Person of Interest: Samuel Longcor of Sussex County, New Jersey
Relationship: 3rd great grandfather
Source Citation: Newton Cemetery (19 Lawnwood Ave, Newton, New Jersey), Samuel and Hannah Longcor marker; photographs taken by William Charles Strait, 30 August 2017. Used with permission.
Document/Photo Description: My dad, Samuel Longcor’s 2nd great grandchild, took the photographs of Samuel and Hannah’s headstone and foot stones. He also stopped into the Newton Cemetery caretaker’s office to have them pull information about the plot itself. Newton Cemetery stores that information on index cards with descriptions of the plot size and location. I also contacted the cemetery (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Barbara Cornwell, the secretary/treasurer for the cemetery, was kind enough to send me a map.
Document/Photo Scan and Transcription: Samuel and Hannah’s headstone is a nice one in that it has full dates of both birth and death. The full transcription of the stone is:
June 5, 1827.
Jan. 6, 1897.
Hannah E. Wilson.
Born Aug. 10, 1828.
Died June 19, 1892.
At the bottom of this squat, obelisk headstone is the family name LONGCOR and the top pyramidal cap has a beautiful cursive “L” carved into it. Their foot stones read “Father” and “Mother.”
The card from the Newton Cemetery office has some more information about the plot itself. Samuel and Hannah are buried in Section D in plot #500 as indicated by the 1912 map of the cemetery. Their family plot consists of 276 square feet. It is located on the west side of Holly Walk (lane/street name of cemetery road) joining the lot of William Hill on the north side. The dimensions of the plot are given as 10 feet in the front, 14 feet in the rear, 20 feet along the adjacent Hill plot, and 26 feet on the opposite side. The cemetery caretaker said, “that because Longcor is first name on the card he was the owner of the plot.” The card also lists a Joseph Osmun.
Unfortunately, the cemetery map sent to me does not have the (lanes/walk) listed on it and is of very poor resolution.
Analysis: Samuel and Hannah’s dark grey, granite tombstone is in pristine condition in a cemetery that is very well-maintained. The cemetery is still an active one with people still being buried there and thus the grounds are kept trimmed and neat.There is no degradation of the carving or lichen growth on the stone.
There is no added symbolism or iconography on their headstone. For a great read on what people do put on their gravestones and what it means, I recommend an absolutely beautiful book by Douglas Keister called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Another book related to cemeteries but specific to New Jersey is New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones: History in the Landscape by Richard E. Veit and Mark Nonestied. And there’s a whole association devoted to the preservation and study of gravestones: The Association for Gravestone Studies.
The simple headstone carving is direct information in that it explicitly answers my research question of “When did Samuel Longcor, and his wife Hannah E., die?” The added bonus is the full birth year for both Samuel and Hannah.
The information, though, is secondary in nature. Samuel wasn’t around when his death date was carved on the headstone and, while he was present at his birth, he most decidedly does not remember it. Additionally, the carver may have made a mistake when inscribing the stone. One would hope that the family wouldn’t pay the carver if the carving was done wrong, but there’s always that chance.
The gravestone is an original source. It’s not a tombstone carved from another tombstone or changed in any fashion that would make us think it’s not the original stone or the real thing. There is no indication that Samuel or Hannah are buried elsewhere. It does happen that people are buried where they die but the family puts up a memorial somewhere else.
The exploration of Joseph Osmun (outside the scope of this post) shows that he was Samuel Longcor’s son-in-law, married to Samuel’s daughter Mary. Thus his inclusion on the index card found at the cemetery.
I’d like to get a better copy of the cemetery map, one which includes the actual lanes of the streets/lanes/walks and possibly shows the location of some of the plots in the cemetery. Time to add to my to-do list about checking with the Sussex County Historical Society to see if they possibly have one. I’ve added Samuel and Hannah E.’s birth and death dates to my family database but would like to confirm their birth dates with a better source; perhaps a birth record or register.