ancestryink fisherman

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lost at Sea Etched in Stone

"Lost at Sea,"  or "Died at Sea,"  or simply a faraway place such as "North Pacific" - etched into granite or slate - these gravestones always catch my eye, due to an avid interest in marine history.

The story of whaling and finding one's fortune aboard ships is such a particular facet of New England's foundations, that it is almost impossible to walk a cemetery without finding the grave marker of a "Capt.," or a young son lost at sea.

I found the North Falmouth Cemetery tucked behind the Congregational church - a beautiful example of the simplicity in architectural design of early New England churches.

Arched windows of N. Falmouth Congregational

After driving up and down the rural, winding main road of N. Falmouth, I pulled off into the church parking lot to admire this exquisite church, and spotted the cemetery behind the church purely by accident - it is so hidden from view.

Walking the orderly rows of gravestones in this well-kept burial ground gives one a true sense of what "rest in peace" is meant to convey: it is a serene, sunlit sanctuary.

Here, the "Nye" family abounds.  Nye, Tobey, Ellis, Davis are common names, but here the Nyes seem dominant.

And, evidence of a sea-going community abounds, as well. Though it is not unusual to find a "lost at sea" or "Capt. ..." it IS a little unusual to find an entire descriptive passage etched in stone, about the exact nature of death and location. 

I only browsed for a short 15 minutes or so, but here are just two examples found in this small cemetery.  I look forward to going back and spending more time exploring.  Click on the images for a closer look.

Harlan Page Nye:  I did do a little brief research on about the Nyes when I got home. The Nye parents lost 5 children between 1851 and 1860.  Three of the children succumbed to consumption over a span of two years, according to death records of Falmouth.  And young Harlan died on a whaling trip, in Bristol Bay, Alaska.  No further research needed - his story is written in stone.

Harlan Page Nye - "taken down" by a whale

And Lemuel T. Tobey, who was born in Falmouth and died in a valiant attempt to save a vessel at sea - also recorded for eternity on his grave marker. A fitting tribute to his bravery.

Employed by the New York & Wilmington Steamship Line

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