Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Samuel Richards Headstone

The marble headstone of one Samuel Richards of Canandaigua, Ontario County, New York. Richards, a clerk in a mercantile company in Canandaigua, died in Albany on August 2, 1804. He was only twenty-eight and remembered as "a talented young man."

Richards was first buried in the Presbyterian section of the municipal burial ground near Eagle Street and State Street (just south of the modern East Capitol Park). It's likely that his grave was moved further uptown to the State Street Burying Ground when that replaced the old downtown graveyards and, finally, his remains and headstone were moved to the Rural Cemetery in 1868.

Richards' white marble stone is beautifully carved with two urns, a symbol of mortality that replaced the winged skulls and cherubic soul effigies popular on headstones in previous generations.

The covered upper urn is framed by an elegant arch. A stylized flower and delicately carved vines which spread out over the monument rise from the lower urn. The surface of the stone is also carved with a cross-hatched pattern giving it an almost woven texture. It's difficult to tell if this stone was signed by its carver as the lower portion is embedded in the earth, but it's one of the finest markers in the Church Grounds and shows a great deal of skill and care.

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