingly. 
Price markers are most numerous in his home town of 
Elizabeth. To the number of soul effigies should be 
added all or most of the seventy-nine tulip or fan 
markers also found in these four burying grounds. Some 
of the seventeen stones cut after 1791 may have been 
the work of someone outside of the Price workshop, but 
most are clearly his products. 

In the 1770s a new family of gravestone cutters 
began to give the Price workshop competition in the 
towns south and west of Elizabeth. This was the Os- 
borne clan whose leading members were Henry and Jona- 

17 




lifA Go Jen. \x/fio ^^kp^rte J j kl 



•H^ \ / 'nivj.lJomuii ry 



OlCS'l^g(f 



r 



:D 



-r 



> 



w 



'^^^ ir^^ I n the 4/3 -: le? r/Z^/?v/ f 






Figure 11. Moses Ogden, 1768, Elizabeth, N. J. 

18 




a. 1792 




b. 1759 
Figure 12. Price Workshop. 



Elizabeth Rahway Woodbridge Westfield Total 



1720-30 


2 








2 


1731-40 


2 






2 


4 


1741-50 


7 






4 


11 


1751-60 


22 


5 


1 


19 


47 


1761-70 


25 


9 




24 


58 


1771-80 


58 


19 


7 


30 


114 


1781-90 


43 


15 


4 


22 


84 


1791-1800 


17 


2 




9 


28 


1801-1810 








1(1811) 


1 


Illegible 












date 


1 


1 






2 


Total 


177 


51 


12 


111 


351 



Table 3. Price Workshop Soul Effigies. 



19 



than Hand Osborne. Like Price, the Osbornes were pro- 
bably descended from eastern Long Island emigrants. 
The Osbornes have proven more elusive than Price and 
his assistants, and even the exact nature of the rela- 
tionship betwen them is unclear. Henry Osborne, an 
Essex County mason who died in 1758, was probably their 
immediate forebearer. It is not known if this Henry 
Osborne cut gravestones, but if he did it might help 
explain the persistence of the craft within the family. 
Both Henry and Jonathan Hand Osborne signed stones from 
the 1770s through the first decade of the nineteenth 
century. They could have been brothers, or just as 
easily, father and son. In the 1820s, a second genera- 
tion Osborne, William, began to affix his name on the 
stones of the period. One difference between the first 
two Osbornes is that Henry's signature sometimes gave 
his address as Woodbridge, while Jonathan Hand never 
gave a location other than Scotch Plains. Yet survi- 
ving Osborne markers demonstrate they received commis- 
sions in the same towns and had no exclusive territory 
of their own. 

The two men's styles are very similar, and their 
lettering is almost identical, indicating a shared 
training experience. Their most frequently employed 
symbol was a soul effigy nicely exemplified by the Mary 
Elmer stone (Fig. 13). The design is clearly adopted 
from the dominant Price verison, but is more abstract 
and static. Price's puffy cheeks become almost skull- 
like and the chin dips dramatically downward. Osborne 
wings rise as high as Price's, but indent inward and 
lurch outward rather than arch. Altogether, the Os- 
borne image is more stylized than Price's and suggests 
less contact with cosmopolitan influences. The Os- 
bornes used several styles of border designs, a clover 
pattern being frequently employed. They followed 
Price's lead in using the lobe-topped stone. The Os- 
bornes themselves had an imitator in Elias Darby, who 
worked out of Elizabeth in the 1790s, making soul 
effigies nearly identical to their own. 

The Osbornes also carved tulip patterns in the 
Price tradition and, in the early nineteenth century, 
were probably responsible for some variations on that 
theme. The two carvers, especially Henry, developed 
some patterns unique to themselves. One such is the 
Humphrey Mount stone signed "H. Osborne" (Fig. 14). 
Here, two kissing doves hover above the deceased's 
initials. What seems to be a heart in flames flanks 
the initials. 

20 



_/■ 



^£2£:c^ 



-^!i5i'5pe<?^S8g^? 






4 rjy.^ L^.O^' 




■7?: 



■ M-'-n'-li5. ?/- •. '■ V)oys}< ^ 



# 

^***i 









4 V..?^" 



'ib^ 



J>>..*, 



Figure 13. Mary Elmer, 1778, Westfield, N. 

21 



H 




J. 








r M 



)[■-• ^U}'- 



n-rn rf,, ..U \„ .\ 



. .rtr r iDf" f • I!;- ■) r m 



J f'tj-tr ' 



j;r-.(,,n- 



y 



ff. '//L-'rf-^ 



.^y 



Figure 14. 



Humphrey Mount, 1801, Cranbury, N. J, 
22 




Figure 15. Martha Osborne, 1799, Scotch Plains, N. J. 

Henry Osborne often exhibited a surprising degree 
of playfulness on his less standardized memorials. Lit- 
tle faces SOTietimes peek out from floral borders or end 
up on the tail of a swash or descender. On the Martha 
Osborne stone, signed "H. Osborne," the craftsman fully 
indulged his whimsy (Fig. 15). The central motif, over 
the italicized initial, consists of two petalled flow- 
ers. The stems terminate in curious little creatures 
which seem to bear small horns or ears jutting from 
their heads. A small face capped by a heart peers from 
the peak of the tympanum border, while an American 
eagle soars in the tympanum extension. 

The waning of traditional religiosity and changing 
fashions in funerary art began to express themselves in 
the region's gravestone design after 1790. Neoclassic 
design began to make inroads in the Lower Hudson River 
valley, though they never came close to dominating the 
area's burial grounds as they did in parts of New 
England. Rather, though in different ways. New York 
and New Jersey cutters began to fashion memorials de- 
void of any major symbolism. New York craftsmen pro- 
duced the plainest stones, generally shorn of border 
decoration and primary design. The Osbornes stood in 

23 







Figure 16. Eliakim Smith, 1785, Westfield, N. J. 

24 



the forefront of this trend. However, they, and those 
who followed their lead, retained the lobe-topped out- 
line, and continued to utilize subsidiary decoration, 
such as vines, clover, diamonds, cables or other geo- 
metric patterns, around the borders. The major tympa- 
num symbols, death's heads, soul effigies, neoclassic 
motifs and the rest, were replaced by the deceased's 
monogram, usually engraved in cypher-like italics. The 
Eliakim Smith stone demonstrates one way this was done 
(Fig. 16). Jonathan Hand Osborne's blatant advertise- 
ment on this stone is unusual, for most signatures are 
placed more discretely at the bottom of the stone. 
Once the monogram pattern was devised it was copied by 
practically every carver in the area. Aaron and Isaac 
Ross, A. Wilcox, E. Norris and Abner Stewart in his 
later phase, all followed the Osbornes in producing 
these markers. 

The one traditional funerary symbol which survived 
almost until the Victorian era was the tulip. Its 
persistence was probably due to its floral, decorative 
quality which was nearly universal in its appeal. Fig- 
ure 17 shows versions of the tulip in its nineteenth- 
century incarnation. These tulip patterns were prob- 
ably carved by one of the Osbornes, most likely Wil- 




a. 1804, signed "Henry Osborne" 





b. 1822 c. 1829 

Figure 17. Osborne Workshop. 

25 



Members of the Osborne family were still cutting stones 
in the Rahway-Westf ield area in the 1830s. Like many 
regional carvers, they adapted their style to marble as 
sandstone went out of fashion. Several memorials in 
Westfield bear their signatures. Unfortunately, the 
Vermont sugar marble used at this time does not stand 
up well to time and weather, so all these stones are so 
eroded that the identity of the symbols (if any) can 
not be determined and the lettering is barely legible. 
One nineteenth-century Scotch Plains marker, nicely 
lettered in the new style, is intriguingly signed "H. 
Osborne." It is possible this is the same Henry who 
began in the 177 0s, now an old man, adapting himself to 
the times. More likely it was made by a descendant. 
After 183 even the vestigal remnants of the tradi- 
tional styles had fallen into disuse. If the Osbornes 
continued to follow the family craft, cutting the now 
predominant marble rectangle, they ceased signing their 
work. As the stone designs became more monotonous, the 
craftsmen seem to have lost much of their pride in 
making them. 

Common as they are in Union and Middlesex Coun- 
ties, Price and Osborne markers are not frequently 
found elsewhere (Table 4). Five Price stones stand on 
the east end of Long Island, probably a result of lin- 
gering family ties; one Price soul effigy is found in 
Westchester. Manhattan holds a few stones which fit 
the general Price pattern without being so somber- 
looking. They may be the work of a young Price or 
perhaps some unknown carver who taught him. Gravestone 
cutters in both the Lower Hudson River valley and New 
England exported stones to other sections of North 
America and the West Indies. There is, for example, 

Rahway Woodbridge Scotch Plains Westfield Total 



1750-60 


1 




1761-70 3 


2 


2 


1771-80 5 


10 


16 


1781-90 8 


15 


30 


1791-1800 2 


3 


5 


1801-10 1 




6 


1811-20 1 






1821-30 




3 


1831-40 1 






Illegible 1 









1 




7 


12 


43 


11 


64 


3 


13 


2 


9 


1 


2 


2 


5 




1 




1 


31 


146 



Total 22 31 62 

Table 4. Osborne Family Symbol -Engraved Markers. 

26 



one Price marker in Savannah, Georgia. Such long dis- 
tance trade formed only a small part of the gravestone 
carver's market, however, and did not alter the general 
parameters of the various workshop's areas of influence. 

The large number of Price and Osborne stones, 
coupled with their generally restricted range, high- 
lights the increasing competition in gravestone cutting 
as the eighteenth century wore on. This caused the 
development of intraregional territories and dominance 
by one or a few workshops. A major revolution in this 
regard was the creation of distinct New York and New 
Jersey markets after 1760. Before that date the number 
of carvers in New York City was apparently limited or 
non-existent, and New Jersey craftsmen, with their 
ready access to local sandstone, had no trouble con- 
trolling the New York market. However, beginning with 
the appearance of John Zuricher (ca. 1750), a stylisti- 
cally and geographically distinct school of New York 
carvers rapidly appeared. They quickly captured Man- 
hattan, western Long Island, and the Hudson River val- 
ley markets for their worships. The school's seizure 
of Trinity Churchyard clientele in New York City, as 
shown in Table 5, would seem even greater if unadorned 
markers were included. By 1790, the New York school 
produced the most common style memorial in New York, 
including almost all those in Trinity Churchyard. While 
there was some importation of New York stones into New 
Jersey after 1760, and scane trade going the other way, 
these provide the exceptions that prove the rule. By 
1760, New York and New Jersey were stylistically and 
commercially separate entities in terms of gravestones. 

New England New Jersey New York Total 

1680-1700 1 
1701-10 
1711-20 1 

1721-30 3 

1731-40 
1741-50 
1751-60 2 

1761-70 
1771-80 1 

1781-90 
1791-1800 
Total 8 

Table 5. Symbol -Decorated Stones by Location (excluding 
illegible stones) . 

27 





(Trini 


ty) 






1 




2 


1 






2 


3 






6 


22 






22 


39 


4 




43 


26 


11 




39 


25 


43 




68 


1 


20 




22 




2 




2 




7 




7 


17 


88 




213 



The Emergence of the New York Stonecutters 

While the New Jersey stonecarvers passed through 
their formative period and entered one of expansion, 
the art lagged behind in New York. This was not due to 
a lack of public interest as the 1681 Churcher stone 
attests. Indeed, early in the eighteenth century. New 
York residents turned to New England and New Jersey 
sources for memorials for their dead. In the 1740s, 
however, a workshop was established which spearheaded 
the rise of a community of New York City gravestone 
carvers who soon controlled the gravestone market on 
Manhattan, western Long Island, and up the Hudson River 
valley as far as Schenectady. Interestingly, this work- 
shop did not spring from the dominant English popula- 
tion, but from the older Dutch community. 

This highly influential workshop was founded by 
John, or Johannis, Zuricher. As is typical for a colo- 
nial gravestone cutter, information regarding his life 
is scanty. He first appears in the written record in 
1747 as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church in New 
York City, usually in the company of hiswife, Eliza- 
beth Enslar.^ It was at about this time that he began 
crafting gravestones. Though his markers are found 
bearing dates as early as 1691, stones dated before the 
late 1740s are clearly backdated. 

Zuricher's career, which lasted almost till his 
death in 1784, can be separated into two periods, which 
divide about the year 1765. It remains possible that 
the carver of the earlier, or proto- Zuricher, group was 
not actually Zuricher himself, but the man who taught 
him his craft, perhaps his father. The two Zuricher 
phases are best illustrated by comparing the soul effi- 
gies. The ca. 1750-1765 effigies generally exhibit 
less polish and uniformity than his later designs. 
Their overall effect tends to be cruder, though they 
also demonstrate more variety and individuality than 
the later, uniform pattern. The faces on the early 
images are heavy, featuring muscular jaws, and thick, 
ridged eyebrows. Occasionally, the image is bald, 
something never encountered on post-1765 soul effigies. 
The wings are high with feathers delineated by quarter- 
moon cuts. Various types of crowns, formed by stylized 
tulips or feathers, and cornets hover over the image. 
Proto-Zuricher letters are long and thin and bear some 
archaisms, such as the angled bar in the capital 'A'. 
Usually the inscription is ended by a wedge-shaped dash. 
Most of these features can be seen on the Altie Brinc- 

28 




I 



'MIfif Lii, ^^^'A, 






'■9 ",■ 




Figure 18. Altie Brinckerhof f , 1749, Fishkill, N. Y. 

kerhoff stone (Fig. 18). The signature, "Hannis Zuric- 
her," incised on the side of the marker is the earliest 
found on the 173 surviving Zuricher memorials. Hannis 
was short for Johannis, the Dutch form of the crafts- 
man's name. In the same burial ground is the Jacob 
Brinkerhoff stone, 1758, which includes two hourglasses 
as subsidiary symbols. Zuricher discarded these secon- 
dary motifs before he entered his second phase. 

Fishkill also contains the only known death's 
heads carved by Zuricher. This is the double image 
stone ccamnemorating Barbare Van Dyck and John Van Vor- 
his, 1743 and 1757 (Fig. 19). Clearly the marker could 
not have been made before 1757, and probably not for a 
year or two afterwards. This stone demonstrates the 
traditional Dutch practice of the wife retaining her 
maiden name. While the jawless profiled skulls are a 
far cry from Zuricher's soul effigies, the lettering is 
identical to that found on his early markers. The 
scroll outline of this marker is unusual for a Lower 
Hudson Valley cutter and Zuricher would not use it 
again until 1771. 



29 




Figure 19. Barbara Van Dyck, 1743, and John Van 
Voorhis, 1757, Fishkill, N. Y. 

In the 1760s Zuricher's carving became more re- 
fined, the lettering bolder, and the trend towards 
uniformity increasingly pronounced (Fig. 20). By 1765, 
Zuricher's soul effigies had completed their evolution. 
After this date he often signed his work, usually with 
"John Zuricher Stone Cutter," but sometimes, most often 
on stones to be sent some distance away, with "John 
Zuricher New York." The later Zuricher effigies bear 
either heavily jowled or round faces with pronounced 
pointed chins. Celtic Le Tene spirals form the wig and 
the tulip crown of righteousness became standard. The 
wings are now lower and more compact, but the quarter- 
moon cuts are retained. Like most stone cutters, Zuric- 
her could render his basic pattern in several versions 
varying in size and elaboration. Zuricher's standard 
style can be seen on the Lemuel Cushing stone (Fig. 21), 
The craftsman also added subsidiary flourishes, such as 
star motifs, to some of his memorials. Some late Zuric- 
her markers feature ornate petal designs, analogous to 
stained glass forms in the shoulder finials (Fig. 20), 

Operating from a workshop probably located on one 
of the two lots he owned on the Hudson River, Zuricher 



30 





a. 1757 



b. 1761 





c. 1771 



d. 1778 



Figure 20. Evolution of Zuricher Workshop Soul Effigies. 

became the most popular New York carver of his time. 
While he received commissions from both the Dutch and 
English populations, he had a special hold on the loy- 
alty of the Dutch. Dutch language inscriptions, dating 
from 1740 to 1775, comprise eighteen percent of his 
extant markers. Such a statistic does not adequately 
demonstrate Zuricher's popularity among the Dutch popu- 
lation since not all Dutch descended families ordered 
Dutch inscribed stones. A better appreciation of Zuric- 
her's following among the Dutch population is ascer- 
tained by computing the percentage of Zuricher markers 
in the major surviving Dutch Reformed burial grounds. 

Clarkstown, Rockland County, N.Y. 70% 

Flatbush, Kings County, N.Y. 46% 

Flatlands, Kings County, N.Y. 40% 

Fishkill, Dutchess County, N.Y. 53% 

Tappan, Rockland County, N.Y. 26% 

Tarry town, Westchester County, N.Y. 41% 

While Zuricher gained an absolute majority in only 
two cases, the majorities in the other burial grounds 
were divided among several carvers leaving Zuricher the 
most common single carver. Also, in Tarry town, the 



31 






J:Ul 



(^m\Jli 



\' «. i \m » ' | H | |,| ,) 



.•U-J-^ 






'eiiiorv 
mrel Cr *" 

^ Oil ol' the a/- ^'^ ^ oiTi-if^i 
e an vice 

lit Iircl /V'^^^aliiaKfel 
/oiipaKs'. LefR 



a_^^^]|K^'»?t-^ - '*; .,v 



l^^- 



Figure 21. Lemuel Gushing, 1776, Tappan, N. Y, 

32 



Zuricher workshop was responsible for all the pre-1776 
symbol-engraved memorial s. Zuricher produced all but 
one of Tappan's symbol-bearing stones. Unfortunately 
for the study of New York gravestones, the monuments in 
the Old Dutch Churchyard in New York City were des- 
troyed when the church was demolished in the nineteenth 
century. This cemetery would certainly have revealed 
much about Zuricher's career. Suffice it to say, the 
evidence from remaining Dutch Reformed burial grounds 
indicates that, among the Dutch at least, a definite 
ethno-rel igious preference was at work in selecting 
gravestone cutters. 

Zuricher's popularity increased in the years imme- 
diately preceding the Revolution. Surviving evidence 
suggests that he, along with the other craftsmen and 
lesser merchants, supported the Revolutionary cause. 
He was still in New York City in 1776 when hisw indow 
leads were tak^Ln in order to make bullets for the Con- 
tinental Army. The British capture of New York in 
September of that year set Zuricher in motion. Some- 
time between 1776 and 1781 he relocated on the farm of 
his son, Lodwick, in the Haverstraw Precinct of Orange 
(now Rockland) County. Lodwick saw service in the 
Orange County militia which fits with Zuricher's pro- 
Revolutionary leanings. The sixteen Zuricher stones 
dated 1776-1778 probably were carved in Haverstraw. It 
is difficult to see how the Lemuel Cushing stone with 
its reference to "Service of the United States of 
America" could have been cut in British-occupied New 
York. 

The Revolution and his consequent flight from new 
York resulted in the contraction of Zuricher's career, 
and old age brought it to an end. 1778 is the latest 
date found on a Zuricher marker. In 1781, stating he 
was "Weak and infirm in Body but of Sound and perfect 
mind and Memory," Zuricher drew up his will. He died 
in May, 1784, his will being probated on the twenty- 
first of that month. John Zuricher's gravestone has 
not been found and his resting place remains unknown. 

Thomas Brown and Company 

The New York gravestone cutting community was 
greatly stimulated by the arrival of immigrant carvers 
from the British Isles. Between 1739 and 1771, New 
York newspapers carried advertisements by six stonecut- 
ters who clearly indicated they made grav est ones. ■'■^ Of 
these six, three were recent arrivals from England and 

33 



one a migrant from Boston who i3escribed himself as 
"Lately arrived in this City."^ Only three of these 
six craftsmen can be connected presently with any style. 
Two of the identifiable advertising carvers are Uzal 
Ward and William Grant. The third cutter was Thomas 
Brown, perhaps the most successful New York cutter 
after John Zuricher. 

"Thomas Brown and Com. from London, Beg leave to 
inform the Publick, that they have open'd a Marble 
Quarry, in this Government little inferior to the Ita- 
lian, out of which will be made Chimney Pieces, marble 
Tables, Monuments, Tombs, Headstones for Graves &c in 
the compleateat Manner, and on the most reasonable 
Terms . . . ." This advertisement appeared in the 

New York Gazette and Weekly Post Boy on August 30, 
1764. By his choice of words Brown reveals he had 
assistants or apprentices. How many were in his "com- 
pany" is not stated, but they probably included his 
son, Nathaniel. Like several other carvers who adver- 
tised, Brown emphasizes his marble work. However, only 
one marble marker remains in New York and New Jersey 
dated before the 1780s. Significantly, it is Brown's 
work. Otherwise, New Jersey sandstone provided the 
medium for Brown's gravestones as it did for the other 
Lower Hudson River valley craftsmen. 

While Brown worked with a larger repertoire of 
funerary symbols than did Zuricher, two patterns predo- 
minated. The first is a delicately incised cherub, 
usually full-faced, with tossled hair and tight facial 
features, all rendered in short, incised lines. Sup- 
ported by finely feathered wings, the soul effigy gives 
the impression of a pencil sketch. Brown fashioned his 
images in several sizes and varying degrees of ornate- 
ness. His smaller, cheaper cherubs were simply incised 
while the more elaborate renditions depict the image in 
relief (Fig. 22). The practice of only partly cutting 
through the stone between shoulders and finials is 
frequently found on Brown's smaller, inexpensive mar- 
kers. On the Gertrude Van der Heyden stone, 1784, now 
in Albany Rural Cemetery, Brown carved two cherubs in 
profile. The wing configuration is identical to the 
full-faced model, and the delicate, "pencil-sketch" 
incised features are also typical. Fortunately, Brown 
signed this memorial thus permitting proper attribution 
of his work. 

Brown workshop letters are well spaced and beauti- 
fully configured. His 'a,' 'd,' and 'g,' are particu- 

34 




Figure 22. Jane Slidell, 1778, New York City. 

h 





--■ ^ 




iVlenioiA o{ iVlar\ 
Wife of Rich -Sniifh ^ 

A(vedZ/^eors. '. 

Moafli is (ho w ;>oT^s c]\]c io Sin ' 

i"hi"Ofirv|irhnTr(Moninl I .ith w owm* 

^ ' " 

Figure 23. Mary Smith, 1766, Nissequogue, Long Island, 

35 



larly distinctive, and his numerals are done in sharp, 
graceful, readily identifiable italics. Brown workshop 
lettering permits not only attribution of his unadorned 
stones, but reveals him as the creator of somber morta- 
lity images as well. 

Brown crafted two mortality symbols both of which 
contrast startingly with his child-like cherub. One of 
these was a simple, stark crossbones. Indeed, almost 
all crossbones patterns in New York state seem to be 
his work. Even more dramatic was his skull and cross- 
bones design as seen on the Mary Smith stone (Fig. 23). 
None of the gentle peacefulness of his cherubs shows in 
this image with its somberly effective simplicity. The 
sharp teeth and absence of a lower jaw enhance the fear- 
someness of the symbol. Though the cherub and mortal- 
ity designs are quite dissimilar. Brown's lettering and 
his practice of cutting only part of the stone between 
tympanum and shoulder finial gives him away. The Sarah 
Lyon stone is a one-of-a-kind variation on Brown's 
usual death's head (Fig. 24). Here the death's head is 
cut in profile, with a superimposed dart of death 
underscoring the message. 

Brown's mortality symbols are intriguing for two 
reasons. First, the plain bones and skul 1-and-cross- 
bones are a starker image of death than the winged 
death's heads which had prevailed before 1760. Yet 
Brown never cut the more popular style of mortality 
image. Second, Brown only began his American career 
after the transition of death's head to soul effigy had 
occurred. His mortality symbols were theoretically 
anachronistic and out of fashion. Yet, Brown not only 
carved his mortality symbols concurrently with his 
cherubs, he actually cut more of them. 




Figure 24. Sarah Lyon, 1769. 

36 



Thomas Brown Symbol-Carved Markers 

Cherubs Mortality Symbols Miscellaneous 



1751-60 


3 


1761-70 


14 


1771-80 


1 


1781-90 


1 



2 

14 
9 

1 



The Brown workshop produced other symbols, but 
with less frequency. Both floral and Masonic designs 
can be found in Trinity Churchyard in New York City. 
Perhaps his most distinctive symbol, of which only 
three extant examples are known, is his snake grasping 
tail design. The snake biting its tail and thus for- 
ming a ring is an ancient symbol of eternity. On two 
of these markers. Brown combines the snake-eternity 
image with crossbones, thereby juxtaposing symbols of 
mortality and immortality. On the John Downey marker 
the message of the symbol is repeated by the motto 
"Eternity How Long" (Fig. 25). 

Little is known of Brown's life. He was certainly 
well-trained in both stonecutting and draughtsmanship. 
His first advertisement stated that "the useful and 




Figure 25. John Downey, 1768, New Brunswick, N. Y. 

37 



necessary Arts of Drawing and Architectuce will be 
taught, in the most methodical Manner." This aspect 

of his professional life seems to have been dropped as 
it never appears again in newspaper notices. 

The turmoil of the Revolutionary War seems to have 
adversely affected Brown's business. No symbol-carved 
memorials are found betwen 1776 and 1784, and attribu- 
table plain markers are few in number. After the war 
Brown's workshop responded to the increased demand for 
plain, unadorned markers. The impressive Van der Hey- 
den stone, 1784, is the only surviving Brown workshop 
memorial with a post-Revolutionary War date. 

The activities of Brown, his son, and probably 
assistants are traceable through his unadorned markers 
and occasional newspaper notices. In 1784, he entered 
into a brief partnership with another stonecutter, 
George Lindsay. This partnership may account for some 
anomalous markers which bear Brown's lettering but bear 
atypical symbols. However, on January 25, 1785 Brown 
took out a notice in the Independent Journa l and Gene- 
ral Advertizer announcing the dissolution of his part- 
nership with Lindsay. Brown went on to state he "con- 
tinues to carry on the Stone Business in all its Bran- 
ches . . . and flatters himself that those who have 
been acquainted with his abilities wil 1 confer their 
favors as they may have occasion."^" 

Post-Revolutionary New York City Directories list 
Brown at several addresses on the West Side, all within 
easy distance of the major churchyards of the period. 
His son, Nathaniel, who no doubt worked with him, lived 
nearby. Brown ceases to appear in the Directories af- 
ter 1791, the probable date of his death. The same 
sources show Nathaniel moving into his father's last 
quarters at 16 Greenwich Street. If the evidence of 
the Directories is accurate, Nathaniel did not long 
survive his father. There is no mention of him after 
1796. ■'■^ 

Related in spirit to Brown's soul effigies are a 
number of chubby-cheeked cherubs which seem to gesture 
downward with closed eyes. These symbols, usually 
carved in shallow relief, but sometimes incised, are 
not common, and seem to have been carved over a long 
period, 1764-1805. The lettering on these markers is 
usually block-like, as if the carver imitated the thic- 
ker printing types (Fig. 26). The numeral seven is 
distinguished by a long, thick descender. The numeral 

38 




^AA\ 



iijyieniorA 

■liiTtliilKe Wife 






Figure 27. Caleb Morgan, 1805, 



39 



four stretches below the bottom of the other letters, 
and the top bar of five is cramped by a high arching 
loop. Among the identifying letters is a clumsy capi- 
tal 'V*. Late in his career the unknown carver seems to 
have adopted a quite different symbol. The effigy on 
the Caleb Morgan stone is fashioned in a highly cursive 
style which portends the calligraphic art which became 
popular in the nineteenth century (Fig. 27). The let- 
tering, however, is identical to that found on the 
chubby-cheeked cherub. 

There are several styles of pre-Revol utionary soul 
effigies apparently cut by New York craftsmen which are 
known from only a few examples. Rare today, and pro- 
bably always uncommon, they were most likely the work 
of marginal or part-time stonecutters. Two of the ear- 
liest of these less common, unattributable styles are 
exemplified by the Theodosius Van Wych and the Jacobus 
Swartwout stones (Figs. 28-29). The Dutch language Van 
Wyck marker has a single analog in English in Trinity 
Churchyard, New York City. The carver of the Swartwout 
marker had a slightly larger output with several ver- 
sions of this style remaining in Trinity Churchyard. 
The Van Wyck stone with its ominous, boldly carved soul 
effigy, is a striking example of the primitive power of 
much early stone carving. In contrast to the looming, 
relief-carved head, the lettering and secondary decora- 
tion is lightly incised. The Swartwout memorial is 
generally less impressive, but possesses the naive 
charm often found on such archaic designs. The unknown 
carver's lettering suggests he did two floral/geometric 
designs encountered at Fishkill. There are eleven of 
these more primitively designed markers remaining. 

The John Smith stone represents yet another style 
of primitive soul effigy (Fig. 30). This relief-carved 
oval head with stylized supporting wings is part of a 
group of thirteen such memorials found with dates ran- 
ging from 1764 to 1777. Twelve of the thirteen were 
cut 1764-1770. This suggests that the last marker of 
this group, the Bridget Duggan stone, 1777, St. Paul's 
Chapel, New York City, may have had its inscription 
carved several years after the image itself was craf- 
ted. Gravestone cutters are known to have stockpiled 
markers with their symbols and subsidiary decoration 
cut but the inscriptions left blank, thus providing a 
supply of markers on hand from which customers could 
choose. A result of this practice is stones bearing 
dates considerably later than the image itself sug- 
gests. Gravestone cutters occasionally traded these 

40 




Figure 28. Theodorus Van Wyck, 1754, Fiskill, N. Y. 




Figure 29. lacobus Swartwout, 1749. 




Figure 30. John Smith, 1766. 

41 



half-f ini shed memorial s, thus creating anomalies in 
style and distribution. 

At the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum is a 
small number of stones carved with finely molded relief 
cherubim. A well preserved example of this style is 
the John Bourne stone (Fig. 31). William Valentine 
signed a similar marker dated 1776. Here the cherubim 
are matched with petalled flowers. In all extant ex- 
amples of this pattern, Valentine incised his inscrip- 
tions lightly, and, on the Bourne marker he used Reman 
numerals. The soft, deep, and polished naturalistic 
carving on these markers is characteristic of the Ba- 
roque style of carving fashionable in England at this 
time but infrequently encountered in America. The 
scarcity of these stones, coupled with their confine- 
ment to the 1770s (a 1749 example in Charleston is 
probably backdated), suggests Valentine may have been 
an English master carver visiting New York. It is also 
possible that they were imports from England. 

Among the enduring styles of New York gravestones 
is a design cut by an unidentified workshop or work- 
shops. The basic design consists of a simple soul 
effigy, usually incised, dominated by large closed eyes 




Figure 31. John Bourne, 1774, Middletown, N. J. 

42 



and downward drooping wings. The hair on the effigy 
was formed by short lines sometimes within a narrow 
ridge representing a wig. The nose was achieved by 
extending the eye lines downward in a rectangular 
pattern. The dates on these stones run from 1756 to 
1798. The 1756 example is clearly backdated as the 
memorials do not show up consistently until the 1760s. 
Fifty-three of these stones are known to survive. 

At least two hands are responsible for the droopy- 
winged cherubs. These can be clearly seen by comparing 
the Obadiah Mills stone with its thin, straight, ser- 
viceable, but unsophisticated letters with those found 
on the Margaret Smith stone (Figs. 3 2-33). The latter 
bears letters in a style highly reminiscent of Thanas 
Brown. It is possible that Brown lettered several of 
these markers, perhaps during his partnership with 
George Lindsay, if, indeed, Lindsay was the man behind 
this style. It is also possible that this type soul 
effigy was a New York "generic" type made by several 
stonecutters. Brown among them. Then again, a Brown- 
trained craftsman may have been responsible for them. 
The Brown type lettering is found most often on stones 
dated after 1770. 




r 






Figure 32. Obadiah Mills, 1773, Jamaica, Long Island. 

43 




' -^M 



Figure 33. Margaret Smith, 1756, Strong's Neck, Long 
Island. 

In the 1790s a design clearly derived from the 
droopy-winged Mills-Wells style appears. It is a more 
ambitious and ornate style, with the face always cut in 
low relief and the wings rendered semi-natural istically 
with cursively delineated feathers. Yet the narrow 
crew-cut hair, large oval eyes and general wing config- 
uration cannot disguise its relationship to the more 
static image from which it sprang (Fig. 34). The late 
dates on these more elaborate designs may indicate an 
evolution in the stonecutters' artistic development. A 
more likely explanation is a former apprentice or son 
taking over the workshop. 

The effects of the Revolutionary War were even 
more severely felt on New York gravestone cutting than 
they were on the New Jersey school. All of Manhattan, 
Long Island and most of what is today the Bronx fell 
under British occupation. Much of the border areas 
became no-man's lands replete with raids, reprisals, 
and guerilla warfare which frequently degenerated into 
outright banditry. This political situation isolated 
the City carvers from much of their market outside 
Manhattan. Production by New York craftsmen declined 

44 








-ci 



\r: 



' - • ^ . ■ - ^ 

.7*' 

^r jfur: ^/ Jf^rrrn Prf^r-} A- . rr-rrrf ^ jjr^ f>'. 





Figure 34. Mary Roberts, 1793, New York City. 



45 



and some completely ceased carving. John Zuricher, as 
we have seen, fled to his son's farm in 1776, cutting 
few stones until his death eight years later. Many 
memorials dated between 1776 and 17 83 were probably 
made after the British withdrawal. 

One sign of the stress suffered by the New York 
City gravestone cutting community during the Revolution 
is the type of markers which were erected during this 
period. In the late 177 0s, Thomas Gold, a New Haven, 
Connecticut, stonecutter of Tory sympathies fled to New 
York. Several of his "egg-head" soul effigies (Fig. 
35), and some plain markers, still stand in Manhattan, 
Staten Island, Westchester and King's County, well out- 
side his usual territory. These include the Willem 
Stoothoof stone, 1774, Flatlands (Brooklyn), New York, 
a very rare example of a New England carver cutting a 
Dutch language inscription. Around 1784, Gold returned 
to New Haven and resumed his trade there. Though Gold 
sent markers to Long Island during his second New Haven 
phase, they went exclusively to Suffolk County. Anoth- 
er type of gravemarker found only with Revolutionary 
War dates is an unattributed pattern whose face and 
wing design are carved in sunken relief. The face it- 
self is a squat, circular image whose eyes, mouth and 




Figure 35. Thomas Gold Soul Effigy, 1782 




Figure 36. Anonymous Carver, 1778. 

46 



feathers are cut with crude, elliptical wedges (Fig. 
36). The lettering is functional and devoid of any 
beauty. These stones, five in all, bearing dates from 
1774-1778, are not simply primitive or eccentric; they 
are poor examples of funerary art. The fact the stones 
of such inferior design and workmanship show up during 
the Revolution indicates a major disruption among the 
City's stonecutting community and a resulting lack of 
supply for the City's inhabitants. It also suggests 
that other carvers besides Zuricher and the oval-head 
cutter either left the City or were forced to curtail 
their operations. 

The end of the Revolution, and British occupation, 
led to a resumption of all trades, including gravestone 
cutting. In fact, more gravestone cutters may have 
been working than ever before. Between 1784 and 1800 
New York City Directories list thltty-nine men who gave 
their occupations as stonecutters. Of course, these 

men performed many other types of stonecutting tasks 
besides carving gravestones. Nevertheless, we can 
identify makers by their works and by advertisements, 
and many other stonecutters probably worked in the 
shops of those who advertised. The advertisement placed 
in the New York Herald , on May 11, 1803, by the firm of 
Knox and Campbell, who often advertised gravestones, 
illustrates the heightened activity among the City's 
stonecutting community: "Journeymen stonecutters. 
Wanted a number of sober, industrious, good Workmen. 
Constant employ and good wages will be given. Apply to 
George Knox or Alexander Campbell, Master Stonecut- 
ters. "-"-^ 

Along with this presumed increase in the number of 
gravestone cutters went major changes in gravestone 
styles. During the Federal period, 1784-1815, neoclas- 
sic designs including urns and willows, the dominant 
funerary motifs in Britain, began to appear in large 
numbers in the United States. The reasons for the 
replacement of the traditional soul effigy by a design 
reflecting British popular taste is not entirely clear. 
Especially in New England, this shift surely mirrors 
the increasing weakness of the Puritan ethos and the 
funerary art which served it. However, in areas of 
greater ethno-religious heterogeneity, as the New York- 
New Jersey region, this shift in styles seems to have 
as much to do with fashion as it does with religion. 
Neoclassicism appeared modern, perhaps better adapted to 
a self-conscious infant republic than the symbols which 
had been utilized for over a century. It should be 

47 



remembered that the spread of Methodism and the Second 
Great Awakening in the early nineteenth century demon- 
strate that religion continued to exert a powerful 
influence on the average American. Thus it seems most 
likely that the decline of the soul effigy, as the 
winged skull before it, had lees to do with religion 
than with popular taste and an evolving sentimental 
attitude towards death. 

That fashion was at least as important as religion 
seems borne out by the fact that the neoclassic designs 
never achieved the popularity in New York and New Jer- 
sey that they did in New England. After 1780, the 
trend was towards markers devoid of any dominant sym- 
bol. New York stonecutters, like their New Jersey 
brethren, followed this pattern. Unlike the New Jersey 
craftsmen, who retained many traditional devices — lobe- 
topped outlines, vine and floral borders, tulip motifs — 
New York cutters increasingly chose, or their clientele 
demanded, plain, unadorned markers. These stones, which 
usually began "In Memory" or "In Memorium, " dominate 
New York burial grounds after 1790. After 1810, stones 
bearing traditional funerary iconography are a rarity 
(Table 2). 

The transition to unadorned memorials was accom- 
panied by the rising popularity of marble. While New 
York stonecutters had advertised the availability of 
marble during the colonial period, only one pre-Revolu- 
tionary, symbol engraved stone remains extant. The con- 
tinued popularity of sandstone before the Revolution 
may have resulted from a combination of conservatism in 
taste and the lower cost of sandstone. After the Revo- 
lution Vermont marble became readily, and cheaply, a- 
vailable for gravestones. This material is specifically 
mentioned in advertisements by Arthur and John Darley, 
emigrants from Dublin, who began their stonecutting 
business in 1796. Undoubtedly they were referring to 
this material when they stated "they [were] supplied 
from a quarry up the North [Hudson] River with marble 
perfectly white and superior to any yet discovered in 
America for outside work."^" This type of marble, 
called "sugar" marble because of its highly granular 
composition, is extremely susceptible to weathering. 
Unfortunately, large numbers of memorials carved in 
marble are eroded beyond recognition. 

While the change from traditional symbols to neo- 
classic or plain markers proceeded more rapidly in 
New York than in New Jersey, the transformation was not 

48 



immediate. The decrease in the number of symbol-cut 
stones was pronounced, but some were carved into the 
nineteenth century. Some uncommon types appeared 
during the transitional period of the 1780s and 1790s. 
One of these is the impressive soul effigy/military 
symbol found on the Major Thomas Pell stone (Fig. 37). 
This appears to be an attempt at the provincial Baroque 
style by a carver who did not possess the requisite 
technique. More unusual are a small number of soul 
effigies which appeared in the Albany-Schenectady area 
at this time. These images, as seen on the Magdalene 
Quackenbots stone, are egg-shaped, with small, neat 
wings carved in low relief (Fig. 38). The carver 
handled both Reman and Italic lettering with facility. 
Everything about these markers — sandstone medium, lack 
of analogs in New England — suggests a New York City 
area provenance. However, nothing like them is known 
below Albany. Perhaps the loss of certain burial 
grounds in the City has obscured their origins, or a 
stonecutter in Albany ordered blanks from the Newark 
quarries and finished them in his own style. Despite 
the attractiveness of the unknown craftsman's work, he 
could not compete with the marble stones coming into 
the Albany region from Vermont, and his stones do not 
appear after 1803. 




V,. tiYi e iTi or A'' ofl 

Figure 37. Major Thomas Pell, 1784, Mt. Vernon, N. Y. 




Figure 38. Magdalene Quackenbots, 1790. 

49 



The Lower Hudson River valley gravestone carving 
tradition began in New Jersey around 1720. About 1750, 
a New York school emerged which captured the area east 
of the Hudson, thus forming two related but distinctive 
regional patterns. Both traditions were influenced by 
the New England carvers and, later, and especially in 
New York, by British sources. The latter were intro- 
duced by emigrant carvers from Britain and Ireland, who 
arrived in New York between 1764 and 1796. As was true 
of the New England carvers. New York-New Jersey crafts- 
men first made mortality images and then, after 1750, 
concentrated on soul effigies. However, mortality mo- 
tifs remained surprisingly popular. The Revolutionary 
War and changing popular taste led to the abandonment 
of the soul effigy and the use of neoclassic designs. 
Especially in New York, this transition was over- 
shadowed by the greater tendency to adopt unadorned 
markers. By 1820 traditional symbols had fallen from 
popular favor. A decade later they were extinct. By 
this time the intellectual and cultural mentality which 
had expressed itself through the traditional symbols 
had itself disappeared. Increasing mechanization and a 
radically altered market demand was changing gravestone 
cutting from a craft to a small industry. In grave- 
stones, as in so much else, an era had passed. 



Appendix 
Gravestone Cutters in the New York and New Jersey Area 
New Jersey 



Elizabeth 
Jonathan Akin, 
Elias Darby 

David Jeffries 
E. Norris 
Noah Norris 
Ebenezar Price 
Aaron Ross 



fl., 1760-1800 

fl., 1780 

fl., 1760-1800 

fl. , 1820 

fl. , 1810-1820 
1728-1788 

fl., 1790-1810 



(traditional) 

(Price/Osborne 
imitator) 

(traditional) 

(neoclassic) 

(unadorned) 

(traditional) 

(unadorned/Price 
imitator) 



50 



Isaac Ross 
Abner Stewart 
Newark 

William Grant 
Uzal Ward 
W. Schenck 
New Brunswick 
L. Silcock 
New Providence 
A. Willcox 

Rahwa y 

John Frazee 

Scotch Pl ain g 

Jonathan Hand 
Osborne 

William Osborne 

We st fie ld 

J. Tucker 

Woodbridge 
Henry Osborne 
i ^Qcation Unknown 
Ezekiel Ludlam 
Turner 



fl., 1790-1810 

fl., 1760-1815 

fl. , 1740-1800 

1726-1796? 

fl., 1820 

fl., 1825 

fl. , 1810 

fl. , 1810-1820 

fl., 1770-1810 

fl., 1820 

fl. , 1780 

fl., 1770-1810 

fl. , 1810-1820 

fl., 1730-40 



(unadorned) 
(traditional) 

(traditional) 
(traditional) 
(neoclassic) 

(traditional) 

(neoclassic) 

(neoclassic) 

(traditional) 
(neoclassic) 



(Osborne 
imitator) 



(traditional) 

(unadorned) 
(traditional) 



51 



New York 
Mm. York City 
P. D. Braisted 
Nathaniel Brown 
Thomas Brown 



fl. , 1810-1820 
fl., 1764-1796 
fl. , 1764-1791 



William Valentine fl. , 1770 
John Zuricher fl., 1745-1784 



(neoclassic) 

(traditional) 

(traditional) 

(traditional) 

(traditional) 



The following men advertised themselves as grave- 
stone cutters in eighteenth century New York City news- 
papers. While they are not yet definitely identified 
with a particular style, they are likely to prove re- 
sponsible for several types presently unattributable. 
Dates are those of their advertisements. 



Charles Bromfield, 1770 
Alexander Campbell, 1803, 1804 
Arthur and John Darley, 17 96 
Anthony Dodane, 1768, 1769 
Robert Hartley, 1771 
George Knox, 1803, 1804 
George Lindsay, 1785, 1804 
Rockland County 

Thomas Smith fl., 1800-1810 

Sag Harbor (Suffolk County) 
Ithiel Hill fl., 1780-1821 



John C. Hill 



Phineas Hill (also 
at Huntington, 
Hempstead and Riverhead) 



fl. , 1810 

1788-1844 



(unadorned) 



(traditional 
and neoclassic) 

(neoclassic) 

(neoclassic) 



52 



NOTES 

The author would like to thank J. Richard Welch 
for the line drawings used for illustration. 

^Henry R. Stiles, History of the County of Kings 
and City of Brooklyn . Vol. 1 (New York: W. W. Munsell, 
1884), 49. 

For a discussion of the relationship of Christian 
ideas of metamorphosis and the development of the soul 
effigy, see Allan I. Ludwig, Graven Images : New Eng- 
land Stonecarving and its Symbols . 1650-1815 (Middle- 
town, Ct. : Wesleyan University Press, 1966); Dickran 
and Ann Tashjian, Memorials for Children ijf Change : 
The Art of Early New England Stonecarving (Middletown, 
Ct. : Wesleyan University Press, 1974); Peter Benes, 
The Masks of Orthodoxy ; Folk Gravestone Carving iu 
Plymouth County . Massachusetts . 1689-18Q5 (Amherst, 
Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1977); David 
H. Watters, " With Bodilie Eyes ": Eschatologica l Themes 
in Puritan Literature and Gc ave st on e Art (Ann Arbor: 
UMI Research Press, 1981). James Deetz and Edwin S. 
Dethlefsen, in "Death's Head Cherub Urn and Willow," 
Natural History 73:3 (1967), 28-57, related the shift 
from death's head to soul effigy to the Great Awakening. 
For discussions of their theory, see Benes, Masks , and 
Watters, "With Bodilie Eyes ." Its application to New 
England has long been challenged, most recently by Kevin 
M. Sweeney, "Where the Bay Meets the River: Gravestones 
and Stonecutters in the River Towns of Western Massa- 
chusetts, 1690-1810," MARKERS III : The Journal Si£ tJifi 
Association fog Gravestone Studies (Lanham, Md. : Uni- 
versity Press of America, 1985), 1-46. 

^A similar situation was reported by Paul Joseph 
McLeod in a study of Monmouth County, New Jersey memo- 
rials. He found both mortality and winged face designs 
carved continuously from 1720 to 1795 with the death's 
heads always more numerous. Paul Joseph McLeod, "A 
Study of the Gravestones of Monmouth County, New Jer- 
sey, 1716-1835. Reflections of a Lifestyle" (Xerox 
Typescript, 197 9, New England Historic Genealogical 
Society, Boston). 

"^Rita S. Gottesman, The Arts and Crafts in New 
York . 1726-1776 . Advertisements and News Items from 
New York City Newspapers . New- York Historical Society 
Collections . 1938 (New York: New York Historical So- 
ciety, 1938) , 231. 

53 



^Ibid. , 229. 

^H. Garret and R. Crode, "Gravestone Inscriptions 
from St. Eustatius, N.A., 1686-1930" (Typescript, 1976, 
New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston). 

o 

Will of Henry Osborne. New Jersey Abstracts. 
New Jersey Colonial Documents. Calendar of Wills, 3 2, 
240. 

q 

^"Records of the Reformed Dutch Church in New York, 
1731-1800," Collections M tM E^M York Genealogical 
and Biographical Society (Upper Saddle River, N.J. : 
Gregg Press, 1968 [reprint]), 117. 

■••^Will of John Zuricher, April 26, 1781. Mss. 
Queens College Historical Documents Collection. 

■'•■'■Office of the State Comptroller, New York in the 
Revolution as Colony and .State, II, (Albany: J. B. 
Lyon and Co., 1904), 67. 

■"■^Gottesman, 229-32. 

^^Ibid., 231. 

^^Ibid., 228-229. 

^^Ibid., 229. 

■"■^Gottesman, The Arts and Crafts in New York . 
1777-1799 . Collections of the New- York Historical 
Society , 1948 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 
1948) , 200. 

■•■^New York City Directories, 1784-1800. 

l^Ibid. 

1 9 

■^^Gottesman, The Arts and Crafts in New York. 

1800-1804 . Collections of the New-York Historica l 

Society f 1949 (New York: New-York Historical Society, 

1949), 203. 

^^Gottesman, 1777-1799 . 204. 



54 



Rural Southern Gravestones: 

Sacred Artifacts in the Upland South Folk Cemetery 

Gregory Jeane 

The rural South has been the focus of social re- 
search for a number of years. Interest has been vari- 
ously focused upon architecture, the institution of 
slavery, the impact of textile milling upon the region's 
economy, and the devastation wrought by overemphasis on 
cotton production. Within the realm of folk studies, 
interest has focused most sharply upon folktales, folk 
songs, and, within recent years, upon the cultural ge- 
ography of various landscape elements in the South. 
This paper continues the as yet young tradition of 
geographic investigation of the Southern cultural land- 
scape. As such, the paper should be considered as an 
introduction. The information presented in these pages 
is based on nearly fifteen years of direct field obser- 
vation and is further substantiated by oral histories 
acquired by interviews and correspondence. 

The data presented and the generalizations offered 
pertain to rural cemeteries only. Until the end of 
World War II, the South was predominately rural. The 
advent of urbanism is beter researched and understood 
in relation to economic changes, residential mobility, 
and other social factors. The importance of Southern 
urban areas as foci of cultural innovation and change 
is recognized, although the mechanism of the transfer 
of urban originated culture traits to the rural areas 
is imperfectly known.^ 

The focus of this paper is upon gravestones as one 
important culture trait in the rural Southern cemetery. 
Observations of hundreds of rural graveyards indicate a 
highly repetitive association of features that I refer 
to as the Upland South folk graveyard. It has defini- 
tive characteristics which indicate that it may be rec- 
ognized as a distinctive type of cemetery and that it 
appears to be geographically extensive only within the 
South. The Upland South folk graveyard is a cemetery 
type widely dispersed across the South and is identi- 
fied among other things by its small size, hilltop lo- 
cation, east-west grave orientation, scraped ground, 
and preferred species of vegetation (Map 1). It is im- 
portant, therefore, to think of the rural cemetery in 
the South as a culture trait complex that can be ana- 
lyzed trait by trait but that is best under stood when 

55 















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Map 1. Upland South Cemeteries. 

56 



all of the various elements are studied in their proper 
context. Research on this folk graveyard type appears 
to indicate that it was even more widespread histori- 
cally than at present. Given the lateness of some 
settlement within the South, it is not unrealistic to 
,pr offer that, for at least some areas of the region, 
cemetery traditions remain very much the same as they 
were at the time of initial occupance by settlers.^ 
Since much of the South was not settled until the 1830s 
or later, the survival of traditional^^ customs into the 
mid-twentieth century is not unusual.^ I believe that 
the reluctance to disturb burial grounds in the rural 
South has made it possible to observe traditional folk- 
ways longer than might be the case in other areas of 
the country. The general reluctance to disturb sacred 
space allowed the Upland South cemetery complex to re- 
main the most typical rural cemetery in the South until 
after World War II. 

In the traditional Upland South cemetery, grave- 
stones were not especially common. Where they are 
found, they serve as important artifacts that give in- 
sight into the economic and social fabric of the commun- 
ity. They are, therefore, significant and can be used 
as a cultural index. Gravemarkers of material other 
than commercially prepared stone are also culturally 
significant. 

As is generally recognized, gravestones and grave 
markers serve a variety of functions. Obviously they 
contain val uable genealogical information, some more 
than others. They may be used as well to corroborate 
studies of the diffusion and distribution of known epi- 
demic diseases, to analyze cycles of mortality, or to 
explain other death-related phenomena. Epitaphs and 
artistic symbols may be used as well to gain insight 
into attitudes toward death among local folk. 

The Traditional Mode l 

In order to appreciate the changes in use of grave- 
stones that have taken place within the Southern rural 
cemetery, it would be instructive to have some idea of 
the traditional cemetery complex at the time of initial 
settlement. Field evidence indicates that the folk 
cemetery went through an evolution of forms beginning 
with a traditional stage (emphasized in this paper) 
that lasted from initial occupance until approximately 
World War II, with remnants widely extant even today. 
A transitional stage began in some areas of the South 

57 




T RA N S I Tl 0/VA L Vi'Mif::- '.•'.•'.•'.• 






iiiS^SSISIIilS 



COMMERCIAL 



t 



MOUNDED qRAVC 



OBEUSK MARKffi 



[) d QRANITE MARKTR 



CJD STAKE MARKCR 



I I S(AB M/«?r^CR 



.WROuqHT IRO* 

fence: 



L 



GJ 



Diagram 1. Changes in the Upland South Cemetery. 

58 




Figure 1. Bear Creek Methodist Church Cemetery, Car- 
roll County, Georgia, 1974. Note the lack 
of grass, hilltop location and use of field 
stone for markers. 

in the 1930s and is widespread currently. The commer- 
cial, or memorial garden stage is a phenomenon of the 
1960s onward (Diagram 1). Figure 1 illustrates some of 
the definitive characteristics of the folk cemetery as 
evidenced by the scraped ground, the hilltop location, 
the mounding of the graves, and the use of noncommercial 
gravestones. The mounding of graves has been attributed 
to Indian influence, but there does not appear to be 
significant Indian cultural impact on the manner in 
which the earlier settlers formally disposed of their 
dead. 



Data from several hundred cemeteries in nearly 200 
Southern counties reveal that the traditional rural 
cemetery was a small piece of land situated on the top 
of a hill or, where possible, upon an elevated piece of 
land (Map 1). The graveyardwas stripped of most all 
vegetation, including grass, shrubs, and trees, leaving 
a startling "scar" on the landscape. Within this 
sacred space preferred species of vegetation were added 
that had symbolic meaning for settlers in the area. When 

59 



trees were left standing, evergreen species dominated. 
Symbolic of immortality, evergreen species varied, ob- 
viously, from one geographic locale within the South 
to another. The most common tree was the cedar (Fig. 
2); it became known widely as the cemetery tree and can 
still be effectively used as a landscape indicator of 
abandoned or overgrown cemeteries (house sites as well). 
Other species of evergreen included pine and oak, as 
well as magnolia in the extreme South. 

Additional preferred species of vegetation in- 
cluded crape myrtle, spirea, gardenia, rose, azalea, 
and lilies. The community went to considerable length 
to insure that no other species of vegetation encroached 
within the graveyard. Thus, an annual or semiannual 
event of considerable importance was the graveyard work- 
day. On this occasion all members of the community 
having kin buried in the cemetery, as well as others 
who formerly lived in the area but had moved away, gath- 
ered to spend long hours hoeing all grass and weeds from 
the cemetery, replanting shrubs or trees that had died 
or fallen over, and, in general, sprucing up the burial 
ground. This cult of piety continues to the present in 
some areas, even to the point of some communities rees- 
tablishing the practice after a period of discontinu- 
ance (Fig. 3; Map 2) . 




Figure 2. Cryer Cemetery, Vernon Parish, La., 1969, 

60 




Figure 3. Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant, 
Titus County, Tx. , 1968, in the process of 
being reconverted from a grassed one to the 
traditional folk model. 




Map 2. Distributional Map of Cemeteries in Three North- 
east Georgia Counties, 1970. 



61 



The traditional cemetery also had other distin- 
guishing characteristics. All graves were mounded. This 
served the purpose of preserving graves, whether marked 
with a stone or not. in addition, there were diverse 
forms of decoration, but few gravestones. One of the 
most unusual decorative forms was the use of shells to 
either outline the grave, cover it completely, or mark 
a line down the ridge of the burial (Fig. 4). Another 
important culture trait was the presence of grave shel- 
ters (Fig. 5); some cemeteries would have none, others 
several or, in a few instances, virtually one for every 
burial. All graves were, in addition, aligned on an 
east-west axis; random directional burial was not com- 
mon. 

Thus, the sighting of a traditional Upland South 
rural cemetery today presents a striking appearance to 
the casual observer — a small, clean piece of earth sit- 
uated on the high ground with mounded graves neatly 
placed in rows, one or several evergreen trees and other 
scattered plants of symbolic significance to the local 
group, an occasional grave house, and the presence of 
shells strewn about on many of the burials, among other 
traits. One of the most obvious characteristics would 
be a noticeable absence of gravestones. 




Figure 4 . 



Prewitt's Chapel, Vernon Parish, La., 1967. 
62 




Figure 5. Franklin County, Alabama, 1982. 

Categories of Markers 

The absence of gravestones in the traditional rural 
cemetery has persisted to the present day in only the 
more conservative communities. Some cemeteries in the 
uplands of northeastern Georgia, and others observed in 
eastern Texas and western Louisiana in the 1970s, still 
had few commercial stones. Commercial stones, however, 
became increasingly available during the last quarter 
of the nineteenth century, and today such stones predom- 
inate, even in cemeteries that were formerly maintained 
in the tradition described. 

The preference for commercial stones began in 
earnest around the 1890s and became especially preva- 
lent after World War II. Why the change? Partly, one 
must take into consideration that the composition of 
communities changes over time. People from other areas 
were moving into the South, and, like new settlers any- 
where, they brought with them new ideas and ways of 
doing things. People from urban environments, even 
small ones, would bring different ideas and demands for 
certain items that would be considered essential in 
their new environment. In addition, through the de- 

63 



cades the age matrix of the community would change. 
Fewer old folks irrevocably tied to doing things "the 
way grandpa did" became subordinate to a younger gene- 
ration who was not only better schooled, but relatively 
better traveled. The younger generation in the South 
has consistently accepted traditions in conflict with 
those of their elders. Attitudes about death and pref- 
erences for grave adornment and maintenance have changed 
along with other culture values. 

There is considerable variety in Southern grave- 
stones and markers. First, there are markers made from 
found materials. These may be pieces of native field 
stone (Fig. 6), a piece of cedar or heart pine (either 
a slab or a stob), or some material chosen by the in- 
dividual because it could be crafted to resemble a 
gravestone. In western Louisiana and eastern Texas, 
for example, some folk stacked discarded clay turpen- 
tine cups to create a type of "tombstone" (Fig. 7). 
Turpentine cups became available when some of the saw 
mill operations in that area ceased operations in the 
early twentieth century. 








jlk- 



Figure 6. New Hope Cemetery, Paulding County, Georgia, 
1972. Note that grass is being maintained 
on some plots. 



64 









>--^ 



^ 







I' 



■« ' -y. 





-•!;-•* 



••-^^.• 



Figure 7. Toro Creek Cemetery, Vernon Parish, La., 1969. 

Homemade gravemarkers form a second category. Other 
than stone, wooden markers appear to be among the ear- 
liest efforts to identify graves. Informants in commun- 
ities across the South relate that their earliest remem- 
brances of gravemarkers were a piece of stone or wood 
placed at each end of the grave. A common response was 
that "folks were too poor to buy a tombstone." One may 
infer that wooden markers were probably used from ini- 
tial occupance, circa 1835. They were still being used 
in the 1930s, but evidence begins to diminish consider- 
ably in the 1940s and later. The cataloging of the oc- 
curence of wooden markers variously scattered in folk 
cemeteries from Texas to the Carol inas would suggest 
that the practice was formerly common throughout the 
South. 

The best woods for a gravemarker were cedar or 
heart pine, since these woods resisted rot and were 
particularly suited to the damp Southern environment. 
Sometimes the wooden slab would have the basic informa- 
tion of name, birth and death date. Others would have 
only a name or a name and death date. Few of these 
slabs ever contained an epitaph. Weathering of wood is 
so rapid that no extant wooden markers observed have 



65 



retained any information. 

Several different shapes of wooden markers have 
been observed. Some consist of a narrow shaft, from 
three to six inches wide, with the top of the marker 
rounded to form a circle (Fig. 8). Some blacks have 
indicated that markers were thus formed to look like 
the head and body of a human. No whites interviewed 
have ever offered an explanation for the shape of the 
marker. A variant of the same is to have the top of 
the wooden shake carved in a diamond-shape. Geometric- 
shaped head and foot stones were observed in rural 
cemeteries in Godmersham, Kent, England and in a number 
of rural cemeteries in the Yorkshire Dales during a 
cemetery reconnaissance of Great Britain in 1981. Most 
of them bore no marking and were placed at the foot of 
a grave. In the South, the same shapes in wood were 
placed both at the head and foot of graves. The Eng- 
lish stones were associated most often with burials 
from the mid-nineteenth century. In some rural South- 

ern cemeteries, there are wooden grave shelters built 
over graves that have served the dual purpose of pro- 
tecting the grave from erosion and from animal depre- 
dation, as well as preserving wooden grave markers. 
Even in those instances, there has never been a marker 
with recorded information on it. It may have never had 
any, or, the writing may have faded over the decades. 
No wooden markers have been observed with information 
carved into the surface. 




Figure 8. Prewitt's Chapel, Vernon Parish, La., 1969 

66 



A third type of wooden marker has been observed in 
the panhandle of Florida and in Mississippi. It con- 
sists of a rectangular slab of wood, generally heart 
pine, about twelve to fifteen inches wide and from 
twenty to twenty-four inches high. The wooden slab is 
anchored in a rectangular wooden base that has been 
carved to accept the slab. It very much resembles the 
technique of mortise and tenon construction used in 
architecture and furniture making. 

Another type of homemade stone is the concrete 
marker. The use of concrete appears to be a twentieth- 
century phenomenon; most of the concrete gravestones 
observed date from the 1920s and 1930s. It is possible 
to find an occasional one made in the 1950s, but they 
are scarce after this time. As with the wooden markers, 
the use of concrete is widespread in rural Southern 
cemeteries, particularly common in black cemeteries, 
but it can be observed inwhite graveyards as well. A 
recent use of concrete was observed in the reestablish- 
ing of the folk cemetery at East Bethel Baptist Church 
in eastern Alabama; concrete had been used to fashion a 
small cross for each grave that had never had a commer- 
cial stone. 

Generally crude in design, these stones are either 
slab or block in form and of modest size (Fig. 9). In- 
scriptions are most often made while the concrete is 
still wet and carved with a tool such as a screwdriver 
or a stick. A few such stones have been observed where 
the family tried to create a more sophisticated look by 
forming a shallow depression in the face of the block 
for a glass plate, in these instances, the biographical 
data about the deceased was either written on a piece 
or paper placed under the glass or occasionally written 
with punch-out letters. 

Both the wooden markers and the concrete stones 
might rightfully be thought of as folk markers. In the 
same manner that decorations in Southern rural ceme- 
teries express an art of "making do," so also do the 
more traditional gravemarkers. Decoration of these 
stones is expressive as well. Variations in decorating 
concrete stones run the gamut from covering the stone 
with aluminum paint to having the name of the deceased 
spelled with embedded marbles. 

A third category of Southern gravestones is the 
commercial stone. The use of commerical stones appears 
to have become popular in the South in the last quarter 

67 




Figure 9. Rosemere Cemetery, Opelika, Lee County, Ala- 
bama, 1985. 




Figure 10. Houston County, Alabama, 1981 

68 



of the nineteenth century (Fig. 10). By that time 
stones could be obtained from monument dealers in the 
county seat or even by catalog from such institutions 
as Sears, Roebuck and Company. Commercial stones be- 
came very popular and within a short time were ubiqui- 
tous. Because monument dealers, or sources, were in- 
fluenced by whatever was currently popular across the 
nation, styles popular outside the South became widely 
distributed. Beyond the direct observation, it is dan- 
gerous to generalize about the distribution of commer- 
cial stones. One must be sensitive to the fact that 
the resistance to change expressed in the persistence 
of the traditional cemetery complex described is reflec- 
ted in the choice of gravestones as well. Styles pop- 
ular in other parts of the nation before the turn of 
the century still reflected contemporary taste in some 
Southern communities at mid-twentieth century. In those 
rural graveyards where commercial stones are not partic- 
ularly abundant, one need not necessarily assume that 
local folk are ignorant of current popular gravestone 
styles. Rather, they may be exercising a cultural 
prerogative by rejecting what is currently in vogue in 
favor of traditional styles or in favor of familiar, 
traditional practices that eschew gravestones. 

Gravestone Motifs 

Many, if not most, of the popular Southern motifs 
can be found in other parts of the United States as 
well. One is struck by the predominance of a few 

motifs which may express regional taste. The dove, 
symbol ic of the spirit or the Holy Spi rit, the open 
Bible (Fig. 11), the finger pointing to Heaven, the 
gates of Heaven, the broken rose, the broken link of 
chain, and the cross and the crown, are particularly 
widespread in Southern rural graveyards and appear to 
be expressive of strong fundamentalist religious inter- 
pretation of death and the life hereafter. 

The use of these symbolic motifs is a phenomenon 
of the mid-nineteenth century in the rural South and 
appears to have been a trait that originated in the 
urban areas, evolved there, and diffused widely through- 
out the rural countryside. There are, for instance, no 
motifs placed on folk markers or gravestones. Rather, 
they begin to appear with the spread of commercial 
stones in the late nineteenth century, stones that were 
manufactured in urban locales and distributed by var- 
ious means across the South. Thus, the very best ex- 
amples of the use of motifs from an artistic reference 

69 




Figure 11. Self Cemetery, Vernon Parish, La., 1969. 



B,l 





?^ - 



«.-^L 



1^ 



MARGIE LANE 
^ DAUGHTER OF MR.^ MR, i^^ 

^ R.C.POWELL ^, : 
MARCH : J. 1933 m^f- 
'-* MARCH 19 1934 --.- 






Figure 12. Friendship Methodist Church, Vernon Parish, 
Louisiana, 1972. 



70 



are to be found in the various urban cemeteries scat- 
tered across the South. One need not interpret urban 
as meaning a major metropolitan area. In fact, some of 
the most beautifully executed works are found in the 
graveyards of the local county seat. 

Generally speaking, the use of motifs falls into 
two distinct patterns — those on the graves of children 
and those adorning the gravestones of adults. The sym- 
bols most commonly used on children's graves were and, 
to a certain extent, continue to be the sleeping lamb, 
the lamb at rest, the dove, and an angel transporting 
the deceased to Heaven. The lamb is the most common 
motif (Fig. 12). At times these lambs are lightly in- 
cised on the face of the stone. More commonly they are 
sculpted in bas-relief or are fully sculpted on the top 
of the stone. The dove is generally sculpted in bas- 
relief within a shallow disc carved out of the face of 
the stone. Less common are the motif of a broken flower 
stem, most often a rose, the open Bible and the gates 
of Heaven. 

The motif of a celestial being, such as an angel 
winging its way to heavenwith a child or young adult 
in its arms, is infrequently observed. Most often as- 
sociated with families of financial means, as evidenced 
by the size of the stone, the skill of the artistic ef- 
fort, and the kind of stone (polished granite or fine 
white marble, for example), such monuments were done 
outside the region and imported or imported from outside 
the region and carved in a Southern urban center. It 
is difficult to locate the sources of these monuments 
since artisans seldom signed their work, and stone man- 
ufacturers did not always put a trademark on their prod- 
ucts. 

Adult gravestones represent a much greater variety 
of symbolic motifs and size. Unlike gravestones for 
children, which are most often rather small, the monu- 
ments placed for adults range from simple slabs to elab- 
orate obelisks and mausoleums. The size of marker is a 
factor of wealth, a fact that is easily observed regard- 
less of whether one is in a rural or urban setting or a 
particular geographic region. Large tombstones in the 
rural South were commonly placed on the graves of 
planter families (Fig. 13), but other citizens such as 
doctors, lawyers, or merchants also acquired them. 
Another feature of stones for adults is that one often 
sees a single massive stone placed in a family plot 
with all names inscribed upon it, along with some ap- 

71 




Figure 13. Vicksburg City Cemetery, Vicksburg, Miss., 
1982. 

propriate epitaph for the principal family members. 
While adult names appear on these large stones from 
about the age of fifteen, babies and other young chil- 
dren almost always have separate stones. 

Among motifs used for adults, one finds such items 
as flowers, either as a broken- stemmed, single element 
(sometimes a lily or bouquet instead of a rose) (Fig. 
14), or as a wreath or garland. Most of the garlands 
and wreaths are obviously Victorian decorative designs 
and carry little specific religious meaning. Other 
plants may find expression as well, particularly the 
use of the willow tree. The willow became very popular 
in the United States, and in Europe, during the Romantic 
era of the early nineteenth century. In the South this 
gravestone motif is widely scattered and dates mostly 
from the immediate pre-Civil War period to the early 
1870s. After that it is infrequently encountered. The 
sheaf of wheat is seldom used, and interestingly enough, 
neither is the cedar tree or other evergreen species of 
vegetation — this in spite of the fact that the cedar 
tree is nearly ubiquitous in Southern graveyards. 



72 




Figure 14. Ford Cemetery, Newton County, Texas, 1983. 
Note metal marker, dating from late nine- 
teenth century, and mason jar flower holder. 

More common are the motifs which convey explicit 
religious messages such as the dove in flight (the Spir- 
it set free, or the soul winging its way to Heaven); 
the finger pointing heavenward (remindful that there is 
but one final home for the faithful); the cross laidon 
an open Bible (belief in the Crucifixion and the ful- 
fillment of the promise through God's word); the gates 
of Heaven, sometimes in association with the skyline of 
the holy city Jerusalem (the reward of the faithful ser- 
vant); and the clasped hands (interpreted as a farewell 
most often, but by some as a greeting from the Lord) 
(Fig. 15). Rarely does one find motifs that indicate 
professional occupations: on the other hand, fraternal 
symbols are very common, especially the Masonic emblem. 
For women, the emblem of the Order of the Eastern Star 
is frequently encountered. 

Another very widespread gravestone motif is the 
logo of the Woodmen of the World (Fig. 16), a semi- 
fraternal insurance company with headquarters in the 
Midwest. One of the benefits of the policy with this 
company was an optional rider providing a cash payment 

73 



toward purchase of a stone for the policyholder's grave, 
a benefit that continues in force although it now pro- 
vides only for the use of the logo on a stone of the 
family's choice, or a small bronze plaque if the family 
cannot provide a stone at all. The Woodmen stones are 
stylized treetrunks (Fig. 17), and as such are one of 
the most easily recognized gravestone styles found in 
the South. The wide geographic distribution of these 
markers may be indicative of the success of the Woodmen 
of the World Insurance Company. The company was willing 
to write policies in an area where older, more estab- 
lished, firms were unwilling to take insurance risks 
because of high mortality rates and generally poor 
health conditions. The result was that rural Southerners 
loyally supported the company and its fraternal organi- 
zation, and few rural communities were without a Wood- 
men's Lodge. Consequently, the landscape expression of 
that organization is found in the stylized treetrunk 
gravestone in the hundreds of rural cemeteries which 
pepper the region. 




Figure 15. Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, Es- 
cambia County, Florida, 1985. 

74 




Figure 16. Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama, 1983. 




Figure 17. Loachapoka Cemetery, Lee County, Ala., 1985. 

75 



Epitaphs 

Southern epitaphs have much in common with grave- 
stone inscriptions in other regions of the United 
States. The Bible is an expecially important source of 
material, indicative of a fundamentalist belief in the 
Christian doctrine of life after death and its attain- 
ment. One infrequently finds, for example, gravestones 
with any lengthy moral lesson or family history. Some 
epitaphs are long, but they are the exception rather 
than the rule. Reference to marriage, a perfect mate, 
a devoted wife and mother, and to the deceased "At Rest" 
are some non-religious examples. Most have some relig- 
ious connotation, however, such as "Asleep in Jesus," 
"I will lift mine eyes unto the hills," or "An angel 
called Home." Epitaphs sometimes give a sectarian 
message, such as "Died in the Faith and Defence of the 
Primitive Baptist Church." 

There is much to be done in the systematic study 
of Southern epitaphs, but four categories of epitaphs 
are tentatively offered here: 

a. biblical inscriptions 

b. religious memoria (often biblical paraphrases) 

c. biographical 

d. poetic 

The most common category is biblical inscriptions, 
which is to be expected considering the region's relig- 
ious history. Epitaphs based on the Scriptures are 
plentiful because memorization of the Scriptures was 
popular as a religious pastime of settler families (as 
it continues to be among certain groups to this day). 
Thus, there was lifelong familiarity, and the lines 
were obviously favored as a final tribute to the de- 
ceased. An example often encountered from Revelations 
is "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Other 
examples of popular biblical inscriptions include: 
"The Lord is my Shepherd," "I have kept the faith," and 
"Suffer little children to come unto me." 

Epitaphs having strong religious overtones would 
be a second major category. The lines are vaguely 
familiar, having a decided biblical thrust, but the 
lines are either paraphrased or often written in bibli- 
cal prose style. For example, "Twas hard to give thee 
up, but Thy will, God, be done." Another would be, 
"He is not dead but glorified." Yet another is, "To be 
with Jesus is life." A very popular inscription for 

76 



children is "Asleep in Jesus." One teenager who died 
in the 1850s had an epitaph that read, "The young shall 
also die." Other epitaphs of this category that are 
popular include variations of the following: 

a. God's finger touched him, and he slept. 

b. On the last page of his life, the angels wrote 
peace. 

c. Having finished life's duty, he now sweetly 

rests. 

Motherhood is practically a sacred institution 
within traditional Southern culture, and this is well 
illustrated by epitaphs used on the wife's grave. Many 
of these fall within this category of religious para- 
phrase. More importantly, they convey the very strong 
feelings of the special position of the woman in the 
family. For example, "Sleep, mother, sleep; till the 
resurrection morn." Perhaps more pointedly, "Her chil- 
dren arise up and call her blessed, her husband also, 
and he praiseth her." Other epitaphs specifically ori- 
ented to motherhood or the special role of the female 
fall in other categories and are obvious as tribute to 
the special social status of women. 

A third type or category of epitaphs might be la- 
beled biographical in that they convey something about 
the life, the work, the values, or some other pertinent 
information concerning the individual. Interestingly, 
they also indicate a strong loyalty to social institu- 
tions prevalent in the life of the deceased. Two very 
excellent examples are as follows: 

She was brave with the high spirit of the Old 
South which she typified, and generous and 
sympathetic from a great love and understan- 
ding of life, her greatness of soul won the 
love and reverence of all who knew her "To 
have known her was a liberal education." 

"A lady of the old school" of kindness, cul- 
ture and dignity; loyal to her family and to 
her church, and to the manners and memories 
of the Old South.^^ 

Other epitaphs are less descriptive of the deceased 
individual's "Southerness, " but are instructive as to 
character : 

Wonderful woman, charming companion, marvelous 

77 



mother, faithful friend. Christian character 

A kind husband 
A devoted father 
A faithful friend 
A true churchman 

She was an earnest Communicant 

of Emanuel Church: 

As wife, mother, friend. 

She was ever faithful. 

She hath done what she could. 

A fourth category of inscriptions is poetic in 
form. Some are fairly simple in content and style, 
others are more involved. Many aptly express the agony 
of the bereaved and evoke pathos in the observer. Those 
poems found on childrens' graves are among the most 
poignant. For example: 

Tender shepherd. Thou hast stilled 
Now Thy little lamb's brief weeping 
And how peaceful, pale and mild 
In its narrow bed it's sleeping. 

Another form asleep 
And a little spirit gone; 
Another little voice is hushed 
And a little angel born. 

Some of the epitaphs found on the graves of adults are 
not less poignant as expressed in the following three 
examples: 

Warm summmer sun shine kindly here 
Warm southern wind blow lightly here 
Green sod above, lie light, lie light. 
Good night dear heart 
Good night, good night. 

I think of you, from every pain and sorrow free 
And coming down from heaven's slope with hands 
Held out to me. 

Farewell dear papa, sweetly thy rest. 
Weary with years and worn with pain 
Farewell til in some happy place 
We shall behold thy face again. 



78 



There are, of course, many gravestone inscriptions 
that do not fall neatly into an obvious category or ad- 
just easily to some arbitrary classification scheme. 
Yet, some of these lines are also reflective of the 
strong religious background of local folk. Others are 
simply intersting in the message they convey. "I break 
away, like bird uncaged on a summer day," is an epitaph 
that states clearly the deceased one's attitude toward 
life's fetters. "She is now a part of all the lovli- 
ness which she once made more lovely" is yet another 
that speaks reverently of the esteem in which the dead 
individual was formerly held. General examples of mis- 
cellaneous, but frequently occuring, epitaphs are as 
follows : 

Tho lost to sight, to memory dear. 

A loving, patient, gentle mother. 

Loved ones remember you. 

She hath done what she could. 

Another angel in heaven. 

We will meet again. 

We miss you. 

Conclusion 

This paper should be considered an introduction to 
the as yet little studied realm of the Southern land- 
scape of the dead. There has been a growing interest 
among geographers, anthropologists, sociologists and 
folklorists about the need to stuc^ our attitudes about 
death and their social expressions, both tangible and 
otherwise. The majority of literature available on 
death in America, however, deals with the trauma of 
death annd dying and how to cope psychologically. At 
the other end of the spectrum are highly general studies 
of a purposefully non-scholarly approach that deal with 
the humorous or curious nature of ip&n's feeling toward 
the dead, particularly the famous. While these works 

are helpful in acquiring a balanced view of the phenom- 
enon of death, serious American studies lag. 

Rural Southern gravestones as a specific phenom- 
enon are virtually unstudied, as indeed are all Southern 
gravestones. As a cemetery artifact they represent one 

79 



trait of a larger culture trait complex associated with 
the traditional Southern cemetery. The South, however, 
has for some years been in transition, and as it changes 
from a predominantly rural to increasingly urban socie- 
ty, there are going to be numerous changes not only in 
gravestone design but also in numbers. Southern grave- 
stone motifs and epitaphs reflect the vibrant, fundamen- 
talist religious belief system characteristic of the 
Protestant Bible Belt. Although there are some stones 
which have shapes or symbols specifically representing 
fraternal organizations, the majority have symbolic 
artwork represennting Christian attitudes toward death. 
It should not be construed that the lack of these sym- 
bols in great number in other regions is indicative of 
any less fervent religious belief. Rather, the rural 
South has been an area of open, vocal expression of the 
importance of religion in all aspects of life, and this 
is clearly evident in the material expression of the 
living toward the dead. Like other areas of the country, 
gravestones in the South can be used as an index of 
social prominence or wealth, but the real value of 
studying the stones is not in their size or sophistica- 
tion of craf tmanship, rather for the insight they af- 
ford into the character of Southern folk. 

NOTES 

■••See Medora Field Perkerson, White Columns in 
Georgia , (New York: Bonanza Books, 1952); W. Barrel 1 
Over dyke, Louisiana Plantation Homes; Colonial and 
Ante Be l lum . (New York: Architectural Book Publishing 
Co., Inc., 196 5); and John Linley, Architecture of Mid- 
dle Georgia: The Oconee Area , (Athens, GA: Univer- 
sity of Georgia Press, 1972) as representative examples 
of regional architectural interests. The slavery issue 
has thousands of pages written about it. Representa- 
tive of some of the articles and books published would 
be: Wendell H. Stephenson, Isaac Franklin. Slave Tra- 
der and Pl anter in the Old South , (Baton Rouge: LSU 
Press, 1938) and W. T. Jordan, "The Elisha F. King Fam- 
ily, Planters of Alabama Black Belt," Agricultural His- 
tory XIX (1945), 152-162. A major geographical inter- 
pretation of cotton production and related industry is 
John Fraser Hart's "The Demise of King Cotton," Annals , 
Association of American Geographers 67 (1977), 307-322. 
The most important recent work dealing with the environ- 
mental impact of abused Southern soil is Stanley W. 
Trimble, Man- Induced Soi l Erosion on the Southern Pied- 
mont. 1700-1970 . (Ankeny, Iowa: Soil Conservation 
Society of America, 1974). Two articles by a geogra- 

80 



pher dealing with folk-life include E. Joan Wilson 
Miller's "Ozark Superstitions as Geographic Documenta- 
tion," Professional Geographer 24 (1972), 223-226 and 
"The Ozark Culture Region as Revealed by Traditional 
Materials," Annals , Association of American Geographers 
58 (1968), 51-77. A Southern folk classic is Ray B. 
Browne's Popular Beliefs and Practices from Alabama , 
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955). 
Nearly any of the publications of Vance Randolph on 
Arkansas or Richard M. Dorson on American folklore will 
illustrate the emphasis upon song and legend as research 
foci. For recent geographical articles on the cultural 
landscape of the South see Terry G. Jordan, "'The Roses 
So Red and the Lilies So Fair': Southern Folk Cemeteries 
in Texas," Southwestern Historical Ouaterly . 8 (1980), 
227, 258. See also Terry G. Jordan, "The Traditional 
Southern Rural Chapel in Texas," Ecumene 8 (1976), 6- 
17. A major sourcebook on material culture is Henry 
Glassie's, Pattern in the Materia l Folk Culture of the 
Eastern United States (Philadelphia: University of 
Press, 1968. 

It is commonly accepted among culture scientists 
that urban areas wherever found are major foci of in- 
novation and culture transfer. The mechanism of trans- 
fer, the path(s) of diffusion, and the chronological 
framework are All elements in the reconstruction of his- 
toric landscapes that often elude quick discovery or 
explanation. 

■^Donald Gregory Jeane, "The Traditional Upland 
South Cemetery," Landscape 18 (1969), 39-41; "The Up- 
land South Cemetery: An American Type," Journa l of 
Popular Culture 11 (1978), 895-503; and "Cemetery Tra- 
ditions," American Cemetery (1982), 18-22. 

^One of the advantages of studying cultural phenom- 
ena in the South is that direct observation can still 
be made of traditional rural lifeways that have long 
ceased to exist in more urbanized areas. Interviews 
with older folk during the late 1960s and early 1970s 
would seem to bear out the conclusion that in some 
rural areas little change in cemetery practices and 
maintenance had occurred within the memory of the people 
being interviewed. 

^It has been etablished that the historic base for 
settlement of more than one million square miles of 
Southern territory is around 1825-1835. The dominant 
culture spread across the South at this time was that 

81 



the Upland South. See Milton B. Newton, Jr., "Cultural 
Preadaptation and the Upland South," in Man and Cultu- 
ial Heritage. Geoscience and Man Series, Vol. 5 (Baton 
Rouge: School of Geoscience Publications, 1974), 143- 
154. 

°Fred B. Kniffen, "Necrogeography in the United 
States," Geographical Review 57 (1967), 426-427. 

•7 

The establishment of some traditional cemeteries 
was recalled by people interviewed about their grave- 
yard memories. Once the undesired vegetation was re- 
moved, certain flowering, low-maintenance species of 
plants such as bridal wreath or lilies would be planted. 
Annual workdays were instituted as a communal effort to 
remove grass and weeds. The institution of graveyard 
workday persists to the present day and has been ob- 
served in eastern and southern Alabama, in eastern 
Texas and western Louisiana, and in northeastern Geor- 
gia. William Humphrey's description of graveyard work- 
day on the Texas plains in The Ordways (New York: 
Bantam Books, 1966) indicates that it was already an 
old tradition when northeastern Texas was settled and 
that it had been brought westward along with other tra- 
ditions important to the settlers. As a native Texan, 
Humphrey is claimed to have written his description of 
the churchyard and workday from personal associations, 
p 
Graveyard work day is not as regular nor wide- 
spread as it was before World War II. Interviews con- 
ducted with ministers and community leaders in Loui- 
siana, Texas, Alabama, and Georgia establish that it 
still exists though in an abbreviated form. Rather 
than an entire community being involved today, it is 
more likely that one will find individual families who 
maintain the tradition by cleaning family plots. The 
result is a checkerboard look to some rural cemeteries 
where you have both grassed and ungrassed plots within 
the same graveyard. Perhaps the best evidence is that 
one can see the results in cemeteries scattered across 
the South. Freshly mounded graves, hoe and rake marks 
and the absence of any grass is clear evidence that the 
plot has been worked. The author witnessed a graveyard 
cleaning in south Alabama in 1979 and in east Alabama 
in 1984. In the cemetery of East Bethel Baptist Church, 
Randolph County, Alabama, the congregation has turned 
the grassed cemetery back into a completely scraped 
graveyard with all graves mounded and covered with 
white sand. A similar instance was observed in Titus 
County, Texas, in 1968 where the congregation of Union 

82 



Baptist Church, established in 1835, was using rotary 
tillers to turn the grass under, leaving a cemetery 
bare of grass and with large cedar trees as the only 
vegetation. 

g 

^See Fred B. Kniffen and J. McCarter, "Louisiana 
Iron Rock," Economic Geography 29 (1953), 299-306. 

Similar stones are discussed in a number of 
places in Frederick Burgess, English Churchyard Memo- 
rials (London: SPCK, 197 9). In England the stones with 
a rounded top appear as early as Anglo-Norman times and 
appear to have association with Celtic designs. The in- 
ference is made as well that the carved stones were the 
survival of an earlier tradition of carving the markers 
in wood. 

The occurrence of wooden markers, wooden grave 
shelters, and associated folk cemetery traits are re- 
corded in a lengthy survey done for the Tennessee Val- 
ley Authority of the Normandy Reservoir area of central 
Tennessee. See Norbert F. Riedl, Donald B. Ball and An- 
thony P. Cavender, A Survey of the Traditional Archi- 
tecture and Related Folk Culture Patterns in the Nor- 
mandy Reservoir. Coffee County. Tennessee (Knoxville, 
Tennessee: Tennessee Valley Authority, 1976). A de- 
tailed study of graveshel ters is Donald B. Ball's "Ob- 
servations on the Form and Function of Middle Tennessee 
Gravehouses, " Tennessee Anthropologist 2:1 (1977), 29- 
62. See also Donald B. Ball, "Wooden Gravemarkers: 
Neglected Items of Material Culture," Bulletin . Tennes- 
see Folklore Society 43 (1977), 167-185. 

''The use of a cross as a motif in Southern Pro- 
testant cemeteries, either rural or urban, is not com- 
mon. See Ray Allen Billington, The Protestant Crusade. 
1800-1860 ; A Study of the Origins of American Nativism 
(Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1964), 1-31. It might be 
that these were fashioned after the simple cross form 
often used in military cemeteries. One cannot overlook 
as well the importance of the cross as a symbol today 
to fundamentalist religious groups, regardless of his- 
toric association with Catholicism. 

■•■^Phil R. Jack, "Gravestone Symbols of Western 
Pennsylvania," in Two Penny Ballads and Four Dol lar 
Whiskey (Ed. by Kenneth S. Goldstein, Hatboro, Pa: 
Published for the Pennsylvania Folklore Society by 
Folklore Associates, 1966), 165-173. 



83 



^others are humorous. One such epitaph from south 
Georgia supposedly seen by one person interviewed is: 
"Ma loved Pa / Pa loved women / Ma caught Pa with one 
in swimmin, / Here lies Pa." Another humorous epi- 
taph was observed in 1983 on a commercial stone in a 
small cemetery in southern Baldwin County in Alabama 
which read: "We did it our way." 

Both of these women died in the period from 1930 
to 1950. Both were born prior to 1880. Many young la- 
dies in the last quarter of the nineteenth and the first 
quarter of the twentieth century attended "finishing 
schools" or academies in rural towns across the South, 
A substantial part of their training was antebellum in 
origin and focused upon learning how to be a proper 
Southern gentlewoman. 

■'■^Robert B. Dickerson, Jr. Fina l P lacement: A 
Guide to the Deaths^ Funerals^ and Burials of Notable 
Americans (Algonac, Michigan: Reference Publications, 
Inc., 1982); Barbara Rubin, Robert Carlton and Arnold 
Rubin, L.A. in Insta l lments: Forest Lawn (Santa Moni- 
ca, California: Westside Publications, 1979); Derek 
Pell, Doktor Bey's Book of the Dead (New York: Avon 
Books, 1981); and John Francis Marion, Famous and Cu- 
rious Cemeteries: A pictorial. Historical, and Anecdo- 
tal View of American and European Cemeteries and the 
Famous and Infamous Peop le Who are Buried There (New 
York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1977). 

1 7 

Both the French and the British have produced 
admirable works on the subject of death and its land- 
scape expression. See Philippe Aries, The Hour of Our 
Death (New York: Vintage Books, 1981) and Vaughn Cor- 
nish, The Churchyard Yew and Immortality (London: Fre- 
derick Muller, Ltd., 1946). 



84 



"Safe in the Arms of Jesus": 

Consolation on Delaware Children's Gravestones, 1840-99 

Deborah A. Smith 

In Western Attitudes toward Death from the Middl e 
Ages to the Present , Philippe Aries has argued that 
nineteenth-century attitudes toward death were pro- 
foundly influenced by changing concepts of family af- 
fection. Earlier traditions, described by David Stan- 
nard and others, emphasized a constant awareness of 
one's own depravity and mortality. Children no less 
than parents were urged to strive continually for the 
soul's salvation because death was imminent and God's 
mercy uncertain. 

In contrast to this memento mori tradition, a 
"cult of memory" flourished in the Victorian era. Sur- 
vivors, unable to bear the thought of separation, found 
solace by refusing to let go, venerating the memory of 
the dead in a manner now regarded as sentimental and 
even morbid.^ In this stage of the evolution of atti- 
tudes about death, the survivors' comfort becomes para- 
mount over other concerns, such as the uncertain status 
of the dead infant's soul. It follows, then, that mes- 
sages on children's gravestones, usually selected by 
survivors to communicate their own sentiments, reflect 
the survivors' needs for consolation. 

A study of children's gravestones in Delaware sup- 
ports Aries's argument that nineteenth-century death 
sentiments reveal more about the survivors than the de- 
ceased. The study examined 905 children's markers lo- 
cated in eighteen churchyard cemeteries in northern New 
Castle County, dating between 1840 and 1899 (Map 1). 
The churchyard cemetery was the predominant form in New 
Castle County during the nineteenth century. At least 
one of the eighteen was open to non-members, so they 
may have functioned as public burial grounds. The 
largest public graveyard in the area, Wilmington and 
Brandywine Cemetery located in the city of Wilmington, 
was purposely avoided because of its location, design 
(an example of the "rural" cemetery movement), and the 
difficulty of determining demographic characteristics 
of its users. The churchyard cemeteries were all in a 
non-urban setting and were used by a white, middle-class 
Christian population representing the major denomina- 
tions of the county: Methodist, Presbyterian, Episco- 
pal, Baptist, Quaker, and Roman Catholic. The study 




Map 1. Cemeteries in Northern New Castle County, 
Delaware. 



Key to Map 



Name/Place 



Organized/ Stones 

Present site 



White Clay Creek Presbyterian 
Newark 

Head of Christiana Presbyterian 
Newark 

Welsh Tract Primitive Baptist 
Newark 

St. Thomas Episcopal/Newark 

St. John the Baptist Roman 
Catholic/ Newark 

Newark Methodist (New Street) 
Newark 

Ebenezer United Methodist 
Corner Ketch 



1722/1752 


113 


ca. 17 08/ 
ca. 1708 


136 


1703/1703 


27 


1842/1845 


11 


1866/1887 


12 


1813/1813 


37 


1824/1824 


12 



86 



Pencader Presbyterian/Glasgow ca. 1710/ca. 1710 62 

Christiana Methodist/Christiana 1827/1858 17 

Christiana Presbyterian/Christiana ca. 1730/ca. 1730 49 

St. James Episcopal/Newport ca. 1767/ca. 1770 50 

Imanuel Episcopal/New Castle 1689/17 03 53 

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic 1881/1881 12 

Ashland 

Centre Friends Meeting 1690/1711 12 

Centreville 

Lower Brandywine Presbyterian 1720/1773 73 

Centreville 

St. Joseph on the Brandywine 1841/1844 80 

Roman Catholic/Greenville 

Green Hill Presbyterian 1844/1851 107 

Greenville 

Mt. Lebanon Methodist/Rockland 1833/183 4 42 

Source: Frank R. Zebley, The Churches of De l aware 
(Wilmington: by the Author, 1947) 

included decedents to age 21 based on the assumption 
that parents probably chose the gravestone design and 
epitaph for anyone under that age. 

From this sample, a number of generalizations can 
be made concerning the memorial ization of Victorian 
children (Table 1). As could be expected, the death of 
a child is difficult to accept in any era, and the nine- 
teenth century is no exception. A majority of the stones 
(468 or 51.71%) communicated the survivors' sentiments 
through words, images or a combination. The remaining 
437 (48.28%) had only names of the deceased and the par- 
ents, date (s) and/or age, with no attitudinal informa- 
tion.^ 

Second, the prevailing fashion during the year of 
death had some bearing on whether parents were more 
likely to choose a sentimental stone or a strictly doc- 
umentary one. Gravestones expressing survivor atti- 

87 



o 

U C 

n) 3 

•(-' 6 

C e 

0) o 

6 U 

3 

u o 







ft. 




s 




u 




H U 




o ^ 


f- 


Boys 


46 


(9.97) 


98 


(21.25) 


89 


(19.3) 


233 


1 

(50.54) 


228 


(49.45) 


461 


Girls 


47 


(10.90) 


94 


(21.80) 


86 


(19.95) 


227 


(52.66) 


204 


(47.33) 


431 


Unknown 






5 




3 




8 




5 




13 


0-23 mo 


46 


(12.10) 


65 


(17. ]0) 


66 


(17.36) 


177 


(46.57) 


203 


(53.42) 


380 


2-6 


25 


(11.68) 


39 


(18.22) 


51 


(23.83) 


115 


(53.73) 


99 


(46.26) 


214 


7-11 


8 


(10.52) 


15 


(19.73) 


14 


(18.42) 


37 


(48.68) 


39 


(51.31) 


76 


12-16 


6 


(9.52) 


15 


(23.80) 


10 


(15.87) 


31 


(49.20) 


32 


(50.79) 


63 


17-21 


4 


(2.94) 


53 


(38.97) 


27 


(19.85) 


83 


(61.76) 


52 


(38.23) 


136 


Unknown 


4 




10 




10 




24 




12 




36 


1840-49 


9 


(12.00) 


21 


(28.00) 


4 


(5.33) 


34 


(45.33) 


41 


f54.66) 


75 


1850-59 


22 


(14.76) 


29 


(19. 4(.) 


37 


(24.83) 


88 


(59.06) 


61 


(40.93) 


149 


1860-69 


25 


(15.15) 


35 


(21.21) 


36 


(21.81) 


96 


(58.18) 


69 


(41.81) 


165 


1870-79 


14 


(8.91) 


31 


(19.74) 


35 


(22.29) 


80 


(50.95) 


77 


(49.04) 


157 


1880-89 


9 


(5.48) 


33 


(20.12) 


3 6 


(21.95) 


78 


(47.56) 


86 


(52.43) 


164 


1890-99 


5 


(3.47) 


36 


(25.00) 


16 


(11.11) 


57 


(39.58) 


87 


(60.4 1) 


144 


No Date 


9 




12 




14 




3 5 




16 




51 



Total 



93 



197 



178 



90S 



Table 1. Forms of Gravestone Communication Categorized 
by Sex, Age, and Decade. 



tudes held a clear majority between 1850 and 186 9. The 
situation had reversed by the 1890s, when more stones 
recorded factual information only. This is explained 
in part by the fact that beginning around 1880 it became 
fashionable to erect only one monument in the family 
plot, with minimal information on each family member. 
As James Farrell has noted, this tendency in cemeteries 
to emphasize the collective family over the private in- 
dividual was paralleled by the rise of many collective 
institutions in the last quarter of the nineteenth cen- 
tury: church, state, corporation, club, and benevolent 
society. By the close of the century, personal grief 
for individual losses, expressed in mourning iconogra- 
phy and epitaphs, was not to transcend a collective 
Christian joy.° The trend toward single family monu- 
ments may obscure earlier preferences. In the Delaware 
sample, 207 of the data- type stones appear to be re- 
placement markers. Given the fact that sentiment- type 
stones were more common inmid century, it is likely 
that the earlier memorials expressed survivor senti- 
ments which are now lost. 

Third, the age of the deceased was another factor 
in the method and frequency of communication. Older 
children and young adults were more likely to have a 
gravestone message than were infants, perhaps because 
of high infant mortality rates led some parents to a 
fatalistic acceptance. Lewis Saum has described how 
Victorian parents sometimes tried to comfort one anoth- 
er upon the loss of a child by reminding the^ bereaved 
that death should not have been unexpected.' Another 
possible explanation for the lower rate of gravestone 
messages for the very young is that a shorter life means 
less information to record. However, next to children 
who had nearly reached the age of independence, chil- 
dren aged two to six were the most likely group to 
receive a gravestone message. 

Although age and date of death were factors in the 
manner of memorial ization, sex was not. There were no 
significant differences reflecting a preference for pic- 
torial or written memorials for boys vs. girls in any 
age group or decade. Differing treatments in children's 
material culture which are linked to sex have been dis- 
covered by Karin Calvert and others, in such areas as 
costume, toys and portraiture, but these sex-linked 
distinctions do not appear to extend beyond the life of 
the child. 



89 



Decedant 
Focus 



Survivor Focus Total w/ 

Written Pictorial Combination Pictorial 



Boys 


35 


(15.02) 


63 


(27.03) 


46 


(19.74) 


89 


(58.19) 


135 


(57.93) 


233 


Girls 


37 


(16.29) 


57 


(25.11) 


47 


(20.70) 


86 


(37.88) 


133 


(58.59) 


227 


Unknown 


5 












3 




3 




8 


0-23 mo 


27 


(15.25) 


38 


(21.46) 


46 


(25.98) 


66 


(37.28) 


113 


(63.84) 


177 


2-6 


13 


(11.30) 


26 


(22.60) 


25 


(21.73) 


51 


(44.34) 


76 


(66.08) 


115 


7-11 


6 


(16.21) 


9 


(24.32) 


8 


(21.62) 


14 


(37.83) 


2 2 


(59.45) 


37 


12-16 


5 


(16.21) 


10 


(32.25) 


6 


(19.35) 


10 


(32.25) 


16 


(51.61) 


31 


17-21 


22 


(26.19) 


31 


(36.90) 


4 


(4.76) 


27 


(32.14) 


30 


(35.71) 


84 


Unknown 


4 




6 




4 




10 




14 




24 


1840-49 


4 


(11.76) 


17 


(50.00) 


9 


(26.47) 


4 


(11.76) 


13 


(38.23) 


34 


1850-59 


13 


(14.77) 


16 


(18.18) 


22 


(25.00) 


37 


(42.04) 


59 


(67.04) 


88 


1860-69 


13 


(13.54) 


22 


(22.91) 


25 


(26.04) 


36 


(37.50) 


61 


(63.54) 


96 


1870-79 


11 


(13.75) 


20 


(25.00) 


14 


(17.50) 


35 


(43.75) 


49 


(61.25) 


80 


1880-89 


13 


(16.66) 


20 


(25.64) 


9 


(11.53) 


36 


(46.15) 


45 


(57.69) 


78 


1890-99 


16 


(28.07) 


20 


(35.08) 


5 


(8.77) 


16 


(28.07) 


21 


(36.84) 


5 7 


No Date 


7 




5 


9 




14 




23 




3 5 



Total 



120 



93 



178 



;71 



468 



Table 2. Gravestones with Survivors' Communications 
Categorized by Sex, Age and Decade. 



90 



The final set of generalizations from this sample 
concerns the 468 stones which expressed a response to 
death (Table 2). A minority of these responses (77 or 
16.45%) were statements which could be explained solely 
in terms of depth of feeling for the child. These sen- 
timents might be expressions of affection, pride, pain, 
or possession; praises of childhood virtues; or simply 
facts about the child's birth, death, and family role. 
Examples of this type of epitaph include that on the 
shared stone for Benjamin and Henry Pierce, which re- 
cords the place of death (Imanuel Episcopal churchyard, 
1850/51, ages 9 months and 5 years). The epitaph for 
Bessie Mote refers to the deceased in terms of pride 
and affection: "She was the sunshine of our home" 
(White Clay Creek Presbyterian, 1893, age 18). The 
family of James Guthrie expressed pain at his unful- 
filled potential: "Buried Hopes" (Ebenezer United 
Methodist, 1876, age 16). The epitaph for Frederick 
Averill Porter is a quotation of dying words, a type 
rarely encountered in the sample: "His last words Jesus 
lover of my soul" (Welsh Tract Primitive Baptist, 1876, 
age 7). The stone for Hannah Ford speaks of her place 
in the family and her virtues: "An affectionate daugh- 
ter" (Pencader Presbyterian, 1858, age 17). Theodore 
Boulden's stone expresses a similar theme: "A beloved 
son and brother" (Pencader Presbyterian, 1864, age 21). 
Some examples reveal deep anguish, as in the stone for 
Levi Davis: "Go little Levi, go / your parents hearts 
can tell / and none but them can full know / how hard 
to say farewell" (Mt. Lebanon Methodist, 1862, age 2). 
Two very unusual examples reject all euphemism and any 
attempt at comfort. The stone for Anna Sink is one of 
the most poignant in the sample: "Gone from our gaze / 
from our presence fled / our rosebud sweet / Anna is 
dead" (Imanuel Episcopal, 1871, age 4). The stone for 
Willie Miller is exceedingly blunt and cheerless: "My 
dear my lovely boy is dead" (Christiana Methodist, 1864, 
age 3) . 

The above examples, which express sentiments di- 
rectly related to the deceased child, might be termed 
"decedent-focused" epitaphs, and share three character- 
istics. First, they are all in written form. Second, 
they tend to be short, only one line or sometimes only 
one word. Only six epitaphs of this type were more 
than one line. Most significantly, decedent-focused 
epitaphs are characterized by a total lack of comfort 
for the survivors. In comparison, the other 83.54% of 
the stones which express sentiments are very much con- 
cerned with the consolation of parents. Both types of 

91 



epitaphs express love for the child and pain at the 
loss, but a survivor-focused statement incorporates 
some means of assuaging the pain. Survivor-focused 
statements tend to be longer, and they may also be 
either written or pictorial in form. 

Comfort may be brought to the survivor in one of 
four ways, although combinations of types within one 
epitaph are frequent. One approach is to rationalize 
that the child is better off than when alive. Epitaphs 
may suggest the child is now free from pain, as in the 
verse for Sarah E. Groce: "Her languishing heart is at 
rest / Its thinking [?] and aching are o'er / Her quiet 
immoveable breast / Is heaved by affliction no more" 
(Lower Brandywine Presbyterian, 1867, age 18). Another 
type of rationalization might suggest that the child 
has left this world of woe before sin could corrupt its 
pure spirit. An example of this type is the epitaph 
for Robert E. Steele: "Ere sin could blight or sorrow 
fade / Death came with friendly care / The opening bud 
to heaven conveyed / And bade it blossom there" (Head 
of Christiana Presbyterian, 1863, age three months). A 
similar type of motivation suggests that the child was 
but an angel of heaven, given for a brief time before 
returning to the heavenly home. The epitaph for Hat- 
tie Boulden is of this type: "Shewas lovely shewas 
fair / and for a time was given / an angel came and 
claimed his own / and bore her home to heaven" (Welsh 
Tract Primitive Baptist, 1863, age 23 months). 

A second means of promoting comfort for the survi- 
vor is to transform the emotions of bereavement into an 
occasion for moral uplift. Daniel Walker Howe has ar- 
gued that didacticism and self- improvement were two key 
characteristics of the Victorian era.^ Stanley French 
has also pointed out that an important function of the 
Victorian "rural" cemetery movement was to be an insti- 
tution of cultural reform for the uneducated masses. 
A park-like setting and artistic monuments were meant 
to control taste and emotions. In similar fashion, 
death itself could be manipulated for moral uplift when 
paradise was uphheld as the reward of Christian virtue. 
The epitaph for George B. Silver illustrates this kind 
of comfort: "Now he is comforted / Weep not for the 
spirit now crown'd / With the garland to faithfulness 
given / Oh weep not for him he has found/his reward and 
his refuge in heaven" (Christiana Presbyterian, 1945, 
age 20). In this approach, heaven is seen as a better 
place where one may hope to meet the child again. The 
stone for Walter K. Smith provides comfort by sugges- 

92 



ting a future reunion: "How sweet to sleep in Jesus / 
Our darling Walter smileing [sic] / face we will greet 
on earth no / more but in that bright and hap / py home 
we will greet to part no more" (Head of Christiana Pres- 
byterian, 1897, age 10 months). The child's death may 
even be seen as an inspiration to help one live a bet- 
ter life on earth in expectation of that glorious re- 
union. The stone for James L. Vansant is partially 
buried but the message is clear: "We trust his spirit 
dwells with God/Above this world of care/Lord help us 
by thy holy word/ That we may [join him there?]" (Head 
of Christiana Presbyterian, 1877, age 12). 

A third kind of comfort is r el a ted to themoral- 
izing type in the last example but differs by stressing 
that the Christian parent must submit to God's superior 
wisdom. One of the most popular epitaphs for children 
accepts divine judgment this way: "Sleep on sweet babe 
and take thy rest / God called thee home. He thought it 
best" (Rebecca K. Lindsey, White Clay Creek Presbyte- 
rian, 1860, age 2). Another common example is seen on 
the stone for Mary W. Smith: "The Lord gave and the 
Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" 
(Pencader Presbyterian, 1877, age 17). An unusual ex- 
ample seems to deny comfort altogether. The stone for 
Samuel Ross calls for Old Testament submission without 
the New Testament mercy: "PEACE! — tis the Lord Jehovah's 
hand / That blasts our joys in death / Changes the 
visage once so dear / And gathers back the breath" 
(Welsh Tract Primitive Baptist, 1884, age 21). More 
commonly, this approach suggests comfort is possible if 
only the bereaved will turn to God, as in the verse for 
Hannah R. Prettyman: "Dearest daughter thou hast left 
us / And thy loss we deeply feel / But tis God who has 
bereft us / He can all our sorrows heal / Gone but not 
forgotten" (Head of Christiana Presbyterian, n. d. , age 
23 months). 

The fourth means of providing comfort is the most 
extreme approach, one which denies death altogether. 
We have already seen two manifestations of this ap- 
proach in the verses for Walter Smith and Rebecca Lind- 
sey, which refer to sleep, not death. Aries points out 
that denial of death is an important characteristic of 
the era, indicative of the much greater difficulty 
people had accepting the loss of a loved one. The 

sleep metaphor and other euphemisms help to provide 
comfort, and the epitaphs in the sample abound with 
such references. For Martha T. Tweed we find, "She is 
not dead but sleepeth" (White Clay Creek Presbyterian, 

93 



1881, age 17); for Mary E. Poole, "Asleep in Jesus" 
(Lower Brandywine Presbyterian, 1864, age 9); for J.S. 
McDonnell, "Sweetly Sleeping' (St. Jame Episcopal, 
1880s, age illegible); and for Harry Slaw, "Sleeping 
with Mama" (St. James Episcopal, 1888, age 19 Months). 
The ubiquitous "Rest in Peace" is perhaps the most ob- 
vious example of this type of denial epitaph. 

These written messages with their tone of comfort 
and hope are not difficult for modern observers to un- 
derstand. Indeed, bereaved families today continue to 
rely on the bel ief in a future reunion or the acceptance 
of divinewill as a means of solace. However, as indi- 
cated earlier, survivor-focused messages may also be 
visual in form, and these pictorial symbols were an 
equally important means of consolation. Victorian 
gravestone iconography has often been ignored, largely 
because of the difficulty in interpreting motifs that 
have lost their once commonly understood symbolism. For- 
tunately, the interpretation of many can be documented 
in written sources of the period. 

The iconography for the 93 stones with only picto- 
rial communication includes rosebuds, full flowers, 
lambs, birds, religious symbols, hands, one willow tree, 
miniature obelisks and broken columns, and a peculiarly 
Victorian form that resembles a small bed (Table 3). 
Pictorial symbols flourished from 1850 to 1879, then 
began to decline. By 1890, mourning iconography could 
be found on only 36.84% of the stones. Parents chose 
visual means of communicating their sentiments more 
often for young children. Only 35.71% of the young 
adults aged 17 to 21 had iconography on their stones, 
and only four in that age group had pictorial symbols 
with no epitaphs at all. 

That parents in Victorian America intended to con- 
vey a message of comfort through these visual means can 
be documented in a number of period sources. In the 
case of flowers, for example, Victorians assigned an 
entire vocabulary to their symbolism. Books on the 
language of flowers were very popular in the nineteenth 
century and readily available, beginning as early as 
1844 with Sarah Carter Mayo's The Flower Vase, Con- 
taining the Language of F lowers and their Poetic Senti - 
ments . A generation later, etiquette books and chil- 
dren's books also helped to disseminate the lists, such 
as John H. Young's Our Deportment, or the Manners Con - 
duct and Dress of the Most Refined Society (1879) or 
Kate Greenaway's Language of Fl owers (1884). From such 

94 





Rosebud 


Flower 


Hand 


Bird 


Obelisk 


Bed 


Willow 


Rel igious 


Lamb 


Total 


Boys 


25 


1 


1 


3 


2 


4 


1 


7 


4 


46 


Girls 


14 


7 


1 


2 


7 


5 




6 


S 


47 


Unknown 






















0-23 mo 


13 


6 


1 


5 


3 


6 




6 


6 


46 


2-6 


15 




1 




3 


3 




2 


1 


25 


7-11 


3 








2 






3 




8 


12-16 


3 


1 






1 






1 




6 


17-21 




1 










1 


1 


1 


4 


Unknown 


3 
















1 


4 


1840-49 


3 








4 




1 


1 




9 


1850-59 


11 


2 


2 


2 








4 


1 


2 2 


1860-69 


12 


1 




1 


3 


1 




2 


5 


25 


1870-79 


3 


1 




2 


2 


4 




2 




14 


1880-89 


3 


2 








3 






1 


9 


1890-99 


2 










1 




2 




5 


No Date 


3 


2 












2 


2 


9 



Total 



37 



13 



93 



Table 3. Gravestones with Pictorial Communication 
Categorized by Sex, Age and Decade. 



95 



books we can readily ascertain the significance of lil- 
ies (modesty and purity), a garland of roses (reward of 
virtue), and weeping willows (forsaken). -^ 

Consolation literature, a popular Victorian genre 
devoted to the comfort of the bereaved, is another good 
source to verify the meaning of pictorial symbols. One 
author described his walk through a cemetery as a com- 
forting experience, mentioning the lambs, doves and 
other carved symbols he saw as "emblems of hope and 
love." Guidebooks to rural cemeteries also offer 

clues to the meaning of certain forms. The Victorian 
fashion of imitating the architecture of ancient Egypt 
for cemetery gates, mausoleums and monuments extended 
to children's markers in the shape of miniature obe- 
lisks (Fig. 1). Although the early Egyptians were not 
Christians, the author of a guidebook to Mt. Auburn 
argued that one should look beyond the appearance of a 
symbol to "the right development of its original idea." 
The same writer claimed that since Egyptian sculpture 
was "undoubtedly symbolical of the final resurrection 
of the soul, a fear of thefinal judgmentandabelief 
in the Omnipotent justice," the use of these forms was 
entirely appropriate for Christian burials.^ 

Epitaphs also provide evidence that pictorial mes- 
sages were meant to alleviate the pain of mourning. 
Gravestones with a symbolic motif and a written message 
specifically referring to that symbol are perhaps the 
best means of interpreting stones with unaccompanied 
symbols, although there may be multiple meanings. For 
example, rosebuds, the single most popular motif for 
children in this sample, appear with a number of inter- 
pretations. The stone for Annie Ashton reads: "A 
floweret snatched from earth to bloom in heaven" (Fig. 
2). Her broken bud symbolizes the unfulfilled poten- 
tial of an early death. The stone for Rachel Ann Scott 
reads: "Thus we are cut down like the grass that know- 
eth not when the mower cometh" (White Clay Creek Pres- 
byterian, 1865, age 18). Her broken bud is a symbol of 
human mortality, a type of epitaph more common in the 
seventeenth century. " Buds are also used to convey 
visually the number of deaths. The stone for Jane and 
Robert Kennedy, who died on the same day, has two broken 
buds on one stem (Green Hill Presbyterian, 1865, ages 1 
and 6). Finally, buds also convey the idea of youth, 
since children's stones are more likely to have buds 
than mature flowers. 



96 




Figure 1. Hervey Clinton Beale, 1876, Christiana 
Presbyterian. 



97 





m ( '■-■ -- ■ ^ ^'- 







^H 




Figure 2. Annie Ashton, n.d. , Christiana Presbyterian. 

98 



Flowers are not the only motifs to have parallel 
epitaphs. Clasped hands may have signified departure, 
or a belief that parted loved ones would meet again, as 
indicated on the gravestone of Elizabeth Egbert. "Meet 
me in Heaven" is inscribed above a pair of shaking hands 
(New Street Cemetery, n. d., age 19). Doves apparently 
refer to the biblical covenant between God and mortals, 
an assurance that God will not forget those who worship 
him (Fig. 3). The stone for Hattie Golden Pearson bears 
a carved dove and the following inscription: "Like the 
dove to the ark / Thou hast flown to thy rest / From 
the wild sea of strife / To the home of the blest" 
(Friendship Community, 1890, age 20 months). ' The 
sample included several examples of carved angels with 
written references to angels on the same stone, all of 
which seem to signify a belief that the child has gone 
to a heavenly paradise. One of the more redundant ex- 
amples is for Eva Eriella Haines: "The angel of our 
household / Her voice was music her motion grace / An 
angel beauty was in her face / And she seemed an angel 
here" (Fig. 4). Her stone has a carved angel flying 
upwardwith a small child on its back who carries a bud. 

The bed form, defined as having headboard, foot- 
board, and side rails, seems to be a visual denial of 
death; the child is at rest, only sleeping (Fig. 5). 
The author of one of the most popul ar vol umes of conso- 
lation literature, written after the death of his son, 
describes a visit to the "sleepers" at Brooklyn's Green- 
wood Cemetery, calling the cemetery a "vast and exqui- 
sitely beautiful dormitory." Epitaphs on the bed 
markers further support the visual message of sleep. 
The footboard for Elsie M. Brown's bed reads: "At Rest" 
(White Clay Creek Presbyterian, 1887, age 9 months). 
The headboard for Jeannette Sterling's bed reads: "She 
is not dead but sleepeth" with references to Christ as 
the Good Shepherd, in particular the passage from St. 
Luke assuring parents that Christ's love also extended 
to children (Fig. 6). The stone for Sarah Jennie Brown, 
accompanied by a carved lamb, reads: "Safe in the Arms 
of Jesus" (White Clay Creek Presbyterian, 1872, age 15 
months). The stone for William 0. Hammond, also with a 
lamb, quotes the bible verse verbatim: "Suffer little 
children to come unto me and forbid them not for of 
such is the kingdom of God" (Imanuel Episcopal, 1861, 
age 2). 

Based on the presence of these correlated images 
and epitaphs, when hands, doves, angels, lambs and beds 
appear without written interpretation, we can assume 

99 




^^ . 3^.-14l 




Figure 3. Rebecca Montgomery, 1862, Green Hill 
Presbyterian. 

100 






\ 



JM^^^^'^-'.^^J^ 



^"V"^^ 




' / 



^""^^^ 



(y. 



">SfJ <t'i ' 





idii ml' I ' * 



^'^■v:':'-w:-fT?;-. ,-■;;-• '''Vic „:, - :.:a, 



Figure 4. 



Eva Eriella Haines, 1857, Newark Methodist 
(New Street Cemetery) . 



101 




Figure 5. William Dean Hill, 1876, Newark Methodist 
(New Street Cemetery) . 

that Victorians understood a message of hope and com- 
fort was intended. Indeed, it seems plausible that 
parents who chose uncorrelated imagery and inscriptions 
for their children (for example, a carved dove with a 
"rosebud" epitaph) were actually making two separate 
statements: an expression of confidence in God's sal- 
vation and also an expression of pain that the child's 
life was cut short. 

Whether made through words or images, the inclu- 
sion of a comforting statement is the significant fac- 
tor. Combination types, as in the above example, were 
intended to be more than a memorial to the deceased. 
We can conclude, based on the fact that messages of 
solace are in the great majority of all stones with 
sentiments, that communication on children's grave- 
stones was intended to promote comfort for the survi- 
vors more often than to eulogize the child. It is 
clear that the need to find consolation upon the loss 
of a child is itself an indication of the important 
status children held, but children's gravestones are 
artifacts created by adults for adult needs — the very 
human need to find peace during a traumatic time. 

102 



•Jmk'^bWj . 




Figure 6. Sallie E. Matthias, 1873, Christiana 
Presbyterian. 



103 



The images found on children's gravestones are of- 
ten deceptively simple, but interpreting them as they 
were in their time reveals a broad range of consolation 
motifs. The iconography found in this study is also 
virtually ubiquitous. If future studies of Victorian 
children's memorials utilize the same kind of data, we 
might be able to begin charting the age at which epi- 
taph and image patterns change in different communities. 
The death practices of an earlier century are reliable 
evidence of social attitudes, and further study can only 
lead to a better understanding of the past. 

NOTES 

■'•(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 
1974) . 

^David E. Stannard, "Death and the Puritan Child," 
Death in America , ed. David E. Stannard (Philadelphia: 
Temple University Press, 1975), 9-29. 

^Aries, 55-82. 

^Every family plot which included a child who died 
between 1840 and 1899 was recorded. The information 
included name of the child or children, evidence of 
plot denar cation, number of stones, number of burials, 
date each stone was erected, age of the deceased, fam- 
ily relationships, pattern of burials, and the compo- 
stion, size, shape, decoration and inscription of the 
stones. While it is not the intention of this article 
to discuss theological influences on gravestones, it 
should be noted that the three Ranan Catholic cemete- 
ries and the one Friend's cemetery showed definite dif- 
ferences from the mainstream Protestant churchyards. 
Stones in the Roman Catholic cemeteries tended to have 
religious iconography (cross and crown, IHS symbol) 
more often than any other form of decoration. They 
were also the only gravestones to have the "Rest in 
Peace" epitaphs. Markers in the Friends burial ground 
where overwhelmingly plain. Frequently only the ini- 
tial s of the deceased appear and only the year of death 
rather than full dates. In the other fourteen church- 
yards, the several denominations were most remarkable 
for their homogeneity. 

^Economic considerations probably account for the 
48.28% of the gravestones which simply recorded names 
and dates without epitaphs or carving. Laurel Hill, 
Green-wood, Mt. Hope and other large, urban cemeteries 

104 



patronized by the more affluent seem to have a higher 
percentage of ornate, expensive monuments for children. 
However, the dangers should be obvious about specula- 
ting whether parents loved their children more or less 
based on the kind of gravestone erected. 

"James J. Farrell, "The Cemetery as Cultural In- 
stitution: The Establishment of Mt. Auburn and the 
•Rural Cemetery' Movement," Death in America , 64, 93. 

Lewis 0. Saum, "Death in the Popular Mind of Pre- 
Civil War America," Death in America . 38-39. 

o 

Karen Calvert, "Children in American Family Por- 
traiture, 1670-1810," Will iam and Mary Quarter ly 39 
(1982) , 87-113. 

Whether or not parents believed their flesh and 
blood offspring were literally spirits is debatable, but 
there is ample evidence that Victorians endorsed the 
angelic metaphor. Poetry, music, fiction, epitaphs, 
prints, and decorative objects depicting children as 
innocent cherubs abounded in the nineteenth century, a 
distinct change from previous eras which considered 
children innately sinful. For a discussion of the 
evolution of children from depraved vipers to blank 
slates to envoys from heaven, see Peter G. Slater, 
Children in the New England Mind in Life and Death 
(Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1977). 

Victorian America (Philadelphia: University of 
Pennsylvania Press, 1976), 22-25. 

^^French, 89. 

^^Aries, 68-70. 

■"■■^John H. Young, .Qui Deportment, ^x the Manners. 
Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society (Detroit: 
F. B. Dickerson & Co.), 417, 420, 422. On a related 
subject, the use of flower symbolism in posthumous por- 
traiture, see Phoebe Lloyd, "Posthumous Mourning Por- 
traiture," in Pike and Armstrong, eds., A Time to 
Mourn; E x pregsi on s si Grief In Nineteenth century Ame- 
rica (Stony Brook, NY: The Museums at Stony Brook, 
1980) . 

McCarty asks the reader: 

•But as you walked there, amid the marble 

105 



slabs and grassy mounds, where old and young, 
poor and rich, friend and stranger lay buried 
together in that equality which the grave gives; 
and as these solemn surroundings impressed 
themselves upon you, did there not also come 
to you a feeling of hope which sweetened the 
sadness? . . . 

There, on one tombstone, was a finger 
pointing upward, which told of the hope cher- 
ished by some stricken heart. And again, on 
the headstone of a little grave was carved a 
lamb or a dove, symbol of innocence. Here, 
too, were choice flowers, expressions of love, 
emblems of the soul's immortality. As you 
strolled about the weeping willows, and read 
the epitaphs, and saw the emblems of hope and 
love, you felt a strange drawing toward the 
better life which lies beyond the boundary of 
our present vision.' (14-15) 

•^Cornelia M. Walter, Mount Auburn Illustrated 
(New York: R. Martin, 1847), 18-19. 

"For examples, see Peter Benes, The Masks of 
Orthodoxy; Folk Gravestone Carving in Plymouth County. 
Massachusetts. 1689-1805 (Amherst: University of Mas- 
sachusetts Press, 1977) or Allan I. Ludwig, Graven 
Images: New England Stonecarving and Its Symbols. 
1650-1815 . Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 
1966). Only six examples of the "prepare for death and 
follow me" style of epitaph were found in the entire 
sampl e . 

1 7 

This example is the only epitaph cited which is 
not in the original sample. Friendship Community Church 
is located in Warren County, Kentucky, near Alvaton. 

■'■^Theodore Cuyler, The Empty Crib; The Memoria l 
ol Little Georgie (New York, n. p., 1873), 158, 173. 



106 



Death Italo- American Style: 

Reflections on Modern Martyrdom 

Robert L. McGrath 

It has been observed that modern man's disdain for 
death is equally a measure of his attitude toward life. 
The twentieth century, to be sure, is neither comfort- 
ablewith the idea of death nor much given tomemorial- 
izing the dead, either for their own sake or for that 
of the living. For those aswell asmany other rea- 
sons, the funerary monument has with a few significant 
exceptions ceased to be for the modern world a signifi- 
cant vehicle for the expression of social, cultural or 
aesthetic values. 

One intriguing exception to these observations is 
found in Barre, Vermont's Hope Cemetery, where a life- 
sized monument to the immigrant Italian stonecutter 
Louis Brusa affords an interesting and instructive study 
in cultural contrast and continuity (Fig. 1). Strangely 
at home in Vermont's best known late Victorian necropo- 
lis, the Brusa monument represents simultaneously the 
death of an individual and, through its conscious sym- 
bolism, the circumstances and plight of an immigrant 
workers community. Designed by Brusa himself, the mon- 
ument was carved by the Barre sculptor Donate Coletti in 
1937, the year of Brusa's death, and installed the fol- 
lowing year. Brusa and Coletti were among the thousands 
of immigrant quarriers, stonecutters and sculptors who 
came to work in the Barre granite industry from the 
northern provinces of Italy during the late nineteenth 
century. Today the Brusa monument bears witness not 
only to their aesthetic values but also to the cause for 
which Louis Brusa gave his life. Qualitatively, it is 
a remarkably imaginative work and, in this writer's 
judgment, one of the most forceful comments on death in 
twentieth-century American sculpture. 

Expiring against a slab of rough, unfinished gran- 
ite, the intractable matter to which he both devoted 
and sacrificed his life, Brusa is attended at the moment 
of his death by his wife. The group, eternally conjoined 
by their poignant gestures, is elevated upon a high ped- 
estal, a convention that mediates between the worlds of 
art and actuality, while simultaneously accenting the 
virtues of the protagonists. Together Brusa and his 
wife enact a moving tableau of death before the specta- 
tor, a kind of modern memento mori and an evocative 

107 




I 



Figure 1. Donate Coletti, Funerary Monument of Louis 
Brusa . 1937, Hope Cemetery, Barre, Vermont. 

108 



comment upon the act of dying itself. 

The style of the work — simple, and naturalistic, 
approaching the vernacular in its reductiveness--is ap- 
propriate both to the time and place of its execution. 
Brusa and his wife are represented as common people, 
dressed in the attire of workers. Their respective 
gestures are restrained but emphatic. Extraneous de- 
tail is suppressed in the interest of broadly conceived 
forms, and all hint of ornament or decoration is absent. 
The stark, bold inscription of the name "BRUSA," upon 
the pedestal, similar to the dedication "A MARAT" in one 
of the work's more 'conscious' models (Fig. 2), provides 
a striking verbal contrast to the figural composition. 

In most respects the aesthetic of the Brusa monu- 
ment fits conveniently into the realist movement in art 
of the 1930s in this country. At the same time it ap- 
pears stylistically to be a worthy descendent of the 
late nineteenth-century movement of "verismo" in Ital- 
ian funerary sculpture where such artists as Vincenzo 
Vela and Giovanni Dupr^ first rejected the timeless and 
idealized aesthetic conventions of Antonio Canova, the 
greatest nineteenth-century Italian artist and the most 
influential funerary sculptor of the modern world. The 
realistic impulse, seen everywhere in western art in the 
later nineteenth century, found a welcoming home in A- 
merica where during the 1930s it reemerged in such move- 
ments as Regionalism to advocate the cause of natural- 
ism against formal abstraction. As such, the Brusa mon- 
ument, a late manifestation of Italian "verismo," is 
happily conjoined with native American realism of the 
twentieth century without stylistic incongruity or cul- 
tural disjunction. Visitors to American cemeteries will 
recognize the rarity of this unusual stylistic union in 
light of the thousands of grieving figures inspired by 
Canova that so incongruously grace our modern funerary 
monuments. 

Through its symbolism, in particular the poses of 
the figures, the artist sought further to evoke a number 
of significant cultural references as a form of homage 
to the great artistic traditions of Europe. From the 
solicitous gesture of the wife to the conspicuously low 
slung arm of the deceased, the artist has sought to in- 
vest the event of a worker's death with the dignity and 
pathos normally reserved for the saints and martyrs of 
Christianity. Through these deliberately contrived 
poses of the figures, an informed observer is led to 
recall such baroque representations of the Piet^ or 

109 




Figure 2. Jacques-Louis David, Death of Marat . 1793, 
Brussels. Courtesy of Musses Royaux des 
Beaux-Arts de Belgique. 



110 




Figure 3. Annibale Carracci, Pieta , ca. 1630, London. 
Courtesy of the National Gallery. 

Lamentation as Annibale Carracci's painting of about 
1630 in London (Fig. 3). Hovering on the edge of eter- 
nity, the figure of Brusa, like the dead Christ, is in- 
tended to elicit strong physical and emotion empathy 
from the observer. 

What cause or circumstances, we might well ask, 
would induce a modern man consciously to represent his 
death within this sacred tradition? To begin with, Bru- 
sa's seemingly radical gesture of reformulating his own 
death to parallel that of Christ's was already antici- 
pated during the late eighteenth century by the French 
neoclassic painter Jacques-Louis David whose portrait 
of the political martyr Jean-Jacques Marat in Brussels 
is one of the best known products of the French Revolu- 
tion (Fig. 2). In this powerful, ascetic image David 
was among the first artists to glorify the modern secu- 
lar hero through reference to traditional religious 
iconographies. Astringent and self-contained, David's 
forceful icon is the first salient monument of the mod- 
ern religion of politics which began to displace tra- 
ditional orthodoxy during the period. 



Ill 



In the nineteenth century David's apotheosis of 
the secular martyr was subjected to a further process 
of transformation and democratization, eventuating in 
such late Romantic sculpture as the Volenti monument of 
about 1890 by the Italian sculptor Emilio Quadrelli in 
the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan, where a grieving wife 
bids her last impassioned farewell to the deceased (Fig. 
4). Here David's specific reference to political ideol- 
ogy yields to a more generalized emotion of grief. 

It is perhaps fitting that Brusa was inspired by 
both the French and Italian traditions in fashioning his 
own memorial. The pose of the grieving wife is derived 
from the Italian Romantic tradition, while the idea of 
secular martyrdom is evoked by the pose of Brusa. In 
drawing upon the former convention, however, the artist 
emphatically rejected the exaggerated rhetoric of Roman- 
ticism in order to embrace a more restrained and deci- 
dedly modern expression. 




Figure 4. Emilio Quadrelli, Volonte Funerary Monument ^ 
ca. 1890, Cimitero Monumentale, Milan. 

112 



In fine, the cause to which Brusa sacrificed his 
life and dedicated his memorial was the plight of the 
immigrant stone workers who suffered and died in large 
numbers from the lung diseases of tuberculosis and sil- 
icosis during the early decades of the twentieth cen- 
tury. Induced by the inhalation of granite dust which 
was in turn caused by the introduction of pneumatic 
drills in 1903, silicosis was the major occupational 
hazard faced by the stoneworkers. It was only in the 
1920s — too late for Brusa and many of his contempo- 
raries — that the invention of the modern suction device 
put an end to the tragically high incidence of lung 
disease among the granite workers. As such, the Brusa 
monument bears testimony to a now largely forgotten 
chapter of American immigrant history. For us today, 
however, it remains a cultural truth beyond the little 
remembered actualities of time and place. 



113 



114 



New Mexico Village Camposantos 

Nancy Hunter Warren 

New Mexico had no tradition of grave art during the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. From 1598, the 
first year of the Spanish colony, until the early nine- 
teenth century when it became a territory of the United 
States, life in the small Hispanic villages was governed 
by their isolation from the rest of the Spanish empire 
and by the constant threat of hostile Indians (Map 1). 
Interment was beneath the floor of the church because 
of the possibility of grave desecration by the Indians. 
In 1933, a resident of Las Trampas gave this account of 
the town's history as it had been passed down through 
the generations: 

In the olden days the church was used for a 
graveyard and the planks were removed while the 
grave was dug. The body was wrapped in a rug 
and lowered into the grave, which was filled 
and the boards replaced. This custom prevailed 
until the entire space was filled with the 
dead. The floor logs now are twisted and the 
floor uneven, but it is as solid apparently as 
ever. 

A person's social status or wealth often dictated 
the location of the burial — the closer to the altar, 
the higher the status of the individual. But no spe- 
cial markers were erected and often no records were 
made of exaclty where an individual lay. The Roman 
Catholic rites for the dead were primarily concerned 
with the soul, so the exact location of the earthly 
remains was less important. The church itself served 
as a collective monument for everyone. Eventually, 
when the space inside the church was full, a new campo- 
santo (holy field) was consecrated a short distance 
from the church. 

Around 1824, the first wagon trains of Anglo trad- 
ers came over the Santa Fe Trail bringing wood-working 
tools from the east. This was an event of great signif- 
icance to the isolated colonists. Access to modern 
planes, saws and axes allowed them to cut moldings and 
shape decorative trim for the first time. Then, in 
1851, the United States Army began to set up posts to 
protect the villages from the hostile Indians. These 
events opened the way for the beginning of a mortuary 
art. It is likely that the idea was introduced by the 

115 



Cebolla . 


. Taos 


Las Trampas . 


. Talpa 




. Chacon 


Cordova . 


. Cleveland 




. Mora 


Santa Fe . 






. Las Vegas 



Albuquerque . 



Veguita . 



Anton Chico 
. Puerto 
del Lune 



Map 1. Locations of New Mexico Camposantos in Study. 

elaborate markers erected in memory of the early trad- 
ers and military men, as well as from the desire to 
protect the remains of a loved one with the symbol of 
the cross now that they no longer lay within the church. 

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the tra- 
dition of Hispanic native grave art started to grow. 
The camposantos began to resemble gardens of silvery 
gray weathered crosses — simple cruciform shapes planted 
in the barren earth, surrounded by clumps of delicate 
wild iris and the silence of a remote area. 

In the 1880s, when commercial paints and milled 
lumber were readily available in the villages, painted 
designs and new shapes appeared in the cemeteries as 
the village craftsmen asserted their creative instincts 
in designing memorials for their departed loved ones. 
Of particular interest are the wooden picket fences 
which encircled the graves to protect the burials from 
wild animals (Figs. 1-2). These became popular in im- 
itation of the cast iron versions brought to New Mexico 
by railroad for the wealthier families. The intricate 
arrangements of cutout crosses, curves, geometries and 
spindles in these handmade grave fences are perhaps the 



116 







y- ^t."?*- 



^'^i^'l 



C 

?^''i 









Figure 1. An old camposanto with rock walls to protect 
the graves from animals. 







Figure 2. A highly decorated wooden grave fence prob- 
ably built to imitate iron ones; Veguita. 



117 



crowning artistic achievement of the early twentieth- 
century funerary folk artists. 

Inspired by itinerant stone masons brought into 
the new American territory after 1880 to work on public 
buildings in the capital city of Santa Fe, the village 
craftsmen imitated the commerical marble and granite 
monuments made by these skilled stonecutters by shaping 
tablets of local sandstone or flagstone on which they 
carved or pecked various motifs (Figs. 3-7). The most 
popular symbols were the crucifix, the sacred heart, 
flowers, doves, lambs, images of the Virgin and Santo 
Nino, and a variety of geometric shapes. The type of 
design was usually dictated by the material used. Sand- 
stone received a simple bold design, while a finer 
grained flagstone was incised with a more intricate 
pattern. Names and dates in Spanish were often written 
on the stones, although sometimes with little skill. 

By the 1920s, the wooden grave fence had lost pop- 
ularity in many areas, and ornate versions of the cross 
became fashionable (Figs. 8-12). The simple crosses of 
earlier years blossomed into ones of endless shapes. 
The basic cross outline ranged from Roman to Maltese 
with many variations. Cutouts, notches and moldings, 
as well as inscriptions and painted designs were added 
to the original shape. Flowers, hearts, diamonds and 
small crosses were cut into the ends of the cross arms, 
and, sometimes, commercially manufactured religious 
medals or crucifixes were added to the centers. 

By the 1930s, molded concrete became another me- 
dium for grave markers, opening up new avenues of shape 
and design (Figs. 13-16). It was discovered that "found" 
objects could be embedded in the wet cement in interes- 
ting ways and that three-dimensional sculptures of human 
or saintly figures could be formed. Today, the elabo- 
rately carved pine cross that was so popular early in 
the century is seldom made. 

Most grave markers were made by the village farmers 
who had the carpentry skills and tools needed to make 
markers for their own families. However, there is some 
evidence that at least a few early santeros (carvers of 
the saints) made grave markers for the cemeteries. It 
is conjectured that the santero Josfe Benito Ortega, born 
in 1858 at La Cueva, carved grave markers in the areas 
of Mora and Las Vegas, and it is known that the carver 
Josfe Dolores Lopez of Cordova who worked in the early 
twentieth century made ornate wooden crosses for the 

118 



camposantos in addition to making furniture and holy 
images for the church. In general, it is seldom pos- 
sible to identify the artisan. Nevertheless, it is ap- 
parent that many of the markers in a given graveyard 
were made by the same hand. For example, camposantos 
in one area contain markers painted with similar styl- 
ized flowers. This could be evidence of an artisan who 
specialized in this type of work, or itmight simply 
have been the local fashion preferred by each family. 

Village camposantos are unique to their Hispanic 
village heritage. Overall, they are very similar, and 
the mixture of weathered pine crosses with old stone 
slabs and the more recent concrete markers decorated 
with pieces of colored glass could be found in most 
graveyards. Yet in northern and central New Mexico, 
despite their similarities, each has its own special 
character — small individual differences of style or 
skill that speak of people and human qualities, as well 
as such practical matters as the kind of local rock 
available for the stone slabs. 

Although dates as early as the 1880s are still 
visible on many of the stone slabs, it is difficult to 
date the ol d wood grave mar kers. The dry cl imate and 
high altitude of the southwest have prevented decay, 
but the years of wind and sun have eroded the wood of 
names or dates. Occasionally, partial words or letters 
which had been stenciled on with paint protecting the 
underlying wood from the weather have been left in high 
relief as the surrounding surface wears away. And, 
while it is sometimes possible to estimate the approxi- 
mate age of an old wooden cross by its proximity to 
surrounding dated stone or concrete markers, most evi- 
dence of a temporal or human nature has left. The re- 
lentless effects of time and weather have depersonal- 
ized the old pine markers, transforming them into uni- 
versal symbols of faith and hope. 

The village camposantos are scattered across the 
landscape of New Mexico. They are usually located near 
the church or on the edge of the village in areas of 
little habitation, surrounded by mountains and sky. 
There is usually no apparent preconceived plan for their 
use and no rigid orientation of the graves. The area 
has been filled as needed, and left in a natural state. 
There are no green lawns or planted shrubbery — only the 
bare earth, relieved by occasional indigenous growth and 
the ubiquitous modern day plastic flowers. Formerly, 
the consecrated area was protected from roaming cattle 

119 



or wild animals by fences of piled rock, but now barbed 
wire is more likely to be used. 

In the past few decades, the use of unimaginative 
commercial monuments has increasingly diluted the joy- 
ful creativity of an Hispanic camposanto. The venerable 
wooden crosses and grave fences, which are still the 
glory of many of today's graveyards, are beginning to 
respond to the years of wind and sun. But, for a little 
longer, perhaps, they will continue to survive the 
elements to remind us of an earlierway of life. 




Figure 3. Hand-etched designs of the Sacred Heart and 
the Cross. 



120 




Figure 4. An unusual carved stone marker; eastern New 
Mexico. 



121 




Figure 5. 



A small stone slab; 1897. 




Figure 6. Angel with lions; Puerto del Luna, 

122 




Figure 7. A simple stone slab with flowers and the 
Crucifixion. 



123 




Figure 8. The remnants of a floral design and lettering 
are still visible on this marker; Cebolla. 




Figure 9. The popular heart design; Cebolla. 

124 




Figure 10. Pine cross; Cebolla. 



125 




Figure 11. Pine cross; Anto Chico. 




Figure 12. Pine cross; Talpa. 

126 




Figure 13. Concrete marker with design found only in 
area of Cleveland. 




MV 









Figure 14. Concrete triple cross. 

127 



Figure 15. Late concrete cross with head of Christ, 

flowers and photograph of deceased; Cebolla. 




Figure 16. Typical concrete slab decorated with heart. 

128 



NOTES 

■'■Ely Leyba, "The Church of the Twelve Apostles," 
New Mexico Magazine (June, 1933) . 

^For discussions of the art and history of the 
camposantos, see E. Boyd, "Crosses and Camposantos of 
New Mexico," in Dorothy Benrimo, ed. , Camposantos; A 
Photographic Essay (Forth Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 
1966); Lor in W. Brown, Hispano Folk l if e of New Mexico 
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1978), 
211-12; Roland F. Dickey, New M exico Vil l age Arts (Al- 
buquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1949), 20{ 
12. 



129 



130 



stonecutters and Their Works 

Edited by Jessie Lie Farber 

Since 197 9 the Newsletter of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies has featured a series of short arti- 
cles, contributed by its readers, called "Stonecutters 
and Their Works." Each of the articles is a brief in- 
troduction to a gravestone carver. MARKERS is pleased 
to reprint a selection of them in this issue. The News - 
letter series has no geographic or period restriction 
on the stonecutters it introduces, and it has included 
carvers from outside the United States as well as with- 
in who worked in a number of time periods. Most of the 
articles, however, have featured men who worked in the 
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in New Eng- 
land, and we have decided to reprint articles on stone- 
cutters from that group whose work has not been treated 
in fuller presentations in MARKERS . 

Some of the original articles have been revised 
and brought up to date as a result of recent research 
findings. Others have not. In a few instances two 
articles have been combined. All are il 1 ustrated more 
fully on these pages that was possible in the Newsletter 
printing. The original purpose of the series was to 
interest readers in carver attribution and thereby to 
encourage additional research. Our reprinting is of- 
fered with the same intent. Submissions by our readers 
of unpublished research about gravestone carvers should 
be sent to Laurel Gabel, AGS Research Clearing House, 
205 Fishers Rd., Pittsford, New York 14534. 

Jonathan and John Loomis of Coventry, Connecticut 

James A. Slater 

One of the fascinating aspects of gravestone study 
is the attempt to discover who carved the old colonial 
stones. In addition to the famous carvers whose work 
is well known, widespread and much appreciated, there 
are many more carvers whose work is relatively little 
known and is usually restricted to a limited geographi- 
cal area. 

The Loomis family of Coventry, Connecticut, is 
such a group. While I was studying the work of eastern 
Connecticut's early master carver, Obadiah Wheeler 
(Fig. 1), I was struck by the presence in several cem- 
eteries of stones that had somewhat the appearance of 

131 




Figure 1. Sarah Parker, 1732, Ashford, Ct. 

132 



wheeler stones but were obviously not the work of his 
hand and were also dated somewhat later. 

When one is interested in discovering who carved 
Connecticut gravestones, one always turns to the great 
wealth of unpublished material accumulated by the late 
Dr. Ernest Caulfield, and one usually finds that Caul- 
field had important information. Thanks to the genero- 
sity of Peter Benes, Caulfield's unpublished material 
was made available to me. The biographical data given 
below and the first identification of the carvers, as 
is so often the case, were painstakingly worked out by 
Dr. Caulfield. 

In the two major Coventry cemeteries there are 
seventy-one schist stones, often of large size, with 
rather sleepy, half-closed eyes, that Caulfield, in his 
usual, inimitable way, called "hybrid stones." The "hy- 
bridization" is due to the stones usually incorporating 
a face pattern in the tympanum and a horizontal border 
below the tympanum consisting of a central heart and 
lateral six-rayed rosettes that are obviously derived 
from the style of Obadiah Wheeler (Fig. 2). At the 
same time, the stones have a series of three to six 
curl-like wings in the tympanum and frequently a series 
of what I somewhat facetiously refer to as double- 
anchors in the border panels. These last motifs are 
just as obviously derived from the style of Gershom 
Bartlett, the famous "hook and eye" carver (Fig. 3). 
Indeed, the earliest of these stones, in the Coventry 
South Cemetery, have somewhat swollen noses, even fur- 
ther strengthening their resemblance to the stones of 
the old "hook and eye" man. Dr. Caulfield was able to 
establish by probate evidence from the stone for Joseph 
Miner, 1774, a stone in poor condition in a small cem- 
etery on Silver Street, Coventry, just south of the 
junction with Route 44a. 

Jonathan Loomis was born in 1722 and raised in 
Lebanon, Connecticut. He moved to Coventry in 1744 
with his wife Margaret, and there his three children 
were born. In 1750 he bought an acre of quarry land in 
Bolton "at a place commonly called the notch of the 
mountain." Interestingly, this land was purchased from 
Edmund Bartlett, brother of the carver Gershom Bart- 
lett. Gershom owned adjacent land and Dr. Caulfield 
believed that Jonathan Loomis probably worked for him. 
Little else is known about Jonathan Loomis other than 
land purchases he made in the Coventy area. He died in 
1785 and his son John inherited the quarry. 

133 




Figure 2. Joseph Loomis, 1766, Coventry, Ct, 

134 





■ ))'.V or I'l,, . 
'H 1 I 'fV.)-!,-,, 



•^■;*^ 








Figure 3. Andrew McFarland, 1770, Bradford, Vt. 

There is no probate evidence relating to grave- 
stones nor any signed stone to prove directly that John 
Loomis was a stonecutter. His own probate papers indi- 
cate that he surely was. When he died in 1791, his es- 
tate contained compasses, chisels, two stone hammers, a 
stone pick and six pairs of gravestones. Dr. Caulfield 
believed he was also a woodworker as his estate con- 
tained eighty feet of maple boards and some joiner's 
tools. 

Evidence from the Coventry stones themselves sup- 
port the belief that John Loomis succeeded his father 
as a gravestone carver. Loomis-style stones continued 
to be carved after the father's death in 1785 until 
1790, when production abruptly stopped. A total of 
eight stones were made in that five year period, three 
of them in 1790. Loomis stones began to change stylis- 
tically in the 1770s, when serrated and undulating rope- 
like borders began to supersede the double anchor, and 
strange hair-like streaks appeared above the face and 
snowf lake-like designs below the tympanum, all indica- 
ting that a second carver (presumably John) had entered 
the trade with his father (Fig. 4). Loomis stones occur 
in eastern Connecticut in Scotland, Colchester, Col um- 



135 



Figure 4. Capt. John Bissel, 1783, Coventry, Ct, 

136 








Figure d. Jonathan Loomis, 1785, Coventry, Ct. 



137 



bia, Lebanon, Andover, Storrs, Mansfield (three cemete- 
ries: Pink Ravine, Mansfield Center and Storrs), Tol- 
land, Hebron, Windham Center, Hanover and New London. 

John's widow Irene sold the quarry to John Walden, 
Jr. John's son Amasa was left the stone hammers, com- 
passes and chisels, and Amasa also became a well-known 
carver. The graves of Jonathan Loomis and John Loomis 
are both in the South Street Coventry Cemetery. Their 
stones appear to have been carved by Thatcher Lathrop 
(Fig. 5). It is difficult to understand why John Loomis 
did not carve his father's stone. That he did not sug- 
gests that both stones may have been produced after 
John's death in 1791. His son Amasa, born about 1773, 
may not have been an active carver by 1791. Stones 
attributable to Amasa show no stylistic influence from 
Jonathan or John but are influenced by the Manning 
school of gravestone carvers. 

I am in the process of studying these stones in 
detail to trace the evolution of style and, if possible, 
to separate the work of Jonathan from that of his son 
John. As always, interesting problems of attribution 
arise with certain stones. Also involved may be an 
additional and as yet unidentified earlier carver who 
appears to have influenced Jonathan Loomis. Possibly 
this carver was Julius Collins, the son of Benjamin and 
brother of Zerubbabel Collins, of Columbia, Connec- 
ticut. 

William Young of Tatnuck, Massachusetts 

Mary and Rick Stafford 

William Young came to Worcester from Ireland in 
1718 at the age of seven with his parents David and 
Martha, and his paternal grandparents John and Isabel. 
The family settled in nearby Tatnuck (now part of Wor- 
cester) and prospered. William grew up, became actively 
involved in the political life of Worcester, married 
and raised a family, which was to number twelve chil- 
dren, of whom eight were alivewhenhe died in 1795 at 
age 84. His active profession was farming; he acted as 
head of many Revolutionary committees and was a justice 
of the peace after the Revolution. He was Worcester's 
town surveyor and moderator of the town meetings. His 
gravestone cutting seems to have been an avocation 
rather than a true profession, but it was a lifelong 
interest. 



138 



Sprin 




Cl Quabbin 
^^\ Reservoir 
Pel ham \ \ k'^ ' 



Map 1. Locations Cited in Study. 

The earliest stone that can be attributed to him 
is that of Joseph Ayres, 1768, Brookfield; the latest 
is that of Irenna Wiswall, 1792, Worcester. More than 
145 stones in the Worcester County area have been at- 
tributed to him (Map 1), although there may in some 
cases be a stylistic confusion between the work of 
Young and that of the Soule family of gravestone car- 
vers (Fig. 1). In general, characteristics of Young's 
carving style are: round-faced effigies with simple, al- 
most helmet-like hair (men's effigies wear a wig; wo- 
men's a bonnet); round, staring eyes; straight-line 
mouths; frequent use of thistle-like floral designs to 
the sides of the effigies; and, in the text, a capital 
A with a "v " for its cross-bar (Figs. 2-3). Young was 
an unusually creative carver. There is a great deal of 
variety in his designs; no two are alike. In addition 
to stylistic points, the stones of William Young can 
often be recognized by the quality of the stone: a 
rough, rusty slate that breaks easily. 

Harriette Merrifield Forbes attributed many grave- 
stones to William Young of Tatnuck, whom she called 
"The Thistle Carver." These attributions were based on 
similarities of workmanship to three stones for which 



139 



..v 



A 



.%v^ 



\W^_ I]) 



^-L'-'^/ 



s 



'■^: 









Figure 1, Grace Stearns, 1774, Paxton, Mass. 

she found probate records. One was for Samuel Craw- 
ford, of Rutland District, whose estate paid in 1772 
"William Young for a pair of gravestones 6 1.40." The 
estate of Robert Goddard of Sutton in 1766 paid "to Wm. 
Young Esquire for gravestones h 2.2.0," and in 1795 the 
estate of James Tanner of Worcester "pd Esquire Young 
for gravestones 0.48,0." 

Forbes photographed the Goddard stone which stands 
in the Dwinel Cemetery, Mill bury. She shows no photo- 
graph for Samuel Crawford, and she never saw the Tanner 
stone, for she says, "this stone is preserved for future 
generations under the turf of Worcester Common, but the 
two which we can see are enough to settle the identity 
of the Thistle Carver." In 1968 the stone of James 
Tanner was exhumed from Worcester Common and removed to 
Hope Cemetery, where it was again interred. While it 
was above ground, it was photographed by Daniel Farber. 
There are two Samuel Crawford stones, one dated 1760 in 
Rutland, and one dated 1770 in Oakham. The probate 
record of 1772 probably refers to the Oakham monument, 
but either of the Crawford stones serve the purpose of 
authentication, as they are obviously from the same 
hand. Forbes documents the life of Young admirably in 

140 




9lf* 









fcii^ 


I^^^#9?fc, 





Figure 2. EiizaDeth and Ayres Putnam, 1767, 1762, 
Brookfield, Mass. 



141 




Figure 3. Davia Thurston, 1777, Auburn, Mass. 

her book, and in a monograph delivered to the American 
Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Given 
the prominence of the man in his time and the relative 
lack of mention of him in later historical works, some 
extended research in diaries of the area from his period 
would be of interest. Another source of information 
could be probate wills of all those gravestones pre- 
sumed to be from his hand. Although payment is not 
often recorded. Young often acted as executor or survey- 
or of the decedent's property. Much information on his 
life and friendships may be found by this research. 

John Hartshorne and the Mulicken Family 



Ralph Tucker 

Born in 1650 in Reading, Massachusetts, and an 
early settler of Haverhill, Massachusetts, John Harts- 
horne was a weaver, a tailor, and a clerk. He became a 
lieutenant in the militia and was active in the Indian 
Wars. A step-brother of the carver Joseph Lamson, John 
at about the age of fifty began carving gravestones in 
Haverhill, where he was that town's first carver. His 
early stones all have elongated unframed faces in the 

142 



i>-V4«.«ZS* 




.^(;^> 



/\U 




1). 1<. . 

Figure 1. Sary Michel, 1705, Haverhill, Mass. 

tympanum, with solid bars of varied designs on either 
side of the face. The pilaster design is usually a 
series of crude bell-like shapes (Fig. 1). About 1708 
the faces become rounder and are framed, and the bars 
become segmented and more delicate. The side borders 
also become more varied and lighter (Fig. 2). Large 
circled rosettes then enter the tympanum alongside the 
face and the segmented bars are pushed to the corners 
(Fig. 3). 

About 1723, Hartshorne went to Connecticut where 
hiswork is devoid of rosettes and the face is deco- 
rated with either halo-like bars or "rabbit-ear" bars. 
His work is interesting in that it does not portray a 
death's head (skull with wings) but instead presents 
simply a face or "soul-mask" and thus is not a copy of 
the gravestone design prevalent among other eastern 
Massachusetts carvers. His best work is found in Haver- 
hill and Ipswich, Massachusetts, and in Lebanon, Con- 
necticut (Map 1). 

The Bradford (now Haverhill), Massachusetts, family 
of Robert Mulicken learned carving from Lt. John Harts- 
horne and filled the Merrimack River Valley towns with 



143 




f ^ 

'J/VW^AllAi'J KIKIBAJJ 

\)\\}) ri.'iii^uAir/ 




■A;UV>A))^ 



/ y 



yhA); o: 



Ills AGL 







()( )i 



Figure 2. Abraham Kimball, 1708, Bradford, Mass. 



144 




^/f^':' a'' " 't ' 

",J/)!EKE \yvs, V^' 
;'>. ;RODy OF M' THO 

riAr. iior.KEi If, \,.i 

■^V/llO DIEIJ MO\/K 

I ' ' \ yi-:AiJ-: oi- i''^ 

' Ml: A(.I 



I/' 







Figure 3. Thomas Hogkens, 1719, Ipswich, Mass. 




^..^^ 



Map 1. The Merrimack River Valley. 

145 



their stones for over fifty years. After the Indian 
raid in 1708, when Hartshorne's wife, son, and three 
grandsons were killed, Hartshorne removed to Salisbury, 
and while he occasionally made stones for the Haverhill- 
Bradford area, the Mulicken family became the prominent 
cutters. Their stones resemble Hartshorne's with a 
central, framed face. They add a connecting band from 
the top of the face to the border of the stone and a 
variety of tree shapes immediately under the chin. They 
do not use segmented bars as Hartshorne did, but they 
do use rosettes and other emblems in circles on either 
side of the face (Fig. 4). The corners of the tympanum 
usually have some simple decoration. The carvers rapidly 
develop a variety of side borders, and they employ dis- 
tinctive footstones which often include coffins, hour- 
glasses, rosettes, and other decorative devices (Fig. 
5). While their stones are omnipresent in the Merri- 
mack River Valley and are easily recognized, the Mulic- 
kens occasionally produced an atypical stone recognized 
only by a border design or the lettering. Some of the 
early lettering is quite good, but some of the late let- 
tering is a confused mixture of upper and lower case 
letters with abominable spelling. 




Figure 4. Sarah Barker, 1726, North Andover, Mass. 

146 




Figure 5. Hannah Moodey footstone, 1719, Newbury, Mass. 







•-^ 



c 



"1? 



Figure 6. Moses Pilsbery, 1738, West Newbury, Mass. 

147 




Figure 7. John Barker, 1751, North Andover, Mass. 

The Mulickens also produced a version of the winged 
skull (Fig. 6), and in the 1740s, a winged variety of 
face appears in both a round an an inverted pear-shaped 
variety (Fig. 7). These are apparently efforts to copy 
the popular Boston style of death's head, but it remains 
more like the folk style than the sophisticated work of 
the urban carvers. Mulicken stones can be found in towns 
along the Merrimack River from Concord, New Hampshire, 
downstream to the Atlantic, from Portsmouth, New Hamp- 
shire to Hamilton, Massachusetts. 

John Anthony Angel and William Throop: 

Stonecutters of the Narragansett Basin 

Vincent F. Luti 



In her Ear ly New England Gravestones and the Men 
Who Made Them, Harriette Merrifield Forbes speaks 
briefly of John Anthony Angel (1701-56), a stonecarver 
of Providence, Rhode Island. At the time her book was 
published in 1927, Mrs. Forbes had seen Angel's will, 
but she did not know his work. Today the man himself 
remains somewhat obscure, but his work is fairly easy 
to identify. 

148 



From his own gravestone in the North Burial Ground 
in Providence, we learn that he died April 6, 1756, at 
the age of fifty-five. He carved the design of this 
stone himself, and his epitaph states that he came from 
the "Citty of Copl ins in ye Electore of Trear," which 
would be the modern city of Koblenz, Germany. His will 
calls him a stonecutter, and the inventory of his meager 
estate lists tools and gravestones. His tools were 
left to Seth Luther, his "brother-in-law," a clue that 
led to the discovery that Luther, too, was a stonecar- 
ver. 

Most of Angel's stones date from the 1750s. A 
few, some of which may be backdated, have dates in the 
1740s. We do not know when he arrived from Germany. 
His unusually clumsy lettering and spelling, which 
single his stones out, indicate that he struggled with 
the English language. 

The identification of Angel's carving style is 
based on the carving on two probated stones for John 
Edwards, Attleboro, and Peter Mawney, Providence, and 
on the design carved on his own marker. A significant 
aid in spotting his work is his poor spelling and his 
lettering style, which mixed upper and lower case let- 
ters and words at random. His stones are found princi- 
pally in Providence. Others radiate to surrounding 
towns as far north as Medfield, Massachusetts and as 
far south as Bristol, Rhode Island. 

The typical New England "bedboard-shaped" stone is 
uncommon in Angel's work. His usual stone shape is ei- 
ther rectangular or has sloping, curved shoulders. Oc- 
casionally the outline of the stone shape has a series 
of reverse curves in the Baroque style. Generally, the 
stones are carved in a very low to medium relief with 
little or no modeling, which, in combination with the 
peculiar, crumbling, black stone he used, make them easy 
to overlook. But they are decidedly distinctive in 
design. One striking characteristic of Angel's stones 
is the almost complete absence of figurative effigies, 
human or angelic. On the other hand, his stones do 
share designs in common with other carvers in the Nar- 
ragansett Basin and elsewhere in New England. A hand- 
ful of his stones have helmet-like skulls in profile, 
usually cut in low relief (Fig. 1). In Providence 
there are a few--less than a dozen--stones with heral- 
dic designs. But what relates his work most closely 
with that of his contemporaries in the Basin is his 

149 




fhr--, -^ 



K^-(;"\^_v/.Cp''^. 



^Mp|p^< 



i»f . 



^xl^^^v.^ 



.V loV--' 




"-b 



;,o 



^- , III .X lO:l\ul^^Cu- V 



'K, 



r yf 



Figure 1. Philip Tillinghast, 1753, Providence, R. I. 




Figure 2. Mary Brown, 1752, Providence, R. I. 

150 



taste for foliate material in his designs. A curled, 
unfolding acanthus leaf predominates in the borders and 
often around the tympanum arch (Fig. 2). Another floral 
motif, occuring often at the top or bottom of the stone, 
is one or more large, spread, roughly triangular acan- 
thus leaves, suggesting wings. Sometimes his border 
design is a kind of tulip vine. Heavily cut petaled 
rosettes, often within a ring, occur regularly in the 
upper areas of the stones (Fig. 3). Simple classical 
Greek foliage undulations or "crimping" is not uncommon 
around the edges of the stones. His unique stippling 
technique creates a rough but fine granular background 
to the smooth surface designs. 

In the Massachusetts and Rhode Island towns bor- 
dering the head of the Narragansett Bay stand a consid- 
erable number of stones carved by William Throop (1739- 
1817). Throop, son of Thomas and Mary Throop, was born 
June 13, 1739. He married twice, first to Al thea Fales, 
and then to a woman named Mary. A son William, born in 
1771, probably carved gravestones in the early nine- 
teenth century. 




Figure 3. Joseph Randle, 1753, Cranston, R. I. 



151 



'■^^. 



|litMciuor\: 




^m' 



Figure 4. Zebedee Luther, 1773, Warren, R. I. 

From 1776 to 1781, Throop served in the Bristol, 
Rhode Island, company of militia, earning the rank of 
lieutenant. He died February 26, 1817. A Bristol deed 
refers to him as "yoeman." His stonecarving career 
seems to have begun after his military service. Docu- 
mentation for Throop's markers is found on signed stones 
for Elizabeth Bullock, 1786, Rehoboth, Massachusetts, 
and Hanna Thomas, 1790, Swansea, Massachusetts. Pro- 
bate records show payment to Throop in the year indi- 
cated for gravestones for: 

Mary Allen, 1786, Rehoboth, Massachusetts. 1788. 
Lois Martin, 1787, Rehoboth, Massachusetts. 1789. 
Abigail Burr, 1803, Warren, Rhode Island. 1806. 
Caleb Barton, 1809, Warren, Rhode Island. 1813. 

The signed Elizabeth Bullock stone and the pro- 
bated Mary Allen stone clearly show Throop to be wor- 
king with or copying the designs of John and James New, 
of Attleboro, Massachusetts. Confined to Rehoboth, 
Massachusetts, these New- type Throop markers are for: 
Annah Bullock, 1771; Hannah Moulton, 1778; Simon Burr, 
1783; Daniel Barney, 1784; and Seth Bullock, 1784. One 
can observe the progress of Throop's skills, and his 



152 



imitation of other carvers, from the very early stone 
for Zebedee Luther, 1773, Warren, Rhode Island (Fig. 4) 
to the markers for Hannah Thomas and Deborah Carpenter, 
1787, Rehoboth, Massachusetts (Fig. 5), which are in 
the style of the popular Gabriel Allen of Providence, 
Rhode Island. In the 1790s, Throop turned for inspira- 
tion to the Stevens shop of Newport, Rhode Island. 




f':w\-<^\\\\.y'%sUc old = 

\N dti*;-*' flirt f " ; f' 



I I ii^-,\i 




,*•> 



♦J 






Figure 5. Deborah Carpenter, 17 87, Rehoboth, Mass. 



153 



James Stand if t 

Sherry Stand iff 

James Stanclift (1639-1712) was the first perma- 
nent settler of East Middletown, Connecticut, later 
named Portland. He is listed on the Middletown records 
as an English stone mason. James first lived in Lyme, 
Connecticut, about 1676. He married the widow Mary 
(Tinker) Waller about 1685. Mary was born July 2, 1653, 
in Boston, the daughter of John and Alice (Smith) Tin- 
ker. James and Mary had two daughters and two sons. 
Both of the sons, William, born 1686, and James, born 
1692, became stonecutters. 

In an effort to attract artisans to their area, 
the selectmen of Middletown offered James Stanclift a 
grant of land "upon the rocks in est Middletown" in 
return for his services to the town. James purchased 
additional land adjacent to the grant and opened the 
Stanclift Brownstone Quarry in 1690. 

The earliest date I have found on a stone cut by 
James is 1676. This stone was cut for Lt. Reynold 
Marvin and is located in the Duck River Cemetery in 
Lyme, Connecticut. James continued to cut gravestones 
until the time of his death in 1712 at age seventy- 
three. 

James Stanclift preferred a simple rounded arch 
shape with a chamfered back edge on his brownstones. 
Occasionally he used the square shoulder, sloping shoul- 
der, and the traditional tripartite shapes. He always 
used large capital letters with serifs and covered the 
entire face of the stone (Fig. 1). He frequently made 
dots or tiny diamonds between the words. The letter 
"A" is the most distinctive of his letters, having a 
horizontal bar or canopy at the top. James abandoned 
the canopy on a few stones cut between 1700 and 1711, 
but most of his work bears this mark. 

According to Dr. Ernest Caulfield, James Stanclift 
was the first Connecticut artist to depict a skull. At 
first glance, these skulls seem primitive, but study of 
his work as a whole reveals a surprising sophistication 
of design. The decorations used by James were an inte- 
gral part of the shape or over-all design of each stone. 
The skull on the stone of Richard Smith, Jr. creates an 
almost abstract effect with an admirable economy of 
line (Fig. 2). His decorative carving designs were not 

154 



^.t-V^J 







«l 






'W>, 







Figure 1. Phebe Marvil, 1707, Old Lyme, Ct. 

155 



MASSACHUSETTS 



Suf field ' 



Hartford 



Wethersfield 0^ 
Middle town 

Haddam ri^< 



CONNECTICUT 
VT) Glastonbury 




LONG ISLAND 



Map 1. Locations of Stand if t Stones. 

limited to skulls. He used a portion of the Howell 
coat-of-arms on the stone for John Howell, 1692, Sout- 
hampton, Long Island. On the tablestones for Lt. Col. 
John Allyn, 1696, Hartford, Connecticut, and for Joseph 
Conklyn, 1694, Southold, Long Island, James used the 
inscription to form a border around the outside edge of 
the stone and finished the inscription in the center in 
the usual way. 

To date, I have found about sixty stones cut by 
James Stand if t. The majority of these are in the 
Middletown and Hartford areas. A number are in Lyme, 
Glastonbury, and Wethersfield, Connecticut, and in 
Southold, Southampton, and East Hampton, Long Island, 
New York. There are single stones in Suf field, Pres- 
ton, Saybrook, Stonington, and Windsor, Connecticut. 
Research to provide authentication of the work of James 
Stand if t has been difficult. James used agents to con- 
duct his business — John Hamlin in Middletown and Mat- 
thew Griswold in Lyme. I have found entries in the di- 
ary of Manasseh Minor of Stonington that provide evi- 
dence that James did cut the stones attributed to him. 
Minor wrote, "March 12, 1702 Rebeccah Minor died . . . 
Apraill 29, 1702 Saciant [an Indian] brote Grave Stons 



156 



. . . Apraill 30, 1702 We sat grave Stones on Rebeka 
her grave . . . June 17, 1703 payed Stancleef." The 
stone for Rebbecah Minor is located in the Wequetequock 
Cemetery, Stonington, Connecticut, and it is typical of 
Stand if t's work. James Stand if t used the mark "i" to 
sign his documents and to identify the stone boundary 
markers of his land, but I have yet to find this mark 
on one of his gravestones. 




Figure 2. Richard Smith, Jr., 1703, Glastonbury, Ct. 

Daniel Hastings of Newton, Massachusetts 

Daniel Farber 

Daniel Hastings (1749-?) made gravestones from 
about 177 to about 17 97. In her Gra v estones of Earl y 
New England and the Men Who Made Them, Harriette Merri- 
f ield Forbes shows as his work the stone for John Hol- 
yoke, 1775, Newton, Massachusetts (Fig. 1). From that 
likeness, a large group of gravestones in central and 
eastern Massachusetts has been attributed to Hastings. 
Some doubt exists as to the credibility of these attri- 
butions, all based on resemblances to that one stone. 
However, in 1980, Laurel Gabel discovered that concealed 
on the back of many of these stones are what appear to 
be initials, in two forms. One form is a large, roughly 
cut capital letter "H" hiding among the chisel markings. 
The other is a combination of the lower case letters 
"d" and "h" placed sideways (Fig. 2). If these letters 
are accepted as Hastings's signatures, they confirm 
many attributions credited to him. 



157 



1 




lic^" Intr n 




Figure 1. John Holyoke, 1775, Newton, Mass. 





.abVi'Ir* i . ' ■■■■- ■''•■„" 




' >^-'i^^^^^ V %'^'S'' 


^^;.i 








;T',V 




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^\l^ 


L^^ ♦*' tC~ 




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A 





Figure 2. Hastings' Initials, Nathaniel Maynard, 1779, 
Wayland, Mass. 

158 



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V. v,%^^n'' ii 



t^ \\' mo r \ 




Figure 3. Hannah Rice, 1794, Millbury, Mass. 

Mystery surrounds Hastings's late work. Suddenly, 
in 1790, his typical carving disappears, and a new de- 
sign which could be described as "lowbrow" appears. 
There is considerable evidence that "lowbrow" stones are 
not the work of Hastings: the appearance of the design 
is different, a geometric border is often used which 
never before was employed by Hastings, and the stone it- 
self is a much lighter color and a finer grained slate. 
However, probate records found by the writer and Charles 
Bouley show that payment for the stone for Hannah Rice, 
1794, Millbury, Massachusetts, was made to Daniel Has- 
tings (Fig. 3). The Rice stone is a typical "lowbrow" 
design. 

Hastings's stones are concentrated in the Newton 
area and have been seen by the writer as far north as 
Ipswich, Massachusetts, and as far west and south as 
North Brookfield, Massachusetts, and West Woodstock, 
Connecticut. Nothing has yet been published about Has- 
tings the man. It would be good to know the personal 
and professional background of the individual respon- 
sible for these large, beautifully executed stones, 
those handsome faces with their furrowed brows and 
powerful dignity, and those earnest, straight-haired, 
wide-eyed angels. 

159 



Samuel Dwight: Vermont Gravestone Cutter 

Nancy Jean Mel in 

Discovering the identity of the witty and imagina- 
tive carver of the 1771 Elisabeth Smith gravestone has 
been an intruiging challenge to students of gravestone 
art, particularly since 1977, when AGS adopted the ef- 
figy carving from this wil 1 iamstown, Massachusetts, 
marker as its logo design (Fig. 1). Although no pro- 
bated data has yet been found which links the Vermont 
carver Samuel Dwight with this stone, a great deal of 
factual and circumstantial evidence does. Whether or 
not the distinction belongs to Dwight, his place of 
importance among early gravestone carvers is secure, 
and his story as a stonecutter is an interesting one. 

He grew up in Thompson, Connecticut, the grandson 
of one Jo si ah Dwight, who pi aye d an important rol e in 
the town history of nearby Woodstock. That part of 
eastern Connecticut is just north of the region where 
stonecutters Obadiah Wheeler and Benjamin Collins adap- 
ted and fostered the Essex County style, brought there 
by John Hartshorn from Massachusetts' Merrimack River 
Valley. Characteristics of this inventive and ingenious 
style are prominent in Dwight' s work. 




•''**«liii' 



r/ 







Figure 1. Elisabeth Smith, 1771, Williamstown, Mass. 

160 



The Dwight family genealogy notes that Samuel was 
a twin and that through his grandfather, Josiah, he was 
related to Timothy Dwight, a president of Yale College. 
Samuel was himself a student at Yale College, gradua- 
ting in 1783, in the class with Nathan Hale. Following 
his graduation, Dwight remained in the New Haven area. 
His activities there are for the most part unknown, al- 
though he is supposed to have composed a song for a 
later graduating class. Records show that during this 
period he married the widow of one Michael Todd, and 
Dexter's Biographica l Sketches of the Graduates of Yale 
Col lege records with an admonition that he "absconded" 
and left her in New Haven when he moved to Vermont. 

His name appears in the Vermont census for 1790, 
the same year he announced in the Bennington Vermont 
Gazette the "reopening of Clio Hall, an academy for 
youth." He described that institution as offering 
training in Greek, Latin, logic, arithmetic, grammar, 
and "all other branches which are usually taught in 
academies." Dwight's career as a schoolmaster there 
was brief; before 1792 the school was closed again. 
Aside from a signed gravestone in Manchester, Vermont, 
and another one in Rutland County, Vermont, and a no- 
tice in the 1800 V ermont Gazette disavowing further 
association with a second wife, few certain signs of 
him remain other than his charming yet sophisticated 
stonecarving in the graveyards of Bennington County. 
The greatest concentration of his mature work is in the 
Arlington and Shaftsbury, Vermont, burial grounds (Map 
1). 

Dwight's work is identified by its distinctive 
lettering style and the repetitive use of symbolic 
heart, hand, vine, and flower motifs. His stones are 
of white marble, large in size, excepting those for 
children, and the tympanums are usually cut in a char- 
acteristic double S curve configuration. This tympanum 
contour may have been borrowed from Zerubbabel Collins, 
another prominent carver working in the area. Dwight's 
earliest effigy carvings (1790-96) resemble the simple 
stick and cylindrical figures common to children's 
drawings (Fig. 2). Some of his stones are back-dated, 
evidenced by his frequent use of two dates on a stone, 
one the death date and the other presumed to be the 
date of the stone's commission. Dwight's second phase 
(1796-1800) was characterized by the use of rounded, 
more developed portrait-like effigies, the addition of 
border designs, and the continued use of the tympanum 
contour described previously (Fig. 3). Dwight's work 

161 




Map 1. Locations Cited in Study. 




Figure 2. Mary Merwin, 1777, Arlington, Vt. 

162 




Figure 3. Penelope Olin, 1795, Shaftsbury, Vt. 



163 




Figure 4. Bliss Willoughby, 1807, ShafcsDury, Vt. 



164 



entered a third phase (1800-10) in which he further 
simplified his style while retaining his favorite sym- 
bolic motifs (Fig. 4). His last marker, which date to 
the 1820s, are noteworthy examples of the popular urn 
and willow genre. 

I believe the Elisabeth Smith stone to be a back- 
dated example of Samuel Dwight's early period. My 
attribution of this stone to Dwight is based largely 
upon lettering peculiarities, the distinctive ampersand 
sign, and the elaborate "AD" (Anno Domini) used with the 
birth and death dates. The Smith stone bears a resem- 
blance to other stones in the same northwest Massachu- 
setts area. One of these is the South Williamstown 
stone for Dwight's brother. Captain Hamlin Dwight, who 
died in 1786, the year Samuel left Connecticut for Ver- 
mont (Fig. 5). That stone's lettering and its unusual 
effigy design — a profile portrait — are carved in the 
characteristic Dwight style. 

The last probated record of Samuel Dwight is in 
the Vermont census of 1830, where he is listed as a 
resident of Sunderland, Vermont. Town records note 
that he signed over his property — one red cow, one 
feather bed and bedding — to the township in exchange 
for continued public support. Dwight appears to have 
died a single man, childless and destitute. Ironi- 
cally, despite his formidable contribution to grave- 
stone art, no stone marking his gravesite has yet been 
found. 








vv'ir>iifw'. v' 



■ft ' 







Figure 5. Hamlin Dwight, 1786, Williamstown, Mass. 

165 



James Wilder of Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1741-1794 

Laurel Gabel and Theodore Chase 

A seven-month study of gravestones in forty-one 
central Massachusetts town has confirmed the identity 
of James Wilder as the cutter of a small body of hand- 
somely carved, often striking markers in the Lancaster- 
Sterling area. The attributions are derived from a 
search through probate records for 250 names of de- 
ceased whose graves are marked by this cutter's stones. 
The search turned up fifty recorded accounts of admini- 
stration, only nine of which show payment to any known 
stonecutter. Those nine were all to James Wilder, in 
amounts appropriate to cover the cost of gravestones. 

James Wilder's work spans just over three decades, 
the most productive of which was the 1770s, during which 
he produced close to 100 stones. He used a dark, iron- 
stained slate from aquarry near his home, a material 
which has held up well. In most of his tympanums he 
carved bold faces with detailed hair and open, staring 
eyes. His designs are of four types. First were skulls, 
conventional but well executed (Fig. 1). Second is a 
youngish face with tightly-wound curls (Fig. 2). The 
third style is a longer, more stylized face with ring- 
lets at the sides and straight hair on the top of the 
head (Fig. 3). The fourth style is an older face with 
a straight, rolled-back wig, a more bulbous nose, and a 
rather stern expression (Fig. 4). Characteristic ele- 
ments are his use of a double-eight knot as a filler, a 
six-petal flower in the shoulder finial, and some dis- 
tinctive letters and numerals (g, 7, 5). Wilder's work 
has similarities to that of the Fisher/Farrington school 
(whose faces were rounder and were cut on a different 
slate), and to the work of William Codner, in whose 
Boston shop Wilder may have apprenticed. Though one 
would not rank Wilder as one of New England's leading 
cutters from the point of view of innovative style or 
quantity of work produced, one respects the strong, 
clean work of this fine craftsman. 

Wilder was a member of a large and well-to-do 
family. He had eight children by his wife, Jemima 
Johnson, and an illegitimate son by a distant cousin, 
March Wilder (who successfully sued him for support). 
It is fairly certain that he served in the Revolution. 
While he did not achieve the prominence of some other 
members of the family, he did serve his community in 
various capacities, including the boarding of indi- 

166 




(4 



I n Meniorv o( 



) i("f\ w 



{/ (in 



.s^m!^ 



\ 



CllCL 



Figure 1. Timothy Rice, 1761, Northboro, Mass. 




Figure 2. Julia Whitney, 1772, Northboro, Mass. 

167 




Figure 3. Jennet Crage, 1776, Princeton, Mass. 




\M!.) (IC'pnfcd 




Figure 4. Mary Martyn, 1775, Northboro, Mass. 

168 



gents, or town wards. He was a devoted Mason, serving 
as Lodge Secretary from 1785 through 1793. He is de- 
scribed in the Masonic records as quiet in manner, re- 
tiring in disposition, not ambitious, "nor endowed with 
those facilities through the exercise of which money is 
added to the purse." Records written in his hand are 
preserved in the Grand Lodge of Masons in Boston; his 
concise minutes are the work of an educated man. Al- 
though he inherited considerable wealth from his father 
in 1780, it was about this time that misfortune began 
to overtake him in the form of poor health, the deaths 
of two sons, and a fire. His gravestone production 
dropped markedly. He died of consumption in 1794 at 
fifty-three, insolvent. His fellow lodge members at- 
tended his funeral "in regular procession" and voted 
"that the expenses of attending Br Wilder's funeral be 
discharged from the funds of the Lodge." He was buried 
within walking distance of his house. His grave has 
not been found. 

The Fel tons of New Salem, Massachusetts 

Robert Drinkwater 

Bold, evocative images populate the graveyards of 
New Salem and adjoining towns of central Massachusetts 
(Map 1). Designs similar to the one carved on William 
Page's stone are most numerous (Fig. 1). All of these 
stones bear some resemblance to work attributed to the 
Sikes family cutters. However, with varying degrees of 
certainty, all can now be attributed to members of the 
Fel ton family of New Salem. 

Harriette Merrifield Forbes reported in Grave- 
stones of Ear ly Nbm England ajjd the Men Who Mad^ Them 
that Ebenezer Fel ton of New Salem was paid for grave- 
stones. Recently, I found corroborative evidence: a 
record of payment for the headstone and footstone for 
Samuel Cady, 1799, Shutesbury Center, Massachusetts. 
On Cady's headstone is a somewhat simplified version of 
the image carved on the Page stone. 

It appears that Ebenezer Fel ton was Ebenezer, 2nd: 
grandson of Ebenezer, Sr., nephew of Ebenezer, Jr., son 
of David and Sarah. He was born in New Salem, ca. 1741. 
His father and his grandfather were house carpenters. 
The Fel tons, like many of New Salem's early settlers, 
were from Salem, Massachusetts. They moved to New Salem 
about 1740. At present we know very little about Eben- 
ezer Fel ton. He married Hannah Page in 1762. They had 

169 



Greenfield 




I 



Map 1. Location of Felton Stones. 




r 



Figure 1. William Page, 1794, New Salem, Mass. 



170 




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^J i nir re Uou.^;i fort 




t 






.-V' -^'.y 



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Figure 2. Hannah Felton, 1773, New Salem, Mass. 

four children who reached adulthood, a daughter and 
three sons: David, born in 1767; Robards, baptized in 
1771; Nathaniel, date of birth unknown. Ebenezer's 
wife died in 1773. It appears he never remarried. His 
name is listed in the 1800 census, but not in the 1810 
census. When and where he died are unknown. 

Entries in the account book of Nathaniel Chamber- 
lain, a blacksmith and neighbor of the Pel tons, suggest 
that Ebenezer's son, Robards, was also a stonecutter. 
Three entries are of particular interest: "to sharpe- 
ning gravestone chisels" (two entries, March, 1804) and 
"to oxen to draw gravestones up hill" (February, 1808). 
Other entries, though less explicit, may also pertain 
to stonecutting. The earliest entry is dated March 22, 
1797; the last entry, February 16, 1808. Robards Fel- 
ton left New Salem between 1808 and 1810. He died in 
Hamilton, New York, in 1825. 

Six of the stones I have attributed to the Fel tons 
mark the graves of relatives. The earliest stones com- 
memorate Ebenezer's wife, Hannah, 1773, New Salem Cen- 
ter (Fig. 2), and a daughter, Hannah, 1767, New Salem 
Center. The stones for Ebenezer's parents, David and 



171 




Figure 3. Nathaniel Graves, 1796, New Salem, Mass. 

Sarah Felton, 1790, 1792, New Salem Center, resemble 
that cut for his wife, but they have detached, wing- 
like forms at the sides of the head. The stone for his 
mother-in-law, Sarah Page, 1784, New Salem Center, 
resembles that for his father-in-law (Fig. 1). 

All of the stones attributed to the Feltons are of 
the same material, gneiss, a foliated stone which may 
resemble granite or schist, depending on where it is 
split. Most may be Ebenezer's work; as few as four may 
be Robard's work. Three phases can be distinguished: 
an early phase, a transitional phase, and a late phase. 
The Hannah Felton stone (Fig. 2) is an example of the 
early phase. There are eighteen examples; most date 
from the 1780s. Stones of this early phase might be 
confused with the work of the Sikes family; however, 
Fel ton's faces are shorter and rounder, and on most 
examples there is no mouth. Border patterns and let- 
tering style provide other characteristics for distin- 
guishing Felton stones from Sikes stones. 

There are five examples of Fel ton's transitional 
phase. All date from the early 1790s. On these stones, 
Felton adapted design elements used during his early 

172 



phase to the format characteristic of his late phase. 
Examples include the Lt. Amos Foster stone, 1793, New 
Salem Center, and the stone for the Calhoon children, 
1791, Petersham Center, Massachusetts. Of thirty-eight 
examples of the late phase, all but a few date from the 
1790s. Some have stylized floral borders, on others, 
such as the Nathaniel Graves stone, 1796, New Salem 
Center, slender columns flank the inscription (Fig. 3). 
In New Salem Center there are four stones which, though 
similar to the Graves stone, are cl early the work of a 
different stonecutter. On three, the date of death is 
legible, and these date from the early 1800s. The latest 
of these is the William Giles stone, 1806 (Fig. 4). 
These stones may be the work of Robards Felton. If so, 
five urn and willow stones of the same material at 
Wendell Center, Massachusetts, may also be his work. 




Figure 4. William Giles, 1806, New Salem, Mass. 

173 



Enos Clark, Vermont Gravestone Carver 

Margaret R. Jenks 

With numerous ancestors buried in the East Poult- 
ney, Vermont, cemetery, I became interested in the 
stones there. William Buckland (1727-1795) of East 
Hartford, Connecticut, my ancestor and a carver of many 
Connecticut gravestones, is buried in North Poultney, 
and I hoped to find some of his work in the area. Al- 
though I found no stones bearing any resemblance to 
those he cut in Connecticut, I did find Willi am Buck- 
land's own stone, that of his son Ebenezer, his daugh- 
ter Hannah, and his father-in-law John Barret. All 
these stones are the work of an interesting previously 
unknown carver, Enos Clark. 

In the last several years, I have copied and pub- 
lished cemetery inscriptions for the Rutland County, 
Vermont, townships of Wells, Poultney, Middletown 
Springs, Ira, Pawlet, and Tinmouth. In the process, I 
have photographed many of the beautiful old stones. 
Among these is the gravestone for Mindwell Grant, 1800, 
East Poultney, Vermont, with the signature "EC" about 
three inches the ground level and about six inches from 
the right edge of the stone. The more pictures I took 
of other stones of this type, the more variety I found 
in the carving style and the more interested I became 
in discovering the man who carved them. Dr. Ernest 
Caulfield speculated that EC might be Edward Collins, a 
son of the gravestone carver Zerubbabel Collins, who 
worked in Shaftsbury, Vermont, between 1778 and 1797 
("Connecticut Gravestones IX," The Bul letin of the 
Connecticut Historica l Society 28 [1963], 22-29). I 
investigated this possibility. 

Using a list I compiled of EC-type stones for adult 
males, I searched the Rutland County probate records. 
Only two of the names on my list showed probated es- 
tates, Joseph Rann and Zebediah Dewey. Among the many 
pages of their inventoried estates there was a one-page 
administrator's account for Zebediah Dewey, who died 
October 28, 1804, aged 78 (Fig. 1). The account was 
dated October 17, 1806, and in it were two items of in- 
terest: "to Jonas Clark for Toom stones $20.50," and 
"to digging graves $1.25" (Rutland County Probate, Rut- 
land District 5:146). Who was Jonas Clark? 

Since themajority of EC stones are in East Poult- 
ney and Middletown Springs, it seemed likely that the 

174 




Figure 1. Zebediah Dewey, 1804, East Poultney, Vt. 




Figure 2. 



Harley Clark, 1804, Middletown Springs, Vt. 
175 



carver 1 ived in that area. A search of the census and 
vital records failed to show any Edward Collins in Rut- 
land County. However, in my Middletown Springs book of 
inscriptions, I found two Jonas Clarks: Jonas Clark, 
Sr. (1741-1814) and "General" Jonas Clark (1774-1872). 
Either of these Jonas Clarks could have been the one 
paid for Dewey's stone. An examination of Barnes Fris- 
by's History of Middletown, Vermont in Three Discourses 
(1867) yielded the information that Jonas Clark came 
from Canterbury, Connecticut, in 1790 with his son Jonas 
Jr., and that two other sons, Enos and Theopholis, had 
come to Middletown about two years earlier. According 
to Frisby, Jonas Jr. and Enos both were masons, an oc- 
cupation that could easily have led to gravestone car- 
ving. However, Jonas Jr. studied law and was admitted 
to the bar at about age thirty. Enos Clark's occupa- 
tion was not given. Enos Clark died April 12, 1815, in 
his fifty-first year. My records show that the EC stones 
date only to about 1809. 

Herbert Davison, the Middletown Springs historian, 
referred me to a manuscript genealogy, "Genealogy of 
the Clark Family, 1639-1891," dated February 11, 1891, 
by Merritt Clark, the son of Jonas Jr. Merritt Clark 
wrote, "Enos was a stone cutter — some of his work may 
be seen at the old cemetery at Middletown on grave 
stones and generally ornamented with the head of a 
Seraph or weeping willow. He was also a House builder 
— and possessed a remarkable memory. He kept no Books 
of account but was always found correct." Merritt 
Clark was twelve years old when Uncle Enos died, so 
this statement may be taken as first hand knowledge, 
and we may reasonably attribute the EC stones to Enos 
Clark of Middletown, Vermont. 

Enos Clark used two distinct styles of lettering. 
He often employed a flourish with the "IN" of "IN mem- 
ory of," and he often used italics for the name of the 
deceased. The effigy's wings are usually smooth, but 
the wing shape varies in his later work. The face is 
always oval, with a hair style similar to that used by 
Zerubbabel Collins, except that Clark often carved 
three curls on each side while Collins carved only one. 
Clark also combined cherub and urn and willow, and he 
carved a variety of urn and willow designs late in his 
career (Fig. 2). Several questions remain. Where did 
Enos Clark learn his craft? Was he an apprentice of 
Zerubbabel Collins, or did he learn from Jonas Sr.? 
Were the payments for stone to Jonas Clark made to 
Enos's father or to his brother acting as an agent? 

176 



Index of Carvers and Illustrations 

Akin, Jonathan, 14, 50 

Allen, Gabriel, 153 

Angel, John Anthony, 148-49, 151 

Anto Chi CO, 126 

Ashton, Annie, 98 

Barker, John, 148 

Barker, Sarah, 146 

Bartlett, Gershom, 133 

Beale, Hervey Clinton, 97 

Bear Creek Methodist Church Cemetery, 59 

Beets, Richard, 9 

Bissel, Capt. John, 136 

Bourne, John, 42 

Braisted, P. D. , 52 

Brinckerhoff , Altie, 29 

Bromfield, Charles, 52 

Brown, Mary, 150 

Brown, Nathaniel, 38, 52 

Brown, Thomas, 33-38, 43, 52 

Brusa, Louis, 107-09, 111-13 

Buckland, William, 174 

Campbell, Alexander, 52 

Canova, Antonio, 109 

Carpenter, Deborah, 153 

Carracci, Annibale, 111 

Cebolla, 124-25, 128 

Churcher, Richard, 3 

Clark, Enos, 174-76 

Clark, Harley, 175 

Cleveland, 127 

Codner, William, 166 

Coletti, Donate, 107-08 

Collins, Benjamin, 138, 160 

Collins, Edward, 174, 176 

Collins, Julius, 138 

Collins, Zerubbabel, 138, 161, 174, 176 

Crage, Jennet, 168 

Cook, Jonathan, 16 

Cryer Cemetery, 60 

Gushing, Lemuel, 32 

Darby, Elias, 50 

Darley, Arthur and John, 48, 52 

David, Jacques-Louis, 110 

Dewey, Zebediah, 175 

Dodane, Anthony, 52 

177 



Downey, John, 37 
Dupr^, Giovanni, 109 
Dwight, Hamlin, 165 
Dwight, Samuel, 160-65 

Elmer, Mary, 21 

Felton, Ebenezer, 169 

Felton family, 169-73 

Felton, Hannah, 171 

Felton, Robards, 171, 173 

Fisher/Farrington carvers, 166 

Ford Cemetery, 73 

Franklin County, 63 

Frazee, John, 51 

Friendship Methodist Church, 70 

Giles, William, 173 
Gold, Thomas, 46 
Gordon, Helen, 4 
Grant, William, 13 
Graves, Nathaniel, 172 

Haines, Eva Eriella, 101 

Halsey, Martha, 39 

Hartley, Robert, 52 

Hartshorn(e) , John, 142-45, 160 

Hastings, Daniel, 157-59 

Hill, John C. , 52 

Hill, Ithiel, 52 

Hill, William Dean, 102 

Hogkens, Thomas, 145 

Holyoke, John, 158 

Houston Cemetery, 6 8 

Jeffries, David, 14, 50 
Kimball, Abraham, 144 
Knox and Campbell, 47 
Knox, George, 52 

Lamson, Joseph, 142 

Lathrop, Thatcher, 138 

Lindsay, George, 38, 43, 52 

Loachapoka Cemetery, 7 5 

Loomis, Amasa, 138 

Loomis, Jonathan, 137 

Loomis, Jonathan and John, 131-31 

Loomis, Joseph, 134 

Lopez, Josfe Dolores, 118 

Ludlam, Ezekiel, 51 

178 



Luther, Seth, 149 
Luther, Zebedee, 152 
Lyon, Sarah, 36 

McFarland, Andrew, 135 

Magnolia Cemetery, 7 5 

Martyn, Mary, 168 

Marvil, Phebe, 155 

Matthias, Sallie E. , 103 

Maynard, Nathaniel, 158 

Merwin, Mary, 162 

Michel, Sary, 143 

Mills, Obadiah, 43 

Montgomery, Rebecca, 100 

Moodey, Hannah, 147 

Morgan, Caleb, 3 9 

Mount, Humphrey, 22 

Mulicken family, 142, 143, 146, 148 

Mulicken, Robert, 143 

New Hope Cemetery, 6 4 
New, John and James, 152 
Norris, E. , 25, 50 
Norris, Noah, 50 

Ogden, Jonathan, 8 

Olin, Penelope, 163 

Ortega, Jos^ Benito, 118 

Osborne, E. , 27 

Osborne, H. , 27 

Osborne, Henry, 17, 20, 23, 25, 26, 51, 54 

Osborne, Jonathan Hand, 17, 20, 25, 51 

Osborne, Martha, 23 

Osborne, William, 51 

Page, William, 170 

Parker, Sarah, 132 

Pell, Major Thomas, 4 9 

Pilsbery, Moses, 147 

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery, 74 

Prewitt's Chapel, 62, 66 

Price, Ebenezar, 14, 17-20, 26, 27, 50 

Puerto del Luna, 122 

Putnam, Elizabeth and Ay res, 141 

Quackenbots, Magdalene, 49 
Quadrelli, Emilio, 112 

Randle, Joseph, 151 
Rice, Hannah, 159 

179 



Rice, Timothy, 167 
Roberts, Mary, 45 
Rosemere Cemetery, 6 8 
Ross, Aaron, 25, 50 
Ross, Isaac, 25, 51 
Ross, Sarah, 10 

Sayre, James, 7 

Schenck, W. , 51 

Self Cemetery, 7 

Sikes family, 169 

Silcock, L. , 51 

Slidell, Jane, 35 

Smith, Daniel, 15 

Smith, Eliakim, 24 

Smith, Elisabeth, 160 

Smith, John, 41 

Smith, Margaret, 44 

Smith, Mary, 35 

Smith, Nehemiah, 14 

Smith, Richard Jr., 157 

Smith, Thomas, 52 

Stanclift, James, 154, 154-57 

Stanclift, William, 154 

Stearns, Grace, 140 

Stevens shop, 153 

Stewart, Abner, 25, 51 

Swartwout, lacobus, 41 

Talpa, 126 

Toro Creek Cemetery, 65 
Throop, William, 148, 151-53 
Throop, William Jr., 151 
Thurston, David, 142 
Tillinghast, Philip, 150 
Tucker, J. , 51 
Turner, , 51 

Union Baptist Church Cemetery, 61 

Valentine, William, 42, 52 

Van Dyck, Barbare, 30 

Van Voorhis, John, 30 

Van Wyck, Theodorus, 41 

Veguita, 117 

Vela, Vincenzo, 109 

Vicksburg City Cemetery, 72 

Walden, John Jr., 138 
Ward, Uzal, 11, 13-14, 51 
Wheeler, Obadiah, 131, 133, 160 

180 



Whitney, Julia, 167 
Wilcox, A., 25 
Wilder, James, 166-69 
Willcox, A. , 51 
Willoughby, Bliss, 164 
Woodruff, Sarah, 6 

Young, William, 138-42 

Zuricher, John, 27-33, 46, 52, 54 



181 



Contributors 

Jessie Lie Farber is a founder of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies and a former editor of its Newslet - 
ter . 

Dr. Gregory Jeane is Associate Professor of Geography 
at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. His special in- 
terest has been researching the material culture of the 
Southern rural landscape. He is the author of numerous 
papers on Southern cemeteries and a frequent lecturer 
on the topic. He is currently at work on a book about 
Southern rural cemeteries as a land use phenomenon. 

Robert L. McGrath is a professor of Art History at Dart- 
mouth College. Former chairman of the department, he 
has written widely on Medieval as well as American art. 

Deborah A. Smith is Curator of Advertising and Documen- 
tary Papers at The Strong Museum, Rochester, New York. 
She holds a Masters from the Winterthur Program in Early 
American Culture at the University of Delaware and fre- 
quently lectures on tombstones, cemeteries, funeral cus- 
toms and death attitudes during the nineteenth century. 

Nancy Hunter Warren is a photographer and Lab Coordina- 
tor for the Museum of New Mexico, Laboratory of Anthro- 
pology in Santa Fe. She has extensively exhibited and 
published her photographs, including New M exico Style; 
A Source Book of Traditiona l Architectura l Details 
(Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1986). 

David Watters teaches English at the University of New 
Hampshire and is the author of "With Bodilie Eyes": 
Eschatologica l Themes In Puritan Literature and Grave- 
stone Art . 

Richard F. Welch, a doctoral candidate in History at 
SUNY, Stonybrook, is a teacher and historian on Long 
Island. Among his several published works in the field 
of gravestone studies is Memento Mori; The Gravestones 
of Eaily Long isl.arid 1680-1810 . 



182 



Also of Interest from 

University Press of America and 

The Association for Gravestone Studies 



Markers II 

Edited by David Walters 

Markers III 

Edited by David Waiters