The Basics

HELP WANTED – Connecticut Genealogists – Have you seen any clues??

The Connecticut Gravestone Network would like to enlist your assistance in their search. This would seem an obvious route because you are already deeply involved in searching these records all the time. We ask that, if and when you find ANY clue of this nature, you make a copy of it, stating its source, and send it to us. Your help could provide us with valuable clues to this lost history.

The only way we can document these works is through finding clues in probate and similar records. Once we find a statement that “Mr. J. Smith was paid for gravestones stones” and/or” for gravestone of Mrs. R. Brown”. Then we go out and document that stone using it for a model to seek out others in that likeness.

Any clue that would reference the cutting, making, installing, selling, paying for or even a probate listing that one has left masonry and stone cutting tools in their inventory, may be a clue we can use to build on the history of these craftsmen. Sometimes documentation of where they lived or visited is very helpful.

Old account books and business records of any stone cutter, mason or sculptor or quarry records, maps, deeds and partnership information are also of great importance.

In turn, knowing who might have “carved” your ancestors gravestone, in some cases can provide the genealogist with important clues. In earlier times when traveling was difficult, often one was buried in the area where he or she died. Whether wintering with relatives, seeking employment or “drowned in the river”, on such occasions the families of the deceased would then have a gravestone “sent” to the gravesite. In modern times we would view this as a name that would be unfamiliar to the area, which is a clue in itself. By recognizing the work of a carver, in most Connecticut cases, we can tell you what town or area the stone came from, giving you another place to look.

Example: New Hartford’s Old Town Cemetery – even without knowing the history, one can readily recognize several carver styles as those from East Windsor and East Hartford – without reading the family names which will attest to the lineage from those earlier settlements.

In many areas we have given character names to carvers when we have yet to figure out “who” carved in this particular style. Some of those examples are: The Upswept Wing Carver, found throughout Tolland County the Bolton Sharp Collar Carver, the Nun Carver and the Ashford Charlie Brown and Dot Carver in the east, the Hiddy Ho Man in western Connecticut, and the old Litchfield Carver, and the Compass Face vs. the Long Face in Southington area, just to name a few. One of you may have information sitting in your files that could help us identify these craftsmen.

Attached is a “partial” list of some Connecticut carvers by names we have discovered and have been working on over the years. Keep in mind that the Longmeadow, Massachusetts boundary in earlier times included what are now Suffield, Simsbury and Enfield. In the mid to late 1700’s a school for carving formed in Portland Conn. This complicates our research even further as by this time many apprentices were turned out, all carving in the likeness of their masters.

Any inquiries should be sent to

Barker, Peter active 1730-1770 Montville, Ct. Traveled throughout the state into New York state
Bolles, Norris & Sons 19th century carver New Preston – New Haven, Ct.
Cowles, Elisha & Issac late 1700’s early 1800’s Meriden, Middletown, Southington, Ct.
Coles, Isaac late 1700’s Middletown, Ct.
Church, CL 19th century New Haven, Ct.
Ely, John 1735 – ??? Longmeadow / Springfield, Mass. & Suffield, Ct.
Griswold, George 1633- 1704 Windsor, Ct.
Hill, Asa & Ithuel 1719 -1821 Farmington, Ct. – to New Haven
Holland, William active 1740 -1760 Longmeadow, Ma., E.Windsor, Middlefield & New Haven, Ct.
Haskins, Arron 1752 – 1795 Bolton and Coventry, Ct.
Hurlbutt, Orange late 1700’s Middletown, Ct.
Hovey, John active mid 1700’s Storrs – Mansfield, Ct.
Johnson, Joseph 1698 -1783?? Middletown – East Windsor, Ct.
Johnson, John late 1700’s Durham, Ct.
Ritter, Daniel mid 1700’s East Hartford, Ct.
Ritter Family late 1700’s to 1800’s New Haven, Ct.
Roberts, Hosea late 1700’s Middletown, Ct.
Sikes, Elisha active 1770 – 1790 Eastern, Ct.
Tucker, Joseph 1750 – 1760 Bolton, Ct.