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.


VJESCI said...

Robert J. said...

Youth's foreward slips
Death soonest Nips.

This would appear to be the Y-verse in some editions of the New England Primer. Accurate, if cruel, for a kid who fell into a tanning pit.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Now that you point it out, I can see it.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...


Thanks for the Edward Taylor link. I'm a big fan of his sometimes startling imagery.