Stories in Stone: Sophia B. Stetson

Monument to Sophia B. Osborn Stetson (1819-1894), wife of Alpheus Micah Stetson (1820-1904), and their family in Forest Hills Cemetery, at 95 Forest Hills Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. Alpheus M. Stetson was a lumber and coal merchant. Sophia and Alpheus married in 1842. Designed by landscape architect Henry A. S. Dearborn and opened in 1848, Forest Hills Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery.

Historic America

Stories in Stone: Writers and Poets

Whether it’s “Author’s Ridge” in Concord or the small church cemetery where a mysterious visitor leaves flowers for Poe on the anniversary of his death, the graves of literary heroes have long been popular destinations.

For aspiring authors, poets, and fans of literature, the grave sites of America’s famous writers have become pilgrimage sites. Devoted fans leave behind flowers, pens, pencils, and even their own writing as tokens of affection. As a writer myself, I find stops at the graves of famous writers an obligatory inclusion on my travels. Here are just some of them. Have you ever visited a famous author’s grave? Leave a comment with your story!

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was a leader of the transcendentalist movement and champion of individualism (most well-articulated in his essay “Self-Reliance“). He was a prolific author and lecturer. It’s difficult to think of a writer who had greater impact on American intellectual life. He is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts on Author’s Ridge.


Most Charming Cemeteries in New England

These historic rural cemeteries are a treasure-trove of art, architecture, and sculpture.

Not only are the New England states among the most progressive in America, they were also the birthplace of the rural cemetery movement. These cemeteries were designed by some of the most prominent landscape architects of their day to be parks as well as sanctuaries for the remains of loved ones. Wealthy citizens contributed millions to create beautiful funerary art and sculpture that you can still see today.

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mount Auburn Cemetery, at 580 Mt Auburn Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was the country’s first rural cemetery. Designed by landscape architect Alexander Wadsworth, it opened in 1841 and quickly became one of the most visited destinations in the country. Rural cemeteries were laid out like gardens, with winding paths, ponds, and hills, and many, like Mount Auburn, also serve as arboretums. Mount Auburn was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003. It is 200 acres and is the final resting place for approximately 70,000 people.


Stories in Stone: Before Their Time

Loving parents with means have often left behind lifelike statues dedicated to children taken before their time.

Death is always painful, but the death of a child is particularly tragic. While memories of their brief time on this earth are cherished, it is often the unfulfilled future we mourn the most. Whenever possible, their devoted parents have gone to great lengths to memorialize and preserve the memory of their dearly departed. The following are just seven of the most touching funerary sculptures I’ve seen on my travels.

Louis Ernest Mieusset (1881-1886)

Memorial to Louis Ernest Mieusset (1881-1886), son of Louise Helluin Mieusset, who designed fashionable hats for Boston’s elites, in Forest Hills Cemetery, at 95 Forest Hills Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts. She paid for this hauntingly lifelike white marble statue of her son sitting in a boat with all his favorite toys with money she saved for his schooling, leaving her grief stricken and penniless in her old age. According to popular lore, Louis drowned in Jamaica Pond, but some researchers maintain he actually died of scarlet fever.

Mysterious America

America’s Haunted Houses

These storied homes are valued for their architecture or their role in historical events, but many visitors and residents report that something otherworldly lingers…

Lizzie Borden House

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts was the scene of a gruesome unsolved double murder, perhaps among the most infamous in the U.S. Thirty-two-year-old Lizzy Borden became the chief suspect, but she was acquitted at trial. Today it’s open for tours and overnight stays.

The Franklin Castle

Built between 1881-1883, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true? Only a few people have been allowed inside its wrought iron gates to know for sure.

Roadside America

Worcester Diners

If New Jersey is the diner capital of the U.S., Massachusetts is a close second. Thomas Buckley began to sell lunch wagons in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1887. Charles Palmer, who patented a “Night-Lunch Wagon” in 1893, also operated in Worcester. The Worcester Lunch Car Company, founded by Philip H. Duprey and Grenville Stoddard, was an iconic diner manufacturer from 1906 to 1957. It produced 651 diners, many of which still exist today. Several are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Worcester diners look more like railroad cars than their newer counterparts, with smooth metal exteriors and wooden interiors. Most have a distinctive barrel roof and a row of large windows, with entrances at either end.

The Miss Worcester Diner, 302 Southbridge Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a 1948 Worcester (#812) built for Dino Soteropoulos. It sits across the street from the old Worcester Lunch Car Company factory and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. This classic diner is a local favorite.

Roadside America

Diners of Massachusetts

If Rhode Island can claim to be the birthplace of American diners, Massachusetts is a close second. Thomas Buckley began to sell lunch wagons in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1887. Charles Palmer, who patented a “Night-Lunch Wagon” in 1893, also operated in Worcester. The Worcester Lunch Car Company, of course, was an iconic diner manufacturer from 1906 to 1957.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Ralph’s Rock Diner, at 148 Grove Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a 1930 Worcester model, #660. The Worcester Lunch Car Company operated in this city from 1906 to 1957 and manufactured hundreds of lunch carts and classic diners. Robert and Mamie Gilhooly originally opened this diner on Grove Street in Worchester’s Chadwick Square (hence the name, Chadwick Square Diner). It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Route 66 Diner, at 950 Bay Street in Springfield, Massachusetts, is a 1957 Mountain View, one of the last manufactured by that Signac, New Jersey company. Originally called the Bay Diner, owner Donald A. Roy bought it in 1975 and the restaurant is managed by his brother-in-law, Charlie Allen. It is cash only.