The inscription on a tombstone, called an epitaph, is often a person”s last expression to the rest of the world. So what do you choose as your final impression, as well as your only impression to unknown cemetery walkers in the future? These people didn”t seem to have much trouble making up their minds for themselves or for their loved ones, just like some of the others we”ve seen.
The epitaphs here give us a rare glimpse of the person beyond the names and dates, and include everything from humor to vitriol. These stones are found throughout the country and belong to everyday people. Their strange inscriptions shed some light not only on these people, but on times past.
1. People of the past didn”t waste time with pleasantries about the dead.
Mary Fowler (1769-1792), Connecticut. “Molly tho pleasant in her day/Was suddenly seized and sent away/How soon she”s ripe and how soon she”s rottin/Sent to her grave & soon for gottin”
2. He would have been quite fashionable today.
Joseph Palmer (d. 1873). “Persecuted for wearing the beard.” During his life, Palmer”s beard caused such distress due to its being out of fashion that he was once, according to legend, jumped by four men who attempted to forcibly shave him. He was also an active figure in the Abolitionist and Temperance movements.
3. Talk about never being able to live something down.
Nathaniel Parks (1775-1794), Massachusetts. “In Memory of Mr. Nath”l Parks, AEt [aged] 19 who on 21st March 1794 being out a-hunting and conceal”d in a ditch was casually shot by Mr. Luther Frink.”
4. The last word.
Cecil O”Dell (1934-1993), California. It”s not clear if “my brother” refers to Cecil or to Cecil”s brother, but it”s pretty good either way.
5. Ugly little dogs need love, too.
Howard W. Jannack (1926-2004), Ontario.
6. Do you think Mary”s mad? I think she”s mad.
Mary C. Dolencie (1906-1985), Massachusetts. Mary got into a feud with her neighbors in Whaling Port, MA, over the number of cats she had, so she had the last word. Literally. The neighbors petitioned to have the stone removed, but the town was contractually obligated to keep it. Zing!
7. Dentist humor.
Drs. John Henby (1870-1927) and Maurice A. Henby (1903-1964). John was a dentist who had “I”m filling my last cavity” added to this family stone. When his son, also a dentist, passed away, he added, “Me too.”
8. Leona liked crossword puzzles.
Leona Elizabeth Carmon (1926-2009), Illinois. Leona is actually buried next to her veteran husband in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, but this memorial was placed in her hometown of Flanagan, IL.
9. Warren”s still got it.
Warren W. Berkenbile (1921-1991), Iowa.
10. Taking politics very seriously.
John P. McKee (1913-1989), Missouri. I guess he didn”t like Reagan.
11. Thanks, Mom!
Coy B. Shillinger (1923-2007), Utah. “5 bratty kids done her in.”
12. Rhoda was Flippin Dunn with the Civil War.
Rhoda I. Dunn, nee Flippin. (1826-1863), Kentucky. “Three children on the North Side, one on the South.”
13. Never thought you”d miss getting poked in the eye.
James J. “Buzz” Butler (1957-2010), Massachusetts. This is strangely sweet.
14. Ann”s thrilled about her new arrangement, it seems.
Ann Jean Sharpe (1910-1973), New York. “Why look ye here? I am way up there!”
15. It”s rude to ask a lady her age.
Dorothy Ann Whitaker (?-?), Tennessee. Dorothy”s birth and death dates are actually known (and cared about), but as per her own request, they were not listed on her gravestone.
16. True love.
Diane Marie Wilhelm (1964-1998), Michigan. “Nicest A** In Town.”
17. May there be many a duck in heaven for you, then, Mary.
Mary H. Sweat (1938-2002), California.
18. We hope this is a joke. Otherwise, we”re sorry, Elizabeth.
Elizabeth M. Markunas (1932-1993), Pennsylvania. Maybe this is a variant on the “I told you I was sick” epitaph?
19. No parking.
Robert James Radostitz (1956-1999), Oregon. “No parking except for Bob.”
20. You and me both, Sam.
Samuel McCracken (d. 1862), Pennsylvania. “If leading politicians and priests all go to heaven, I am bound to stop at some other place.”
21. Why don”t we hear more about Obstinate Beckey?
Rebecca Jones (d. 1905), New York. “Better known as Obstinate Beckey Jones.” Jones was apparently embroiled in an inheritance dispute (and possible scandal), and earned her nickname for her complete refusal to testify in court, even after being jailed for nearly a year. There”s also a legend involving her personally getting her brother discharged from a Civil War hospital by threatening the staff with a rifle.
22. Ah, yes. The dude.
Nathan Randolph Hoyt (1976-2008), Washington. While his headstone is more traditional in terms of epitaphs, Hoyt”s footstone pays homage to a cult classic.
It”s nice to see that some people have a sense of humor about death. The next time you”re feeling kind of morbid and want to check out some gravestones, be on the lookout for quirky gems like these. You never know what you”ll find! You can also look up the grave site of pretty much anyone on the Find A Grave website.