A Chip Off the Old Stone

One never knows what might lead them to a story. After dropping off my car for repairs, I decided to take a different route. The walk took me by this little cemetery. On the rusted iron gate a sign stated that I was on the Literacy Trail of Massachusetts. Well I had to satisfy my curiosity after all I am a trail fanatic.

The important literacy figure in the cemetery is Elizabeth Whitman. She is the lead in a novel by Hannah Webster Foster. (spoiler alert--->) The figure Elizabeth is loosely based on a real life figure who got herself involved in an adulterous affair and ended up dying in a nearby tavern during child birth.

Her grave became somewhat of a tourist attraction in what was then South Danvers, now Peabody, Massachusetts. People would come to chip off a piece of her headstone. In 2005 a new granite headstone was placed next to the old with the original inscription that reads:

This humble stone, in memory of

Is inscribed by her weeping friends,

To whom she endeared herself

By uncommon tenderness and affection.

Endowed with superior genius and accomplishments,

She was still more distinguished by humility and benevolence.

Let Candour throw a veil over her frailties,

For great was her charity to others.

She lived an example of calm resignation,

And sustained the last painful scene,

Far from every friend.

Her departure was on the 25th of July, A.D. 1788.

In the 37th year of her age;

The tears of strangers watered her grave.

Hannah Webster Foster was the first woman in the country to publish a novel, "The Couqeutte" in 1797. Hannah was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, my hometown.

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