Sunday, October 10, 2010

Deacon James Benedict and Sarah Benedict, Ridgefield, CT

Fig. 1 - (c) 2010 Marian Pierre-Louis. All Rights Reserved

Here lies inter'd the Body of 
James Benedict Esq Deacon
of the 1st Church of Christ in
this Town [Ridgefield] together with Sarah
his wife who after haveing served
their generation according to the
will of GOD fell on sleep and were
gathered to their Father the first on
November 25, 1762 in the 77th year of his age
[- --] February 9th 1767 in the [-]
Year of her age.

Fig. 2 - (c) 2010 Marian Pierre-Louis. All Rights Reserved

Mapleshade Cemetery, Ridgefield, Connecticut


  1. Benedict House in Ridgefield appears to be the home of Deacon James/Sarah Hyatt, and also of later generations, including their son, John Benedict.

    I grew up in Southern Calif. I live near Boston. Somehow, John Benedict was remembered for generations as a first and middle name in my family. My father was John Benedict Foster (the fourth of that name in his line). I always wondered where the "Benedict" came from. Once, while calling on my father in a hotel in London, where I discovered that John Foster was so common a name there were 2 or 3 of them in the hotel, I used the middle name. They interpreted it as "John Benedict-Foster" and then it came to me that this was once a surname. Neither my father nor I had any idea how far back it went. He knew that his family went far back in New York (Long Island as it happens), and my sister and I figured out that Connecticut and the English part of Long Island were joined by trade on Long Island Sound. Slowly a picture began to emerge.

    Now that I have to help, it's all come together. Also, the family connection to the Deerfield Massacre, although no knowledge of it was passed down to us from word of mouth.

    I think that what happened in my family was that its relocation to a more urban environment, New York City, removed it from the local scene and its stories. Fortunately, many in my family have come to New England and have gone through Sturbridge Village, thus getting a view of how things were (since our father once worked at Knotts Berry Farm in its earlier years, we also knew what it was like to be around re-enactors; that was a sort of Sturbridge Village for us in the West).

    This gravestone is actually connected to our family. It is over the graves of my sixth-great grandparents. This is a rather scruffy cemetery near me on Needham St., Newton, and I never pass it (or go inside and read the epitaphs) without the sense that somewhere in a California suburb or in a New York apartment is someone who will eventually find his way back to marvel at the simple ways of the past and to realize that he didn't just pop up like a mushroom from nothing.

  2. Unintentional ambiguity: Obviously this stone is in Ridgefield, CT as it should be. In the last paragraph I typoed a bit by saying "This is a rather scruffy cemetery near me on Needham St., Newton (Massachusetts)" -- what I meant to say is "There is..."

    Many kids growing up in the West brag of their famous colonial ancestors - whether true stories or not, there is often a kernel of fact - but I have found that some of the best stories are the most obscure and forgotten ones (in my case that would include the trauma to the Stebbins family, my relatives and ancestors, at the Deerfield Massacre). It's a famous story in its own right of course, but our relationship to it and its probable effect down at least a couple of generations if not more, is a story unfolding.

    When my husband and I once toured the Concord Cemetery - the old one, not the famous authors' area - the young ranger there told us that the descendants of these people seemed not to live in the area anymore. "They seem to come from California these days." I suspect it is more that California people are in awe of the fact that like other people they actually have ancestors, and that they come to marvel at where some of them were laid to rest centuries before. They are, as Matthew Broderick put it when he learned that one of his ancestors was really at Gettysburg and did not simply play a soldier, simply "gob-smacked." It's a nice kind of blow to the ego. Better than most.