J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

“Here lie Six blessed babes”

Caitlin G. D. Hopkins’s Vast Public Indifference blog recently featured fine photographs of the gravestones for the Langley children of Newport, Rhode Island (above), and the Childs children of Lexington, Massachusetts. The stones are impressive both because of their size and because they force us to think of the families who lost so many of their children.

Even sadder, the six Childs children—of different ages—all died within a short time of each other in 1778. They probably caught the smallpox, though other epidemics, such as throat distemper, could take out families just as swiftly.

The six Langleys, on the other hand, died over a wide stretch of years from 1771 to 1785. All were young, but their five siblings grew up healthy. In the mid-1780s their wealthy parents took the opportunity to commission this stone from carver John Bull.

For more images of New England memorial art, visit Vast Public Indifference or the Farber Gravestone Collection sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society.

1 comment:

RJO said...

As a fan of both Caitlin's blog and the online Farber Gravestone Collection, it may be worth mentioning that the Farber Collection has recently been given a new interface. This is a great improvement, and it now allows linking to specific images, embedding of images, and even downloading. It's an extraordinary resource for New England history, art, and culture from about 1650-1800. If you haven't paid it a visit lately stop by to see.