On 3rd June 1777, several neighbours congregated around a metal fence to see a horse which a preacher in Framingham was interested in purchasing. Peter Parker was riding the horse when a cloud appeared releasing several raindrops. John Cloyes left the metal fence, and as he took the reins a lightning bolt struck the horse and everyone present. John was struck and then crushed when the horse collapsed on top of him.
John Cloyes and Abraham Rice are buried side by side at the Church Hill Cemetery (Old Burying Ground) in Framingham, MA. The gravestone bears the image of a winged skull representing death and mortality. This symbol was popular during the 18th century and reflected the Puritan religious influence.
In Memory Of Mr.
Who Being Struck With Lightning
Died June The 3rd Anno Do
1777 In The 43 Year Of
O may you all both far and near Who of this dispensation here Now harken to the call of Heaven And take the warning God has given Surprising death to you soon may Come in some unexpected way I Pray that all make it their care For sudden death now to prepare.
In Memory Of Cornt (Cornet is a commissioned officer of the British Calvary)
Who Departed This Life
In A Sudden & Awful
Manner & As We Trust Enterd
A Better June The 3rd Anno Do
1777 In The 81st Year Of
My trembling heart with grief overflows While I record the death of those Who died by thunder sent from Heaven In seventeen hundred and seventy seven Let’s all prepare for judgments day As we may be called out of time And in a sudden and awful way Whilst in our youth and in our prime
Burial Hill dates back to colonial times and is the oldest cemetery in Plymouth. Before it became a cemetery, it was the site of the Pilgrims’ watchtower, the first fort commanding the harbor entrance with cannon, a meeting house, and a place of worship. It sits high on a hill overlooking Plymouth Harbor and hosts gravestones dating back to the 1680’s.
Those buried here include several Mayflower passengers, early settlers of the colony known as Pilgrims, heroes of the Revolution, soldiers of other wars, and the men who went “down to the sea in ships” braving dangers in the days of Plymouth’s maritime glory.
The entrance to the graveyard is via stone steps adjacent to First Church. The site is a quiet spot in the shadow of century old trees. Small knolls and valleys are covered in old stones of every shape and size with art spanning three centuries. Some of the oldest art forms of Memento Mori are visible. Olde English spelling is also evident.
Ah, Art thou gone
Thy short journey o’er
Oh lovely child shall we not see thee more
Thy soul has gone to everlasting rest
To dwell with Christ and be wherever blest
We’ll not reprine nor wish thee back again
To this dark world of trouble and of pain
Nor will we murmur at the hand divine
That took our daughter
Lord for she was thine. – 1837
Strangers and friends when you gaze on my urn Remember death will call you in your turn Therefore prepare to meet your God on high When you ride glorious through the upper sky. – 1807
A frequent feature on gravestones, the skull is a symbol of death, mortality, penitence, and sin. It appears in several formats.
SKULL & CROSSED BONES
Symbolic of crucifixion, death, and mortality.
The fear which this ancient symbol of death inspires led pirates to adopt it as an emblem upon their black flags and chemists to use it to denote poison. The combination when it appears on tombstones means, “He is dead.”
See yonder flower that scents the air How sweet it blooms How swift it fades! Just such is man in youth how fair How chang’d his form when death invades! Yet fades the flower to bloom again And we shall rise with Christ to reign.
As measured notes of set music we pass in fast or slow marches to the grave.
Gently this spot in solemn silence tread Let none disturb the relics of these dead Their souls have waft themselves to God on high But here all round this stone their bodies lie.
In my Father’s house are many mansions.
It is interesting to note that this skull is accompanied with only one bone. Curious and puzzling.
Lo! Lost remembrance drops a pious tear And holy friendship stands a mourner here.
This sculptured panel contains only the crossbones, and they are intersected with workman’s tools; a pick, a shovel, and a spade.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord They rest from their labours and their works do follow them.
The skull represented here also displays crossed arrows and an hourglass, both of which symbolize mortality.
I am the Resurrection and the Life He that believeth in me though he were dead yet shall he live.
The badly eroded stone displays a dove flying above a skull and represents the resurrection of the soul.
A winged skull symbolizes the ascension into heaven, and the flight of the soul from mortal man.
Sometimes called death’s heads or winged death, it represents the fleeting nature of life and impending death. It was once a common motif on New England tombstones.
80% of the carvings on gravestones in Copps Hill Cemetery, Boston, bear the winged skull symbol.
No flat ring marble rules the traveler here The spot is sacred to affections dear He was in life what artful men pretend Companion, parent, neighbour, Christian, friend. 1802
Hail sweet repose not shall we rest No more with sickness be distressed Here from all sorrows find release Our souls shall dwell in endless peace. 1789
No longer was my life No longer was my breath God called me home in early life Because he thought it best. 1805
Though far from home in distant land My flesh returns to dust In hopes to rise when Jesus calls And dwell among the just. 1808
Life’s painful toils are over Its pilgrimage is ended And to a purer happier shore Her spirit hath ascended. 1808