Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: Mrs. Hannah Willard

Hannah Cutler, wife of Daniel Willard [1690] by midgefrazel
Hannah Cutler, wife of Daniel Willard [1690], a photo by midgefrazel on Flickr.

While visiting the North Cemetery in Wayland as part of the bus tour, I was showing Brian Rice the various types of "old" stones nearby to the Edmund Rice memorial stone. I showed him how the winged death head changed to the soul effigy to the urn and willow.

This gravestone caught my eye. The date of 1690 is especially early but I have my doubts about when it was placed here. It is slate but it is thick. The carving at the top is too angelic and the side carving so delicate. It is so clear and easy to read. Most of the ancient stones I have photographed are not this readable. (Compare to Benadam Gallup's stone dated 1727)

It may have been placed here at a later date to mark her passing.  The misspelled month is significant. The zero in the date might indicate the gravestone carver.

I turned to the Find-a-Grave postings for this cemetery as they are very good. I found out Hannah's maiden name of Cutler and that her husband remarried after she died. From that point, I could go to the vital records and find her. This is her death record from the Wayland town records.

This gave me new ideas about the zero in the date. It may mean 1690-1691.
Hannah's daughter, Elizabeth married Phineas RICE. This connection to the Rice family may account for her placement in near the front of the cemetery even if the stone was placed there at a later time.

I get excited by a gravestone with a date like this one but I have learned to look at it with a critical eye. Sadly, her death at 30 years and two months is enough to give us pause and to "shed a tear" for a life cut so short so soon.


Jack Robinson said...


Interesting comments that you make. I noticed that there are two "Y" letters for February, that I don't think you mentioned. Also, can you let us know your opinion as to what the symbol is directly under the "0," of the year.

Keep up the great work.


Jack Robinson said...


I just reread your post and did see where you mentioned the misspelled month. Sorry.

Keep up the great work and have fun doing it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Midge, That sure does look like a replacement for the original stone. Who knows? You are doing a wonderful job of telling the stories that represent the lives of the ones memorialized!

Molly said...

Hi Midge,
Just a few thoughts.......
I think the misspelling of February - i.e. leaving out the first R which should be after the B - does add weight to the possibility of it being a more modern stone since that's how we pronounce it now. It could either be replacing one that got broken or it could have been that a stone wasn't erected at all after Hannah died until her descendents many generations later decided she should have one.
As for the death date "Febuary ye 22d 1690/1."I don't think the line under the zero has anything to do with who carved it. Until 1752 some people started the year on January 1st but some people started it on March 25th so dates between January 1st and March 25th were listed with both years such as 1750/51 or 1750/1. I believe that's what the carver did on this stone 1690/1.
Love your blog,