If you live in New England, chances are pretty darned good that somewhere in your town is a very old, and possibly neglected, early colonial burial ground. It is there that your earliest settlers buried their families quickly and went back to the task of survival in the wild new land.
The cemeteries of that era are not particularly inviting and pretty, but within that utilitarian piece of historical land is an amazing amount of art and poetry. If you have ever had the chance to wander the landscape of an old burial place and read a few inscriptions, you know exactly what I mean.
One headstone in the Howard Street Old Burial Ground (Northborough, MA) for a town hero who fought in the War of the Revolution, is inscribed as follows:
in memory of
Colonel LEVI BRIGHAM,
who departed this life
February 1st 1787 :
Aged 70 Years.
"He who believeth in me, though
he were dead, yet shall he live."
Gravestone rubbings serve many purposes, depending on what interests you. The image of a stone is like a photograph, documenting the genealogical information about an ancestor. Or you might find the iconography or inscription interesting and want to preserve it as a objet d'art. With specific care and methods, a rubbing can be done without harming the original stone, and some common sense and a little homework ahead of time can help make your project a success. (Tip from the workshop: place a sheet of plastic or plastic bag over the surface of the stone and secure with masking tape prior to applying the paper layer. This protects the stone from the rubbing medium accidentally touching the stone through a tear in the paper.)
The rubbing in the photo above, while not done by me personally, was given to me at the end of the workshop. The Brigham gentleman that belongs to this stone was a soldier in the War of the Revolution and descendant of the town's first settler, John Brigham.
What made the gift special? The artist who thoughtfully let me take her debut work home is also a Mrs. Brigham ...from the same family who has lived in the town of Northborough from day 1. To me, she is my new local hero. And you can now understand more why I truly love "Finding New Stories in Old Places!"