Showing posts with label epitaphs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label epitaphs. Show all posts

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Momento Mori

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Even before I got into genealogy, I was fascinated by old graveyards. At first it was the Victorian
era graves with their weeping angels and cherubs. Then I discovered the really old stones in my
native New England. I was hooked. I love the angel of death images, the weeping willows and all
the symbology that goes with these very old stones. Luckily, I'm not the only one.  The Rumsey
map collection has a lovely archive of black and white photos of these old stones which were mostly
taken by David Farber and his wife Jesse. You can browse these images here.  If these images
seem macabre you may want to read about the meanings associated with them in this excellent
pdf written by Jesse Lie Farber.

Of course, I had to start combing the various photo collections looking for family members. The photo above is the stone for Benjamin Shed, my 7th great grandfather. He lived to a ripe old age in Billerica,
Massachusetts. The winged face was a symbol or resurrection and life everlasting.

© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
Here's another ancestor and a similar stone for Joanna Woodbury Herrick, my eighth great grandmother. This stone is a bit more elaborate with lovely vines and flowers around the edge.
© 2003 by the American Antiquarian Society
David Rumsey map collection
This image isn't the stone for a relative, but I love the relief carving of the skull and crossbones.

Of course then there's the whole topic of humorous epitaphs. So far I haven't located any clever
ancestors, but with any luck you might on this site or over at FindaGrave.  There are a number
of epitaphs still up at AVery Grave Matter, but the wonderful bank of photos isn't there and the
site seems not to be kept up. 

Just one more place to find a little glimpse of one of your ancestors. Happy hunting!