Treasure Chest Thursday: Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes


I recently had an article published in American Ancestors (published by NEHGS) which explored my journey of identifying a mysterious set of ambrotypes which were found in my grandfather’s workshop.

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

Cover of American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013

These were the ambrotypes that were discovered tucked away in my grandfather’s desk, placed out of sight for years, which had never been seen by my grandmother:


Click on the image below to read the full article and discover how this mystery was solved!

Mary Blauss Edwards, "Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes", American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44

Mary Blauss Edwards, “Framing the Past: Identifying Crapo Family Ambrotypes”, American Ancestors, Volume 14, Number 2, Spring 2013, p. 42-44.

As I stated in the article,  Henry Emerson Crapo and Isabella Frances Lannigan’s daughter Ada Marion (Crapo) Howland had three children. So if any cousins have labeled duplicates of these ambrotypes or other images of Henry and Isabella Crapo, please let me know!

Have you ever identified an unlabelled family ambrotype, daguerreotype or photograph through genealogical research?

Vernon St. Cemetery (Alden Cemetery), Bridgewater, MA

The Alden Cemetery on Vernon Street is Bridgewater’s second oldest cemetery, although the majority of stones from the 1700s are unmarked. Most of the gravestones, therefore, are from the 19th century. Latham’s book provides an incredible view into what the land must have been like at the time. Located in Titicut, a former Native American settlement, Bethia Fobes was the first white child born in this area. With just a few houses far and few between, the land where the cemetery is must have filled very slowly at first, for it was not physically close to many settlers in the Bridgewater area – because at this time, there were not many to begin with.

But here is one of the few stones from the 1700’s, which says:
1754, probably Zebedee Leach, died aged 5.

The yard is surrounded by a short stone wall, and some of the stones along Vernon Street are very close to the road and wall.

There are many interesting stones, some of which have not stood up well to the tests of time. On the other hand, some of them have decided to stand up on their own… (these footstones have been pushed up from the ground, probably from years of New England winters with the ground beneath the stone freezing then thawing.)

There are some sad epitaphs on a series of siblings stones, who died within a few years of each other:
Helen M. dau, of Job H. and Betsey Johnson, died Sept. 27. 1849, aged 1 year, 4 mo., 23 days.
It is hard to give thee up, sweet one,
‘Tis hard to give thee up;
But nature’s saddest work is done,
‘Tis the last bitter cup.

Mary E., daughter of Job H. and Betsey Johnson, died Aug. 11, 1846, æ 1 year and 11 mo.
This lovely bud so young and fair,
Called hence by early doom;
Just come to show how sweet a flower,
In paradise could bloom.

Freddie Morton, son of Job H. and Betsey Johnson, died Aug. 18, 1856, æ 2 years, 10 days.
O, it is hard to part with one
We loved so much on earth;
But we will put our trust in him
Who gave his spirit birth.

There is a gravestone with a favorite symbol of mine, the finger pointing towards heaven. The stone itself may just be a cenotaph, as it reads:
Edwin Hayward, member of Co. I, 38 Regt., M. V.,
born Jan. 17, 1844,
died at Baton Rouge, La., Aug. 21, 1863.
Asleep in Jesus, ay, though he sleep with strangers,
In the redeemer’s eyes his dust is just as sacred,
And He will bid it rise

Keith Cemetery (South St. Cemetery), Bridgewater, MA

First stop along the way was the South Street Cemetery, also known as the Keith Cemetery, is a fine example of older New England cemeteries. A round driveway cuts through it. The oldest burial seems to be from 1756, as Joseph Harvey’s epitaph states he was the first to be buried in the cemetery.

In memory of Mr. Joseph Harvey, 2d,
who died Feb. 21, 1756,
in ye 36th year of his age;
being ye first person buried here.
And also in memory of Mr. Seth Harvey, his son,
who died at New York, July 25, in ye 24th year of his age, 1776,
in the glorious cause of liberty.

Yet the land itself was not officially deeded to be a cemetery until 1772, according to Latham. It seems to be common in these older grounds that cemeteries would spring up as they were convenient, allowing the legalities of the property ownership to fall later into place.

The cemetery has a number of interesting epitaphs, spanning from the 18th century

Note an interesting comparison at the outlook of death:
From 1794, a focus still on the mortality of the body, and the ultimate will of God:
Here lies Lucy, wife of Mr. Eleazer Cary,
who died Apr. 29, 1795, in the 30th year of her age.
How loved, how well done avails thee not;
To whom related, or by whom begot;
A heap of dust alone remains of thee;
‘Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be.

Here in 1851, however, grief of a young husband is permanently etched,:
Charlotte L., wife of George H. Gurney,
daughter of Isaac and Betsey W. Packard,
died June 5, 1851, in her 21st year.
Could I but see that dear departed,
My soul would gain relief,
I should not then be broked hearted,
Bourne down with tears and grief.
O cruel death! why did you sever
The tie that made us one?
And hide her from my eyes forever,
Tell me, why was it done?

And I shall end with an alternative version to that preferred epitaph:
In memory of Mrs. Susan H., wife of Zephaniah Keith, died Apr. 6, 1824, æt. 41.
Come, living friends, see where I lie,
Remember you are born to die;
But be prepared for death and heaven
Is all for which the longest life is given.

Bridgewater Cemeteries

Decided to spend a day out of my Thanksgiving weekend taking a tour of some of the Bridgewater cemeteries. The great folks who submit to the USGenWeb Bridgewater site such as Dale Cook and Arthur Richardson have a superb cemetery section, and they were in need of a few photographs for some of the graveyards, so I brought along my camera and drove about the town.

Here’s a summary of the cemeteries visited along the way.