Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flowers that bloom in stone

I spent a while last Sunday, while at Gosport in Marion County's Washington Township, admiring this tombstone in the old cemetery, a minor masterpiece of a stone-carver's art. Look past the stone and the view is west down a draw that will lead eventually to English Creek.

The stone marks the graves of Sarah Jane (Lindsey) Wilson, who died March 13, 1873, at the age of 32; and her husband, Thomas M. Wilson, who followed her to the grave nine years later, on Feb. 10, 1882, at the age of 41. Both apparently died on the farm near Gosport where they lived.

This is the most elaborate stone of its age in the cemetery, perhaps motivated by Thomas's extreme grief after Sarah's death, but it's impossible to say now whether it was erected before or after his death. Thomas's inscription panel on the north face matches Sarah's on the south so perfectly that it almost suggests that the stone was completed in a stonecarver's yard, then brought to Gosport complete.

The panel on the west face (left) contains the traditional symbol of clasped hands, signifying  fidelity even in death. Thomas was a veteran of the Civil War and the couple married during 1867, a couple of years after his discharge. They had three children, Levi, Mary Celestia and Martha Adella. Martha was born March 2, 1873, suggesting that her mother's death a few days later was related to her birth.

The panel on the south face of the stone contains Sarah's inscription and an identical panel on the north face, Thomas's inscription.

Although slightly weathered, the stone is in remarkably good repair after more than 120 years, a testament to the quality of the marble used in its creation. And the flowers that bloom in the stone really are remarkable.

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