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Markers VII 


Markers VII 

Journal of 
the Association for 
Gravestone Studies 

Edited by 
Theodore Chase 

Association for Gravestone Studies 
Needham, Massachusetts 

Copyright © 1990 by 

Association for Gravestone Studies 

46 Plymouth Road 
Needham, Massachusetts 02192 

All rights reserved 
Printed in the United States of America 

ISBN: 1-878381-00-8 
ISSN: 0277-8726 
LCN: 81-642903 

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American 

National Standard for Information Sciences - Permanence of Paper for Printed Library 

Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1984. 



Theodore Chase, Editor 
David Walters, Associate Editor 

John L. Brooke James A. Slater 

Jessie Lie Farber Richard F. Welch 

The editor once again thanks the members of the editorial board for their 
advice and help in the selection and editing of articles for this edition of the 
journal. He also wishes to thank Pamela Bryson for typing a substantial part 
of the manuscript and Carol Davidson for her vital assistance in the prepara- 
tion of copy and layout. The editor is grateful to Daniel and Jessie Lie Far- 
ber and to Michael Cornish for many of the photographs which appear in this 
volume, more precise credit being given at the beginning of the footnotes of 
a number of the articles. 

This is the first issue of Markers published by the Association itself since 
Markers I. It has been printed by Heffernan Press, Inc., Worcester, Mas- 

Information about the submission of manuscripts for Markers may be ob- 
tained from the editor, Theodore Chase, 74 Farm Street, Dover, Massa- 
chusetts 02030. For information about other Association for Gravestone 
Studies publications, membership and activities, write to the executive direc- 
tor, Rosalee Oakley, 46 Plymouth Road, Needham, Massachusetts 02192. 

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



Harriette Merrifield Forbes 1 

Symbolic Cemetery Gates in New England 3 

Harriette M. Forbes 

A Portfolio of Mrs. Forbes' Cast-Iron Gates 19 

Margot Gayle 

"The Fencing Mania": The Rise and Fall of Nineteenth-Century 
Funerary Enclosures 35 

Blanche Linden- Ward 

Boston's Historic Burying Grounds Initiative 59 

Eliot Burying Ground 65 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 77 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 89 

The Funerary Monuments and Burial Patterns of Colonial 

Tidewater Virginia, 1607-1776 103 

Elizabeth A. Crowell and Norman Vardney Mackie III 

Charles Miller Walsh: A Master Carver of Gravestones 

in Virginia, 1865-1901 139 

Martha Wren Briggs 

Notes on the Production of Rustic Monuments in the 

Limestone Belt of Indiana 173 

Warren E. Roberts 

Stonecarvers of Monroe County, Indiana 1828-1890 195 

Jennifer Lucas 

In the Way of the White Man's Totem Poles: Stone Monuments 

Among Canada's Tsimshian Indians 1879-1910 213 

Ronald W. Hawker 

The Origins and Early Development of the Celtic Cross 233 

Douglas Mac Lean 

Contributors 276 

Index 278 


Harriette Merrifield Forbes 


Mrs. Forbes wrote the first definitive book on early American 
gravemarkers, still after more than sixty years the leading text on New 
England gravestones and the men who made them. As we approach the one 
hundred thirty-fifth anniversary of her birth, it seems appropriate to dedicate 
to her the trilogy which follows. 

The articles are not about gravestones but about the cast-iron fences 
which enclosed them and the elaborate gates that protected them. First is 
Mrs. Forbes's own article, "Symbolic Cemetery Gates in New England," 
which first appeared in Old-Time New England in October 1933 (Vol. XXIV, 
No. 2), and is now reprinted with the kind permission of The Society for the 
Preservation of New England Antiquities. Next is a selection drawn from 
over seventy other photographs of gates and fences taken by Mrs. Forbes in 
the early 1930s never before published and now selected and described by 
Margot Gayle, a distinguished authority on cast-iron design. And finally we 
publish an illuminating article by Blanche Linden-Ward about "The Fencing 

Mrs. Forbes was first an artist, painting charming flower arrangements, 
then a genealogist, then a photographer of people and old houses, and after 
1918, of gravestones. She took literally thousands of outdoor pictures, care- 
fully cataloguing each one in a small notebook with date, location, subject, 
and length of exposure. She also kept a diary of her trips in search of 
material accompanied by one or two of her daughters (she brought up five 
children) who often held a sheet or blanket behind the subject in order to 
bring out the design in strong relief. She bought her first lens in the 1880s, 
after her marriage. The lens was an expensive one; she put it in a cheap 
camera, then in a second, better one; and she used that lens and that camera 
the rest of her life. Her camera was mounted on a tripod; she used a cloak to 
keep out the light; and when the day was done, she developed the glass slides 
and made her own prints. Five volumes of Mrs. Forbes's gravestone 
photographs are housed at both the American Antiquarian Society and the 
New England Historic Genealogical Society. Her complete collection of 

more than 1400 glass negatives of gravestones is now being printed in dupli- 
cate by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber and will be catalogued by computer and 
placed with the American Antiquarian Society and the Yale University Art 
Gallery. Fortunately the notebooks and diaries referred to above, and many 
other memorabilia of this lady's remarkable career, have been faithfully 
preserved in her family. We were introduced to this trove by Mrs. Linwood 
Erskine, whose husband is a grandchild of Mrs. Forbes, and Mrs. Erskine 
generously provided all of the prints from which the illustrations in our first 
two articles were made. 

Mrs. Forbes wrote that cemetery cast-iron was short-lived -- from about 
1835 to 1885. Yet Margot Gayle considers cast-iron cemetery ornamentation 
to have been produced well after the nineteenth century. In fact, she states 
that panels, ballustrades and pickets similar to those shown in these 
photographs which follow can be bought to this day from a few foundries, 
most of them in the deep South. Some employ authentic nineteenth-century 
patterns acquired when earlier foundries went out of business. Mrs. Gayle 
describes the process by which design concepts were translated into metal. It 
was a process which lent itself to replication and interchange of design ele- 
ments. As a result, the viewer will find the same tree, the same figure of 
Hope, the same lyre, the same Father Time appearing in different combina- 
tions in many cemeteries and in different lots in the same cemetery. It is a 
matter of regret that most of this interesting and arresting work is now gone 
" the victim of neglect, of changes in taste or of zealous groundskeepers 
eager to reduce maintenance costs. Some still exists in old cemeteries, but 
most is preserved only in pictures such as those which accompany these ar- 



Harriette M. Forbes 

Values and essentials change from one generation to another. One 
hundred or more years ago, the goal of a young man's ambition was first of 
all to have a house of his own. Stephen Salisbury, a bachelor aged twenty- 
four, had been in Worcester only three years when in 1770 he writes to his 
brother, "It would be prudent in me to fix upon some place to live upon, for I 
see no way of ever bettering myself here until I do have one that I can call my 

When an eighteenth-century man had built his house, planted his gardens, 
laid out his walks, with stepping stones or flags, protected it all with a fence 
as strong and beautiful as he could afford, a great measure of content descen- 
ded upon him. His position in the town was almost assured ~ not quite 
however -- there were other essentials. 

Next to the house in dignity and importance came the pew in the town 
meeting house. At first it was large and square -- a later generation 
preferred it long and narrow, but to each it was necessary that it should be a 
piece of property, passed to him by a legal deed, left by his will to his descen- 
dants, his to use and enjoy forever. In the most comfortable corner sat his 
wife, where she loved to sit; the hymn books were their property, she marked 
her favorite hymns with a wavering cross; the fans, the footstools, the Bible, 
all were theirs, and when on a Sunday the family came down the aisle in their 
best attire, seated themselves in their accustomed order on the red bom- 
bazine cushions, and the husband having stood at the door while each one 
entered, at last himself sat down, drew to the door and fastened the button 
which held it in place, his cup of content was nearly full. 

One thing, however, still remained. He knew that life was uncertain and 
death was sure. Having provided for the former, he should also provide for 
the latter. And it was not unpleasing to him to do so. He knew this last step 

4 Harriette M. Forbes 

also added to his position -- a desirable lot in the village cemetery, his own -- 
showed to the community what kind of a man he was - a solid citizen, pru- 
dent and foreseeing, and willing to spend handsomely for the future. So he 
bought his lot and then just as he had done to his garden plot and to his pew 
in the church, he fenced it about, sometimes with wood, sometimes with 
stone, sometimes with even a typical New England stone wall and later with 
the interesting iron fences of the Victorian era. It is the gates of these lot 
fences that I have chosen as the subject of this paper. 

Although living very near to the time when some curious psychological 
wave inundated the country, it is hard to tell whence it came. We only 
remember and see the results. The beautiful fences around the home lots, 
with their graceful urns, their interesting harps, the elaborate iron tracery of 
arabesques, of laurel, oak and flowers were all swept away; the pews were no 
longer a man's religious castle, he did not own the hymn books or the 
footstools or anything in the pew. He sat in a seat owned by the church cor- 
poration and theoretically free to all. This same wave beat around the 
cemeteries. One by one the fences disappeared, sometimes by a decree of 
the cemetery trustees they went en masse. It is much easier to mow the lots 
when there are no fences and for the same reason the footstones were some- 
times moved up close to the headstone, or used as building material for some 
necessary wall, or even thrown quite away. Consequently one man could do 
the work of two and one was unemployed. 

In Portland, Conn., the caretaker told me it was only seven years since the 
iron fences in that cemetery were taken down. Liking them himself, he used 
many of them to enclose one side of the grounds, but the gates with few ex- 
ceptions were destroyed. In other places we often find the gate gone or rusty 
and neglected, hanging a little longer to the posts which once bore it proudly. 
But they are all doomed and another generation may search in vain for this 
kind of craftsmanship. 

These iron cemetery fences were not used for a long period of time, the 
earliest dating from about 1830, while after 1885 it is doubtful if anyone was 
bold enough to indicate thus to the world that this lot of land was his posses- 
sion and it meant to him faith, hope, and immortality. 

Cemetery Gates 

S^, _, 

Fig. 1 Davis Gate, Burgess Cemetery, Grafton, Vt. 
Signed by George Holmes of Keene, N.H. 

Fig. 2 Jennison Eager Gate, Warren, Mass. (painted white) 

6 Harriette M. Forbes 

The majority of the fences and the gates were of conventional designs, but 
many that were symbolic appealed strongly to the sentimental Victorian age. 
They were made by the hundreds in New York state, in Ohio and Pennsyl- 
vania, but as far as I know most of those used in New England were of her 
own manufacture. For each gate there was first of all an artist of more or 
less ability to design it, then it went to the carver who made a smooth, care- 
fully cut pattern, and this was given to the iron worker who made the moulds 
and cast the gate. Apparently the designs were passed from one to another 
and even a patent did not seem to protect. A very favorite pattern in Mas- 
sachusetts was the willow tree and lambs (Fig. 1). This appears with various 
small differences ~ sometimes the willow tree was against a background of 
infrequent roses, sometimes against a kind of trellis work with ivy leaves, oc- 
casionally with an arch of rustic design over the top. I have found this gate 
signed G. Holmes and Bro., Keene, N.H., and E. Weeman, Boston, the two 
gates being identical. But Holmes honestly confesses that his designs are not 
his own as in the following advertisement which appeared in the New 
Hampshire Sentinel, on April 17, 1857: 

"The subscriber having made arrangements with a gentlemen in 
Boston to furnish him with all the new and latest styles of pat- 
terns for cast and wrought iron fences is prepared and would 
be happy to furnish to all who may be in want of fence for 
cemeteries, balustrades and front yards at less than Boston 

This is signed George Holmes, Keene, N.H. He does not, however, say 
who first thought of suggesting Paradise by the lambs lying peacefully under 
the tree on whose branches birds are alighting, symbolizing the flight of the 
soul into the regions of the blest. A very similar idea is that of a gate in War- 
ren, Newton, and other places where the willow tree droops more sadly and 
one of the lambs has been supplanted by a contented lion (Fig. 2), the birds 
have gone and the background instead of a trellis or roses is cleverly made of 
the stems and seeds of poppies, an emblem of sleep. 

A less successful worker redrew the whole thing and well pleased with his 
work signed his name, J.I. Healey, 21 Sudbury St., Boston. 

There are a number of gates of similar design, all having a willow tree for 

Cemetery Gates 7 

the central thought. Among these is the Httle maiden who sits under her tree 
with bent head, a hopeless picture of grief (Fig. 3). There are turned-down 
torches on either side, an old Grecian symbol of death, and on top of her 
posts are blazing urns. 

Closely allied to this design is that of the festoon of flowers with the tiny 
willow tree (Fig. 4). In fact the two gates are nearly identical except that the 
little tree replaces the mourning maiden. This also was very popular. In 
Norwichtown they can still be counted by the dozens. Sometimes a cross 
took the place of the tree. The fences which were chosen to go with this style 
of gate were usually of willow trees with one or two lambs lying beneath 
them. A more unusual form is the one photographed in Sterling where the 
one lamb under the tree alternates with a Greek cross and that in turn with a 
flying bird (Fig. 5). Thus the church, the departing soul and the pastures of 
Paradise are all indicated. 

Another gate, undoubtedly designed by the maker of the lion and the 
lamb is that of the musical instruments (Fig. 6). The birds alight on the 
poppy stems again typify the souls in Heaven, this time listening to strains of 
heavenly music. This gate is apt to have over it a canopy of grapes, in itself a 
symbol of good cheer and happiness. Another favorite pattern is that of the 
torch turned up, indicating life and not death (Fig. 7). 

In Figure 8 we also have a very common design, the two turned-down 
torches crossed on the gate, another one on each post, emblems of death and 

In Fitchburg, on the very top of its mountainous cemetery, is a large lot 
with a fence of heavy balusters and gates which seem fitted to stand another 
century (Fig. 9). The posts also have the turned-down torches, burning very 
merrily as do the blazing urns above. We can almost imagine that the breeze 
which is rarely absent from this high location makes itself felt on the iron. 
The gates themselves are of a dignified, conventional design, having, 
however, two small medallions, one with a winged hourglass denoting the 
flight of time, another with a tiny owl with his wings folded around him, typi- 
cal of night and death. 

It is rare in any modern cemetery to find more than three or four of these 
iron fences still in place and many of the few that are left are succumbing to 

Harriette M. Forbes 

Fig. 3 Gate at Keene, N.H. 


Fig. 4 Gate at Keene, N.H. 

Cemetery Gates 

# -^ 

S^i^sC: :Ti^;:^l^^f:^ .r^^^^li^ffZ wf^k!**£iJo 


Fig. 5 David Wilder Fence, Sterling, Mass. 

Fig. 6 Fairbanks Gate, Ashburnham, Mass. (painted black, had a canopy) 


Harriette M. Forbes 

Fig. 7 Carpenter Gate, Keene, N.H. 

Fig. 8 Gate at Worcester, Mass. 

Cemetery Gates 11 

rust. Of the places, however, that I have visited in search of symboHc gates, 
two are preeminent for the number of those that remain and the care which 
has been bestowed upon them. Those two are the Cedar Grove cemetery in 
New Lxindon, Conn., and Mount Auburn in Cambridge. Both have fences of 
great distinction and in Mount Auburn, in the case of one fence, we can dis- 
cover all that we can expect to know. This is the unusual one with its two 
imposing gateways designed for the Scots Charitable Society in 1847. They 
bought, in 1841, a large corner lot and in 1845 a committee was appointed 
"To obtain suitable designs for an Iron fence round the lot and estimate cost 
for the same." Two years later Mr. Cameron of the committee reports "That 
we have encountered much difficulty in getting out a satisfactory, appropriate 
fence adapted to the ground; but we have at length succeeded and I trust it 
will be erected this year." (Fig. 10). In November of that same year (1847) 
the committee reported that the fence had been completed and they ren- 
dered their itemized bill, which, including the cost of the lot and grading, was 
$2,243.35. The items in regard to the fence are: 

Drawing plans 


Modelling the figure of St. Andrew 




Making patterns 


Stone posts 






Drilling stones 


Iron work 




That the actual work of casting and making the fence was done by one of 
their members, David Miller, we glean from a modest tablet on the gate: "D. 
Miller, Maker, Boston." But there seems no item in the recojds of the 
Society which gives us the least clue to the man who really designed the fence 
and made it "neat and substantial," as they wished. Nor could we ever have 
guessed who this unknown artist might have been if it were not for a book 


Harriette M. Forbes 

Fig. 9 Moses Wood, Fitchburg, Mass. 

Fig. 10 Scots Charitable Society Gate, Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass. 

Cemetery Gates 13 

published in New York, Rural Cemeteries, by Nehemiah Cleveland. In an 
advertising appendix there are given pictures of various gates with the names 
of their designers and among them is this one, "Designed and drawn for the 
Scots Charitable Society by T. Voelckers, Architect." There are pictured two 
other gates in Mount Auburn, also of his designing, one of them for the 
double lot of M. Tisdale and S.K. Hewins (Fig. 11). 

For some years, from 1850 to 1860, Theodore Voelckers appears in the 
Boston Directory as an architect and he may have designed a number of the 
symbolic iron gates for which Boston was famous at that time. It is not hard 
to see his hand in that for the Lawrence family (Fig. 12), and as we know 
that he sometimes used a coat-of-arms he may have been chosen to make the 
dignified ecclesiastical fence in Lancaster which surrounds the lonely grave 
of David Steuart Robertson, a member of the Scots Charitable Society. This 
has a beautifully cut copper lozenge with the Steuart arms, the same, prob- 
ably, which the young Scotchman mentions in his will as being engraved upon 
various articles owned by him. He had lived in Lancaster only seven years 
but in those few years he had done much for the town and made a host of 
warm friends. Among them was the poet of Longfellow's "Wayside Inn," 
Thomas William Parsons, who not only wrote a poem for his obituary notice, 
but on his monument are cut the following lines which came from the poet's 

"Here Steuart sleeps and should some brother Scot 
Wander this way and pause upon this spot. 
He need not ask, now life's poor show is o'er 
What arms he carried or what plaid he wore. 
So small the value of illustrious birth. 
Brought to this solemn, last essay of earth; 
Yet unreproved, his epitaph may say 
A royal soul was wrapt in Steuart's clay. 
And generous actions consecrate his mound. 
More than all titles, though of kingly sound." 

Most of the emblems used in cemeteries of the mid- Victorian era were of 
far greater antiquity than the coat-of-arms. In reading the addresses 
delivered at the consecration of some chosen piece of land or even at the 
funeral of some well-known person, we find there were some who con- 


Harriette M. Forbes 

Fig. 11 Tisdale and Hewins Gate, Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass. 

,^^1"- t';A'>« 

Fig. 12 Lawrence Gate, Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass. 

Cemetery Gates 


Fig. 13 Samuel John Gate, New Haven, Conn. 

Fig. 14 Bradlee Gate, Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Mass. 


Harriette M. Forbes 

Fig. 15 Bridgham & Patten Gate, Providence, R.I. 

Fig. 16 Albertson Gate, New London, Conn. 

Cemetery Gates 17 

demned the use of pagan imagery, "the fragmentary column or torch reversed 
and going out in darkness," says one speaker, "was a fit expression of the 
popular belief and truly symbolized a sorrow in which hope had neither lot 
nor part." "It is very doubtful" says another, "whether the Egyptian style is 
most appropriate to a Christian burial place." 

To another class of people, however, no symbolism had the dignity and the 
appropriateness of the Egyptian. We find the imposing entrances of many of 
these old cemeteries immense granite archways with winged globes and suns. 
One of these is at Mount Auburn, erected in 1844 at a cost of $10,000. It is 
rare, however, to find gates for private lots of Egyptian design. The most 
elaborate one in this style which I have found is in New Haven (Fig. 13). The 
winged globe with the asps ready to strike, is a symbol of divine protection 
throughout life. Death is indicated here by the reversed torches just touched 
by the tips of the outspread wings. Below are the two sphinxes, a mingling of 
spirit and matter and a symbol of mastery. 

Probably the more common design of a serpent with his tail in his mouth 
is also of Egyptian origin. On the gate for J. P. Bradlee, in Mount Auburn 
(Fig. 14), it is used in a very distinctive Egyptian setting, the hourglass, which 
is not Egyptian, being suggested by the three uprights of the frame. I have 
not found this design without the hourglass, the idea being to contrast the 
shifting sands of time with the Alpha and Omega of the endless circle -- the 
world without end. In Providence and other places we find it combined with 
a nimbus (Fig. 15), thus suggesting the flight of time and the glory of the risen 
being for all eternity. 

In contrast to these sombre emblems are the cheerful designs which sug- 
gest the peace of Paradise and the mourner's hope. The Albertson gate in 
New London (Fig. 16) is typical of the rest reserved for the saints. The youth 
under the willow tree is resting awhile from his earthly labors before trying 
his unused wings in heavenly flights. In the meantime the grapes are 
emblematical of the comfort and cheer of the promised land. The tired pas- 
serby envies the deep content expressed by the picture. 

"Hope is an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast which entereth into 
that within the veil," and Hope, as imagined by the Victorian artist, stands at 
many an entrance, raising her right hand toward Heaven. Joseph Lawrence's 


Harriette M. Forbes 

lot in New London, Conn. (Fig. 17), has heavy posts with draped urns and 
burning torches, but on the gate, Hope is pointing upwards -- a symbol not of 
death but of that life beyond death for which the mourner longs. "Moreover 
also my flesh shall rest in hope." 

Fig. 17 Joseph Lawrence Gate, New London, Conn, (painted white) 



Margot Gayle 

It may seem odd to begin this portfolio that depicts examples of cast-iron 
gate designs photographed in several New England cemeteries with a picture 
of a gate produced in hand-forged wrought iron. Yet, by observing this gate 
one can see the effect created by the use of iron bar stock cut and assembled 
at a forge, where curving elements of a design are achieved by heating the 
iron red hot and bending it with hand tools. The result is of necessity very 
open and fragile in appearance, but by the nature of the material lacks the 
depth and sculptural effect that is achieved in cast iron. This will be 
demonstrated in the pictures of cast-iron gates that appear on the following 

Figure 1, Hampton, New Hampshire 

I admire very much this wrought-iron gate and regard its maker, thought 
to be a local blacksmith in Hampton, New Hampshire, as a real artist. He 
used his metal creatively. Judging only from the photograph, made by Har- 
riette M. Forbes over fifty years ago, the body of the eagle is cut from sheet 
metal, the wavy lines outlining the eagle's wings being varied lengths of iron 
bars curved by hand at an anvil, then welded to it. Painted black, it makes a 
striking silhouette against a white background which seems to be a sheet of 
white fabric held by the photographer's aides (called a "ground cloth"). 
Without that clean, uncluttered background this delicate gate design would 
dissolve into the complex background of the cemetery with its trees, shrub- 
bery and headstones. 

Figure 2, Thomas Sumner Gate, Bilierica, Massachusetts 

This handsome cemetery gate produced of cast iron, which like the eagle 
gate is very open in design and has large areas of perforations, strikes us at 
once as more sturdy and more suggestive of carving. And so it should, for the 


Margot Gayle 

simple reason that carved wood patterns were made for any new nineteenth- 
century design for an object such as a gate or fence post or fence that was to 
be cast in iron. 

Fig. 1 Hampton, N.H. 

Cast-Iron Gates 21 

Often a large object like this gate would be cast in sections, which would 
then be assembled and bolted together or, late in the century, welded 
together. It was no small feat and called for a great deal of skill and 
patience. The most skilled of the cast-iron craftsmen in a foundry was the 
pattern maker, who had to combine artistic capabilities with a knowledge of 
the metal. Almost intuitively he could make proper allowance, as he carved 
his patterns, for the inevitable shrinkage of the molten metal on cooling. 
Once made, the pattern for the object to be cast was pressed into a box of 
damp fine sand, then tamped down until its shape and carved details were 
clearly impressed in the sand. After removal of the pattern, the box was 
covered, and molten iron was poured through a funnel-like hole with great 
care that escaping gases should not dislodge individual sand particles that 
might distort the mold. Following several hours of cooling, the damp sand 
was shaken from the molded iron, which then went through a process of 
smoothing and polishing. 

After this review of the method of making ornamental cast iron, one may 
ask why so often in our time have the fruits of such an involved process been 
treated so cavalierly? How can the managers of cemeteries justify the rip- 
ping out of iron fences, gates such as this, urns and iron benches and their 
frequent consignment to the scrap heap? 

Now to turn our attention to the historic photograph of Thomas Sumner's 
handsome gate in a cemetery in Billerica, Massachusetts. His name is cast 
into the large circle at the center of its Gothic design. Smaller circles create 
a trefoil pattern. The pointed Gothic arches and detailed finials all con- 
tribute to a gate that appears to have been in remarkably good condition 
when Mrs. Forbes took this picture on April 9, 1931. 

Figure 3, Gate and Fence, Lot 425 

Another splendid example of the iron caster's skill is this highly sculptured 
gate that is so artfully integrated into its fence I'nat one can hardly tell where 
the fence ends and the gate begins. The design of rich swirls and curves, 
boldly plastic and with no funerary symbolism at all relies on stylized an- 
themion forms and adroitly positioned rosettes. Pineapple finials mark the 
gate posts. No name or date is to be seen, although No. 425 cast into the bot- 


Margot Gayle 

torn of the gate seems to indicate the lot's number. Beyond that there is no 
hint as to where the photograph was taken. 

Fig. 2 Thomas Sumner Gate, Billerica, Mass. 

Fig. 3. Gate and Fence, Lot 425 

Cast-iron Gates 23 

Figure 4, Military Gate 

A gate with a bold, even commanding image unquestionably marks the 
burial place of a military man. It is very pictorial and made from deeply 
carved patterns. Gate posts are upturned cannon. The square gate is com- 
posed of lengths of iron pipe tied together at the corners by simulated thongs. 
Perched on impost blocks at the corners of the gate are strident eagles on the 
alert, fully realized as three-dimensional sculptures. The centerpiece of the 
gate's design is a graceful assemblage of memorabilia with military associa- 
tions: a rifle crossed with a sword, a pistol, a plumed hat and scarfs with tas- 
sels, all superimposed on a wreath of laurel. No tears or weeping here. Just 
trails of glory. 

Figure 5, William VVhippey Gate, Nantucket, Massachusetts 

This straightforward and almost stern design, with its large, uncluttered 
anchor and length of twisted rope, evokes the sea. The anchor is framed by a 
splendid carved wreath of laurel leaves. The central images have more style 
than the overthrow of the gate. (An "overthrow" is a panel of ornamental 
ironwork placed like a lintel above metal gates.) Probably that element was 
selected from a catalogue. It carries the date 1867 and the name William 
Whippey. Not surprisingly this 1936 photograph was taken in a Nantucket 
graveyard. The gate was painted grey, which gives it strong visibility against 
the green grass. 

Figure 6, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts 

An extraordinary lightness and transparency characterize this composition 
that was devised from merely a wreath, a handful of arrows, and some curv- 
ing elements to form a frame. Each gatepost is made from six arrows, their 
points down-resting on a hexagonal block of granite. They are held firmly in 
position by two iron rings circling the arrow shafts. Unquestionably this 
design is from an experienced hand. Since the gate is in Mount Auburn 
Cemetery, where noteworthy examples of his work are known, it may well be 
the work of Boston architect Theodore Voelckers. Mrs. Forbes describes 
three Voelckers gates, all quite different, in her illustrated article. 


Margot Gayle 

Fig. 4 Military Gate 

Fig. 5 William Whippey Gate, Nantucket, Mass. 

Cast-Iron Gates 


Fig. 6 Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Mass. 

Fig. 7 Borden Gate, Fall River, Mass. 

26 Margot Gayle 

Figure 7, Borden Gate, Fall River, Massachusetts 

A bold design constructed from twelve acanthus leaves radiating sym- 
metrically from a center rosette is ringed by an oval border. Corner 
spandrels, fitting between the oval border and the gate's square frame, sug- 
gest anthemions. Classical gateposts topped by urns appear as solid as the 
gate they support. 

Figure 8, A.W. Jewett Lot, Manchester, Massachusetts 

The following examples of cemetery gates all incorporate conventional 
symbols of death, bereavement, mourning or hope. This design, showing a 
bird in flight, makes me think of a heaven-bound soul. A very pleasing 
design in cast iron is achieved with renaissance-style leaves and scrolls 
around the encircled bird. It reminds me of lacy cast-iron verandas in 
Australia, where local birds and small animals often form part of the design. 
This is not a gate, but a portion of a type of late Victorian iron fence, 
produced in a very inventive and economical manner. Instead of pickets or 
balusters held by upper and lower rails, we see here simple iron pipes that 
have been threaded through top and bottom sleeves of what might be called 
a medallion. Voila! A fence that is held in place by fence posts six or eight 
feet apart (not seen in the picture). 

Figure 9, Thomas R. Wyman Gate, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, 

The weeping willow tree is one of the all-time favorite funerary symbols 
used in cast-iron fences and gates. I have seen it, and you have too, again 
and again in various sections of the country. Undoubtedly, foundrymen 
"borrowed" from their competitors, sometimes recurving their designs, and on 
other occasions adroitly using their finished iron products as actual patterns 
for making their own sand molds. It was easy to do. The popular weeping 
willow tree, with birds in its branches and recumbent peaceful lambs beneath 
its boughs, might have been purchased as a separate unit to be incorporated 
into a gate design, as in this case, where it is encumbered by full-blown roses 
on leafy stems. Decorative details, as well as individual fence panels, can be 
bought for assembly from several American foundries even today. We see 

Cast-iron Gates 27 

here a particularly lively combination, with the roses and the arched over- 
throw bearing the name of Thomas B. Wyman, the whole topped by knotted 
ribbon streamers. The date is obscured but quite legible; across the bottom 
beneath the lambs is the foundry mark of its maker: Weeman, 26 Merrimac 
St Boston. 

Figure 10, W. Albertson Gate, New London, Connecticut 

The weeping willow tree is given a different and more sophisticated treat- 
ment in this gate photograph taken by Mrs. Forbes in 1931 in a New London, 
Connecticut, cemetery. A winged youth reclines beneath the branches of a 
willow tree. The scene is encircled by a molded frame with Gothic details. 
Filling the four corners between the circle and the square frame of the gate 
are branches of vines with large flat leaves and bunches of grapes, 
"emblematic of the comfort and cheer of the promised land," according to 
Mrs. Forbes. Pointed Gothic arches embellish the side panels, which flank 
the gate and are identical with the panels comprising the fence, which is only 
glimpsed here. The entire Albertson Gate appears as Figure 16 in Mrs. 
Forbes' article, where it can be seen that the gate posts with narrow arched 
panels have tall, crocketed steeple tops, and support an ogee arch-like entry. 

Figure 11, Chapman Gate, Keene, New Hampshire 

Here a dark blanket, held no doubt by two of Mrs. Forbes's children, is 
used to provide an uncluttered background. The lyre was of Assyrian or 
Babylonian origin and was probably introduced into ancient Greece through 
Thrace or Lydia. It had no Biblical connotations but the design became a 
favorite classical theme for cemetery use. 

Figure 12, Lyre Fence, Troy, New Hampshire 

The same fundamental lyre design with three strings and a bunch of 
grapes is used in this fence, the design extended by an ornamental peak and a 
base. Slender pickets alternate with the lyre ballusters. The foundry where 
the fence was fabricated is identified on a block supporting the urn atop the 
gate-post: "G. Holmes & Bros. Keene, N.H." 


Margot Gayle 

Fig. 8 A.W. Jewett Lot, Manchester, Mass. 

Fig. 9 Thomas R. Wyman Gate, Mount Auburn Cemetery, 
Cambridge, Mass. 

Cast-Iron Gates 


Fig. 10 \V. Albertson Gate, New London, Conn. 

Fig. 1 1 Chapman Gate, Keene, N.H. 


Margot Gayle 

Fig. 12 Lyre Fence, Troy, N.H. 

Fig. 13 Greenwood Gate, Natick, Mass. 

Cast-iron Gates 


Figure 13, Greenwood Gate, Natick, Massachusetts 

A less ornate, but no less striking, lyre design decorates the gate for Col. 
Bela Greenwood's lot. He died in 1842. This lyre has five, instead of three, 
strings and is enclosed by a laurel wreath. The picture was taken in 1937, 
when Mrs. Forbes was eighty-two years old. Behind the hidden ground cloth 
can be glimpsed the rear of a vintage automobile -- probably Mrs. Forbes's. 

Figure 14, Hope Gate, Millville, Rhode Island 

The familiar figure of Hope, with finger pointing heavenward (1 Cor. 
13:13), is used in the four identical panels of this gate. Repetition of even 
complicated designs was readily available through the casting process when 
using the versatile material, cast iron. 

Fig. 14 Hope Gate, Millville, R.I. 


Margot Gayle 

|T | pr- i pm i i [ | || i grpinTn ipf||i 

Fig. 15 Davis Thayer Gate, Franklin, Mass. 

Fig. 16 John Brantegee Gate, Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London, Conn. 

Cast-iron Gates 33 

Figure 15, Davis Thayer Gate, Franklin, Massachusetts 

A renaissance cherub swings on the grapevines entwined within the center 
panel of this gate. The grapes and vines represent the sacraments. The in- 
verted torches on either side are symbols of mortality. 

Figure 16, John Brantegee Gate, Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London, Con- 

The hand of a sophisticated sculptor is apparent in the skillfully composed 
figure of Father Time holding his scythe and hourglass within a circle of rope 
molding. The same Father Time was used for the Babcock Gate in New 

These fascinating photographs printed from fifty-year-old glass negatives 
reinforce my conviction that cast iron was a democratizing metal. Until the 
nineteenth century only the wealthy could enjoy the combined beauty and 
utility of ornamental iron work, because of the costly and time-consuming 
hand labor involved in manufacturing it from wrought iron, which had to be 
hammered out inch by inch on an anvil. In the latter half of the eighteenth 
century in England improved casting methods, and the capacity to produce 
cast iron in considerable quantity, made this versatile metal available not 
only for purposes of the Industrial Revolution but for ornamental purposes 
as well. Within the reach of the ordinary man were cast-iron trellises, cast- 
iron verandas, cast-iron fences around his front yard or around his cemetery 
plot. And these could be richly designed yet moderately priced because of 
mass production methods. I sometimes refer to cast iron as the gift of the 
eighteenth to the nineteenth century. 


Fig. 1 White wooden fences on Burial Hill, Plymouth, Mass. 
Stereograph by B.W. Kilburn, ca. 1880. 

. -O"" '^- ■ ■ ■ 

Fig. 2 Hannah Adams monument and fence, erected 1832. 

Engraving from Picturesque Pocket Companion to Mount Auburn 

Cemetery, 1839. 



Blanche Linden-Ward 

The "fencing mania," the taste for more or less elaborate enclosures 
around family burial lots, was a relatively new and short-lived 
phenomenon in America. It was made possible by the extension of 
freehold family burial property, legally guaranteed in perpetuity, in the 
new, large "rural" or garden cemeteries created from the 1830s into the 
1860s. The first of these garden cemeteries was Mount Auburn in 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the rise and fall of the "fencing mania" can 
be studied there. 

In traditional graveyards, especially in growing towns, family members 
often could not expect earthen burial next to each other unless they built a 
chamber tomb where coffins might be stacked together. The Boston min- 
ister Thaddeus William Harris observed in 1832 that "In the public 
graveyard it is not always in the power of an individual to appropriate to a 
single place of burial space enough for the purposes of decent and respect- 
ful ornament."^ 

Sometimes, as a matter of necessity, families fenced their tombs and 
graves in the old burial grounds, using wood or crude wrought iron (Fig. 
1). In New England selectmen frequently granted permission for cows or 
even a bull to graze on the rich herbage of the graveyard; and the 
enclosures kept the animals from falling into gaping openings or from 
damaging markers. 

The only American precedent for providing perpetuity of family 
freehold burial plots or postmortem property appeared in the founding of 
New Haven's New Burying Ground, chartered by the Connecticut legisla- 
ture in 1797. Each lot, in this case, measured 18' by 32' or 576 square feet. 
There, many families erected fences; but through the first three decades of 
the nineteenth century, most of these consisted of wood with horizontal 
railings painted white in contrast to the black of vertical posts.^ In most 
other graveyards, conditions remained as they had been in the colonial 
period well into the 1830s. In 1838 William Lincoln described graves in 

36 "The Fencing Mania" 

the first five burial grounds in Worcester as "enclosed with rude fences 
and overgrown with wild grass and briars."^ The idea of providing space in 
a new cemetery "secure from the danger of being encroached upon as in 
the graveyards of the city" inspired creation of Mount Auburn Cemetery in 
1831 on a surburban site near Boston large enough to make the standard 
family lot 15' by 20' or 300 feet square in size." 

General Henry A.S. Dearborn, the horticulturist who laid out Mount 
Auburn's original landscape, urged proprietors of lots to leave their monu- 
ments entirely visible, surrounded only by delicate iron rails set in stone 
posts, rather than enclosing lots with more elaborate fences, hedges, or 
walls. Proprietors had "the right to erect on their lots fences, monuments, 
and stones of appropriate character. Wooden fences and gravestones of 
slate [were] not allowed."^ The superintendent under the direction of the 
Committee on Lots, composed of three trustees, reserved the right to ap- 
prove of the form and quality of any structure placed on a lot. At the 
same time, each proprietor's deed required him or her to "erect, at his or 
her own expense, suitable landmarks of stone or iron at the corners" of 
lots. If a lot had not been properly delineated and marked with an as- 
signed number by the owner within sixty days, trustees would do the same 
at the proprietor's expense.^ Although proprietors could fulfill this re- 
quirement simply by placing posts inconspicuously in the ground at the 
four corners of a lot, most chose to follow the growing fashion by using 
iron fences. 

Mount Auburn's founders encouraged this trend by their own example. 
When in 1832 the Massachusetts Horticultural Society donated land for 
reburial of Hannah Adams, a noted historian called the "first tenant" of 
the cemetery, provision was also made for $35 for the simple iron fence 
placed around the neoclassical monument erected by a subscription cam- 
paign by her "female friends" (Fig. 2). Contributions collected that year to 
commemmorate the internationally noted phrenologist Caspar 
Spurzheim, who died suddenly while lecturing in Boston, provided for a 
marble sarcophagus imported from Italy and for an oval iron fence 
mounted on stone. A similar fence was placed by subscription in 1837 
around the monument of the noted Universalist minister, the Rev. John 

Blanche Linden-Ward 37 

Murray, who had died in 1815 and whose remains were moved from one 
of the old Boston burying grounds (Fig. 3). Dr. Jacob Bigelow, who in 
1825 suggested the founding of Mount Auburn, set an example of 
"proper," classical, and unostentatious taste by building a plain marble sar- 
cophagus topped by a severed column. It was to be the sole marker for his 
entire family. Bigelow enclosed the monument, which cost $168.13, with a 
simple iron fence ordered from the Boston firm of Safford and Low in 
1833 at a cost of $13.70 (Fig. 4). As early illustrations from guidebooks 
indicate, these early fences were plain and unimposing, often made of nar- 
row iron rails painted black to protect the metal from rust. 

At Mount Auburn and other "rural" cemeteries founded after its ex- 
ample, there were no pastured cattle, as in the old burial grounds; and 
fences around family lots were not meant to provide security for the newly 
buried. In the old graveyards fences might function as mortsafes to im- 
pede the work of body-snatchers; but a new Massachusetts law passed in 
1831, contemporaneous with Mount Auburn's founding, made human dis- 
section for anatomical education legal and hence stemmed the trade in 
contraband corpses stolen from graves. No cases of grave robbing are on 
record at Mount Auburn, the first cemetery to ensure the guarding of 
graves by a resident superintendent, hired watchmen, and even deputized 
workmen. The only animals admitted to the new cemetery were the oxen 
bearing heavy loads of building materials or horses leading carriages of 
proprietors with "tickets" to ride through the grounds. No single mounts 
were allowed until the 1860s; and for that privilege, a genteel proprietor of 
established good character would have to pay a fee. Fences around family 
lots might serve to keep pedestrians off of them. Superintendent Daniel 
Winsor repeatedly advocated posting notices through the grounds warning 
visitors against walking on lots to "remedy the evil complained of by 
proprietors in the 1840s. But with paths laid out deliberately to permit 
foot access throughout the grounds and the clustering of woodsy plantings 
behind lots, even those who were not genteel, those who only wanted to 
use the cemetery as a "pleasure ground," were impeded from treading 
across lots.^ 


"The Fencing Mania" 

Fig. 3 Rev. John Murray monument and fence, erected 1837. 
Photograph by Alan Ward, 1988. 

Fig. 4 Dr. Jacob Bigelow family lot, fence by Safford and Low, 1833. 
Engraving from Picturesque Pocket Companion, 1839. 

Blanche Linden-Ward 39 

The building of fences at Mount Auburn increased annually through 
the 1840s to reach a peak in 1853, but diminished markedly from 1858 
through the 1860s. The so-called "fencing mania" indicated trends in 
privatization that had wide-reaching cultural manifestations, especially 
evident in other areas of the urban built environment; but the vogue for 
funerary enclosures was not, as historian Stanley French thinks, "merely 
symbolic of the national trait of possessive individualism/* Individualism 
was not an exclusively American phenomenon, nor was the fencing. Fur- 
thermore, as we have seen, several of the first fences erected at Mount 
Auburn were placed by subscription campaigns around commemorative 
monuments to notables rather than by individual proprietors around their 
family lots. The fencing was a matter of taste and fashion rather than of 
necessity. Engraved illustrations in books on Pere Lachaise, the Parisian 
cemetery founded in 1804, were used as references by Mount Auburn's 
founders in designing their own funerary landscape; and these showed 
how fences around monuments might be used to "embellish" the pic- 
turesque cemetery as well as to prevent intrusion or damage. Indeed, the 
concierge at Pere Lachaise sold wrought iron fences "for the protection" of 
monuments and plants on private plots in that cemetery's first decades.^ 

In America of the 1840s and 1850s, the fashion of funerary fencing 
reached ornamental heights in the urbanized northeast because of im- 
provement of metallurgical technology, the rise of the cast iron industry on 
a local or regional level, and mass production of ornate fences. By the 
1840s, cast iron was used more frequently than wrought iron for decorative 
as well as industrial purposes. In the Boston area alone, production of the 
iron industry tripled between 1845 and 1855. Widely circulated pattern 
books, like Asher Benjamin's Practice of Architecture (1833), included 
designs for cast fences and other decorative elements. The vogue for cast 
iron gained impetus from the Gothic Revival style, popularized by those 
like the architect James Renwick in the 1850s, because the metal could be 
easily fashioned into delicate tracery more quickly and at much less ex- 
pense than stone; but it was also used by those with Egyptian Revival 


"The Fencing Mania" 


Conlimie to devota ejpeck' itt^adon to the nunu- 
(actiire of 



i;or CL-iiclosiiig (Lciiictcrji ITots, 


Pirtis? favoring us with their Orders, mar depend 

on having tiiem executed with fidelity and dejpstch. 

An examinatioa of our PAtT££i'a ia respectfully 


PrT-l-^tjM -/ t}.! B:i::n <irv..n 

al If-.-n W:t 

383 Washinsion Street, Boston. 

Fig. 5 Advertisement from. Dearborn's Guide through Mount Auburn, 1850. 

m liiizii^^, im 'Siia2:iEo, lEMmmi, m. 

OTIS br-a.:me[-a.lil, 


Tfc« aDder«ii;i!ed wouJt! respectfullr a-^k tbe attention of 3II :ntere5»e<J ia '.he pun:hil3« of OR?f.\ >rEXTAL 
EROX B'ESCES, :o the cew, compietc. and beauLii"'jl a.-soi-;ment lif Patterns, which he has. at great e.xpeme and 
labor, procurvd: and he datters himself that no one can excel him ia that branch of his tujsinejw. 

He \A prepared, at short notice, to put up Fence* in any part of New England, or Xew York, and woald refer to 
bnndreda in the viciaitr of Boston, for specimena of hii work. 


Fig. 6 Advertisement from Guide through Mount Auburn: A Hand-Book 
for Passengers over the Cambridge Railroad, 1860. 

Blanche Linden-Ward 41 

Advertisements by new ironwork dealers encouraged demand. A num- 
ber of Boston firms advertised their specialization in cemetery railings in 
local newspapers and guidebooks to Mount Auburn. Chase Brothers fea- 
tured entire enclosures, decorative gate details, and posts with Gothic and 
Victorian finials (Fig. 5). Otis Bramhall promised to erect his widely as- 
sorted patterns in any New England or New York location (Fig. 6). The 
firm of J.L. (and J.H.) Roberts touted "the most complete assortment of 
patterns" in America, in addition to a wide variety of cemetery furniture. 
The editors of the Mount Auburn Memorial praised the "well-known 
iron-railing manufacturer" Sydney Patch. ^^ In the 1850s many lot owners 
spent $2 to $5 per linear foot or $140 to $350 per lot to erect fences. 
Catalogues supplemented the work of pattern-book authors and dealers in 
spreading the vogue and making the iron products accessible. Dealers, 
realizing that prosperous urbanites wanted to decorate and define their 
new funerary property just as they did their fine new townhouse 
residences, advertised increasingly elaborate fences and even funerary fur- 
niture - tree guards, trellises, planter urns or baskets, settees, statues of 
faithful family watchdogs, and hitching posts. Some family burial lots be- 
came as cluttered as Victorian parlors. The cast-iron fences and furniture 
fitted in with trends in "domestication of death" that dominated antebel- 
lum American culture. ^- 

By the 1850s many Mount Auburn lot owners no longer agreed with 
General Dearborn that "slight" fences or simple combinations of stone 
posts and chains would produce "a most pleasing effect on the eye."^^ 
Indeed, new cemetery policies encouraged more elaborate enclosures. 
The board decided to sell surplus land from one to ten feet wide adjacent 
to individual lots at one-third the ordinary rate per square foot with the 
condition that no interments be placed in that margin of space, that it be 
reserved for ornamental purposes. Fences, or later curbings, could be 
placed in that space without subtracting from room for burials inside the 

Descriptions of specific lots in The Mount Auburn Memorial in 1859 and 
1860 illustrate the elaborateness of enclosures. For instance, Calvin 
Morse's lot #1788 had "a very heavy mourning fence, the posts of which 

42 "The Fencing Mania" 

are surmounted by draped incense urns. Between the posts are parallel 
bars, of which the upper one is ornamented, draped, and tasselled, and the 
lower one only ornamented. The gate is also draped." Lot #13 of Francis 
Crowninshield had a fence of heavy posts and bars painted to match the 
tall, central monument of spire-shaped freestone. Alexander Wadsworth's 
fence had "a very peculiar pattern; around every other bar twines a thistle 
shrub, with blossoms alternating to right and left." Samuel P. Oliver's gate 
on lot #2058 had "the fanciful design of a rustic arch of roses, beneath 
which droop a weeping willow. The upper part of the fence is also 
wreathed with rose representations."^^ 

Many of the more elaborate fences were custom-made from designs by 
"professional" artists or architects. The fence commissioned at a cost of 
$1644 by the Scots Charitable Society in 1847, with its figures of Saint 
Andrew and decorative elements of Scotch thistle and battle axes, was the 
work of Boston architect Theodore Voelckers, who also designed fences 
around the large lot of the four Lawrence brothers, prominent in- 
dustrialists; Samuel A. Dorr's lot; and the double lot of Mace Tisdale and 
S.K. Hewins. The Scots Charitable Society fence serves as the monument 
on a lot where members of the voluntary association are buried 
anonymously without individual gravestones (Fig. 7).^^ 

An estimated forty fences per year, or a total of about 400 fences, were 
added to Mount Auburn's landscape in its first decade, the 1830s. From 
1842 to 1857, according to annual statistics recorded by the superinten- 
dent, an average of seventy-one new fences were erected each year. These 
fences ranged from the inexpensive and simple - wire-work not much 
more ornate than twentieth-century chain link, plain iron chains draped 
from granite posts, slender iron bars or pales ~ to very elaborate composi- 
tions combining elements of the rich funerary iconography of the era, 
especially willow trees, urns, inverted torches, lambs, doves, grapes, ivy 
vines, severed buds, oak leaves, anchors of hope, and wreathes. Few 
people found any incongruity in reproducing the forms of nature in a 
medium manufactured by the new technology of the industrial revolution, 
of placing the products of the machine in the garden. 

Blanche Linden-Ward 


Fig. 7 Scots Charitable Society fence, designed by Theodore Voelckers, 
1847. Photograph by Alan Ward, 1979. 

Fig. 8 Iron fence around chamber tomb on Deutzia Path, Mount Auburn. 
Photograph by Alan Ward, 1987. 

44 "The Fencing Mania" 

Occasionally fences were set atop the firm foundation of a foot-high 
granite curb that raised the level of the lot above the ground level of the 
surrounding landscape; more often, fence posts were simply set on small 
stones that were more susceptible to displacement by frost heaves or van- 
dalism. Some fences were even used around, atop, or in front of, chamber 
tombs (Fig. 8). 

One visitor described Mount Auburn as early as 1843 as a "patchwork 
of squares, the lots differently ornamented." A decade later, the "fencing 
mania" had gotten out of hand, producing a clutter of cage-like enclosures, 
a collage of squares that marred the original, curvilinear, naturalistic 
landscape, segmenting the once "rural" landscape into a grid in an urban 
fashion. In 1853 Francis and Theresa Pulazky judged that "elegant iron 
rails, which divide the different small lots, are neither ornamental nor . . . 
reverential for the place."'^ A stereographic view over a central section of 
Mount Auburn taken in the 1860s reveals the change in contrast to the 
engravings by James Smillie of the original naturalistic landscape in 1847 
(Fig. 9). By the 1860s, over 1700 fences were in place around family lots 
at Mount Auburn. Given the 3758 lots catalogued in 1867, that means 
that almost every other lot, or half of all lots, was enclosed by a fence. ^^ 

The quality of the most decorative iron was particularly endurable be- 
cause of the high sulfur content added to make the metal sufficiently fluid 
to pour into intricate sand or clay castings in order to produce ornate pat- 
terns. Sulfur made iron particularly susceptible to rapid corrosion if the 
metal was not thoroughly covered with a protective layer of paint. John 
Notman, the architect who designed Philadelphia's Laurel Hill Cemetery, 
cautioned proprietors in 1844 "that iron railings and chains are subject to 
become rusty when exposed, as they necessarily be at the Cemetery." Not- 
man recommended simplicity, as "Railings which expose the smallest num- 
ber of joints or point of union should be selected" to ensure durability. 
Even the simple bar made of a harder iron would have to be completely 
and repeatedly coated with lead paint over every joint, crack or screw. 
Notman recommended use of white paint because then the beginnings of 
rust would be immediately visible and correctable; fences painted black 
would conceal the deterioration until it might be too late to repair. With 

Blanche Linden-Ward 


such measures, Notman suggested, the iron fence might "then probably [my 
emphasis] be preserved for several years." The architect suggested that 
"any union between marble or stone and metal" should be of brass since 
"the corrosion of iron, if it is not regularly painted, soon discolours marble 
and stone and renders it very unsightly."^^ 

John Jay Smith, a nationally known horticulturist and Laurel Hill's first 
President, called it "folly ... to inclose a lot with a poor iron railing, that 
we know, beforehand, will rust and decay in a very few years, and even 
sooner if it is not regularly painted; indeed, iron may be said to rot, when 
exposed to all atmospheric influences, just as paper decays; the process is 
only less rapid." Smith predicted that "in a century from this time ... at 
least a majority of all the so-called 'improvements' [in cemeteries] will be 
dissolved into their original elements, and 'like the baseless fabric of a 
vision,' will be no more." Smith especially realized that "whenever metal 
and stone are united, as they frequently are, rust must discolor, and 
destruction ensue."-° 

Fig. 9 View at Mount Auburn looking northeast from Bigelow Chapel 
over Central Avenue to Indian Ridge. Stereograph, ca. 1870. 


"The Fencing Mania" 

Fig. 10 Fence along Mount Auburn's front, designed by Dr. Jacob 
Bigelow, 1848. Photograph by Alan Ward, 1988. 

The fragility of the fashionable cast iron was well known. One writer in 
the Ecdesiologist observed in 1853 that iron "impresses upon the mind the 
ideas of lightness and temporary use" in contrast to stone.^' Such was 
indeed the case with even the ten-foot-tall main fence erected in 1848 
along Mount Auburn's northern front (Fig. 10). Almost as soon as that 
fence, designed by Dr. Jacob Bigelow, was set in place in granite pilings, 
flaws began to appear. Although two coats of "durable black paint" were 
applied in 1851 and 1859, workers found the ends of its traverse bars 
"much corroded by the action of acid formed from the sulphur cement and 
the atmospheric air" in 1860. Workers dug out the sulfur and replaced it 
with Portland cement, which was "expected to neutralize the acid and stop 
the further corrosion." Yet Bigelow knew from the start, as he wrote in his 
Elements of Technology in 1829, that cast iron was "deficient in durability, 
being readily corroded with rust when exposed to weather, unless 
protected with a coating of paint." The process of repair on the major 
enclosure of the cemetery, just twelve years old, was so time-consuming 

Blanche Linden-Ward 47 

that workers erected a small, moveable toolhouse and shelter for use 
during the extensive work." 

Maintenance of individual cast-iron fences was costly, requiring 
repainting every three or four years to ward off rust and decay; but be- 
cause of the softness of the metal, deterioration and damage still easily 
occurred on the more elaborate fences. Only very wealthy lot owners at 
Mount Auburn set up special funds and entered into expensive perpetual 
care contracts with Mount Auburn's trustees, who then promised to ad- 
minister the endowed account and take over the preservation effort in per- 
petuity. The fence around the combined lot of the four Lawrence 
brothers, one of the largest in the cemetery is a case in point; and it stands 
in well-maintained order to the present day.-"' 

The pattern of fencing found at Mount Auburn occurred at other 
"rural" cemeteries, much to the dismay of the noted landscape gardener 
and critic Andrew Jackson Downing. In an 1846 review of a book on New 
York's Greenwood Cemetery, Downing wrote, "The only point broadly 
open to criticism is the mode of enclosing a majority of lots held by in- 
dividuals. The exhibitions of ironmongery in the shape of vulgar iron rail- 
ings, posts and chains, balustrades, etc., all belonging properly to front- 
door steps . . . and for the most part barbarous and cockneyish in their 
forms, are totally out of keeping with the aspect of nature, the repose, and 
seclusion of a rural cemetery. A collection of such barriers, such as we 
have especially noticed at Laurel Hill, goes far to destroy all the harmony 
and rural beauty of the scene." Downing expressed his "strong disapproba- 
tion of most of the iron railings now so much in fashion." They were 
"tasteless in themselves and associated with the areas and front door steps 
in cities." Downing ignored the way in which lot owners associated their 
funerary property with domestic space, making the cemetery a place in 
which the family might reunite in the "sleep" of death (a bedroom com- 
munity of a sort), a place to be personalized and defined as private, albeit 
in a quasi-public landscape. Downing reacted against the fences "as 
destroying the feeling of repose and rural beauty which should pervade a 
cemetery." Perhaps Downing particularly had in mind the large, white 
cast-iron fence placed around the monument to Charlotte Canda, a young 

48 "The Fencing Mania" 

New York lady killed in a carriage accident; the highly ornate ensemble of 
pinnacled monument, praying angels, steps, and enclosure on her lot be- 
came a tourist attraction, a site for popular pilgrimage for Victorian sen- 
timentalists. It was probably the most elaborate display of funerary ar- 
tifacts on any cemetery lot of that era (Fig. ll).-"* 

Downing used his periodical. The Horticulturist: A Journal of Rural Art 
and Rural Taste, as a forum for his attempts to shape American tastes; and 
he was generally successful. His criticisms of the funerary "fencing mania" 
were meant as correctives, expert opinion that he hoped would reverse a 
trend in popular culture. For those who insisted on material definition of 
their family graves. Downing suggested, "When an iron fence is made the 
means of enclosing a cemetery lot, it should always take the simplest and 
most unobtrusive form. One does not desire a display of florid iron cast- 
ings in such a scene. It is an open violation of the spirit of nature that 
breathes around." He further recommended that proprietors "obviate the 
objection" to those fences that cannot be removed "by wreathing them 
about with some hardy and beautiful vines or twining shrubs," such as 
honeysuckle, evergreens, wisteria, or clematis."^ 

Despite his substantial national influence that shaped antebellum sub- 
urbanization. Downing was less than successful in persuading Americans 
that their use of funerary fences displayed "the most violent bad taste." 
Even genteel Yankees, those who otherwise shunned ostentation, did not 
respond to Downing's diatribes against "hideous ironmongery" of which 
"by far the greatest part are so ugly as to be positive blots on the beauty of 
the scene. Fantastic conceits and gimcracks in iron might be pardonable 
as adornments of the balustrade of a circus or a temple of Comus," Down- 
ing preached, "but how reasonable beings can tolerate them as enclosures 
to the quiet grave of a family and in such scenes of sylvan beauty is moun- 
tain high above our comprehension."-^ After Downing's death in 1852, 
Smith and other writers in The Horticulturist carried on his crusade against 
the "fencing mania." William H. Scott particularly disliked the use of 
"hideous" black in cemeteries "where all is carefully guarded" and where 
"cheerfulness and warmth should be constantly in view.""^ 

Blanche Linden-Ward 


Fig. 11 Charlotte Canda lot, Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. 
Stereograph, ca. 1870. 

Certainly Downing's criticisms of cast-iron fences did not influence the 
tastes of proprietors of lots at Mount Auburn or most other "rural" 
cemeteries. Mount Auburn's trustees refused to exert any pressure for the 
removal of such enclosures, many of which were around their own lots. 
No record appears of trustees exercising their right to refuse erection of 
any such structure as "objectionable." At Cincinnati's Spring Grove 
Cemetery, however, arrival of a new superintendent in 1855 transformed 
the decade-old cemetery where erection of ornate fences had proceeded 
in a manner to equal eastern cemeteries. The Prussian landscape gar- 
dener Adolph Strauch took over the cemetery, which he severely criticized 
as cluttered with small monuments, fences, and other garden furniture. 
He had trained at London's Kew Gardens and visited major eighteenth- 
century English gardens, and he wanted to restore such naturalism to the 
American cemetery landscape. He quickly persuaded Spring Grove's 
board that "enclosures around burial lots in a well-governed cemetery 
detract from the sacredness of the scene by supposing it possible that such 

50 "The Fencing Mania" 

a place would be visited by persons incapable of conducting themselves 
properly or that the grounds were pastured by cattle." From the point of 
view of efficient operations and management, in addition to aesthetics, 
Strauch observed that fences "also cause considerable inconvenience when 
interments are made, as well as in the erection of monuments, and cost 
the corporation more labor than most persons are aware of." Strauch 
called the fence "a blemish to the whole." He warned Spring Grove's 
trustees and proprietors that "the fear of wasting a trifle," the reluctance to 
remove a cherished artifact, to part with an elaborate work of cast iron art, 
"should not be suffered to destroy the effect of the whole."^^ 

Strauch proposed a "landscape lawn plan," a set of regulations akin to 
later zoning codes to regulate the number and size of monuments 
proprietors could place on family lots. The plan especially banned addi- 
tional cast-iron fences or any other visible "enclosures around burial lots 
. . . considered useless incumbrances and therefore prohibited." Because 
of his "landscape lawn plan," newer burial sections developed by Strauch 
at Spring Grove immediately exhibited "a striking contrast to some of the 
older parts, where head- and footstones, hedges, fences, and toys of all 
descriptions are huddled together in such profusion as to prevent the 
workmen of the corporation from keeping those places in . . . good 
order."^^ No new fences were erected at Spring Grove after 1855, and 
gradually those built in the previous decade were voluntarily removed by 
proprietors. Neither Strauch nor members of Spring Grove's board were 
able or willing to order removal of existing structures. Harriette Forbes 
has written that "sometimes by decree of the cemetery trustees they [the 
fences] went en masse."-'° This was certainly not the case even at Spring 
Grove, where the earliest and most stringent regulations against funerary 
enclosures was enacted. It was even less so at Mount Auburn, where 
trustees were continually concerned through the 1860s and 1870s about 
any of their decisions or actions that might infringe upon the contractual 
rights of proprietors to erect on lots any structure not deemed blatantly 
"offensive" or improper by a majority of the board. Even when standards 
of community taste changed, the principle of respecting the rights of 
proprietors to retain fences, as long as they were not completely 

Blanche Linden-Ward 51 

"delapidated," remained. 

Mount Auburn had no Adolph Strauch to direct the taste of lot owners; 
but even there by 1858, the "fencing mania" had run its course, with only 
thirty-seven new fences erected that year in contrast to ninety-three and 
eighty-seven in the years before. Although new fences continued to be 
built annually until 1873, the numbers diminished markedly to only a few 
new structures each year. Amid the meticulous annual statistics of struc- 
tures added to and removed from Mount Auburn's landscape, however, no 
evidence exists of removal of iron fences until 1871, the first year Colonel 
Charles Folsom served as superintendent. Contrary to lore, few if any 
fences, therefore, were removed to provide war materiel for the Union 
cause during the Civil War, although the Federal Arsenal that produced 
most of the ammunition for the North was less than a mile away. Nor did 
there seem to be an absolute rationing of cast iron for civilian uses in Mas- 
sachusetts, because a few new fences continued to be erected annually 
through the war years and for a time thereafter. 

Cemetery proprietors still insisted on enclosing their burial space, but 
with granite or freestone curbs formed by massive blocks raised twelve to 
sixteen inches above the level of the surrounding ground. The lot itself 
would then be "filled up inside with good earth like a flower pot and 
grassed over." The first curb was put in place in 1858; thirty-five in 1859; 
thirty-seven in 1860. The average number of stone enclosures (sixty-five) 
erected annually from 1859 to 1872 equalled and even surpassed that of 
fences built in the 1840s and 1850s. Sometimes proprietors removed their 
old fences, which they suddenly considered outmoded as well as difficult 
to maintain; but more often proprietors of lots newly laid out in sections 
recently added to the cemetery chose the curbings, matching their lots to 
those of their new neighbors. New sections, considered the height of 
fashion, looked entirely different than the original part of the cemetery - 
"gardenesque" rather than "picturesque." When such a lot was on a 
hillside, a small flight of matching stairs was added to provide easier ac- 
cess to the lot. The taste for individual curbings coincided with an era in 
which Mount Auburn's trustees decided to pave avenues and paths, to 
trim the size and shape of ponds, and to surround the bodies of water 


"The Fencing Mania" 

themselves with granite (Figs. 3, 4, and 12). 

Fig. 12 New granite curbs around Alice Fountain lots, Mount Auburn. 
Stereograph, ca. 1880. 

Editors of The Mount Auburn Memorial favorably described the ornate- 
ness and durability of these first stone "improvements." The entrance to 
one lot was flanked by two elegant stone scrolls. The imposing circular lot 
of hotel-owner Paran Stevens, 2000 square feet in size and located im- 
mediately at the front of the cemetery, had "a very heavy granite edging, 
consisting of fifteen curved pieces, handsomely capped," the entrance of 
which was marked by a carved urn at each side. Although the initial cost 
of curbing was often almost double that of an iron fence, a simple 
enclosure costing between $600 and $700 per lot, the choice of stone 
proved cheaper in the long run, with no recurring maintenance costs of 

Cemetery officials praised and encouraged the new curbing fashion. 
Corporation Secretary Austin J. Coolidge was most active in trying to "sell" 
the taste for curbing in his regular correspondence with lot owners. In 
1862 he wrote to the Treasurer of Harvard College that "a neat granite 
edge stone" around the large burial lot known as Harvard Hill would "add 
greatly to its beauty and permanency." That year, he wrote to Mount 

Blanche Linden-Ward 53 

Auburn's superintendent, Captain Daniel L. Winsor, that on Rufus 
Wyman's lot #133 "the monument is so large and bold that all the parties 
interested have come to the conclusion that no enclosure other than a 
curb will answer the purpose." Wyman paid only $2 per foot for a curb 
one foot deep, deemed "heavy enough for so large an area" and adequate 
"to protect the lot from parties crossing to and from Indian Ridge." 
Coolidge observed in 1865 that iron fences were considered "rather out of 
date," especially since the Cemetery itself was "well protected with a high 
iron enclosure," eliminating the necessity of "additional protection of small 
subdivisions on lots." Granite, easily available from the nearby Quincy 
quarries, had become "the almost univeral fashion" for lot enclosures.^- 

It was not until 1875 that Mount Auburn's President Israel M. Spelman 
reported a "growing demand for lots laid out on the landscape lawn plan" 
in areas of the cemetery being newly developed. Spelman reserved one 
new section in which no fences or curbs would be allowed. There, lot bor- 
ders would be inconspicuously marked by corner stones "sunk to the level 
of the grass sward." In this way, Spelman promised, "The whole, therefore, 
will present the appearance of one large lot, grassed, and ornamented with 
flowers." It would be "a pleasant relief to the heavily curbed lots" charac- 
teristic of most of the cemetery. Trustees, urged by one proprietor, J. 
Story Fay, had considered "the expediency of henceforth prohibiting all 
fences and curbing around lots" throughout the grounds; but they deter- 
mined that the corporation could not retroactively negate proprietors' 
privileges and the authorization guaranteed by deeds to permit owners to 
enclose their lots. Furthermore, trustees did "not deem it expedient" to 
forbid erection of new enclosures in the older areas of the cemetery. They 
determined "that the differing tastes of proprietors should be respected." 
Spelman believed that "in Mount Auburn, intended as the repository of 
the dead of successive generations, we should expect to find, as we really 
do, tombs, monuments, and graves embodying the changing feelings and 
tastes of different periods."^^ 

Spelman thought that the movement to remove old iron fences at 
Mount Auburn began in 1871, "probably owing partly to a change of taste 
on the part of proprietors, who are attracted by the openness and neatness 

54 "The Fencing Mania" 

of the landscape lawn method of laying out the grounds and partly to the 
expensiveness of the iron fence, which needs constant painting and 
repairs." Spelman speculated, "Perhaps there is a growing feeling also that 
there is no necessity for an especial enclosure of lots in a cemetery, where 
the whole grounds are as carefully watched and cared for" as at Mount 
Auburn. The President looked forward to a day when proprietors would 
voluntarily remove their heavy granite lot curbings as well as their fences, 
having tired of the necessity to relead and reset them because of displace- 
ment by frost heaves in the harsh New England winters.^ 

Voluntary removal of the first curb did not occur until 1885, however, 
and the process progressed at the slow rate of an average of 4.6 removals 
per year over the next two decades (Fig. 8). Through a series of annual 
reports in the 1890s, Spelman noted "an increased movement" among 
proprietors to remove both fences and curbs, a trend he considered 
"gratifying" because it eliminated objects prone to show "delapidation and 
neglect." Determined to encourage the voluntary process, the board made 
it cemetery policy "to change the objectionable grades of the lots, which 
were originally shaped by individual proprietors to suit their own tastes 
without any regard to . . . the general appearance of the cemetery," but 
only if so requested.^^ Cemetery workers would even remove the curbs 
and fences without charge. 

Historian Stanley French, relying on the ideas of landscape critic J.B. 
Jackson, concludes that in the 1880s "the influence of the social gospel 
movement resulted in the removal of most internal fencing in rural 
cemeteries."^ There is no evidence, however, especially in the cases of 
Mount Auburn and Spring Grove, that cemetery officials or proprietors of 
lots were motivated by a heightened social consciousness or increased 
community values in their decisions to remove fences. Rather, as Spelman 
observed, people simply considered them "old fashioned," a bit too ornate 
for their modernizing tastes. According to Spelman, Mount Auburn's 
proprietors acquired the new taste for "the general effect of grassy lawns 
and undulating surface . . . gratifying to the eye, especially if aided by con- 
trasts of color in the flowering shrubs and ornamental trees" which could 
be added to a newly unobstructed landscape to make it into an arboretum. 

Blanche Linden-Ward 55 

Just as the invention of the "rural" cemetery in the 1830s and 1840s in- 
fluenced the pubHc park movement of the 1850s and 1860s, the examples 
of naturalistic landscape design provided by urban parks with their sweep- 
ing lawns, specimen plantings, and isolated monuments reshaped public 
opinion about how an ideal cemetery should look and gave cemeterians an 
excuse to clean up cemetery grounds, making them more park-like and 
easier to maintain. Removal of enclosures permitted regrading of 
"unsymmetrical banks, such as Nature never makes and which she is con- 
stantly trying to get rid of," Spelman said. Maintenance, especially the use 
of lawn mowers to produce a well-groomed greensward, would henceforth 
be easier and more efficient.^^ Spelman encouraged "gradual and con- 
tinuous efforts" through the 1890s, since "every removal hastens the time 
when the older part of the cemetery will no longer be distinguished by its 
poor grading and useless but expensive enclosures."-'^ 

Major removal of curbs did not begin until the 1920s, progressing at a 
steady pace for the next three decades. Today in the late 1980s, more curb 
enclosures remain at Mount Auburn than iron fences. Over a hundred 
curbs are still in place, segmenting parts of the landscape into small, 
square terraces and complicating the mowing of grass. Yet cemetery offi- 
cials are sensitive to the necessity for preserving the remains of important 
material cultural trends of the nineteenth century, believing as former 
President Spelman did, that at Mount Auburn "we should expect to find, 
as we really do," artifacts "embodying the changing feelings and tastes of 
different periods." 


1. Thaddeus William Harris, A Discourse Delivered before the Massachusetts Horticul- 
tural Society in Celebration of its Fourth Anniversary, Oct. 3, 1832 (Cambridge: 1832), 

2. Edward Augustus Kendall, Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States in 
Years of ISO? and ISOS (New York: 1809), 1:2544-56. 

3. Mildred McCIary Tymeson, Rural Retrospect: A Parallel History of Worcester and its 
Rural Cemetery (Worcester: 1956). 

4. Harris (note 1), 78. 

56 "The Fencing Mania" 

5. "By-Laws of the Proprietors of the Cemetery of Mount Auburn," article 25, in 
Catalogue of the Lots in the Cemetery of Mount Auburn (Boston: 1867), 34. 

6. "Appendix C: Form for Conveyance of Lots," in Catalogue, 44. 

7. Mount Auburn Cemetery, "Proprietors' and Trustees' Records," II (June 18, 1855), 
44; (Sept. 4, 1855), 46. (Bound manuscript records of Proprietors' annual meetings 
and Trustees' monthly meetings in the Cambridge office of the Cemetery. Hereafter 
referred to as "Records.") 

8. Stanley French, "The Cemetery as Cultural Institution: The Establishment of Mount 
Auburn and the 'Rural Cemetery' Movement," American Quarterly 26 (Mar. 1974), 

9. Chief among the reference works containing illustrations of the Parisian cemetery 
were C.P. Arnaud, Recueil de tombeaux des quatres cimetieres de Paris (Paris: 1824) in 
two volumes and Francois-Gabriel Theodore de Jolimont, Les Mausolees francais, 
recueil des tombeaitx les plus remarquables par leur structures, leur epitaphes, ou les 
cendres qu'ils renfennent, eriges dans les nouveaia cimetieres de Paris (Paris: 1821), 
both now in the collection of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. 

10. Asher Benjamin, Practice of Architecture (Boston: 1833). 

11. Dearborn's Guide through Mount Auburn (12th ed., Boston: 1858); Handbook to 
Cambridge and Mount Auburn (Boston: 1860); Mount Auburn Memorial 1:21 (Nov. 2, 
1859), 165. 

12. Ann Douglas, Tlie Feminization of American Culture (New York: 1977), chapter on 
"The Domestication of Death." 

13. Henry A.S. Dearborn, "General Dearborn's Address: An Address Delivered before 
the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, on the Celebration of their First Anniver- 
sary, Sept. 19, 1829," New England Farmer (Jan. 15, 1830), 203. 

14. Records (note 7), 2 (Sept. 1, 1856), 101; 2 (Dec. 1, 1856), 110. 

15. Vie Mount Auburn Memorial 1:27 (Dec. 14, 1859), 213; 1:44 (Apr. 11, 1860), 349; 2:6 
(Aug. 8, 1860), 44; 2:14 (Oct. 3, 1860), 108. 

16. Cornelia W. Walter, Mount Auburn Illustrated in a Series of Views Taken from Draw- 
ings Taken on the Spot (New York: 1847). See Forbes article herein, page 13. 

17. Francis and Theresa Pulazky, Wliite, Red, Black: Sketches of Society in America (New 
York: 1968), 2:98-99. 

18. Statistics on the fences and curbs constructed and removed at Mount Auburn were 
recorded quite regularly from 1842 on in the Annual Report, copies of which were 
published as pamphlets in Boston by the Corporation and which are now on file in the 
Cambridge offices. 

19. John Notman, quoted in Guide to Laurel Hill Cemetery near Philadelphia 
(Philadelphia: 1844), 40. 

Blanche Linden-Ward 57 

20. John Jay Smith, "Rural Cemeteries," Tlie Horticulturist 6 (Aug. 1856), 345-46. Cer- 
tainly, the fragility of iron was hastened by the extremes of weather in the northeast. 
Highly ornate cast-iron fences, obviously imported from the east by those who struck 
it rich in the silver mines and erected in the burial ground in Virginia City, Nevada, 
have endured in virtually pristine form since the 1850s and 1860s because of the arid 

21. "Stone and Iron," The New York Ecclesiologist 14 (Oct. 1853). 

22. Jacob Bigelow, Elements of Technology, taken Chiefly front a Course of Lectures 
Delivered at Cambridge, on the Application of the Sciences to the Usefid Arts (Boston: 
1829), 19. For removal of the perimeter fence see Patricia Casler, "Ashes to Ashes, 
Rust to Rust: The Mount Auburn Fence Controversy," Newsletter of the Association 
for Gravestone Studies 5 (#3):6 (Summer 1981). 

23. See Appendix K: "Form for Donation in Trust for the Perpetual Repair of Lots, with 
Guaranty,' in Catalogue, 52. The Corporation, however, could not and did not 
preserve all fences under this plan if funds set aside by proprietors proved insufficient 
for the task or if the degree of deterioration was so great that the fence was judged 
unsightly. In such cases, the superintendent easily persuaded distant heirs of the first 
proprietors that the remains of the structure would have to be removed unless addi- 
tional funds were forthcoming; or, if lot representatives could not be located, trustees 
were often willing to vote a condemnation of the structure. 

24. Andrew Jackson Downing, "Review: Greenwood Illustrated" Tlie Horticulturist 1:5 
(Nov. 1846), 230. 

25. Ibid. 

26. Downing, "Public Cemeteries and Public Gardens," Tlxe Horticulturist (July 1849), in 
Frank A. Waugh, ed.. Landscape Gardening: Andrew Jackson Downing (New York: 
1921), 373. 

27. William H. Scott, Vie Horticulturist 6 (1855). 

28. Adolph Strauch, Spring Grove Cemetery: Its History and Improvements (Cincinnati: 
1869), 11-12. 

29. Ibid., 66. 

30. See page 4 herein. 

31. "Improvements at Mount Auburn," Tlie Mount Auburn Memorial 1:2 (June 22, 1859), 
133; 1:44 (Apr. 11, 1860), 349. 

32. A[ustin] J. Coolidge, Secretary, to Captain D[aniel] L. Winsor (Mar. 11, 1862), Letter 
Book, 1:49 (beginning in the 1860s, cemetery officials kept copies of correspondence 
made by letter press on onionskin paper-bound in Letter Books, now in the offices of 
the corporation in Cambridge); Coolidge to Treasurer of Harvard College (Mar. 18, 
1862), 1:52-53; Coolidge to Rev. Burroughs (Jan. 30, 1865), 1:282-83. 

33. Israel M. Spelman, "Report," Annual Report of the Trustees of the Cemetery of Mount 


"The Fencing Mania" 

Auburn together with the Reports of the Treasurer and Superintendent January, 1875 
(Boston: 1875), 4-5. 

34. S^eXman, Annual Report {Qosion: 1879), 6. 

35. Spelman, y4n/iufl/ Report (Boston: 1891), 5. 

36. French, 84. See John B. Jackson, American Space: Tfie Centennial Years, 1865-1876 
(New York: 1972), 70-71. 

37. Spelman, Annual Report (Boston: 1892), 6. 

38. Spelman, Annual Report (Boston: 1893), 6, and see note 22. 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 



Boston's historic burying grounds may well comprise the largest number of 
historic cemeteries owned by any municipality in the United States. The six- 
teen burial sites were established from 1630 to 1841. None is now active but 
several received burials into the twentieth century. Ten date from the 
colonial period, and seven of these were established in the seventeenth cen- 
tury. These burying grounds contain more than 12,000 seventeenth- and 
eighteenth-century markers, probably the largest collection to be found in 
any city in this country. 

Various efforts were made in the nineteenth century to improve and 
beautify some of these sites, but for many years thereafter Boston's burial 
grounds received indifferent attention: the city did not provide enough funds 
for proper preservation and maintenance; stones were vandalized, broken 
and many disappeared; burial vaults collapsed and varying conditions of 
desolation prevailed. 

In 1983 representatives of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, 
the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Boston Art Commission, the Mas- 
sachusetts Historical Commission, and the Bostonian Society realized the 
importance of restoring and preserving this important heritage of the city and 
joined in a collaborative effort to inventory, repair and preserve Boston's six- 
teen historic burying grounds. This joint public and private effort became 
known as the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative. 

Under the guidance of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department the 
project has been conducted carefully and intelligently from the outset, first 
with a careful inventory of the stones that remain and their present condition, 
then with planning for preservation and then the work of restoration con- 
ducted with expert professional guidance. Funding support came first from 
the George B. Henderson Foundation Fund, the Massachusetts Historical 
Commission, Yankee Publishing Inc., and the National Trust for Historic 
Preservation through their Yankee Intern Program and from the City of Bos- 
ton itself. As the project progressed and its importance and effectiveness be- 
came realized additional support came from many sources including the 


State, private foundations and commercial enterprise. A few examples will 
serve to demonstrate the breadth and variety of support that has been 
forthcoming. Some donors dedicated their gifts to particular projects: the 
Dorchester Historical Society to the inventory of Dorchester North Burying 
Ground, and the Jack Daniels Distillery to the restoration of the decorative 
iron gates at King's Chapel and the Granary Burying Ground. A large grant 
was pledged by Unicorp America Corporation for capital improvements at 
the Granary. The Boston Globe Foundation assisted with the Dorchester in- 
ventory and has helped initiate a continuing gravestone conservation 
program. Donors have contributed toward the restoration of family tombs in 
which they had a particular interest. The John Hancock Mutual Life In- 
surance Company contributed for the landscaping and cleaning of the Han- 
cock monument at the Granary. A generous grant from the Edward Ingersoll 
Browne Fund is being devoted to a comprehensive conservation program at 
the Eliot Burying Ground in Roxbury. More than $2,300,000 has been com- 
mitted thus far by the city of Boston and other contributors. Another 
$4,000,000 is needed to complete the ongoing effort. 

Much has been accomplished already. Inventory and structural and 
landscaping master plans for each of the cemeteries have been completed 
and cost estimates for restoration and maintenance obtained. The City has 
committed $250,000 per year to stimulate matching community support. Con- 
servation of stones at King's Chapel, the Granary and Copp's Hill is nearing 
completion, retaining walls and vaults at a number of yards have been 
rebuilt, and fundraising strategies have been developed. 

The Boston experience can serve an important function as a guide and in- 
ducement to other cities and towns to take stock of their ancient burying 
grounds and to take steps to restore and preserve them. In recognition of 
this the Boston Parks and Recreation Department published in March 1988 
The Boston Experience: A Manual for Historic Burying Grounds Preservatioru 
This manual of approximately 100 pages describes the Boston Project, plan- 
ning for it, the gravemarker inventory and analysis, the development of a 
master plan and finally the implementation of that plan. It includes a glos- 
sary of terms, a bibliography, a description of a photographic inventory and 
fragment collection methodology. A conference attended by over 100 

Boston Initiative 61 

people, many of them from as far away as Texas and Nova Scotia was ar- 
ranged, and the manual served as a text for the conference. Copies of the 
manual may be obtained by sending a check for $7.50 to the Fund for Parks 
and Recreation in Boston and sent to Kathy Kottaridis, Boston Parks and 
Recreation Department, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02118. 

The Boston Experience is in many respects comparable with A Graveyard 
Presentation Primer by Lynette Strangstad, which was published in 1988 by the 
American Association for State and Local History in cooperation with the 
Association for Gravestone Studies. The manual was, of course, prepared 
for a particular project, while the Primer was prepared for more general use. 
Promoters of similar projects must determine how their own needs can best 
be met, and accordingly a reading of both The Boston Experience and the 
Primer would be valuable. In any event, the Boston Experience, and indeed 
the entire Boston project, should serve as an inspiration to those interested in 
preserving ancient burial grounds in other cities and towns. 

Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the Historic Burying 
Grounds Initiative so far is the completion of an inventory and report for 
each of the sixteen burying grounds. This part of the project was designed 
with these purposes: 

-- To provide a planning tool for the Parks and Recreation Department, 
which owns and is responsible for maintaining the burying grounds; 

- To aid in the development of an outline for a master plan for conser- 
vation, landscaping, maintenance, structural engineering and other 
preservation issues; and 

- To provide a record as a safeguard against vandalism and theft; and to 
provide public access to genealogical and other historical information 
recorded on the gravemarkers. 

The Boston Initiative adopted a methodology involving four steps: 

1. Preliminary Research - A search of available historical documents 
was conducted to locate earlier maps, lists of inscriptions, and inven- 
tories. These sources were used throughout the survey to document 
existing markers in the burying grounds and to indicate markers of 
special historical, artistic, or cultural significance. 

2. Field Work - Field work included the careful establishment of a num- 


bering system for section divisions within each burying ground and an 
updating of the turn-of-the century record maps produced by the City 
Engineer. Every gravemarker including each headstone, footstone, 
tomb, tomb marker, and monument, was assigned a section letter and 
individual number. An inventory form was completed for each 
marker including location number, name and date information, type 
of marker, and physical data including type of carved ornament and 
motives, material, size, and condition. In addition, verbatim transcrip- 
tions of all legible inscriptions were recorded on each of the inventory 

3. Supplemental Research - After completion of the survey forms, mid- 
nineteenth through early twentieth-century published inventories of 
epitaphs for Dorchester North and Copp's Hill were consulted to 
supplement information for gravemarkers now damaged or partially 
missing. In addition, these epitaph collections were invaluable for the 
completion of inscriptions of stones that are sunken or fallen and 
which could not be read in the field. 

4. Indexing - The data collected through field work was computer- 
recorded and sorted alphabetically by family name as well as 
chronologically by date of death and by location number. Every name 
recorded on a gravemarker was separately entered into the computer 

We publish herewith the report prepared for each of three of the sixteen 
graveyards lying in different parts of the city. Of course much further 
progress has occurred since these reports were prepared. 

1. Eliot Burying Ground on Eustis Street in Roxbury. This was estab- 
lished in 1630, a fev/ months after the founding of the Town of Rox- 
bury. Almost 700 stones were inventoried. Fifty-six of these bear 
dates in the seventeenth century and more than 200 which are un- 
dated or indecipherable probably belong to that century. The report 
was prepared in 1985 and, like all of the reports, it was prepared un- 
der the auspices of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. 
The survey team director and report coordinator was Rosanne At- 

Boston Initiative 63 

2. Dorchester North Burying Ground. This yard, also called the First 
Burying Ground of Dorchester, was designated in 1633 and fenced in 
"with doble rayle and clere bord pale" for use as a cemetery the fol- 
lowing year. Approximately 2600 stones were inventoried, fifty-nine 
of them dating from the seventeenth century. Ellen Lipsey appears as 
the project manager, and the survey team director, report coordinator 
and author of the report was Rosalind Pollan. The report, like that on 
Copp's Hill, was prepared in 1986. 

3. Copp's Hill. This burying ground, laid out in 1659, is a significant his- 
torical and cultural resource of the city, of New England and of the 
nation and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. More 
than 2600 stones and tombs were recorded, fifty-nine of the 
headstones from the seventeenth century. Here again the survey team 
director and report coordinator was Rosalind Pollan. 

Each of these reports contains a general and specific bibliography, which 
we are reproducing. Each contains a chronological and alphabetical index of 
all of the headstones, containing the name of the decedent, the date of death, 
the condition of the stone and its location as shown on a map of the site 
prepared for the purpose. We have not reproduced these indexes or the 
preliminary material describing the work at each of the sites. The detail of 
all of these reports has been deposited with, and may be examined at the 
Bostonian Society, 15 State Street, Boston. 

In publishing these three reports we may be charged with departing from 
our policy of not publishing an article which is "simply a history or description 
of the cemetery itself." We believe that the reports are much more than that: 
they describe three graveyards which are of national, not merely local, impor- 
tance, and they demonstrate an important aspect of the work of Boston's His- 
toric Burying Grounds Initiative, a project of which all persons interested in 
gravestone studies should be made aware. 

The photographs illustrating these articles were taken by Michael Cornish. 



Fig. 1 Shattered stone at Eliot Burying Ground. 

4«^ ^^ 

Fig. 2 Conditions before beginning of Eliot Project. 




The survey at the Eustis Street (also called Eliot) Burying Ground began 
July 8 and ended July 18, 1985, and included: a complete stone-by-stone in- 
ventory of all gravestones, tombs and other grave markers within the burying 
ground; a photographic inventory to record the grave markers, with a print 
mounted on each corresponding form; and a revised tracing of the City 
Engineer's 1900 record plan, not to scale. The forms for each gravestone or 
tomb were numbered according to an existing card file for an inventory done 
around 1900 which corresponds to numbers on the old plan (scale of record 
plan 1" = 8'0"). 

The record plan was fairly accurate for headstone locations, but most of 
the footstones had not been included in the 1900 inventory and needed to be 
added to the revised plan and numbered according either to their place- 
ment, i.e., if the nearest headstone was number 250, the closest footstone was 
numbered 250a, or according to the matching headstone. For example, if a 
footstone inscribed "J. D. 1750" was found in the vicinity of a headstone num- 
bered 231 and inscribed "James Dean Died April 24, 1750," the footstone was 
assigned 231a rather than the number of the closest headstone. However, 
matching was done only when the foot and headstones were within close 

There may be a few footstones scattered about the burying ground that 
have not yet been matched up with their respective headstones. One other 
low-priority task remains for future completion: development of an updated 
scale map of the burying ground to replace the not-to-scale corrected tracing. 

Physical Development 

The burying ground is located at the busy intersection of Washington 
Street and Eustis Street, one block from Dudley Square in Roxbury. The 
elevated Orange Line railway along Washington Street currently provides a 


noisy backdrop to the eternal resting-place of Roxbury's town fathers; its 
removal is planned for 1986. A low mound in shape, the burying ground's 
area in 1900 was 34,630 square feet, or approximately three-quarters of an 
acre. A seven-foot retaining wall topped by an iron fence bulges out over the 
sidewalk. A single entrance gate (which is extremely difficult to open) opens 
directly from the sidewalk; five steps lead into the burying ground. A bronze 
commemorative plaque was mounted on the gate in 1882 which lists some of 
the notables buried here: 

Governors Thomas Dudley, 1653 

Joseph Dudley, 1720 
Chief Justice Paul Dudley, 1752 
Col. William Dudley, 1743 
Ministers John Eliot "Apostle to the Indians," 1690 

Thomas Walter, 1725 

Nehemiah Walter, 1750 

Oliver Peabody, 1752 

Amos Adams, 1775 

Eliphalet Porter, 1835 
Schoolmaster and Physician Benjamin Tompson, 1714 

Several dilapidated structures abut the burying ground, and there are 
boarded-up buildings and vacant lots in the immediate vicinity. The burying 
ground is nearly invisible from the street, due to the height of the retaining 
wall that borders the sidewalk. In addition, rampant weed tree growth, espe- 
cially sumac, creates blind spots within the burying ground, obscures graves- 
tones and blocks the existing path (Fig. 2). 

Seventeenth Century: The Eliot Burying Ground was established in 1630 
just months after the founding of the Town of Roxbury. The burying ground 
was first mentioned in Roxbury town records prior to 1641; and, according to 
Drake's 1878 history of Roxbury, the first interment took place in 1633. Eus- 
tis Street is one of the three oldest burying grounds in Boston; the other two 
are King's Chapel Bur)'ing Ground (1630) and Phipps Street Burying Ground 
in Charlestown (ca. 1630). The Town of Roxbury was connected to Boston 
only by a narrow strip of land flanked by tidewater marshland called the 
"Neck," on which Roxbury Street ran (now Washington Street). The burying 
ground site at the junction of Roxbury Street and "the Way to Dorchester" 
(Eustis Street) represents the center of Roxbury's original farming village. 

Eliot Burying Ground 67 

Eighteenth Century: For its first 160 years, the burying ground was also 
used as pasture for grazing animals. It was not over-crowded until 1725, 
when Colonel Joshua Lamb donated a quarter of an acre of land at the 
northwestern corner to enlarge the burying ground, reserving the right to the 
"herbage thereof (Drake, p. 97). The area around the burying ground 
remained placidly rural until after the Revolutionary War. During the Siege 
of Boston (1775-76), fortifications were constructed next to the burying 
ground blocking Roxbury Neck, to defend the town of Roxbury from British 
invasion; the buildings along Roxbury Street in the immediate vicinity of the 
burying ground were levelled. In the last quarter of the eighteenth century, 
industrialization in the town of Roxbury began to affect the burying ground. 
Merchants' residences and commercial buildings were constructed on the 
property abutting the north and southeastern boundaries of the burying 
ground, including a tavern and indoor bowling alley known as the "Ball and 
Pin," constructed by Jesse Doggett around 1787. The Town surveyed the 
burying ground in 1785 to settle a boundary dispute with an abutter; the 
ground's area at that time was three-quarters of an acre plus twenty-eight 
rods. In 1794 the town selectmen voted that the burying ground would no 
longer be "fed with Creatures" (May, p. 46) and that the fence surrounding 
the site should be repaired. A canal connecting Boston Harbor to Roxbury 
was begun in 1795, which fostered development around the burying ground. 
Fifty feet in width, the canal followed an old creek along what is now Har- 
rison Avenue to end at Eustis Street just east of the burying ground. Canal 
proprietors purchased part of the southern end of the burying ground to 
build wharves and a warehouse at the head of the canal. 

Nineteenth Century: By 1815 a soap manufactory, a candle-making shop, 
and a bakery were located on the site adjacent to the burying ground; by 1842 
a morocco leather tannery abutted the northeastern side of the burying 
ground; this building was replaced around 1868 by the existing brick factory 
building, erected by Owen Nawn. On the southeastern side another portion 
of the burying ground was taken in 1829 to erect a firehouse next to the 
canal. This wooden building was replaced in 1859 with the present brick 
structure, which was in use to 1916 and is the oldest extant fire station in the 
city. Excavations for the firehouse foundation uncovered human remains. 


indicating that part of the old firehouse had been built over a portion of the 
burying ground. On a map completed in 1844 the area of the burying ground 
is given as three-quarters of an acre plus two rods. Another encroachment 
came in 1856, when a narrow strip of land eight to nine feet in width was 
taken from the burying ground to widen the intersection of Eustis and 
Washington Streets. In 1871, three years after Roxbury was annexed, the 
City of Boston sold 1818 square feet from the southerly part of the burying 
ground to an abutter, L.D. Davenport. The next year Davenport leased from 
the city an additional 200 square feet of burying ground land behind the 
firehouse to construct a small office building. 

Fig. 3 Samuel Danforth, 1653 

Eliot Burying Ground 


Gravestones, Tombs and Monuments: In 1872 Henry A. May recorded 
the inscriptions from all the gravestones at Eustis Street. May's list was pub- 
lished alphabetically in the 1903 Annual Report of the Cemetery Depart- 
ment, which noted that about fifty of those stones had since disappeared, and 
that twelve stones not visible in 1872 had been uncovered in contemporary 
landscaping efforts. These additional gravestones were not found in the 
burying ground by the 1985 inventory team. The earliest headstone, that of 
the first child of Reverend Samuel Danforth, dates from 1653 (Fig. 3). The 
only gravestone in the burying ground which bears a coat of arms is the 
Grosvenor headstone dated 1691 (Fig. 4). The most widely-used material for 
the nearly 700 stones is slate; many of the earliest markers are of greenstone. 
There are a few markers of white marble, though this material and a brown 
sandstone were used more often for tombs and monuments. There are only 
three monuments: two marble vertical markers and a granite boulder, miss- 
ing its bronze inscription tablet, that was erected by the Sons of the 
American Revolution in 1902 to honor Brigadier General John Greaton. 

Fig. 4 John Grosvenor Coat-of-Arms, 1691 


The burying ground contains thirty-five tombs -- the earhest of these is the 
Dudley Tomb built by stonemasons Sharp and Wilson before 1653. The 
John Peirpont tomb of 1682 and the Parish or Eliot tomb of 1687 are the 
next oldest tombs. These three are grouped along with the other seven 
oldest tombs in the center of the burying ground. There are ten underground 
tombs bordering the north side of the site, another four on the east, nine on 
the south, and two on the west. Some tombs not marked by horizontal 
tabletop structures are indicated by upright slate markers. Many tombs are 
not marked and can only be located on the record plan. Interments ceased in 
1846, except in family tombs. 

Landscaping: The retaining wall of Roxbury puddingstone with its granite 
block capping was erected when Eustis Street was widened in 1856; in addi- 
tion, an ornate iron gate was installed at the entrance; the ground was graded 
and sodded; graveled pathways were laid out; a variety of trees planted, in- 
cluding many evergreens; gravestones reset and broken monuments repaired; 
and the dilapidated and abandoned tombs removed or filled in. This mid- 
nineteenth century overhaul of the Eustis Street Burying Ground was part of 
a city-wide drive to "improve" the old graveyards and make them more pic- 
turesque. One contemporary historian bemoaned the plain and 
"unattractive" old burying grounds (Drake 1878, p. 96). During this period, 
most of the old graveyards in Boston were "contemporized": their graves- 
tones were rearranged into neat patterns, meandering path systems were laid 
out, and ornamental trees and shrubs were planted to relieve the severe look 
of the stark-skulled slate stones. 

In November 1903 another campaign of landscaping improvements began. 
The grounds were graded and seeded. Twenty trees were cut down, and a 
dozen gravestones were discovered in their roots. Leaning gravestones were 
reset; and the front entrance gate was altered with five steps built into the 
burying ground. The existing iron fence atop the retaining wall was installed 
some time after 1903. The existing configuration of the gravestones matches 
closely the 1900 record plan, excepting the footstones, many of which were 
not recorded at that time. It appears that a rearrangement of the gravestones 
was accomplished prior to this period. In this respect Eustis Street is more 
fortunate than many of the other graveyards in Boston, which have been 

Eliot Burying Ground 71 

rearranged many times over the years. However, because of the fragile na- 
ture of these markers, damage and losses have occurred, whether through 
vandalism, weathering or untrained maintenance (Fig. 1). 

Conservation: Efforts to establish a memorial park and interpretive 
museum for the burying ground and the surrounding historic buildings, begun 
as early as 1893, were revived in 1977 as a pilot program of Boston 350, an 
urban education and conservation program. This model restoration/ preser- 
vation project used student workers employed by the Youth Conservation 
Corps to clean and map the burying ground in 1978. Archaeological inves- 
tigation and structural analysis on the building sites abutting the burying 
ground were also completed. In 1979 students repointed the retaining wall. 
Details regarding the project can be found in a study called Boston 350: A 
Preservation Strategy, prepared by Ann M. Beha Associates in February, 1979. 

The 1985 inventory project represents the most recent preservation effort 
in Eustis Street Burying Ground and is part of the Historic Burying Ground 
Initiative. A master plan including recommendations for comprehensive 
rehabilitation and preservation of the Eliot Burying Ground became avail- 
able in February 1986. 

Historic Significance 

Some of New England's most distinguished spiritual, political, and military 
leaders are buried in Eustis Street. Reverend John Eliot (1604-1690), known 
as the Apostle to the Indians and from whom the burying ground got its his- 
torical name, is buried in the parish tomb of the First Church of Roxbury. 
Eliot translated the Bible into the Indian language and established Praying 
towns among the tribes of New England. Reverend Samuel Danforth (1674), 
who assisted Rev. Eliot in leading the Roxbury parish from 1650-74, was 
buried in the Dudley family tomb. This tomb, located at the highest point in 
the burying ground, holds the remains of two governors of Massachusetts, 
Thomas (1576-1652) and Joseph Dudley (1647-1720), Chief Justice Paul 
Dudley (1675-1751), and Col. William Dudley (1686-1743). The tomb's 
sandstone slab contains a shallow oval-shaped depression that once held an 
insert of white marble inscribed with the family name. Reputedly, the 
original pewter inscription plate was removed during the siege of Boston to 


manufacture bullets. Another New England notable, Robert Calef (1719), 
played a prominent role in the New England witch hunts; his 1700 book More 
Wonders of the Invisible World refuted the claims of Reverend Cotton 
Mather. Other notables buried at Eustis include members of the Willard 
Family, well-known clockmakers; Brigadier General John Greaton (1741- 
1784); members of the Warren family, including Joseph, the father of 
Revolutionary War hero General Joseph Warren (his remains now rest at 
Forest Hills); Jesse Doggett, tavernkeeper of the "Ball and Pin"; and Josiah 
Cunningham, owner of the candle-making shop adjacent to the burying 

Artistic Significance 

The gravestones in Eustis Street range in date from 1653 to 1849, and rep- 
resent a wide range of carving styles for that time span. The earliest graves- 
tones are carved without decorative embellishment, and they simply record 
name, age and death date (Fig. 5). Later gravestones are carved with winged 
skulls, crossed bones, and grave-digging tools, grim symbols of mortality. The 
increasing sophistication of life in colonial America is reflected by changes in 
headstone iconography: serene cherub faces appear around the 1730s (Fig. 
6). Then, after the Revolution, classical motifs such as the urn and willow, 
together with flowery epitaphs and poetry, predominate. These changes 
mark a turning away from the severe contemplation and familiarity with 
death characteristic of the previous century, and are clearly documented in 
the gravestones in Eustis Street Burying Ground. 

Conservation Under Way 

The largest project in the Boston Initiative has now begun - a comprehen- 
sive stone conservation program at the Eliot Burying Ground, with generous 
grants of $55,000 and $3,000 from the Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund and 
Historic Boston Incorporated, respectively, and a matching challenge of 
$25,000 from the Riley Foundation. With the completion of this work and of 
landscape improvements, Eliot Burying Ground will become a highly visible 
site in the Dudley Square neighborhood and will contribute to the cultural 
landscape of the forthcoming Roxbury Heritage State Park visitor trail. 

Eliot Burying Ground 



Fig. 5 Isaac Moril, 1662. Original stone set in modern adaptation. 

« ..- >. 

Fig. 6 James Jervis, 1750. Cherub face. 



The historical documentation listed below was either extracted from the Boston 
Landmarks Commission Report on the Eustis Street Area, 1981, or discovered during the 
research phase of the 1985 Historic Burying Grounds Inventory. 

Bound Volumes, Records 

Beha, Ann M., Associates, Boston 350: A Preservation Education Strategy, (Boston: 1981). 

Boston Landmarks Commission, Eustis Street Area: District Study Committee Report (Boston: 

Dillaway, Charles Knapp, A History of the Grammar School. ..with Biographical Sketches of the 
Ministers of the First Church ofRoxbury (Boston: 1860). 

Drake, Francis S., "Roxbury in the Colonial Period," Justin Winsor, ed. Memorial History of 
Boston, 4 vols. (Boston: 1880) 1:401. 

"Roxbury in the Provincial Period," Memorial History, 2:331. 

"Roxbury in the Last Hundred Years," Memorial History, 3:57. 

The Town of Roxbury: Its Memorable Perons and Places, Its History and Antiquities, with 
Numerous Illustrations of Its Old Landmarks and Noted Personages, (Roxbury: 1878). 

Ellis, Charles, History of the Town ofRoxbury, (Boston: 1847). 

May, Henry, "Historical Sketch of the First Burying Place in Roxbury, also Inscriptions on all 
Gravestones and Biographical Notes." Annual Report of the Cemetery Department, Document 
No. 8 (1903-4), 35-115. 

MacElaney, Hugh J., ed., Roxbury, Past and Present, (Boston: 1918). 

Mcrriam, John M., "Historic Burial-Places of Boston and Vicinity." Proceedings of the 
American Antiquarian Society, 7 (Part 1); 381-417. 

Minutes, Roxbury Canal Proprietors. October 5, 1775 to June 21, 1825. 

Museum of Afro-American History, "Report on the Archaeological Excavations at the Dog- 
gett and Cunningham Houses, Roxbury, Mass., 1978." Beth Anne Bower, staff archaeologist. 

Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, Books 5, 6, 9, 10, 15, 16, 19, 21-24, 47, 48, 50, 53, 57, 60, 
62-65, 71, 72, 167, 342. 

Roxbury Land and Church Records, (Boston: 1881). 

"Roxbury Town Records, 1648-1848," Records of the City of Boston, Reels 204-216. 

Secord, Gertrude M., "Reverend John Eliot's Apostolic Work Among the Indians." Address 
Delivered Before the Roxbury Historical Society, 1944. 

Eliot Burying Ground 75 

Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, Books 5, 55, 139, 160, 161, 163, 236, 261, 278, 280, 282, 1426. 

The Roxbuiy Magazine, published by the Branch AUiance of the All Souls Unitcu-ian Church, 
(Boston: 1899). 

Thwing, Walter Eliot, History of the First Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1630-1904, 
(Boston: 1860). 


A Plan of the Burying Ground in Roxbury, May 18, 1785, by John White. Reprinted in Annual 
Report of the Cemetery Department. (1903-4). 

Eliot Cemetery, Roxbury, July 1900. Scale 1" = 8'0". Map #K-30. Engineering Department, 
City of Boston. 

Plan of the Eustis Street Cemetery, August 25, 1844, L.F. Woodward, Surveyor. Reprinted in 
Annual Report of the Cemetery Department. (1903-4). 

Photographic Sources 

May, Henry A., "Historical Sketch of the First Burying Place in Roxbury," Annual Report of the 
Cemetery Department. (1903-4). 

Collection of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. 

Merriam, John M., "Historic Burial-Places of Boston and Vicinity," American Antiquarian 
Society Proceedings, 7: 381-471. 


Fig. 7 Wood Family Mausoleum. Late Victorian. 

Fig. 8 Table tomb of William Pole, 1674. 




The survey at Dorchester North Burying Ground was conducted between 
June 10 and July 11, 1986. All gravestones, tombs, monuments, and other 
grave markers presently located within the cemetery were inventoried. Two 
sections of the burying ground inventoried during the fall of 1985 were 
rechecked and incorporated into the ongoing survey work. Revision, in ap- 
proximate scale, of the City Engineer's 1900 cemetery plans of Dorchester 
North also was completed. Although the 1900 plans generally were accurate 
for headstone, tomb, and monument locations, footstones were omitted and 
needed to be added. Also indicated on the revised Dorchester North maps 
are all changes in grave marker placement since 1900, including those that 
have been relocated, realigned, lost, or removed. Remaining for future field 
work at Dorchester North is the preparation of a reproducible map to be 
drawn from the 1986 corrected working plans. Almost 2,600 inventory forms 
were completed at Dorchester North. 

Site Description 

Dorchester North Burying Ground, an L-shaped site encompassing 3.19 
acres, is located on gently sloping land at the bustling, heavily travelled inter- 
section of Columbia Road and Stoughton Streets in Upham's Corner. 
Upham's Corner is the commercial and retail heart of North Dorchester and 
is situated at the foot of Jones Hill, which was developed as a substantial 
residential neighborhood during the late nineteenth century. 

For most of this century high concrete walls have enclosed Dorchester 
North. In order to increase visibility into the site, the Columbia Road wall 
was removed in 1986 and soon will be replaced with steel picket fencing. 
There are three entrance gates into the burial ground - the main entry which 
faces onto Upham's Corner, the Stoughton Street gate near the southeast 
corner, and the Columbia Road gate, located adjacent to a stucco comfort 


Station (now vacant). The cemetery's handsome twentieth-century Egyptian 
revival cast-stone main entry, which displays thick papyrus columns and a 
winged sun disk on it architrave, recently has been dismantled and is in the 
process of reconstruction. At its northeast corner at Columbia Road, Dor- 
chester North is penetrated by a single-story twentieth-century brick in- 
dustrial building. Along its easterly border many of the site's abutters are at- 
tractive early twentieth-century triple-deckers. 

Basically a lawned cemetery, Dorchester North's nineteenth-century path 
system is now demarcated only by decorative Victorian cast-iron sign posts. 
Substantial trees remain in the burying ground and these are located, for the 
most part, near its periphery and include mature sycamores, oaks, maples, 
and lindens. For the most part, grave markers at Dorchester North are ar- 
ranged in long north/south rows that run parallel to Columbia Road, al- 
though extensive groupings near the south side are set parallel to Stoughton 
Street. Mound tombs are aligned along and near the east and south walls of 
the burying ground. At its northerly end the cemetery is dominated by the 
granite-faced late-Victorian Wood family mausoleum (Fig. 7). 

Development History 

The site of Dorchester North, also called the First Burying Ground of 
Dorchester, was designated in 1633, and fenced in "with doble rayle and clere 
bord pale" for use as a burial ground the following year. Tradition maintains 
that an earlier site, near the meeting house at the corner of today's East Cot- 
tage and Pleasant Streets, was used as the town's burying ground from the 
time of the settlement of Dorchester in 1630 until 1634. The original section 
of Dorchester North was about five rods square, or about eighty feet along 
each side, and contained 7,000 square feet. This earliest part of the burying 
ground is located in the vicinity of the cemetery's Columbia Road and 
Stoughton Street corner. 

By 1695, and again in 1718, the Town sought to enlarge its burying ground. 
In 1727 a quarter of an acre of land was purchased from abutters and added 
to Dorchester North. In 1741 and 1745 Robert Oliver, a wealthy Dorchester 
resident, exchanged nearly an acre of his adjacent land to further enlarge the 
burying ground. The final addition of three-quarters of an acre in 1820, pur- 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 79 

chased from the neighboring William Bird estate, resulted in Dorchester 
North's present irregular L-plan shape. 

For its first two hundred years, the site was not embellished with trees or 
floral arrangements. According to town records, Dorchester North was 
enclosed with fences periodically erected and repaired to keep out cattle, 
"swine and other vermine." By the mid-nineteenth century, Boston's old 
burying grounds were considered antiquated, unsightly, and plain, and many 
were improved with plantings and pathways in emulation of the new garden 
cemeteries that were becoming fashionable. In 1834 a committee of six was 
chosen by the Town of Dorchester "to ornament the burying ground." The 
committee was led by Jones Hill resident Samuel Downer, inventor of the 
process of distilling kerosene from coal and a prominent member of the Mas- 
sachusetts Horticultural Society, known for his work in hybridizing the 
Downer cherry. In addition. Downer participated in the creation of Mount 
Auburn Cemetery (1831), the first arboretum cemetery in this country. 

At Dorchester North Downer designed a grid-like system of pathways and 
avenues named after well-known Dorchester families. Town records indicate 
that between 1835 and 1843 the burying ground was cleared of bramble 
bushes and weeds, the gravestones "set up right and washed with pot Ash 
water, in order to cleanse them from moss," and over 400 shade trees includ- 
ing mountain ash, fir, white poplar, silver-leaf maple as well as rare specimen 
trees, a large number of shrubs and floral displays, were set out. Downer's 
efforts resulted in a botanical park-like atmosphere with a grand allee of 
magnificent elms along Clapp Avenue, which was lined by granite and brick 
tombs and large cast-iron flower urns. During the 1830s and '40s "all the an- 
cient tombs" were repaired by rebuilding supporting structures and recutting 
damaged and worn inscriptions. 

According to oral history sources, in 1911 a strip ten feet wide was taken 
from the burying ground along its western boundary for the widening and 
straightening of Columbia Road. About a dozen tombs were discontinued, 
and their remains reinterred at Forest Hills Cemetery. The burying ground's 
formal Egyptian style entry at Upham's Corner was erected in 1912. 


Historical and Artistic Significance 

Dorchester North is of considerable local, regional, and national sig- 
nificance as a site directly associated with Boston's early period of settle- 
ment, the colonial era, and the period of the War of Independence. The 
burying ground is Dorchester's earliest remaining landmark, and is the place 
of interment of several of the town's prominent founding citizens. Of the in- 
fluential figures interred at Dorchester North, two of the best-known are 
Richard Mather and William Stoughton. Mather, the father of Boston minis- 
ters Increase and Samuel, settled in Dorchester in 1636 and was the Town's 
spiritual leader until his death in 1669. Stoughton (1701) served as one of Sir 
Edmund Andros's Council and was Lieutenant Governor from 1694 until his 
death. Stoughton was Chief Justice during the witchcraft trials and was also 
an early benefactor of Harvard College. 

Other notable Dorchester residents buried in the cemetery are Major 
General Humphrey Atherton (1661), William Pole, Dorchester schoolmaster 
(1674) (Fig. 8), John Foster, the first printer in Boston (1681), and William 
Tailer (Taylor) (1732) who was Lieutenant Governor in 1711 and again in 
the 1730s. Also, several ministers of the Town remain at Dorchester North, 
including Josiah Flint (1680), John Danforth (1730), Jonathan Bowman 
(1775), Moses Everett (1813), and Thaddeus Mason Harris (1842), the minis- 
ter of the First Parish Church for more than forty years. 

Many members of the town's early families are buried at Dorchester 
North, Interred here are numerous Bakers, Birds, Blackmans, Blakes, 
Capens, Clap(p)s, Davenports, Eatons, Fosters, Glovers, Halls, Howes, 
Humphreys, Leeds, Minots, Pierces, Tolmans, Topliffs, Trescotts, Wiswalls, 
and Withingtons. Many of these families are remembered today by street 
and place names located throughout Dorchester. 

In addition, Dorchester North contains the graves of forty soldiers who 
died during the Siege of Boston, and who are commemorated by a pud- 
dingstone boulder marked with a bronze tablet placed in 1903 by the Sons of 
the American Revolution. Among the Revolutionary War participants in- 
terred at Dorchester North are Lt. Col. Samuel Pierce (1815), Capt. Stephen 
Badlam, Lt. Col. Hopestill Hall (1803), Capt. Lemuel Clap (1819), Nathaniel 
Bradshaw, James Humphreys, Lt. Roger Clapp, Thomas Lyon, Lt. Joseph 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 81 

Clapp, Joseph Clapp, Jr., Capt. Oliver Billings, Capt. Edward Glover, 2nd 
Lt., Ensign Ebenezer Glover, and Capt. (Surgeon) John Homans, 

The burying ground is of further significance for its remaining marked 
graves of black servants owned by the Oliver and Foster families. The 
modest headstones of Bristol, Cambridge, and Betty who died in 1747-8 are 
located near the Columbia Road gate of the cemetery in a plot set aside for 
slaves and people of color. 

The Dorchester North Burying Ground is of special importance for its 
outstanding examples of funerary sculpture of the seventeenth, eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries. Grave markers at Dorchester North display con- 
siderable variety in style, marker type, material, imagery, and ornamentation. 
Of significance as works of art that remain in their original out-of-doors con- 
text, these markers, collectively, provide an extraordinary illustrated history 
of local funerary art. Dorchester North includes more than fifty seventeenth- 
century headstones and about 850 pre-Revolution grave markers. As a group 
these are of high artistic quality and range from modest seventeenth-century 
headstones including only inscriptions, to handsomely executed "death-head" 
slates, and elaborately carved grave markers enriched with cherubic "soul ef- 
figies" and portrait-like images. Of particular note is the remarkable group 
of stones, usually dating from the 1790s, and distinguished by portrait-like 
heads sometimes winged and frequently framed by architectural elements. 
Also of unusually high quality and elaborate treatment are several of Dor- 
chester North's early nineteenth-century urn-and-willow ornamented 
headstones. In addition, the burying ground includes about 250 white marble 
headstones and monuments. Dorchester North Burying Ground is included 
in the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a Bos- 
ton Landmark. 


Of the almost 2,600 markers remaining at Dorchester North, the great 
preponderance are headstones and are dated between 1638 and 1976. Dor- 
chester North retains many rare seventeenth-century markers, a number of 
which are iconless - i.e., without images. Examples of Dorchester's early 
iconless group of headstones includes those of Elizabeth Swift (1677), 


Ammiel Weeks (1679), Elizabeth Jons (1681), Jonathan Jones (1681), Sarah 
Jones (1683), and Martha Minot (1683). Most of these early markers display 
semi-circular tympanums with flanking narrow rounded shoulders, a form 
that becomes the predominant headstone type of the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries. 

Dated 1638 and 1653, the Barnard and Joan Capen stone is said to locate 
the earliest marked grave in this country. Although the stone bears the 
oldest inscribed date in the burying ground, it is a late eighteenth-century re- 
placement of an earlier marker, fragments of which are now preserved at the 
New England Historic Genealogical Society. Also bearing an early date is 
the horizontal grave marker for Abel (1644) and Submite (1648), said to 
have been the children of Thomas Clarke. This marker, at present, is at the 
Dorchester Historical Society awaiting repair of its base. 

Many headstones dating from the last decades of the seventeenth century 
through the 1720s are of special note for the richness and complexity of their 
carving. Of outstanding artistic importance is the John Foster stone (1681) 
with its figured imagery depicting the struggle between Time and Death. 
The John Foster stone is on exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 
and a replica was installed on-site in August 1986. 

Most headstones dating from the late seventeenth and eighteenth cen- 
turies display winged skulls (often called "death-heads") on the tympanum as 
well as carved foliate, vine, fruited, and other decorative borders. Secondary 
motives of crossbones and hourglass also are frequently used. Significant ex- 
amples of the numerous winged skull stones executed prior to 1730 include 
the headstones of Elisha Foster (1682), Ann Pearce (1695), who died at 
"about" 104 years of age, Thomas Trott (1696), with its excellent fruited bor- 
der footstone, Thankfull Baker (1697), Joseph Butt (1713) (Fig. 9), George 
Bird (1716), John Minot (1717), Samuel Topliff (1722), Hannah Ware 
(1721), and Samuel Blackman (1722). 

Although few heraldic markers remain at Dorchester North, the 1732 
James and Anna Foster stone with its elaborately carved coat-of-arms, its 
contoured shape, and double-heart inscription survives as an important ex- 
ample of eighteenth-century funerary sculpture. At present this stone is in 
need of repairs and resetting. 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 


-'%.. ' 

flHl-: L7i:S RW+i iCOiTIL 

ho()|^of;om:ph butt 

I , T i 

Fig. 9 Joseph Butt, 1713. 

Fig. 10 Priscilla Foster, 1739 


Fig. 11 James Foster, 1763. 

Succeeding the winged skull motif is the "soul effigy" -- a winged face, 
head, or cherub that begins to appear in the early eighteenth century and by 
the 1770s becomes a frequent image. A charming stone dating from 1707 
commemorating Nathaniel Clap displays a winged head with carefully 
detailed curls and feathers and a fruited border. The number 28 at the lower 
right corner under the border apparently indicates this headstone's "price 
tag" in shillings. Other notable "soul effigies" include the Ralph Pope stone 
(1745) with its flowered upswept wings, the Ann Spur stone (1739), the Pris- 
cilla Foster stone (1739) with its full winged face set over a heart-shaped in- 
scription (Fig. 10), and the Zebadiah Williams stone (1772) with its double 
"soul effigy" of winged cherubic heads set at an angle, probably to suggest 
upwards soaring. 

Dorchester North is particularly rich in stones displaying portrait-like 
heads. These are so distinctive in style and features that when they appear in 
other burying grounds, as for example at Copp's Hill, they can immediately 
be identified as being associated with Dorchester families. There are many 
excellent examples of these portrait-like heads or busts at Dorchester North, 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 85 

and most date from the 1790s. An early and remarkable portrait stone is that 
of James Foster Esq. (1763) which is impressive for the detailed and sensitive 
quality of its carving and for its specific detailing of dress and coiffure, which 
is unusual in local funerary art (Fig. 11). Also of note is the portrait-like 
head on the 1776 William Holden stone. Many of the portrait-like images at 
Dorchester are placed within architectural settings and utilize columns as 
border ornament. Occasionally this setting is quite fanciful, and sometimes 
architectural elements become primary images. Portrait-like faces are hand- 
somely exemplified on the stones of Sarah and Claricy Haws (1792), Abnar 
Clap (1799), John Leeds Jr. (1798), Mary Hall (1791), Mary Davenport 
(1792), John Davenport (1795), and Isaac Davenport (1799). 

The neo-classical period of the early decades of the nineteenth century 
was marked in funerary sculpture by the ubiquitous urn-and-willow design. 
Although often executed in a rather dry, repetitive manner, Dorchester 
retains several slates of delicate quality and some of patterned ornateness 
recalling Victorian valentines. Of special note are the Robert and Abigail 
Alcock stone (1821) and the Hannah Clapp stone (1837), both located in the 
northerly extension of the burying ground. Although more modest in treat- 
ment, other urn and willows displaying finely textured surfaces and carving 
are those of Ebenezer Glover (1818), Mary Glover (1826), Samuel Belcher 
(1834), and Seth Clapp (1836). 

Although the period is not one of its strongest in terms of artistic quality, 
Dorchester North does contain some good examples of 1840s- 1870s Vic- 
toriana. Deeply-cut examples of vine-draped gothic niches, fallen roses and 
rosebuds, and lambs in rondels do appear on slate and, more often, marble 


Dorchester North contains about eighty-seven tombs, the earliest of which 
are located in the same vicinity as the cemetery's oldest headstones. Often in 
a poor state of repair, amongst the earliest of these are the table tombs of 
Major General Humphrey Atherton (1661), John Maudesley (Moseley) 
(1661), Rev. Richard Mather (1669), William Pole (Pool) (1674) (Fig. 8), 
Hopestill Foster (1676), Rev. Josiah Flint (1680), Elder James Humphrey 


(1686), Lieutenant-Governor William Stoughton (1701), and William Royall 
(1724). Particularly notable is the William Stoughton tomb, which was 
repaired by Harvard College in 1828 and is marked by a classically detailed 
marble sepulchral monument (Fig. 12). 

Table tombs at Dorchester North usually are constructed with horizontal 
brownstone slabs set on plain rectangular brick bases. Often rebuilt from 
earlier slabs supported by "legs" or columns, table tombs mark below-ground 
burial vaults and are themselves memorials, not places of interment. 

Dorchester North also includes numerous mound tombs with granite slab 
entrance framing, including plain lintels or pediments inscribed with family 
names. In contrast to these austerely designed tombs, the showiness of later 
Victorian cemetery art is dramatically represented by the granite-faced 
Egyptian/Romanesque/Revival Wood family mausoleum, which was con- 
structed in the 1890s near the northerly end of the burying ground (Fig. 7). 

Fig. 12 Tomb of William Stoughton, 1701. 

Dorchester North Burying Ground 


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Fig. 13 Marble stones toppled from their bases. 


There are many family and other commemorative monuments throughout 
the burying ground, most of which were put up in the mid-to-late nineteenth 
century. Many of these monuments are of the obelisk or capped tall pedestal 
type and usually are constructed of marble, or occasionally, polished gray 
granite. A number if these obelisks and pedestals have toppled from their 
bases, and some are fragmented (Fig. 13). 


Boston Cemetery Department, "Historical Sketch of the First Burying Ground in Dorchester," 
Annual Report 1904-5. 

Fowle, John Allen, Old Dorchester Burying Ground, Dorchester Historical Society Publication 

Orcutt, William Dana, Good Old Dorchester, 1630-1893 (Cambridge: 1893). 

Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, Old North Burying Ground Upham's Comer, Dorchester, Mas- 


sachusetts (Dorchester: 1984). 


Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Draft Report on Dorchester North by Rosanne 
Atwood-Humes, 1985. 

Boston PubHc Works Department - Engineering Division. Map K34, K35, K36 (scale: 8 feet = 
1 inch), September 18, 1900. 

Boston Landmarks Commission. Dorchester North Burying Ground. Nomination Form, Na- 
tional Register of Historic Places. 1974. 

Boston Landmarks Commission. Dorchester North Burying Ground, Report on the Potential 
Designation of the Dorchester North Burying Ground, 1982. 

Fig. 14 Sarah Roby, 1803. An early urn-and-willow stone. 




The survey at Copp's Hill Burying Ground was conducted between July 15 
and August 20, 1986. All headstones, tombs, monuments, and other grave 
markers presently located within the burying ground were inventoried, and a 
revised map, in approximate scale, of the City Engineer's 1903 cemetery plan 
also was completed. 

Unlike other early twentieth-century city plans of Boston's historic 
cemeteries, those for Copp's Hill included footstone locations. However, for 
some of the earlier sections of the burying ground, extensive realignment of 
markers occurred after the 1903 record plans were drawn. These relocations, 
as well as other changes in marker location, including losses, were recorded 
by the survey team. Remaining for future field work at Copp's Hill is the 
preparation of an updated map to replace the 1986 corrected working plans. 
Inventory forms for over 2230 grave markers were completed for Copp's Hill. 

Site Description 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground is situated on the highest ground in the North 
End of Boston and overlooks the Charles River, Boston's Inner Harbor, and 
Charlestown. Located on the northerly stretch of the Freedom Trail, the 
burying ground is basically trapezoidal in plan with a rectangular extension at 
its southeast corner. Copp's Hill encompasses 2.04 acres and is bordered by 
Hull Street on the south, Snowhill Street on the west. Charter Street on the 
north and the Michaelangelo School on the east. 

The immediate surroundings of the burying ground include streets that 
were laid out in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. From the 1880s 
through the 1910s, much of this area was rebuilt with attractive red brick 
multiple family four- and five-story housing. Handsome mid-nineteenth cen- 
tury brick rows and occasional late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth century 
wood frame residences remain along adjacent streets and contribute to a 


development pattern characteristic of most of the historic North End neigh- 
borhood. Sites of unusual architectural or historical value near the burying 
ground include Christ Church ("Old North") at Salem Street facing Hull 
(1723), the late-nineteenth century North Bennet Street School also on 
Salem Street, and across Charter Street, Copp's Hill Terraces, a distinctive 
urban park designed by nationally recognized landscape architects Olmsted, 
Olmsted and Eliot. 

Copp's Hill is enclosed by high brick and granite block retaining walls. 
Along Snowhill and part of Hull Street these exterior walls are capped by 
mid-nineteenth century cast-iron fencing with pickets of alternating pattern 
set between classical fluted posts. For the most part, the burying ground is a 
grassy site divided into sections by brick paved walkways. The primary path 
system includes: walkways which run along much of the periphery of the 
cemetery; an east-west path along the top of the hill; and a diagonal north- 
south path between the Hull and Charter Street gates. Both entries to the 
burying ground are similarly designed with granite block steps and round- 
headed granite posts surmounted by wrought-iron lantern arches. Granite 
stairs inside the cemetery provide access to the extension along Hull Street 
which is at a lower grade level and is separated from the main section by a 
granite capped brick wall. Although the path system at Copp's Hill divides 
much of the area into trapezoidal sections, paired north-south circular brick 
walkways serve to enhance the hilly contours of the site. 

A number of mature and young trees survive at Copp's Hill including a 
dense row of lindens and locusts along the Snowhill path. Several older 
locust trees, horse chestnuts, maples, lindens and an elm are located within 
the main section of the burying ground; there are fewer trees remaining in 
the "new addition" along Hull Street. The prominent height of Copp's Hill 
coupled with its close access to the harbor provides a climate of refreshing 
sea breezes. The combined scent of salt air and the sweet fragrance of the 
ground's flowering trees is memorable. 

Development History 

Originally called North Burying Ground, Copp's Hill was the second place 
of interment on the Boston peninsula and was laid out in 1659, some 30 years 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 91 

following the small cemetery at King's Chapel. During the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, Copp's Hill Burying Ground occupied a site that ter- 
minated abruptly in a rugged cliff that was almost inaccessible from the 
Charles River. In the 1630s part of this high ground was occupied by a 
windmill that had been moved to the North End from Watertown. Known by 
the settlers as Windmill Hill and later Snow Hill, the area acquired its 
present name through its association with William Copp, a shoemaker and 
early settler who lived near today's Prince Street. During the colonial era, 
the Charter and Snowhill Streets vicinity was called "New Guinea" and was 
inhabited by Boston's black community. In the early nineteenth century part 
of the hill was lowered. Soil taken from its slopes was used for a landfill 
project at the Mill Pond (now the North Station/Canal Street area) and 
along Commercial Street, 

Copp's Hill cemetery is comprised of four tracts of land each of which was 
acquired at a different time. The oldest section of Copp's Hill was purchased 
by the town from John Baker and Daniel Turrell in 1659 and includes most 
of the northerly part of the present enclosure. In this earlier section the area 
near Snowhill Street was used for the interment of slaves and people of color. 
The date of the first burial at Copp's Hill is unknown but the site probably 
was used soon after its purchase. During the seventeenth century the only 
entrance to the burying ground was from Charter Street. 

Some fifty years after the first tract of land for the burying ground was ac- 
quired, the growth of the colony required enlargement of the yard, and part 
of an adjacent pasture to the south, owned by Judge and Hannah Sewall, was 
purchased in 1711. This second tract adjoined the earlier site and extended 
along Hull and Snowhill Streets. The oldest tombs at Copp's Hill were built 
in 1717 shortly after the Sewall purchase and fronted on Hull Street. 
Another addition was made to the burying ground through an 1809 purchase 
of land earlier known as Jonathan Merry's pasture. This section was called 
the New North Burying Ground and later in the nineteenth century, the 
"small ground." Over fifty tombs were built around the sides of its enclosures 
in 1814. 

In 1819 an adjacent plot fronting on Charter Street and bounded on the 
south and west by the old burying ground was added to Copp's Hill, and 


thirty-four tombs were built in this small graveyard. With the permission of 
the City, a privately purchased portion of land bordering on the northwest 
side of the Copp's Hill Burying Ground became established in 1832 as the 
Hull Street Cemetery. Located in the vicinity of today's DeFilippo 
Playground, this cemetery was discontinued in 1853, and its remains were 
transferred to Mount Hope Cemetery in 1861. A row of tombs formerly oc- 
cupied Snowhill Street and passage across the hill to Charter Street was 
provided by a footpath over this tomb construction. When Snowhill Street, 
as presently aligned, was cut through in the 1830s, these tombs and their 
tablets were relocated inside the wall of the old burying ground. At this same 
time a high granite retaining wall was erected to support the Snowhill side of 
the cemetery. 

During the period from the Revolution through the early decade of the 
nineteenth century the yard had become neglected, but by the 1830s, city-led 
beautification projects began to transform the appearance of the burying 
ground. In 1838 a system of walks and promenades was laid out. When 
these were established, many grave markers were relocated but, reportedly, 
were not moved far from their earlier locations. Funds were appropriated 
for landscaping, and by the 1870s, Copp's Hill had been planted with 180 
shade trees. 

By 1840 burials had become comparatively infrequent, and there was no 
further need for expansion of the ground. In 1878 Boston's Board of Health 
appointed Edward MacDonald as Superintendent of the Copp's Hill Burying 
Ground. MacDonald was instrumental in the restoration and improved 
maintenance of the burying ground and for the recovery of many lost grave 
markers. His illustrated history "Old Copp's Hill and Burial Ground," ini- 
tially published in 1879, was reissued through the turn of the century. 

The 1901 Cemetery Department Annual Report indicates that 227 tombs 
were then located within the burying ground. Of these, two belonged to the 
City - one for adults near Charter Street and one for children, built in 1833, 
near Hull Street. A large tomb, set aside in the mid-nineteenth century for 
mariners, is located near the corner of Hull and Snowhill. 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 93 

Historical and Artistic Significance 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground is a significant historical and cultural 
resource of the City of Boston, New England, and the nation, and is listed in 
the National Register of Historic Places. The burying ground includes more 
than 1200 grave markers dating between the 1660s and the time of the War 
of Independence. About 150 of these were carved in the seventeenth cen- 

Copp's Hill is also of considerable historical importance as the second 
oldest burying ground in Boston proper, and as a continually used place of in- 
terment from its establishment through the 1850s. The Mather tomb shelters 
the remains of prominent ministers Increase (1723), Cotton (1727), and 
Samuel (1785), along with several other family members. Also interred at 
Copp's Hill are William Copp and several members of his family; Edmund 
Hartt (1806), builder of the USS Constitution; Robert Newman (1804), best- 
known for pk ^ing the signal lanterns at Christ Church on the eve of the 
Battle of Lexington and Concord; several founders of the Ancient and 
Honorable Artillery Company, and Prince Hall (1807), anti-slavery activist, 
Revolutionary War soldier, and founder of the black Masonic Order. More 
than 1,000 black people were buried at Copp's Hill by the time of the War of 
Independence, and the few headstones remaining today include those of 
Mary (1759), "servant" of Robert Ball, Prince Hall and his wife Sarah 
Ritchery (1769), and Abel Barbadoes (1817). 

During the Revolution the burying ground's prominent location near the 
inner harbor gave the site strategic military importance. At its southwest side 
the British established their North Battery and an earthworks from which 
Generals Burgoyne and Clinton directed the shelling of Bunker Hill and ul- 
timately the torching of Charlestown. Apparently British troops also used 
the burying ground for target practice, and the resultant damage is par- 
ticularly noticeable on the headstone of Capt. Daniel Malcom, a merchant 
who was well-known for his opposition to the Revenue Acts. 

Copp's Hill has retained much of its mid-nineteenth century appearance 
and has survived relatively intact during the development and extensive 
rebuilding of Boston's North End in the late nineteenth and early twentieth 
centuries. Although it has suffered losses, Copp's Hill remains an important 


repository of funerary sculpture dating from the Puritan era through the 
FederaHst period. The extensive grouping at Copp's Hill of individual 
headstones of high artistic quality demonstrates the high level of accomplish- 
ment of local artisans by the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. 
Spanning the 1660s through the 1890s, Copp's Hill grave markers also 
provide tangible illustrations of changes in local theological and philosophi- 
cal concepts and, as such, remain significant artifacts of our cultural history. 
In addition, these markers are of considerable importance as works of art 
that survive in their original out-of-doors context, and, as a group, provide an 
extraordinary visual history of Boston's historical funerary art. 


In general, headstones at Copp's Hill are arranged in north-south rows 
and are oriented towards the west. Unlike other historical burying grounds 
in Boston, at Copp's Hill, particularly in the large earlier sections on the 
northerly slope, footstones usually are not reset behind corresponding 
headstones, but are frequently placed against unrelated markers. In sections 
A and C, there are considerable differences between 1903 plans and the 
present on-site configuration, a discrepancy apparently caused by the realign- 
ment of east-west rows and/or consolidation of partial rows into single con- 
tinuous groupings. This resetting seems to have been executed in quite a 
random manner and periodically; rows of headstones and footstones include 
clusters of several markers set tightly in front and behind each other. 

The great preponderance of the more than 2230 grave markers at Copp's 
Hill are slate headstones dating between the 1670s and 1820s. Relatively few 
marble stones remain on-site, primarily because these became popular 
during the nineteenth century when most burials at Copp's Hill were tomb 
interments. The burying ground is the location of only a handful of 
sandstone markers, and these include headstones as well as top slabs for 
table tombs. 

Headstones at Copp's Hill include important examples of early plainly 
carved, thick, and irregularly-shaped seventeenth-century greenstone 
markers; well-executed seventeenth- and eighteenth-century winged skull 
"death head" ornamented markers, which comprise the bulk of the ground's 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 


slate headstones; eighteenth-century markers displaying the "soul effigy," e.g., 
a winged face, head, or cherub; and a few notable early nineteenth-century 
urn-and-willow decorated stones (Fig. 14). 

The earliest group of stones revealed by the inventory are the short and 
thick greenstone or slate markers which are iconless (i.e., without images) 
and are carved only with inscriptions. These rare markers include the 
1661/1678 double stone of David and Thomas Copp, which bears the earliest 
date recorded in the cemetery, and the stones of Elizabeth Shute (1665), 
Nicholas Upsall (1666), Dorothy Greenough (1667), Sarah Winslow (1667), 
Michael Powell (1672), Johanna Phillipes (1675), Sarah Greenough (1670), 
Thomas Lake (1676), Obediance Copp (1678), Jerimiah Merells (1679), and 
Abigail Ayres (1677) (Fig. 15). As a group and individually, these plain 
markers remain remarkably intact and are of considerable historic impor- 
tance as Puritan artifacts. 

Fig. 15 Abigail Ayres, 1677. Plain marker showing transition from 
crude to decorated. 


Fig. 16 John Russell, 1709. Detail of finial, showing a "preacher head." 

Copp's Hill is particularly rich in its extensive collection of handsome and 
robustly carved slate headstones spanning the decades between the 1670s 
and 1710s. Stones from these early decades display semi-circular tympanums 
and flanking narrow rounded shoulders, a form that becomes the 
predominant headstone type of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Of 
special note are those slates with handsomely carved fruited borders some- 
times surmounted by charming delicately executed faces called "preacher 
heads" (Fig. 16). Many stones carved during the late seventeenth to early 
eighteenth centuries also display secondary funerary motives of coffins, 
cross-bones, hourglasses, and "death imps" bearing shrouds. Examples of 
some outstanding headstones from this period are those of Joseph Farnum 
(1678), the Harris family (1680s), John Lake (1690), Experience Miles 
(1690/1), Moses Draper (1693), Thomas Luscombe (1694), John Russell 
(1709), Hannah and Mary Shutt (1709), John and Hannah Parmetar (1712), 
Richard Sharin (1710), John Ayers (1711), Joses Tuttle (1712), and the Wor- 
thylake family (1718). 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 


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Fig. 17 Michael Martyn, 1682. Urn and Dagons. 

Other slates of unusual accomplishment produced during this era include 
the Grace Berry stone (1695), which is distinguished by its tall contoured 
"chair-back" shape and a full range of ornamentation, including armorial, its 
Baroque-style urn and mermaids imagery; the ornately lettered Joanna Ingles 
stone (1678); the handsomely carved "death head" Nathaniel Greenwood 
stone (1684); the Tliomas, Elizabeth, and John Gill stone (1666/1671), with 
its triple heart inscription and lushly carved border; and the Michael Martyn 
stone (1682), with urn and Dagons (Fig. 17). A Dagon was the chief god of 
the Philistines and later the Phoenicians, represented as half-man and half- 

For most of the eighteenth century headstones at Copp's Hill are charac- 
terized by their use of the winged skull "death head" motif coupled with a 
typical border pattern of leafy and spiral ornament. Although this becomes a 
rather standardized type, within this format markers of special merit were 
produced and are apparent throughout the burying ground. 


Fig. 18 Mary Hill, 1714. An early winged face. 

The "soul effigy" is often used in Boston during the eighteenth century, but 
is not particularly prevalent at Copp's Hill. An early winged head or face at 
Copp's Hill is displayed on the 1714 Mary Hill stone (Fig. 18), while other 
examples of this image usually date from around the time of the War of Inde- 
pendence through the early nineteenth century. Of note are the "soul ef- 
figies" on the stones of Enoch Hopkins (1778) and Mary Stevens (1785), with 
their paired cherubs flanking a crown; James and Hannah Mortimer (1773); 
Jerusha Burbeck (1777); Judith Adams (1798); John Buckley (1799); Elijah 
Adams (1798); and Mary Hunt (1801). Also of special interest are the hand- 
somely carved high-relief portrait-like Dorchester style stones of John Capen 
(1770) and Patience Capen (1791). 

Despite the rather standardized quality of many headstones at Copp's Hill 
carved later than the mid-eighteenth century, notable images do occur, as for 
example, on the more complex Edward Richards stone (1747/8), which dis- 
plays the skeleton figure of Death seated on a skull. Also of special interest 
are the stones of Daniel Malcom (1769), Ann Malcom (1770), and Leonard 
Jarvis (1770) which reveal large and boldly naturalistic three-quarter view 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 


skull and crossbones (Fig. 19). 

By the early nineteenth century the neo-classical urn and willow became a 
popular funerary motif. At this time carved ornamental borders are suc- 
ceeded by decorative bands or simple incised margins. Often quite repetitive 
in pattern and execution, notable examples of the urn and willow are seen, 
for example, on the stones of Nancy Burr (1804) and Martha and Aaron 
McCHntock (1798/1800). Two distinguished markers of the early nineteenth 
century include the headstone of Henry Roby (1807) which displays a hand- 
somely carved quite conservative image of the figure of Time seated on a 
tomb, and that of Thomas Seward (1800) who fought in the Revolutionary 
War and whose memorial reveals the neo-classical urn and drapery com- 
bined with a cannon, pile of cannon balls, and a setting sum (Fig. 20). 

Local stone carvers whose work is represented at the Copp's Hill Burying 
Ground include: the "Charlestown Carver," "JN," William Mumford 
(Mountford), the Lamson family, William Codner, Nathaniel Emmes, John 
Homer, Henry C. Geyer, and John Just Geyer. Mumford (1718) and Codner 
(1769) are both buried at Copp's Hill. 

Fig. 19 Ann Malcom, 1770. Skull and crossbones and winged face. 



Most of the tombs at Copp's Hill were constructed between 1717 and 1832 
along the periphery of the cemetery and the sides of the "new addition." 
Many of these apparently have been disturbed through road improvements 
and other abutting construction, and their slate markers, often bearing loca- 
tion numbers, have been reset into the Hull, Snowhill, and Charter Street 
pathways. Several markers, however, appear to occupy their original loca- 
tions in tomb walls. 

Although often in poor condition, table tombs at Copp's Hill usually in- 
clude horizontal brownstone slabs on plain rectangular brick bases. Table 
tombs were often rebuilt from earlier markers supported by "legs" of baluster 
or column shape. These structures mark below-ground burial vaults and are 
not places of interment. The table tomb locating the burial vault of the 
Mather family is the most frequently visited site in the cemetery. 


Fig. 20 Thomas Seward, 1800. Neo-classical design, with urn, sun and 

weapons of war. 

Copp's Hill Burying Ground 


Tomb markers of special artistic significance are those with elaborately 
executed heraldic emblems either set horizontally or placed in the pavement 
along Hull Street near the entry gate. This group of markers includes those 
of Jonathan Mountfort (1724), Hutchinson/Lewis, Johannis Clarke (1728), 
William Clark (1743) (Fig. 21), and Rev. Andrew Eliot (1778). 


Relatively few monuments were erected at Copp's Hill. Generally dating 
from the mid- and late nineteenth century, these display ancient or classical 
forms such as the obelisk or truncated column. Monuments at Copp's Hill 
usually are executed in marble or granite and enclosed with iron picket fenc- 
ing. The monument to Isaac Dupee (1846), the Seamen's Monument, lo- 
cated near the corner of Snowhill and Hull Streets (1851), and the polished 
granite monument to Prince Hall, erected in 1895, are of particular interest. 

Fig. 21 William Clark, 1743. Detail of fruit swag, right of framed 

coat of arms 



Boston Cemetery Depjirtment, Annual Report. 1900-01, "Historical Sketch and Matters Ap- 
pertaining to the Copp's Hill Burial Ground." (Boston: 1901). 

Bridgman, Thomas, Memorials of the Dead in Boston; Copp's Hill Burying Ground, (Boston: 


MacDonald, Edward, Old Copp's Hill and Burial Ground with Historical Sketches, (Boston: 

Norton, John, Historical Sketch of Copp's Hill Burying Ground with Inscriptions and Ye Ancient 
Epitaphs. 16 edn. (Boston: 1919). 

Shurtleff, Nathaniel B., A Topographical and Historical Description of Boston. 3rd edn. 
(Boston: 1890). 

Whitmore, William H., Tlxe Graveyards of Boston, Volume I, Copp's Hill Epitaphs, (Albany: 


Boston Real Property Department - Engineering Division. Maps K27, K28, K29 (scale: 8 feet 
= 1 inch), 1903. 

Boston Landmarks Commission. Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Nomination Form, National 
Register of Historic Places. 1974. 

Nelson, Malcolm, and Diana Hume George, Map and annotated key for tour of Copp's Hill 
Burying Ground, June 28, 1986. Prepared for the 1986 Conference of the Association for 
Gravestone Studies. 



Elizabeth A. Crowell and Norman Vardney Mackie III 

Much of the early gravestone scholarship in the United States has focused 
upon colonial New England. The vast array of carved imagery -- the result of 
changing world views toward death over time -- has attracted scholars from 
many disciplines to the study of New England gravestones. The abundance 
of sources of local stone in New England and the subsequent development of 
a local stonecarving tradition allowed individuals from a wide range of 
socioeconomic classes to use stone markers. Consequently, researchers have 
been more than ready to take full advantage of the statistically sound 
database which the stones serve to comprise. 

In recent years, however, the scope of gravestone and cemetery analysis 
has broadened to include other regions of the country, as well. It has become 
clear that distinct regional traditions developed throughout the colonies as a 
result of the differing cultural backgrounds of the settlers, the purposes of 
settlement, and environmental conditions.^ Information gleaned from 
regional analyses yields a wealth of data for comparative purposes with im- 
portant implications for the gravestone scholar. 

This study analyzes the gravestones and burial patterns in Tidewater Vir- 
ginia from 1607 to 1776.'^ Gravestones which comprise the database for this 
study are found in churchyards, churches and family cemeteries in eleven 
Tidewater counties (Charles City, Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Lan- 
caster, Mathews, Middlesex, New Kent, Prince George, Surry and York) and 
three independent cities (Norfolk, Petersburg, and Williamsburg) (Fig. 1). 
Gravestones examined in this study are considered in an archaeological con- 
text which concentrates on three dimensions ~ time, space and form.^ In 
most previous gravestone studies the dimensions of time and form have been 
primarily stressed, with the spatial dimension acknowledged but not often in- 
vestigated. In fact, gravestone scholars have only recently begun to focus on 
the spatial distribution of gravestones, and their findings have revealed that 
the locations of cemeteries in the landscape can provide insights into the cul- 

104 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

ture under analysis.'' Gravestones in this study are evaluated with regard to 
their location in the landscape, their origin, and their form, inscriptions and 

In colonial Virginia settlement patterns affected mortuary traditions with 
regard to the spatial distribution of gravestones. The adoption of tobacco as 
a staple crop and the extensive nature of the plantations necessitated the cus- 
tom of plantation burial. Plantation cemeteries continued to be the 
preferred location for burial throughout the colonial period. Environmental 
factors also affected mortuary traditions. In Tidewater Virginia there was no 
local stone; thus, gravestones had to be imported. The cost of importation 
and the presence of a stratified social hierarchy resulted in the use of 
elaborate styles of gravemarkers which were seen as symbols of status. This 
paper will address the effect of environmental conditions, settlement patterns 
and social conditions on mortuary traditions. 

Spatial Distribution of Gravestones 

In Tidewater Virginia the spatial distribution of burials within the 
landscape changed over time as a result of changing settlement patterns. At 
the time of initial settlement, the deceased were buried within the church at 
Jamestown or in the adjoining churchyard. As the population moved onto 
plantations, the custom of plantation burial developed. Finally, persons 
living in close proximity to parish churches sometimes opted for church or 
churchyard burial, particularly during the latter decades of the eighteenth 
century (Fig. 2). Similar burial patterns have been observed in Cape May 
County, New Jersey, St. Mary's County, Maryland, and numerous locations 
throughout the South.^ A more complete analysis of each of these burial pat- 
terns reveals much about the colonial culture of Tidewater Virginia. 

In 1607 the Virginia Company of London established Jamestown on an is- 
land along the northern banks of the James River. The colonists constructed 
a pallisaded settlement which enclosed dwellings, a church, and other struc- 
tures. An area was sequestered for the burial of the dead, although this was 
probably not located within the confines of the enclosed settlement; rather, it 
may have been located near the site where subsequent churches were 

Elizabeth A- Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


Fr'-.iiRr; i 
wAr '!F viKGrrjiA showing tmk ktuiiy arka 





/ V I R 

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..■.ir.ft (-oinify r> . M.Tth.-w. Cfiinty r. . J,in.o.i rjiy i^nuit y J. Ijilo of WiqlTt 

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).if-nBtrT (V>iinfy F. f-h.irlno City rountv I. Surry rmirll y '^ ■ ''r inri- i;n.irap 


Fig. 1 Map of Virginia Showing the Project Area. 

Fig. 2 Bruton Parish Churchyard, Williamsburg, Va. 

106 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

The colonists at Jamestown would have had an immediate need for a 
graveyard. When Captain Christopher Newport left Jamestown on June 22, 
1607, there were 104 colonists. By January 1608 only thirty-eight remained 
alive.^ George Percy noted: 

our men were destroyed with cruell diseases, as Swellings, 
Fluxes, Burning Fevers, and by warres, and some departed sud- 
denly, but for the most part they died of meere famine^ 

The concentrated nature of the Jamestown population allowed disease to 
spread rapidly, resulting in an astronomical death rate which continued until 

The number of burials which occurred at Jamestown would have been 
enormous. John Cotter observed: 

Between December 1606 (when the first vessels of the Virginia 
Company left England) and February 1625, 7,289 immigrants 
came to Virginia. During this period, 6040 died. Between 
December 1606 and November 1619, Alexander Brown es- 
timates 1640 out of 2540 died (Brown 1898 pp 285-320) ... it is 
evident that more persons were buried on Jamestown Island 
during the first few years than lived there at any time 

Limited archaeological investigations conducted on Jamestown Island during 
the 1950s revealed in excess of 300 burials; however, it is probable that there 
were thousands of burials at this location. 

Of the numerous burials at Jamestown, only twenty-five are marked. 
Gravestones at Jamestown were "rediscovered" through the work of the As- 
sociation for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) in the early 
twentieth century. Gravestones observed at that time were described by 
Mary Jeffrey Gait as being: 

2 or 3 feet below the grass grown surface. They and the church 
ruins were under heaps of debris and vegetation, the growth and 
accumulation of many years. I had from time to time dug among 
these and found many pieces of tombstones, broken fragments 
left by vandals. These I had reburied for safekeeping." 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 107 

These gravestones were preserved through the efforts of the APVA. Al- 
though it is Hkely that some additional gravestones were destroyed because 
of negligence and vandalism, it is probable that the majority of persons were 
buried in unmarked graves or in graves marked with wooden markers which 
have since deteriorated. The number of burials which are estimated to be 
present at Jamestown supports this conclusion. 

In addition to churchyard burials, there were two marked and numerous 
unmarked burials within the confines of the church at Jamestown. Excava- 
tions conducted by the APVA between 1901 and 1906 revealed at least 
twenty burials within the chancel of the church. Ten of these burials, located 
beneath the upper chancel, were associated with the church of 1638, while 
ten located beneath the lower chancel were associated with an older struc- 
ture, possibly the church of 1618.^^ In addition, an undetermined number of 
burials were discovered beneath the floor of the church, many of the graves 
containing as many as four skeletons. English precedent dictated that per- 
sons buried within the church were persons of high community status.^-' The 
two marked graves, one the tomb of a knight and the other the tomb of a 
minister, closely adhere to the pattern. The dearth of records from the 
church at Jamestown, however, leaves the identity of the unmarked burials 
within the church a mystery. 

As early as 1609 settlers began to move from Jamestown into the 
countryside. Captain John Smith, in an attempt to reduce the high death 
rate, dispersed the settlers to other more healthful localities, with positive 
results.^'* In 1614 colonists who had arrived in 1607 completed their seven- 
year term of service to the Virginia Company. At that time they were 
granted three acres of land if they had a family. Shortly thereafter Governor 
Dale increased the land grants to 50 and 100 acres.^^ Then, in 1616, John 
Rolfe introduced West Indian tobacco to Virginia. The success of this crop is 
illustrated by Samuel Argall's observation that everything in Jamestown was 
suffering from disrepair and neglect, "the marketplace and streets and all 
other spare places planted with tobacco" and that "the Colonic dispersed all 
about planting Tobacco".'^ 

The dispersal of the colony was not a temporary condition. The success of 
tobacco made the plantation system profitable; thus, plantation living be- 

108 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

came the preferable settlement pattern. Even when tobacco declined, the 
colonists continued to prefer life on the plantation. This situation was dis- 
turbing to the leaders in England, who issued orders to each of Virginia's 
governors to establish towns. Each, in turn, was unsuccessful.^^ 

By the late seventeenth century plantation settlement was well estab- 
lished; however, it was still an issue of concern in the minds of the English. 
In a 1697 account Henry Hartwell, James Blair, and Edward Chilton indi- 
cated distress at the lack of towns. They observed that the General Assembly 
had tried to establish towns; however "the members whereof never having 
seen a Town nor a well improved Country in their lives, cannot therefore im- 
agine the Benefit of it."^^ Robert Beverley, in 1705, was no kinder in his as- 
sessment, noting that "they plant themselves separately on their several small 
plantations" and identifying this as "an unhappy settlement and course of 

The chosen pattern of settlement presented a problem in the burial of the 
dead. This problem was addressed in a letter from James Blair to Alexander 
Spotswood written in 1719: 

But it is a common thing all over the country (what thro' want of 
ministers, what by their great distance & the heat of the 
weather, and the smelling of the corps), both to bury at other 
places than Church yards & to employ Laicks to read the funeral 
service; which till our circumstances and laws are altered, we 
know not how to address."" 

The practice of plantation burial is further described by Hugh Jones, writing 
in 1724 that: "The parishes being of great extent (some sixty miles long and 
upwards) many dead corpses cannot be conveyed to the Church to be 
buried". This necessitated the custom of interring the deceased "in gardens 
or orchards where whole families lie interred together, in a spot usually 
handsomely enclosed, planted with evergreens and the graves kept 

Initially, the widely dispersed settlement patterns dictated the practice of 
plantation burial. The small number of churches located great distances 
apart and the high incidence of death in the early years would have 
prohibited churchyard burial for all but those living in close proximity to the 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 109 

church. Once the precedent for plantation burial was set, subsequent genera- 
tions tended to follow it. Rhys Isaac observed, in his study of Virginia from 
1740 to 1790, that although many customs began out of necessity, they soon 
became deep-rooted traditions.^^ This would be the case with plantation 

As the population moved from Jamestown to plantations, concern regard- 
ing the burial of the dead was expressed in the laws. In Act I of the General 
Assembly, enacted on March 5, 1623/4, the law decreed: 

That there shall be in every plantation where people use to meet 
for the worship of God, a house or room sequestered for that 
purpose and a place empaled in, sequestered for the burial of 
the dead.-^ 

In 1626 it was again decreed that "a place be stronglie paled or fenced for the 
burial of the dead."""* Similar legislation appears in 1631/2 and 1661/2.'^ 

Public preference as well as law mandated the enclosure of burial 
grounds. Plantation owners located their graveyards on high points of land 
and enclosed them with fences or walls.^^ The enclosure of graveyards prob- 
ably served several purposes. Statutes demanded the enclosure of burial 
grounds in order to avoid "the barbarous custome of exposeing the corps of 
the dead ... to the prey of hoggs and other vermin.""^ Graveyards may also 
have been enclosed to sequester them as sacred space.'^^ Whatever the pur- 
pose, the request for the enclosure of graveyards sometimes appeared in 
wills. The will of Ralph Langley, for example, requested "that I may be 
decently put into my grave at the common Buriall place here in the old fields 
and give order to be pailed mine and my wife's grave."^^ 

As early as 1623 Virginia was divided into parishes. The parish acted as 
the place for "administration of religious affairs." Although many parishes 
did not have church buildings until after the middle of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, many others established churches shortly after the exodus from 
Jamestown.^ In the early years of the colony, when transportation was dif- 
ficult and the death rate was high, only persons living near the churches 
would have opted for burial there. In later years, with improvements in 
transportation, there would have been a choice between the custom of plan- 
tation burial and the religiously preferred option of burial at the church. 

110 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

Even with the increase in the number of churches throughout the eighteenth 
century, plantation burial remained popular. 

Colonists faced with the choice between plantation or churchyard burial 
often specified their wishes in their wills. Most wills do not identify a loca- 
tion, but merely request burial "in a decent manner" or in "Christian Buriall." 
Several wills requested burial "in ye usual Burying Place" or "at the common 
Buriall place."^^ Other wills provide specific information, as in the will of 
James Burwell: 

and my body to the earth to be decently Interred on the planta- 
tion whereon I now dwell on a point lying South East from my 
dwelling house & butting upon Kings Creek between the Cedar 
Trees growing upon that point.^" 

The will of John Custis of Williamsburg was even more exacting: 

and I strictly require it that as soon as possible my real dead 
body and not a sham coffin be carried to my plantation on the 
Eastern Shoar of Virginia called Arlington and there my real 
body be buried by my grandfather the Honorable John Custis 
Esquire where a large walnut tree formerly grew and is now in- 
closed with a brick wall .... 

Custis was so adamant that his wishes be followed that he stipulated: 

if my heir should ungratefully or obstinately refuse or neglect to 
comply with what relates to my burial in every particular I then 
barr and cut him off from any part of my estate either real or 
personal and only give him one shilling.-'-' 

Numerous other wills requested burial on plantations, in gardens and in or- 
chards. Some individuals, such as William Davis, asked to be interred in 
churchyards or churches in their parish.^ 

The initial pattern of settlement had a great deal to do with burial pat- 
terns which developed after the exodus from Jamestown. In Virginia, 
economic conditions overrode the motivation to establish towns. The 
colonists adopted the plantation system to effect efficient production and full 
utilization of their resources. The choice of plantation settlement, in com- 
bination with the difficulty in transportation, the distance to churches and the 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 111 

high death rate, contributed to the estabhshment of plantation cemeteries. 
The tradition of burying family members in a plantation cemetery continued 
even after it was no longer a necessity. Thus, burial patterns in colonial 
Tidewater Virginia can be seen as a result of settlement patterns and tradi- 

Gravestone Procurement 

The examination of colonial gravestones in Tidewater Virginia yields the 
relatively small number of 184. This paucity of gravestones is because of 
their place of origin as well as local environmental conditions. Settlers in 
Tidewater Virginia who wished to procure stone gravemarkers were faced 
with a problem: there was a dearth of local stone in the Tidewater. As a 
result, residents who wished to have stone markers erected over their graves 
at death were forced to import them. Indeed, this was not an unusual prac- 
tice during the colonial period and early nineteenth century in other coastal 
regions suffering from a lack of local stone. Residents of St. Mary's County, 
Maryland, for instance, imported their gravestones first from England, then 
from Philadelphia, and later from Baltimore and Washington.^^ Meanwhile, 
inhabitants of Charlestown, South Carolina, looked to New England, 
England, Philadelphia, and elsewhere for their gravestones.^ Finally, Long 
Islanders imported gravestones from New England, New York, and New Jer- 
sey, while the populace of Cape May County, New Jersey imported graves- 
tones from Philadelphia.-'^ 

The source of the overwhelming majority of colonial Virginia gravestones 
was England. In fact. Tidewater Virginians depended upon Great Britain for 
all varieties of stone. In the Public Records Office accounts of imports and 
exports to Virginia and Maryland for the colonial period, there are seventeen 
types of stone mentioned including "gravestones" and "tombstones."-'^ 
Gravestones and tombstones listed ranged in price from two to nineteen 
pounds sterling. 

Stone used in the construction of floors and steps of houses and public 
buildings in colonial Tidewater Virginia was imported from Great Britain. 
Whiffen noted that Portland and Purbeck stone (which are frequently listed 
in the Public Records accounts of imports and exports to Maryland and 

112 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

Virginia), as well as blue Yorkshire, red Wilderness, and Horderly stone, 
were imported from England for this purpose.^' 

Additional records exist which attest to the importation of various forms 
of stone, including gravestones. In both 1752 and 1756 the Virginia Gazette 
recorded the arrival of ships containing, among other things, large numbers 
of sawed stones.''° The diary of John Blair provides an informative source 
regarding the arrival of the tombstone of James Blair by ship in 1751: 

31 JANUARY Rec'^ a letter from Col° Hunter and Maur'^^ 
Jones ab^ the tombstone. It is now at the ferry in its way to 
James Town. I writt to Mr Travis and Mr McMacklin to get it 
out there and into the church yard on my acco . 


Mr Macklin tells me the tombstone came, to Jamestown y^ 2", 
but low tides hinder ye landing it; ab^ w^" he promises me his 

20 sent & found my Tombstone on Shoar.''^ 

Wills also provide testimony to the importation of English tombstones. 
William Beverly, for example, requested the following for an associate in his 
1756 will: 

Item I desire my executors will send to London for a neat 
Marble Tombstone and have it placed over his body at the 
charge of my estate he departed this life at Beverly Park the 21st 
of aprill 1722 new Stile and lies buried there.''" 

Another more striking example is found in the will of John Custis, a Bruton 
parishioner. This esteemed gentlemen requested the following of his ex- 

do lay out and expend as soon as possible after my decease out 
of my estate the sum of one hundred pounds sterling, money of 
Great Britain to buy a handsome tombstone of the most durable 
stone that can be purchased for pillars very decent and hand- 
some to lay over my dead body . . . and if by any accident the 
tombstone and appurtenances should be lost broke or any waies 
miscarry in commg in from England or any other ways what- 
soever m that case my positive will is and I earnestly require it 
that my heir or executors immediately send to England for such 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 113 

another stone exactly with the same appurtenances of the same 
price until one shall come safe to hand according to my will . . .'^^ 

In addition to the examples cited above, numerous other will entries from the 
Tidewater find the testator requesting a tombstone from England. Robert 
"King" Carter requested "a monument or tombstone to be sent for to lay over 
the body of my dear wife Anne/"*^ The 1697 will of William Sherwood is 
even more specific: "and I Desire that my good friend Jeffry Jeffrys of Lon- 
don Esqr Do Send a Grave Stone to be Laid upon my grave/"*^ The 1657 will 
of Sarah Yardley (as recounted in a letter) ordered "yt her best diamond 
necklace and luell should be sent to england to purchase six diamond rings 
and two black tombstones/"*^ 

A letter from Thomas Nelson, Jr. to Samuel Athawes, Esq. of London, 
written on September 14, 1773, requests: 

My Mother desires you will send her a genteel chariot with six 
Harness, to be painted of a grave colour, with the coat of arms 
of our family, the whole to cost about 100 sterling. In memory 
of my much Honored Father I must beg the favor of you to send 
me a genteel black marble Tombstone with the inclosed inscrip- 
tion engraved on it. If you have no objection I should be glad to 
have it bespoke of Oliver in Cannon Street. He has sent us 
three for our Family, and will, therefore, know what sort of one I 

Another type of data which indicates importation is the name and address 
of the carver inscribed on the stone. One example of this was observed in the 
Tidewater. It appears on the John Custis stone, mentioned above, upon 
which is inscribed "Wm Colley, Mason, in Fenchurch Street London, Fecit." 

A source for a small number of imported stones appears to be Scotland. 
Whiffen noted that Corsehill red stone, a sandstone, was imported from Scot- 
land for paving and steps."*^ Four stones in the study area may be of Scottish 
origin. Three of these stones, the James Grinley stone (Fig. 3), the John 
Yuille stone, and the Robert Rae stone (Fig. 4) specify in their inscriptions 
that the deceased were of Scottish ancestry. These stones and a fourth (Fig. 
5) bear motifs similar to those on Scottish stones illustrated by Betty Willsher 
and Doreen Hunter.'*^ 


Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

Fig. 3 James Grinley stone, Bruton Parish Churchyard, Williamsburg, Va. 


Fig. 4 Detail of the Robert Rae stone, Bruton Parish Churchyard, 
Williamsburg, Va. 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 115 


tjk^ ■ *'■" 

Fig. 5 Headstone, Old Blandford Church, Petersburg, Va. 

The only other source of stone used for Tidewater Virginia gravestones 
was the quarry of Aquia Creek in Stafford County, northern Virginia.^° 
Aquia Creek freestone was first quarried in the late seventeenth century, and 
a stonecarving tradition soon developed in the vicinity of the quarry. The 
material was used in building construction and for a number of gravestones 
found on the Eastern and Western Shores of Maryland and throughout 
northern Virginia. Two gravestones from the study area are made of Aquia 
Creek freestone. 

The English origin of gravestones in Virginia determined the styles avail- 
able for purchase. Furthermore, the sentiments conveyed through inscrip- 
tions closely paralleled those of their English counterparts. Gravestones 
manufactured in England during the colonial period not only memorialized 
the deceased and marked his final resting place, they indicated his position in 
society. John Weever wrote in 1631: 

Sepulchres fhould bee made according to the qualitie and de- 
gree of the perfon deceased that by the Tombe eueryone might 
bee difcerned of what rank hee was liuing: for monvments 
anfwerable to men's worth, ftates and places, have always been 

116 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

allowed, and ftately fepulchres for base fellowes have always lien 
open to bitter jefts.^^ 

Weever elaborated further upon the relationship of gravestone form and so- 
cial status: 

It was the vfe and costome of reuerend antiquitie to interre per- 
fons of the rvfticke or plebeian fort in Chriftian buriall without 
any further remembrance of them either by tombe, graueftone 
or epitaph Perfons of the meaner fort of Gentrie were interred 
with a flat grauestone comprehending the name of the defunct, 
the yeare and day of his deceafe with other particulars which 
was engrauen on said ftone or vpon fome plate And gentlemen, 
which were of more eminencie and their effigies or a Represen- 
tation cut or carved vpon a Terme or Pedeftall as it were of a 
Pillar raifed fomewhat aboue the ground to note the excellence 
of their ftate and dignitie The materials of which were 
alabafter, rich marble, touch ravce, porphery, polisht braffe or 

Weever's discourse indicates that gravestone size and complexity in 
England was a visible sign of the social position of the deceased. In fact, 
monumental barriers were rarely crossed, since the social conventions 
regarding death and burial "... were as strict in death as they were confining 
in life."^-' Colonial Virginians imported not only the stone gravemarkers, but 
the prescriptions regarding their use. 

In examining the cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia, one is awestruck by 
the paucity (184) of gravemarkers dating to the colonial period. Although 
Jamestown was settled in 1607, the oldest dated gravestone dates to 1637, 
and fewer than ten date before 1670. Because gravestones were imported, 
considerable cost was incurred for their shipment as well as their purchase. 
As a result, only persons of means could acquire them. Stone gravemarkers 
in colonial Virginia may thus be seen as even more indicative of status than 
their counterparts in England. 

The paucity of stone gravemarkers in colonial Tidewater Virginia raises a 
question: how was the remainder of the deceased community memorialized? 
It seems likely that a tremendous number of people were buried in unmarked 
graves. Weever acknowledged the presence of unmarked burials in England, 
and they have been documented for New England, New Jersey, and 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


Maryland as well.^ 

The other alternative to stone gravemarkers was the use of wooden grave- 
rails. Frederick Burgess identified extant seventeenth- and eighteenth- 
century wooden gravemarkers in England, and found evidence of their more 
widespread use in Georgian topographical engravings.^^ The standard form 
in use in England was a rail held between two vertical posts (Fig. 6). To date 
there is no documentary, above-ground, or archaeological evidence of the 
use of wooden gravemarkers in Virginia. Three intact examples, however, 
have been discovered in South Carolina, and documentary evidence verifies 
their use in New England, South Carolina, Georgia and Maryland during the 
colonial period.^^ This style of marker was very impermanent, as it was sub- 
ject to deterioration, and thus there are few extant which date to the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries. 

Nine styles of stone gravemarkers were in use in post-Reformation 
England, four of which, the headstone, ledger, chest-tomb and table-tomb 
are of the most interest to American gravestone scholars since these styles 
were used in the New World, including Tidewater Virginia. One additional 
stone style, the obelisk (not described by Burgess), also appears in the 
cemeteries of Tidewater Virginia.^^ 

iM*-' # 

Fig. 6 Wooden Grave Rail, Charleston, S.C. (ca. 1775). 

118 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

The simplest gravestone in use in colonial Tidewater Virginia was the 
headstone, an upright slab placed at the head of the deceased (Fig. 7). The 
headstone was sometimes accompanied by a footstone, a smaller marker 
placed at the feet of the deceased. Twenty-one headstones are present in the 
study area. 

The ledger was considerably larger than the headstone (usually measuring 
in excess of six feet long by three to five feet wide when marking the grave of 
an adult). This flat slab was placed flush with the ground, as in the case of 
the ledger stone of Theodorick Bland, Westover Plantation, Charles City 
County, or on a low brick base, and was the style of marker which Weever as- 
sociated with "the meaner fort of Gentrie." It was first used in medieval 
times over coffins or incorporated into the church floor. By the post- 
reformation period, the ledger was most often found in the churchyard, al- 
though it continued to be used in church burial.^^ Eighty ledgers were found 
in the study area. 

Chest-tombs, table-tombs and obelisks were all monuments "raifed aloft 
aboue the ground" and were thus associated with the upper strata of society. 
The chest-tomb comprised a stone box with a covering ledger (Fig. 8). The 
box typically consisted of four separate slabs erected and joined vertically 
upon a large stone plinth. In the more elaborate tombs, the corners were of- 
ten fitted with pilasters or balusters, creating a visual effect of corner sup- 
ports with decorative paneling in between. Both of these variations on the 
general type were used in colonial Tidewater Virginia. Fifty-three chest- 
tombs are present in the study area. The table-tomb includes a ledger which 
is affixed atop four or six stone legs (Fig. 9). Only one table-tomb was found 
in the Tidewater. It is that of Jeffrey Flower, who died in 1726, and is located 
in Abingdon Churchyard in Gloucester County. Finally, the obelisk - a 
tapering marble monument - is seated upon a cubical marble base (Fig. 10). 
Although Burgess does not describe this style, it is clear that the two extant 
examples in the Tidewater were imported from England.^^ They mark the 
graves of William Byrd II, who died in 1744 and is buried at Westover Plan- 
tation in Charles City County, and David Bray, who died in 1731 and is 
buried in Bruton Parish Churchyard in Williamsburg. 

The headstone, ledger, chest-tomb, table-tomb, and obelisk were all used 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


to mark outdoor burials. Upon the arrival of the gravestone at the place of 

burial, someone had to place it in the graveyard. In many cases, this may 

have been the task of the bricklayers and builders. The account book of 

brickmaker Humphrey Harwood makes several references to tombstones. 

For instance, there is a reference "To putting up a Tombstone" for John 

Greenhow.^ In the Briggs-Gray Account Book, a debt is listed to Copeland 

Davis (Bricklayer) in 1769 for "laying stone."^^ Since brickwork often forms 

the base upon which a ledger rests, persons skilled at brickwork may often 

have been responsible for putting stones in graveyards. A colonial period 

document entitled "Directions for Seting up Tombs" describes the process as 



Sink into the ground deep enough to lay five or six courses of 
brick (by way of foundations) to rise within an inch of the 
surface/which foundation should extend five or six Inches wider 
then the plinth of the Tomb all round, then Set the plinth w N° 
1 to the Head of the Vault, take care it is Levell, y^ proceed to 
the Base N° 1 over N° 1 on y^ plinth, N° 2 over N° 2 &c, when 
the pannels are Set Stiffen the Corners w^ a little brick work ye 
lay on the Cornice, & the rest will follow of Course. 

Proceed w^ the other in like manner N° 5 on y^ plinth to the 
Head of the Vault &c - — if the Situation will admit they may be 
rais'd four or five Courses of brick above the Surface of the 
ground, & y^ earth slop'd up all round, which will give y^ a bet- 
ter Effect.^^ 

-•>« tSS^' 

Fig. 7 Headstone, Robert Crooks, St. Paul's Churchyard, Norfolk, Va. 

(d. 1771) 


Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

Fig. 8 Chest-tomb, Robert Rae, Bruton Parish Churchyard, 
Williamsburg, Va. (d. 1753). 

Fig. 9 Table tombs, Ware Churchyard, Gloucester County, Va. 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


Fig. 10 Obelisk, David Bray, Bruton Parish Churchyard, Williamsburg, Va. 

(d. 1731). 

In addition to outdoor burials, burial within the confines of the church oc- 
curred in colonial Tidewater Virginia. Twenty-seven marked burials were 
identified in churches within the study area. In England burial within the 
church recognized high social position and demanded considerable wealth. 
Persons of the highest status were buried in an abbey or cathedral, their 
graves adorned with massive effigies of the deceased, often cut in the 
round.^^ Burial within the chancel of the parish church, beneath or near the 
altar, or within the walls, was the next most prestigious alternative.^ The 
least popular option was burial beneath the aisles since graves underwent the 
"indignity of being walked on." The custom of church burial reached its full 
social acceptance during the reign of Gregory the Great (530-604 A.D.). 
From the time of the Cuthberts (c. 700 A.D.) burial in the church in England 
seemed to be restricted to those of rank.^^ 

Colonial Virginians carried on the English traditions regarding church 
burial. Bishop Meade noted that "... the old church . . . and the College 
chapel were ... the Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's of London, where the 

122 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

great ones were interred."^ Virginia Church and chapel structures, however, 
were not of sufficient size to house elaborate monuments cut in the round. 
This necessitated the use of the more conservative ledger in church burial. A 
letter from Robert Carter Nicholas to Henry, fifth Duke of Beaufort, con- 
cerning the burial of Lord Botetourt in the College of William and Mary 
chapel illustrates this dilemma: 

The Monument cannot be conveniently erected over the Grave, 
as it would spoil two principal pews & incommode the Chapel 
considerably m other respects. If it is proposed to have it in the 
form of a Pyramid, it can be placed conveniently in no part, ex- 
cept at the bottom of the isle fronting the Pulpit, where it would 
appear to advantage, if the Dimensions should not be thought 
too much confined; the Isle itself is about ten feet wide; there 
must be a Passage left on each side of the monument at least 
two feet & an half, so that the width of the monument, which 
will form the Front can be no more than five feet. A flat monu- 
ment may be fixt still more commodiously in the side of the wall 
nearly opposite to the Grave.^^ 

The ledger was thus a logical choice for Virginia church burials because its 
form could be most efficiently incorporated into the churches of the region. 
Consequently, although it is not a form which Weever associates with the up- 
permost strata of English society, its use in Virginia church burials is indica- 
tive of very high social position. Since a significant section of the church 
floor had to be dismantled or destroyed, and then replaced, this is where the 
greater cost and social status of church burial lie. An example from Bruton 
Parish Church illustrates the high differential in cost: 

for burial in the chancel 1,000 pounds of tobacco or 5 payable to 
the minister; for burial in the church 500 pounds of tobacco pay- 
able to the parish ... for digging a grave 10 pounds of tobacco 
payable to the sexton.^ 

Gravestone form in colonial Tidewater Virginia then can be seen as in- 
dicative of social position. In addition, carved imagery, when present, and in- 
scriptions reiterate the importance of status within society. The majority of 
stones are undecorated; however, when carved imagery is present, it most of- 
ten depicts the coat of arms. Coats of arms (which are also found on New 
England gravestones and tombs) are customarily carved upon gravestones 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 123 

above the inscription. There are as well several examples of skull and 
crossbones and "soul imagery" motifs carved in this location on the stone. In 
addition, the side panels of chest-tombs are sometimes decorated with 
cherubs, skulls, bones, drapery, hourglasses, flowers and other motifs. 

One gravestone found in the Tidewater is unique in Virginia and 
throughout the English colonies. This gravestone, located in the chancel of 
the church at Jamestown, was "rediscovered" by the APVA in 1901. It has 
been tentatively identified as that of Sir George Yeardley, an early governor 
of Virginia. This stone used inlaid brasses and is reminiscent of English 
medieval gravestones which commemorated individuals of high rank.^^ Al- 
though the brasses from the Jamestown marker either disintegrated or were 
stolen, the outline of the figure of a knight and a coat of arms can be dis- 
cerned. This style of gravestone was popular in the sixteenth century, thus 
making it possible that this is the oldest extant stone gravemarker in the 
colony of Virginia and the English-speaking New World, although evidence is 
lacking as to when the stone was placed. 

From the Middle Ages, the English used the coat of arms as a distinguish- 
ing sign of the "gentleman". Its use denoted family pride, ancient lineage, 
and status. Coats of arms were often used in death imagery, appearing upon 
coffins and tombstones (Fig. 11).^° The overwhelming majority of tomb- 
stones illustrated in English Mural Monuments and Tombstones by Herbert 
Batsford make use of coats of arms either as primary or secondary imagery.^^ 
This tradition continued in Virginia, where it was not an uncommon request 
in wills that the testator's coat of arms should be inscribed into the 
tombstone. An example of this is found in the previously cited will of John 
Custis, in which Custis commands his executor to arrange for engraving "on 
the tombstone my coat of arms which are three parrots." Indeed, the coat of 
arms was the most predominant form of imagery used to decorate colonial 
Tidewater tombstones. About one-third of the stones bore a coat of arms; on 
nearly all of these the deceased was designated in the inscription as a 
"gentleman." The appearance of a coat of arms upon a gravestone relates 
directly to the individual's status during life. The use of the symbol thus sets 
such individuals apart from those who were not entitled to claim the same. 
The importance of social station, which the Virginia colonists as well as 


Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

colonists in other parts of the country so valued, was thus personified in the 
use of coats of arms. 

Other symbolism carved onto colonial Virginia gravestones related not to 
status, but to themes more religious in nature. Frederick Burgess identified 
these themes in his study of English gravestones. In Burgess's view, carved 
gravemarkers of the post-Reformation period in England reflect either (1) 
Mortality, (2) Resurrection, or (3) the Means of Salvation.^^ Mortality is rep- 
resented in " . . . simple charnel imagery such as skull and bones, the tools of 
the sexton, and the hourglass, sundial and candle." Symbols of Resurrection 
take the form of cherub imagery, while the theme of Means of Salvation is 
reflected in the symbolism of Faith, Hope and Charity, and depictions of the 
Final Judgment. In the colonial Tidewater the sentiments of Mortality and 
Resurrection are minimally conveyed through the occasional use of skull and 
crossbones and cherub imagery, but, to the authors' knowledge, symbolism 
expressive of the Means of Salvation is largely non-existent. 



Fig. 11 Coat of Arms. Detail of the Lewis Burwell Stone, Abingdon 
Churchyard, Gloucester County, Va. (d. 1710). 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


Fig. 12 Skull and crossed bones. Detail of the John Champion stone, 
Travis Plantation Cemetery, Jamestown Island, Va. (d. 1700). 

The skull and crossbones is the second most prevalent motif used on Vir- 
ginia gravestones. A most impressive example of this genre is the John 
Champion stone at Travis graveyard on Jamestown Island (Fig. 12). This 
stone and others like it portray a skull with a laurel leaf crown and crossed 
bones carved within a circle. The imagery of wreaths of flowers or leaves 
hearkens back to the practice of leaving such wreaths on the grave of the 
deceased.^-' The image of the skull garlanded with laurel leaves can be 
viewed as a symbol of the victory of death/'* or, conversely, as a symbol of the 
triumph of eternal life over death. The majority of these stones date from 
the last decade of the seventeenth century or the first decade of the 
eighteenth century. This date range coincides with the period of popularity 
for the use of the garland on English stones.^^ This motif is used on slightly 
more than a dozen stones in this survey. 

The "soul imagery" which appears on the tomb of Dr. Richard Edwards 
and the companion tomb, the latter of which is now illegible, appears to be a 
simplified copy of the skull and crossbone genre. These tombs are fashioned 

126 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

of Aquia freestone and were probably produced by local carvers in the 
vicinity of the quarry. Dr. Edwards died in 1721 and is buried in Ware 
Churchyard in Gloucester County. These motifs lack garlands, but do make 
use of crossed bones. The heads appearing on the stones do not appear to be 
skulls but may have been meant to represent them. The Edwards stone dates 
from 1721, some time after the period when the garlanded skulls were 
popular. This may have been attributable to a time lag between the 
popularity of the style in England and its adoption by the Aquia carvers. 

The final type of imagery found on Tidewater gravestones appears on the 
side panels of certain chest-tombs. The imagery includes the skull, cherub, 
hourglass, drapery and flowers. The drapery imagery represents the drapery 
which was used on hearses and palls and biers. The drapery was often left at 
the gravesite to mark the grave.^^ On tombs with this motif cherubs and 
skulls are often depicted as peeking out from behind the drapery (Fig. 13). 
Examples of this style in Tidewater Virginia are definitely of English origin 
and show striking similarities to English stones illustrated by Ludwig.^^ The 
cherubs represent the immortal component of the deceased and the hopes 
for Resurrection, while the skull represents the corruptible nature of the 
deceased. The combination of these motifs can be seen as the triumph of 
eternal life over death. Another motif used is the winged hourglass, repre- 
sentative of the fleeting nature of life. As the New England Primer noted: 
"As runs the Glafs, Man's Life doth pafs".^^ Flowers, a symbol of life also ap- 
pear on some chest-tombs. 

In addition to the carved imagery, inscriptions convey both implicit and 
explicit meanings. The importance of social rank and ancestry becomes ap- 
parent in the analysis of these inscriptions. The use of titles, terms and 
honorifics was prevalent on colonial Tidewater gravestones. The use of such 
designations reinforced the importance of social position. As such they are 
invaluable to the researcher in determining the status of the deceased, par- 
ticularly in the absence of printed documents. 

Use of the term "gentleman" indicated that the individual was entitled to a 
coat of arms. There does not seem to be a single instance when a person 
whose name was followed by this honorific in land records was not entitled to 
their use.^^ The coat of arms was thus an undeniable symbol of the rank of 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 


the bearer. Indeed, the concern with carrying the family arms to Virginia is 
reflected in the substantial number of individuals who confirmed their 
privilege prior to departing from England.^° For example, one Moore Faun- 
telroy in 1633 received such a confirmation, the Office of English Heralds 
emphasizing that his family had held right to their coat of arms "time out of 

Among the titles given to gentlemen "Honorable" was used in reference to 
an individual who held a high office, such as Governor, Treasurer, Auditor or 
Secretary, which was never occupied by more than one person at a time.^^ 
Use of the title "Esquire" in colonial Virginia was reserved for members of 
the Governor's Council, who as members of the Upper House of the General 
Assembly were Virginia's equivalent to the English House of Lords. In- 
dividuals appointed to the Council belonged to Virginia's most prominent 
families and enjoyed a status within the colony comparable to that of an 
English nobleman.^-' 

Fig. 13 Side panel of chest tomb. Detail of the Thomas Nelson stone, 
Grace Churchyard, Yorktown, Va. 

128 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

The term "mister" was most often associated with the names of people 
who, though not entitled to a coat of arms, enjoyed a social status well above 
that of a yeoman. Such individuals were respected members of the com- 
munity, most often having established themselves in the clergy, military, or 
professions. Still others were honored academicians, or those who had ac- 
crued the means and substance warranting public recognition. These in- 
dividuals often had much influence in community affairs; there was always 
extant, however, both a social and legal understanding that those entitled to 
the rank of "gentleman" comprised a superior social stratum.^ 

The use of Latin on gravestones was another indicator of the social posi- 
tion of the deceased. The term "Armiger" and other Latin inscriptions sig- 
nified the education of the deceased. All of the stones with Latin inscriptions 
contained further indications of gentility either through use of the coat of 
arms or through the use of a title in the inscription. 

The status of women was generally dependent upon birth or marriage; 
women had to rely totally upon the status of husband and/or father to deter- 
mine their social position. If a woman was truly a person of inherited status, 
she was listed as the daughter of a gentleman. This is illustrated in the in- 
scription on Sarah Wormeley's gravestone, which is at Christ Church, Mid- 
dlesex County: 

Here lies interred the body of 


First wife of Ralph Wormely, of the 

County of Middlesex, Esq., 

She was the daughter of Edmund Berkeley, Esq, 

of this county 

She departed this life there ye 2d day Dec, 1741, 

Aged 26 years 

Conversely, a woman married to a gentleman, but not of gentility herself, 
would be listed only as the wife of a gentleman. No mention would be made 
of her parents. From both examples it is clear that in nearly all instances the 
status representation of women on gravestones was based directly upon the 
quality and title of male family members. In only one case did a woman 
receive a title of her own. This appears on a stone in Abingdon Churchyard 
in Gloucester County: 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 129 

Here lyeth Interred the Body 
of Mrs Mary Mann, of the 
County of Gloucester in the 
Collony of Virginia Gentle Worn 
who Departed this life the 18th 
day of March 1703/4 Aged 56 yeares 

The reason for Mary Mann's special treatment is unknown. 

Another important manifestation of class consciousness is the concern 
with ancestry. For one to be entitled to use a coat of arms or a title, one's 
ancestry had to be legitimate. An example of this is the gravestone of Major 
Lewis Burwell, also in Abingdon Churchyard: 

To the lasting memory of Major Lewis Burwell 
Of the County of Gloucester in Virginia, 
Gentleman, who descended from the 
Ancient family of Burwells, of the 
Counties of Bedford and Northampton, 
In England nothing more worthy in his 
Birth than virtuous in his life, exchanged 
This life for a better on the 19th day of 
November in the 33d year of his age A.D. 1658 

The concern with ancestry is also present in the inscriptions of individuals 
who are not specifically listed as gentlemen. In these cases, the country of 
origin of the deceased is stressed. Thus the inscription of John Herbert, who 
is buried in the Old Blandford Churchyard in Petersburg, reads: 

Here lyeth Interred the Body of 
lohn Herbert son of lohn Herber(t) 
Apothecary and Grandsonn of 
Richard Herbert Citizen & Groce(r) 
of London who departed this Life 
the 17th day of March 1704 in the 
46th year of his age 

Other examples include the stone of James Grinley of Dunbar, Scotland, who 
died in 1763 and is buried in Bruton Parish Churchyard, and William Cham- 
berlayne, "Descended of an ancient & Worthy Family in the County of 
Hereford." Chamberlayne died in 1736, and his grave is in the Church of St. 
Peters, New Kent County. 

130 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

All of the preceding examples indicate the importance of class, ancestry, 
and family ties. In Virginia society individuals associated with and married 
people of the same or similar social station. At death, gravestone inscrip- 
tions were used to convey the social status of the deceased to the living com- 

Mackie has noted elsewhere that there is a statistical correlation between 
monument form and social status.^^ In Tidewater Virginia three major social 
classes were visible during the colonial period by reference to their 
gravemarkers: (1) persons entitled to coats of arms (who used the honorific 
"gentleman" or the more specific titles "Honorable" or "Esquire"), (2) persons 
of somewhat lower community prestige (such as members of the clergy or 
military, or honored academicians), who were not entitled to coats of arms, 
and (3) persons with no claim to a term, title, or honorific.^^ Mackie found 
that persons from households entitled to coats of arms were more likely to be 
buried within the church or beneath elaborate chest-tombs than members of 
the class just below them. Those of community prestige who were not en- 
titled to coats of arms were memorialized less frequently by church burial or 
the chest-tomb, but were more often commemorated by the simpler church- 
yard ledger. Members of the lower segment of society sometimes were 
memorialized with ledgers, but most often received the simple headstone.^^ 
Persons of any social stratum might lack a gravemarker; however, it was 
much more likely for members of the lowest social class to be buried without 
"tombe, grauestone or epitaph" (Tables 1 and 2). 


Analysis of gravestones and burial practices in Tidewater Virginia has 
yielded some general patterns reflective of a discrete regional tradition. 
These patterns can be compared with those of other regions. 

In Virginia burial patterns were determined by settlement patterns, the 
environment, and methods of transportation available during the colonial 
period. The establishment of large plantations and widely dispersed 
churches necessitated the use of the plantation cemetery. Although the plan- 
tation cemetery was established out of necessit>', the custom of burial on 
family plantations persisted long after it was needed. Lyon Tyler observed: 

Elizabeth A- Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 131 


Church Chest-tomb Churchyard Headstone Total 

Those 14 43 44 1 102 

entitled (13.7%) (42.1%) (43.1%) (1%) 
to coats 
of arms 

Those of 3 8 20 31 

high (9.7%) (25.8%) (64.5%) (0%) 


status , 

not entitled 

to coats of 


Absence of 9 17 26 

term, title, (0%) (0%) (34.6%) (65.3%) 
or honorific 

Totals 17 51 73 18 n = 159 

Table 1 
Funerary Treatment of Adults as a Function of Social Status 



Church Chest-tomb Churchyard Headstone Total 

Those 10 5 6 1 

entitled (45.4%) (22.7%) (27.2%) (4.5%) 
to coats 
of arms 

Those of 1 

high (0%) (0%) (100%) 


status , 

not entitled 

to coats of 


Absence of 
term, title, (0%) (0%) (0%) 
or honorific 

Table 2 

Funerary Treatment of Dependent Children as a Function of 

Household Status 

132 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

As very many Virginians could not die when the weather and 
roads were good, or in the vicinity of a churchyard, burial near a 
home was an absolute necessity, and the custom strengthened by 
time and love and respect for those interred in the "family burial 
ground" has continued to the present day. The very large and 
rapid changes in ownership since the Civil War and consequent 
neglect of family burial grounds is now causing a general in- 
crease in the number of public cemeteries.^ 

Persons who resided close to the church were often buried at the church, 
while others, such as Robert "King" Carter, established churches near their 
family burial grounds. 

The analysis of gravestone attributes and historical documentation yielded 
interesting findings. The mere presence of a gravestone was a symbol of so- 
cial status. Since gravestones were an imported commodity, this escalated 
the price and thus made gravestones available only to those with substantial 
capital resources. This was not solely an economic phenomenon, however. 
Throughout the colonial period Virginians perpetuated the status-oriented 
society of English traditions as well. When Virginians memorialized their 
dead, they usually chose the large chest-tombs and flat slabs which John 
Weever identified as signs of the gentry in medieval England, rather than the 
small, modest headstones. In addition, those who were entitled chose to 
decorate their stones with the traditional representation of status, the coat of 
arms. Morris Talpalar noted: 

It was the way of their world - not a mark of pomposity, for so- 
cial station to be based on terms of distinction, and they were 
always very careful to include the titles they claimed on all docu- 
ments and legal papers.^^ 

The names of the deceased, when they appeared on gravestones, were 
modified by titles, and ancestry was often mentioned. Epitaphs often 
stressed the importance of the deceased, listing his or her position, ac- 
complishments and virtues. Nevertheless, a majority of persons were buried 
in unmarked graves or in graves marked with wooden "grave rayles" which 
have long since deteriorated. 

It must be recognized, of course, that the types of gravemarkers and the 
burial patterns described in this article are not in all respects peculiar to 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 133 

Tidewater Virginia. In New England and in various locations in the Middle 
Atlantic states, small family burial plots are found, their existence dictated by 
the distance from the church or town center. Church burials also occurred in 
New England, with coats of arms sometimes carved on the stones of the more 
illustrious, for, after all, the original colonies all shared a common English 
heritage. And in New England and the Middle Atlantic states, as well as in 
Virginia, chest-tombs and ledgers, when present, marked the graves of the 
gentry and thus were indices of wealth and status. The principal differences 
between the markers of Tidewater Virginia and other English colonies, 
however, may be found in the source of the gravestones used and in the dis- 
tribution of stone styles in the population. In colonial Tidewater Virginia the 
overwhelming majority of the funerary monuments were imported from 
England, whereas in New England, various kinds of local stone being readily 
available, such importation was rare indeed. In the Middle Atlantic colonies 
gravestones were sometimes imported, but the source of these stones was 
most often other colonies. In addition, although ledgers and chest-tombs are 
found in the Middle Atlantic states and New England, the predominant style 
of stone in these areas, regardless of social class, was the headstone. In Vir- 
ginia chest-tombs and ledgers were most often chosen. A comparison of 
findings from Virginia, New England and other English colonies could form 
the subject of another article. 

Gravestones and burial patterns in Tidewater Virginia and elsewhere 
must be viewed in a holistic manner - as part of the custom and tradition of 
the period in question and as part of a living community. Gravestones and 
burial patterns together can be seen as the final step in the rites of passage in 
that they represent the final part of the ritual surrounding death. As material 
culture, they reveal information about the culture and the individuals they 
memorialize. They serve their purpose, both in the past and in the present, 
of transmitting a message to the Reader. These Readers have benefited 
from the message of the stones. 

134 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 


1. See, for example, James Deetz, //i Small Tilings Forgotten (Garden City, New York: 

1977), 38. 

2. Elizabeth A. Crowell, "Tliey Lie Interred Together": An Analysis of Gravestones and Burial 
Patterns in Colonial Tidewater Virginia (AM Thesis, College of William and Mary, 1986); 
Norman Vardney Mackie III, Funerary Treatment and Social Status: A Case Study of 
Colonial Tidewater Virginia (AM Thesis, College of William and Mary, 1986). 

3. Albert C. Spaulding, "The Dimensions of Archaelogy," in Essays in the Science of Culture 
In Honor of Leslie A. White, Gertrude E. Dole and Robert L. Carneiro, eds., (New York: 
1960), 438. 

4. Elizabeth A. Crowell, Migratory Monuments and Missing Motifs: An Archaeological 
Analysis of Mortuary Art in Cape May County, New Jersey 1740-1820 (Ph.D. Dissertation, 
University of Pennsylvania: 1983), 33-78; Crowell and Mackie, '"Depart from Hence and 
Keep this Thought in Mind': The Importance of Comparative Analysis in Gravestone 
Research," Northeast Historical Archaeology 13 (1984), 9-16; Crowell, "They Lie Interred 
Together" (note 2), 19-32. 

5. Crowell, Migratory Monuments and Missing Motifs (note 4), 33-78; Norman Vardney 
Mackie III, "Gravestone Procurement in St. Mary's County, 1634-1820," Maryland Histori- 
cal Magazine 83 (1988), 229-240. Similar burial patterns, including church and 
"plantation" burials, were also found in New England. 

6. Samuel H. Yonge, "The Site of Old 'James Towne', 1607-1688," Virginia Magazine of His- 
tory and Biography 12 (1905), 38. 

7. Carville Earle, "Environment, Disease, and Mortality in Colonial Virginia," in 77ie 
Chesapeake in the Seventeenth Century: Essays on Anglo-American Society and Politics, 
Thad W. Tate and David L. Ammerman, eds. (New York and London: 1979), 97. 

8. George Percy, "Observations by Master George Percy, 1607," in Narratives of Early Vir- 
ginia, 1606-1625, Lyon G. Tyler, ed. (New York: 1907), 20-21. 

9. Earle (note 7), 101-104; Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom (New 
York and London: 1975), 159. 

10. John L. Cotter, Archaeological Excavations at Jamestown, Virginia (Washington, D.C.: 
1958), 23. 

11. "Extracts from the A.P.VA. Yearbook, 1900-1901," in Cotter (note 10), 223. 

12. y&/d., 220-221, 223. 

13. Frederick Burgess, English Churchyard Memorials (London: 1963), 56. 

14. Earle (note 7), 107-108, 112. 

15. Morgan (note 9), 82, 90, %. 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 135 

16. Earle (note 7), 115; John Smith, Travels and Works of Captain John Smith, President of 
Virginia and Admiral of New England 1580-1631, Edward Arbor and A.G. Bradley, eds. 
(Edinburgh: 1910), 2:535. 

17. Morgan (note 9), 90, 188. 

18. Henry Hartwell, James Blair, and Edward Chilton, 77ie Present State of Virginia and the 
College, Hunter Dickinson Parish, ed. (Williamsburg: 1940), 4-5. 

19. Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia, Louis B. Wright, ed. (Chapel 
HUl: 1947), 57. 

20. Bishop William Stevens Perry, Historical Collections Relating to the American Colonial 
Church (Hartford: 1870), 1:230. 

21. Hugh Jones, Tlie Present State of Virginia, Richard L. Morton, ed. (Chapel Hill: 1956), 

22. Rhys Isaac, Tfte Transformation of Virginia 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill: 1982), 69. 

23. William Walter Henning, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Vir- 
ginia from the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619 (New York: 1823), 1:123. 

24. H.R. Mcllwaine, Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia (Richmond: 1925), 

25. Henning (note 23), 1:158, 241; 2:53. 

26. This is similar to Cape May County, New Jersey. See Crowell (note 4), 36. 

27. Henning (note 23), 2:53. 

28. Mackie, "A Socioeconomic History of Gravestone Procurement in Southern Maryland," 
(Paper presented at the Society for Historical Archaeology Meetings, Boston, Mas- 
sachusetts, January 1985). 

29. Will of Ralph Langley, March 26, 1683, York County, Va., Records. 

30. PhiHp Alexander Bruce, Social Life in Old Virginia (New York: 1907), 55, 101. 

31. Will of Ralph Langley (note 29); Will of Robert Dunster, May 17, 1656, Isle of Wight 
County, Va., Records. 

32. Will of James Burwell, September 6, 1718, York County Records. 

33. Will of John Custis, 1749, Custis Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society. 

34. Will of William Davis, September 24, 1709, York County Records. 

35. Mackie (note 5), 229-240. 

136 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

36. Beatrice St. James Ravenal, "Here Lies Buried: Taste and Trade in Charleston 
Tombstones," Antiques 41 (1942), 193; Diana Williams Combs, Early Gravestone Art in 
Georgia and South Carolina (Athens, Ga.: 1986); Crowell, "Gravestones and Cemeteries 
in Charleston, South Carolina, 1830-1860" (Unpublished manuscript, 1979). 

37. Gaynell Stone Levine, "Colonial Long Island Gravestones: Trade Network Indicators, 
1670-1799," in Annual Proceedings for the Dublin Seminar on New England Folklife: 
Puritan Gravestone Art 11, Peter Benes, ed. (Boston: 1978), 47; Crowell, Migratory Monu- 
ments and Missing Motifs (note 4), 83. 

38. Public Records Office Accounts, London, 3/1-3/75 (Microfilm, Colonial Williamsburg 
Research Library). 

39. Marcus Whiffen, 772^ Eighteenth Century Houses of Williamsburg (New York: 1960), 8. 

40. Virginia Gazette, 29 December 1752 (Hunter); 12 September 1766 (Purdie and Dixon). 

41. "Dieuy of John Blair," Lyon J. Tyler, ed., William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 7 (1899), 
136; 8 (1899), 2. 

42. Will of William Beverley, 1756, in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 22 (1914), 

43. Will of John Custis, 1749, Custis Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society. 

44. Will of Robert "King" Carter, in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 5 (1898), 408. 

45. Will of William Sherwood, in William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 17 (1909), 270. 

46. "Letter from Lower Norfolk County Records, 1 February 1697 regarding the purchase of 
six diamond rings and two black tombstones for Mrs Yardley Signed Nicholas Trott," 
William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 4 (1896), 170. 

47. "Nelson Letter Book," William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 7 (1899), 30. 

48. Whiffen (note 39), 8. 

49. Betty Willsher and Doreen Hunter, Stones: 18th Century Scottish Gravestones (New 
York: 1979). 

50. Patrick H. Butler, On the Memorial Art of Tidewater Virginia (MA. Thesis, University of 
Delaware, 1969), 66. 

51. V^tever, Ancient Fvnerall Monvments (London: 1631), 10. 

52. Ibid. 

53. Allan I. Ludwig, Graven Images (Middletown, Ct.: 1966), 55. 

54. Peter Benes, 77i^ Masks of Orthodoxy (Amherst, Ma.: 1977), 38; Mackie (note 2); Mackie 
(note 5), 235. 

Elizabeth A. Crowell & Norman Vardney Mackie III 137 

55. Burgess (note 13), 116. 

56. Benes (note 54), 38; Benno W. Forman, "New Light on Early Grave Markers," Essex In- 
stitute Historical Collections 54 (April 1968), 127-29; Benes, "Additional Light on Wooden 
Grave Markers," Essex Institute Historical Collections 111 (Jan. 1975), 53-64; Jeffrey S. 
Parker, "O'er Neptunes Waters I've Crossed: A New Perspective on the Ancient Tradi- 
tion of Wooden Gravemarkers" (Paper presented at Society for Historical Archaeology 
Meetings, Boston, Massachusetts, January 1985); Mackie (note 5), 235-236. 

57. Burgess (note 13), 112-140. 

58. Burgess (note 13), 104; Herbert Batsford, English Mural Monuments and Tombstones 
(London: 1916), 12. 

59. Mackie (note 2), 50. 

60. Humphrey Harwood Account Book, 1776-1794, 19, Microfilm, Colonial Williamsburg 
Research Library. 

61. Briggs-Gray Account Book, 1758-1788, 180, Virginia Historial Society. 

62. Maryland Historical Society Manuscript Collection, MS. 2001. 

63. Burgess (note 13), 56; Ludwig (note 53), 53-54, 56. 

64. Ibid. 

65. Burgess (note 13), 20-21, 56; Ludwig (note 53), 53-54, 56. 

66. Bishop William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia (Baltimore: 
1966), 144. 

67. Lyon G. Tyler, "Correspondence Relating to Lord Botetourt," Tyler's Quarterly Magazine, 
3 (1921), 115. 

68. Lyon G. Tyler, "Bruton Church," William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 3 (1895), 172. 

69. Yonge (note 6), 44. 

70. Lyon G. Tyler, "Coats of Arms in Virginia," William and Mary Quarterly 1st series, 1 
(1892), 113. 

71. Batsford (note 58). 

72. Burgess (note 13), 165-166. 

73. Ibid, 179. 

74. Butler (note 50), 67. 

75. Burgess (note 13), 179. Garlands were also popular at this time in Scotland and New 
England. Willsher and Hunter (note 49), 60; Ludwig (note 53), 148. 

138 Colonial Tidewater Virginia 

76. Butler (note 50), 36. 

77. Ludwig (note 53), 252, see Plate 134. 

78. Ibid., 89. 

79. Philip Alexander Bruce, Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century (New York: 

80. Ibid., 106. 

81. Moncure D. Conway, "Book Review of Barons of the Potomac and Rappahannock," Vir- 
ginia Magazine of History and Biography 1 (1893), 224. 

82. Bruce (note 79), 123-124. 

83. Ibid., 121; Morris Talpalar, Vie Sociology of Colonial Virginia (New York: 1968), 10; Nor- 
man H. Dawes, "Titles as Symbols of Prestige in Seventeenth Century New England," 
William and Mary Quarterly 3rd series, 6 (1949), 79. 

84. Mackie (note 2), 29. 

85. Mackie, "The Social Aspects of Funerary Monuments in Colonial Tidewater Virginia," 
Material Culture 20, Numbers 2-3 (1988), 39-55. 

86. Bruce (note 79), 106, 117-118, 121. 

87. Mackie (note 2), 78. 

88. Lyon G. Tyler, "Virginia in 1677," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 22 (1914), 

89. Talpalar (note 83), 253-254. 



Martha Wren Briggs 

Charles Miller Walsh, a stone-carver and Confederate war veteran, 
monopolized the monument industry in Petersburg, Virginia, from 1865 
until his death in 1901. He advertised gravestones "of every description."^ 
He made headstones, tablets, cradle graves, chest tombs, vault covers and 
obelisks. The majority of his signed works stand in Blandford Cemetery, 
which has served Petersburg as a public cemetery since Colonial times. 

Paroled with only his army uniform, blankets and an estimated 560 dol- 
lars for his four years of army service, the twenty-two-year-old war veteran 
began his business venture within three months of his discharge. He ad- 
vertised the opening of his Marble Yard in the Petersburg newspaper The 
Daily Express on September 11, 1865: "the undersigned . . . will be 
prepared to furnish GRAVE STONES ... at the shortest notice, and on 
moderate terms." The advertisement continues: "Having had con- 
siderable experience in the business himself, and having in his employ a 
good workman and one of the best polishers in the State, he is satisfied 
that he can give satisfaction. He will personally superintend the putting 
up of all work, and his chief aim will be to furnish work on as moderate 
terms as will justify him in putting up work in a good and substantial 
manner."^ He also promised monuments for sale at "less than New York 

During the Civil War Petersburg was an important railroad center held 
by the South. The Union Army kept the town under a direct and devastat- 
ing military siege for the le^t nine months of the four-year war. It seems 
inconceivable that Walsh was able to assemble materials, employ helpers 
and open a monument business in Petersburg only four months after the 
end of the war. Even though he offered a non-essential item, Walsh suc- 
ceeded in fulfilling the promise in his initial advertisement and prospered 
in the business of stone carving. His monuments are, in workmanship and 
design, superior to the average stones produced by his contemporaries in 
the area. Since it is difficult to find public records covering Walsh's early 

140 Charles Miller Walsh 

life because of the war, troubles resulting from Reconstruction and 
various fires in the town of Petersburg, information about Walsh's career 
has been pieced together from such material as is available. Walsh did 
not sign every stone he carved, and no complete record of his works has 
survived, although many of his stones can be readily identified. This paper 
is presented to provide a view of a working carver in an urban southern 
city in the late nineteenth century. 

In Petersburg, as elsewhere, the Victorian concept prevailed that it was 
a social responsibility to erect monuments to honor the dead; but during 
the post-war Reconstruction period in the South gravestones were con- 
sidered luxury items, and the financing of any non-essential item was, in 
most cases, almost prohibitive. Business opportunities for a stonecarver in 
Petersburg during the late 1860s and early 1870s, however, were better 
than in most Southern cities, for Petersburg's economic recovery was 
helped during the 1870s by its becoming "the world's largest center for the 
manufacture of trunks.'"* Because Walsh's charges were moderate and his 
work superior, his Marble Yard, later renamed the Cockade Marble 
Works, prospered despite the financial hardships of Reconstruction. 

Whether or not Walsh was a native of Petersburg or came to 
Petersburg to establish a monument business is unknown. The United 
States government census for the state of Virginia, taken in 1850 and 1860, 
when Charles Miller Walsh was eight and eighteen years old respectively, 
does not record him as being a member of a Walsh or Miller household 
either in Petersburg or the surrounding areas. In the first advertisement 
for the Marble Yard, cited above, Walsh records the names of various 
Petersburg people who will recommend his work. These recommenda- 
tions would seem to place Walsh in Petersburg and in the monument busi- 
ness before he joined the Confederate Army in 1861. His army papers 
also report that his induction occurred in Petersburg, and this reinforces 
the assumption that Walsh was a resident of the area before 1861. Walsh 
had a son named Charles Ritchie Walsh. Since the 1850 census of Rich- 
mond lists a stonemason named Charles Richie, it may be that Charles 
Miller Walsh, once apprenticed to Richie, later named his son for this 
stonemason, though there is a discrepancy in the spelling of the surname. 

Martha Wren Briggs 141 

Richie's work has not been identified, and so Walsh's apprenticeship can- 
not be identified by a comparison of their designs. Walsh's work does not 
resemble that of James Davidson, who was carving gravestones in 
Petersburg between 1843 and 1861. Davidson was a letterer and orna- 
mented the majority of stones he carved only with rules or scrolls, designs 
Walsh seldom featured. 

From Walsh's era until the introduction of power tools in the 1920s the 
apprenticeship for a gravestone carver remained the same. Arlie 
Andrews, a present-day monument carver in Petersburg from whom the 
following account was obtained, was taught stone carving in the traditional 
manner by his father, who had served his apprenticeship in the late 1890s. 
The senior Andrews was taught quarrying, stonemasonry, carpentry and 
blacksmithing. His son Arlie, who began his apprenticeship in 1936, was 
taught to prepare stone by hand for monuments before he was allowed to 
use power tools. A pre-power-tool stonecarver had to have a working 
knowledge of blacksmithing to make and maintain stone-cutting tools. 
Among the assets listed in the inventory of Walsh's estate on file at the 
Petersburg courthouse are blacksmith tools and two forges. One forge 
was portable and was probably used at a granite quarry in Dinwiddle 
County two miles from Petersburg. Upright marble stones from the 
Cockade Marble Works were mounted on granite bases to prevent 
damage by grass-mowing equipment. Like all granite it became distorted 
or twisted during the quarrying process. Its twisted shape was similar to 
the shape of a warped piece of wood. A rough block of granite from the 
quarry was made perfectly smooth for carving by being straightened or 
technically "taken out of twist." First the slab or piece of granite was 
shaped around all its edges with a chisel and hammer. The rough center 
of the stone was next cut down with a point, a type of chisel. The ragged 
texture left on the granite by the point was eliminated by the use of an axe 
or peen hammer. The stone was hammered with this tool in a criss-cross 
or cross-hatch pattern to remove as much of the roughness as possible. 
Further polishing and smoothing was done with a bladed bush hammer. 
The polisher began with four blades, added six blades and then twelve 
blades to obtain the surface desired. 

142 Charles Miller Walsh 

Marble, a softer stone than granite, is carved with a chisel and polished 
with a cast-iron rubbing block filled with sand. A number of holes in the 
block allow the sand to escape as the block is passed across the wet stone. 
The abrasive action of the sand on the wet marble produces a highly 
pohshed surface. In 1901 Walsh had various polishing materials and tools. 
Among them were a polishing wheel valued in the inventory of his estate 
at $10.00 and a steam-powered polishing machine valued at $40.00. The 
office building Walsh owned was worth only fifty dollars, so his polishing 
machine had been a major business investment. 

A complete summary of the tools, the equipment and the individual 
pieces of stone Walsh had in his shop, with values, is found in the inven- 
tory of Walsh's estate submitted by his administrator and included as Ap- 
pendix 1 of this article. More than 190 articles are listed in the inventory 
and are representative of the equipment and raw materials owned by a 
late nineteenth-century stonecarver. The inventory demonstrates that 
Walsh was able to obtain stone from many sources. Sometimes the firm 
advertised that it carried "every kind of foreign and domestic granite ~ 
every kind of foreign and domestic marble."^ 

While not all of the stones which Walsh produced during his career are 
signed, he did have three different ways of signing his work. Some of the 
firm's stones have only the initials C.M.W., while others are carved with 
the name CM. Walsh (Fig. 1). The notation CM. Walsh, Petersburg, Va. 
appears on stones in cemeteries outside the city. The letters CM.W. 
could also denote the Cockade Marble Works, a name Walsh adopted for 
the Marble Yard. Petersburg is known as the Cockade City. It was given 
that name by President Madison because a group of volunteer soldiers 
from Petersburg who fought in Canada wore cockades or red ribbons in 
their hats during their military service. By 1870 Walsh had incorporated 
"Cockade" into his firm's title and devised a logo in which the firm's name 
and his name have the same capital initials: CM.W. (Fig. 2). The firm 
eventually became a family business when Charles and Mattie Walsh's 
sons, Everard and Charles Ritchie, became skilled stonecutters, and their 
sister Jennie became the firm's stenographer. 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Fig. 1 Rubbing of Walsh's signature. 

j r «i »ti ii» 1 1 | III.;. » | ii»,|i < » in i |i4i »»»i| i»i» n ii| M| i im .^.it., t i.|.,).,|i,i 4.4.^.4.4^4.1 1 1 1 1) i i.ti t. > ii i .<ii tin .|i n i »»» 

Fig. 2 Trade card of the Cockade Marble Works showing Old Blandford 
Church ca. 1885. Collection of Kay Carwile, Petersburg, Va. 

144 Charles Miller Walsh 

Advertisements for Walsh's business appear in Petersburg's commercial 
directories for 1870, 1884, and 1888. Even though the firm is described in 
each as Manufacturers of granite and marble monuments, Walsh is praised 
by Edward Pollack in the 1888 directory as "a complete master of his art." 
Pollock continues "that hundreds of testimonials to [Walsh's] skill may be 
seen in Blandford Cemetery and in rural graveyards for many miles 
around, as well as at his workshop on Sycamore Street."^ 

In the same directory there is also a full-page advertisement for the 
Cockade Marble Works. In this advertisement Walsh solicits business 
from potential clients in towns not easily accessible to Petersburg. He 
states that if requested he will mail designs for his stones and price lists to 
"any address free" of charge.^ Preserved in the archives of the Virginia 
Historical Society in Richmond is an 1897 letter from Walsh acknow- 
ledging an order from Mr. Majette of Newsoms, Virginia, a town about 
seventy miles from Petersburg. Walsh writes that he will "prepare and 
ship [the head- and footstones Mr. Majette has ordered] as quickly as 
possible."^ Since there is no gravestone signed by Walsh in the Majette 
family plot at Newsoms, it may be that Majette purchased the head- and 
footstones for a relative buried elsewhere. Records show that Walsh was 
chosen to erect a civic monument to Virginia's Confederate heroes in 
Farmville, Virginia, about seventy miles from Petersburg, and that he also 
had clients in Wilson, Fremont and Charlotte, North Carolina. 

A customer ordering a gravemarker at the Cockade Marble Works, but 
unfamiliar with the various types of stones, iconographical symbols or ap- 
propriate tributes, could choose a design or inscription from a series of 
photographs and lithographs Walsh kept in his shop.^ (Arlie Andrews 
reports that illustrations, probably similar to the ones Walsh provided for 
clients, are at present distributed to carvers and funeral directors by the 
commercial suppliers of blank stones.) Even though a lily-of-the-valley 
design was chosen by more than one of Walsh's clients, this selection did 
not predominate and the lily-of-the-valley motif itself varied, for Walsh 
had the artistic ability to create different designs from a given subject. 
More than fifty gravestones from the Cockade Marble Works were studied 
for this paper, and no two were found to have exactly the same design. 

Martha Wren Briggs 145 

For example, different interpretations of the lily-of-the-valley design used 
by Walsh are found on EHzabeth Randolph Sebrell's headstone (Fig. 3) in 
Sebrell, Virginia, and on the cradle graves of Sadie Roe Ramkey (Fig. 4) 
and William A. Temple (Figs. 5 and 18) in Blandford Cemetery. 

Much of Walsh's work may be found in Blandford Cemetery. (A list of 
stones signed by him and found there appears as Appendix 2, while a list 
of those found in other cemeteries appears as Appendix 3). Blandford 
Cemetery, one of the oldest public cemeteries in the South, has been in 
continual use since it was established on Wells Hill overlooking 
Petersburg in 1702. In the nineteenth century visitors to Petersburg 
searching for a "romantic landscape" were attracted to the then overgrown 
cemetery and the crumbling ruins of Old Blandford Church at its northern 
edge. In 1859 the historian Benson J. Lossing commented that the church- 
yard was "one of the most picturesque and attractive ruins in Virginia."^° 
Twenty-five years earlier Tyrone Power, an Irish actor and the great- 
grandfather of the motion picture star, visited Petersburg. He was im- 
pressed with the "quiet and old-country character" of the site. He also 
commented on "the melancholoy beauty and the armorial tombstones with 
their evidence of pride and gentle birth."^^ An illustration of the aban- 
doned church surrounded by a number of neglected tombstones was fea- 
tured by Walsh on his advertising trade card (Fig. 2). The desolate scene 
appealed to the sentimentality of the Romantic Era still influencing the 
public in the late 1880s and 1890s. 

During the siege of Petersburg Blandford Cemetery became the resting 
place for troops from both sides killed in action or dying from other 
causes. After the war ended, a group of local women formed the Ladies' 
Memorial Association of Petersburg. They impartially maintained the 
graves of all the fallen soldiers and every June decorated the graves with 
fresh flowers. This annual ritual allegedly resulted in the establishment of 
the national observance of Memorial Day. In the early 1900s the Ladies' 
Memorial Association converted Old Blandford Church into a Con- 
federate shrine with fifteen memorial stained-glass windows designed by 
Louis Comfort Tiffany. The church and a section of the graveyard im- 
mediately adjoining it are now listed in the National Register of Historical 


Charles Miller Walsh 

Fig. 3 Tympanum, Elizabeth Randolph Sebrell, Sebrell, Va. 

Fig. 4 Tympanum, Sadie Roe Ramkey, Blandford Cemetery, 
Petersburg, Va. 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Fig. 5 Tympanum, William A. Temple, Blandford Cemetery. 

Places. The Historic Blandford Cemetery Foundation, Inc., formed in 
1987, has received a number of grants to compile information so that 
eventually a larger area of the cemetery can be added to the National and 
State Registers of Historic Places. 

In the historic area of Blandford Cemetery there is a vertical tablet 
which Walsh designed for Lieutenant Wayles Hurt (Fig. 6). Wayles Hurt 
was instrumental in helping repulse an attack upon Petersburg by 1,300 
Union cavalry troops. The attack occurred on June 9, 1864, while the 
majority of able Confederate soldiers stationed in Petersburg were on duty 
elsewhere. One hundred and twenty-five untrained local citizens 
defended Petersburg for two hours until the Confederate troops arrived. 
Lieutenant Hurt was sent by the arriving Confederate general to get rein- 
forcements. He accomplished this mission, but was killed returning from 
his assignment. He was the youngest casualty of the June 9 battle. Walsh 
commemorated Wayles's heroism in the legend carved on the gravestone's 
lower portion which tells that Wayles "fell in defence of his native city in 
the 17th year of his age." 


Charles Miller Walsh 

•wMs it^pmitd tr.ii life 

H4 icii ir ikie>-<t. 
if hi-- .lat've cie,^ 

Fig. 6 Lieut. Wayles Hurt, Blandford Cemetery. 


Fig. 7 Richard Thweatt Hurt and Lieut. Wayles Hurt, 
Blandford Cemetery. 

Martha Wren Briggs 149 

Wayles is buried in the Hurt plot with his brothers, Richard Thweatt 
and Francis Eppes, who died in 1871 and 1872 respectively. The brothers 
are buried in a row with Wayles, the youngest, in the center. Their 
separate stones were designed by Walsh as a harmonious unit. The older 
men's arch-shaped tablets (Fig. 7) contrast with Wayles's tablet, which has 
a slightly pointed apex. To contrast with the vertical panel on Wayles's 
tablet, Walsh carved identical shields or crests to frame the lettering on 
Richard's and Francis's stones. This motif is not found on any other 
Walsh tablet or stone in Blandford Cemetery. The different forms of a 
cross shape on each of the Hurt brothers' stones complement each other 
and further emphasize that the three tablets were meant to be a coherent 
unit. A traditional cross occupies the niches on Francis's and Wayles's 
stones, while an anchor, a symbol of hope, with the design elements of an 
inverted cross, appears on Richard's tablet. 

Not all the clients of Cockade Marble Works chose harmonizing tablets 
similar to the Hurts's headstones to commemorate the lives of related sib- 
lings. Lacking space in their corner plot at Blandford to erect three 
separate stones, the Robinsons selected instead a four-sided obelisk which 
allowed a separate site to memorialize each of three children (Fig. 8). 
Walsh's design for this short obelisk is extraordinary. Walsh's aptitude for 
rendering symbols and changing the general profiles of memorial stones is 
found in the Robinson children's fascinating commemorative monument. 
Instead of having the family surname or first name of the person cited in 
the epitaph above, Walsh rotated the children's names around the base of 
the obelisk. Jennie, a familiar form of Virginia, fills the rectangular base 
panel below Maggie's date panel. Maggie's name appears in a panel cor- 
responding to Jennie's, beneath the side of the obelisk dedicated to 
Robert Emmert. Logically his name should be under Jennie's panel, but 
to create interest on all four sides of the stone Walsh placed the young 
boy's second name on the obelisk's fourth side. Around the square obelisk 
Walsh made a pattern by repeating a heraldic pointed cross. To shape 
and give depth to the three-dimensional crosses Walsh hewed away the 
marble around them. These negatives spaces also create repetitive pat- 
terns in the recessed areas behind the crosses and on all sides of the 


Charles Miller Walsh 


Walsh's aesthetic capabilities and the commissions undertaken by the 
Cockade Marble Works were not restricted to small or medium-size 
memorials. Thomas C. Crowder and a sibling commissioned a shaft 
obelisk (Fig. 9) from Walsh to honor their grandmothers, their parents, 
and a sister.^^ The Crowder obelisk is one of Walsh's larger undertakings, 
approximately twenty-four feet tall and the only gray granite monument 
found signed by him in Blandford Cemetery. Since the hardness of granite 
discourages the carving of details, the base and top of the actual shaft are 
the only parts of the monument which Walsh ornamented. He used the 
contrasting glossy and dull surface textures of the dressed granite for 

Fig. 8 Blunt Obelisk, Robinson Children, Blandford Cemetery. 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Fig. 9 Shaft Obelisk, Crowder Family, Blandford Cemetery. 

On a dull textured background near the base of the shaft and ap- 
proximately twenty inches wide, Walsh formed a repetitive pattern of con- 
necting glossy diamond shapes (Fig. 10). In the dull triangles formed on 
each side of the diamonds, Walsh centered a polished circle. While an 
equilateral triangle traditionally represents God or the Trinity, diamonds 
and squares have more than one iconographical meaning, and so inter- 
preting Walsh's symbolic design on the Crowder shaft is difficult. In art a 
diamond shape can represent light, innocence, purity, life, joy, constancy, 
or eternity.^^ Walsh's diamond pattern, however, might be composed of 
angled squares: a square contrasted with a circle, according to George 
Ferguson in a volume entitled Signs and Symbols in Christian Art, is the 
emblem of the earth.^"* Walsh may have alluded to the six days of creation 
by using six diamond shapes on each side of the shaft. A lone circle is the 
universal symbol for eternity and also represents a never-ending existence 
or God everlasting. In ancient Egypt a tall obelisk was a symbol of the sun 
and eternal life and remained so during the Egyptian revival of the 
nineteenth century. Whether the design should be interpreted as repre- 


Charles Miller Walsh 

Fig. 10 Crowder Obelisk, base of shaft. 

Fig. 11 Chest Tomb, John Mince Dunlop, Blandford Cemetery. 

Martha Wren Briggs 153 

senting the spiritual world or physical cosmos remains an unanswered 
question. Equally perplexing is the band of abstract decoration resem- 
bling eight large chess pieces just below the apex of the obelisk. The 
Crowders were dry goods merchants, and these configurations may allude 
to bobbins or cylinders used in textile manufacturing.^^ 

One of Walsh's larger works in marble at Blandford is the chest tomb 
of John Mince Dunlop (Fig. 11). The chest measures six feet in length, 
two and a half feet in width, and is twenty-three inches in height. In the 
first advertisement for the Marble Yard in 1865 Walsh offered designs for 
cenotaphs. Since the legend on John Mince's tomb records that he died in 
Louisville, Kentucky, in 1871, his chest tomb may be a cenotaph. Chest 
tombs, like cradle graves, had their origin in England and date from the 
fifteenth century. They are similar to Roman sarcophagi. According to 
James Cogar, the first curator of Colonial Williamsburg, chest tombs are 
found only on the eastern seaboard of the United States from Maryland to 
Georgia.^'' While most of the chest tombs at Blandford have flat, thin 
marble lids and incised decorations, the massiveness of the marble block 
forming the lid of the Dunlop chest permitted Walsh to chisel a slanting or 
coped lid and ornament it with only three high reliefs. A trefoil is con- 
nected to each end of a long square rod which lies lengthwise along the 
center of the lid. 

Arch-shaped recesses, such as those on the Hurt brothers' tablets, are 
often seen on stones carved by Walsh. Oval and circular niches are also 
found, but they do not appear to be as numerous. Preferred was a 
recessed niche formed from the silhouette of a trefoil. The trefoil is basi- 
cally a geometric design, but Walsh narrowed, expanded, compressed or 
elongated the accepted rounded shape of its leaves or lobes to accom- 
modate the symbol it framed. The depth, shape and size of the trefoil 
niche was related to the configuration of the iconographical symbol carved 
on the stone. Examples are found in Blandford Cemetery on the in- 
dividual stones of Theodrick and Indiana Smith. On Theodrick's stone 
(Fig. 12) an elongated and deep trefoil frames two sheaves of wheat which 
traditionally represent a divine harvest and also signify that he was a 
farmer. A shallow trefoil frames a cross-and-crown motif on Indiana 


Charles Miller Walsh 

Smith's tablet (Fig. 13). By inverting the two lower leaves of a trefoil on 
W.R. Crowley's headstone in Tucker Swamp churchyard near Ivor, Vir- 
ginia, Walsh was able to create the effect of a cave protecting a peacefully 
sleeping lamb (Fig. 14). An unusually shaped niche is found on a Walsh 
stone in the cemetery at Sebrell (Fig. 15). The highly stylized niche is 
formed by three distinct sections that suggest the three leaves of a trefoil. 

Among Walsh's more creative works in Blandford cemetery are the 
combination of sacred and secular symbols that he executed on the marble 
beams supporting the capstones of Jacob Brandsford Old's and William H. 
Jarvis's vaults. Carved in high relief, the figures are a tribute to his use of 
contemporary objects as iconographical symbols which reflect the social 
and vocational attributes of his patrons' lives. The vaults are positioned 
side by side (Figs. 16 and 17), but only Old's has the signature CM. Walsh. 
All the emblems on Jarvis's vault, however, are similar in rendering and 
arrangement to those on Old's vault, and there is no reason to doubt that 
they were created by Walsh. 

Fig. 12 Detail, Theodrick Smith, Blandford Cemetery. 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Fig. 13 Detail, Indiana Smith, Blandford Cemetery. 


Fig. 14 Detail, W.R. Crowley, Tucker Swamp Churchyard. 


Charles Miller Walsh 




1 *% 


Fig. 15 Detail, Louisa Florence Reese, Sebrell. 

Walsh ornamented one support of Old's flat tablet with what appears to 
be an Enfield rifle, together with the rifle's accoutrements, thus com- 
memorating Old's military service as a "member of the Richmond-Grays 
12th Va. Regt Mahone's Brigde." Old's army rank is not specified on his 
tablet, but the fact that he participated in several campaigns "with narrow 
escapes from the lines of [the] opposing forces" is part of his epitaph. 
Walsh alluded to Old's civilian service as a fireman by depicting two 
firefighting implements: an axe and a fireman's speaking trumpet. 

The trumpet motif was repeated by Walsh on an end support of Wil- 
liam Jarvis's tablet to allude, according to the inscription on the tomb, to 
the "many years [Jarvis served] as Chief Engineer of the Petersburg Fire 
Department." On the opposite end of the tablet, Walsh centered two 
crossed hooks. Hooks were used by firemen to pull down burning build- 
ings and are responsible for the phrase "hook and ladder." To signify that 
Jarvis was an engineer, Walsh depicted an arm bent at the elbow with a 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Figs. 16 and 17 Vaults of Jacob B. Old and William H. J.^rvis, 
Blandford Cemetery. 

158 Charles Miller Walsh 

rolled-up sleeve and a mallet strongly clutched in the fist. As he did on 
Old's tomb, Walsh carved an object that signified Jarvis's military service. 
Using a sword in a scabbard with an attached sash, standard for majors in 
the Confederate Army, Walsh alluded to the inscription of Jarvis's rank as 
a "Captain & Major in the Confederate States Army during the war of 
1861-5 and [his command of] a company in the memorable defence of 
Petersburg June 9, 1864." A Masonic emblem, signifying that Jarvis was a 
member of the Masonic Blue Lodge, completes the total of five secular 
symbols that Walsh carved on the Jarvis vault. 

On the northern supports of both men's tablets Walsh used two sacred 
symbols and one secular emblem. The sacred symbols are an anchor with 
an attached ribbon bearing the word "hope" and a book. The anchor was 
an early Christian symbol of hope, steadfastness, or the soul at rest. It was 
adapted from a Roman symbol and is a reference to the nineteenth verse 
in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews that "hope we have as an 
anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast." The book logically is a Bible 
and signifies the Christian faith. Midway between the Bible and the 
anchor, Walsh introduced a secular symbol -- the three-linked chain 
emblem of the Odd Fellows Lodge. The chain motif on the Jarvis vault 
lacks the boldness, strength and height of Old's chain and was perhaps 
done by Walsh's assistant. 

In the "old ground" area of Blandford is the resting place of William 
Temple, who died in 1873 when he was twenty-one years old (Fig. 18). 
The headstone and footstone are part of a configuration called a cradle 
grave. These formations had their origin in sixteenth-century England as 
beds for the dead. They were outlined by parallel stone rails on either 
side of the headstone connected at the ends by a curved or square foot- 
rail, forming an enclosed area of earth where flowers or grass could be 
planted. Cradle graves were not solely for children and were one of 
Walsh's more popular items. The carver's signature, CM. Walsh, is in- 
cised in italics in the lower right-hand corner of William's footstone. 

The only example discovered at Blandford of a statue that can be at- 
tributed to Walsh is a small winged angel atop the headstone of his infant 
grandson's cradle grave in the Walsh plot at Blandford (Fig. 19). The at- 

Martha Wren Briggs 


Fig. 18 Cradle Grave, William A. Temple, Blandford Cemetery. 

Fig. 19 Angel Figure, Lewis Leigh Walsh, Blandford Cemetery. 

160 Charles Miller Walsh 

tribution of Lewis Leigh Walsh's grave marker to his grandfather is rein- 
forced by the arrangement and wording of the epitaph. It follows the for- 
mat for biographical information on children's stones made at the Marble 
Yard. Lewis Leigh's name is carved in relief on a curved ribbon, and the 
information that Lewis was the youngest son of Ruth and Charles R. 
Walsh appears beneath it. The symbols on other Walsh stones refer to 
phrases cited in the epitaphs. Lewis Leigh's angel is posed genuflecting in 
adoration. It mirrors the lettered phrase cited on the square headstone 
that there is now "another little angel before the throne." The angel is 
about two and a half feet high. Walsh probably modeled it to resemble his 
grandson, for it has the individualized facial features of a young child with 
almost shoulder-length hair, which was fashionable for little boys in the 
late 1890s. The figure and its base were carved from one block of marble 
and attached to the headstone with an internal vertical metal pipe or gal- 
vanized dowels. Vandals recently attempted to dislodge Lewis's angel 
from its perch, but the carver's foresight more than ninety years ago fore- 
stalled the effort. Midway between the side rails of Lewis's cradle grave 
his grandfather firmly anchored a wrought-iron vase for flowers. 
Wrought-iron vases, railings, gates and fences were also products of the 
Cockade Marble Works. In all probability Walsh forged Lewis Leigh's 

It is in the rendering of naturalistic flowers and stylized, abstract floral 
forms that Walsh's sculptural talent is most evident at Blandford. Large 
floral bouquets adorn some of his headstones, and on other gravestones a 
single flower is featured as the central theme. As previously noted, in the 
circular niche at the top of William Temple's headstone, Walsh depicted a 
naturalistic single sprig of lily of the valley (Fig. 5). This single floral spray 
amplifies the incised tribute from William Temple's father, part of which 
reads "... the plant that I reared to smile on earth's gloom . . . smiled in 
my garden so bright and so fair . . . has climbed over the wall and is 
blooming there." 

Unlike the naturalistic interpretation of lily of the valley on William's 
gravestone, Walsh depicted a stylized version of the plant in the gable 
headstone of Sadie Roe Ramkey's cradle grave (Fig. 4). In the sentence 

Martha Wren Briggs 


incised at the base of Sadie's headstone there is no reference to flowers, 
but the message, "Sweetly sleep my precious daughter until Christ shall 
call you from the dead," mirrors the nineteenth-century philosophy of 
death which stressed human immortality and the joys of the resurrection. 

There are a number of gravestones in Blandford Cemetery where 
Walsh features the thistle. In rendering some Bull or "Scotch" thistles, 
which signify a person of Scottish ancestry, he retained the accepted 
profile of the thistle flower but altered the plant's leaves to create a strong 
repetitive design; he substituted solid, pointed or overt leaves for the 
natural, fragile, serrated leaves of the thistle. This design element is seen 
in the pointed niche of a Gothic-arched headstone dedicated only to "Our 
Little Paul." On Carrie Emma Greene's stone at Blandford Walsh com- 
bined his thistle motif with that of a flying dove (Fig. 20). The leaves and 
flower of the plant curve under the bird's body as they might do if carried 
by a bird in actual flight. 

Fig. 20 Carrie Emma Greene, Blandford Cemetery. 


Charles Miller Walsh 

A calla lily plant, representative of beauty and marriage, is the only 
iconographical symbol Walsh featured on the headstone of Mary Ann 
Rawls, who died in 1874 (Fig. 21). This superlative example of Walsh's 
ability as a sculptor and designer stands in the town cemetery at Ivor, 
thirty-five miles from Petersburg. Unencumbered by the traditional cir- 
cular niche, Walsh used an upward-tapering rectangular area at the top of 
the stone to carve a calla lily in high relief. He was fully aware when he 
carved the four-to-six-inch-deep lily plant that the moving sun would cause 
the calla to cast changing patterns of light and shadow on the stone at dif- 
ferent times of day, thereby enhancing the design. Lily buds in different 
stages of bloom and full spade leaves flanking the lily blossom were carved 
by Walsh in slightly lower relief to reinforce the natural proportions of the 
plant and the asymmetrical balance of the design. The interior of the lily 
plant was another design area Walsh used to create shadows. By cutting 
the lily's spreading spathe so deeply that it formed interior shadows, 
Walsh took advantage of the unobstructed sunlight in the Ivor Cemetery. 

Fig. 21 Detail, Mary Ann Rawls, Ivor. 

Martha Wren Briggs 163 

Walsh probably never anticipated that by the year 1987 lack of sunlight 
would cause lichens to enhance one of his finest monuments. Lichens, a 
combination of fungi and algae which attach themselves to marble, have 
accented the flower design on Mary Edward Morriss's abnormally tall 
headstone (Fig. 22). The shape of the stone is reminiscent of a string bass 
or contrabass. It is one of Walsh's larger monuments, measuring seven 
feet high, six inches deep and having a maximum width of twenty-nine 
inches. Walsh may have considered this headstone one of his exceptional 
works since he signed in an unusual fashion: "C. M. Walsh Fecit, 
Syc[amore] St." Carved in high relief, the design on Mary's stone is 
reminiscent of a baroque book plate. Roses, symbolic of beauty in every 
country where the rose is known, and large naturalistic thistle leaves and 
buds are the prominent design elements. 

Fig. 22 Mary Edward Morriss, Blandford Cemetery. 


Charles Miller Walsh 

On a man's grave or on a monument where the representation of 
naturalistic flowers might seem inappropriate Walsh adapted abstract 
floral patterns as part of the design. Thus he filled the narrow vertical 
space on either side of the tympanum on Wayles Hurt's tablet with an 
abstract organic design that gives the impression of a symmetrical floral 
composition of elongated, diamond-shaped flowers (Fig. 6). Just below 
the crests on each of Wayles's brothers' stones Walsh centered another 
abstract floral pattern featuring the same abstract diamond-shaped flower 
that appears on Wayles's tablet (Fig. 23). 

When Charles Miller Walsh died February 19, 1901, his sons, Charles 
Ritchie and Everard Sterling became owners of the Cockade Marble 
Works. Everard, who is reported to have been an exceptional stonecarver, 
completed his father's unfinished works and managed the Cockade 
Marble Works shop and quarry. Charles Ritchie was the firm's business 
manager. He sold the firm in the early part of the twentieth century, ac- 
cording to Charles Miller's great-great grandson, Russell Walsh. 

Fig. 23 Detail, Francis and Richard Hurt, Blandford Cemetery. 

Martha Wren Briggs 165 

No commemorative stone marks the grave of Charles Miller Walsh in 
Blandford, but the large number of marble headstones, tablets, obelisks, 
tomb chest and granite markers he designed and carved are silent 
memorials to him and his life's work. 

Appendix 1 
Inventory of the Estate of Charles Miller Walsh 

(Book 9, Clerk's Office, Circuit Court, Petersburg, Virginia, 89-92) 

Articles Value 

Office Building $ 50.00 

Shop Building 25.00 

Corner Building 25.00 

1 flat top Desk 5.00 

1 closed Desk 10.00 

1 typewriter desk 7.50 

1 letter press 3.50 

1 Chiffonier 1.50 

2 old typewriters 40.00 
1 spool cotton cabinet 1.00 
1 design case and stand 2.50 
1 cabinet 5.00 

1 mimeograph 5.00 

2 traveling cases 1.00 
1 stove (office) 2.00 
5 chairs 25.00 
Monumental & other designs (Photo's) 25.00 
Monumental & other designs (Lith's) 10.00 
Rubber stamps & type 2.00 

1 Bath .50 

2 stapling machines 1.00 
Newspaper cuts 1.50 
1 lamp & bracket (office) .50 

1 lot drawing instruments 2.50 

2 waste baskets .50 
Books 2.00 
1 Blow Pipe 2.50 
1 office map .50 
1 granite scroll (Clark) 20.00 
1 marble scroll 15.00 
1 granite tablet 10.00 
1 granite tablet 20.00 
1 marble column 15.00 
1 6 in. granite tablet 20.00 
1 granite tablet 10.00 
1 urn (granite) 11.00 
1 pc. rough Italian 15.00 
1 Pc. Granite 5.00 


Charles Miller Walsh 

1 marble cradle 


1 Georgia Tablet 


1 Base (rut) 


1 Granite Table (no base) 


2 Blue Monuments 


1 6 in. marble tablet (McCoy) 


1 10 in. Blue Monument 


6 tablets 




1 Georgia Monument 


1 Blue Monument 


2 4 in. tablets 


2 4 in. tablets (Col) 




3 Markers (marble) 
3 Markers (granite) 



1 granite base 


6 marble bases 


8 granite column blocks 


2 sections Iron Fence 


1 Iron Vase 


4 pes. Rough stock (granite) - Westerly & Blue 


1 Granite sill 


1 partly finished monument - Payne Granite 


2 partly finished monuments (Coughenour) 


1 partly finished monument ^W.R 
1 partly finished monument (J.W. 

. Hooks) Fremont 


Lancaster) - 

Wilson, NC 


1 partly finished monument (J.W. 

Skiles) Suffolk 


1 partly finished monument (O.S. 

Smith) Granite - 


2 Crosses (Wood) 


1 Venable Box Tomb (Marble) 


1 Thomas Clark (Joyner) [Va.] 


1 lot granite Stock 


1 Thomas Clark Barnes Danl F. 

1 Kindred 4-0, McLemore 3-0 


1 Marble slab. M.F. Jones, Blanton 


1 Monument P#2 


1 Monument 575 


Ro Stock Soldier's Mon. (Granite) Charlotte 


Shepherd Mon. Blue Granite 


1 Granite Urn 


1 Concord Granite Monument 


1 Iron Fence (Rogers) 


1 Marble Design #4043 


6 slabs 2-6 by 10 by 2-2-0 

6 slabs 3-0 by 1-0 by 2-3-0 
4 slabs 3-6 by 1-2 by 2-2-9 
4 slabs 4-0 by 1-4 by 2-3-6 
2 slabs 4-6 by 1-6 by 2-2-2 

Martha Wren Briggs 167 

2 slabs 5-0 by 1-8 by 2-2-10 46.50 

2 slabs old 4-6 by 106 by 2-2-2 46.50 

2 slabs stock 3-0 by 1-0 by 2-1-6 7.50 


Granite Sheds and polishing shop 


1 Portable Forge 


1 Blacksmith Forge 


Blacksmith Tools 


1 lot tools 


4 trucks 


1 Grindstone 


3 Bars 


1 Tripod 


2 Hoisting chains 


1 Boiler & engine 


1 polishing machine 


2 Lifting Jacks 


1 lot ropes & blocks 


1 vise 


1 Water tank Pipes &c. 


Polishing Materials 


Polishing Wheels 


Shafting, pulleys & Belts 


1 Lathe 


1 Lot of Blocks 


1 Derrick & Tools (Quarry) 


1 Drill press 


1 Force Pump 


1 Water Barrel on wheels 


1 Lot picks, shovels & buckets 


1 Lot marble tools 


2 Lamps (shop) 


1 lot rubbing tools (shop) 


1 clock (shop) 


2 Lewis Irons 


1 Lot galvanized dowels 


1 Roll wedge lead 


5 Bankers 


1 Lot mallets (shop) 


1 Stove (shop) 


Polishing material (shop) 


1 Water cooler 


[Sum total of household goods 




Open accounts and evidence of debt 

due the late Chas. M. Walsh 



168 Charles Miller Walsh 

Appendix 2 

Gravestones signed "CM. Walsh" found by the author 

in Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia 

Chest Tombs 

John Mince Dunlop d. 1871. 

Cradle Graves 

C.E.B. date cannot be read. 
Burrow Hargrave d. 1875. 
Sadie Row Ramkry d. 1881. 
William A. Temple d. 1873. 
Estelle Vaiden d. 1872. 
Lewis Leigh Walsh d. 1897. 
Westley Watts d. 1898. 


W.E. Morrison d. 1896 - Marie E. Morrison d. 1904. 


Sallie E. Archer d. 1867. 
Robert E. Lee Dunlop d. 1861. 
Joseph W. Evans d. 1901. 
Carrie Emma Greene d. 1870. 
Dennis McCarthy d. 1851. 
Charlotte Meade d. 1878. 
Mary Edward Morriss d. 1869. 
Our Little Paul d. ?. 


Crowder -- Wm.J. (father) d. 1900 -- B.A. (mother) d. 1860 -- 

Belle A. (sister) d. 1896 -- Ellen Franklin (mother of B.A. 

Crowder) d. 1853 -- Elizabeth (mother of Wm. J. Crowder) 

d. 1852. 
John D.C. Kruse d. 1875 -- Rebecca A Knise (wife) d. 1888. 
Alexander and Kate Hamilton d. ?. 
Mary A. Kelly d. ?. -- Everett Wells (husband of Mary) d. 1887 -- 

John Wells (brother of Everett) d. 1887 -- Sarah (wife of 

John) d. 1895. 
Edward Simmons d. 1887. 
Virginia (Jennie) Epps Richardson d. 1884 -- Maggie Louisa 

Richardson d. 1884 -- Robert Emmet Richardson d. 1878. 


Arthur Branch d. 1854. 

Maria C. Branch d. 1884. 

Cenia F. Kay d. 1865. 

Theodrick Smith 

Indiana Smith, wife of Theodrick 

Luke Smith, son of Theodrick & Indiana Smith d. ?. 

Gregory J. Thomas d. 1852 and Nellie Thomas d. 1852. 

Francis Eppes Hurt d. 1872. 

Martha Wren Briggs 169 

Richard Thwett Hurt d. 1872. 
Wayles Hurt d. 1865. 

Vault Supports 

William H. Jarvis d. 1877. 
Jacob Brandsford Old d. 1870. 

Appendix 3 

Gravestones signed by C.M. Walsh found by the author 

in cemeteries other than Blandford 

Beale Family Cemetery, Hansom, Va. 

John E. Beale d. 1853. 
Lydia W. Beale d. 1886. 
William F. Beale d. 1885. 
John F. Beale d. 1864. 
Herman Beale d. 1863. 
Martha Lydia Beale d. 1899. 

Brandon Episcopal Church Cemetery, Brandon, Va. 

Charles E. Harrison d. 1893. 
Mary L. Harrison d. 1885. 

Courtland Methodist Church Cemetery, Courtland, Va. 

Maj. Littleton R. Edwards d. 1883. 

Lelia G. McLemore d. 1903 - (Courtland courthouse records show 

$85.00 was paid to C.M. Walsh for a tombstone.)* 
Joseph B. Prince d. 1896. 
M. Fannie Prince d. 1896. 
Lizzie Watson d. 1894. 

Holleman Family Cemetery, Ivor, Va. 
Granite Obelisk 

Alice Holleman Jones d. 1895. 
Cradle Grave (marble) 

Annie Holleman d. 1884. 

Mill Swamp Baptist Church Cemetery, Ivor, Va. 
Cradle Grave 

Mary E. ? d. 1880. 

* Charles M. Walsh died in 1901, in 1903 his son Charles R. Walsh was owner of the 
Cockade Marble Works. 

170 Charles Miller Walsh 

Rocky Hock Methodist Church, Wakefield, Va. 

Mrs. Sarah F. Moyler d. 1895. 
Hobart Lee Pond d. 1903 
Mrs. A.R. Holleman d. ?. 
Elizabeth E. Pond d. 1892. 
John R. Pond d. 1887. 

Sebrell Cemetery, Sebrell, Va. 

Inez L. Sebrell d. 1867. 

Elizabeth Randolph Sebrell d. 1888. 

Benjamin Walter Sebrell d. 1879. 

Nanni R. Sebrell d. 1870. 

Theo G. Little d. 1881. 

Louisa Florence Reese d. 1885. 

Virginia Mary Reese d. 1899. 

Stephenson Family Cemetery, Berlin, Va. 

Lula Merrell Stephenson d. 1870. 
William Stephenson d. 1861. 
William Stephenson d. 1859. 
Walter Stephenson d. 1858. 

Tucker Swamp Baptist Church Cemetery, Zuni, Va. 

Charles B. Grumpier d. 1884. 

W.R.H. Crowley d. 1885. 

Lizzie A. Stephenson d. 1887. 

Jerusha Ann Stephenson d. 1900. 

Orie M. Herrin d. 1906 (base signed CM. Walsh, Petersburg, Va. 

C.M.W. died in 1901.) 
Rubin Gwaltney d. 1898. 

Waverly Cemetery, Waverly, Va. 

Rufus Overton Ellis d. 1876. 
Nancy Rebecca Ellis d. 1896. 
Prior Douglas Ellis d. 1868. 
Sally Bet Fleetwood d. 1897. 
Carrie M. West d. 1888. 

Cradle Grave 

Cornelia Fleetwood d. 1902. (CM. WALSH on base. CMW died 
in 1901; his son operating business in 1902 used father's signed 

Martha Wren Briggs 171 


I am grateful to my artist friend Robyn Bell for the line drawings and to Captain Mel- 
vin Eaton, U.S. Coast Guard, Retired, for the photographs used in this article. 

1. Benjamin Sheriff and L.C. Perkinson, Petersburg Directory ~ 1870-71 (Petersburg, Va.: 
1871), 201. 

2. Petersburg Daily Express (Petersburg: September 11, 1865), Notice 8e9 - Im. 

3. Sheriff (note 1). 

4. Thomas F. Hale and James H. Bailey, Old Petersburg (Richmond, Va.: 1976), 20. 

5. Charles Miller Walsh, letter to Mr. R.S. Majette, September 2, 1897, Virginia Histori- 
cal Society, Richmond, Va. 

6. Edward Pollock, Historical and Industrial Guide to Petersburg, Virginia (Petersburg: 
1884), 241. 

7. Ibid., 111. 

8. Walsh (note 5). 

9. Inventory List - Book 9, Clerk's Office, Circuit Court, City of Petersburg, Petersburg, 
VA, 10-15 (see Appendix 1). 

10. Benson Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York: 1859), 2:266. 

11. James G. Scott and Edward A. Wyatt IV, Petersburg's Story - A History (Richmond, 
Va.: 1960), 63. 

12. In the inventory of Walsh's estate Thomas C. Crowder is named in a list of people 
whose accounts at the Cockade Marble Works are still open. The inscription on the 
Crowder obelisk reads "Our Father," "Our Sister," etc. 

13. Henry Turner Bailey and Ethel Pool, Symbolism for Artists (Worcester, Mass.: 1925), 

14. George Ferguson, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art (New York: 1955), 275. 

15. Hale and Bailey (note 4), 40. 

16. James Cogar, "Social and Cultural History of Eighteenth-Century America," (Lectures 
at College of William and Mary, 1955). 


Fig. 1 John O. Patrick (1933), Paragon Cemetery, Paragon, 

Morgan County, Ind. Probably back-dated. There is a smaller, modern 

granite marker nearby, bearing his name. The tree stone serves as a 

family monument. 

Fig. 2 Archibald and Margaret Cramer (1882 and 1886), Old Municipal 
Cemetery, Martinsville, Morgan County, Ind. 



Warren E. Roberts 

During the second half of the eighteenth century a taste for the "rustic 
style" seems to have developed among the upper classes in England. For ex- 
ample, in 1765 Robert Manwaring published a book of furniture designs 
which included chairs made to look as if they were constructed from tree 
branches.^ The rustic style continued to be popular through the nineteenth 
century, being favored especially during the Victorian Period. According to 
Mary Durant: "In Victorian America, the rustic theme -- twigs, branches, 
bark, leaves, and vines - was variously interpreted in silverware, ceramics, 
furniture (both in wood and cast iron), on picture and mirror frames, and ar- 
chitecturally in such structures as rusticated houses for the garden."^ Because 
so many artifacts of so many varieties were made from, or made to resemble, 
tree branches and trunks, it is not surprising that gravestones should also be 
influenced. When one adds to this taste for things rustic the fact that a 
broken-off tree had long been used to symbolize the end of life, it is easy to 
see why gravestones in the shape of tree trunks became popular. 

Gravestones of this kind were particularly common in an area in south 
central Indiana called "the Limestone Belt." It is so called because, begin- 
ning about 1875, high quality limestone was quarried, milled, and carved 
there and shipped all over the United States. Most of this stone comes from 
Lawrence and Monroe Counties. To cite but a single example, the Empire 
State Building is sheathed with limestone, all of which came from a single 
quarry about half way between Bloomington, the county seat of Monroe 
County, and Bedford, the county seat of Lawrence County. The quarry, ap- 
propriately called "the Empire Quarry," was opened for this one job and has 
never been used since. The grave markers in the shape of broken-off tree 
trunks were called "rustic monuments" in more formal usage - in advertise- 
ments, for example - but in everyday speech they were usually called simply 
"tree stumps." The typical rustic monument consists of the lower part of a 
tree trunk, averaging about five feet in height, somewhat taller than what 

174 Warren E. Roberts 

would normally be called a tree stump, and often much taller. For purposes 
of brevity, the term "tree stone" will be used in this paper rather than "tree 
stump stone" (Figs. 1, 2 and 3). 

The earliest gravestone in the shape of a tree trunk that I have seen stands 
in the Orleans, Indiana, cemetery. It is made of marble and dated 1855. I 
have been told of another of the same date, in Ohio. Both are rather small, 
the actual tree trunk being only about three feet high plus a base. Rustic 
monuments of limestone begin to appear in the Limestone Belt in the 1870s. 
At first they too were small and few in number but in a few years they be- 
came larger in size and their numbers increased. By the 1880s the full-size 
tree stone, standing six and eight feet high, became common. In the 1930s 
their popularity began to diminish, and very few were carved after World 
War II. Very few of these gravestones were signed by the carver, and few 
records exist to identify the carver or the date of execution. That date is par- 
ticularly difficult to fix, for many stones include several family members, and 
it is evident that the earliest death date is not the date when the stone was 
carved. Accordingly, instead of attempting a detailed history, I propose to 
give in this paper some information about the companies which made large 
numbers of these monuments and about some of the individuals associated 
with these companies. I shall also discuss my conclusion that many of the 
tree stones found in other parts of the country and made of limestone 
originated, in one way or another, from the Limestone Belt. Over a period of 
fifteen years I have been interested in these tree stones, visiting cemeteries 
and talking with carvers and other stone men as occasion presented. I have 
written a number of articles on different aspects of the subject, and I am now 
writing a book on rustic monuments in Indiana's Limestone Belt. I have ex- 
tracted a chapter which represents but one facet of a multi-faceted topic, 
thinking it better to deal in some detail with one aspect of the whole subject 
rather than giving a necessarily superficial treatment of the whole.^ 

There is no doubt that the major figures in the production of tree stones 
from the Limestone Belt were Ferdinand O. Cross and John A. Rowe. The 
companies which they operated, both singly and jointly, produced great num- 
bers of such monuments, some of them truly outstanding for both execution 
and design. From the standpoint of the actual design and carving, F.O. Cross 

Rustic Monuments 175 

Fig. 3 Philbert Family (1902), Aiitioch Cenieiei;y, Greene County, Ind. 

seems to have been the more important of the two, while Rowe was perhaps 
the better businessman. Cross styled himself "The Originator of Rustic 
Monuments" in advertisements in such trade journals as The Monumental 
News.'* He worked in Chicago before moving to Bedford, Indiana. There are 
two pairs of tree stones of Indiana limestone in the Belvidere Cemetery in 
Boone County, Indiana, one for Belle Moulton Darneille (1852) and James 
W. Darneille (1884), carrying at their base the inscriptions "copyrighted by 
P.O. Cross Chicago" and "P.O. Cross 881 Wabash Ave. Chicago, 111." respec- 
tively (Pigs. 4a, b, c). There is another pair nearby in the same cemetery, that 
for Cephas Gardner (1881) and Permelia Bodwell (1882), which appear to be 
the work of Cross (Pig. 5). However, local craftsmen were also at work. The 
great majority of tree stones in this cemetery, and indeed throughout Boone 
County, were done by another hand, believed to be a local carver named 
Charles Strong. Examples are those of Richard G. and Emma Molony and 
their children (1846 - 1909) (Pig. 6), of the Pease children (1894, 1898) (Pig. 
7), and of Pred Hall and his wife (1892, 19--) (Pig. 8). 


Warren E. Roberts 

L ?1 

^ &^: '^^ 

Fig. 4a Belle Moulton Darnielle and James W. Darnielle (1876 and 1884), 
Belvidere Cemetery, Belvidere, Boone County, 111. Signed F.O. Cross. 

Fig. 4b Belle Darnielle Marker. Detail showing maker's name. 

Rustic Monuments 



• V 

Fig. 4c James Darnielle Marker. Detail showing maker's name. 

Cross moved from Chicago to Bedford, Indiana, probably in 1889, and 
started his own business, calHng it F.O. Cross & Co. In 1890 he took John A. 
Rowe into the business, and the firm was designated Cross & Rowe.^ The 
amount of work done by this firm can be gauged from a statement by the 
editor of the trade journal. Stone. Writing in 1895, he noted that the Cross & 
Rowe firm was "making a speciality of monuments cut from a very hard dark 
blue Bedford stone, which takes a very excellent polish and for which there is 
a great demand, and which they send to all parts of the United States and 

While there is no doubt that tree stones were Cross's stock-in-trade, with 
the collaboration from time to time of John A. Rowe, he carved many other 
items from Indiana limestone. Cross & Rowe was awarded first honors 
among exhibitors at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1892. A statue, "The Old 
Tramp," was the prize exhibit.^ At the Fair they also showed Gypsy kettles, 
chairs, settees, and rustic vases. The Gypsy kettle was suspended from a log 
held aloft by two tree trunks. The log and the tree trunks were festooned 
with garlands of flowers, the kettle was filled to overflowing with flowers, and 


Warren E. Roberts 







,1. ^ 

*,T*«i« , JByVJiM*.-*- 

Fig. 5 Cephas Gardner and Permelia Bodwell (1881 and 1882), Belvidere 
Cemetery, Belvidere, Boone County, 111. Probably carved by F.O. Cross. 

Fig. 6 Richard G. and Emma Molony and Children (1840-1909), Belvidere 
Cemetery, Belvidere, Boone County, 111. Probably carved by Charles Strong. 

Rustic Monuments 


Fig. 7 Pease Children (1894 and 1898), Belvidere Cemetery, Belvidere, 
Boone County, 111. Probably carved by Charles Strong. 

Fig. 8 Fred Hall (19- ) and Nellie Bowen his wife (1892), Blood Point 
Cemetery, Boone County, 111. 

180 Warren E. Roberts 

beneath the kettle was a fire of Hmestone firewood.^ At the Columbian Ex- 
position the firm also won honors with "a large vase in which the study of 
Halloween was developed in intricate carving."^ They also carved a soldier's 
monument in Dennison, Ohio, with soldiers and cannons. Included is "a 
happy squirrel between two spokes of the broken wheel nibbling an ear of 

There is no doubt that Cross and Rowe themselves carved most of these 
and other items. The editor of the trade magazine Stone reported in 1895, 
"While employing an average force of thirty-five workmen in their shops, it is 
the custom of these proprietors to do all the finest work and designing them- 
selves, a custom which is probably responsible for the fact that all the work 
turned out has an extremely finished appearance."" 

In January, 1896, the partners separated. Each established his own com- 
pany. Cross naming his P.O. Cross & Co., as before.^^ The "& Co." is ex- 
plained by the statement in an advertisement in 1899: "P.O. Cross, Sculptor 
and Designer, J. Sidney Villere, Monumental Architect" (Fig, 9).^^ The same 
advertisement states: "Our rustic designs of monuments are above all those 
of our would-be competitors and imitators." 

In advertisements for P.O. Cross & Co. there frequently appears a tree 
monument with a characteristic broken limb near the top (Fig. 9). It seems 
likely that Cross originated this motif; certainly he used it on many of his 
monuments both before and after his association with Rowe. A broken 
branch appears on the rustic monument which Cross and Rowe carved which 
stands in Rose Hill Cemetery, Chicago. It shows at its base a railroad car 
emerging from a tunnel. "This monument was erected by the United States 
postal clerks, to the memory of Superintendent Bangs, the originator of the 
railway post office."^"* Bangs died in 1877, but the monument must have been 
erected much later, for the firm of Cross & Rowe was not founded until 1890 
(Fig. 10). 

After he retired, Cross continued to carve, seemingly for his own amuse- 
ment. It is reported that he moved to a log house near the town of French 
Lick some thirty miles south of Bedford. The house was "wainscoted with 
slabs of polished stone on which he cut pastoral scenes depicting animals, 
birds, hunting events and such. He carved a mammoth fireplace and chim- 

Rustic Monuments 


ney from a single piece of stone which was artfully done to represent a tower- 
ing oak."^^ 

While Rowe may have supplied much of the business acumen to the firm 
of Cross & Rowe, it is also true that after the partnership split up the new 
John A. Rowe & Co. grew and continued to thrive well into the twentieth 
century. But Rowe must have been no mean carver and designer himself. 
An advertisement for his firm in 1898 shows a huge decaying tree stump with 
two children playing "Blind Man's Buff around it.^^ He published three 
"design books" entitled Rustic Monumental Designs between 1901 and 1922.^^ 
These designs plus those in his advertisements in the trade journal, 
Monumental News, show a wide variety of monuments. One of his designs 
shows a tree stone with a wide-brimmed hat intended as a memorial for a 
child (Fig. 11). A substantial number of tree stones using the hat motif have 
been observed in the Limestone Belt and elsewhere. It is probable that 
Rowe was the carver and designer of these, though other carvers may have 
borrowed the motif. 

F. O. CROSS & CO.. 



Monumental Works and . " *• ■ 

-'-. Lawn Ornaments. 

Fig. 9 F.O. Cross & Co. advertisement in Monumental News November 1899. 


Warren E. Roberts 

I'K'^^l: ^-^ 

^'Vv^;. *, 

_«>'^v> ' ''- V 


Fig. 10 George Bangs (1877), Rose Hill Cemetery, Chicago. Carved by 
F.O. Cross and John Rowe, erected 1894. Bangs was the originator of the 

railway post office. 

Rustic Monuments 


Fig. 11 Two designs from John A. Rowe's Rustic Monumental Designs, Design 

Book No. 3 (Bedford, Ind., 1922). Design no. 84 on the left weighed 800 

pounds and cost $50. Design no. 135 on the right weighed 700 pounds and 

cost $60. Design no. 135 uses the hat motif which has been found on a 

number of monuments in the Limestone Belt. 

Fig. 12 Design No. 168 at the top weighed 400 pounds and cost $28. 
The bench, design no. 95, weighed 1200 pounds and cost $33. 

184 Warren E. Roberts 

In addition to tree stones, Rowe designed and carved many other monu- 
ments and other items. His advertisements frequently refer to "soldiers," i.e., 
Civil War memorials; several times his advertisements mention "A Very Low 
Price on Soldiers."^^ His Design Book No. 3 shows a lifesize figure of a sailor, 
while some of his advertisements show a statue of a man in full lodge 
regalia.^^ His advertisements and design book also show a pulpit and baptis- 
mal fonts, benches both "rustic" and "Roman," as well as urns, sundials, bird 
baths, planters, and many other gravestones besides the rustic type (Fig. 12). 

Fortunately, a price list for Design Book No. 3 of 1922 has survived. It 
shows a relatively plain rustic monument four feet high and weighing 800 
pounds cost $50. Inscribed inscription letters cost 15 cents each, while raised 
letters cost 25 cents each. Costs of shipping were to be paid by the pur- 
chaser. A more elaborate tree stone with Rowe's characteristic broad- 
brimmed child's hat cost $60, while a seven-foot-high double tree-trunk 
marker replete with ferns, vines, and entwined branches weighed 6,000 
pounds and cost $240. A six-foot-high soldier alone cost $185, while a com- 
plete soldier monument with a large base cost $350. A "rustic" bench with 
ends carved as if made from branches cost $48 in the four-foot length while a 
pair of realistic stone lions five and a half feet long and two and a half feet 
high cost $225. 

Rowe died in 1941 at the age of eighty-three. He had been a staunch 
Methodist all his life and a generous benefactor of the church. He was also 
an avid golfer, playing regularly into his eighties. His company merged with 
the Indiana Limestone Company after his death.'^^ 

While it is probably true that the most important firms producing rustic 
monuments were those of F.O. Cross and John A. Rowe, there were other 
firms in the Limestone Belt which also made such gravestones. Stone carvers 
named Naugle were at work in Beck's Mill, a tiny community near Salem in 
Washington County, as early as 1870. Limestone of excellent quality was 
available there. Indeed, stone was quarried there at such an early date that 
all Indiana limestone is sometimes called Salem limestone. There are lime- 
stone obelisks in cemeteries near Salem dated 1870 and 1879 and bearing the 
legend, "Naugle, Beck's Mill." In March, 1894, an advertisement appeared in 
Monumental News showing a tree stone and announcing that "Estimates for 

Rustic Monuments 185 

any work in Salem Stone" would be given by John Naugle, Salem, Indiana. In 
March, 1901, John Naugle stated in the same journal that he had "erected the 
largest and best equipped Rustic Monumental shop in southern Indiana." 
This advertisement continued to appear in the journal throughout 1901, but 
Naugle seems not to have stayed in business much beyond that date. There 
is a tree stone in the Allensville Cemetery in Aberdeen, Indiana, dated 1897 
which bears the carver's name, Noah Naugle, Salem, Indiana. The relation- 
ship between John and Noah Naugle has not been established. 

In January, 1896, the Bedford Monumental Works, Thornton & France, 
Proprietors, advertised in Monumental News, "We make a speciality of Rustic 
Monuments." By May, 1897, however, the firm had gone out of business, and 
another advertisement in the same journal stated that J. H. C. France, 
Sculptor, was a "Wholesale Dealer in Statuary, Rustic and Rockfaced Monu- 
ments. Soldiers' Monuments a Speciality." 

A number of tree stones bear the name Currie & Son. Lawrence Currie, 
born in 1851, was a farmer in Owen County, northwest of Bloomington. In 
1896 he moved to Bloomington with his family and started a monument shop 
with his eldest son, John. He built a large shop of limestone very close to a 
railroad track a block west of the courthouse square. The building still 
stands; it is now used as a grocery store; and the name Currie & Son and the 
date 1903 are still visible on the facade. Although Lawrence Currie lived to 
be ninety, dying in Bloomington in 1941,-^ his monument business was last 
listed in the Bloomington City Directory in 1920. As a monument dealer, he 
handled granite and marble gravestones as well as those of local limestone. 
Some of the limestone tree monuments from his shop depict an ax with the 
handle broken off and embedded in a stub beside the main stump (Fig. 13). 
Monuments with this motif have been found only in the Bloomington area or 
on monuments elsewhere bearing the name of the Currie firm. Hence it 
seems likely that this motif was popularized by the Curries, though other 
Bloomington carvers may have used it. 

Belden M. Correll was involved with two companies. Correll and Burrell, 
"Wholesale Rustic and Rockfaced Monumental Works, Odon, Indiana" ad- 
vertised in Monumental News between 1896 and 1898. Many of their adver- 
tisements showed tree stones. By 1901 Correll had taken a new partner and 


Warren E. Roberts 

moved to Bloomington, as other advertisements in the same journal attest. 
The new firm was Correll and Groh. Their advertisements also occasionally 
show rustic monuments. Correll's partner was David Groh who, according to 
the 1900 census, had been born in Pennsylvania in 1867. This firm did not 
stay in business long, for entries in the Bloomington City Directory soon 
show Correll in business by himself as a dealer in monuments and building 
stone. The last such entry appears in 1916. 

It seems probable that other firms both large and small produced and sold 
rustic monuments. Moreover, there were presumably many individual car- 
vers who made such monuments. One of the results of my survey has been to 
show that far more monuments were produced than were needed locally. 
The evidence is sufficient to satisfy me that both firms and individual carvers 
shipped these monuments virtually all over the forty-eight contiguous states. 
The advertisements of the various firms clearly show that they were produc- 
ing rustic monuments for a national rather than a local market. Moreover, 
carvers and others associated with the stone industry have stated that tree 
stones were carved locally and shipped all over the United States.^^ 

Fig. 13 Fannie S. Koons (1893), Koontz Cemetery, Monroe County, Ind. 
Note ax head with broken handle. 

Rustic Monuments 187 

IHigh-Grade Granite 
AND Marble Statuary 

ltl«ttt> Iw liratitlt sit.i B'.'«K 

Fig. 14 F. Barnicoat advertisement in Monumental News January 1898. 

It is clear that rustic monuments were in demand in many parts of the 
United States and Canada. The question arises, however, as to why these 
stones were carved in Indiana and shipped long distances. One factor is the 
very nature of the limestone itself. 

Some stone such as granite is so hard that it does not lend itself to the 
intricate carving of an elaborate rustic monument. This fact is highlighted by 
statements in an advertisement in Monumental News in January, 1898. The 
advertisement shows a tree trunk with a cross, an anchor, and rope at the 
base (Fig. 14). The carver, F. Barnicoat of South Quincy, Massachusetts, is 
proud of his ability to carve intricate designs in granite. He quotes a letter 
from the dealer for whom he made the monument. The dealer wrote, "The 
Westerly Granite Statue. . . with rustic tree, is by far the finest piece of 
granite statuary in South Jersey. . . A friend said, . . . 'Don't say it is granite, 
such relief work is impossible in anything but Indiana limestone and Italian 
marble!'" Clearly, Indiana limestone was normally used when intricate work, 
and especially relief work, was demanded. Soft material such as sandstone, 
on the other hand, would probably have crumbled if one had attempted to 

188 Warren E. Roberts 

carve it in high relief. It is possible to see, therefore, that when a fully 
detailed rustic monument was wanted, it was usually carved from Indiana 

But why ship a carved marker rather than a limestone block? A finished 
tree stone would weight about two thirds as much as the block of stone from 
which it had been carved. Hence the finished monument would have cost 
rather less to ship,^^ although of course the risk from damage in shipment 
would be far greater. Moreover, when the limestone first comes from the 
ground it has a great deal of moisture in it (stone men refer to it as "green" 
when it is in this state). Such stone is comparatively soft. As the moisture 
evaporates, the stone hardens. When the stone has weathered for some time, 
the outer surface becomes especially hard. It is for this reason that an old 
limestone surface should never be sandblasted in attempts to clean it. And it 
is also for this reason that stone mills in which the limestone was cut and 
carved developed in Bloomington and Bedford -- the sooner the stone was 
carved after coming from the ground, the easier it was to carve. Still another 
reason why the finished carvings were shipped, and perhaps the most impor- 
tant one, was the skill and experience of the carvers. While skilled carvers 
were certainly to be found in many places in the country, the Limestone Belt 
carvers had long experience in carving limestone and were familiar with the 
special techniques it demanded. 

Tree stones are found in many states other than Indiana, ranging from 
New York to California and from Minnesota to Texas and Florida. Many of 
them, if made of limestone and especially if intricately carved, probably came 
from the Indiana Limestone Belt. Indiana had a thriving industry in the 
material and adept carvers. Much of the limestone used in the United States 
for buildings, monuments and other purposes came from there, although not 
all rustic monuments using Indiana limestone were carved in the Limestone 

Various Chicago firms bear testimony to this in their advertising. One 
such firm, F. WoUmerath, advertised in Monumental News in January, 1896, 
that it was a "Manufacturer of Rustic Monuments in Bedford Stone, Yards 
and Mills at Chicago." As has been noted above, Ferdinand O. Cross carved 
tree stones from Indiana limestone while working in Chicago before moving 

Rustic Monuments 189 

to Bedford, Indiana. Another Chicago firm, Arcourt and Schaber, showed 
tree stones in their advertisements in Monumental News in January, 1890, 
and May, 1891, while the McGee Marble and Granite Company of Chicago 
advertised in the same journal throughout 1891 that it could provide, "Rustic 
Monuments made from the celebrated Bedford Stone." It is possible that 
these two firms sold monuments that had been carved in Indiana and shipped 
north to them. Nonetheless, the presence of large numbers of rustic monu- 
ments in Chicago cemeteries and in cemeteries in northern Illinois makes it 
seem likely that there was an active industry in Chicago, and perhaps nearby, 
producing tree stones from limestone shipped north from the Limestone 

There are other possible explanations for the presence of tree stones of 
Indiana limestone in other parts of the country. Carvers from Bloomington 
and Bedford traveled to distant cities to work at sites where buildings such as 
courthouses or cathedrals were being constructed. A considerable amount of 
on-site carving was needed, and often carvers had to stay in distant cities for 
long periods of time. It has been reported that these itinerant carvers some- 
times made rustic monuments in their spare time, probably from blocks of 
stone shipped from the Limestone Belt.^ 

Some rustic monuments were carved far from the Limestone Belt by local 
carvers who used blocks of limestone shipped from Indiana. A monument 
dealer in Bloomfield, Indiana, told me that his business had been started by 
his father, who went to Bedford as a young man and learned to carve lime- 
stone as an apprentice before moving to Bloomfield.^ James Slater states, "I 
have a letter from the daughter of a stone carver named Charles Strong [of 
northern Illinois] in which she states that she clearly remembers large blocks 
of stone coming in on flat cars from Bedford, Ind. and that her father spent 
all winter carving these"^^ (Figs. 6-8). 

Other local carvers may simply have added their own names to tree stones 
actually produced in the Limestone Belt. For example, there are two inter- 
esting tree stones in a cemetery in Vincennes, Indiana, a city well outside the 
Limestone Belt. One stone has a wrecked train at its base, for the man 
memorialized had died in such an accident, while the other has at its base an 
anvil to show that the decedent had been a blacksmith. Both stones are 

190 Warren E. Roberts 

signed "P.J., Burns City." Burns City is actually a rather small town on the 
southwestern outskirts of the Limestone Belt. A careful search of the per- 
tinent census records has failed to show a single carver living in Burns City or 
in the township in which it is located, let alone one with the initials P.J. 
While there are a few tree stones in the Burns City cemetery, none of them 
resembles the Vincennes stones in any significant way. Indeed, an unbiased 
observer would have to conclude that none of the tree stones in the Burns 
City cemetery displays either the mastery of technical skills or the creative 
genius of the carver of the Vincennes monuments. The only conclusion to be 
drawn is that some dealer in Burns City ordered the monuments in question, 
from one of the master carvers in Bedford probably, and delivered them to 
Vincennes after adding his initials and address.^^ 

There is another, and an important, explanation for the rustic monuments 
that are scattered throughout the United States. Two fraternal societies that 
strongly resemble one another are the Modern Woodmen of America 
(M.W.A.), founded in 1883, and the Woodmen of the World (W.O.W.), 
founded in 1890. Both organizations offered insurance benefits to their 
members. They also recommended that the graves of deceased members be 
marked with tree stones. The Woodmen of the World was especially strong 
in the southeastern United States and there are many tree stones for the 
members in southern cemeteries.^^ 

There seem to be fairly clear differences between these M.W.A. and 
W.O.W. monuments and those upon which this paper has concentrated. 
Many of the M.W.A. and W.O.W. monuments are carved from granite. They 
are smaller and less intricate than other tree stones and have no relief carv- 
ing. Whether of granite or of limestone, these fraternal markers usually dis- 
play the insignia of the society prominently. The emblem of the M.W.A. con- 
sists of an ax, a beetle (mallet), a wedge, and other items, all displayed on a 
shield. The emblem of the W.O.W. consists of a circle with a tree stump in 
its center and the name of the society around the outer edge of the circle. 

Rustic tree stones produced in, or derived from, the Limestone Belt in In- 
diana represent a unique and interesting form of memorial. Their popularity 
was confined to a comparatively brief period ~ from the 1870s to the 1930s. 
The carvers of the area were skilled and creative, and their work was 

Rustic Monuments 191 

reproduced, or carried in one form or another, to all parts of the country. 
Both the stones and their carvers deserve a more extensive and detailed 
study than has been possible in these notes. 


The photographs in Figures 4 through 8 were taken by Dr. James Slater, that in Figure 10 by 
Robert Wright, and the others by the author. 

1. Robert Manwaring, TJie Cabinet and Chair-Maker's Real Friend and Companion 
(London, 1765. Reprinted London, 1970), plates 26 and 27. 

2. Mary Durant, Tlie American Heritage Guide to Antiques (New York, 1970). Unpaginated, 
see under "Rustic Style." 

3. Warren E. Roberts, "Tools on Tombstones: Some Indiana Examples," Pioneer America, 
10:1 (June, 1978), 106-111; "Traditional Tools as Symbols: Some Examples from Indiana 
Tombstones," Pioneer America 12:1 (February, 1980), 54-63; "Tombstones in Scotland 
and Indiana," Folk Life, 23:97-105 (1984/5); "Investigating the Tree-Stump Tombstone in 
Indiana" in Simon J. Bronner, ed., American Material Culture and Folklife (Ann Arbor, 
1985), 135-145; "The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Originals and Imitations in 'Rustic 
Monuments' of the Limestone Belt of Indiana" in Warren E. Roberts, Viewpoints on 
Folklife: Looking at the Overlooked (Ann Arbor, 1988), 145-161. 

4. Monumental News, 11:10 (Nov. 1899). 

5. "F.O. Cross, the rustic monument dealer of Bedford, Indiana, has admitted Jno. A. Rowe 
into the business. The firm name is now Cross & Rowe." Monumental News, 3:1 (Jan. 
1890), 39. 

6. Stone, 10 (1894/5), 160. The dark blue limestone referred to has a bluish cast when first 
quarried, but as it weathers, it comes to resemble other limestones in color. Limestone is 
virtually pure calcium carbonate. Acid rain quickly pits the surface of the stone and any 
highly polished surface would only remain so for a short time, especially in an area where 
coal with a high sulphur content was burned in furnaces in homes and factories. 

7. Stone, 62 (1941), 285. This is mentioned in Rowe's obituary. 

8. Stone, 10 (1894/5), 159-160. 

9. Stone, 62 (1941), 285. For information on the Columbian Exposition see Trumbell White 
and William Igleheart, Tlte World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (Chicago, 
1893); Robert W. Rydell, All the World's a Fair: Visions of Empire at American Interna- 
tional Expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago, 1984); and Ben C. Truman, History of the World's 
Fair (Chicago, 1893). 

10. Monumental News, 3:7 (July, 1891), 258. 

192 Warren E. Roberts 

11. Stone, 10 (1894/5), 160. 

12. Monumental News, 8:1 (Jan. 1896). 

13. Monumental News, 11:11 (Nov. 1899) 

14. Stone, 10 (1894/5), 160. 

15. James M. Guthrie, A Quarter Century in Lawrence County, Indiana, 1917-1941 (Bedford, 
Ind. 1984), 123. 

16. Monumental News, 10:4 (April, 1898). 

17. The editor of Monumental News noted in 13:9 (Sept. 1901), 542, "We have received from 
John A. Rowe of Bedford, Indiana. . . his Book No. 1 of Rustic Monumental Designs." 
Prof. James A. Slater owns a copy of Rowe's Book No. 3 published in 1922 which he has 
kindly loaned me. No copies of Books Nos. 1 and 2 have been located. 

18. Monumental News, 10:1 (January, 1898), for instance. 

19. Monumental News, 9:8 (August, 1897), for instance. 

20. Guthrie, Quarter Century (note 15), 142. 

21. Biographical data for Currie is drawn mostly from his obituary in the Bloomington Daily 
Telephone, July 22, 1941, p. 1. 

22. Nancy Michael, "All I Ever Had to Make Money With Was My Hands: Stonecutting in 
Southern Indiana," Mid-America Folklore, 9:2 (1981), 56, and see also the quotation 
referred to in note 6. 

23. Nancy Michael (note 22), 37, specifically states that shipping rates made it economically 
advantageous to carve and cut stone in Bedford rather than sending the rough stone to be 
carved or cut in some distant locality. She bases this statement on a series of interviews 
with old-time carvers from Bedford and Bloomington. 

24. Information kindly supplied by Prof. Tom Coleman of Indiana University. An elderly 
carver in St. Paul, Minnesota had told him that some of the tree stones in the area had 
been carved in this way. 

25. Interview with Mr. L.C. Holt of Bloomfield, Indiana on August 10, 1986 at his monument 

26. Letter written by James Slater to Theodore Chase dated November 22, 1988. 

27. Mrs. Toni Cook of South Bend, Indiana, kindly sent me photographs of a tree stone in 
the city cemetery with the name of a local carver, J. Bolton, on it. As a result of her 
research, she concludes that Bolton probably obtained a monument from some dealer 
and carved the appropriate names on it, but added his own name as if he had been the 
carver of the entire monument. 

28. Information on the organizations and their monuments is drawn from two sources. The 

Rustic Monuments 193 

first is Gregory Jeane, "Trees in the Land of the Dead: A Cultural Geographic Analysis 
of Woodmen of the World Monuments in Southern Cemeteries," Newsletter of the As- 
sociation for Gravestone Studies, 7:4 (Fall, 1983), 6. This is a summary of a paper given 
at the 1983 meeting of the Association. The second source is Alvin J. Schmidt, Fraternal 
Organizations (Westport, Conn., 1980), 218-219. 



Monroe Coun.ty. 

Ma:!'''"' n'^i^^>^S^C) 

Fig. 1 Map of Monroe County, Indiana, 1876 



Jennifer Lucas 

This paper discusses the stonecutters who worked in Bloomington, seat of 
Monroe County, Indiana, in the nineteenth century. No work has yet been 
done on the subject, and resources are scarce. Unfortunately, few pubUc 
records concerning death and burial were kept in early Bloomington. There 
are marriage license applications and fairly accurate census records. But the 
law did not require the keeping of death records until 1890, and Rose Hill 
Cemetery in Bloomington did not begin keeping track of burials until 1892. 
Therefore, most of the information in this paper was compiled by fieldwork, 
photographic comparison of stones, and some invaluable contributions ac- 
knowledged in the notes. 

Monroe County is located in south central Indiana (Fig. 1). The County's 
earliest settlers arrived about 1816, when Indiana was admitted as a state. 
They came mainly from Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas. Some 
were drawn by the promise of land priced at $2.00 an acre. On this land, 
along the waterways of Clear Creek, Little Indian Creek, Jack's Defeat 
Creek, Bean Blossom, Allen's, and Salk Creek, small settlements formed 
around the mills built there. The county seat, Bloomington, laid out in 1818, 
was selected for its central location, and named for the profusion of bloom- 
ing wildflowers in the area. The settlers from the Carolinas, who have some 
of the most beautifully crafted gravestones in the county, came to Indiana 
because it was a free state, and they were ardent abolitionists. The religion 
they brought with them, Presbyterianism, continues today in Bloomington as 
the Reformed Presbyterian Church. 

The first cemetery, called The Grave Yard, was originally located about 
one mile due west of the heart of town. Today The Grave Yard is called 
Rose Hill Cemetery. It was renamed in 1892 at the instance of The Ladies 
Cemetery Assocation.^ 

Before the railroads were laid in 1854, transportation was accomplished 
mainly by ox cart. Stone could be imported from virtually anywhere in the 
country, shipped along waterways to the Ohio River, along the southern bor- 
der of Indiana. Rockport, Indiana, near Evansville, had the largest transport 

196 Jennifer Lucas 

business on the river. Once the stone was dehvered by boat to Rockport, it 
was carried to all points in Indiana by ox cart. After the advent of the rail- 
road, ox cart transportation all but disappeared, as the railroads were not 
only faster but cheaper. The laying of the Monon Railroad through town 
brought about many changes. Most significantly for purposes of this paper, 
the size and material of gravestones became more varied than in the previous 
thirty-six years of Bloomington history. The earliest stones at Rose Hill seem 
to be the best, both in terms of material and artistic quality. 

The oldest stones in Monroe County, dating from 1821 to the mid-1850s, 
are nearly all made from local limestone. The quarrying of limestone did not 
begin until about 1875, so we know that these early stones were made from 
stone found on the surface of the land, or from stone that could be broken 
out from a very shallow depth. It is the speculation of one stonecarving 
couple with forty years combined experience^ that some of the markers were 
cut from scraps of stone designated as unsuitable for building material, called 
"spall," and that the carvers used the barter system for payment. On the 
other hand, both limestone and sandstone can be found in easily accessible 
outcroppings all over the county. A carver could have simply broken off a 
slab of stone from his own property to make a gravestone. After the rail- 
roads came, a grainy white marble from Georgia replaced local stone as the 
most popular material for gravestones. Limestone, in its natural gradations 
of Indiana gray, buff, and blue, enjoyed a resurgence of popularity from the 
1880s to the turn of the century. This gradually gave way to polished granite, 
then to bronze markers set flush with the ground. At least one monument in 
a Monroe County cemetery is made of Carrara marble. Lifelong stonecarver 
Harold "Dugan" Elgar made his own memorial - a copy of Michaelangelo's 
Tieta' - in 1968, and had it placed in Clear Creek Cemetery. It seems ironic 
that a master of limestone like Elgar would want his own monument made of 
marble and granite, but apparently he knew that these materials would 
withstand the elements far better than native limestone.-' 

A death date of January 1, 1821, is recorded on the stone of Kittura Hard- 
esty in Rose Hill Cemetery, Bloomington's first and largest burial ground. 
This is probably the earliest gravestone in Monroe County, although the 
stone may have been carved later and back-dated. There is an earlier death 

Monroe County, Indiana 


date, May 6, 1818, on a family monument in the tiny (eighteen stones) 
Rogers family cemetery, located on the Indiana University campus. This 
date is among eight on the same monument, the latest of which is 1856. 
Judging from the style and arrangement of the lettering, it is apparent that 
the monument was erected long after 1818. 

The earliest signed gravestone in Monroe County is dated January 18, 
1828, and was erected in memory of seven-month-old Jonathan Day (Fig. 2). 
The signers were Nelson and Corsaw. Nelson was Thomas Nelson, a 
prominent stonecarver from Lafayette, Indiana. Corsaw was Jonathan Cor- 
saw, originally from Pennsylvania. What is known of these two men is 
sketchy and confusing. There are newspaper ads for the company of Nelson 
and Corsaw appearing in Bloomington and Lafayette newspapers in 1841, 
within five months of each other (Figs. 3a and Sb)." Jonathan Corsaw is not 
listed in the Monroe County census until 1850, although there are stones 
signed "Nelson + Corsaw, Blo'ton" and "J. Corsaw, Bloomington, In." that 
date back to 1832. 

Fig. 2 Jonathan Day, 1828, Rose Hill. 


Jennifer Lucas 

CopartiuT'^htj) Nat ice. 



'■^IHR UiUler&i^ncd liave enlfrtMi.Uj cci{3ortncr?hip, 
U luidfr the ii.inip nui! ^lyle ol T. Nulsou &, Jouii- 
ihHO Cor-a'.v, Jr. im liie puijjosf '.f rj, ,ry ill^ ^.u thf Stune 
CtiUittg Ui h I'e&i, III the lov.ii of BloOi!iiM»'Qii,,(.p{jii5ite to 
ilie C <uit lli'U.S'-, w here tiiey will coiiataiitly keep on 
haiKi. ;iii Hssntimeiit of 

Head Slones, Tu/ubs, M<mamentSy 
ChiiniLey Pieces, 

Aiiii all kiuds ol budding v,</ik m ib< ir line of business. 
By a sir.Li aiteiiuoii lo Uuiiueka, we hope to merit a 
^hHl■e of public pauon.'igc. 

'J'HOM \S NHL-^ON, } 
May 2 hh, 181!. o7-3. 

SCone Ikittin^ anO Hit ^ruTli)^ 

^KLSON ^ CORSAW would ^especUully 
. |_^ inforrn the Citizens tif Lafayette and ita vi- 
ciDiiy, thai they haVe coi»mencea lEa 

;ia all ita. vano'irs branch^^ ill l^stfiallbtfiek buil4/ 
ing on the wo«t 8i(Je<»f Obioritre^^, a«feoi!,t)distan(56 
south of Coltimbia gftrQ,et. ^. Tliy-.wUl constantly 

FOOT ^ S^OI^TBS.^ .TQMmk':':^QNU- 

8 upo^bp article. ,' .^.-.^f: • ' ,. " ''^ /\" 

Figs. 3a and b Nelson and Corsaw ads, Bloomington and Lafayette 


Monroe County, Indiana 


Jonathan Corsaw was born in Pennsylvania in 1795. He, his wife EHzabeth 
and daughter Mary may appear in the Monroe County Census of 1850. His 
occupation is listed as "stonecutter."^ His work was done exclusively in 
sandstone and is probably the most creative and artistic to be found in the 
area. The stones of the Orchard children at Rose Hill, seven in all, reflect 
the variety and imagination of the Corsaw workshop (Fig. 4). His urn-and- 
willow stones had a distinctive, elegant style of lettering. His many works, 
signed "JC" or "J. Corsaw" are concentrated mainly in the Bloomington 
cemeteries of Rose Hill, White Oak, and Covenanter, but can be found as far 
away as twelve miles northwest and twenty-five miles south of the city of 
Bloomington. Perhaps his finest work is the Robert White stone in the 
White Oak cemetery (Fig. 5). This stone stands over five feet tall, and is 
carved in local sandstone, probably quarried a short distance to the west, in 
Owen County. As in all of Corsaw's work, the words are spaced and lettered 
flawlessly. He was a talented artist as well as a master craftsman, and it is 
fortunate that so much of his work has survived. 

Fig. 4 Orchard plot, 1829 - 1839, Rose Hill. 

200 Jennifer Lucas 

% ;-. 

Fig. 5 Robert White, 1842, White Oak Cemetery. 

Jonathan Corsaw died in 1861 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery, sur- 
rounded by his family and his life's work. He shares a stone with his wife 
Elizabeth, who died in 1862. Their graves are marked with a commercially 
produced, plain marble-like stone bearing the weathered signature of a later 
carver, E. M. Burt. 

Jesse Corsaw, like his father Jonathan, is listed in the 1850 Census of 
Monroe County: Born 1814 in Ohio; wife Catharine, born 1820 in Pennsyl- 
vania; daughter Sarah born 1838; daughter Julia born 1841; son Homer 
Duane born 1846; daughter Mary born 1848; and son Samuel born 1849, all 
in Indiana. Homer Duane Corsaw died in his youth; his Rose Hill gravestone 
is broken in half and the date is illegible. Another son, George Washington 
Corsaw, was born June 28, 1844, and died July 4, 1848. His Rose Hill stone 
is in immaculate condition. According to the 1850 Census, Jesse Corsaw was 
a stonecutter, worth $1000. Stonecutters exercised their creative and design- 
ing skills only when they were called upon to make a gravestone.^ Jesse Cor- 
saw and his partner, known only as Andrews,^ were not as creative as other 
carvers for the time span 1850-1856, and one suspects that they were more 

Monroe County, Indiana 


the construction type of cutter. All of their markers are of native sandstone 
that has aged to a point where it resembles white marble. They are either 
plain or decorated with a single floral design. They are unremarkable in con- 
cept or execution-a sign of the end of craftsmanship in tombstone carving. 
Jesse's work appears in only two cemeteries, Bloomington's Rose Hill and 
White Oak. Three of his children are buried in Rose Hill, beside their 
grandparents, but Jesse's grave is either unmarked or located elsewhere. 

During the 1850s in Monroe County there also lived a young man named 
Charles Farmer. He, like the Corsaws, is listed in the 1850 census as a 
stonecutter. He was born in Ohio in 1825, married Elizabeth Isominger of 
Monroe County January 1, 1846, and two daughters, Sarah, born in 1846, and 
Harriet, born in 1848, are listed. Farmer's talent is especially evident in his 
lettering. Only four of his works can be located, all in Rose Hill Cemetery 
and all signed. The earliest is a tomb cover, or slab, measuring two feet by 
five feet, for Bennet LaBoyteaux, age seven (Fig. 6). It was placed a number 
of years after the youngster's death in 1833; if it were contemporary, this 

Fig. 6 Bennet LaBoyteaux, 1833, Rose Hill Cemetery. 

(The dark color derives from an accumulation of dirt disclosed 

when a later covering tablet was removed.) 

202 Jennifer Lucas 

would mean that Charles, when a mere boy, was responsible for a 300-pound 
piece of work! Despite its elegance and beauty, the cover was replaced in the 
1860s because of a glaring spelling error (Laberteaux instead of the proper 
LaBoyteaux) in the original. This seems to indicate an interesting pronuncia- 
tion of the French name, not surprising for southern Indiana. Two other 
Farmer stones are dated 1851, and both bear carvings of the popular weeping 
willow tree. Farmer and Jonathan Corsaw were the only stonecarvers to sign 
work bearing the willow design. However, there are hundreds of willow 
stones in Monroe County which are as yet unidentified. 

Fifteen stones in Bloomington's three city cemeteries are signed "I. 
WALKER," all in capitals, in the bottom right-hand corner. At least one 
other, the James Wilson stone, can safely be attributed to him. The signature 
on the Wilson stone is not visible, but it could be several feet underground. 
An example of an extremely low-placed signature is the Isabella Campbell 
stone at Rose Hill Cemetery (Fig. 7). Features of Walker's work include 
fan-engraved corners and small elegant lettering. None of his stones is taller 
than thirty-two inches from top to ground-line. He used as many words as 
possible for the vital statistics, rarely abbreviated, never carved epitaphs, and 
developed a distinctive style of numbering, as appears in the stone for Nancy 
Gordon (Fig. 8). 

The name Isaac Walker does not appear as a 'head of household' in any 
Monroe County census records. A newspaper advertisement in The 
Bloomington Post puts his arrival in Monroe County in 1841, one year after 
the census (Fig. 9), and the inscription on his gravestone tells us that he died 
in 1848, two years before the next census, aged about forty-three. When 
Isaac Walker died, he left his widow Ann and six children. His youngest, 
Laura, was born that same year. Twenty years later, on October 19, 1868, 
Laura Walker married Tolbert H. Sudbury, one of the most prominent 
stonecarvers of post-Civil War Bloomington.^ In fact, Sudbury's shop was 
responsible for the white marble obelisk marking the graves of Isaac, Ann, 
and their son Thomas. 

David Johnston is listed in the 1870 Census of Monroe County as a 
stonecutter, born in Ohio, age thirty-nine, married to Jane Gilliland in 1858, 
with a daughter, born in 1860, and a son, born in 1864. Stones bearing the 

Monroe County, Indiana 203 

printed signature of "Johnston" appear from 1854-1872. These are found 
mainly in church-affiliated cemeteries-South Union Christian, Clear Creek 
Christian, and Covenanter, which has been exclusively Presbyterian since 
1838. One stone, in Rose Hill, is weathered beyond recognition, except for 
the deeply-incised signature of D. M. Johnston. It is the only known stone 
bearing the carver's initials. 

Johnston's work was notable for its hand and flower designs and for its 
sheer volume. After he joined with Tolbert H. Sudbury, even more stones 
show up, signed "Johnston + Sudbury." Dozens of examples, all in white 
sandstone, can be found in all parts of Monroe County, as well as in sur- 
rounding Greene, Lawrence, Morgan, and Owen counties. His designs were 
varied, but most of them followed the fashion of the Civil War period: 
clasped hands, known as the "Farewell" design; a pointing hand, known as 
the "Gone Home" design; roses in all variations; doves; and angels. Many 
Johnston stones are undecorated, but all have similar lettering styles and pat- 

Fig. 7 Isabella Campbell, 1828, Rose Hill Cemetery. 


Jennifer Lucas 



Fig. 8 Nancy Gordon, 1839, Covenanter Cemetery. 


T'HE jubicfib'f uou'id TP<pPClfuV.y inform the iuhab- 
ita-j's of B'oo;p,if;;'on at,d its vicinity, tliat he has 
CO nnieuced the above buiiaess on niain s-'treet, one door 
North of the Female Academy, wnere iie will const ml- 
!y ki'-ep on hand an assnrtineul of fiead Stone?, Tombs 
and Monuments of fine Lime and Free Stone; Fire Pla- 
ces, Ciiioinej Pipe*, building work botli n\odera and an- 
cien!; a!so cellar wal: irg ^nd chimney building, will be 
executed to orner. He flatters btmsclf from his exppri- 
ence, f;rthe last 25 years in the above bu-ine.'s (having 
worked on t'le most splendid buil ling? in the world) that 
he wii] ba able to render entire Batisfjction tonli uho 
may give him a calh ^Vork done on the shortest notice 
aid uith prompt r^ttrntion and on ihe most reasonable 
terniB. Ail kinds of pru^uce taken in ^"syment. 

,, , ,„ ISAAC WALKCR. 

^'^•^- 50=.h,ie.i|. 34-3mo 

Fig. 9 Bloomington Post advertisement for Walker. 

Monroe County, Indiana 205 

Johnston's sometime partner, Tolbert Sudbury, is a much better known 
figure than his predecessors because of his prominence in the community of 
Bloomington and because of the fact that his life ended when accurate 
records were kept, and accounts of the death of notable persons given in the 
newspapers. Sudbury was born in Coshocton, Ohio, on March 1, 1837. He 
worked on the Wabash and Erie Canal before learning the marble-cutting 
trade. Just before the Civil War he set up shops in Lafayette and Gosport, 
Indiana, working as a stonecutter. He then served in the War, was wounded 
three times, and retired to Bloomington with injuries that permanently 
damaged his lungs. Sudbury operated a "marble-cutting shop" from 1865 to 
approximately the turn of the century. He was a very active politician, and 
owned a large amount of property, both business and residential. 

There are over 200 stones in Monroe County that bear the signature, "T. 
H. Sudbury" or "Johnston + Sudbury." Most are unremarkable and followed 
the fashions of the day, just as David Johnston's work did. The Amanda 
Koons stone (Harmony Cemetery) is an exception to the assembly-line for- 
mat (Fig. 10). On the Harriet Blakely stone (Clear Creek Cemetery) is a less 
frequently used design-an angel in flight, dropping flowers (Fig. 11). The 
angel was used to represent the ascent of the soul to heaven and nearly al- 
ways appears as female. In Sudbury's work, with only one exception, the an- 
gel motif appears on stones for young unmarried women. 

Sudbury died on September 6, 1912. His obituary describes him as 
"valued citizen, gallant soldier, a former public official and a prominent 
fraternity member."^ Sudbury's home still stands in downtown Bloomington, 
divided into apartments. The building that bears his name on the 
Bloomington square now houses a women's clothing store. Sudbury, his wife 
Laura, and their son Bedford, are all buried at Rose Hill under a large gray 
granite marker set by Tolbert Sudbury in approximately 1880. 

Edwin M. Burt worked with Tolbert Sudbury for at least a short period. 
There are two stones, both dated 1858, that are signed, "Burt and Sudbury, 
Bloomington." Burt was born in Massachusetts in 1831, married Harriet But- 
ler of Monroe County, had two daughters, and appears in the 1870 census of 
Monroe County with occupation listed as stonecutter.^^ There are stones 
from the 1850s that bear his signature, but the first indication of his residence 


Jennifer Lucas 

Fig. 10 Amanda Koons, 1880, Harmony Cemetery. 


Fig. 11 Harriet Blakely, 1878, Clear Creek Cemetery. 

Monroe County, Indiana 


appears on June 26, 1862, when he married Miss Harriet Butler. And in the 
1870 census he is Hsted as a resident of the city of Bloomington. 

Burt's finest work is the stone for Mary Patton and child, found in the 
Richland Cemetery, Whitehall, Indiana (Fig. 12). The spelling error 
("sleepes") is the only flaw. The signature gives a clue to the carver's 
residence at the time. He signed approximately eighty stones, all within 
Monroe County. They are very similar to those of Johnston and Sudbury. 
Slight variations in lettering distinguish his unsigned works from those of 
other carvers. Burt carved stones for many veterans. A common motif on 
these stones was a combination of flag, tents, and cannonballs, as on the 
Isaac Buskirk stone in Mt. Gilead Cemetery, northeast of Bloomington (Fig. 
13). Burt's whereabouts after 1870 have not been ascertained. The latest 
stone bearing his signature is dated 1867. 

It is hoped that this modest overview of the identifiable nineteenth- 
century carvers of Monroe County, Indiana, all of whom worked, at one time 
or another, in Bloomington, the county seat, will be extended to other times 
and to other stonecutters in the county and in the state. 


-l^fcr \tr, ff*s h»t ittt 


_^'.:. ' 

-'HiidMhiii 'ft I 

. f:^rj.: 

Fig. 12 Mary Patton, 1861, Richland Cemetery. 


Jennifer Lucas 

^ J S}m 71)1.2 :dk\ 

t ' ^ 




Fig. 13 Isaac Buskirk, 1864, Mt. Gilead Cemetery. 

All of the cemeteries listed below are in Monroe County, Indiana, except 
for Greene County Chapel. Rose Hill, Covenanter, White Oak, Dunn and 
Rogers Cemeteries are all in Bloomington, the last two being on the campus 
of Indiana University; Springville #2 is in the town of Springville; Riverside 
is in Spencer; Mount Carmel and Swafford are in Stinesville; Green Hill is in 
Bedford; Ketcham is near the abandoned site of Victor, six miles south of 
Bloomington, and the EUer family cemetery is in Section 10, Van Buren 
Township; it is now the site of the Monroe County Airport. Gravestones 
shown in the illustrations and not appearing in the following lists are in 
cemeteries known as Harmony, ten miles southeast of Bloomington, near the 
community of Harmony (Fig. 10); Clear Creek, in an old village four miles 
south of Bloomington (Fig. 11); Richland, in the village of Whitehall, eight 
miles west of Bloomington (Fig. 12); and Mt. Gilead, two and one half miles 
northeast of Bloomington (Fig. 13). 

Monroe County, Indiana 


Stones Carved by Jonathan Corsaw 1795-1861 


Jonathan Day *** 

Washington Carter 

Joseph Orchard * 

James Orchard * * 

John Orchard * * 

Margery A.E. Orchard ** 

Margery A. Orchard ** 

Rebecca Moore 

Robert FuUerton 

Infant Allen 

Martha Allen 

Victoria Orchard * * 

Harriet Orchard ** 

Cornwall Stevenson 

Hannah Paugh * 

Elizabeth Whaley 

William Lowe 

Maria Adams 

Robert White 

Jennet Strong 

John & Martha Millen 

Robert Clark * 

Elihu Carter 

Margaret Gorley 

Elizabeth Littrell 

Jonathan & Euphema Corsaw 

Sarah McCollough 

John Young 

Helen McCalla 

Catharine Seall 

Julia McCalla 

Date of Death 

Jan. 18, 1828 
Aug. 4, 1829 
Dec. 12, 1830 
June 2, 1832 
June 10, 1832 
June 17, 1832 
Aug. 24, 1834 
Nov. 2, 1837 
Aug. 19, 1838 
May 1, 1839 
Aug. 4, 1839 
Nov. 13, 1839 
Dec. 13, 1839 
Feb. 12, 184- 
May 16, 1840 
Jul. 23, 1849 
Sep. 23, 1840 
Jul. 23, 1841 
Mar. 16, 1842 
Dec. 23, 1842 
Feb. 27 & 28, 1843 
Apr. 25, 1843 
May 21, 1843 
Dec. 10, 1843 
May 16, 1844 
Dec. 25, 1844 
Apr. 16, 1845 
Aug. 15, 1845 
Oct. 1, 1845 
Dec. 17, 1845 
May 10, 1846 


Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 




Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 


Springville #2 

Greene Co. Chapel 

Rose Hill 


White Oak 

White Oak 

White Oak 


Rose Hill 

White Oak 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 

Rose Hill 


Jennifer Lucas 

Jennet Hemphill 
Sarah Farmer 
John Eller * 
William Curry 
Emeline Lemen 
Sarah McPherson 
Harriet Rader 
Rachel Wilson * 
James Carter 
George Corsaw * 
Rebecca Moberly 
Rebecca Bacon 
Cynthia Pering 
Sarah Heaps 
Milton Umstattd 
Edward Lemon 

Jul. 29, 1846 
Aug. 1, 1846 
Aug. 24, 1846 
Feb. 23, 1847 
Apr. 11, 1847 
Aug. 27, 1847 
Dec. 6, 1847 
Mar. 24, 1848 
Apr. 19, 1848 
Jul. 16, 1848 
Dec. 23, 1848 
Aug. 16, 1849 
Oct. 13, 1852 
Feb. 7, 1854 
Sep. 16, 1854 
May 24, 1860 

White Oak 
Mt. Carmel 

Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Green Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 

No signature visible 

Signed N & C, or N & C, Blo'ton. 

Signed Nelson & Corsaw 

Stones Carved by Jesse Corsaw 1814 - ? 


Jane Wylie 
Elizabeth Faris 
Catharine Moffet 
Grizzelda Henry 
William Carter 
Elizabeth Denton 
Harriet Clark 
Polly McPheeters 

Date of Death 

Oct. 16, 1850 
Sept. 15, 1851 
Oct. 10, 1853 
Dec. 25, 1853 
Aug. 23, 1855 
Dec. 22, 1855 
May 1, 1856 
Dec. 10, 1856 


White Oak 
Rose Hill 
White Oak 
White Oak 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
White Oak 
Rose Hill 

Signature not visible; attributed to Jesse Corsaw. 

Monroe County, Indiana 


Stones Carved by Isaac Walker 1805-1848 

Isabella Campbell 
William Marshall 
William Wylie 
Archibald Wilson 
James Turner 
Agness Glenn 
Infant Wilson 
Elmyra Moore 
John Campbell 
Nancy Gordon 
Margret Cathcart 
James Wilson 
Jane Galloway 
David Smith 
Mary Jane Hemphill 
Sarah Paris 
Margaret Johnson 
David Whitesell 
Balinda Eller 
Amanda Johnson 
Mary Fee 

Alexander McCaughan 
Mary Pauley 
Panny Allen 
Isabella Graham 
Indiana Whitsell 
Adam Hunter 
William P. Heaps * 

Mar. 11, 1828 
Oct. 7, 1830 
Mar. 18, 1835 
Mar. 23, 1835 
May 17, 1837 
Jul. 1, 1837 
Mar. 3, 1838 
May 20, 1838 
Dec. 18, 1838 
May 6, 1839 
Aug. 19, 1839 
Sept. 4, 1841 
Oct. 20, 1841 
Dec. 29, 1841 
Jan. 26, 1842 
Sept. 17, 1842 
Sept. 10, 1843 
Sept. 27, 1843 
Nov. 7, 1844 
June 9, 1845 
Sept. 23, 1845 
Oct. 5, 1845 
Nov. 4, 1845 
Apr. 13, 1847 
Sept. 4, 1847 
Sept. 25, 1847 
Oct. 11, 1847 
Sept. 14, 1848 

Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
White Oak 
White Oak 
White Oak 
White Oak 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
White Oak 
White Oak 
White Oak 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
White Oak 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 
Rose Hill 

The date on this is six months after Isaac Walker's death, but the shape, 
sunburst motif, and the words, "In memory of..." are unmistakably his 

212 Jennifer Lucas 


I am grateful to Richard Stringfellow for locating the newspaper advertisements used in 
this article, and to the Monroe County Library staff for assistance in use of the Library's 
microfdm collection. 

1. Bloomington Telephone, August 26, 1892. 

2. Ben and Joyce Harmon, Bybee Stone Company, Elletsville, Indiana. 

3. Scott Sanders, Stone Country (Bloomington: 1985). 

4. Bloomington Post, May 28, 1841 and June 4, 1841; Tippecanoe Journal and Lafayette Free 
Press, September 8, 1841. 

5. Census of Monroe County, Indiana, 1850. 

6. "The Sincerest Form of Flattery," lecture by Warren Roberts, Bloomington, Indiana, 
December 6, 1987. 

7. Forest M. Hall, Historic Treasures, (Bloomington, Indiana: 1922), 75. 

8. Marriages in Monroe County, Indiana, 1818-1872. 

9. Bloomington Evening World, September 6, 1912. 

10. Census of Monroe County, Indiana, 1870. 




Ronald W. Hawker 


Western Canada was founded primarily by British colonists intent on win- 
ning the fortunes and opportunities provided by what they saw as unclaimed 
land. Victoria, on the southern tip of the province of British Columbia's 
Vancouver Island, was the first major commercial center in the area and 
therefore an important economic base as white businesses radiated 

In fact, British Columbia was not an unclaimed land. The Pacific 
Northwest Coast held the greatest population density of Native Americans 
north of Mesoamerica. With a rich material culture and a stratified society 
developed despite the absence of agriculture, the Northwest Coast Indians 
exploited the abundant marine resources of the Pacific Coast for nearly ten 
thousand years before the arrival of European explorers. 

Contact between European settlers and Native Americans has all too of- 
ten led to hardship and conflict. The Pacific Northwest was no exception to 
this unfortunate rule. The introduction of white diseases, firearms, and al- 
cohol as well as the erosion of traditional economic, religious and social pur- 
suits all took their toll on the Pacific Indians. Evangelical Christian mis- 
sionaries arrived in northern British Columbia in the late 1850s and con- 
tributed further to the dissolution of Native tradition. 

To say that Europeans willfully and single-handedly destroyed Indian cul- 
ture is to ignore the Indians' own ability to choose. Traditional Northwest 
Coast society put a great emphasis on the ownership and display of material 
wealth; the obvious economic superiority of European life was a strong at- 
traction. In many parts of the Canadian Pacific Coast the Native Indians 
strove to adopt the more attractive aspects of European society while still 
maintaining the essential fabric of their own culture. In the late nineteenth 
and very early twentieth centuries this occasionally led to a kind of cultural 
synthesis. This paper examines one aspect of this synthesis in the melding of 
traditional Tsimshian woodcarving with Victorian gravestone art. 


Ronald W. Hawker 


Fig. 1 Map of British Columbia showing the location of the Tsimshian- 

speaking peoples. 1 - Vancouver, 2 - Victoria, 3 - Prince Rupert, 

4 - Metlakatla, 5 - Port Simpson, 6 - Kincolith, 7 - Greenville, 8 - Old 

Aiyansh, 9 - Kitsumkalum, 10 - Kitwancool, 11 - Hazelton, 12 - Kitwanga. 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 215 

The Tsimshian peoples, a cuhurally and hnguistically associated group 
from northern British Columbia, are renowned for their elegant and finely 
carved wooden totem poles. After contact evangelical missionaries 
demanded that the Tsimshian use British-style gravemarkers and graveyards 
as a sign of Christian burial. In response the Tsimshian began to include 
traditional pole forms in their monuments. This often resulted in a hybrid 
style that lends permanence to the totem and breathes a vernacular freshness 
into the art of the Victorian stonemason. 

This paper will first provide an introduction to the Tsimshian and their art 
and give a brief account of the arrival of Christian missionaries in the Tsim- 
shian area. It will then discuss the monuments of three selected stone- 
masons and how their work illustrates three general artistic trends in late 
nineteenth-century Tsimshian grave art. How the art reflects more general 
societal trends will also be discussed. 

The methodology employed here is art historical rather than anthropologi- 
cal. Selected examples have been chosen from a collection of photographs 
taken in the area in the fall of 1987. Photographs of the monuments and ac- 
companying field notes have been used to support a general hypothesis based 
on an earlier analysis of library and archival sources done by the author. The 
monuments are viewed as visual documents and are used for the interpreta- 
tion of history in addition to primary and secondary written documents. 

The Tsimshian and Their Art 

The northern coast of the British Columbia mainland is home to the 
Tsimshian-speaking Native Indians (Fig. 1). These people traditionally oc- 
cupied the valleys of the Nass and Skeena Rivers, the coast between these 
two rivers, territory on Gardner Canal and Douglas Channel and the islands 
along the coast as far south as Laredo Sound.^ The Tsimshian are divided 
into four linguistic groups: the Coast Tsimshian, Southern Tsimshian, 
Nisga'a, and Gitksan.^ The Coast Tsimshian language was spoken in the area 
around the Skeena estuary while Southern Tsimshian was the language of the 
people along the islands and coast to the immediate south. Nisga'a was the 
language of the Nass River and Gitksan was used on the upper Skeena above 
Kitselas Canyon.^ 

216 Ronald W. Hawker 

While Tsimshian social structure varied slightly from group to group, as a 
whole it showed a highly complex and stratified society where privilege and 
power hinged on the ownership of prestigious ranked crests, names and 
myths.'* In this system of crests and privileges, the lineage was the function- 
ing unit. Each lineage possessed personal names and privileges which were 
the exclusive right of those related by blood through their mothers and which 
could not be used by other lines.^ The lines of descent were also ranked and 
banded together in ranked clans. 

The Tsimshian class system was divided into three general levels: chiefs 
or title holders, commoners and slaves.^ Chiefs bore responsibility for keep- 
ing their group in balance with the supernatural being who controlled the 
continuation of food and wealth for their people. Accounts of ancestral in- 
teractions with supernatural beings were an integral part of the assumption 
of a ranked name. The chiefs had inherited relationships to supernatural 
beings encountered by the original holders of their names. These encounters 
were alluded to by the crests carved or painted on the houses, poles and 
specified household goods of each chief and were dramatized in ceremonial 
dances and performances.^ 

All changes in social relationships were declared and legitimized by 
property distribution and feasts, generically referred to as potlatches. The 
display of wealth was essential to demonstrate prosperity and power among 
all the Northwest Coast peoples. Profits were accumulated for the purpose 
of publicly giving them away or destroying them, to prove to envious or reluc- 
tantly admiring neighbours that the group or individual was rich enough to be 
disdainful of vast wealth. Drucker writes: 

The North Pacific Coast wealth complex represented a unique 
response to a bountiful environment, which the Indians ex- 
ploited so efficiently that they produced far more than they 
could consume in a normal manner. The manipulation of the 
surpluses is the phenomenon that illustrates the importance of 
wealth as a social force.^ 

The raising of a totem pole, for which the Tsimshian were famous, was ex- 
pensive, and only a man of substantial wealth could undertake it. A pole was 
usually raised as part of a potlatch, although it was occasionally the main 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 


event. Often a pole was set up by an heir as a commemoration of his 
predecessor at the final potlatch ending the mourning period and signaling 
his assumption of the predecessor's name. Once in place, the pole stood as a 
constant reminder of the wealth and prestige of its owners (Fig. 2).^ 

Because the Tsimshian peoples put so much emphasis on the display of 
wealth, the visual arts played an important role in society. As its art was the 
visual manifestation of the crest system, there was a defined visual 
vocabulary that applied equally to both two- and three-dimensional art.^° 
This formal system was closely adhered to until the establishment of a 
European presence in Tsimshian territory in the middle of the nineteenth 

Fig. 2 Traditional crest figure from a wooden Tsimshian totem pole in 
Prince Rupert, British Columbia. 

218 Ronald W. Hawker 

Christian Missionaries 

In 1857 the London-based Church Missionary Society sent WiUiam Dun- 
can, an Anglican lay missionary, to the northern trading post of Port 
Simpson. The evangelical missionaries of the nineteenth century such as 
Duncan conceived of the Christianity they took to distant lands as involving 
far more than a set of personal beliefs about a divine figure. For them Chris- 
tianity was more a way of life based upon certain moral and ethical values 
which, while allowing for small variations, corresponded closely to the ideal 
of Victorian England. Accordingly, a number of aspects went with the intro- 
duction of Christianity. These included commerce, which not only meant the 
exchange of goods but also entailed an understanding of ethical principles 
and a commitment to free trade and its concomitants, peace and 
brotherhood. Knowledge and skill in the arts of civilization were also impor- 

In 1862 Duncan, along with a small group of Tsimshian followers, founded 
the Utopian Christian village of Metlakatla at a traditional Tsimshian village 
site not far from Port Simpson. The smallpox epidemic of 1862, which in two 
years killed approximately one-third of the Native population of British 
Columbia, profoundly altered the character of Duncan's new community. 
Alarmed by the extensive outbreak of the disease in the southern center of 
Victoria, local residents drove the Natives from the area, and authorities set 
fire to the Indian camps. Native movement northwards spread the disease up 
the coast. Instead of the small stream of faithful that had been expected at 
Metlakatla, Duncan was faced with several groups of panic-stricken Indians 
who, finding no solution for their distress, were prepared to submit to the will 
of this missionary. 

Duncan's policy as a missionary was to make the community self- 
supporting, and at Metlakatla he established many small industries which 
kept his converts employed. Part of the purpose of this was to provide an al- 
ternative source of money for those who had long been accustomed to jour- 
neying to Victoria, which Duncan saw as an evil influence. The first 
economic activity at Metlakatla was a store modelled on the example of the 
Hudson's Bay Company. In order to maintain independence for the village 
from white traders, Duncan soon obtained a government loan, formed a com- 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 219 

pany and bought a schooner. The trade, utiHzing local resources and the 
available skills of both the Tsimshian and Duncan, was unfailingly successful 
as a business venture, and continually provided the necessary funds for the 
physical and social development of the village.^^ 

One powerful motive for conversion in a society centered around the ac- 
cumulation and display of wealth was the obvious technological and 
economic superiority of the Euro-Canadians. Scholars like E. Palmer Patter- 
son believe that the Indians may have thought that by joining the Anglicans 
and Methodists they would improve their economic condition in obtaining 
better prices for furs, hides, fish, and oil and in buying store goods at cheaper 
prices. Duncan had already proved this to the surrounding Tsimshian with 
his success at the Utopian village of Metlakatla. Missionaries also brought 
advantages in liaison with Europeans and English language skills. They 
could write letters of reference and introduction. The Indians felt that they 
had the power of the warships behind them to ensure peace and that they 
could manipulate the power of the whites to the advantage of the Tsimshian 
communities. In sum, the missionary could be an adjunct to the power of the 

While the conversion to Christianity was often a sincere and profound 
process, some Indians also hoped to retain traditional political and commer- 
cial structures while gaining greater access to white goods and white 
economic status. This, coupled with the missionary's tolerance of certain 
aspects of traditional culture, allowed for the survival of portions of pre- 
colonial culture, although often in a new guise. 

Traditional Tsimshian ceremony and society had their secular and 
religious sides. The missionaries were rigidly opposed to the religious side of 
traditional society but were not so actively against the secular clan or crest 
system and its visual manifestations. They did not interfere with the expres- 
sion of clan affiliation in grave art, but the gravestone functionally replaced 
the wooden crest or totem pole (Fig. 3). 


Ronald W. Hawker 


Fig. 3 Post-contact marble Tsimshian gravestone from Hazelton. 

Introduction of Gravestones 

The 1870s saw an expansion in the population and economy of Victoria. 
A large landscaped cemetery called Ross Bay was opened and accompanied 
by an expansion in the local stonemasonry and monument-making industries. 
Part of the missionary Christian message included the introduction and ac- 
ceptance of European technology, and as Christian villages were founded for 
the Indians in the north, missionaries sought appropriate and lucrative trades 
in which to train their followers. William Duncan was particularly well 
known for this and may have introduced his followers not only to the monu- 
ments themselves but also to their manufacture. At any rate, the introduc- 
tion of gravestones in northern British Columbia occurred during a growth 
period in the white economic development of the province. It was en- 
couraged or accompanied by nineteenth-century advances in freighting and 
transportation. This made it easier for the southern companies to supply the 
outlying areas, where a market had been developing with the influx of white 
immigrants and the Tsimshian conversion to Christianity. 

The Tsimshian developed the gravestone artistically according to their 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 221 

own social and cultural needs. There are three basic types of Tsimshian 
monuments: (1) straight catalogue-ordered Euro-Canadian Victorian monu- 
ments; (2) monuments commissioned through white monument makers 
based on Indian designs; (3) straight catalogue monuments altered by Indian 
craftsmen. While the last category evidences some amateurish efforts, some 
clues suggest the presence of Indians trained in the masonry trade and a few 
surviving monuments show high quality in terms of design and finish. West- 
ern style monuments exerted considerable influence and therefore the Indian 
carvings tend to be more naturalistic and less concerned with the traditional 
symbolic system of representation and decorative design. 

Moses Venn - Victorian Style 

The exact date of the arrival of gravestones in the Nass and Skeena Rivers 
area is difficult to pinpoint. The earliest gravestone associated with the 
Tsimshian is an 1879 monument in Victoria's Ross Bay Cemetery dedicated 
to Rachel Mardsen and signed by Moses Venn of Metlakatla. The Mardsen 
monument is a simple tablet with rounded shoulders lying flat on the ground. 
The decoration consists of a linear depiction of an eagle clutching a salmon. 
The image is fairly naturalistic in that it does not rely on standard Northwest 
Coast artistic conventions. The composition is asymmetrical, with the eagle's 
head turned and shown in profile. The tail points downwards on the same 
side as the profile head, and the wings are shown outspread from a frontal 
view. The feathers and scales are detailed, with the line around the figure 
etched deeper than the detail lines. Although the composition is untradi- 
tional, it is still possible that the image is a Tsimshian crest. 

Nothing is known about Venn. His name is undoubtedly Native in origin, 
as it was often the custom among the Tsimshians in the late nineteenth cen- 
tury to assume the name of a prophet or an important biblical figure as well 
as the name of an important white missionary or popular celebrity. The 
name Moses Venn is a combination of the prophet Moses and the founder of 
the Church Missionary Society, Thomas Venn. It is probable that Rachel 
Mardsen was a resident of Metlakatla at one time or that Venn was working 
or training in Victoria at the time of her death. While we have no informa- 
tion on Moses Venn or on other Natives from Metlakatla working in Vic- 

222 Ronald W. Hawker 

toria, the tablet at least suggests Native awareness of, and participation in, 
the masonry and monument-making industries as early as 1879. Given 
Duncan's reputation as a leader in the introduction of European commercial 
practices, it is not entirely surprising that the first stone monument associated 
with the region was produced by a Metlakatlan and is now located in Vic- 

Venn's monument represents a common and important category of Tsim- 
shian monuments. The style of the tablet and its lettering is typically Vic- 
torian. While it is possible that the pictorial decoration alludes to traditional 
Tsimshian social structure, the allusion is not overt. The tablet is therefore 
primarily a Victorian Christian gravestone. 

George Rudge - A Victorian Monument and Another Based on Indian Design 

Although Venn's Mardsen monument points to Native participation in 
British Columbia's early monument industry, the names of white masons and 
monument companies from Victoria recur frequently in Tsimshian 
cemeteries. Among these one finds in particular J. Fisher, Joseph Eva 
Philips, Alexander Stewart, and George Rudge. Victorian monument com- 
panies appointed agents in the north. The agents would distribute catalogues 
and then receive a set commission if someone ordered a tombstone or monu- 
ment. The companies paid freight costs and made provision for work alter- 
native to their catalogue listings. If a customer wanted something that was 
not in the catalogue, he could submit a sketch to the company. The company 
would then provide a price based on the proposal and how much the cus- 
tomer was willing to pay. While the sketch might have been something small, 
the Indians also sometimes sent wooden models.^^ 

George Rudge was probably the only monument maker who actually 
moved to the north. Rudge arrived in Victoria in 1875 from New Brunswick. 
He opened shop upon his arrival and later secured a valuable contract to 
quarry granite for Victoria's Parliament Buildings. After the contract ran 
out, he moved to Port Simpson and opened a business there. ^'* Rudge, who 
was later a prominent member of the Methodist Church in Port Simpson, 
may have been engaged to produce stone monuments by Methodist mis- 
sionaries on behalf of the Native population prior to his move to Port 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 223 

Simpson. An 1881 tombstone signed by Rudge and Hugh M. Wright, his 
partner from 1878 to 1881, appears in the graveyard at Kitsumkalum on the 
Skeena River. Rudge may have decided that there was too much competi- 
tion in Victoria and that, since he had already estabHshed clients among both 
the white and Native communities in the expanding north, it would be wiser 
to establish his business in the area to which he was catering. The Kitsum- 
kalum monument by Wright and Rudge is one of the many Tsimshian monu- 
ments that adheres strictly to Victorian form. The tombstone displays no 
reference to Tsimshian social structure and would not be out of place in any 
southern nineteenth-century urban cemetery. As with Venn's monument, 
this is primarily a Victorian memorial stone indicating a Christian burial. 

A second monument signed by Rudge in Port Simpson represents a 
separate category of Tsimshian monuments. This monument memorializes 
Paul Sqa-gwet, who died in 1887 (Fig. 4). It was dedicated to the chiefly an- 
cestors who previously bore the name Sqa-gwet. In this way, Rudge's marble 
stone serves the same function as a traditional totem pole. Indeed, it was set 
up to replace an older fifteen-foot wooden pole which stood at the same spot. 
The older pole, referred to as the gnawing beaver, consisted of a beaver 
figure with a five-ringed hat. Rudge's monument also shows a gnawing 
beaver, although the five-ringed hat was replaced by six truncated logs placed 
over one another on the beaver's head (Figs. 5 and 6). This combination of 
traditional Tsimshian function and more modern Euro-Canadian media, as 
well as the mixture of the Tsimshian and Western forms, is consistent with 
the second category of post-contact Tsimshian funerary monuments. In this 
case, Euro-Canadian artisans were commissioned to produce monuments 
that adhered more closely to Native tradition than to Christian ideology. 

In the late nineteenth century, many Tsimshian chose to substitute other 
forms of ostensible display for totem poles. While marble and granite stones 
were the most common, there were others as well. Garfield writes: 
"Flagstaffs have been raised as substitutes for totem poles and with similar 
cemeteries. A chief at Klemtu . . . had a concrete pavement laid in front of 
his house with appropriate ceremony and announced that according to new 
customs totem poles were no longer being set up and he was taking this 


Ronald W. Hawker 

Fig. 4 Marble monument dedicated to Sqa-gwet and signed by 
George Rudge. Located in Port Simpson, British Columbia. 


Fig. 5 Details of Rudge's Sqa-gwet monument. 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 


Fig. 6 Details of Rudge's Sqa-gwet monument. 

means of showing his weahh and peqjetuating the memory of himself and his 

Joseph Eva Philips - Monument Crafted to Native Design 

As there are examples of stone monuments like totem poles sculpted by 
Euro-Canadian artisans, there are also such monuments made by the Tsim- 
shian themselves. Many examples of these home-grown monuments can be 
found in Metlakatla, Kitwancool, Hazelton, Kincolith, Greenville and 
Aiyansh. In general, they follow the basic tenets of traditional composition. 
More often than not, the figures are superimposed and are organized to em- 
phasize verticality and frontality and to exaggerate height. They also exhibit 
the influence of Western art in their growing sense of naturalism. Fre- 
quently, the facial features do not follow the traditional system of stylization. 
The gravestones are shorter than wooden totem poles and usually consist of 
three main figures or less. 

There are also monuments that combine European style with what appear 
to be home-made crest figures. Several excellent examples can be found in 

226 Ronald W. Hawker 

the cemetery at Kincolith. One consists of a large red granite stepped base 
and a square red granite column, intended as a cross, but modified to form a 
T. The base bears an inscription dedicating the monument to Chief Moun- 
tain and the signature of Joseph Eva Philips, a Victoria monument maker 
(Fig. 7). Resting on the T is a locally carved nest of birds, and at one corner 
of the base is a home-made bear (Fig. 8). 

Another example at Kincolith has a red granite stepped base surmounted 
by a tall round column (Figs. 9 and 10). Between the base and the column is 
a white marble or granite beaver, and the column itself supports a white 
stone capital that functions as a nest for the single white stone bird that sits 
on top. While the lack of a finish polish for both beaver and bird figures and 
the general inelegance of design suggest an amateur source for the sculpture, 
the overall compositional design is brilliant. Both non-Native and Native 
parts have been cleverly emphasized. It seems that the deceased's family or- 
dered a catalogue monument from Philips in Victoria and then used a Native 
artisan to carve more traditional crest figures and combine them with the 
Philips monument. 

Fig. 7 Monument in Kincolith, British Columbia dedicated to 
Chief Mountain and signed by the Victorian stonemason Joseph Eva Philips. 
Note that the upper vertical portion of the cross has been replaced by a nest 

containing two birds. 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 


Fig. 8 Home-made bear figure from the Kincolith graveyard. This is located 
near the foot of the Chief Mountain monument. 

This type of monument symbolizes a syncretistic tendency in late 
nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Tsimshian culture as native Indians 
sought to reconcile European traditions with their own. This is evident at a 
symbolic level, for many of these monuments represent Christian burials 
while at the same time indicating traditional social status through depictions 
of clan crests. Syncretism is also evident physically in the mixture of form 
and sometimes media. The Tsimshian took a European tradition, that of the 
gravestone, and adapted it to their own social needs, creating in the process a 
new and vibrant form of folk art (Fig. 11). 

Philips was born in Cornwall in the west of England, where he later ap- 
prenticed as a stonemason. He arrived in Victoria in 1881 and was listed in 
the directory as an importer and dealer in polished granite and marble. He 
died in 1908.^^ 


Ronald W. Hawker 

Figs. 9 and 10 A second monument in the Kincolith graveyard exemplifying 
the combination of media and Native and Euro-Canadian craftmanship. 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 229 

Fig. 11 Stone monument located in the village of Kincolith. 


With the arrival of Evangelist missionaries and Euro-Canadian settlers on 
the northern coast of British Columbia in the late 1850s traditional Tsim- 
shian life underwent dramatic changes. The shifts away from indigenous 
economic and social pursuits began to alter the basic cultural fabric of the 
area. The growth in the acceptance of wage labour amongst the Tsimshian 
peoples improved the flow of Euro-Canadian goods into the Tsimshian 
economy simply by increasing the number of direct buyers. And so it became 
possible for people of low status to display wealth through the accumulation 
of white goods. People previously too poor or of too low social status to 
memorialize themselves and their ancestors could now purchase or commis- 
sion Euro-Canadian gravestones either through appointed local agents or 
directly through shops in Victoria. This, accompanied by the changes in 
funerary techniques and the social need to display clan affiliation and status, 
encouraged the production of European-style gravestones with Indian 
decoration and design. Many of the more elaborate monuments throughout 
the region memorialize hereditary chiefs. A chief could not only afford a 

230 Ronald W. Hawker 

European headstone: he might also display his crests and identify himself as 
a hereditary chief. A wealthy person of low status could afford only the 
European headstone. 

It may be significant that this combination of different forms and functions 
seems to have occurred first in the 1880s and then throughout the 1890s. 
This was a time when Natives in the area were becoming increasingly dis- 
satisfied with government policies toward both the potlatch and land claims 
issues. While the Indians had previously been optimistic about their 
economic future within the Euro-Canadian system, they were now unhappy 
with the erosion of traditional values, the inability of the missionaries to aid 
them in their political struggle, and the threat of the land reserve system. 
The inclusion of crest designs may have been, in part at least, a way of reaf- 
firming Tsimshian tradition and social structure in the face of adversity. 


All photographs are by the author, except for Figures 10, 11 and 12a and b, which were 
taken by his brother, Thomas B. Hawker. 

1. Viola E. Garfield, "Tsimshian Clan and Society," University of Washington Publications in 
Anthropology, 7:173 (number 3, February, 1939). 

2. Jay Miller, "Tsimshian Moieties and Other Clarifications," Northwest Anthropological 
Research Notes, 16:151 (number 2, Fall 1982). 

3. George F. MacDonald, "Preliminary Culture Sequence from the Coast Tsimshian area, 
British Columbia, from the Current Archaeological Research on the Northwest Coast 
Symposium," Northwest Anthropological Research Notes, 2:240-254 (Fall 1969); Miller 
(note 2), 151; Garfield (note 1), 173. 

4. For a more complete picture of Tsimshian social structure, see the following: Garfield 
(note 1), Margaret Seguin, Interpretive Contexts for Traditional and Current Coast Tsim- 
shian Feasts, (Ottawa: 1985, National Museum of Man Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnol- 
ogy Service Paper Number 98); Edward Sapir, A Sketch of the Social Organization of the 
Nass River Indians, (Ottawa: 1915, Canada Geological Survey Museum Bulletin Number 
19); Viola Garfield, "The Tsimshian and their Neighbours," 77?^ Tsimshian: Their Arts 
and Music (New York: 1951); John W. Adams, The Gitksan Potlatch: Population Flux, 
Resource Ownership and Reciprocity (Toronto: 1973); Majorie Halpin, "The Structure of 
Tsimshian Totemism," The Tsimshian and their Neighbours of the North Pacific Coast 
(Seattle and London: 1984). For a more general introduction to the Northwest Coast, 
see Philip Drucker, Cultures of the North Pacific Coast (New York: 1965). 

Tsimshian Indian Monuments 231 

5. Garfield (note 1), 174. 

6. MUler (note 2), 151. 

7. Seguin (note 4), 7. 

8. Drucker (note 4), 50-51. 

9. Seguin (note 4), 7. 

10. For a general analysis of Northwest Coast art forms see: Bill Holm, Northwest Coast In- 
dian Art: An Analysis of Form (Seattle and London: 1965); Franz Boas, "The Decorative 
Art of the Indians of the North Pacific Coast," Bulletin of the American Museum of 
Natural History, Volume 9 (New York: 1897); Erna Gunther, Art in the Life of the 
Northwest Coast Indians (Portland: 1966); and Peter L. Macnair, Alan L. Hoover and 
Kevin Neary, 77ie Legacy (Victoria, Canada: 1980). 

11. Jean Usher, William Duncan of Metlakatla: A Victorian Missionary in British Columbia, 
National Museum of Man Publications in History, Number 5 (Ottawa: 1974); William 
Benyon, "The Tsimshians of Metlakatla, Alaska," American Anthropologist, Volume 43 

12. E. Palmer Patterson, "KincoUth, B.C.: Leadership Continuity in a Native Christian Vil- 
lage, 1867-1887," Canadian Journal of Anthropology, 3: 45-53 (number 1, Fall 1982). 

13. Information on company business practices is based on a book of out-going correspon- 
dence from Stewart's Monuments in Victoria, dating back to the 1920s. 

14. "A Famous Tombstone Carver," Terrace Omineca Herald, March 18, 1964, page 8; 
"George Rudge - Carver of Totems," Wliite Rock and Surrey Sun, May 2, 1974, page 4; 
John Adams, Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery (Victoria: 1983), 37; R. Geddes, The 
Skeena, River of Destiny (Sidney, B.C.: 1981), 118. 

15. Garfield (note 1), 212. 

16. Adams (note 14), 37. 


Fig. 1 Bewcastle Cross. 



Douglas Mac Lean 

Visitors to modern cemeteries in Ireland and Scotland may occasionally 
come across late nineteenth- and twentieth-century gravemarkers in the form 
of Celtic crosses: freestanding sculptured stone crosses with an open ring en- 
circling the intersection of the cross-arms and shaft. Similar monuments 
stand in scattered Scottish villages, where they serve as memorials to the 
dead of World War I. And the appearance of the Celtic cross in Victorian 
and modern American cemeteries is not unusual. The re-appearance of the 
Celtic cross in an Irish funerary context in the late nineteenth century was the 
response of stonemasons and their patrons to the same self-conscious Celtic 
revival which led to the establishment of the Gaelic League and the Abbey 
Theatre in the last decade of the century. The popularization of stories from 
medieval Gaelic literature, found in the works of Lady Gregory, W.B. Yeats 
and J.M. Synge, among others, depended in turn upon the dramatic outburst 
of scholarly activity, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, which laid the 
foundations for the modern academic study of Celtic languages, literature 
and history and led to creation in 1908 of the chairs of Old Irish, Celtic Ar- 
chaeology and Early Irish History in the new National University of Ireland.^ 
Similar developments took place in Scotland, where the population of the 
Highlands was still largely Gaelic-speaking and the Celtic chair in the 
University of Edinburgh had been founded by public subscription in 1883. 

But the Celtic-cross gravestones which began to appear in the late 
nineteeth century were, for the most part, erected by families whose mem- 
bers no longer spoke either Irish or Scottish Gaelic; the crofters and fisher- 
men who spoke it every day could not afford such elaborate memorials. The 
use of Celtic crosses as tombstones resulted from a choice made available to 
an educated middle class seeking to identify with a romanticized Celtic antiq- 
uity, but it was a choice based on a mistake: Celtic crosses were not 
originally used as gravestones. The study of modern Celtic crosses is best left 
to experts on funerary markers, a specialization which this writer cannot 
claim. The early history and development of the original Celtic crosses may. 

234 The Celtic Cross 

however, suggest a variety of possible approaches to the modern monuments. 

Celtic crosses serve as popular symbols of Ireland, so it may come as 
something of a surprise to learn that the evidence currently available suggests 
that the ringed Celtic cross first appeared in stone in Scotland, in response to 
an Anglo-Saxon impetus, although Celtic crosses were also set up in Ireland 
shortly thereafter. To make such a statement believable, one must sum- 
marize the series of developments that created the circumstances in which 
the Celtic cross emerged as a distinctive sculptural form. To that end, it is 
necessary to review the cultural connection between Ireland and Scotland, 
early ecclesiastical developments among Irish and Scottish Gaels and the 
Gaelic role in the conversion to Christianity of the northeastern Anglo-Saxon 
kingdom of Northumbria. 

The wooden crosses erected during this early phase were the ancestors of 
the later Celtic crosses carved in stone, but the Gaelic adoption of stone as 
the medium for freestanding crosses was a case of keeping up with the Nor- 
thumbrians. The Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria were also influenced by 
Continental taste, and therefore gained an interest in ecclesiastical architec- 
ture in cut stone before the end of the seventh century. Sculptured stone 
crosses soon sprouted in the wake of the architectural sculpture applied to 
Northumbrian stone churches. The evidence for the development of Gaelic 
ecclesiastical architecture is problematic, although there seem to have been a 
few Gaelic stone churches, chapels or shrines as early as the eighth or ninth 

The earliest Celtic stone crosses, discussed below, are found at sites where 
any remains of stone ecclesiastical buildings are of later date than the 
crosses. Northumbrian stone crosses seem to have fanned out from the 
monastic centers where stone ecclesiastical architecture was introduced; the 
Celtic crosses carved by Gaelic sculptors evolved independently of stone ar- 
chitecture. The oldest surviving Celtic crosses were created by a sculptural 
workshop based in the monastery at lona, one of the Hebrides or Western Is- 
lands of Scotland, and aspects of their fragmentary remains reflect an earlier 
tradition in carpentry. That they were carved in stone, however, suggests an 
awareness of Anglo-Saxon sculptural developments. Contemporary literary 
descriptions of the earlier wooden crosses and inscriptions on Anglo-Saxon 

Douglas Mac Lean 235 

and Celtic stone crosses help us to determine the original purpose of frees- 
tanding crosses in Britain and Ireland. The following discussion makes use of 
a variety of source materials customarily used by art historians, ar- 
chaeologists and historians of early medieval Britain and Ireland. Its broad 
outlines will be familiar to early medievalists, but it may also mark a first at- 
tempt to establish a relative chronology of the earliest groups of Celtic 
crosses in Scotland and Ireland. 

Irish and Scottish Gaels 

Cultural links between Ireland and Scotland were forged at an early date. 
Structural similarities between Irish and Scottish Iron-Age forts and technical 
and stylistic relationships between metalwork objects found in both Ireland 
and Scotland, produced during a period extending several centuries after the 
birth of Christ, have led archaeologists to propose Irish settlements in Scot- 
land as early as the second century B.C.-' Such settlements may have con- 
tinued intermittently until the small northeastern Irish kingdom of Dal Riata 
established a colony in the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the 
second half of the fifth century A.D., which eclipsed the parent kingdom in 
Ireland in the early sixth century, when Fergus Mor mac Eire, king of Irish 
Dal Riata, abandoned Ireland and took up permanent residence in the Scot- 
tish part of his kingdom. Latin texts of the early medieval period distinguish 
between the Scotti, the Gaelic-speaking inhabitants of Ireland, and the Scotti 
Brittaniae, the Gaelic-speakers who moved to Britain and took up residence 
in Scotland, the country to which they would eventually give their name."* 
The Irish Scotti and the Scotti Brittaniae of Scottish Dal Riata comprised a 
cohesive culture, united by language and social customs. In order to avoid 
confusion, the words "Irish" and "Scottish" are used here in the geographical 
sense, while the linguistic adjective "Gaelic" is used to describe the Gaelic- 
speaking inhabitants of both Ireland and Scotland during the formative 
period in the development of Celtic crosses. Indeed, "Celtic" is something of 
a misnomer. Other Celtic languages, distinct from Gaelic in its Old-Irish 
form, were also spoken in southern Scotland, western Britain (including 
Wales) and Brittany during the same period, but the Celtic Britons and 
Bretons played no part in the evolution of Celtic crosses, although the per- 

236 The Celtic Cross 

ception of ringed crosses as "Celtic" is so firmly entrenched that one has little 
choice but to accept the term, even if they should perhaps more properly be 
dubbed "Gaelic" crosses. 

Early monasteries and wooden crosses 

The Gaelic practice of erecting freestanding crosses first emerged in a 
monastic context. By the third quarter of the sixth century, at a time when 
the Anglo-Saxons were still completely pagan, the monastery had overtaken 
the diocese as the central unit of ecclesiastical organization in Ireland, al- 
though bishops were still accorded proper respect and were required for the 
ordination of priests.^ The Continental diocese was ruled by a bishop whose 
cathedra, the "seat" of his authority, was in a city,^ but there were no cities in 
Ireland until the major monasteries developed into monastic towns central to 
the Irish economy, a process which becomes apparent by the eighth century.^ 
In the meantime, abbots of the great monasteries were more considerable 
figures than bishops in the Gaelic world. The political rise of the Scottish 
kingdom of Dal Riata in the sixth century resulted in the expansion of the 
Irish monastic movement into Scotland. The most successful of the early 
Gaelic foundations in Scotland was that of St. Columba, a princely member 
of the Ui Neill, the dominant kindred of northern Ireland, who established a 
monastery on the small Hebridean island of lona c. 563.^ Columba's biog- 
rapher Adomnan, who was the ninth abbot of lona when he wrote the Life of 
St. Columba c. 700, mentions three crosses at lona which were associated 
with St. Columba. Two of them still stood at lona in Adomnan's lifetime and 
all three were probably made of wood. One was set up on the spot where 
Columba stood when his uncle died twenty-four paces away; another was 
standing in Adomnan's day at the place of the uncle's death, which had been 
predicted by Columba; and the third was still fixed in a millstone a century 
later, at a point by the roadside where Columba had rested on the day of his 
death.^ The cross erected at the place where Columba's uncle died com- 
memorated his death, not his burial, since he would have been buried in the 
monastic cemetery. Another early source alludes to a different purpose for a 
freestanding cross. Columba's younger Irish contemporary Columbanus, who 
founded several monasteries on the Continent, including Luxeuil in Bur- 

Douglas Mac Lean 237 

gundy and Bobbio in Italy, seems to have referred to a freestanding wooden 
devotional cross in his monastic Rule, where he prescribed twelve blows as 
the punishment for any monk who "has not approached the cross" before 
leaving the monastic "house" (domus)}^ 

Freestanding crosses were apparently a customary feature of early Gaelic 
monasteries. The acts of the seventh-century Synodus Hibemensis required 
the termon or precinct of a monastery to be designated by crosses.^^ The un- 
decorated socket-stone of a cross base was found at lona near a probable 
entrance through the vallum, the earthen rampart which described the 
perimeter of early monastic enclosures in Celtic Britain and Ireland.^^ An 
early ninth-century Irish text, the "Monastery of Tallaght," mentions a cross 
"at the door of the enclosure," which may have marked the termon of a 
monastery.'^ The terminal page of the eighth- or ninth-century Irish Gospel 
Book known as the Book of Mulling (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS 60) 
features a rough sketch showing the positions of twelve crosses, each iden- 
tified by an inscription, eight of which are placed outside and four within two 
concentric circles. The drawing seems to indicate the placement of frees- 
tanding crosses in relation to the boundaries of an early monastery, in this 
case probably Tech-Moling in County Carlow, although it is unlikely to be a 
precise "plan" of the monastery. In the seventh century, when St. Moling 
founded the monastery, such crosses would have been of wood.^"* 

By the end of the seventh century, wooden crosses had been used for 
several different purposes in Gaelic monasteries. At lona, they com- 
memorated incidents in the life of the monastery's founder, St. Columba. 
The Rule of Columbanus alludes to freestanding devotional crosses in Gaelic 
foundations on the Continent. The use of boundary crosses mandated by 
Gaelic ecclesiastical legislation is borne out by the Book of Mulling and ar- 
chaeological evidence at lona. 

The Gaelic monastic practice of erecting wooden crosses was transmitted 
from lona to the northern Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria in the 
seventh century, an event of some importance for the later history of Celtic 
crosses, since freestanding sculptured stone crosses were set up in Nor- 
thumbria before they appeared in a Gaelic context. Oswald, son of a king of 
Northumbria, baptized while in exile, probably at lona,^^ wrested the 

238 The Celtic Cross 

kingdom from usurpers at the battle of Deniseburn c. 634. Adomnan informs 
us that Columba appeared to Oswald in a vision before the battle and pre- 
dicted victory. The Venerable Bede informs us that Oswald set up a wooden 
cross before the battle, at a place later called Heavenfield, and ordered his 
army to kneel before it and pray for divine protection. The Heavenfield 
cross was "hastily" constructed and was subsequently neither carved nor 
decorated; it was still standing in the lifetime of Bede (d. 735), who recounts 
the miraculous properties of slivers taken from it,^^ a practice which would 
not have developed if the wooden surface of the cross had been carved or 
decorated with applied metalwork. Oswald's exile and baptism among the 
Scots of Dal Riata, the wooden crosses already standing at lona and Oswald's 
battlefield vision of Columba combine to provide a distinctly Gaelic context 
for the construction of the Heavenfield cross. 

Following his victory over Cadwallon, Oswald obtained the services of a 
bishop, Aidan, whom abbot Segene of lona sent to Northumbria at Oswald's 
request. Oswald had learned to speak Gaelic while in exile and served as 
Aidan's interpreter, after installing him in the new island monastery of Lin- 
disfarne, off the northeast coast of England. Aidan died in 651 and was suc- 
ceeded by Finan, who also came from lona and built a wooden church with a 
thatched roof at Lindisfarne, in the Gaelic manner. Finan was succeeded c. 
660 by Colman, who also came from lona. In 664, Oswald's successor. King 
Oswiu of Northumbria, who was mildly concerned over the direction of the 
Northumbrian church, convened a synod at Whitby, where Colman of Lindis- 
farne had the unenviable task of facing the redoubtable Anglo-Saxon St. 
Wilfrid in a debate which was to have lasting consequences,^^ not the least of 
them sculptural. 

There was a new movement among the religious in Northumbria, which 
ran against the Gaelic grain of the lona foundation at Lindisfarne and in 
favor of conformity to Rome. The form of the monastic tonsure worn at lona 
and Lindisfarne differed from the coronal tonsure worn elsewhere in western 
Europe.^^ More importantly, lona and its daughter houses used a different 
set of tables used to compute the particular Sunday on which Easter should 
be held, which meant that they might well celebrate the central event in the 
church calendar on a date different from the one observed by other Christian 

Douglas Mac Lean 239 

communities.^^ The Northumbrian faction in favor of Roman conformity was 
led by Wilfrid, who began his ecclesiastical career at Lindisfarne before 
departing for the Continent in 653. After spending ten years studying in 
Rome and Lyon, Wilfrid returned to Northumbria for his ordination and be- 
came the spokesman of the Roman party at the Synod of Whitby. Colman of 
Lindisfarne staunchly defended the customs of Columba, but his arguments 
were demolished when Wilfrid asked if Columba were to take precedence 
over St. Peter, the rock on whom Christ built His church.-° 

It is against the background of the Synod of Whitby that we must see the 
transitional figure of St. Cuthbert, an Anglo-Saxon who entered monastic life 
at Melrose c. 651, when its abbot was Eata, a former pupil at Lindisfarne of 
the Gaelic Aidan. Alchfrith, son of Oswiu of Northumbria, founded a 
monastery at Ripon in Yorkshire c. 660 and installed Eata as abbot with 
Cuthbert as guestmaster. Shortly thereafter, Wilfrid returned from the Con- 
tinent and persuaded Alchfrith to champion Roman conformity. Eata and 
Cuthbert remained loyal to lona and left Ripon, which Alchfrith gave to 
Wilfrid. Eata and Cuthbert accepted the subsequent decision of the Synod of 
Whitby and both would eventually serve as bishops of Lindisfarne, after the 
withdrawal of the defeated Colman. Cuthbert, however, spent as much time 
as he could as a solitary on Fame Island, a rock in the sea near Lindisfarne, 
as had Lindisfarne's founder, the Gaelic Aidan of lona. Cuthbert set up his 
own "holy cross" near his oratory on Fame Island and it, too was probably 
made of wood.-' The Anglo-Saxon Cuthbert loyally accepted the decision of 
his king at the Synod of Whitby, but he may have been carrying on the lona 
tradition by erecting a wooden cross of his own. But Northumbrian confor- 
mity to Roman usage opened up the Anglo-Saxons to Continental influences, 
most notably in stonemasonry, a craft alien to Gaelic artisans. 

Early Anglo-Saxon stone crosses 

We can, of course, have no idea of the appearance of the wooden bound- 
ary crosses set up in Gaelic monasteries, the wooden crosses associated with 
events in the life of Columba at lona, or the wooden votive crosses erected in 
Northumbria under Gaelic influence by King Oswald at Heavenfield or St. 
Cuthbert on Fame Island. The earliest surviving Northumbrian stone crosses 

240 The Celtic Cross 

belong to a new order. The first sculptured stone crosses found in an Insular 
context occur in an Anglo-Saxon milieu and already reflect the Romanizing 
tendencies of the Anglo-Saxon St. Wilfrid and his older contemporary 
Benedict Biscop, founder of the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth (c. 
674) and Jarrow (c. 682). Benedict Biscop travelled to the continent in 653 
with Wilfrid, who remained in Lyon while Biscop pressed on to Rome, which 
he visited before touring seventeen monasteries in Italy and Gaul between 
654 and 665. Biscop then spent two years in the island monastery of Lerins, 
off the Provencal coast. He was back in Rome when Pope Vitalian con- 
secrated Theodore of Tarsus as the new archbishop of Canterbury in 668 and 
returned to Britain in Theodore's entourage. Biscop founded Monkwear- 
mouth on land granted by Ecgfrith, the successor of King Oswiu of Nor- 
thumbria, and imported masons from Gaul to construct the new monastery in 
stone "in the Roman manner." Benedict Biscop travelled to Rome himself to 
procure books, reliquaries and paintings for his new foundation. 
Monkwearmouth's companion house at nearby Jarrow was dedicated in 685. 
It, too, was built in stone.^^ Wood had been the medium of construction for 
Finan, bishop Aidan's successor at Lindisfarne, but Finan was a Gael from 
lona. Stonemasonry was developed in Northumbria under the Anglo-Saxon 
eyes of Benedict Biscop and Wilfrid, who also brought masons over from 
Gaul and had stone churches constructed at Ripon and Hexham.^-' The in- 
troduction of eccliastical stone architecture to Northumbria paved the way 
for the production of Anglo-Saxon stone crosses. 

The monks of lona transmitted their Gaelic practice of erecting wooden 
crosses to the Anglo-Saxons in Northumbria, who now translated the medium 
into stone. The sculptural style they created for the purpose was affected by 
the lingering late classicism of the Mediterranean basin, as well as Insular 
taste, and the combination produced some of the most magnificent stone 
sculpture seen in western Europe since the last emperor was deposed in 
Rome in 476. Two of the earliest surviving Northumbrian stone crosses, at 
Ruthwell and Bewcasde, feature stylistically-related figural scenes carved in 
relief and inhabited vinescroll compositions of a type also seen at Benedict 
Biscop's monastery at Jarrow. Two relief fragments at Jarrow, which may 
once have formed part of a frieze in an architectural setting, display 

Douglas Mac Lean 241 

vinescroUs inhabited by birds, animals and human figures. Analogous 
vinescrolls appear on the Ruthwell and Bewcastle crosses.^ 

The head of the Bewcastle cross (Fig. 1) has long been lost and the Ruth- 
well cross (Fig. 2) was broken up by Scottish reformers in the seventeenth 
century, only to be inexpertly restored in the late nineteenth century. Both 
crosses are inscribed, but their inscriptions and their locations raise problems 
over their dating. The runic inscription on the Bewcastle cross is now mostly 
illegible, but was once thought to have mentioned Alchfrith of Deira, 
Wilfrid's patron, and it has been argued that the cross is therefore unlikely to 
postdate Wilfrid's death in 709; but Professor R.I. Page, an expert on Anglo- 
Saxon runes, fears that the inscription may have been "corrected" in the 
nineteenth century.^ A runic poem borders the inhabited vinescrolls on the 
Ruthwell cross (Fig, 2) and Latin inscriptions identify its figural scenes. 
Runic letters are composed of straight lines, which can easily be cut in wood. 
We can only wonder whether Anglo-Saxon wooden crosses bore runic in- 
scriptions. The runic poem on the Ruthwell cross is an early version of the 
Anglo-Saxon "Dream of the Rood," which expresses the feelings of the cross 
in response to the Crucifixion that took place upon it. The presence of the 
poem on the Ruthwell cross implies a devotional, rather than a memorial 
purpose. Neither its runes nor its Latin letters can be used to date Ruthwell 
precisely.^^ Historical arguments offer little more help. Lawrence Stone, fol- 
lowing Meyer Schapiro, dates Ruthwell after the foundation of Monkwear- 
mouth and before the battle of Dunnichen (or Nechtanesmere) in 685, when 
Ecgfrith of Northumbria was killed invading the kingdom of the Picts, whose 
territory was within modern Scotland, north of the Firth of Forth and east of 
the mountain range which separated Pictland from the Scottish kingdom of 
Dal Riata. Ruthwell is in the southern part of modern Scotland, about 
thirty miles west of Bewcastle, across the English border, and twenty miles 
west of the old Roman city of Carlisle, which already had an Anglo-Saxon 
reeve when Cuthbert visited it on the eve of the battle of Dunnichen. Car- 
lisle remained in Anglo-Saxon hands after the battle, when Cuthbert 
returned there to conduct Ecgfrith's widow into a nunnery.^ Ruthwell may 
have been on the western edge of Northumbrian territory, which extended 
north to the Firth of Forth, but the battle of Dunnichen took place still fur- 


The Celtic Cross 

Fig. 2 Ruthwell Cross, detail. 

ther north, in Pictland, a kingdom away from Ruthwell. The battle of Dun- 
nichen can have had no bearing on the date of the Ruthwell cross. Alfred 
Smyth has shown that the old British Celtic kingdom of Rheged, in whose 
former territory Ruthwell stands, probably collapsed c. 682, when bands of 
British Celtic mercenaries began to appear in eastern Ireland, resulting in 
684 in a punitive raid in Ireland by the expansionist Ecgfrith, who fell at Dun- 
nichen a year later.^^ There was an Anglo-Saxon bishop at Whithorn on the 
southwestern coast of Scotland, about fifty miles west of Ruthwell, by c. 
731.^ The Ruthwell cross might have been carved after the apparent Nor- 
thumbrian conquest of Rheged c. 682, or after the establishment of the 
Anglo-Saxon bishopric at Whithorn. Little is known of the early ecclesiasti- 
cal history of Ruthwell or Bewcastle, although parish churches still function 
at both sites. The correspondences between the two crosses suggest that they 
must be contemporary. 

Symeon of Durham, writing in the early twelfth century, describes three 
sculptured stone crosses set up in Northumbria c. 740. Two were erected 
over the grave of Bishop Acca of Hexham, one at his head with an identifying 

Douglas Mac Lean 243 

inscription, the other at his feet. The third was commissioned by Bishop 
Aethelwold of Lindisfarne, who also died c. 740, to serve as a memorial after 
his death. It was later broken up by Vikings, repaired with lead, removed 
from Lindisfarne when its monks abandoned the island because of repeated 
Viking attacks, and was standing at Durham in Symeon's day.-'^ The decora- 
tion of the surviving remains of Anglo-Saxon crosses at Hexham is charac- 
terized by uninhabited vinescrolls, while only one surviving cross fragment at 
Lindisfarne may be as early as the second half of the eighth century. None of 
the surviving Anglo-Saxon sculptures at Durham is early enough to be part of 
Aethelwold's cross from Lindisfarne.-'^ 

The Gaelic impetus behind the initial phase of Northumbrian Christianity, 
which was reflected in Oswald's and Cuthbert's wooden devotional crosses 
and Finan's wooden church at Lindisfarne, gave way after the Synod of 
Whitby to an Anglo-Saxon expression of communion with the Continental 
church, which took form in stone, in the stone-built churches at Hexham, 
Ripon, Monkwearmouth and Jarrow, and in Anglo-Saxon sculptured stone 
crosses. The inscriptions on the Ruthwell cross argue against its use as a 
gravemarker, but the crosses at Hexham and Lindisfarne described by 
Symeon of Durham were used as funerary monuments. There is no indica- 
tion that any Anglo-Saxon crosses had open rings at their centers, a feature 
first found in sculpture in a Celtic context. lona may have suffered a loss of 
prestige as a result of the decision of Whitby, but the subsequent Nor- 
thumbrian importation of Continental stonemasonry techniques ultimately 
made possible the emergence of the Celtic cross in stone. 

The lona School 

The ringed Celtic cross made its first appearance in three-dimensional 
sculptural form at lona between the mid-eighth and the early ninth century, 
but ringed crosses were probably already available in metalwork and possibly 
in relief sculpture. The replacement of wooden freestanding crosses by 
sculptured stone crosses and the gradual development of the ringed cross 
form in stone reflect the process by which lona eventually came to accept 
Roman conformity, leaving itself open to new influences which were to have 
technological and social implications. Once they had learned the rudiments 

244 The Celtic Cross 

of Continental stonemasonry, the Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons had quickly 
invented distinctive sculptural monuments of their own. The same was to 
become true of the Gaels of lona and, at a slightly later date, in Ireland as 

The Synod of Whitby left lona a bit isolated when stone relief sculpture 
first emerged in an Anglo-Saxon context. Adomnan, the lona abbot who 
wrote the Life of St. Columba, politely heard the Romanizing arguments put 
to him at Jarrow when he visited Northumbria in the late seventh century, 
but he failed to convince his own monastery of the need for conformity, 
perhaps because he never intended to do so, despite assertions to the con- 
trary in Bede, who notes that Adomnan neglected to "correct the tonsure."-^^ 
Adomnan died in 704, and Bede tells us that lona conformed to Roman 
usage under the guidance of Ecgberct, an Anglo-Saxon who had spent much 
of his adult life in an Irish monastery before endeavoring to "instruct the 
monasteries of Columba." Ecgberct persuaded lona to hold Easter on the 
Roman date in 716 and died at lona on Easter Sunday in 729.^ D.P. Kirby 
points out that Bede's information on the activities of Adomnan and 
Ecgberct at lona can only have come from lona,^^ which seems to have main- 
tained occasional contact with Northumbria between the Synod of Whitby 
and lona's conformity in 716. After all, Adomnan describes King Aldfrith of 
Northumbria as "our friend" and Adomnan himself visited Northumbria twice 
in the later 680s, twenty years after the Synod of Whitby and thirty years 
before lona's conformity.-'^ The earliest stratum of entries in the surviving 
Irish Annals are based on a lost Chronicle kept at lona until c. 740 and extant 
entries reflect Gaelic interest in the kingdom of Northumbria from 613 to 
731. An interest in history persisted at lona thereafter. Abbot Sleibine of 
lona is said to have discovered a record of the date of the arrival of the 
Anglo-Saxons in Britain, when he visited Wilfrid's old monastery at Ripon c. 
152>?^ lona was thus sufficiently aware of Northumbrian affairs in the first 
half of the eighth century to have heard about the new stone crosses erected 
by the Anglo-Saxons. lona's conformity in 716 would have removed any 
hesitation over receiving instruction from Northumbria in the techniques of 
stone sculpture. 

Surviving crosses and sculptural fragments from lona, the Hebridean is- 

Douglas Mac Lean 245 

land of Islay and at Keills in Knapdale on the Argyll mainland of Scotland 
give us some idea of the Gaelic sculptural revolution initiated between the 
mid-eighth and the early ninth century at lona. This lona school may have 
consisted of a single master with a number of assistants or several master 
sculptors with their attendant quarrymen and apprentices. The remains of 
three crosses, two of them with rings, have been found at lona, and the Kil- 
dalton cross in Islay is also ringed. There are no rings on the Kilnave cross in 
Islay, the Keills cross in Knapdale or St. Oran's cross at lona, which is the 
earliest surviving lona school cross. 

The three crosses at lona are known by saints' names. Robert Stevenson 
gave the name "St. Oran's cross" to the fragments of a single cross which were 
housed for a number of years in St. Oran's Chapel at lona.-^ The names of 
the other two, St. John's and St. Martin's crosses (Figs. 3 and 4) date from an 
earlier era. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers confused the two, al- 
though St. Martin's cross is clearly labelled as such in the surviving copy of a 
sketch made in 1699.^^ Gaelic monks held St. Martin of Tours in high regard. 
Adomnan notes that a "customary prayer" used in the lona liturgy in 
Columba's lifetime included the name of St. Martin, who is mentioned five 
times in the c. 800 Gaelic Martyrology of Oengus.^^ John the Evangelist was 
accorded special respect in the Gaelic monasteries: Colman of Lindisfarne 
invoked John's example while defending the Columban tradition against 
Wilfrid's attacks at the Synod of Whitby,'*^ and apocryphal stories concerning 
John figure prominently in the iconography of the unringed lona-school cross 
at Keills in Knapdale.''" 

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of 
Scotland published its lona Inventory in 1982, vindicating suggestions Steven- 
son made in 1956, when he identified structural features of the lona crosses 
as characteristic of an early, experimental phase in the construction of Gaelic 
crosses,"^^ one which would lead to the adoption of the ringed cross form. 
The unringed St. Oran's cross (Fig. 5) originally consisted of three parts: the 
top arm, the shaft and the transom (the unit comprising both side arms). The 
transom is now broken into two badly defaced pieces. The decoration of the 
shaft, which is also broken into two fragments, is lost on one side and the bot- 
tom of the shaft is missing. The top arm and the shaft of St. Oran's cross are 


The Celtic Cross 

Fig. 3 Replica of St. John's Cross, lona. 

tenoned into mortices cut in the transom, a carpentry technique which was 
translated into stone and a feature that may tell us something about the con- 
struction of earlier wooden crosses. The lost head of the Northumbrian Be- 
wcastle cross (Fig. 1) was "dowelled" into the shaft,"*^ a technical detail pos- 
sibly derived, via Oswald's wooden cross at Heavenfield, from wooden 
crosses introduced by lona to Northumbria. The reddish gray mica-granulite 
used for the shaft of St. Oran's cross and the silvery mica-schist of its top arm 
and transom are matched by extant deposits in the Ross of Mull, the south- 
western peninsula of the nearby Isle of Mull, which is separated from lona 
only by the milewide Sound of lona. The stone used in St. Oran's cross was 
thus apparently quarried within easy reach of lona. It proved disastrously 
prone to flaking, while the structure of the cross was unstable, however effec- 
tive it may have been for earlier wooden crosses. Problems with St. Oran's 
cross led to a search for more suitable stone, and geological examination has 
shown that the chlorite-schist of St. John's cross was probably quarried on the 
eastern shore of Loch Sween, on the Argyll mainland. Like St. Oran's cross, 
St. John's cross had no ring when it was first set up and consisted originally 

Douglas Mac Lean 


Fig. 4 St. Martin's Cross, lona (photo by Cameron Mac Lean) 

248 The Celtic Cross 

of three parts: the top arm and the side arms were carved from a single 
block, as was the shaft; while the lost bottom arm of the cross-head was a 
separate piece with a mortice to receive a tenon atop the shaft and a tenon of 
its own, which fitted into a mortice on the underside of the larger cross-head 
unit."*^ Structural problems with this first version of St. John's cross led to the 
addition of an open ring and the appearance, at long last, of the Celtic cross 
in stone. 

St. John's cross at lona (Fig. 3) was the product of an exceedingly am- 
bitious design. The double convex curves of its top arm and side arms im- 
itate Northumbrian prototypes, but its original structure was an unsuccessful 
variation of the ungainly construction of St. Oran's cross, and it was damaged 
in a fall shortly after it was first set up. A tenon at the base of the shaft fitted 
into the cross base and the east face of the tenon sheared off in the initial 
fall. The upper part of the top arm broke off and was replaced by a piece of 
mica-schist from the Ross of Mull. The replacement piece is carved in the 
same style as the rest of the cross and must have been done by the original 
workshop. The reconstructed St. John's cross (Fig. 6) was more ambitious 
still and consisted of eight parts: the initial three sections plus the replace- 
ment piece on the upper arm and four separate quadrants of a circular ring. 
Only a fragment of one of the quadrants survives. It is made of the same lo- 
cal stone used to repair the top arm of the cross. In the reconstructed ver- 
sion, the bottom arm of the cross-head has single concave curves on its sides, 
although they may have been double-curved, like the top and side arms, 
before being damaged in the original fall. The surviving fragments of St. 
John's cross have been reassembled twice in this century, but the cross was 
blown down in gales after each reconstruction. The pieces are currently 
housed in a Scottish Development Department laboratory, awaiting yet 
another reconstruction.''^ Figure 6 shows a modern copy of the second, 
ringed version of St. John's cross, the first Celtic cross created in a Gaelic 
sculptural context. 

The lona sculptors' idea of inserting a ring while repairing St. John's cross 
strongly suggests that they were already familiar with the ringed cross form in 
another medium. Stevenson would derive the circular ring of St. John's cross 
from the quadrilobate ring (four circular rings at the armpits) of early Pictish 

Douglas Mac Lean 


Fig. 5 St. Oran's Cross, lona (After Royal Commission on the Ancient 

and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll: An Inventory of the 

Monuments, vol. 4, lona, Edinburgh: 1982). 

Fig. 6 St. John's Cross, lona (After Royal Commission on the Ancient and 

Historical Monuments of Scotland, yl/gy//; An Inventory of the 

Monuments, vol. 4, lona, Edinburgh: 1982). 


The Celtic Cross 

relief cross slabs, such as the one in the Aberlemno churchyard in the district 
of Angus, north of the Firth of Tay (Fig. 7), which may have depended in turn 
upon metalwork precursors."*^ The Picts began producing relief sculpture 
after they, too, abandoned the Columban tradition and conformed to Rome 
in the early eighth century, when they introduced stone architecture under 
Northumbrian auspices.'*^ Another early Pictish cross slab at Glamis, about 
ten miles from Aberlemno, has two incised ring quadrants still visible to the 
left of the cross, while those on the right have all but worn away. (Fig. 8). Of 
the remaining quadrants, the one in the lower left is part of a circular curve, 
but the one above it is of the quadrilobate type, suggesting that both ring 
types, circular and quadrilobate, were known in Pictland when the slab was 
carved. Both types may have depended upon metalwork precursors. Steven- 
son derives the Pictish quadrilobate ring from Anglo-Saxon metalwork, a 
derivation supported by the pectoral cross buried with St. Cuthbert in the 
late seventh century, which has four rounded garnets set in its armpits."*' 
Processional crosses with circular rings were known in Gaelic Ireland by c. 

Fig. 7 Cross slab, Aberlemno Churchyard. 

Douglas Mac Lean 


Fig. 8 Cross slab, Giamis. 

Fie 9 Ahenny North Cross: Detail, South Side of Base (After F. Henry, 

La sculpture irlandaise, Paris: 1933). 


The Celtic Cross 

800, the approximate date of the North cross at Ahenny in County Tipperary, 
which shows a figure carrying a ringed processional cross in a rehef scene on 
the south side of its base (Fig. 9). Perhaps the earHest precisely dateable 
ringed cross found in a Gaelic context is on a burial slab at Athlone in 
Ireland, which is inscribed with the name of a king of Connacht who died in 
764.^° Two inscribed burial slabs at lona also feature ringed crosses and are 
epigraphically dateable to the eighth century .^^ 

Many explanations of the possible origins of the ringed-cross form have 
been advanced, tracing it from Neolithic rock carvings to the Roman im- 
perial cult of Sol Invictus (the Unconquerable Sun). Helen Roe has sensibly 
called attention to a collection of Palestinian pilgrims' flasks, religious 
souvenirs acquired in the Holy Land, which was deposited in the early 
seventh century at Bobbio, the northern Italian monastery founded by the 
Irish St. Columbanus. Several of the flasks feature a bust of Christ superim- 
posed over the center of a ringed cross, whose arms project beyond the cir- 
cumference of the ring.^^ A yard-long processional cross in the northeastern 
Italian church of Santa Maria in Valle in Cividale, whose decoration suggests 
an early ninth century date, bears the small figure of the crucified Christ at 
the center, with an open ring which provides an emphasis similar to that of 
the ringed cross on the Bobbio flasks.^^ The Gaelic monks at Bobbio could 
have transmitted the motif found on the pilgrims' flasks to Gaelic monas- 
teries in Ireland or Scotland, while the Cividale cross suggests a more local- 
ized development in Italy. 

The ring of St. John's cross at lona, added during repairs made after its 
initial fall, proved aesthetically and symbolically effective, but the 
problematic carpentry technique used in St. Oran's and St. John's crosses was 
largely abandoned once the lona sculptors had made the psychological tran- 
sition from carpentry to stonemasonry. The social implications of the transi- 
tion are reflected in various versions of a Gaelic legal text of early eighth- 
century origin, in which the status of the carpenter was extended to the 
stonemason. The original text used the word saer to describe a carpenter but 
the word came to mean "stonemason" as well. Somewhat later legal com- 
mentaries define a master saer as one who commands both stonecraft and 
woodcraft; he was to be paid six cows for a stone church or wooden oratory 

Douglas Mac Lean 


and two cows for a cross, presumably whether of wood or stone. The profes- 
sion ofsaer admitted him to the lower ranks of the Gaelic aristocracy.^ The 
craftsmen of the lona school only relinquished their carpentry technique 
hesitantly, at a time when the new crafts of stonemasonry and stone sculpture 
were still in the process of reaching accommodation within the Gaelic social 
hierarchy. The lona Inventory suggests that the monolithic Kildalton cross 
(Fig. 10), the only other lona-school cross to achieve the graceful proportions 
of St. John's cross, may have been the first sculptured stone cross whose 
original design included a ring from the moment of artistic conception.^^ The 
otherwise monolithic St. Martin's cross at lona (Fig. 4), however, has slots in 
the ends of its side arms which may have housed either horizontal wooden 
extensions or lateral end pieces, terminals meant to be seen from the sides, 
which could have been made of metal.^^ The last two surviving lona school 
crosses, at Kilnave in Islay (Fig. 11) and Keills in Knapdale on the Argyll 
mainland, are both monolithic but neither has a ring.^^ 

Fig. 10 Kildalton Cross (after Robert C. Graham, The Carved Stones of 
Islay, Glasgow 1895). 

254 The Celtic Cross 

Fig. 11 Kilnave Cross (after Robert C. Graham, The Carved Stones of 
May, Glasgow 1895). 

The Kildalton and Kilnave crosses on the island of Islay are both carved 
out of local stone quarried in Islay itself, but the epidiorite used for St. 
Martin's cross at lona came from the same neighborhood on the Scottish 
mainland where the stone used in St. John's cross was quarried, although the 
stepped base of St. Martin's cross is carved from a single block of granite 
from the Ross of Mull. The level of organization required to find suitable 
stone on the Scottish mainland of Argyll, quarry it, ship it to lona, shape it 
into a cross, set it up and carve it, bespeaks a large operation employing a 
number of specialists. The lona Inventory dates the lona crosses and those in 
Islay to the middle or second half of the eighth century and the lona-school 
cross at Keills in Knapdale has been assigned a date at the end of the eigthth 
century.^^ Attempts have been made, however, to date the lona school 
crosses to the second and third decades of the ninth century.^^ Vikings at- 
tacked lona in 795 and 802, and in 806 they slaughtered sixty-eight monks at 
lona. A new site was found at Kells, well inland in Ireland, and a new 
monastery was constructed there between 807 and 814. Some sort of 

Douglas Mac Lean 255 

skeleton crew seems to have been maintained at lona, but Diarmait, who be- 
came abbot in 814, was based at Kells and did not visit lona until 818, when 
he may have installed the monk Blathmacc as his deputy at the original lona 
site.^ Blathmacc was martyred at lona in 825, when he refused to divulge 
the whereabouts of a reliquary of Columba to yet another band of Vikings. 
According to a mid-ninth-century Latin poem, Blathmacc went to lona in the 
hope of achieving martyrdom, an object he accomplished with admirable suc- 
cess when the thwarted Vikings "tore him limb from limb."^^ The exposure of 
the island monastery of lona to Viking attacks between 795 and 825 and the 
construction of the new establishment for the lona monks at Kells, which was 
completed by 814, occurred during a period of disruption, when it is difficult 
to envision the harrassed monks and the sculptors in their employ planning 
the quarrying of stone on the mainland, shipping it to lona, experimenting 
with the carpentry technique, and eventually opting for monolithic crosses. 
The lona school created St. Oran's, St. John's and St. Martin's crosses at 
lona, the Kildalton and Kilnave crosses in Islay and the Keills cross in Knap- 
dale before 806.^^ 

The carpentry technique seen in the surviving early efforts of the lona 
school seem to have depended upon earlier wooden prototypes, but other 
details of the Celtic crosses of the lona school suggest the additional involve- 
ment of metalworkers. Two circular depressions on the west face of St. 
John's cross (Fig. 3), one at the center of the cross head, the other at the top 
of the shaft below the ring, were apparently designed to hold projecting 
metal bosses. The rim of the cross-head recess is undercut and seems to have 
been intended to contain a metal inset, most likely of bronze, which would 
have been gently hammered into place.^^ Metalwork parallels also exist for 
two other decorative motifs on the lona school crosses: the raised bosses of 
Celtic spiral patterns seen, for example, on the west face of St. John's cross 
(Fig. 3) are related to two die-stamped rectangular silver panels found in 
1979 with a eucharistic paten at Derrynaflan in County Tipperary,^ while the 
serpents-and-bosses patterns seen, for example, on the east shaft of St. 
Martin's cross (Fig. 4) are closely comparable to a number of surviving 
metalwork objects of Gaelic origin.^^ These indigenous metalwork 
references contrast with the Mediterranean-inspired inhabited vinescroUs 

256 Th* Celtic Cross 

found on the Northumbrian crosses, although two birds peck at an object be- 
tween them, perhaps a bunch of grapes, at the bottom of the top arm on the 
east face of the KildaUon cross (Fig. 10).^ 

Early Celtic crosses in Ireland 

Two Irish workshops began producing Celtic crosses simultaneously. One 
created monolithic crosses, but the other went through the same sort of early, 
experimental phase suggested by the carpentry technique originally employed 
at lona. The contemporaneous emergence of fully developed Celtic crosses 
in different parts of Ireland suggests that the concept of a freestanding 
sculpted ringed cross originated at a single site, which may have been lona, 
but it is essential to stress that the lona school died at lona. The specific 
decorative motifs and iconographical scenes found on the crosses of the lona 
school were not transferred intact to Ireland, although a few similarities may 
be observed. Gaelic sculptors at lona, influenced by Anglo-Saxon sculptors 
in Northumbria, exchanged wood for stone as the proper medium for frees- 
tanding crosses, but the lona school made use of a decorative vocabulary of 
its own, which owed nothing to the Mediterranean-inspired vinescroUs of 
Northumbria, except in the single case of the grape-pecking birds at Kildal- 
ton. The Gaelic taste of the lona sculptors was echoed in Ireland, but stylis- 
tic differences between lona school crosses and the Celtic crosses of Ireland 
argue against diffusion from lona. The sculptors of the lona school did not 
train the first generation of Irish sculptors, who created Celtic crosses of their 
own. Indeed, it is unlikely that the lona sculptors survived the Viking attacks 
of the late eighth and early ninth centuries, but the ringed cross form was 
probably already in use in a metalwork incarnation throughout the Gaelic 

The days of the lona school were numbered when two sculptural 
workshops became active in Ireland, one based at the great Irish monastery 
in Clonmacnois on the River Shannon and the other in the old kingdom of 
Ossory, straddling the border between the later counties of Tipperary and 
Kilkenny. A sculptured stone cross came to be known in Ireland as a cros 
ard, a phrase which translates as "tall cross" or, more poetically, as "high 
cross." With the crosses of the Ossory and Clonmacnois groups, we turn to 

Douglas Mac Lean 257 

the Celtic cross in its most familiar guise, that of the high crosses of Ireland. 

The location of the workshop responsible for the crosses of the Ossory 
group has yet to be discovered. Its most characteristic crosses are at Ahenny 
in County Tipperary and Kilkieran in County Kilkenny, although fragments 
of stylistically related crosses and cross bases are also known at Lorrha in 
County Tipperary and Seir Kieran in County Offaly, over fifty miles to the 
northwest of Ahenny and Kilkieran.^^ Two examples, the Ahenny North and 
South crosses, illustrate the typical features of the Ossory group. The de- 
pendence of the Ossory sculptors upon metalwork prototypes is more readily 
apparent than that of the lona school. Ahenny North (Fig. 12) and South 
(Fig. 13) both have heavy rope-like mouldings along their edges suggestive of 
metalwork bindings crimped into place. Each of the Ahenny crosses also has 
a large boss at the center of the cross-head and prominent bosses near the 
points where the ring intersects the shaft and arms, all suggestive of the prob- 
able method used to construct ringed metalwork crosses, though no metal- 
work examples survive. The flat surfaces of the crosses appear to be covered 
with thin strips of interlace and openwork plates of grille and spiral orna- 
ment, also suggestive of metalwork decoration. The lona Inventory notes the 
difference between the "modelled style of carving" seen on the lona crosses 
and the flattened decoration of the Ahenny crosses, which seem to be copies 
of "metal-plated crosses."^ 

The beehive-shaped capstone of Ahenny North (Fig. 12) was found nearby 
and placed atop the cross in the nineteenth century; it may originally have 
belonged there.^^ Hilary Richardson has found it symbolic of the Church of 
the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Adomnan, the lona abbot who wrote the 
Life of St. Columba, described the domed Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 
Jerusalem in his other known book, De Locis Sanctis (Concerning the Holy 
Places), which he wrote in the late seventh century, based on discussions with 
a Frankish bishop who called at lona after touring the Holy Land.^° 

Figural scenes, which are found on the shafts and arms of several lona 
school crosses, are restricted to the bases of Ahenny North and South. The 
base of Ahenny South has two scenes on each side, separated by an unringed 
cross carved in relief, but the scenes themselves were carved in low relief and 
are now practically obliterated. There are few direct points of comparison 


The Celtic Cross 

Fig. 12 Ahenny North Cross. 

Fig. 13 Ahenny South Cross. 

Douglas Mac Lean 259 

between the Ahenny crosses and those of the lona school, but the rehef 
crosses on the base of Ahenny South have the same shape as the original out- 
line of the lona school's Kilnave cross in Islay (Fig. 11), before it was reduced 
to its present condition. The shape is unusual and its appearance at Ahenny 
implies some sort of contact between lona and Ossory. 

As is often the case with early medieval art in Ireland, the date of the 
Ahenny crosses is problematic. The modern study of early medieval Irish art 
was largely the invention of Francoise Henry, whose publications on all 
aspects of it span the period between 1930 and 1980. Henry entered a 
scholarly vacuum when she first began working on Irish art, and the broad 
outlines of its stylistic and chronological development were largely laid down 
by her. Early in her career Henry assigned the Ahenny crosses a date in the 
first half of the eighth century, in view of their obvious relationship with 
metalwork and the restriction of figural iconography to their bases, features 
which would be abandoned in the fully developed high crosses of the ninth 
and tenth centuries. Henry never questioned her own dating of the Ahenny 
crosses and maintained it throughout her career.^^ Subsequent research has, 
however, made it necessary to revise Henry's date upwards. Dr. Nancy Ed- 
wards, who has made a particular study of the Ahenny crosses, would now as- 
sign them a date c. 800.^^ Edwards's date depends to a great extent on a 
complex comparative dating scheme for the lona school crosses and related 
Pictish monuments, which is beyond the scope of this article, but a date for 
the Ossory group and its Ahenny crosses towards the end of the period of 
production of the lona school is broadly acceptable. 

Our understanding of the historical circumstances surrounding the emer- 
gence of the early relief sculpture workshop at Clonmacnois is much clearer 
than is the case with the Ossory group and its crosses at Ahenny. The 
monastery at Clonmacnois was founded in the sbcth century by St. Ciaran, 
who is described as the son of a saer or craftsman, and who died c. 549, ap- 
parently of the plague.^^ According to Adomnan, Columba of lona visited 
Clonmacnois in the late sixth century.^'' A century later the abbot of Clon- 
macnois served as a guarantor for the "Law of the Innocents" that Adomnan 
himself promulgated in Ireland in 697.^^ lona and Clonmacnois shared an in- 
terest in stone sculpture. The number of surviving examples of early 

260 The Celtic Cross 

medieval sculptures at lona is only exceeded in the Gaelic world by the 
hundreds of surviving sculptures at Clonmacnois. The evidence at both sites 
consists, for the most part, of burial slabs, with or without inscriptions. The 
Clonmacnois workshop was firmly established by c. 700 and was active 
through the eleventh century. It began to produce sculptured stone crosses, 
carved in relief, c. 800 A.D.^^ 

Frangoise Henry first identified and dated the early group of Clonmacnois 
crosses.^^ The battered remains of the relief sculpture produced by the Clon- 
macnois workshop c. 800 comprise two cross-shaft fragments at Clonmacnois; 
another fragment at Clonmacnois, which may have belonged to a shrine; a 
cross shaft, now in the National Museum in Dublin, which was at Banagher, 
about ten miles south of Clonmacnois, in the nineteenth century; and a 
ringed cross which was moved in the same century to Bealin, about ten miles 
northeast of Clonmacnois. Close similarities between the interlace patterns, 
spiral ornament and figural decoration of the Bealin cross (Fig. 14), the 
Banagher shaft and the three fragments at Clonmacnois identify them all as 
creations of one workshop or school, which was presumably based at Clon- 
macnois in the late eighth and early ninth century.^ Henry and Carola Hicks 
have linked an additional fragment, discovered at Clonmacnois in the 1950s, 
to the early Clonmacnois group, but Edwards has convincingly shown that it 
belongs instead to the twelth century and must thus be one of the last such 
monuments carved in Ireland.^^ 

The sculptors of the early Clonmacnois group were familiar with the 
ringed-cross form. One quadrant of the ring survives on the damaged Bealin 
cross, which was monolithic and originally had a circular ring. Hicks has 
argued that the two rectangular sockets at the top of the narrow sides of the 
Banagher cross shaft were "clearly intended to receive the terminals of a 
ring,"^° a feature that suggests the influence of the carpentry technique used 
by the lona school, as well as the method used to insert the ring in the 
repaired version of St. John's cross at lona. Additional evidence for the 
employment of a carpentry technique by the sculptors of the early Clonmac- 
nois group is provided by the tenon atop the surviving shaft of the Clonmac- 
nois North cross and the tenon at the base of the Clonmacnois fragment 
which Edwards has tentatively identified as part of "a shrine or a piece of 

Douglas Mac Lean 261 

Fig. 14 Bealin Cross. 

furniture."^^ The fragment known as Clonmacnois West was apparently part 
of a cross shaft, but it is impossible to tell, from its present condition, 
whether it belonged either to a ringed cross or one constructed in the car- 
pentry technique.^- The use of the carpentry technique by the sculptors of 
the early Clonmacnois group may owe something to lona, but the low-relief 
decoration they carved on the surfaces of their crosses, seen, for example, on 
the Bealin cross (Fig. 14), are a local development distinct from the more 
"modelled" carving on the lona crosses. 

The date of the early Clonmacnois group of relief sculptures is secured by 
Francoise Henry's reading of the weathered inscription on one broad face of 
the Bealin cross. The inscription is in Old Irish and reads: OROITAR TUATH- 
GALL LAS DERNATH IN CHROSSA (Pray for Tuathgall, who had this cross 
made). Tuathgall is a rare name in Old Irish, and the individual named in 
the inscription is almost certainly the abbot of Clonmacnois of that name 
who became abbot c. 799 and died c. 811.^^ Inscriptions carved on early 
medieval sculptures throughout Britain and Ireland are usually incised, but 
the Bealin inscription is carved in relief. The use of the vernacular in a 

262 The Celtic Cross 

sculptural inscription, however, is common in Ireland. The placement of the 
Bealin inscription near the bottom of the cross shaft is another typically Irish 
feature, one which John Higgitt sees as "a deliberate expression of humility," 
emphasizing the "votive function" of the crosses, since the "most convenient 
way of reading" the inscriptions "is on one's knees."^ Tuathgall, the abbot of 
Clonmacnois in the early ninth century, was engaged in an act of devotion 
when he had carved the Celtic cross which now stands at Bealin. It was not 
intended to function as a burial marker after his death; his grave-slab, in- 
scribed with his name, survives at Clonmacnois.^ The rarity of Tuathgall's 
name and the analogies between the decoration of the Bealin cross, the 
Banagher shaft and the fragments still at Clonmacnois enable us to date the 
activities of the early relief sculpture workshop at Clonmacnois to the begin- 
ning of the ninth century, roughly contemporary with the Ahenny crosses at 
about the same time that the lona school was being destroyed by the Vikings. 
The three earliest groups of Gaelic sculptured stone crosses, those created 
by the lona school, the Ossory sculptors and the Clonmacnois workshop of c. 
800, may all have contributed features to the decoration of the Clonmacnois 
South cross (Fig. 15), which seems to belong to a slightly later phase than the 
relief sculptures of the early Clonmacnois group. Henry was inclined to link 
Clonmacnois South to the Ahenny crosses.^^ Edwards acknowledges the 
similarities between the placement of the cross-head bosses and the use of 
heavy edge-mouldings on Clonmacnois South and the Ahenny crosses, but 
points out that the interlace panels on the narrow sides of Clonmacnois 
South show greater variety and complexity than the simpler interlace patterns 
on the Ahenny crosses.^^ Henry related the rounded bosses which emerge 
from spiral patterns on the east face of Clonmacnois South (Fig. 15) to the 
crosses of the lona school, a comparison followed by Edwards, who also 
notes the similarities between the interlace-covered bosses seen on St. 
Martin's cross at lona (Fig. 4), Clonmacnois South and (in somewhat flat- 
tened form) the Bealin cross (Fig. 14), although the spiral decoration found 
in the fragments of the early Clonmacnois group lack protruding bosses 
carved in relief.^ 

Douglas Mac Lean 


Fig. 15 Clonmacnois South Cross. 

264 The Celtic Cross 

Despite the relationships between Clonmacnois South, the crosses of the 
lona school and the Ossory and early Clonmacnois groups, Clonmacnois 
South seems to belong to a slightly later period than the Viking attack on 
lona in 806 or the death of abbot Tuathgall of Clonmacnois c. 811. The 
decoration of Clonmacnois South includes certain Christian subjects found 
for the first time in a Gaelic context: a Crucifixion at the top of the west side 
of the shaft and an Adam and Eve scene, perhaps paired with a badly worn 
depiction of Cain killing Abel, on the south face of the cross-base,^^ The bot- 
tom half of the east face of the shaft of Clonmacnois South is covered with a 
weathered inhabited vinescroll (Fig. 15), a motif also known to the lona 
school sculptor of the Kildalton cross in Islay (Fig. 10), which features two 
confronted birds pecking at a bunch of grapes between them, a scene taken 
from an inhabited vinescroll composition. Kildalton gives us too little infor- 
mation, however, to form any clear idea of the exact nature of the inhabited 
vinescroll that served as a model. Henry admitted the possibility of Nor- 
thumbrian influence on the Clonmacnois vinescroll, which Edwards finds 
closely comparable to Anglo-Saxon examples of the first quarter of the ninth 
century.^ Edwards suggests a date later than the crosses of the lona school 
or the early Clonmacnois and Ossory groups, but before the Viking attack on 
Clonmacnois in 834.^^ As if Vikings were not enough of a problem, Clon- 
macnois also suffered at the hands of native Irish kings. Feidlimid mac Crim- 
thainn, king of the great southwestern Irish province of Munster, attacked 
Clonmacnois in 832 and in 833 burned its precincts "right up to the door of 
the enclosure." The Vikings attacked in 834 and the burning of a third of the 
monastery is recorded in 835. In the same year, Cathal mac Ailella, king of 
Ui Maine, a kingdom to the west of Clonmacnois, drowned the vice-abbot in 
the Shannon, but is said to have made restitution in the form of seven 
churches he gave to the monastery. The Vikings renewed their attacks in the 
840s, and Feidlimid of Munster raided Clonmacnois again in 846.'^ Clon- 
macnois South might have been carved before the first attack by Feidlimid in 
832, or possibly during the construction of the seven churches donated in 
penance by Cathal of Ui Maine c. 835. 

A high cross generally recognized as the earliest of the crosses at Kells 
might also be assigned a date contemporary with Clonmacnois South, in view 

Douglas Mac Lean 265 

of similarities between the two crosses. The Kells cross is variously known as 
the Kells South cross; the Tower cross, because of its proximity to the round 
tower at the site of the former Kells monastery; or the "Cross of (Saints) 
Patrick and Columba," so identified in an inscription at the top of the east 
side of the base: PATRICII ET columbe cr(UX)P For the sake of con- 
venience, it is referred to here as the Kells Tower cross (Fig. 16). Its 
Crucifixion scene is comparable to the Crucifixion on Clonmacnois South, 
and both scenes are placed in the top half of the west face of the cross shafts. 
The Adam and Eve scene on the east face of the Kells Tower cross shaft is 
paired with a depiction of Cain killing Abel, as was apparently also the case 
on the south face of the Clonmacnois South cross base.^'* Henry also called 
attention to the use of vinescroU designs on both the east face of Clonmac- 
nois South (Fig. 15) and the north face of the Kells Tower cross, and Ed- 
wards has further observed that the vinescroll panels on both crosses consist 
of "five registers of pattern," although "the top register is squashed" on the 
Kells Tower cross.^^ Henry also proposed a relationship between the 
interlace-covered bosses emerging from Celtic spiral patterns on the west 
face of the arms of the Kells Tower cross (Fig. 16), the east face of the shaft 
of Clonmacnois South (Fig. 15) and at lona (Figs. 3,4).^^ The projecting pel- 
lets within the curvature of the armpits of the Kells Tower cross are, 
however, a new feature, one not found in the crosses of the lona school, the 
early Clonmacnois or Ossory groups, or on Clonmacnois South, although 
they do suggest the imitation of metalwork. Indeed, there is a new feeling in 
general about the Kells Tower cross, despite its similarities to Clonmacnois 
South and the interlace-boss and spiral ornament of the lona school. Clon- 
macnois South stands at the end of one phase of development; the Kells 
Tower cross stands at the beginning of another and points towards the fully- 
developed "scripture crosses" of the later ninth and early tenth centuries. 

The inscription on the Kells Tower cross (Fig. 16) is a dedication to Saints 
Patrick and Columba. We have seen that the Kells monastery was built be- 
tween 807 and 814, when most of the lona community removed to Ireland to 
escape the Viking onslaught and established a new foundation at Kells. The 
naming of specific saints in the inscription lends support to the traditional as- 
sociation of two crosses at lona with St. John and St. Martin.^^ We might ex- 


The Celtic Cross 

Fig. 16 Kells Tower Cross. 

pect to see Columba mentioned in an inscription at an lona foundation, but 
the pairing of Columba with the fifth-century Patrick comes as something of 
a surprise. Patrick's foundation at Armagh apparently conformed to Roman 
usage by the late 680s, at a time when lona, still smarting from the Synod of 
Whitby, continued to cling to its Columban tradition. During the interim, 
Armagh churned out a number of texts which laid claim to ecclesiastical 
primacy in the Gaelic world in the name of St. Patrick and at the expense of 
St. Columba.^^ Nonetheless, the author of one of those texts, Muirchu, 
served as a guarantor for the "Law of the Innocents" promulgated in Ireland 
in 697 by Adomnan, the adroit lona abbot who managed to appear Romaniz- 
ing enough for Armagh in the late seventh century and Bede in the early 
eighth, while promoting the lona tradition in his Life of St. Columba.^ lona's 
acquiescence to conformity in 716 and its virtual destruction by Vikings in 
806 may have earned some sympathy from Armagh. Henry detected a note 
of concern in the early ninth century Book of Armagh (Dublin, Trinity Col- 
lege Library, MS 52), a manuscript written by the scribe Ferdomnach for ab- 
bot Torbach of Armagh, which includes a copy of the New Testament and 

Douglas Mac Lean 267 

copies of the texts on St. Patrick written at Armagh in the late seventh cen- 
tury. In the margin of Mark 13:2, where Christ foretells the destruction of 
the Temple of Solomon ("Seest thou all these great buildings? There shall 
not be left a stone upon a stone that shall not be thrown down"), Ferdomnach 
wrote the name of Cellach, the lona abbot who was driven from lona by 
Vikings in 806.^°° A passage in one of the texts concerning Patrick in the 
Book of Armagh describes Columba revealing Patrick's grave at Saulpatrick, 
"where there is a coming together ... of the bones of Columba from Britain 
and of all the saints of Ireland on the Day of Judgement."^°^ The inscription 
on the Kells Tower cross echoes the spirit of the link between Patrick and 
Columba in the Book of Armagh. 

The use of Latin instead of the vernacular in the Kells Tower cross in- 
scription may be unique on an Irish cross,^°'^ but its position on the cross-base 
carries on the Gaelic tradition we have seen in the inscription at the bottom 
of the shaft of the Bealin cross (Fig. 14), which would have been best read 
while kneeling. The placement of the figural scenes on the bases of the 
Ahenny crosses may have served a similar purpose. A panel at the bottom of 
the west face of the shaft of St. Martin's cross at lona "has evidently borne an 
inscription," although it is now illegible.^°^ The positions of the inscriptions 
once carved on St. Martin's cross at lona (Fig. 4), the early Clonmacnois 
cross at Bealin and the Tower cross at the lona foundation at Kells all em- 
phasize the votive purpose of Celtic crosses and take us back, through the 
wooden cross before which king Oswald of Northumbria ordered his army to 
kneel at Heavenfield, to the wooden crosses erected at lona before the 
Anglo-Saxons began to produce sculptured stone crosses in Northumbria, 
with inscriptions in Latin letters and Anglo-Saxon runes. 

The devotional purpose of Celtic crosses became even more noticeable in 
the Biblical scenes which proliferated on the surfaces of the great "scripture 
crosses" carved in Ireland between the mid-ninth and early tenth centuries. 
By that time the Vikings dominated the Hebrides and lona no longer played 
a central role in the further development of the Celtic cross. But the Celtic 
cross continued to be an object of devotion rather than a funerary monu- 
ment. Norwegian and Danish settlement in Ireland made conditions so un- 
stable that no crosses at all appear to have been erected from the early tenth 

268 The Celtic Cross 

century until some time in the eleventh. Thereafter, only a few freestanding 
crosses with open rings seem to have been carved in Ireland. Surviving ex- 
amples from the eleventh and twelfth centuries are concentrated in the west 
of Ireland, at Drumcliff in Sligo, Tuam in Galway, Kilfenora in Clare and 
Temple Brecan on Inishmore in the Aran Islands. There is also an outlier at 
Roscrea in Tipperary.^^ The eleventh- and twelfth-century crosses belong 
stylistically to the Romanesque phase of Irish medieval art, during which the 
native tradition lost its force and succumbed to external influences. The Cel- 
tic cross had already fallen into disuse when the Anglo-Normans began to 
settle in eastern Ireland in the late twelfth century. 

In the late nineteenth century, when it started to become fashionable to 
revive the Celtic-cross form as a burial marker, there were three periods of 
Celtic crosses to choose as models: the early crosses, the history of which is 
outlined above; the "scripture crosses" of the mid-ninth to early tenth century; 
and the Hiberno-Romanesque crosses of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 
Almost without exception, the modern funerary Celtic crosses found in 
Ireland, Scotland and the United States draw their inspiration from the ear- 
liest Celtic crosses, the ones whose ornament is largely decorative and relies 
upon interlace, spirals and geometric patterns. The reason why that should 
be so is best left to those expert in modern gravemarkers. For the early 
medievalist, however, it is curious to note that the modern monuments com- 
bine the Celtic cross, which was a devotional object in its original context, 
with an Anglo-Saxon idea. The Northumbrian Anglo-Saxons first set up 
freestanding wooden crosses under Gaelic influence in the seventh century 
and had erected at least three stone crosses as burial markers by c. 740. 
Modern Celtic crosses, however funerary, have obvious nationalist overtones 
which would have been out of place in the period when Celtic crosses first 
developed. It is open to question whether matters have progressed or 
regressed since Bede, writing c. 731, described the Gaels as a people who 
were "harmless and always friendly to the English,"^°^ but then Bede lived 
and worked in an Anglo-Saxon monastery which had once welcomed the 
somewhat recalcitrant Adomnan of lona as a distinguished visitor. 

Douglas Mac Lean 269 


Except as otherwise noted, all photographs are by the author. 

1. J.F. Kenney, Tlie Sources for the Early History of Ireland: Ecclesiastical (New York: 1929, 
reprint Dublin: 1979), 69-84. 

2. P. Harbison, "Early Irish Churches," in H. Lowe, ed.. Die Iren und Europa im fruheren 
Mittelalter (Stuttgart: 1982), 618-624; A. Hamlin, "The study of early Irish churches," in P. 
Ni Chathain and M. Richter, eds., Irland und Europa: Die Kirche im Frilhniittelalter 
(Stuttgart: 1984), 117-126; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments 
of Scotland, Argyll: An Inventory of the Monuments, vol. 4, lona (Edinburgh: 1982), 41-2 
(hereafter: lona Inventory). 

3. R.B. Warner, "Ireland, Ulster and Scotland in the earlier Iron Age," in A. O'Connor and 
D. Clarke, eds.. From the Stone Age to the Forty-five (Edinburgh: 1983), 161-187; Idem., 
"Ireland and the Origins of Escutcheon Art," in M. Ryan, ed., Ireland and Insular Art A.D. 
500 - 1200 (Dublin: 1987), 19-22. 

4. For a concise account, see J. Bannerman, "The Scots of Dalriada," in P. MacNeill and R. 
Nicholson, eds.,^/i Historical Atlas of Scotland c. 400 - c. 1600 (St. Andrews: 1975), 13-5. 

5. Discussed in K. Hughes, Tlie Church in Early Irish Society (London: 1966), 57-90. 

6. J. Herrin, Tlie Formation of Christendom (Princeton: 1987), 58-9, with additional bibliog- 

7. D. O Corram, Ireland before the Normans (Dubhn and London: 1972), 97-9. 

8. S. Mac Airt and G. Mac Niocaill, eds., Vw Annals of Ulster (To A.D. 1131) (Dublin: 
1983), 82; lona Inventory (note 2), 43-6. 

9. A.O. Anderson and M.O. Anderson, eds., Adomnan's Life of Columba (London and 
Edinburgh: 1961), 306, 522 (hereafter: Adomnan); lona Inventory (note 2), 17. For the 
date of the Life of Columba, see J.M. Picard, "The purpose of Adomnan's Vita 
Columbae," Pentia 1 (1982), 167-9. 

10. G.S.M. Walker, ed., Sancti Columbani Opera (Dublin: 1957), 146-8; discussed in J. Hig- 
gitt, "Words and Crosses: The Inscribed Stone Cross in Early Medieval Britain and 
Ireland," in J. Higgitt, ed.. Early Medieval Sculpture in Britain and Ireland (British Ar- 
chaeological Reports, British Series, 152) (Oxford: 1986), 142. 

11. H. Wasserschleben, ed.. Die Irische Kanonensammlung, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: 1885), 175; 
Hughes, Tlie Church in Early Irish Society (note 5), 148-9. 

12. lona Inventory (note 2), 17, 39, 215-6. 

13. E.J. Gwynn and W.J. Purton, "The Monastery of Tallaght," Proceedings of the Royal Irish 
Academy 29C{19\1),\5\. 

270 The Celtic Cross 

14. L. Nees, "The Colophon Drawing in the Book of Mulling: A Supposed Irish Monastery 
Plan and the Tradition of Terminal Illustration in Early Medieval Manuscripts," 
Cambridge Medieval Celtic Studies 5 (Summer 1983), 67-91. For Moling, see C. Plum- 
mer, ed., Vitae Sanctorum Hibemiae, 2 vols. (Oxford: 1910), l:lxxxi-Lxxxiii. 

15. C. Plummer, ed., Venerabilis Baedae Opera Historica, 2 vols. (Oxford: 1896), 1:113-5, 
124-5. For discussion, see G. Henderson, From Durrow to Kells (London: 1987), 10-3; H. 
Mayr-Harting, Vie Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London: 1972), 66-8. 

16. For Oswald, the primary sources are Adomnan (note 9), 198-202 and Plummer (note 15) 
1:127-131. For discussion, see Henderson (note 15), 31-2; H. Moisl, "The Bernician royal 
dynasty and the Irish in the seventh century," Peritia 1 (1983), 103-126, esp. 105. For 
Segene's dates, see W. Reeves, ed.. Life of St. Columba, Founder of Hy. Written by Adam- 
nan, Ninth Abbot of Tliat Monastery (Edinburgh: 1874), cxlviii, 334-5. 

17. For Aidan, Finan and Colman, see Plummer (note 15), 1:131-3, 135-7, 159-162, 181-191, 
213. The deaths of Aidan and Finan are recorded in Tlie Annals of Ulster (note 8), 126, 

18. For descriptions, see Plummer (note 15), 1:343; B. Colgrave, ed., 77ie Life of Bishop 
Wilfrid by Eddiiis Stephanas (Cambridge: 1927), 98; discussed in E. James, "Bede and the 
tonsure question," Peritia 3, 1984, 85-98; J.M. Picard, "Bede, Adomnan and the Writing of 
History," Peritia 3 (1984), 62 (n5). 

19. For the Easter controversy, see Hughes (note 5), 103-110. 

20. Colgrave (note 18), 8-22; Plummer (note 15), 1:182-9; discussed in D.H. Farmer, "Saint 
Wilfrid" in D.P. Kirby, ed.. Saint Wilfrid at Hexham (Newcastle upon Tyne: 1974), 40-3; 
Mayr-Harting (note 15), 103-113. 

21. Plummer, Baedae Opera Historica (note 15), 1:159, 182-3, 190, 229, 268-273; B. Colgrave, 
ed.. Two Lives of Saint Cuthbert (Cambridge: 1940), 174-9, 272-3; discussed in Mayr- 
Harting (note 15), 161-3. 

22. For Benedict Bishop, see Plummer (note 15), 1:323-4, 364-370, 389-392; discussed in E. 
Fernie, Tlie Architecture of the Anglo-Saxons (London: 1983), 48-52; J. Higgitt, "The 
Dedication Inscription at Jarrow and Its Context," Tlie Antiquaries Journal 59 (1979), 

23. Colgrave (note 18), 32, 34-6, 44-6; discussed in Fernie (note 22), 59-63. 

24. R. Cramp, Early Northumbrian Sculpture, Jarrow Lecture 1965, 8-9, pis. 5-7, 9-10; Idem., 
Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture, vol. I, County Durham and Northumberland (Oxford: 
1984), 16, 21, 27, 114-5, pis. 98:525-6, 264, 265:1428. 

25. R.I. Page, "The Bewcastle Cross," Nottingham Medieval Studies 4 (1960): 36-57. 

26. The literature on Ruthwell is vast. E. O Carragain, "The Ruthwell Cross and Irish High 
Crosses: Some Points of Comparison and Contrast," in M. Ryan, ed. (note 3), 118-128, 
contains an excellent explanation of the runic inscriptions and includes additional bibliog- 

Douglas Mac Lean 271 

27. L. Stone, Sculpture in Britain: The Middle Ages, 2nd ed. (Harmondsworth: 1972), 13; M. 
Schapiro, "The Religious Meaning of the Ruthwell Cross," /1/t Bulletin (1944), 26:241. 

28. Colgrave (note 21), 122, 242, 248, 334-5. 

29. A.P. Smyth, Warlords and Holy Men, Scotland A.D. 80-1000 (London: 1984), 25-7. 

30. Plummer (note 15), 1:351; 2:224, 343; additional discussion in E. Mercer, "The Ruthwell 
and Bewcastle Crosses," ^/if/^/0' 38 (1964): 268-276. 

31. T. Arnold, ed., Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia, Rolls Series, 2 vols. (1882-5), 1:39; 

32. Cramp, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture (note 24), 66-74, 152, 174-8, 194-201, pis. 167- 
176, 194:1088. 

33. Plummer (note 15), 1:315-6, 344-5: Tonsuram quoque, si tantum sibi auctoritatis subesset, 
emendare meminisset. Discussed, with different emphasis, in Picard (note 9), 160-177; 
Picard (note 18), 61-3. 

34. Plummer (note 15); 1:134-5, 2%-7, 346-8; The Annals of Ulster (note 8), 162, 172, 182. 
For a recent discussion of Ecgberct, see Henderson (note 15), 93-7. 

35. D.P. Kirby, "Bede and the Pictish Church," Innes Review 24 (1973): 15. 

36. Adomnan (note 9), 27, 94, 102, 460-3. 

37. Discussed in J. Bannerman, Studies in the History of Dalriada (Edinburgh and London: 
1974), 9-26, esp. 21-4; see also D. O Croinin, "Early Irish Annals from Easter-tables: a 
case restated," Peritia 2 (1983):84-5. 

38. R.B.K. Stevenson, "The Chronology and Relationships of Some Irish and Scottish 
Crosses," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 86 (1956), 87. 

39. lona Inventory (note 2), 200, 204; J.L. Campbell and D. Thomson, Edward Lhuyd and the 
Scottish Highlands, 1699-1700 (Oxford: 1963), pi. XV. 

40. Adomnan (note 9), 488-491; W. Stokes, The Martyrology of Oengus the Culdee (London: 
Henry Bradshaw Society 29 [1905]): 138, 160, 234, 276, 288. 

41. Plummer (note 15) 1:184-5. 

42. D. Mac Lean, "The Keills Cross in Knapdale, the lona School and the Book of Kells," in 
J. Higgitt, ed., Early Medieval Sculpture in Britain and Ireland (note 10), 175-197. 

43. lona Inventory (note 2), 17-8, 192-208; Stevenson (note 38), 84-9. 

44. W.G. Collingwood, Northumbrian Crosses of the Pre-Norman Age (London: 1927), 85. 

45. lona Inventory (note 2), 197-201. 

46. Ibid., 17-8, 197-204; W.N. Robertson, "St. John's Cross, lona, Argyll," Proceedings of the 

272 The Celtic Cross 

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 106 (1974-5), 111-123. 

47. Stevenson (note 38), 89-90. 

48. Plummer (note 15), 1:332-346; I. Henderson, "Pictish Vine-Scroll Ornament," in A. 
O'Connor and D.V. Clarke, eds.. From the Stone Age to the Forty-five (note 3), 248. 

49. Stevenson (note 38), 89; R.L.S. Bruce-Mitford, "The Pectoral Cross," in C.F. Battis- 
combe, ed.. The Relics of St. Cuthbert (Oxford: 1956), 308-325. 

50. T. Fanning and P. O hEailidhe, "Some cross-inscribed slabs from the Irish midlands," in 
H. Murtagh, ed., Irish Midland Studies: Essays in Commemoration of N.W. English 
(Athlone: 1980), 7, 9, fig. 2.2; V\e Annals of Ulster (note 8), 216. 

51. lona Inventory (note 2), 187, nos. 45-6. 

52. H.M. Roe, "The Irish High Cross: Morphology and Iconography," Journal of the Royal 
Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 95 (1965): 213-226, fig. 7.1, with a review of earlier litera- 
ture; A. Grabar, Ampoules de Terre-Sainte (Monza - Bobbio) (Paris: 1958), 34-5, pis. 

53. P. Harbison, "The Date of the Moylough Belt Shrine," in D. O Corram, ed., Irish Antiq- 
uity: Essays and Studies Presented to Professor M. J. O'Kelly (Cork: 1981), 235-6, fig. 45. 

54. Ancient Laws of Ireland, 6 vols.. Rolls Series (1865-1901) 5:91-104, 114-5; D.A. Binchy, 
Corpus luris Hibemici, 6 vols. (Dublin: 1978) 5:1612-8; 6:2276-2282, 2328-2335; E. Mac- 
Neill, "Ancient Irish Law: The Law of Status or Franchise," Proceedings of the Royal Irish 
Academy 36C (1923): 277-281; DA.. Binchy, "The Date and Provenance of Uraicecht 
Becc," Eriu 18 (1958): 44-54. 

55. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll: An In- 
ventory of the Monuments, 5 Islay, Jura, Colonsay & Oronsay (Edinburgh: 1984); 28-9, 
206-211, 340 (nl02) (hereafter: Islay Inventory). 

56. Stevenson (note 38) 86; R.B.K. Stevenson, "Sculpture in Scotland in the 6th-9th 
Centuries," in V. Milojcic, ed., Kolloquium uber Sp'dtantike und Friihmittelalterliche 
Skulptur (Mainz: 1971), 71; lona Inventory (note 2) 18, 204-8. 

57. For Kilnave, see Islay Inventory (note 55), 220-2; for Keills, see Mac Lean (note 42). 

58. lona Inventory (note 2), 17-9, 197, 204,208; Mac Lean (note 42), 186; see also Islay Inven- 
tory (note 55), 29, 209, 220. 

59. R.B.K. Stevenson, "Pictish Art," in F.T. Wainwright, ed.. Vie Problem of the Picts 
(Edinburgh: 1955), 118-9; Stevenson (note 38), 84-5; Stevenson, "Sculpture in Scotland 
(note 56), 71-2; J. A. Calvert, Tfje Early Development of Irish High Crosses and Tlxeir 
Relationship to Scottish Sculpture in the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, unpublished Ph.D. 
dis.. University of California, Berkeley (1978), 23-4 &nA passim. 

60. The source material is collected in A.O. Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish of Scottish 
History, 2 vols. (Edinburgh and London: 1922), 1:256-261. 

Douglas Mac Lean 273 

61. Ibid., 1:263-6. 

62. The pre-806 date was first advanced in C.L. Curie, "The Chronology of the Early Chris- 
tian Monuments of Scotland," Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland 74 
(1939-40), 97. 

63. lona Inventory (note 2), 203; Robertson (note 46), 116, 122 (n5). 

64. M. Ryan, The Derrynaflan Hoard I: A Preliminary Account (Dublin: 1983), 26, pis. 64-5. 

65. The relevant objects are illustrated in F. Henry, "Deux objects de bronze irlandais au 
Musee des Antiquites Nationedes," Prehistoire 6 (1938): 65-91. 

66. Islay Inventory (note 55), 211. 

67. F. Henry, Irish Art in the Early Christian Period, 2nd ed. (London: 1947), 102-8 (hereafter: 
Henry 1947); Idem., Irish Art in the Early Christian Period to 800 A.D. (Ithaca, NY: 1965), 
139-141 (hereafter: Henry 1%5); H.M. Roe, The High Crosses of Western Ossory, 
Kilkenny Archaeological Society (1958); N. Edwards, "An Early Group of Crosses from 
the Kingdom of Ossory," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 113 (1983): 

68. lona Inventory (note 2), 17-8. 

69. Edwards (note 67), 7. 

70. H. Richardson, "The concept of the High Cross," in P. Ni Chathain and M. Richter, eds. 
(note 2), 130-2; D. Meehan, ed.,Adamnan's De Locis Sanctis (DubUn: 1958), 42-7. 

71. F. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise, 2 vols. (Paris: 1933), 1:50, 53-4, 80, 85, 97, 100, 103, 117, 
123, 164-5; Henry 1947 (note 67), 102-5, 111; Henry 1965 (note 67), 139-141, 151-3. 

72. Edwards (note 67), 30-32. 

73. The Annals of Ulster (note 8), 76; Plummer (note 15), l:xlviii-Ii; Hughes (note 5), 57n, 67 

74. Adomnan (note 9), 214-9. 

75. M. Ni Dhonnchadha, "The Guarantor List of Cain Adomnain, 697," Peritia 1 (1982), 178- 
80, 186. 

76. lona Inventory (note 2), 14-6, 179-192; RA.S. Macalister, Vie Memorial Slabs of Clon- 
macnois, King's County (Dublin: 1909); N. Edwards, "Two Sculptural Fragments from 
Clonmacnois," Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland 114 (1984); 57; Idem., 
"The South Cross, Clonmacnois (with an Appendix on the Incidence of Vine-Scroll on 
Irish Sculpture)" in J. Higgitt, ed.. Early Medieval Sculpture in Britain and Ireland (note 
10), 23; C. Hicks, "A Clonmacnois Workshop in Stone," Journal of the Royal Society of 
Antiquaries of Ireland 110 (1980): 5. 

77. Henry (note 71), 1:16-7, 20, 53, 85, 97-8, 104, 117, 123, 165, 2:pls. 38-41; Henry 1947 (note 
67), 85, 106-8, pi. 41; Henry 1%5 (note 67) 139, 143-6, 154, pis. 88, 91-5. 

274 The Celtic Cross 

78. Discussed in Hicks (note 76), 5-35; Edwards, "Two Sculptured Fragments" (note 76), 57- 
9, fig. 18; Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmacnois" (note 76), 23. 

79. Henry 1965 (note 67), 143; Hicks (note 76), 6-7, 9, 11, 16, figs, le, 4b; Edwards, "Two 
Sculptural Fragments (note 76), 59, fig. 19. 

80. Hicks (note 76), 7. 

81. Ibid., 7, fig. Ic; Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71) 2:pl. 41; Edwards, "The South 
Cross, Clonmacnois," (note 76), 57. 

82. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 2:pl. 38.1; Henry 1965 (note 67), pi. 95; Hicks, 
"A Clonmacnois Workshop" (note 76), figs. Id, 2d. 

83. F. Henry, "L'inscription de Bealin," Revue Archeologique, 5th ser., 32 (1930): 110-5; Henry 
1%5 (note 67), 143-4; The Annals of Ulster (note 8), 254, 266. 

84. Higgitt, "Words and Crosses" (note 10), 127-9, 144. 

85. Henry 1965 (note 67), 158, fig. 19. 

86. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 67), 1:166, 2:pl. 56; Henry 1947 (note 67), 175; Henry 
1965 (note 71), 139, pis. 84-5. 

87. Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmacnois" (note 76), 23-4, 28, pis. 2.1-2.2. 

88. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 1:53, 55; Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmac- 
nois" (note 76), 24, 29-30. 

89. Henry 1965 (note 67), 147; Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmacnois" (note 76), 25-6, pi. 

90. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 1:109; Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmac- 
nois" (note 76), 27. 

91. Edwards, /b/d., 31. 

92. The Annals of Ulster (note 8), 290-2; FJ. Byrne, Irish Kings and High-Kings (London: 
1973), 171, 211, 221-2, 226-228; see also 6 Corrain (note 7), 90-1. 

93. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 1:18, 2:pls. 57-8; F. Henry, Irish Art During the 
Viking Invasions (800-1020 A.D.) (Ithaca, NY: 1967), 138. For a complete description of 
the cross, see H.M. Roe, 77je High Crosses ofKells (Meath Archaeological and Historical 
Society: 1959), 10-25. 

94. Henry, Irish Art During the Viking Invasions (note 93), 151, pi. 75; Edwards, "The South 
Cross, Clonmacnois" (note 76), 25-6, 30-1, pi. 2.4. 

95. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 1:109; Henry, Irish Art During the Viking Inva- 
sions (note 93), 91; Edwards, "The South Cross, Clonmacnois" (note 76), 26-7, 30-1, pi. 

Douglas Mac Lean 275 

96. Henry, La sculpture irlandaise (note 71), 1:53, 55; Henry 1947 (note 67), 173. 

97. See Higgitt, "Words and Crosses" (note 10), 128, 135, 144-5. 

98. Hughes (note 5), 115-6; Picard, "The purpose of Adomnan's Vita Columbae" (note 9), 

99. Ni Dhonnchadha, "The Guarantor List" (note 75), 180, 196; see also Picard (note 9), pas- 

100. Henry, Irish Art During the Viking Invasions (note 93), 7; for the Book of Armagh, see 
Kenney (note 1), 327, 334-5, 337-9. 

101. L. Bieler, Vie Patrician Texts in the Book of Armagh (Dublin: 1979), 44-5, 164-5. 

102. Discussed in Higgitt, "Words and Crosses" (note 10), 128, 143. 

103. lona Inventory (note 2), 206. 

104. F. Henry, Irish Art in the Romanesque Period (I020-I170A.D.) (Ithaca, NY: 1970), 124-8, 
130-1, 134-5, 140-2, fig. 11, pis. 51-2, 54, 58-9, 63. 

105. Plummer (note 15), 1:266. 



Martha Wren Briggs obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the College 
of William and Mary and her Masters degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, 
New York University. For 22 years she was art librarian at C.W. Post Col- 
lege of Long Island University. She is currently a photographic researcher 
for the Department of Archaeological Research, Colonial Williamsburg 

Elizabeth Crowell received her Bachelors degree in anthropology from 
Rhode Island College and a Masters degree in history from the College of 
William and Mary. She holds a Masters degree and a Ph.D. degree in his- 
torical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Margot Gayle is founder and president of The Friends of Cast Iron Architec- 
ture, organized in 1970 to arouse interest in nineteenth-century iron-front 
buildings and decorative cast iron structures. She is author of five books on 
the subject. 

Ronald W. Hawker is a Canadian citizen and has a Bachelors degree and a 
Masters degree in History in Art from the University of Victoria. He and his 
wife are presently teaching English at a private conversation school in Mat- 
suyama on the southern Japanese island of Shikoku. 

Blanche Linden-Ward is Coordinator of the American Culture and Com- 
munication Program at Emerson College in Boston, Masaschusetts. She is 
the author of Silent City on a Hill: Landscapes of Memory and Boston 's Mount 
Auburn Cemetery (Columbus, Ohio, 1988) and a number of articles on the 
cultural history of American cemeteries. 

Jennifer Lucas has been photographing gravestones in her native 
Bloomington, Indiana, for the past eight years and has accumulated over 
2500 photographs. This is her first article. 


Norman Vardney Mackie III holds a Bachelors degree in sociology from 
Southeastern Massachusetts University and a Masters degree in anthropol- 
ogy from the College of William and Mary, with a specialty in historical ar- 
chaeology. He is Senior Archaeologist with John E. Harms, Jr. & Associates, 
Inc. in Pasadena, Maryland. 

Douglas Mac Lean holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of 
Houston - University Park, a Masters degree from the University of Texas at 
Austin and a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh. He is Assistant 
Professor in the Department of Art and the History of Art and Architecture 
at Tufts University. He has published a number of articles on medieval 

Warren E. Roberts received his Bachelors degree from Reed College and a 
Ph.D. in Folklore from Indiana University. He has taught folklore at Indiana 
University for many years, and is presently Professor of Folklore. 



Aberlemno Churchyard, 250 

Abingdon Churchyard, 124, 128, 129 

Adams, Hannah, 34, 36 

Adomnan, 236, 238, 244, 245, 257, 259, 266, 


Ahenny Crosses, 259, 262, 267 

Ahenny North Cross, 251, 252, 257, 258 

Ahenny South Cross, 257, 258 

Albertson Gate, 16, 17, 27, 29 

Antioch Cemetery, 175 

Arcourt and Schaber, 189 

Ashburnham, Mass., 9 

Ayres, Abigail, 95 


Bangs, Superintendent George, 180, 182 

Barnicoat, F., 187 

Bealin Cross, 260, 261, 262, 267 

Bedford Monumental Works, 185 

Belvidere Cemetery, 175, 176, 178, 179 

Bewcastle Cross, 232, 241, 246 

Bigelow, Dr. Jacob, 37, 38, 46 

Billerica, Mass., 19, 21, 22 

Blakely, Harriet, 205, 206 

Blandford Cemetery, 139, 144, 145, 146, 147, 

148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 153, 154, 157, 158, 

159, 160, 161, 163, 164 

Blood Point Cemetery, 179 

Bodwell, Permelia, 175, 178 

Borden Gate, 25, 26 

Bradlee Gate, 15, 17 

Bramhall, Otis, 41 

Brantegee, John, Gate, 32, 33 

Bray, David, 121 

Bridgham & Patten Gate, 16 

Bruton Parish Churchyard, 105, 114, 118, 

120, 121, 122, 129 

Burgess Cemetery, Grafton, Vt., 5 

Burial Hill, Plymouth, Mass., 34 

Burt, E.M., 200, 205, 207 

Burwell, Lewis, 124, 129 

Buskirk, Isaac, 207, 208 

Butt, Joseph, 82, 83 

Campbell, Isabella, 202, 203 

Cauda, Charlotte, 47, 49 

Carpenter Gate, 10 

Cedar Grove Cemetery, New London, 

Conn., 11, 32, 33 

Champion, John, 125 

Chapman Gate, 27, 29 

Charleston, S.C, 117 

Chase Brothers, 41 

Chief Mountain, 226, 227 

Clark, William, 101 

Clear Creek Cemetery, 196, 205, 206 

Clonmacnois, 256, 259, 260, 261, 262 

Clonmacnois North Cross, 260 

Clonmacnois South Cross, 262, 263, 264, 265 

CooUdge, Austin J., 52 

Copp's Hill, 60, 62, 63, 88 

Correll and Burrell, 185 

Correll and Groh, 186 

Correll, Belden M., 185 

Corsaw, Jesse, 200, 210 

Corsaw, Jonathan, 197, 199, 200, 202, 209 

Covenanter Cemetery, 204 

Cramer, Archibald and Margaret, 172 

Crooks, Robert, 119 

Cross & Rowe, 177, 180, 181, 182 

Cross, P.O. & Co., 177, 180, 181 

Cross, Ferdinand O., 174, 175, 177, 178, 180, 

184, 188 

Crowder Family, 150, 151, 152, 153 

Crowley, W.R., 154, 155 

Currie & Son, 185 

Currie, Lawrence, 185 


Danforth, Samuel, 68, 69 
Darneille, Belle Moulton, 175, 176 
Darneille, James W., 175, 176, 177 
Davis Gate, 5 
Day, Jonathan, 197 
Dearborn, General Henry A.S., 36, 41 
Dorchester North Burying Ground, 58, 60, 
62, 63, 76 


Downing, Andrew Jackson, 47, 48, 49 
Dunlop, John Mince, 152, 153 

Elgar, Harold "Dugan", 196 

Eliot Burying Ground, 60, 62, 64, 65 

Eustis Street Burying Groimd, 65 


lona, 234, 236, 237, 238, 239, 240, 243, 244, 
245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 252, 253, 254, 255, 

256, 257, 259, 260, 262, 265, 266, 267, 268 
lona School, 243, 245, 253, 254, 255, 256, 

257, 259, 260, 262, 264, 265 
Ivor Cemetery, 162 

Fairbanks Gate, 9 
Fall River, Mass., 25, 26 
Farmer, Charles, 201, 202 
Fisher, J., 222 
Fitchburg, Mass., 12 
Folsom, Colonel Charles, 51 
Foster, James, 84, 85 
Foster, Priscilla, 83, 84 
France, J.H.C., 185 
Franklin, Mass., 32, 33 

Gardner, Cephas, 175, 178 

Glamis, 250, 251 

Gordon, Nancy, 204 

Grace Churchyard, 127 

Greene, Carrie Emma, 161 

Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, N.Y., 49 

Greenwood Gate, 30, 31 

Grinley, James, 113, 114 

Groh, David, 186 

Grosvenor, John, 69 


Hall, Fred, and wife, 175, 179 

Hampton, N.H., 19, 20 

Harmony Cemetery, 205, 206 

Hazelton, British Columbia, 220 

Healey, J.I., 6 

Hill, Mary, 98 

Holmes, G. & Bros., 27 

Holmes, G. and Bro., 6 

Holmes, George, 5, 6 

Hurt, Francis Eppes, 149, 164 

Hurt, Lieutenant Wayles, 147, 148, 149, 164 

Hurt, Richard Thweatt, 148, 149, 164 

Jarvis, WiUiam H., 154, 156, 157, 158 

Jennison Eager Gate, 5 

Jervis, James, 73 

Jewett, A.W., Lot, 26, 28 

John, Samuel, Gate, 15 

Johnston and Sudbury, 203, 205 

Johnston, David, 202, 203, 205 


Keene, N.H., 8, 10, 27, 29 

Kells Tower Cross, 265, 266, 267 

Kildalton Cross, 245, 253, 254, 255, 256, 264 

Kilnave Cross, 245, 253, 254, 255, 259 

KincoUth, British Columbia, 226, 227, 228, 


Koons, Amanda, 205, 206 

Koons, Fannie S., 186 

Koontz Cemetery, 186 

LaBoyteaux, Bennet, 201, 202 
Lawrence Gate, 14 
Lawrence, Joseph, Gate, 18 
Lot 425, Gate and Fence, 21, 22 


Malcom, Ann, 98, 99 

Manchester, Mass., 26, 28 

Martyn, Michael, 97 

McGee Marble and Granite Company, 189 

Miller, David, 11 

Millville, R.L, 31 

Molony, Richard G. and Emma, 175, 178 

Moril, Isaac, 73 

Morriss, Mary Edward, 163 

Mount Auburn, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 23, 25, 

26, 28, 35 

Mt. Gilead Cemetery, 207, 208 


Murray, Rev. John, 37, 38 


Nantucket, Mass., 23, 24 

Natick, Mass., 30, 31 

Naugle, John, 185 

Naugle, Noah, 185 

Nelson and Corsaw, 197, 198 

Nelson, Thomas, 127, 197 

New Haven, Conn., 15, 17 

New London, Conn., 16, 17, 18, 27, 29 

Notman, John, 44, 45 


Old Blandford Church, 115 

Old Blandford Churchyard, 129 

Old Municipal Cemetery, 172 

Old, Jacob Brandsford, 154, 156, 157, 158 

Orchard Plot, 199 

Paragon Cemetery, 172 

Patch, Sydney, 41 

Patrick, John O., 172 

Patton, Mary, 207 

Pease Children, 175, 179 

Philbert Family, 175 

Philips, Joseph Eva, 222, 225, 226, 227 

Pole, William, 76, 80, 85 

Port Simpson, British Columbia, 224 

Prince Rupert, British Columbia, 217 

Providence, R.I., 16, 17 

Rowe, John A. & Co., 181 
Rudge, George, 222, 223, 224, 225 
Russell, John, 96 
Ruthwell Cross, 241, 242, 243 

Safford and Low, 37, 38 

Scots Charitable Society, 42, 43 

Scots Charitable Society Gate, 12 

Scott, WiUiam H., 48 

Sebrell, EUzabeth Randolph, 145, 146 

SebreU, Va., 146, 156 

Seward, Thomas, 99, 100 

Smith, Indiana, 154, 155 

Smith, John Jay, 45, 48 

Smith, Theodrick, 153, 154 

Spelman, Israel M., 53, 54, 55 

Sqa-gwet, Paul, 223, 224, 225 

St. Columba, 236, 237, 238, 239, 244, 245, 

257, 259, 266, 267 

St. John's Cross, 245, 246, 248, 249, 252, 253, 

254, 255, 260 

St. Martin's Cross, 245, 247, 253, 254, 255, 


St. Oran's Cross, 245, 246, 248, 249, 252, 255 

St. Paul's Churchyard, 119 

Sterling, Mass., 9 

Stewart, Alexander, 222 

Stoughton, William, 86 

Strauch, Adolph, 49, 50 

Strong, Charles, 175, 178, 179, 189 

Sudbury, Tolbert H., 202, 203, 205 

Sumner, Thomas, Gate, 19, 21, 22 

Rae, Robert, 113, 114, 120 
Ramkey, Sadie Roe, 145, 146, 160, 161 
Rawls, Mary Ann, 162 
Reese, Louisa Florence, 156 
Richlcmd Cemetery, 207 
Roberts, J.L. and J.H., 41 
Robinson Children, 149, 150 
Roby, Sarah, 88 

Rose Hill Cemetery, 182, 195, 196, 197, 199, 

200, 201, 202, 203, 205 

Ross Bay Cemetery, 221 

Rowe, John A., 174, 175, 180, 181, 183, 184 

Temple, William A., 145, 147, 158, 159, 160 

Thayer, Davis, Gate, 32, 33 

Thornton & France, 185 

Tisdale and Hewins Gate, 14 

Travis Plantation Cemetery, 125 

Troy, N.H., 27, 30 

Tucker Swamp Churchyard, 154, 155 

Venn, Moses, 221, 222 
Voelckers, Theodore, 13, 23, 42, 43 



Walker, Isaac, 202, 204, 211 

Walsh, Charles Miller, 139 

Walsh, Lewis Leigh, 159, 160 

Ware Churchyard, 120 

Warren, Mass., 5 

Weeman, E., 6, 27 

Whippey, WilUam, Gate, 23, 24 

White Oak Cemetery, 200 

White, Robert, 200 

Wilder, David, Fence, 9 

Wood Family, 76, 78, 86 

Wood, Moses, 12 

Worcester, Mass., 10 

Wright, Hugh M., 223 

Wyman, Thomas R., Gate, 26, 28 

Also of Interest from 
The Association for Gravestone Studies 

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 

Markers V 

Edited by Theodore Chase 

Markers VI 

Edited by Theodore Chase