Boston in Suffolk County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
The first and cheapest grave markers were made of wood, which did not survive in the damp seaside climate of New England. In the 17th century, early stone markers had simply initials and dates. The gravestone of Thomas Plats (d. 1685), a Boston butcher, is made of red stone and has only letters and numbers, no carved symbols. Soon carvers started engraving symbols and messages on the stones:
“Death’s head,” a non-religious symbol, is a skull often with wings and/or crossed bones. It is the earliest symbol employed in this graveyard. Other decorative motifs accompanying the death’s head were the hourglass (and even a winged hourglass – symbolizing
“Winged cherub” or a soul effigy, is characterized by a fleshy face, life-like eyes, and an upwards-turned mouth. Cherubs started appearing in the late 17th century and are common in the 18th century. The gravestones of David Gleason (d. 1768), an infant, and Mary Devens (d. 1778) have winged cherubs.
The “willow and urn” symbols are seen most often after the American Revolution. The willow was an ancient mourning symbol. The urn was an Imperial Roman device used to contain ashes. Usage of these motifs was part of a larger trend toward sentimentality in mourning art. There are very few “willow and urn” motifs at this burying ground. Look for the gravestone of William Claghorn (Sign #8).
Some bereaved relatives commissioned special symbols for gravestones. Lt. Jabez Smith, Jr. (1751-1780) was a young lieutenant of the Marines aboard
Early English Arrivals
When Jacob Eliot (1632-1693), yeoman and deacon of South Church died, Samuel Sewall wrote: “Tis a sudden and sore blow to the South Church, a loss hardly repaired . . . . He was one of the most serviceable men in Boston . . . . one of the first that was born in Boston.” Eliot’s gravestone is surrounded by those of his wife and children.
Bartholomew Green (1666-1732) was the son of printer Samuel Green, who arrived in 1630. In 1704 Bartholomew started to print the Boston Newsletter, the first American newspaper. The paper remained with the family through his daughter, Deborah (Green) Draper, and grandson, Richard Draper (Sign #4).
The Fighting Armstrongs
Tomb 192 holds the remains of the Armstrong family. In 1776 the patriarch, Colonel John Armstrong (d. 1776), marched to Long Island with his two sons, Captain John Armstrong
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Cemeteries & Burial Sites. A significant historical year for this entry is 1630.
Location. 42° 21.452′ N, 71° 3.685′ W. Marker is in Boston, Massachusetts, in Suffolk County. Marker can be reached from Tremont Street, on the left when traveling north. Marker is along the walking trail in Granary Burying Ground. . Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Boston MA 02108, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Josiah and Abiah Franklin (a few steps from this marker); Family Memorials (a few steps from this marker); Victims of the Boston Massacre (a few steps from this marker); Samuel Adams (a few steps from this marker); A Riot, the Massacre, and the Tea Party (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Granary Burying Ground John Smibert (within shouting distance of this marker); Granary Burying Ground (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boston.
More about this marker. The upper middle of the marker contains a partial map of Granary Burying Ground, indicating the location of the marker. Also present are examples of gravestone motifs, including death’s head, winged cherub, willow and urn, and a special symbol of the Continental ship Trumbull.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Take a tour of the markers found along the walking trail in Boston’s Granary Burying Ground.
Also see . . . Granary Burying Ground. Details of the Freedom Trail from the City of Boston website. (Submitted on May 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 2,993 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on May 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 2. submitted on July 11, 2021, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 10, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey.