Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fragments: Mary Jane Case

Just inside the simple break in the split-rail fence that is the entrance to Liberty Church Cemetery there is a graveyard within the graveyard: Several rows of tablet stones lie face up on the ground. Are they orphan stones, separated from their graves?

The gravestone for Mary Jane Case (d. 1853) is one of these orphan stones, broken in two pieces. One of the roses carved on the gravestone is wilting and has drooped to touch the ground.

Dau. of S.W. &
Jan. 16, 1853
14 Y’s & [_______]
Remember youth as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me.

Mary Jane was listed as nine years old in the 1850 Federal Census. She was one of eight children of Seth W. and Mary Case.

By the way, the Philo Thomas household is listed two lines above the Seth W. Case household in the 1850 Federal Census. Their daughter Margaret, whose gravestone was featured here yesterday, has not yet been born.

Liberty Church Cemetery, Delaware County, Ohio


  1. Interesting that they chose to use that very early epitaph. Rare to see it in use in the 1800s, especially the mid-1800s. Any significance to the roses tied to her youth? (I'm too lazy to run downstairs in search of my book!) Also, do you think the stone was originally standing or was it meant to lie flat?

  2. I think the folks around here were a bit behind when it came to "epitaph fashion," if you know what I mean. I plan to take a look at all the versions of this epitaph I've seen--and I'll be sure to make note of the dates as well. Doubt I have enough data for a real trend, but we'll see.

    I'm fairly certain the gravestone was originally upright, but the earliest photo I found was 2006, and it was on the ground then as well.

    As for the roses, I've never seen an interpretation of them that relates to youth. Normally it's beauty, love--even passion.


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