Pitcairn Wordless Wednesday

Snow Wordless Wednesday

Greenwood Wordless Wednesday

Freeman Wordless Wednesday

George Jacobs, Sr.

In the family cemetery on the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, there is a newer stone in the colonial style for George Jacobs, Sr. In documents regarding the Salem Witch Trials, he is described as an elderly (late 70s/early 80s) English colonist and farmer who used canes for mobility. During the 1692 Salem Witch trials, the afflicted girls, including his servant Sarah Churchill, accused Jacobs, his son George Jr., his daughter-in-law Rebecca, and granddaughter Margaret of being witches. George Jr. managed to evade arrest by leaving the Salem area. Margaret Jacobs confessed to witchcraft while being examined by the magistrates, naming her grandfather as another witch. Though Margaret later recanted her testimony and was in fact acquitted, her grandfather was tried, convicted, and sentences to die by hanging.

The executed witches were barred from burial in sacred ground and probably tossed in a common pit near the gallows, but Salem tradition has long held that some relatives returned under the cover of night to retrieve remains and bury them in secret. The Jacobs descendants claimed to have found George Sr.’s grave on the family farm in 1864. In 1950, developers discovered the grave while building on the property, and the bones were exhumed. While they cannot be verified as belonging to George Jacobs, Sr., the bones were those of an elderly man fitting his description. In 1992, 300 years after the trials, the bones were reinterred in the Nurse family cemetery on the Rebecca Nurse homestead in a 17th century style coffin.

Alston Wordless Wednesday

To the memory of Charles Alston


When we traveled to Boston and Salem in the fall of 2018, I was of course excited at the opportunities to explore some of the oldest cemeteries in North America. I also realized I needed to brush back up on my cemetery symbolism and language. As I’ve written before, when a woman is described as the consort of her husband on a gravestone, she usually predeceased him. If he predeceased her, the inscription may refer to her as a relict, an old-fashioned word for widow.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston, Massachusetts
Old Burying Point, Salem, Massachusetts

Real graveyard rabbits

When we visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground in Boston, I looked over and suddenly noticed a small baby bunny sitting quietly near some brush and sniffing the air. After a few minutes, I could spot several of them, and one of the people at the graveyard told me you will see them quite a bit, because it’s a very protected area for them to live. So this whole post is just an excuse to show you adorable baby bunny photos. Without further ado, here are some of the real graveyard rabbits of Boston.

Witches’ Well

Did you know there is a water fountain just outside Edinburgh Castle dedicated to those executed as witches in the 16th and 17th centuries? The “Witchcraft Acts” codified witchcraft as a criminal offense. In 1541, The Act against Conjurations, Witchcraft, Sorcery and Enchantments defined witchcraft as a felony, punishable by death and forfeiture of property to the state. The 1563 Act further defined not just the practice of witchcraft, but the consultation of a witch, as punishable by death. King James VI (later James I of England) demonstrated a particular obsession with witches, even publishing a book, Daemonologie, and participating in the interrogation of accused witches. He took that interest with him when he assumed the English throne. In 1604, another law was passed that further bolstered prosecution of witches: An Act against Conjuration, Witchcraft and dealing with evil and wicked spirits, and hundreds of witches would be tried and executed.

Roman tombstones

Roman tombstone base, 2nd century CE, Lincoln
Roman tombstone base, 2nd century CE, Lincoln, British Museum

The British Museum had a few Roman tombstones when I visited in 2017. It’s hard, when viewing them, not to think about how many more there must have been that were lost to history. Seeing them in a museum, protected and preserved, allows us a glimpse into history, but also removes them from the area of the graves they were created to mark.

Tombstone for Gaius Saufeius, 1st century CE, Lincoln
Tombstone for Gaius Saufeius, 1st century CE, Lincoln, British Museum
Tombstone, 1st century CE, Lincoln
Tombstone, 1st century CE, Lincoln, British Museum
Tombstone, 3rd century CE,  Lincoln
Tombstone, 3rd century CE, Lincoln, British Museum

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