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Stories Carved in Stone ISBN 0971791015

Milestone 35

Milestone 36

Stories Carved in Stone
The Story of the Dummer Family,
the Merrimac Valley Gravestone Carvers,
and the Newbury Carved Stones,1636-1735

By Mary Gage & James Gage

From the perspective of the 20th century, the Newbury carved stones are a unique but obscure local anomaly. From the perspective of the 17th and 18th centuries, they would have fit comfortably into the artistic traditions of their times. They are unique only in the sense the decorative folk art designs were carved in stone rather than the more traditional materials like ceramics, canvas, silver, cloth and wood. Their historical importance comes not from their uniqueness, but rather from the fact they were a product of their times. They reflect the greater world around them. They give us some insight into the art of the 1600’s and early 1700’s, into the social traditions brought from the old world, and into how colonial men honored some of their women.

Trade Paperback. 190 pp. 99 Illustrations. 8 1/2 x 11 in.
ISBN 0-9717910-1-5

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Stories Carved in Stone focuses on a remarkable collection of early American folk art found in Byfield Parish, Newbury, Massachusetts. This collection of folk art has been the subject of scholarly research, scientific curiosity, and even local folk lore. Yet, it has for the most part remained a mystery. Who were the artists? Who commissioned the works of art? When were they done? After seven years of exhaustive research, the authors have pieced together the answers to these three questions.

This collection of art is composed of nine pieces carved into stone. Each piece in the collection was both a piece of art and a functional item. Four of the pieces were milestones that mark mileage between cities, four pieces were doorstones which served as formal steps into a house, and the ninth stone was a walkway stone protecting the people from getting their feet mired in mud. Milestones, doorstones, and walkway stones were common items in colonial New England. However, the nine stones found in Newbury are the only known examples in colonial America carved with folk art. Why Newbury, Massachusetts? What unusual circumstances gave rise to this exuberant outburst of artistic creativity?

 Stories Carved in Stone chronicles the history of these nine carved stones from three different perspectives. The first section delves into the first three generations of the Dummer family of Newbury. The Dummer family was responsible for commissioning the collection. The second section focuses on the artists who carved the stones. Five of the eight artists involved were rural gravestone carvers from Essex County. The third section discusses the artwork itself. It probes the meaning behind the artistic and geometric designs, where they came from, and the secret set of clues left by one of the gravestone carvers.

Milestone 37

Gravestone Carvers

BOOKS BY THE AUTHORS

Handbook of Stone Structures

Root Cellars in America

Stone of Dogtown & Beyond

America’s Stonehenge Deciphered

Guide to America’s Stonehenge

America’s Stonehenge DVD

Stories Carved in Stone

The Art of Splitting Stone

Guide to New England Stone Structures

Milestones & Guideposts

  • Subject of a feature article in Merrimace River Current October 31, 2003
  • Shown on “Main Streets and Back Roads” Segment of Chronicle TV show October 30, 2003

Table of Contents

PREFACE
THE DUMMER FAMILY OF NEWBURY, MASS.
    
INTRODUCTION
     THE FIRST GENERATION
     THE SECOND GENERATION
     THE THIRD GENERATION
THE MERRIMAC VALLEY GRAVESTONE CARVERS
     INTRODUCTION
     JOHN HARTSHORN (1650 – 1738)
     ROBERT MULLICKEN, SR. (1668 - 1741)
     ROBERT MULLICKEN, JR.  (1688 - 1756)
     JOHN MULLICKEN (1690 - 1737)
     JOSEPH MULLICKEN (1704 - 1768)
THE NEWBURY CARVED STONES
     CARVED STONES OF THE DUMMER FARM
          Introduction
          1636 Doorstone
          1640 Doorstone
          1690 Doorstone
          Mother’s Stone
          Origins of the Designs on the Mother’s Stone
          Father’s Stone
     THE MILESTONES IN NEWBURY
         Introduction
         Milestone 33
         Milestone 34
         Milestone 35
         Milestone 36
         Milestone 37
CONCLUSION
GLOSSARY
APPENDIX A - GRAVESTONES USED IN THIS STUDY
APPENDIX B - MOTHER’S & FATHER’S STONE CLUES
APPENDIX C - BURYING GROUNDS

 

Copyright (c) 2005-2007, James E. Gage & Mary E. Gage. All Rights Reserved.
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