Graveyard visit: Auburn Center Cemetery

Having some free time, I paid a visit to Auburn Cemetery (aka Auburn Center Burial Ground) in Auburn, MA.  Established in 1777 it is the second oldest burial site in Auburn (after the Cudworth Family Burial Ground c. 1750; that graveyard has only a 20th century marker however).  There are a nice collection of stones created by William Young as well as an unusual portrait stone by James New.

Unfortunately, I arrived while a grounds crew from the city of Auburn was mowing the grass and cleaning the grounds so, even when I wasn’t in their way, many of the stones were coated in grass clippings.  Combined with intermittent rainfall coloring the stones meant that the quality of the photos is not very good.  There are more stones of interest to photograph but it just wasn’t to be, today at least.

I did have a lovely chat with the director of the grounds crew about the cemetery and his hope to find funding to have some repair work done.  They do have a grant to repair their Civil War monument in Hillside Cemetery, so perhaps there is hope?  I always like to see a cemetery that is well-kept (and to thank the people who care for them).

Findagrave listing

Faber Gravestone database

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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: