Stonington’s Graveyards Tell Tales

by John Stratton

Laid to his rest in 1814 in Stonington, an 18-year-old Royal Navy midshipman from Leicestershire, England, died in the War of 1812.

Old towns like Stonington, named in 1666, have many stories, but tend to keep discreetly mum. Here and there, though, the tales of lives past are told by sentinel gravestones that can carry their stories to our eyes and ears.
“The Tombstones Speak: History from Stonington’s Cemeteries” will be presented by Meredith Mason Brown at 5pm on Sunday, November 4, at the La Grua Center, 7 Stonington Commons, 32 Water Street, in Stonington Borough.  Open to the public without charge, the program is co-sponsored by La Grua Center and by the Stonington Historical Society.
Meredith Mason Brown, historian and author, will use a select few of Stonington’s hundreds of tombstones to call to mind the richness and diversity of the town’s history, from the 17th-century founders on to the present.
Accompanying photographs by Marsha Standish will illustrate, among other things, “wolfstones” in Stonington’s oldest graveyard, a memorial stone of a ship’s captain killed in Tonga, a monument to a young British midshipman killed by an American privateer in the War of 1812, the ghastly burning in 1840 of a steamship bound for Stonington, and a monument of a British baronet who intended to have the ashes of his heart buried near the remains of his long-time lover.
The speaker is a graduate of Harvard College  and Harvard Law School. He is also a past president and current board member of the Stonington Historical Society.  His book, “Frontiersman: Daniel Boone and the Making of America” (Louisiana State University Press, 2008) won the Spur Award in 2009. Indiana University Press is scheduled to publish his newest book, “Touching America’s History: From the Pequot War through World War II.”