Several years ago, six to be honest, I found myself in the community of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, attending the funeral of my mother-in-law. After the service, my family and I headed back to my brother-in-law’s home so my husband could visit with his brother for a while. On the way to his home I noticed a very old looking cemetery, and as one who never passes up the chance to explore God’s acre, I went for a walk to locate the ancient burying ground, while the men were talking,
Most people, having just attended a funeral, would have had enough of being in the land of the dead, but I find cemeteries calm me. I am more relaxed walking up and down the rows of lost loved ones. There are no sounds, save those of nature. I enjoy reading the names, the epitaphs and trying to figure the age of those who have passed. I wonder what their lives held for them and why death found them when it did. Did they have dreams and ambitions? Did they achieve their goals? Did they have a good life, or was it one of pain and suffering?
It pains me to see graves of obvious neglect, ones long forgotten. Why weren’t they remembered by their families? Was there no one left to mourn or did the knowledge of their life pass on as their body did with the passing of generations. I, especially, dislike seeing the tiny headstones of children, believing them to be beautiful souls whose light must have been too bright to endure the darkness of our world.
The cemetery I found that day is called the Village Cemetery, and according to its entry on Find-A-Grave, is sometimes referred to as the Baptist Cemetery and was established about 1829 on the land once owned by Oliver Bacon in east Jaffery. On this day, as I walked up and down the rows of tombstones that had been standing for more than a century, I stumbled onto the final resting place of Miss Lucy Lathrop. Remembered with a beautifully ornate stone, Miss Lucy was just 20 years and five months old when she died on March 24, 1836.
The stone’s engraving is evident of how much an impact her sudden departure had on others. Inscribed on the stone for all to see was, “This monument of respect was purchase by the female friends of the deceased, and erected, sacred to her memory.” The poem at the bottom reads, “Weep not for her! – She was far too fair. Too pure to dwell on this guilt-tainted earth; the sinless glory, and the golden air of Zion, seamed [sic] to claim her from her birth. A spirit wander’d from its native zone, which, soon discovering, took her for its own. Weep not for her!”
The marker left to sum up her short 20 years was not purchased by her family, but by her friends.
This leads to so many unanswered questions. Where was her family? Why didn’t they erect a monument in her memory? Did she have family in New Hampshire? Was she an immigrant looking for a better life, leaving her family in the old country? What about her personality, her friendship, her goodness, resonated so deeply within her friends, that they joined together, pooling their resources to remember their friend in this manner?
A quick search on the Internet pulls up very little for Miss Lucy Lathrop, except for a New Hampshire Death and Disinterment Record established 70 years after her death. Besides the surprising date of when the death record was written, it also records her father as John Farwell, which causes one to ask, was Lathrop then, a married name?
But then why, would her friends purchase a stone and inscribe it with the words Miss Lucy Lathrop? And what did they know in 1906 when her death and disinterment record was established, that wasn’t known in 1836 when she was buried?
We may never discover the truth about who Miss Lucy Lathrop was, but the marker erected by her friends in her honor will ensure her memory lives on.
Weep not for her!
Source: “New Hampshire, Death Records, 1654-1947,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FS2K-GJ6 : accessed 24 February 2015), Lucy Lathrop, 24 Mar 1836; citing , Bureau Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 1,001,091