Written in Stone: Unusual Tombstones Have Stories

Last week, Brice Stump, a reporter with the Salisbury Daily Times, talked about unusual tombstones of the Eastern Shore during a program at the Dorchester County Historical Society. The feature writer has covered his beat, the Eastern Shore, for 31-years.  Beyond that he’s traveled the land between the Chesapeake and Delaware searching for unusual tombstones for another long-term project that caught his interest. Jim Dawson of Unicorn Books is helping with the research. As they roamed around the Peninsula poking through old, isolated graveyards in search of memorials, they’ve found extremely fascinating art and epitaphs. There’s one decorated with a sailing ship that’s on fire, an entire cluster with clocks showing the time of death etched in stone, and lots of other art work. Unusual epitaphs written in stone abound around the Shore too. Brice’s program was fascinating as he illustrated it with photographs of the monuments.

Here are a few unusual ones in southern Cecil County.  Capt. John Lovering of Ireland, a mariner  died here on Sept. 29 1754.  His tombstone at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Earleville is one of the more dramatic ones you’ll find at the top fo the Chesapeake.  The next image, a monument in memory of 1137 bodies that were disinterred in 1965 when the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal expanded.  The flat monument in front of that picture is a memorial for Joshua Clayton, President of the State of Delaware 1789-1793.  Originally from the Maryland side of the line, he became a Delaware political leader and when he died he was buried on his farm at Mt. Pleasant, outside of Middletown.  When his wife died she wanted to be buried in Maryland, so they dug him up and buried the couple in Bethel alongside the C & D Canal.  But in the 1960s along came the canal with expansion plans, so they had to once again relocate his body.

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