Skip to main content

Full text of "Markers"

See other formats

Markers V 





SUITE #264 

DANBURY, CT 06811 

Markers V 

Journal of 
the Association for 
Gravestone Studies 

Edited by 

Theodore Chase 


Copyright © 1988 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 

"Md. by Thomas Gold: The Gravestones of a New England Carver" 
copyright © 1988 by Meredith M. Williams and Gray Williams, Jr. 

ISBN (Perfect): 0-8191-6869-6 (pbk. : alk. paper) 

ISBN (Cloth): 0-8191-6868-8 (alk. paper) 

LCN: 81-642903 

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

paper which exceeds the minimum standards set by the National 

Historical Publications and Records Commission. 


Theodore Chase, Editor 
David Walters, Associate Editor 

John L. Brooke James A. Slater 

Jessie Lie Farber Richard F. Welch 

Manuscripts may be submitted for review to Theodore Chase, 74 Farm 
Street, Dover, Massachusetts 02030. Manuscripts should conform, so far as 
possible, to The Chicago Manual of Style and may be accompanied by glossy 
black and white photographs or black ink drawings, tables or maps. For in- 
formation about other Association for Gravestone Studies publications, 
membership and activities, write to Rosalee Oakley, Executive Director, 46 
Plymouth Road, Needham, Massachusetts 02192. 

The editor wishes to thank the members of the editorial board, and par- 
ticularly his predecessor, David Watters, for their advice and help in the 
selection and editing of articles for this edition of the journal. The editor is 
grateful to Carol Davidson for preparing the copy and layout. 

Articles appearing in this journal are annotated and indexed in Historical 
Abstracts and America: History and Life. 



"Md. by Thomas Gold": The Gravestones of a New Haven Carver 1 

Meredith M. Williams and Gray Williams, Jr. 
Pennsylvania German Gravestones: An Introduction 60 

Thomas E. Graves 
Early Pennsylvania Gravemarkers 96 

Photographs and text by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber 
Ontario Gravestones 122 

Darrell A. Norris 
Research Report on the Graveyards of Kings County, Nova Scotia 150 

Deborah Trask and Debra McNabb 
Poems in Stone: The Tombs of Louis Henri Sullivan 168 

Robert A. Wright 
Seven Initial Carvers of Boston 1700-1725 210 

Theodore Chase and Laurel K. Gabel 
Contributors 233 

Index 235 




■^' J- «'' «. Wi^/safi^-jaaifii&v. 

Figure 1. Elizabeth Sinclair, 1785, New Haven. 
Unless otherwise noted, all stones are attributed to Thomas Gold, and are in 


Meredith M. Williams and Gray Williams, Jr. 

In the middle of New Haven, Connecticut, across Grove Street from the 
campus of Yale University, lies the New Haven Burying Ground, better 
known as the Grove Street Cemetery. It was founded in 1796, and most of 
its graves are of the 19th and 20th centuries. But it also contains a substan- 
tial number of earlier gravestones, some erected in the cemetery itself, some 
propped up against the northern and western walls. These were moved from 
an earlier burying ground on New Haven Green, a couple of blocks away, 
and make up one of the largest collections of 18th-century stones in Con- 

Many of these stones, dating from the 1770s to 1800, share a distinctive, 
easily recognizable style (figure 1). The carving is simple, linear, and highly 
styHzed, yet skillful and refined. The head of the soul effigy is a smooth, 
symmetrical oval - nearly round in earlier examples, narrower and more 
egg-shaped in later ones. Within this frame, the features are relatively small, 
the close-set eyes and narrow, unsmiling mouth conveying a rather worried- 
looking expression. The feathers of the flanking wings are rendered as curv- 
ing parallel bands, decorated with a pattern of repeated S- or C-shaped inci- 
sions. Between the shoulders of the wings, and sometimes touching them, is 
fitted the "Crown of Righteousness" typical of Connecticut carving. The in- 
scription is usually bordered on each side by a panel containing a foliage 
design: a fern fiddlehead at the top, surmounting stylized buds and leaves. 
The same design continues across the base, in the middle of which is a 
small, neat heart (figure 2). 

To find the name of this carver is not difficult. In the former chapel of 
the cemetery, now its office, is preserved his single signed stone (figure 3). 
A fairly elaborate example of his work, it is the memorial of Caleb 
Hotchkiss, killed in a punitive raid by the British in 1779. Below the main 
inscription appears "Md. by Thos. Gold." 

Figure 2. Detail of Elizabeth Sinclair stone, showing heart design 
in bottom border. 

a reputable Citizen, and | 
la man of Religion.whoj 
I was flain. by the enerip| 
\; when they inveOed- : 7 
land plundered thelbwn 
»5of NewHaven.Jiily ^^ 
I the f^'A) I77Q. in the68 \ 
l^JYear of Iiis ag'e. 

H M^ by-tbofCold '^ 

Figure 3. Caleb Hotchkiss, 1779, New Haven. Signed by Thomas Gold. 
Rubbing by Anne Williams and Susan Kelly. 

Thomas Gold was a popular and prolific carver. There are almost 170 of 
his stones at the Grove Street Cemetery alone, and his work is strongly rep- 
resented in the graveyards of New Haven and Fairfield counties, with sub- 
stantial groups as far off as Woodbury in Litchfield County to the north, and 
Long Island, New York, to the south. We have counted well over 600 
stones that can be safely attributed to him, and our list is not complete (see 
Table 1). Moreover, the fragmentary nature of several of these stones sug- 
gests that there may once have been many more than now survive. Without 
question. Gold was the leading sculptor of this particular area in the last 
part of the 18th century. 

Surprisingly little has been written or published about Gold. In 1974 
Morris Abbott outlined the main elements of his style, in a pamphlet based 
on the stones in the Milford Cemetery.^ In 1976, David Corrigan published 
a biographical sketch,^ and later provided further information to Richard 
Welch, included in the latter's study of Long Island gravestones.-' Perhaps 
most important of all, the indefatigable Ernest Caulfield made extensive ob- 
servations of Gold's work, and did invaluable research on Gold's probated 
stones; his notes were unpublished at his death, but fortunately have been 
preserved by James Slater.'* 

But none of these researchers attempted an evaluation of Gold's entire 
career, or of the variations in his style (such as his excursion into neoclas- 
sicism, in his last years). None attempted to identify the influence of the 
carver Michael Baldwin on Gold's early career, or the significant influence 
of Gold, in turn, upon the neoclassic carver David Ritter. And none at- 
tempted to separate Gold's own work from that of possible associates and 
imitators. This essay is intended to fill in some of the gaps, and to 
demonstrate Gold's place in the history of Connecticut carving. 

The Documentary Record 

Thomas Gold was not a prominent person in ISth-century Connecticut. 
Only a few documents, such as census reports, church birth and death 
records, and land and estate records, provide us with sketchy details of his 
life and career. He was born in the coastal town of Stratford in 1733.^ He 
came from a family of ministers: his father, Hezekiah, was a Congregational 

minister in Stratford, and his mother, Mary Ruggles, was the daughter of the 
Reverend Thomas Ruggles of Guilford. His only brother, Hezekiah, two 
years his senior, led a congregation in Cornwall. Thomas, however, did not 
train for the ministry, and consequently did not attend Harvard (as his 
father had) or follow his brother to Yale.^ In 1755, he married Anna (or 
Anne) Smith of Redding, and lived there at least until the death of his 
father in 1761; the latter's will mentions a "son Thomas at Redding."^ Some 
time after, he moved to nearby Danbury; from there, in 1772, he moved to 
New Haven.^ 

Gold arrived in the company of a congregation of Sandemanians ~ that 
is, followers of Scottish theologian Robert Sandeman.' At the time of his 
death, the inventory of Gold's possessions listed "2 vol. Theron," referring to 
Letters on Theron and Aspasio, Sandeman's most influential treatise, pub- 
lished in 1757.^° Essentially fundamentalists, the Sandemanians rejected the 
concept of a salaried ministry. Instead, they established independent con- 
gregations led by groups of "elders," basing their services upon the literal 
reconstruction of devotional practices described in the Bible. They also in- 
sisted that their members give to charity all but the most essential portion of 
their income.^^ 

The Sandemanians discouraged communication with other denomina- 
tions. The rift between their church and the orthodox Christian community 
is evident in a Connecticut Journal advertisement of March 5, 1773, which 
announced "Proposals for Reprinting by Subscription, a Discourse on Jus- 
tification by Faith Alone by Reverend Jonathan Edwards, esteemed by the 
best judges to be an excellent antidote to many erroneous doctrines 
prevalent in the country, both Arminian and Sandemanian." ^^ Moreover, 
Sandemanian adherence to scriptural commandments regarding obedience 
to rulers would translate, during the Revolution, into continued loyalty to 
the Crown, causing further conflict between the sect and its Connecticut 

Gold probably belonged to one of the "Dozen Sandemanian Families" 
reported by Ezra Stiles to have settled in New Haven in the spring of 1772, 
under the leadership of elders Titus Smith and Theophilus Chamberlain, 
both Yale-educated ministers.^"* Gold was closely affiliated with Chamber- 

lain, with whom he purchased a small lot in 1774, presumably a storefront, 
as it was only 30 feet wide and faced the Town Street.^^ In a lawsuit brought 
against Sam Spelman of Wallingford, the two men referred to themselves as 
"Gold and Chamberlain, Merchants in Company," and a biography of 
Chamberlain confirms that he "kept a country store for a short time (in 
company with Thomas Gold in 1774)."^^ 

But about the same time. Gold was also carving gravestones. The 1775 
probate record for the estate of Abner Judson (who died in 1774) includes 
the following: "Paid to Thomas Gold for gravestones," and the amount: 3 
pounds, 18 shillings. ^^ 

It is quite likely that, like other carvers. Gold supported himself with 
more than one occupation. For instance, fellow stonecutter Michael 
Baldwin, who was established in New Haven from about 1769, was at the 
same time a blacksmith, rate collector, tavern keeper, real estate investor, 
and landlord. Baldwin did very well from his combined occupations. In ad- 
dition to large land holdings, he left an estate worth 1510 pounds at his 
death in 1781}^ 

In 1777, the Sandemanians rejected a demand by the Connecticut legisla- 
ture that they pledge to refuse aid to the British military effort. There is no 
evidence that the Sandemanians had actually collaborated with the British, 
but they wouldn't promise not to. As a result, many were forced to leave 
New Haven for British-occupied New York.^^ Gold may have been one of 
the group of Sandemanians who were reported by Ezra Stiles to be 
"embarking for Long Island" in November.^" 

That Gold did indeed leave Connecticut during the war is at least sug- 
gested by the probate record for John Brooks of Stratford, who died in 
March 1777 (See Appendix A). The stone Gold carved for him (figure 6) 
can safely be assigned to this period, as will be shown later. But Gold did 
not get paid for his work until 1788; perhaps the long delay was in part the 
result of extended absence from the area. 

Gold appears to have returned to Connecticut even before the war for- 
mally ended. Probate records indicate that he was paid to carve a stone for 
Edward Hawley of Stratford in 1782. He received payment for the stone of 
Samuel Willcockson, or Wilcoxson, the following year, and the probate 

records document eleven more payments from customers in the New Haven 
area, right up until the year of Gold's own death in 1800. Incidentally, the 
spellings in these records suggest strongly that his name may have been 
pronounced "Gould" (see Appendix A). 

After the war. Gold appears to have settled again in New Haven. Land 
records of 1789 show a transaction between Gold and Mary MacLean of 
Windsor, for "a certain brick house in the city of New Haven," located on 
Fleet Street, which extended from the corner of what are now State and 
George Streets.^^ This house can be traced back in land records through 
Mary MacLean's family; it can also be found on the 1748 plan of New 
Haven, under the name of one of her ancestors, John Prout. The following 
year, 1790, Gold relinquished one sixth of his claim to "Mary (Sloan) Mac- 
Clean,"^^ but he continued to occupy the house. Described as Gold's dwell- 
ing in the inventory of his possessions at his death,^^ it was probably his 
workshop as well, for it contained "Grave Stones, [valued at] 40 [pounds];" 
as well as "2 Hammers, Gimblets and Brush," valued at 2 shillings 
altogether; "one Stone," possibly a grindstone, "3 [shillings];" and "Engraving 
Tools, 9 [shillings]." 

In 1796, Gold also purchased, for 30 pounds, five acres on "ye Oyster 
Point;"^ he may have been attempting to supplement his income by engag- 
ing in the oyster trade that developed after the war.^ In any event, he sold 
the land two years later, at a profit of five pounds.^^ 

Gold died March 22, 1800, at the age of (flP His estate was valued at 
221 pounds, 12 shillings - a relatively small amount, compared with the es- 
tate of Michael Baldwin 13 years earlier. Gold was evidently not as active a 
businessman, and perhaps he had taken to heart the Sandemanian admoni- 
tion not to "lay up treasures on earth." He was survived only briefly by his 
wife, who died two months later.^ There is no record of any children, al- 
though the 1790 census lists a second white female (possibly a servant) in 
the household.^^ 

Figure 4. Abner Judson, 1774, Stratford. Probated stone. 

Early Works -- The Baldwin Influence 

The stone for Abner Judson (figure 4), for which Gold was paid in 1775, 
is the eariiest existing stone for which a probate record is available. It is the 
work of an already accomplished, fully professional carver, and how Gold 
came to such command of his craft is something of a mystery. The only 
stones that might be described as novice works form a group of about half a 
dozen small examples located in Danbury (where Gold lived up to 1772) 
and in nearby Bethel. They are all made of a coarse, pinkish-gray local 
stone, which was probably cheap, and would have made good practice 
material. It was not very durable, though, and weathering has made most of 
these stones almost totally illegible. 

The best-preserved of this group, the stone for Eliakim Davis in Bethel 
(figure 5), closely resembles the Abner Judson stone in design. It is much 
smaller, though, and its surface, even before weathering, must have been 
very rough. It is dated 1776, and none of the others in the group carries a 
date earlier than 1774. If these do indeed represent early works, carved 
before Gold moved to New Haven, then he must have lettered them years 

later ~ possibly when he got customers for them from among his former 

The Abner Judson stone has Gold's typical foliage border, described ear- 
her. The soul effigy, however, differs from Gold's usual style. Similar effigies 
appear on several other stones of the 1770s, such as the probated stone for 
John Brooks, who died in 1777 (figure 6); the stone for Gold's sister Hulda 
Curtis and her infant daughter, who died in 1765 (figure 7); and the multi- 
effigy stone for the six children of his sister Mary Tomlinson, bearing the 
date 1771 (figure 8). The faces, and even more so the wings, of these effigies 
strongly resemble the work of Michael Baldwin (figures 9-11). Baldwin was 
15 years Gold's senior, and had been an established stonecutter in New 
Haven since 1769. It would have been quite natural for Gold to have 
modeled his early work on Baldwin's, as much to maximize his chances of 
selling his own work as to master the gravestone craft. 


Figure 5. Eliakim Davis, 1776, Bethel. 


Figure 6. John Brooks, 1777, Stratford. Probated stone. 

Figure 7. Hulda Curtis and infant daughter, 1765, Stratford. 


'.,- 'it 

. ♦«>^. V. S»i A'rffcipi 

y J 


Figure 8. Mary Alice Tomlinson, 1771, and five other Tomlinson children, 


There is one other styHstic element that Gold might have derived from 
Baldwin: the use of linear drawing and simple, flat planes, in place of three- 
dimensional modeling. Not necessarily, though: this simplified, rather 
diminished style is typical of late 18th-century carving in general, and there 
are plenty of other examples that Gold might have seen. It may have been 
the result of economic pressures rather than lack of skill or talent - the 
linear style would have been quicker to execute, and therefore more 
economical. In at least one instance, as we shall see, Gold demonstrated 
that he was quite capable of carving in subtle relief when he wished to do 

The association between Gold and Michael Baldwin may have been 
closer than mere influence and imitation. Baldwin's dwelling house was on 
the Town Street, as was Gold's store.^ Gold carved a stone for one of 
Baldwin's sons, who died in 1776. And when Baldwin himself died, in 1787, 
Gold carved his stone as well (figure 38). 

Figure 9. Ebenezer Silliman, 1775, Fairfield. 
Probated stone by Michael Baldwin. 


Figure 10. John Miller, 1770, New Haven. 
Attributed to Michael Baldwin. 


i\i ■ : 

< ^^■- 

^^f^rAi%v^^^%vf. ^m^^m 


( iinicK ^) ) 

L^i^^ t^LLi.LL»»J. f- 

\ / [ n : 

Figure 11. Job Prudden, 1774, Milford. 
Attributed to Michael Baldnin. 

But from the beginning, there were distinctive differences in Gold's style, 
even when he was imitating Baldwin. Although the general configuration of 
the faces might be similar, Gold made his features smaller in proportion to 
the head, and almost never put pupils in the eyes. Furthermore, Baldwin 
often extended the central septum of the nose downward in a distinctive 
loop, almost suggesting a ring between the nostrils (figure 11), a device 
never used by Gold. And although Gold sometimes adopted foliage borders 
rather like Baldwin's (figures 5-8), they are generally simpler, and less in- 
cisively carved. 

The lettering styles of the two carvers, though basically similar, also differ 
in recognizable ways. In general, Baldwin's lettering style (figure 10) is 
broader, more spontaneous, and less uniform than Gold's. Baldwin's charac- 
ters tend to be more deeply carved, with more pronounced serifs, so that the 
bases of his letters, especially his f s, form triangles. Baldwin's numeral 8's 
are twice the x-height, while Gold's stay within this limit. Unlike Baldwin, 
Gold often carved his 5's and 3's with exaggerated diagonal slashes. Gold 


often inserted a joined and italicized "AD" before the date of death, a 
device seldom used by Baldwin. And whereas Gold's italic f s are nearly ver- 
tical, Baldwin's slant dramatically forward. 

Even more important is a difference in the basic layout of the inscrip- 
tions, which results in differences in certain key letters. Both men lightly 
scribed parallel rows of horizontal guidelines before starting to chisel the 
characters. Weathering has often obliterated these lines, but they remain 
quite evident, for example, on Baldwin's slate stone for Job Prudden (figure 
11). Baldwin's guidehnes are evenly spaced, so the ascenders and descend- 
ers are the same size as the x-height. Gold, apparently to separate the lines 
of characters more distinctly, drew his guidelines with shortened spaces for 
the ascenders and descenders. Consequently, Gold's g's and y's tend to be 
noticeably shallower and stubbier than Baldwin's. 

Figure 12. Rebeckah Tomlinson, 1774, Stratford. 
Attributed to Michael Baldwin. 


Despite these differences, there are a few works, such as the stone for 
Rebeckah Tomlinson (figure 12), where it is difficult, if not impossible, to 
make a firm attribution to either carver alone. Did Gold and Baldwin work 
together, either as partners, or as apprentice and master? Without 
documentation, one cannot say for sure. 

Early Works -- Other Influences 

Side by side in the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven are the graves- 
tones of John and Mary Howell, who died within three months of each 
other in 1776 (figures 13 and 14). Since the stones are about the same size, 
one may presume that they were carved together, as a pair. Both also dis- 
play the typical Gold border, and Gold's characteristic lettering style. 

The stone for John Howell is so similar, in every respect, to the probated 
Abner Judson stone (figure 4) that it could be attributed to Gold on that 
basis. The soul effigy on the stone for Mary Howell (figure 14), however, is 
rather different. The head is larger and more oblong, and is surmounted by 
a band of stylized hair. The wings do not at all resemble Baldwin's, but are 
composed of parallel bands symbolizing rows of feathers, with individual 
feathers suggested by repeated S-curves. In this particular example the 
wings join under the chin, and are connected by a round, buttonlike knot. 
Since all the other details correspond so exactly with those on the com- 
panion stone, it seems safe to attribute this one to Gold as well. But it is 
evident that he was following other models besides Baldwin in these early 

Earlier stones in the New Haven area suggest what these models might 
have been. The stone for Elisabeth Willford in Branford (figure 15) is typi- 
cal of a number of works by an unknown Connecticut carver active in the 
1750s and 1760s. The banded wings of the soul effigy, with their S-shaped 
feather marks, and the crown that fits neatly between them, are very similar 
to those carved by Gold. Even more important, this carver seems to have 
provided the model for Gold's distinctive foliage border. Gold's own 
rendering of all these motifs, though, is at once more abstract, more refined, 
and more skillful - qualities that are hallmarks of his style. 


Figure 13. John Howell, 1776, New Haven. 

Figure 14. Mary Howell, 1776, New Haven. 

Figure 15. Elisabeth Willford, 1758, Branford. Carver unknown. 

Another unknown artist, who carved the Roswell and Huldah Woodward 
stones in East Haven (figure 16), may have given Gold the idea for the 
wings joined under the chin -- or both he and Gold might have been draw- 
ing from some other source. In any event, it is plain that Gold, like virtually 
every other carver of his time, developed his own style by imitating and im- 
provising upon the work of others, and that, in the early part of his career, 
he experimented with a variety of motifs. 

On the basis of the Mary Howell stone (figure 14), a number of others 
dated in the 1770s can be attributed to Gold. Some resemble the Howell 
stone in every detail, such as the stone for Gold's brother-in-law Agur Tom- 
linson (figure 17). In some, such as the stone for David Perkins (figure 18), 
the banded wings appear to sprout from the sides of the head. A few dis- 
play unusual variations, such as the elaborate, turbanlike crown that appears 
on the stone for Benjamin Douglas (figure 19). And although most share 
Gold's typical border, some - particularly some small stones for children - 
contain a quite different design: a simple, curvilinear vine-and-leaf pattern 
(figure 20). This design, as we shall see later, becomes important in at- 
tributing still another body of work. 


Figure 16. Huldah Woodward, 1773, East Haven. Carver unknown. 

Figure 17. Agur Tomlinson, 1774, Stratford. 


WTD Perkints' 
_.iecl Oc to 
]C) in the 
■■ of his A^c 

Figure 18. David Perkins, 1776, Woodbridge. 

Figure 19. Benjamin Douglas, 1775, New Haven. Detail of tympanum. 


Figure 20. Elias Parmele, 1773, New Haven. 

One stone in this style is of particular interest in light of Gold's connec- 
tion with the loyalist Sandemanians. Among several memorials that Gold 
carved for the Sanford family in Redding is one for Daniel Sanford and his 
son Jeremiah, both of whom died in the summer of 1777 (figure 21). 
Jeremiah, the inscription reads, "died a Prisoner in New York." It seems 
most unlikely that Gold would have been given this commission if he had 
been known as a strong supporter of the British. The stone suggests that 
Gold's loyalty to the Crown may have been lukewarm at best, and that he 
may have retained his personal ties to his American neighbors. 

It would also explain why he was able to return to Connecticut as the war 
was ending - many other New Haven Sandemanians emigrated either to 
Canada or other parts of New England.^^ It might also explain why he was 
able to become an even more popular carver there than before. As noted 
earlier, there is probate-record evidence of his presence as early as 1782, 
when he executed the stone for Edward Hawley in Stratford (figure 22), and 
in 1783, when he was paid for the stone of Samuel Willcockson (figure 23). 

Figure 21. Daniel and Jeremiah Sanford, 1777, Redding. 


The stone he carved and signed for war victim Caleb Hotchkiss (figure 3), is 
very much like Willcockson's, and appears to have been done about the 
same time. Perhaps Gold made a point of signing that particular stone to 
demonstrate his political neutrality, and to advertise to potential customers 
that he was "back in business." 

These stones of the 1780s display slight but distinct changes in Gold's 
style. The lettering remains much the same, except for a wider lower-case y. 
The distinctive foliage border is indistinguishable from those carved earlier. 
The most noticeable change is in the proportions of the soul effigy: the head 
becomes narrower, and so do the features within it. The head and wings 
are often set off from the rest of the stone by a deeply chiseled trench. The 
crown is more widely flared, and there is the suggestion of a small heart 
shape in the center, seeming to echo that in the bottom border. The feather 
marks on the wings are shaped like C rather than S. And in the postwar 
works, the wings, without exception, start at the sides of the head, and no 
longer appear joined beneath the chin. This last is an especially important 
change, as will now be shown. 

Figure 22. Edward Hawley, 1782, Stratford. Probated stone. 


Figure 23. Samuel Willcockson, 1783, Stratford. Probated stone. 

Figure 24. Ruth Beard, 1778, Derby. 
Attributed to the Derby Carver. 


The "Derby Carver" 

There are at least 60 stones that can be safely identified as Gold's work 
up through 1777 (see Table 1, p. 54). More than 70 others bear dates as 
early as these, but are plainly in Gold's postwar style, and presumably back- 
dated. In addition, there is still another group of some 48 stones, bearing 
dates from 1773 to 1788, which in the past have usually been attributed to 
Gold.^^ For several reasons we question this attribution, and believe that 
the stones should be assigned to another carver. 

The most striking characteristic of the group as a whole (figures 24-30) is 
the face shape of the soul effigy. The head is quite round, with a narrow, 
almost pointed chin. The eyes, particularly in the later examples, are much 
larger, and the nose broader, than the same features in Gold's work. Al- 
though the overall effect does not look radically different from the various 
soul-effigy forms carved by Gold himself, it is nonetheless distinctive. 

Another different motif is a border that appears on several of these 
stones (figure 24). Superficially, it looks like the curved vine designs that 
Gold occasionally used (figures 20, 31, 32), but comparison shows that it is 
far more angular, spiky, and crude in execution. 

In one other aspect of design, these stones depart at least partly from 
Gold's work. On every stone in this group, from early to late, and without 
exception, the wings meet under the chin in a buttonlike knot. The same 
design can be found on a number of Gold's prewar stones (figures 14, 17, 
21), but we have never found it on any of his stones dated after 1777, 

There are also some slight but recognizable differences in lettering style. 
The bells of letters such as lower-case p and b, and capital D, are widened 
and flattened at the bottom ~ giving them a rather bottom-heavy look. 
Capital A tends to be somewhat wider, and has a higher crossbar than is 
usual on Gold's stones. Capital H is definitely wider, and its crossbar never 
displays the "star" motif that Gold often uses. Particularly distinctive is 
lower-case italic h: it is so rounded at the bottom that it could easily be 
taken for b. 

In general, the lettering in this group of stones seems to be somewhat 
sloppier and more prone to error than the lettering on stones that can be at- 
tributed to Gold. Not that Gold did not make mistakes. On the stone for 


his sister Hulda, for instance (figure 7), he left out the r in "memory," and 
made no effort to correct it. Likewise, on the stone for Daniel and Jeremiah 
Sanford (figure 21), "his" is misspelled "whis," again with no effort at cover- 
up or correction. Nonetheless, the lettering in this special group seems to 
have an even higher proportion of errors, combined with a tendency to cor- 
rect them with clumsy overwriting, as, for example, on the stone for 
Elizabeth Royce (figure 25). 

Finally, although probated stones form only a small percentage of the 
hundreds of works that can be ascribed to Gold, it is perhaps significant that 
not one of them is in the style of this special group. In any event, all the 
evidence adds up to suggest that these stones are by another hand. 

But we do not know whose hand it might be, and we must acknowledge 
that this other artist must have been closely associated with Gold, at least in 
the 1770s. The stylistic differences in such elements as lettering are subtle 
rather than obvious, and there are several early works by the unknown car- 
ver that include such Gold "trademarks" as his foliage border, topped with 
fern fiddleheads (figure 25). 

Moreover, at least one stone, the stone for Mindwell Rice (figure 26) ap- 
pears to have a design carved by Gold, but lettering in the style of the 
unknown carver. Conversely, the elaborate stone for Anne Williams (figure 
27) has the soul effigy typical of the unknown carver, but it also has the 
typical Gold border, and its long inscription seems to have been lettered by 
Gold. Our belief is that the unknown carver worked with Gold at least oc- 
casionally before the war, but then struck out completely on his own. 

This hypothesis is given some support by evidence from geography and 
dating (see Table 1). Stones of the 1770s by the unknown carver appear in 
a number of graveyards in and around New Haven. In some places, such as 
New Haven itself. East Haven, and Wallingford, the unknown carver and 
Gold are both well represented. But other graveyards which contain a num- 
ber of early Gold stones have few or none by the unknown carver; these in- 
clude Stratford, Woodbridge, Danbury, and Redding. And still others con- 
tain several works of the unknown carver, but few or no early works by 
Gold himself; these include North Haven, Northford, Fairfield, and Derby. 


• - w. 

f\| In JV/femoi 
' P^lizabi:tha 

.**-K^'-i' - •«S'%.'SI??,i,. . ' 

Figure 25. Elizabeth Royce, 1775, Wallingford. Attributed to the Derby 
Carver. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

Figure 26. Mindwell Rice, 1776, Meriden. Decoration attributed to 
Thomas Gold. Lettering attributed to the Derby Carver. Photograph by 
Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 


Figure 27. Anne Williams, 1776, Northford. Decoration attributed to the 
Derby Carver. Lettering attributed to Thomas Gold. 


IP^-l^^.w^.-:^^:;'.-./ .•:/» 

Figure 28. Joseph Hull, 1775, Derby. Attributed to the Derby Carver. 


Derby stands out in particular. The Old Burying Ground there contains 
half a dozen stones by this carver, and no early stones by Gold at all. One 
stone, moreover, the elaborate memorial for Joseph Hull (figure 28), is 
among the finest examples of the unknown artist's work. We therefore call 
him, for convenience, the Derby Carver. 

After the war, when Gold's work turns up in a much wider range of Con- 
necticut communities, stones by the Derby Carver appear almost entirely in 
New Haven, plus single examples in East Haven and Milford (figure 30). 
There are none at all dated after 1788, whereas Gold kept on carving right 
up to 1800. Moreover, the Derby Carver's stones of the 1780s are much 
more uneven in quality than those carved before the war, whereas Gold's 
own work became even more expert and refined. 

Figure 29. Wilhelmus Stoothoff, 1783, Brooklyn, New York. Attributed to 
the Derby Carver. Photograph by Richard Welch. 


There is also some rather special evidence from New York. In the 
general vicinity of New York City, there is a small group of stones by the 
Derby Carver, bearing dates from 1778 to 1783 (figure 29). In contrast, 
there are no corresponding stones that can be attributed to Gold himself 
(see Table 1). It appears that although Gold may have gone to New York 
during the war, he may not have done any carving there; whereas his as- 
sociate - whether or not he was a Sandemanian - not only relocated in 
New York, but continued to carve there at least until 1783. 

Figure 30. Susannah Miles, 1788, Milford. 
Attributed to the Derby Carver. 


This is a subject that needs further research - especially in areas such as 
New York and western Connecticut where the Derby Carver may have 
worked on his own, and where he seems to have had a number of imitators. 
Further documentary research might still produce his name, or else incon- 
trovertible proof that we are mistaken, and that Gold himself was the carver 
of these stones. From the evidence available to us, however, we judge that 
virtually all of them are the work of an early associate of Gold, who worked 
with him before the war, went to New York during the war to continue carv- 
ing independently, and returned to New Haven afterward, ending his career 
in the late 1780s. 

Postwar Works 

As mentioned earlier, probate records place Gold back in Connecticut in 
1782. We do not know whether he went straight back to New Haven; there 
is no record of his having bought property there until 1789. The probated 
stones of 1782 and 1783 are both for citizens of Gold's home town of 
Stratford; perhaps he settled there for awhile. 

But without question, he became even more active as a carver than he 
had been before the war. There are 60 stones of the 1770s that can be at- 
tributed to him; from the postwar years, between 1782 and 1800, the num- 
ber approaches 600 (see Table 1). 

It is evident that Gold's reputation spread more widely as well. His work 
of the 1770s is largely concentrated in those communities where he lived 
and had personal contacts: New Haven, where he first established himself as 
a professional carver; his home town of Stratford; the village of Redding, 
where he lived for several years following his marriage; and Danbury, where 
he lived before moving to New Haven. But substantial numbers of his 
postwar stones appear in many other communities of New Haven and Fair- 
field Counties, including Branford, East Haven, West Haven, North Haven, 
Northford, Woodbridge, Bethany, Milford, Shelton, and Newtown. They also 
turn up over a much wider area, including several across Long Island Sound 
in Suffolk County, New York. 

The main elements of Gold's postwar style have already been sum- 
marized. In general, his work of the 1780s and 1790s shows greater profes- 


sional polish and standardization. He no longer carved imitations of 
Michael Baldwin, except for occasional footstones (figure 31). He did 
design a new and even more graceful curved-vine border design, with 
tendrils ending in three leaves or berries; he used it mainly on relatively 
small works such as footstones and the memorials for children (figure 32). 
On stones of the later 1780s and after, he sometimes used much simpHfied 
borders (figure 33), or none at all. 

One unusual and rather curious design that appears on a few of Gold's 
postwar stones is a pair of joined heads (figure 32), used exclusively for the 
double memorials of children. What the source and meaning (if any) of this 
device were we do not know; it seems to convey a rather touching sense of 
spiritual kinship. Perhaps, though. Gold used it simply to cut down on the 
amount of carving needed for two complete images. 

Figure 31. Footstone for Alice Wyatt, Fairfield. 


Figure 32. Mary Gilbert, 1758, and Rebecca Gilbert, 1776, New Haven. 

Figure 33. Lydia Thompson, 1786, New Haven. 

The lettering on the postwar stones is somewhat more even and uniform, 
but continues to be unusually afflicted with typographical errors. The 
problem arose out of Gold's customary working procedure: he appears not 
to have laid out his inscriptions in advance. Instead, he "wrote with the 
chisel," usually starting at a fixed left margin, and adjusting the spacing be- 
tween letters and words as he went along. It is a tribute to his craftsman- 
ship that the results turned out as well as they did. 

Sometimes Gold made a kind of first draft, engraving the inscription 
lightly, and then going back over it, to correct any mistakes the second time 
around (figure 34). Sometimes, if the lettering was carved lightly, he could 
"erase" a mistake by grinding down the area in which it occurred and then 
carving over it. But he could almost never conceal the insertion of a missing 
letter (figure 35), and sometimes his corrections are embarrassingly crude 
(figure 36). 

s^k'" ^ 




Figure 34. Thomas Beecher, 1787, Woodbridge. Detail of inscription. 



Figure 35. Mabel Bradley, 1798, Woodbridge. 

31.. -A^ V • ,♦,-' ' \ i- 

■■:■* V. -' : 

Figure 36. Ebenezer Sherman, 1764, Stratford. 

Economics played a part: the bigger and more expensive stones generally 
contain fewer errors. On some of these, all or part of the inscription is cen- 
tered, which probably required more advance preparation, and provided 
more opportunity to catch mistakes before they were, quite literally, 
engraved in stone. But there are exceptions even here. For example. Gold 
was commissioned to carve a fairly imposing set of headstones and 
footstones for Ebenezer and Esther Hickok of Bethel. It is plausible that 
Gold received his intructions in writing, and misread the family name as 
"Hiekok." He rendered it thus, in unambiguous capitals, and then had to 
amend it, on all four stones (figure 37). 

As before the war. Gold carved quite a range of stones, in terms of both 
size and complexity of design. The simplest were footstones, and modest 
stones for small children. At the other end of the scale were tablets that 
were larger and more elaborate than just about any he carved earlier. One 
of these is the monument for the carver who originally inspired him, 
Michael Baldwin (figure 38). As on other large stones, the usual crown is 
replaced by a stylized keystone, so that the tympanum recalls the broken- 
pediment form often used in rococo architecture; this is in fact a device that 
Gold borrowed from Baldwin (figure 9). 

Particularly in Gold's postwar work, certain verses turn up over and over. 
Some of these were part of the standard repertoire, such as the verse often 
appearing on monuments for children: 

Sleep, lovely babe, and take thy rest. 

God called thee home because He thought it best. 

But in some instances, the choice may reflect Gold's personal taste, such as 
the following quotation from Revelations (XIV, 13), which appears, either 
complete or abridged, on many of Gold's stones: 

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Even so, saith the Spirit, 
for they rest in their labors and their works shall follow them. 


Figure 37. Ebenezer Hickock, 1774, Bethel. 

Figure 38. Michael Baldwin, 1787, New Haven. 


And there is at least one verse for which we have been unable to find either 
a literary source (other than a general reference to Revelations), or any 
other appearance in gravestone carving: 

The Woman's Seed Shall Bruise the Serpent's Head, 
And Christ Shall raise his Servants from the Dead. 

Such examples suggest that Gold may have supplied his customers with 
choices in verses as well as in decorations. 

In the 1790s, Gold made further slight alterations to his standard soul ef- 
figy. The heads become even narrower, the chins more pointed, and they 
are often set off from the background by a double outline. Sometimes small, 
stylized ears are added. On the wings, there are more crescent-shaped 
marks to suggest feathers. Below, the lettering tends to be laid out with 
more attention to spacing and centering. The probated stone for Mary 
Merwin (figure 39), is a good example of these characteristics. 






> ■-> 



Figure 39. Mary Merwin, 1797, Milford. Probated stone. 


Mary Merwin's headstone and footstone are significant in one other 
respect: they are executed in slate. This was a very unusual material for 
Connectictut carvers, and Gold appears to have come upon it only late in 
his career. 

From the 1770s and into the 1780s, Gold, like most other carvers of 
central Connecticut, worked almost exclusively in sandstone. We do not 
know exactly what his sources were, but there were sandstone quarries in 
the New Haven area, plus a number of well-known ones in the Connecticut 
River valley. In the 1780s, Gold used not only several varieties of the com- 
mon red sandstone, but an unusual yellow form as well (figure 32), relatively 
durable, but with an unhappy tendency to discolor. 

Then, starting as early as a probated stone for Benajah Peck in Bethany, 
paid for in 1787, Gold began working in marble as well. At the time 
marble, with its associations with classical antiquity, doubtless seemed both 
more elegant and more permanent than sandstone. Several of Gold's 
monuments bear inscriptions like this: "Engraved in Marble is the Memory 
of Agur Judson, Esqr." (figure 40). Unfortunately for Mr. Judson and for 
Gold, marble suffers from our acid climate, and decomposes far more 
rapidly than sandstone. Almost all of Gold's marbles are rough, granulated, 
and nearly illegible. 

Could Gold have known this would happen? Almost certainly not. Yet 
the ruin of his marble stones was hastened and aggravated by the particular 
kind of stone he used. Furthermore, the nature of the stone was evident at 
the time Gold cut it. 

We know this from a uniquely preserved group of stones located in the 
crypt of the Center Church on New Haven Green. As indicated earlier, the 
Green was used as the city burying ground until the end of the 18th century. 
Many of the stones were then moved to the new Grove Street Cemetery - 
but not all at once. In 1813, when famed New Haven architect Ithiel Town 
built Center Church in the middle of the Green, that part of the old burying 
ground was apparently still intact. So the foundation walls of the church 
were simply built around it, and the first floor raised high enough to form a 
crypt beneath. And there the stones of the old burying ground have 
remained, in their original positions, ever since. 


■'^.Iy'u"-' W'.. -. -'i-'-^KH 

<<a''''V;' -..r Ins a,ce'.\ 

Figure 40. Agur Judson, 1791, Shelton. 


Among the more than 150 stones, there are 29 that can be attributed to 
Gold (including two probated examples - see Appendix A). Eight of these 
are of marble, and since none can have been much over 25 years in the 
open air, they look as if they had just been carved. And they are beautifully 
crafted. The surfaces are milled to a satiny smoothness; the chisel work is 
crisp and even. No wonder Gold was attracted to this material, and was able 
(or so the probate records suggest) to charge a premium price for it. 

But if you look closely, you can see that the marble Gold used is not 
homogeneous. Rather, it is composed of granules in a matrix of less durable 
material. It is this matrix which has eroded worst in the outdoor stones, 
ravaging the carving, and leaving the surface rough, grainy, and so 
downright ugly that one could hardly imagine why the material was ever ap- 
pealing -- were it not for the pristine stones in the crypt. 

Some time in the 1790s, Gold added slate to the materials in which he 
worked. We do not know where he obtained it; neither slate nor marble 
were quarried nearby. Michael Baldwin used slate for at least one stone, 
possibly backdated 1774 (figure 11). The slate used by Gold is fine-grained 
and well preserved, and ranges in color from a light gray-blue to an even 
lighter, creamy gray with a slightly greenish tinge. Slate suited Gold's 
meticulous style, and in it he executed some of his finest works. 

An unusual and revealing example is the stone for Eunice Cook, dated 
1794 (figure 41). Virtually all of Gold's soul effigies are basically linear and 
two dimensional, with little effort at modeling. This is a remarkable excep- 
tion. The wings and crown are typical, but the face is much more realistic 
than usual, and skillfully modeled in low relief. On the shoulders, also in 
low relief, are delicately carved oak leaves. The design is clearly an imita- 
tion of the sophisticated slate monuments carved in the Boston area, and 
may have been modeled upon the stone for Gold's father, which bears a 
similar face (figure 42). Presumably the stone was a special commission, 
made for a customer who wanted a stone of the Boston type, but who for 
some reason did not choose to import it. In any event, it demonstrates that 
Gold was familiar with cosmopolitan styles, and was quite capable of execut- 
ing more sophisticated work if he chose to do so. 



FBrfi. ^/(uiiv Wife (^^^ 

Figure 41. Eunice Cook, 1794, Woodbridge. 

Figure 42. Hezekiah Gold, 1761, Stratford. 
Attributed to Boston area carver. 



NV" Martha Poni^ 

ihc Aumhlc CcMiiori ol 

f] r. lh.:n:)iicjn 
-.1 )\:}in\V()rk' 

Figure 43. Martha Pond, 1797, Milford. 

Figure 44. Martha Miles, 1797, Milford. 

Neoclassic Stones 

From the beginning of his career, Gold had carved crowned soul effigies 
of the typical Connecticut form. But starting with a stone dated 1793, he 
began to carve a neoclassic design as well: a cinerary urn in three- 
dimensional relief, surmounted by a ropelike swag and two stylized flowers 
(figures 43, 45, 46). There is no evidence of experiment or transition - no 
cautious attempt to incorporate the new motif into his traditional designs. 
He did not even use his trademark foliage border on these stones, but only 
a simple band or a beaded edge. The stones are completely of the new style, 
with its patriotic associations between the young American republic and its 
noble antecedents in ancient Greece and Rome. 

Gold did not make a complete switch to the new style: he continued to 
carve soul effigies, and he carved both designs in sandstone, marble, and 
slate (see Table 2). For example, there is a group of five stones at Milford 
whose general proximity to one another, and whose similar inscriptions (all 
begin with the curious wording, "Entomb'd is here deposited the Dear 
remains of...") suggest that they all formed part of a single family commis- 
sion. They include both urn and soul-effigy designs in slate, and a soul effigy 
in sandstone (figures 43, 44). 



^3 \i^M 

Sac J'ccI 

to tlic nicni(^ry of 

Deacon JamivS Giuu-rrr 

v^ho departed tins Life 

Dec '■ \f /P lyga 

m tlic 

\ ' ■ )V {\[ hi 


He Suftainc fi tiu ',i:> ^ i ' -. ' " ■ ■ 

Aw Ilia.'liie in:' 

unci .U^l^r 




Figure 45. James Gilbert, 1798, New Haven. Probated stone. 




t ' ... ^ 


Figure 46. Tympanum of James Gilbert stone. 

The only probated example of Gold's urn design may well have been his 
last commission (figures 45, 46). On February 27, 1800, he was paid four 
pounds ten shillings for the memorial of Deacon James Gilbert, and he 
himself died a month later, on March 22, The stone is an especially fine ex- 
ample of his work, crisply and elegantly carved in slate pale enough to sug- 
gest marble. The lettering, both in layout and execution, is notably har- 
monious and graceful. If this is indeed Gold's last work, it demonstrates that 
his skill and talent remained undiminished right up to the end of his life. 

After Gold's death, his brother-in-law Levi Hubbard was appointed to 
administer his estate. He was succeeded by two of Gold's nephews, who at- 
tended to its final settlement. Apparently Gold had no children, and his wife 
died two months after he did.^^ The items of greatest value in the inventory 
of his property were his house, valued at 90 pounds, and 40 pounds' worth 
of gravestones.^ The house was sold to David Ritter, who belonged to the 
third generation of a family of Connecticut stonecutters.^^ Ritter also ap- 
pears to have acquired Gold's unfinished gravestones. What happened to 
them forms a fascinating postscript to the story of Gold's career. 


The Ritter Connection 

Despite the large number of stones that can be attributed to Thomas 
Gold, there is little evidence of the aid of any associate or apprentice. There 
are two exceptions. One is the anonymous Derby Carver, discussed earlier, 
who was apparently associated with Gold toward the beginning of his 
career. The other is a carver whose name we do know, and who became 
significant at the end of Gold's career. 

In the Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven, the stone for Lydie At- 
water (figure 47), has a tympanum and border that are plainly carved by 
Gold. But the lettering, with its shorter proportions and wider serifs, is by 
another hand entirely. The same carver attempted some soul effigies of his 
own (figure 48), at once more realistic and more clumsy than Gold's elegant 

This carver later became much more skillful, in the neoclassic style. But 
his lettering remained essentially the same. From his signed works (figure 
49) we can identify him as David Ritter, the man who bought Gold's house. 

Figure 47. Lydie Atwater, 1784, New Haven. Decoration attributed to 
Thomas Gold. Lettering attributed to David Ritter. 


Figure 48. Jonathan Cutler, 1776, New Haven. Attributed to David Rltter. 

Figure 49. Chloe Meigs, 1788, Madison. Signed by David Ritter. 


Starting in the 1790s, David Ritter, like Gold, began carving urn designs, 
often surmounted by swags and flowers (figure 50), But there are notice- 
able differences in detail between Ritter's and Gold's renderings of the 
same basic design. These differences are significant, as will be shown. 

At Grove street is a rather mysterious stone for two children of the Ives 
family (figure 51). The tympanum is decorated with a pair of typical Gold 
soul effigies, but the inscription bears a date in 1801, about a year and a 
half after Gold's death. The lettering provides the solution to the puzzle: it 
is by Ritter, and the stone is evidently one of those he bought, already 
decorated but not yet lettered, from Gold's estate. 

It was, of course, customary for carvers to prepare an inventory of 
decorated stones, which could later be lettered for specific customers. That 
Gold followed this practice is suggested by a decorated but uninscribed 
stone in East Haven (figure 52): it is the size of a headstone, but was in- 
stead used as a footstone and never lettered. 

Figure 50. Elias Carrington, 1800, Milford. Attributed to David Ritter. 

Figure 51. Sally Ives, 1801, and Mariah Ives, 1795, New Haven. Decoration 
attributed to Thomas Gold. Lettering attributed to David Ritter. 


Figure 52. Headstone used as footstone for Mehetabel [last name illegible], 
1790, New Haven. 


The stone for the Ives children is not the only one decorated by Gold and 
then inscribed by Ritter. In the East Side Cemetery at Woodbridge, for ex- 
ample, is a handsome slate, decorated with an urn and swag, inscribed for 
Amadeus Newton, who died in 1799 (figure 53); another, just like it, in- 
scribed for William Hart and also dated 1799, is in the Central Cemetery in 
Wallingford. The lettering on each is in Ritter's characteristic style, and 
makes such a harmonious combination with the tympanum decoration that 
one might suppose that Ritter carved the whole. But if one compares other 
urns by Ritter (figure 50) with those by Gold (figure 46), the differences be- 
come apparent. Ritter's urns are squatter and less three-dimensional; they 
have a differently shaped base, and usually lack sprouts of willow at the 
sides, or coiled, ribbonlike swags around the shoulder. Also, the flower blos- 
soms on Ritter's swags have only one set of petals, whereas Gold's always 
have two concentric sets. Almost without question, the Newton and Hart 
stones were decorated by Gold, and were part of the inventory purchased by 
Ritter for "recycling" (see Table 2, p. 55 and Appendix B). 

Figure 53. Amadeus Newton, 1799, Woodbridge. Decoration attributed to 
Thomas Gold. Lettering attributed to David Ritter. 


Figure 54. Thomas Gold, 1800. Decoration attributed to Thomas Gold. 
Lettering attributed to David Ritter. Signed by David Ritter. 


Finally, there are the stones for Gold himself (figure 54) and for his wife, 
who outlived him by only a couple of months. Both are of eroded marble - 
Anne Gold's has become almost illegible. Ritter actually signed the marker 
for Thomas Gold. But again, close examination of the tympanum urns, 
despite their poor condition, reveals that they are not by Ritter, but by 


If for no other reason, the very size of Thomas Gold's output would 
make him a significant figure in the history of American gravestone carving. 
Without question, he was the most heavily patronized carver in his area, 
particularly in the period from the end of the Revolution to 1800. 
Moreover, his work documents important shifts in popular taste, as tradi- 
tional dark sandstone gradually gave way to lighter-colored slate and 
marble, and the traditional soul effigy was supplanted by neoclassic imagery 
such as the cinerary urn. 

But Gold's work deserves attention on aesthetic grounds as well. Provin- 
cial Connecticut gravestones of the last decades of the 18th century are 
sometimes rather casually dismissed, not only when measured against stones 
produced in cosmopolitan centers such as Boston and Newport, but also 
when compared with stones by carvers of earlier generations. But the work 
of Gold makes this judgment seem overly severe. His style is unquestionably 
spare and economical, sacrificing intricacy of workmanship to simplicity and 
ease of execution. The same can be said of much "country" furniture, ar- 
chitecture, and other arts of the period. It may result, as we have suggested 
earlier, more from economic limitations than lack of skill or talent. But 
other criteria are perhaps just as important: coherence and harmony of 
design, mastery of craftsmanship, refinement of taste, and individuality of 
style. Measured by these standards. Gold's work has considerable merit. 
We hope that this survey will awaken interest in an artist hitherto largely 


J3 > 

^^Our)C3lOOO^a-OC3>— 1»— 'OOOlO«a-CsiC3C3<NJCM.— lO^ 

I— a> 

■4-) I— O 

<MOO^ar-oo>— <^vor--cocMrocooooor^Lr)Oco<£>oocT>oocvio 

CVJ I— I I— li-HCO LnCTli-HCVJCVJt— !•— Ii— 1^- CVJLOi— I 

^cvif— locNJcO'— "csooocvjioioi— i^HC\jLr>c3C300cvico 

o o i— I 

1— lOOJi— iC3i— 1"*000 

cMLnoO"— looocvj-— locoo 

o o 
en o 
r^ 00 

cnomroomiooi— icvj^crto^^coooo-— lOO-— icr>i— ii— « 


CM <n 

00 00 


(W S- CVJ 
TJ O 00 
Ji^ 14- 1^ 

O OJ 1— I 

to CO 

I— I CO CM ^ CO O ' 


ocMOCD^a-ocMOOOi— loinoi— ii— iooooo«a-ocMO 








>> « 




c c 

c -o 

3 « 

C 0) s- 

C Q) o?5 

O -l-> 

0) -O C > -O TU O 

Q) C7> 

(_) •.- 

-OQ) >r— "O OJfOS- 5-4- 

> -D >) 



>» S-S->> n3(l)S-CC-0>CX:OC7lS-C001 

«0 -r- S- 


^ o 

Ci— o-r-s- ^-i-ooajs-nsx '4-C30U-C: 

o: s- 3 


.— Q. 

«OQjM-.c:3>, i4-'>-o-i->-t->-- 

J3 X) 


O O 

X:jCCO0X).Q+JS-.— •«-•■-'+- +J+J+J-OE,— (tJr- 

-t-> "O T3 

M- S- 

+->+j<o<Dcs-(/i •.-•.- -OS-.— 2Ss-i--o>>a)S-i— 

00 O O 

S 14- +-) 




3 0) 


z: 00 z: 

Explanation of Table 1 

The first category is made up of stones in both of Gold's prewar styles. All 
are sandstones, and none bears a date after 1777. 

The second category is of sandstones that bear dates earlier than 1782, but 
are in Gold's postwar style, and presumably backdated. 

The next two categories cover the rest of Gold's postwar sandstones, from 
1782 to 1800. Some of those bearing dates in the 1780s are probably back- 
dated, but precise stylistic distinctions between works of the 1780s and 1790s 
are hard to make. 

The undateable sandstone fragments not only lack dates, but are in such 
poor condition that they cannot be dated by style. 

The marbles are all in Gold's postwar style. Most appear to be works of the 

The slates are all clearly works of the 1790s. 

The stones attributed to the Derby Carver bear dates from 1773 to 1778. 
Only those of the mid- 1770s have borders in the styles of Gold or Baldwin, 
or display other evidence of collaboration with Gold. 

Table 2. Neoclassic (urn design) stones attributed to Gold 

East Haven 


New Haven 




West Haven 










* Includes one lettered by David Ritter. 


Appendix A 

Probate records of payments to Thomas Gold, from the notes of Ernest 
Caulfield, a copy of which is in possession of the authors. Amounts are in 
pounds, shillings, and pence. The present locations of the stones are 
referred to when known. 

David Lattin, paid 1750: "To Mr. Gold" 0-14-6. 

(Stratford; stone not found. Also recorded is a payment of 1-6-6 "To Wm 
Lampson"; the Lamsons were wellknown carvers in the Boston area. Pay- 
ment to "Mr. Gold" may have been for erecting the stone, or a fee to 
Thomas Gold's father, the Rev. Hezekiah Gold, for conducting the funeral.) 

Kate Leavitt, paid 1760: "To Thomas Gold" 3-19-6. 

(Fairfield; stone not found. A rather mysterious record, since there is no 

evidence of any Gold stones carved so early.) 

Abner Judson, died 1774, paid 1775: "Paid to Thomas Gold for grave 
stones" 3-18-0. 

(Old Burying Ground, Stratford. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design. The 
first existing stone for which there is a probate record.) 

John Brooks, died 1777, paid 1788: "To Tomas Gould for Grave Stones" 


(Old Burying Ground, Stratford. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design. The 

stone appears to have been carved in 1777, and paid for later.) 

Edward Hawley, paid 1782: "To Cash paid Mr Thomas Gould for Grave 

Stones" 2-2-0. 

(Old Burying Ground, Stratford. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design.) 

Samuel Willcockson ("Wilcoxson" in probate records), paid 1783: "Thomas 

Gold for tomb Stons" 3-4-0. 

(Old Burying Ground, Stratford. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design.) 

Benajah Peck, died 1785, paid 1787: "To Mr Gold for Grave Stones" 5-0-0. 
(Old Cemetery, Meyers Road, Bethany. Badly worn marble, soul-effigy 

Chauncey Whittelsey, paid 1787: "Thos. Gould" 8-2-0. 

(Crypt of Center Church, New Haven, Marble, soul-effigy design.) 

John Tappen ("Tapping" in probate records), died 1793, paid 1794: "Nov 2 

To Mr Goold for grave stones" 1-16-0. 

(Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design.) 

Jonathan Fitch, died 1793, paid 1795: "Deer. 1 To paid for Grave Stones to 

Thos Gould" 7-16-0. 

(New Haven; stone not found.) 

Joseph Humaston, paid 1795: "To Mr Gould for gravestones" 1-19-0. 


(Hamden Plains Cemetery, New Haven. Red sandstone, broken and mostly 

Andrew Smith, paid 1796: "To Thomas Gold" 2-14-0. 
(New Haven; stone not found.) 

John Smith, paid 1796: 'To Cash paid Mr Thomas Gold for Grave Stones" 


(New Haven; stone not found.) 

Stephen Trowbridge, paid 1796: "To Cash pd Thomas Gould for Grave- 
Stones" 2-8-0. 
(Crypt of Center Church, New Haven. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design.) 

Mary Merwin, died 1797, paid 1799: "Thos Gold to one pare of grave 

Stones" 3-0-0. 

(Milford Cemetery. Slate, soul-effigy design.) 

Thomas Mansfield, died 1798, paid 1800: "To Mr Thomas Gould for two 
sets of Grave Stones" 7-7-0. 

(North Haven. Thomas Mansfield stone is noted by Caulfield as broken, 
and is now missing, but stone for Hannah Mansfield [died 1798], possibly his 
wife, remains. Red sandstone, soul-effigy design.) 

Deacon James Gilbert, died 1798, paid 1800: "Feb 27 1800 to paying Mr 
Goold for Grave Stones" 4-10-0. 

(Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven. Slate, urn design. Caulfield com- 
ments, "Must have been his last -- died March 1800.") 

Appendix B 

Stones with decoration attributed to Thomas Gold, and lettering attributed 
to David Ritter. 

Lydie Atwater, 1784, New Haven. 
(Red sandstone, soul effigy design.) 

Jabez Backus, 1794, New Haven. 
(Marble, urn design.) 

Sally Ives, 1801, and Mariah Ives, 1795, New Haven. 
(Slate, soul effigy design.) 

Thomas Gold, 1800, New Haven. 

(Marble, urn design. Signed by Ritter. Appears to be one of a pair, along 

with stone for wife Anne Gold.) 

Anne Gold, 1800, Newtown. 
(Marble, urn design.) 


Isaac Foot, 1799, Northford. 
(Slate, urn design.) 

Matthew Dick, 1801, Wallingford. 

(Slate, urn design. Appears to be one of a pair, along with stone for 

Amadeus Newton.) 

Amadeus Newton, 1799, Woodbridge. 
(Slate, urn design.) 


1. Morris W. Abbott, Old Tombstones in Milford Cemetery, or Styles in Steles, (Milford, 
Connecticut: 1974). 

2. David J. Corrigan, "Symbols and C2irvers of New England Gravestones," Journal of the New 
Haven Colony Historical Society, Spring 1976 Vol. 25 no. 1 (New Haven: New Haven Colony 
Historiccd Society), p. 13. 

3. Letters from David Corrigan to Richard F. Welch, April 30 and May 31, 1982. Richard F. 
Welch, Memento Mori: The Gravestones of Early Long Island (Syosset, New York: Friends 
for Long Island's Heritage, 1983), p. 60. 

4. Ernest Caulfield, unpublished notes and writings, in the possession of James A. Slater, 
Mansfield Center, Connecticut. 

5. Corrigan, "Symbols and Carvers," p. 13. 

6. Donald Lines Jacobus, History and Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield, Vol. II (New 
Haven: Tuttle Morehouse and Taylor & Co., 1932), p. 53. 

7. Corrigan, "Symbols and Carvers," p. 13. 

8. Letter from Corrigan to Welch, April 30, 1982. 

9. Ibid. 

10. Williston Walker, "The Sandemanians of New England," Annual Report for the American 
Historical Association, 1901 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1902), p. 

11. Ibid, p. 144. 

12. Advertisement, Connecticut Journal (New Haven, March 5, 1773), p.l. 

13. Walker, "The Sandemanians," p. 156. 

14. From Ezra Stiles manuscripts, quoted in Walker, "The Sandemanians," footnote p. 155. 

15. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 34, p. 508. 

16. Franklm Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, Vol. 3 
(New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1903), p. 107. 

17. List of probated stones from Caulfield's notes. Reproduced in Appendix A. 

18. Caulfield, unpublished notes on Michael Baldwin. 

19. New Haven Colony Historical Society, History of the City of New Haven to the Present Time 
(New Haven: New Haven Colony Historical Society), p. 532. 

20. From Ezra Stiles manuscripts, quoted in Walker, "The Scmdemanicms," footnote p. 155. 

21. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 43, p. 173. 

22. Ibid., Vol. 44, p. 81. 

23. Probate inventory, recorded April 1, 1800. 

24. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 44, p. 81. 

25. Elizabeth Mills Brown, New Haven: A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (New Haven: 
Yale University Press, 1976), p. 197. 

26. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 48, p. 53. 

27. Probate record, recorded April 1, 1800. Gold's gravestone in Grove Street Cemetery, which 


records his age at death as 68, is incorrect. 
28. Gravestone in Newtown Cemetery. 
29. 1790 Census Report for New Haven County, p. 103. 

30. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 35, p. 128. 

31. Walker, "The Sandemanians," p. 156-157. 

32. For example, Corrigan, "Symbols and Carvers," p. 13; Welch, Memento Mori, p. 59-60. 

33. Caulfield, unpublished notes. Also gravestone of Anne Gold, Newtown. 

34. Probate inventory, recorded April 1, 1800. 

35. New Haven Land Records, Vol. 53, p. 409. 


Much of the background material for this article comes not from published sources, but directly 
from individuals. We are deeply grateful to the following members of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies, who were unstintingly generous in providing information and advice. 

Alice Bunton, of Bethany, Connecticut, for information on the graveyards of New Haven 
County and of eastern Fairfield County. 

Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber, of Worcester, Massachusetts, for providing photographs from 
their collection, and for further information on Gold stones which they have recorded. 

Laurel Gabel, for photocopies of photographs in the Farber Collection, and for references to 
the Coimecticut researchers listed here. 

Jim Halpin of WalUngford, Connecticut, for information on the graveyards of New Haven 
County, particularly WalUngford and East Haven. 

Daniel Allen Hearn of Monroe, Connecticut, for information on the graveyards of central Fair- 
field County, pju-ticularly Danbury, Redding, and Newtown. 

Miriam Silverman, Curator of Trinity Parish, New York City, for information on the stones in 
Trinity and St. Paul churchyards. 

James Slater of Mansfield, Connecticut, for information on the Coimecticut Valley carving 
tradition and the Ritter family. Also for copies of the unpublished notes on Gold and Michael 
Baldwin by the late Ernest Caulfield. 

Richard Welch, of Huntington, New York, for information on the graveyards of Long Island 
and the New York metropolitcm area, and for photographs of stones in these graveyards. 

Anne WilUams and Sue Kelly, respectively of Darien and Stamford, Connecticut, for informa- 
tion on the graveyards in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, particuleu-ly the shore 
communities; and for permission to reproduce their elegant rubbing of the signed Caleb 
Hotchkiss stone, 1779. 

Also, we should like to thank Margaret Wixstead of Redding, Connecticut, for information on 
the graveyards of Redding. 

Finally, special thanks are due to Abbott L. Cummings of Yale University, for his suggestions 
and criticisms of the thesis by Meredith Williams on which this article is based. 



Fig. 1. St. John - Hill United Church of Christ, Berks County. 

(All photographs by the author.) 



Thomas E. Graves 

Starting with the arrival of the ship Concord on October 6, 1683, a flood 
of immigrants from Germany, Switzerland and parts of France began which 
would continue until the American Revolution.^ Some of these people 
settled in Germantown, others fanned out in an arc surrounding Philadel- 
phia which extended from what is now western Bucks to northern Chester 
Counties. The religious affiliations of these immigrants were varied, but can 
be classed into three main groups: the church groups, mainly Lutherans and 
Reformed (the latter now part of the United Church of Christ); the sec- 
tarian groups, the so-called plain people including the Amish and 
Mennonites; and, numerically the smallest, the communitarians, such as the 
society at Ephrata.^ A second wave of German immigration began in the 
1830s and continued through most of the century. This wave was even less 
homogenous than the first. These later immigrants mixed with the earlier 
ones only to a certain extent, with a greater percentage settling in urban 
areas or continuing to the midwest. Because of the differences in time, con- 
tinental origins, and settlement patterns, one of the accepted definitions of 
"the Pennsylvania Germans" includes only those who came in the first wave 
of migration and their descendants, including those who moved from Pen- 
nsylvania into Ohio, Maryland, Ontario, or other regions.^ 

This paper will discuss the evolution of the gravestones found in the 
graveyards of the church groups of Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon, Schuylkill, 
Lehigh and Montgomery Counties (Maps 1 and 2). These counties have the 
major historical settlements of Lutheran and Reformed Pennsylvania Ger- 
mans. The earliest stones in this rural region date from the 1740s, sixty 
years after the start of the German immigration.'' These stones are among 
the earliest surviving examples of Pennsylvania German gravestones be- 
cause some of the oldest graveyards in Germantown and other urban areas 
have given way to urban construction.^ Another reason for the lack of very 
early markers is that the earliest markers may have been made out of wood. 
Also, the earliest immigrants were the Mennonites.^ The Lutheran and 
Reformed congregations were formed later. Lutherans were living in 


Map 1. The Pennsylvania Counties included in this study 

Map 2. Graveyards visited for this study 

Germantown before 1700. The Lutheran (1717) and Reformed (1725) con- 
gregations, formed at Falkner Swamp, also known as New Hanover, in 
Montgomery County, are among the earliest congregations for these 
denominations in this country.^ Few pre-revolutionary stones remain in the 
yard of the old Trappe Lutheran Church which was built in 1743. Bricker- 
ville Lutheran Church in Lancaster County was formed in 1730, Hill Union 
Church in Berks County in 1731 (Fig. 1), Muddy Creek Union Church in 
Lancaster County in 1732.^ Because of the size of this region, the focus of 
the discussion will be on broad cultural trends, leaving out those which oc- 
curred within a single community or congregation. 

The earliest stones in many cemeteries are often the plainest with poorly 
executed decoration and text, but such stones may be found with later dates 
if the families could not afford better (Fig. 2). In many graveyards, 
however, the fieldstone and roughly executed markers disappear by 1800. A 
small, roughly lettered sandstone marker with no decoration from the 
graveyard of Zion Lutheran "Red" Church in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, 
for example, has simply: 

lacob . Weis Jacob Weis 

Den (7?) Nofember The (7th?) November 

1795 1795 

Note the phonetic spelling of "November." One of the earliest dated stones 
at the Muddy Creek Lutheran Church graveyard is a small stone with a 
rough "flat heart" (a heart based on circles) with no downwards indentation 
at the top. Inside this heart are the initials "C E L." Over the heart is the 
date 1757. 

Often these "primitive" stones are shaped like the fancier ones but have 
crude lettering; others are finely executed but are small and have minimal 
information carved on them. On some graves the headstone is missing, 
leaving just the footstone. These footstones must not be confused with plain 
or primitive headstones. In Eastern Lebanon County wrought iron crosses 
were used occasionally during the second half of the nineteenth century.' 
Wooden markers have also been used, but most of these have decayed and 
disappeared. Two wooden markers were still extant at St. Jacob's 


Fig. 2. This marker starts with a stark "HIER LEGT begraben" (Here lies 
buried). In the arch is a tulip, one of the most popular of the folk motifs, 
and the date "1746." Above the date are the letters "G" and "B." These let- 
ters probably stand for gebomen (born): this person, Andereas Herb, was 
born in 1746. He was 13 years, 8 months, and 20 days old when he died. 
He awaits the resurrection of his saviour Jesus Christ (UND WARDET DER 
above ground says "GESTORBEN DN23..." (He died the 23rd). The top of the 
death date (1759) can just be seen on the next line. St. John - Hill United 
Church of Christ, Berks County. 


(Kimmerling's) Church in Lebanon County when McDonald did his study of 
Lebanon County gravestones in 1975.^° Any inscription which might have 
been on these stones has long since weathered away. They were upright 
boards with the tops cut to follow the style of stone markers. Lewis Miller 
made a drawing of the York, Pennsylvania, Potters Field in 1808. In this 
drawing there are many crosses which were probably made of wood.^^ A 
few wooden crosses are still standing in the Bally, Pennsylvania, Catholic 

The most conservative element on Pennsylvania German gravestones is 
the textual material which forms the epitaph carved on the face. Typical is 
the epitaph on this child's stone: 

Hier Here 

ruhet im Gott rests in God 

Maria Wrenerin Maria Wren 

1st Geboren den 14ien Born the 14th 

October, 1790 Starb of October, 1790 Died 

den 19ien July, 1794 the 19th of July, 1794 
(Hill Church, Berks County) 

The phrase im Gott does not always appear; however, the rest of the in- 
scription is the basic text format for epitaphs on Pennsylvania German 
stones into the early twentieth century. The birth date is as important as 
the death date and is rarely omitted. The carvers recreated in stone the 
German lettering used in German language publications and on fraktur, the 
Pennsylvania German illuminated manuscripts. At least one of these car- 
vers, Daniel Peterman of York County, 1797-1871, was also a schoolteacher 
who produced fraktur.^^ 

To the biographical kernel, additional information was often added. 

Hier ruhet Here rests 

Samuel J. Dondore Samuel J. Dondore 

Eatte den Husband to 

Maria Eine geborne Maria who was born 

Strauss Strauss 

Geb. den 5 Marz Born on the 5th of March 

1845 1845 

Starb den 18 Decem. Died the 18th of December 

1870 1870 

Alt 25 Jahr 9 Mon., 13 T. Aged 25 years, 9 months, 13 days 


Text Jesaias 60 V 20. Text Isaiah chapter 60, verse 20. 

(Bernville, Berks County) 




^^ If i'\''f£ • -5*^ ljf<S •^'. '^ •*< ^ ^^1 






?/^r n 











Fig. 3. This stone for Susan Seipel is a mid-nineteenth century example of 
use of the rosette, or "hex sign" motif. The epitaph starts with "ZUM AN- 
DENKEN AN" (To the memory of). She was born (her maiden name was) 
Bhom and was the wife of John Seipel. She was born the 8th of July, 1813. 
She lived in marriage 9 years and 4 months and had 3 children and died 
the 22nd of February, 1844 aged 30 years, 6 months, and 25 days. St. 
Paul's Union Church, Trexlertown, Lehigh County. 


Often the person's age will be spelled out to the day. The "spousal" or 
"family" biography names the husband or wife and usually one or more of 
the following items: the wife's maiden name, the year the couple was 
married, the number of children, the number of children of each sex, and 
the number of grandchildren (Fig. 3). Any children who died before the 
parent and were buried in the same family plot may be listed or mentioned, 
but this is not common. If the person was unmarried, the stone sometimes 
names the parents. Frederick S. Weiser, in his article discussing the 
relationship between the artistic genres of birth and death and their impor- 
tance to the Pennsylvania Germans, points out that this form of biography is 
also found on Pennsylvania German Geburts- und Taufscheine (birth and 
baptismal certificates).^^ In at least one case the same text is contained on 
both the birth and baptismal certificate and the gravestone. Weiser calls 
the biographical epitaph typical, but in the geographical region examined in 
this study the extended biographical epitaphs appear only on a quarter to a 
third of the stones. A further connection between Taufscheine and 
tombstones is that some families would add the death dates, and sometimes 
the marriage dates, to the baptismal certificate.^'* 

Verses, sayings, and hymns forming part of the epitaph are generally rare 
on Pennsylvania German gravestones. There are, however, micro-regions, 
consisting of one or more graveyards, such as St. Paul's Union Church near 
Trexlertown, where this form is more abundant. If there is anything in addi- 
tion to biographical data, there may be the biblical reference for the sermon 
given at the funeral service. Although it is more common in these cases to 
head the biblical reference with Text, some stones have Leichen Text 
(funeral text). In the Brickerville Lutheran churchyard the term Leichen 
Text occurs frequently, 

Denkmal Memorial 

fiir for 

Aaron Nester, Aaron Nester, 

Sohn von Son of 

Daniel u. Esther Daniel and Esther 

Nester. Nester. 

Er war geboren den 22. He was born the 22nd of 

Juni 1825. Starb den 14. June, 1825. He died the 14th of 

Sept. 1857: war alt 32 September, 1857: He was aged 32 


Jahre, 2 Mon. und. Years, 2 Months and 

22 Tage. 22 Days. 

Leichen Text: I Cor. 15, 31. Funeral Text: I Cor. 15, 31 
Ich Sterbe taglich. I die daily. 

(Hill Church, Berks County) 

In Samuel Dondore's epitaph, quoted above, the reference is to a verse 
from Isaiah which, in the King James version, reads: 

Thy sun shall no more go down, 

neither thy moon withdraw itself: 

for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, 

and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. 

If a verse does appear, it is usually the first line of the listed Bible 
reference, as on the stone for Aaron Nester, above, or on the stone for Wil- 
liam Faust, whose funeral sermon was based on Job 7, verse 16: "I would 
not live always." Sometimes the hymns used at the funeral service are also 

Henry Nester Henry Nester 

Geboren Aug. 20. 1817 Born August 20, 1817 

Starb July 28. 1892 Died July 28, 1892 

Alt Aged 

74 Jahre. 1 1 mo. 74 Years, 1 1 Months 

8 Tage. 8 Days. 

(The following lines are inscribed in the 
open Bible above Henry Nester's Name) 

Text: Johan 14. 19. Text: John 14. 19. 

Lieder No. 153. 167. Hymns No. 153. 167. 

(Hill Church, Berks County) 

The form of epitaph considered thus far is found consistently from 
colonial times to the early twentieth century. A different form of biography, 
giving the details of immigration, was sometimes used in the late eighteenth 
and early nineteenth centuries among the Pennsylvania Germans. Here we 
have the epitaph for a Swiss woman (Fig. 4): 


Fig. 4. An undecorated stone from the graveyard adjoining the Ephrata 
Cloisters in Lancaster County. Elisabeth Keller immigrated here from 
Switzerland and joined the cloisters. She died in 1787. 


Hier ruhet 
ein died der 
Gemeindein Ephrata 
Elisabeth Kellern 
Gebomen im hof, von 
im Canton, Basel. 
Geboren Feb. 2.1708 
Starb May 24.1787. 
Alter 79 Jahre, 3 monate 
und 22 Tage. 

Here rests 
a member of the 
Ephrata community, 
Elisabeth Keller 
Born in the town of 
in Canton Basel. 
Born February 2, 1708. 
Died May 24, 1787. 
Aged 79 years, 3 months 
and 22 days. 

(Ephrata, Lancaster County) 

The features of an immigrant biography include the immigrant's place of 
birth and sometimes, although not here, the year of immigration. This form 
of gravestone biography was used among the English-speaking population 
during the same period. 

Pennsylvania German fashion paralleled English tastes in the nineteenth 
century in many areas, including, for example, the design and ornamentation 
of furniture and domestic architecture. Most of the eighteenth-century 
Pennsylvania German epitaphs begin Hier ruhet (Here rests). Other early 
stones begin Hier Legt (Here Lies). These headings last in some areas into 
the 1870s. Beginning in the first decade of the nineteenth century, the 
forms Zum Andenken an (To the Memory of) and Denkmaljur (A memorial 
for) were used and became more common as the century wore on. This 
change follows a trend seen in English language gravestones away from con- 
cern with the physical remains of the dead person toward the memory of 
that person - a "cult of the memorial", what AriSs calls the age of the "death 
of the other."^^ 

Zum Andenken an 

Abraham Yoder 

Sohn von 

George u. Maria 


Geboren d.l2.Dec.l785: 

Verheirathete sich mir 

Elisabeth Yerger. 

Den 21 Mai. 1809. Zengien 

5 Sohne und 6 Tochter. 
Starb den S.April 1864. 

To the memory of 

Abraham Yoder 

Son of 

George and Maria 


Born the 12th of December, 1785: 

He married 

Elisabeth Yerger 

on the 21st of May, 1809. 

They begot 

5 sons and 6 daughters. 

Died the 5th of April, 1864. 


Alt 78 Jahre, 5 Mo. Aged 78 years, 5 months, 

und 23 Tage. and 23 days. 

(Hill Church, Berks County) (Fig. 5) 

Fig. 5. The marker for Abraham Yoder (d. 1864) has a complete biography 
of his married life. See text for translation. St. John - Hill United Church 
of Christ, Berks County. 


While the heading has changed from "Here Rests" to "To the Memory of," 
the format of the epitaph remains unchanged. The particulars of who the 
person was continue to be more important than how those particulars are 

Unlike the major part of the epitaph, the decorative carving on Pennsyl- 
vania German gravestones have continued to change and evolve into the 
twentieth century. Two sets of patterns have influenced each other while 
retaining their own flavor. The first form of decoration is derived from cur- 
rent high fashion of the period. Such forms as death's heads, skulls, and 
hour glasses appear on highly sculptured stones shaped and influenced by 
German baroque and rococo forms and design. The explicit death motifs 
are not common, but they stand out prominently among the other stones. 
Some of these early stones have decoration on both sides. Others use the 
reverse side of the stone for the placement of the religious text. Both Barba 
and Lichten illustrate gravestones from the German Palatinate which repre- 
sent the kinds of stones with which the early immigrants would be familiar.^^ 
Included on both the Palatinate and the early Pennsylvania German stones 
are ornate floral designs deriving from elite fashion rather than from the 
folk art floral motifs (Fig. 6). The majority of early Pennsylvania German 
stones are often made from red sandstone and are usually five to seven 
inches thick. The baroque forms give way to neo-classical ones as death's 
heads evolve into cherubs and angels (Fig. 7). The cherub motif was used 
into the mid-nineteenth century. Portraits are rare. 

The other decorative tradition relies on the motifs of Pennsylvania Ger- 
man folk art. Among the most mysterious of Pennsylvania German graves- 
tones are elaborately decorated stones with no textual material (Fig. 8). 
Most of these stones are decorated on both sides. They are found in Lan- 
caster County graveyards and have been mentioned by several early writers 
on Pennsylvania German folk art, often without comment. No one has ever 
discovered why they have no text or whose graves they mark, Preston A. 
Barba believes that these stones all had inscriptions but that they were so 
lightly inscribed that the epitaphs have weathered away.^^ A close inspec- 
tion of the markers (usually of sandstone) reveals that the ornamentation is 
deeply cut and that on most of them the unmarked areas are smooth with 


Fig. 6. Flowers on eighteenth-century Pennsylvania German gravestones 
were living, flovnng, and climbing plants. In the mid-1800s, the Victorian 
convention of cut flowers became popular. At the bottom of the marker, it 
states that the funeral text was taken from 1 Corinthians, verses 15 and 31, 
"I die daily" (Leichen-Text: 1 Cor. 15,31. Ich sterbe taglich). St. John - 
Hill United Church of Christ, Berks County. 


no uneven weathering. However, at the Muddy Creek churchyard there are 
some stones which appear to have been carved by the same person and 
which do have deeply cut decoration with the faintest remains of an epitaph. 
Another carver, for whom the moon was a favorite motif, carved stones 
which still have easily readable texts. Some of the stones at Muddy Creek 
appear to be by the same carvers as those without epitaphs but have a 
name, deeply cut and usually consisting of the first initial and the surname. 
John Joseph Stoudt has several examples of these stones but comments only 
on their "interesting designs" without discussing their lack of text.^^ Francis 
Lichten, one of the early writers on Pennsylvania German folk art, il- 
lustrates these stones, like Stoudt, without comment.^" 

Were these markers without epitaphs once painted? Did they mark the 
graves of suicide victims? Or were they carver's samples? All three 
theories have been raised, but we simply do not know the answer, although 
the first explanation seems the most likely .^^ There are simply too many of 


Fig. 7. A cherub with various fruits, including grapes and an apple. Pre- 
1800, but the date is sunk into the ground. St. John - Hill United Church 
of Christ, Berks County. 


Fig. 8. A carved stone without any text from Bergestrasse Lutheran 
Church, Lancaster County. The portrait is bordered by tulips and tulips 
sprout from the columns on the side. Date unknown. 


these stones to have served merely as samples or to have marked suicides. 
Some graveyards, such as that at the Bergestrasse Lutheran Church, have 
only a few of these stones. Muddy Creek churchyard has about two dozen, 
with a majority of the pre- 1800 full-sized sandstone markers without text. In 
Germany some forms of markers were painted, such as those of wrought 
iron and those placed inside the church. German wooden markers, at least 
in the nineteenth century, had both painted decorations and epitaphs. Did 
the tradition of painted markers in Germany date back far enough and did 
it exist in the Palatinate early enough to influence the early immigrants to 
Pennsylvania?^^ Further research into German scholarship or fieldwork in 
German graveyards might supply the answers. 

Among the more popular folk art motifs on these stones are "trees of life" 
{Lebensbaum), hearts, suns, moons, and stars. Several scholars of Pennsyl- 
vania German folklore and religion have theorized on the possible meaning 
of these motifs. Stoudt maintains throughout all of his works on Pennsyl- 
vania German folklore and folk art that the tree of life, which may have 
lilies, roses, or tulips, is a Christian expression of the joy of religious life and 
salvation.^^ He bases his conclusion on, among other reasons, the occur- 
rence of biblical and religious verses appearing with these motifs on fraktur 
and illumination. Among the verses he finds are ones from the Song of 
Songs and the Sermon on the Mount. Louis Winkler, in his gravestone in- 
stallment in a series of articles on Pennsylvania German astronomy and 
astrology, points out that the moon is most often shown with the cusps 
pointing either to the right or downwards. These moons are shown to be 
waning, "on the decrease," and therefore appropriate, in Winkler's view, for 
gravestones.^'* He notes that the half-sun found on some of the stones is 
ambiguous, for it could be interpreted as either a rising or setting sun. 
Some stones have arcs, either alone or with other motifs such as a heart or a 
tree of life. Barba, in what is still the only volume devoted solely to Pen- 
nsylvania German gravestones, interprets these arcs as representations of 
the Germanic Ur-bogen, the descending arc of the sun at the time of the 
winter solstice.^ The winter solstice is a time of death and rebirth, the old 
sun dies and the new one is born (Fig. 9). 


Fig. 9. A carved stone filled with astronomical symbols but completely lack- 
ing in text. The moon is pointing downwards and slightly to the right, rep- 
resenting the waning moon. Bergestrasse Lutheran Church, Lancaster 
County. Date unknown. 


Flowers, similar to those found on fraktur, often appear. Flat hearts are 
sometimes seen. Swirling, or curvilinear, swastikas are found. Barba sees 
this motif as representing good luck and a means of warding off evil, but he 
does not give a specific interpretation of its use on gravestones.^^ 

Stars and rosettes, designs found on Pennsylvania German barns and 
today called "hex signs," are common in some graveyards, almost nonexistent 
in others.^^ These motifs also vary with time, being found on eighteenth- 
century stones in some cemeteries, such as Brickerville, and on nineteenth- 
century stones in others, such as the "Red Church" in Orwigsburg. Ludwig 
interpreted rosettes as soul effigies.^ Rosettes are found on gravestones in 
most European countries and on stones and monuments going back many 
centuries. Objects with rosettes on them have been buried with the dead 
since at least the time of Mycenean Greece (1200-1500 EC). Before their 
use as "grave goods," these objects were diadems, pendants, and scales.^^ 
The rosette has had many other meanings and associations over the cen- 
turies, especially among the Germanic peoples, who have called the rosette 
a Glukstem (lucky star) or Gluckrad (lucky wheel). The six-pointed star was 
the symbol of "Frau Sonne" and "Frau Fortuna." As Lady Fortune, operat- 
ing the ever present wheel of fortune, the rosette (Fig. 3) is an appropriate 
motif for a gravestone, readily associated with the familiar memento mori 

The rosette also has ethnic connotations. Among the Pennsylvania Ger- 
mans the rosette is often found with other Pennsylvania German motifs such 
as the flat heart and stylized flowers. An increase in the use of rosettes oc- 
curred in the 1840s and 1850s, at a time when the German culture and lan- 
guage were under attack by the state of Pennsylvania. Templates with the 
rosette were popular during the first half of the twentieth century among 
both Protestants and Catholics. These templates illustrate the use of an 
ethnic identity marker in a mass produced item, the cemetery marker. 
These markers were selected by the relatives and then filled in with the 
deceased person's name and his birth and death dates. The context in 
which rosettes are found on Pennsylvania German gravestones suggests that 
this motif may have been used as an ethnic marker.-'^ 


Fig. 10. The willow was used throughout the nineteenth century among the 
Pennsylvania Germans, including the Mennonites. The epitaph reads "Here 
rests Peter Lang. Son of George and Elisabeth Lang. Born the 27th of 
February, 1792. Died the 30th of August, 1863. Aged 71 years, 6 months 
and 3 days." The carver's initials, "C.H.L.," appear in the lower right hand 
comer. C.H. Lautenbach of Schuylkill Haven was active in Southern 
Schuylkill County for several decades in the mid- 1800s. Zion Lutheran 
"Red" Church, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County. 


The decorations used on Pennsylvania German stones changed with the 
times, while the textual format and content remained the same. Thus in the 
nineteenth century Pennsylvania Germans adopted all the popular grave- 
stone designs. This is another area in which the Pennsylvania German 
fashions were influenced by English ones. But what was said about the 
dead remained constant. Willows appear shortly after 1800 and are found 
frequently through the 1860s and occasionally up to the end of the century 
(Fig. 10). Doves are common from the mid-century. Flowers, always 
popular among the Pennsylvania Germans, take many forms during the last 
half-century, both in arrangement and as individual flowers, including the 
rose, tulip, and the lily-of-the-valley. These flowers are often cut flowers, 
denoting a life cut off in the bud (Fig. 6). A wilted cut flower was some- 
times used for emphasis.^^ Eighteenth-century flowers on Pennsylvania 
German stones were more often growing vines resembling the common 
"tree-of-life" motif, although the "tree of life" reappeared at about the same 
time as the revival of the rosette. Wreaths, often used with Bibles, were 
popular at mid-century. Other motifs include the upraised hand, open 
Bibles, churches, pomengranates, and monuments which enclose the space 
of the grave. Open Bibles often contain the funeral sermon and hymn 
references. Angels often appear on mid-century stones. Sometimes the an- 
gel carries a little figure in its arms (Fig. 11). When the deceased is an 
elderly person, this tiny figure is obviously a soul effigy, as shown in prints of 
death-bed scenes from the same period.^^ 

Photographs, either daguerreotypes or more modern processes, appear 
but rarely. Most of the early stones which had photographs mounted on 
them have lost the photographs, leaving a blank depression where they had 
been set. These deteriorated stones can be interpreted only if it is known 
that photographs had been used. 

The Pennsylvania German Catholic community used the same textual 
format for their epitaphs and the same broad spectrum of motifs as the 
Protestants. However, a cross was usually added. The major Pennsylvania 
German Catholic graveyard, in Bally, Berks County, has the full spectrum of 
Victorian designs. 


Fig. 11. An angel bearing a soul effigy of Mariah Erb, who was 78 years old 
when she died in 1896. TTie epitaph contains the basic kernel of text which 
was carried over from German into English during the nineteenth century. 
St. John - Hill United Church of Christ, Berks County. 


The Pennsylvania Germans had their own version of the mid-century 
fashion of imitating typeset lettering. As with the equivalent English stones, 
several lettering styles, or fonts, were used on one stone. The fonts used on 
these stones, however, are an evolution of German script and type fonts 
rather than imitations of English typesetting styles. 

Eventually English came to be used on Pennsylvania German grave- 
stones. This change occurred at varying times for each community. At Ber- 
gestrasse Lutheran Church in Lancaster County, which has numerous 
elaborate eighteenth-century stones, the change occurred early, around 
1820, after which there is little difference between this cemetery and any 
non-Pennsylvania German cemetery. At Orwigsburg's Red Church and at 
Muddy Creek German was used to some extent until about 1900. In a few 
places, such as Bernville in Berks County, the use of German predominates 
throughout the nineteenth century, with some examples as late as the 1930s. 
In many communities the change occurred shortly before or during the Civil 
War period. 

The change in language did not mean a change in content. The epitaph 
continued to follow the same patterns outlined above. 

In Memory of 


Son of 

Daniel & Elizabeth 


Born July 30th, 1833. 

Died April 16, 1866. 

Aged 32 years 8 months & 

17 days. 

Text Psalm 39 v 8 & 11. 

(Zion Lutheran "Red" Church, Schuylkill County) 

The spousal biography was also used in English. 

Sarah Ann 
Wife of 

Frederick L. Turpin 
Nee Freyberger. 
And mother of 
Andrew W. Turpin. 
Born Dec 15, 1848. 
Died March 17, 1870. 


Aged 21 years 8 M. 2D. 
Text Matth 24:44 

(Bernville, Berks County) 

One of the early stones to appear in English was an adaptation of the 
immigrant's biography, the difference being that instead of Germany or 
Switzerland as the place of birth, the woman had immigrated from Lan- 
caster to Schuylkill County. The epitaph includes a spousal biography. 


Memory Of 
Susanna Kelley 
Daughter of Qrus and 
Catherina Numan who was 
born in Numanstown 
Lancaster County 
Pennsylvania in the year 
1770 and departed this 
life the 2nd October, 1828 
in her 38th year. She was 
married on the 22nd 
of January, 1808. 
May the soul of the 
Departed rest in 

(Zion Lutheran "Red" Church, Schuylkill County) 

It is interesting to note that both the place of Susanna Kelley's birth and 
death were later made parts of different counties. Numanstown became 
part of Lebanon County while Orwigsburg, in Berks County until 1811, be- 
came part of Schuylkill. We cannot tell from Susanna Kelley's epitaph if 
she migrated before or after the formation of Schuylkill County. Although 
we can glean important genealogical and historical information from graves- 
tones, we cannot learn everything we should like to know. 

The most common epitaph was still a verse used in the funeral sermon, 
but now it was rendered in English, as on this stone for Maria Young, who 
died in 1907: 

Maria Young 
Wife of 

Joseph J.R. Zerfass 
Born Sept. 3, 1843 
Died April 15, 1907 



63 Years, & Mos 

12 Days 

2 Timothy 4:7. 1 have fought 
a good fight, I have finished 
my course, I have kept the faith. 

(Ephrata, Lancaster County) 

Once the epitaphs became rendered in EngUsh, more of the common 
English language phrases began to appear, such as "Gone but not 
Forgotten" on a stone for Daniel Boyer. 

Funeral verses were rare in German epitaphs but were used more 
frequently in those rendered in English, such as this verse on Mary Beyerle's 


Memory of 


Wife of 

George Beyerle. 

was born May 22nd 1823. 

Died June 9th 1848 


26 Years & 14 Days 

Farewell dear Husband my life is past 
My love for you till death did last. 
And after me no sorrow take 
But love our children for my sake. 
(Bernville, Berks County) 

The biographical portion remains with the appearance of these English 
epitaphs. The biblical reference used for the funeral service is often 
omitted, but sometimes both the reference and a verse appear, as on this 
stone for Lydia Matz (Fig. 12): 


Wife of 

John Matz 

And Daughter of 

P. & E. Fegly 

Born Nov. 1st 1814 

Died April 26th 1875 

Aged 60 Y. 5 M. & 25 D. 


Text Psalm 23.1 

Remember friends when you pass by. 
As you are now, so once was I. 
As I am now, so you will be, 
Prepare for death and follow me. 

(Zion Lutheran "Red" Church, Schuylkill County) 


U' <ti 

Fig. 12. The stone for Lydia Matz was carved by "C.L." (C.H. Lautenbach). 
Zion Lutheran "Red" Church, Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County. 


The Catholic equivalent, from Ecclesiasticus 38, verse 23, appears in English 
on several Catholic stones in the Bally Catholic church graveyard: 

Remember my Judgment for 

thine also shall be so. 

Yesterday for me, today for thee. 

(For example, Charles Rehr, d. 1865, Bally, Berks County) 

Of course, the shift from German to English did not happen overnight. 
In many graveyards one can see the change in family plots where the early 
stones have a German inscription and the later have an English one.^ The 
stones may even have been made from the same design blanks and in- 
scribed by the same carver. C. Laubenbach of Schuylkill Haven, Schuylkill 
County, for example, was active throughout much of Schuylkill County in 
the 1860s through the 1890s (Figs. 10 and 12). He carved epitaphs in Ger- 
man using the fraktur style lettering and epitaphs in English with non- 
German lettering. The change went beyond the language: the German let- 
tering style was abandoned when English was adopted, making the change 
apparent before one gets close enough to read the stone. 

Bilingual stones appeared during the transition from German to English^^ 
(Fig. 13). Some are pure German-language epitaphs inscribed on blanks 
which already contained standard English-language texts such as "At Rest," 
"Father," or "Mother." This form of bilingualism appeared in the 1840s and 
died out as German became used less and less on the markers. The last 
stones in this form date from approximately 1900. 

Of more interest are stones which include both German and English text 
within the main epitaph. In the Orwigsburg region of Schuylkill County the 
majority of these bilingual stones appeared in the 1840s and 1850s. At 
Muddy Creek in Lancaster these stones first appear in the 1850s and survive 
into the 1880s. Two forms of these bilingual stones appear. First there is 
the stone with the biography duplicated in German and English. 





tiJ^lm !>?lld : ^^ 

1 1 




wt- ^t 

Fig. 13. Samuel Boffenmoyer (d. 1880) received a bilingual stone. 
Bemville, Berks County. 


In Memory of 
David Ketner 
Born April 29th 1789 
Died July 14th 1859 
Aged 70 Yrs 2 Months 
and 15 Days. 

Zum Andenken an 

David Ketner 

Geboren den 29ien April 1789 

Gestorben den Mien Juli 1859 

Alter 70 Jahre 2 Monate 

und 15 Tage. 

(Zion Lutheran "Red" Church, Orwigsburg, 
Schuylkill County) 

At the Red Church in Orwigsburg both languages appear on the same face 
of the stone. At Muddy Creek some of the stones will have the German in- 
scription on one side (obverse or reverse) and the English on the other. 
Sometimes the second language epitaph is abbreviated, even to the point of 
duplicating only the name in German script. This form of bilingual epitaph 
seems to acknowledge the ethnic origin of the dead as well as the fact that 
not all the dead person's family and friends could still read German. These 
"Rosetta Stones" highlight the loss of German as a reading language by 
many of the Pennsylvania Germans during the nineteenth century.^ 

The loss of German started early in parts of the Pennsylvania German 
region. The Pennsylvania Germans had to deal with their English-speaking 
neighbors on a continual basis. High German was the language used in the 
church services. The need to speak English on an almost daily basis had an 
early effect in some areas. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, sent to the 
colonies from Halle, Germany, in 1842, noted the need for English-language 
sermons in order to keep the people from leaving the church.^^ His son, 
Henry Muhlenberg, said in 1805 that he would support a new Lutheran 
seminary only if "young men be educated so as to be able to preach also in 
English."-'* Many of the immigrants who arrived during the second wave of 
immigration in the nineteenth century felt strongly that their German cul- 
ture and language should be maintained. These people helped to revive an 
interest in German.-'^ German was reinforced in other ways as well. One 
was the large number of German-language newspapers and almanacs.'*" 

Another was translating the popular "camp meeting" songs into Pennsylvania 
German dialect. The dialect versions remained popular through the 1950s 
and into the 1960s.'*^ Although there were congregations which dropped 
German early, many services continued to be held in German with some 
German services lasting through the 1930s. The latest use of German on 
gravestones documented so far is a 1933 stone in Bemville. Another con- 
servative part of the culture was the Pennsylvania German dialect, which is 
still spoken in parts of the Pennsylvania German region today, with some 
churches having occasional dialect services."*^ There were strong motiva- 
tions and forces from both directions: the keeping and the dropping of 
High German and the dialect as the language of church and home. 

The second form of bilingual stone is more complex. On these stones 
part of the epitaph is in German and part in English. One stone from an 
unnamed graveyard in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill County, has the German 
familial biography for Elisabeth Orwig in German, complete with the ser- 
mon text. Underneath are two verses in English from a funeral hymn. 




Tochter von Wane u. Elisabeth 


geboren am 24 Marz 1816 

und Starb den 23 September 1843 

Alter 27 Jahre 5 Monate 29 Tage 
Text: 2 Thimothy 4 Cap V 78 




Daughter of Wane and Elisabeth 


Born on the 24th of March, 1816 

And died the 23rd of 

September, 1843 

Aged 27 years, 5 months, 29 days. 

Text: 2 Timothy, Chapter 4, 

Verse 78. 

Well, she is gone and now in Heaven 
She sings his praise who died for her 
And to her hand a harp is given 
And she is a heavenly worshipper 

O let me think of all she said 
And all the kindness she gave 
And let me do it now shes dead 
And sleeping in her lowly grave 

Other stones have the biography in English, with the sermon reference, the 


funeral hymn, or a religious verse in German. These stones are in effect 
speaking to two cultures, not just to one culture in the process of learning a 
new language. 

For the Pennsylvania German the important thing is to bear witness to 
the existence of the dead. We learn from a gravestone, for example, that 
the name of the deceased was Samuel Buffenmoyer; that he was born on 
February 18, 1795 and died on January 24, 1880; and that he lived to be 84 
years, 11 months and 6 days old. His remains rest in peace in the Bricker- 
ville Lutheran Church cemetery. The verse on his stone reminds us that we 
are saved through Christ's sacrifice: 

Mein Gott - ich bitt durch My God, I pray by means of 

Christi Blut: Mache doch Christ's blood. Make 

mit meinem ende gut. my end be good. 

He was born, he lived, he died, and we knew him. He looked for salvation 
through the Lord. This is what was important in the eighteenth century and 
what was still important in the twentieth century. 

One can trace the change in artistic fashions related to death as the skull 
becomes a cherub becomes a willow becomes a flower. On English- 
language stones, the evolution in artistic motifs is paralleled and reinforced 
by the verses used in the epitaphs. These verses evolve from Memento Mori 
of the "Reader, stop as you pass by" variety to ones stating that the dead 
person is resting in Jesus or has gone to his eternal home. A movement 
takes place from the 1700s through the 1800s away from the physical repre- 
sentation of death (skulls, death's heads, skeletons in art and "Here lies the 
body of in the epitaphs) to a metaphorical presence (urns, cut flowers, 
hands pointing upwards in art and "Asleep in Jesus" in epitaphs). At the 
same time, there is a movement from showing little concern with the 
spiritual state of the dead (the death's heads and Memento Mori are all very 
physical) toward the belief and knowledge that the dead one is alive and 
well in his new heavenly home (gates of heaven and angels taking the dead 
heavenward in art, ideas of reaching salvation, making the final journey and 
in reaching a new home in epitaphs).'*^ On the German-language stones, 
the artistic evolution is very clear, but there is no similar evolution in the 


epitaphs. Beyond the switch from Hier Ruhet (Here Rests) to Denkmal fur 
(A memorial for), no such textual change paralleling the change in designs 
exists on the Pennsylvania German stones. The epitaphs continue to be 
concerned with who the person was. Once the Pennsylvania German 
gravestones start appearing in English, the attitudes shown among the 
English-speaking population start to appear in the epitaphs. 

This is not to say that an evolution in attitudes toward death did not exist 
among the German-speaking population. It simply becomes harder to 
document such changes, if they do exist, using only the gravestones as 
evidence. Any changes which did occur never predominated over the 
primary object of reviewing the life of the deceased. It would be interesting 
to track the texts used for the funeral sermons and the hymns sung at the 
funeral services to see if they show any pattern of change over time. It 
could well be that which sermon texts and hymns were used changed over 
time and that these changes record the evolving attitudes as reflected by the 
English-language epitaphs. 

Popular printed materials tended to have a conservative influence on 
each language tradition. Per Zanger am Grabe . a German-language book of 
hymns for the dead first published in 1842, included a list of popular funeral 
sermon texts."*^ By at least the 1860s, English-language stonecutters were 
publishing booklets, or catalogs, of epitaphs from which patrons could 
choose.''^ The more people choosing from such works, the slower would any 
change in attitudes manifest itself. 

One can also trace the use of ethnic markers. Many of the early grave- 
stone decorations stem from inherited motifs of Pennsylvania German folk 
art. Some of the later ones may represent a conscious attempt to make a 
statement in the face of the mid-nineteenth century culture clash, a stressful 
period which can be seen in the bilingual stones. This same stressful period 
influenced the codification of plain dress among the Amish and Mennonites 
into a uniform and saw the first appearance of gaily painted hex signs on 
barns in Berks and Lehigh Counties.'*^ The German language became an 
ethnic marker and the strength of the ethnic tradition in local regions can 
be measured by how long German was used on the stones. 

Finally, the interplay between cultures can be studied, as in the Pennsyl- 


vania German adoption of the mainstream, popular art forms. The impor- 
tance of EngHsh to a local region can be estimated by how soon the switch 
was made from German to English on the stones. The appearance of 
English surnames, or those of other ethnic groups, on stones in a graveyard 
hints at settlement and intermarriage patterns.'*^ 

Now, the author should take his cue from John 16, verse 7, found on a 
stone in Bernville, Berks County, which says: "It is expedient For you that I 
go away." 


An ezirlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey on June 29, 1985. 
I am grateful for the comments made by Don Yoder and by members of the audience at the 
original presentation. 

1. Russel Wieder Gilbert, A Picture of the Pennsylvania Germans, (Gettysburg, PA, The Penn- 
sylvania Historical Association, 1971), p. 3. 

2. See Don Yoder, "Religious Patterns of the Dutch Country" in In the Dutch Country, 
(Lancaster, Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center, n.d.), pp. 6-8. 

3. See, for example, Gilbert, op. cit., pp. 12-14, and Frederick S. Weiser, "Baptismal Certificate 
and Gravemarker: Germzm Folk Art at the Beginning and the End of Life" in Ian M.G. 
Quimby and Scott T. Swank, eds.. Perspectives on American Folk Art, (New York, Norton), 
p. 134. 

4. The gravestones of Pennsylvania have not received the attention which those of New 
England have. Some of the works include Preston A. Bcu^ba, Pennsylvania German 
Tombstones: A Study in Folk Art, (Allentown, PA, Schlechter's, 1954); Thomas E. Graves, 
"Leibsten Kinder und Werwandten: Death and Ethnicity," Keystone Folklore, NS-2:l/2 
(1983):6-14; Graves, Vie Pennsylvania German Hex Sign: A Study in Folk Process, unpub. 
Ph.D. dissertation, (Univ. of PA, 1984), pp. 82, 223-225, 377, 425, 481; Frank E. McDonald, 
"Pennsylvania German Tombstone Art of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania," Pennsylvania 
Folklife, XXV: 1 (Autumn, 1975) :2- 19; John Joseph Stoudt, Pennsylvania German Folk Art: 
An Interpretation, (Allentown, PA, Schlechter's, 1966); Weiser, op. cit.; and Louis Winkler, 
"Pennsylvania German Astronomy and Astrology IV: Tombstones," Pennsylvania Folklife, 
XXII:2 (Winter 1972-73):42-45. 

5. Some of the earliest gravestones are in the surviving Mennonite graveyards in Germantown. 
The earhest date found on a stone at Axe's burial ground is 1716. This Germantown 
graveyard was estabhshed for the Mennonite community in 1692. See Joseph S. Miller and 
Marcus Miller, An Index and Description of The Mennonites of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 
1683-1983, (Philadelphia, Germantown Mennonite Church Corporation jmd the Mennonite 
Historians of Eastern Pennsylvania, n.d.) For consistency, these stones will not be discussed 
since the focus of this paper is the gravestones of the Lutheran and Reformed groups. 

6. The markers used by the Mennonites during the colonial period were comparatively small 
and unadorned. Decorations that did appear include hearts and trees-of-life. The Vic- 
torian stones generally followed the trends outlined in this paper, although not the full 
range of designs were used. The Meimonite and Amish stones are much plainer because of 


these groups' ideas of "plainness," ideas shared by the early Puritans and the Quakers. 

7. For the Lutheran congregation, see Frederick S. Weiser, S.T.M., "The Lutherans" in Robert 
Grant Crist, ed., Perm's Example to the Nations: 300 Years of the Holy Experiment, 
(Hiu-risburg, Pennsylvania Council of Churches for the Pennsylvania Religious Tercenten- 
ary Committee, 1987), pp. 74-75. For the Reformed congregations, see John B. Frantz, 
Ph.D., "United Church of Christ" in Crist, op. cit., pp. 129-146, and "Historic Churches of 
WBYO Land" in the 20th Anniversary Issue of WBYO Wavelength, (published by radio sta- 
tion WBYO in Boyertown, PA, 1980), vol. 13, p. 27. The latter publication describes and il- 
lustrates many of the historical churches of this region of all denominations. 

8. Frances Lichten, Folk Art of Rural Pennsylvania, (New York, Charles Scribner's, 1946), p. 

9. McDonald, op. cit. Cast iron markers are mentioned and illustrated by Henry C. Mercer, 
The Bible in Iron, (Doylestown, PA, The Bucks County Historical Society, 1961), p. 250 and 
plate 392 and Henry J. Kauffman, Early American Ironware, (New York, Weathervane, 
1967), pp. 25, 28, but the examples illustrated, with dates of 1747 and 1825, are from New 
Jersey. Peimsylvania had a large iron industry, so this form of marker may have been 
produced and used there. Iron markers were also used in the mid-nineteenth century by the 
Pennsylvania Germans who migrated into Virginia and West Virginia. See Elmer Lewis 
Smith, John G. Stewart, and M. Ellsworth Kyger, The Pennsylvania Germans of the Shenan- 
doah Valley, (Allentown, Schlechter's, 1964), p. 224. 

10. McDonald, op. cit., pp. 18-19. 

11. Lewis Miller, Sketches and Chronicles, (York, PA, The Historical Society of York County, 
1966), p. 63. Other early graveyards are illustrated on pp. 12, 28 (a Meimonite burial 
ground), 109 (Prospect Hill, a garden cemetery). 

12. Weiser, op. cit., p. 160. Almost no work identifying individual carvers has been done in 
Peimsylvania. The names of nineteenth century carvers are often found at the bottom of the 
stone. These names have not been systematically collected. McDonald made a start by 
grouping stones by styles. One work which does mention carvers is Smith, Stewart, and 
Kyger, op. cit., pp. 224-5, 227. This book is concerned with the Pennsylvania Germans who 
migrated from Pennsylvania to Virginia and West Virginia, and the carvers mentioned are 
from the Shenandoah Valley and not from the core area of Pennsylvania. This area of re- 
search is currently wide open in Pennsylvania. 

13. Weiser, op. cit., pp. 134-61. 

14. 1 have seen such baptismal certificates in the fraktur collection of the Historical Society of 
Berks County. This information is sometimes added in pencil and sometimes on the back of 
the certificate, making it hard to spot these additions from the illustrations in the published 

15. Don Yoder (personal communication) remembers seeing one Berks County stone which 
listed the hymn sung at the house, the hymn sung at church, and the hymn sung at the 

16. PhiUppe Aries, The Hour of our Death, (New York, Knopf, 1981), pp. 409-556. 

17. Barba, op. cit., 140-151; Lichten, op. cit. For other examples of German markers, see Ernst 
Schlee, German Folk Art (Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, 1980), pp. 218-219. For 
German wrought iron markers, see Kdx\ von Spiess, Bauemkunst, Ihre Art und ihr Sinn . 
(BerUn, Herbert Stubenrauch, 1943), pp. 206-208. See also "Grabdenkmaler" and 
"Totenbrett" in Oswald A. Erich and Richard Beitl, Wdrterbuch der deutschen Volkskunde . 
1st ed., (Leipzig, Alfred Kroner, 1936), pp. 256-258, 718. 

18. Barba, op. cit., p. 170. 

19. Stoudt, op. cit. p. 378-80. He illustrates them agam with no comment in Sunbonnets and 
Shoofly Pies. A Pennsylvania Dutch Cultural History, (New York, Castle Books, 1973), p. 


20. Lichten, op. cit. 

21. These theories have been put forward in conversations with, among other people, Tim 
Kloberdanz and Don Yoder. 

22. Schlee, op. cit. Painted wooden markers are illustrated in Klaus Beitl, Volksglaube. Zeug - 
nisse Religiser Volkunst . (Salzburg and Vienna, Residenz Verlag, 1978), figures 46 a-d 
(notes on pp. 156-158). 

23. Stoudt, Pennsylvania German Folk Art, op cit. Stoudt's whole hypothesis is that all of Penn- 
sylvania German art is a manifestation of religious beliefs. This theme runs through 
Stoudt's entire book, but readers can consult chapter 4: "Symbol, Image, and Literary 
Expression" (pp. 99-118) for brief descriptions of various motifs. His works are very 
detailed and well documented. The main argument that has arisen is the question of 
whether colonial artists or their clientele knew these religious connections. 

24. Winkler, op. cit. 

25. Barba, op. cit., pp. 11-12. 

26. Barba, ibid, pp. 9-10. See also Graves, The Pennsylvania Hex Sign, op. cit., pp. 444-448. 

27. Barba, op. cit.; Graves, T)xe Pennsylvania Hex Sign, op. cit.; and "Leibsten Kinder", op. cit. 
Hex signs on barns are found only among members of the church groups of the Pennsyl- 
vania Germans. The Amish and Mennonites do not have hex signs. 

28. Allan I. Ludwig, Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols, 1650-1815, 
(Middletown, CT, Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1966), pp. 225-232. 

29. C. Schuchhardt, Schliemann's Discoveries of the Ancient World, (New York, Avenel Books, 
1979), pp. 177-205. The rosette and other related geometric designs have been traced back 
to Sumaria, where these designs were used to decorate pottery. 

30. Graves, The Pennsylvania German Hex Sign, op. cit., pp. 422-430. 

31. Graves, ibid, pp. 223-225, and "Leibsten Kinder", op. cit. 

32. For examples of Victorian motifs on the gravestones of the English-speaking population of 
the United States, see Edmund V. Gillon, Jr., Victorian Cemetery Art, (New York, Dover, 

33. For an example, see the Currier and Ives print, "The Mother's Drecun," with the angel carry- 
ing the dead baby's soul heavenward, reproduced in Martha K. Pike and Janice Gray 
Armstrong, A Time to Mourn. Expressions of Grief in Nineteenth Century America, (New 
York, The Museums at Stony Brook, 1980), p. 143. Das Hen des Menschen. ein Temple 
Gottes. Oder eine Werkstdtte des Satans . (Reading, PA, Heinrich B. Sage, 1822), fig. 10, and 
its English translation. The Heart of Man, A Temple of God or the Habitation of Satan, 
(Harrisburg, Theo F. Scheffer, n.d.) shows an angel at the deathbed of a "saintly man" and 
another one carrying a Bible as it flies through the air. The small soul effigy is being taken 
heavenward via God's words which extend from God's mouth to the effigy. Figure 8 in 
these books shows the death of the ungodly man who is cast into eterucil fire by God. In 
Figure 10 the angel is pointing upwards; in Figure 8 she is pointing downwards. In Figure 8 
the devils and demons await the soul, which has apparently not yet left the body. See also 
the numerous prints of angels carrying George Washington heavenward which were 
popular in the first couple of decades of the nineteenth century. Two examples are 
reproduced in Anita Schorsch, Mourning Becomes America. Mourning Art in the New Na- 
tion, (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1976), plates 19/50, 

34. Graves, "Leibsten Kinder", op. cit., pp. 9-11. 

35. Ibid. 

36. Bilingual stones au-e not unique to the Pennsylvania Germans. Halporn, for example, il- 
lustrates two stones with a mixture of Hebrew and English texts and one with a Hebrew and 
German text. Roberta Halporn, Lessons from the Dead, (Brooklyn, Highly Specialized 
Promotions, 1979), pp. 12, 22, 24. As a side note, the German Jews were an important part 


of the second wave of immigration from Germany to the United States from 1840 to 1880. 

37. Weiser, "The Lutherans," op. cit., p. 75; and Doerries, op. cit., p.77. 

38. Doerries, ibid. 

39. Ibid., pp. 77-79. 

40. See, for example, Louis Winkler, "Pennsylvania German Astronomy and Astrology XVI: 
German Language Almanacs," Pennsylvania Folklife, 28:2 (Winter, 1978/79), pp. 18-25. 

41. Yoder, "Religious Patterns," op. cit.; and Pennsylvania Spiritual, (Lancaster, Permsylvania 
Folklife Society, 1961). 

42. 1 have tapes of story-telling sessions held almost entirely in the dialect from as recently as 
the Spring of 1987. Concerning the dialect, see, for example, Richard Druckenbrod, Mir 
Lanne Deitsch . (Allentown, by the author, 1981); Wilham T. Parsons, "Pennsylfawnisch 
Deitsch und Pfalzer: Dialect Comparisons Old and New", Pennsylvania Folklife, 31:3 
(Spring, 1982), pp. 117-127; and Claude K. Deischer, "My Experience with the Dialect," 
Pennsylvania Folklife, 23:4 (Summer, 1974), pp. 47-48. Concerning dialect services, see Don 
Yoder, "The Dialect Church Service in the Pennsylvania German Culture," Pennsylvania 
Folklife, 27:4 (Summer, 1978), pp. 2-13. 

43. Graves, "Ch2inges in Attitudes Toward Death as Reflected in the Gravestones of St. David's 
Episcopal Church (Radnor, PA)", unpub. MA. paper, Univ. of PA, 1979. 

44. Carl G. Herman, DerZdngeram Grabe (Kutztown, PA, 1842). This book has gone through 
many reprints. 

45.^ Collection of Epitaphs suitable for Monumental Inscriptions from various Sources, 
(Harrisburg, John Beatty, Stone-Cutter, 1867). Earlier catalogs of epitaphs may exist. 

46. Don Yoder, "Sectman Costume Research in the United States", in Forms Upon the Fron- 
tier, (Logan, Utah, Utah State Univ., 1969), pp. 41-75; and Graves, The Pennsylvania Ger- 
man Hex Sign, op. cit., pp. 80-83. 

47. Of course, all of the other possible ways to learn from graveyards as outlined by Halporn 
(op. cit.) are also available to those studying Pennsylvania German gravestones. 


1. One of Pennsylvania's many eighteenth-centuiy rural graveyards. Lower 
Marsh Creek Presbyterian Cemetery, Fairfield, Adams County. 



Photographs and text by 
Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber 

The photographs on the following pages are an introduction to the 
variety and charm of Pennsylvania's early gravestone art. This group of 
photographs is presented as a companion piece to the preceding article by 
Thomas Graves. We made the photographs in the spring of 1984. 

In June, 1988 The Association for Gravestone Studies will hold its aimual 
conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a short drive from several graveyards 
rich in fine examples of early carving. We hope that Thomas Graves's ar- 
ticle, our photographs and the 1988 conference will stimulate interest and 
encourage further research in Pennsylvania gravestone art. 



2. One of several handsome bird carvings in the Fairfield graveyard. 
Samuel Reynold, 1758; slate, 18" high. 

3. An unusual winged beast carved on a damaged marker in Amish farm 
country. John Midlto, 1739, Chestnut Level, Lancaster County; slate, 20" 



4. The two animals on this stone appear to be the carver's primitive at- 
tempt to depict the rooster, a symbol of fertility. Rudolph Oberle, 1777, 
Hellertown, Northampton County; sandstone, 31" high. 



5. Hearts and flowers are used in a variety of ways, here in combination to 
depict a tree of life. This lightly incised carving is on a stone inscribed in 
German. Elisabet Kunsin, 1794, Littlestovm, Adams County; sandstone, 27" 



6. This tree of life, cut in high relief, decorates a marker that has no in- 
scription. Bergstrasse Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; 
sandstone, 40" high. 



7. Chubby figures carrying Bibles or branches of ft'uit are found in the 
area around Bernville. The stones are inscribed in beautiful, but 
deteriorated, German fraktur lettering. Name illegible, 1775, Christ Little 
Tupelhocken Churchyard, Bernville, Berks County; sandstone, 38" high. 

8. A little face and circles decorate a stone with "M 1811 D" its only in- 
scription. M.D., 1811, Muddy Creek Lutheran Church Cemetery, Ephrata, 
Lancaster County; sandstone, 30" high. 



9. This winged face adorned with hearts and halo is one of many fanciful 
effigies carved on gray stone in and around Brickerville. The markers have 
been set in concrete. Anna Millerin, 1825, Emmanuel Lutheran Church- 
yard, Brickerville, Lancaster County; possibly sandstone, 36" high. 

10. A unique effigy in a yard containing other one-of-a-kind designs cut by 
the same unidentified carver. Thomas Millroie, 1747, Chestnut Level, Lan- 
caster County; slate, 19" high. 



11. Hearts sometimes replace the traditional skull over crossbones, as on 
this tympanum carving. Name illegible, 1757, New Goshenhoppen Church- 
yard, East Greenville, Montgomery County; sandstone, 27" high. 

12. Skull and crossbones in high relief at base of stone. Johan Bngl(?), 
circa 1785, United Church of Christ Churchyard, Blainsport, Lancaster 
County; sandstone, 45" high. 



13. The waning moon and other heavenly bodies are design motifs common 
to stones in Muddy Creek and Bergstrasse Lutheran Church Cemeteries. 
Their unidentifled carver usually cut only a partial inscription or no in- 
scription. No inscription, circa 1800, Muddy Creek Lutheran Churchyard, 
Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone. 



14. Floral decorations and rosettes are widely used, the hourglass rarely. 
Leonhard Miller, 1794, Emanuel Lutheran Churchyard, Brickerville, Lan- 
caster County; sandstone, 39" high. 





15 a,b. Wingless faces are rare. 15a. No inscription, circa 1800, Muddy 
Creek Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone, 40" 
high. 15b. Salome Eichelberger, 1793, Hanover, York County; slate, 21" 



16. Primitive marker, possibly a footstone. KD, 1767, New Goshenhoppen 
Churchyard, East Greenville, Montgomery County; sandstone, 12" high. 

17. Skillfully executed life and death symbols. John Clark, 1776, Chestnut 
Level, Lancaster County; slate, 34" high. 



18. Mortality symbols: skull flanked by hourglass and candle in holder 
with flickering flame (?). George Junt, 1770, Bergstrasse Lutheran Church- 
yard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone, 36" high. 



19a. The outer circle of this inscription reads, "KOM STERBLICHER 
BETRACHTE MICH" (Come, mortal one, consider me). The inner circle reads, 
"WAS ICH B," probably the beginning of, "Was Ich bin, so wirst auch dirch" 
(What I am, so you will also be). 



19b. The reverse of the marker in photograph 19a. Catrina Cromlrin, 1783, 
Penryn, Lancaster County; sandstone, 21" high. 




20. Early stone inscribed in English. This striking marker uses the head 
and wings of the effigy to form the traditional eighteenth-century 
tympanum-and-shoulder gravestone configuration. Elisabeth Steel, 1749, 
Chestnut Level, Lancaster County; sandstone, 21" high. 



21. This stone stands in a yard dominated by German inscriptions. 
Elizabeth Weidman, circa 1800, Emanuel Lutheran Churchyard, Bricker- 
ville, Lancaster County; a gray stone, probably sandstone, set in concrete; 
23" high. 



22. Partially inscribed stone with a blank area where one expects to find 
further data, a curiosity seen on a number of stones in the area by the same 
area carver. Freyen is the feminine form of Frey. H. Freyen, Muddy Creek 
Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone. 

23. Stone with no inscription, circa 1800. Muddy Creek Lutheran Church- 
yard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone, 31" high. 



24. Interesting symbolism on one of the uninscribed stones that appear to 
be the work of the same Lancaster County carver. Is the sun rising or set- 
ting over water, or is it peeking through clouds? Circa 1800, Bergstrasse 
Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone, 39" high. 



25 a,b. Typical uninscribed marker with decorative carving on both sides. 
Circa 1800, Muddy Creek Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster 
County; sandstone, 26" high. 



:JV "■ .t-'('!' i''f-' f'v'f''- 

;-»•,, '..,1 ■■> 17.1, ; .J, I. ^1^1 


26 a,b. Typical example of a marker decorated on one side, inscribed on the 
reverse. The tree of life is similar to others that appear to be by the same 
area carver. Rudolf Oberly, 1780, Christ Union Church, Lower Saucon 
Tovmship, near Hellertown, Northampton County; sandstone, 29" high on 
decorated (excavated) side. 





27 a,b,c,d. Four examples of traditional nineteenth-century symbols, three 
with handsome fraktur lettering. Huffs Churchyard, Huffs Church, Berks 
County; marble. 27a. Friedrich Sigmund, 1860; 58" high. 27b. Philip 
Blumbauer, 1851, 47" high. 






27c. James Cunningham, 1868, 41" high. 27d. James R. Menich, 1862, 30" 






^I ■ lis 





28 a,b,c. Three unique examples of Pennsylvania's finest gravestone art. 
28a. Name illegible, 1750, Christ Lutheran Church, Stouchsburg, Berks 
County; sandstone, 33" high. 28b. No inscription, circa 1800, Muddy Creek 
Lutheran Churchyard, Ephrata, Lancaster County; sandstone, 40" high. 
(For reverse of this stone see 14b.) 28c. Jane Waugh, 1770, Lower Marsh 
Creek Presbyterian Cemetery, Fairfield, Adams County; slate, 30" high. 



•• % • •^^ — 

Map of Ontario 



Darrell A. Norris 


Few facets of nineteenth-century material culture are as evocative as the 
gravestone. No other historical artifact matches the gravestone's many ad- 
vantages as a cultural indicator. Its merits include widespread distribution, 
visibility, durability, relative immobility, and sheer numbers. As an impor- 
tant bonus, the age of gravestones is reasonably easy to establish. To these 
advantages may be added the gravestone's summary profile of individual 
lives, its reflection of contemporary taste and symbolic expression, and, 
sometimes, its attribution to a particular carver or manufacturer. Moreover, 
the gravestone rarely stands in splendid isolation. Its groupings, from small 
family plots to urban necropolises, are rich lodes of spatial meaning. Geog- 
raphers have considered ways in which communities of the dead were 
planned, sited, named, subdivided, and filled to echo the ideals and norms 
of society (Kniffen, 1967; Francaviglia, 1971; Jeane, 1978; Darden, 1972; 
Zelinsky, 1975). Few cultural landscape features offer greater scope for the 
geographer concerned with North America's past. Despite its morbid and 
awkward name, necrogeography has been a lively branch of cultural geo- 

Yet, even allowing for the excellent work on gravestones and cemeteries 
produced by cultural geographers, folk historians, and archaeologists, the 
shades of meaning conveyed by the gravestone remain in some respects 
unexplored. This deficiency of detailed observation and inference is most 
evident in the case of gravestone design, particularly for the period of ex- 
uberant design and burgeoning popular culture between the late eighteenth 
and early twentieth century. One reason for the limited work on this topic 
is that gravestones of the early industrial era pose an immense taxonomic 
problem. How does one cope with a repertoire of design expression which 
embraced apparently endless variants of form, size, decorative treatment, 
verbal inscription, and material composition? The immense iconographic 
potential of this repertoire needs no emphasis. The variety is immediately 



evident in most Victorian cemeteries, and conspicuously absent in the 
modern rule-bound memorial garden. 

The ordinary Victorian commemoration of death was anything but 
egalitarian; it was remarkably expressive and varied (Pike and Armstrong, 
1980). And, as much as it celebrated the dead, nineteenth-century burial 
accommodated the dispositions of the living. To comprehend the grave- 
stone as both a commercially sold object and as a vehicle of Victorian ex- 
pression requires a systematic, flexible, and subtle approach to classification 
and contextual analysis. Applying such a classification with reasonable con- 
fidence in the results obtained requires numerous examples of gravestone 
design through time and across space. Most importantly, we need to blend 
our understanding of gravestones with information about the people who 
commissioned them, those who made and sold them (Wallace, 1985), and 
those who died to deserve them. 

This essay addresses these themes using evidence drawn from the 
Province of Ontario, Canada. Aggregate results are presented based on a 
widespread inventory of cemeteries in rural southern Ontario undertaken 
between 1975 and 1979 by McMaster University geography students under 
my direction. The inventory included over five thousand gravestones 
erected between 1800 and 1909. A total of 105 rural cemeteries were inven- 
toried. I have selected a number of case studies which illustrate ways in 
which gravestone evidence can be integrated with broader aspects of 
nineteenth-century society, especially its social and cultural geography. 

Previous work focused on Ontario cemeteries and gravestones includes a 
small volume of photographs by Carole Hanks (1974), an assessment of 
gravestones as a demographic source (Osborne, 1974), recent work devoted 
to cemetery design and regulation (Hall and Bowden, 1986), and a special- 
ized treatment of the carving of human or divine figures as decorative 
motifs (Stone and Russell, 1986). An Ontario Genealogical Society 
monograph (Knight, 1973) features some case studies, and Nancy-Lou Pat- 
terson (1976) presents a fascinating discussion of the tree-of-life form as an 
instance of persistent folk tradition among German-Canadian settlers. As 
far as I am aware, however, the literature contains no overview of memorial 
practice in Ontario, its ties to New England folk tradition, or its parallels 


with nineteenth-century developments in the United States. 


The geographer Peirce Lewis has characterized the Niagara border 
region as one of the sharpest cultural divides in North America. His topic 
was another sine qua non of material-cultural study, the vernacular house. 
Ontario began as Upper Canada, a by-product of the American Revolution 
and of the diaspora of Loyalists (Tories) from a lost cause to remote settle- 
ment nuclei at both ends of Lake Ontario, in a land wrested from France in 
the eighteenth century's other decisive North American conflict. Scrutiny of 
Ontario's earliest colonists under English rule reveals a heterogeneous cul- 
tural profile; those of Dutch background and other New Yorkers were rela- 
tively numerous, as were discharged troops from England's polyglot colonial 
army. Before 1812 land-hungry American emigrants leavened the new 
society, as did the first arrival of relatively indigent Scots and Irish. Cultural 
pluralism and exposure to external influences have always characterized On- 
tario. The War of 1812-14 certainly solidified the province's resolve not to 
slavishly imitate American culture; Ontario's Classical Revival, for example, 
was muted and rarely ostentatious. 

But Ontario's frontier experience, commercial development, and external 
contacts made for growing similarities with United States social and 
economic structure, especially that of the lower Great Lakes states. 
Moreover, the rapid growth of population sustained by immigration between 
the mid 1820s and early 1850s created a society dominated by Scots and 
Irish settlers, mainly Protestants, infused with an ethic of toil and progress 
strikingly similar to that of midwestern American farmers. By the time of 
Canadian Confederation in 1867, Ontario's people combined a keen na- 
tional and British Imperial vision with a pragmatic, sometimes even en- 
thusiastic, acceptance of American practice and iimovation. It is important 
to grasp this paradox when one examines just about any aspect of Victorian 
and Edwardian Ontario society, including memorialization of the dead. 

Between 1880 and the First World War, Ontario became increasingly ur- 
banized and industrialized, and absorbed significant numbers of European 
immigrants in its major manufacturing centers, notably Hamilton and 


Toronto. As elsewhere in North America, the material ostentation and 
security of the Gilded Age veiled growing insecurities and dislocation, in- 
cluding the migration of many rural Ontarians to Western Canada and the 
United States, the pains of structural or cyclic economic hardship, and the 
growing dependency of rural areas on external sources (including flows of 
capital, insurance, credit, produce, consumer goods, information, and 
people.) Thus rural Ontario's coming of age had actually undermined its 
sense of autonomy and cultural identity. Its gravestones are a revealing 
mirror of the province's identity in the wider and changing context of 
nineteenth-century North American material culture. 

Five Roles of the Gravestone 

Gravestones are obviously a medium of expression, of communication, 
but in Ontario as elsewhere this expression is multifaceted. First, the most 
obvious intent of the gravestone is to provide a fitting and durable memorial 
to the individual. But this role was almost always associated with a second 
purpose, which was to express the presence and position of the family within 
its immediate community. At the same time, however, gravestones 
proclaimed and celebrated the fact of belonging. Through the collectivity of 
the cemetery, gravestones replicated ties based on church membership, eth- 
nic background, social standing, and of course place of residence. This third 
role of the gravestone was to petrify and endorse the complex social order 
of North American localities. 

The fourth role of the gravestone transcended local circumstance. Like 
Victorian domestic architecture, gravestones reflected shifting currents of 
popular taste in North American society. In Portland, Oregon, no less than 
in Portland, Maine, death was a catalyst for a vogue or for conformist ex- 
pression through memorial art. In its fifth role, however, the nineteenth- 
century gravestone signaled the beginning of mass material culture in the 
industrial age. As an object of mainly popular, not folk, culture, the graves- 
tone involved makers, sellers, and buyers. In fact it exhibited a close paral- 
lel to Victorian furnishings, fittings, and fixtures, for these too disguised 
standardized forms with a superficial veneer of variety and individuality. It 
is essential to keep in mind this inherently commercial role of the grave- 


stone as one of the first durable consumer goods which combined the illu- 
sion of uniqueness with the realities of standardized manufacture. 

It is easy to overlook these roles in present-day North America, for the 
iconography of the gravestone has been impoverished by the fear and cost 
of death and by the regulation of memorial art. For most of us, eternity will 
be an undistinguished, compact, high density, even high-rise place of rest. 
Occupancy costs, the monumental expense of monuments, and the recession 
of family and community bonds have all stifled a repose which once offered 
more space, substance, and scope for expression. Thus nineteenth-century 
gravestone iconography is equally distant from both its craft (and primarily 
folk-cultural) roots and the muted message it characteristically conveys in 
twentieth-century mass culture. 

Gravestone Form 

For cultural geographers, the seminal work on gravestones as cultural ex- 
pression is the exploratory statement by Richard Francaviglia (1971). 
Francaviglia's classification of nineteenth and twentieth century American 
gravestones was based solely on their form. He identified only nine types of 
monument, two of which were almost exclusively twentieth-century forms. 
This and other disquieting features of Francaviglia's work were criticized by 
Jeane (1972) in geography's leading scholarly journal. Nonetheless, 
Francaviglia's work remains widely read and, I think, is commonly assumed 
to reflect the realities of gravestone design. For example, Harmon (1973) 
used a slightly modified version of Francaviglia's classification in a survey of 
several thousand Pennsylvania gravestones. 

Even the most casual observer of Victorian cemeteries immediately sees 
that obelisks, crosses, and elaborately sculpted forms were greatly outnum- 
bered by vertical slabs. The form of these slabs was mostly determined by 
the design of their top. Francaviglia identified only two such forms: the 
Gothic pointed arch, and the round-headed tablet reminiscent of the Mosaic 
commandments. In fact, however, vertical slabs took many forms, from the 
plain rectangular gravestone to tops with very complex bilateral symmetry. 
When Victor Konrad (now Director of Canadian Studies at the University 
of Maine, Orono) and I designed a standard inventory form for rural On- 


tario cemeteries, we began with a reconnaissance of several graveyards, 
noting what appeared to be common vertical slab and other monument 
forms. The resultant inventory form is illustrated in Figure 1. The more 
than five thousand gravestones inventoried by our students were all 
categorized using this standard form. In addition to the nine vertical slab 
variants illustrated, the form provides for sketches of more detailed treat- 
ment of the top and (as we soon discovered) sides of vertical slabs. Com- 
puter encoding, recoding, and analysis revealed seven common vertical slab 
forms in Ontario between 1800 and 1909 (Table 1). 

A.G.S. members will be surprised to note that we did not provide for the 
common New England "bedboard" design in our standard inventory form. 
As the field surveys progressed after 1975, this deficiency became evident, 
and fieldworkers were instructed to carefully sketch this tripartite slab and 
its derivative designs. These are identified as New England forms in Table 
1, although of course I recognize that such forms were characteristic of the 
entire eighteenth-century eastern seaboard and of contemporary England as 
well. The form does present us with a sense of the weight and persistence 
of Loyalist cultural baggage in nineteenth-century Ontario. The bedboard 
stone was, it seems, never dominant after 1800, accounting for no more than 
15 percent of the gravestones inventoried in any period of the nineteenth 
and early twentieth century (Table 1). Nonetheless, this rather faint 
colonial legacy did prove to be remarkably resilient to Victorian faddishness 
in memorial design, a feature shared by the Palladian style, also carried 
forward from eighteenth-century practice (Table 1, and Figure 1, form a) 

Baroque complexity of the tops and sides of the vertical slabs in Ontario 
was especially characteristic of the 1830s, no doubt reflecting the renewal of 
British immigration and the growing sophistication of the province's early 
marble works (Table 1). The plain rectangular slab neatly divides the first 
and second half of the nineteenth century, distinguishing the restricted 
means of pioneer settlement from the enlarged scope and ostentation of 
High Victorian rural Ontario. 

The segmental arch (Type a) 07), Gothic (Type 2) 09) and Tablet (Type 
a) 08) vertical slab forms are all illustrated in Figure 1, and exhibit a 


Inventory Form, Ontario Cemetery SiB^eys, 1975-1979 

Ccaerery Ho. 

FORM (Circle one code no.) 
a) Vertical Slab Variants 

(Noce: Toppled Scones Included) 

"irker Ko Year of interment 


00) Other slab varlanc 
Please skecch 


1 1 














b) Sear Ground Typea 


raised top Inscription 

c) Obelisks 

i) Crosses 



slople obelisk 



cross-vault obelisk 



6) Other, please sketch 

f1 Granite Block 21) 

Lettering is 1) raised 2) incised 3) both 

Marker is of 0) D.K. 1) llaestone 2) granite 3) slate 4) sandstone 5) other. 

I'larker orientation 0) N.A. 1) North 2) Ease 3) South A) West 

ftarker height is 0) less than one, 1) 2) 3) A) 5) 6) 7) 8) 9)+ feet 

Motif ia 0) absent 1) ^§^ 2) A 3) C^s:^ 4) r^ 

wiLxow urn 

m ^> JtI 7) y 






Other: sketcn 

i/or descrlb 


NOTE: Sculpted motif capping marker (e.g. urn and obelisk) should NOT be recorded. 

Marker uaa suoplied by (name) 

of (place) 

Rel'p First Name Second Name Month Day Year Age Place o' Birth, Country 

WTE: Enter a^turlik 15 JllcRlblc, Icav^ blank if absent. 







1830- 1840- 1850- 1860- 1870- 1880- 
1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 














New England Forms 








































Segmental Arch 






























Other slabs 


































































































































NOTE: Values marked with an asterisk include granite blocks not categorized as such in 
the original inventory 


chronological succession of peak popularity between 1860 and 1880 (Table 
1). In other words, relatively short-lived /os/i/on was not generally typical of 
Ontario gravestone forms until well into the second half of the nineteenth 
century. It would be instructive to compare this seemingly late dominance 
of popular cultural trends with prevailing practice in upstate New York, 
especially during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. 

Obelisks in rural Ontario cemeteries suggest a chronological pattern 
similar to the three voguish vertical slab forms discussed above-evidence of 
early introduction but very late widespread acceptance, confined principally 
to the 1880s and 1890s (Table 1). Of near-ground marker types, only the 
pulpit marker was widely manufactured and adopted before 1910 in 
Southern Ontario (Table 1). Early granite blocks are not specifically 
reported in Table 1. Granite markers as a whole comprised 44 percent of 
all inventoried gravestones in the 1890s, and 54 percent during the first 
decade of this century. Overall, the form of rural Ontario gravestones in 
the nineteenth century combines modest persistence of traditional designs 
until the 1860s, with characteristic simplicity of form tempered by early but 
slow acceptance of key popular styles. From the 1860s on, variety and 
changing fashion held sway. The shift to modest near-ground memorials 
was notably slow, presumably stalled by widespread acceptance of early 
sand-blasted granite blocks and the advent of small (and usually granite) 
cross-vault obeUsks deemed suitable for family burials. 


Gravestones can be distinguished not only by their form, but also by the 
presence of decorative or symbolic sculpted motifs. The significance of 
these motifs is best known through the work of New England scholars 
(Dethlefsen and Deetz, 1966; Tashjian and Tashjian, 1974; Benes, 1977). 
Moreover, many contributors to Markers and other publications have 
reported the value of motifs as a key clue to colonial carver identification. 
My concern is less with the motif as the signature of a carver or evidence of 
a local practice than with its value as a reflection of widespread popular 
taste and attitudes. The reader is doubtless familiar with the classically in- 
spired urns, pedestals, and willows which celebrated American death on 


newly republican soil-so strikingly different from New England's colonial 
gallery of death's heads, spirits, and angels. 

Evidence of motif preference in the Ontario survey is fragmentary for the 
period prior to 1840 (Table 2). Mourning willows and funerary urns cer- 
tainly dominated decorative expression, but it is surprising to discover that 
all the most popular motifs in nineteenth-century Ontario are occasionally 
encountered among the earUest gravestones erected (Table 2), I suspect 
that the dates on several stones may have been incorrectly read by 
fieldworkers because of obliteration from weathering. 

Through the 1840s and 1850s the willow and urn continued to constitute 
the majority of all motifs inscribed (Table 2). As with gravestone form, the 
1860s were a transitional decade between simplicity and exuberance of ex- 
pression. The Hand of God in perpetual admonition appeared in appreci- 
able numbers on Ontario gravestones in the 1840s, and remained popular 
for five decades (Table 2). The Bible motif was a common adjunct of the 
pulpit marker. The cross was often employed on simple polished granite 
blocks, and very commonly used in Ontario's Catholic cemeteries. All other 
motifs reported in Table 2 reflect a prevailing sentimental, romantic, and 
increasingly secular image of death which characterized the period 1860- 
1909. The gentle and, one suspects, intentionally ambiguous hand-clasp is a 
case in point (Figure la). Note its remarkable surge in popularity in the 
1870s and 1880s (Table 2). 

The close of the nineteenth century saw fewer Ontario gravestones 
decorated with motifs, owing to their comparatively low incidence on 
obelisks. The turn of the century was also marked by increasing incidence 
of customized or floral motifs rather than standard symbols evocative of 
death, faith, or mourning (Table 2). The low but relatively constant use of 
the thistle is of course simply explained by the Scots presence in Ontario. 

I think it is especially noteworthy that in the 1860s and 1870s at least two 
thirds of all rural Ontario gravestones were embellished with motifs. It 
would be instructive to compare this pattern with, say, rural Michigan or 
New York. My impression of the latter state has been that nineteenth- 
century rural New Yorkers were more ready to accept novel forms than they 
were decorative Victorian embellishment. The French historian Aries 















Wi 1 1 ow 




















Hand of 






























Clasped hands 














































































































NOTE: The category 'other motifs' includes a very wide variety of decorative 

embellishments. The sample size inventoried is given in parentheses after each of 
the following motifs: scroll (45), shroud (38), crown (30), lily (25), shield (20), 
gate (19), masonic device (18), angel (17), anchor (16), tree (14), crucifix (13), 
fleur de lys (12), obelisk (11), all others (78). 


Figure la. Illustration of clasped hands motif 

(1981) singled out this sentimental Victorian zenith as the most striking fea- 
ture of North American memorial practice. Ontario's post-pioneer decades 
certainly evoke this zenith. 


The height and implicit cost of gravestones made important social state- 
ments (Kephart, 1950). Obelisks soared Masai-like in the late Victorian 
cemetery, dwarfing the slabs around them. Often obelisks were as clustered 
in the cemetery as, in real life, were the prominent families they memorial- 
ized. This was especially true of Ontario's small towns and villages. 
Around these monumental cores, so evocative of modern downtown 
skyscrapers as symbols of prestige, the undulating scale and quality of other 
gravestones paid more subtle homage to wealth, persistence, and longevity. 
In this hierarchy the infant's tombstone carried the least weight and height. 

The height distribution of rural Ontario gravestones changed very little 
between 1800 and 1869 (Table 3). The effect of peak obelisk incidence 
after 1880 is evident, and (as noted above) this effect persisted into the 
early twentieth century, albeit with fewer exceptionally tall markers. 





One or 


Three Four 



Seven or 

(percent of 


row sum) 


















































































Otherwise, the impHcit social hierarchy based on the scale of gravestones 
seems to have remained remarkably stable throughout the nineteenth cen- 
tury in rural Ontario. Whatever relatively egalitarian standing may have 
characterized bush pioneers was not strikingly reflected in Ontario graves- 
tone height in the 1830s or 1840s. 


Ontario's easily worked Hmestones weathered rapidly. Wooden markers 
must have been common in pioneer settings and early family plots on farms, 
but have now almost all disappeared. Our survey indicates that slate slabs 
accounted for no more than 10 percent of markers between 1800 and 1849, 
and were much rarer thereafter. Limestone was used for between one half 
and three quarters of all surviving gravestones erected between 1800 and 
1890. Sandstone was used for approximately 30 percent of markers surviv- 
ing from before 1850, and 20 percent or less thereafter. Granite graves- 
tones appeared in appreciable numbers about 1870, comprised more than a 
quarter of all stones erected by 1890, and the majority of new gravestones 


by 1900. A few white bronze monuments appear in the record. (St. 
Thomas, Ontario, boasted a subsidiary of the well-known Bridgeport, Con- 
necticut, parent company.) 


The inscribed face of colonial New England vertical slabs commonly 
faces west; the interred body faces east, sandwiched between headstone and 
(before its later removal) footstone. Early Ontarians tended to modify this 
arrangement so that both the inscription and the interred remains faced 
east. This practice persisted (Table 4). Exceptions include rural cemeteries 
where stones were evidently set to face the roadside or accommodate the 
terrain. Gravestones 'facing' in two or more cardinal directions were of 
course primarily obelisks (Table 4). The eastern exposure of half or more 
rural Ontario gravestones throughout the period studied attests to the 
resilience of some established practices within a climate of rapid change. 




East South West North Two or more 

Cardinal directions 

(percent of gravestones, row sum) 


































































In rural Ontario cemeteries, 15 percent of pre-First Worid War grave- 
stones exhibit a recognizable manufacturer's mark. This typically consists of 
the firm's name and its place of business, incised at the base of the grave- 
stone. Many such marks have been obliterated by weathering, obscured by 
soil accumulation, or covered by a concrete base if the gravestone has been 
reset. Thus the actual incidence of manufacturer's marks was originally 
much higher than 15 percent. Such inscriptions were, I believe, much less 
common in the United States. 

In Ontario, we were able to identify over 250 distinct manufacturers 
operating in 67 urban centers. Some marble works, such as the Hurd and 
Roberts company of Hamilton, distributed over a very wide area for a long 
period. Others were highly localized and ephemeral. Manufacturer's marks 
are most likely to be found on large, elaborate, or unusual monuments, on 
memorials shipped beyond the firm's immediate market, and in areas served 
by several competing firms (Norris and Krogh, 1976). The median distance 
gravestones were shipped was 20 miles; 10 percent of the attributed grave- 
stones were shipped at least 75 miles from marble works to cemetery. Per- 
haps intensity of competition encouraged Ontario firms to label their 
product when circumstances warranted the practice. Some gravestones were 
billboards as well as memorials. 


Among 2380 gravestones for which we encoded nominal information in 
full as well as material-cultural characteristics, 22 percent recorded the 
deceased person's nativity. Nativity was most commonly reported for 
Ontario's first generation immigrants, especially for Irish, Scottish or Ger- 
man settlers. English and American Ontarians were rarely memorialized as 
such, and Ontario birthplaces are almost never recorded on the province's 
tombstones. The record of Scottish nativity typically specified the place of 
birth of the deceased, whereas Ontario Irish burials usually indicated the 
person's county of origin. This apparent tap-rootedness of the Scots and the 
regional identification of Ontario's Irish are, I think, a compelling example 
of the degree to which gravestones preserve the predilections of past society. 


Case Studies 

It is impossible to convey the richness and meaning of rural Ontario 
cemeteries solely through summary findings. Each graveyard displays a 
unique mix of markers, a 'signature' so to speak, based on an intertwining of 
local context, burial chronology, and the broader trends discussed above. 
The following case studies illustrate ways in which the peculiarities of local 
context can be understood with reference to additional sources of evidence. 

Eccentric Orientation 

Most nineteenth-century cemeteries achieved a replica of social ecology 
through the acquisition and allocation of family plots, their progressive oc- 
cupancy, and placement of the dead based on marriage or kinship. These 
multiple ties were reinforced visually by the design and nomenclature of the 
monuments (Young, 1960). But rural Ontarians recognized status in, above 
all, the possession of land and the rootedness of families and their progeny. 
By these criteria, the Kitchen family had done well. Their large landhold- 
ings, near St. George, Brant County, accommodated several branches of the 
family by the early 1870s (Figure 2), The Kitchens were usually buried in 
family plots in the public cemetery north of St. George. Unlike almost all 
other gravestones in the cemetery, the Kitchen family memorials did not 
face east. Instead, the Kitchen gravestones were set facing west, toward the 
family's landholdings. This intriguing expression of family status was dis- 
covered in 1976 by one of my students. Miss Deborah Frame. It says much, 
I think, about the importance attached to family burials in past rural 
landscapes, and about the ability of prominent families to set, follow, or 
defy convention as they saw fit. 

A Family Plot 

Many Ontario families maintained on-farm burial grounds well into this 
century; some are still in use. The Shaver family cemetery, in Ancaster 
Township near Hamilton, Ontario, contains 43 tombstones erected since 
1825. A nearby public cemetery, with over 100 markers, received its first 
burial in 1805. The field inventory of these two cemeteries was completed 
by Lynn Dilks and Sherry Bukowski in 1975. Their inventory demonstrated 





Farms owned by Kitchen family, west of St. George cemetery, Ontario. 

All yavestones in the cemetery faced east, except the Kitchen bu-ials, 

which faced west. (D. Frame, McMaster University, 1977). 


that, despite the privacy and seclusion of the Shaver family cemetery, the 
family's gravestones provided an outlet for innovative taste and a display of 
status. The first Shaver obelisk, for example, was erected in 1861, fully two 
decades before the first obelisk in the nearby public cemetery. The same 
was true of the first Shaver pulpit marker, which dates from 1888, as com- 
pared with 1923 for a similar gravestone in the public cemetery. Even the 
modest segmental arch vertical slab appeared two decades earUer in the 
family cemetery than in its public counterpart, where the first such marker 
was erected in 1851. Owing to the cumulative wealth and status of families 
which established themselves early in the Ontario landscape, their pioneer 
burial grounds could become showcases not of simple burial and conserva- 
tive disposition, but of substance and avant-garde taste. 


Rural Ontario cemeteries, like the province's schoolhouses, chapels, and 
mills, were likely to be situated away from the postal hamlets and villages 
which dotted the landscape. The cemeteries were often, but by no means 
always, adjacent to places of worship. Because of their isolation, and often 
their desolation, it is easy to forget that rural cemeteries were a part of the 
territorial fabric which influenced social intercourse, group identity, and 
community life in nineteenth-century society. One can obtain some insight 
about the territorial role of the cemetery by linking the location of burial to 
the location of prior residence of the deceased (Figure 3). I call the resul- 
tant patterns "deathsheds." The examples illustrated were compiled by John 
Goss in 1976 from a comprehensive inventory of cemetery interments, which 
were then merged with a turn-of-the-century tax roll and contemporary 
farmers' directory. The median 'journey to burial' was less than two miles. 
The fact that the deathsheds overlapped was due in part to the denomina- 
tional character of the cemeteries, and in part to burials of the elderly close 
to children who had settled nearby. This is most evident in the case of the 
northernmost cemetery in Figure 3, which is situated in the town of 
Meaford. Meaford had become the home of many of Euphrasia Township's 
rural offspring. 


Deathsheds of twelve cemeteries serving Euphrasia Township, Grey County: 
Linked Cases 1898-1914 

I I I L 

I I 




Denominational differences were not limited to where one was buried in 
rural Ontario; they extended to the memorialization of death as well. To 
explore these differences, Janet Hall and Marjorie Winger inventoried three 
nearby rural cemeteries in Haldimand County, on the shore of Lake Erie at 
the western limits of the Niagara peninsula. The three cemeteries were 
respectively confined to members of the Presbyterian church, the Roman 
Catholic church, and the Mennonite faith (Table 5). The memorials for the 
latter were, fittingly, plain vertical slabs, of modest and remarkably uniform 
height. These Mennonite tombstones, surprisingly, did not lack decorative 
detail, but the motifs employed were likely to convey a devout iconography 
(Table 5). The range of marker heights was greatest in the Catholic 
cemetery, which contained many obelisks. Crosses were the preferred 
Catholic motif, whereas unusual and individualized motifs were dominant in 
the Presbyterian cemetery. This case study demonstrates not only the im- 
print of custom and belief on the micro-geography of the cemetery, but also 
the dangers of inferring currents of popular taste from small or denomina- 
tionally biased samples of cemetery markers. 

Ethnicity and Status 

The next case study illustrates group-specific differences in gravestone 
characteristics, controlling for any other differences accountable to place, 
time, or faith. Using the burial register of a Catholic cemetery in the city of 
Welland, as well as surname and other tombstone evidence, Paula Esposito 
distinguished three ethnic groups among 77 interments between 1890 and 
1919. Italian burials reflected a community which had formed after the es- 
tablishment of the Plymouth Cordage Works in Welland, and its relocation 
of Italian workers from Massachusetts, who then prompted migration of 
relatives and friends from Italy. Welland's turn-of-the-century Slavic im- 
migrants typically held low-paid commonly industrial jobs. The British- 
Canadian Catholics were well established, often Irish, many of them trace- 
able to migratory labor on the Welland Canal in the early nineteenth cen- 



Denominational differences in motif preference: 
Three cemeteries in Haldimand County, Ontario, 1870 - 1899 



(Percent of gravestones) 



Hand of God 


Clasped Hands 






Flowers, Wreaths 


Cross, Crucirix 


All other motifs 




















SOURCE: J. Hall and M. Winger, McMaster University, 1976; based on field inventory of 174 




The different footholds these groups had achieved within Welland society 
are apparent from the memorials to their dead (Table 6). In particular, the 
British-Canadians were more likely to pay for decorative motifs, more able 
to afford obelisks (or, failing those, granite blocks), and judging from the 
mix of lettering employed, more inclined to combine prominently displayed 
raised family names with incised biographical detail. The Italian markers 
are mostly plain limestone slabs with a brief inscription and little or no 
decorative detail. The Slavic markers are no larger than the Italian grave- 
stones, but are more varied in form, more decorative, and durable. Ms. 
Esposito's study illustrates the interdependence of cultural and 
socioeconomic factors in the material expression of ethnic groups as succes- 
sive waves of immigrants entered Ontario between the late eighteenth cen- 
tury and the First World War. 


Ethnicity and Status: The Japanese Martyrs' Catholic Cemetery. 

Welland, Ontario, 1890-1919 



(percent of gravestones associated with ethnic ^Foup) 

greater than H feet — 33 — 

granite markers 26 44 39 

Incised and raised 4 22 — 


Motif present 18 39 26 


Non-rectangular design 40 64 67 

SOURCE: P. Esposito, McMaster University, 1975 


Diffusion and Context 

Were remote regions and isolated localities slow to adopt new styles? 
Eastern Grey County remained unsettled until the 1840s, yet its adoption of 
the tablet marker is scarcely distinguishable from the advent and peak 
popularity of this form in our overall sample (Table 7, compare Table 1). 
Moreover, Eastern Grey shunned this form quite early, whereas the tablet 
marker persisted in isolated rural graveyards within 20 miles of Hamilton, 
the province's second largest city (Table 7). In the villages around Hamil- 
ton, however, the tablet marker was already widely in use by the 1860s 
(Table 7). This was a full decade before the tablet's peak popularity in 
Pennsylvania (Hannon, 1973), and two decades before its peak in 
Francaviglia's Wisconsin survey, and fully three decades before its zenith in 
rural Oregon (Francaviglia, 1971). These results should not mislead the 
reader into assuming that the diffusion of gravestone taste was a broad east- 
to-west spread, qualified by pockets of urbane innovation and stolid resis- 
tance, I am convinced that the answer to these regional and contextual 
variations hes primarily in modes of manufacture, pricing, and distribution, 
not in patterns of taste. Detailed studies of the records of Victorian marble 
works are needed to explore these questions. 


I trust that this essay has helped to dispel the perception that Victorian 
gravestones have little to compel our interest or study. Granted, 
nineteenth-century rural Ontario was no showpiece for the independent car- 
ver. Nor were its cemeteries enriched by the large tombs or memorial art 
that can be found in urban necropolises throughout the United States and 
Canada. Rural aspirations rarely went beyond what could be cut, shipped, 
and erected for a reasonable price. Thus status after death was free of the 
more flagrant excesses of old money and the nouveau riche in cities. In any 
case, by these standards, rural Ontarians were neither wealthy nor inclined 
to conspicuous display. 

What emerges from this survey of form, decorative detail, and other 
gravestone characteristics is a sense of rural Ontarian conservatism unwill- 
ing or unable to take full advantage of the repertoire of choice offered by 


Tablet (Round-headed) Marker Incidence in Three Ontario Settings, 1850 - 1909 




Village Graveyards 
near Hamilton 


Isolated Graveyards 
near Hamilton 


Grey County 

(Tablets as percent of all gravestones) 











NOTE: Grey County's pioneer settlement phase generally spanned the period 1840-1865; 
the Hamilton area was settled between 1790 and 1825. 

SOURCE: Field inventory, McMaster University, 1975-77; 201 tablet markers were 
sampled in 28 cemeteries. 


Victorian marble works. It was not until the 1870s that the earmarks of 
popular culture were fully evident in the Ontario cemetery. It is, I think, 
noteworthy that Ontario's rural domestic architecture exhibits much the 
same hesitancy; Gothic was more a matter of cheap adornment than design 
before the 1870s, and Italianate villas were likewise largely a post- 
Confederation phenomenon. Yet Ontarians did not perpetuate a Loyalist 
tradition in memorial art any more than they continued to erect Loyalist 
homes. Moreover, their material culture exhibited very little that could con- 
fidently be termed Scots or Irish. In the matter of gravestones, houses, 
barns, fences, and other trappings of the cultural landscape early Ontarians 
exhibited a remarkable ability to achieve distinctiveness through selectivity, 
adaptation, and stubborn adherence to 'norms' which had little or nothing to 
do with their ancestry. Their imprint is still evident, a middle landscape be- 
tween folk-based homogeneity and vacillating currents of popular taste. 
Their graveyards are very much a part of this imprint. 


I wish to thank Mrs. Sharron Paubnan of S.U.N.Y. Geneseo for her invaluable assistance in 
deriving final results from the Ontario gravestone computer file. The coding of the records was 
supported by the Canada Council in 1978-79, and undertaken by Randy Widdis and Cheryl Hall 
Hoffman at McMaster University. Their ability to decipher and make sense of the original in- 
ventory forms was a crucial step in this research. I also wish to acknowledge the work of Victor 
Konrad, a 1975 graduate colleague at McMaster who collaborated in the design and early trials 
of our standcird inventory form. And of course without the hundred or so McMaster student 
volunteers this survey could not have been completed. My work on gravestone cmalysis had 
been in abeyemce for four years when I joined the A.G.S. Thanks to the members for their en- 
couragement, most especially Pat Miller and Gaynell Stone. Thanks too to the Cooperstown 
N.Y.S.HA. seminarians and staff who rekindled my enthusiasm for cemetery research. My 
patient and congenial secretary, Mrs. Loretta Stratton, coped with the assorted, often chaotic, 
drafts of this essay, and as always produced a fine typescript. 


ARIES, Phillipe, The Hour of Our Death, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981). 

BENES, Peter, The Masks of Orthodoxy, (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 

DARDEN, J.T., "Factors in the Location of Pittsburgh Cemeteries," The Virginia Geographer 
(1972), Vol. 7, pp. 3-8. 


DETHLEFSEN, E., and J. DEETZ, "Death's Heads, Cherubs, and Willow Trees: Experimen- 
ted Archaeology in Colonial Cemelcries,," American Antiquity (1966), Vol. 31, pp. 502-10. 

FRANCA VIGLIA, Richard V., "The Cemetery as an Evolving Cultural Landscape," Annals 
(The Association of American Geographers, 1971) Vol. 61 (3), pp. 501-9. 

HALL, Roger, and Bruce BOWDEN, "Beautifying the Boneyard: The Changing Image of the 
Cemetery in Nineteenth-Century Ontario," Material History Bulletin, (1986), Vol. 23, Spring, 
pp. 13-24. 

HANKS, Carole, Eariy Ontario Gravestones, (Toronto: McGraw Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1974). 

HANNON, TJ., "Nineteenth Century Cemeteries in Central West Pennsylvania," Proceedings, 
(The Pioneer America Society, 1973), Vol. 2, pp. 23-8. 

JEANE, Donald G., "A Plea for the End of Tombstone-Style Geography," Annals, (The As- 
sociation of American Geographers, 1972), Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 146-148. 

JEANE, D. Gregory, "The Upland South Cemetery: An American Type," Journal of Popular 
Culture (1978), Vol. 11, No. 4, pp. 895-903. 

KEPHART, W., "Status After Death," American Sociological Review (1950), Vol. 15, pp. 635- 

KNIFFEN, Fred, "Necrogeography in the United States," Geographical Review (1967), Vol. 57, 
pp. 426-7. 

KNIGHT, David. B., "Cemeteries as Living Landscapes," (Ontario Genealogical Society, Ot- 
tawa Branch, Publication 73-8, 1973). 

LUDWIG, Allan, Graven Images, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1966). 

NORRIS, Darrell A., and Anne KROGH, "Cemetery Marker Origin: A Key to Market Evolu- 
tion," in Djurrell A. Norris and Victor Konrad, Eds. Visible Landscapes of the Past, 
(Department of Geography, McMaster University, 1976). 

OSBORNE, Brian S., "The Cemeteries of the Midland District of Upper Canada: A Note on 
Mortahty in a Frontier Society," Pioneer America, (1974) Vol. 6, pp. 46-55. 

PATTERSON, Nancy-Lou, "The Iron Cross and The Tree of Life: German-Alsatian 
Gravemarkers in Waterloo Region and Bruce County Roman Catholic Cemeteries," Ontario 
History, (1976), Vol. 48, No. 1, pp. 1-16. 

PIKE, Mzirtha V., cuid Jcmice Gray ARMSTRONG, >4 Time to Mourn: Expressions of Grief in 
Nineteenth Century America, (The Museums at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY, 1980). 

STONE, Patricia, and Lynn RUSSELL, "Observation on Figures, Human and Divine, on 
Nineteenth-Century Ontario Gravestones," Material History Bulletin (1986), Vol. 24, Fall, pp. 

TASHJIAN, Dickreui, and Ann TASHJIAN, Memorials for Children of Change: The Art of 


Early New England Stonecarving, (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1974). 

WALLACE, William D., B.H. Kinney, 1821-1888: Gravestone Carver and Sculptor, (Worcester 
Historical Museum, Worcester, MA, 1985). 

YOUNG, Frank W., "Graveyards and Social Structure," Rural Sociology, (1960), Vol. 25 (4), 
pp. 446-50. 

ZELINSKY, Wilbur, "Unearthy Delights: Cemetery Names and the Map of the Changing 
American Afterworld," in David Lowenthal and Martyn Bowden, Eds., Geographies of the 
Mind, (New York: Oxford Unversity Press, 1975). 


Springbrook Farm, Grey County, Ontario 


roinpiled from thr brnt Aatlioiitics . 

Map of Kings County, Nova Scotia (circa 1818) 



Deborah Trask and Debra McNabb 

In Nova Scotia most of what is known about life in the late eighteenth 
and early nineteenth centuries has been gleaned from scant documents -- 
diaries, newspapers, correspondence, wills, deeds - and the story they tell is 
far from complete. To understand more of this period, we have begun to 
investigate Nova Scotia gravestones, combining artifact information with his- 
torical records, thereby relating material, maker and location of the stones 
with what is known about the people they memorialize and the communities 
in which those people lived. This report discusses the findings of research 
to date. 

A cursory examination of the old graveyards of Nova Scotia reveals that 
gravestones pre-dating 1780 are generally made of slate, ornately carved in 
the style common around Massachusetts Bay, and in fact, imported from 
there.^ Between 1780 and 1840 most stones were made locally by Nova 
Scotian craftsmen and can be grouped by area, according to common 
characteristics of material and style. For the most part, Halifax stones were 
carved in sandstone in very high relief by Scottish stone masons who 
originally came to the capital to construct public buildings. A few stones of 
this style can also be found in the major towns nearest to Halifax - Windsor 
and Lunenburg - where they stand alongside more primitive local carving 
of the same period. From Liverpool to Yarmouth there are imported New 

* This report originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in Material 
History Bulletin 23 (Spring 1986) published by the History Division of the 
Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, and is printed here with the 
kind permission of the editor of the Bulletin. The authors wish to em- 
phasize that this is to be read as an overview of work in progress. We hope 
that their project will be extended to include research in the New York area 
for evidence of the sources of Seaman's work, a scouring of North Cumber- 
land County for further examples of the work of the Horton Carvers, and a 
geological analysis which will pinpoint the sources of their material. 


England slates (more common and of later date), a few Halifax sandstones, 
and an obvious "south shore" style of crude carving on local scaly schist.^ 
Throughout Cape Breton, as well as Pictou and Antigonish Counties, 
eighteenth- and very early nineteenth-century stones are uncommon, but 
those that survive are usually sandstone and of formal design. In Cumber- 
land and Colchester Counties there are also few early gravestones, and their 
style is more folksy. Around the Annapolis River the old stones tend to be 
sandstone carved in a style popular along the Saint John River, just across 
the Bay of Fundy. In Kings County, Nova Scotia, another distinctly identifi- 
able carving style can be found. There are more than 100 stones in this 
style ~ a remarkable number compared with other rural areas. This con- 
centration is attributable perhaps not so much to survival as to the fact that 
this was one of the first English-speaking areas of the province to develop a 
local economy which could support a resident gravestone carver. 

Our research to date has focused on that area of Kings County, Nova 
Scotia, which was set off in the 1750s as the townships of Horton and 
Cornwallis. These townships were settled in the early 1760s as part of a 
campaign by the Nova Scotia government to attract New Englanders to the 
colony. Just a few years before, and after almost one hundred and fifty 
years of habitation, the colony's resident French Acadian population had 
been forcibly deported and the land lay empty. Between 1760 and 1764 
more than 5000 New Englanders took up grants of free land ranging from 
250 to 1000 acres in eleven townships of approximately 100,000 acres each, 
located along Nova Scotia's southwestern shore, the Annapolis Valley, the 
Minas Basin and the isthmus of Chignecto. 

Prospective immigrants from the land-hungry agricultural areas of New 
England were especially interested in the fertile alluvial farmland in the 
heart of Acadia at Les Mines (Minas). The Nova Scotia government parti- 
tioned this land as the townships of Cornwallis, Horton and Falmouth. 
These townships were to be colonized as block settlements, i.e. each was 
granted to a group of families and individuals who were expected to move 
from New England to Nova Scotia as a community and to occupy the land, 
at least initially, in common. But as the colonization proceeded, forfeitures, 
vacancies and the influx of non-grantees led to the settlement of the Minas 


townships by a diverse group of proprietors. In Horton, for example, three 
components can be recognized in the final selection of grantees: 177 New 
Englanders, 14 soldiers and 11 placemen.^ Still, most of the grantees - per- 
haps 88% - were New Englanders. Male grantees ranged in age between 15 
and 66, more than two-thirds were married and brought between one and 
ten, but most often four, children under age 21 to the new land. Many 
families included one or two sons aged 16 to 21 who were not grantees and 
could labor on family farms. 

Little of the economic background of the New England settlers can be 
known without reconstructing their lives prior to emigration. While it is 
very unlikely that the extremely rich or the very poor came to Kings County, 
the sparse evidence suggests that the grantees represented a broad 
economic spectrum. For instance, such men as prominent Connecticut 
landowner Robert Denison, Yale-educated lawyer Nathan Dewolf, and Col. 
Charles Dickson (who personally financed a military company for the siege 
of Beausejour) came to Horton, but other settlers could not survive the first 
few years without food and grain subsidies from the Nova Scotia govern- 
ment. Although almost every man called himself a yeoman farmer when he 
claimed a Horton share, the New Englanders brought a variety of skills to 
the new land. A small number identified themselves as blacksmiths, carpen- 
ters, cordwainers, weavers and traders, while others relied on informal train- 
ing to build their houses and provide their families with the basic posses- 
sions they had not brought with them. 

If the origins of the 79 New Englanders who settled in Horton for whom 
we have data are typical, members of this largest group of grantees came 
from a compact area of southeastern Connecticut focusing on the port of 
New London and including the towns of Lebanon, Colchester, Norwich, 
East Haddam, Lyme and Stonington. A few others came from communities 
along the Connecticut River. 

The gravestones which still stand in Horton as memorials to these New 
Englanders are different from those found in their hearth areas. In 
southeastern Connecticut mid-eighteenth-century gravestones are mainly 
granite, with shallow carved angel-head motifs (soul effigies) predominantly 
the work of Benjamin Collins, the Manning family and their imitators.'' This 


style of carving contrasts sharply with the ornate and deeply incised 
sandstones of the Connecticut River Valley. Both major Connecticut carv- 
ing styles differ considerably from the slate carving styles of Massachusetts 
and Rhode Island.^ In fact, the gravestones of Kings County, Nova Scotia, 
bear little resemblance to those found anywhere in New England from the 
mid-eighteenth century.^ 

The oldest Kings County gravestones date from about 1770 to 1820. The 
earliest are probably "back-dated" - carved some time later than the date 
indicated on the stone. From the evidence of the stones, there does not ap- 
pear to have been anyone carving gravestones in Horton before the 1780s. 
The oldest markers appear to be primarily the creation of two stonecarvers, 
working exclusively in sandstone. The first is referred to as the "Second 
Horton Carver" because his name is unknown and he succeeded an earlier 
carver who worked only briefly in the area.^ The second has been identified 
as Abraham Seaman. These attributions have been made following a sys- 
tematic investigation of the older burial grounds in Nova Scotia. Pre- 1830 
stones were closely scrutinized and grouped in terms of material, shape, let- 
tering, image, border, word groupings, and any other visibly identifiable 
characteristics. Probate records were then studied for any reference to in- 
dividuals paid to carve gravestones. This kind of information is rarely noted 
in estate settlement papers. Not every death involved an estate settlement 
(especially those of young men, children and many women), and not all 
probate records have survived. Thus the identity of the Second Horton 
Carver remains a mystery. 

Stones attributed to the Second Horton Carver date from 1798 to 1805 
(Appendix A).^ He carved crude, sad faces with an elaborate carved "rope" 
edge and vining or "bird-track" border. His earliest stones have deep out- 
lines around the winged-head image, or no image at all and a plain curved 
shape at the top edge (Fig. 1). Later the top edge shape became more 
elaborate and he added a plain or beaded bracket around the "Here Lies" 
part of the inscription (Fig. 2). There is also a further cutting away above 
the head, and often the epitaph "Death is a debt that is nature's due,/Which 
I have paid and so must you." He never mastered the depiction of hair. A 
curious distinguishing mark of the Second Horton Carver is a tail on the 


Fig. 1. Benjamin Peck stone, sandstone, 1801, Kentville, Kings County, N.S. 
Attributed carver: Second Horton carver, first style. Photo by Dan and 
Jessie Lie Farber. 

Fig. 2. Eunice Harris stone, sandstone, 1803, Upper Canard, Kings County, 
N.S. Attributed carver: Second Horton carver, second style. Photo by 
Deborah Trask. 


.Tis.'Si.^i'ti-* UK ■-•^'" -■'■*•«.., 

Fig. 3. James C. & Thomas Griffin stone, sandstone, 1810, Kentville, Kings 
County, N.S. Attributed carver: Abraham Seaman. Photo by Dan and 
Jessie Lie Farber. 

Fig. 4. Henry Magee stone, sandstone, 1806, Kentville, Kings County, N.S. 
Attributed carver: Abraham Seaman. Photo by Dan and Jessie Lie Farber. 


crossbar of the "f ' in "Here lies the body of." Stones with these characteris- 
tics are found in all the old burial grounds of Cornwallis and Horton, with 
some at nearby Falmouth and Windsor. A few stones for former residents 
of Horton have been discovered outside the area. There is one for Charles 
Dickson at St. Paul's Cemetery in Halifax, and another for Susannah, wife 
of Nathan Harris, at Liverpool. 

Field investigation has revealed a second style of carving on stones dated 
from 1805 to 1821 (Appendix B).' This carver also used the elaborate 
carved "rope" edge, the vining or "bird-track" border, and added a swirl to 
the crossbar on the "f ' in "In Memory of," but he executed these decorations 
with greater dexterity (Figs. 3 & 4). He generally carved the name of the 
deceased in capital letters. His technique is undoubtedly derived from the 
earlier style, for there is a clear visible link between the two. He may have 
learned the trade of stonecarving from the Second Horton Carver. It is 
quite possible that this carver and the Second Horton Carver are the same 
person, and these stylistic variations show the evolution of carving skill in 
one craftsman.^° 

Documentary evidence identifies this carving as the work of Abraham 
Seaman. Probate estate papers for three decedents whose stones have these 
characteristics record payments to Abraham Seaman for gravestones (Figs. 
5, 6 & 7 a,b).^^ Seaman is also mentioned in the journal of Edward Man- 
ning, minister of the First Baptist Church in Cornwallis. On April 30, 1818, 
six weeks after his daughter Eunice died. Manning recorded: "Saw Mr. 
Abraham Seamans, presented bill for Eunice's gravestone, 6 pounds, 4 shill- 
ings, but he deducted 1 pound 4 shillings."^^ 

Abraham Seaman was the son of Jacomiah Seaman of Westchester, New 
York.^-' During the American Revolution, Jacomiah's four sons joined Col. 
Lowther Pennington's Regiment of Kings Guards, and so became members 
of the group known as the Westchester Loyalists.^'' After the war many 
Westchester Loyalists received land grants in Cumberland County, Nova 
Scotia. Jacomiah and his son Stephen each received a 500-acre grant at 
"Cobequid Road," Cumberland County, and later were granted a second 
tract near River Philip.^^ Jacomiah probably settled in the township of Fan- 
ningsborough (now North Wallace). ^^ In 1788 his son Abraham "of the 


Fig. 5. Thomas Miner stone, sandstone, 1801, Wolfville, Kings County, N.S. 
Attributed carver: Abraham Seaman. Photo by Deborah Trask. 


Fig. 6. Rachel Fitch stone, sandstone, 1808, Wolfville, Kings County, N.S., 
tympanum detail. Attributed carver: Abraham Seaman. Photo by Deborah 








Figs. 7 a,b. Ezekiel Woodworth stone, sandstone, 1812, Chipman's Corner, 
Kings County, N.S. Probated carver: Abraham Seaman. Photo by 
Deborah Trask. 


township of Westchester, County of Cumberland, yeoman" bought 50 acres 
on the north side of the main road leading from Amherst to Cobequid 
(Truro), which he sold less than two years later.^^ In October 1794, at the 
age of twenty-four, Abraham Seaman of Westmoreland, Cumberland 
County, bought a house and a one-acre lot in Horton.^^ The following year 
he married into a prominent Horton family and lived there until 1821, when 
he moved back to Cumberland County.^^ 

In the intervening years, Abraham Seaman had amassed considerable 
land holdings in Cumberland County. In 1802, Abraham Seaman "of Hor- 
ton, Kings County, merchant," bought some land at River Philip. In Sep- 
tember of 1806 he bought an additional 1000 acres at River Philip, and the 
next month, listed now as a mason, he bought some more land in Horton. 
Years later, while helping his brother Stephen settle a land dispute at River 
Philip (now Pugwash), he swore that " 1806 I went from Horton to Pug- 
wash Built a House on the West side of Pugwash harbour the first there 
ever..."^° But, as far as we know, he continued to live at Horton. In March 
of 1811 he bought dykeland at Horton; in October of the same year he 
bought five tracts of land including a half interest in a sawmill at River 
Philip from his brother Hezekiah. On all of these deeds he is listed as being 
"of Horton."2i 

As a landowner, merchant and mason. Seaman was probably involved in 
a variety of business activities during the time he lived in Horton. One of 
his most enduring activities was making distinctive gravestones for his 
neighbors. At least part of the reason Seaman's stones have survived is be- 
cause of the material he used. His stones are a high-quality, dense brown 
sandstone that seems out of place in a settlement bordering the Bay of 
Fundy. It bears little resemblance to the material used by his son, Thomas 
Lewis Seaman, when he made gravestones in Kings County during the 1830s 
and 40s.^^ The younger Seaman relied more on a porous, reddish sandstone 
which seems to be characteristic of the Minas Basin area. The stone has 
succumbed over time to water damage, and has become very crumbly. The 
superior material used by Abraham Seaman is more like the stone found at 
Remsheg (Wallace), Cumberland County. Stone from the Remsheg quarry 
was used to build Province House in Halifax, which was finished before 


1819. The architect Richard Scott bought the land on the Remsheg River 
which included the stone quarries in 1814.^^ The deed impUes that the 
quarries had been worked previously, but precisely when sandstone was first 
quarried there is as yet unknown. If sandstone was being transported from 
Remsheg to Halifax, could it also have gone to the Horton-Cornwallis 
district? We know that the house built for Charles Ramage Prescott in 
Cornwallis township, completed before 1817, has a sandstone foundation 
and lintels. Although the brick for the house was made nearby,^'* the source 
for the sandstone has not been ascertained. We do not know if Seaman had 
access to Wallace sandstone. Until the early Kings County gravestones are 
analyzed by a geologist, conclusions about the source of Seaman's sandstone 
are tenuous at best. 

Still, if Seaman transported his raw material from north Cumberland to 
Kings County, this would reveal patterns of trade and perceptions of dis- 
tance and travel in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Nova Scotia. Un- 
doubtedly Seaman himself traveled this route regularly to maintain his 
family and business connections in Cumberland County. 

In addition to material, maker and origins of the people for whom they 
were made, the gravestones were examined in the context of the lives these 
people lived in Horton. An analysis of the stones according to origin, 
religion and place of residence of the decedents, their economic standing 
within the group of founding settlers, and kinship ties to each other and to 
Abraham Seaman reveals that the only connection most share is the timing 
of their arrival in Horton. Almost all extant stones for the period 1770 to 
1820 for this area of Kings County commemorate the township's grantees. 
Few exist for those who took up residence after all the land in the township 
had been granted, even though this group represented a significant com- 
ponent of the population. Between 1770 and 1791 at least 177 men and 
their families became residents of Horton.^ 

In that time, restricted access to land resulting from land granting 
policies, the accumulative impulses of a handful of the largest landowners, 
rising prices and increased pressure of population lessened everyman's op- 
portunity to own a farm. As a result, few latecomers ever acquired land. 
For the most part they rented property or labored on someone else's farm. 


There were few alternatives in this subsistence farming community. Almost 
immediately, society stratified on the basis of land ownership. Thus when 
Hortonians were finally laid to rest, it was those who had taken part in the 
initial settling and had obtained free land grants who were in a position to 
have gravestones erected in their memory. 

The carver of these gravestones was a native of Westchester, New York, 
and not of New England and thus his cultural traditions may have been dif- 
ferent from those of the people whose memorials he carved. He did not 
settle immediately in Kings County when he came to Nova Scotia, and the 
fact that he may have transported the material for his work from the area 
where he first lived (and continued to own property) raises some questions 
about why he moved to Horton. In eighteenth and early nineteenth century 
New England, carvers usually lived near a stone quarry.^^ When Abraham 
Seaman began carving in Horton, it was the shire town of the most popu- 
lated county in the colony (except Halifax) and the first generation of set- 
tlers was dying. Had he deliberately located close to his market?^^ 

Like the Cape Cod cottages and Georgian houses that dot the 
countryside, the old gravestones of Kings County seem to be part of the New 
England cultural traditions that are stamped on the landscape. As we begin 
to examine these artifacts more closely, it is clear that the story they tell is 
more complex. Although more research has to be done in this regard, it 
appears that gravestones were carved by Abraham Seaman in a style distinc- 
tive to Nova Scotia. 

Appendix A 

Gravestones attributed to the Second Horton Carver. 
First style: 

Jane Chipman 
Nathaniel Thomas 
Asa Wickwire 

Charles Dickson 
Aim Blackmore 
Lucy Haliburton 

1775 Chipman's Corner 

1787 Windsor 

1795 "Factory Cemetery", near Jawbone 

1796 Halifax - St. Paul's Cemetery 

1797 Onslow 
1797 Windsor 


Hannah Best 



Joseph Chase Jr. 


Upper Canard 

Charlotte Curry 


Chipman's Corner 

Handley Chipman 


Chipman's Corner 

Eliza Wells 


Upper Canard 

Joseph Chase 


Upper Canard 

Nathan Rand 



Lucretia Rogers 



Benjamin Peck 



Sabra Peck 



Second style: 

Stephen Post 


Chipman's Corner 

Margaret Ratchford 



Mary Forsyth 



Lydia Fitch 


Simpson's Bridge, Maple Street 

William Northup 



William Freeman 


West Amherst 

Aima Fitch 


Simpson's Bridge, Maple Street 

Martha Harris 


Upper Canard 

Nancy Chipman 


Chipman's Corner 

Gilbert Forsyth 



James Duncanson 



Eunice Harris 


Upper Canard 

Ann Bishop 



Caroline Bishop 



Susannah Harris 



Perry Borden 


Upper Canard 

Samuel Reed 



Appendix B 

Stones attributed to Abraham Seaman: 

Sarah Whidden 



Simeon Porter 


Chipman's Corner 

Mercy Bishop 



John Bishop 



Mary Benjamin 



Silas Woodworth 


Chipman's Corner 

George Oxley 


River Philip (broken) 

Silvanus Miner 



Thomas Watson 


West Amherst 

William Alline 



Ann Miner 



Thomas Miner 



William Griffin 


Fox Hill Cem., Cornwallis 

Margaret Brown 




Mathew Dickie 


Chipman's Corner 

Edward Church 



Stephen Sheffield 


Upper Canard 

Elizabeth Tonge 



Isaac Deschamps 



Joshua T. De St. Croix 



Obed Benjamin 


Henry Magee 



Patrick Murray 



John Dickie 


Chipman's Corner 

Mary Deck 



Rachel Fitch 



Rebecca Alline 



Mary Bishop 


Simpson's Bridge, Maple St. 

Sarah Woodworth 


Chipman's Corner 

James C./Thomas Giffin 



William Skene 


Fox Hill Cem,, Cornwallis 

Barnabus Lord 


Chipman's Corner 

Jarusha Dickey 


Chipman's Corner 

Elias Tupper 


Chipman's Corner 

Jonathan Shearman 


Upper Canard 

Betsy Morton 


Gagetown N.B. 

William/Ann Dunkin 

1811/07 River Philip 

Catherine Simpson 


St. Paul's Cem., Halifax 

* Cyrus Peck 



Lutitia Reed 


Upper Canard 

Samuel Gore 



*Ezekiel Woodworth 


Chipman's Corner 

Benjamin Jarvis 


Church of St. John, Church Street 

John/Elizabeth Burbidge 


Fox Hill Cem., Cornwallis 

John Palmeter 


"Factory Cemetery", near Jaw Bone 

Daniel Wood 


Upper Canard 

Polly Chipman 


Chipman's Corner 

Thomas Ratchford 



Dester Ratchford 



Hannah Chase 


Upper Canard 

Jinnat Dickie 


Chipman's Corner 

Mercury Cumming 


Chipman's Corner 

*John Bishop 


Simpson's Bridge, Maple Street 

Thomas H. Woodward 



Holmes Cogswell 


Upper Canard 

Henry Burbridge 


Fox Hill Cem., CornwaUis 

Captain Mason Cogswell 


Chipman's Corner 

Levena Bishop 


Wo fville 

Susannah Starr 


Starr's Point 

Samuel Tupper 


Chipman's Corner 

John Turner 



Rebekah Cumming 


Chipman's Corner 

Sarah Dickie 


Chipman's Corner 

Thomas Woodworth 


Upper Canard 


* Eunice Manning 


Elizabeth Barnaby 


Eunice Forsyth 


George Reid 


Abijah Pearson 


* Timothy Barnaby 


Eunice Hamihon 


John/Cynthy Moss 


Deborah Cottnam 


Rebeka Nisbet 


Mary Calkin 


Jeremiah Calkin 


Isaac Graham 


Thomas Stevens 


Upper Canard 
Chipman's Corner 
Upper Canard 
Chipman's Corner 
Grand Pre 
1821/20 Wolfville 

Chipman's Corner 
Simpson's Bridge, Maple Street 
Simpson's Bridge, Maple Street 

stones known to have been carved by Abraham Seaman. 


Deborah E. Trsisk, Life How Short, Eternity How Long, Gravestone Carving and Carvers in 
Nova Scotia (Halifax: Nova Scotia Museum, 1978) p. 10-14. 

Deborah E. Trask. "The South Shore Carver", The Occasional Vol. 9 #2, Nova Scotia 
Museum, 1985. 

For information on the settlement of Horton, see Debra A. McNabb, "Land and Families in 
Horton Township", unpublished MA. thesis, University of British Columbia, 1986. 
We are indebted to Dr. James Slater, of Mansfield CT, and the Association for Gravestone 
Studies for identifying carving styles in southeastern Connecticut, and to Susan Kelly and 
Anne Williams, also of AGS, for their assistance in checking gravestones in Old Lyme and 
New London. In relation to this project, the authors have investigated graveyards in 
Mansfield Center, Lebanon (Trumbull), Columbia and Windham, Coimecticut. For 
specific information on Connecticut gravestone carving, see a series of articles by Dr. Er- 
nest Caulfield published in the Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin between 1951 and 
1%7, continued by Peter Benes and James Slater from Dr. Caulfield's research, 1975-1983, 
particularly: "Connecticut Gravestones VlII", (Vol. 27 #3, July 1962) on the Manning 
family; "Connecticut Gravestones IX" (Vol. 28 #1, January 1963) on the CoUins family; 
"Connecticut Gravestones XIII" (Vol. 40 #2, April 1975) on the Kimball family; and 
"Connecticut Gravestones XV" (Vol. 43 #1, January 1978) on three Manning imitators. 
To reduce the styUstic trends of gravestone carving in eighteenth-century New England to 
three regional styles is a gross oversimplification. For purposes of this paper, this is 
adequate, but for more information on New England gravestone carving, the main texts are: 
Harriette M. Forbes, Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made TJiem, 
1653-1800 (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1927); Alan I. Ludwig, Graven Images 
(Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1968); Dickran and Anne Tashjian, 
Memorials for Children of Change (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1975); 
Peter Benes, The Masks of Orthodoxy (Amherst MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 

A comparison of Connecticut and Kings County carving styles can be found in the old 
Cornwallis township burial ground at Chipman's Corner, Kings County, Nova Scotia where 
there st£mds a signed Connecticut sandstone (Chester Kimball, New London) dated 1785, 
among the locally carved stones. 


7. Trask, Life How Short, "The Horton Carver" p. 18-19. 

8. Ibid., "The Second Horton Carver" p. 20-21. 

9. Ibid., "The Seaman Family" p. 71-73. 

10. We have considered that Abraham Seaman's father, Jacomijih, who was a mason (see foot- 
note 16), might have been the Second Horton Carver, but there is no evidence that he ever 
carved gravestones, nor any indication that he was ever in Horton. 

11. Kings Comity Probate Records, PubUc Archives of Nova Scotia, RG 48. Estates of Timothy 
Barnaby, 1821 ("pd Abr*" Simmons for Grave Stones L5"); John Bishop, 1815 "paid Abram 
Seamans 7.0.0"); Cyrus Peck 1812 ("paid Mr. Abraham Seaman Acct in full L4.14.-"); 
Ezekiel Woodworth, 1812 ("To Abraham Seamans for Grave Stones L3.10.-"). 

12. Journal of Edward Manning, in Special Collections, Vaughan Memorial Librjiry, Acadia 
University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, courtesy of Dr. B.M. Moody. 

13. A.W.H. Eaton, History of Kings County (Salem, Mass.: Salem Press, 1910), p. 814-5. 

14. James F. Smith, The History of Pugwash (Pugwash, N.S.: North Cumberland Historical 
Society, pubHcation #8, 1978), p. 3. 

15. Marion Gilroy, Loyalists and Land Settlement in Nova Scotia (Halifax: Public Archives of 
Nova Scotia, publication #4, 1937), p. 41. 

16. "I, Jacomiah Seaman of the township of Fannings Burrow and County of Cumberland, 
Mason..." Cumberland County Estate Papers, Public Archives of Nova Scotia (PANS) RG 
48, estate of Jacomiah Seaman, probated August 8, 1808. 

17. Cumberland County Deeds (PANS RG 47) Book D, p. 80 and p. 193. 

18. Kings County Deeds (PANS RG 47) Book 4, p. 265. 

19. Day Book of Timothy Bishop (1740-1827, Abraham Seaman's father-in-law) covering 1775- 
1824, (PANS MG 3) "Abraham Seaman moved to Pugwash November 27, 1821." 

20. Sworn statement of Abraham Seaman, 1827, quoted in Smith, History of Pugwash, p. 9. 

21. Cumberland County Deeds (PANS RG 47) Book F, p. 44, p. 190, p. 334; Kings County 
Deeds Book 5, p. 218; Book 6, p. 223. 

22. For more on the work of Thomas Lewis Seaman, see Trask, Life How Short, p. 73. 

23. Cumberland County Deeds (PANS RG 47) Book I, p. 86. 

24. C.J. Stewart "Brick Investigation Prescott House Nova Scotia" Historic Materials Research, 
Restoration Services Division, Parks Canada, Department of Indian and Northern Affairs, 
n.d., C.1974, unpublished report. 

25. McNabb, "Land and Families in Horton Township" chapter 3. 

26. Harley J. McKee, "Early Ways of Quarrying and Working Stone in the United States", Bul- 
letin of the Association for Preservation Technology III no. I (1971) p. 44-58. 

27. The vast majority of Seaman's stones are located in Kings County, in the area of the old 
Horton and Cornwallis townships. A few can be found around the old townships of Am- 
herst, Granville, Londonderry and Halifax, although none of his stones is in the Newport or 
Falmouth township areas. Nor are there any gravestones in his style of carving found in all 
of north Cumberland, except for two in the present village of River Philip. 


Fig. 1. Ryerson Tomb, complete view 

(All photographs are by the author.) 



Robert A. Wright 


Louis Henri Sullivan, generally acknowledged as the "Father of American 
Architecture," holds a unique position in nineteenth-century architectural 
history. Balancing organic and functional principles, he created buildings of 
unforgettable originality. Any artist is the product of his or her own time, 
either by contributing to current trends or ideas, or by reacting against them 
and starting out in new directions. Although Sullivan worked within the 
tradition of nineteenth-century Romanticism, he vehemently rejected much 
of the architecture of his era because it imitated past styles. Yet he studied 
historical styles in order to create an architectural vocabulary that revealed 
the psyche of his own times. 

Sullivan devoted his life work to the development of an all-encompassing 
personal philosophy, which he expressed through both literary and architec- 
tural means. Although he remained a serious and prolific writer throughout 
his life, he conveyed his ideas more clearly through the grammar of ar- 
chitecture. For Sullivan, architecture 

is but the condensed expression of such philosophy as is held by the 
worker who creates it. It stands for his views... of Nature, of Man as an 
entity in nature, of his fellow men, of an infinite pervading and guiding 
Spirit... in short, his philosophy of life.^ 

Many scholars consider Sullivan's tombs as landmarks of his artistic 
evolution. The tombs remain in fine condition (in contrast to the fate of 
many of his buildings) as splendid embodiments of his spirit. Mausoleum 
commissions provided Sullivan with the opportunity to test his design skills 
and architectural principles on pure forms. As utilitarian functions were 
minimal, he could concentrate on the issues of his artistic development. 
Designing tombs allowed him to express his transcendentalist philosophy on 
an intimate architectural level. As the architectural historian Garcia- 
Menocal has noted, 



A work of architecture, to Sullivan, was a living entity. In the realm of 
the symbolic, a tomb becomes much more than a mere place of burial; it 
is a metaphor describing the economy pervading the universe... There is a 
vibrant and full life, that of the building, sustained by and existing be- 
cause of death.^ 

An examination of the three tombs Sullivan designed provides a way to 
examine the development of his ideas within limited parameters. In order 
to do this successfully, one must first investigate his architectural and 
philosophical sources, as both were inextricably bound together. Only 
through a broad understanding of the influences behind his creativity can 
the significance of the tombs be understood and appreciated. 

During the late nineteenth century, American architecture was at a pivo- 
tal juncture in its development. Many architects, in an effort to evoke the 
spirit of a style, carefully observed and followed the rules of past styles, in- 
cluding the exact copying of ornamental details. But a few American ar- 
chitects were developing a more innovative approach. Although they 
received their architectural education in Europe (or an equivalent 
European-style education in America), and depended on European source 
books, these architects used Western historical sources to evolve new forms. 

Sullivan intuitively gravitated toward those architects who advanced a 
new style of American architecture. Frank Furness, the youthful Sullivan's 
employer in Philadelphia, produced buildings "out of his head," and this ap- 
proach was similar to Sullivan's. Furness developed an original, stylized or- 
namentation derived from the Gothic Revival, and this was an important in- 
fluence on Sullivan's botanically-based ornament.-' 

Sullivan's first employer in Chicago, William LeBaron Jenney, em- 
phasized the structural aspects of buildings. Jenney's method integrated 
other sources besides modern engineering, and he provided a valuable ex- 
ample for Sullivan, "by preaching functionalism, embracing romanticism, 
and damning mindless eclecticism.""* 

America's pre-eminent architect, Henry Hobson Richardson, also in- 
fluenced Sullivan, who witnessed the building of Richardson's Brattle Street 
Church in Boston, and acknowledged the bold Romanesque Revival mas- 
terpiece as a source of inspiration. Later, the monumental forcefulness and 


simplified form of Richardson's Marshall Field Wholesale Store in Chicago 
provided a bold statement for Sullivan to study .^ 

Leopold Eidlitz, who had collaborated with Richardson on the design of 
the state capitol building at Albany, was a distinguished New York architect 
who also impressed Sullivan. However, it was not Eidlitz's architectural 
style which attracted Sullivan, but his book, The Nature and Function of Art, 
More Especially of Architecture. Eidlitz contended that the purpose of study- 
ing architectural history lay not in the imitation of actual forms, but in learn- 
ing their principles, for 

...a monument, like any other work of art, is the expression of an idea in 
matter, and that to create a monument, the first step is to apprehend its 
idea... the styles of the past would doubtless furnish valuable examples of 
given problems solved, to the end that other problems may be solved 
upon the same principles...^ 

Eidlitz's theory of organic forms particularly influenced Sullivan. Studying 
nature and using historical sources served similar purposes for Eidlitz; both 
were a means to understand design solutions. 

The creations of art are subject to the same laws as those of nature... 
Natural organisms serve the purpose of teaching the relation of form to 
function... Art shall be directed to the creation of an organism which, like 
the organic productions of nature, performs a function... 

Sullivan was well acquainted with the writings of Viollet-le-Duc. Al- 
though Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect of some note, it was chiefly his 
widely influential writings which were important to Sullivan, particularly 
Discourses on Architecture} Viollet-le-Duc advocated the use of new 
materials and techniques, stressing a union between engineering and ar- 
chitecture. His rationalistic views emphasized that structural elements 
should determine the style of a building. 

Architects of the late nineteenth century were deeply involved in 
developing a philosophical basis for their work. A brief survey of Sullivan's 
philosophical sources will elucidate his ideas about architecture, and why 
sepulchral architecture was especially appropriate to convey these inten- 
tions. He developed a comprehensive system of belief which encompassed 


aesthetics, theology, and sociology. Sullivan's intellectual pursuits were 
wide-ranging; he drew upon numerous nineteenth-century literary and 
philosophical sources. 

He praised the positivism of the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, 
found in "Synthetic Philosophy" and First Principles of a New System of 
Philosophy.^ The writings of Friedrich Nietzsche also captured Sullivan's 
attention; both men shared an ardent appreciation of the expressive power 
of Wagner's music, highly valuing such monumental examples of individual 
human creativity. Sullivan owned a copy of the first English translation of 
Nietzche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra}^ Another German, Friedrich Froebel, 
influenced Sullivan's thoughts concerning education. Froebel originated the 
kindergarten system, stressing the perception of nature as an instructional 
means to become conscious of God. The title and contents of Sullivan's 
Kindergarten Chats, reflected his familiarity with Froebel's book The Educa- 
tion of Man }^ The writings of the French philosopher, literary critic, and art 
historian, Hippolyte Taine, also contributed to Sullivan's conceptual out- 
look. He was a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts where Sullivan at- 
tended the architecture program. Taine's essays, "The Philosophy of Art" 
and "The Ideal in Art," published in Lectures on Art, stressed the close 
relationship between society and art, and the conviction that a nation's cul- 
ture would be reflected in its art.^^ 

It remained for two indigenous American writers, however, to complete 
Sullivan's philosophical quest, and to place transcendentalist ideas firmly at 
the center of his philosophical system. Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature and 
Thoughts on Art, published in the first half of the nineteenth century, 
securely established transcendentalism in America.^-^ Subsequently, Walt 
Whitman's Leaves of Grass confirmed Sullivan's own search for a way to 
express America's national values. 

Whitman's poetic lyricism struck a responsive chord in Sullivan, and his 
writings were abundantly indebted to Whitman. Sullivan's essay 
"Inspiration," which contained his fundamental beliefs, was written in the 
form of a prose poem and reflected many of Whitman's themes. Sullivan 
sent Whitman a devotional letter with a copy of "Inspiration." In this letter 
Sullivan stated, 


To a Man who can resolve himself into subtle unison with Nature and 
Humanity as you have done, who can blend the soul harmoniously with 
materials, who sees good in all and overflows in sympathy toward all 
things, enfolding them with his spirit: to such a man I joyfully give the 
name of Poet~the most precious of all names.^'* 

Sullivan's lofty praise of Whitman revealed his own aspiration to express 
poetically the American spirit. 

The Rural Cemetery Movement 

A central theme of Romanticism was communion with nature for 
spiritual enrichment. This concept not only comprised the core of Sullivan's 
philosophy, but was also a founding precept of the rural cemetery move- 
ment. ^^ Rural cemeteries and Sullivan's architecture therefore shared a 
mutual purpose. TTie task of designing mausolea for man-made landscapes 
which were created in accord with his own ideas was thus extraordinarily 
suitable for Sullivan. Jobs which involved sharing such a close common 
premise were rare, and this explains the lavish attention he spent on the 
small commissions.^'^ 

Sullivan reached an appreciation of nature at an early age through many 
family outings in the countryside surrounding Boston. On these excursions, 
in which his mother skillfully sketched plants, Sullivan was exposed to 
botanical drawing. Another early influence, Moses Woolson, was Sullivan's 
teacher at Boston English High School. Woolson used Gray's School and 
Field Book of Botany to teach studies on plants. The author. Professor Asa 
Gray of Harvard, even occasionally came to the school to speak on botany. 
The introduction of structural botany was of primary importance to 
Sullivan's development of architectural ornament. His ideas and writings 
used the model of organic growth. 

One vivid early childhood experience particularly illustrates Sullivan's at- 
traction to nature. Louis was left to his grandparents' care in 1868, when his 
parents moved to Chicago in hopes of improving his mother's health. But 
the next year his grandmother died. He was greatly moved by his first en- 
counter with death and its accompanying sense of loss. As was the custom, 
the funeral service took place at home and was an intensely felt family ex- 


perience. Yet the solemn and mournful affair was in contradiction to his 
feelings, and he sought comfort outdoors: 

...a peach tree in full bloom in the garden caught his eye. He hastened to 
it as a friend, in dire need. Its joyous presence in the garden gave him 
courage, for spring again was singing her great song. The air was vocal of 
resurrection and life. Here indeed was resurrection and the life... Thus 
near the peach tree in full bloom Lx)uis's tortured mind was stilled. He 
accepted death as evanishment, he accepted life as the power of 

Sullivan's early feelings concerning death correspond to the ideals of the 
rural cemetery movement.^^ The aesthetics of a picturesque landscape 
relieved grief and nourished positive feelings. Nature provided a quiet in- 
spirational setting for communion with God and fostered the theme of 
reunion with the souls of the deceased. 

Sullivan embraced the progression of seasons as the primary allegory per- 
taining to the cycles of life and death. He employed a poetic writing style to 
portray the changing seasons, using a musical analogy to rephrase the 
seasonal rhythms of nature. Nature became a symphony, its movements the 

In his symbolic essay "Inspiration," he wrote: 


O, soft, melodious springtime! First-born of life and love! 


...a great life has passed into the tomb, and there awaits the requiem of 
winter's snows.^' 

Sullivan elaborated on this theme of regeneration in his unpublished 
manuscript called Natural Thinking. The section entitled "Man and the 
Infinite" declared: is change that makes us conscious of Life and the Flow of Life.. .a 
flow so constant in its double aspect that we call one manifestation of it 
Growth, and its corollary Death. These various considerations lead us to 
look on Life essence so vast, so compelling, so completely integral, 
that death disappears; individual Life vanishes; and there remains.. .The 
sense of an Infmite that is Complete...It is to this Infinite that all Nature 


The same lessons of natural theology were advocated by observers of 
Mount Auburn, in Cambridge near Boston, the nation's first rural cemetery. 
They did not view death as final, for "in the mighty system of the universe, 
not a single step of the destroyer, Time, is made subservient to some ul- 
terior purpose of reproduction, and the circle of creation and destruction is 
eternal." Mount Auburn established that "a rural cemetery is a school of 
both religion and philosophy" and set the precedent for rural cemeteries to 
pursue the moral education of the public.'^^ Architecture for Sullivan served 
similar didactic purposes. 

In essence rural cemeteries were founded for the very reasons Sullivan 
valued natural settings. The lessons of nature became crucial to his ar- 
chitectural and intellectual thought. All three of his mausolea express the 
ideals of the rural cemetery movement, and in fact were erected in 
prominent Midwestern rural cemeteries.^^ 

Ryerson Tomb 

Sullivan received his first mausoleum commission in 1887 at the age of 
thirty. It was for Martin Ryerson, a wealthy Chicago businessman whose 
fortune, derived from the building boom in Chicago, was made through the 
sale of lumber, real estate, and later, steel. The firm Adler and Sullivan had 
designed four office buildings for Ryerson prior to his death. 

The most notable feature of the Ryerson Tomb is its massive solidity 
(Fig.l). Sullivan counteracted its formidable bulk and imposing appearance 
by employing two methods. First, the huge blocks of blue-black Quincy 
granite were highly polished to reflect the landscape. This enables the 
mausoleum to join its surroundings harmoniously and visually reinforced 
Sullivan's transcendentalist ideas. Second, the tomb's sloping walls and up- 
ward thrusting shape create an ascending form which again suggests 

The Ryerson Tomb shows how quickly Sullivan had absorbed the lessons 
from H. H. Richardson's buildings and had adapted them into an architec- 
tural grammar entirely his own. Like Richardson, Sullivan used massive 
forms to create a masculine edifice of monumental simplicity. But Sullivan 
eliminated Richardson's rustic ashlar walls and replaced them with polished 


granite, emphasizing the surface (as opposed to Richardson's emphasis on 
mass). The severity of mass and surface in the Ryerson Tomb marks the ex- 
treme of SulHvan's simpHfication. 

In addition to absorbing influences from Richardson, Sullivan was seek- 
ing to learn the function of ornament, as he wrote: 

I take it as self-evident that a building, quite devoid of ornament, may 
convey a noble and dignified sentiment by virtue of mass and propor- would be greatly for our aesthetic good if we should refrain en- 
tirely from the use of ornament for a period of years, in order that our 
thought might concentrate acutely upon the production of buildings well 
formed and comely in the nude...This step taken, we might safely inquire 
to what extent a decorative application of ornament would enhance the 
beauty of our structures - what new charm it would give them.'^^ 

Thus Sullivan's temporary avoidance of ornament was the result of a con- 
scious effort. He realized this self-imposed limitation would benefit his sub- 
sequent use of ornament. However, Sullivan did not entirely eliminate or- 
nament in the Ryerson Tomb. He designed a small grille for a high rear 
window, but it is a minor part of the whole effect. More importantly, a 
decorative lockplate, consisting of leaves represented in a naturalistic man- 
ner, adorns the bronze gate (Fig. 2). Sullivan had not yet developed his 
method for abstracting forms from nature. The leaves do not exhibit his 
mature ornamental style, although they convey the sense of fluid movement 
characteristic of Sullivan's botanically-derived ornament. The bronze leaves 
on the lockplate were an important antecedent to his mature work.^ 

Richardson was not the only influence on the tomb's design. The use of 
historical forms is evident. Egypt's ancient civilization provided Sullivan 
with appropriate prototypes for mortuary architecture. He combined the 
two sepulchral forms of a mastaba and pyramid.'^ The mastaba, a blocklike 
structure with sloping sides and a flat top, provided a base for the surmount- 
ing four-coursed pyramid. He used Egyptian massiveness in the Ryerson 
Tomb to create an impression of endurance and grandeur. 

Contemporary sources of Egyptian-inspired architecture probably lured 
Sullivan to its use. Egyptian architecture had already been adopted for a 
variety of applications in rural cemeteries. Gateways, sphinxes, pyramids, 
and tombs with sloping sides had become an integral part of the American 


commemorative funerary tradition. Victorian era society strongly valued 
moralizing endeavors, and admired the respect for the dead displayed by 
Egypt's ancient civilization. Many of Egypt's finest buildings were enormous 
funerary structures that exuded a timeless aura. Because of these associa- 
tions Egyptian architecture seemed especially appropriate for American 

The Monadnock Block of 1889-92 in downtown Chicago, designed by 
Sullivan's friend John Wellborn Root, is probably another reason that Sul- 
livan decided to use Egyptian forms for the Ryerson Tomb. Root's Monad- 
nock, the highest building supported by load-bearing masonry walls ever 
built, was the culmination of his life's work. The esteem in which Sullivan 
held Root and his work was noted in Sullivan's autobiography. Root died 
tragically, at the age of forty-one, before the building's completion, "leaving 
in Louis' heart and mind a deep sense of vacancy and loss.. .For John Root 
had it in him to be great..."^^ 

Fig. 2. Ryerson Tomb, lockplate detail 


Although the Monadnock (1889-92) was built after the Ryerson Tomb 
(1887), Root had completed a front elevation of the building in 1885, which 
clearly showed its swelling sides and other Egyptian motifs.^ Since Sullivan 
and Root shared not only friendship but also close business and aesthetic in- 
terests, it is likely that Sullivan was aware of the interesting development of 
Root's Monadnock. The sparse use of ornament in the Monadnock, its 
simplified massive form, and its upward-thrusting visual movement all sug- 
gest Sullivan knew of Root's interest in the monumentality of Egyptian ar- 

In addition to similarities of form, there is a remarkable similarity of in- 
tention between the Monadnock Block and the Ryerson Tomb. Root's 
Monadnock design was a visual metaphor for the commercial vitality of 
Chicago. Martin Ryerson, one of Chicago's most important businessmen, 
greatly contributed to the city's commercial development. Sullivan ap- 
propriately designed a mausoleum of commanding presence to represent 
Ryerson's achievements. 

The arresting forcefulness of the Ryerson Tomb also results from 
Sullivan's doctrine of "Form Follows Function." However, this tenet of his 
architectural theory has often been misinterpreted because of a mechanistic 
twentieth-century bias.^ Although Sullivan did emphasize the importance 
of utility, "the conception of functionalism, as set forth by Sullivan... calls for 
emotional and spiritual realities as well as physical realities."^^ 

Sullivan felt that design solutions were to be found in the "essence of 
every problem." The "problem" of the Ryerson Tomb design was to express 
the quality of monumentality. Sullivan believed that 

there should be a function, a purpose, a reason for each building, a 
definite explainable relation between the form, and the causes that bring 
it into that particular shape; and that the building, to be good architec- 
ture, must, first of all, clearly correspond with its function, must be its 


Getty Tomb 

Henry Harrison Getty was a business partner of Martin Ryerson and was 
familiar with Sullivan's work for Ryerson. When Getty's wife died in 1890, 
he hired Sullivan to design a family mausoleum. The Getty Tomb is 
remarkably different from the Ryerson Tomb, because Sullivan's style had 
evolved considerably during the passing of three busy years of design work. 
In recognition of the significance of the tomb, it was designated a Chicago 
Landmark in 1971 (Fig. 3). The commemorative plaque in front of the 
tomb states: 

The Getty Tomb marks the maturity of Sullivan's architectural style and 
the beginning of modern architecture in America. Here the architect 
departed from historic precedent to create a building of strong geometric 
massing, detailed with original ornament. 

Sullivan's organic theory provided the basis for the Getty Tomb's crea- 
tion. To fully understand Sullivan's ideas concerning its design, two central 
questions must be addressed. First, what motivated Sullivan's creative 
impulse? And second, how did his creative production take place? The 
answers lie in his belief that man was a spiritual being. Sullivan wrote: 

... the most profound desire that fills the human soul... is the wish to be at 
peace with Nature and the Inscrutable Spirit... the greatest Art Work is 
that which most nearly typifies a realization of this... final peace: the 
peace of perfect equilibrium, the repose of absolute unity, the serenity of 
complete identification.-'^ 

In short, the creation of the Getty Tomb was a spiritual endeavor. 

Sullivan outlined a trilogy of components necessary for creative produc- 
tion to occur: Imagination, Thought, and Expression. The sequence began 
with Imagination because this contained a vital dormant potential. For Sul- 
livan "Man's Powers" unlocked the potential which brought forth the latent 
entity into being. In this way, Sullivan created the Getty Tomb out of its in- 
organic form. He purposefully chose its block-form to symbolize the inert 
matter which was "brought to 'life' by the 'power' of human imagination."^ 
As Sullivan explained, 


Fig. 3. Getty Tomb, complete view 


...[by] the word inorganic is commonly understood that which is Ufeless, 
or appears to be so; as stone... But nothing is really inorganic to the crea- 
tive will of man. His spiritual power masters the inorganic and causes it 
to live in forms which his imagination brings forth from the lifeless... ^^ 

The block-form of the Getty Tomb is an excellent example of Sullivan's 
buildings which used that shape. Throughout his career, the block served as 
the basis for further elaboration. His repeated attraction to the block-form 
was attributable to his belief that it represented the aesthetic and symbolic 
qualities of the male nude form. Sullivan's admiration of the male physique 
led to his concept of heroic masculinity. The childhood experience of 
swimming naked with his father provided an early event to evoke the image 
"of a company of naked mighty men, with power to do splendid things with 
their bodies."^ He glorified athletic abilities and the physical accomplish- 
ments of men. For Sullivan, "MAN THE WORKER becomes MAN THE 


Sullivan's appreciation of the male form was later rekindled upon his dis- 
covery of Michelangelo's work. The nudes of the Sistine Chapel frescoes 
awed Sullivan when he viewed them as an architecture student. He felt the 
power of creativity and the heroic feats it could achieve. Sullivan sought to 
make the creative power expressed in Michelangelo's art the basis for his 

An equally powerful inspiration was provided by Richardson's newly 
completed Marshall Field Wholesale Store in Chicago, The simplified form 
of the massive edifice ended Sullivan's search for a masculine architectural 
icon. Many of his buildings, including the Getty Tomb, owe their block- 
form to Richardson's "manly" and "virile" expression of "procreant power" 
(Sullivan's terms). Like Michelangelo, Richardson provided Sullivan with a 
means to express formally the first step in creative process: Imagination. 

The next component of Sullivan's system. Thought, provided an orderly 
method for working with the physical materials and provided a logical 
means for constructing the tomb. For Sullivan, thought was a rational 
process, and consequently was responsible for all engineering aspects. 
Therefore, the components of the Getty Tomb were assembled according to 
rational building principles. 



The tomb is placed on a stylobate (base-block) which provides a firm 
foundation to support its weight and to balance visually the large cornice. 
This cornice is one indication of the precision used to integrate the in- 
dividual structural components. Rather than being added, the cornice is 
created by an extension of the roof members. The roof is constructed of 
three large stone slabs, each gracefully curving upward. In addition to ad- 
ding visual delight, the curved slabs channel water away from the masonry 
joints. This is an example of a rational, as opposed to a symbolic, applica- 
tion of Sullivan's axiom that "Form Follows Function." 

Sullivan believed that the arch was not only a structural device, but, more 
important, embodied the creative power of man. Sullivan created arched 
openings for the tomb's door (Fig. 3) and two opposing side windows. The 
arches pierce the mass of the block, prompting a spatial dynamism. The 
arch represented for Sullivan the pinnacle of architectural thought; as he 
eloquently stated: 

It is difficult to conceive the arch as a creation of a single mind; I do not 
recall an instance of creative power approaching this in grandeur. To the 
reflective mind the arch is a wonder, a marvel, a miracle."^ 

Expression, the last component of Sullivan's system, provided a contrast- 
ing function to Thought by supplying the lyrical sensibilities necessary for 
the "perfection of the physical" structure. The choice of material and or- 
namental design was a means to express emotions, for Sullivan, a feminine 
characteristic. Especially because the Getty Tomb was to memorialize a 
woman, it was fashioned in a delicate manner. The tomb is constructed of 
pale Bedford limestone, a stone Sullivan selected for its characteristic 
transparent shadows. This soft lighting effect creates a sense of buoyancy. 
The finely-carved ornamental pattern of the upper half of the exterior walls 
also lightens visually the mass of the tomb. The tomb's ornament was 
Sullivan's vehicle for beautification. 

Since communing with Nature was essential for Sullivan's creative 
process, many of the tomb's ornamental designs stem from organic forms. 
Through studying the growth of these organic forms, Sullivan claimed that 
the "Flow of Life" could be perceived. This "rhythm" was the principle of 


creation used by the "Infinite Creative Spirit." Nature's system of produc- 
tion, once understood, could then be emulated by man. Using this principle, 
Sullivan created several original motifs inspired by organic models. The 
beaded "stars" of the Getty Tomb are representative of growth patterns 
which are found in many sea invertebrates such as starfish. Further 
evidence of Sullivan's use of biological forms can be found in the band of 
spiral-scroll ornament of the cornice. Cellular divisions within the scrolls 
bear a close resemblance to certain sea shells, such as the chambered 
nautilus (Fig. 4). 

The vegetal motifs of the Getty Tomb resulted from Sullivan's ardent in- 
terest in plant forms. His attraction to the principles of vegetative growth 
was an effort to understand "the universal power or energy which flows 
everywhere at all times, in all places, seeking expression in form, and thus 
parallel to all things."^^ He used Gray's Botany and Edmund B. Wilson's 
The Cell in Development and Inheritance to learn about plant morphology 
and biological growth. 

Fig. 4. Getty Tomb, cornice ornament detail 


Through his botanical studies, Sullivan learned about the cotyledons of 
young plants, and these provided another symbolic analogy for his 
philosophy. He believed the germ-seed, which contained the nutrients for 
growth, represented creative potential: "The Germ is the real thing; the 
seat of identity. Within its delicate mechanism lies the will to power: the 
function which is to seek and eventually find its full expression in form.'"*^ 

Beyond providing Sullivan with a source for ornamental design, organic 
growth furnished him with the basis of symbolic power. Thus the power im- 
plicit in organic growth was for him the guide to the creation of his or- 
namental motifs. This was parallel to the manner in which the male nude 
provided symbolic power for the block form of the tomb. 

In summary, the origin of the Getty Tomb depended on Sullivan's system 
of creative production. The trilogy of Imagination, Thought, and Expression 
furnished him with a method for designing his art. Exceptional examples of 
artistic expression, such as the works of Michelangelo and Richardson, in- 
spired Sullivan to strive for a similar level of excellence. In a like manner, 
Sullivan examined historical sources which could provide solutions for 
design problems. The chief historical sources he turned to were Greek and 
Islamic design. 

Art reference books supplied Sullivan with elements for elaborating his 
organic-design system. Two important source books influenced the 
development of Sullivan's botanical ornament: V.M.C. Ruprich-Robert's 
Flore Omementale and Owen Jones's The Grammar of Ornament. ^^ The sig- 
nificance of these sources Hes in their common approach to historical styles. 

Ruprich-Robert, a professor at the Ecole des Arts D6coratifs in Paris, 
was a leader of the N6o-Grec movement. He studied a method of abstract- 
ing decorative motifs from actual plant forms.'*^ Owen Jones, the prominent 
English decorative designer, presented the world history of ornament in one 
monumental book. Its last chapter, "Leaves and Flowers from Nature," con- 
tained botanical drawings and his conclusion: 

... in the best periods of art all ornament was rather based upon an ob- 
servation of the principles which regulate the arrangement of form in na- 
ture, than on an attempt to imitate the absolute forms of those works... 
true art consisting in idealizing, and not copying, the forms of nature... ^^ 


Both Ruprich-Robert and Jones studied historical styles as a means to dis- 
cover the artistic intentions of past civilizations. 

Through Ruprich-Robert and Jones, Sullivan discovered the basis of 
Greek ornamental aesthetics which influenced his compositions of the Getty 
Tomb's vegetal motifs. The graceful foliage of the tomb's bronze gate (Figs. 
5 and 6) and door reflects the Greek formulation of three principles of 
natural growth: "radiation from the parent stem, the proportionate distribu- 
tion of areas, and the tangential curvature of the lines."** 

The bead-and-reel motif of the door archivolt and the fretwork of the 
bronze gate hinge are examples of classical details which appeared 
throughout Sullivan's career. Both clearly show his conscious use of Greek 
ornament. According to the early architectural historian Montgomery 
Schuyler, Sullivan copied the bead-and-reel motif from H. H, Richardson's 
porch of Austin Hall at Harvard."*^ 

In addition to classical designs, the rich ornament of the Getty Tomb 
contains other historical motifs. The tracery of the gate medallions is 
curiously Celtic in design. The interwoven spirals share both form and feel- 
ing with similar designs carved on Celtic cross memorials (Figs. 5 and 6). 

Sullivan's desire to break away from the associations of western orna- 
ment led to his interest in Islamic sources. His search for an architecture of 
unity required the transcendence of western attitudes and traditions. The 
ubiquitous presence of Islamic ornament (and its endless variety) was con- 
trary to western aesthetic thought. The hierarchical arrangement of or- 
namental elements to emphasize an architectural form was absent, indicat- 
ing a fundamental difference in purpose. The eastern transcendental em- 
phasis on the sublime replaced the western concern for the contemplation 
of beauty. According to Keith Critchlow, an expert on Islamic design, Is- 
lamic ornamental patterns were, "a means of relating multiplicity to Unity 
by means of mathematical forms which are seen, not as mental abstractions, 
but as reflections of the celestial archetypes within both the cosmos and the 
minds and souls of men.""*^ 

The Getty Tomb's octagonal pattern shares a number of common af- 
finities with Islamic art and architecture. Although Sullivan did not repli- 
cate an existing pattern, diaper ornament was used exclusively in Islamic 


Fig. 5. Getty Tomb, bronze gate detail 


Fig. 6. Getty Tomb, second bronze gate detail 

buildings to produce two dimensional patterns. This mosaic-like pattern 
gave a nonstatic emphasis to the surface. Sullivan applied this treatment to 
the exterior of the tomb's upper half, which accentuated the door and win- 
dows, thereby relieving the heaviness of the cubic mass (Figs. 7 and 8). His 
maintenance of the western emphasis on building openings gives the tomb a 
resemblance to certain Moorish-style mausolea erected in Morocco, where 
the western architectural tradition of featuring portals was assimilated into 
Islamic architecture.''^ The geometrical motifs allowed Sullivan to unite his 
artistic and architectural talents in the spirit of Islamic thought. 

In the Getty Tomb, Sullivan employed architectural features of both 
western and eastern historical styles. Classical ornament influenced his 
botanical designs while Islamic antecedents supplied the inspiration for the 
geometrical patterns. The skillful intermingling of morphological and 
geometric ornament enabled Sullivan to achieve a vibrant ornamentation. 
Although he used some historical details, they chiefly supplemented his 
original designs. 




S^^f^^^^. .:»^4 


Fig. 7. Getty Tomb, ornament detail from door archivolt 


Fig. 8. Getty Tomb, side view 

Many of Sullivan's writings discuss his ornamental theory, and affirm the 
significant role ornament performs in his architecture. Two years after the 
completion of the Getty Tomb a summation of his principles was published 
as "Ornament in Architecture.'"^ This close chronological sequence suggests 
that designing this tomb helped Sullivan develop fully his ornamental 
theory. A brief summary of this essay by the historian of Sullivan's orna- 
ment, Paul Sprague, lists the following central ideas: 

1. Ornament should seek to express a subjective quality. 

2. Architectural ornament should form an integral, organic part of the 
entire architectural composition. 

3. Ornament should appear to be of the surface, not on it. 

4. The qualities of the ornament should be related to the qualities of 
the building as a whole. 

5. All basic decisions about architectural ornament should be made 
when the initial design is prepared.'*^ 


Fig. 9. Getty Tomb, cornice ornament detail 

Sullivan used traditional means to implement this theory of ornament. 
The Getty Tomb shows that his arrangement of individual motifs within a 
pattern, and the placement of these patterns on the tomb, were employed 
for conventional purposes: "to mark structural divisions, to emphasize ar- 
chitectural climaxes, and to moderate texturally the harshness of stone."^° 

Specific examples clearly illustrate each of these points. Both the bead- 
and-reel and vegetal motifs demarcate the voussoirs (wedge-shaped units of 
an arch) (Fig. 9). The outlining of the lower cornice edge is a further ex- 
ample of Sullivan's use of ornament to distinguish building component func- 
tions (Figs. 7 and 8). Two ornamental patterns serve to accent the arches: 
the concentric bands of the archivolts (Fig. 9) and the octagonal pattern of 
the upper walls. All of the tomb's ornament serves to modulate light to 
create textural interest. However, because the octagonal motif is the largest 
ornament design, and is used to create an extensive pattern, it most 
prominently exhibits that function (Fig. 10). 


Fig. 10. Getty Tomb, octagonal ornament detail 

The Getty Tomb was Sullivan's most successful building design in which 
ornament and mass are interdependent. Ornament was not used as decora- 
tion only, but played an important role in determining the actual building 
design. Sullivan calculated carefully the symmetry of the tomb, its propor- 
tions determined by the size of the octagonal motif. The number of oc- 
tagons creates the 3:4 proportion in the plan of the tomb. The facade has 
twelve octagons to a row, while the sides contain sixteen per row (12:16 or 
3:4). Two semicircular windows with decorative bronze grilles create 
lunettes which are exactly centered on the side walls (Fig. 11). The door is 
also precisely centered on the front wall. The window and door archivolts 
and their concentric ornamental banding correspond to nodes of the oc- 
tagonal pattern. Furthermore, the dimensions of the voussoirs are also 
determined by the octagonal measurements.^^ (Figs. 7 and 8) 

The complete integration of ornament and mass was a fundamental con- 
cern of Sullivan, for "the ornament should appear, not as something receiv- 
ing the spirit of the structure, but as a thing expressing that spirit by virtue 


Fig. 11. Getty Tomb, bronze window grille 

of differential growth."^^ The physical method employed to carve the tomb's 
ornament strengthens this contention. Described as intaglio, the motifs 
were carved out of the stone, contrary to the usual method of relief carving 
which projects the ornament into space. Sullivan specifically wanted the or- 
nament to lie below the stone's surface in order to unite it closely with the 
tomb's mass. With the Getty Tomb, Sullivan achieved his goals of unity and 

The ornament of the Getty Tomb is perfectly balanced, both within its in- 
ternal organization and in its harmonious relationship to the tomb's struc- 
ture. Emanuel Swedenborg, the eighteenth-century scientist, mystic, and 
religious philosopher, advanced a theory of "correspondences," which 
provided Sullivan with an ideological structure for ordering the themes that 
determined his architecture. Swedenborg believed that "the realms of the 
physical and spiritual were part of a transcendent totality," and that creation 
depended on the balance of opposing characteristics. Therefore, according 
to Swedenborg, "correspondences" existed between the polarized dualities of 
wisdom/love, reason/emotion, and masculine/feminine: the formative 
forces of the universe.^^ 


Sullivan created correspondences of his own. The pairing of contrary 
design traits, such as mass/detail and geometric/organic, allowed Sullivan to 
establish a perfect compositional balance. The tomb's massive block-form 
was imbued with masculine rational qualities, while its contrasting ornament 
embodied feminine emotional attributes. Ornament itself was also designed 
according to this idea; vegetal motifs were feminine and lyrical, while the 
octagonal pattern was masculine and logical. The reconciliation of op- 
posites was viewed by Sullivan as a creative principle conforming to the 
generative process of the universe. 

The Getty Tomb manifests the culmination of Sullivan's search for an ar- 
chitecture of unity. His approach to architecture was predicated on a per- 
sonal philosophy which interwove themes of theology, biology, aesthetics, 
and mathematics. Sullivan was eclectic, basing his philosophy on a variety 
of sources. Theories of masculine power, American transcendentalism, 
Greek and Islamic aesthetics, and the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg all 
contributed to the theoretical infrastructure of his architecture. Sullivan's 
eclecticism was not indiscriminate, however. He purposefully sought out 
ideologies which presented ideas parallel to his own. Concepts from these 
various sources were combined into his unique vision, with the primary pur- 
pose to explain the creative forces of creation. Sullivan's first building to be 
designed via this guiding philosophy was the Getty Tomb. Its exquisite 
realization of aesthetic unity caused Frank Lloyd Wright to remark: 

The Getty Tomb in Graceland Cemetery was entirely his own; fine sculp- 
ture. A statue. A great poem addressed to human sensibilities as such. 
Outside the realm of music what finer requiem?^ 

Wainwright Tomb 

The Wainwright Tomb commission resulted from Sullivan's professional 
travel. In St. Louis, Sullivan met Ellis Wainwright, a wealthy businessman, 
whose family fortune was made through brewing beer. Sullivan designed 
the renowned Wainwright Building (1890-91) for him. Its success pleased 
Wainwright. When his beautiful young wife died in 1891, Wainwright 
turned again to Sullivan. The resulting tomb, designed by Sullivan at the 
height of his creative powers, was another masterpiece (Fig. 12). 


Fig. 12. Wainwright Tomb, complete view 


Sullivan had integrated eastern and western traits in the Getty Tomb, but 
for Wainwright he abandoned western sources completely. The Wainwright 
Tomb was strongly imbued with Islamic design elements. Books on Islamic 
architecture in Sullivan's library attest to his interest. Islamic architects, 
designers, and calligraphers created forms based on the same natural forces 
they perceived to be responsible for the creation of all things in the 
universe. Islamic designs provided an alternative to western historical 
sources, and Sullivan embraced the spiritual unity of the Islamic world as 
means to create new forms. 

The Wainwright Tomb is basically a domed cube, remarkably similar in 
form to a qubba a North African mausoleum. Three circular courses sup- 
port the dome, its interior covered with a deep blue mosaic containing at 
the center a single golden star. The facade, with its elaborate ornamental 
friezes, is derivative of an Islamic pistaq, an imposing rectangular gateway 
(Fig. 13). Sullivan successfully integrated two Islamic architectural forms, 
the qubba and pistaq.^^ 

An approach of three steps gives the Wainwright Tomb a sense of gran- 
deur. On either side are blocklike forms serving both functional and aes- 
thetic purposes. Sullivan designed the blocks large enough to create niches 
to accommodate benches. These exedras provide a place for visitors to rest 
and contemplate, in keeping with the concept of a mortuary monument. 
Sullivan employed these forms to broaden the composition of the tomb and 
unify and separate elements. They resemble cupulated structures called 
chatris, Islamic in origin, and often accompanying Indian mosque and tomb 

An examination of the tomb's ornamental friezes provides a means of as- 
sessing the degree to which Sullivan was indebted to Islamic designs. The 
curvilinear forms which accompany the vegetative motifs have lost all west- 
ern likeness. They closely resemble the calligraphy found on Moslem build- 
ings, yet Sullivan introduced new designs such as the large bulbous motifs he 
used in later designs.^^ The vegetal motifs of the Wainwright Tomb were 
reduced in size and importance from ornament designs of previous build- 
ings. The extensive use of restraining geometrical designs indicated a shift 
in Sullivan's treatment of ornament toward an Islamic conception. The rear 


Fig. 13. Wainwright Tomb, frontal view 


frieze is primarily geometrical, with the spiky leaves tightly enclosed within 
intersecting circles (Fig. 14). In addition to its practical design application, 
Sullivan used the circle extensively for its symbolic connotations. In Islamic 
ornament, "the circle surpasses all other geometric patterns as the symbol of 


cosmic umty... 

The "snowflake" frieze surrounding the door of the Wainwright Tomb is 
an excellent example of Sullivan's manipulation of geometric forms. Islamic 
artists used a technique in which new forms were created through geometri- 
cal subdivision. For example, the subdivision of a circle furnished a system 
for the creation of triangles, stars, hexagons, and other geometric shapes. 
The plates in Sullivan's A System of Architectural Ornament illustrate a 
similar use of the circle.^^ 

Fig. 14. Wainwright Tomb, side view 


The ornamental friezes provide the necessary vitality to enliven and unify 
the tomb's composition. Curvilinear motifs were used repetitiously to create 
an exuberant sense of motion within the confines of the frieze. The motifs, 
essential for balancing the massive static forms, symbolize universal 
regenerative qualities. Sullivan's efforts went far beyond the tomb's design 
requirements, however; he created a different ornamental motif for the 
frieze of each of the four tomb walls. These large friezes define the wall 
perimeters, while simultaneously accentuating the door and window open- 
ings (Fig. 15). Vegetal motifs predominate in the front and side friezes, 
containing spiky leaves and bulbous forms. One side frieze features pods 
(Fig. 16). Inside the pods are seeds, which played the central role in 
Sullivan's system of organic ornament. For him, seeds expressed the poten- 
tial for the creation of forms. The seed pods are a visual representation of 
this theory; they were at the origin of the flowing vegetal forms of the or- 
namental frieze. 

Fig. 15. Wainwright Tomb, ornament detail of side window 


^4 ^^^4^4' 

Fig. 16. Wainwright Tomb, ornament detail from side frieze 

^i^.r ">^!^*r •'^^fck-^ "T^^.iikC" %-#%c* r rfi.^T'^^ ^T r.>i%* 

Fig. 17. Wainwright Tomb, ornament detail of rear frieze 


Oraament was Sullivan's foremost means of plastic expression. The ex- 
tent to which he articulated his ideas visually can be viewed in the tomb's 
window treatment (Fig. 17). Here geometry is victorious. Through repeti- 
tion, integration, and subdivision, Sullivan achieved a notable design com- 
position. The bronze window grille consists of four large ellipses. Within 
these are contained three octagons (a shape carried over from the Getty 
Tomb ornament). Further geometrical subdivision created ellipses within 
the interstices of the octagons, and finally four-pointed "stars" within those 
ellipses. The total composition reverberates between the constantly conflict- 
ing sensations of expansion and contraction. A decorative frieze was then 
employed to enclose the composition, using the same ellipse and "star" 
motifs found in the grille (Fig. 18). Via an Islamic design process, Sullivan 
had achieved total compositional unity. 

Fig. 18. Wainwright Tomb, ornament detail from side window 


With the greater assertiveness of geometrical motifs, SuUivan achieved in 
the Wainwright Tomb a new balance between geometric and organic forms. 
This equilibrium directly reflected the aesthetic and philosophical ideals of 
the Moslem world. Unity was achieved through the expression of polarities: 

Islamic art is predominantly a balance between pure geometrical form 
and what can be called fundamental biomorphic form: a polarization that 
has associative values with the four philosophical and experiential 
qualities of cold and dry - representing the crystallization in geometric 
form - and hot and moist - representing the formative forces behind 
vegetative and vascular form.*^ 

Islamic thought provided another framework for the affirmation of 
Sullivan's transcendentalist philosophy. 


The tombs of Lx)uis Sullivan exemplify the ideas of a man living at the 
close of the nineteenth century, Sullivan formulated his Romantic 
philosophy from a variety of early personal experiences and literary sources. 
Indeed, Sullivan is within the tradition of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman. 

Nineteenth-century America was trying to establish a cultural identity, yet 
people turned to the achievements of Western Europe for inspiration and 
models to imitate. Most American sepulchral buildings merely imitated 
past architectural styles. Those tombs dotted the rural cemetery landscape. 
Sullivan studied and derived useful information from historical example, but 
he used it for qualities that paralleled and strengthened his architectural 
theories. Sullivan's mausolea elevated American funerary architecture to a 
new stature. 

His quest for understanding the creative forces of the universe led him to 
a transcendentalist philosophy. Although he assimilated the lessons of 
transcendentalism and appreciated the values of nature, Sullivan went far 
beyond traditional Romanticism. He also embraced a rational methodol- 
ogy, for technology and engineering were changing the face of the world. 
Sullivan's original architecture reflected his deeply-felt American sen- 
sibilities. Lewis Mumford summarizes his significance: 


Sullivan was perhaps the first mind in American architecture that had 
come to know itself with any fullness in relation to its soil, its period, its 
civilization, and had been able to absorb fully all the many lessons of the 

Sullivan's three tombs were important milestones in his development as 
an architect. Minimizing the complex considerations of utilitarian use, he 
was able to focus his attention completely on pure aesthetics.^^ Because his 
philosophy was based on the cyclical progressions of nature, his designing of 
mausolea was especially appropriate. For Sullivan organic architecture was 
symbolic of the forces in the universe, and indicated the creative powers of 
man. He turned to Islamic architecture because it provided an alternative 
to historical western sources. The eastern belief that forms were created by 
oppositional forces paralleled his own views and provided a conceptual 
foundation for his search in achieving design unity. The three tomb com- 
missions enabled Sullivan to represent his spiritual quest in physical form. 


Sullivan died in Chicago in 1924, a neglected and impoverished man. 
Thomas Tallmadge, the noted architectural historian, planned Sullivan's 
memorial, and financed it through private contributions. Standing near the 
Ryerson Tomb, in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery, the monument is a 
rough-hewn granite gravestone on which a bronze plaque is mounted (Fig, 
19). The plaque is a replica of a Sullivan ornament drawing, #19 from his 
System of Architectural Ornament, surrounding a profile of Sullivan executed 
by C.P. Seidel (Fig. 20). Tallmadge wrote the epitaph which was carved on 
the back of the memorial. 


neuis «ivR! sulo 

Fig. 19. Sullivan gravestone, complete view 

tmm nmK\ sot 

Fig. 20. Sullivan gravestone, bronze detail 


The year before his death Sullivan had written: 

The architect who combines in his being the powers of vision, of imagina- 
tion, of intellect, of sympathy with human need and the power to inter- 
pret them in a language vernacular and true - is he who shall create 
poems in stone... ^^ 

Appendix: A Catalogue Raisonne of Sullivan's Tombs^ 


Location: Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois. 
Commission: Martin A. Ryerson for his father Martin Ryerson 

who died September 6, 1887 
Designed: September, 1887 
Ornament: October, 1887 
Source: Building Budget (Chicago, Illinois), November 30, 

1887: "Lets Contracts" 


Location: Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Illinois 
Commission: Henry H, Getty for Carrie Eliza Getty who died 

February 24, 1890 
Designed: September, 1890 
Ornament: October, 1890 
Location of 
Drawings: Avery Architectural Library, Columbia University, 

Frank Lloyd Wright Collection 



Location: Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri 

Commission: Ellis Wainwright for Charlotte Dickson Wainwright 
who died April 15, 1891 

Designed: November, 1891 

Ornament: January, 1892 

Location of 

Drawings: University of Michigan, College of Architecture 
and Design. Working drawing is at Burnham 
Architectural Library, Chicago Art Institute. 
Perspective drawing published in "Inland 
Architect and News Record," XIX, May 1892. 


The author would like to thank Narciso G. Menocal for helpful suggestions upon reading 
the first draft of this article. Further thanks are due to Harold Allen and my brother, David C. 
Wright, for their careful editing of the article's final draft. 

1. Louis SuUivan, Kindergarten Chats and Other Writings, (New York: Dover, 1979), 160. This 
is a reprint of the 1947 edition which contained Sullivan's revised manuscript of 1918, along 
with other essays by SuUivan. 

2. Narciso Garcia-Menocal, "Louis Sullivan: His Theory, Mature Development, and Theme" 
(unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 1974), 69. 

3. Severad writings explain Sulhvan's indebtedness to Furness. See Paul E. Sprague, "The Ar- 
chitectural Ornament of Louis Sullivaui and his Chief Draftsmen" (unpublished doctoral 
thesis, Princeton University, 1969). Refer to Part One, Section two: "The Origins of Louis 
Sulhvan's Architectural Ornament, the Gothic Revival." For a more detailed examination 
of Furness, see James F. O'Gorman, The Architecture of Frank Furness (Philadelphia: 
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973). 

4. Theodor Turak, as cited in Robert Twombly, Louis Sullivan: His Life and Work (New York: 
Viking, 1986), 53. For a thorough treatment of Jenne/s architectural theory see Theodor 
Turak, William LeBaron Jenney: A Pioneer of Modem Architecture (Ann Arbor: UMI Re- 
search Press, 1986). 

5. Sulhvan's comments on Richju-dson's Brattle Street Church cu-e in Louis SulUvam, The 
Autobiography of an Idea (New York: Dover, 1956, a reprint of the 1924 first edition), 188. 
SuUivjm's impression of Richardson's Marshall Field Store appears in Kindergarten Chats, 

6. Leopold Eidhtz as cited in Menocal, "Louis SuUivan," 130. 

7. /b/d., 127 & 130. 

8. The 1875 English translation of Discourses on Architecture and other books by VioUet-le- 
Duc were owned by SuUivan. A hst of the books in Sulhvan's personal hbrary is included in 
the 1909 auction catalog for the sale of his possessions, located in the Burnham Librjiry of 
the Art Institute of Chicago. A number of books touch upon the importance of VioUet-le- 
Duc to SuUivan. The most comphrehensive discussion of these ideeis is in Narciso G. 
Menocal, Architecture as Nature: The Transcendentalist Idea of Louis Sullivan (Madison: 
University of Wisconsin Press, 1981). In addition to noting the inteUectUcd antecedents 
VioUet-le-Duc provided for SuUivan, Menocal observes simUarities in their ornament as 
well. See the section entitled "Geometry & Ornamentation: Theory & Practice." 


9. Evidence of Sullivan's affinity to Spencer's writings zire in Frank Lloyd Wright, Autobiog- 
raphy (New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1943, a reprint of the 1932 first edition), 70. 
Twombly, 145 provides a condensed version of an 1882 interview with Sullivan. 

10. Menocal, "Louis Sullivan," 157. 
n. Ibid., 121-124. 

12. Menocal, Architecture as Nature, 11-12. 
13.7b/rf.,44,146, 192. 

14. Cited in Shermjm Paul, Louis Sullivan: An Architect in American Thought (Englewood 
Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1%2), 2. 

15. A growing number of books concerning America's cultural history treat the rural cemetery 
movement. An especially good analysis of the Romantic ideals responsible for the founding 
of rural cemeteries is found in Jcimes J. Farrell, Inventing the American Way of Death, 1830- 
1920 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1980), 30-34, 102-108. 

16. During the five-year period in which the three tombs were built (1887-1892), the firm of Ad- 
ler & Sullivan designed approximately thirty buildings. After the completion of Chicago's 
nationally acclaimed Auditorium in 1889, a plethora of commissions followed. The Getty 
Tomb (1890) was designed during the busiest time of Sullivan's career. 

17. SuVlivdia., Autobiography, 111. 

18. Among the primary causes for the establishment of rural cemeteries was the attitude that a 
natural landscape would provide solace to people suffering from melancholy. See David 
Schuyler, The New Urban Landscape: The Redefinition of City Form in Nineteenth-Century 
America (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1986), 40-41. 

19. "Inspiration," reprinted in Menocal, Architecture as Nature, 156-167. 

20. Reprinted in Maurice EngUsh, The Testament of Stone: Themes of Idealism and Indignation 
from the Writings of Louis Sullivan (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1963), 111. 

21. Stanley French, "The Cemetery as Cultural Institution: The Establishment of Mount 
Auburn and the Rural Cemetery Movement" in Death in America, ed. David E. Stannard 
(University of Pennsylvania Press, 1975), 78-79. 

22. The tombs of Ryerson and Getty zu^e both located in Chicago's Graceland Cemetery. Sul- 
livan undoubtedly was well aware of William LeBaron Jenney's landscape planning for 
Graceland, during his employment with Jenney. In fact the Getty Tomb was built facing 
Willowmere, the artificial lake Jenney had designed according to the ideals of Romantic 
landscape design. This orientation yields a charming reflection of the tomb in the still 
waters of Willowmere, showing that Sullivan was aware of picturesque Ismdscape principles. 
For an account of Jenney's role in the design of Graceland's landscape, see Walter L. 
Creese, 77ie Crowning of the American Landscape (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 
1985), 208, 210-211. 

23. Sullivan, "Ornament in Architecture" as reprinted in Kindergarten Chats, 187. 

24. For a thorough treatment of the Ryerson Tomb lockplate design and its significance, see 
Sprague, 115, 123. 

25. Barbara Lanctot, A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, revised edition (Chicago: Chicago 
Architecture Foundation, 1982), 20. 

26. The following sources include information and analysis pertaining to Egyptian Revival ar- 
chitecture in nineteenth-century rural cemeteries: Harold Allen, "Egypt (American Style): 
Photographs of Egyptian-style American Architecture" (unpublished exhibition catalog, 
Syracuse University, 1984); Richard G. Carrott, The Egyptian Revival: Its Sources, Monu- 
ments, and Meanings: 1808-1858 (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1978); and James 
Stevens Curl, The Egyptian Revival (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1982). 

27. SuUivan, Autobiography, 292. 

28. Donald Hoffman, The Architecture of John Wellborn Root (Baltimore: John Hopkins 
University Press, 1973), 169. 


29. At the request of his client, who wished to lessen building costs, Root designed a final plan 
which almost completely eliminated exterior ornament. However, Sullivcm probably had no 
similar cost constraints for the Ryerson Tomb because of the family's immense wealth. 
Two buildings SuUivan had designed previously for Ryerson used Egyptian ornamental 
motifs on the facades. This indicates that SuUivan, like Root, was also interested in Egyp- 
tian architecture for aesthetic reasons. 

30. The distinction between mechanistic and vitalistic sensibiUties is developed by Sprague, 5- 

31. Hugh Morrison, Louis Sullivan: Prophet of Modem Architecture (New York: W.W. Norton, 
1935), 279. 

32. SuUivan, Kindergarten Chats, 46. 

33. Ibid., 195. 

34. WiUiam H. Jordy, American Buildings and Their Architects: Volume Four, Progressive and 
Academic Ideals at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Oxford and New York: Oxford 
University Press, 1972), 105. 

35. Louis Sullivan, yl System of Architectural Ornament According With a Philosophy of Man's 
Powers (New York: Eakins Press, 1967, a reprint of the 1924 first edition), no page num- 
bers, see the section, "The Inorganic and the Organic." 

36. SuUivan, Autobio^aphy, 79. 

37. Menocal, "Louis SuUivan," 245-246. 

38. Sullivan, Kindergarten Chats, 123. 

39. SuUivan, A System of Architectural Ornament, see the section entitled "Interlude, the 
Doctrine of Parallelism." 

40. Ibid., see the section, "Prelude." 

41. These major reference books were used internationally by architects for developing orna- 
ment designs. SuUivan became famiUar with the books through both his architectural 
education and his employers. 

42. The influence of the N6o-Grec Movement on Sullivan is described by David Van Zanten, 
"SuUivan to 1890," in Louis Sullivan: The Function of Ornament ed. Wim De Wit, (New 
York: W.W. Norton, 1986). 

43. Owen Jones, The Grammar of Ornament (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982, a 
reprint of the 1856 first edition), 154. 

44. History of Architecture and Ornament (Scranton: International Textbook, 1928), 69. A fuU- 
size cast of the richly ornamented bronze door was made and sent to the Mus6e des Arts 
Decoratifs in Paris during 1893, and is now stored in the basement of the Louvre in Paris. 
Critical acclaim foUowed Sullivan's Paris exhibition emd many casts were subsequently made 
for various European institutions. The Getty Tomb door and its award at the Paris Exposi- 
tion of 1900 demonstrated Europe2in appreciation of Sullivan's ornament. 

45. Montgomery Schuyler, "Architecture in Chicago: Adler & Sullivan," in American Architec- 
ture and Other Writings, ed. WUham H. Jordy and Rdph Coe, vol. 2, (Cambridge, Mass.: 
Harvard University Press, 1%1), 401. 

46. Keith Critchlow, Islamic Patterns: An Analytical and Cosmological Approach (London: 
Thames & Hudson, 1978), 6. 

47. Menocal, Architecture as Nature, 34, 36. 

48. SuUivan, Kindergarten Chats, 187-190. First published in "The Engineering Magazine," vol. 
32, no. 5 (August 1892). 

49. Sprague, 41-42. 

50. Ibid., 164. 

51. A detailed description based on actual measurements is provided in Menocal, "Louis Sul- 
Uvan," 66-68. Also see Menocal, Architecture as Nature, 35, for the author's diagram of the 


52. Sullivan, Kindergarten Chats, 189. 

53. Mcnocal, Architecture as Nature, 24-25. 

54. Frank Lloyd Wright, Genius and the Mobocracy (New York: Horizon Press, 1971, a reprint 
of the 1949 first edition), 95. 

55. Mcnocal, Architecture as Nature, 36, 40-42. 

56. Menocal, "Louis Sullivan," 71-72. 

57. Sprague, 184. 

59. Critchlow, 58. 

58. Although a number of plates illustrate Sullivan's use of the circle, plate #3 is a particularly 
good exjunple. 

60. Ibid., 8. 

61. Lewis Mumford, The Brown Decades: A study of the Arts in America (New York: Dover, 
1955, a reprint of the 1931 first edition), 143. 

62. SuUivan wanted the tombs to express perfectly his design ideas. Contrary to normal 
mausolea commissions, the Wainwright and Getty names were excluded from their tombs, 
as Sullivan wanted the facade compositions to be flawless. SuUivan had incorporated H.H. 
Getty's initials in the bronze window grilles, but appeirently this identifying feature was not 
sufficient for Getty. The Getty name was subsequently carved into the voussoirs of the door 
arch. Early photographs depicting the Getty Tomb before the addition of its lettering show 
the superiority of Sullivan's original treatment. See Thomas E. Talbnadge, The Story of 
American Architecture (New York: W.W. Norton, 1936), next to page 224, for an early 
photograph. EUis Wainwright, a collector of fine art, was more sensitive them Getty. 
Wainwright understood SuUivjm's reasons for not including the Wjiinwright name on the 
tomb facade, and abided by Sulhvan's design. 

63. Sullivan, "Concerning the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo Japan" (Architectural Record, April 1923), 
33, cited in Albert Bush-Brown, Louis Sullivan (New York: George Braziller, 1960), 6. 

64. Sprague, 395, 402-403, and 409. 


or ]\\ nrc i?/nIi "'nin Moni 

W/HITHOPvI .nC! n //I 
VEAtVS ^-V 1 M" 10 Da', 

WHO nr,CI.^5rn iumi. v 
.v' . I, -' o f; 

SHK"; C.<HI It) l',l■^l Ahomc, '■ r.l ' si 
WITH. CHUN r !ll ?, 1\1I'>-.K.,1 I oi'JI 

w/Ho \'-')U, la/in '■>• '(.tTCi mmr 


Figure 1. Rebeckah Whitmore, 1709, Lexington, MA, Joseph Lamson 

Figure 2. Thankfull Foster, 1700, Dorchester, MA, James Foster 



Theodore Chase and Laurel K. Gabel 

Boston and its environs in the opening decades of the eighteenth century 
was one of the most important gravestone carving centers of the New 
World. Joseph Lamson's shop in Charlestown was well established, 
providing markers for Boston as well as much of Middlesex County to the 
north and west (Fig. 1). James Foster and his son were supplying Dor- 
chester and areas south and west with grave markers in their readily recog- 
nizable style (Fig. 2), and Boston's leading supplier of gravestones, master 
carver and mason William Mumford, was filling orders from his busy shop 
in the North End (Fig. 3). Although the combined output of these shops 
appears to have been prodigious, not a single signed or initialed gravestone 
has ever been found for these well established carvers. 

In significant contrast, there are forty-three initialed stones attributed to 
seven young men who began carving in Boston during this same 1700-1725 
period.^ These men were: NL, Nathaniel Lamson (1692/3-1755); CL, 
Caleb Lamson (1697-1760); NE, Nathaniel Emmes (1690-1750); WG, Wil- 
liam Grant (1694-1726); JG, James Gilchrist (1689-1722); WC, William Cus- 
tin (?); and JN, John Noyes (1674-1749). These men and the stones bearing 
their initials have a number of characteristics in common: 

a) All seven carvers worked in the Boston area within the same 1700- 
1725 time frame. 

b) At least six of the seven were of approximately the same age. The 
initialed stones represent work done in their 'teens or early twenties, 
before they were established carvers and before any payments for 
their work appear in probate records. 

c) The initialed stones are all slightly different - each stone is unique. 

d) Most of the initialed examples are exceptionally well carved - "best 

e) Many of the initialed stones are in coastal towns outside of the im- 
mediate Boston area: Marshfield, Marblehead, Salem, Duxbury, 
Barnstable, Quincy, Martha's Vineyard, MA, Portsmouth, NH, Nor- 
walk, CT. 

f) The initialed stones appear in a short time span of the carver's life, 
averaging about seven years (Fig. 4). 


Figure 3. Ann Mumford, 1697/8, Newport, RI, William Mumford 






















■ ■ ■■■ 


■ ■«■•■ 


■ ■ 


□ : 

■ ai 1 

a Q 3 nCQQQQQ Qt 









■ a 



Q Q 

Q Q Q 

• a 


in r 















Q 'q Q 

•■ -H 

+ aa aa 

aa ■ 




at ail Q acQCQQQC I 









a a Qcao c 




_ __ _ 


i S 


I : 

tt ± 


■ Initialed stone □ Probate account stone Death of carver 

Figure 4. Chart of Seven Boston Initial Carvers 


Joseph Lamson's sons, Nathaniel (1692/3-1755) and Caleb (1697-1760), 
almost certainly served as apprentices in their father's shop while still in 
their early 'teens. Naturally enough, most of their work bears the imprint 
of Joseph's training. 

Nathaniel's eight initialed stones^ span the years 1707-1716, when 
Nathaniel was between fifteen and twenty-four years of age. The workman- 
ship is very accomplished. As with most of the other initialed stones, the 
carving often surpasses the standard workmanship of the carver's later years 
(Fig. 5). 

Caleb Lamson's first initialed stone is dated 1713, shortly before 
Nathaniel's last one, and Caleb's initialed stones continue until HZS.-' All 
but one were carved while Caleb was between the ages of sixteen and 
twenty-four (Fig. 6). 

Figure 5. Capt. and Mrs. Pyam Blower, 1709, Cambridge, MA, NL 


Figure 6. William Grimes, original date unknown - relettered stone, 
Lexington, MA, CL 

Figure 7. James Paine, 1711, Barnstable, MA, NE 


If probate payments are any indication, one of Boston's most popular 
carvers in the first half of the eighteenth century was Nathaniel Emmes 
(1690-1750); payments to him are listed in more than eighty-five estates. 
But only two stones bearing his initials have been found'* - both carved when 
Enmies was a very young man (Fig. 7). Later, however, as Harriette Mer- 
rifield Forbes suggests, he also cut his initials and the date March 31, 1729 
on the cornerstone of the Old South Meeting House in Boston. Mrs. 
Forbes believes that Emmes lived on Prince Street in Boston's North End 
and learned the art of making gravestones from William Mumford.^ The 
inventory in his estate shows a mansion house on Prince Street valued at 
L266-13-4.*^ Forbes calls both of his sons, Henry (1716-1767) and Joshua 
(1719-1772), stonecarvers. Henry did truly outstanding work, some of 
which, including a number of signed (not initialed) stones, are in Charles- 
ton, South Carolina.^ As is true of all the initialed stones of other carvers, 
the stones initialed by Nathaniel Emmes appear several years before he 
begins to show up in probate accounts as a stonecarver paid for gravestones. 
Later in life, shortly before his death at the age of sixty, Nathaniel Emmes 
signed his name and location on the elegantly carved family crest medallion 
executed for John Dupuys, 1745, now in the vestry of Trinity Church in New 
York City. There is no question that in this case his full signature repre- 
sents that of an artist signing his work. 

The pair of stones for which William Grant (1694-1726) was paid in 1726 
by the estate of Ambrose Vincent has not been found, making the WG ini- 
tialed stone for Mary Marshall, 1718 Quincy, our only example of Grant's 
work (Fig. 8). The Marshall stone bears a lovely face with wings, much in 
the style of Gilchrist, Custin and Emmes, with whom Grant shared the carv- 
ing market. Mrs. Forbes gives Grant's date of death as 1726, although there 
are some stones in his style carrying later dates. A carver named William 
Grant moved from Boston to New York about 1740. Whether this is the 
same or another William Grant, we do not know.* 

Little has been learned or written about James Gilchrist (1689-1722), 
who during the ten or fifteen years before his early death shared the Boston 
carving market with others mentioned in this article (Fig. 9). Gilchrist was 
paid for gravestones in the estates of Stephen Butcher, Caleb Blanchard and 


Figure 8. Mary Marshall, 1718, Quincy, MA, WG 


Figure 9. Benjamin Pickman, 1708, Salem, MA, JG 


Samuel Tibbs, all of Boston.' None of these stones is still standing. The 
ledger of the New England Company, a missionary society known as the 
"Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts 
Adjacent in America," contains a receipt dated 20 November 1718 for L6 
paid to "James Gillkrist" for "fitting up" Samuel Sewall's tomb "in the new 
Burying place in Boston with wrought Connecticut stone, most of which I 
have already prepared." A receipt signed by Gilchrist and dated 18 June 
1719 shows a further payment of L3 "in part due me." The tomb fitted up 
by Gilchrist was the Hull-Sewall family tomb in the Granary, and Sewall 
himself was buried there 7 January 1729/30. It still exists but does not serve 
as an example of Gilchrist's talent, having been relettered at some later 

Although there was a second JG (John Gaud) carving in Boston during 
this same 1700-1725 period, our study of this carver leads us to concur with 
Mrs. Forbes who believed that the stones initialed JG were probably the 
work of James Gilchrist. It appears that Gilchrist and Gaud were ac- 
quainted and may even have worked together, for there exists a record of 
their joint undertaking to fetch a load of slate from the islands in Boston 

Kings' Handbook of Boston Harbor, although written 160 years after the 
events with which we are concerned, contains a vivid description of Slate Is- 
land, which may well have been the source of supply which James Gilchrist, 
John Gaud and other Boston carvers used: 

Slate Island, comprising about twelve acres and nearly nine and a half 
miles from Boston, is difficult of access except at high tide; when reached 
the aptness of the name is evident, for its slaty ledges run far out into the 
water, their black edges fringed by the light spray. The little beaches are 
covered by splinters and slabs of slate, which are ground and beaten to 
and fro by the waves, when they surge around these silent shores ... 
Around the coast rise the ragged and irregular edges of slate, well nigh 
concealed in places by a luxuriant growth of brown sea-weed and masses 
of kelp, which seem only floating upon the water's top, though they cling 
so closely to the rocks below, give the island an appearance as if hidden 
dangers were continually lurking around it ... On the north and west, 
towards Grape Island, are low gray cliffs of slate-rock, tier after tier, 
standing upon edge, or slanting backward or forward Hke ancient time- 
worn and weatherbeaten tombstones. Here schooners load with the 
slate; and one may see the quarries, all along, from which they have 
taken the material for countless cellar-walls and underpinnings. 


The earliest stone bearing JG initials is a footstone for the Rev. Edward 
Tompson (1705) in the Winslow Burying Ground in Marshfield (Fig. 10). 
The Tompson headstone is clearly initialed JN, perhaps indicating some 
kind of working relationship between these two carvers (Fig. 11), James 
Gilchrist would have been about sixteen years old in 1705. The remaining 
seven stones initialed JG occur over the five-year period 1707-1711, when 
Gilchrist was between eighteen and twenty-two. ^^ Like many other 
stonecutters of the period, Gilchrist very likely had a second trade. In an 
account in the estate of Abraham Adams, allowed in December 1717, 
Gilchrist is paid for carpentry.^^ 



Figure 10. Rev. Edward Tompson footstone, 1705, Marshfield, MA 
(Forbes plate), /A/^ 


The Boston selectmen's records of 7 September 1714 show that the cellar 
under the northeast corner of the Tovm House rebuilt in 1711 (now the Old 
State House at the corner of State and Washington Streets) was rented at 
L9 per annum to James Gilchrist and a William Custin. Five months later, 
on 7 February 1715, the selectmen agreed that Gilchrist was to continue as 
tenant, and Custin was discharged from the lease. ^'' These two entries sug- 
gest the intriguing possibility that the nine beautiful stones dated between 
1711 and 1715 and initialed WC were carved by an associate of Gilchrist, 
William Custin (Figs. 12 and 13).^^ 

The stone for Abigail Allen (1710) in West Tisbury bears the initials JG, 
and the stone for James Allen (1714), also in West Tisbury, the initials WC 
(Fig. 14). There are also two stones in Marblehead, one for Richard Gross 
(1711) and the other for Samuel Russell (1711) (Fig. 15), initialed WC and 
JG, respectively. This paired distribution lends further support for our 
belief that WC was James Gilchrist's associate, William Custin. 

Figure 11. Rev. Edward Tompson headstone, 1705, Marshfield, MA, JN 


Figure 12. John Edey, 1715, West Tisbury, MA, WC 


28*' 17 12.. 

Figure 13. Mary Rickard, 1712, Plymouth, MA, WC 


A search of the Massachusetts Archives provided us with an introduction 
to WilHam Custin, for he there appears as a member of the successful ex- 
pedition against Port Royal in 1710. This French post in Nova Scotia had 
long been a source of irritation to New England -- a center for attacks on its 
shipping and the scene of much illicit trading with New Englanders. Cap- 
tured by Sir William Phips in 1690, it was returned to the French by the 
Treaty of Ryswick in 1697. An expedition from Boston in 1707 proved a 
disaster. Finally the British government took the matter in hand and sent 
forth a great fleet under Colonel Francis Nicholson consisting of five British 
men of war, the Massachusetts Province Galley, a hospital ship, some thirty 
troop ships and various smaller supporting vessels. 900 troops were 
recruited from Boston, 300 from Connecticut, 180 from Rhode Island and 
100 from New Hampshire. The fleet set sail from Nantasket on 10 Septem- 
ber 1710, Port Royal was taken, renamed Annapolis Royal and ceded to 
England in the Treaty of Utrecht. But one misfortune occurred in the 
operation. One of the transports was lost in attempting to pass through the 
narrow gut at the entrance of the Port Royal River. Nicholson describes the 
incident in his journal of the expedition: 

Figure 14. James Allen, 1714, West Tisbuiy, MA, WC 


Figure 15. Samuel Russell, 1711, Marblehead, MA,/G 

Capt Jeremiah Tay in the ship Caesar, assaying first to enter the River 
ran to near the Shoar as to ground his vessel, to whom help sufficient was 
tender'd, but he not being apprehensive of any danger, did not think fit to 
accept of it, and the wind rising with a violent swelling sea bulg'd the 
ship. In the evening; Lieut. Col. Ballantine and his Lieutenant with 7. 
more got into the Boat and with one paddle thro' great difficulty they got 
to Land, where the Boat bulg'd against the Rocks; Seventeen others of 
the Company swam to Land; 26 remaining on Board were drowned, vis. 
Capt. Tay, his Pilot or Sailor and 23. Souldiers. 

William Custin was one of those who swam ashore. Another was Joseph 
Lamson, son of the Charlestown stonecutter. Ballantine and the survivors 
of his company took part in the action that followed and subsequently 
returned to Boston.^^ 

We have found little further about Custin except a record of his marriage 
on 24 December 1714, just before his discharge from the shop lease, to 
Abigail Thayer, described only as "resident of Boston."^^ It is possible that 
Custin moved away from the Boston area after his marriage and the dissolu- 
tion of his relations with Gilchrist. James Gilchrist retained the shop in the 
Boston Town House for three years and was then sued by the town 


treasurer for failure to pay the rent.^^ 

On 30 September 1715 Gilchrist married Ann (Lambert) Shepcot. She 
had been married in 1713 to Sampson Shepcot, but her husband died only 
six weeks after the marriage. Ann was administratrix of Sampson's estate, 
and only three months before her remarriage she disposed of the "mansion 
house" at the foot of Water Street, next to Peter Oliver's Dock, which her 
first husband had inherited from his father, Thomas Shepcot, a prominent 
tobacconist. James Gilchrist and his wife Aim had a daughter Arm, born 15 
September 1716. Gilchrist died 27 August 1722. His gravestone in the 
King's Chapel Burying Ground bears a winged skull and a bordered tym- 
panum arch in the style of WC, John Gaud and Nathaniel Emmes (Fig. 16). 
Our current understanding of the work of these carvers leads us to favor 
WC or Emmes as the carver. ^^ 

Figure 16. James Gilchrist, 1722, Kings Chapel, Boston 


Figure 17. Ichabod Wiswall, 1700, Duxbury, MA,/A^ 

There are seven stones, all in Massachusetts, which bear the initials JN, 
six of which we can attribute to the carver JN (Fig. 17).-^° Like that of WC, 
JN's identity remains speculative. David Watters has developed a thesis, 
supported by persuasive circumstantial evidence, that JN was the Boston sil- 
versmith John Noyes (1674-1749).'^^ Noyes was a member of the Brattle 
Street Church and of the Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company. Wat- 
ters has collected a formidable list of JN's patrons who were connected in 
one way or another with John Noyes - through purchases of his silver, as 
members of the Brattle Street Church, as members of the Artillery Com- 
pany, or by connection with other silversmiths and pewterers. The Watters 
thesis is disputed by some experts on Colonial silver (Kathryn C. Buhler and 
Jonathan Fairbanks), who point out that John Noyes always signed his silver 
IN, while the gravestones are usually initialed JN, and who suggest that the 
delicate and precise work of a silversmith is incompatible with the tools and 
heavy hand required of a stonecarver. At the time the initials I and J were 
interchangeable, and in fact one of the JN stones, that of Martha Hall 
(1701) in Roxbury, bears the letters IN (Fig. 18). 




21. YEARS 8t 2.. H° 
, 17 I 

Figure 18. Martha Hall, 1701, Roxbury, MA, IN 


If JN was John Noyes, then he, unlike the other six initial carvers, did not 
initial stones when in his 'teens or early twenties, but in his late twenties and 
early thirties. There are no known payments for gravestones in Middlesex 
or Suffolk County probate records to anyone having the initials JN. John 
Noyes was definitely a silversmith at this time, for in 1700 the Benjamin 
Bachway estate paid him L5.8.4 for mourning rings. The same estate paid 
"William Mumford, the stonecutter's bill in full, L2.5.0," presumably for the 
grave marker (Suffolk Probate, 14:142). Mrs. Forbes lists in her notes on 
Suffolk probate records seven payments between 1709 and 1720 to John 
Nichols, some of them for funeral-related expenses such as making a coffin. 
Like Gilchrist, John Nichols was apparently a joiner or carpenter. Nichols 
was paid on at least one occasion for a coffin. Was he also a carver? Mrs. 
Forbes seems to have considered him as a possible JN. A review of Suffolk 
County probate accounts reveals instances where known stone carvers were 
paid for funeral related expenses other than gravestones. For example, in 
1718 John Gaud was paid for bells, porters and cleaning the house, 
presumably for the funeral, while the same account shows a payment to Wil- 
liam Mumford for the gravestones. Carver John Holms (Woodstock, CT, 
then part of Massachusetts) collected for "making two coffins and a grave- 
stone." Nathaniel Emmes is paid for a coffin in 1736, and the Thomas 
Dakin estate in 1744 pays John Homer for a coffin and Nathaniel Emmes 
for the gravestone. Following her discussion of John Nichols, Mrs. Forbes 
asks whether William Dawes, the mason, was "The Stone Cutter of Boston." 
Records of the Third (Old South) Church suggest that a John Nichols, a 
member of that Church, was Dawes's son-in-law. This connection may not 
be significant but it opens another interesting line of inquiry. While we do 
not question the possibility that John Noyes, silversmith, was JN the grave- 
stone carver, we do suggest that other possibilities exist and that further re- 
search may ultimately identify JN more positively.^^ 

Comparison of the work of these seven initial carvers demonstrates a 
striking accord. With the possible exception of JN, the initialed stones rep- 
resent the work of young apprentice or journeymen carvers before they have 
become established. Every initialed gravestone by these carvers is, with few 
exceptions, of a slightly different design. And the stones are, again with few 


exceptions, extremely well carved — far more carefully executed and 
detailed than much of the carvers' later work. These facts suggest that the 
initialed stones may have been special projects or, like a young girl's 
needlework samplers, intended to demonstrate the carver's range of talent. 
In every case the initialed stones fall within a very brief time span, averaging 
less than seven years. The documented stones (i.e. those for which pay- 
ments are shown in probate accounts) are found only after the initialed 
stones cease to appear. Roughly 75% of the initialed stones are outside of 
Boston and Charlestown, many of them far from this area. The pattern we 
have described - the initialing of selected examples by gravestone cutters in 
the early stages of their career -- did not recur in later years in Boston, or, 
so far as we know, anywhere else. We can offer various explanations for 
this phenomenon. 

The initialing does not seem to have been for advertising purposes: the 
initials are too discrete and obscure and would hardly serve to identify the 
carvers, particularly outside their home areas. However, if an apprentice 
worked in a shop or an area where there was more than one craftsman, ini- 
tials would serve to identify his particular work. This could have been for 
the benefit of his employer. Or it could have been for his own benefit, 
either by way of recognition on the part of his employer of a particularly 
good piece of work or as a means of identifying something which the young 
man had done on his own time. Or perhaps each apprentice had to produce 
a certain number of stones - from start to finish ~ before being allowed to 
call himself a carver or before leaving the training program. Analogies may 
be found in other crafts. Thus a cabinet maker who has a number of ap- 
prentices may wish to identify the particularly good work of one of them by 
permitting him to initial it. The same practice, we are told, is known in the 
silversmith's craft, and may have prevailed in both crafts in the eighteenth 
century. William and Mary cane-seated chairs sometimes carry stamped or 
punched initials on the rear posts, indicating a division of labor resulting 
from piecework or jobbing out. Did a similar practice exist with 

This at least seems clear: the practice of initialing selected work was 
adopted early in the eighteenth century and followed for a comparatively 


brief spell by Boston's young stonecarvers as they reached a point of perfec- 
tion in their trade. Such a practice was not employed by mature carvers at 
work in the same period nor did these young carvers continue to initial 
stones after they themselves became established. 


1. These are listed in Sue Kelly and Anne Williams, "And the Men Who Made Them: The 
Signed Gravestones of New England," Journal of the Association of Gravestone Studies, 
Markers II (Lanham, MD, Univ. Press of America, 1983), 81, and the Usts which follow in 
the footnotes to this cirticle are taken therefrom. We are grateful to Sue KeUy and Anne 
Williams for permitting us to use reproductions of their admirable rubbings zmd to Daniel 
and Jessie Farber for providing all of the photographs of their work which appear in this ar- 
ticle and for the photographs which appear in Figures 2 and 16. The photographs of the 
Pyam Blower headstone and of the Edward Thompson footstone (Figiu-es 5 and 10) are 
from original glass plates made in the 1920s by Harriette Merrifield Forbes. 

2. Stones initijiled NL 

Samuel Blanchard, 1707, Andover, MA 

Rev. Jonathan Pierpont, 1709, Wakefield, MA 

Hannah & Mary Shutt, 1709, Boston 

Capt. & Mrs. Pyam Blower, 1709, Cambridge 

Mercy OHver, 1710, Cambridge 

Mary Rous, 1715, Charlestown 

Thomas Sewall, 1716, Cambridge 

Ephraim Beach, 1716, Stratford, CT 

3. Stones initialed CL 

Mary Reed, 1713, Marblehead 

Joseph Grimes, 1716, Stratford, CT (signed, not initialed) 

Prudence Turner, 1717, M2u-blehead 

John Mitchell, 1717, Maiden 

John Rodgers, 1719, Portsmouth, NH 

Benjamin Allcock, 1720, Portsmouth, NH 

Joseph Small, 1720, Portsmouth, NH 

Richard & Lydia Webber, 1721, Portsmouth, NH 

Margaret Gardner, 1725, Portsmouth, NH 

The stone now marking the grave of William Grimes, 1766, Lexington, MA bears the 
Lamson carving style and the initials "CL." It is not possible to date the stone since the 
original tablet carving has been smoothed down and recarved. It is not included in our sur- 

4. Stones initieded NE 
Arthur Mason, 1708, Boston 
James Paine, 1711, Barnstable 

5. Harriette Merrifield Forbes, Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made 
Them 1653-1800, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1927; reprint. New York; De Capo Press, 
1%7), 57-58. 

6. Suffolk Probate No. 9495. 

7. Diana Williams Combs, Early Gravestone Art in Georgia and South Carolina (Athens, GA: 


University of Georgia Press, 1986). 

8. Estate of Ambrose Vincent, Suffolk Probate, Bk. 24, p. 539. Richard F. Welch, Memento 
Mori: The Gravestones of Early Long Island 1680-1810 (Syosset, N.Y. Friends for Long 
Island's Heritage, 1983), 51-52. 

9. Suffolk Probate No. 3682, Bk. 21 p. 82; No. 4074, Bk. 21 p. 382; No. 3666, Bk. 23 p. 449. 

10. George Parker Winship, "Samuel Sewall and the New England Company, MHS Proceed- 
ings, 2d. Ser. 67:88. The original ledger is at the Massachusetts Historical Society, S. Sewall 
Coll., see p. 83 and see Diary of Samuel Sewall, ed. M. Halsey Thomas, 2 vols. (New York: 
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1973), l:415n. Sewall was active in the work of the New 
England Company and held the post of Commissioner's secretary 1700-1724 and treasurer 
1701-1724. Sewall's first wife, Hannah Hull, died 19 October 1719, and a diary entry for 16 
September 1721 (after the death of his second wife) reads: "I set up my Connecticut stone 
post in the Elm pasture, in Remembrance of my loving wife Mrs. Hannah Sewall." Diary of 
Samuel Sewall, l:xxvii, xxviii; 2:982. For reference to Deane's Pasture (which Sewall called 
Elm Pasture), at the west end of the Common, see entry for 8 May 1685, Diary, 1:62, cuid 
also the ezu-lier edition of the Diary appearing in the MHS Collections, 5th Ser. 5:73n and 
Aimie Haven Thwing, The Crooked & Narrow Streets of the Town of Boston 1630 - 1822 
(Boston, Charles E. Lauriat Co., 1930), 168. 

11. Forbes, 56. Theodore Chase and Laurel K. Gabel, "John Gaud: Boston and Connecticut 
Gravestone Carver 1693-1750," The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, (No.2, 1985) 

12. Stones initialed JG 

Rev. Edw2ird Tompson, 1705, Marshfield 
Zacheus Barton, 1707, Salem 
Thomas Kellon, 1708, Boston 
Benjamin Pickman, 1708, Salem 
Mary Green, 1709, Boston 
Lt. John Mackintosh, 1710, Boston 
Abigail Allen, 1710, Martha's Vineyard 
Samuel Russell, 1711, Marblehead 

13. Suffolk Probate No. 2568, Bk. 20, p. 150. 

14. Reports of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston, 39 vols. (Boston, 1881-1909), 
11:215, 240. 

15. Stones initialed WC 

EUzabeth Sande (1711), Old Burial Hill, Marblehead 

Richard Gross (1711), Old Burial Hill, Marblehead 

Thomas Lanyon (1711), Granary 

Mary Rickard (1712), Old Buryal Hill, Plymouth 

Joseph Phippene (1712), Fairfield, CT 

William Hanes (1712), East Norwalk Historical Cemetery, East Norwjdk, CT 

WiUiam Thomas (1714), Old Burial Hill, Plymouth 

James Allen (1714), West Tisbury 

John Edey (1715), West Tisbury 

16. Massachusetts Archives, 71:755. Francis Nicholson's Journal, Boston Newsletter, 30 Oc- 
tober and 6 November, 1710 and Nova Scotia Historical Society Collections (Halifax, 1879), 
1:65-66. See also Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of 
Massachusetts-Bay. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, ed. (Cambridge, Harv. Univ. Press, 1936), 2:134- 
137; Samuel Penhallow, A History of the Wars of New England, (Boston: 1726), 52-56; 
Samuel Niles, "A Summary Historical Narrative of the Wars in New England", Mass. Hist. 
Soc. Collections (Fourth Series) 5:311.321; and George A. Rawlyk, Nova Scotia's Mas- 
sachusetts - A Study of Massachusetts-Nova Scotia Relations 1630-1784 (Montreal and 


London: McGill-Queen's Univ. Press, 1973), 117-123. As to Joseph Lamson see William J. 
Lamson, Descendants of William Lamson of Ipswich, Mass. 1634-1917, (New York: Tobias 
A. Wright, 1917), 28, 42; Mary E. Donahue, Massachusetts Officers and Soldiers 1702-1722: 
Queen Anne's War to Drummers War (Boston: New Engleind Historic Genealogical Society, 
1980). And as to Ballantine see Clifford K. Shipton, Sibley's Harvard Graduates 
(Cambridge: Harv. Univ. Press, 1933), 4:198, especially as to the Wcirdrobe cind extensive 
provisions he lost in the wreck of the Caesar. 

17. Boston Marriages 1700-1809, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1977, based 
on Reports of the Record Commissioners, vols. 28 and 29), 1:94. 

18. Suffolk County Court Records, Massachusetts Archives, No. 14993. 

19. Ann's marriages: Boston Marriages 1:47, 58. Sampson Shepcot's estate: Suffolk Probate 
No. 3530; 18:210, 244; N.S. 7:305,307. Deed of the mansion: Suffolk Deeds, 29:221. Birth 
of daughter: Boston Births 2:114. Gilchrist's death: Gilchrist's gravestone describes him as 
having died in his thirty-fourth year, and if this is to be taken as rehable evidence, then he 
was bom in 1689 and not 1687 as indicated in Mrs. Forbes's hst and in subsequent Usts of 
New England stonecutters. For more about Thomas Shepcot (Shapcott, Shapcoat, Shep- 
cott, etc.) see Reports of the Record Commissioners of the City of Boston 39 vols. (Boston, 
1881-1909) 1:54,122,156; 7:127,183,215; Suffolk Deeds, 9:285; Suffolk Probate, No. 2817; 
15:172. Sampson was a shipwright, one brother-in-law, William Butler, was a shipwright, 
another, Jonathan Allen, was a joiner, and it is possible that James Gilchrist as a carpenter 
was at some time associated with them. 

In his will Thomas left his son Sampson "(if in the Judgment of Sober, honest and 
Judicious Neighbors his Master being one he shall well, orderly and soberly bear and be- 
have himself, and be a good husband then in such case and no otherwise) LlOO to be paid at 
21 and also all my dwelling house, land and wharfe thereunto belonging and adjoining, with 
the right of [his daughters] Mentha and Mary to live in half the house as long as they are 
unmairried without any trouble, disturbance, interruption, ejection or molestation what- 
soever from their brother Sampson. ..But if (according to the judgment aforesaid) Sampson 
shall prove an ill husband eind lead a lewd, vicious and disorderly life, then he is to receive 
LIO and no more, and the real estate is to be divided between Mary and Martha." 

Shortly jifter the death of James Gilchrist, on 11 M£U"ch 1722/3, his widow filed some 
sort of petition with the selectmen, but no further record of it appears. Reports of the 
Record Commissioners, 8:171. An Arm Gilchrist, described as "single woman" and "spinster" 
in the probate papers, died in 1743 and left a nuncupative will, that is, oral instructions given 
to witnesses: 

"Aim Gilcrest of Boston, single woman, being in the house of Lydia Lewis, widow, sick 
juid nearing her end, bid her nurse to fetch two bonds and dehver them to Mrs. Lewis, 
and Mrs. Lewis to take all she had and give the remainder to her kinswoman Susy 
(whom we believe to be Susannah Hyley)." 
Ann left tangibles valued at L130-13-8, cash of L210-9-7 and a note for L6. This may have 
been James Gilchrist's daughter Ann. Suffolk Probate No. 7904; 36:324,527-529. 

20. Stones initialed JN 

Ichabod Wiswall, 1700, Duxbury 
Saiah Dolbeare, 1701, Copps Hill, Boston 
Martha Hall, 1701, Roxbury 
John Cleverly, 1703, Quincy 
Mehitabel Hammond, 1704, Newton 
Edward Thompson, 1705, Marshfield 
John Woodcock, 1718, Dedham 

The John Woodcock stone in Dedham listed by Kelly juid Williams is almost certainly 
by John Gaud; the initials scratched on the brow of the skull may stand for John the Carver 


or John the deceased. 

21. Da\dd Walters, "The JN Carver", Markers II, 115. 

22. Mrs. Forbes's notes are at the American Antiquarian Society. The payments to Nichols ap- 
pear in Suffolk Probate Bk. 17, p. 26; Bk. 18, p. 67; Bk. 19, p. 172; Bk. 21, p. 611; Bk. 9, p. 17; 
Bk. 21, p. 711; and Bk. 18, p. 432. The payments to Gaud and Mumford in estate of Hannah 
Hendley, Suffolk Probate, Bk. 20, p. 447; the payment to John Holms in estate of Joseph 
Bartholemew, Suffolk Probate, Bk. 24, p. 25; the payment to Nathaniel Emmes for a coffm 
in estate of Alexander Sears, Suffolk Probate, Bk. 33, p. 14; and the payments to Homer and 
Emmes in the estate of Thomas Dakin are found in Suffolk Probate, Bk. 37, p. 80. As to the 
Dawes family see Historical Catalogue of the Old South Church (Third Church) Boston 
(Boston: 1883), 226, 232, 281, 285, 287, 324; and see will of Ambrose Dawes (son of 
William), Suffolk Probate No. 2987, referring to "my Brother Mr. John Nicholls." 

23. We are indebted to Jonathan L. Fairbanks, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and Robert B. St. George, a professor of American studies at 
Boston University, for the information contained in this paragraph. 



Jessie Lie Farber was a founder of the Association for Gravestone Studies, 
a former editor of its Newsletter and editor of Markers I. Her husband 
Daniel Farber is an eminent photographer, and his work appears in many 
books and articles on gravestones. 

Laurel K. Gabel and Theodore Chase are members of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies and former officers. Mrs. Gabel is a member of the 
Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York. Mr. Chase is 
president of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and a member 
of the Council of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 

Thomas E. Graves holds a doctorate in folklore and folklife from the 
University of Pennsylvania. He has taught at The Pennsylvania State 
University - Capitol Campus and at Ursinus College. The thrust of his re- 
search continues to be arts and belief systems of the Pennsylvania Germans. 

Darrell A. Norris is Associate Professor of Geography at the State Univer- 
sity of New York College at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1981. 
Professor Norris earned his Ph.D. at McMaster University, Hamilton, On- 
tario, where he completed his research project on Ontario cemeteries and 
was Research Associate for the second volume of the forthcoming Historical 
Atlas of Canada. He is also Director of Geneseo's Developmental Impact 
Studies Center, a research unit devoted to community-based economic, so- 
cial, and demographic analysis. 

Deborah Trask is editor of the Association's Newsletter. She is the Assistant 
Curator, History Section, Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 
Debra McNabb has her MA in geography from the University of British 
Columbia and is Research Data Coordinator for the Canadian Museum of 
Civilization in Ottawa. 

Meredith Williams is a 1986 graduate of Yale, where she majored in art his- 


tory. She now teaches EngUsh and studies Japanese in Tokyo. Her father, 
Gray Williams, is a freelance writer on subjects ranging from history to 

Robert A. Wright graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in studio 
art. Further studies at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY 
broadened his photographic education. He is a freelance photographer and 
writer, residing in Madison, WI. 


Index of Carvers, and of Illustrated Gravestones and their Location 

Allen, James, 222 
Atwater, Lydie, 47 

Baldwin, Michael, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 

13, 14, 15, 32, 36, 37, 41, 55 

Barnstable, 214 

Beard, Ruth, 23 

Beecher, Thomas, 34 

Beraville, 87 

Bethel, 8, 37 

Blainsport, 104 

Blower, Capt. and Mrs. Pyam, 213 

Blumbauer, Philip, 118 

Bngl, Johan, 104 

Boffenmoyer, Samuel, 87 

Bradley, Mary, 35 

Branford, 17 

Brickerville, 103, 106, 113 

Brooklyn, New York, 29 

Brooks, John, 9 

Cambridge, 213 

Carrington, Elias, 49 

Chestnut Level, Lancaster County, 

98, 103, 108, 112 

Chipman's Corner, 159 

Clark, John, 108 

Collins, Benjamin, 153 

Cook, Eunice, 42 

Cromirin, Catrina, 111 

Cunningham, James, 119 

Curtis, Hulda and infant 

daughter, 9 

Custin, William, 211, 220, 222, 223 

Cutler, Jonathan, 48 

Davis, Eliakim, 8 

Dawes, William, 227 

Derby, 23, 28 

Derby Carver, 23, 24, 29, 30, 31, 


Dorchester, 210 

Douglas, Benjamin, 19 

Duxbury, 225 

East Greenville, 108 
East Haven, 18 
Edey, John, 221 

Eichelberger, Salome, 107 
Emmes, Henry, 215 
Emmes, Joshua, 215 
Emmes, Nathaniel, 211, 215, 
224, 227 

Eplirata, 69, 109, 114 
Erb, Mariah, 81 

Fairfield, CT, 11, 32 
Fairfield, PA, 98, 121 
Fitch, Rachel, 158 
Foster, James, 211 
Foster, Thankfull, 210 
Freyen, H., 114 

Gaud, John, 218, 224, 227 

Getty Tomb, 180 

Gilbert, James, 45, 46 

Gilbert, Mary, 33 

Gilbert, Rebecca, 33 

Gilchrist, James, 211, 215, 218, 219, 

220, 223, 224, 227 

Gold, Hezekiah, 42 

Gold, Thomas, 1, 52, 56 

Grant, William, 211, 215 

Griffin, James C. & Thomas, 156 

Grimes, William, 214 

Hall, Martha, 226 

Hanover, 107 

Harris, Eunice, 155 

Hawley, Edward, 22 

Hellertown, 99 

Herb, Andereas, 64 

Hickock, Ebenezer, 37 

Hill Church, Berks County, 60, 64, 


Holms, John, 227 

Homer, John, 227 

Hotchlass, Caleb, 2 

Howell, John, 16 

Howell, Mary, 16 

Huffs Church, Berks County, 118 

Hull, Joseph, 28 

Ives, Mariah, 50 
Ives, Sally, 50 


Judson, Abner, 7 
Judson, Agur, 40 
Junt, George, 109 

KD, 108 

Keller, Elisabeth, 69 
Kentville, 155, 156 
Kings Chapel, Boston, 224 
Kunsin, Elisabet, 100 

Lamson, Caleb, 211, 213 
Lamson, Joseph, 211 
Lamson, Nathaniel, 211, 213 
Lang, Peter, 79 
Laubenbach, C, 86 
Lautenbach, C.H., 79, 85 
Leonhard Miller, 106 
Lexington, 210, 214 
Littlestown, 100 
Lower Saucon Township, near 
Hellertown, 117 

Madison, 48 
Magee, Henry, 156 
Manning family, 153 
Marblehead, 223 
Marshall, Mary, 216 
Marshfield, 219, 220 
Matz, Lydia, 85 
Mehetabel, 50 
Meigs, Chloe, 48 
Menich, James R., 119 
Meriden, 26 
Merwin, Mary, 38 
Midlto, John, 98 
Miles, Martha, 44 
Miles, Susannah, 30 
Milford, 13, 30, 38, 43, 44, 49 
Miller, John, 12 
Millerin, Anna, 103 
Millroie, Thomas, 103 
Miner, Thomas, 158 
Mumford, Aim, 212 
Mumford, WilHam, 211, 227 

New Haven, 2, 12, 16, 19, 20, 33, 37, 

45, 47, 48, 50 

Newport, 212 

Newton, Amadeus, 51 

Nichols, John, 227 

Northford, 27 

Noyes, John, 211, 225, 227 

Oberle, Rudolph, 99 
Oberly, Rudolf, 117 
Orwigsburg, 79, 85 

Paine, James, 214 
Parmele, Elias, 20 
Peck, Benjamin, 155 
Penryn, 111 
Perkins, David, 19 
Peterman, Daniel, 65 
Pickman, Benjamin, 217 
Plymouth, 221 
Pond, Martha, 43 
Prudden, Job, 13 

Quincy, 216 

Redding, 21 

Reynold, Samuel, 98 

Rice, Mindwell, 26 

Rickard, Mary, 221 

Ritter, David, 3, 46, 47, 49, 51, 53, 


Roxbury, 226 

Royce, Elizabeth, 26 

Russell, Samuel, 223 

Ryerson Tomb, 168 

Salem, 217 

Sanford, Daniel and Jeremiah, 21 

Seaman, Abraham, 154, 157, 160, 

161, 162, 163 

Second Horton Carver, 154, 

157, 162 

Seipel, Susan, 66 

Shelton, 40 

Sherman, Ebenezer, 35 

Sigmund, Friedrich, 118 

Silliman, Ebenezer, 11 

Sinclair, EUzabeth, 2 

Steel, Elisabeth, 112 

Stoothoff, Wilhelmus, 29 

Stratford, 7, 9, 10, 14, 18, 22, 23, 


Sullivan gravestone, 203 

Sullivan, Louis Henri, 169 

Thompson, Lydia, 33 
Tomlinson, Agur, 18 


Tomlinson, Mary Alice, 10 
Tomlinson, Rebeckah, 14 
Tompson, Rev, Edward, 219, 220 
Trexlertown, 66 

Upper Canard, 155 

Wainwright Tomb, 194 
Wallingford, 26 
Waugh, Jane, 121 
Weidman, Elizabeth, 113 
West Tisbury, 221, 222 
Whitmore, Rebeckah, 210 
Willcockson, Samuel, 23 
Willford, Elisabeth, 17 
Williams, Anne, 27 
Wiswall, Ichabod, 225 
Wolfville, 158 

Woodbridge, 19, 34, 35, 42, 51 
Woodward, Huldah, 18 
Woodworth, Ezekiel, 159 
Wyatt, Alice, 32 

Yoder, Abraham, 71 


Markers I 

Edited by Jessie Lie Farber 

Markers II 

Edited by David Watters 

Markers III 

Edited by David Watters 

Markers IV 

Edited by David Watters