Submitted by the Bedford Historical Society
Want to meet a “taphophile?” Don’t know what that is? The public is invited to meet one at the “show and tell” planned for the Bedford Historical Society’s April program.
On Sunday, April 26th, Historical Society member and taphophile Lori Eggert will present “Stones and Stories: The Appeal of Old New England Burial Grounds.” Following her presentation, to be held in the Great Room of Old Town Hall, and weather-permitting, Ms. Eggert will lead attendees approximately 100 yards up the street to Bedford’s Old Burial Ground. There, as a taphophile – a person interested in cemeteries, funerals and gravestones — she will continue her stories of this fascinating place, which originally was a part of the Town Common.
This event will begin at 2 pm with refreshments. Ms. Eggert’s talk will start around 2:30. The public is invited to both the “tell” and “show” portions of this program.
According to Ms. Eggert, “Grave markers are a gateway into the history of our towns. Besides listing names and dates of the departed, they also serve up period folk art and are voices from the past. The epitaphs tell us: I was important. I was hit by lightning. I went to Harvard. I wanted to die. I didn’t want to die. We buried many babies. I am in a better place. You’d better behave because you can end up like me very soon.”
This talk will cover burial ground basics, including the evolution of gravestone carving styles and epitaphs. Ms. Eggert also will discuss four stones of special interest, one in Bedford.
In the old Burial Ground, Ms. Eggert will show headstones with the grim “death-head” symbol and newer stones displaying the “willow and urn.” She will describe the family vaults built by some of Bedford’s prominent early settlers and the “African Reservation” – an area set off for the burial of slaves in unmarked graves.
Ms. Eggert is a Bedford resident, an author, tutor, and taphophile. An active Society member, she is also a member of the Town’s Conservation Commission. She has explored scores of burial grounds all over New England. She hosts the Bedford 3rd graders when they visit Bedford’s Old Burial Ground as part of the annual Third Grade Tour of Bedford History, and she looks forward to sharing her appreciation of 18th and 19th century gravestones.