Cohasset Central Cemetery contains excellent examples of 18th
c. gravestone art, well represented by the Scituate school of carvers:
the First and Second North River Carvers (1700 – 1778) and Jacob
Vinal Sr. and Jr. (1715 – 1781). The work of these carvers was
the first, purest form of folk art that originated in the American Colonies,
giving us a sense of the period and its belief system.
1. Margaret Tower – d. 1705. Oldest gravesite.
Long presumed oldest extant stone; however, the stone’s late design
by Jacob Vinal Jr. suggests 1740s date. It may have been carved at the
same time as husband Ibrook’s (d. 1732) stone of the same design.
His second wife d. 1747. All three stones were possibly carved at the
2. Sarah Pratt – d. 1706. Death’s head by
First North River carver. This image remained the First and Second carvers’
symbol for over 50 years. Believed to be the oldest gravestone in the
3. Urian Oakes – d. 1770. This gravestone is a
classic “skull and crossbones” design, reminiscent of the
Puritan view of death.
4. Rev. John Browne – d. 1791. An outspoken supporter
of the American Revolution, during which rebel arms were cached under
his pulpit in the First Parish Church. Picture
5. Hobart Family
Rev. Nehemiah Hobart – d. 1740. First Pastor (1721 – 1740)
of First Parish Church, his wife Lydia (d. 1736/1737) and three sons.
Two of the sons were stillborn, the third lived only 13 days; Lydia
died 12 days later – a sad group of graves.
John Jacob Hobart - d. 1735 Note decorative elements:
Catherine wheels, sand dollars.
Carver: Jacob Vinal Jr. Picture
6. Stetson Family
Ezekial Stetson - d. 1732. Jacob Vinal, Jr., carver.Note "heartmouth
" symbol which appeared in 1740s on Jacob Vinal Jr.'s spirit skulls.
Carved only in 1741. Heartmouth replaces slanted teeth. Cohasset Central
Cemetery has at least 3 of 13 known heartmouths in local burying grounds.
Found only on children's gravestones. In Cohasset these belong to Ezekiel
(d. 1739), John (d. 1740), and Lydia (d. 1741) Stetson.