There is much of interest in Union Cemetery in Peckville, Pennsylvania. The Bowen monument may well be the best in show. Let’s have a look.

Figure 1. Bowen monument. Union Cemetery, Peckville, PA. Photo: author.

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD

IN
memory of
MARY, Wife
of JOHN
BOWEN, late
of Lannelly in
Wales Who died
Decr 25th 1832
Aged 23 Years

ALSO
FREADRIEG
their Son he
died Sept 12th 1832
aged 3 Weeks

Notes.

Lannelly in Wales: either modern Llanelli or Llanelly. The doubling of the ‘n’s might be due to shaky literacy in Welsh.

of Lannelly: tough to see how precisely the cutter arrived at this string of letters. I suspect that the first character is two letters superimposed, ‘o’ and ‘f’, as a sort of ad-hoc ligature. The second letter, which we would naturally read as the ‘f’ of ‘of’, appears to have been augmented with a pronounced serif making it look like ‘L’, thus, if we ignore the odd spacing, offering the text Llannelly. Note that the initial ‘l’ of ‘Lannelly’ is lower case, identical to the doubled ‘ll’ that follows.

late of: Mary, not John.

Wales Who died: more rationally, either ‘Wales, who died’, or ‘Wales, Who Died’. See, too, the odd shape of the ‘Wa’ of Wales.

ALSO: the 1832 funerary font equivalent of blinking lights in the letters. Wonderful.

FREADRIEG: This string Googles up only this tombstone, making Freadrieg the only Freadrieg in the world. That probably means that this is a phonetic spelling (through a lens of shaky literacy) of ‘Frederick’. Were these people not from Wales I’d have thought ‘Friedrich’.

Son he: rationally, read ‘son; he’, or ‘son. He’. Given the dicey punctuation and capitalization throughout, there’s no telling, except that perhaps a run-on sentence is possible.

Aged . . . aged: it’s always interesting when a cutter is inconsistent mere inches apart. It looks like the same cutter, and one imagines that the son’s memorial was (as the ALSO suggests) a supplement when the wife’s death occasioned the expense of the tombstone.

Figure 2. Bowen monument. Detail of lunette at top. Union Cemetery, Peckville, PA. Photo: author.

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD: a glorious example of memento mori. One can see why this theme might resonate with Bowen or the cutter given the death of his 3-week-old son on 12 September and of his 23-year-old wife a mere three months later in 1832. Nineteenth-century demographics in action.

T – J: just below PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD. The cutter’s initials?

Bowen, John: dates unknown, not buried here. Served in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Civil War.

Bowen, Mary: 1810-25 December 1832. Christmas day! A bleak gift.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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