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Journal of the 
Association for Gravestone Studies 

Markers XI 

Journal of 
the Association for 
Gravestone Studies 

Edited by 
Richard E. Meyer 

Association for Gravestone Studies 
Worcester, Massachusetts 

Copyright ©1994 by 

Association for Gravestone Studies 

30 Elm Street 
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609 

All rights reserved 
Printed in the United States of America 

ISBN: 1-878381-04-0 
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. 

Cover photo: Samuel and Huldah Colver, 1907, Phoenix, Oregon. 
Pliotograph by Richard E. Meyer. 


Ritual, Regalia and Remembrance: 
Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Laurel K. Gabel 


Louisiana Cemeteries: 

Manifestations of Regional and Denominational Identity 

Tadashi Nakagawa 28 

Solomon Brewer: 

A Connecticut Valley Yankee in Westchester County 

Gray Williams, Jr. 52 

'Where Valor Proudly Sleeps': 

Theodore O'Hara and 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

Thomas C. Ware 82 

Slavery in Colonial Massachusetts as Seen Through 
Selected Gravestones 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 112 

Merrimac Valley Style Gravestones: 
The Leighton and Worster Families 

Ralph L. Tucker 142 

Monumental Ambition: 

A Kentucky Stonecutter's Career 

Deborah A. Smith 168 

'And Who Have Seen the Wilderness': 

The End of the Trail on Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Richard E. Meyer 186 

Contributors 220 

Index 222 




Richard E. Meyer, Editor 

Western Oregon State College 

Theodore Chase Warren Roberts 

Editor, Markers V-IX Indiana University 

Jessie Lie Farber Barbara Rotundo 

Mount Holyoke College State University of New York 

Editor, Markers I at Albany 

Richard Francaviglia James A. Slater 

University of Texas at Arlington University of Connecticut 

David Watters 

University of New Hampshire 
Editor, Markers II-IV 

Markers XI has been a pleasure to produce, and I hope its readers will 
find an equal pleasure in reading its contents. The individual essays pre- 
sented in this issue represent a wide range of time periods, geographical 
regions of the country, and scholarly techniques - in short, the type of 
broad-based and balanced examination of gravemarkers, their makers, 
and the places where they are found which is coming to be characteristic 
of the best recent work in this specialized area of American folk art and 
material culture. As a part of this trend, I feel, Markers has been and con- 
tinues to be the standard by which other efforts must be judged. 

Any scholarly publication's merits are determined largely by the 
quality of its manuscript submissions and the subsequent efforts of its 
editorial review board, and in both these regards my work as editor has 
been greatly aided by the high standards and conscientiousness dis- 
played by contributors and members of the editorial board. I thank them 


all, and hope that readers with scholarly projects in mind will consider 
submitting their best work for publication consideration in future issues 
of Markers. 

Others deserve thanks as well, in particular Professor Gregory Jeane 
of Samford University, who responded with enthusiasm and acumen to 
my call for specialized editorial assistance; Western Oregon State Col- 
lege, which generously supports this publication through numerous 
forms of indirect financial assistance; staff members - most especially 
Patti Stephens and Fred Kennedy - at Print Tek West, Salem, Oregon, 
who make my job a lot easier and this volume a lot more handsome; the 
officers, board members, staff, and general membership of the Associa- 
tion for Gravestone Studies, who make it all possible in the first place; 
and, finally, Lotte Larsen, who believes in me and helps in so many ways 
to make me believe in myself. 

Information concerning the submission of manuscripts for future 
issues of Markers may be obtained upon request from Richard E. Meyer, 
Editor, Markers: Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies, English 
Department, Western Oregon State College, Monmouth, Oregon 97361 
(Phone: (503) 838-8362 / E-Mail: For infor- 
mation about other AGS publications, membership, and activities, write 
to the Association's Executive Director, Miranda Levin, 30 Elm Street, 
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609, or call (508) 831-7753. 










Frontispiece. "Virtue and Silence." Masonic emblems on slate 

gravemarker, late 1700s. East Derry, NH. Photograph #1838 

by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber 



Laurel K. Gabel 

In the 1920s, an estimated thirty million people, nearly half of the 
entire population of the United States, belonged to at least one secret 
order or fraternal benefit society (Fig. I). 1 Even the smallest rural settle- 
ments often supported more than one fraternal lodge, so it was not 
uncommon then, or even now, for a man or woman to belong to several 
different organizations (Fig. 2). The grand lodge buildings and fraternal 
meeting halls of these groups, once a central focus of many communi- 
ties, are still highly visible in towns and cities across the country. 

In their heyday, the well-known symbols and emblems of fraternal 
organizations appeared everywhere - on jewelry, furniture, and ceram- 
ics, on an almost limitless array of household items, and on gravemark- 
ers. The most elaborate symbolic displays, however, were usually 


jr\\ i rDl ; ■ "k that fraternal and chi 

\ / is exist primarily to initiate ueii mem 

. '..,«f, ami listen tc ipeec/u 
: rjicially appar, 
In all such organizations there In.'*, j firm, 
line foundation ..I HUM \N SEKVICE. 


Fig. 1 "Which Are You?" Fraternal emblem lapel pins featured in a 
Grinnell Company advertisement. The Saturday Evening Post, 
April 5, 1924. Courtesy of The Saturday Evening Post Society. 

Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 



Ml SI I M 

Fig. 2 Roadside sign displaying emblems of local fraternal and 
service organizations, 1991. Webster, NY. 

reserved for lodge furnishings and the special ceremonial regalia of the 
order (Fig. 3). 2 

Death and funerary regalia held special importance in the complex 
rituals and secret initiations of fraternalism. This regalia was also an 
integral part of the etiquette and ceremony of fraternal burials. Special 
coffin plates and handles embellished with fraternal emblems, elaborate 
floral tributes in the symbolic shapes and colors of the order, and ornate 
mourner's badges worn by attending lodge brothers were among some 
of the more common, commercially available funeral accessories. Along 
with the insurance of a decent burial, secret societies provided their own 
structure and meaning to the mourning process by integrating lodge rit- 
uals and symbols into the fraternal burial ceremony. Furnishing this 
final dignity and drama at a member's funeral was considered one of the 
most solemn obligations of the fraternal brotherhood. 

The prevalence of fraternalism is apparent today on numerous 

Laurel K. Gabel 

Fig. 3 Masonic Regalia. Lodge Apron, ca. 1850. Attributed to R. B. 

Crafft of Kentucky. Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, 

MA, #85.6.2; Gift of the Valley of Lowell, MA, in honor of Brother 

Starr H. Fiske, 32nd Degree. Photograph by John Miller Documents. 

gravestones in cemeteries across the country, where the totality of a life 
is often expressed by a name, dates of birth and death, and the emblems 
of fraternal affiliation (Fig. 4). Many cemeteries have dedicated special 
sections to the various fraternal groups. It is not uncommon, for exam- 
ple, to find within the cemetery proper a large Masonic plot or a separate 
area (or areas) reserved for Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, or the 
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Fraternal organizations also 
established and frequently continue to own and operate entire cemeter- 

Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

ies exclusively for their brotherhood. And, even in instances where these 
cemeteries have come under community or private control, their origins 
are often clearly seen through the retention of their original, identifying 

Our contemporary society may find it easy to dismiss some of the 
practices and beliefs of these secret organizations: their mysterious rites, 
secret rituals, and ceremonial regalia can appear silly when viewed in 
the context of today's culture. However, during the late nineteenth and 
early twentieth centuries, in the heyday of secret societies, there were at 
least 800 active fraternal organizations in the United States. 3 An estimat- 
ed 2,000 fraternal societies are believed to have existed in North America 
at one time or another since the mid-1 800s. Many of these organizations 
survived for only a short period and left behind little by way of histori- 
cal records. 4 Gravestones bearing unfamiliar emblems and long forgot- 
ten acronyms may offer the only tangible evidence of a secret society's 
former existence. 

Most fraternal organizations functioned at least partly as benefit soci- 

Laurel K. Gabel 

eties - forerunners of the welfare programs, health insurance agencies, 
labor unions, and farm co-operatives that we now take for granted. 5 In 



; 77777 fjp 5 ^* 77777 Icy^ v 



t Hv I l\< I WAT! 

Fig. 5 "George Washington as a Mason." Strowbridge & Co., 

Lithographers; J.H. Power & Co., publishers, 1870. Museum of Our 

National Heritage, Lexington, MA. 

Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

many instances, a vital part of the benefits structure provided by these 
societies consisted of various forms of funerary assistance. 

The meaning of some of the complex symbols and emblems associat- 
ed with secret societies may be better understood when considered 
within the context of each specific organization. What follows is a brief 
introduction to several of the most common fraternal /benefit societies 
and their associated symbolism. 

Although Masonry's ancient beginnings are often disputed, most 
scholars agree that the modern day origins of the order trace back to the 
stonemason's guilds of England and Scotland. 6 Structured around quasi- 
religious rituals and ancient mythology, the Masons are generally recog- 
nized as the oldest, and historically the most influential, fraternal society 
in America. Freemasons, or Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as they 
are officially known, were well-established in Boston and Philadelphia 
by the 1730s. 7 

Fig. 6 The "Structure of Freemasonry." R. E. Bartlett illustration after 

a painting by Everitt Henry. (Illustration from Life, October 8, 1956.) 

Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, MA. 

Photograph by John Miller Documents. 

Laurel K. Gabel 

Masonry played a significant role in our country's early political and 
social history. The radical "Sons of Liberty," such noted leaders of the 
American Revolution as Paul Revere, John Hancock, and George 
Washington, and the majority of delegates to the Constitutional 
Convention were active members of the secret Masonic brotherhood (see 
Fig. 5). 8 These men incorporated some of the most basic ideals and prin- 
ciples of Masonry into the political foundations of the new government. 
One of the more visible examples of this is found on the back of the U.S. 
one dollar bill, where several common Masonic symbols appear in the 
Great Seal of the United States. 9 

The Masons, and the many fraternal societies modeled after them, 
built their organizations on a pyramid of degrees or ranks through 

Fig. 7 Grave monument emblem of 32nd Degree Scottish 
Rite Mason, nd. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY 

Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 8 Master Mason (left), Knights Templar (center), and Royal Arch 

(right) Masonic emblems on granite gravestone, 1912. Allegheny 

Cemetery, Pittsburgh, PA. Photograph by James Bodnar. 

which initiates advance (Fig. 6). After completing the first three ranks, a 
candidate is said to have passed the "third degree" and is then accepted 
into the Masonic Blue Lodge. The common phrase "put through the 
third degree/' which describes intense or relentless questioning, derives 
from this process of fraternal investiture. 10 Once a member of the Blue 
Lodge, Masons may continue in either the Scottish or the York Rite. 11 In 
the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite (whose ranks are shown on the 
left side of the pyramid in Fig. 6) there are thirty additional degrees lead- 
ing to the highest earned rank of thirty-second degree Mason. A double- 
headed eagle is associated with both the thirty-second and the honorary 
thirty-third degree in the Scottish Rite (Fig. 7). The York or American 
Rite Masons (whose ranks are shown on the right of the pyramid) 
advance through ten degrees to achieve the York Rite's highest rank of 
Knights Templar (see Fig. 8). Each rank has its own mythology and asso- 
ciated symbolism, which, when found on a gravemarker, displays the 
highest rank attained by the deceased. 

Secret rituals, passwords, handshakes, and mystical symbols are an 

Laurel K. Gabel 

I I [ D ! ■' 

Fig. 9 Masonic symbols chart produced by Currier and Ives, 1876. 

Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, MA. Special 
Acquisitions Fund, #74.8. Photograph by John Miller Documents. 

10 Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

integral part of Masonry, as well as of most other fraternal societies. 
When, in 1826, a disgruntled Mason named William Morgan threatened 
to publish a book revealing fundamental Masonic secrets, he vanished - 
permanently - from a small town in northwestern New York. There was 
a great public outcry over Morgan's kidnapping and presumed murder. 
Masonic membership fell back sharply as a growing anti-Masonic polit- 
ical movement spread through the country. The Morgan affair, as it is 
now known, and the subsequent flurry of anti-fraternal activity, reflect- 
ed the passions once aroused by fraternalism and fraternal secrecy. 12 

Most secret societies base their teachings on mythology, ancient leg- 
ends, or historical incidents from the Old Testament. An extensive infra- 
structure of symbolism was designed so that, to quote nineteenth-centu- 
ry author George Oliver, "Every character, figure, or symbol delineated 
on the Tracing Boards or placed visibly before the eye in the Lodge, pos- 
sesses a moral reference and inculcates the practice of moral and social 
virtue." 13 In ancient times, Tracing Boards were "for the Master to draw 
his plans on, that the building, whether moral or literal, may be conduct- 
ed with order and regularity." 14 In fraternal lodges, these tracing boards 
or illustrated charts supplied the standard visual reference that accom- 
panied the parables and moral lessons covered in lodge meetings. 

The following listing of common symbols is derived from a popular 
lithograph of the Masonic Chart produced in 1876 by Currier and Ives 
(Fig. 9), and from Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts, an 
Exhibition Catalog of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, 
published in 1976. Many of the symbols listed here are used by other fra- 
ternal groups in addition to the Masons. A beehive, for example, may 
indicate that the deceased was affiliated with the Masons, the Odd 
Fellows, the Royal Orange Institution, or was perhaps even a member of 
the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) faith. More 
than one fraternal society used the Masonic square and compass, and an 
all-seeing-eye figures in the symbolism of a great many secret societies. 
The way the symbols are combined on a gravemarker often helps deter- 
mine the affiliation. Amongst the most commonly encountered Masonic 
symbols, one finds: 

• The all-seeing-eye, a symbol of watchfulness and of a Supreme 

• A sprig of acacia, symbolic of immortality. 

• An ark, suggesting hope, a safe passage through troubled times. 

Laurel K. Gabel 


A beehive, representing industriousness and productivity. 
The four Cardinal Virtues (Fig. 10): Temperance (figure measuring 
from a pitcher); Prudence (woman contemplating a mirror); 
Fortitude (figure with soldier's helmet); Justice (shown balancing 
the scales of justice). 

Charity, called the greatest of Masonic virtues, along with Faith (a 
figure with a cross) and Hope (a figure with an anchor), is depict- 
ed as one of the three rungs of the theological ladder. Charity is 
often represented by a mother with children. 
A shoe, associated with the first degree of Masonry and the 
assumption of fraternal obligations. 
The lamb, symbolizing purity and innocence. 
An urn with incense, emblem of a pure heart. 
A broken column, along with the figure of Father Time and a 
weeping Virgin standing over an open book, symbolic of mourn- 
ing (Fig. 11). 

Pillars, representing the entrance to Solomon's Temple; sometimes 
labeled "B," which stands for Boaz, signifying "strength," and "J" 
for Jachin, which means "to establish," - or "in strength shall my 

Fig. 10 The Four Cardinal Virtues: Temperance, Prudence, Fortitude, 

and Justice. An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry, Albert G. Mackey, 

1916. Frontispiece, Vol. II. 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 11 Masonic emblem (Father Time standing behind a 
virgin weeping over a broken column) on marble gravestone, 1857. 
New Bern, NC. Photograph #7263 by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

house be established." Three columns symbolize Wisdom, 
Strength, and Beauty, the three supports of a lodge. 
Euclid's forty-seventh problem of geometry, which instructs 
Masons to embrace science and art. 

The two globes, one celestial and one terrestrial, often seen on the 
two pillars of King Solomon's Temple. 

The Mosaic pavement, representing the floor of King Solomon's 
Temple, the black and white pattern symbolic of the good and evil 
in life. 

The square and compass (see Fig. 8), perhaps the most recogniz- 
able Masonic emblem, representing reason and faith. 
The letter "G," regarded as one of the most sacred of Masonic sym- 
bols, which stands for God and for geometry, emblematic of the 
spiritual and material worlds. 15 

Laurel K. Gabel 


• A keystone with the letters H.T.W.S.S.T.K.S. (see Fig. 8), which 

remind Royal Arch Masons of "Hiram the Widow's Son Sent to 

King Solomon/' a principal lesson in this degree. 16 

Secret organizations for women, commonly existing as auxiliaries to 

the men's fraternal lodges, are also known as fraternal, rather than soror- 

ital, societies. Women who wish to be associated with Masonry may join 

the Order of the Eastern Star, an adoptive order established in the 1870s. 

The degrees of Eastern Star center around the lives and virtues of five 

Biblical women. The emblem (Fig. 12) is a five-pointed star, usually bear- 


Fig. 12 Eastern Star emblem on granite gravestone, 1973. "F.A.T.A.L." 

is an acronym for "Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether Lovely." 
San Marcos Cemetery, San Marcos, TX. Photograph by James Bodnar. 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 13 Odd Fellows Encampment emblem on zinc ("white 

bronze") gravemarker, 1900. Pine Grove Cemetery, Falmouth, ME. 

Photograph by Rev. Ralph Tucker. 

Laurel K. Gabel 15 

ing multiple small symbols (a broken pillar, sheaf of wheat, chalice, 
draped sword, and crown and scepter), accompanied by the letters 
F.A.T.A.L., an acronym for "Fairest Among Thousands, Altogether 
Lovely" 17 Many of the larger fraternal organizations discussed in this 
essay also established youth groups such as Rainbow Girls, DeMolay, 
Job's Daughters, Sunshine Girls, or Princes of Syracuse. 

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), another very pop- 
ular fraternal organization, was founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1819 
by English Odd Fellows who had migrated to the United States. Like 
Freemasonry, upon which it is loosely based, Odd Fellows have many 
degrees and accompanying symbols. The most familiar emblem associ- 
ated with the order is the three links of a chain, often surrounding the 
letters "F.L.T.," which stand for the three degrees of "Friendship, Love 
and Truth" (see Figs. 4 and 15). A shepherd's crook, a pair of clasped 
hands, a bow and arrow, a heart displayed in the palm of a hand, and a 
tent, which is associated with the Odd Fellow's advanced Encampment 
Degree (Fig. 13), are other commonly encountered Odd Fellow 
emblems. 18 The three chain links associated with the Odd Fellows and 
the square and compass used by the Masons are the most common fra- 
ternal emblems found on gravestones. And, as many men belonged to 
both lodges, it is not unusual to see the two emblems side by side on a 

The women's auxiliary of the Odd Fellows, 
which began in 1851 as the Daughters of 
Rebekah, is known as the Association of 
Rebekah Assemblies. Its most frequently used 
emblem, a crescent moon and stars, a dove, and 
a lily accompanied by the letter "R", is often 
seen on gravestones or on a separate metal stan- 
dard placed over the grave (Fig. 14). Fig 14 Daughters f 

Many fraternal symbols such as the clasped Rebekah or Inter- 
hands of fellowship (see Fig. 15), a heart, a national Association 
cross, an all-seeing-eye, and the anchor of hope, of Rebekah 

which were in everyday use in nineteenth cen- Assemblies, emblem, 
tury culture and universally understood, can 

also be found on non-fraternal gravemarkers. Private and popular 
meanings also coincide in a host of other images - a lamb, an hourglass, 
a scythe, a skeleton, or coffin, an open Bible, the scales of justice, a bee- 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 15 Clasped hands of fellowship and three link emblem of 

Odd Fellows on zinc ("white bronze") gravemarker, 

ca. 1890. Cayuga County, NY. 

Laurel K. Gabel 


hive, a sheared off column, or a dove of peace, to name but several. 19 

The Improved Order of Red Men, another well- 
known and still current organization, was founded 
in Baltimore in 1834. The ceremonies and symbols 
of the Red Men are based on nineteenth century 
perceptions of Native American culture. Lodges are 
called "wigwams," members belong to a "tribe," 
and non-members are known as "pale-faces." As in 
most fraternal organizations, a candidate was 
accepted for membership only after a vote by cur- 
rent members in good standing. A white ball 
placed in the ballot box signified acceptance, while 
a black ball was recorded as a negative vote, and 
thus emerged the term "black balled" to describe 
non-acceptance. Although its name and rituals are 
based on American Indian culture, the Improved 

Fig. 16 Improved 

Order of Red 

Men emblem. 

"T.O.T.E." is an 

acronym for 

"Totem Of The 


Fig. 17 Members of Black Masonic society, 1928. James Vanderhee, 

New York, NY. Museum of Our National Heritage, Lexington, MA. 

Special Acquisitions Fund, #89.34. 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

- f ■ **, 


*RfftCE HAiX 


M KWm i H*LL GRAM LOfc ^ 


. . ' ■■.'•■ • •■ 

Fig. 18 Prince Hall gravemarker, 1807. 
Copp's Hill Burying Ground, Boston, MA. 

Laurel K. Gabel 19 

Order of Red Men ironically did not admit Native Americans until 1974. 
The Order has two emblems, (a) an Indian profile and (b) an eagle with a 
hatchet, a peace pipe, an arrow and quiver, and a shield, each accompa- 
nied with the letters "T.O.T.E.," which stand for "Totem of the Eagle" 
(see Fig. 16). The watchwords "Freedom, Friendship and Charity" often 
appear in the insignia as well. The popular auxiliary order for women is 
the Degree of Pocahontas. 20 

Following the Civil War, hundreds of secret societies sprang up in the 
deep south, where nearly four million ex-slaves looked to family, 
church, and benefit societies for racial solidarity and, in some cases, eco- 
nomic survival (see Fig. 17). 21 Most of these secret organizations offered 
social benefits along with life and burial insurance. Next to the church, 
fraternal benefit societies were the most important organizations in the 
lives of many black Americans. 22 

Excluded from almost all white fraternal societies, Blacks early on 
developed their own lodges. In 1784, a Black clergyman named Prince 
Hall attempted to establish a legitimate Black Masonic Lodge in Boston. 
The Massachusetts Grand Lodge refused his petition because of his 
color. Later, Hall received a charter from the Grand Lodge of England 
and went on to establish the African Grand Lodge of Boston. Prince 
Hall's grave (Fig. 18) at Copp's Hill Burying Ground in Boston is the site 
of an annual ceremony honoring him as the founder of black Masonry in 
the United States. 

In 1843, Blacks established the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, 
a brotherhood with the same organizational structure, goals and rituals 
as their white counterparts. The affiliated women's group was named 
the Households of Ruth. During this same period, a secret network of 
approximately 40,000 slaves calling themselves the Twelve Knights of 
Tabor organized to overthrow slavery in the south. 23 

The Knights of Pythias was founded in the aftermath of the Civil War 
when our divided, war-weary nation was seeking ways to promote 
brotherhood and a sense of national unity, and it quickly became one of 
the most popular fraternal societies in the country 24 Its insignia (Fig. 19) 
depicts a medieval knight in armor with a bird perched atop his helmet, 
accompanied by a sword, battle ax, and a shield displaying the letters F, 
C, and B, which stand for the Pythias watchwords "Friendship, Charity 
and Benevolence." The women's group is known as the Pythian Sisters. 

The popularity of secret societies continued to grow despite their 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 19 Knights of Pythias emblem on gravemarker, 1889. 
Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY. 

denouncement by many church leaders who considered fraternal 
groups to be a threat to organized religion. Roman Catholics were specif- 
ically forbidden by the Church to join non- Vatican sponsored societies. 
Under the Secret Consistory of the Vatican in 1865, fraternal organiza- 
tions were deemed "dangerous to the security of kingdoms" and consid- 
ered enemies of the Church. At one point, the Catholic Church allowed 
membership in some selected fraternal groups, but only under the fol- 
lowing conditions: 

• The member was not to attend meetings. 

• Dues were to be paid by mail. 

• The lodge was forbidden to participate in the funeral service. 

• Only if by NOT belonging to these fraternal organizations the per- 
son would suffer "a grave temporal loss," such as the lack of insur- 
ance protection. 25 

Eventually, the phenomenal popularity and growing influence of fra- 
ternal societies led the Catholic Church to sponsor their own fraternal 
organizations for those of the faith. These organizations included the 
Knights of Columbus (see Fig. 20), the Catholic Association of Foresters, 

Laurel K. Gabel 


Fig. 20 Knights of 
Columbus emblem 

the Daughters of Isabella, the Knights of St. 
John, and the Catholic Knights of St. George. 
Despite the creation of church-based societies, 
some dioceses permanently banned the use of 
fraternal emblems in their cemeteries. 

Protestant denominations also founded 
church-sponsored fraternal groups such as the 
Epworth League (see Fig. 21), Christian 
Endeavor, and the Knights of Luther. There 
were numerous Jewish societies established as 
well: the Workmen's Circle, the Free Sons of 

Israel, B'nai B'rith (see Fig. 22), and B'rith Abraham, to name but a few. 
The Knights of the Maccabees of the World, founded in London in 

1878, quickly gained popularity in America 

because of its very progressive and successful 

benefits program. The Maccabees' plan called for 

every member of the society to contribute ten 

cents to the widow of a deceased "brother." 

Within two years of its establishment in the 

United States, 10,000 members held "endowment 

certificates guaranteeing that their wives and 

children would receive $1,000 in the event of their 

death." 26 Accident and sickness benefits were 

also included in the plan. An active women's 

group, called the Ladies of the Maccabees, merged with the men's asso- 
ciation in the 1920s. Today, after several reorganizations and name 

changes, the Maccabees has become a mutual life insurance company. 

The various Maccabees emblems often include a globe or a tent (Fig. 23), 

and for the women's order, a superimposed 

Woodmen of the World derived from the 
Modern Woodmen of America, a fraternal 
group which was founded in 1883. Fraternal 
scholar William Whalen describes it as an insur- 
ance society with some fraternal lodge features. 
Woodmen advertised themselves as an organi- 
zation for the "Jew and Gentile, Catholic and 
Protestant, the agnostic and atheist" and sought 

Fig. 21 Epworth 
League emblem 

Fig. 22 
B'nai B'rith emblem 


Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

J >l » II HW !« ! ».■ Ill | »II H I II 'I f " ' M 'lWy 

Fig. 23 The Knights and Ladies of the Maccabees emblem on marble 
gravestone, 1897. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY. 

only physically fit and "wholesome" candidates from the rural small 
towns and farms of the "healthiest," that is, midwestern, states. 
Excluded from early membership were saloon keepers, railway brake- 
men or engineers, firemen, miners, race drivers, employees in gunpow- 
der factories, sailors, baseball or football players, submarine operators, 
aeronauts, and - ANYONE living in a city! 27 The Woodmen of the World 
emblem (Fig. 24) is a sawed-off tree stump, often with a mallet or beetle, 
an ax, and a wedge; the motto "Dum, Tacet Clamat" ("Though Silent He 
Speaks") usually appears somewhere on the border. The women's asso- 
ciation is known as the Woodmen's Circle, and is represented by a shield 
of stars and stripes behind a crossed ax, beetle, and wedge, flanked by 
the letters "W.C." 28 These Woodmen emblems are found throughout the 
United States, but the largest concentration is in the South and Midwest. 
Until fairly recently, carved tree-stump monuments were provided by 
the organization as part of the Woodmen's extended death benefits. By 
way of caution, it should be noted that not all tree-stump markers are for 
Woodmen: the fraternal monuments usually include the emblem and 
motto somewhere on the stone, thereby distinguishing them from other 

Laurel K. Gabel 

Fig. 24 Woodmen of the World emblem on granite tree-stump 
marker. San Antonio City Cemetery #6, San Antonio, TX. 

markers utilizing the tree-stump motif. 

As immigrants from Europe poured into this coun- 
try in the late nineteenth century, membership in fra- 
ternal societies continued to grow. 29 Free Sons of Israel, 
the German Order of Harugari (see Fig. 25), Irish 
Hibernians (see Fig. 26), Sons of Italy, Polish Falcons, 
and hundreds of other ethnic lodges were established 
wherever new immigrants settled. These fraternal 
enclaves often served as safe havens - comfortable 
clubs where fellowship was strengthened by familiar 

Fig. 25 

German Order 

of Harugari 



Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 

Fig. 26 Ancient 
Order of Hibernians 
in America emblem 

language and accepted customs. One of frater- 
nalism's most important attractions for immi- 
grants was undoubtedly the emotional support 
and economic security it promised. In an alien, 
often harsh new country, in the uncertain times 
before social security, welfare programs, and 
workmen's compensation, fraternal member- 
ship offered assistance to the ill, a "decent" bur- 
ial, and aid to widows and children. These acts 
of benevolence epitomized fraternalism. 

The Order of United American Mechanics 
and its eventual successor, the Junior Order of 
United American Mechanics, were popular "nativist" or ANTI-immi- 
gration organizations. Founded in the mid 1800s in the wake of one of 
this country's massive influxes of immigrants, the United American 
Mechanics epitomized the growing resentment felt by many American 
workers towards the newly arrived workers pouring into the labor force. 
The Junior Order of United American Mechanics considered itself to be 
a patriotic social and benevolent society whose 
objectives included finding jobs for "native 
Americans," protecting the public school system, 
promoting separation of church and state, and 
aiding the widows and orphans of members. Its 
emblem (see Fig. 27) is usually composed of the 
Masonic square and compass and the arm of 
labor wielding a hammer, sometimes with a 
patriotic shield or American flag in the back- 
ground. The women's groups were known as the 
Daughters of Liberty and Daughters of America. 
The Know-Nothing political party, popular in the 

1850s, drew its membership from O.U.A.M. and from other similar 
groups such as the Order of the Star Spangled Banner, the Patriotic 
Order of True Americans and the Order of Uncle Sam. 30 The O.U.A.M. 
insignia often appears on a gravestone in combination with one or more 
other fraternal emblems. 

The temperance movement of the 1840s and 50s led to the creation of 
societies such as the Independent Order of Good Samaritans, the Order 
of Rechabites, and the Sons of Temperance. America's Centennial years 

Fig. 27 Jr. Order of 

United American 

Mechanics emblem 

Laurel K. Gabel 25 

focused interest on a historic and glorious past, spawning a host of lin- 
eage societies and patriotic fraternities which included the Society of 
Mayflower Descendants, Daughters of the American Revolution, and 
the National Society of Colonial Dames of America. The Brotherhood of 
Locomotive Engineers, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and Knights 
of Labor were just three of the many groups established during the labor 
movement of the late 1800s. 31 And, as we might expect, the emblems of 
these societies frequently appear on gravemarkers or on the separate 
metal standards placed next to the graves. 

The Patrons of Husbandry (see Fig. 28), or the Grange as it is more 
commonly known today, began soon after the Civil 
War as a fraternal organization exclusively for farm 
workers. From its inception, women were admitted 
as equals and have always played an active role in 
the organization's programs. The Grange became a 
strong political force during the late 1800s when it 
helped farmers unite against the powerful railroad 
monopolies that controlled access to distant mar- 
kets. Our system of RFD, Rural Free Delivery of 

•i • c i.u c u - u <u Fig. 28 Patrons of 

mail, is one of the many far-reaching benefits „ , , . , 

i ii ii i... i t ,\ i-n Husbandry (the 

brought about by the political action of the Patrons _, v ,, 

° J r Grange) emblem 

of Husbandry 32 The Grange is still strong today in 

many rural communities, where it sponsors farm cooperatives, pro- 
motes scientific agricultural research, and serves as a social and benefit 
society for farm families. The rituals and degrees of the Grange are based 
upon the tools and symbols of agriculture. 

The Grange, like the Odd Fellows, Masons, Knights of Pythias, Sons 
of Israel, Red Men, Daughters of Rebekah, or any of the hundreds and 
hundreds of other fraternal societies and benefit organizations that 
flourished in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, left their 
mark on history - and on gravemarkers, where they remain to interest 
and sometimes puzzle the cemetery visitor. To us, the insignia of these 
secret societies may appear as alien remnants of an unfamiliar era. But 
for the men and women whose graves they mark, the symbols proclaim 
an affiliation that defined them in life, as in death. 

26 Fraternal Symbolism and Gravestones 


With the exception of those so indicated, all photographs in this essay are by the author. All 
line drawings are by Ann Saydlowski. 

1. Alvin J. Schmidt, "Fraternal Organizations", The Greemvood Encyclopedia of American 
Institutions, vol. 3 (Westport, Conn., 1980), 3. 

2. Barbara Franco, Fraternally Yours: A Decade of Collecting (Lexington, Mass., 1986), 
9; 33-76. 

3. Schmidt, 3. 

4. Ibid., xxxii. 

5. Franco, 7. 

6. Ibid., 20. 

7. Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry (New York, 1989), 47; 56. See also Schmidt, 

8. Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts, Exhibition Catalog (Lexington, Mass.: 
Scottish Rite Museum of Our National Heritage, 1976), 11. See also Alan Gowans, 
"Freemasonry and the Neoclassical Style in America," Antiques 77:2 (1960): 174. 

9. W. Kirk MacNulty, Freemasonry: A Journey through Ritual and Symbol (New York, 1991), 

10. William and Mary Morris, Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (New York, 
1977), 572. 

11. R. E. Bartlett, diagram drawn from a painting by Everitt Henry, "Masonic Showcase," 
Cleveland Plain Dealer (October 25, 1970), Roto Gravure Part 2, np. 

12. David C. Miller, Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity Wlio has Devoted Thirty 
Years to the Subject: Captain William Morgan's Exposition of Freemasonry (Batavia, NY, 
1827). See also Schmidt, 128-129. 

13. George Oliver, Historical Landmarks of Freemasonry (London, 1846), 74. 

14. Macoy, 687. 

15. Masonic Symbols in American Decorative Arts, 47-52. See also "Fraternal Arts: The 
Ubiquitous Signs and Symbols of American Freemasonry," American Heritage 31:6 
(1980): 90-97. 

16. Thomas A. Zaniello, "The Keystone of Neoclassicism: Freemasonry and Gravestone 
Iconography," Journal of American Culture 3:4 (1980): 585; 592. 

Laurel K. Gabel 27 

17. Schmidt, 97-99. 

18. Theo(dore) A. Ross, The Official and Legal History and Manual of Odd Fellowship (New 
York, 1899). 

19. Leonard V. Huber, Clasped Hands: Symbolism in New Orleans Cemeteries (Lafayette, 
Louisiana, 1982). See also Steven Olderr, Symbolism: A Comprehensive Dictionary 
(Jefferson, NC, 1986). 

20. Schmidt, 287-289. 

21. Beverly Watkins, Gone to a Better Land (Arkansas Archaeological Survey Research 
Series No. 25, 1985), 12. 

22. Walter B. Weare, "Black Fraternal Orders," Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Charles 
Reagan Wilson and William Ferris, eds. (Chapel Hill, NC, 1989), 158-159. 

23. Ibid. 

24. Albert C. Stevens, The Cyclopaedia of Fraternities (New York, 1907), 263-264. 

25. William J. Whalen, Handbook of Secret Organizations (Milwaukee, 1966), 7; 90-91 . 

26. Stevens, 151-152. See also Schmidt, 212. 

27. Whalen, 160. 

28. James R. Cook and Leland A. Larson, eds. Fraternity, A Work: A Woodman History 
(Omaha: Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society, 1985), 13. 

29. Barbara Franco, "Fraternal Artifacts in the Museum of Our National Heritage, 
Lexington, Massachusetts," Antiques 130:6 (1986), 1247-1248. See also Stevens, 113. 

30. Stevens, 171-172. 

31. Franco, Fraternally Yours, 11-12; 14-16. 

32. Ibid, 14. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

Louisiana Cemeteries 

















Fig. 1 Sample cemeteries. 



Tadashi Nakagawa 

Louisiana, with its distinct cultural diversity, has attracted geogra- 
phers' attention for more than half a century. North Louisiana has been 
characterized as an Anglo-Saxon Protestant area, while South Louisiana 
has been described as French Catholic. The differences between these 
two major cultural areas have been identified in terms of houses 1 , settle- 
ment patterns 2 , language 3 , place names 4 , land survey systems 5 , and sur- 
names 6 , and such cultural elements have been diligently mapped 
through comprehensive field surveys. Cemeteries, by contrast, have not 
been thoroughly examined in relation to this cultural context of 
Louisiana, although the study of the cemetery has long been called for as 
a promising subject. 7 The present study seeks to address this situation 
through a geographic analysis of Louisiana cemeteries based upon a sys- 
tematic field survey of the entire state. 

The cemetery is a distinctive material culture complex which strong- 
ly expresses people's beliefs, for the cemetery is not a direct result of 
human biological necessity. Such landscape elements as graves, tomb- 
stones, decorations, roads, vegetation, fences, and gates are arranged to 
make patterns that represent the beliefs of the people. As the vast major- 
ity of Louisianans will be buried in Louisiana cemeteries after death, the 
cemetery may be regarded as a microcosmic representation of Louisiana 

Given the fact that the cemetery is a strong manifestation of people's 
beliefs, religious or denominational variation of the landscape must be 
emphasized in addition to spatial difference. 8 In Louisiana, where 
Christianity is the only dominant religion, the difference between 
Catholic and Protestant is strongly recognized by the people. Although 
the distribution of Catholics and Protestants closely overlap culture 
areas, the similarity cannot be described in terms of uncritical general- 
izations. Such generalizations overlook the different manifestations of 
denominational and regional identity in the landscape. Suppose, for 
example, that a Catholic cemetery in South Louisiana has a consecrated 
central cross and many above-ground vaults. The meaning behind 
establishing the central cross probably differs from that of building the 

30 Louisiana Cemeteries 

above-ground vaults. Through the central cross, the people may have 
expressed their strong identity with the Catholic church, but may have 
not necessarily identified with South Louisiana. By contrast, the denom- 
inational meaning may have not been as significant as the regional when 
these same people constructed above-ground vaults. Louisianans have 
thereby expressed different identities through the employment of differ- 
ent cemetery landscape elements. 

Through analysis of the distribution of each element in Louisiana 
cemeteries, this study primarily attempts to discover which identity 
people express more strongly - region or denomination. 9 Additionally, 
minority groups such as Catholics in North Louisiana and Protestants in 
South Louisiana are examined to determine whether in such instances 
denominational identity has been maintained in relation to regional 
identity. Regional identity patterns at the boundary of North and South 
Louisiana are also studied in comparison with those displayed in the 
typical North or South Louisiana cemeteries. 

It is, of course, true that various culture islands exist in Louisiana. 
Descendants of Midwesterners, for example, occupy Louisiana's south- 
western prairies. Such minority groups as Spaniards, Italians, and 
Hungarians also form small ethnic enclaves in various areas of the state. 
However, the distinction between North and South Louisiana is not only 
much more evident than these cultural islands, but also is strongly recog- 
nized by minority people themselves. This study, therefore, clearly focus- 
es its regional analysis on the North-South dichotomy. Minority groups, 
including black people, will be discussed within this regional context. 


The absence of comprehensive cemetery landscape data in Louisiana 
makes fieldwork an essential procedure for data collecting. The only 
exhaustive resource for cemeteries in the United States is the United 
States Geological Survey's large-scale topographic quadrangles. 10 
Although the maps contain the locations and, in some cases, the names 
of the cemeteries, few of them contain the specific types of landscape 
information required for this study. Two things were determined before 
the fieldwork: (1) which landscape elements to survey, and (2) which 
cemeteries to visit. 

Although any landscape element may become the subject of geo- 
graphical analysis, only a limited number serve as distinctive elements 

Tadashi Nakagawa 31 

in differentiating between the cemeteries of North and South Louisiana 
or those of Louisiana Catholics and Protestants. The distinction between 
water burial, earth burial, and cremation, for example, may be signifi- 
cant in other parts of the world. In Louisiana, on the other hand, where 
the great majority of the deceased are buried in the earth, studying such 
differences in burial does not reveal significant geographical patterns. 
Selection of the elements, therefore, was based upon their potential 
effectiveness as a means to differentiate regions and denominations 
within Louisiana. A tentative survey form was created based upon pre- 
vious studies and the author's own observations. Preliminary fieldwork 
involving more than 100 cemeteries of different denominations in vari- 
ous parts of Louisiana was then conducted to test the usefulness of the 
selected elements. The results clearly indicated that such elements as the 
location of burials in relation to the ground (above/below ground buri- 
als), the orientation of burials, and such religious symbols as crosses, 
statues, and miniature shrines would be most revealing, and the final 
survey form was accordingly constructed with an emphasis upon these 

By reviewing the topographic quadrangles, 3,180 cemeteries were 
identified in Louisiana. The obvious impracticality of surveying all 
cemeteries made sampling an essential procedure. In order that the 
entire state be surveyed, the cemetery closest to the center of each fifteen 
minute series map within Louisiana was chosen for study. Any map cov- 
ering more area of a state other than Louisiana was excluded. 

In order to identify the regional and denominational variation of 
Louisiana cemeteries more effectively with a limited sample, modern 
memorial parks, which generally lack clearly identifiable regional pat- 
terns, and abandoned cemeteries were eliminated in accordance with 
the following criteria: (1) the cemetery must have been established 
before 193C 11 , and (2) it must be still in use. If the cemetery closest to the 
center of the map did not fulfill both requirements, the next closest one 
was surveyed. It should be emphasized that elimination of memorial 
parks and abandoned cemeteries for the purposes of this study by no 
means implies that they are worthless. It was both important and desir- 
able, however, that all sample cemeteries have somewhat similar historic 
characteristics because this study focuses more on regional and denomi- 
national variations than on historic changes. By surveying cemeteries 
that share at least half a century of the same active period, geographic 

32 Louisiana Cemeteries 

patterns will manifest themselves more clearly than would otherwise be 
the case. 

This method still has two deficiencies. First, urban cemeteries are not 
numerous enough, although a substantial percentage of interments are 
found there. Second, sample cemeteries do not always represent the 
majority of the denominational affiliation of the area, mainly because the 
average cemetery size is different among denominational groups. 
Ascension Parish in South Louisiana, for example, has 5.6 times more 
Protestant cemeteries than Catholic ones, even though 85 percent of the 
religious adherents are Catholics. 12 To offset these deficiencies, one 
cemetery from each parish seat was added to the first sample. If more 
than one cemetery existed in a parish seat, the cemetery chosen was 
either older or larger and its composition reflected the dominant denom- 
ination of the parish. By combining these methods, the total sample of 
cemeteries for the study reached 236. 

The main field work was carried out between December 1984 and 
May 1985 by the author. More than 60,000 graves were observed in these 
sample cemeteries and 2,000 photographs were taken in the course of 
10,000 miles travel. 

The distribution of each cemetery landscape element has been 
mapped to identify its regional and denominational patterns. Such ele- 
ments as the feet-to-east orientation and reliquary markers may be 
expressed by their presence or absence in a cemetery. Other elements, 
such as below-ground burials, need more complicated manipulations, 
for the elements are present in almost all cemeteries. Analyses of these 
traits have been based upon criteria appropriately effective for the spe- 
cific traits; e.g., "below-ground burials 70 percent or more" or "below- 
ground burials less than 50 percent." Although it is ideal to select a criti- 
cal value which can most effectively distinguish one group from another, 
any one value, in reality, hardly has the same distinguishing power 
between regional and denominational categories. Critical values have, 
therefore, been established in a fairly arbitrary manner in such rounded 
numbers as 10, 20, and 50 percent so as to avoid unnecessary complica- 
tion. Maps with different criteria, then, have been compared to select the 
critical value that most effectively exhibits geographical patterns. 

Description of Sample Cemeteries 

Figure 1 illustrates the distribution of sample cemeteries, each with 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


symbols to indicate group affiliations. Although it is impossible to draw a 
definite boundary between North and South Louisiana, a line was heuris- 
tically established with reference to previous studies 13 and the author's 
observation of the cemetery landscapes. The label of Catholic, Protestant, 
or Jewish is attached to each cemetery by virtue of the major religious or 
denominational category which characterizes its establishment and inter- 












■J 4 





Fig. 2 Interment forms. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

ment patterns. Through this process, the 236 cemeteries in the study sam- 
ple have been categorized into 148 North Louisiana and 88 South 
Louisiana, and into 61 Catholic, 174 Protestant, and one Jewish cemetery. 
While the traits of the Jewish cemetery are mapped, the cemetery is 
excluded from the objects of analysis because the sample is only one. 

While this study mainly analyzes cemetery landscapes in the context 
of culture region and denomination, other attributes such as race and 
urban/rural location will also assist the landscape analysis. Although 
the majority of burials in the sample cemeteries consist exclusively of 
one race, racial mixture does occur with more frequency in Catholic 
cemeteries. Whereas all black Catholics in the sample share white domi- 
nant Catholic cemeteries, black Protestants tend to have their own sepa- 
rate cemeteries. For mapping purposes (see Fig. 1) the symbol of the 
black Protestant cemetery is distinguished from that of the white domi- 
nant Protestant cemetery. Cemeteries located in urban areas are marked 
either with the letter S (parish seat) or with the letter U (other urban 
areas with 1,000 or more population 14 in the 1980 census). Cemeteries 
without these letters are defined as rural cemeteries. 

Fig. 3 Above-ground vaults in St. Louis II Cemetery, New Orleans. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


Sample cemeteries clearly reflect the regionalization of denomina- 
tions within the state. North Louisiana, as one may see in the map (Fig. 
1), contains significantly more Protestant cemeteries than Catholic ceme- 
teries. The only two sample Catholic cemeteries in North Louisiana 
reflect non-Anglo-Saxon origin. Campti Catholic Cemetery (map loca- 
tion 5D), which lies in a French outlier in North Louisiana, contains buri- 
als of French and Italians. Old St. Joseph Cemetery in Zwolle (6B), 
which stands near the site of the early Spanish Mission established in the 
late eighteenth century, is owned by people of Spanish origin, although 
they have become extensively mixed with other ethnic groups in the 
course of several generations. By contrast, 67 percent of sample South 
Louisiana cemeteries are Catholic. Among 28 sample Protestant ceme- 

1 !■□ jiDha|n Ai;A:n d 

Louisiana Cemeteries 


| 10 percent or more 

EH3 Less than 10 percent 

I I Absent 

/ Only after 1930 













Fig. 4 Above-ground burials. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

teries in South Louisiana, 24 are black cemeteries, located mainly along 
the Mississippi and Bayou Teche. Four sample cemeteries lying along 
the North-South boundary and in the Anglo-Saxon enclave in South 
Louisiana have an Anglo-Saxon origin (12C, 13B, S13C, S13K). 

The majority of the cemeteries are exclusively Catholic or Protestant. 
Only 16 cemeteries in the sample contain at least 10 percent of graves rep- 
resenting other religions. Seven of these (9G, S10E, 11D, S11L, SUP, 12B, 
SI 2D) lie on the border of North and South Louisiana, where Catholics are 
gaining in the percentage of the population. Two mixed-religion cemeter- 
ies in South Louisiana (13J, S13K) lie in the original Anglo-Saxon territory 
that is gradually becoming less distinct. Similarly, the sample cemetery at 
Natchitoches (S5D) lies in what was originally a French Catholic settle- 
ment, but one where Protestants later became dominant. 

jj A,i.& fera i aro i tg]A/ofqf "Pa* 

Louisiana Cemeteries 


H 20 percent or more 
I I Less than 20 percent 


] € 

- D LTD- 

















C I D 

G I H 

L M N j T P 

Fig. 5 Concrete vault burials. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


Burial Location 

A major difference in the cemetery landscape between North and 
South Louisiana is noted in terms of the location of burials in relation to 
the ground surface. It has been reported that South Louisiana cemeteries 
characteristically consist of above-ground vaults, while interment takes 
place beneath the ground in the majority of cemeteries found within 
North Louisiana. 15 

This study classifies all interments into three categories: above- 
ground burials, below-ground burials, and concrete vault burials (see 
Fig. 2). Above-ground burials typically take place in vaults constructed 
above the ground surface (see Fig. 3). The vaults are constructed of brick, 
stones, or concrete, with flat, stepped, or rounded roof structures. The 
number of chambers in the majority of these tombs ranges from one to 
four. Below-ground burials, in contrast, lie completely beneath the 

Fig. 6 Single and double concrete vaults in Providence Cemetery 

(map location, 120), St. John the Baptist Parish. Note that this black 

Baptist cemetery in South Louisiana resembles Catholic ones with 

the presence of many crosses, although the feet-to-east 

grave orientation is maintained. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

ground surface. Usually, a four to six foot deep grave is dug, within 
which a concrete vault or a metal casket container is placed, and finally 
covered with one to four feet of earth. The concrete vault is a manufac- 
tured casket container which, while normally placed below ground, may 
also appear partially or wholly above the ground surface. In this study a 
concrete vault burial signifies an interment that is at least partially visible, 
excluding those placed completely below ground. 

Above-ground burials, as previously noted, take place mainly in 
South Louisiana (see Fig. 4). Half of South Louisiana cemeteries have at 
least ten percent of burials occurring above ground, while only two 
North Louisiana sample cemeteries exhibit ten percent or more such 
above-ground burials. Even in the South, however, the incidence of such 
interment patterns does not appear to be as overwhelming as one might 
suspect: above-ground burials constitute fifty percent or more inter- 
ments in only thirteen sample South Louisiana cemeteries. 

Fig. 7 The landscape of Union Spring Cemetery (1C) in Webster Parish 

demonstrates a typical North Louisiana white Protestant burial pattern 

with below-ground burials and feet-to-east grave orientation. 

Few crosses or statues occur. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


While the concentration of above-ground burials in the Mississippi 
floodplain seems to support the popular belief that the high water table 
is responsible for their existence, further examination suggests that it is 
more likely the expression of people's values. The existence of below- 
ground burials in all sample cemeteries demonstrates the feasibility of 
the below-ground burial in a variety of natural conditions. Even in areas 
of very low elevation, above-ground burial is not always a dominant 
form of interment. Among thirty-one cemeteries separately surveyed in 
New Orleans, many of which are located at sea level, only eleven consist 
predominantly of above-ground burials. The existence of above-ground 
vaults on natural terraces also indicates that above-ground burial did 
not always result from the necessity to protect a burial site from a high 

Louisiana Cemeteries 


■ 70 - 100 
H 50 - 69 
□ - 49 













Fig. 8 Below-ground burials. 

40 Louisiana Cemeteries 

water table. The prevalence of this pattern, therefore, must be examined 

The origins of the use of above-ground vaults in Louisiana lie in the 
late eighteenth century. Early New Orleans Creoles did not introduce 
above-ground burials: St. Peter Street Cemetery, the first recorded ceme- 
tery in New Orleans, was established in the 1720s under a French colo- 
nial government, and then consisted solely of below-ground burials. 16 
Nor did Cajuns bring the custom from Nova Scotia, for above-ground 
burials are not among the traditions of French Canada. The first docu- 
mented cemetery in Louisiana with above-ground vaults is St. Louis I 
Cemetery in New Orleans, established in 1789 after the Spanish colonial 
government had taken over the rule of New Orleans. It is assumed that 
the custom was introduced either by the Spaniards or the French during 
this period 17 and was thence accepted by people throughout South 
Louisiana to become a regional type. 

Oral and material evidence indicates that many people in South 
Louisiana regard above-ground burial as an ideal form of interment: it is 
in fact perceived as a significant status symbol in this area. The majority 
of local informants expressed their preference for above-ground burial, 
though some people apparently cannot afford to build above-ground 
vaults because of their high cost. An average two-story above-ground 
vault in Ascension Catholic Cemetery (12M), for example, cost $3,000 in 
1985, whereas a concrete vault was $500. The difference prompted a 
number of people to place concrete vaults above the ground as an alter- 
native to the more costly above-ground constructed vaults. 

North Louisiana cemeteries, by contrast, are still largely devoid of 
above-ground burials, mainly because people in this area maintain a 
strong traditional belief that interment must take place below the 
ground surface. In several urban areas people have introduced the 
above-ground vault as an alternative fashion, but only after 1930. 

Concrete vault burials are distributed throughout South Louisiana 
(see Fig. 5). In North Louisiana, on the other hand, concrete vaults are 
numerous only at the proximity to the border with South Louisiana. As 
noted earlier, the popularity of placing concrete vaults at least partially 
above ground in South Louisiana is related to the desire of people who 
wanted above-ground vaults but could not afford them. Until the early 
twentieth century, below-ground burials dominated the majority of 
South Louisiana cemeteries. The introduction of concrete vaults at the 

Tadashi Nakagawa 41 

turn of the century, however, extensively changed the cemetery land- 
scape. People now had the means to materialize their desire for above- 
ground internment in a substituted form. The expression of this desire 
has been strengthened since 1960, when people in South Louisiana first 
began to place one concrete vault upon another. This "double concrete 
vault" configuration (see Fig. 6) has become ever more increasingly pop- 
ular since 1980. 

Below-ground burial (e.g., Fig. 7) is the most common form of inter- 
ment in the United States and occurs in all sample cemeteries in 
Louisiana. The percentage of below-ground burials, however, differs 
sharply between North and South Louisiana cemeteries (see Fig. 8). 
Whereas 94 percent of North Louisiana cemeteries have more below- 
ground burials than non-below ground burials, non-below-ground buri- 
als dominate 81 percent of South Louisiana cemeteries. 

Overall, the distribution of below-ground burials clearly shows that 
this is an expression of identity with North Louisiana (region) rather 
than with Protestantism (denomination). Catholic cemeteries in North 
Louisiana predominantly consist of below-ground burials, while the 
majority of Protestant cemeteries in South Louisiana contain many non- 
below-ground burials (see Table 1). In the boundary region between 
North and South Louisiana, the North-South regional identity seems to 
blur, and it is this boundary region which contains the majority of the 
cemeteries in the category of 50 to 69 percent below-ground burials. 

Cemetery Landscape Traits by Group 

North Louisiana 

South Louisiana 










above-ground 20% 




concrete vault 20% 




below-ground 50% 










crosses 10% 





statues 1 % 







Note: One Jewish cemetery is excluded. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

Grave Orientation 

Previous studies have indicated that traditional Upland South ceme- 
teries, which are generally Protestant, are distinct in the orientation of 
their constituent burials. 18 Graves are arranged along an east-west axis, 
with the feet pointing toward the east. French Catholic cemeteries in 
Louisiana, by contrast, tend to have the grave arranged as a matter of 
convenience. 19 It is also reported that Catholic cemeteries in the western 
Pennsylvania area are less likely to have their graves arranged along an 
east-west axis. 20 On a large scale basis, nonetheless, feet-to-east burials 
are widespread not only in the United States, but also in Northwestern 
Europe, Mediterranean Europe, and parts of Africa. 21 

This study defines a feet-to-east cemetery as one having at least 90 per- 

Fig. 9 Feet-to-east burials. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


cent of the graves with feet directing between magnetic north 60 degrees 
east and south 60 degrees east. Utilizing this definition, the contrast 
between Catholic and Protestant is more evident than that between 
North and South Louisiana (see Fig. 9). Whereas 90 percent of Protestant 
cemeteries in the study follow feet-to-east orientation, only 13 percent of 
Catholic cemeteries may be thus classified. 

This strong contrast between Catholic and Protestant seems to reveal 
that grave orientation in Louisiana represents people's identity with 
denomination more strongly than with region. While the ultimate origin 
of the feet-to-east orientation is uncertain, a literal interpretation of the 
Bible, which is a characteristic of evangelical Protestantism, may partial- 
ly explain the continuation of this practice. Protestant Louisiana natives 
often explain that this orientation is so that the body will rise to meet 
Christ when he comes from the East, for "as the lightening cometh out of 
the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the 
Son of man be." 22 

Fig. 10 Like other Catholic cemeteries, Holy Rosary Church Cemetery 

(140) in Larose, Lafourche Parish, contains many crosses on 

above-ground and concrete vaults. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

As might perhaps be expected, the sharpness of the contrast between 
Catholic and Protestant cemeteries tends to blur in areas where a substan- 
tial number of people of the other denominational group live. Five of 
eight feet-to-east Catholic cemeteries are found either in North Louisiana 
or near the North-South boundary (5D, S10E, 10F, 10G, HE). Crowly 
(S12G) and Patterson (14K) are in areas formerly dominated by Anglo- 
Saxons and Midwesterners. Likewise, 29 percent of Protestant sample 
cemeteries in South Louisiana do not have the feet-to-east arrangement. 

Religious Symbols 

Significant differences between Louisiana's Catholic and Protestant 
cemeteries also appear in the use of religious symbols. A typical Catholic 

6 <O0 otol'ctg'JDW^ 



2 !jd ]a pd^ ^pgkjig^ 

3JA^5^"" n DfD q . A? D}5r SD A' 
4 \'U ^fc^-LTD^ViD^ 

Louisiana Cemeteries 


| 10 percent or more 
I | Less than 10 percent 
















-°[5-D-cr"-'n s lA- 

a a— 1 

ro " 


80 kilometers 

F C H I 

L M N , 

Fig. 11 Cross markers. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


cemetery has a central cross, cross markers, statues, and miniature 
shrines. Protestant cemeteries, on the other hand, do not contain central 
crosses or shrines, although a few crosses or statues may occur. 

Catholics and Protestants attach contrasting symbolic values to the 
use of cross markers. While the cross is favored by Catholics of any eth- 
nic background (see Fig. 10), Protestants generally tend to avoid it, 
regarding the cross marker as a symbol of Catholicism. 23 Indeed, the use 
of a cross is considered taboo for Protestants in various parts of the 
Upland South. 24 This tendency is remarkably evident in Louisiana as 
well (see Fig. 11). Whereas 90 percent of Catholic cemeteries have 10 per- 
cent or more of their graves displaying crosses, only 10 percent of 
Protestant cemeteries match this frequency. 

Again, regional minorities do not show such a distinct pattern (see 
Table 1). One of two Catholic cemeteries in North Louisiana (6B) has less 
than 10 percent of its graves decorated with crosses, while in dominant- 
ly Catholic South Louisiana 41 percent of Protestant cemeteries contain 
as many as 10 percent of their graves displaying crosses. It is thus evi- 

Fig. 12 Madonna statue on an above-ground vault in St. Michael 
Cemetery (S12I), St. Martin Parish. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

dent that in Louisiana regional minorities tend to weaken their denomi- 
national identity in terms of the use of crosses. 

Another primary religious symbol which distinguishes Catholic 
from Protestant cemeteries involves statues of the Madonna, Christ, or 
angel figures (see Fig. 12). Catholics characteristically favor statues as 
gravemarkers or decorations, while Protestants tend to avoid statues 
that they believe represent Catholicism. Whereas 75 percent of the 
Catholic cemeteries in this study have at least one percent of their graves 
decorated with statues, only 10 percent of the Protestant cemeteries have 
as many as one percent of their graves so decorated (see Fig. 13). Thus, 
the existence of statues clearly reflects denominational identity. 
Although statues are sporadically seen in Protestant cemeteries in North 

1 1talia to dIa 


H 1, ^ ftr=l— 1{ T+ TfL-F 


Louisiana Cemeteries 


| One percent or more 
I | Less than one percent 













Fig. 13 Statue Markers. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


Louisiana, these cemeteries often lie in close proximity to South 
Louisiana (7H, 71, 9F, 9G). 

A few Catholic graves feature miniature shrines or small reliquaries 
as gravemarkers. The forms include a round or square concrete struc- 
ture, gabled or flat roofed wooden boxes, and built-in shrines inside 
crosses. Some present a Madonna or Christ statue within the structures 
(e.g., see Fig. 14), while others contain plastic flowers (Fig. 15). Unlike 
colorful reliquaries found within Mexican-American cemeteries in 
Texas 25 , the typical structure in Louisiana is painted white only. In 
Louisiana, reliquaries are found solely on Catholic graves (see Fig. 16). 
Although they are not numerous, 50 percent of the sample Catholic 
cemeteries have at least one reliquary. The existence of reliquaries with- 
in a cemetery thus clearly reflects denominational identity. 


As may be seen by the results of this study, the distribution of ceme- 
tery landscape traits supports the assumption that people express differ- 


■• * 


, ntfCHS t 

7 1981 

■>*• >6 197 

4 8 2 

Fig. 14 Reliquaries featuring Madonna and Christ statues in 
Matherne-Rogers Cemetery (14N), Houma, Terrebonne Parish. 


Louisiana Cemeteries 

ent identities with different landscape elements. Burial location in rela- 
tion to the ground surface represents people's stronger identification 
with region (North or South Louisiana) than with denomination. The 
above-ground burial, after being introduced in the late eighteenth centu- 
ry, became an ideal regional type in South Louisiana. Further, the intro- 
duction of concrete vaults at the turn of the present century gave South 
Louisiana people the means to materialize their desire for above-ground 
burials in a substituted form. People at the boundary zone between 
North and South Louisiana did not express a typical North Louisiana or 
South Louisiana identity in terms of burial location. 

By contrast, other landscape elements examined in this study show a 
stronger identity with denominational group than with region. Feet-to- 
east burial orientation represents an identity with Protestantism more 
strongly than with North Louisiana regional identity. On the other hand, 
such religious symbols as a central cemetery cross, cross gravemarkers, 
statues, and reliquaries are distinctly Catholic. The intensity of the reli- 
gious expression, however, may differ among these religious symbols: 

Fig. 15 Wooden flower box as reliquary in Immaculate Conception 
Church Cemetery (13L), Assumption Parish. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 


reliquaries occur exclusively within Catholic cemeteries, while a few 
Protestants do use crosses or statues. 

Regional minorities within the area of this study tend to shift their 
identity to the majority group. Catholics in North Louisiana, although 
the samples are few, tend to have fewer crosses and statues than their 
contemporaries in South Louisiana. One of the two Catholic cemeteries 
there even has a feet-to-east orientation, which is clearly a characteristic 
of Protestant cemeteries. Likewise, some Protestants in and around 
South Louisiana have created cemetery landscapes similar to those of 
Catholics. Nearly 30 percent of the sample Protestant cemeteries in 
South Louisiana do not follow the feet-to-east burial orientation, and 
two-fifths of South Louisiana Protestant cemeteries contain 10 percent or 
more graves displaying crosses. 


1 • D D S |Dp Ai'A D D A ^ 

Louisiana Cemeteries 


| Present 
i Absent 

ti n\n:r\n^\D)^ 




;Dfin_D; A A 















^fuWr : 




D.irqio a 


n - jD ^' 





50 miles 

80 kilometers 

C H I 



M N 

Fig. 16 Reliquary markers. 

50 Louisiana Cemeteries 


Research for this article was funded by a grant from the Toyota Foundation. This article is 
presented in memory of Milton B. Newton, Jr. (1936-1988), who energetically guided me by 
his sage advice and encouragement as my major professor during my graduate program. I 
acknowledge the constructive advice received from Drs. Carolyn V. Prorok and Richard E. 
Meyer, and from the members of the editorial board of Markers who reviewed the manu- 
script of this article. All photographs and other illustrations are by the author. 

1. Fred B. Kniffen, "Louisiana House Types," Annals of the Association of American 
Geographers 26 (1936): 179-193. 

2. William B. Knipmeyer, Settlement Succession in Eastern French Louisiana (Ph.D. Diss., 
Louisiana State University, 1956); Fred B. Kniffen, Louisiana: Its Land and People (Baton 
Rouge, 1968); Milton B. Newton, Jr., Louisiana: A Geographical Portrait (Baton Rouge, 

3. William A. Read, Louisiana French (Baton Rouge, 1931). 

4. Randall Augustus Detro, Generic Terms in the Place Names of Louisiana: An Index to the 
Cultural Landscape (Ph.D. Diss., Louisiana State University, 1970). 

5. John Whiting Hall, Louisiana Survey Systems: Their Antecedents, Distribution, and 
Characteristics (Ph.D. Diss., Louisiana State University, 1970). 

6. Robert C. West, An Atlas of Louisiana Surnames of French and Spanish Origin (Baton 
Rcuge, 1986). 

7. See Larry W. Price, "Some Results and Implications of a Cemetery Study," The 
Professional Geographer 18:4 (1966): 201-207; Fred B. Kniffen, "Necrogeography in the 
United States," The Geographical Review 57 (1967): 426-427; Richard V. Francaviglia, 
"The Cemetery as an Evolving Cultural Landscape," Annals of the Association of 
American Geographers 61:2 (1971): 501-509; David B. Knight, Cemetery as Living 
Landscapes (Ottawa, 1973); Donald Gregory Jeane, "The Upland South Cemetery: An 
American Type," Journal of Popular Culture 11:4 (1978): 895-903; Thomas J. Hannon, Jr., 
"The Cemetery: A Field of Artifacts," in Forgotten Places and Things: Archaeological 
Perspectives on American History, Albert E. Ward, ed. (Albuquerque, 1980), 263-265; 
Edwin S. Dethlefsen, "The Cemetery and Cultural Change: Archaeological Focus and 
Ethnographic Perspective," in Modern Material Culture, Richard A. Gould and 
Michael B. Schiffer, eds. (New York, 1981), 137-159; Terry G. Jordan, Texas Graveyards: 
A Cultural Legacy (Austin, 1982). 

8. Religious aspects of the cemetery were emphasized by David E. Sopher in his The 
Geography of Religion (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1967), 32. 

9. In this study the term denomination is simply used to differentiate Catholic and 
Protestant. Distinctions are not made among Protestant denominations in order that 
the analysis may be clearly focused upon the differences between Catholic and 
Protestant cemeteries. 

Tadashi Nakagawa 51 

10. See Wilbur Zelinsky, "Unearthly Delights: Cemetery Names and the Map of the 
Changing American Afterworld," in Geographies of the Mind: Essays in Historical 
Geosophy, David Lowenthal and Martyn J. Bowden, eds. (New York, 1976), 193. 

11. The year 1930 was chosen because few memorial parks originated in the pre-1930 
period in Louisiana. Conversely, traditional cultural features are found in almost all 
cemeteries established before 1930. This break off point also proved convenient for 
interviewing because most native people remembered if their cemetery originated 
before the Great Depression. 

12. Tadashi Nakagawa, "Spatial Variation of Ascension Parish Cemeteries, Louisiana," 
Annual Report, Institute of Geoscience, the University of Tsukuba 15 (1989), 4-6. 

13. Knipmeyer, plate 1; Milton B. Newton, Jr., "Blurring the North-South Contrast," in 
The Culture of Acadiana: Tradition and Change in South Louisiana, Steven L. Del Sesto and 
Jon L. Gibson, eds. (Lafayette, LA, 1975), 42-48. 

14. Despite the census definition, the definition of an urban area as a place with at least 
1,000 people is adopted because the landscape of such area contains substantially 
more urban elements than the surrounding areas in Louisiana. 

15. Kniffen, "Necrogeography," 427. 

16. Leonard V. Huber, "New Orleans Cemeteries: A Brief History," in Nezv Orleans 
Architecture, III: The Cemeteries, Mary Louise Christovich, ed. (Gretna, LA, 1974), 4. 

17. Peggy McDowell,"J. N. B. de Pouilly and French Sources of Revival Style Design in 
New Orleans Cemetery Architecture," in Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of 
American Culture, Richard E. Meyer, ed. (Ann Arbor, 1989; rpt. Logan, UT, 1992), 139. 

18. Donald Gregory Jeane, "The Traditional Upland Cemetery," Landscape 18:2 (1969), 40; 
Jordan, 30. 

19. Newton, Louisiana, 200. 

20. Thomas J. Hannon, Jr., "Nineteenth Century Cemeteries in Central-West 
Pennsylvania," Proceedings of the Pioneer America Society 2 (1973), 34. 

21. Jordan, 30. 

22. Matthew 24:27. 

23. Frederick Burgess, English Churchyard Memorials (London, 1963), 35. 

24. Jordan, 50-51. 

25. Ibid., 79. 


Solomon Brewer 

Wk vy of 


Fig. 1 Abraham Martlings, 1786 (detail), Burying Ground of the Old 

Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow, North Tarrytown, New York. Listed in 

the record book of commissions kept by Solomon Brewer and continued 

by his sons. A typical example of the engraved soul-effigy carved by 
Brewer up to about 1800. 



Gray Williams, Jr. 

Like much of the Northeast, Westchester County in New York has 
lots of rocks. They range from boulders dropped by the glaciers to 
deeply rooted masses of bedrock, but unfortunately none of them are 
suitable for monument carving. They are either too hard, too soft, too 
coarse, too brittle - or some combination of these undesirable qualities. 
The lack of proper stone created a difficult problem for the county's 
European settlers: how to mark their graves and memorialize their dead. 
Trying to engrave on local fieldstone was an unrewarding task, and was 
attempted only by amateurs. 

About the middle of the eighteenth century, the more affluent fami- 
lies in the county came up with a solution: import gravestones from 
places where monument-quality stone was available, and where profes- 
sional carvers had already set up shop to work it. In the first half of the 
century, the nearest such centers were in northern New Jersey, drawing 
upon quarries of reddish-brown Triassic sandstone there. In the second 
half of the century, however, several carvers went into business in New 
York City, where it was relatively easy to transport New Jersey sandstone 
by water, and up until the Revolution most of the Westchester families 
who could afford professional stones ordered them by post from the city. 

There were certain disadvantages to such a mail-order system. For 
one thing, you couldn't always be sure you would get what you ordered 
by handwritten communication. We can only imagine the frustration 
and disappointment of the grieving kin who received (as they some- 
times did) stones with misspelled names, botched dates, or other slips of 
the chisel. And it was doubtless difficult, if not impossible, to send them 
back for replacement or correction, so they ended up in the graveyards, 
their errors doomed to lasting display. 

During the Revolution, all carving (and most other commerce) came 
to a halt. New York City was occupied by the British, and Westchester 
County became a no man's land in a vicious guerrilla war. After the 
British left - along with many local Tories - New York City lost its domi- 
nance in stonecutting. In Westchester, a number of local carvers 

54 Solomon Brewer 

appeared, ready to meet the pent-up demand from the war years. Like 
the city carvers, they used imported stone - first sandstone from across 
the Hudson (New Jersey or Rockland County), then marble from New 
England and elsewhere. 

One of the most distinctive of these carvers left works over much of 
the county, but especially a few communities in the middle: Sleepy 
Hollow (now called North Tarrytown), Greenburgh, and White Plains. 
His style was very different from that of other carvers in this area (see 
detail of his stone for Abraham Martlings, Fig. 1). Like them, he carved 
soul effigies, but his characteristic version has whorled wings on either 
side of the face, with a prominent crown of righteousness perched 
between them. The image is readily recognizable to anyone familiar with 
stones from the Connecticut River valley. So the question arises, what 
was a Connecticut valley gravestone carver doing in Westchester? 

I had been looking vainly for the answer for several years, until I was 
given a 1903 article in the Tarrytown Argus 1 by Daniel Van Tassell, an 
energetic genealogist and local historian who was also (conveniently) 
editor of his community newspaper. He had met a printer from 
Bridgeport named Duane Brewer, who showed him a record book com- 
piled by his stonecutter grandfather, Solomon Brewer. Van Tassell quick- 
ly made the connection between the inscriptions recorded in this book 
and the stones in Westchester - particularly at Sleepy Hollow. He not 
only published an extensive account of his findings in the paper, but also 
made his own partial transcription of the record book. The book itself 
has disappeared, but Van Tassell's handwritten transcription survives, 
along with at least one photocopy of it. 2 

These leads eventually produced others. One is an affidavit by 
Solomon Brewer's son, Joshua, in 1855, detailing his father's 
Revolutionary War record and other biographical details. 3 Another is a 
genealogical record of the Brewer family, compiled and printed by 
Duane Brewer. 4 

Solomon Brewer was born in 1746 in Springfield, Massachusetts. His 
grandfather, Daniel Brewer, served as the pastor of the First Church of 
Christ and his father, Nathaniel, was a deacon of that church. His aunt 
Eunice, Nathaniel's sister, married Robert Breck, who succeeded Daniel 
Brewer as pastor. Solomon Brewer himself was originally a farmer 
(according to Duane Brewer) or a cabinetmaker (according to Joshua 
Brewer). Perhaps he was both. He and his first wife, Martha Smith, had 

Gray Williams, Jr. 




"O - 


In 'Memory of : 


who died Oct^ 

;J2) Y 7 68 

In the J" J- \ear 
of his Age. 



--• .^ — "■ I ■■ " —' - — . — — — l-l.l*.— .1 II ■■■!■! I ■—■■111 

WcAli vbu :lhahftcm& Kvicro' 

*}■ ill is Stone If 

. ■ Prtpxirc v Mr .Death %$ T |j 

Fig. 2 Ezra Clap, 1768, Westfield, Massachusetts. Attributed to Solomon 

Brewer, but executed while he was still in Springfield, and had not yet 

begun keeping the record book of his commissions. Probably an early 

example of his work. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

56 Solomon Brewer 

eight children. It was probably in the late 1760s that he started carving 
gravestones: the stone for Ezra Clap, dated 1768, with its rather awkward- 
ly spaced inscription, may have been among his earliest works (Fig. 2). 

None of the stones Brewer carved in Massachusetts are included in 
his record book (he didn't start keeping that book until after he left the 
state). His early work can thus only be identified by style, but that style, 
though quite similar in many respects to that of his contemporaries, for- 
tunately has a few fairly distinctive details. The most obvious of these 
are the eyes of his soul effigies: close set on either side of the long, slight- 
ly bulbous nose, they turn noticeably downward at the outer corners, 
conveying a rather mournful expression. I call them "polliwog eyes." 

Brewer's lettering also has several distinguishing features. One of the 
most obvious is the joined, italicized AD before the year of death. He 
also often separated roman-lettered biographical data from italicized 
verse by a prominent horizontal line or other decorative device. Among 
his typical individual characters one finds the lower-case g with the pro- 
truding "ear" placed at the very top of the upper bell. The upper-case Y 
is unusually wide, with a short ascender. Numeral 2 curls over at the top, 
and ends with a prominent serif at the bottom, while numeral 5 has a 
curved top bar. 

Some twenty-seven stones in Massachusetts can be attributed to 
Brewer's hand, the majority of them dated in the early 1770s. 5 During 
this period, Brewer was evidently polishing his skills - his lettering, in 
particular, became more fluid and harmonious. But most of these stones 
reflect a basic approach that he would adhere to throughout his career: a 
simple, incised design that could be carved quickly and efficiently, and 
sold for a moderate price (e.g., see Fig. 3, Hannah Montague, 1773, South 

Brewer did, however, occasionally employ a more elaborate, three- 
dimensional design for those customers willing and able to pay the extra 
cost (e.g., Fig. 4, Luke Montague, 1775, South Hadley). These stones also 
tend to be larger and more intricately shaped than those that are simply 
incised. The design of the soul effigy is quite different: there is no crown 
or righteousness, and the elaborate wings meet under the chin like a 
huge bowtie - a device pioneered earlier in the century by the well- 
known Johnson family of carvers, who worked out of quarries downriv- 
er near Middletown, Connecticut. 6 Initially, one might hesitate to 
attribute such work to Brewer, but the lettering style is his, and the 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


tfM?/0 H/WNAlh I ®J 

ffwfeq died #W >' 
Sof her 


. ■_»•.. 

• CT^^V-i; 


Fig. 3 Hannah Montague, 1773, South Hadley, Massachusetts. Attributed 

to Solomon Brewer, but executed before he began keeping his record 

book. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

Solomon Brewer 

^'3 an Ornrmh J// in the * *'' 

\^iO))irjvii/)v'fy w Gav 

J/i th 


of ]y\f-A&z. 

jK'<> Tflhem* (J power (fhor-r fcj. ■ 
WkJIeTlh/Ji (Jrlt'tiH m tirf"' if^l 

Fig. 4 Luke Montague, 1775, South Hadley, Massachusetts. Attributed to 

Solomon Brewer, but executed before he began keeping his record book. 

An elaborate, three-dimensional work, much less common than stones 

with engraved decoration. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 



jSj! In M-jsjtop.v of • ^ 

fe, ^bodied OcL r ir* J/7'S. II 

W* In the y%'*^kc 

5 51 

•of his 


^ Mr* Max* hh 

K^ who died A*^. 1 7 /; ' i7? 


lie 7J Y 

f Jier.?,t 

' jje 



jL //A /7/^^7 *&7) ? 
l^JCCful t.s sure 
Sin - i/ir ifjound 
<Mnd Cnrirr 



i^K.- • '^'jFs^mmss. j 



Fig. 5 Hezekiah & Mary Day, 1780, West Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Attributed to Solomon Brewer, but executed before he began keeping his 

record book. A very unusual stone for Brewer, with portrait-like profiles 

of the deceased. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 

60 Solomon Brewer 

downturned polliwog eyes are a giveaway. 

When the Revolution came, Brewer joined the militia, and during the 
war rose in the ranks from sergeant to adjutant, although he may never 
have been in combat. He probably had little or no opportunity to carve 
stones during this period, and the few markers attributed to him which 
bear dates in the war years are likely to have been backdated. One of 
these stones represents another departure from his usual style (Fig. 5, 
Hezekiah & Mary Day, 1780). Replacing the usual soul effigies is a pair of 
profile portraits in oval frames, surrounded by decorative scrolls. Again, 
this was not an image that Brewer himself invented, but rather one he 
borrowed from his contemporaries. He executed so few stones of this 
type that I suspect he found little demand for them. In any case, there 
simply aren't many Brewer stones of any sort in Massachusetts dating 
from either the war or postwar years. Apparently he was having financial 
troubles: as Duane Brewer put it, "To provide for his large family . . . was a 
serious question, for the times were hard and money scarce." In 1780 his 
wife died, and about 1785 he decided to move on. 

Leaving his children and his farm in the care of a brother, Brewer set- 
tled in Guilford, Connecticut, where he worked mainly as a stone 
mason. He married again, and his second wife, Rene Benton, eventually 
bore him nine more children. He also continued carving gravestones and 
at this time began keeping records of his commissions, including the 
deceased's name, date of death, age, and place of death (which was not 
necessarily the place of burial). 

Occasionally Brewer would manage to land a big commission, such 
as the stone for Sarah Hough and two Hough children in Meriden (Fig. 
6). He also executed, and even signed, what appears to have been a stone 
with a profile design (it is now almost entirely unrecognizable). In his 
record book, the name of the deceased is given as John Beach, while on 
the stone itself, John Beech: both, however, confirm that the man died on 
March 25, 1785, in Cheshire. 

Despite such departures, however, Brewer usually stuck to his sim- 
pler, linear formula. Indeed, he further simplified it. After this time his 
stones would no longer have any side borders. Whatever the case, his 
efforts were apparently not very successful. Only seventeen commis- 
sions are recorded in the two or three years he lived in Connecticut. 
Perhaps there was too much competition from other, established carvers 
in the area, such as Thomas Gold in New Haven. As if that were not 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


enough, carvers of the Cowles family in Cheshire were directly knocking 
off his style, including the downturned eyes that were his trademark 
(see Fig. 7, Dr. Samuel Dutton, 1789, Wallingford). 

By 1787, Brewer apparently felt it was once again time to move on, 
and he took his wife and growing family to the Hudson valley. They set- 
tled first on the west side of the river, in Orangetown, Rockland County. 
The carver's chronological record book clearly documents this relocation. 
All of a sudden, commissions in Connecticut cease and are supplanted by 
commissions in New York. Among the first in New York is one for "Eldad 
Parker of Cheshire Conn. Sept. 8 1 786 - 24th year. Nyack." This may in fact 
explain how Brewer made his way to Rockland County: Orangetown is 
just a few miles southwest of Nyack. Brewer had carved several stones for 
families in Cheshire, Connecticut, including one for Deacon Edward 

Fig. 6 Sarah Hough, 1775, Ira Hough, 1777, and Rosetta Hough, 1778, 

Meriden, Connecticut. Listed in the Brewer record book. A relatively 

elaborate stone executed when Brewer was living in Guilford, 

Connecticut. Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 


Solomon Brewer 

Parker. Perhaps, one might speculate, he received the commission for 
Eldad Parker's stone from the Parker family in Cheshire, and traveled to 
Nyack, where the young man had died, either to carve it or deliver it. The 
stone itself has unfortunately disappeared. 

ft. Xfe&i »y-S«? 

Fig. 7 Dr. Samuel Dutton, 1789, Wallingford, Connecticut. Attributed to 
Elisha Cowles. Soul effigy apparently imitated from Brewer's work. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 63 

During the time Brewer lived in Rockland County, relatively few of 
his commissions actually came from that county; most came instead 
from across the Hudson, in Westchester. Probably one of the reasons he 
had settled in Rockland was to have access to the sandstone quarries 
there and in neighboring New Jersey. But by 1790 he moved to where his 
customers were. He lived for six or seven years in Tarrytown, and then 
moved inland to an 11 -acre farm in Greenburgh. It was a curious choice 
for a gravestone carver. The best way to move stone from the New Jersey 
and Rockland quarries was by water, but Greenburgh was (and is) sever- 
al land miles east of the river. Perhaps Brewer wanted to be assured of 
the subsistence a farm could provide. 

From his new location, Brewer carved stones for several of the lead- 
ing families in the area, such as the Martlings family, who had a boat ser- 
vice on the Hudson, with a dock at Tarrytown. Abraham Martlings (see 
Fig. 1) and his brother Daniel both served in the Revolution. 7 Their 
stones, along with more than half of Brewer's other surviving works, are 
in the burying ground of the Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow. 

The second largest group of the carvers's works stands in the grave- 
yard of the Presbyterian church in White Plains, a few miles east of 
Greenburgh. Three modest stones there, for example, commemorate a 
White Plains family whose home (according to local tradition) was used 
as a headquarters by George Washington. Tragedy struck the family in 
the fall of 1776, when Elijah Miller (Fig. 8) and his two sons, aged 16 and 
20, all died. Brewer carved their stones long after the event. In his 
records, which seem to be basically chronological, the commission for 
the father's stone appears among others dated 1790. The commissions 
for the sons' stones turn up even later, near others dated 1802. 

The record book makes it plain that this backdating of stones was in 
fact the rule, rather than the exception. Most of Brewer's stones were 
carved at least a year or two after the date of death, and often much 
longer. I suspect that the same is true of other carvers as well, and that 
the dates on stones don't accurately reflect the chronology of a carver's 

Brewer's records suggest production of about ten to twelve stones 
per year - only a little better than what he had accomplished in 
Connecticut. It's plain that he couldn't make a living this way. According 
to Daniel Van Tassell, he taught school, had a license as an auctioneer, 
and served as a census enumerator and as Greenburgh Town Clerk, as 


Solomon Brewer 

who checl 


Fig. 8 Elijah Miller, 1776, White Plains Presbyterian Church graveyard, 

White Plains, New York. Listed in the Brewer record book. A backdated 

stone, actually executed in the 1790s. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 



Fig. 9 Sarah Tidd Paulding, 1790, Hillside Cemetery, Van Cortlandtville, 

New York. Listed in the Brewer record book. One of the few stones 

with three-dimensional decoration that Brewer executed after 

moving to New York. 

66 Solomon Brewer 

well as working as a mason. And then there was the family farm, on 
which the Brewers kept a couple of cows, presumably had a garden and 
some fruit trees, and raised hay and other crops. 

On rare occasions the carver was able to drum up a commission for a 
fancier monument, with relief decoration (e.g., Fig. 9, Sarah Tidd 
Paulding, 1790, Van Cortland tville). Sarah Paulding was the wife of John 
Paulding, one of the militiamen who captured the spy John Andre. He 
was awarded a comfortable pension by a grateful Congress and could 
probably afford the additional cost. But in the decades immediately fol- 
lowing the Revolution, most families could not. Furthermore, this stone 
and the five others like it in New York are all smaller and less elaborate 
than similar ones Brewer had carved in Massachusetts. 

For the most part, however, Brewer remained loyal to his formula: 
simple, engraved decoration on stones of modest size. He apparently 
offered a comprehensive service to his customers, including a repertoire 
of traditional verses for them to choose from. These, like his carving 
style, he probably brought from Massachusetts. It may be no accident 
that most are composed of short, pithy lines, with relatively few letters to 
carve. In any event, they tend to appear repeatedly. Some are very well 
known, such as: 

Death is a debt 
To nature due, 
Which I have paid 
And so must you. 

And probably the most famous of all: 

Reader behold as you pass by. 
As you are now so once was I. 
As I am now so you must be. 
Prepare for death and follow me. 

A number of these verses were suitable for any occasion: 

Life's uncertain. 
Death is sure. 
Sin's the wound, 
And Christ the cure. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


While others had more specific applications, such as death in old age: 

Suffic'd with life 
My spirit's fled; 
And I'm at rest 
Among the dead. 

Or death after long illness: 

Affliction sore 
Long time I bore. 
Physicians' help was vain. 
Till death did cease 
And God did please 
To ease me of my pain. 

In Memory of Coknelius Ihcfe 
^ o^acob dfapfalyna Couenhovcn 

\oeH 5 Years, £ Months ft 15 Days . 

Aeon ///e/r/on died (he fame Day. Aged 
3 Years i 7 Months r* 10 Days . 

Alfo j£g£ 

}V,ney /hcirrtntff^tUcdc) Day?Mer 
^Pi^^^l VTrV,, Ycary.MinVths H 17 Daw 

• '^*- , ..-. v*t*&^...:^HHIIH 

Fig. 10 Couenhoven children, 1794, Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record book. 

An unusual triple stone for the victims of an epidemic. 

Photograph by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 


Solomon Brewer 

The earlier inscriptions - those of the 18th century - tend to be rather 
grim and implacable, like this one, for Anthony King, age two: 

Death oft destroys 
The parents' joys. 

Yet sometimes either Brewer or the family would settle on wording 
truly poignant and appropriate. Three small children of the Couenhoven 
family died in an epidemic within a few days of one another. The epitaph 
on their triple stone (Fig. 10, Couenhoven children, 1794, Sleepy Hollow) 
comes from David's elegy to Saul and Jonathan, in the first book of 
Samuel. Unfortunately now below ground, it reads: 

How lovely & pleasant were they 

in their 
Lives; & in their Deaths they were 

not divided. 



Fig. 11 Abraham Devoe (1805), detail, Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record book. A large 

gothic "In" replaces the no-longer-fashionable soul effigy. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


On other occastions, though, the choice seems somewhat inexplicable: 

Calm resignation crown'd 

his latest hours 

While death stood ready 

to arrest the powers 

Of flesh & blood 

The mind serene & free 

Bound for the joys 

of immortality. 

The subject of this verse was an infant of six months. 

At the end of the 18th century, in New York as elsewhere, soul effi- 
gies went out of fashion. At first there was no generally acceptable image 
to replace them, so most gravestones contained only lettering. Like other 
carvers of the period, Brewer made at least a gesture toward ornamenta- 
tion by carving an elaborate Gothic "In" where the effigy used to be (see 
Fig. 11, Abraham Devoe, 1805, Sleepy Hollow). He also added to his 

Fig. 12 Maria Odell, 1805 (detail), Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record book. 

A banner-and-heart design occasionally used by Brewer for 

children's stones in the early 1800s. 


Solomon Brewer 

repertoire some verses with gentler, kinder sentiments than the tradi- 
tional threats of death and damnation: 

Haste my beloved, fetch my soul 
Up to thy blest abode 
Fly, for my spirit longs to see 
My Saviour and my God. 

For children's stones, he developed an odd little decoration com- 
posed of a double-ended banner, surmounted by a heart (see Fig. 12, 
Maria Odell, 1805, Sleepy Hollow). 

At the beginning of the Romantic Age, Brewer remained a conserva- 
tive. As far as I know, he never carved any weeping willows, and only 
very rarely did he execute a classical urn (as, for example, Fig. 13, 
Gabriel Requa, 1809, Sleepy Hollow). He was also apparently reluctant 
to use marble, even when it was becoming steadily more fashionable 
than sandstone. Perhaps it is true as well that not as many of his marble 
monuments have survived. Certainly those that do remain are often 

Fig. 13 Gabriel Requa, 1809 (detail), Burying Ground of the 

Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record 

book, and signed "S.B. fecit." A rare example of Brewer's work in 

marble, decorated with an urn. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


badly weathered. 

Nonetheless, the carver did seem to recognize marble as a prestige 
material. The aforementioned marble stone for Gabriel Requa (Fig. 13) is 
signed, "S.B. fecit." Brewer actually signed very few of his stones. I know 
of only four: all are relatively elaborate, and two of them are in marble. 
The earliest is the profile sandstone marker for John Beach (or Beech) in 
Cheshire, Connecticut, referred to earlier. The second is a large sand- 
stone with three-dimensional decoration, carved for David Howell of 
Newburgh, New York, who died in 1793. The other marble stone is a tall 
memorial for the patriarch of the Requa family, the former militia officer 
Glode Requa (Anglicized from the Huguenot French name Claude 
Requier), who died in 1806. Its tympanum has no decoration, and much 
of its inscription is now illegible. But at the bottom, still clearly visible, is 
Brewer's signature, in a small banner (see Fig. 14). And just above the 
signature is a little trademark soul effigy - a sentimental memento, per- 
haps, of a device that was by then thoroughly out of fashion. 


Fig. 14 Glode Requa, 1806 (detail), Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record book, and signed 

"S. Brewer sculpt." Above the signature is a miniature soul effigy in 

Brewer's typical style. 


Solomon Brewer 


. 9 

18 IS • 

liir narct. ?.( ,; 'f o 1 " 
VrfgclAI Clears. 







Fig. 15 Jonathan Odell, 1818, Burying Ground of the Old Dutch Church 

at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer record book, this is the work of 

Solomon Brewer's sons James and Horace, who appear to have 

succeeded him about 1817. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


According to Daniel Van Tassell, the title page of Brewer's record 
book read "Solomon Brewer's Book, Greenburgh, May 1815." Actually, it 
appears to be a compilation of earlier records, perhaps assembled when 
Brewer was thinking of retiring. In any event, only a few stones that can 
be attributed to him bear dates from 1815 on, and none at all after 1817. 
Two of his sons, James and Horace, apparently took over the business. 
Not only did they carve stones, but also for several years they added 
their own commissions to the record book. Even in Daniel Van Tassell's 
transcribed version, the transition from the father's commissions to those 
of the sons is clear. Solomon Brewer always included the place of the 
deceased's death in his entries. But in the midst of entries dated 1817, this 
information abruptly disappears. Evidently the sons didn't think it 
worth recording. 

The sons' lettering style (e.g., Fig. 15, Jonathan Odell, 1818, Sleepy 
Hollow) is crisp, clean, and harmonious, like their father's. But the verti- 
cal proportions of the roman letters are more compressed, with more 
pronounced serifs, and the italics are often embellished with extravagant 

Fig. 16 Jonathan Odell, 1818 (detail), Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church of Sleepy Hollow. This stone is one of at least two that James and 

Horace Brewer signed. 


Solomon Brewer 

romantic flourishes. At least two of their stones are signed, "J. and H. 
Brewer" (see Fig. 16, Jonathan Odell, detail). Horace Brewer was known 
to Daniel Van Tassell and mentioned in his newspaper account, while 
the other partner was not: but there is no question in my mind that it was 
James, Solomon's only other surviving son by his second wife. 

James and Horace continued to produce monuments for families 
such as the Foshays (see Fig. 17, stones of Ann Foshay and John Foshay, 
1829, 1808, Sleepy Hollow), who had been clients of their father's. And 
they, too, apparently produced no more than about a dozen stones a 
year. I've tried to distinguish the works of each son, but have finally 
given up. Some stones seem a little more heavily cut than others, but oth- 
erwise the stylistic differences are subtle and inconsistent. Plainly the 
brothers worked as a team. 

Perhaps it is my imagination, but the sons, while excellent craftsmen 
in their own right, nonetheless seem a little less careful and accurate than 

Fig. 17 Ann Foshay (left), 1829, by James and Horace Brewer, and John 

Foshay (right), 1808, by Solomon Brewer. Burying Ground of the Old 

Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow. Both stones listed in the Brewer record 

book. Solomon Brewer's sons continued to receive commissions from 

the same families that had bought stones from him. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 


their meticulous father. For example, they had a very hard time with the 
stone for Anthony Dutcher (Fig. 18). First they got his given name wrong 
(in the record book, actually, it appears as "Alexander")- So they chiseled 
a singularly unconvincing panel to erase the mistake, and inserted the 
correct name within it. But then they discovered a missing letter in the 
father's first name, Deliverance. Here they abandoned all pretense, sim- 
ply inserting the lost "r" above the line and placing a caret underneath. 
It was one or the other or both of the sons who carved their father's 
stone (Fig. 19) when he died in 1824, at the age of 77 years, 9 months, and 
14 days. Although Solomon Brewer apparently wasn't a member of the 
Dutch Reformed Church, he had nonetheless managed to acquire a sub- 
stantial plot in the Sleepy Hollow burying ground, where he and several 
other family members are buried. He left no will, but as James's account- 
ing shows 8 , he was in debt to the tune of $120. The farm was auctioned 
off to pay these debts, but was actually bought by his daughter Polly. The 
verse carved on his stone was one that he himself had earlier used for 

tcfe& he clfcprtv' 1 eel tKi$ I.i fe ** c 

Vh f 

McmtK rvi^H' c V^cW 


-\_-i_-i_-l_-v_-i A_- 

Fig. 18 Anthony Dutcher, 1824 (detail), Burying Ground of the 

Old Dutch Church at Sleepy Hollow. Listed in the Brewer 

record book. James and Horace Brewer appear to have been 

somewhat less accurate than their father. 


Solomon Brewer 



M)'72e / rne?n/^ 

\vhf> depar tecl this \\SeJl<xnfh 
,-Voecl 5^ Ye€tr^,j»Mox\tlis 

•V? Vi" cr£ 5e H ft nci^iioiv 6oz< 

pam c*7icfso>*ro* p fills the roitna 
?A?~€escei*e . *lsecirs and tax . 

> u 

Fig. 19 Solomon Brewer, 1824, Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Not listed in the Brewer record book, but 

undoubtedly executed by James and Horace for their father. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 77 

Glode Requa: 

Life is at best a narrow bound, 
That heaven allows to men; 
While pain & sorrow fills the round, 
Of threescore years & ten. 

The sons continued to carve stones for more than a decade after their 
father's death, and they remained basically faithful to his style. They 
favored sandstone, although most other carvers had long since switched 
to marble, and they carved no urns or willows or other romantic devices. 
In only a few instances did they experiment with either the ornate, cir- 
cus-poster capitals or the blunt, sans-serif typefaces that became popular 
toward the middle of the 19th century. In the record book, there are no 
dates past 1836, and I can find no stones of theirs dated after 1838. They 
must surely have stopped carving by about 1841, when their mother 
died. Her stone, now badly weathered, is a typical Victorian marble, and 
not by the sons at all. They apparently gave up what was a marginal 
business at best. By that time their work may have seemed rather old 
fashioned in its simplicity, its clarity, and its stubborn loyalty to its own 

The Brewers' record book is an immensely valuable document that 
illuminates many aspects of gravestone carving as a craft and as a busi- 
ness. It also provides a revealing, though sobering, insight into the sur- 
vival of gravestones generally. Comparing the record book with the 
stones to be found in graveyards vividly demonstrates the ravages of 
two centuries of exposure and presages the probable fate of these monu- 
ments in the future. 

The book contains about 495 entries. Each entry usually, but not 
always, corresponds to a single stone: sibling children with separate 
entries may end up memorialized on one stone, or a single commission 
for a husband and wife may be executed as a pair of stones. Not every 
commission was recorded. I know of about seventy stones that are not 
listed, but that can be safely attributed to Solomon or his sons. For exam- 
ple, the high-style stones for Petrus (Fig. 20) and Catriena Van Tessel at 
Sleepy Hollow couldn't have been carved by anyone else. Neither could 
the signed stones for Gabriel and Glode Requa (Figs. 13 and 14). And 
neither, for that matter, could Solomon's own stone, nor the stone that 
James and Horace carved for their brother Bela, who died in 1827. 


Solomon Brewer 

I have not been able to find surviving stones to match 100 or so 
entries in the record book - about one in five. Undoubtedly I've missed 
some. Several are probably hidden away in obscure family burying 
grounds, which are common in Westchester, and I may have overlooked 
others, especially marbles with badly worn inscriptions. Nonetheless, 
the evidence of significant attrition is undeniable. 

The most precise evidence comes from Sleepy Hollow, where the 
stones have been thoroughly and repeatedly documented over several 
decades, and where substantial efforts at restoration have been made. By 
my count, 223 Brewer stones survive there, many of them, fortunately, in 
good shape. But forty-five are known to be gone. That is, they are listed 
in the record book, and as late as 1953 are documented as being in the 
burying ground, 9 but they have since disappeared or else have been 
defaced beyond recognition. One of the latter, for example, was once a 

van?ETKt?s^ ;\ia Hessel ; 

Fig. 20 Petrus Van Tessel, 1792 (detail), Burying Ground of the Old Dutch 

Church at Sleepy Hollow. Attributed to Solomon Brewer, but not listed 

in the Brewer record book. Solomon Brewer's style is unmistakeable, 

even in stones that are undocumented. 

Gray Williams, Jr. 79 

very well-known memorial, and was among Solomon Brewer's first 
Westchester commissions. It was the stone for Isaac Martlings, the broth- 
er of Daniel and Abraham Martlings, who was familiarly called "Isaac 
the Martyr." As the inscription used to state, he was "inhumanly slain by 
Nathaniel Underhill" in 1779. Underhill was a notorious Tory who bore 
Martlings a grudge, and, after cutting down the one-armed Indian war 
veteran with a sword, fled to Canada. All that now remains of Isaac's 
stone is a broken and eroded sandstone stump. 

Other Brewer stones may have disappeared as well, even though 
they don't appear in Sleepy Hollow documents. When commissions for 
the stones of several close relatives appear bunched together in the 
Brewer book, and only some of the stones themselves can be found in 
the graveyard, one can assume that the others have been lost. At Sleepy 
Hollow there are thirteen such instances. 

Arithmetic yields plain, if depressing, results. Adding forty-five to 
thirteen makes fifty-eight Brewer stones that were probably once at 
Sleepy Hollow, but have since been destroyed or have disappeared. Add- 
ing these fifty-eight to the 223 surviving stones gives a total of 281. The 
ratio of 58 to 281 is a little over twenty percent - again, about one in five. 

This in itself would seem a sad enough postscript to the story of a tal- 
ented early American gravestone carver, but it also suggests an ongoing 
problem, for the fact of the matter is that it is hard, if not impossible, to 
halt further attrition. In any graveyard accessible to the public, vandal- 
ism may be controlled, but it cannot be entirely prevented. There is at 
present no acceptable way to prevent exposed marble from gradually 
dissolving. Relaminating spalled sandstone is difficult and costly, and 
the permanency of the repair is uncertain. The prospect appears 
inevitable: left outside, all these monuments will eventually disintegrate 
or disappear. But what is the alternative? We cannot rescue every stone 
from vandals or the weather. If we decide to bring some indoors, how 
shall the selections be made, and what will be erected in their place? 
These problems haunt anyone who is concerned with saving the heritage 
of our old gravestones, and there are no easy answers. To paraphrase the 
old verse: 

Stone's uncertain, 
Ruin sure. 
Holds no cure. 

80 Solomon Brewer 


Much of the research for this article was done by others, who generously shared with me 
their knowledge, their insights, and documents in their possession. With deep gratitude I 
would like to acknowledge their help. Robert Drinkwater did virtually all the research on 
the Brewer stones in Massachusetts, visiting graveyards throughout the Springfield area, 
and supplying me with slides and photographs. Laurel Gabel provided me with photo- 
copies of works by several Connecticut Valley carvers (crucial in separating Brewer's work 
from that of his contemporaries), plus valuable leads on research sources. Lucille M. 
Kennedy (Mrs. Robert C. Kennedy), wife of a descendant of Solomon Brewer's, supplied a 
copy of Daniel Van Tassell's article (see Note 1), which became a kind of Rosetta Stone for 
Solomon Brewer and his sons, linking their names to specific works and alerting me to the 
existence of their record book. Elizabeth Fuller, Librarian of the Westchester County 
Historical Society, discovered in the society's collection a photocopy of Van Tassell's tran- 
scription of Brewer's book (see Note 2). William Lent, President of the Friends of the Old 
Dutch Burying Ground at Sleepy Hollow, located the genealogical study by Duane Brewer 
(see Note 4) at the City Library of Springfield. Robert W. Purdy, another descendant of 
Solomon Brewer's, provided me with a copy of Joshua Brewer's affadavit (see Note 3) and 
other documentary information. Gerard Dorian located the documents dealing with 
Solomon Brewer's estate (see Note 8) in the records of Westchester County. This article has 
been enhanced by the inclusion of a number of excellent photographs by Daniel and Jessie 
Lie Farber, so indicated in the respective photo captions. All other photographs are by the 

1. Daniel Van Tassel, "Solomon Brewer," Tarrytown Argus (May 2, 1903). 

2. Solomon Brewer, Solomon Brewer's Book: Greenburgh May 1815, transcribed by Daniel 
Van Tassell, about 1902. The handwritten original is at the New York Biographical and 
Genealogical Society, among the Van Tassell papers, and is available only to society 
members. The photocopy is at the Westchester County Historical Society. An abbreviat- 
ed transcription in database form, arranged alphabetically and by graveyards, is main- 
tained by the Association for Gravestone Studies. 

3. Joshua B[owen] Brewer, Affidavit, Hudson County, New Jersey, January 5, 1855, while 
"on a visit among his relatives and friends in the vicinity of New York." 

4. Duane E[lceron] Brewer, The Brewer Family in America (Bridgeport, Ct., 1901). Privately 
published pamphlet in the genealogical collection of the Springfield, Massachusetts, 
Public Library. 

5. A list of these stones is maintained at the Association for Gravestone Studies. 

6. James A. Slater, The Colonial Burying grounds of Eastern Connecticut and the Men Wlw Made 
Them (Hamden, Ct., 1987), 57-60. 

7. For this and other biographical references to those buried at Sleepy Hollow see Tales of 
the Old Dutch Burying Ground, 2nd, rev. ed. (Tarrytown, NY, 1992). 

Gray Williams, Jr. 81 

8. "Rene Brewer & others Administrators'] Bond/ Solomon Brewer/ 1824," August 2, 
1824. "Solomon Brewer's Inventory - 1824," August 18, 1824. "Petition of Account of 
Rene Brewer & James Brewer, Admins./ to sell real estate of Solomon Brewer/ 1825," 
September 14, 1825. "Return of James Brewer Administrator of Solomon Brewer dec'd/ 
Recorded/ 1825," December 16, 1825. All: records of Westchester County, New York. 

9. William Graves Perry, The Old Dutch Burying Ground of Sleepy Hollow in North Tarrytoum, 
New York: A Record of the Early Gravestones and Their Inscriptions (Boston, 1953). 


'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

Fig. 1 MacClellan Gate, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C. 



Thomas C. Ware 

"There is something beyond the grave; 

death does not end all, 
and the pale ghost escapes from the vanquished pyre." 

Sexrus Propertius, 
Elegies, IV, viii. 

Nor shall your glory be forgot 
While fame her record keeps, 
Or Honor points the hallowed spot 
Where Valor proudly sleeps. 

- Theodore O'Hara, 
"The Bivouac of the Dead" 

As Thomas Wolfe observed in Look Homeward, Angel, a destiny that 
leads the people of one nation to another is strange enough; but a des- 
tiny that leads a talented individual - and thence his progeny - into for- 
eign regions and to ambivalent fame becomes touched by "that dark 
miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world." 1 Thus it 
was with Kean O'Hara, one of the "wild geese" who fled Ireland in the 
late 18th century and found his destiny in Kentucky - and there begot 
his son, Theodore, fated to become one of America's most quoted 
authors, and one of its least known to contemporary audiences. 

Perhaps no artist in recent centuries, with the possible exception of 
the English poet Thomas Gray, became so closely identified with ceme- 
teries or so widely cited in them as Theodore O'Hara, once regarded as 
"Uncle Sam's Official Poet" and "the bard of Memorial Day." 2 Lines from 
O'Hara's elegiac poem, "The Bivouac of the Dead," have been immortal- 
ized in marble and granite, in steel, on slabs, memorial tablets, and on 
the graves of soldiers in state and national graveyards throughout the 
land - especially the South, and most notably, perhaps, across the arch- 
way on both sides of the General George B. MacClellan gate, the original 
entrance to Arlington National Cemetery (Fig. I). 3 

One account tells us that a stanza of O'Hara's elegy was inscribed on 

84 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

a rude memorial nailed to a tree on the battlefield at Chancellorsville, 
Virginia, shortly after the fighting in 1863. A passage of "The Bivouac of 
the Dead" is engraved on a military monument in Boston - still another 
on an obelisk in a cemetery in Greenville, South Carolina. In Europe, 
lines from the poem became etched on a memorial column marking a 
major battle of the Crimean War. Reading the relatively little that has 
been written about this man and his major elegy, one gets the sense that 
during the height of the vogue which the poem apparently enjoyed dur- 
ing the later decades of the 19th century, and the early 20th, it was 
regarded as the ultimate expression on the subject of death - especially 
the death of military men. During that vogue, the poem became the offi- 
cial elegiac utterance in American Civil War battlefield cemeteries. But 
the poet's name never appears with his lines in these public places. In our 
time, whatever recognition the poem still receives, lessened though it 
may be, certainly overshadows the fame of its author, though that 
author's life and career led him into some of the most exciting and 
important events of his time - and by extension, some of the most dra- 
matic occasions of the history of the United States in the mid-19th 
Century, including the War with Mexico, an ill-fated attempt to free 
Cuba from Spain, and the War Between the States. 

A few seasons ago, on his CBS television show "Sunday Morning," 
Charles Kurault referred to the poem as it appears in Arlington National 
Cemetery as written by an "unknown" poet. Several weeks later, he pub- 
licly acknowledged the authorship of O'Hara. The historian and novelist 
Shelby Foote, who knows Civil War personnel as intimately as anyone, 
recently spoke of O'Hara at a gathering. "I know that he was on the staff 
of General Johnston at Shiloh," he said, "but I lost track of him after that. 
Whatever happened to him?" Clearly, the author of such a moving, pub- 
lic poem deserves more recognition than he currently receives. 

Theodore O'Hara (Fig. 2) was a native Kentuckian, born February 11, 
1820, probably in Frankfort; 4 but the odyssey which led to his birth in 
that green sector of this dusty world originated in the 1790s in the west 
of Ireland, a time and place of remarkably widespread and inventive vio- 
lence, reaching deeply into parts of the country not implicated in the 
burgeoning insurrection. 

The success of the American Revolution had intensified the desire for 
freedom among Ireland's oppressed people, both Protestant and Roman 
Catholic. Quite coincidentally, revision of various penal codes directed 

Thomas C. Ware 


Fig. 2 Theodore O'Hara 

86 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

against Catholics began in the mid-1 770s, and dictates outlawing the 
Catholic Church itself were revoked by 1782. Indeed, the economic and 
military constraints which the war produced in England led to the eas- 
ing of some restrictions which Irish merchants had experienced. Thus, 
American success in the War of Independence became a beacon for 
Ireland's own aspirations. 5 

Within this charged political atmosphere, the odyssey of the O'Hara 
family began. Exactly how and why remain for now only conjecture. 
One thing is certain, however: at one point during this nationalistic tur- 
moil and its consequences, which spawned its own haunting body of 
defiant ballad literature, Kean O'Hara came to this country in the com- 
pany of his brothers, James and Charles, and his sister, Polly, along with 
their father, James, senior. 

Among the legends that surround this odyssey was that the depar- 
ture of the O'Hara's from Ireland occurred as a direct result of the infa- 
mous "rising" of 1798, the "year of the French," when rebellious Irish 
patriots under the leadership of Lord Edward Fitzgerald were prepared 
to assist in the invasion of Napoleon's agents on the west coast. This plot 
was discovered and a pattern of cruel reprisals ensued, resulting in 
widespread massacre. 

This matrix of violence seems a fitting romantic prelude to the career 
of Theodore, who was himself later to become so attracted to turbulent 
adventures, and so evidently at home in the presence of patriotic gore; 
but such legends must be countered with more sobering elements. Kean 
O'Hara's gravemarker (Fig. 3), still present in the small cemetery of St. 
Pius Church in the village of White Sulphur, Kentucky, indicates these 
defining events: 

Born in Ireland, Nov. 24, 1768 
Emigrated to America in 1793 
A Citizen of Kentucky in 1798 

Married in 1800 

Died in Franklin County, Ky. 

December 23, 1851 

One should note well: "Emigrated to America in 1793." Such tomb- 
stone reality, based on the facts provided in the parish record at the time 
of death, can hardly now be refuted. What then are we to make of the 
many accounts of Kean O'Hara's involvement in the rising of 1798 and 
the urgent circumstances of his leaving his native country? Such stuff as 

Thomas C. Ware 


<8fc : ?fe' - 

i - ■ - 

-'. Sw 



V __ 

4 > 






Fig. 3 Gravemarker of Kean O'Hara, St. Pius Church Cemetery, 
White Sulphur, Kentucky 

88 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

dreams are made of, perhaps, and an exciting piece of fiction. The vague 
approximation between the date of the emigration and the better known 
events that transpired in the old country would have made for a fine 
broth of a tale, especially about a teacher who was as colorful as Kean 
O'Hara seems to have been. One contemporary letter provides us this 

He was a familiar figure of my childhood. He took part in the revolt 
against England in 1798, when he was compelled to leave and come to the 
U. S., reaching Kentucky and teaching a classical school until he bought a 
farm ... 6 

Clearly this attribution is incorrect on several points; but it does illustrate 
how a legend accumulates and adheres. 

Kean O'Hara would have been approximately thirty years old when 
he left Ireland; and when he died in 1851 at age 83, he had been celebrat- 
ed in and around the Blue Grass region of Kentucky for half of a century. 
One historian recounts this impressive career in a succinct manner: 

Among the large number of pupils of Kean O'Hara who rose to distin- 
guished positions in life were several of the Marshalls and the Browns, 
Zachary Taylor (afterwards the President of the United States), and Major 
George Croghan of the United States Army 7 

Croghan, the nephew of George Rogers Clark, won fame and a con- 
gressional award for his defense of Fort Stephenson in the War of 1812. 
Only twenty-one at the time, Croghan made a triumphant return visit to 
O'Hara's school after his great achievement. In like manner, while on his 
way to Washington for his inauguration in 1849, General Zachary Taylor 
himself made a special stop at Frankfort to visit his old mentor: 

It was an affecting scene when the great soldier, then an old man (of 65), 
bowed himself in grateful homage before the venerable preceptor of his 
youth, and in few but earnest words thanked him for the care bestowed 
upon his early education, to which he chiefly attributed all the achieve- 
ments of his early life. 8 

The "venerable preceptor" would have been approximately 80 on 
this occasion, and hardly a prominent family in that section of Kentucky 
would not have been touched in some way by his endeavors. Shortly 
afterwards, his odyssey was over. In a personal recollection of him, his 
granddaughter wrote that "In getting off a horse, he fell - was injured 

Thomas C. Ware 89 

and died from the affects [sic]." 9 

Quite apart from his collateral role as the father - and mentor - of the 
young man who would become such a notable poet, Kean O'Hara 
deserves continuing acclaim in the early history of education in this 

While living briefly in Maryland, Kean had met Helen Hardy, the 
daughter of a distinguished Irish family which had emigrated to that 
province during the time of Lord Baltimore, and later, after Kean had 
settled in Kentucky, the two were married there. In all, it was quite an 
auspicious set of circumstances into which Theodore was born, made 
especially rich when the father undertook to design his gifted son's edu- 
cation and career. Even during his childhood years, Theodore demon- 
strated great skill in poetical recitation, not unusual when one considers 
first, the methods and substance of classical education at the time, and 
second, the special encouragement and attention of his schoolmaster. 
Despite the secular nature of his school, Kean O'Hara remained Roman 
Catholic, and the accounts of Theodore's childhood include details of a 
trip back to Ireland, where his father returned to visit relatives. During 
this visit, the youngster was made to stand on a table and recite in classic 
style to rounds of applause from neighbors and kin. 10 

Though little else of specific incident is recorded about his early edu- 
cation, we know that O'Hara began attending classes in Frankfort at his 
father's school, perhaps as early as 1824. A quick and diligent scholar, he 
reportedly aided other students in their lessons - "doing sums for them 
and helping in various ways." 11 Study, states one account, was "his pas- 
sion. It engrossed of his childhood. Happily, he was trained ... by one 
who fully understood [his] nature ..." 12 Nevertheless, he was also char- 
acterized as full of mischief, perhaps deliberately so in the presence of 
his strict, disciplinarian father, in a manner analogous to that of the 
proverbial preacher's son. 

Theodore's love of poetry and song, especially about heroic deeds - 
the verse of Sir Walter Scott, for example 13 - was evidently nurtured 
early in his life and became one of his most striking intellectual traits. As 
he grew to manhood, he seems to have sustained great proficiency and 
delight in reciting such verses in congenial company. William Aytoun's 
Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers, a body of literature principally about chival- 
ry, insurrection, and tragedy in Scottish experience during the reigns of 
Tudor and Stuart monarchs, remained a special favorite of O'Hara, and 

90 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

one may find in some of those "lays" the qualities of the elegies he him- 
self would later compose. 14 

After what was evidently intense academic preparation by his father, 
Theodore was judged fit to go on to higher education and was sent to St. 
Joseph College in Bardstown, probably about 1836, and apparently 
acquitted himself in an exemplary manner there, although his academic 
prowess may be inferred only from comments. 15 

Although it does seem true that most of the records of the college 
have been lost - or remain inaccessible at this time - it is a striking coin- 
cidence that one ledger, and one only, does still exist, attesting to this 
period of the poet's career. The ledger records the years 1838 through 
1840 at the college, providing listings of the administrators, the faculty, 
the student body, and the curricular offerings. For the academic year 
1838, Theodore O'Hara is identified as "Tutor of Latin and Greek" 16 , but 
not as a student. Some accounts have him graduating in 1839. He may 
have been a senior at that point in 1838, but he was not listed as taking 
classes. More likely he would have graduated in the spring of 1838 with 
distinction enough to earn appointment as tutor. In any event, it is cer- 
tain that he was never a Professor of Greek, as often stated. 

By late 1839, just prior to his entering the study of law, his actions and 
his achievements had announced his qualities and his mode of life, 
though not yet his direction. He had rejected an academic career, for that 
kind of daily life, like the profession of law he would now attempt, did 
not present the levels of challenge and adventure that could sustain his 
interest and commitment. As his later military compatriot Albert 
Brackett would assert, he was a "singular man in some respects"; "and 
. . . undoubtedly a man of genius . . ," 17 

To suggest, at that juncture in 1839, that Theodore O'Hara would not 
succeed in any endeavors he chose, would be to assert that intelligence 
of a high order, a deeply ingrained moral sense, a college education, tal- 
ent abounding, and an attractive personality were not sufficient attribut- 
es for a young man in the brave new world of 19th century America. Yet 
his successes in later life were surprisingly few. 

At some point in his youth, probably about the time he returned to 
Frankfort from St. Joseph's, O'Hara began the practice of spending hours 
in the state cemetery grounds that overlook the Kentucky River. Musing 
in such picturesque spots had become a favorite activity for aspiring 
young poets at that time, a vogue begun in England during the late 18th 

Thomas C. Ware 91 

century by the "Graveyard School." 18 These poets, associated with the 
early development of the Romantic movement, often wrote lengthy, 
melancholy works speculating on the gloomy topics of physical decay, 
death, and immortality. The macabre elements generally present in old 
burial grounds held a special fascination for them. 

Given both O'Hara's knowledge of literature and the nearby retreat 
of this attractive hillside plot, it is not difficult to see how he would have 
been drawn to such a practice. If one adds both his occupation at this 
period of his life - spending long days reading law - and his proclivities 
towards elegiac poetry, soon to manifest themselves in his two major 
works, then the final elements of supposition fall into place. 

Reading law and entertaining poetical thoughts may seem antitheti- 
cal, but during this period of O'Hara's life, the two processes seem to 
have come together. As one observer recognized, this spot of ground was 
to be "intimately associated" with his major literary productions: 

Always inclined to Celtic meditation tinged with sadness, he lived to 
walk here amid the solitudes and to allow his imagination free flight. 19 

And indeed it remained, at least until he was approximately forty 
years of age, a free flying imagination without settling into serious liter- 
ary production. The crystalizing of his thought into poetic utterance 
would later be prompted by two formal occasions which brought signif- 
icant public attention to the little cemetery: the burial of Kentucky's dead 
from the battle of Buena Vista, and the reinterment of Daniel Boone. His 
literary responses to these events, about a decade away, would ironically 
bring him the enduring recognition which would otherwise elude him. 

Another apt judgment of O'Hara during this period would conclude 
of him that "he was possessed of the impulsive spirit which induces one 
to stake all on the hazard of a die rather than to attain by painful and 
persistent effort." And, still further: 

It may be the that Muses did haunt his every step, weaving about each 
scene the witchery of idealism and romance so enchanting to the poetic 
mind, but they certainly did not compel him to put into living verse the 
varied and picturesque experiences through which he must have passed. 
He wrote but little. 20 

Indeed, for public audiences it is true he wrote but little, or so it appears 
in any case. One must lament the absence of any body of papers, such as 

92 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

juvenilia or other fledgling attempts at poetic writing. 

Despite the brevity of the legal career which would follow these 
years of apprenticeship, the impact of his reading the law was to remain 
evident later in his life and in his writings, both private and public. His 
skills as an orator, earning him a strong reputation among his contempo- 
raries, were shaped not only by that daring and brilliance exhibited in 
his childhood but by the kind of legal rhetoric and declamatory pattern- 
ing which were characteristics of American speech-making since the 
days of the founding fathers. Only a few of his public addresses have 
survived, but one notable example remains in the obituary statement he 
delivered on the occasion of the burial of William Barry at the state 
cemetery. It reads in part: 

The tribute we are here to pay is that which a people's cool sense of 
gratitude and justice ... dispassionately renders to exalted merit and 
appreciated public service. It . . . has exacted from the still devoted sub- 
jects of its living sway. It is the tribute which an immortal eloquence, min- 
gling its undying echoes in eternal harmony with her joyous anthem of 
freedom and peace and happiness, has won from the land... It is the trib- 
ute which a burning patriotism . . . has extorted from the grateful memory 
of the country which now garners these sacred ashes to her bosom . . . We 
are here ... to execute upon these remains . . . that consecrating judgment 
of ancient Egypt, which, upon a severe trial of her greatest worthies after 
death, and a cold scrutiny of their whole lives, admitted those of spotless 
fame and of the loftiest worth to the sublime repose of her everlasting 
pyramids. 21 

This oration has been credited as having influenced Abraham 
Lincoln when he composed his Gettysburg Address 22 , but if so - and 
there can be only conjecture - the differences between O'Hara's excessive 
formality of diction, phrasing, and allusion and the tighter parallel con- 
struction of the Gettysburg speech suggest that the analytical eye of 
Lincoln permitted him to cut down to the basic organization of O'Hara's 
eulogy. And quite probably the comparison may owe more to the stan- 
dard oratorical traditions of the time - especially in the legal profession - 
than to specific influences. 

Over the years, O'Hara worked for several newspapers, including 
the Kentucky Yeoman (of Frankfort), the Louisville Times, and the 
Louisville Sun, eventually moving into a high position of authority for 
the Mobile (Alabama) Register, whose owner, John Forsythe, was U. S. 
Minister to Mexico. When the U. S. War with Mexico began in 1846, 

Thomas C. Ware 93 

O'Hara volunteered for service, was commissioned captain, fought in 
several battles, and was decorated for meritorious conduct. 

On July 20, 1847, a crowd estimated at 20,000 gathered in Frankfort to 
witness the reburial of those local heroes who had fallen at Buena Vista, 
a decisive battle won by General Zachary Taylor, but at great cost to the 
Second Kentucky Regiment of Foot Volunteers, among them Lt. Colonel 
Henry Clay, Jr., son of the Great Compromiser. O'Hara was not present 
at this ceremony, however, as he was still serving in Mexico - and not 
discharged until October 15, 1848. Yet among the legends which sur- 
rounded the composition of O'Hara 's famous poem was the persistent 
one that he was invited to read during the ceremony and that he worked 
all night and into the morning of the funeral in order to prepare the 

According to George W. Ranck, the poet was actually composing his 
elegy during August of 1847 for the dedication of a monument for those 
fallen Kentuckians of the Mexican War, to be raised in the state cemetery 
at Frankfort, but even Ranck incorrectly lists O'Hara as editor at that 
time of the Kentucky Yeoman. 23 It was not until February of 1848 that the 
Kentucky Legislature appropriated money to pay for the monument, 
which was not completed and erected until July, 1850. 

And so "The Bivouac of the Dead," as it later became known, was 
certainly not read at this dedication, though specific questions of when it 
was completed and where it was first delivered remain to this day unan- 
swered. A story that came third hand to Major Edgar Hume, who had 
some fairly close access to the O'Hara legends, indicates that Theodore 
first read the poem aloud to a cadre of young friends in a saloon across 
from the State House in Frankfort. 24 Because the poet did not return 
from Mexico until late in 1848, one may at best place only the origins of 
the poem in this period, and Hume asserts that the first publication was 
in 1858 in the Mobile Register, where and when O'Hara had assumed edi- 
torship. 25 

This assertion, like so many about O'Hara's career, has had its critics. 
And a document now in the archives of the Filson Club of Louisville, 
Kentucky, also testifies otherwise. This is a newspaper article - headed 
by the title "A Beautiful Poem" - which states, "the following beautiful 
poem was written on the occasion of the burial of the gallant 
Kentuckians who gloriously fell at Buena Vista in the cemetery at 
Frankfort, Kentucky. The author, Colonel Theodore O'Hara, gallant as a 

94 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

soldier as he is gifted as a writer, is now in our city. At our earnest solici- 
tation he has consented to its publication in our columns." 26 This version 
is composed of ninety-six lines, in twelve stanzas of two quatrains each, 
in traditional hymn meter: alternating four beat, three beat lines, with 
interlocking rhymes (see Appendix). The article continues: 

We, the undersigned, do hereby certify that the above is the exact pho- 
tographic copy of the famous lyric by Colonel Theodore O'Hara now 
called "The Bivouac Of The Dead" - as it appeared in print in the year 
1850, in the Frankfort (Kentucky) Yeoman. Date of month is not known by 
Mrs. Branham in whose scrapbook, a family relic, this clipping from the 
Yeoman is preserved... 27 

This comment is hand-dated February 11, 1901, and signed by sever- 
al people, including Susan Bullitt Dixon and Mary O'Hara Branham, 
identified as niece to the poet. The statement adds that the original man- 
uscript was destroyed by fire soon after this publication. Whether this 
story - all or any part of it - is true, it has become well documented that 
O'Hara continued to revise his poem over the years - and to republish it 
in several places. Also in the Filson Collection are several other newspa- 
per clippings which address the issue of revisions and final revisions. 
One such item, "Mutilation of a Great Poem," with a New York Times 
byline but hand-dated Aug. 1, 1890, by the same Susan Bullitt Dixon 
who presented the "original" item mentioned above, attacks in detail the 
work of George W. Ranck, who had published an edition of the poem the 
prior year. As the article states, many different versions of the poem had 
already appeared, but none so "unjust" as the one by Mr. Ranck, accord- 
ing to Miss Bullitt. She particularly laments the alterations and omis- 
sions by which this editor had attempted to rid the work of "local" refer- 
ences and to make the elegy more "universal." 28 

Miss Dixon's criticism notwithstanding, the poem in the earlier, 
"first" version already belonged to the ages. On February 22, 1867, 
Congress passed an Act, "to establish and protect national cemeteries." 
With this act, the project of official recollection of the war dead was set in 
place, and shortly afterwards "The Bivouac" became selected as the lan- 
guage of that memorialization. Excerpts from the elegy were selected to 
grace the archways of both sides of the MacClellan Gate, the original 
entrance to Arlington Cemetery. Construction of this impressive gate, 
which rises twenty-four feet above the roadway, was begun in 1870, but 
not completed until 1879 because of the difficulty of obtaining suitable 

Thomas C. Ware 95 

quantities of the red sandstone which had been chosen for its composi- 
tion. 29 

It was not until the 1880s, however, that the elegy was established 
with the memorial status it has now occupied for well over a century. 
These official memorials took the form of cast-iron tablets, originally 
ordered from the Ordnance Office by the Quartermaster General on June 
10, 1881, with an enclosed draftsman's sketch of the specifications, 1'6" X 
3'0", for mounting on posts 4" X 4". The order, for 500 castings of the 
tablets, was sent to the Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, with indications 
that three of the selected quatrains were to have 100 castings each, while 
four other quatrains were to have fifty each. Now in the National 
Archives, the authorizing letter reads: 

To be cast in the solid, with socket fitted on 
the back by which they can be secured to wooden posts. 
They are desired to replace the present wooden 
tablets at the cemeteries which are rapidly decaying. 30 

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this account is the offhand ref- 
erence to the decaying wooden tablets. What this comment suggests is 
that in some fashion, a relatively primitive one, O'Hara's poem had been 
selected and displayed in at least Arlington, if not a number of other bat- 
tlefield cemeteries much earlier, with the implications clearly present 
that these "wooden tablets" had been there long enough to start deterio- 
rating - perhaps as early as 1864, when the cemetery was officially estab- 

On June 27, 1883, the arsenal sent the total bill for the completed 
work and the shipping - $2,002.57. 31 

The aforementioned letter inaugurating the project was signed by the 
Quartermaster General at the time, Brevet Major General Montgomery 
Meigs, an officer who enjoyed a distinguished career in that capacity. 
Meigs' selection of O'Hara's poem provides not only an insight to the 
level of his own cultural refinement but an index to the contemporary 
appeal of O'Hara's lines - and of the concept of public poetry honoring 
these who fought in the war. Ironically, Meigs took a poem about the 
fallen of the Mexican War, written by a Confederate officer who fought 
against the Union forces, and applied its lines to burial places of the 
Union dead, and thence to all soldiers in death's tenting grounds. These 
plaques may be seen today (e.g., Fig. 4) in various arrangements in such 


'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

£50% ! v 


Fig. 4 Example of "Bivouac" plaque, Gettysburg National Cemetery, 
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

military cemeteries as those commemorating the bloodiest battles of that 
war, among them Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Shiloh, 
Vicksburg, Stones River, where O'Hara acquitted himself bravely - also 
at others which officially honor the Civil War dead and those veterans 
who were later buried in these plots, Arlington and Cave Hill in 
Louisville, for example - and, quite apart from the associations with the 
Civil War, at the Custer Battlefield National Cemetery in Montana. 

And as one reads these somber passages - especially aloud - from 
the plaques as they appear among the starkly ranked lines of grave- 
stones, the experience aesthetically reinforces the notion of collective 
military order, which follows even individual disintegration by death. 
This poem, a distinctly neo-classic elegy, exhibiting characteristics of late 
18th century English poetic diction and versification, is a highly effective 
work for the purposes for which it was appropriated. 

The sustained metaphor of the poem, the "bivouac," stresses the dis- 
cipline which continues to govern the soldiers even at their twilight 
leisure, when the tumult and the furious action of battle are over. Clear 

Thomas C. Ware 97 

to see, no intrusion of a disordered, civilian nature can now alter the 
fixed and final pattern of their military experience. Though various stan- 
zas demonstrate certain rhetorical devices and other technical elements 
which root it in the main lines of the elegiac tradition, it was that central 
metaphor and the tone of proud weariness which doubtless recom- 
mended the work to General Meigs. In the sequence in which the lines 
were selected from within the context of the poem, these are the qua- 
trains he chose - the first two for 100 castings each; the next four, 50 cast- 
ings each; and the last one 100 castings: 

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat 

The soldier's last tattoo; 
No more on life's parade shall meet 

That brave and fallen few 

• •••*••• 

On Fame's Eternal camping-ground 

Their silent tents are spread, 
And Glory guards with solemn round 

The bivouac of the dead. 


No rumor of the foe's advance 

No swells upon the wind; 
No troubled thought at midnight haunts 

Of loved ones left behind; 


No vision of the morrow's strife 

The warrior's dream alarms; 
No braying horn or screaming fife 

At dawn shall call to arms. 

• ••••••• 

The neighing troop, the flashing blade, 

The bugle's stirring blast, 
The charge, the dreadful cannonade, 

The din and shout are past. 

• ••••••• 

98 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

Your own proud land's heroic soil 

Shall be your fitter grave; 
She claims from War his richest spoil, 

The ashes of her brave. 

• ••**••• 

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead! 

Dear as the blood ye gave! 
No impious footstep here shall tread 

The herbage of your grave; 

These lines, aptly chosen from the heart of the poem, stress not so 
much the ultimate isolation of death and the exile from family and 
friends as the manly sublimation of grief, and the abiding satisfaction 
with the performance of the day: "the rapture of the fight ..." The solace, 
then, comes from the poet's own knowledge and stoic acceptance of the 
major hazards and the minor comforts of the soldier's life. 

The American tradition of visiting military cemeteries, especially on 
official holidays, would have periodically renewed those seven quatrains 
of the elegy in the public mind, and curiosity about the "anonymous" 
author from time to time would beget another biographical sketch. 
Today, the O'Hara files at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort 
contain a variety of letters over the years from persons seeking informa- 
tion about the poet and his family background. 

The immediate responses of the public to this dramatic use of the 
poem must have been electrifying. Also in the National Archives are 
copies of a number of letters, written during the period from the 1890s to 
about 1910, from prominent officials, including a U.S. Senator, request- 
ing the War Department to provide or sell comparable tablets to honor 
deceased veterans buried in plots in several northern and midwestern 
states. The standard answer was in every case, No: "that those tablets 
were provided for exclusive use in the National Cemeteries"; that "There 
are none now on hand"; and that "there is no law under which they 
could be supplied as requested either by gift or sale." 32 

One can today only speculate on aesthetic grounds about why this 
particular work was selected for such an apotheosis. It cannot now be 
determined where Meigs may have encountered the work, though it is a 
testament to its popularity that the poem was so readily handy, so well 
known in slightly over a decade from its first appearance, almost cer- 
tainly in 1850. Nineteenth century sentimental utterances about the 

Thomas C. Ware 99 

exalting nature of war and its trappings, especially rhyming verses 
which romanticized the tragic aspects of death in battle, became legion. 
The best of the U. S. Civil War poems - and, one could easily argue, 
among the best war poems prior to those of the Great War experience 
(1916-1918) on the Western Front - are those in Walt Whitman's Drum 
Taps. Many of these, however, are relatively short, unrhymed and, by the 
standards of the day, not declamatory enough to become public 
favorites. He says as much in "To a Certain Civilian": 

Did you ask dulcet rhymes from me? 

Did you seek the civilian's peaceful and languishing rhymes? 

Did you find what I sang erewhile so hard to follow? 

What to such as you anyhow such a poet as I? Therefore 

leave my works, 
And go lull yourself with what you can understand, and with 

For I lull nobody, and you will never understand me. 33 

More in the vein of O'Hara's work were such contemporary items as 
Abram Ryan's "Sentinel Songs": 

When falls the soldier brave, 

Dead at the feet of wrong, 
The poet sings and guards his grave 

With sentinels of song. 

And the songs, in stately rhyme, 
And with softly-sounding tread, 
Go forth, to watch for a time - a time - 
Where sleep the Deathless Dead. 34 

Or Thomas W. Parson's "Dirge: For One Who Fell in Battle": 

ROOM for a Soldier! lay him in the clover; 

He loved the fields, and they shall be his cover; 

Make his mound with hers who called him once her lover: 

Bear him to no dismal tomb under city churches; 
Take him to the fragrant fields, by the silver birches, 
Where the whipporwill shall mourn, where the oriole 
perches: 35 

And, finally, the extraordinarily popular "The Blue and The Gray", 
by Francis Miles Finch: 

100 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

By the flow of the inland river, 

Whence the fleets of iron have fled, 

Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver, 
Asleep are the ranks of the dead: - 

No more shall the war-cry sever, 

Or the winding rivers be red: 
They banish our anger forever 

When they laurel the graves of our dead! 
Under the sod and the dew, 

Waiting the Judgement day: - 
Love and tears for the Blue; 

Tears and love for the Gray 36 

All of these efforts, and dozens more, reflecting the sometimes 
maudlin public, quasi-religious interpretation of the theme of "dulce et 
decorum est," might have qualified for what could be termed graveyard 
communication and public solace. Most of them lacked, it now seems 
apparent, the stately march of O'Hara's verses, the classical restraint, 
and the universality of application which his poem offered. 

Often compared to Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country 
Churchyard," "The Bivouac" is notably less sentimental, less introspec- 
tive, and less philosophical than Gray's poem, which has at its core a 
provincial English speaker who refers to "me" and who reflects on the 
mysteries of fate and the democratic "levelling" of death. O'Hara's elegy 
also relies much less on pastoral conventions, such as the bucolic 
imagery which has characterized the elegiac tradition encompassing the 
dirges of Edmund Spenser, John Milton, and Percy Shelley - and even of 
Whitman. Instead, O'Hara's work evokes the trappings of military final- 
ity, the calming sense of relief when the day's battle is over, the reorder- 
ing of the discipline when every individual takes his place within the 
evening's campground - but the campground is the final resting place. 

It would seem, then, that some measure of fame had finally and 
irrevocably rested on Theodore O'Hara, a man for whom temporal suc- 
cess had been so elusive. Yet even the relatively modest niche he once 
held has eroded. In at least two of those national cemeteries, the metal 
tablets have been removed and have by official accounts disappeared. In 
the early 1930s, some visitors from Kentucky to Arlington noted that the 
plaques, with those stirring lines, once so prominently placed, seemed to 
have vanished. Where were they? The answer was simple: The National 
Fine Arts Commission, involved in refashioning the grounds, in 1933, 

Thomas C. Ware 101 

decided that aesthetically the plaques were "not in harmony with the 
character of the cemeteries and detracted from rather than enhanced 
their beauty and appearance" and recommended their removal 37 - as if 
the jurisdiction were that of the Commission and not the War 
Department, and specifically the Quartermaster General and his superi- 
or, the Secretary of War. 

The indignant outcry at this news, especially in Kentucky, resulted in 
a series of negotiations between the Commission, The American Legion, 
and the Congressman from the Frankfort district, the Honorable Lloyd 
Chapman. On February 12, 1934, an Associated Press release out of 
Washington, D. C, printed in the New York Times the next day, stated 
that Representative Chapman had announced that "a compromise was 
effected whereby the complete poem would be placed on the amphithe- 
ater walls. Efforts to have the tablets replaced ... will be dropped. 38 On 
January 3, 1935, Mr. Chapman introduced in the House of Representa- 
tives H. J. 20, a joint resolution which was referred to the Committee on 
Military Affairs and ordered to be printed, to wit: 

To provide for the erection of a tablet in the Arlington Memorial 

Resolved by the senate and House of Representatives of the United States 
of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War is autho- 
rized and directed to place upon the wall of the Memorial Amphitheater 
building in Arlington National Cemetery the following stanzas of the 
poem by Theodore O'Hara entitled "Bivouac of the Dead" : [This was fol- 
lowed by the entire revised version of the elegy] 39 

It therefore appeared that the presence of the poem in Arlington 
would soon take on a newer, more aesthetically pleasing form, at the 
focal point of the cemetery, adjacent to the Tomb of the Unknown 
Soldier. This time, also, it seemed certain that the poet's name would 
appear with his lines; but such was not to be. For reasons unknown, the 
project was never completed - if indeed it was ever ordered. A recent 
search for the poem in Arlington ended in vain, with no information 
whatever among the attendants about whether the project got off the 
planning table. And a letter to The Fine Arts Commission yielded this 
response from the secretary: 

... I am afraid we have little light to shed on the matter. When the plaques 
were removed by the National Park Service in 1934, the Commission of 
Fine Arts was asked to consider other suitable locations where they might 

102 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

be reinstalled. They suggested the Trophy Room at the Memorial Amphi- 
theater, but this was never done, and there is nothing in our files to indi- 
cate the ultimate fate of the plaques ... If they were indeed placed 
throughout Arlington Cemetery, the fact remains they are not there now 
... So the matter would appear to remain a mystery. 40 

Yes, a mystery indeed - how approximately eighteen or twenty metal 
plaques of such size would have vanished, even in a place as large as 
Arlington and with as disciplined a staff as one would find anywhere. 
And there were no answers forthcoming as to why this Federal agency 
took the arbitrary action of choosing not to follow its commitment, espe- 
cially after the public announcement that the poem would be given a 
permanent place of honor. The letter from the secretary of the Fine Arts 
Commission addresses the issue of the vanished plaques, but it ignores 
the question of the marble tablets that never materialized. 

A similar disappearance occurred at the large Chattanooga National 
Military Cemetery. In 1962, a prominent local educator noted the the 
"Bivouac" plaques - seven of them - had been removed from that loca- 
tion, and along with many other citizens he called for their restoration, 
not for official but for sentimental reasons. The official public explana- 
tion, reported in the Chattanooga Times, was that extensive work and 
expansion in the cemetery had resulted in taking the tablets down, 
because of the added work in keeping them in satisfactory condition. 41 
The plaques were repaired and later restored, and the furor died away. 
Some time after - no one in authority can now say when - they were 
again removed and are presumed irrevocably lost. Again, it is almost 
unbelievable that such heavy and, one would presume, cumbersome 
slabs of iron could have been misplaced. 

As for O'Hara himself, the story of his latter years becomes some- 
what cloudy - and filled with misfortune. 42 After his service in the 
Mexican War - during which he rose from private to major - he left the 
army under duress in October of 1848, briefly practiced law, and appears 
to have worked in Mexico. In 1850, he joined some other "filibustering" 
Kentuckians in General Narciso Lopez's ill-fated expedition to free Cuba 
from Spain and was seriously wounded. He later stood trial in New 
Orleans for this shady enterprise, but was exonerated. 

O'Hara then returned to journalism, helping to launch the Louisville 
Times and serving as editor in 1853. He once again joined the army, in 
1855, becoming commissioned as captain in a new regiment, the Fifth 

Thomas C. Ware 


Fig. 5 Gravemarker of Theodore O'Hara, inscribed with verses 

from "The Bivouac of the Dead." Kentucky State Cemetery, 

Frankfort, Kentucky. 

104 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

Cavalry. In 1861, O'Hara and his unit became part of the army of the 
Confederate States of America, as the Twelfth Alabama Regiment, with 
O'Hara appointed as temporary Lieutenant Colonel. 43 Though he was 
on the staff, as captain, of General A. S. Johnston at the battle of Shiloh, 
where Johnston was killed, and though his military record and reputa- 
tion seemed to merit attention, he did not rise proportionately in rank 
over his years of service. Several eloquent letters attest to his belief in the 
injustice with which he was treated. He remained captain at the end of 
the war. 44 

Afterwards, he raised cotton, but did not prosper, dying near 
Guerrytown, Alabama, June 6, 1867. His remains were later moved to 
Frankfort, where his grave lies (Fig. 5) in the section of the cemetery 
reserved to those Kentucky soldiers slain at Buena Vista, honored by his 
own elegy - and near the tomb of Daniel Boone, whom O'Hara 
addressed in another poem, "Dirge for the Old Pioneer," far less known 
than "Bivouac." 

Although contemporary accounts of O'Hara emphasize his striking 
physical countenance and graceful bearing, he never married. Among 
his family members, stories persisted about his love for a young lady 
whose ambitious mother blocked their marriage - because he never 
accumulated sufficient wealth. 

The poem itself remained quite popular for a time, as outlined by 
Granger's Index to Poetry and Recitations. The 1920 edition of this index 
listed twenty-five total anthologies and collections which included the 
poem, nineteen of these in its full length. In 1940, there were still twenty- 
five total listings; in 1953, and again in 1963, twenty-four. By 1973, how- 
ever, the number had fallen to sixteen, and in the 6th edition, which 
included anthologies from 1970 to 1981, there were no listings at all. 45 

As a declamatory utterance, stressing "Glory," "Honor," "Nation," 
and "Valor," the "The Bivouac of the Dead" clearly does not represent 
the kind of sentiment which would have been popular during the 
Vietnam era. As a poem, it is not likely these days to be read in literature 
classes: but as part of the legacy of American history, especially that 
chapter involving the honored dead of the Civil War and the manner in 
which they were commemorated, it can, and should, and perhaps will 
endure - along with the story of the man who wrote it. 

Thomas C. Ware 105 


With the exception of Fig. 2, all photos in this article are by the athor. 

1 . Look Homeward, Angel (New York, 1929), 1 . 

2. Paul Farley, "Uncle Sam's Official Poet," Columbia (April 1930), 12; William Atherton 
DuPuy "Kentucky Confederate Official Poet of the Martial Dead", Louisville Courier- 
Journal (May 25, 1913), (Features) 1. 

3. Recently, the entire poem has been utilized as a sort of introduction to a reference 
work on American military cemeteries. See Dean W. Holt, American Military 
Cemeteries: A Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to the Hallowed Grounds of the United 
States, Including Cemeteries Overseas (Jefferson, NC, 1992), xiii-xv. 

4. Various sources have named Danville as his place of birth; but in the winter of 
1819-20, his father, Kean, had moved to Frankfort and had opened a new school there, 
spending much of the rest of his life in that region of the state. See The Frankfort 
newspaper, The Argus of Western America (Dec. 17, 1819). 

5. Giovanni Costigan, Histon/ of Modern Ireland (New York, 1970), 113. 

6. Erma Jett Darrell, Filling the Chinks (Frankfort, KY, 1966), 73. 

7. Lewis Collins, Histon/ of Kentucky (Louisville, 1874), 1 :410. 

8. Ibid. 

9. Mary O'Hara Branham, handwritten note, ca. 1933, in possession of the author. 

10. Albert G. Brackett, J. S. A., "Colonel O'Hara's Career Made Famous by a Poem, 'The 
Bivouac of the Dead,' " The Vedette (December 1892), 3-4. In this sketch, Brackett 
stresses O'Hara's penchant for telling amusing anecdotes about his Irish relatives and 
their interest in him. See also George Washington Ranck, The 'Bivouac of the Dead' and 
Its Author (New York, 1898), 16. 

11. Ervin Craighead, "Theodore O'Hara, Poet," in From Mobile's Past: Sketches of Memoral 
People and Events (Mobile, AL, 1925), 181. 

12. Edgar Erskine Hume, Colonel Theodore O'Hara (Charlottesville, VA, 1936), 8. 

13. Brackett, 4. 

14. Both Brackett and Ranck make reference to O'Hara's love for this work. 

15. Ranck, for example, cites an admirer of Theodore who was present when he made his 
graduation address: "It was the most perfect thing of its kind I ever heard, for ele- 
gance of style, depth of thought, truthfulness of sentiment, and beauty of composi- 
tion." (27). 

106 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 

16. Academic Ledger, St. Joseph's College, now in the Getz Museum on the grounds of St. 
Joseph's parish church, Bardstown, KY. 

17. Bracket:, 3. 

18. Especially notable in this well-known group were the works of Edward Young ("The 
Complaint, of Night Thoughts"), Robert Blair ("The Grave"), and, of course, Thomas 
Gray ("Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard"). 

19. Hume, 9. 

20. Robert Burns Wilson, "Theodore O'Hara," Century 18 (May 1890), 106. 

21 . Obituary Addresses Delivered Upon the Occasion of the Re-Interment of the Remains of Gen. 
Chs. Scott, Maj. Wm. T. Barry, and Capt. Bland Ballard and Wife, in the Cemetery of 
Frankfort, November 8, 1854 (Frankfort, KY, 1855), 24-25. 

22. Farley, 13. 

23. George W. Ranck, O'Hara and His Elegies (Baltimore, 1875), 30. 

24. Hume, 9. 

25. Ibid. 

26. Item, "A Beautiful Poem," hand-dated "February 11, 1901," Theodore O'Hara file, 
Filson Club, Louisville, KY. 

27. Ibid. 

28. Item, "Mutilation of a Great Poem," Theodore O'Hara file, Filson Club, Louisville, 

29. Information Sheet on McClellan Gate, sent to the author from Kathy Shenkle, 
Historian, Arlington National Cemetery, July 17, 1992. 

30. War Department, Quartermaster General's Office, Letter of June 10, 1881, National 
Archives, Washington, D. C. 

31. Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, Letter of June 29, 1883, National Archives, Washington, 
D. C. 

32. War Department, Quartermaster General's Office, letter of September 18, 1902 to Mr. 
M.H. Bumphrey, Three Rivers, Michigan, National Archives, Washington, D. C. 

33. From Drum Taps, in Sculley Bradley and Harold W. Blodgett, eds., Walt Wlxitman, 
Leaves of Grass (New York, 1973), 323. 

Thomas C. Ware 107 

34. In Barton Egbert Stevenson, ed., The Home Book of Verse, American and English. 3rd Ed. 
(New York, 1953), 2322. 

35. Ibid., 2315. 

36. Ibid., 2308. This poem, first published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1867, later became 
known to millions of schoolchildren through its appearance in The McGuffey's Reader 
edition of 1879. See Diane Ravitch, ed., The American Reader: Words That Moved a 
Nation ( New York, 1991), 159. 

37. Report cited in a letter of January 9, 1934, from William N. Morell, Chariman, National 
Pilgrimage Committee (American Legion) to H.R Caemmer, Secretary and 
Administrative Officer, The Commission of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C. 

38. N. Y Times (February 13, 1934), 11 . 

39. H. J. Res. 20, 74th Congress, 1st Session, January 8, 1935. 

40. Letter of 13 August, 1993 to the author from Charles Atherton, Secretary, The 
Commission of Fine Arts, Washington, D. C. 

41. Alfred Myners, "O'Hara's Poem, 'Bivouac of the Dead' Restored in National 
Cemetery," Chattanooga Times (October 24, 1962), 5. 

42. Several personal accounts of this latter period of his life provide valid outlines of his 
adventures and misfortunes, among them Josiah Stoddard Johnson, "Sketch of 
Theodore O'Hara," The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 11 (Sept. 1913), 67-72. 

43. Theodore O'Hara file, National Archives. 

44. Ibid. 

45. Edith Granger, ed., An Index to Poetry and Recitations (New York, 1920). See also suc- 
ceeding editions. 

108 'The Bivouac of the Dead' 


"A Beautiful Poem" 

later named 

"The Bivouac of the Dead" 

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat 

The soldier's last tattoo; 
No more on life's parade shall meet 

That brave and fallen few. 
On Fame's eternal camping-ground 

Their silent tents are spread, 
And Glory guards with solemn round 

The bivouac of the dead. 

No rumor of the foe's advance 

No swells upon the wind; 
No troubled thought at midnight haunts 

Of loved ones left behind; 
No vision of the morrow's strife 

The warrior's dream alarms; 
No braying horn or screaming fife 

At dawn shall call to arms. 

Their shivered swords are red with rust, 

Their plumed heads are bowed; 
Their haughty banner trained in dust, 

Is now their martial shroud. 
And plenteous funeral tears have washed 

The red stains from each brow, 
And the proud forms by battle gashed 

Are free from anguish now. 

The neighing troop, the flashing blade, 

The bugle's stirring blast, 
The charge, the dreadful cannonade, 

The din and shout are past. 
Nor war's wild note, nor glory's peal, 

Shall thrill with fierce delight 
Those breasts that never more may feel 

The rapture of the fight. 

Thomas C. Ware 109 

Like the fierce Northern hurricane 

That sweeps his great plateau, 
Hushed with the triumphs yet to gain, 

Came down the serried foe. 
Who heard the thunder of the fray 

Break o'er the field beneath, 
Knew well the watchword of that day 

Was "victory or death!" 

Long had the doubtful conflict raged 

O'er all that stricken plain, 
For never fiercer fight had waged 

The vengeful blood of Spain. 
And still the storm of battle blew — 

Still swelled the gory tide — 
Not long, our stout old Chieftain knew, 

Such odds his strength could bide. 

Twas in that hour his stern command 

Called to a martyr's grave, 
The flower of his own loved land 

The nation's flag to save. 
By rivers of their father's gore, 

His first-born laurels grew, 
And well he dreamed the soul would pour 

Their loves for glory too. 

Full many a Norther's breath has swept 

O'er Angostura's plain, 
And long the pitying sky was wept 

Above its mouldered slain. 
The raven's scream, or eagle's flight, 

Or shepherd's pensive lay, 
Alone awakes each sullen height 

That frowned o'er that dread fray. 

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground! 

Ye must not slumber there, 
Where stranger steps and tongues resound 

Along the heedless air. 
Your own proud land's heroic soil 

Shall be your fitter grave; 
She claims from War his richest spoil, 

The ashes of her brave. 

110 Th e Bivouac of the Dead' 

So 'neath their parent turf they rest, 

Far from the gory field; 
Borne to a Spartan mother's breast 

On many a bloody shield. 
The sunshine of their native sky 

Smiles sadly on them here, 
And kindred eyes and hearts watch by 

The heroes' sepulcher. 

Rest on, embalmed and sainted dead! 

Dear as the blood ye gave! 
No impious footstep here shall tread 

The herbage of your grave; 
Nor shall your glory be forgot 

While Fame her record keeps, 
Or Honor points the hallowed spot 

Where Valor proudly sleeps. 

Yon marble minstrel's voiceless stone 

In deathless song shall tell, 
When many vanished year hath flown 

The story how ye fell. 
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter's blight, 

Nor Time's remorseless doom, 
Can dim one ray of holy light 

That gilds your glorious tomb. 

Thomas C. Ware 


ftytWBBOW 81 * 

Fig. 6 A calm and ordered serenity at the Bivouac of the Dead. 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

W&& K' 

N) DOfry a)\' j 

(Li h <,i)m i p-j] i 

l|vv]u (fa 

Fig. 1 Slave (probably named Nero) of Governor Moses Gill, Meeting 
House Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Massachusetts. 



Tom and Brenda Malloy 

Question someone about the extent of African slavery in Massachu- 
setts and the response would probably be one of amazement that it ever 
existed. In present day Massachusetts one finds few physical reminders 
of the institution. There are no preserved plantations with restored slave 
quarters and there are no distinguishable former slave markets. As well, 
there are no interpretive centers with programs on slavery such as may 
be found at Williamsburg, Virginia. However, evidence of slavery in 
Massachusetts can be found and interpreted by locating gravestones of 
slaves in the state's old burying grounds. 

The particular event that precipitated the bringing of African slavery 
to Massachusetts was the 1638 sailing of the ship Desire. The ship left 
Salem on a seven month voyage, and when it returned to the colony 
from the West Indies the cargo included cotton, tobacco, salt and 
Africans. Not only did this event mark the introduction of Black slavery 
to Massachusetts, it was also the inception of the colony's economic 
involvement in the slave trade, a trade in which Massachusetts would 
become the major carrier for the rest of the English colonies. 

Besides becoming a leader in the slave trade, Massachusetts was the 
first of the thirteen English colonies to legalize slavery: formal legislation 
of the institution was brought about by the Body of Liberties in 1641. 
Granted, slavery in Massachusetts would not become as extensive as in 
the Southern colonies. In 1770, for instance, Virginia counted 190,105 
Blacks as part of its population, which represented 41.1 percent of the 
total, while Massachusetts counted 5,229 Blacks, a figure accounting for 
only two percent of its total population. 1 

Also, in comparison with the Southern colonies, it should be noted 
that slavery in Massachusetts was a more humane institution. In the 
South the status of a slave was strictly that of property, whereas in Mass- 
achusetts a slave was considered both property and a person, and as a 
person was accorded privileges not available to his or her Southern 
counterpart. For instance, Massachusetts' slaves could testify in court, 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

receive trial by jury, make contracts with their owners and acquire prop- 
erty. Further, records throughout the Colonial period show that even 
though Blacks in Massachusetts were legally enslaved, they were 
referred to as "servants". 2 

Some examples of this use of the word servant may be found at the 
Meeting House Hill Cemetery in the town of Princeton, located in north 
central Worcester County. In the center of the cemetery there are three 
slate stones standing abreast of each other. At the top of two of the stones 
there is a carved head. 3 One of the stones is chipped to the extent that the 
name of the interred is missing: however, the data on the other two 
stones is fully legible. The respective inscriptions (Figs. 1, 2, 3) read: 

1. Here lye_ 

body of 

Negro man Servant of the Honbl 

Moses Gill Esqr who died March 1st 1776 aged 39 years (According to 
town records this slave's name was Nero. 4 ) 

2. In Memory of Flova a Negro woman Servant to the Honbl. Moses Gill 
Esqr who died June 13th 1778 aged 41 years 

Fig. 2 Flova, slave of Governor Moses Gill, 
Meeting House Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Massachusetts. 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 


3. In memory of Thomas a negro man Servant to the Honbl. Moses Gill 
Esqr who died Sept 17th 1782 aged 89 years 

The owner of these slaves, Moses Gill, provides an illustrative example 
of the acceptance of slavery by the establishment in Massachusetts. Gill 
was a wealthy Boston merchant who married Sarah Prince, only child of 
the Rev. Thomas Prince, who served as pastor of Boston's Old South 
Church. Based on an advertisement which was placed in a 1726 Boston 
News Letter, it appears that the Prince family were also slave owners: 

A likely Negro woman to be sold. The Rev. Mr. Prince has a Negro 
woman about 20 years of age, well-educated, accomplished for all man- 
ner of household business, to be disposed of. 5 

In 1767, through the death of Thomas Prince, Moses Gill inherited a 
three thousand acre estate in the town named after his father-in-law. Gill 
at this point moved to Princeton, where he became a Worcester County 
judge. Records show that during his residency there he owned at least 
two other slaves in addition to the three whose stones are present in the 

§W$ . -' 

M ^M;;'\vho'clic:( 

Fig. 3 Thomas, slave of Governor Moses Gill, 
Meeting House Hill Cemetery, Princeton, Massachusetts. 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

cemetery. One was Violet, mother of the Nero who is buried in the ceme- 
tery. Also, through a second marriage, Gill inherited a slave by the name 
of Jack, and at the same time, Flova, who is also one of the slaves buried 
at the cemetery. 6 

Besides attending to his estate and sitting on the county bench, Moses 
Gill became involved in state politics. In 1795 he became the lieutenant 
governor under Governor Increase Sumner. Four years later Sumner 
died in office and Gill succeeded him. He had, however, served as gover- 
nor of Massachusetts for only a few months when he himself died, leav- 
ing the state to be run by the Governor's Council. He is not buried in the 
Meeting House Hill Cemetery with his slaves, but rather is believed to be 
interred in Boston's Old Granary Burying Ground. 7 

In contrast to the Princeton slaves, who were buried in the center of 
the cemetery, it was not unusual in Massachusetts for slaves as well as 
free Blacks to be buried in a remote or even segregrated part of a grave- 
yard. One example of this practice may be seen in another Worcester 


Vhtjuithfut Vvirut!^ 
£ lie IMJy W l*o in fir Id, 
k^' (Unnv.fvoni Afviin 

j&ubout niuidini istsr : 

r iiriarw) 

Fig. 4 Othello's stone is located in a remote site of Harvard's 

oldest cemetery and it nearly abuts the foundation of the town's 

Evangelical Congregational Church 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 117 

county town. In Harvard, about a half hour's drive east of Princeton, the 
oldest cemetery (Old Burial Ground) is located to the south of the town's 
common. Here, in the extreme northwestern corner of the burying 
ground, one finds a single slate stone marking the grave of Othello (Fig. 
4). Below the engraved name of "OTHELLO," the inscription reads: 
"The faithful friend of Henry Bromfield, Came from Africa about 1760. 
died 1818, Aged about 72". It is obvious by the deliberate choice of the 
word "friend" that this inscription denotes a close relationship between 
master and slave. Also, despite the relegation of Othello's marker to a 
remote sector of the graveyard, it illustrates through its inscription the 
fact that in colonial Massachusetts slaves were frequently considered 
members of the household. 

Col. Henry Bromfield, Othello's owner who later manumitted him, 
came to the town of Harvard in 1777 to live on an 126-acre estate. In later 
years, according to a Harvard town history, he was followed like a shad- 
ow by his body servant, "a faithful Negro eccentric in habits and speech 
named 'Othello'." The local villagers, who were probably not well 
versed in Shakespeare, pronounced the Black servant's name "Thurlo". 
Othello died two years before Col. Bromfield. Relates the town history: 
"so dependent had the squire become upon his services, that after the 
old Negro had gone to his final rest, it is said he sometimes would in 
moments of forgetfulness, go to the door and shout, 'Othello, Othello' 
and wonder at the nonappearance of his servitor". When Bromfield 
died, in 1820, he was not buried in the Harvard graveyard with his 
African friend and servant. Rather, his body was placed in his family's 
tomb at King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston. 8 

At a town in northeastern Massachusetts one may see another exam- 
ple of a slave's internment being relegated to a remote part of a cemetery. 
In a distant corner of North Andover's oldest graveyard (First Burying 
Ground) stands the recently restored gravestone of Primus (Fig. 5). The 
slate stone, which features a carved cherub, reads: 

In Memory of 
PRIMUS who was a faithful 

servant of Mr. 


Who died July 25th, 1792: 

Aged 72 years, 5 months, & 16 days 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

The fact that the owner, Benjamin Stevens, Jr., provided more than a 
simple marker for Primus would appear to suggest another example of a 
slave who was appreciated as a person and not just as chattel, though, as 
with the stone for Othello, this did not ensure burial in the main part of 
the cemetery. 

The Stevens family was amongst the first settlers of North Andover 
and was very active in town as well as affairs of the colony. It also 
appears that, as an established family, they were prominent slave own- 
ers. As a representative instance, from a 1730 bill of sale, we find these 
words of conveyance: 

. . . confirm unto him the said Benjamin Stevens, his Heirs, and Assignees 
forever a certain Negro Girl Candance, to Have and Hold the said Negro 
girl to him the said Benjamin Stevens His Heirs and Assignees forever. 9 

Just up the road from North Andover 's oldest cemetery is a burying 
ground known as the Second Cemetery. To the extreme rear of this ceme- 
tery, in a thicket and covered by brush, there stand three slate stones, the 


Fig. 5 The gravestone for Primus was recently restored through the 
efforts of the North Andover Historical Commission. 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 


markers of Cato Freeman, his wife Lydia, and one of their sons (see Fig. 
6). Cato's stone reads: "In memory of, Cato Freeman, who died Aug 9, 
1853 AEt 85". Cato was the son of Salem and Rama Phillips, who were 
the African-born slaves of the Reverend Samuel Phillips. Because slavery 
was a hereditary status in Massachusetts, Cato was automatically born 
as the slave of the Reverend Phillips. However, as a slave it appears that 
Cato received many special benefits from the Phillips family. For 
instance, he not only was well versed in reading and writing but also 
became a skilled musician who played a violin in the church choir. 10 

In 1780, with the ratification of the state constitution, many Massa- 
chusetts towns began to eliminate slavery. Such was the case in North 
Andover, which at the time was still part of the town of Andover. It was 
soon after his manumission, at twelve years of age, that Cato took the 
surname of "Freeman". He eventually went to work for his former mas- 
ter's son, Benjamin Phillips, Jr., who was the founder of the prestigious 
Andover Academy. When Cato reached his majority, in 1789, he decided 

»; <;>» 

9 ^:hm%0 

Fig. 6 The burial plots of Cato and Lydia Freeman were relegated to 

such a remote location that their stones are not presently visible 

from any portion of North Andover's Second Cemetery. 

120 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

to leave the service of the Phillips family. At that time he wrote the fami- 
ly a letter thanking them for their kindness. It reads in part: 

Being about to remove from the family where I have for some time 
resided, would, with the greatest respect I am capable of, to the heads of 
each family respectively take my leave. I desire therefore, to return my 
hearty and unfeined thanks for your care over me, your kindness to me. 
Also for your timely checks, your faithful reproofs, necessary corrections, 
your wise council, reasonable advice, for your early endeavors, being yet 
yound (young) and my tender mind, to frame it in such a manner as to lay 
a foundation for my present and future happiness. 11 

Four towns south of North Andover is the town of Woburn, where 
lived a slave whose success story became the subject of a 1950 biography 
by Elizabeth Yates entitled Amos Fortune, Free Man. Amos Fortune was 
probably born along the Guinea coast around the year 1710. About 1730 
he was captured and brought to Boston, which at that time was the lead- 
ing slave trading port of the American colonies. Upon his arrival in 
Boston, Amos was sold to Caleb Copeland, a weaver from Woburn, who 
later sold him to a tanner in the same town by the name of Ichabod 
Richardson. Fortune there arranged with Richardson to purchase his 
freedom on a four year installment plan, which was completed by 1769. 
Within a few years of his manumission, Fortune purchased a female 
slave to be his wife. Unfortunately, she died within a few months. Three 
years later, with the same purpose in mind, he purchased Lydia Somer- 
set for the sum of fifty pounds. She also died after a few months. The fol- 
lowing year, seemingly undeterred by these sad precedents, Fortune 
purchased Violate for the same amount of money: she would remain his 
wife for the next twenty-two years of his life. 12 

In 1781, at the age of seventy and after fifty years of residency in 
Woburn, Amos Fortune moved to Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Here he was 
befriended by the Reverend Laban Ainsworth, the town's first minister, 
who loaned Fortune a piece of land to set up a tannery. Eight years later, 
now nearly eighty, Fortune purchased twenty-five acres of land, where 
he built a home and set up another tannery. During his tenure in Jaffrey, 
Amos was permitted to join the church, was one of the founders of the 
town's library, and became known as one of the best dressers in the com- 
munity. When he died, in 1801, he left money for both the church and the 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 


public school. 13 

Amos and his wife Violate, who died the following year, are buried 
next to each other in the cemetery of the church where they worshipped. 
In marked contrast to practices noted previously, these former slaves rest 
in a prominent area of the cemetery. Their graves are marked by match- 
ing urn and willow slate stones (Fig. 7). Amos' marker reads: 


To the memory of 


who was born free in 

Africa a slave in America 

he purchased liberty 

professed Christianity 

lived reputably & 

died hopefully 

Nov 17, 1801 


> it. 

u 'in 



hi nini \ 

I \ IMI ' I I 

f, flu I i(f r>l I 

fruwiii U\ Mini 

.., I.v- fin 
hrl. I in I, Mm nil .aid 
I ,i i Ou-flird Im-wdow 
<l.l I.~j ISO'4 1 

?w.'-VJ :••-';' tt' '-• *» ~ :h "' 

Fig. 7 Amos and Violate Fortune's gravestones are in a prominent area 

of Jaffrey's First Meeting House cemetery. At the base of Amos' stone 

is inscribed "exec. William Farnsworth, Groton." 

122 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

And Violate's: 


to the memory of 


by sale the slave of 

Amos Fortune, by Marri 

age his wife; by her 

fidelity his friend and 

solace, she died his widow 

Sept 13, 1802 


These very sensitive inscriptions were written by Reverend Ainsworth, 
the man who first befriended Amos and Violate upon their arrival in Jaf- 
frey. Ainsworth himself died fifty-seven years after Amos Fortune and is 
buried in the same graveyard. 

During the same period that Amos Fortune was still being held as a 
slave in Woburn, another slave in Concord, Massachusetts was gaining 
his freedom. Jack was the slave of a Concord shoemaker by the name of 
Benjamin Barron. Soon after his master's death in 1754, Jack was able to 
purchase his freedom from Barron's wife for 120 pounds. Upon his man- 
umission, he took the first name of John and began establishing an eight 
acre farm. Here he not only farmed but also conducted a cobbling busi- 
ness, a trade that he had learned from his former master. 14 

After a year's illness, John Jack died in 1773 and was buried on the 
back side of Concord's Old Hill Burying Ground. The rectangular slate 
stone that presently marks his grave is a replica of the original marker 
(see Fig. 8). Its well-known epitaph reads: 

God wills us free; man wills us slaves. 

I will as God wills; God's will be done 

-Here lies the body of- 


A native of Africa who died 

March 1773, aged about 60 years. 

Tho' born in a land of slavery 

He was born free. 

Tho' he lived in a land of liberty 

He lived a slave. 

Till by his honest, tho' stolen labors, 

He acquired the source of slavery, 

Which gave him his freedom; 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 123 

Tho' not long before 

Death, the grand tyrant, 

Gave him his final emancipation, 

And set him on a footing with kings. 

Tho' a slave to vice, 

He practiced those virtues 

Without which kings are but slaves. 

The epitaph was actually written by Daniel Bliss, a lawyer whom 
John Jack had hired to handle his estate. In the last three lines, starting 
with "Tho' a slave to vice", Bliss criticizes his client's immoderate use of 
alcohol (John Jack was known to be a heavy drinker: his estate, for 
instance, shows that he left seven barrels of cider). More importantly, the 
epitaph reflects the fact that Bliss was a Tory who, on the eve of the 
American Revolution, favored the British cause. In the lines "Tho' he 
lived in a land of liberty, He lived a slave," Bliss expresses his cynicism 
towards American colonists who wanted their freedom from England 
and yet held others in bondage. 

On March 20, 1775, Daniel Bliss left his home, which was located in 
the center of Concord's village, for England. This was just four weeks 
before the British assault on the towns of Lexington and Concord, an 
event that would precipitate "the shot heard round the world." Bliss left 
with two British officers who had been spying on patriot activities in 
Concord. Before their departure, one of the officers copied the epitaph 
on John Jack's stone. He later mailed it to England, where it was pub- 
lished in a London newspaper, presumably in order to demonstrate 
what was considered hypocrisy in the American cause. 15 

Neighboring Concord to the south is the town of Lincoln, where, in 
the community's old burying ground, a small monument marks the 
communal grave of five British soldiers who were killed during the with- 
drawal from Concord on April 19, 1775. Next to the monument is a rela- 
tively plain slate stone (Fig. 9) whose epitaph reads: 

In memory of 
a man of Colour 

who died 

November 1, 1820 

AEt. 64 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

-» - /">. "»or 



Fig. 8 The stone that presently marks John Jack's grave was erected in 
1830 as a replica of the original marker. 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 125 

Sippio Brister, who orginally called himself Brister Freeman, was the 
slave of Squire Cummings of Concord. He acquired his freedom some- 
time prior to 1772 and later established a home with his wife and three 
children near Walden Pond. 16 

Henry David Thoreau mentions Sippio Brister in classic of American 
literature, Walden . In the chapter entitled "Former Inhabitants; and Win- 
ter Visitors," Thoreau notes: 

Down the road, on the right hand, on Bristers Hill, lived Brister Freeman, 
"a handy Negro," slave of Squire Cummings Once, - there where grow 
still the apple-trees which Brister planted and tended; large old trees now, 
but their fruit still wild and ciderish to my taste. 

Of Brister 's wife, Thoreau says: 

With him dwelt Fenda, His hospitable wife, who told fortunes, yet pleas- 
antly, - large, round, and black, blacker than any of the children of night , 
such a dusky orb as never rose on Concord before or since. 

After visiting Brister 's gravesite, the author comments: 

Not long since I read his epitaph in the old Lincoln burying-ground, a lit- 
tle on one side, near the unmarked graves of some British grenadiers who 
fell in the retreat from Concord. 17 

Brister was nineteen years old when the British soldiers he is buried 
next to were killed. However, even though he was of military age 
throughout the American Revolution, there is no record that the former 
slave participated in the colonial cause, as did thousands of African- 
Americans. Actually, African-American participation in the resistance 
against the British authority began with the first incident of colonial 
overt action. 

In March of 1770, a crowd of colonists demonstrated outside of the 
Custom House in Boston. One of the demonstrators was Crispus 
Attucks, a fugitive slave of Deacon William Brown of Framingham. 
Attucks, who stood 6'2" tall, a large man for his time, had run away from 
his master twenty years earlier and, because he had a reputation of being 
a tough character, it appears little attempt was made for his recapture. 18 
As the crowd at the Custom House became larger and more agitated, 
British soldiers guarding the building fired into the crowd and five of the 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

t F t" 




* *ftvjl 

• •• v\g& far* ys ? '. 

• -. ^. 

•? '.< ." • 

Fig. 9 In Walden , Henry David Thoreau criticizes Sippio Blister's 

epitaph, which refers to him as "a man of colour." Thoreau states: 

"... as if he were discolored." 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 127 

demonstrators were killed in what Samuel Adams and other radical 
leaders promptly termed the Boston Massacre. Crispus Attucks was one 
of those killed and thus has achieved recognition as the first African- 
American to die in the American Revolution. 

Attucks and the other victims of the Boston Massacre were buried in 
the city's Old Granary Burying Ground. At the front of the graveyard 
stands a rectangular shaped marble stone, erected in 1906 by the Boston 
chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which lists the name of 
Crispus Attucks along with those of the other four victims (Fig. 10). Also 
listed is the name of a twelve year old boy who was killed two weeks 
prior to the Massacre by a local Tory. 

Five years after the Boston Massacre, when British troops were 
advancing on Concord to capture colonial military stores, their advance 
was interrupted by a contingent of colonial militia in the town of Lex- 
ington. Amongst the seventy Minutemen who confronted the British 
troops that day were eight Black men, one of whom was Prince 
Estabrook. The slave of a Lexington farmer named Benjamin Estabrook, 
Prince had been a member of the town's militia for two years. When the 
Minutemen refused to disperse, the British troops fired a volley into 
their formation, leaving eight colonists dead and ten wounded. Prince 
Estabrook was one of those wounded. 19 

After this confrontation, which became known as the Battle of Lex- 
ington and Concord, colonial resistance against the British gradually 
turned towards a war for independence. With some resistance, most of 
the colonies and also the Continental Congress began enlisting slaves as 
well as free Blacks for military service. In Massachusetts, two Black com- 
panies were formed, one under a White commander and the other, called 
the Bucks of America, under command of an African- American. It is also 
estimated that up to 5,000 African-Americans, both slave and free, 
served in the Continental Army. Slaves joined with the understanding 
that they would receive their freedom upon termination of their military 
service, although this was not a guarantee. 

One slave who did receive his freedom for service in the Continental 
Army was Prince Estabrook. After Lexington and Concord he joined the 
Continental Army and served as a private for six years, returning to the 


Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

Fig. 10 Because Boston's Old Granary Burying Ground has undergone 

constant reconstruction, this stone probably does not mark the actual 

interment site for the victims of the Boston Massacre. 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 


Fig. 11 Prince Estabrook's marker in the First Parish Church Cemetery, 

Ashby, Massachusetts, is standard government issue for those who 

served in the Revolutionary War. 

130 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

Lexington home of his former master upon completion of his military 
service. Some years later, about 1800, he went to work for Nathan 
Estabrook, the son of his former owner, who lived in the north central 
Massachusetts town of Ashby. Prince remained here until his death in 
1830, and was buried in a secluded corner of the cemetery behind 
Ashby's First Parish Church. The marble headstone that marks his grave 
is standard United States government regulation for Revolutionary War 
soldiers (Fig. 11). It was erected by the Sons of the American Revolution 
in 1930, exactly one hundred years after Prince's death. The existence of 
an earlier stone is not known. 20 

The gravestone of another Black Revolutionary War soldier may be 
found in the north shore town of Marblehead. In a small gorge in the 
town's Old Burial Hill there stands a stone with an image of an eagle in 
flight incised at the top (Fig. 12). The eagle is carrying a banner that con- 
tains the words "VICTORY" and "PEACE," while the marker's inscrip- 
tion reads: 


1750 1834 




Joseph Brown was born in Gay Head on Martha's Vineyard in 1750 to an 
Indian father and a Black mother. He later came to Marblehead as a slave 
used in the capacity of a household servant. When the Revolutionary 
War broke out, he served in a seacoast defense company that guarded a 
shoreline fortification. Several years after the War was over, Brown and 
his wife, Lucretia, opened a tavern in Marblehead. Lucretia, who was 
more familiarly known as Aunt Crese, was the daughter of freed slaves. 
She continued running the tavern after Joseph's death, and it remained 
in the family until 1867. The old structure, now a private home, still 
stands next to Black Joe's Pond. 21 

The story of yet another Black Revolutionary War soldier reveals the 
essential vulgarity of slavery in Massachusetts. Eden London was a slave 
who was bought and sold nine times during the first eighteen years of 
his life. His last three owners were residents of Winchendon, a town in 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 



^r-^N g^%^ 

1750 i I 


I RJsrrriin'cm/rN 

wJ x ~ * *?" 

Fig. 12 It would seem that the use of "Black Joe" on Joseph Brown's 

headstone in Marblehead is not meant to be derogatory, but is merely 

the statement of a nickname. 

132 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

central Massachusetts on the New Hampshire border. During the Revo- 
lution, London's master, Daniel Goodrich, a Winchendon selectman, 
offered his slave's services in lieu of his own military obligation. Thus, in 
March of 1781, at the age of 23, Eden London joined the Continental 
Army for a three-year enlistment. His owner received the enlistment 
bounty that was given to new recruits, plus part of London's wages from 
the army. At the end of the war, London was rewarded with his freedom. 
Within a quarter of a century after the Revolutionary War, the former 
slave was a man who was getting on in years and had fallen into poverty. 
As a result, the Worcester County Court ordered the town of Winchendon 
to maintain his support. However, town finances for London's behalf 
were not long needed, as he died two years after the court's order. 22 

In 1810 Eden London was buried in an unmarked grave in a back cor- 
ner of Winchendon's Old Centre Burying Ground. Here his gravesite 
remained forgotten for the next century and a half until, in 1972, the 
Winchendon Historical Society discovered London's records while 
researching the enlistments of Revolutionary veterans from that town. It 
was also discovered that London's grave was not only unmarked but 
that the site was not in any manner distinguished as were the graves of 
other Revolutionary soldiers. As a result, on Veteran's Day in 1973 a cer- 
emony was held in which London's grave was identified with a bronze 
Revolutionary War veteran's marker. A few months later a gravemarker 
was placed at the site (Fig. 13) bearing the following inscription: 





Aug, 1776 


DIED MAR. 1810 

At the front of this same Old Centre Burying Ground in Winchendon 
stands a plain rectangular marker with an inscription that claims David 
Sims, who died in 1911, was "Winchendon's first colored citizen" (Fig. 
14). This is sadly ironic when it is considered that Eden London lived in 
the town for at least thirty-five years and was buried in the cemetery 
more than a hundred years before David Sims' death. The full inscrip- 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 


Fig. 13 The period of service inscribed on Eden London's stone is 

incorrect for his military service in lieu of Daniel Goodrich. The 

confusion results from the fact that at an earlier time, in 1776, London ran 

away and served in the army for eight months. 

134 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

tion on the Sims stone reads: 









SEPT. 1, 1911 


70 YRS. 

David Sims was brought to Winchendon from Virginia in the year 
following the Civil War. George Coffin, a local mill owner, arranged for 
the move and employed Sims as a coachman. According to a local histo- 
ry, the former slave was known as a religious man who regularly attend- 
ed church, frequently wearing a tall silk hat. In his later years, Sims ran a 
chicken and egg business: when he died in 1911, he was a resident of the 
town's poor farm. 23 

While many of Massachusetts' slaves were gaining their freedom 
individually through military service, other African-Americans were 
working for the total eradication of slavery in the state. One such man 
was Prince Hall, a free Black who was born in Barbados and came to 
Boston in 1765 at the age of seventeen. Hall eventually became a 
Methodist minister and a leader of Boston's African-American commu- 
nity. During the Revolutionary War he urged the use of slaves as well as 
free Blacks in the colonial military and also personally became a partici- 
pant in the rebellion. Hall was one of at least a dozen Black colonists pre- 
sent at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and he later served for nine months with 
the Continental Army. 

Prince Hall's grave may today be seen at the Copp's Hill Burying 
Ground in Boston's North End, marked by a plain stone (Fig. 15) 24 with 
an inscription that notes his involvement with the Masonic Order: 

Here lies ye body of 

first Grand Master of the 
colored Grand Lodge of 

Masons in Mass 

Died Dec. 7, 1807 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 








SEPT. 1, 19(1 

10 YRS. 

Jh& rSOtSfeteTi 

Fig. 14 Even though David Sims died in 1911, his marker wasn't erected 
until 1954. It was paid for by the descendants of his employer, and the 
somewhat misleading inscription was written by the director of a local 

funeral home. 

136 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

When, in 1776, Hall established and became the Grand Master of African 
Lodge No. 1, it represented the first organized body of African- Ameri- 
can Masons in the United States. 25 

As the African- American leader in Boston, Prince Hall was constant- 
ly working for the benefit of his race. This was certainly the case in 1 777 
when he led a petition drive calling for the elimination of slavery and 
directed to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which at the 
time was drafting the state's new constitution. When the constitution 
was ratified in 1780, it did not specifically abolish slavery: however, the 
preamble contained a phrase which stated that "all men are born free 
and equal". For many people, the phrase caused confusion as to how it 
related to slavery. Nevertheless, based on the "born free" terminology, 
some slaves asked for and received their freedom, some simply took 
their freedom, and some towns specifically prohibited slavery. But the 
final death-blow for the institution would not come until 1783 with the 
decision of the Quok Walker case. 

Quok Walker was a slave of Nathaniel Jennison, a farmer in the cen- 
tral Massachusetts town of Barre. In 1781 Walker ran away from Jennison 
and took refuge with John Caldwell, another Barre farmer. Jennison sub- 
sequently sued Caldwell for enticing Walker to run away, while, in turn, 
Walker sued Jennison for assault and battery. (It seems that Jennison, 
upon discovering Walker's whereabouts, went to Caldwell's and 
assailed his slave.) All of this resulted in Jennison's losing both his case 
against Caldwell and the suit brought against him by Walker. In its deci- 
sion, the Supreme Judicial Court declared that slavery was inconsistent 
with the state's constitution and concurred that the "born free" clause 
was to be regarded as an authoritarian expression of law, not just a 
meaningless expression of words. 26 

Nathaniel Jennison - realizing that slavery was now doomed in 
Massachusetts - took some of his slaves, along with their children, and 
sold them in Connecticut where slavery wouldn't be abolished until 
1792. One of those sold was Prince Walker, the ten year old brother of 
Quok. After some time Prince ran away and returned to Barre, where he 
established a large family. The former slave died in 1858 at the age of 84 
and lies buried with five members of his family on land that was once 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 



v*' x 

_ * 



ij ' 

m\ V* 

¥ ,\ 

. I 


• - 


"W : '' • "■II 

Fig. 15 In 1895 the Prince Hall Grand Lodge placed a more impressive 

monument adjacent to this simple marker for Prince Hall's grave in 

Boston's Copp's Hill Burying Ground. 

138 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 

his homestead. 27 Today it is an isolated plot, deep in the woods of Barre 
(see Fig. 16). However, the burial location of Prince's brother, Quok, is 
not known, and thus, unhappily, there is no gravestone to mark the final 
resting place of the man whose court case provided that Massachusetts, 
the first colony to legalize slavery, would also become the first state to 
abolish the institution. 

The fact that the location of Quok's gravesite is not known should not 
be considered unusual. In some Massachusetts communities the bodies 
of slaves and former slaves were relegated to the unmarked pauper's 
section of a town's cemetery. Also, like Prince Walker, African-Ameri- 
cans often formed their own family plots, but many of these are no 
longer evident. After emancipation, some African-Americans formed 
their own neighborhoods: here separate graveyards were often estab- 
lished, but many of these also have since disappeared. This was the case 
in Quok's home town of Barre, where in the western part of the town an 
African- American section evolved which was known as Guinea Corner. 
It is believed that at one time an extensive burying ground was located 
here: however, today one finds no trace of the gravesites. 28 

It would appear that the extant slaves' stones found in Massachu- 
setts, not all of which have been examined in this essay 29 , were erected 
as the consequence of one of three factors: (a) the slave served wealthy 
owners such as the Gill or Stevens families; (b) after manumission the 
individual achieved some level of personal affluence, as with Joseph 
Brown and Amos Fortune; or (c) the stones were erected at some later 
point by concerned citizens, as in the case of Crispus Attucks and 
Prince Estabrook. Nevertheless, these gravemarkers represent only a 
fraction of the more than 5,000 African-Americans who lived in Massa- 
chusetts on the eve of the Revolution, and this figure doesn't even con- 
sider those who lived and died prior to that time. Consequently, the 
comparatively few slaves' markers that remain are not only rare his- 
toric documents but also represent the few extant physical reminders of 
slavery in Massachusetts. 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 



ftNT) ft TrfREE-EO0~r TftLL 


Fig. 16 Since this drawing was done in 1976, the Prince Walker stone was 
hit by an all- terrain vehicle and now lies on its back, flush to the ground. 

140 Massachusetts Slave Gravestones 


All of the photographs in this article are by the authors. Figure fourteen was drawn by 
James Murphy for a 1976 issue of the Gardner News, Gardner, Massachusetts. 

1. Stuart Bruchey, ed. The Colonial Merchant: Sources and Readings (New York, 1966), 12. 

2. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 5th series, Vol. Ill, 399. Dr. E. A. 
Holyoke, a Salem physician writing in 1795, claimed that slavery in the colony had 
been as tolerable as such an institution could provide. 

3. According to Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber of the Association for Gravestone Studies, 
these stones were carved by a member of the Soule family. The Soules were an extend- 
ed family of carvers who worked throughout the Northeast. Robert Drinkwater and 
Kevin Sweeney, both AGS members, believe that Ebenezer, Sr. carved Flova's stone 
and his youngest son, Ivory, carved Thomas' stone. 

4. Francis Blake, History of the Town of Princeton, Vol. II, 114. 

5. Justin Windsor, The Memorial History of Boston, Vol. II (Boston, 1887), 485. 

6. Blake, Vol. I, 272. 

7. Ibid., 27 A 

8. Henry S. Nourse, History of the Town of Harvard (Clinton, Ma., 1894), 133-35. 

9. Sarah Loring Bailey, Historical Sketches of Andover (Boston, 1880), 39. 

10. Charlotte Helen Abbot, Andover Townsman (April 12, 1901). 

11 . Files of the North Andover Historical Society, North Andover, Ma. 

12. Charlene Forsten, The Keene Sentinel Magazine (August 1, 1987). 

13. Ibid. 

14. Barbara K. Elliott and Janet W. Jones, Concord: Its Black History (Concord, Ma., 1976), 

15. Ibid., 16. 

16. Ibid., 42. Also, according to Jack MacLaren, a member of Lincoln's Cemetery Commis- 
sion, it is his guess that the British soldiers are buried in what was once the pauper 
section of the cemetery. Forty-five years later, Sippio Brister was buried in this same 

Tom and Brenda Malloy 141 

17. Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience, ed. Sherman Paul (Boston, 1957), 

18. Harry Hansen, The Boston Massacre: An Episode of Dissent and Violence (New York, 
1970), 52-58. Hansen points out that, upon Attucks' escape, his master did advertise 
for his return in a Boston paper. However, because of the fact that Attucks remained a 
fugitive for twenty years, it appears no great effort was made for his return. 

19. Karen Kromer, Worcester Telegram (October 6, 1991). 

20. Ibid. 

21 . David Spink, Marblehead Reporter (May 24, 1984). 

22. Thomas Malloy, Profiles of the Past (Athol, Ma., 1984), 37-38. 

23. Lois Greenwood, Winchendon, Years 1 764-1964 (Winchendon, Ma., 1970), 364-65. 

24. For an illustration of the more elaborate monument to Prince Hall placed next to this 
simple marker at a later date, see Fig. 18 in Laurel Gabel's article on Masonic Grave- 
stone Symbolism found in this edition of Markers. 

25. W. Augustus Low and Virgil A. Clift, Enci/clopedia of Black America (New York, 1981), 

26. Thomas Malloy, Slavery in Colonial Massachusetts , M.A. thesis, Western Michigan Uni- 
versity (Kalamazoo, 1967), 99. 

27. Matthew Walker, Barre Gazette, Files of the Barre Historical Society, Barre, Massachu- 

28. Ibid. See also Ann and Dickran Tashjian "The Afro-American Section of Newport, 
Rhode Island's Common Burying Ground", in Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of 
American Culture, Richard E. Meyer, ed. (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1989; rpt. Logan, Utah, 
1992), 163-196. In this essay the authors state that Newport's Common Burying 
Ground might be the last remaining burial site for Blacks of colonial New England. 

29. In order to demonstrate the thesis of this essay, it was not felt necessary to locate or 
discuss every existing slave's marker in Massachusetts. For instance, in the town of 
Westminster can be found the stone of Zilpah Blanchard, one of several slaves who 
once lived there. Her stone states that she died in 1806, "aged about 50," and that she 
was " a coloured woman". A number of the stones discussed in this essay, plus two 
additional markers - those of Caesar in North Attleboro and Elizabeth Freeman in 
Stockbridge - are also treated by Angelika Kruger-Kahloula in her article, "Tributes in 
Stone and Lapidary Lapses: Commemorating Black People in Eighteenth- and Nine- 
teenth-Century America," Markers VI (1989): 32-100. 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 







'■ .. - 

Fig. 1 Samuel Heard, 1720, Ipswich, MA, type A. 



Ralph L. Tucker 

John Hartshorne of Haverhill, Massachusetts, later of Rowley, Mass- 
achusetts, and still later of Norwich, Connecticut, developed a variety of 
gravestone carving that has been termed "The Merrimac Valley Style," 
as it occurs primarily in the Merrimac River valley from Haverhill in the 
north and extending to Salem in the south. 1 Later, three families of local 
carvers in the valley also made gravestones in this style: these were the 
Mullickens of Bradford, Massachusetts, the Leightons of Rowley, Massa- 
chusetts, and the Worsters of Harvard, Massachusetts. 2 The last family of 
carvers to use this style, the Worsters, worked and distributed their 
stones around their core area at Harvard, Massachusetts: consequently, 
their stones are found in northern Middlesex county, slightly to the west 
of the other carvers' work. 

The style can best be described as featuring in the tympanum (the 
rounded top of the gravestone) an outlined oval effigy or face distin- 
guished by round eyes, a linear vertical nose, and a horizontally straight 
mouth, there being no wings attached. Disks containing six-pointed 
stars or rosettes are often found on both sides of the face, and stars or 
coils are also displayed in the finials (at the top of the side borders). The 
side borders usually contain scroll-like carving or simple leaf or vine 
decorations (see Chart 1 and various photographic examples included in 
this essay). 


In 1708 there was an Indian raid on Haverhill in which Hartshorne's 
wife, eldest son John, Jr., and three grandchildren were massacred, 
resulting in the removal of Hartshorne to Rowley. There he married in 
1709 Mary Leighton Spofford, Ezekiel Leighton's sister, who was the 
widow of Thomas Spofford. The Leightons had been among the original 
settlers in Essex county, Massachusetts, being in the company of the Rev. 
Ezekiel Rogers of Rowley, Yorkshire, England when he established the 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

town of Rowley, Massachusetts in 1638 3 . Richard Leighton of Rowley, 
the progenitor of the family, was the father of Mary and Ezekiel (1659- 
1723), who became a stonecarver. Ezekiel's son, Richard (1687-1749), and 
grandson, Jonathan (1715-1772), also became carvers. 

Later Hartshorne 

Robert Muilicken Sr. S Jr. 

Joseph Muilicken 

Richard Leighton 


Chart 1 Merrimac Valley Styles (Simplified) 

146 Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Mullicken family more often used pinwheels in their finials, and were 
distinctive in this regard. 

The Leighton's work is found from Newbury southerly through 
Rowley and Ipswich down the old main road (now route 1A) as far as 
Salem. Aside from the initialed or probated stones, it is difficult to know 
which member of the family made a particular stone. It is obvious, how- 
ever, that no carver can carve after his death, nor before he is mature 
enough to practice the craft, so we can sometimes deduce by dates 
which member of the family probably carved a particular stone. 

In 1713, Ezekiel's son, Richard, married Abigail Elithorp of Beverly. 
They had seven children, Jonathan the carver being the second child and 
eldest son. Richard died in 1749 and is buried in nearby Byfield, a section 
of Newbury, Massachusetts under a type H stone carved by his son, 
Jonathan, which still stands. The 1723 Ezekiel Leighton, Sr. stone (type 
D) in Ipswich was probably carved by Richard for his father. Richard is 
mentioned as having been paid for a pair of gravestones by the estate of 
Moses Bradstreet of Rowley in 1737 (type F). There is also a probate 
record showing that Richard was paid for the 1739 Ephraim Jewett 
stone 5 (type F) in Rowley, as well as for the 1723 Jeremiah Dow stone 
(type D) in Ipswich. Sidney Perley, the Essex County historian, recog- 
nized Richard as a maker of gravestones in the area as early as 1899. 6 

Jonathan Leighton was born in Rowley in 1715 and married Mary 
Boynton in Newbury in 1739. They had ten children, none of whom are 
known to have been carvers. Jonathan carved in Rowley from about the 
1730s until 1761, when he sold his property there. At some later date he 
and his mother removed to New Castle (Sheepscott), Lincoln County, 
Maine, where he was known to be located in 1771. There is a probate 
record in 1747 for the 1732 Ezekiel Northend stone in Rowley made by 
Jonathan (type F). As noted earlier, he carved the 1749 stone (type H) for 
his father, Richard, which is in Byfield. Other stones can only be attrib- 
uted by the style rather than documentary evidence. 7 Jonathan located a 
source of high grade slate about 1750 and used it to good effect. 

Types of Leighton Gravestones (see Chart 2) 

There are few Leighton stones aside from the initialed "EL" stones 

Ralph L. Tucker 145 

Shortly before his wife's death in 1719, Hartshorne taught Ezekiel, 
then about sixty years old, how to carve, and probably taught Richard as 
well. Upon Mary's death, Hartshorne moved to Norwich, Connecticut to 
live with his daughter, Martha Hartshorne Ladd, leaving the Leightons 
to carry on the gravestone business in Rowley and the Mullickens in 

Ezekiel was the third of the original Richard's five children, all of 
whom were born in Rowley. In 1686 he married Rebecca Woodman of 
Newbury and they had four children, Richard being the eldest son. 
Active in town affairs, Ezekiel signed petitions and is mentioned in town 
records. He died in Rowley in 1723, where his gravestone, which was 
carved by his son Richard, still remains. Ezekiel's carving skill was min- 
imal, probably because he only started to carve at the age of sixty and 
didn't improve much in the short time he practiced the trade. 

Ezekiel's son, Ezekiel, Jr., died in 1716 as a young man and is buried 
under a type B stone in Rowley, probably made by his father (for a fuller 
explanation of the types used in reference to Leighton family stones see 
the illustrations in Chart 2 and the detailed descriptions found later in 
this essay). There are five gravestones in Ipswich clearly carved on the 
back or on the footstone "M BY EL," an example of which may be seen in 
Figure 6. 4 These stones can be attributed to Ezekiel, and they enable us to 
identify his other work: using them, one can trace the motifs and styles 
that gradually evolved in the carver's repertoire. Ezekiel apparently 
carved up until his death in 1723. 

The resemblance of the Leighton stones to those of John Hartshorne 
is obvious. Both employ a central wingless effigy or geometric face in the 
tympanum. These characteristics separate their stones from those of all 
the Boston carvers who were carving winged death heads and cherubs 
on good slate. Leighton stones, Ezekiel's in particular, were rather crude- 
ly carved on a poor grade of slate, and the effigies had closely set eyes. 
Hartshorne sometimes featured birds and other devices in the tympa- 
num along with the effigies, a practice which the Leightons never 
employed. Stars or rosettes were generally used (sometimes in profu- 
sion) on the stones and nearly always are found in the finials. At other 
times disks and other circular devices were substituted in the finials. The 

Ralph L. Tucker 


that are adequately documented. What evidence there is may be found 
in the notes accompanying this essay. Knowing, however, that the three 
Leightons listed have been recorded as stonecarvers, and using some 
good circumstantial evidence, the following attributions can be made 
with a fair degree of certainty. (Note: Types A to F carved by both Ezekiel 
and Richard: Types E to I carved by Jonathan). 

Type A - "Wild Hair" (see Fig. 1) 

One of the earliest styles of the Leightons employs the typical 
Hartshorne wingless oval face, but with a different mouth and what 
appears to be a wild hairdo consisting of wavy lines. These early stones 
often have other wavy lines used to fill blank areas. Side borders often 
feature a scroll design. This style of gravestone was made in the 1717- 
1729 period. 


Lei^W+on Types 


Chart 2 Merrimac Valley Style - Leighton Types 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

These stones are so crudely carved that some researchers have mis- 
takenly felt that they were the earliest stones carved in the area. The 
backdated 1689 Mary Hart stone in Ipswich, Massachusetts is an exam- 
ple of such a stone that has misled students into believing the Leighton 

Fig. 2 Thomas Lovell, 1718, Ipswich, MA, type B. 

Ralph L. Tucker 


family carved many years before they actually did. These backdated 
stones may have been made to replace earlier markers, perhaps wooden 
ones that had rotted, or simple boulders with no inscriptions. 

Type B - "Stars/Wavy Lines" (see Fig. 2) 

This early style utilizes the oval face with a six-pointed star (or 
rosette) on each side. The geometric wingless face is, again, typical of the 
Leighton family's stones. On the outer side of each star are wavy lines. 
Four of the stones in this category bear the carving "EL," thereby clearly 
identifying them as Ezekiel Leighton's work. The 1716 Ezekiel Leighton, 
Jr. stone in Rowley, carved by his father, is also of this type. Since several 
stones in this mode were made after Ezekiel's death, Richard can also be 
identified as a carver of this style, which was produced in the 1715-1727 
time period. 

Fig. 3 Hannah Burpe, 1729, Rowley, MA, type C. 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Type C - "Stars/Smooth Lines" (see Fig. 3) 

This style is nearly identical to the "Star/ Wavy" type noted above 
except that the outer lines are smooth or curved rather than wavy. The 
eyes in the face are crowded together over an elongated nose, providing 
a unique appearance. These stones were produced in the 1719-1732 time 
period by both Ezekiel and Richard Leighton. 8 

Type D - "Stars" (see Fig. 4) 

This is essentially a simplified version of the previous design, con- 
sisting of the face image with only the stars. Ezekiel and Richard 
Leighton were the carvers of this style, which was produced in the peri- 
od 1719-1736. 

' ; w offt|^"i y son of jA<.:o;t\ 

'M I'lAMNAn ,v^0<)0 
''"'/Me QUvO )(KJST 

/ ■ n I / 




Fig. 4 Moses Wood, 1736, Rowley, MA, type D. 

Ralph L. Tucker 



Fig. 5 Benjamin Kimball, 1716, Ipswich, MA, type E. 


Fig. 6 Benjamin Kimball, 1716, Ipswich, MA, Leighton footstone. 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Type E - "Stars/Coils" (see Figs. 5 and 6) 

The 1716 Benjamin Kimball stone in Ipswich shown here was carved 
by Ezekiel and set this style, but Richard and Jonathan carved most of 
the rest. This type of stone is contemporaneous with the "Coil" style 
(type F) and was produced mostly in the 1723-1758 time period. This 
and the previous type (D) represent forerunners of the style later used by 
the Worster family. 

Type F - "Coils" (see Fig. 7) 

Stones of this type were produced in the 1734-1756 period, though 
there is one earlier (1719) marker which probably is backdated. In this 
variant, the stars flanking the oval face are replaced by coils. By this time 
Jonathan was carving along with his father, Richard. 

Fig. 7 Jonathan Pickard, 1735, Rowley, MA, type F. 

Ralph L. Tucker 


[(Ml WvX;WKf|.., ' \ k 

Who- D.i(2cf :Id.bra% 


Fig. 8 Abigail Ilsley, 1753, Newbury, MA, type G. 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Type G - "Spectacles" (see Fig. 8) 

A new style appeared in the 1750s using both stars and coils in some 
abundance, but spreading the formerly close-set eyes apart and connect- 

» Heri Lie j 


t ir 



Fig. 9 Sarah Spaulding, 1746, Chelmsford, MA, type H. 

Ralph L. Tucker 155 

ing them to look like spectacles. The mouth appears as an arc, producing 
a somewhat "grumpy" effect. The 1754 Col. John Appleton stone in 
Ipswich is of this type, and has a footstone in the "Wings" style (type H). 
Jonathan Leighton carved this style in the 1750-1756 time period. It is 
possible that Jonathan Hartshorne was working with Jonathan Leighton 
at this time because he later developed a format with a grumpy mouth 
very similar to this style and was working in the same area. 9 

Type H - "Wings" (see Fig. 9) 

A key trait in the "Merrimac Valley Style" of gravestones is the 
absence of wings and the use of geometric effigies rather than skulls or 
realistic faces. Jonathan Leighton departed from the family style by 
adding wings to a round face. This represented a complete departure 
from his own previous work as well. The wings are themselves unusual, 
the nose is an inverted "V", and the mouth an arc. Stones of this type 
were produced in the period 1742-1760 by Jonathan . 

Type I - "Spectacle/Wings" (see Fig. 10) 

A further development of style comes when we find a "Spectacle" 
face with fully developed wings. The wings, as noted above, are a dis- 
tinct departure from the Merrimac Valley Style and are closer to the 
Boston styles. These stones can be attributed to Jonathan Leighton and 
perhaps to Jonathan Hartshorne as well. They were produced in the 
1755-1773 time period. 

Footstones (see Figs. 6 & 11) 

The twenty-two known Leighton footstones usually have borders of 
wavy lines, and a few include hearts or crude faces as well as the name 
or initials of the deceased. As mentioned earlier, several of these foot- 
stones have "BY E L" carved on the back, indicating that Ezekiel was the 
carver. There are many wavy lines found on the early Leighton head- 
stones, which correlates with their predominant use on the footstones. 
These footstones created by the Leighton family are unique, and this is 
fortunate as a means of carver attribution: because there are footstones 
extant for all styles of Leighton stones, even when the headstone style 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 








Fig. 10 Abigail Plumer, 1759, Byfield, MA, type I. 

Ralph L. Tucker 





Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

changed, the consistency and uniqueness of the footstone style would 
indicate that it was the same family of carvers that made both stones. 

Other Leighton Traits 

The lettering style, along with several other traits and features 
employed by the Leighton carvers, may be summarized as follows: 

loops sometimes separate and not 

inner lines connect half way down 
the leg curls out 

very small "t" used by Jonathan only 
usually has parallel sides 
made with overlapping "V"s 
often has a curved right side 
curved top and straight bottom 
with curved top of the old fashioned type 
used by Ezekiel and Richard only; ceases 
about 1740 

used by Ezekiel and Richard only 
used by Ezekiel and Richard 
begins to be used about 1750 by Jonathan 
by all 

almost universal; didn't often use pin- 

after 1730s a better grade was used 
the most common border 
especially on early stones 


- upper-case 


- upper-case 


- upper-case 

» t " . 



- upper-case 


- upper-case 


• upper-case 




' with upside 

"hear" instead of "here" 

uneven spaces between lines 

lower-case lettering 

poor spelling 

six pointed stars in finials 

slate (of a poor grade) 
double spiral side border 
wavy lines 


Descended from the Rev. William Worster, one of the original settlers 
of Salisbury, Massachusetts, Jonathan Worster was born December 1, 
1707 in Bradford, Massachusetts, which is on the south bank of the Mer- 
rimac River, across from Haverhill. The eldest of six children of Ebenez- 
er Worster, he married Rebecca [maiden name unknown] in 1722 and 
had eleven children, all born in Harvard, Massachusetts. He went to Lit- 
tleton, Massachusetts at the time of his marriage, and when the town of 
Harvard was formed in 1733 he moved there, becoming one of the origi- 
nal members of the Harvard church. In the town records he was listed as 
a yeoman. He died at Harvard on April 12, 1754. 

It appears that Jonathan learned to carve from Richard Leighton of 

Ralph L. Tucker 



•' or i<f\ f 


DH\I5M0 L Ii 

£vBr*iSfei5\ ~T> "~r-v^r 

-L-L > 


Fig. 12 Thomas Dinsmoor, 1748, Hollis, NH, by Jonathan Worster. 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Rowley, whose style he copied and embellished with numerous coils and 
six-pointed stars. He seldom varied his style of carving, thereby making 
his work easily recognizable. The primitive effigy face can be spotted at a 
distance, and when you have seen one, you've essentially seen them all. 
Nonetheless, they are so striking that they are in a class by themselves. 

Moses Worster was born in Harvard, Massachusetts on January 10, 
1739, the second son of Jonathan and the fourth of eleven children. He 
married Sarah Witt (Wilt) on January 12, 1768/9 at Bolton, Massachu- 
setts and had three children, none of whom are known to have been 
carvers. He died in 1789 in Boxborough, Massachusetts. 

Moses took over his father's business in the early 1750s and contin- 
ued with the same style, with the exception that he carved a pointed chin 
rather than the rounded one featured in his father's work. 

Harriette Merrifield Forbes as early as 1927 identified the Worsters as 
carvers and noted their style. 10 More than 400 of their stones have been 
studied for this article, and over a dozen of them were made for mem- 
bers of the Worster family. The probate records give us documentation 
for their being gravestone cutters, as shown here (payments specifically 
for gravestones are so indicated): 

f HI in 

Fig. 13 Samuel Green, 1759, Lexington, MA, by Moses Worster. 

Ralph L. Tucker 


Fig. 14 Josiah Haywood, 1736, Concord, MA, 
by Moses Worster (backdated). 


Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Jonathan Worster (1707-1754) Probate References 

M= Middlesex Probate (date) = date of probate 

M22:598 "Jonathan Worster £3.2.0" (1740) 
M21:46 "Jonathan Worster £3.8.0" (1741) 
M20:169 "Jonathan Worster £11.15.0" (1742) 
M25GR:197 "Jonathan Worster for two pair 
gravestones £6.10.0" (1747) 
M21:51 "Jonathan Worster, gravestones and 
transporting them £3.10.0" 

M25GR:247 "Jonathan Worster for grave- 
stones £7.0.0" (1747) 

M35:182 "to a journey to Harvard for grave- 
stones and getting them up £0.10.0; to the 
widow Worster for gravestones £3.14.0" 
1772 Parker, Lt. Benjamin Groton M56GR:282 "cash Jonathan Worster £1.04.0" 


an stone 



Barrett, Paul 



Merriam, John 



Prescott, Benjamin 



Holden, Nathaniel, Jr. 



Sawyer, Moses 



Houghton, William 



Fletcher, Joseph 



Burge, Josiah 


Moses Worster (1739-1789) Probate References 

1755 Levistone, Seth Tewksbury M32:235 "Moses Worster £2.18.9" 

1778 Wetherbee, Lt. Daniel Stow M58:408 "Moses Worster for gravestones 

1792/3 Hapgood, Joseph Marlboro M77:356 "paid Moses Worster £0.37.4" 






Chart 3 Merrimac Valley Style - Worster Varieties 

Ralph L. Tucker 


Here Lies y- &od% 
Envied this Lf 


-a -i n v 

l:e> 4 

.jj»* j-V.. "' "•.Vt'J-- 

Fig. 15 Mary Cutting, 1773, Acton, MA, by Moses Worster. 

164 Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

Worster Style (see Chart 3) 

As the last family to carve in the Merrimac Valley Style of folk grave- 
stone carving, the Worsters had the advantage of using the excellent 
slate newly discovered at Pin Hill in Harvard, Massachusetts, which has 
preserved their work in fine condition to this day. Adorned with their 
mask-like images which carry a striking and unique visual impact, the 
Worster stones are mostly found in upper Middlesex county, Massachu- 
setts, rarely south of Lexington. There are, however, a few of their stones 
to be found just over the New Hampshire line, and one or two in the 
Boston area as well. The Worsters had no competition in their core area 
until the 1750s and until then did not change their style of carving. When 
other carvers settled in nearby Groton and around Pin Hill, Moses began 
to offer other styles reflecting the more standard urban types of winged 
faces, or cherubs, presumably to meet the competition. 

Jonathan consistently used an outlined wingless face featuring a long 
linear nose, and usually a flat, horizontal mouth (see Fig. 12). The eyes 
are oval on the earliest stones, but soon become constantly round and set 
close together. The face is definitely an effigy and not meant as a realistic 
representation of a face. There are coils and six-pointed stars (rosettes) 
on each side of the face and similar stars in the finials. These stars often 
become quite complex, with stars inside of stars. The side borders con- 
sist of scrolls which rarely vary in design. The early faces were oval or 
round in configuration. 

Jonathan's lettering is all in upper-case with well-formed letters, but 
there is uneven spacing of the often crowded words. The letters are gen- 
erally larger than one would expect for the space containing them. 
Words are frequently spelled incorrectly and often split oddly, so that 
they run into the next line or are superimposed above. The lines of let- 
tering are not always parallel, and the spacing of lines and letters is 
poorly executed, with the height between each line variable. 

Moses carved stones similar to those of his father, but added what 
appears as a pointed beard at the chin (see Fig. 13). He most often used 
lower-case lettering, unlike the convention employed by Jonathan. The 
identifying letters to look for are the lower case "g," which is rather 
unusual, and the old-fashioned "s," which appears as an "i" without the 

Ralph L. Tucker 


Fig. 16 Samuel Green, 1759, Lexington, MA, 
by Moses Worster (footstone). 

166 Leighton and Worster Family Carvers 

crossbar. In addition to his standard work, he developed in the 1740s a 
fine youthful face set in a bubble which he used for children's stones 
(Fig. 14), and in the 1760s a winged human face, or cherub (Fig. 15). The 
original style, however, was a mainstay as long as he lived. 

The footstones of both carvers tend to be similar (e.g., see Fig. 16), but 
can vary in detail . They are simply carved, usually employing a simple 
line for a border, with the name or initials inside. Most generally, the 
scroll border as found on the headstone is also used on the footstone. 

The Merrimac Valley Style gravestones carved by the Worsters are 
the finest examples of this style and have been described as "an art form 
that attempted to create as directly as possible the felt spiritual realities 
intrinsic to death and resurrection." 11 Removed as the Worsters were 
from the Boston market, their folk art style was continued well into the 
1770s. The Pin Hill slate in Harvard had just been discovered and was 
the source of the excellent stone which enabled them to produce a finely 
finished product. This same source of high quality slate, however, also 
attracted a number of other carvers who were using winged skulls, por- 
traits, willow trees, and urns. This ultimately marked the collapse of the 
rural and folk art tradition in favor of a newer, neoclassical style. The 
prolific Park family of nearby Groton, whose work begins about 1760, as 
well as other carvers, took over the gravestone business when the 
Worsters died and the Merrimac Valley Style ceased to exist as a viable 


The photographs shown in Figures 1-7 and in Figure 9 are by Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber. 
The rubbings in Figures 5 and 6 were done by Susan Kelly and Anne Williams. All other 
illustrations in this article are the work of the author. 

1. For the earliest study of these stones see Allan I. Ludwig, Graven Images: New England 
Stonecarving and its Symbols, 1650-1815 (Middletown, Conn., 1966). As one of the ear- 
liest students of this type of carving, he did not have available enough information to 
adequately understand these stones and who carved them. He referred to the style as 
"Essex County Ornamental Style, Phase III," and attributed it to various unknown 
carvers. When it later became known that there were four groups of carvers - John 
Hartshorne, The Mullickens, The Leightons, and the Worsters - the term "Merrimac 
Valley Style" came into use. For John Hartshorne stones see Ernest Caulfield, "Con- 
necticut Gravestones XII - John Hartshorne vs. Joshua Hempstead," Tlie Connecticut 
Historical Society Bulletin 32:3 (1967) [Rpt., Markers VIII (1991): 164-188]. See also Peter 

Ralph L. Tucker 167 

Benes, "Lt. John Hartshorn: Gravestone Maker of Haverhill and Norwich, " Essex 
Institute Historical Collections 109:152 (1973); and James A. Slater and Ralph L. Tucker, 
"The Colonial Gravestone Carvings of John Hartshorne," in Puritan Gravestone Art II, 
Peter Benes, ed. (Boston, 1978), 79-146. 

2. For the Mullicken stones see Ralph L. Tucker, "The Mullicken Family Gravestone 
Carvers of Bradford, Massachusetts, Markers IX (1992): 22-57. 

3. For genealogical information on the family see George Brainard Blodgette, Early Set- 
tlers of Rowley , rev. Amos Everett Jewett (Rowley, Mass., 1933). 

4. The 1716 Ezekiel Leighton, Jr. gravestone (type B) in Rowley (died aged 21) was prob- 
ably made by his father. The "EL" stones, all in Ipswich, are as follows: 1715/6, Eliza- 
beth Smith ("BY EL": only the footstone is extant); 1716, Sarah Glasiar & 1716, 
Stephen Glasiar, one on each side of the headstone ("BY EL": headstone type B); 1716, 
Benjamin Kimball ("M BY EL": type C); 1716, Richard Kimball ("M BY EL": footstone 
only); 1716, Martha Nason ("BY EL": footstone only). 

5. Peter Benes reports this stone as having been probated at Essex County in 1743, but 
no specific reference is given. 

6. Perley identified Richard Leighton as the stonecutter who was paid for the 1738 stone 
of Moses Bradstreet in The Essex Antiquarian 3:12 (1899): 177. See also Amos Everett 
Jewett and Emily Mabel Adams, Rowley, Massachusetts (Rowley, Mass., 1946), 141; and 
Harriette Merrifield Forbes, Gravestones of Early Neiv England and the Men Wlio Made 
Than, 1653-1800 (Boston, 1927; Rpt. New York, 1989), who quotes the probate record 
for Moses Bradstreet of Ipswich dated " Aguest ..." 1 739 "... mony pade to mr Lighten 
for ye grave stons. . .£4-00-00". This stone still stands in the 16th row on the east side of 
the cemetery. Another related entry reads "Cash p to Righerd Lighten . . . £5-5-0". 

7. The 1734 John Baker stone in Ipswich was probated (Essex 324:604) to Jonathan 
Leighton for £70 for gravestones in 1740. This is an extremely high price for a pair of 
gravestones and probably included other work. The stone itself appears to be the 
work of John Holliman. Whether Holliman was working for Jonathan Leighton or 
vice-versa is unknown. For an article on Holliman, see Theodore Chase and Laurel K. 
Gabel, "John Holliman: Eighteenth-Century Salem Stonecarver, Essex Institute Histor- 
ical Collections 128:3 (1992). 

8. As the Leightons are the only carvers of this style, and as Jonathan was as yet too 
young, we assume Ezekiel and Richard were the carvers. 

9. A study of the work of Jonathan Hartshorne, the grandson of the carver John 
Hartshorne, has yet to be made. Jonathan is documented as a carver, but little is sure 
about his work. 

10. Forbes, 77-78. 

1 1 . See Dickran and Ann Tashjian, Memorials for Children of Change: The Art of Early Neio 
England Stonecarving (Middletown, Conn., 1974), 193. 


Monumental Ambition 

Fig. 1 Willie Spindler stone, Fairview Cemetery, Bowling Green, 
Kentucky. A pamphlet promoting the White Stone Quarry of 

Bowling Green included the following testimonial from 

John C. Underwood, civil engineer and architect: "It is a most 

valuable building and even ornamental stone; for owing to said 

softness it is very easily cut and shaped after any pattern ... 

[it] is remarkable for strength and durability - bearing the 

greatest relief in carving of all descriptions, and enduring the 

exposure necessary in architectural works of all kinds." 


Deborah A. Smith 

The first question addressed to a stranger in south central Kentucky 
is, "Who are you kin to?" The second, "What church do you attend?" 
Kinship matters in this part of the world. In life, family ties may be visi- 
ble in jaw lines, laugh lines, hairlines, or waist lines. In death, the blood- 
lines may be invisible but they continue to exert strong influence. Gener- 
ation after generation, kinship is the tie that binds and cemeteries the 
enduring monuments to that unity. Look closely, though, and sometimes 
they may reveal not only ancestry, but acrimony and ambition too. 

Often out of sight from the country roads, hundreds of small ceme- 
teries cover the landscape of Warren County. Almost every family farm 
seems determined to care for its dead with no need to rely on anyone 
else, just as they did in life. Other cemeteries accompany rural churches. 
These graveyards are usually more prominent than those located on the 
family farms, but equally proud. In the extended family of a church con- 
gregation, epitaphs proclaim the communicants' stubborn opinions: in 
one abandoned churchyard "predestinarian Baptists" and "true predes- 
tinarians" lie side by side. Upholding states' rights, local options, and 
schismatic doctrines in their lifetime, families and churches insist on 
eternal privacy and independence in their burying grounds too. 

In town cemeteries, the evidence of kinship comes not from proximi- 
ty to the family church or homestead but from plots bearing the same 
name. Especially in the earliest period of settlement, however, the burial 
grounds may be deceptive at first glance. For example, Repose Park, 
established on the outskirts of Bowling Green in 1811 soon after the 
town incorporated in 1798, has a smaller number of stones than the actu- 
al number of graves. To look at the graveyard, one would think that the 
pioneers in town were as exclusive as the true believers in the country. 
Vandalism, weathering and several coats of whitewash applied in honor 
of the 1976 Bicentennial are partly to blame for obscuring the evidence of 
family ties. So too is the character of pioneer settlement. Numerous 
markers for single children, unaccompanied by other siblings or parents, 

170 Monumental Ambition 

attest to Bowling Green's importance throughout the first half of the 
nineteenth century as a "jumping off" place for further westward move- 
ment. 1 Families came, recognized after a spell that their fortunes lay else- 
where, and moved on, often leaving buried hopes in the cemetery. 

Later in the century, civic-minded citizens laid out Fairview Ceme- 
tery, also on the outskirts in 1865 but on the opposite side of town. Lack- 
ing a site with natural variations in topography, the cemetery achieved a 
semblance of the desirable "rural" or "garden" look chiefly from the lay- 
out of curving roads and the survival of a few mature trees from the 
destruction of the Civil War. More successful was the desire to perpetu- 
ate in death the family structure people knew in life. Curbstone railings 
and corner posts mark private plots, the family's "home away from 
home," complete with a threshold stone bearing the surname and foot- 
stones designating Father, Mother, Brother, Aunt. 2 More subtle was the 
eternal preservation of lifetime segregation. From the manicured lawns 
of Fairview, the lane leads back to a Catholic section, and from there to a 
section for Blacks. Each has its separate entrance, while the markers 
become gradually less expensive and the grounds gradually less land- 
scaped. Still, an air of peaceful resignation hangs over all three; the worst 
parts of the front and the best parts of the back are probably on a par. 
The combination tool shed and outhouse formerly relegated to the very 
back has disappeared. 

Invisible ties of kinship link the Ford Family Cemetery, a private bur- 
ial ground on the Barren River Road outside of Bowling Green, and a 
plot in Fairview Cemetery. In the Fairview plot lies Hugh F. Smith, a 
master stonecutter who died in 1897 at the age of 72. In the Ford Family 
Cemetery reposes his wife's uncle, James Ford, who died in 1861 at the 
same age. Ford died a wealthy man who had bequeathed a small fortune 
in property to his niece. His grave appears today as his will directed, 
"enclosed with a neat and substantial wall of cut stone with iron railing 
added thereto and a suitable tombstone or stones for my own grave cor- 
responding with that of my late wife." 3 Smith, on the other hand, died a 
failed businessman, his name appearing frequently in court records that 
document his unattained ambitions and suggest a strained relationship 
with his partners, wife and daughter. His artistry as a stonecutter is evi- 

Deborah A. Smith 171 

dent throughout Fairview, but the master carver himself and his wife lie 
in unmarked graves. 

Hugh Smith was born in neighboring Hart County in 1825. On the 
1850 census he is listed as a stonecutter living in a hotel filled with six- 
teen other male workers: house joiners, stage drivers, miners, traders, a 
silversmith, a barkeeper, and two other stonecutters. Where he learned 
his trade or if he was in partnership with the other cutters is unknown. 
Possibly Smith lived an itinerant life in the early years of his career, trav- 
eling to wherever stone work was in demand. By 1853 he had settled in 
Warren County, purchasing two lots in town for $100. 4 Four years later 
we find Smith speculating in real estate when a lot in town passed 
through three owners in one day. Smith was the middleman and made 
fifty dollars in profit. 5 It was the first step of a long journey to advance 
his career from humble stonecutter to "enterprising citizen of Bowling- 
green," as he would be called nineteen years later. 6 

Kinship was the springboard to Smith's ambitions. In 1855 he mar- 
ried Louisa McMurray, presumed to be related to the family of Ann 
Shannon McMurray. Ann had two sisters, Mary (1779-1857) and Lydia 
(1792-1852). The elder sister married James Ford, a farmer eight years 
her junior who was one of the wealthiest men in the county in 1860 with 
$20,000 of real estate and $35,000 of personal property, including slaves. 7 
In 1850, when Hugh Smith was living in the Hart County hotel, Ann 
McMurray lived in the neighboring house to her sister with three grown 
children. The ages recorded by the census taker are almost certainly 
incorrect, raising questions about the reliability of the names he wrote 
down. From other evidence we do know that Ann had a son Thomas 
(1819-1854) and daughter Lydia (1829-1878). The youngest child listed 
on the census is called Elizabeth, year of birth uncertain, who may have 
been the Louisa that Hugh Smith married. 

How did a man like Smith come to be acquainted with a family so 
closely connected to one of the county's richest farmers? The only clue is 
the gravestone for Thomas McMurray, the earliest stone that can be 
attributed to Smith, carved the year before his marriage. The marker is a 
white limestone slab with a scroll top and flowers carved in relief within 
a recessed circle. Typical of the mid Victorian period, for Smith it was a 

172 Monumental Ambition 

modest demonstration of his abilities. Only the high relief of the flowers 
and the fine quality of the carving suggest the character of his later and 
best work, dating from 1858 to 1868. His stones from that decade remind 
one of nineteenth-century calligraphy, capturing in three dimensions all 
the scrolls and flourishes that penmanship manuals of the period print- 
ed at the back of the book as the most advanced models for practice. 

A typical stone from Smith's prime is a slab with a simple rounded 
top and bolection on the sides, creating a raised panel on the front (see 
Fig. 1). The text meanders in lines that purposefully rise and fall, forsak- 
ing anything as simple as a ruled straight edge but always beautifully 
balanced. The lettering is both incised and relief, the name almost 
always appearing in relief. The most striking characteristic is some sort 
of encapsulation for the names and dates (secondary text usually 
appears below in smaller letters formed in straight lines). These arches, 
ribbons, rectangles and other shapes terminate in charming flourishes 
that might be leaves, trumpets, fanfares or simply the whimsy of the 
carver. Short parallel lines give depth to the borders. While the style is 
distinctive and personal, unlike anything else in the area, Smith was 
clearly conversant with standard Victorian gravestone motifs. For chil- 
dren, a recessed circle at the top of the stone might carry a rosebud, lamb 
or angel (Fig. 1), while for adults he could produce Masonic emblems, 
Odd Fellows rings (Fig. 2) or flower wreaths. Like anv good tradesman, 
he could also restrain his flamboyance to suit a customer's taste. In 
accordance with James Ford's will, the vault attributed to Smith is very 
plain, made to match the simplicitv of his wife's monument, with only a 
Masonic compass for ornament. 

Without detracting from Smith's innate talents, it must be noted that 
his choice of stone played a large part in his ability to carve that material 
as if it were soap, and also in the direction of his career. Warren County 
rests atop a deposit of high grade oolite limestone equal in quality, its 
promoters claimed, to the building stone used for St. Paul's Cathedral in 
London. Easily cut and shaped when first quarried, the stone hardened 
upon exposure and bleached to a whiteness almost as pure as that of 
marble. For durability and heat resistance it was unsurpassed, as testi- 
monials from engineers and geologists readily asserted, and architects 

Deborah A. Smith 


Fig. 2 Andrew Spindler stone, Fairview Cemetery, Bowling Green, 

Kentucky. Spindler's epitaph reads: "When he died a meek and 

pure spirit returned to him who gave it." Smith's signature 

is in the lower right corner. 


Monumental Ambition 

praised its ornamental quality. 8 A long series of owners, developers and 
companies worked the quarry, usually at a profit, from 1833 until 1930 
(see Fig. 3). 9 When the quarry had been closed for about two years, one 
vein was reopened for a final order of stone work for the Kentucky 
Building, Western Kentucky University's museum, to be built entirely 
from materials native to the state (the building was completed in 1939). 
Despite having been worked for a century, the quarry produced four 
stone columns, each one a single piece measuring twenty-two feet. 10 
Stone from the quarry was used for numerous buildings in Bowling 
Green, the governor's mansion in Frankfort, the Seelbach Hotel in 

/9 9J. 

Fig. 3 Stone workers, White Stone Quarry, Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

In 1892, four years after Smith had sold the quarry, a group of 

stonecutters posed for the camera. The workers' interracial 

composition was also characteristic of the years when Smith held title 

to the quarry. On the 1880 census, 69 percent of the work force was 

Black, mostly men in their twenties. Photo courtesy The Kentucky 

Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

Deborah A. Smith 175 

Louisville, Sacred Heart Church in Washington, D.C., Saint Thomas 
Cathedral in New York, the United States Custom House in Nashville, 
and many other enduring edifices across the country. 11 

Said to underlie the county a quarter of a square mile across with an 
average thickness of twenty-five feet, the most accessible outcropping of 
the limestone was on Ellis Knob, a hill five miles southwest of Bowling 
Green. A stonecutter named John Howarth was the first to use the stone, 
"in desultory fashion for the limited local uses of the town," according to 
the quarry's later promoters. 12 Howarth apparently purchased only that 
part of the site that contained the accessible stone, paying William Ellis 
twenty dollars in 1833. 13 At the next sale in 1857, from Howarth to Smith 
and a partner, William Carnes, the value of the property had risen to two 
hundred dollars, but no cash changed hands. Ready to retire at the age 
of 55, Howarth agreed to pay a debt to one Benjamin Sanders, a future 
partner of Smith. Smith and Carnes agreed to complete a lot of unfin- 
ished stone in Howarth's shop, allowing just compensation to them- 
selves for the work. The balance was paid by J.G. Gerard "or to his order 
in stone work, at reasonable prices." 14 Gerard was the local cabinetmak- 
er and undertaker. He provided nearly a full line of funeral services 
already, including the coffin, its hardware, the hearse, opening the grave, 
arranging for carriages and notices, shrouds and burial slippers, and 
refreshments. 15 The arrangement with Smith and Carnes now allowed 
him to provide gravemarkers as well. 

In March, 1860, Carnes sold out his half interest in the quarry to 
Smith for $80.97. 16 Sometime before this, Smith had come into posses- 
sion of his own marbleyard and shop in town. Here again kinship 
played a role. The land on which the shop stood had been owned by 
James Ford since 1853, though the deed clearly states that the shop and 
stone already there in 1860 belonged to Smith and a partner Benjamin C. 
Sanders. As we have seen, Smith's dealings with Sanders went back at 
least three years, when his acquisition of the quarry included provision 
for payment of a debt to Sanders. In January, 1860, Sanders sold to Smith 
his interest in a lot in town worth $2500. 17 In June, Smith and Sanders 
bought the marbleyard lot from Ford for $2750. 18 At the age of 35, Smith 
had advanced himself from a mere stonecutter to an entrepreneur. In 

176 Monumental Ambition 

sole possession of the source of the finest stone in the area, he now also 
owned outright a prime piece of real estate for his shop and yard, on the 
northwest corner of the public square. 

The following year Smith moved to consolidate his position through 
the bonds of kinship. In September, 1861 James Ford died. In his will 
drawn up in May he emancipated his slaves and provided for his grand- 
children from his personal estate, his children apparently being 
deceased or out of favor. His largest bequest was to his wife's niece, 
Lydia Ann McMurray, named for Ford's wife's sister, who had been liv- 
ing in Ford's household at least since the 1860 census. Lydia inherited all 
of his "houses and lots and premises in the town of Bowling Green and 
on the Public Square," including a hotel and merchant tailor's shop. The 
assessed value of $20,000 in 1860 would be the equivalent of $300,444 in 
1991. Only a month later, Hugh Smith and Lydia McMurray married, 
Smith's first wife presumably having died, divorced, or disappeared. 
Given the protracted mourning of the Victorian era, the haste of the mar- 
riage is almost unseemly. Unkind gossips might have hinted that Ford 
disapproved of the match, or that Smith pressed his advantage through 
the ties of his first marriage to woo an heiress so soon. A more favorable 
interpretation would be that the wedding had been planned well in 
advance of Ford's demise and the uncertainty caused by the outbreak of 
Civil War made delay unwelcome. The bride was 32, the groom 36. 
Three years later the couple had a daughter, named Sarah and called 

Up until the end of the war, Smith continued to produce gravestones 
in his usual elegantly ornate style, but his output dropped significantly 
as other business affairs began to take precedence. Having assumed the 
role of quarry owner, shop manager and husband of an heiress, perhaps 
he began to feel that actual production was no longer appropriate to his 
station. Instead, he turned his attention to developing the hotel property 
that his wife had inherited. In April, 1866, he applied to the Warren 
County Court and obtained a license to keep a tavern and hotel "with 
the privilege of retailing spirituous liquors." 19 In July, the account books 
of cabinetmaker J.C. Gerard show orders for numerous chairs, bed- 
steads, washstands, safes and other articles of furniture totalling $249. 

Deborah A. Smith 177 

To secure capital for this new venture, the following month Smith sold 
the town lot he had acquired from Sanders for $2555. 20 By September, 
Smith further distanced himself from hands-on stonecutting by selling 
all of the stone and marble at his shop to a new set of partners, McBride 
& McCormack, who are called joint but unequal owners in the deed. 
Smith additionally agreed to rent the shop and stoneyard to them for 
$250 per year for five years. 21 Smith's earlier partner Sanders apparently 
retained his interest in the yard. Shrewdly, Smith held on to the stone's 
source and in fact expanded his holdings at the quarry. Sometime prior 
to 1869, Smith and Sanders bought an additional 155 acres adjacent to 
Ellis Knob known as the Loving quarry, Smith holding a one-third inter- 
est and Sanders two-thirds. 

From this point on, whenever Hugh Smith transacted business that 
was noted in the county records, his wife's name also appears. In the 
early years of the nineteenth century, common law dictated that all of a 
woman's land, leases, debts, bonds, furniture or slaves became the prop- 
erty of her husband at the time of her marriage. Fortunately for Lydia, 
laws passed in Kentucky in 1846 afforded some protection for the con- 
siderable estate she brought to her marriage, excluding it from the col- 
lection of any debts her husband incurred. However, an antebellum case 
that ended in the state supreme court had set a precedent for married 
women regarding tripartite deeds. As long as the husband used no coer- 
cion, husbands and wives could transfer property to a third party with 
the design that it would transfer back to the husband. Without explicit 
language in the deeds regarding Lydia's intents and desires to the con- 
trary, Lydia might have been in jeopardy of losing her estate. Not until 
1894, after Lydia had died, did the law allow wives to procure and dis- 
pose of property as if they were still single women. 22 

Presumably to protect her interests, such a trade is described in detail 
between the Smiths and Rev. John South in March, 1867. 23 From South, 
the Smiths received a farm of 63 acres about three miles west of Bowling 
Green on which they already resided, with the deed in Lydia's name. 
From Lydia Smith, South received a lot in town, part of her inheritance. 
It was agreed between husband and wife that if the farm should be sold, 
the proceeds would go to Hugh provided that he convey to Lydia half 

178 Monumental Ambition 

interest in his other property, the marbleworks leased to McBride & 
McCormack and the quarries. Two years later the farm was sold and the 
stipulations of the deed came to pass. Lydia received half interest in the 
marble yard and became the lease holder (the partnership now down to 
McBride alone). More significantly in terms of its potential value, Lydia 
received the original Ellis Knob quarry and Hugh's one-third interest in 
the Loving quarry. In fact, the value of the property conveyed was $1200 
more than the farm was worth. In compensation, Lydia transferred to 
Hugh alone the income of one year's rent from the hotel. 24 

On a city map dating from 1877, the name H.F. Smith appears on the 
marbleyard and the hotel. Even though his business affairs had broad- 
ened, Smith (with a new partner, Broeg) continued to call himself a 
stonecutter in the Bowling Green city directory of the previous year. 
Only one other stonecutter is listed in the directory, Jno. L. Stout. 
Sanders had retained his interest in the quarry, but what happened to 
Smith's numerous partners to that time (Carnes, McBride & McCor- 
mack, and unnamed apprentices) is unknown. None appears to have 
been a serious competitor. Smith had evidently earned a reputation in 
the antebellum years for producing fashionable work that customers 
still found desirable even though his attention increasingly turned to the 
managerial role. In at least two instances, clients requested rival carvers 
to create stones for their family plots to match markers made earlier by 
Smith. 25 The climax of his stonecutting career must have been the com- 
mission for the Confederate Memorial erected in 1876, a southern town's 
idea of a fitting way to celebrate the national Centennial. A white stone 
plaque on one side of this granite obelisk in Fairview Cemetery depicts a 
scene based on a painting called "The Soldier's Return" and shows a 
desolate figure with bowed head leaning upon his rifle next to the ruins 
of an abandoned cabin (Fig. 4). Undoubtedly made of stone taken from 
Smith's quarry, for few other materials would permit such detail, the 
plaque is signed by Smith & Broeg. 

Smith's primary professional interest as a stonecutter from the late 
1860s on, however, was the quarry itself, known locally as the White 
Stone Quarry. The stone's advantages for beauty and strength were 
more than offset by the difficulties inherent in transporting it. In the 

Deborah A. Smith 


absence of a railroad spur to the quarry, contractors building the town's 
new courthouse in 1868 had to haul stone from the quarry by oxcart. 
Three times the carts carrying massive stone columns mired or broke 
down, leaving no alternative but to abandon them and cut replace- 
ments. 26 Recognizing that profits would continue to fall by the wayside 
until the quarry was properly developed, the Smiths and B.C. Sanders in 
1870 leased the property to Owen Macdonald & Company (and its 
numerous successors) for thirty years, stipulating that a track to remove 
the stone must be built within three years. Anticipating a goldmine from 
their limestone, the Smiths further required in the deed that they receive 
one dollar for every car load of stone removed from the quarry. 27 

Fig. 4 The Soldier's Return, Confederate Memorial, Fairview 
Cemetery, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Among the first memorials 

erected in the South to commemorate the Confederate dead, Bowling 
Green's monument was dedicated May 3, 1876, with a crowd of 
12,000-15,000 people in attendance. Popular subscriptions raised 

$1,500 to pay for it. An estimated 312 graves surround the monument. 

180 Monumental Ambition 

Although the spur was not completed until 1872, the Smiths very soon 
began to use the property as collateral to secure a series of notes: $1581 in 
1871, $1200 in 1872, $800 in 1873, and $999 in 1875. By then they had 
taken three mortgages on the quarry for loans totalling $2600. Their abil- 
ity to borrow against the quarry's profits speaks well for the stone's 
qualities and the confidence it inspired in local lenders. But it also raises 
questions about Hugh Smith's abilities as a businessman, and whether 
Lydia Smith was a willing partner in their growing debt. 

Hugh's career came to a crisis in 1877 when the Smiths were defen- 
dants in a law suit brought against them by Kentucky Masonic Mutual 
Life Insurance Company. The Smiths lost and the court ordered the mar- 
bleyard and hotel sold to the company for $10,068 (equivalent to 
$127,214 in 1991 dollars). 28 The cause of the dispute is unknown, but the 
outcome was the loss of Lydia's inheritance. All that remained was the 
title she held to the quarries, heavily mortgaged. A year later Lydia was 
dead at the age of 49, of heart disease according to Gerard's undertaking 
accounts. Hugh paid $25 for her funeral and buried her "in the country," 
presumably in the Ford Family Cemetery. Left a widower with a four- 
teen year old daughter, Smith also lost his longtime partner, Benjamin 
Sanders. Again for reasons unknown, Sanders chose to cut Smith out 
when he sold his two-thirds interest in the Loving quarry to McElwain 
and Feland. 29 

Was it bad luck or poor judgment that caused Smith's failure? In 
some respects his business career followed a common progression in 
nineteenth-century America. Many another would-be capitalist labored 
hard and risked much to climb from the working class, and like Smith 
they also began without cash. Instead they swapped old debts, assumed 
unfinished deals, negotiated partnership networks and borrowed on 
future credit to build up a business from scratch. In the best Horatio 
Alger tradition, many also got their first break by marrying the wealthy 
boss's niece or daughter. Certainly when Smith first began to develop 
the White Stone Quarry, everything seemed to favor success. Immigrant 
and Black labor was cheap and plentiful, the railroad had connected 
Bowling Green to Louisville and Nashville in 1859 and to the national 
rail system by 1870, and towns and cities throughout the south needed a 

Deborah A. Smith 181 

good supply of stone to rebuild from war's destruction. What were 
Smith's reasons for needing to borrow so heavily against future profit? 
Was he overly generous? On at least two occasions, the Gerard account 
books indicate Smith purchased coffins for children not his own, though 
his relationship with the parents is unclear. 30 Was he a spendthrift or per- 
haps a drinker? One tantalizing clue comes from his burial certificate, 
which lists "paresis" as the cause of death. One definition of this condi- 
tion is a general paralysis caused by a stroke. But it can also be a disease 
of the brain caused by syphilis of the central nervous system and charac- 
terized by inflammation of the brain linings, paralytic attacks, and men- 
tal and emotional instability. Whatever the reasons, the debt he accumu- 
lated immediately after leasing the quarries left him extremely 
vulnerable to the national economic depression of 1873. 

Court records paint a bleak picture of Smith after losing the lawsuit, 
only 52 at the time of his downfall. Lydia Smith apparently died intes- 
tate, but the remnants of her estate did not automatically go to Hugh. In 
1882, when his daughter Sallie reached the age of 18, all interest, right 
and title to the quarries passed to her together with the power to insti- 
tute an investigation through her guardian into the companies operating 
the quarries and collect any money owed her. The reference to a 
guardian when her father was still living suggests incompetence on 
Hugh's part as well as a strained relationship between father and child. 
A damning preamble implies the cause: 

and whereas [Hugh F. Smith] during the lifetime of the said Lydia A. 
Smith his wife used and appropriated a large sum of money and consid- 
erable other property belonging to his said wife and which would have 
passed to and belonged to [Sallie M. Smith] at her mother's death had the 
money and property remained unappropriated and on hand... 31 

Three years later Sallie purchased an additional one-third interest in 
the Loving quarry from McElwain, perpetuating the bypass around her 
father that began when Sanders sold the interest to McElwain in 1878. 32 
In November, 1885 she set up a trust fund for her father that effectively 
relieved her of further filial responsibility. Hugh was to receive one-third 
of the rent from the White Stone Quarry lease, to be administered by one 
W.A. Cooke. Having ensured "board, comforts and clothing" for her 

182 Monumental Ambition 

father for the rest of his lifetime, Sallie married a doctor, J.L. Johnson, a 
few days later. 33 

In 1886, the only other year in the nineteenth century from which a 
Bowling Green city directory survives, Jno. L. Stout is listed as the 
town's sole stonecutter. Smith's name does not appear at all. The last 
stone that he signed had been carved five years earlier for C.P. Snell, a 
co-signer on one of two notes Smith had taken against the quarry lease 
in 1871. Snell's name appears in the usual raised letters on a rectangular 
border but the rest of the text is done in ordinary script in straight lines, 
a striking departure from Smith's graceful curves and embellishments. 
Quite possibly the stone did not come from the White Stone Quarry, as it 
shows more deterioration than any of his earlier work. Also unusual is 
the weeping willow tree within a recessed frame, an old-fashioned motif 
for 1881. In sum, it is a stone that hardly qualifies as a prize example of 
then current gravestone fashion. The more difficult stone and the lack of 
practice (before Snell, the last stone signed by Smith was the Confeder- 
ate Memorial five years earlier) might account for the absence of his 
usual ornate carving. But knowing his history, it is tempting to picture 
Smith as a weary man, no longer up-to-date with his profession, called 
out of semi-retirement for the sad task of carving a friend's final tribute. 

Smith appears in the deed books only a few more times. In 1888 he 
received $80 to drop his claims "as the husband of Lydia A. Smith 
deceased" on the old hotel property, apparently the only obstacle that 
prevented the owners from selling it for $7000 a few weeks later. 34 Later 
that year, Smith is named with Dr. Johnson and his wife as one of the 
quarry's sellers, although his rights to the quarry were probably as 
groundless as his claim to the hotel. The sale was for $9500, but there is 
no mention of how the money was divided. 35 Twenty days later, since 
the source of Hugh's trust income was now sold, Smith received $450 
from Sallie and in return released his daughter and son-in-law "from all 
liability by reason of said deed or otherwise." 36 His final appearance in a 
public record until his death was a listing in the roster of the "Commer- 
cial Club," a booster-type organization that published a booklet promot- 
ing Bowling Green about 1893. 

Hugh F. Smith died August 16, 1897. His son-in-law the doctor 

Deborah A. Smith 183 

signed the death certificate. Despite the evidence of family estrange- 
ment, the bonds of kinship were compelling. Whether motivated by 
guilt, a sense of duty, or possibly even a reconciliation, the Johnsons paid 
$62.25 for a modest funeral. There were four carriages in attendance. 
Two weeks later Lydia's remains were moved from the country ceme- 
tery to Fairview. Dr. Johnson died at the age of 43 in 1904. Sallie Smith 
Johnson died in 1949 at the age of 85. She had outlived her husband by 
45 years and supported herself as a seamstress after his death. 

Smith's only child died without issue, leaving him without an heir. 
When the last of the line has gone, acrimonies and ambitions also die, 
but so too does the family's memory. Not even gravestones remain for 
Hugh and Lydia, and, ironically, their unmarked graves lie less than fifty 
feet from a grand granite monument erected for Smith's chief competi- 
tor, Jno. L. Stout. To find the legacy of Hugh F. Smith, one must look for 
the stones scattered around his final resting place with the calligraphic 
scrolls and flourishes, the exuberant carving of a talented man in his 
prime, monuments to a stonecutter's ambition. 


With the exception of Figure 3, the photos found in this essay are by the author. 

1. Baird, Crowe-Carraco and Morse, Bowling Green: A Pictorial History (Norfolk, Va., 
1983), 11-13. 

2. Kenneth L. Ames, "Ideologies in Stone: Meanings in Victorian Gravestones," Journal 
of Popular Culture 14:4 (1981), 641-56. 

3. Warren County Will Book D, 14 May 1861, 315. 

4. Warren County Deed Book 24, Townsend and Sill to H.F. Smith, 20 Aug. 1853, 581. 

5. Warren County Deed Book 27, Grider to Sulser, 206; Book 27, Sulser to Smith, 212; 
Book 27, Smith to Webb, 122. All dated 7 Feb. 1857. 

6. Description of the Wliite Stone of Bozvlinggreen, Ky. (Louisville, Ky, 1872), 5. Fourteen 
page company promotional booklet. 

7. The value of Ford's real and personal property put him in the top seven percent of 
Warren County's population in 1860. See The Diary of Josephine Calvert (The Kentucky 
Museum: Bowling Green, KY 1983), 8. 

184 Monumental Ambition 

8. Description of the Wliite Stone ofBoivIinggreen, Ky., 6-9; 12-14. 

9. Christy Leigh Spurlock, "The White Stone Quarry of Bowling Green, Kentucky," 
(1984). Unpublished paper, original located at the Kentucky Library, Western Ken- 
tucky University Bowling Green. 

10. Ibid., 39-42. 

11. Charles Henry Richardson, Building Stones of Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky, 1923). 

12. Description of the Wliite Stone of Bowlinggreen, Ky., 5. 

13. Warren County Deed Book 15, William Ellis to John Howarth, 27 Nov. 1833, 289. 

14. Warren County Deed Book 27, Howarth to Smith and Carnes, 6 April 1857, 195. 

15. Gerard Account Books, originals located at the Kentucky Library, Western Kentucky 
University, Bowling Green. 

16. Warren County Deed Book 28, Carnes to Smith, 5 March 1860, 520. 

17. Warren County Deed Book 32, Smith and Sanders to Cook, 29 Aug. 1866, 203. The 
deed recording the sale from Sanders to Smith is described as "lost or mislaid;" with- 
out the deed, Sanders' name needed to be included in the subsequent sale. 

18. Warren County Deed Book 28, Ford to Sanders and Smith, 9 June 1860, 603. 

19. Warren County Order Book K, 217. 

20. Warren County Deed Book 32, Smith and Sanders to Cook, 29 Aug. 1866, 203. 

21. Warren County Deed Book 32, contract and mortgage between Smith and McBride & 
McCormack, 18 Sept. 1866, 228. 

22. For information on married women's property rights during this period the author is 
indebted to correspondence with Andrea S. Ramage, University of Kentucky (Febru- 
ary 1993). 

23. Warren County Deed Book 33, Smith to South, 6 March 1867, 242. 

24. Warren County Deed Book 34, Smith to Smith, 1 Jan. 1 869, 341 . 

25. The stones signed by Smith are for John Hess (1859) and C.P. Snell (1881). The match- 
ing stones were made for their widows in 1876 and 1894 respectively. Both pairs of 
stones are in Fairview Cemetery. 

26. Spurlock, 2-3. 

Deborah A. Smith 185 

27. Warren Count Deed Book 35, Smith and Sanders to Owen Macdonald & Co., 22 Jan. 

28. Warren County Deed Book 47, Smiths to Kentucky Masonic Mutual Life Insurance 
Co., 24 July 1877, 512. 

29. Warren County Deed Book 52, Sanders to McElwain and Feland, 2 Nov. 1878, 419. 

30. In 1873 Smith paid $15 for the coffin and burial of William Hardin's daughter. In 1876 
he paid $3.00 for the coffin of a "negro child," no parents named. Gerard Account 
Books, Kentucky Library. 

31 . Warren County Deed Book 54, Hugh Smith to Sallie Smith, 10 Mar. 1882, 466. 

32. Warren County Deed Book 60, McElwain to Smith, 28 Feb. 1885, 470. 

33. Warren County Deed Book 61, Smith to Smith, 18 Nov. 1885, 193. 

34. Warren County Deed Book, Smith to Eubank and Mitchell, 8 Jan. 1888, 321. 

35. Warren County Deed Book 66, Johnson and Johnson and Smith to Belknap and 
Dumesnil Stone Co., 8 Aug. 1888, 398. 

36. Warren County Deed Book 66, Johnsons to Smith, 28 Aug. 1 888, 439. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Fig. 1 Sign for Clatsop Plains Pioneer Presbyterian Church, 
near Warrenton, Oregon. 



Richard E. Meyer 

I wait in the wagon, weaker than some at the 

Others are waiting: the old ones, the children, 
beside the rutted trail: chalked stones for 

markers... 1 

The poet and essayist T.S. Eliot, in his Notes Towards the Definition of 
Culture, reminds us that "Even the humblest material artifact, which is 
the product and symbol of a particular civilization, is an emissary of the 
culture out of which it comes." 2 Those in the habit of frequenting old 
cemeteries constantly encounter the visible proofs of Eliot's dictum: 
their hearts, like mine, stir with anticipation each time they prepare to 
enter one of these sites for the first time, for they know from past experi- 
ences the richness and variety of the voices from the past they are about 
to hear. These emissaries patiently wait in all corners of the United 
States, as indeed throughout the world. I first learned to heed their mes- 
sages in my home state of Oregon, at the end of the long trail which 
brought the pioneers. 

Today's Pacific Northwest, an area encompassing the states of Ore- 
gon, Washington, and Idaho, in addition to portions of northern Califor- 
nia, western Montana and Wyoming, and southern British Columbia, 
was, prior to the middle years of the nineteenth century, most often 
known simply as "The Oregon Country." This vast segment of the North 
American continent presents a rich and varied history which has 
involved the fortunes of no less than half a dozen nations. Certainly a 
pivotal event in Pacific Northwest history, however, and the one which 
was eventually to bring a major segment of this territory under the per- 
manent control of the United States, was the initial emigration of thou- 
sands of people from the southern, eastern, and midwestern sectors of 
the country to the large and immensely fertile Willamette Valley region 
which lies between two mountain ranges in the western portion of the 
present state of Oregon. 

188 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

This process, which spanned an almost fifty-year period but saw its 
greatest concentration in the decades of the 1840s, 1850s, and 1860s, had 
always at its heart the lure of free and abundant agricultural land, 
though it was spurred considerably in the 1850s and 1860s by a series of 
rich gold strikes in southern and eastern Oregon, as well as in adjacent 
portions of Idaho, Washington, and California. The men, women, and 
children who took part in this vast enterprise (today there is a tendency 
to prefer the somewhat romanticized term "pioneers," though in their 
own time they most frequently referred to themselves as simply "emi- 
grants") were beyond question a most hardy and resourceful lot, and 
their deeds, real as well as imaginary, have become a significant part of 
the American mythology. 3 

For a variety of reasons, many of which seem quite justified in terms 
of both dates and geography, Oregonians have traditionally considered 
their state to have been the physical and spiritual heart of Pacific North- 
west pioneer settlement. Their pride in and ready identification with this 
phenomenon, manifested in a variety of expressive forms ranging from 
frequent and recurring "Pioneer Days" type festivals and reenactments 
of significant events in early settlement history to the recent statement 
by a political aspirant that "a new generation of pioneers" was needed to 
lead the state into the twenty-first century, might seem at times to reach 
almost obsessive levels and, in any event, are quite apparent to any con- 
temporary observer. 

What other state, for instance, can claim an official, legislatively 
decreed Pioneer Mother, to take her place amidst the usual assortment of 
state birds, trees, flowers, and anthems? Perhaps even more striking are 
the many visual reminders, both permanent and ephemeral, of the pio- 
neer experience which dot the cultural landscape. High atop the rotunda 
of the state capitol in Salem stands a huge gilded statue of the Oregon 
Pioneer, while eternally facing each other across a quadrangle at the Uni- 
versity of Oregon in Eugene sit the stony-faced effigies of the Pioneer 
Mother and Pioneer Father. Cities and towns incorporate dramatic visu- 
al symbols of the pioneer experience into their signs, as do museums 
and historically significant sites and buildings (Fig. 1), but the phenome- 
non penetrates to other, more mundane levels as well (Fig. 2), dominat- 

Richard E. Meyer 


ing the names and logos of countless pizza parlors, motels, hair salons, 
and other small businesses. 

These are largely contemporary artifacts, demonstrating the ongoing 
vitality of the pioneering metaphor in the imagination of today's Orego- 

Fig. 2 Pioneer Motel, Pendleton, Oregon. 

190 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

nians. But what of an earlier time, one in which the actual pioneer expe- 
rience lived within the memories of those who participated in it? Did 
these early Oregonians also find avenues of material expression to pro- 
claim the significance of their accomplishments, and are these artifacts 
still present and visible today? Fortunately, the answer in both cases is 
yes. Cemeteries, as more than one commentator has noted, are remark- 
able indicators of the dominant cultural values at work in the societies 
which produce them. 4 T.S. Eliot, it seems, was correct. 

And so it was that when I first became interested in Oregon's pioneer 
cemeteries a number of years ago it was largely with the intention of 
testing the thesis that I would find mirrored within them a verbal and 
visual emphasis upon the pioneer experience which, almost from the 
beginning of the settlement period, was coalescing to form a significant 
part of the region's collective self-concept. The present essay, based upon 
archival research and field work in some six hundred of Oregon's pio- 
neer cemeteries, is an effort to validate not only this limited thesis, but 
also, by extension, the assertion once made by folklorist Barre Toelken 
that "In Oregon, as in any other state ... we should be able to find clus- 
ters of folk art that fairly represent the response of those folk groups to 
the life they lived and continue to live . . ." 5 

Death was a dominant part of the Oregon pioneer experience from 
the onset. Vast numbers never survived the emigration process itself and 
received lonely burials at sea or, as was far more frequently the case, in 
unmarked graves along the Oregon Trail. 6 Hardships, constant danger, 
and disasters of every sort beset the emigrants, with disease the greatest 
terror of all. In 1852 alone, the so-called "cholera year" on the Oregon 
Trail, whole wagon trains were wiped out by the disease and left to rot 
along the way. The journal of the noted women's rights leader Abigail 
(Scott) Duniway, who as a child crossed the plains with her family in 
that memorable year of 1852, grimly catalogs the number of new graves 
encountered with each day's passage, 7 and Joaquin Miller, an early Ore- 
gon journalist and poet who made the overland crossing in that same 
year, later remembered the Oregon Trail as the place where "... brown'd 
and russet grasses wave / Along a thousand leagues that lie one com- 
mon grave." 8 Years later, in a speech delivered at the 1905 Lewis and 

Richard E. Meyer 


Fig. 3 Modern replacement marker for Rev. Jason Lee (d. 1845), 

pioneer missionary. Lee Mission Cemetery, Salem, Oregon. The 

cemetery was established in 1838, following abandonment of the 

first settlement at Mission Bottom, along the banks of the 

Willamette River north of Salem. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon, Miller would once again evoke 
that same chilling image. "It is a sad story," he told his listeners. "There 
was but one graveyard that hot, dusty, dreadful year of 1852, and that 
graveyard reached from the Missouri to the Columbia." 9 

As if the rigors of the trail were not severe enough in and of them- 
selves, a number of those who managed to survive the longest portions 
of the journey would, ironically, die within sight of their objective. Such 
was the case for forty-four-year old William T. Hines, whose family, hav- 
ing come so far together, chose not to leave him along the trail near the 
present-day Idaho /Oregon border, but rather carried him onward to 
receive proper burial at their ultimate destination in the Willamette Val- 
ley. His marker, which stands in the Pike Cemetery (also known as the 
IOOF Cemetery), near Yamhill, Oregon, notes simply that he "Died at 

Fig. 4 Entrance gate to Missouri Flat Cemetery, Jackson County, 
Oregon. The cemetery remains, though the early mining 
community of Missouri Flat has long since disappeared. 

Richard E. Meyer 


Emigrant Crossing, Snake River, Aug. 7, 1847." 

The early years in the Oregon country were likewise ones of constant 
hardship, danger, and imminent death. Burials at first were often hap- 

Fig. 5 Ascending angel motif. Stone of Eliza Viola Smith (d. 1870). 
Masonic Cemetery, Albany, Oregon. 

194 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

hazard and isolated: certain of these sites are still readily identifiable, 
and there are moreover a surprisingly large number of geographic fea- 
tures in the state bearing such descriptive names as Grave Creek, Dead- 
man Canyon, and Tombstone Prairie. 10 But with the exception of the two 
Willamette Valley cemeteries established in the late 1830s in conjunction 
with Oregon's first missions - the Methodist (1834) near Salem (see Fig. 
3) and the Catholic (1839) at St. Paul - organized cemeteries as such do 
not begin to appear in the area comprising the present state of Oregon 
until the mid- to late 1840s, coincident with the increasing waves of emi- 
gration. Most of these early examples were private family cemeteries, 
and while many of them have remained such until the present day, oth- 
ers evolved into larger community cemeteries under the control of fra- 
ternal organizations, churches, or local governmental units. 

Typical in many respects of such evolution is the case of Salem's Pio- 
neer Cemetery, one of the most beautiful and historically significant 
early cemeteries in the state. Originating as a private family plot in 1841, 
when the Rev. David Leslie found it necessary to bury his first wife, the 
site was expanded both spatially and functionally in 1854, at which time 
it was acquired by the local lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fel- 
lows (IOOF). After some one hundred years of sporadic maintenance by 
the Odd Fellows, it was eventually passed on to county and, finally, city 
control, where it remains today with the assistance of a dedicated and 
highly active "Friends" organization. Similar processes have resulted in 
the fortunate preservation of particularly important early cemeteries in 
Portland, Oregon City, Albany, and Jacksonville, and, with the formation 
in 1991 of the Oregon Historic Cemeteries Association (whose motto, 
excerpted from the well known gravestone inscription, is "Not Forgot- 
ten"), one hopes the list will continue to expand. 

Still, not all pioneer cemeteries in Oregon have fared as well as those 
cited above. Many lie in a virtual state of ruins, victims of the same dis- 
eases - neglect, vandalism, weathering, rampaging animals, and air- 
borne pollution - which inevitably seem to plague old burial grounds in 
all regions of the country. In a number of instances, one of these sites 
might be the last tangible reminder that a community once existed in a 
certain area (see Fig. 4), and, regrettably, sometimes even these have dis- 

Richard E. Meyer 


appeared from the cultural landscape. Despite all this, there are well 
over one thousand of these pioneer cemeteries whose existence is still 
known in Oregon today, ranging in size from tiny to quite extensive and 

Fig. 6 Marker for a pioneer blacksmith. Stone of John A Buford 
(d. 1899). Emanuel Cemetery, near Cornelius, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

encompassing all geographic localities of the state. 11 And, most impor- 
tantly, they still contain an amazing array of artifacts which speak elo- 
quently and forcefully of the hopes, fears, and values of those who 

Mtyi $i£M 

Fig. 7 Child-specific epitaph. Stone of Lena E. Thiel (d. 1885). 
Sacred Heart Cemetery, near Gervais, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 197 

caused them to be erected. 

If one were to attempt to summarize the essential character of Ore- 
gon's pioneer cemeteries, an immediate and readily apparent observa- 
tion would be that they fall quite clearly within the general framework 
of the Victorian cemetery movement - a phenomenon distinguished by 
progressively elaborate treatments of both the monumental and land- 
scape features of cemeteries - as seen in the more settled eastern por- 
tions of the United States. This is demonstrated in a number of ways, 
including the frequent adoption of the more popular visual elements of 
Victorian gravestone iconography. Present everywhere are the ubiqui- 
tous clasped hands and weeping willow motifs. Readily apparent as 
well are numerous instances of ascending angels (Figs. 5 and 7) and fin- 
gers pointing to heaven, but two of the more blatantly obvious of the 
varied resurrections symbols popular during this period. Balancing 
these are the many equally popular variants of mortality symbolism - 
shattered pillars, severed chain links, and broken flower stems, all serv- 
ing to denote a life cut off before its time - as well as repeated instances 
of those specialized motifs of child death, the dove and the lamb. A host 
of other symbolic devices complete the picture, including fraternal 
insignia of all sorts and, upon occasion, some striking examples of occu- 
pational imagery (Fig. 6). 

Epitaphs - at least the more elaborate, poetic examples - tend most 
frequently to be those found in the popular sample books available to 
many marble carvers during this period, perhaps the most commonly 
observed being variants upon this favorite: 

Shed not for me the bitter tear, 
Nor give thy heart to vain regret; 
Tis but the casket that lies here, 
The gem that filled it sparkles yet. 

Or this touching quatrain (Fig. 7) often found on the stones of children: 

She was but as a smile 
Which glistens in a tear; 
Seen but a little while, 
But, oh, how loved, how dear. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Other shared elements of the Victorian cemetery movement readily 
observable in Oregon's pioneer cemeteries include such factors as a 
trend toward increasingly more elaborate and sometimes personalized 
monumentation (e.g., Fig. 8) as the century wears on and a growing 

Fig. 8 Portrait stone of James B. (d. 1889) and Elizabeth (d. 1887) 
Stephens. Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 


emphasis upon the family plot as the primary spatial concept within the 
cemetery proper (Fig. 9). 

All of this emulation should come as no great surprise, however, for 
although Oregon during this period was definitely a frontier region, 
these recent settlers did not by any means relish the primitive conditions 
under which they were often forced to live. Rather, it was the fond desire 
of most of them to convert as quickly as possible this social as well as 
physical wilderness into a reasonable facsimile of the civilized portions 
of the country, and thus they were in many instances eager to embrace 
the current fashions of mid- to late-nineteenth century America, includ- 
ing those pertaining to cemeteries and gravemarkers. This would 
explain, among other things, the early appearance and rapid spread of 
stonecarving establishments in principal towns and cities - Eugene, Cor- 
vallis, Albany, Salem, Oregon City, Portland - along the south-north 
flow of the Willamette River (Fig. 10). 12 By the 1870s, the products of 


Fig. 9 Ish family plot. Jacksonville Cemetery, Jacksonville, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 




-^dealer inSc»- 

Foreign and Americn 


^_ J& , 



Scotch | California Granite Monuments, 

Imported Italian Monuments, 

Furnished to Order at the Lowest Possible Rates. 
Factory, cor. Court and Liberty Sts., SALEM, OREGON. 

Fig. 10 Advertisement for marble carver, Salem (Oregon) City 

Directory, 1873. By the time this notice appeared, William Staiger 

had been carving local gravestones for several years. 

Richard E. Meyer 


local carvers were also being erected in cemeteries in southern and east- 
ern Oregon (Fig. 11). 

And yet, if in one sense Oregon's pioneer cemeteries reflect the styles 
and customs of the Victorian cemetery movement in general, in another 
they have their own unique flavor, stemming largely from their insistent 
and highly visible emphasis upon the pioneer experience itself. Nor is 
this the paradox it might at first appear, for while longing for the secure 
and settled conditions of mainstream America, these hardy settlers seem 
to have been acutely aware, as indeed are many of their descendants 
today, of the great and enduring significance of their accomplishments. 

There are two primary means by which the pioneering experience is 
manifested in Oregon's early cemeteries. The first of these involves a 
careful chronicling of the hazards of daily life on the frontier, which, as 

-^ 1 1«fe**'Vj?5f»fc*i.ik 


<v -, 

Fig. 11 Exterior of Jacksonville Marble Works, Jacksonville, Oregon, 

ca. 1880s. Stones signed by J.C. Whipp (pictured in center, next to tall 

marble monument) may be found in cemeteries throughout southern 

Oregon. Photo courtesy Southern Oregon Historical Society. 

202 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

might be imagined, took many forms in this frequently hostile environ- 
ment. If disease was a scourge on the overland (or sea) journey, it cer- 
tainly remained so once the settlers arrived in the Oregon Country, and 
the actual progress of epidemics over space and time can often be chart- 
ed by the evidence cited in the stone records of these early burial 
grounds. Typhoid and smallpox are amongst the most frequently listed 
causes of death in all age groups, while the particularly devastating 
effects of such diseases as scarlet fever and diphtheria among children 
are grimly reflected in the numerous instances of multiple-child head- 
stones found in pioneer cemeteries (Fig. 12), upon occasion listing as 
many as six children in one family dying within a period of several 
months. A particularly sober reminder of the high incidence of child 
death during this period may be found in the old Sterlingville, Oregon, 
Cemetery 13 : here, upon a single marble obelisk, are listed the dates of ten 
children of Joseph B. and Mary E. Saltmarsh, all of whom died before 
reaching their tenth birthday in a period stretching from 1856 to 1878. 

The long and often bitter struggles between settlers and native popu- 
lations are prominently recorded upon white (i.e., Anglo-American) pio- 
neer gravemarkers scattered throughout the state. Near the coastal town 
of Gold Beach, a frequently-visited marker (now actually part of a state 
park) proclaims that it is "Sacred to the memory of John Geisel / Also 
his three sons, John, Henry, & Andrew / Who were massacred by the 
Indians / Feb. 22, A.D. 1856 / Aged respectively 45, 9, 7, & 5 years." In 
the Jacksonville Cemetery in southern Oregon a similar vein is struck in 
the memorial to "William Boddy & Sons / Murdered by the Modoc Indi- 
ans / November 29, 1872." This "Killed by Indians" theme is likewise 
echoed on a number of markers erected in the Olney Cemetery, Pendle- 
ton, Oregon, in memory of white settlers who died in eastern Oregon's 
1878 Bannock-Paiute War. 14 And there are many more. By way of con- 
trast, however, it is perhaps worth noting that I have yet to see a marker 
expressing sentiments of a similarly vituperative nature in any of Ore- 
gon's Native American cemeteries dating from this same period. 

One of the most frequent causes of death cited on Oregon pioneer 
gravemarkers is drowning, a reminder of the perils of navigating the 
major rivers of this territory in the nineteenth century. Two of the more 

Richard E. Meyer 


spectacular examples - both testimonials to the skills of certain grave- 
stone carvers in early Oregon - actually provide graphically explicit 
visual representations of the incidents in question. The stone of Captain 


(Born W .fe ', vJi ' 

HAtVT LE _ ss 

<urtt>rVTf!W fl „„■,* 


Fig. 12 Hartless children stone (all d. 1854). 
Mount Union Cemetery, near Corvallis, Oregon. 



204 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Robert B. Randall, located in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery in Umatil- 
la, Oregon, not only tells us that he "Drowned in the rapids near Umatil- 
la, Ogn., March 7, 1875," but also vividly depicts him and his boat 
approaching this formerly dangerous stretch of white water near the 
confluence of the Umatilla and Columbia Rivers. And in Portland's his- 
toric Lone Fir Cemetery may be found the unique stone of Frederic 
Roeder (Fig. 13), whose death by drowning on June 19, 1887, is dramati- 
cally represented by the depiction of high waves, his boat, and his hands 
sinking below the surface of the water. 

The perils of certain occupations in a frontier region are amply docu- 
mented as well. This is particularly evident with regard to those 
involved in various forms of transportation, as, for example, the case of 
Captain Frederick K. Morse, whose marker in the old Milwaukie Ceme- 
tery notes that he was "Killed on Christmas Day 1850 by explosion of a 
cannon while celebrating the launching of the Lot Whitcomb at Mil- 
waukie, Oregon, the first steam boat built on the Pacific Coast." 15 A 
marker for Asher F. Wall (Fig. 14), a stagecoach driver, erected in Rose- 
burg's pioneer cemetery by his fellow employees of the C.S.O. (Califor- 
nia and Southern Oregon) Stage Company, displays a handsome set of 
stage driver's whips along with the simple explanation that he "Died in 
the discharge of his duty, Dec. 17, 1874." Less decorative in design but 
more to the point descriptively is the stone located in the old 
Canyonville cemetery which declares that it is "Sacred to the memory of 
Robert E. Lee Roberts, who died on duty as fireman in the wreck of the 
O. & C. R.R. Train in Rock Cut, Cow Creek Canyon, Or., Jan 1, 1888." 16 

Other occupational hazards are recorded in these early cemeteries as 
well. What might well be the earliest extant marker for a logger in the 
Pacific Northwest, that of William F. Laymen in the Brownsville Pioneer 
Cemetery, utilizes language which almost seems to suggest a bizarre sort 
of anti-advertisement when it proclaims that he was "Killed by falling 
from a tree while working for J. Larkin, Nov. 3, 1880. " 17 And a reminder 
that Oregon was indeed a part of the "Wild West" is provided by the 
stone in the IOOF Cemetery at The Dalles erected "In memory of 
Charles Keeler, born in Baden Gy, and murdered while in discharge of 
his duty as city marshall Sept. 5, 1867." 

Richard E. Meyer 


The sort of frontier violence captured on the Keeler stone is echoed 
on markers throughout the state. A quarrel with an acquaintance on the 
streets of frontier Scio led to twenty-nine-year-old James A. Young's bur- 
ial in nearby Pleasant Grove Cemetery, where the inscription on his 

Fig. 13 Drowning scene. Stone of Frederic Roeder (d. 1887). 
Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

gravestone informs us that he "Died from the effects of wounds with a 
knife." A handsome double stone in the old Linkville Cemetery, Kla- 
math Falls, tells the truncated story of Lee and Joe Laws, two young 

Fig. 14 A pioneer stagecoach driver who "died in the discharge 

of his duty." Stone of Asher F. Wall (d. 1874). Roseburg Masonic 

Cemetery, Roseburg, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 207 

brothers who were "Murdered by masked assassins, June 24, 1882," 
while a simpler marker for William Moody in the Eagle Valley Cemetery, 
near the small eastern Oregon community of Richland, notes enigmati- 
cally that he was "Murdered by his pretended friends." In some 
instances families of victims were not adverse to naming names in a 
most extraordinarily permanent fashion, as evidenced by the gravestone 
for Isaiah Graham (Fig. 15) in Portland's Lone Fir Cemetery, which states 
unequivocally that he was "Assassinated by Thomas Ward, June 21, 
1871." A smaller inscription at the base of the stone adds, "May the Lord 
forgive the evil doer." 

Other causes of death recorded on these early markers portray a 
wide variety of potential dangers consistent with a frontier environ- 
ment: for example, "Was killed by a runaway team" (George Henderson, 
d. 1879, Henderson Pioneer Cemetery, near Dufur, Oregon); "Lost in 
Mountains" (J.R. Bucknum, d. 1898, Alford-Workman Cemetery, near 
Harrisburg, Oregon); "Was killed in the Santiam Gold Mines, Linn Co., 
Or." (William R. Burnett, d. 1892, Riverside Cemetery, Albany, Oregon); 
"Killed by a grizzly bear" (B.H. Baird, d. 1864, Croxton Cemetery, Grants 
Pass, Oregon); or "All the family drowned June 15, 1896 by the breaking 
of the Guthridge Reservoir on Pine Creek" (Clark L. and Laura A. 
French and five children, ages 1 to 11, Mt. Hope Cemetery, Baker City, 

A surprising number of stones, as, for example, the one erected for 
fourteen-year-old Salem Dixon (d. 1853) in the Hobson-Whitney Pioneer 
Cemetery near Sublimity, Oregon, record the cause of death as "acciden- 
tal shooting," an indication not so much of the poor marksmanship of 
these early settlers as of the uncertain quality of the ammunition and 
firearms in general use at the time. And then there is the occasional 
inscription which teases the imagination by virtue of its understatement, 
so that one wonders, for instance, precisely what fate befell young 
Thomas H. Judkins, whose marker in Laurel Hill Cemetery near Eugene, 
Oregon, simply tells us that he "Left camp twenty miles east of Eugene 
Mar. 6, 1881 / Remains was found 1 mi. from camp, May 12, 1881." 

These stone records of pioneer hazards and untimely death do not 
tell the entire story, of course. They may be supplemented, indeed vastly 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

expanded, by examining municipal death records, newspaper accounts, 
contemporary letters, diaries, and journals, and even the rather idiosyn- 
cratic records of cemetery sextons, where we sometimes find such fasci- 

Fig. 15 An instance of frontier violence, with equal billing 

accorded to the perpetrator. Stone of Isaiah Graham (d. 1871). 

Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 


nating entries as "Shot by her husband in a house of ill fame at the cor- 
ner of Salmon and 3rd St."; "Killed by falling into sewer, suffocated in 
the mud"; or "Died of starvation while fasting, according to instructions 

Fig. 16 German language marker indicating city and country of 

origin. Stone of Heinrich Koehler (d. 1896). Barlow Pioneer 

Cemetery, near Barlow, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

of Mrs. G.H. Williams, a faith healer." 18 But the cemeteries themselves 
speak quite clearly of a time in Oregon's history when life was lived in 
the shadow of sudden, and not infrequently violent, death. 



Jxtixe i4;i?"9^ 


Fig. 17 Place of origin and Oregon Trail emigration date. Stone of 
Turner Crump (d. 1862). Salem Pioneer Cemetery, Salem, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 


Fig. 18 Emigration date and D.A.R. plaque indicating a founder of 

the territorial provisional government which brought the Oregon 

country under control of the United States. White bronze 

gravemarker of Allen J. Davie (d. 1875). Aumsville Cemetery, 

near Aumsville, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

Fig. 19 Emigration date and other pioneer data. Stone of Samuel 

(d. 1891) and Huldah Colver, "Pioneers of 1850 who located on 

this donation claim in 1851 amid hostile Indians and who have 

seen the wilderness." Phoenix Cemetery, Phoenix, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 


The other primary manner in which gravemarkers in Oregon's pio- 
neer cemeteries call attention to the pioneer experience is through 
inscriptions and visual symbols which emphasize the emigration and 
settlement processes themselves. An astounding number of these mark- 
ers take great pains to highlight - sometimes in letters enlarged for pur- 
poses of emphasis - the emigrant's state (Figs. 5, 6, 15, 17), or in some 
cases country (Figs. 13, 16), of origin in the inscriptional data found 
upon the stone. In this manner, the artifacts serve to provide the modern 
observer with a relatively clear picture of basic settlement patterns in the 
Oregon country: early markers in the Willamette Valley, for instance, 
show a heavy preponderance of New England and midwestern origin 
points in the northern portions of the valley, with the emphasis shifting 
to southern origins as one proceeds southward down the valley and 
thence to the counties of southern Oregon. Even more importantly, how- 

Fig. 20 "Men like this conquered the West." Covered wagon and 

other pioneer data. Stone of Daniel Simons (d. 1875). Pioneer 

(Old Lebanon) Cemetery, Lebanon, Oregon. 

214 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

ever, these stones emphasize clearly the inherent emotional dualism of 
the pioneering experience itself - the unwillingness to forgo entirely a 
link with a former time and place even while resting beneath the soil of 
what has become, indubitably, home. 

Almost as prevalent as this listing of origin points are the numerous 
references, especially among those who arrived overland via the Oregon 
Trail, to specific dates of emigration (Fig. 17). The year of emigration, or 
in some cases even the specific wagon train, became sources of pride and 
esoteric identification to settlers in the Oregon country (Fig. 18), 19 and in 
virtually any pioneer cemetery in the state the careful observer will find 
inscriptions which deliberately emphasize such data, often in conjunc- 
tion with other key elements of the pioneering experience (Fig. 19). 

In addition to these verbal inscriptions, however, one striking and 
pervasive visual image leaps out at visitors to a number of the state's 
pioneer cemeteries - that of the covered overland wagon. This icon, 
which has come in many ways to sum up for Oregonians not only the 
trail crossing itself but the entire pioneer experience, is, as I noted near 
the beginning of this essay, prominently featured in a dazzling array of 
contemporary manifestations from the official state seal to business 
signs for taverns, banks, real estate offices, bowling alleys, and pancake 
houses. That it is also present on gravestones from an early period 
onward should come, therefore, as no great surprise. 

For high and low - from the impressive monument to David T. Lenox 
(d. 1873), captain of one of the first wagon trains to reach the old Oregon 
Country, located in the West Union Baptist Church Cemetery, near West 
Union, Oregon, to the simple tablet which speaks to the life and deeds of 
Francis M. "Uncle Dan" Daniel (d. 1897) in Providence Cemetery, near 
the small mid-Willamette Valley community of Lacomb - this simple 
image of the covered wagon conveys a unique shared bond of pride and 
an awareness of historic significance. Speaking in a way for all of them is 
the lovely stone of Daniel Simons (Fig. 20) in the Pioneer (Old Lebanon) 
Cemetery, which, though shattered by the hands of cretinous vandals, 
still manages to convey, through its detailed accounting of his journey to 
Oregon, its finely carved depiction of a pioneer covered wagon, and its 
declaration that "Men like this conquered the West," a clear indication of 

Richard E. Meyer 


the awesome sense of accomplishment felt by these emigrants. Perhaps 
this is why, even today, it is not uncommon for the descendants of pio- 
neer families to specify the depiction of covered wagons when replacing 
missing or damaged originals with newer, backdated markers (Fig. 21). 
In speaking of the intrinsic value of cemeteries, the cultural geogra- 
pher Terry G. Jordan has written, "Nowhere else is it possible to look so 
deeply into our people's past." 20 How very true, for old cemeteries are 
unique and irreplaceable outdoor museums, full of those very emis- 
saries extolled by T.S. Eliot, bearing words and images which reflect the 
worldviews and cultural values of bygone eras. And nowhere, it seems 
to me, is this more patently evident than in the case of Oregon's pioneer 
cemeteries (Fig. 22), where site and artifact have combined to produce 




1851 - Ca. 1913 


1827 — Ca.1909 


Fig. 21 "End of the Trail." Covered wagon on contemporary, 

backdated marker. Stone of Mary Jane King (d. 1913) and 

Nathaniel C. (d. 1909) Huntley. Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery, 

Gold Beach, Oregon. 


Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

such diverse and beautiful elements of the cultural landscape, temporal 
intersection points at the end of the trail where past and present are inti- 
mately connected by an emphasis upon the pioneer experience which 
has come to form so important a part of the collective self-image not 
only of Oregonians, but of Pacific Northwesterners in general. 

Fig. 22 Pioneer Cemetery, Vale, Oregon. 

Richard E. Meyer 217 


A somewhat shorter and otherwise modified version of this essay was originally pub- 
lished under the title "Image and Identity in Oregon's Pioneer Cemeteries" in Sense of 
Place: American Regional Cultures, edited by Barbara Allen and Thomas J. Schlereth (Lexing- 
ton, KY: University Press of Kentucky 1990), 88-102, and is reprinted here courtesy of the 
original publishers. Even earlier, preliminary findings concerning the matters dealt with 
herein were presented orally at two separate venues: a Symposium on Heritage Cemeter- 
ies in British Columbia, Victoria, B.C., April, 1987; and the Annual Meeting of the Ameri- 
can Folklore Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico, October, 1987. Special thanks for help 
along the way to Addie Dyal Rickey, Lotte Larsen, Walt Stempek, and Barbara Allen. With 
the exception of Figures 10 and 11, all photos are by the author. 

1 . Willis Eberman, "Oregon Pioneer Notes," in The Pioneers and Other Poems (Portland, 
OR, 1959). Eberman is a descendant of Oregon pioneers who crossed the plains in 

2. T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture (New York, 1949), 94. 

3. Histories and interpretations of this movement exist in abundance as well as in vary- 
ing quality. The most comprehensive and contextually useful studies remain David 
Lavender, Land of Giants: The Drive to the Pacific Northwest, 1750-1950 (Garden City, 
NY, 1958); Dorothy O. Johansen and Charles M. Gates, Empire of the Columbia: A Histo- 
ry of the Pacific Northwest. Rev. Ed. (New York, 1967); Malcolm Clark, Jr., Eden Seekers: 
The Settlement of Oregon, 1818-1862 (Boston, 1981); and Gordon B. Dodds, The Ameri- 
can Nortlnvest: A History of Oregon and Washington (Arlington Heights, IL, 1986). 

4. For an overview of this process, see Richard E. Meyer, '"So Witty as to Speak'," in 
Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture, Richard E. Meyer, ed. (Ann 
Armor, MI, 1989; rpt. Logan, UT, 1992), 1-6. 

5. Barre Toelken, "In the Stream of Life: An Essay on Oregon Folk Art," in Webfoots and 
Bunchgrassers: Folk Art of the Oregon Country, Suzi Jones, ed. (Salem, Or, 1980), 15. 

6. Some of the most vivid descriptions of these burials may be found in the various 
accounts of pioneer women. See in particular Fred Lockley, Conversations with. Pioneer 
Women, comp. and ed. Mike Helm (Eugene, OR, 1981); and Kenneth L. Holmes, ed., 
Covered Wagon Women: Diaries and Letters from the Western Trails. 7 vols. (Glendale, CA, 

7. Holmes, 5:39-135. 

8. Joaquin Miller, from "By the Sun-Down Seas," in Poems (Boston, 1882), 133. 

9. Quoted in Holmes, 4:13. 

10. See Lewis A. McArthur and Lewis L. McArthur, Oregon Geographic Names. 5th Ed. 
(Portland, OR, 1982). 

218 Early Oregon Gravemarkers 

11. Besides USGS topographical maps, the only useful field guide to Oregon's pioneer 
cemeteries is a document entitled Oregon Cemetery Survey, compiled in 1978 under the 
direction of Robert Gormsen for the Oregon Department of Transportation (the study 
itself was mandated by the State Legislature). A revised and expanded version of the 
Survey (in this instance under private rather than state initiative) has been in the off- 
ing for some time, but as of this writing (1993) it has not yet appeared. 

12. The first published city directories in Oregon, appearing in the decades of the 1860s 
and 1870s, contain numerous entries for marble carvers in each of these cities. As 
early as the 1850s, however, "signed" stones by carvers such as William Young of 
Portland began to appear in Willamette Valley cemeteries. 

13. Sterlingville, in southern Oregon, is another example of those early Oregon commu- 
nities which have vanished, leaving only their cemeteries as material reminders of 
their former existence (cf., Fig. 4). 

14. Background information on these confrontations, and indeed on many of the individ- 
uals commemorated on these stones, is readily available in any number of sources, 
e.g., Howard McKinley Corning, ed., Dictionary/ of Oregon History (Portland, OR, 

15. An account of this bizarre accident may be found in Howard McKinley Corning, 
Willamette Landings: Ghost Towns of the River, 2nd ed. (Portland, OR, 1973), 24-25. 

16. The mountainous region of Douglas County, Oregon, where Asher F. Wall and Robert 
E. Lee Roberts lost their lives is cut by a number of deep and sometimes treacherous 
canyons which nonetheless served in the nineteenth century as the principal overland 
transportation route between southern Oregon and California to the south and the 
Willamette Valley to the north. Roberts' full name is indicative of the heavy emigra- 
tion pattern from the American South which characterized early Oregon settlement 
south of the mid-Willamette Valley. 

17. An alternate - and perhaps more likely - interpretation of this message is that Larkin 
paid to have the stone erected for his employee and did not wish his munificence to 
go unnoticed. 

18. All three of these notations (Sept. 18, 1890; Oct. 11, 1893; Dec. 20, 1893) are from the 
sexton's records, Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland, Oregon. See Wythle F. Brown and 
Lloyd E. Brown, comps., Records of Lone Fir Cemetery (Portland, OR, 1981). 

19. Annual meetings of the exclusive Oregon Pioneer Association, held between its orga- 
nization in 1873 and demise in 1951, resembled in many respects class reunions, with 
members paying particular allegiance to their emigration year. 

20. Terry G. Jordan, Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy (Austin, TX, 1982), 7. 

Richard E. Meyer 


Fig. 23 Hilltop Pioneer Cemetery, near Independence, Oregon. 



Laurel K. Gabel is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Association 
for Gravestone Studies as well as the Society's Research Director. Co- 
author (with Theodore Chase) of numerous articles and a book, Grave- 
stone Chronicles (1990), on 18th century gravestone carvers, she was the 
1988 recipient of the AGS' Harriette M. Forbes award for excellence in 
gravestone studies. 

Tom Malloy is Professor of American History at Mount Wachusett Com- 
munity College in Gardner, Massachusetts and has presented a number 
of scholarly papers on cemeteries and gravemarkers at annual meetings 
of the Association for Gravestone Studies and the American Culture 
Association. Brenda Malloy teaches fifth grade in Westminster, Massa- 
chusetts and is a member of the Board of Trustees of AGS. An earlier 
article by them appears in Markers IX. 

Richard E. Meyer teaches English and Folklore at Western Oregon State 
College in Monmouth, Oregon. Besides serving as editor of Markers, he 
has edited the books Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Cul- 
ture (1989) and Ethnicity and the American Cemetery (1993) and is co- 
author (with Peggy McDowell) of the book The Revival Styles in American 
Memorial Art (1994). He is a member of the editorial board of The Journal 
of American Culture, and since 1986 has chaired the Cemeteries and 
Gravemarkers section of the American Culture Association. 

Tadashi Nakagawa is Assistant Professor of Geography at the Universi- 
ty of Tsukuba, Japan. He has conducted research and published studies 
on a number of geographic subjects, including the cemetery landscapes 
of Louisiana and Japan, the cultural geography of Japanese migrant 
communities, and locational analysis of Japanese research institutions. 

Deborah A. Smith is curator of advertising and documentary artifacts at 
the Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, and also serves as a mem- 
ber of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Gravestone Studies. 
The author of a previous article in Markers IV, she is curator and princi- 
pal researcher for the exhibition, "Memory and Mourning: American 


Expressions of Grief," presented at the Strong Museum from October, 
1993 to February, 1995. 

Ralph L. Tucker is a retired clergyman who has been involved with 
genealogical research and the study of New England gravestones since 
the early 1960s. He was the first president of the Association for Grave- 
stone studies, is currently a member of the organization's Board of 
Trustees, and in 1992 was recipient of AGS' Harriete M. Forbes award. 
He has authored previous articles in Markers IX and Markers X. 

Thomas C. Ware is Professor of English and Head of the Department of 
English at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he has 
taught since 1967. He has published a number of articles and reviews, 
largely on 19th and early 20th Century British and Irish authors. With a 
collaborator, he has recently completed a book-length manuscript on the 
life and career of Theodore O'Hara. 

Gray Williams, Jr. is a freelance writer on subjects ranging from health 
and gardening to history. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Asso- 
ciation for Gravestone Studies, he has previously published material in 
Markers V and Markers IX. His work on local genealogy, graveyards and 
associated material culture has also appeared in the Bicentennial History 
of the Town of New Castle and in The Westchester Historian, journal of the 
Westchester County Historical Society. 



Boldface page numbers [in brackets] indicate illustrations 

Adams, Samuel 127 

African slavery 112-141 

Ainsworth, Laban 120-122 

Ancient Order of Hibernians in America 

23, [24] 
Ancient Order of United Workmen 25 
Andover Academy (Andover, MA) 119 
Andre, John 66 
Appleton, John 155 
Ascension Parish, LA 32, 40 
Association of Rebekah Assemblies 15, 

Attucks, Crispus 125, 127, [128] 
Aytoun, William (Lays of the Scottish 

Cavaliers) 89-90 

Baird, B.H. 207 

Baker, John 167 

Bannock-Paiute War 202 

Barre, MA 136, 138 

Barrett, Paul 162 

Barron, Benjamin 122 

Barry, William 92 

Battle of Buena Vista 93-94 

Battle of Lexington and Concord 127 

Beach [or Beech], John 60, 71 

"The Bivouac of the Dead" 82-111, [82, 96, 

103, 111] 
Blanchard, Zilpah 141 
Bliss, Daniel 123 
Boddy, William 202 
Boone, Daniel 91, 104 
Boston Massacre 125, 127, [128] 
Boston News Letter 115 
Brackett, Albert 90 
Bradford, MA 143 
Bradstreet, Moses 146 
Branham, Mary O'Hara 94 
Breck, Eunice Brewer 54 
Breck, Robert 54 
Brewer, Bela 77 
Brewer, Daniel 54 
Brewer, Duane 54 
Brewer, Horace 73-79 
Brewer, James 73-79 

Brewer, Joshua 54 

Brewer, Martha Smith 54 

Brewer, Nathaniel 54 

Brewer, Solomon 52-81, [76] 

Brewer, Rene Benton 60 

Brister, Sippio 123, 125, [126] 

B'nai B'rith 21, [21] 

B'rith Abraham 21 

Bromfield, Henry 117, [116] 

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers 25 

Brown, Joseph 130, [131] 

Brown, Lucretia 130 

Bucknum, J.R. 207 

Bucks of America 127 

Buford, John A. [195] 

Burge, Josiah 162 

Burnett, William R. 207 

Burpe, Hannah [149] 

Caldwell, John 136 

Campti Catholic Cemetery (Campti, LA) 

Carnes, William 175, 178 
Catholic Association of Foresters 20 
Catholic Knights of St. George 21 
Chapman, Lloyd 101 
Chattanooga National Military Cemetery 

(Chattanooga, TN) 102 
Christian Endeavor 21 
Clap, Ezra 56, [55] 
Clark, George Rogers 88 
Clatsop Plains Presbyterian Church (near 

Warrenton, OR) [186] 
Clay, Henry, Jr. 93 
Coffin, George 134 
Colver, Samuel and Huldah [212] 
Confederate Memorial (Fairview 

Cemetery, Bowling Green, KY) 178, 

Copeland, Caleb 120 
Copp's Hill Burying Ground (Boston, 

MA) 134 
Couenhoven children stone 68, [67] 
Cowles, Elisha [62] 
Cowles family carvers 61 


Croghan, George 88 
Crump, Turner [210] 
Cummings, Squire 125 
Cutting, Mary [163] 

Daniel Francis M. 214 

Daughters of America 24 

Daughters of the American Revolution 25 

Daughters of Isabella 21 

Daughters of Liberty 24 

Davie, Allen J. [211] 

Day, Hezekiah and Mary 60, [59] 

Degree of Pocahontas 19 

Desire (ship) 113 

Devoe, Abraham 69, [68] 

Dinsmoor, Thomas [159] 

Dixon, Salem 207 

Dixon, Susan Bullitt 94 

Douglas County, OR 218 

Dow, Jeremiah 146 

Duniway, Abigail Scott 190 

Dutcher, Anthony 75, [75] 

Dutton, Samuel 61, [62] 

Eberman, Willis 217 

Eliot, T.S. (Notes Toioard the Definition of 

Culture) 187, 190, 215 
Ellis, William 175 
Epworth League 21, [21] 
Estabrook, Benjamin 127 
Estabrook, Nathan 130 
Estabrook, Prince 127, 130, [129] 

Fairview Cemetery (Bowling Green, KY) 

170-171, 178, 183 
Farnsworth, William [121] 
Filson Club (Louisville, KY) 93-94 
Finch, Francis Miles ("The Blue and the 

Gray") 99-100 
First Burying Ground (North Andover, 

MA) 117 
First Meeting House Cemetery (Jaffrey, 

NH) 121 
First Parish Church Cemetery (Ashby, 

MA) 130 
Fletcher, Joseph 162 
Flova [Gill] 114-116, [114] 
Foote, Shelby 84 
Forbes, Harriette Merrifield 160 

Ford Family Cemetery (near Bowling 

Green, KY) 170, 180 
Ford, James 170, 172, 176 
Ford, Mary 171 
Forsythe, John 92 
Fortune, Amos 120-122, [121] 
Fortune, Lydia Somerset 120 
Fortune, Violate 120-122, [121] 
Foshay, Ann 74, [74] 
Foshay, John 74, [74] 
Freeman, Cato 118-120, [119] 
Freeman, Lydia 118-119, [119] 
Freemasonry (Masonic Orders) 6-15, 134, 

136, [vi, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 17, 18] 
Free Sons of Israel, 21, 23 
French, Clark L. and Laura A. 207 

Geisel, John, John, Jr., Henry, and Andrew 

General George B. MacClellan Gate 

(Arlington National Cemetery, 

Washington, DG.) 83, 94-95, [82] 
Gerard, J.G. 175-176 
German Order of Harugari 23, [23] 
Gettysburg Address 92 
Gettysburg National Cemetery 

(Gettysburg, PA) [96] 
Gill, Moses 114-116, [112, 114, 115] 
Gill, Sarah Prince 115 
Glasiar, Sarah and Stephen 167 
Gold, Thomas 60 
Goodrich, Daniel 132 
Graham, Isaiah 207, [208] 
Granary Burying Ground (Boston, MA) 

116, 127 
Grand United Order of Odd Fellows 19 
Granger's Index to Poetry and Recitations 

"Graveyard School of Poets" 90-91 
Gray, Thomas 83, 100 
Green, Samuel [160, 165] 
Greenburgh, NY 54, 63 
Guilford, CT 60 

Hall, Prince 19,134, 136, [18, 137] 
Hapgood, Joseph 162 
Hart, Mary 148 

Hartless, Samuel, George, and Permelia 


Hartshorne, John 143-145 

Hartshorne, John, Jr. 143 

Hartshorne, Jonathan 155, 167 

Hartshorne, Mary Leighton Spofford 143 

Harvard, MA 143, 158-166 

Haverhill, MA 143 

Haywood, Josiah [161] 

Heard, Samuel [142] 

Henderson, George 207 

Hess, John 184 

Hillside Cemetery (Van Cortlandtville, 

NY) 66, [65] 
Hilltop Pioneer Cemetery (near 

Independence, OR) [219] 
Hines, William. T. 192-193 
Holden, Nathaniel, Jr. 162 
Holliman, John 167 
Holy Rosary Church Cemetery (Larose, 

LA) [43] 
Hough, Sarah, Ira, and Rosetta 60, [61] 
Houghton, William 162 
Households of Ruth 19 
Howarth, John 175 
Howell, David 71 
Hume, Edgar 93 
Huntley, Mary Jane King and Nathaniel 

C. [215] 

Ilsley, Abigail [153] 

Immaculate Conception Church Cemetery 

(Assumption Parish, LA) [48] 
Improved Order of Red Men 17, 19, [17] 
Independent Order of Good Samaritans 

Independent Order of Odd Fellows 15, [4, 

14, 16] 
Ish family plot (Jacksonville Cemetery, 

Jacksonville, OR) [199] 

Jack [Gill] 116 

Jack, John 122-123, [124] 

Jacksonville Marble Works (Jacksonville, 

OR) [201] 
Jaffrey, NH 120-122 
Jennison, Nathaniel 136 
Jewett, Ephraim 146 
Johnson family carvers 56 
Johnson, J.L. 182-183 
Johnson, Sarah (Sallie) Smith 176, 181-183 

Johnston, A.S. 104 
Jordan, Terry G. 215 
Judkins, Thomas H. 207 

Keeler, Charles 204-205 

Kentucky Building (Western Kentucky 

University, Bowling Green, KY) 174 
Kentucky Historical Society (Frankfort, 

Kentucky Masonic Mutual Life Insurance 

Company 180 
Kentucky State Cemetery (Frankfort, KY) 

90-93, 104 
Kentucky Yeoman 92-93 
Kimball, Benjamin 152, 167, [151] 
Kimball, Richard 167 
King, Anthony 68 
Kings Chapel Burying Ground (Boston, 

MA) 117 
Knights of Columbus 20, [21] 
Knights of Labor 21 
Knights of Luther 21 
Knights of the Maccabees of the World 21, 

Knights of Pythias 19, [20] 
Knights of St. John 21 
Know-Nothing Party 24 
Koehler, Heinrich [209] 
Kurault, Charles 84 

Ladd, Martha Hartshorne 145 

Ladies of the Maccabees 21, [22] 

Larkin, J. 204 

Laws, Lee and Joe 206-207 

Laymen, William F. 204 

Lee, Jason [191] 

Leighton, Abigail Elithorp 146 

Leighton, Ezekiel 142-158 

Leighton, Ezekiel, Jr. 146, 149 

Leighton, Jonathan 143-158 

Leighton, Mary Boynton 146 

Leighton, Rebecca Woodman 145 

Leighton, Richard 144 

Leighton, Richard (1687-1749) 143-158 

Lenox, David. T. 214 

Leslie, David 194 

Levistone, Seth 162 

Lincoln, Abraham 92 

Lincoln, MA 123, 125 


London, Eden 130, 132, [133] 
Lone Fir Cemetery (Portland, OR) 218 
Lot Whitcomb (steamship) 204 
Lovell, Thomas [148] 
Loving Quarry (Bowling Green, KY) 177- 
178, 181 

Martlings, Abraham 54, 63, 79, [52] 

Martlings, Daniel 63, 79 

Martlings, Isaac 79 

Matherne-Rogers Cemetery (Houma, LA) 

McBride and McCormick (Bowling Green, 

KY) 177-178 
McElwain and Feland (Bowling Green, 

KY) 180-181 
McMurray, Ann Shannon 171 
McMurray Thomas 171-172 
Meeting House Hill Cemetery (Princeton, 

MA) 114-116 
Meigs, Montgomery 95-98 
Memorial Amphitheater (Arlington 

National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.) 

Merriam, John 162 
Miller, Elijah 63, [64] 
Miller, Joaquin 190, 192 
Missouri Rat Cemetery (Jackson County, 

OR) [192] 
Montague, Hannah 56, [57] 
Montague, Luke 56, [58] 
Moody, William 207 
Morgan, William 10 
Morse, Frederick K. 204 
Mullicken family carvers 143, 145-146 

Nason, Martha 167 

Natchidoches, LA 36 

National Archives (Washington, D.C.) 95, 

National Society of Colonial Dames of 

America 25 
Nero [Gill] 114, [112] 
New Orleans, LA 39-40 
New York City, NY 53 
Northend, Ezekiel 146 

Odell, Jonathan 73-74, [72, 73] 
Odell, Maria 70, [69] 

O'Hara, Helen Hardy 89 
O'Hara, Kean 83, 86-89, [87] 
O'Hara, Theodore 82-111, [85, 103] 
Old Burial Ground (Harvard, MA) 117 
Old Burial Hill (Marblehead, MA) 130 
Old Centre Burying Ground 

(Winchendon, MA) 132, 134 
Old Dutch Church (Sleepy Hollow, NY) 

63, 78-79 
Old Hill Burying Ground (Concord, MA) 

Old South Church (Boston, MA) 115 
Oliver, George 10 

Order of the Eastern Star 13, 15, [13] 
Order of Rechabites 24 
Order of the Star Spangled Banner 24 
Order of Uncle Sam 24 
Order of United American Mechanics 24, 

Oregon Historic Cemeteries Association 

Oregon Pioneer Association 218 
Oregon Trail 190, 192 
Othello [Bromfield] 117, [116] 
Owen Macdonald & Company (Bowling 

Green, KY) 179 

Park family carvers 166 

Parker, Benjamin 162 

Parker, Edward 61-62 

Parker, Eldad 61-62 

Parsons, Thomas W. ("Dirge: For One 

Who Fell in Battle") 99 
Patriotic Order of True Americans 24 
Patrons of Husbandry (The Grange) 25, 

Paulding, John 66 
Paulding, Sarah Tidd 66, [65] 
Perley Sidney 146 
Phillips, Benjamin, Jr. 119 
Phillips, Salem and Rama 119 
Phillips, Samuel 119 
Pickard, Jonathan [152] 
Pin Hill Quarry (Harvard, MA) 164 
Pioneer Cemetery (Vale, OR) [216] 
Plumer, Abigail [156] 
Polish Falcons 23 
Prescott, Benjamin 162 
Primus [Stevens] 117-118, [118] 


Prince, Thomas 115 

Providence Cemetery (St. John the Baptist 

Parish, LA) [37] 
Pythian Sisters 19 

Ranck, George W. 93 

Randall, Robert B. 203-204 

Register (Mobile, AL) 92 

Repose Park (Bowling Green, KY) 169 

Requa, Gabriel 70-71, [70] 

Requa, Glode 71-72, 77, [71] 

Richardson, Ichabod 120 

Roberts, Robert E. Lee 204 

Rock Island (ID Arsenal 95 

Rockland County, NY 54, 63 

Roeder, Frederic 204, [205] 

Rogers, Ezekiel 143 

Rowley, MA 142-158 

Ryan, Abram ("Sentinel Songs") 99 

Salem, MA 113 

Salem Pioneer Cemetery (Salem, OR) 194 

Saltmarsh, Joseph B. and Mary E. 202 

Sanders, Benjamin C. 175, 177-180 

Sawyer, Moses 162 

Scott, Sir Walter 89 

Second Cemetery (North Andover, MA) 

118-119, [119] 
Sextus Propertius (Elegies) 83 
Simons, Daniel 214 [213] 
Sims, David 132, 134, [135] 
Sleepy Hollow (North Tarrytown), NY 54 
Smith, Eliza Viola [193] 
Smith, Elizabeth 167 
Smith, Hugh F. 168-185 
Smith, Lydia Ann McMurray 171, 176-181 
Smith, Louisa McMurray 171 
Snell, C.P 182, 184 

Society of Mayflower Descendants 25 
Sons of the American Revolution 127, 130 
Sons of Italy 23 
Sons of Temperance 24 
Soule family carvers 140 
South, John 177 
Spaulding, Sarah [154] 
Spindler, Andrew [173] 
Spindler, Willie [168] 
Spofford, Thomas 143 
Springfield, MA 54 

St. Joseph Cemetery (Zwolle, LA) 35 
St. Joseph College (Bardstown, KY) 90 
St. Louis I Cemetery (New Orleans, LA) 

St. Louis II Cemetery (New Orleans, LA) 

St. Michael Cemetery (St. Martin Parish, 

LA) [45] 
St. Peter Street Cemetery (New Orleans, 

LA) 40 
St. Pius Church Cemetery (White Sulphur, 

Staiger, William [200] 
Stephens, James B. and Elizabeth [198] 
Stevens, Benjamin 117-118, [118] 
Stout, Jno.L. 178, 182-183 
Sumner, Increase 116 
Sun (Louisville, KY) 92 

Tarrytown Argus 54 

Tarrytown, NY 63 

Taylor, Zachary 88, 93 

Thiel, Lena E. [196] 

Thomas [Gill] 115, [115] 

Thoreau, Henry David (Walden) 125, [126] 

Toelken, Barre 190 

Tredwell, Martha [157] 

Twelve Knights of Tabor 19 

Union Spring Cemetery (Webster Parish, 

LA) [38] 
Underhill, Nathaniel 79 

Van Tassell, Daniel 54, 63, 73 
Van Tessell, Catriena 77 
Van Tessell, Petrus 77, [78] 
Violet [Gill] 116 

Wall, Asher F. 204, [206] 
Walker, Prince 136, 138, [139] 
Walker, Quok 136, 138 
Ward, Thomas 207, [208] 
Warren County, KY 168-185 
Washington, George 63 
Westchester County, NY 52-81 
West Indies 113 
Wetherbee, Daniel 162 
Whalen, William 21 


Whipp, J.C. [201] 

White Plains, NY 54 

White Plains Presbyterian Church 

Graveyard (White Plains, NY) 63 
White Stone Quarry (Bowling Green, KY) 

172, 174-175, 177-182, [174] 
Whitman, Walt {Drum Taps) 99 
Willamette Valley, OR 186-219 
Winchendon (MA) Historical Society 132 

Wolfe, Thomas (Look Homeward, Angel) 83 
Wood, Moses [150] 
Woodmen of the World 21-23, [23] 
Woodmen's Circle 22 
Workmen's Circle 21 
Worster, Ebenezer 1 58 
Worster, Jonathan 158-166 
Worster, Moses 160-166 
Worster, Rebecca 158 
Worster, Sarah Witt 160 
Worster, William 158 

Yates, Elizabeth 120 
Young, James A. 205-206 
Young, William 218 



The Association for Gravestone Studies was incorporated as a non- 
profit corporation in 1978 as an outgrowth of the Dublin Seminar for 
New England Folklife. The first volume of the Association's scholarly 
journal, Markers, appeared in 1980. While the charter purposes of AGS 
are broad, the general editorial policy of Markers is to define its subject 
matter as the analytical study of gravemarkers of all types and encom- 
passing all historical periods and geographical regions of North Ameri- 
ca. Gravemarkers are here taken to mean above-ground artifacts that 
commemorate the spot of burial, thereby excluding memorials or ceno- 
taphs. Articles on death and dying in general or on other aspects of 
death-related material culture would not normally fall within the jour- 
nal's purview unless clearly linked to the study of gravemarkers. Partic- 
ular cemeteries may form the basis of study if a major focus of the article 
is on the markers contained therein and if the purpose of the article is 
more than simply a history or description of the cemeteries themselves. 
While not necessarily excluded, articles dealing with material not found 
in North America should seek in some fashion to provide meaningful 
comparative analysis with material found here. Finally, articles submit- 
ted for publication in Markers should be scholarly, analytical and inter- 
pretive, not merely descriptive and entertaining. Within these general 
parameters, the journal seeks variety both in subject matter and discipli- 
nary orientation. For illustration of these general principles, the prospec- 
tive author is encouraged to consult recent issues of Markers. 


Submissions to Markers should be sent to the journal's editor, Richard 
E. Meyer, English Department, Western Oregon State College, Mon- 
mouth, OR 97361 (Telephone: (503) 838-8362 / E-Mail: Meyerr@fsa.wosc. Manuscripts should be submitted in triplicate (original and 
two duplicate copies) and should include originals of any accompany- 
ing photographs or other illustrations. Generally, articles in Markers run 
between fifteen and twenty-five 8V2 x 11 typescripted, double-spaced 

pages in length, inclusive of notes and any appended material. Longer 
articles may be considered if they are of exceptional merit and if space 

Should the article be accepted for publication, a final version of the 
manuscript must be submitted to the editor in both a hard copy and 
computer diskette format. The following word processing programs are 
currently compatible with the journal's disk translation software (one 
assumes more recent versions of these programs, should they become 
available, will also be acceptable): Ami Pro 1.0, 2.0; AppleWorks WP 2.0, 
3.0; DCA-RFT (Display Write); FrameMaker MIF 2.0, 3.0; MacWrite 4.5, 
5.0; MacWrite II; Multimate; Multimate 4.0; OfficeWriter 5.O., 6.0;; Profes- 
sional Write; RTF (Rich Text Format); Text; Word Mac 3.0, 4.0, 5.0; Word 
PC; Word for Windows 1.0, 2.0; WordStar 3.0, 4.0. 5.0, 6.0, 7.0; WordPer- 
fect 4.2, 5.0; WordPerfect PC 5.1, 6.0 (DOS & Windows); WordPerfect 
Mac 1.0, 2.0, 2.1; Works WP Mac & PC 2.0, 3.0; WriteNow Mac 2.0; 
WriteNow NeXT 1.0, 2.0; XYWrite III. 

Regular volumes of Markers are scheduled to appear annually in Jan- 
uary. No deadline is established for the initial submission of a manu- 
script, but the articles scheduled for publication in a given volume of the 
journal are generally determined by the chronological order of accep- 
tance and submission in final form. 


In matters of style, manuscripts should conform to the rules and 
principles enumerated in the most current edition of The Chicago Manual 
of Style. 

Notes, whether documentary or discursive, should appear as end- 
notes (i.e., at the conclusion of the article) and those of a documentary 
nature should conform in format to the models found in the chapter 
entitled "Note Forms" of The Chicago Manual of Style. In manuscript, they 
should be typed double-spaced and appear following the text of the arti- 
cle and before any appended material. Separate bibliographies are not 
desired, though bibliographical material may, of course, be included 
within one or more notes. Any acknowledgements should be made in a 
separate paragraph at the beginning of the note section. 

Again, the prospective author is encouraged to consult recent issues 
of Markers for examples of these principles in context. 


Markers is a richly illustrated journal, its subject matter naturally 
lending itself to photographs and other visual material. The journal 
encourages prospective authors to submit up to twenty illustrations 
with the understanding that these be carefully chosen so as to materially 
enhance the article's value through visual presentation of points under 
discussion in the text. Photos should be 5x7 or 8x10 black and white 
glossies of medium to high contrast. Maps, charts, diagrams or other line 
art should be rendered as carefully as possible so as to enhance presen- 
tation. A separate sheet should be provided listing captions for each 
illustration. It is especially important that each illustration be numbered 
and clearly identified by parenthetical reference at the appropriate place 
in the text, e.g. (Fig. 7). 


Submissions to Markers are sent by the editor to members of the jour- 
nal's editorial advisory board for review and evaluation. Every effort is 
made to conduct this process in as timely a manner as possible. When 
comments have been received from all reviewers, the author will be noti- 
fied of the publication decision. If an article is accepted, suggestions for 
revision may be made and a deadline for submission of a finalized man- 
uscript established. All accepted articles will be carefully edited for style 
and format before publication. 


Authors are responsible for understanding the laws governing copy- 
right and fair use and, where appropriate, securing written permissions 
for use of copyrighted material. Generally, if previously copyrighted 
material of more than 250 words is used in an article, written permission 
from the person holding the copyright must be secured and submitted to 
the editor. In like manner, permission should be obtained from persons 
who have supplied photographs to the author, and credit to the photog- 

rapher should be provided in captions or acknowledgement statement. 
As regards articles published in Markers, copyright is normally given 
to the Association for Gravestone Studies, though requests for permis- 
sion to reprint are readily accommodated. Offset copies of published 
articles are not provided to authors: each contributor, however, receives 
a complimentary copy of the volume. 


It is extremely expensive to produce a journal of the size and quality 
of Markers. Should authors of accepted articles have available to them 
any source of outside support in the form of grants-in-aid to support 
photographs, text or other publication costs, such financial assistance in 
the form of gifts to the Association for Gravestone Studies would be 
most sincerely appreciated. It goes without saying, of course, that such 
matters have no influence upon the editorial selection process. 


MARKERS I Reprint of 1980 journal. Collec- 
tion of 15 articles on topics such as recording 
and care of gravestones, resources for teach- 
ers, some unusual markers, and carvers 
Ithamar Spauldin of Concord, Mass. and the 
Connecticut Hook-and-Eye Man. 
182 pages, 100 illustrations 

MARKERS II Signed stones in New England 
and Atlantic coastal states; winged skull sym- 
bol in Scotland and New England; early sym- 
bols in religious and wider social perspective; 
Mass. carvers Joseph Barbur, Jr., Stephen and 
Charles Hartshorn, and carver known as 
"JN"; Portage County, Wise, carvers from 
1850-1900; and a contemporary carver of San 
Angelo, Tex. 

226 pages, 168 illustrations 

MARKERS III Gravestone styles in frontier 
towns of Western Mass.; emblems and epi- 
taphs on Puritan gravestones; John 
Hartshorn's carvings in Essex County, Mass.; 
and New Hampshire carvers Paul Colburn, 
John Ball, Josiah Coolidge Wheat, Coolidge 
Wheat, and Luther Hubbard. 
154 pages, 80 illustrations 

MARKERS IV Delaware children's stones of 
1840-1899; rural southern gravemarkers; New 
York and New Jersey carving traditions; cam- 
posantos of New Mexico; and death Italo- 
American style. 

180 pages, 138 illustrations 

MARKERS V Pennsylvania German grave- 
stones; mausoleum designs of Louis Henri 
Sullivan; Thomas Gold and 7 Boston carvers 
of 1700-1725 who signed stones with their ini- 
tials; and Canadian gravestones and yards in 
Ontario and Kings County, Nova Scotia. 
240 pages, 158 illustrations 

MARKERS VI Carver John Dwight of 
Shirley, Mass.; gravestones of Afro-Americans 
from New England to Georgia; sociological 
study of Chicago-area monuments; more on 
New Mexico camposantos; hand symbolism in 

Southwestern Ontario; an epitaph from 
ancient Turkey; and a review essay on James 
Slater's The Colonial Burying Grounds of Eastern 

245 pages, 90 illustrations 

MARKERS VII A trilogy on cemetery gates 
and plot enclosures; the Boston Historic Bury- 
ing Grounds Initiative; unusual monuments 
in colonial tidewater Virginia; tree stones in 
Southern Indiana's Limestone Belt; life and 
work of Virginia carver Charles Miller Walsh; 
carvers of Monroe County, Ind.; Celtic crosses; 
and monuments of the Tsimshian Indians of 
Western Canada. 

281 pages, 158 illustrations 

MARKERS VIII A collection of the pioneer- 
ing studies of Dr. Ernest Caulfield on Con- 
necticut carvers and their work: fifteen essays 
edited by James A. Slater and three edited by 
Peter Benes. 

342 pages, 206 illustrations 

MARKERS IX A tribute to the art of Francis 
Duval; the Mullicken Family carvers of Brad- 
ford, Mass.; the Green Man on Scottish mark- 
ers; photo-essay on the Center Church Crypt, 
New Haven, Conn.; more on Ithamar 
Spauldin and his shop; the Almshouse Burial 
Ground, Uxbridge, Mass.; Thomas Craw- 
ford's monument for Amos Binney; Salt Lake 
City Temple symbols on Mormon tombstones; 
language codes in Texas German cemeteries; 
and the disappearing Shaker cemetery. 
281 pages, 176 illustrations 

MARKERS X The markers carved by Calvin 
Barber of Simsbury, Conn.; Chinese markers 
in a midwestern American Cemetery; the 
stonecarving of Charles Lloyd Neale of 
Alexandria, Va.; the Jewish cemeteries of 
Louisville, Ky; four generations of the Lam- 
son family carvers of Charlestown and 
Maiden, Mass.; and the Protestant Cemetery 
in Florence, Italy. 

254 pages, 122 illustrations