Figure 1. Barr monument. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

In Memory of
Who departed this life
November 20 – 1795 in
the 49 year of his age
He liv[ed] [— — —] died.

The inscribed surface of this stone directly faces a very mature tree such that it cannot now be read while looking straight at it. (figure 1). However what arrested your humble author’s progress through his Harrisburg Cemetery photographs was the supralinear supplement to the name. Someone wanted to make it darn clear that the name was not ‘Peterson’ or ‘Philipson’ (or ‘Pratt’ or ‘Paltrow’ or ‘Powhatan’, or . . . ).

Figure 2. Barr monument. Detail of inscription. Harrisburg Cemetery, Harrisburg, PA. Photo: author.

The cutter evidently wanted to render the whole name neatly within one line of text, cutting a small capital ‘A’ beside the P of the middle initial to make the point about the name. That expedient didn’t cut it! So, under orders, I presume, he made a second pass and filled out the name above the line. In any event, the supplement was cut by the same hand as the main text, I think.

What of the final line? I’ll check again if someone’s come through with a weed whacker next time I’m in Harrisburg. In the meantime: “He lived well until he died”? “He lived blamelessly until he died”? “He lived a PATERSON until he died”?

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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