Epitaphs aren’t just funny or sad – they can also be quite damning. In our time where cost and legal actions prohibit lengthy soapboxing (no small mercy considering what Bill Clinton or Rush Limbaugh would say), earlier tombstones felt no such need in that pre-litigious age.
This Funny Bones posting showcases some of Janet Greene’s more sobering finds from her book Epitaphs to Remember: Remarkable Inscriptions from New England Gravestones.
Located in Wethersfield, CT
“Here lies interred Mrs. Lydia Beadle, aged 32 years and,
Ansell, Lothrop, Elizabeth, Lydia and Mary Beadle,
Her children the eldest aged 11 and the youngest 6 years
Who on the morning of the 11th day of December, 1782
Fell by the hands of William Beadle
An infatuated Man who closed the horrid sacrifice of his wife
And children with his own destruction.”
Located in Pelham, MA
Warren Gibbs, died by arsenic poisoning Mar. 23, 1860
Aged 36 yrs. 5 mos. 23 days
“Think my friends when this you see
How my wife has done for me
She in some oysters did prepare
Some poison for my lot and fare
Then of the same I did partake
And Nature yielded to its fate.
Before she my wife became
Mary Felton was her name.”
Located in Stanstead, Quebec,
an anti-war protestor who fled to Canada during the Civil War:
“He went into voluntary banishment from his
Beloved native country during the reigning terror
In the third year of the misrule of
Abraham the First.”
Located in Hardwick, VT
Willie Marshall: 1872-1944
His wife Delia Longe, 1876 –
“She always did her best…He never did.”
The epitaph of an atheist: John L. Jones
Born 1811- Died 1875
“I came without my own consent.
Lived a few years much discontent,
At human errors grieving.
I ruled myself by reason’s laws,
But got contempt and not applause
Because of disbelieving.
For nothing me could e’er convert
To faith some people did asset
Alone could gain salvation.
But now the grass does me enclose
The superstitious will suppose
I’m doomed to Hell’s damnation.
But as to that they do not know;
Opinions oft from ignorance flow,
Devoid of some foundation.
Tis easy men should be deceived
When anything by them’s believed
Without a demonstration.”
Located in New Haven, CT
“In memory of Samuel Barns
Son of Mr. Samuel Barns and Mrs. Welthy Barns
Whose death was occasioned by
A scald from a tea pot
March 27th, 1794, aged 7 months.”
Located in Winslow ME
“In memory of B. Wood
Departed this life
Nov. 2, 1837
Aged 45 yrs.
“Here lies one Wood
Enclosed in wood
The outer wood
Is very good:
We cannot praise
2 graves located in the same cemetery in New Boston, NH
Daughter of George and Sarah Jones
Murdered by Henry N. Sargent
Jan. 13, 1854
Age 17 yrs & 9 mos.
Thus fell this lovely blooming daughter
By the revengeful hand – a malicious Henry
When on her way to school he met her and with a six self cocked pistol shot her.”
Son of Daniel and Charlotte Sargent
Died Jan. 13, 1854
Age 23 years & 5 mos.
Murderer of Sevilla Jones.”