No more new BTG blog posts :(

Hi folks:

I’m heartbroken to say that due to the commitment demands of a new job, I’m no longer able to spend the time needed to research and write the articles everyone enjoys so much here on this site.

Until things settle down (and I really don’t know when that might be–6 months? 8 months?), this’ll be the last post.  However, I’ll be checking in from time to time, so if you have questions or comments, feel free to post and I’ll answer.

I do plan on keeping the BTG Facebook going so please check it out (here’s the link) to keep up on what’s happening in the cemetery world. The fans are pretty active over there; feel free to swing by for a visit.

Thank you so much for joining me again on this journey. It’s been fun sharing it all with you, and I hope we can do it again sometime soon.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.


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A Parting Shot…

This headstone is a fascinating story regarding embezzlement and injustice in Early American history.

The tombstone reads:

Caroline H.

Wife of Calvin Cutter, M.D.

Murdered by the Baptist ministry and Baptist Churches as follows:

September 28, 1838, age 33.

She was accused of lying in a 

Church meeting by the Rev. D.D. Pratt and Deacon Albert-Adams –

Was condemned by the church unheard.

She was reduced to poverty by Deacon William Wallace.

When an expert council was asked of the Milford Baptist Church, by

The advice of their committee, George Raymond, Calvin Averill and Andrew Hutchinson,

They voted not to receive any communication upon the subject:

The Rev. Mark Carpenter said he thought as the good old Deacon Pearson said,

“We have got Cutter down and it is best to keep him down.”

The intentional and malicious destruction of her character and happiness,

As above described, destroyed her life.  Her last words upon the subject

were, “Tell the truth and the iniquity will come out.”


The background storyline is fleshed out further in David K. Lesser’s Antiquarian Book Catalogue:

“Dr. Cutter underwrote the building of a new Baptist church; the minister embezzled the funds and Cutter was left holding the bag. When he attempted to bring the matter before the church, he knocked heads with “the Baptist Inquisition.” The pastor and council refused him a public hearing, proclaimed Cutter and his wife liars, and threw them out of the congregation.

 “They have represented our characters as very bad,” Cutter writes. “They have made many slanderous nods, shakes of the head, winks, and bold ascertains.” Weakened by the attacks, Mrs. Cutter’s health failed and she died. In the added slip, Cutter presents the resolution passed at a “large meeting of the citizens of Nashua and Nashville” which unanimously declared that the Baptist church and society had acted immorally. “The charges against the Baptist Church and Society are cheating, lying, keeping false church records, condemning persons unheard, destroying the character and life of Caroline H. Cutter.

Dr. Cutter [1807-1872] eventually gave up his local practice and began to travel as a medical lecturer; he later wrote a popular textbook, ‘Cutter’s Physiology‘.”

Other Sources:

The Peter Pauper Press. Comic Old Epitaphs From The Very Best Old Graveyards


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More Funny Bones

Below are some more eccentric headstone inscriptions from New England cemeteries.


Sacred to the memory of

Inestimable worth of unrivalled

Excellence and virtue, N.R., whose ethereal

Parts became seraphic May 25th, 1767.


She lived with her husband fifty years

And died in the confident hope of a better life.



First a cough carried me off

Then a coffin

They carried me off in.



The town was settled in 1748

By Germans who emigrated to this place with the promise

And expectation of finding a prosperous city, instead of which

They found nothing but wilderness.

Rev. John Starman  d. 1854, aged 72



In memory of Mr. Peter Daniels

Born Aug. 7, 1688

Died May 26, 1746

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay,

Lies Uncle Peter Daniels,

Who too early in the month of May

Took off his winter flannels.



Captain Thomas Stetson

Who was killed by the fall of a tree, d. 1820 a. 68. 

Nearly 30 years he was master

Of a vessel and left that

Employment at the age of 48

For the less hazardous one of cultivating his farm.

Reader remember,

Man is never secure from the arrest of death.



Elijah Bardwell d. 1780

Having but a few days survived ye fatal night, when he was flung

From his horse; and drawn by

Ye stirrups 26 rods along ye path,

As appeared by the place where

His hat was found and here

He had spent ye whole of the

Following severe cold night

Treading down the snow in

A small circle.  The family he

Left was an aged father,

A wife and three small children.



This is what I expected

But not so soon.

William Reese, 1872 – aged 21



Bevis Hillier. Dead Funny

Alfred Clemont Rush. Death and Burial in Early Christianity

The Peter Pauper Press. Comic Old Epitaphs From The Very Best Old Graveyards

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Funny Bones

A highlight in researching graveyards is the headstone inscription. Below is a selection of some of the more eccentric ones collected from New England cemeteries.


In memory of Mr. Nathaniel Parks

Aged 19, who on 21, March 1794

Being out hunting and concealed in a ditch

Was casually shot by Mr. Luther Frink.


She was very Excellent for

Reading and Soberness.

(Mary Brooks, d. 1736, aged 11)


Solomon Touslee, Jr. who

Was Killed in Pownal, Vermont July 15, 1846,

While repairing to grind a scythe on a stone

Attached to the gearing in the woolen factory.

He was entangled.   

His death was sudden and awful.


To the four husbands of

Miss Ivy Saunders

1790, 1794, 1808, 18??

Here lie my husbands, One, Two, Three

Dumb as men could ever be          

As for my fourth, well, praise be God,     

He bides for a little while

Above the sod.         

Alex, Ben, Sandy were the first three names,

And to make things tidy

I’ll add his – James.


Asa Whitcom,

A Pillow of the settlement.

(note: more likely, a Pillar of the settlement!)


Capt. Samuel

Jones’ leg which was

Amputated July 17, 1804.



Beneath this stone and not above it,

Lies the remains of Anna Lovett.

Be pleased, dear reader not to show it     

For twixt you and I, no one does covet   

To see again this Anna Lovett.

Left us May 17, 1769.



Bevis Hillier. Dead Funny

Alfred Clemont Rush. Death and Burial in Early Christianity

The Peter Pauper Press. Comic Old Epitaphs From The Very Best Old Graveyards


Filed under Humor

The Secret Garden…

Treasures from Highgate Cemetery

A 170 year old cemetery is not typically on a “To Visit While in London” list.  However, Highgate, a mysteriously overgrown and historically elegant cemetery should be a definite addition as it represents a unique view of Victorian tastes and social pretensions.

Curiosity is whetted by the some of the more fascinating tombstones such as Nero the Lion, protecting owner George Wombwell who was the English forerunner of Barnum and Bailey. His collection of exotic animals became a highlight of British town fairs in Victorian times. Over there is the column to scandalous George Eliot who deliciously shocked society by openly living with her married lover. Then shocking them all again by marrying a man 20 years her junior. Beyond that curve in the path is Elizabeth Siddal, the model for drowned Ophelia who is still so familiar today. And of course, bare knuckle prize fighter, World Heavyweight Champion Tom Sayers is here, watched over by his faithful dog.  


And there are so many more tombstones tucked away in various nooks and crannies of Highgate. But perhaps the most important question of how all of this came to be, should be answered first. 

Highgate was one of seven cemeteries established in Victorian times to accommodate a rising demand for burial plots. Traditionally, the dead were buried in and around the local churchyards that operated as the common focal point in smaller town society.  To this day, old family generational plots dotting the English countryside can still be seen.  However, during Victorian times something occurred that dramatically changed this aspect – something called the Industrial Revolution.  More jobs were to be found in the factories than on the farms, thus more people were migrating to the bigger cities.  More people in larger cities meant a greater strain on urban resources resulting in fewer available burial sites. As a result, burials beneath church floorboards, the re-use of plots, river-dumping and body snatching by medical students, became the norm. To counter these occurrences, seven cemeteries were established in and around London. Out of these seven, Highgate arguably became the most elegant and socially desirable of them all and today, the visitor finds many unique architectural treasures from the Victorian period.


 One of the most interesting features Continue reading


Filed under Spotlight On, Symbols, Travel

Soquel Cemetery: Generations of Metaphors


Soquel, California (pronounced “so-kell”) is a quiet town off the Northern California coastline, rooted within Spanish land grants dating back to 1776. Located approximately 70 miles south of San Francisco, most beach tourists driving the winding Highway 1 route to Santa Cruz beach spots rarely give it a second thought. However, those opting for the quieter, redwood tree-lined back roads have an opportunity to see this town first hand.

To the left and on the hill from the main four corners is a beautiful New England-styled church. Straight down the street is the unique Porter Memorial Library built in 1912 while to the right, is the Ugly Mug coffee house. But it’s the spot just outside of town at 550 Old San Jose Road that draws the most interest from fans of Skip Spence and genealogists tracing family history.

cemetery sign_SP

Photo by Shelly Peters

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Filed under Commentary, Symbols, Travel

Overcrowded cemeteries


Highgate crowding

Highgate Cemetery

In London, gravesite sharing has become an uncomfortable-yet-necessary-to discuss option. The Guardian summed it up the best when it reported:

“So you think London, population 8 million, is crowded with the living? There are many millions more under the soil of a city that has been inhabited for 2,000 years. And London is rapidly running out of places to put them. Now the city’s largest cemetery is trying to persuade Londoners to share a grave with a stranger. “

Will it work?

Perhaps, but there are mixed feelings in addition to the illegality of grave re-use to overcome. However, re-use is legal if the grave is 75 years or older AND located in the City of London.

Read the full article here.

Some may just say this only bolsters the rationale for cremation but what if this is not an option?

In contrast to London, only one of the 71 cemeteries in Moscow remains open for burials. The Russian Orthodox Church does not allow for cremation, making the search for a plot space all the more challenging.

Lack of space has given rise to a funeral plot black market. Last month, the New York Times reported that:

“With the fall of the Soviet Union, the government deregulated and privatized much of the funeral business in Russia. This has led to an explosion of private funeral agencies. Funerary agents largely operate free of oversight, and can easily take advantage of grieving families desperately seeking a burial plot.

The number of agents, licensed and not, exceed the number of people who die daily in Moscow.

The agents are often in cahoots with the police and hospital staff members, who tip them off when someone dies — for a fee, of course. They have been known to show up at the deceased’s residence before the ambulance, pressing and cajoling grieving relatives.”

Read the full article here.


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