Hurlburt Infant Sons

Eileen P. Driscoll – Hurlburt Infant Sons (1800)



This is a poignant memorial to triplets, who died in 1800, only 30 hours after their births to Lois Hurlburt, and her husband Capt. Nathaniel Hurlburt. The only one of its kind in this cemetery, their brownstone marker is a rare, triple, or tripartite, tombstone with each tympanum having a similar, carved, winged-head soul effigy.

Beneath the tympana, the marker has but a single carved epitaph, with an elegantly carved verse:

“Sleep on freed babes, soon of this life bereft
No fear e’er troubled & no care oppressed
Snatched from life’s tempestuous sea
To brighten scenes in one eternal day.”

The birth of triplets would be complicated under the best circumstances and in colonial America it was especially precarious for the infants and their mother.

Sanitation was unknown and thus viewed as unnecessary.  One in every 5 mothers would lose her life due the complications of childbirth. Unprotected from all kinds and sources for contagion, the mortality rate for newly born infants was even higher.  In colonial times, grave markers were usually unaffordable for younger and poorer families. Often infants and children in general, were buried on home property or in unmarked graves in the cemetery near existing family markers.

The earliest record we have of the Hurlburt family is of John Hurlburt who, with the rank of sergeant, was one of the Hartford volunteers who marched to Boston in 1775 in relief of the Lexington Alarm at the beginning of the American Revolution.

The next reference we can find is of John being listed as one of two appointed packers of tobacco among those attending the first town meeting of the newly designated Town of East Hartford in 1783.

Lastly there is mention of him dying of small pox in 1791 in the town’s short-lived small pox hospital.

Nathaniel Hurlburt achieved the rank of Captain, most likely in the local militia. This along with this rather fine marker for his children indicates that by 1800 the Hurlburts were a well established town family.  Indeed, as the 1800s progressed family members assumed such positions as Town Clerk, members of the State House of Representatives, and one owned a prominent tavern on Burnside Ave.