Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Joseph Brown, Marblehead, MA - 1834

Joseph Brown
1750 - 1834

Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, Massachusetts

"Black Joe" was a well-known tavern keeper in Marblehead.  An article about his life appears in Marblehead Magazine.  Another brief article appeared in the Marblehead Reporter on January 9, 2008.  Lastly you can find a recipe for Joe Froggers in Yankee Magazine's The Yankee Cookbook.

Monday, November 28, 2011

John Waldron, Marblehead, MA - 1717

1717 AGED 13 YRS

Old Burial Hill, Marblehead, Massachusetts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Martha Mobes, Marblehead, MA - 1723

This 1723 stone is unusual because of its abundant bouquet of flowers decorating the lunette.  I've never seen so many flowers on such an early stone.

Here lyeth ye body o[f]
Mrs Martha Mobes wife [of]
George Mobes & Da[ughter] 
to Capt. James & Mrs. Mar[?]
Calley who dy'd octo[ber]
ye 14th 1723 aged
21 years.
St. Michael's Cemetery, Marblehead, Massachusetts

Martha Calley and George Mob[e]s were married 11 December 1721 in Marblehead, MA.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interview with John Thomas Grant, author of Final Thoughts

The other day I posted a book review of Final Thoughts: Eternal Beauty in Stone over on my other blog, Marian's Roots and Rambles.

Now I have the pleasure of following that up with an interview with the author, John Thomas Grant.  John fills us in on his source of inspiration and what he has planned next.

How did you first become interested in photography? When did you first start taking pictures?

Oddly enough, I did a little photography in the mid 80's, and won a couple of local contests in New York where I was living at the time. There was no particular reason for the interest. My sister got a new Mamiya NC1000 35 mm (film, of course), so I borrowed it and went shooting. Reminds me, I do have to return it. Anyway, it seemed, even then, that I had a knack for the lens, but thought nothing of it as I was so well entrenched in the music business. Music is what I knew, and I wasn't about to start another journey. It was a pleasant pastime only, to be sure. BTW, the subject matter of my photography had nothing to do with cemeteries. That wasn't to come for some 20 years.

What was your career before becoming a professional photographer and what made you make the switch and why?

As I mentioned, I spent most of my working career in the music business. First as a musician (bass), then a recording engineer in New York City, capped off as an international manager. It was lovely until the 90's hit. With the new World Wide Web (internet), fear replaced fearlessness, and the industry imploded. Essentially, they lost control of the process of making and selling music. Second, with the advent of digital equipment, everybody started to record wherever they wanted. Living rooms became studios, and if they needed a little reverb or echo, they'd set up in the bathroom. Studios were crashing left and right, along with the rest of the industry. So I retired. There was no further need for me, and it was getting just too insane.

For a few years thereafter, I stumbled around looking for something else creative to amuse myself with. I had forgotten my earlier days in photography, but advanced toward it on a more circuitous route through genealogy. It was time to figure out where I came from. Who should I thank; who should I scorn!

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your artistic creativity in photography?

Simply, the passage of life. Life is the packaging of increments of time. The associated emotions in that time are what I document in my work. I've always been a curious and observant person; a very shy individual in my younger days, I might add. What I couldn't say, I thought; what I thought, would make my art of today. Art is, after all, the packaging of character, experience and knowledge. I apply each to every shot.

What made you decide to start photographing gravestones and cemeteries?

Again, genealogy made me do it. I bought my first digital camera 10 years ago, or so, to photograph my dearly departed family, and sell stuff on eBay. Guess which one I'm doing better at? Anyway, what the living wouldn't discuss, or couldn't remember, the dead were more than happy to oblige; so off I went to the cemetery with pencil, paper and camera in hand. It was Calvary Cemetery in Queens, NY, where most of my family resides, that I had my epiphany. I'd finished paying my respects, and began to wander aimlessly from section to section, stone to stone. Reading names, dates, poetic little sayings of remembrance. Between the birth and death dates was a life. It was, and will be no different for me. It all became crystal clear to me right then and there. I truly realized that one day I will experience death, and that little thought caused me to realize life! That might seem silly to most, but most people are in denial of death. They believe that, somehow, their spirit, if not their life in some way will carry on. For their sake I hope they're right! I carry no assumptions though. I just don't know ... nobody really knows. In the meantime, I choose to do what is right and good in that which I know ... my life.

What do you look for when you are photographing a cemetery? What sort of thing will capture your attention and cause you to photograph it?

I'm as happy as a clam at high water whether I'm in a small roadside, pocket burying ground, or a lush garden variety rural cemetery. For the most part, my photography is rather intimate in execution. What captures my attention is what most folks would probably pass by. For instance, my husband and wife shot. The wife stone stands erect while the husband stone is leaning gently against her. One ... it's intimate; two ... it's emotional; three ... it tells a story from life...Eternal Love. Some people will look at that shot and see their own life, or, the love of their parents perhaps. Others will look at that same photo and see only despair, or hope lost. But everyone will see, and feel, something. That is what I try to capture in my work. Yes, I do shoot the pretty panorama, but the quintessential 'Grant' is the 'life' shot. Additionally, my audience sometimes tells me that they feel a presence when viewing my work. Love when that happens. That 'presence' is unquestionably themselves :)

What was the most difficult photo shoot you've ever done and why?

Can't say as there was one insurmountable event in my short and illustrious career, but there have been occasions when I was less than thrilled with the results, and have had to return time and time again to complete the mission. Perhaps the sun was not just right, or even the wrong time of year. There's one form Green-Wood in Brooklyn. It's the shot of the female sitting on the sarcophagus with a celtic cross in close proximity. It's quite popular now, but it took me forever to get the composition right.

Another was taken in Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston. It's the photograph of the young man with his guardian angel. I had to wait, once again, for sun to strike it just right. Unfortunately for me, adorning the grave of the young man was a large plot of overgrown ivy. I had to stand in that ivy for quite some time waiting. I could feel creepy little things checking me out. I now carry two thick rubber bands for just such occasions.

Also, winter scenes, though beautiful, can be treacherous. I've gone down on a number of occasion because of hidden sinkholes or ice. Got some of my best work out of this condition though.

What is your favorite cemetery to photograph in?

As I mentioned earlier, the cemetery doesn't matter to me. It's the story from life and that can be captured anywhere. But my favorite cemetery is unquestionably Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Not only was it one of the first to influence my work, but it was my oasis in Brooklyn. The distant din of the metropolis, the song of birds, the peace, the expanse, complete with the occasional flyby 'howdy' from Junior the red-tail falcon. Green-Wood has character, it has a personality, and it speaks to me.

For all intents and purpose, I disappear. It was, and continues to be, my Neverland.

What do you hope to achieve or what legacy do you want to leave behind with your cemetery photos?

A couple of things. I'm reminded of the tribal belief that you’re not truly dead until the last person who remembers you has died. I plan on being around for a thousand years...

Also, Ben Franklin once said, "Show me your cemeteries, and I'll tell you what kind of people you have." Despite what history may decide about us, I would like them to think that, at our core, we were a decent people. Perhaps still a bit primitive, but having the capability for compassion and virtue.

What projects or books do have planned for the future?

Well, I have 9 more working titles in the CemArt genre. I've started on the 2nd already. I'm currently compiling and editing a book of Civil War Letters due in June. I will return to another Civil War title I started quite some time ago called "Clarry." A young adult historical fiction about the first mortal casualty from Brooklyn City, New York. His name was Clarence McKenzie, the drummer boy of the 13th Regiment Co. D, and he died in June of 1861. He was 12 years old. Clarence is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery. And, yes, I'm working on a 'ghost story'. Happy now Everyone?!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dr. Enoch Dole - Died during the Siege of Boston - 1776

Here lies ye Body of Dr. Enoch
Dole of Lancaster, Æ 33Years 5
months & 3 days, he unfortunately
fell with 3 others ye 9th of March
1776, by a Cannon Ball from our
cruel & unnatural Foes ye British
Troops while on his Duty on Dorch
ester Point

No warning giv'n! Unceremonious fate!
A sudden rush from lifes meredian joys!
A wrench from all we are!  from all we love!
What a change
From yesterday!* Thy darling hope so near
(Long laboured prize!) O how ambition flushd
Thy glowing cheek! ambition truly great,
Of virtuous praise!.
And Oh! ye last, last, what (can word express
Thought reach?) ye last, last silence of a friend
*Meaning his Entrance into Boston which soon to
took placed on which his heart was much sett.

Old Burying Ground, Littleton, Massachusetts

Monday, November 21, 2011

Jonathan Jewett, Littleton, MA - 1789

in memory of 
Mr. Jonathan Jewett
who departed this life
June ye 20th 1789
In the 26th year
of his age.

Retire my friends dry up your tears,
Here I must lie till Christ appears.

Old Burying Ground, Littleton, Massachusetts

Jonathan Jewett was born 15 August 1764 in Littleton, Massachusetts to Joseph and Rebecca (Abbott) Jewett. Jonathan was the grandson of Ezra Jewett and Mary (Herrick) Jewett.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ezra Jewett, Littleton, MA - 1793

in memory of
Mr. Ezra Jewett
who died
 March 16th, 1793
in ye 83d year 
of his age.

Old Burying Ground, Littleton, Massachusetts

Ezra Jewett was born in Rowley, Massachusetts on 14 October 1710.  He married Mary Herrick on 4 March 1734 at Littleton. His parents were Aquila and Anne (Tenney) Jewett of Rowley, MA.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pardon Bowen, Warren, RI - 1799

Pardon Bowen, Son of 
Capt. Hail & 
Mrs. Mary Bowen
died May 19, 1799
in the 2nd year
of his age.

The blessed babe has lost his flight,
From care and trouble free,
In Jesus's bosom may he rest
To all eternity.

North Burial Ground, Warren, Rhode Island

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nathan Miller, Warren, RI - 1790

IN Memory of the Hon.
who Died
May 20th, A.D. 1790
in the 48th Year of his

He Served his Country in 
many Important offices with
honour and applause.
And if an open, candid unre-
served deportment joined to
eminent talents, and a desire
to promote the publick good,
would have secured him from
the a[--]st of Death , he had
not died

North Burial Ground, Warren, Rhode Island

This Nathan Miller was the nephew of Rebecca Miller Brown and the son of Rebecca's brother, Nathan Miller.  He was the grandson of Samuel Miller and Ruth Curtis. According to the DAR database he reached the rank of Brigadier General and served in the 3rd Regt.,12th Co. RI Militia.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jeremiah Brown, Warren, Rhode Island - 1793

In Memory of Mr.
Jeremiah Brown
of Swansey, who
Died of a CANCER
July 29th, 1793
In the 70th Year
of his Age

North Burial Ground, Warren, Rhode Island

Jeremiah Brown was born 22 August 1723 in Swansea, Massachusetts, the son of Esek Brown and Mercy Carr, and twin to Daniel.  He married Rebeckah Miller on 1 May 1746 in Swansea. He is buried to the left of his wife and in front of his son, Samuel Miller Brown.  He is the great grandson of Chad Browne of Rhode Island through Chad's son, James.  Chad immigrated to New England in 1638.

I conducted in-depth research on this particular Brown family.  Some of my findings were presented in the webinar "Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents."  

If you missed the live version of the webinar, you can see it now in the Legacy Family Tree archives. It will be available until November 14, 2011 to view (for free) at your leisure.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rebecca Miller Brown, Warren, RI - 1808

In Memory of Mrs.
Wife of 
Mr. Jeremiah Brown
She died Oct. 3d, 1808
In the 80th Year of 
her Age.

North Burial Ground, Warren, Rhode Island

Rebecca Miller Brown was born 29 July 1728 in Swansea, Massachusetts to Samuel Miller and Ruth Curtis.  She married Jeremiah Brown in Swansea on 1 May 1746.  The gravestone of her son, Samuel Miller Brown, appears in the upper left corner of this photo.

I conducted in-depth research on this particular Brown family.  Some of my findings were presented in the webinar "Brick Walls: Cracking the Case of Nathan Brown's Parents."  

If you missed the live version of the webinar, you can see it now in the Legacy Family Tree archives. It will be available until November 14, 2011 to view (for free) at your leisure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Samuel Miller Brown, Warren, RI - 1794

Sacred to the Memory of Capt.
who departed this Life, (at
Pawtucket, on his way
home from Boston, where
he had just arrived from Sea)
Sept. 9th AD 1794, in the 44th
Year of his Age.

In health I left my native home,
Not thinking this to be my Doom,
I past the dangers of the Sea,
In hopes to meet my Family,
But Death has call’d I must obey
Before I all of them could see.

North  Burial Ground, Warren, Rhode Island