Monday, July 20, 2015

The Almshouse by Numbers: 1870

Total number of inmates: 358

Sex
Female: 133 (37.2%)
Male: 225 (62.8%)

Race
White: 339 (94.7%)
Black: 18 (5.0%)
Mulatto: 1 (0.3%)

Age
Infant (0-2 yrs): 16 (4.5%)
Child/adolescent (3-19 yrs): 63 (17.6%)
Young adult (20-39 yrs): 117 (32.7%)
Middle adult (40-59 yrs): 103 (28.8%)
Old adult (60+ yrs): 59 (16.5%)

Place of birth
Germany: 13 (3.6%)
Baden: 4 (1.1%)
Germany (state unknown): 4 (1.1%)
Bremen: 2 (0.6%)
Hanover: 2 (0.6%)
Hamburg: 1 (0.3%)

United Kingdom: 181 (50.6%)
Ireland: 148 (41.3%)
England: 21 (5.9%)
Scotland: 12 (3.4%)

United States: 151 (42.2%)
New York: 148 (41.3%)
New Jersey: 2 (0.6%)
Pennsylvania: 1 (0.3%)

Other Europe: 12 (3.4%)
France: 4 (1.1%)
Prussia: 3 (0.8%)
Switzerland: 2 (0.6%)
Belgium: 1 (0.3%)
Holland: 1 (0.3%)
Poland: 1 (0.3%)

Literacy
Cannot read or write: 21 (5.9%)
Cannot write: 21 (5.9%)

Mental state
Insane: 37 (10.3%)
Idiot: 7 (2%)

Source: The United States Federal Census for the Town of Mount Pleasant, 1870

A Few Residents of the Almshouse


Thomas Martin, admitted February 2, 1875, record number 1.  Aged 30, white, single, from County Tipera (Tipperary?), Ireland, in the US for seven years. Cause of dependence: feeble-minded or insane, caused by sunstroke.  Can do laboring work and is quite industrious. "Will probably not recover. His physical ability is good and is able to perform considerable labor. Was committed as a vagrant by Moses W. Fish Esq."

Alexander Hoffminer, admitted February 22, 1875, record number 42. Aged 60, white, single, from Lengo (?), Germany, in the US for 23 years. Cause of dependence: Paralysis. "This man is a professional surgeon and physician and has practiced medicine since 1854. Had his diploma from New York City College and through neglect and carelessness has become partially paralyzed."

Eliza Hall, admitted April 17, 1873, record number 52. Aged 73, white, widowed, from Kirk Harris, County Antrim, Ireland, in the US for 14 years. Cause of dependence: Old age and destitution. "This is a respectable old woman [who] has no near relative that feels any special interest in her. In all probability she will remain a dependent inmate."

 Maria O'Rourke, admitted March 29, 1870, record number 78. Aged 69, white, widowed, from Ballyconnell, County Cavan, Ireland, in the US for 53 years. Cause of dependence: Broken leg. "This woman is intelligent, and had the misfortune to have her leg broken by the New Haven R. Road. She is the mother of 24 children, 12 boys and 12 girls. The husband died in this house."

 Albert Miller, admitted August 25, 1874, record number 76. Aged 57, white, married, from Germany (I can't figure out what the town and county are referring to), in the US for 19 years. Can cut wood and make fires. Cause of dependence: General debility. "This man has had property but through misfortune has lost all. He is really a pitaful [sic] object."

 Ezra Yerks, admitted November 27, 1867, record number 67. Aged 69, white, widowed, from Mount Pleasant, New York. Cause of dependence: Paralysis. "This is a Christianlike man. He had a great dislike to become a pauper. He asserted on his arrival here that he would rather die than be obliged to become an inmate of a Poorhouse but since has changed his mind and says he is contented."

 Phebe Rocco, admitted August 7, 1872, record number 159. Aged 58, white, single, from Eastchester, NY. Cause of dependence: Epilepsy. Can do general housework. "This woman is of respectable family and in consequence of her being subjected to these fits have [sic] been placed here in this house and probably will remain dependent."



William W. Wetherspoon, admitted December 12, 1866, record number 176. Aged 40, white, single, from New York, NY. Cause of dependence: Feeble minded and insane. "This man is insane. It is hereditary with the family. He has a dower of about two hundred dollars per annum which serves [?], boards and clothes him. He is a classical scholar."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Going Home


I don't know exactly when the house above came into the possession of the Hamblin family. They may have built it themselves, upon moving to Winchell Mountain in the 1770s, or they may have bought it from someone else. In any case, they definitely owned it and were living there as early as 1867, and probably quite a bit earlier. This is the house where my great-great-great grandparents, James (1841-1924) and Frances Collier Hamblin (1841-1917) lived and raised their two children, my great-great grandfather Myron George Hamblin (1868-1959) and Marion Mace Hamblin (1882-1965). In the photograph above, which was taken around 1900, Frances and Myron (in chairs) are seated on the front porch with Marion on the steps. 

Below is the house as it appeared last Sunday.


I was thrilled when I saw it. While my first choice would have been to keep it in the family (so much for that - the family moved off Winchell Mountain for good in 1924) my second choice would be that it would find an owner who would care for it and preserve its historic character, and that's exactly what has happened. While there have been plenty of changes to the house over the past 115 years, the house is still recognizable and beautifully preserved. I love the contrasting trim, and the landscaping is perfect. I think the Hamblins would be proud.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Almshouse in the Manual of Westchester County, 1898

The following is excerpted from The Manual of Westchester County from 1898. I've transcribed the passage below, followed by my comments. Thanks so much to Philip from the Restoring Mount Kisco History page for sending it my way.

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The Westchester County Almshouse, located at East View, in the town of Mount Pleasant, is, beyond dispute, at the present time one of the best-managed institutions of the kind in the State. This shelter for the county's homeless poor, with its connecting buildings, is pleasantly situated in one of the most attractive of valleys, protected by picturesque hills and surrounded by land views ever pleasing to the eye, contributing to make the lives of the unfortunate wards of the county as bearable and happy as possible. To the observance of the first rule of the institution, cleanliness, is due principally, the general good health of the inmates; sick people found here are those who were sick when introduced, as few well persons are taken ill after arrival.

On April 1, 1828, the County Almshouse was established and opened for business on its present site, the locality then being known as Knapp's Corners. Isaac Coutant was duly installed as its first keeper. Prior to 1828 each town maintained an almshouse and cared for its own poor.

During the year ending April 1, 1896, the Almshouse contained 417 inmates, of whom 321 were men, 78 were women and 18 were babes. During the year ending April 1, 1897, there were 403 inmates, of which number 297 were men, 83 were women and 23 were children under two years of age. During the year ending April 1, 1898, there were 447 inmates, of which number 352 were men, 79 were women and 16 were children under two years of age. During the year just ended the hospital accommodated 105 persons, 70 of whom were men and 35 were women, which number is about ten percent increase over previous year. Under present poor laws each town in the county is entitled to one Overseer of the Poor. An Overseer of the Poor is permitted by law to expend not over $10 not oftener than three times a year in assisting and relieving the immediate wants of a destitute family; if further assistance is necessary for some family, the said Overseer of the Poor shall apply to the County Superintendent of the Poor for authority to render further financial aid, and if said Superintendent finds, on investigation, that the family for whom assistance is asked can be removed to the Almshouse, such removal will have to be accomplished; in case removal is impossible, the Superintendent may grant further financial assistance by issuing over his signature a certificate to the County Treasurer, or by endorsing his approval on an order for money made by Overseer of the Poor. The poor orders issued by Overseers of the Poor are paid by the County Treasurer on presentation of the order, together with a bill, verified by oath, showing goods delivered under said order. The number of orders that can be issued in a town or city is not limited.

The present County Superintendent of the Poor, Henry Esser, when he first assumed charge of the Almshouse, in 1890, inaugurated the custom of providing the inmates with three regular meals a day, displacing the rule of only giving them two meals a day, omitting supper. Instead of every person, men as well as women, washing their own clothing, as formerly, Mr. Esser introduced a system by which the clothing of all the inmates is washed by most improved steam machinery. A three-story concrete building was erected in 1890 for the express purpose of the laundry. Work in the laundry, as well as at road and wall building, farming, carpentering, etc., is done by able-bodied inmates, without other payment than their support. The renovation of the furniture in the house, the erection of a bath-house, stables and other outhouses, done during Mr. Esser's administration, were effected principally by pauper labor, saving much expense to the county. The buildings are heated by the hot water system. The institution has a fire department system of its own. Kerosene oil is now being used for illuminating purposes, but it is expected that electric lights will soon be introduced to lessen expense and the chance of a conflagration and great loss.

No person afflicted with contagious disease is admitted to the hospital. Should a case unexpectedly appear, a place for it will be found in an isolated house on the farm attached to the Almshouse.

The men and women are ever well clad; the clothing and shoes worn are made in the State prisons of the State, excepting the men's shirts and women's skirts, which are made by women inmates of the institution. Men are given tobacco, a quarter of a pound package to every week; women are given something extra each week to equal the consideration given the men. Invalids are specially fed, as necessity requires. Provisions and goods of all kinds purchased for the institution are bought in large quantities at wholesale, and under the present system of bookkeeping at the institution it can readily be seen when and where every article was purchased -- the cost, when received and by whom received. The business management is most excellent.

The expenditure for the maintenance of dependent children outside of the Almshouse has always been a large item in the county budget. As the law will not permit the keeping of a child over two years of age in the Almshouse, arrangement for their care has to be made with institutions outside. Children ranging in age between two and sixteen years, a county charge, are sent to these institutions, viz.: The Westchester Temporary Home for Destitute Children at White Plains, the Catholic Protectory at Westchester, the Home of the Missionary Sisters at Peekskill, the Orphan Home at Albany, and the Home of the Sisters of Divine Compassion at White Plains. At present there are about five hundred such children in these several homes, for the support of which the county pays, as board, $2.11 each per week. These children are committed by Overseers of the Poor, Justices of the Peace and Police Justices, for destitution and different misdemeanors; the Superintendent of the Poor has control over only those who are committed for destitution. The Board of Supervisors during its sessions of 1896-7, on suggestion of Supt. Esser, passed a law providing for the placing of children in private families and thus arranging for their support. Two lady agents are engaged under this law -- one Protestant and one Catholic -- for the purpose of placing children in private homes, and they act under the guidance and supervision of the Superintendent. Homes are selected with great care and after the most thorough investigation. The project has met with great success, and those entrusted with its fulfillment feel greatly encouraged. From April 1, 1897, to April 1, 1898, about one hundred children were provided with desirable homes; these children ranged from 8 to 15 years; five children, between the ages of 2 and 3 years, have found parents by adoption.

The cost of maintaining dependent children was reduced in 1890, by Superintendent Esser, from $65,000 to $45,000, by compelling the parents who were financially able, to contribute to the support of their children harbored in the public institutions; in 1892 the cost was further reduced to $35,000. In 1896, when Mr. Esser again assumed office, he kept the expense of the children's support down to $46,261.28, where it cost, under his predecessor in the year before $73,547.84. This year the appropriation for this particular purpose is $52,000.

The county farm, on which the Almshouse stands, contains 110 acres and furnishes a greater part of the needed supplies. The main building, about 200x70, will accommodate 510 inmates; the concrete building, used as a wash-house, is in size 40x60; the tramp-house is a wooden building, 25x80; another frame building, 20x40, is used as a lodging-house. The new hospital building, for the erection of which the Board of Supervisors recently appropriated, is being built, of concrete, three stories high, with basement, 50x80; the excavating, the dressing of stone, the building of foundation walls and much of the laboring work on the proposed building, is being performed by able-bodied inmates of the Almshouse. When completed the building will be provided with all modern hospital improvements. The structure will be located on line with the main building, on the west end, the roadway separating the two buildings.


Present Officials of the County Almshouse
Henry Esser, Superintendent.
Wesley Boyce, Keeper.
W. W. Mills, M. D., House Physician.
N. H. Freeland, M. D., Visiting Physician.
R. B. Coutant, M. D., and H. Beattie Brown, M. D., Consulting Physicians.
Frederick Crisfield, Clerk and Bookkeeper.
Mrs. Wesley Boyce, Matron.
Miss Susie Boyce, Assistant Matron.
Mrs. Louise Flagg, Professional Nurse.
James Potts, Professional Nurse.
Mrs. A. C. Strang, of Yonkers, Agent for placing Protestant children.
Mrs. A. E. Hume, of New Rochelle, Agent for placing Catholic children.


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My Comments

  • In the 1890s, the majority of the inmates of the almshouse were men. Why? I'm assuming that women were no less likely to face indigence than were men, especially considering that women's job opportunities, personal liberties, and economic powers were far more restricted. Where were the indigent women? Did they manage to find refuge with friends or family? Did they stay on the streets? Or did they manage to support themselves through wage work (factories, housekeeping, prostitution)? 
  • I wonder what it was like for a family to be forcibly "removed" to the poorhouse because their town's Overseer of the Poor had exhausted his funds. Considering that children weren't kept at the almshouse, I assume that children were regularly separated from their parents as a result of poverty.
  • The practice of employing the poor "without other payment than their support" would probably be considered illegal and unethical today. The only situation in which this practice is acceptable today is in prisons, where inmates work for cents on the hour. 
  • Men are given tobacco, whereas it would be inappropriate to provide tobacco to women (ladies, even paupers, should not consume tobacco).
  • Of course institutions should be generally managed by men, but children, which belong to a woman's domain, are managed by "lady agents." Of course Protestant and Catholic children must be kept separate.
  • The pride expressed the writer in relating how the cost of managing dependent children has been reduced seems kind of unseemly, especially since no consideration has been given to addressing the underlying factors that cause poverty. 
  • This passage is saturated with the prevailing values of public institutions of the day: cleanliness, efficiency, order, discipline, progress, etc. Poverty is taken as a given, something that can be successfully managed given the right organization and technology. Human beings form a part of the machinery that houses and feeds them. The Almshouse is a microcosm of the world with its own supplies, laundry, hospital, etc., which aspires to self-sufficiency and machine-like proficiency.

Winchell Mountain Burying Ground, Millerton, NY

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program of reminiscences from the 2015 AGS Conference to bring you this brief glimpse into the Winchell Mountain Burying Ground in Millerton, NY, where my ancestors are buried. Well, not all of my ancestors; to be more specific (my direct ancestors in bold):

Joshua Hamblin (1722-1797), my 7th great grandfather

Major David Hamblin (1743-1806), my 6th great grandfather
Hannah Townsend Hamblin (1740-1781), my 6th great grandmother
Mary Bishop Hamblin (1751-1824), David's second wife

Joshua Hamblin (1758-1799), my 6th great uncle (son of Joshua and Mary)

Solomon Hamblin (1770-1790), my 5th great uncle (son of David and Hannah)
Elijah Hamblin (1772-1776), my 5th great uncle (son of David and Hannah)
Hiram Hamblin (1789-1790), my 5th great uncle (son of David and Mary)
An unnamed infant (1791), my 5th great aunt (daughter of David and Mary)
Colonel Hiram Hamblin (1796-1831), my 5th great uncle (son of David and Mary)



Joshua, David, and Hannah were all born in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Barnstable is where the first Hamblins in America - James Hamblin and his wife Ann Scott - settled in the 1630s after migrating from Reading, England.

Shortly before the Revolutionary War, David, Joshua, and Joshua Jr. moved to Dutchess County, NY, where David served as second lieutenant in Captain Abraham Hartwell's Company, Colonel Morris Graham's Regiment, of the New York Militia. Joshua Sr. and David were among the signers of the Articles of Association in the North East Precinct in July 1775.

After the war, the Hamblins took ownership of two adjoining farms on Winchell Mountain, in the town of North East, near the village of Millerton. This is an atlas from 1867 showing the family's property in the upper left corner ("Hamplin" = Hamblin). The small "Cem." (cemetery) to the south of the Hamblin farmsteads is the Winchell Mountain Burying Ground.




The Winchell Mountain Burying Ground is also known (to me) as the place where my cemetery mania properly started. But to explain why involves going back through the generations again. After David, the next in my ancestral line is David Hamblin Jr. (1774-1844), who married Lydia Roe (1778-1864) and managed the family farm for several decades before he and part of his family relocated to Ohio (a common destination for agricultural families from New York and New England looking for fresh opportunities). 


Among the Hamblins who remained in New York were my 4th great grandfather, Myron Hamblin (1807-1897). He married Rachel A. Tripp (1811-1899) in 1839. Rachel was the daughter of John Tripp and Cynthia Adsit, and came from a long line of Quakers who lived on Quaker Hill in Pawling, New York. 

I have obituaries for both Myron (pictured right) and Rachel Tripp Hamblin, preserved by my great-grandmother. According to his obituary, Myron was "a successful farmer, always worked hard and by economical management saved enough of this world's goods to make himself and [his] family comfortable and easy." It further states, "no one can point to an unmanly thing he ever did." Concerning his death, he was "taken ill, with something like pleurisy. He had had several previous attacks but this one was unusually severe and he could not survive it. During his illness he was cared for most tenderly by his family and [his] nurse, A. S. Austin." Myron was the first in his family to eschew burial at the Winchell Mountain Burying Ground in favor of Irondale Cemetery, a much more modern property in the village of Millerton (i.e., off of the mountain and in the middle of civilization). As for Rachel Tripp Hamblin, her obituary states that she "was a woman who never gave much time in society, but everything to her centered in and around the home circle. She had strong convictions of right, and was not afraid to advocate her principles ... She was a firm believer of honesty, truthfulness and virtue."

Myron and Rachel's four children are pictured below (from left to right, James, David, Hiram, and Mariette):


James Hamblin (1841-1924) was the first-born and my 3rd great grandfather. He married Frances Collier, the daughter of Simeon Mace Collier and Eliza Thomas, in 1865. She was also from a long line of Quakers of Quaker Hill. According to my mother, who heard it from her great-grandmother, Frances Collier Hamblin spoke several languages and worked as a schoolteacher prior to her marriage. James and Frances had two children, Myron and Marion.

David Hamblin (1844-1925) married his sister-in-law Sarah E. Rowe, the daughter of Robert Rowe and Almira Wheeler, in 1872, and was a farmer. He and his wife had four daughters.

Mariette Hamblin (1848-1943) married Wheeler E. Rowe, the son of Robert Rowe and Almira Wheeler, in 1871. He was a farmer. Mariette was a prolific craftswoman and created several large, intricate pieces of needlework and a large framed wreath made out of seeds. She and her husband had no children, which is how these pieces came to be passed down through my branch of the family.

Hiram Hamblin (1854-1940) was (no surprise) also a farmer. He married first, in 1880, Elizabeth S. Howland, and after her death in 1922, married Mary L. Chapman. After his second wife's death Hiram moved in with his widowed sister, Mariette. He was also childless.

All of the above were buried in Irondale Cemetery. While the family no longer used the old burying ground, they continued to inhabit the same farmsteads and would have passed their ancestors' graves each time they took the road leading down into Millerton. In fact, assuming that there were no trees in the way at the time, they would have been able to see the old cemetery from the more southern farmstead.


This was the northern farmhouse, which no longer exists. However, the barn is still there, and you can still read James Hamblin's signature on one of the interior walls.

James and Frances's son Myron married Aletta Moore Card in 1892 at the home of her parents, Eason Card and Mary Jane Moore, by Reverend Miller of the East Ancram Methodist Church. Prior to her marriage, Aletta worked as a schoolteacher in the district schools.

Myron attended the Seymour Smith Institute (for agriculture) at Pine Plains and worked for six years as a clerk in a general store at Ancram Lead Mines before he purchased the farm pictured above from his father, which he ran as a dairy farm. According to his biography in Columbia County at the End of the Century (1900), he had "a herd of thirty of the finest cows in the vicinity, and owns about 200 acres of land." He was a member of the Millerton Grange for 32 years. 

Myron Hamblin and his mother, Frances Collier Hamblin, circa 1868
For the first years of their marriage, Myron and Aletta lived at the Octagonal House in Ancramdale, which was built in 1880 (during a very short-lived fad for octagonal houses in Upstate New York). Below is a newspaper clipping preserved and annotated by my great-grandmother (their daughter Ruth).

And here is the house as it appears today (or more specifically, last Sunday):

The Octagonal House is located just a few miles west of the family farmsteads on Winchell Mountain. The Presbyterian church that Myron and Aletta attended while they were living in the Octagonal House still stands, in a very sleepy little hamlet called Pulvers Corners.

Aletta and Myron on their wedding day, 1892
Myron and Aletta's only child Ruth Card Hamblin was born in their farmhouse on Winchell Mountain on September 16, 1896. In order to attend school, Ruth had to ride on her parents' horse-drawn wagon into the village of Millerton, where she boarded with a family during the week, and took the wagon back up to her parents' farmhouse for the weekends. When she left the area to attend New Paltz Normal School in 1914, it was with the intention of leaving the agricultural way of life behind. She taught fifth grade for several years in New Paltz and Mount Kisco before marrying my great-grandfather, Ernest Gracey Waldie, a Scottish-Canadian tinsmith, in 1923.

From left to right, Myron, Aletta, a family friend, and Ruth at the farm with their horse-drawn wagon
Ruth and Ernest settled in the suburbs north of New York City, where Ernest ran a successful tin roofing business. Just one year after their marriage, Ruth's parents sold the farm on Winchell Mountain and moved in with their daughter and son-in-law. This effectively ended the Hamblin family's tenure on Winchell Mountain, but connections to the area endured.

For decades after Myron, Aletta, and Ruth left Winchell Mountain, they continued to visit the village of Millerton, where several of their relatives lived, including Myron's uncle Hiram, his aunt Mariette, and his sister Marion, who married Charles Herbert Pulver and had two children. These visits continued even as Ruth and Ernest's children grew up and had their own children. My mother remembers visiting Aunt Marion, who died in 1965, in the early 1960s. 


By the time I was born, there were no more relatives (aside from distant cousins) living in the Millerton area. Furthermore, my great-grandmother Ruth - the last generation to have been born on Winchell Mountain - had died. However, my mother, who always had a very strong bond with Ruth, continued to maintain our family's connection with the old farms through stories and regular visits to Winchell Mountain. I first saw the old burying ground when I was too young to even remember, but it left a lasting impression.


The connections in this burying ground run both ways, backward in time to Barnstable, Massachusetts, where Joshua and David were born and their immigrant ancestors settled, and forward in time to Ruth, the first in her family to leave the farm behind, and her descendants who are alive today. This weekend, I took Ruth's youngest descendants (ages 6 and 8) through a tour of Winchell Mountain Burying Ground. I think they liked it, since they kept asking me to read aloud the inscriptions on the stones (and asking questions like "You can die when you're 18?!"). 


This last picture is great because it captures so much of what makes this cemetery, and by extension all old cemeteries, so great. In the left background you can see some of the earlier stones that still preserve the old "bedhead"-style form even though the material of the stones has changed (their earliest precedents, back in Massachusetts, would have been sandstone, but since there was none available on Winchell Mountain, the oldest stones there are slate, followed by marble). In the center you can see an obelisk dedicated to several members of the Winchell family, for whom the mountain was named. And finally on the left you can see a large granite marker, erected in 1896, squatting on top of an older marble monument.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Old South Windsor Cemetery, South Windsor, CT

Old South Windsor Cemetery, also known as the Edwards Cemetery, was established in 1708, according to the sign that stands just beyond the gate, and is the burying place of the parents and siblings of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the hellfire-and-brimstone-spewing preacher of the First Great Awakening most famous for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (I hear he was a real sweetheart in person, though). Edwards's father, Timothy Edwards, was also a preacher, and his mother Esther Stoddard, was the daughter of a preacher. 

Above is the grave of the Rev. Nathaniel Sherman; like Edwards, he was a preacher and a graduate of the Ivy League (though Edwards graduated from Yale, which was established just a few years before he was born, and Sherman Princeton College, established several decades later). The full inscription, which is very detailed (my favorite kind), reads:
In Memory of the Rev. Nathaniel Sherman A. M. He was born at Stoughton in Massachusetts March 5, AD 1726: was educated at Princeton College, and graduated in 1752. He soon after entered on the work of the Gospel Ministry: was ordained pastor of the Church & Society at Bedford, Massachusetts: and afterwards, for several years, was the pastor of the first Church & Society in Hamden. He was ever fond of the Study of divinity, skillful, faithful & zealous in his calling: a true Calvinist, a fervent preacher: a pious man. After enduring, for years an uncommon share of bodily infirmities, which he bore with Christian fortitude. He died at East Windsor July 18, 1797 AE. 71.
The first thing that struck me about this stone was that it seems very pristine for a stone of its age, especially one made of marble; it may have been very rigorously cleaned (perhaps too rigorously, judging by the slight fuzziness of the lettering). The second thing that struck me is that it is made of marble; 1797 is on the early side for a stone in this location to be made of marble instead of sandstone. Several of the most ancient sandstones in this cemetery have been "replaced" by replicas in marble, which are positioned directly beside the original. Is this a reproduction? Possibly, but if it is, there is no original in sight.

Also notable: the words at the very bottom seem to be carved in a different, slightly less skilled hand. Were they added later? Perhaps the Reverend wanted to have his stone made while he was alive? Or perhaps an overzealous and slightly morbid friend made it for him as a birthday present, a la "One Foot in the Grave?" In any case it stands to reason that the stone was carved prior to the Reverend's death, with the exception of the last lines. If so, I would assume that this stone is the original.

Finally, I always wonder how much of the epitaph is boilerplate/generic language and how much of it actually reflects the particularities of the person's life. The "uncommon share of bodily infirmities" stands out among all the talk of piety as something real and unique. (Not saying the Reverend Sherman wasn't pious, only that you would be hard pressed to find a preacher's grave that doesn't mention piety, just as almost all consorts were "amiable.")



Great foliage on the borders of this stone, and a great happy cherub that preserves the shape of the earlier death's head. The wings look a bit like foliage, too. Also ...
Here Lyes ye Body of Mr Joseph Drake Who after he had Servd his GEneration Departed this Life January ye 14th 1754 In ye 80th Year of his Age 
Also His wife Mrs Ann Drake att his Left Side she Died Sept [?] 1717 Aged about 38 
Classic graveyard sexism, poor Mrs. Ann Drake relegated to an "Also" at the bottom of the stone. Also, did she have her own gravestone during the forty years that passed between her death and her husband's, or did she have to wait until Mr. Drake died to be commemorated? My best guess: her grave was marked with a temporary wooden marker in the meantime. In early America a lot of people were buried beneath wooden markers (if they received any marker at all); as you can imagine, these haven't preserved nearly as well as the stone ones.

 Above you can see one of the replacement stones. On the left, the stone of Mrs. Namee Loomis, d. 1770; center, the stone of Capt. Joel Loomis, d. 1788; and the right, a later marble stone for Capt. Loomis, noting his service in the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, Mrs. Loomis's stone is larger than that of her husband's (it is usually the opposite, if there is a size difference). Perhaps the family didn't have as much money to spend on gravestones after the Revolution.

 One of the few proper death's heads I saw on this trip, belonging to Mr. Samuel Tudor who died in 1727. The pinwheels on this grave are somewhat flower-like.

This stone, belonging to Mr. Aaron Grant, features my favorite epitaph (yes, I have a favorite epitaph), a New England classic:

Behold me now as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me.

Mrs. Elisabeth Woolcott, wife of Charls [sic] Woolcott, died in 1763 at the age of only 19.



Above, in the foreground, the stone of Ann and Eunice, the daughters of Capt. Ebenezer and Mrs. Ann Grant, a beautiful double stone. I love how the carver squeezed in the words at the bottom of the stone; the vines and berries are really gorgeous too. In the background, a fellow AGS member. Yes, we wear nametag necklace thingies.

 An early urn & willow, with some shell-like flourishes. My question is ...
In memory of Mr. Josiah Wolcott, son of the Hon. Roger Wolcott Esq., formerly Govern of the Colony of Connecticut.
Which was the governor, the deceased or his father? According to Google, it was the father. It seems somewhat strange that an 84-year-old man was remembered by his father's occupation.

This stone is really something. It's easily six feet tall, and must extend at least three feet underneath ground level. It's worth reading the whole inscription (if you can):
Sacred to the Memory of Five Brothers & Sisters whose earthly remains are deposited within this enclosure, viz. Mr. DANIEL PHELPS deceased July 11th 1792, aged 85 years. Mr. JERIJAH PHELPS deceased January 22nd 1792, aged 80 years. Mr. ISAAC PHELPS deceased October 30th 1787 aged 63 years. They were Sons of Capt. JOSEPH PHELPS. Mrs. DANARIS wife of Mr. DANIEL PHELPS who deceased May 5th 1792 aged 80 years. Mrs. SARAH wife of Mr. JERIJAH PHELPS who deceased September 10th 1794 aged 71 years. 
They were happily united in brotherly lovethrough a long life were disciples of peaceful virtueand shed in the hope of a blessed immortality. 
This Monument is erected by the Son of Jerijah and a Nephew of the Brothers and as a tribute [?] ofaffectionate Veneration for their worthy Ancestors. 
The memory of the [?] is blessed.
Another stone with Rococo flourishes and an urn and willow, doubtlessly from the same workshop as the stone of Josiah Wolcott, which contains a strange epitaph, referring to his wife (though not by name):
Sacred to the memory of the Hon. Erastus Wolcott Esq. one of the Judges of the Hon. Superior Court & General in the Army of the late war. He was a sincere friend of Religion & filled up his important life with usefulness to mankind. Deceased Sept. 14th, 1795. AE. 70. 
To few & wondrous few has Heav'n assigned
A wife a liberal all confiding mind.


The stone above, belonging to Mr. Augostos Mills, has some interesting symbolism - what are the things on either side of the cherub's head? Baskets? Bells? Thimbles?

I could have easily spent another five hours in this cemetery. Part of me wishes I could live nearby so that I could visit weekly.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Enfield Street Cemetery, Enfield, CT

Enfield Street Cemetery had by far the best view of any of the cemeteries I visited this week. Set against green trees and blue hills, it's a rural cemetery that includes several 18th-century sandstones, many 19th-century marble tablets and obelisks, and modern stones. Obelisks have quite a different feel when they're arranged in clusters, like a marble forest, as opposed to in the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, where they stand isolated, like lighthouses in a sea of shorter stones.


The first thing to catch my eye in this cemetery was the huge sandstone orbs positioned on top of these gravestones. There is one other set of such orbs in the cemetery, but it's only a pair. As you can see, it looks as though this stone began as a pair - Ephraim Pease and his wife Tabitha - but was transformed into a trio with the addition of second wife Rebekah. I have never seen orbs like this before, but they seem appropriate, given that orbs are widely used to symbolize eternity. Small stone orbs (about the size to fit in the palm of your hand) known as "petrospheres" have been found in Neolithic sites in Britain and Ireland. 


The color and shadows in these photos aren't the best, but I had to make do with a somewhat overcast sky and stones that were lit mostly from behind. A few times I was able to take advantage of other conference attendees who had brought a mirror with them to cast light on the stones; you can see the results below.


The weird insect-winged, sawtooth-chinned cherub on the right in the first picture was duplicated in other stones in this cemetery, as well as in the next one we visited. I was surprised by the material of this stone and the one next to it, which I hadn't seen before; it's a type of stone called schist, which contains tiny grains of micha that sparkle in the sun. I also like the epitaph on the second stone: "The State of Mortals here behold: For young must die as well as old ..." Thanks, people definitely wouldn't have known that in the 18th century.

Above, a sandstone marker with an hourglass and another schist marker with a cherub. The sawtooth edge on the chin of the cherub is thought to be a vestige of the teeth of the death's head, from which the cherub evolved (according to Allan Ludwig, author of Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols, i.e. one of the best books ever written). The marker on the left would fit in perfectly with the stones at Longmeadow Cemetery.

These stones are oriented differently from the others, perhaps because they're from the 1750s. In the St. George's/St. Mark's Cemetery, the oldest stones are oriented westward, while the newer ones point eastward.

This stone has a shell-like tympanum, perhaps a symbol of baptism, or perhaps showing the influence of Rococo style (a.k.a. "Rocks and shells") - or both. The inscription is unusually descriptive: "The Aged Mr. Samuel Pease, Haveing faithfully served God, & his Generation to the Universal love & Acceptance of all Who Knew him, departed this life in hope of a better one ye 8 of Sep. 1770 in His 84th Year." Fun fact: there are eight separate Samuel Peases recorded in this cemetery on Find A Grave.

Another great hourglass, and notice that in this one you can see that the sand has run out. This is a very different image of a life ending than that evoked by the scythe cutting through a flower, and for good reason: while the former symbol was used mostly for young people (the life cut short) the latter was generally reserved for those who had lived a full life.

I'm sorry that I don't have a better image of this stone, as it features one of my favorite motifs: a likeness that looks much more like a portrait than a soul effigy.



Lastly, from a much later period, is this massive zinc obelisk, dating to 1883. Believe it or not, this stone is so massive that its base is buckling under its own weight (though you can't really see it in this photograph).