Monday, November 30, 2009

A Tribute to Robert Burns?

This is Edward Waldo Emerson, youngest son of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He seems unimpressed with his little Glengarry cap. Not too fond of that basket of lettuce, either.

via VIA

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Autumn: Season of Death?

Over the past few weeks, I've been compiling a database based on Benjamin Drew's transcriptions of Plymouth epitaphs. Hopefully, when I'm done, I will be able to quantify some of the patterns that I have observed anecdotally.

I am nowhere near done with this work, but I took a little break today to run some early statistics. One of the patterns I noticed as I was entering the data was that more people seemed to die in the autumn than in the summer. A graph of the month of death for the first 1,400 individuals in my database showed that there was a noticeable pattern:

There seems to have been a dip in the death rate during the late spring and summer and a peak in the early autumn. I will have to do more detailed analysis when I am done entering all of the data (only 1,500 gravestones to go!). After seeing this overall pattern, I will want to break the death months down by age, decade, gender, etc. I suspect that the month has less of an effect on babies who die in the first month after birth and adults ages 15-50, but may have a pronounced influence on those most susceptible to epidemics: young children (age 2 months-5 years) and the elderly.

We'll see.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Cary Family of Brockton, MA

After my post on Bible names with trend potential, commenter Heather Rojo sent me on a quest to find colonial New Englanders named Vashti. Result: there are way more of them than I would have expected.

While poking around, I found the Cary family of Brockton, MA. What a fantastically eclectic group of names! Here is a sampling from their family entry in the Vital Records of Brockton, MA:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Youth's Companion
17 April 1902

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Red-Tailed Hawk on Campus

I wish I could carry my big camera around campus on a daily basis, but I can't manage it and my computer at the same time. That means I have only my non-zooming cell phone to capture fun things like this red-tailed hawk. There is a pair of hawks on campus — they are always screeching, but very rarely perch so low to the ground.

I would have had an amazing pic if I had had my Nikon. Perhaps I need a mid-sized, mid-powered option.

101 Ways, Part 117: Died of the 108 Convulsion Fit

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Silas Barron
d. 1766
Groton, MA

Here lies
the Body of
Silas Barron, son of
Mr. Silasparker Barron
& Mrs. Abigail his wife,
who died of the 108
Convulsion fit Augt 7th
AD 1766. Aged 3 weeks
and 1 Day.

This is such a sad epitaph. It conjures a terrible image of distraught parents clutching a dying baby and counting every seizure.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Origin of Species Day

Today is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species. I will be celebrating by listening to the Darwin Song Project (available on iTunes) and reading some of the more stirring passages of Darwin's unexpectedly lucid prose:

Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

A Very Confusing Epitaph

I found a mystery in Groton, MA last weekend. See what you can make of this epitaph:

Usually, I would interpret the "he" of "he was educated at Harvard College" as referring back to Col. John Bulkley, but that cannot be. He can't have graduated from Harvard in 1769 and died in 1772 at age 69. I've looked through Sibley's Harvard Grads and the oldest students were in their early 20s.

I can only assume that the second half of the epitaph refers to the younger John Bulkley (b. 1749), who was indeed a member of Harvard's class of 1769. This makes sense — the second half clearly eulogizes a young man.

It's strange, though. The Park family would have known the Bulkleys, so perhaps this epitaph was not confusing to them, but it departs rather significantly from the usual pattern of epitaphs. If there is a verse or eulogy beneath the vital information, it is almost always dedicated to the principal honoree. I've never seen anything like this one before.

Col. John Bulkley and John Bulkley, Jr.
d. 1772 and 1774
Groton, MA

Monday, November 23, 2009

Better Pictures

I've updated the pictures on 101 Ways to Say Died #111 and #112. Enjoy!

Treasure Trove

All lovers of kids in hats should go immediately to photo_history's Flickr photostream! I have already spent more than an hour flipping through the hundreds of beautiful daguerreotypes there. If you do not click through, this little girl will pout at you with her chubby, chubby cheeks and then dispatch her casts gloves to track you down and drag you there.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Brother is Famous

Not really, but he is a manager for the UConn football team, so he keeps showing up in press photos. A few weeks ago, he celebrated a touchdown against Rutgers (see photo #33 — he's the one jumping in the background). Now, he's on the Sports Illustrated website — click through to photo #9 to see the full photo of Graham talking to his new friend.

Happy Birthday, Brighid!

Happy 14, Biddie.

Biblical Names That Are Ready for a Comeback

Part of the fun of wandering around in old graveyards is enjoying the 17th- and 18th-century names. I have several favorites that are, alas, out of the question for my hypothetical future children (Hepzibah, Dorcas, Temperance, Thankful). Perhaps we will use them on cats.

Colonial New Englanders used pretty much every name in the Bible — even the naughty ones (Jezebel, Antipas, Herod). Some of these names are definitively out (Mephibosheth, Onesiphorus, Mehuman), but others seemed poised to make a comeback.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Name of the Day

Today I introduce a new category to the colonial New England naming Olympics: most asymmetrically named couple. Our first nominees are from Groton, MA:

Mephibosheth and Jane Adams

According to Samuel Abbott Green's history of Groton, Mr. Adams was called "Fib" by his neighbors. The Adams family had seven children: Susanna, Lucy, Jane, Lydia, Amos, James, and John.

Mephibosheth's parents, John and Mary Adams of Lexington, had a somewhat erratic naming style. Their children were
  • Mephibosheth (b. 1715)
  • John (b. 1717)
  • Michael or Micah (b. 1718)
  • Mary (b. 1721)
  • Abijah (b. 1722)
  • Prudence (b. 1727)
  • Samson (b. 1729)
  • George (b. 1733)
As far as I can tell, Mephibosheth was not named for any relatives — his grandfathers were named George and Gershom, his great-grandfathers were George, Thomas, Michael (itself an unusual name for a Puritan), and either John or William (records disagree). I haven't found many other Mephibosheths in Massachusetts, though there was a Mephibosheth Cain residing in the town of Canaan in 1797. Others:
  • Mephibosheth Bigsbie (or Bixby), b. 1690, Andover, MA
  • Mephibosheth Coddington, b. 1799, Taunton, MA
  • Mephibosheth Baily, b. 1778
As far as Biblical names go, Mephibosheth does not strike me as a particularly promising appellation. Beyond the spelling and nickname issues, there is the problem of the Bible's two Mephibosheths: one, a son of Saul hanged for his father's crimes in 2 Samuel 21, and the other a son of Saul's son Jonathan who is maimed during the escape from the Gibeonites who lynch his father and uncles and grows up to betray King David.

101 Ways, Part 116: Submitted to the Stroke of All Conquering Death

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Abel Lawrence
d. 1770
Groton, MA

Memento mori
HERE lies Inter'd the Remains of
ABEL Lawrence Esqr: son of ye late Col
Wm Lawrence & Susanna his wife.
Being formed by ye GOD of ye Spirits of all
flesh with Superiour intallectual abilities,
he was Called forth in Early life to the
mannagement of publick bussiness, and
acquitted himself with honour. he was
for Several years a member of ye General
Court, a Justice of ye peace; he was affable
in his Disposition when he saw any in
Distress he felt for them & was ready to
Releive them to the utmost of his power.
Beleiving a state of immortality, he endav
oured to secure happiness therein, by the
Exercise of Repentance towards GOD & faith
in Christ. after patiently Endureing a long
and distressing illness, he submitted to
the Stroke of all Conquering death
on the 20th of September AD 1770
Anno AEtatis 41

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Heraldry

For all you heraldry fans out there:

Jonas Cutler
d. 1782
Groton, MA

101 Ways, Part 115: Was Instantly Kill'd by a Stock of Boards

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Aaron Bowers
d. 1791
Pepperell, MA

Yesterday, I wrote about Aaron's brother, John, who drowned in 1776 at the age of three. Aaron was born many years after his parents lost their first son and also died in an accident as a toddler. The verse at the end of the epitaph bears witness to his parents' ongoing grief.

Memento mori
In memory of
Aaron Bowers, son of
Mr. John Bowers & Mrs
Lydia his wife,
who was instantlykill'd
by a stock of boards Sept
12 1791. AEt 2 yrs & 10 mon
Parents dear your idols
all take down.
Lest God should still
upon you frown.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

101 Ways, Part 114: Was Drouned in a Tan Pit

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

John Bowers
d. 1776
Pepperell, MA

Young John Bowers of Pepperell met a horrible end when he fell into a tan pit in 1776. I don't know much about leatherworking, but it seems that a pit used for curing hides is full of lime or other astringents. All of the references I found in a quick Google search describe tan pits as just a slight cut above cesspools in terms of vileness.

John Bowers was not the only child in New England to drown in a tan pit: Thomas Newhall drowned in Boston in 1665 and Mary Hall Morrison (age 2) died in 1825.

Here lies the
Body of John Bowers
the first Born & only
son of Mr John Bower
and Mrs Lydia his wife
who was drouned in
a tan pit Augst 24th
1776 Aged 3 Years 3
months & 6 days.
Youth's foreward [s]lips [?]
Death soonest Nips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Prayer for the Wool Workers

"Blessed are the dead who dye in the Lord"
Groton, MA

Heraldry in Concord

It is a well-established fact that I know nothing about heraldry. It is frequently pretty, but that is the extent of my informed commentary on the subject. This coat of arms can be found on the Colonel Nathan Barrett gravestone (1791) in Concord, MA. I suppose that those are supposed to by lions rampant in the middle there, though they look more like horse-rat hybrids.

If anyone would like to offer some informed commentary in the comments, I will elevate it to guest post status.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Name of the Day

There is a tiny graveyard in Bar Harbor, Maine that holds the graves of two women named Aquea and Aquaie. I have never seen these names before. I wonder whether they spring from the same inspiration as Wavey from The Shipping News.

Aquea S. Roberts
d. 1861
Bar Harbor, ME

Aquaie J. Alley
d. 1886
Bar Harbor, ME

Monday, November 16, 2009

Addams Family Hat

I dedicate this hat to my mother, who loves 19th-century portraits in which half-hidden monsters mothers steady their floppy offspring for the camera.

I think this hat thing needs to be a weekly feature.

via VIA

Sunday, November 15, 2009


As commenter RJO pointed out, it is quite unusual to see the title "Madam" on New England gravestones. I was in Burlington, MA recently and was surprised to find two examples:

Madam Hannah Peters
d. 1782
Burlington, MA

Madam Abigail Jones
d. 1814
Burlington, MA

Both Hannah and Abigail were the widows of ministers, as was Jane Robbins, so I imagine that "Madam" was probably a way of honoring the wives of illustrious men.

"faithful black domestic of Madam Abigail Jones"
d. 1813
Burlington, MA

101 Ways, Part 113: Commenced Her Inseparable Union With Her Much Beloved Husband and Her God

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Jane Robbins
d. 1800
Plymouth, MA

I don't know where the original line breaks came in this epitaph, so I have broken it where it makes sense to me. There may be a word or two missing from the transcription in the last line before the verse.

This Stone
consecrated to the memory of
consort of the late
Revd Dr Robbins
who languished from his death
30th June 1799
till 12th September 1800
when in the 60th year of her age
She commenced her inseparable
union with her much beloved Husband
and her God
[?] is erected by the Piety
of her afflicted children.
Unfading hope when life's last embers burn,
When soul to soul and dust to dust return,
Heav'n to thy charge resigns the awful hour
Oh, then thy Kingdom comes immortal Power.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Good For Them

I applaud these teachers who have found a way to make a little extra money by selling their lesson plans online. To administrators who think that school districts should get a cut of the profits from the sale of teachers' original work, I say go jump in a lake.* If it's their original work, they own it and have every right to sell it. I especially applaud teachers for developing and selling lesson plans intended to modify scripted curricula like Open Court and Saxon Math.

The article contains no mention of the rise of scripted curricula, but I can imagine that it is a significant factor in driving online lesson plan sales. When I was a teacher, I would gladly have paid $50 for a unit plan called "Squeeze Some Meaningful Learning Out of This Crappy Open Court Unit Without Losing Your Mind." Or better yet, "A Beginner's Guide to Unspiraling Saxon Math."

I laughed when I read the quotation from Joseph McDonald, a professor of education at NYU: "“Teachers swapping ideas with one another, that’s a great thing,” he said. “But somebody asking 75 cents for a word puzzle reduces the power of the learning community and is ultimately destructive to the profession.”

Yep, nothing undermines the profession of teaching like regular teachers acting as if their own intellectual work is a valuable resource. They should all give it away for free because teaching is an altruistic calling, not a profession. That way, we can keep treating teachers like volunteers who do what they do purely out of the goodness of their hearts, rather than treating them like professionals who create original work and deserve to be rewarded for it.

* I should make it clear that I am assuming that most of the work in creating these lesson plans goes on outside of classroom time. When I was an elementary school teacher in California, I was compensated for one hour of prep time per week. I spent many, many more hours than that writing lesson plans. Other teachers refused to do unpaid prep because it undermined their bargaining position with the district, and I respect their decision to work only during those hours for which they were paid. The district treated us like contractors — we were given a budget of $125 per semester, which barely covered copy paper and whiteboard markers. My first year, I spent about $2,000 of my own money outfitting an undersupplied classroom with what I considered to be the bare essentials (pencils, a pencil sharpener, crayons, writing paper, construction paper, chart paper, used books, rulers, scissors, glue sticks, folders) and reasonable extras (paint, paintbrushes, magnifying glasses, supplies for science experiments, new books, a decent dictionary, pillows for the reading area, magnets for the whiteboard, jump ropes, playground balls, etc.). Family members kicked in for special extras — my students particularly loved the finger puppets purchased for them by my mother-in-law. I claimed the federal maximum ($250) on my taxes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bostonian Society Exhibit

Earlier in the week, Boston 1775 linked to a nice little online exhibit put on by the Bostonian Society (the people who run the Old State House). The exhibit features material objects that belonged to or were created by 18th-century women and girls. The interface is not obvious (click on numbers on the watch face to access different objects), but the pictures are lovely.

I especially enjoyed the mourning ring (pictured above) and the 1821 coffin plate. If I remember correctly, there is a character in one of Lucy Maud Montgomery's later Anne novels who collects coffin plates. As I child, I thought that that sounded like an interesting hobby, though, now that I think about it, I wonder how she got her hands on them.

101 Ways, Part 112: Died in His Countrys Sevice

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

UPDATE (11/23): Now with an improved picture!

I should have posted this one on Wednesday, but I just didn't think of it. Sorry for the terrible picture quality. I'm sure that I will be back in Groton soon and will try to do a better job.

Memento mori
Here lies the Body
of Mr. Nathaniel Stone
son of Mr. Nathaniel
Stone & Mrs. Sybel
his wife who died
in his Countrys ser
vice on Dorchester
Hill Octr. 22d. 1776
Aged 17 years one
month & 22 days.

Nathaniel Stone's gravestone would seem to indicate that he died while occupying Dorchester Heights during the siege of Boston. Yet, the dates are a little fishy. After the British abandoned Boston in March of 1776, there was little reason to continue occupying the heights and Washington's army spent the summer of 1776 moving toward New York. At the end of October, they were engaged in the Battle of White Plains.

I am left wondering whether the date might be mistaken or whether young Nathaniel, just a few weeks past his 17th birthday, was part of a militia guard left behind to guard Boston when Washington pulled his troops out.

Nathaniel Stone
d. 1776
Groton, MA
carved by the Park family

Thursday, November 12, 2009

101 Ways, Part 111: Was Removed by a Dysentery

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

UPDATE (11/23): Now with an improved picture!

Like Lydia Dyar, Abigail Kenrick was an elderly civilian displaced by the seige of Boston in 1775. Though she lived in Newton, not in the city itself, Abigail decided to
relocate to Groton, MA, where she lived with her daughter Anna's young family. Anna had married the Rev. Samuel Dana in 1762 at the age of 19. When her mother came to live with them, Anna had borne 7 children (6 of them living) and was pregnant with her eighth (Luther b. 1763, Amelia b. 1765, future congressman Samuel b. 1767, Thesta b. 1769, Anna b. 1771, Stephen b. 1773 d. 1773, Stephen b. 1774 d. 1775, Lucy b. 1776).

The late summer of 1775 was not kind to this family. One-year-old Stephen died on August 6th and his grandmother followed him on September 7th. Abigail Kenrick's gravestone (carved by the local Park family) blends the themes of sickness and war, and imagines heaven as a place where "ye wicked cease from troubling & ye weary are at rest."

Memento mori
Widow of CAPT. CALEB
KENRICK left her
pleasant habitation
in Newton & come to
her Daughter Dana's
in Groton, on account
of ye civil War; & Sept. 5.
1775 AE 76 was remov
ed by a dysentery to that
place where ye wicked cease
from troubling & ye weary
are at rest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

101 Ways, Part 110: Vanquished the World and Relinquished It

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

d. 1697
Salem, MA

Simon Bradstreet's tomb in Salem bears a copper plaque erected in 1917 to replace the inscription that was wearing away. I have not preserved the capitalization from the plaque because I'm not sure that it is original to the inscription. Also, it's annoying to type 200 words in all caps. I have formatted the epitaph in a way that makes sense to me.

Simon Bradstreet, Esquire
In the Senate of the Massachusetts Colony
from the year 1630 to the year 1673,
then Lieutenant Governor to the year 1679,
and at last, until the year 1686,
Governor of the same Colony
by the general and determined vote of the people.
He was a man endowed with keen judgment
whom neither threats nor honors could sway.
He weighed the authority of the King
and the Liberty of the People
in even scales.
In Religion devout and upright in his ways,
he vanquished the world and relinquished it
on the XXVIIth day of March
in the year of our Lord MDCXCVII,
and in the IXth year of King William Third,
and of his life the XCIVth.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

101 Ways, Part 109: Killed by Falling from Cliffs

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

I lied a little bit when I said I didn't do any gravestoning in Bar Harbor. Just a little.

There are an awful lot of epitaphs that say "Killed by X." I didn't want to include them all in 101 Ways because the verb was always the same, but I might as well put them up now. This one from Bar Harbor, Maine is very sad:

Lucreatia K.
dau. of
Rev. Wm. S. & Priscilla
was killed by falling from
Cliffs on Newport, Mt. Eden, Me.
Aug. 3. 1853.
AE 12 yrs.
Dead, but not forgotten.
Erected by her Brother
J.H. Douglass, in 1880.

Monday, November 9, 2009

More Overdressed Kids in Hats

I have about a hundred of these. Poor little 19th-century kids. I'd probably be pursing my lips if someone made me wear that fetching little collar when I'd rather be making mud pies.

More available via Harvard VIA.

Depated #12

I never tire of these. See #1-10 here and #11 here.

Jonathan Lawrance
d. 1775
Groton, MA

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Queen Mary 2 in Bar Harbor

Last Sunday, we looked out our hotel window in Bar Harbor and saw a giant ship. Really, it was about the size of the whole town. A little research (and a good zoom) revealed that it was the Queen Mary 2, one of the largest passenger ships in the world. It looked like an island.

101 Ways, Part 108: Perished With 41 Other Persons

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Now that I've gone beyond 101, I feel that I can include entries that didn't make the cut the first time around. This one was too close to #21: Perished in a Storm.

who perished with 41 other
persons in Columbia River
Oregon on the night of
Jan. 31, 1852.
by the wrecking of the
Steamer Gen. Warren.
AEt. 32 yrs. 9 mos.

The General Warren ran aground in the Graveyard of the Pacific — the treacherous coast between Tilamook Bay and Vancouver Island. The captain sent a boat for help, but by the time rescuers arrived, 42 people, including Jacob Johnson of Brunswick, Maine, were dead. Some of the bodies were recovered, but I have not found any evidence that Johnson's was among them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nice Hat, Kid

Someone in this photo is a teeny bit overdressed:

More adorable kids in hats@ Harvard Visual Information Access.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Murder in America

Readers of this blog may be interested in Jill Lepore's most recent piece in The New Yorker: Rap Sheet: Why is America So Murderous?

Please note the reference to the Lydia Beadle gravestone.

Name of the Day

Begat Eggleston

According to the vital records of Windsor, CT, Begat Eggleston was "nere 100 yer ould" when he died in 1674. This seems slightly unlikely to me, in part because his youngest child, Benjamin, was born only 21 years before. Then again, perhaps Begat lived up to his name and kept on begetting until he was nearly 80.

Begat fathered at least 7 children while living in Windsor: Thomas (b. 1638), Marcy (b. 1641), Sarah (b. 1643), Rebecca (b. 1644), Abigail (b. 1648), Joseph (b. 1651), and Benjamin (b. 1653). It is entirely possible that he had other children born when the people of Windsor were living in their first settlement (Dorchester, MA) or their place of origin (Dorchester, Dorset, England).

In Albion's Seed, David Hackett Fischer argued that Puritan parents occasionally named their children by opening the Bible at random and placing a finger at random on the page. I'm not sure whether I believe that, but it would be a good explanation for Begat Eggleston.

Sadly, while Begat had many heirs, he had no namesakes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Euphemisms for Death and Murder"

Wikipedia has quite an impressive entry on the subject.

In Which A Moral Panic Overtakes Us

See here, you whippersnappers. This newfangled fellytone will be the downfall of our society! Before you know it, you young rascals will be ringing up our daughters and whispering scandalous things in their ears, all without parental supervision!

Gone are the days when a gentleman did his courting in his lady's parlor under the watchful eyes of half a dozen relatives. No longer does the accumulated wisdom of the community steer couples as they try to earn each other's commitment. No — it's all gadding about  on those infernal bicycles and going to the moving picture shows. Where will it end?

Photo via Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century. My apologies to the bespectacled gentleman, who may have been a bicycle enthusiast himself.

101 Ways, Part 107: Passed Away

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

"Passed away" is one of the most common euphemisms for "died" in modern American English. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, phrasal verbs such as "pass away," "pass onward," and "pass hence" have been used as synonyms for "die" since the 14th century. The earliest usages refer to the life or soul leaving the body, but by the 18th century, "passed away" definitely meant "died."

Yet, I have not seen very many New England epitaphs that say that the deceased "passed away." The earliest example I can find is from 1866:

It seems possible that "passed away" may not have been in common usage in New England before the 19th century. By the time New Englanders started using the phrase (mid 19th c.?), they were writing shorter epitaphs that often recorded vital dates without any verbs at all.

I don't know why this might be, though. The OED finds the phrase in all the major works of English literature (Chaucer, Shakespeare, etc.) and it's used several times in the King James Bible. Admittedly, most of the Biblical usages refer to physical movement, but there are enough death-related verses that I would expect people who know 101 ways to say died to pick up on them:
  • Job 34:20 — In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.
  • Psalms 78:39 —  For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.
  • Ecclesiastes 1:4 — One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.
  • Luke 21:32 — Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
I don't know why they chose not to put this on gravestones.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

101 Ways, Part 106: Passed Onward

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Olin E. Webster
d. 1856
Plymouth, MA

Son of Dr. Ervin & Harriet W. Webster;
passed onward Aug. 28, 1856,
aged 4 years 1 mon. & 20 days.

This transcription comes from Benjamin Drew's Burial Hill. I do not know whether this stone still exists, though I suspect that it may be illegible if it does. Time has not been kind to the marble monuments of Plymouth.

Happy Birthday, Ben!

My brother is 24 today.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

101 Ways, Part 105: Left This World

For a brief intro to the "101 Ways to Say 'Died'" series, click here.

Mary Emerson
d. 1784
Pepperell, MA

Be wise to day, tis madness to defer
Erected to Ye Memory of
only Daughter of Ye,
& Mrs. ABIGAIL his wife,
who in hopes of a better
Left this World June 20th; 1784
in the 33d Year of her age.
Though the righteous be
prevented by death it
Shall be well with him
for wisdom is Ye gray hair
unto man, & an . . .

This is a combination of two themes — leaving the world and exchanging this world for a better:

Monday, November 2, 2009

Don't Light a Torch on Michael Wigglesworth's Grave

Today's Maine Sunday Telegram features a story about Walter Skold, founder of the Dead Poets Society of America. Skold visits the graves of American poets, documenting them and occasionally leaving poems and trinkets.

My favorite part of the article was this anecdote from Skold's visit to Michael Wigglesworth's grave in Malden:

Visiting a graveyard at night can be a dicey proposition and requires special permission. Skold learned that lesson the hard way last year on Halloween when he was nearly arrested in Malden, Mass., where he and his son lit torches at the tomb of the Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, Puritan author of the "Day of Doom."
"Little did I know that there was a little woman who watches over the cemetery and she told the police that there were people performing satanic rituals," he said.

Back from Acadia

Some pictures below the fold, mostly for the benefit of any parents who may be reading this blog.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Acadia National Park

In celebration of my birthday, Pete and I are spending the weekend in Acadia National Park. This is the one weekend in the year during which I cannot go gravestoning without getting suspicious looks and visits from groundskeepers/police/passersby, so we are spending some time in the woods instead. The weather is lovely and the trees are only slightly past their peak.