Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gravestone of the Day: Abijah Fisk

Abijah Fisk, 1774, Grove Hill Cemetery, Waltham, MA
Here lies Buried
the Body of
Mr. ABIJAH FISK
who departed this life
June ye 25th, AD 1774;
in ye 45th Year of
his Age.
Come listen all unto this call,
Which GOD doth make to day,
For You must die as well as I,
And pass from hence away.
The Race is not to the Swift,
Nor the Battle to the Strong.

It cracks me up to see such a beautiful, elaborate stone with a line gouged out so inexpertly. What did that line say? Who chipped it out? I find it hard to imagine that a carver who applies such a light hand to "AD" would have sent a stone out of his shop with a line half-erased so roughly. It doesn't look like it said "departed" — I wonder if it was a piece of information that the family decided that they did not want included after they saw the finished stone.

11 comments:

peterfisk said...

I can't find anything unusual about his life and death. His will was dated a month before he died at age 45, so his death would seem to be from a long illness. At the time of his death, he was described as an innkeeper.

Jim Blachowcz said...

The obliterated word might in fact be "Innkeeper" -- with the "I," "k" & "p" fitting well; those tiny marks above the line are odd, though. I suppose some of the family may have objected to having his occupation on the stone, or maybe the word was misspelled or badly executed?

peterfisk said...
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peterfisk said...
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peterfisk said...

Jim's right, it could be "Innkeeper." Is that consistent with gravestone practices of this time and place? Did contemporaneous stones sometimes list the deceased's occupation in such a manner?

(In case anyone's wondering because of the name: 4th cousin, 6 times removed.)

peterfisk said...

Geez, I thought I would clean up the thread by consolidating two posts. So much for that plan.

Fionnuala said...
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Fionnuala said...

I have been studying the subject of occupation on 18th century headstones in Ireland and specifically in the Dublin area. Approximately 50% of male headstones bead the occupation of the deceased. It's a real insight into Georgian middle-class Dublin. I have come across some quite unusual occupations. Out of the hundreds of headstones only two women were remembered on terms of their trade, one a pastry cook and the other a baker.

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

It's not particularly common for New England stones to list the deceased person's secular occupation, but it isn't rare enough that I would be surprised to see it. I think "Innkeeper" is a great guess, though I don't know why someone would scratch it out.

Religious occupations and titles are routinely noted (minister, deacon, etc.) as in the case of sexton Daniel Guild (1795).

Some people whose occupations are noted:

William Metcalf Mann (1817), printer

Elizabeth Phillips (1761), midwife

peterfisk said...

One more thought: Was the "Mr." title added later?

It's out of alignment with the rest of the text.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr Fisk wasn't who he said he was. What if the scratched out was when he was his birth and it was incorrect.