Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gravestone of the Day: James Smith

James Smith, 1678, Phipps Street, Charlestown, MA

SEPTEMBER Ye 18 1678


Robert J. said...

The plain early stones are often the most elegant. They could almost be mistaken for Roman inscriptions.

When exploring Phipps Street you didn't happen to notice a 1698 Joanna Crisp stone, did you? I looked for it once but couldn't find it. I've since read that it's supposedly on the south side of the hill, but that may or may not be true.

Peter Fisk said...


Joanna's grave is now on

She is my 9G-grandmother.

(Not to hijack the thread, but I'd be interested to know if you have reached a firm determination on whether or not she really was the sister of Thomas Goffe. Based on what I know, the kinship seems more likely than not, but I'm far from fully convinced.)

Robert J. said...

Excellent! I thank you very much. Phipps Street is a good sized place, and only once have I dared to jump the fence and look around (while keeping an eye out, expecting a police car to show up at any moment). Not knowing a specific section to look in, I never did find Joanna. (Who is my 7th-great grandmother. Your line was breeding faster.)

I haven't looked at the Goffe genealogy in a long time, and never actually did any original searching; it's one that really merits attention from a professional genealogist as there have been a lot of dubious speculations in print for a long time. I seem to recall the Thomas-Joanna connection was established because there was some elaborate probate case with the descendants; but the real question was who their parents were, and where in England they were from. It's possible there is recent research on this; I just haven't seen it.

I'm also very curious to know if there was any connection to the Edward Goffe whose house in Cambridge became "Goffe's College," one of the first buildings acquired by Harvard in the 1650s.

Quiz for Caitlin: Where on the Harvard campus is the in-ground brass marker identifying the location of Goffe's College?

Caitlin GD Hopkins said...

Is it in the middle of Mass Ave near the crosswalk across from the Holyoke Center? There's a brass marker there, but I never knew what it was marking.

Robert J. said...

Exactly right. It's in the middle of the street, so be careful if you go to look at it. The first two or three Harvard buildings were in a row right there where Wadsworth House now is -- "Cow Yard Row" which is why the "Yard" is called such to this day rather than "quad" or "green" or something else -- it was a cattle enclosure.

Goffe's College, so called, was the house of Edward Goffe, purchased from him in the 1650s. When Mass Ave. was excavated sometime around 1900 I believe they found the 17th-century foundations and that led to the location of Goffe's house/college being marked in the street.

There's a nice slate tablet, very like a narrow gravestone, placed in the gate wall between Wadsworth House and Lehman Hall that tells more of the story, as I recall.