I arrived a little after 3pm and was pleased to find that many of the stones were illuminated by raking sunlight. The stones in this graveyard are arranged in rows, but the rows are all higglety-piggelty, so no matter what time of day you go, some stones will be completely in shadow, some will be blown out in full light and some will catch the raking light.
One that caught my eye was the Elizabeth Phillips stone (1761). Although the epitaph is partially decayed, I could read enough to know that this was a special stone — it belonged to one of the most prolofic midwives in New England.
transcription of Phillips' epitaph that contains multiple errors (ex: gives Mr. Phillips' name as John rather than Eleazer). Other books also contain versions of the epitaph. None of these are perfect, but combined with the evidence left on the gravestone, it is possible to recreate an approximate facsimilie of the text:
Here lyes Interred ye Body of
Mrs. Elizabeth Phillips, Wife
to Mr. Eleazer Phillips; Who
was born in Westminster, in Great
Britain & Commission'd by John,
Lord Bishop of London, in ye Year
1718, to the office of a Midwife, & came
into this country in ye Year 1719, and, by
ye blessing of God, has brought into
ye world above  children.
Died May 5, 1761, aged 76 years.
I put the number 3,000 in brackets because it looks like there may be another digit to the left of the 3 on the stone. It could be the edge of the previous letter, though it looks straight, so it can't have been the "e" of "above."
I am inclined to think that 3,000 is a more likely number. In addition to the evidence presented in the 19th-century sources, it means that Phillips attended an average of around 75 births per year over the course of her 40-year career. This still makes her a very busy midwife (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich found that Martha Ballard attended between 45 and 60 births per year during the peak of her practice and over 800 in her career). A figure of 13,000 would mean that Phillips delivered an average of one baby every day for 40 years. Even for a dedicated midwife living in an urban area, that seems unlikely. I'll post the close-up and you can decide for yourself.
From time to time, I'll come across a man's stone that specifies his profession. Ministers' epitaphs nearly always mention it. Women are often praised for being good mothers or pious church members, but very rarely specify a woman's particular skills or tell us what she was known for in her community. In Elizabeth Phillips' case, her work made her a vital and respected part of the town's life and someone — her husband, the Lamsons, or her neighbors — saw fit to memorialize her profession as well as her family connections.