Graveyard visit – Old Revolutionary Burying Ground, Ashland

The homunculus otherwise engaged, I decided to venture a little further afield, and dropped by a small burying ground I had not yet seen, this time the Old Revolutionary Burying Ground (aka Simpson-Jones Burying Ground aka St. Cecilia’s Cemetery.  (Findagrave entry; no entries in Farber).

This small, mostly empty lot sits to the south of (the much more recent) St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church.  Established in 1771, this was the earliest burying place in what eventually became Ashland, Mass.  There are a few older stone, with a skull, a soul effigy, and several urns among them.  It is a pretty spot enclosed by a thick stone wall.  Not the most interesting graveyard I’ve visited, but they all can’t be thrill-a-minute, eh?

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Gravestone of the Day: James Hayward

Fate would have it that I had a moment to briefly visit a graveyard today (in Acton, MA) and in my quick survey of the yard, I spotted several interesting stones.  Here is the most interesting; since it lacks a date, I suspect it is a foot stone, but I could not locate a corresponding headstone – time was of the essence so I may just have missed it…  (Click for full version)

Woodlawn Cem. (1737), Acton MA

James Hayward stone

Young and Felton, carvers

As a side project I’ve plotted out the rough (very rough) distribution of stones carved by two of my favorite gravestone carvers, William Young (aka the Thistle-Carver of Tatnuck) and the Ebenezer Felton. I’d like to include notes about identifying carvers in my graveyards book, so I figure I’d better learn to identify them myself first. I like these particular carvers because they are idiosyncratic. Young’s work is amateurish, irregular, and has a very personal touch. Felton, while being more regular, is very different than almost any stones I’ve encountered (though the Sikes family shares some similar qualities). Out of curiosity I plotted out what cemeteries – roughly – that these carvers have stones at. For a start I used the Farber collection, since it is easy to search and sort, though I have made some additions based on my research. The photos are taken from Farber, since my files are currently buried in my office.

Here is a sample stone by Young: As you can see, the human head is very crudely rendered, almost abstract. Still, I find it charming.

Probably the best source on Young is Forbes’ Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them though she was writing in 1928; there is also a good profile in Markers #4 starting on p. 138. See the complete set of Farber images here.

Here is his map.

As for Mr. Felton, here is a sample:Wacky, no? Flying hair, mouthless face, almost like an alien.

The best source for Felton is a short piece in Markers #4, p. 169; here is the Farber images for Felton.

Here is the Felton map: