Sunday, February 1, 2009


Vermont, 2006

Two pictures today, two headstones, from two states and two different centuries. But similar in their epitaphs, for even though they're 76 years and over two hundred fifty miles apart, both bear lamentations and warnings for their readers. Above, Mr. Elkana Cobb, in Dorset, Vermont bemoans:

Oh let me not forgotten lie
left you forget that you m-
uft die

For Death's a debt to nature due
Which I have paid and so m-

uft you.

(Note: In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was common to substitute the letter 'f' for the letter 's' in certain words; so in the above verse you should read 'left' as 'lest', and 'muft' as 'must'.)

You'd think whoever chiseled that would have realized after he tried squeezing in the 'mu(s)t' the first time that it wasn't going to fit, but that's just an example, I suppose, of Yankee stubbornness.

Long Island, NY, 2006

Meanwhile, down on Long Island in the mid- to-late nineteenth century, we have Maria Louise Doxsey, age twenty-one and a half, tragically bidding farewell to her family and reminding them that the debt she's paid is owed by everyone.

Either that or by saying: 'The debt is paid, the grave you see', she's really extolling the virtues of pre-planning your funeral. A little Yankee pragmatism.


Sharon said...

Nice photos; and you are a dab hand with the neologisms, too.

Sherry said...

I really did so well in choosing my in-laws. (happy nerdy sigh)

Julie said...

I grinned all the way through this contribution today, Neil. Oh the moaning and the wailing ... Great stuff. I have not encountered inscripions of this ilk here in Sydney. Mostly ours are pious religious epitaphs. I shall keep my eyes peeled, however.

Once again, I thank you for your contribution to Taphophile Tragics.

VioletSky said...

I'm not sure I like the second epithet at all. It sounds so ominous and dispirited.

hamilton said...

Interesting that instead of bible verses, these chosen words were instead rhyming couplets.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Almost like jingles or ditties on these headstones! The last one almost sounds like a universal curse that we all must face!

Dianne said...

As you say Neil miles and years apart but still the same message - a great TT post.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I purchased a used book awhile back just to have a copy of that first tomb stone from Vermont. That is a charming gravesite and really, she's's natures debt


is that you with a stat camera? I studied printing - the area they referred to as stripping. I had no idea that it was headed quickly out the back door.

Neil J Murphy said...

Well, Pasadena, I began my career in printing as a stripper, and later became a cameraman. I'm leaning on the lensboard of a Robertson screening camera; continuous-tone color separation negatives were mounted on the copyboard, then backlit to be exposed with a halftone screen to make positive separations.

Nice to hear from another former printer.

Annie said...

Good shots. I like the way you captured the the connection between two grave separated by time and distance.