Imagine my delight, after climbing over a wall and through briars, to actually find the now rather secret cemetery in Charleston, where some of the cousins are buried. It was the graveyard of St Peters Episcopal, south of Broad Street behind some apartment buildings now. It was built in 1835 but burned in 1861.
How fun – to stumble upon this breathtakingly beautiful headstone dedicated to a child named Charlotte, my own name.
Who were the stonecarvers, the artmakers who created some of the most beautiful grave markers in Charleston, and truly, in America? Most of the gravestones are unsigned, but there are enough beautiful markers in this city to make me want to learn more about the makers, as well as the remembered.I do know that in 1776 Charleston was the wealthiest city, per capita, in the colonies. Many of the wealthiest citizens ordered their tombstones from the great New England carvers, so Charleston has the largest collection of New England stones outside of New England. Carolina offered unfettered religious freedom, which means there are nine different 18th century graveyards representing nine faiths.
This is but one tiny graveyard, for a church that burned down many years ago. But there are surprises at every turn, in shape, in imagery, in symbolism. And here, wonderfully, is my name, called once more. Little Charlotte Keith Heyward, I can now tell a little of your brief story, that you died at just 6, in 1859. What a delight to be inspired to research your story, so deeply connected, it turns out to my own family, the Hutsons, Barnwells, Gibbes and Woodwards. Such serendipity!
What a work of art you disovered!
Here’s the source of the epitaph:
English poet and dramatist
(1683 – 1765)
Early, bright, transient, chaste, as morning dew
She sparkled, was exhal’d, and went to heaven.
– Night Thoughts
(night V, l. 600)
Great pictures and great writing!
St. Peter’s Churchyard, right? Little Charlotte is closer than you think – of course she is a descendant of Rev. William Hutson and Mary Woodward, through their daughter Esther Hutson Wigg, but she is also a descendant of Mary Woodward’s daughter from her first marriage, Sarah Chardon, and, even closer, little Charlotte’s brother Robert would later marry your grandmother Charlotte Hutson Martin’s sister Martha Florida Hutson (author of the memoirs I sent you).
Mary Woodward Hutson Colcock is also at St. Peter’s. – buried with her husband Judge Charles Jones Colcock beneath a beautiful obelisk.
Keep it up! You find such great things to write about!
Dear Cousin Mike,
Talk about serendipity! I had no idea of all that interconnection; what a delight to know more about this child, Charlotte. Thank you for your impeccable scholarship and dedication to collecting and documenting our family history, Mike. I look forward to using this blog to tell some of the colorful tales, and to illuminate them within the context of what is now such a city in Renaissance. Stories that are fresh and seasoned, like we like our food, I suppose, is my goal. I am honored to have you visit these beginnings.
What a beautiful marker! I love the wreath of stone. Don’t we all want our lives to be marked by something as heavy and beautiful as this?
Yes! I will never forget finding Matisse’s grave in Nice, France, in 1999, while on pilgrimage to the country to find where Hadley Hemingway, your namesake, lived exactly, in Paris, with her husband, Ernest, in the 1920’s. When I finally got to Nice, following the great French painters’ paths, the graveyard there, just above Matisse’s own private enclosed spot overlooking the sea, held sculptural women lying prostrate, in white marble clothes, eternally grieving, over tombs. Ahhh, it felt so poetic, and I have never forgotten it. Maybe you can visit there one day.