Posts Tagged ‘bible’

Wetmore Monument

William S. Wetmore

Wetmore Monument

I’ve seen the sentiment “in death not divided” before, but I’d not previously given it a lot of thought. Tonight, trying to restart the blog, I searched the phrase and discovered that it’s biblical. In 2 Samuel 1:23, David’s funeral song for his father-in-law Saul and brother-in-law Jonathan says “Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided…”

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Estella Bushong

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Rogers 1

A frequent epitaph for mothers is “Her children arise up and call her blessed.” The words come from the Biblical book of Proverbs and are part of a litany of the attributes of a virtuous, godly woman as defined by the Hebrews.

Mary Ann Smith

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Perkins Monument

Just below the feet of the statue on the Perkins’ monument, the words “the memory of the just is blessed” serve as an epitaph for the family. The full Bible verse (in the King James version at least) is Proverbs 10:7 and reads “The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.” It’s a fairly common epitaph in cemeteries, thought not always so artfully rendered as it is here.

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One thing I can rarely resist photographing in a cemetery is a grave marker with an unusual or old-fashioned name. Names have fascinated me – how some remain common, a few become obscure, and others cyclically fall in and out of favor.

The patriarch of the Edwards family bore the name Adanijah. This seems to be a variant of Adonijah, one of the names of King David’s sons in the Old Testament.


Almus Witter was a Civil War soldier. Almus is the name of a Catholic saint and a town in Turkey. It’s also the name of a European company, but that didn’t exist in 1844 when the Witter parents were naming their baby boy.


Zenas Kent lived to an old age. The name Zenas is biblical -Paul mentions a lawyer with that name in the letters to Titus.


I’m going to guess that all three of these names entered the family at some point due to their biblical origins, even if these men received them in honor of a relative.

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Harvey Dewey

This tombstone sits right against the northern wall of Erie Street Cemetery, off by itself. You can imagine that in the heyday of the cemetery, it was surrounded by other tombstones honoring those who rest here, but now it stands as a reminder of all we have lost in this place.

Harvey Dewey was only 22 years old when he died in 1827. His epitaph “Our days on earth are as a shadow,” a passage from 1 Chronicles in the Bible, stressing how fleeting and short mortal life is and how futile it is to cling to it.


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One of the things that I always find interesting in a cemetery is when there is a family plot and each family member has something special on their tombstone.


I’m going to guess that the Etzenspergers were devout Christians, as each of them has a different quote from the Bible on their individual stone, and they are more varied than the small number of verses that appear on tombstones repeatedly within the same cemetery.





Sadly, looking back through the photos, it appears I missed at least one of the individual stones, as they seem to have had a daughter named for the mother Susie that I can see on the edge of another picture.

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When walking around a cemetery, I often encounter the epitaph “she hath done what she could.” Now even without knowing any further context, the epitaph appears positive: a woman who strove within whatever particular limits her life held for her.

But, as with many epitaphs in the cemeteries I visit, the sentence is actually a biblical passage with deeper layers of meaning. The quote comes from the book of Mark, chapter 14. For those not familiar with the narrative, during the feast of Passover days before Jesus Christ was arrested, a woman came to him and poured expensive ointment over him, anointing him. The disciples criticized her for not making better use of the ointment, such as by selling it and using the money to help the poor. Chastising them, Christ admonished them not to be so hard on the woman because “she hath done what she could.”

Of course in researching the origins of the phrase for this post, I have discovered that the phrase has been used as a foundation for many sermons and discussions of the proper place of women in the church, making it even more understandable why a family might place such a testament to the devotion of a deceased pious woman on a tombstone.


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