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"A Study of Gravestones in the Old Cemetery at Deerfield"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In July 1914, Charles Johnson Maynard visited the Albany Road burying ground in Deerfield, Massachusetts, to look at its historic gravestones, and became "greatly interested in the gradual changes which took place as the years had passed." Aided by Edith James and Winnifred L. Greene, Maynard included an illustrated chapter on the stones in his book "Records of Walks and Talks with Nature." He focused largely on the stones' "pictorial representations" (motifs, or iconography), from the skull-and-hourglass on a stone dated 1695, to later cherub-like heads and portraiture, to the "radical change" ca. 1790 to an urn-and-willow design. Maynard noted other interesting finds as well: a roughly crafted, undecorated stone from 1696; the mass grave from the 1704 raid on Deerfield during Queen Anne's War; four stones with an open-coffin design; the motif of a circle enclosing a six-pointed rosette on several headstones and footstones (a smaller stone at the foot of a grave); and the presence of epitaphs (a verse or other commemorative statement), ranging from references to the person whom the stone memorialized to "stock" verses with phrases such as "Prepare for Death and follow me." Romantic prose was popular in the early 20th century, and Maynard used this style to record his observations and to ponder questions such as, "What mystery is here involved? Who was this M.A. who 'dyed' in chilly November so long ago . . . ?"
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