Funny Bones – Back By Popular Demand


The Funny Bone articles have garnered quite a lot of attention over the past months, and not just because of Halloween (although that did help some). Since there has been such a demand, I thought I’d post a few more, but through the context followed by Janet Greene in her book, Epitaphs to Remember: Remarkable Inscriptions from New England Gravestones.


The most eccentric epitaphs seem to fall within the early American pioneer and colonial times and this should not be surprising. Daily life could be hard, short, and brutal. Speech patterns would have naturally reflected the sawn down bluntness, offering no space for sophisticated phraseology. You were born, you lived, you married, had children (sometimes quite a number), and you died.


As the generations passed, life became settled and comfortable. Room was made for a more delicate  speech style that would reflect in a community’s gravestones. These differences will be seen in later articles.


Tombstone samples through 1775:



Rebecca Nurse, hanged in Salem in 1692 at age of 71, and later exonerated. This engraving  appears on a monument in Danvers, Mass


“Accused of witchcraft

She declared,

‘I am innocent and God will clear my innocence.’

Once acquitted yet falsely

Condemned, she suffered

Death July 19, 1969,

her Christian character even

then fully attested by forty of her neighbors.”


Dr. Isaac Bartholomew, died 1710 in Cheshire, CT


“He that was sweet to my repose

Now is become a stink under my Nose.

This is said of me,

So it will be said of thee.”


Marcy Hale, died 1719, age 38, Glastonbury, CT


“Here lies one whose

Life threads

Cut asunder

She was stroke dead

By a clap of thunder.”


Mrs. Jean Wilson


“Here Lies the body of

Mrs. Jean Wilson

Spouse of the Reverend John Wilson

Who departed this life April 1

A.D., 1752, Aged 36 years

She was a Gentlewoman of Piety

And a Good Economist…”


“Here lies the body of Mrs. Mary wife

 Of Deacon John Buel, Esq., She died

Nov. 4, 1768 at age 90

Having had 13 children

101 grandchildren

274 great-grand children

49 great-great grandchildren

410 total.

336 survived her.”



This may or may not be a real tombstone inscription as it’s reported both in Hatfield, Mass and Pownal, Vt.


“Here lies as silent as clay

Miss Arabella Young.

Who on the 21st of May, 1771,

Began to hold her tongue.”



Daniel Hoar, 1773, age 93, Concord, Mass


“By Honest Industry &

Prudent Economy, he acquired

A handsome fortune for a man

In Private Character. He enjoyed a

Long life and uninterrupted

State of health, Blessings

That ever attend Scriptural

Exercises and Temperance.


Here the last end of the Mortal Story…He’s Dead.”


(c) 2008 by G.E. Anderson


1 Comment

Filed under Commentary, Humor

One response to “Funny Bones – Back By Popular Demand

  1. Pingback: Favorite cemetery articles « Beyond The Ghosts…A Cemetery Blog

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