Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Avery Denison

Tombstone Tuesday; April 1, 2014 April Fool's Day

Bullet Holes in Gravestone: Avery Denison
How dare they use my ancestor's gravestone for target practice?
Photo by Fred Burdick 2 Feb 2003, used with permission

Photo by Fred Burdick 2 Feb 2003, used with permission
In 2003, my cousin, Frederick E. Burdick, located and photographed two small family cemeteries in North Stonington, Connecticut. He reported at the annual Denison Society reunion that he had located these tiny Denison cemeteries and that a person had use Avery Denison's gravestone for target practice. I was horrified. I had been taking gravestone photos for about a year and had begun to study as part of my professional work as a genealogist.

Fred, now the Town Historian for Stonington, Connecticut, published his cemetery photos and research on CD making the profits available to the various family societies. He has given me permission to use any of his photos in my work. He tells me a neighbor on the street where this cemetery is located told him the "shoot the gravestone" story.

It is no April Fool's coincidence that I chose this gravestone for today's post. I went looking for a photograph I had not used before and who was either born or died in April. 
Photo by Brian Zoldak, 16 Mar 2014, used with permission
Look how much this stone has deteriorated!
But you can read the epitaph better...

Avery's name is significant because of the eleven children in this family, his mother chose my ancestor to bear her maiden name as a first name. (No, he did not start the company that makes the paper products we use today but that is a related family line. I wish I got free labels.)

In part, this slate gravestone reads:

In memory of Mr/Avery Denifon who/died April 3d, 1775. in/ye 63d year of his age.

The Hale Cemetery (transcription) record (North Stonington Cemetery #5 Denison Cemetery, p. 3) reads: 

Denison, Avery, died April 5, 1775 age 62 

Examine these cropped and lightened sections of the stone:

Does the numeral 5 look different than the date of 3 and the age of 63? The serif on the 5 goes to the right and the serif on the 3 goes to the left. Think about how you learned to write numbers.

The absence of a birth and death date in the vital record makes this more of a problem. 

If I had just looked at the Hale Index, I might have questioned the dates. It is time to learn more about the Hale Transcription Project and why they might be useful and why they might be wrong.


Bill West said...

I'm surprised someone hasn't called the police to report gunfire. Is the cemetery located somewhere remote from neighborhoods?

Ronald said...

Has anyone been able to determine when this vandalism took place? It may have been done decades ago. Still, no matter when and by whom, it was a despicable act!

Midge Frazel said...

It was a long time ago and the man who did it doesn't live there anymore (or died)

Keeg said...

Its very possible those bullet holes go back to the Revolutionary war, when towns were occupied or invaded by the British, they would sometimes use tombstones as targets. Theres some scattered around in the Granary cemetery in Boston that were shot at during the war. Stone was Carved by Josiah Manning