Fittingly, Tombstone Tuesday falls on Halloween.
Tombstones (Gravestones, Headstones, Grave Markers) are stones set in memory of a person on his/her/its (pet) gravesite. They normally contain, at the minimum, the deceased’s name, birth date and date of death; and often a quote or poem . Tombstones are useful in family research because of the information inscribed upon them. But genealogy research is not their intended or sole purpose. Set by family, community and governments, they memorialize the deceased’s life.
I had an opportunity to visit the St. George Cemetery in St George, VT this spring, the resting place of Jehiel and Sarah Isham, my 4th great grandparents on my mother’s father’s side. What a genealogical research find and a tangible link to my colonial roots! The cemetery is the original, colonial cemetery. The earliest memorial stone is that of Loyre Higbe who died in 1793 at nine years of age. Most of the gravesites appear to be family members. I was able to add more names to my tree and research list. The cemetery comprises about an acre of land, making it easy to locate my great, great, great, great grandparents’ tombstones.
The following excerpt from A Survey of the Ishams in England and America by Homer W. Brainard, published in 1938 provides valuable biographical information.
JEHIEL ISHAM, b. Jun 17, 1761, Colchester, New London, Connecticut; d. Sep 17, 1851, St. George, Vermont; m. SARAH MOBBS, Sep 16, 1783, East Haddam, Connecticut.
Connecticut records show no Revolutionary service for Jehiel Isham, but his application for a pension, dated Apr 14, 1818, is on file at Washington, D. C. This declares that he enlisted Apr 1782, as private in Capt Stillwell’s Company, Col. Grosvenor’s Regiment, Connecticut Line. This was probably the same company in which his brother William Isham was serving. The Pension was granted. He engaged in battle, and probably served only on guard duty. There is no indication of the places of service.
Jehiel Isham probably served his apprenticeship with some farmer in East Haddam, Conn., for it was there that he met Sarah Mobbs, his future wife. Soon after his marriage he joined his cousin, Joshua Isham, Jr., who began the settlement at St. George in the spring 1784. The little company, with their wives and families, rode to St. George on horseback from Connecticut, and took up land in the smallest town in Vermont, lying about four miles southeast of Burlington.
The writer visited the place in 1908, walking down from Burlington. He was courteously received by Mr. Tilley and was given much information regarding the Ishams of that region. Nearby was the cemetery, where many of the names have found their last resting place. The town had at that time twelve voters. It is a quiet rural spot.
Jehiel Isham was a man of great activity and endurance and left behind him a numerous posterity. A newspaper of the time states that his age at death was ninety years, three months and six days. There were present at his funeral eight children, whose united ages were four hundred seventy years, sixty-eight grandchildren, and twenty-one great-grandchildren.
As you can see by that last paragraph, there are a lot of cousins out there! Are you one of them? Leave me a message below! Many thanks to Mr. Brainard’s research and publication.
A trip to the cemetery is quite educational or simply a quiet walk in a peaceful setting. It is also a time and place to remember and honor those who are no longer with us. Have you been to visit your relatives lately? Maybe Halloween isn’t the best choice of days!