October 30, 2018 by Bret Kramer (aka WinstonP)
The mental image most people have of a colonial gravestone is largely rooted in the sort of stones that are most common around Boston – winged skulls on grey slate stones. Hopefully frequent readers of this blog and especially those who have made it this far into Grave-tober will realize that there are sometimes significant differences in symbols, style, and materials across New England, perhaps no place moreso than Connecticut.
Unlike its northerly neighbors, Connecticut did not have the ample supplies of slate that was used by carvers elsewhere in New England so instead several varieties of sandstone were used. Sandstone, like slate, is easily formed into appropriately-shaped slabs and is easily carved. Unfortunately many sandstones are not as durable as slates, so the particular art and style of Connecticut (and its related) carvers is the most endangered of all New England’s gravestone art.
Today I thought I’d feature a sample of what I’m generally calling the “Connecticut” style of gravestone, the marker for Elizabeth Jones in Warren, Massachusetts’ Pine Grove Cemetery
In Memory of MRS ELISABETH
JONES, (the virtuous & amiable)
Confort* of the [Rev]d ISAAC JONES
who departed this Life
April 18th AD 1778.
In the 56th Year of her Age
Farewel, bright foul, a fhort farewel.
Till we fhall meet, again, above
In the fweet groves where pleafures dwell,
And trees of Life bear fruits of love.
.(*this is an archaic term for spouse who preceded their spouse in death)
We see a few distinctive features of this style of stone (this one was carved by Thomas Johnson III – see this article by Earnest Caulfield for more information) : An elaborate tympanum, very detailed carvings, stylized human heads with upswept wings. We can also see what I believe to be are two repairs, one, which has fallen out, with the word “REVd” is, the other at the point “In the”, which seems intact.
I should add that despite my labeling this as a “Connecticut” style stone, they can be found in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Indeed, many of the gravestone carvers of the Connecticut River valley had their training from Connecticut carvers and so the style has a profound impact across western Massachusetts.