Hampton, New Hampshire
Troop 177, Boy Scouts of America and
The Hampton Heritage Commission
The new edition of the booklet, a joint venture between Troop 177 and the Hampton Heritage Commission, includes the map of the cemetery, a list of all the stones, and an expanded study of some of the significant markers to be found in the cemetery, as well as more photographs which were taken especially for this booklet by Cowan Stark. It is intended to serve as a guide to the rich artistic and historical heritage of this important burial ground.
Photographs by Cowan Stark
Map by John Kulberg and Troop 177
Lists of grave markers by Troop 177
The Old Burying Ground (Pine Grove Cemetery)
Although in colonial New England the burying ground was most often found at the town center near the meeting house, early burials were secular occasions with little religious observance. The Puritans' emphasis was on the living and the soul, and once a person died, the soul departed, so little religious meaning was attached to the body of the deceased. Human need for some ceremony surrounding the burial of a loved one, however, caused the introduction of prayers, and later, funeral sermons, by the minister after the first few years of settlement.
In Hampton, the early graveyard lay east of the meeting house at the edge of what is now called the Ring (around the early common center). The records of January 1654 note that the town voted to enclose the burying ground with a rail fence, so it was clear that the area was already in use for burials and probably had been since the settlement of the town in . Fencing the graveyard was undoubtedly for the purpose of allowing its use for pasturing cattle since pasturage was a frequent method of using this common land in early New England. As in other early graveyards, the stones in Pine Grove are placed in no particular relation to others, and seldom do families appear to be grouped together. This random placement may have been a deliberate choice on the part of the Puritans. The disorder of haphazardly set stones, weeds, and cattle tracks was possibly intended to reinforce the Puritan teachings about the unknown future to which death would lead.
The earliest Puritan gravestones were either "wolf stones," large unmarked stone slabs intended to prevent animals from disturbing the burials, or wooden markers (none of which survive.) By the late seventeenth-century, however, it became customary to have a stone marker carved with at least the name and date of death of the deceased. Several stone cutters in the Boston area supplied customers throughout New England with professionally decorated stones which featured motifs such as winged skulls and skeletons, as well as symbols of time such as an hourglass. Although modern visitors may find the designs grim and even unappealing, contemporary viewers saw them as reminders of Puritan teachings about death and the soul's journey. The standard "portal" shape symbolizing the door to the afterlife and the winged skull, so popular in the early eighteenth century, were allusions to the deceased's soul's flight to heaven, although Puritans were far from sure that such a pleasant fate awaited everyone. The skeletons found on some more elaborate stones alluded to the bleaker fate which awaited those who were not among the chosen. The skeletal motifs and symbols such as an hourglass also served as reminders that life is transient. Some carvers even put mottos like "Tempus fugit"(time is flying) or "Memento mori"(remember death) on stones, although no stones with such mottos have survived in Hampton. These symbols, reminders of death and the afterlife, were intentional statements to passers-by. Later in the eighteenth century, as the stern Puritan customs gave way to a more cosmopolitan and sentimental style of burial, the winged skull became an angel. By the early nineteenth century, weeping willows and neoclassical urns representing grief and mourning had displaced the skulls and even the angels as popular motifs for gravestones.
Decorated grave markers normally came in pairs, a headstone and a footstone. The carved surfaces of the stones faced away from the body so that visitors would not walk across the buried body. The decoration of the footstones varied as much as that of the headstones, although in general the footstones tended to be much simpler. The footstone for Joseph Smith (#34), for example, is inscribed with only his name, while his headstone was adorned with handsome carvings by Nathaniel Emmes of Boston. While in most early New England burial grounds the headstone faced west so that the body buried behind it faced the east to greet the Second Coming of the Lord, in Pine Grove Cemetery all the headstones face east, toward the gate and road. It is unlikely that, even with changes of two centuries, that all the stones have been moved, so this placement seems to have been a deliberate departure from custom on the part of the townspeople. In another local variation, the ministers' stones also face east, unlike other cemeteries where the ministers face their parishioners as they did in life. However, the ministers did have their own section in the southeastern corner of the cemetery.
While none of the very early stone markers have survived in Hampton, there are a number from the beginning of the eighteenth century. These grave markers vary tremendously in decoration and wording, ranging from crudely carved initials and dates on roughly hewn rocks to commercially carved slate stones, complete with elaborate motifs and verses. Sadly, many stones are now broken or unreadable and merely mark where an unknown family buried a loved one. It is also clear that over the centuries stones have been moved, as headstones and foot stones which started out together have in many cases become separated. Weather and vegetation have also taken their toll, and stones which were known to Joseph Dow, the author of the History of Hampton published in 1892, have now disappeared. For example, Dow commented that the then-unmarked burial places of the second, third and fourth ministers, Timothy Dalton, Seaborn Cotton and his son John, were "not unknown," but that knowledge is now lost, although we may assume that they lie under some of the bushes which grow near the graves of their successors.
Many families carved simple initials or names on a suitable stone, but if they chose to have a professionally carved stone, there were a number of ways in which one could be procured. Beginning in the late seventeenth century, several families of carvers appeared in the Boston area who would produce markers to order. James Foster, William Mumford, Nathaniel Emmes and his family, and Joseph Lamson and his sons provided decorated grave markers for customers throughout the Seacoast area. Nearer home, artisans such as John and Jonathan Hartshorne and the Mullicken and Leighton families from northern Massachusetts and Jeremiah Lane of Hampton Falls manufactured stones with a distinctive type of decoration which has come to be called the Merrimack Valley style, since the carvers were based in that area. Paul and Enoch Noyes of Newburyport, near the end of the eighteenth century, carved markers with a distinctive angel which can be found in many local cemeteries.
It should be noted that the gravestones are not necessarily contemporaneous with the dates on them. It is not unusual to find a marker that was made long after the decease of the person memorialized. Some stones may be replacements for markers damaged or destroyed, or if the stone is original, it may have been produced years later for some reason. Susannah Smith's stone (#42) is an example. She died in 1680, but her stone is so much like her husband Robert's of 1706 that it is likely that it was carved at the same time. In another example it was not until nearly eighteen months after the Rev. Nathaniel Gookin's death in 1734 that the town voted "that there shall bee Toom Stones set up at the grave of our Late Revd Mr. Gookin."
The Old Burying Ground was in use until the early nineteenth century, when the Ring Swamp Cemetery on Park Avenue came into use. After that time the old ground was deserted except for the sheep and calves whose owners paid the town to allow them to pasture their animals among the graves. The establishment of the Cemetery [Association] which now keeps the burying ground neat and the walls in repair would be far in the future.
Some Significant Grave Markers in the Pine Grove Cemetery
Robert Smith was one of the early settlers of Hampton. He signed the Combination of Exeter in 1639 but was living in Hampton by the 1650's. Like all early inhabitants of the town he farmed his land, but he also worked as a tailor. His wife Susannah was killed by lightning in 1680, but Robert lived until 1706 when he died at the age of 95, having outlived the rest of the first generation of settlers in Hampton.
Dow (p.48) says that Susanna's "rude stone" had disappeared, so it seems likely that her stone, at least, is a replacement of an earlier marker. The similarity of the two stones points to their having been made at the same time, perhaps after Robert's death. Headstone of Robert Smith Susanna's first marker may even have been of wood, which twenty-five years after her death would have decayed. Although Dow does not seem to have known this stone, it is possible that it was later found elsewhere in the cemetery and placed beside that of her husband.
The Smiths' legacy lives on in Hampton preservation movements. Their granddaughter married Benjamin James, whose family house still stands on Towle Farm Road and is in the process of restoration.
Marker 228 - Edward Gove - 1691
This small stone, also not known to Dow, commemorates the leader of "Gove's Rebellion," a resistance of local landowners to the authority of the Royal Governor, Edward Cranfield. Having been involved in some acrimonious and even violent exchanges with the local marshals, he was arrested and, with others, was tried for high treason. Gove alone was judged guilty, sentenced to death, and was sent to England where he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for three years. A change in the colonial government brought his release, and he returned to Hampton where he died in 1691.
This decorated stone is unlike any other stone in the cemetery and was probably bought in Boston. If this stone does date from that decade, it is the earliest professionally-carved marker in the burying ground.
Marker #38 - Ruth Shaw - 1715
This crude stone is an example of a homemade marker, carved locally from a roughly-finished rock, with the inscription made to fit the contours of the stone.
Ruth Shaw, the daughter of Benjamin Shaw, was born in 1673 and died unmarried in 1715. However, like a number of young colonial women, Ruth bore an out-of-wedlock daughter, Sarah, who grew up in her grandfather's house where her mother remained until her death. Ruth's situation was not unusual in eighteenth-century New England, when the number of illegitimate births increased sharply. The unfortunate women who found themselves in this position had little recourse except to ask for help from their families or, if necessary, from town officials, whose generosity was likely to be limited.
Marker #53 - Philemon Dalton - 1721
Philemon Dalton was married to Abigail Gove, the daughter of Edward Gove (marker #228). He was a deacon of i~ the church (a position of importance in the eighteenth century) and played an active part in town affairs. Although his wife remarried after his death, she chose to be buried next to her first husband.
This stone was carved by John Hartshorne, the originator of the "Merrimack Valley" style of grave markers. The angel in the tympanum, the rosettes in the corners, and the foliate scrolls down the sides are typical of this rather geometric style of decoration, which was taken up by other carvers and influenced craftsmen across northern Massachusetts and Connecticut. This is the only remaining John Hartshorne marker in the burying ground.
Marker #54 - Abigail Prescott - 1751
Abigail Prescott was married first to Philemon Dalton (marker 53). James Prescott was her third husband, but when she died in 1751, as her epitaph indicates, she chose to be buried next to her first spouse.
The sophisticated carving of the angel on this stone marks it as having been produced in a more urban center, undoubtedly Boston. This particular type of angel can be found on stones known to have been carved by Henry Emmes, who was producing grave markers for other New Hampshire families at this period.
Markers #39 and 46 - Dorothy Cotton Smith and Colonel Joseph Smith - 1706 and 1717
Dorothy, the daughter of Rev. Seaborn Cotton and sister of the contemporary minister, is buried with the ministers, while her husband's stone is found a short distance away, yet separate from the ministers' section. Joseph was a colonel of the local militia, judge of the provincial probate court and a leader in the town. His wife's death in 1706 caused a situation which ended up in the provincial court. A maid then living with the Smiths, Deborah Godfrey, was accused by Smith of stealing some of his wife's clothes which he had intended to give to other women. Clothing was expensive and was considered an important inheritance. The depositions from the case have survived and seem to indicate Deborah's guilt, although she denied the charge. The next year she retaliated by accusing Smith of being the father of her bastard child. A poor woman with few prospects, who was still unmarried at thirty-five, Deborah sought a way out of her difficulty, as well as revenge, in the only way open to her: an accusation of seduction by her social superior and employer.
Dorothy Smith's stone, attributed by Glenn Knoblock to the Lamsons of Charlestown, is elegantly carved with a winged death's head and an elaborate fruit border. Joseph's marker of 1717, with its floral border above the winged skull and the distinctive lettering of the epitaph, is likely an early example of the work of Nathaniel Emmes of Boston.
Markers #80 and 81 - Jonathan Hobes: Sarah and Joseph Hobes (Hobbs) - 1715 and 1717
These two very beautiful stones mark the graves of three members of the Hobbs family, one of Hampton's oldest families. Sarah Swett Hobbs, the wife of Morris Hobbs, is buried here with two of her sons, Joseph and Jonathan. She and Joseph died within a few days of each other in l7l7 and share the double marker, while Jonathan's stone is from two years earlier. These two distinctive markers were clearly not products of a local craftsman and, and were obtained in Boston. The carver of the double stone is the same as that of Joseph Smith, Nathaniel Emmes. Note that the wings of the skulls form a heart at the top of the marker. The winged skull and the hourglass as symbols of the transience of life were often found on gravestones in this period, but Jonathan Hobbs' stone is the only one in the cemetery to have the hourglass.
Markers #16 - 18. 26 - 27 - Gookin Family - 1717-1736
In the ministers' corner of the burying ground the visitor finds the large stone erected by the town in memory of the Rev. Nathaniel Gookin, minister of the First Church from 1710 to 1734. The minutes of the town meeting of March 9, 1735 record that it was voted "that there shall bee toom stones set up at the grave of our Late Revd. Mr. Gookin." Scattered around this marker are the small stones which indicate the graves of his children who died before reaching adulthood. Abijah Gookin was nine years old, as was William; John Cotton was one year old, and Thomas died at only fifteen weeks. This family group is a reminder that infant mortality was a fact of life in the eighteenth century, and many families saw one after another of their children lost to diseases which are seldom fatal today. Some families lost half to three- quarters of their sons and daughters, and it was not unusual to find the same name given to two or even three children in succession.
These markers were all procured in Boston, rather than locally. Thomas' stone was produced by the same maker as that of Sarah and Joseph Hobbs, Nathaniel Emmes. All three deaths took place in 1717, and it is possible that the two stones may have been ordered at the same time.
Marker # 212 - Deacon Joshua Lane - 1766 (Not illustrated.)
Joshua Lane, also a deacon of the church, was one of the most prominent men in Hampton in the mid-eighteenth century. His advice was sought in civil, as well as religious, affairs. He and his wife Bathsheba had fifteen children, most of whom survived to adulthood, which was unusual at that time of widespread infant mortality. He was killed by lightning in 1766 while standing at the door of his house. His son Jeremiah became a stone carver some years after his father's death.
This stone, recognizably in the Merrimack Valley style of carving, is attributed to Jonathan Hartshorne ofNewburyport, the grandson of John Hartshorne, the originator of the style. Although the stone is damaged, the typical "frowning angel" of Jonathan Hartshorne may still be seen.
Marker # 165 - Bethiah Fogg - 1773
Bethiah Fogg was the wife of Abner Fogg, "Captain and Esquire," who moved to North Hampton some years after his wife's death. The house where she lived stood on Winnacunnet Road where the town hall stands now. Abner was an important citizen in the town. He was a Captain in the militia and was listed in documents as "Esquire," a mark of importance. He was wealthy enough to have a slave, Fortunatus, who was baptized in 1741 in the Hampton church. This stone is an excellent example of the markers produced by Jonathan Hartshome. The frowning angel may be clearly seen here, and other similar grave markers may be found in this and other local cemeteries.
Markers #103-104 - John Moulton and Captain Jeremiah Moulton - 1794 and 1795
The Moulton family of Hampton is one of the oldest in the town of Hampton, being descended from John Moulton who came to Hampton with the first group of settlers. There are many branches of the family, so many of those who bore the surname were only quite distant cousins. These two men, who died in 1794 and 1795, were actually brothers-in-law; John having married Jeremiah's sister Hannah. They died within fifteen months of each other, and their gravestones may have been purchased at the same time.
These markers, both made by the Noyes family of Newburyport, are an interesting blend of the older style and the newer, neo-classical decoration. John Moulton's stone (unfortunately broken) features an urn in front of drapery festooned with tassels in the very latest fashion. Jeremiah, the younger man, has a stone which is decorated in the older style with a conventional angel. Since he was unmarried, perhaps this represents the choice of his mother, while John's stone may have been chosen by his young widow, possibly more attuned to the new fashions in decoration.
Marker # 122 - Ebenezer Lane - 1796
Ebenezer Lane was the son of Deacon Joshua Lane (#212) and the brother of the stone carver Jeremiah Lane, who carved this marker for his brother in 1796. Ebenezer's house now forms the center part of Lamie's in the center of Hampton.
Glenn Knoblock has identified the work of Jeremiah, a self-taught carver, beginning about 1775 in many graveyards in the Hampton area. This rather square-faced angel with its calm expression is typical of Jeremiah's later work.
The new burying ground was laid out at Ring Swamp in 1797, and most burials occurred there after that year. A few families, however, chose to bury their relatives in the old burial ground. The gravestones of Capt. Jeremiah Marston, his wife Abigail, their son Josiah, and grandson Jeremiah form a group of markers carved in the new style of the beginning of the nineteenth century. The simple shapes with flat carving in the neoclassical style are decorated with an urn surmounted with a weeping willow tree, the most popular symbol of mourning at this period. The new sentimental style symbolizes a change from the Puritanical, stern view of punishment awaiting the deceased to a romantic sense of loss and bereavement for those left behind.
Marker # 203 - Sally Mace - 1795
Sally Mace was born in Ipswich and married Joshua Mace only three months before her death in June 1795. Her beautiful slate gravestone, produced by the Noyes carvers of Newburyport, is decorated in an up-to-date style, and at the bottom is a familiar verse:
As you can now so once was I
As I am now, so you must be,
Prepare for Death & follow me."
Notes on Sources
Joseph Dow, History of Hampton. NH. 1638-1692, 1892, rpt. Somersworth, NH, 1970. (This is the monumental history of Hampton, encompassing genealogy as well as history. Dow included a list of all the epitaphs on the stones which he found in Pine Grove.)
Harriet Merrifield Forbes, Gravestones of Early New England and the Men Who Made Them, Princeton, NJ: the Pyne Press, 1927. (Mrs. Forbes tirelessly toured early graveyards and studied the probate records of Massachusetts. She was able to identify positively many early carvers and stones known to have been carved by them from payments recorded in probate accounts.)
Glenn A. Knoblock, Historic Burial Grounds of the New Hampshire Seacoast, Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 1999. (Mr. Knoblock has studied all the local cemeteries and their markers and has been able to identify the work of many carvers, and his work has provided the basis for many of the attributions in this booklet. This book is an excellent guide to the early cemeteries of colonial New Hampshire.)
Allan I. Ludwig, Graven Images: New England Stonecarving and its Symbols. 1650-18 15, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1966. (An early scholarly study of grave markers in colonial America, this book is more useful for the symbols and their meaning than for discussions of individual carvers.)
William Teschek, "Cemetery Records of Hampton, N.H.," recorded 1986. (Available in the Lane Memorial Library and the Hampton Historical Society and on-line at the library's website.) (Mr. Teschek's list is especially useful since he compares his record with those of other transcribers before him.)