by Peter Venturini
The Old Burial Ground is the oldest English cemetery in New York State. Founded in 1640 by English colonists from New Haven, (in what was to become Connecticut) the town of Southold, located ten miles from Orient Point, on eastern Long Island is considered to be the first English settlement in New York State.
While New York is commonly thought of as an English colony, the original colonists to settle Manhattan and the Hudson Valley were Dutch. The English made their inroads on eastern Long Island, approximately one hundred miles to the east of what was later to become New York City. These original English colonists came across Long Island Sound from the New England colonies to the north and looked to them for commerce, culture, civil and religious authority. Southold was originally part of the colony of New Haven.
And they were Puritans.
Here are some photos from the Old Burial Ground, Southold, N.Y.
The stone of Mary Youngs, died 1689, represents the classical Puritan grave marker of the late seventeen and early eighteenth century, with winged skull engraved on slate. This stone is the oldest of the winged skull on Long Island.
This stone with it's hourglass and scythe represents a rare departure from the classical style. Although the winged skull eventually gave way to the winged spirit, the lifelike nature of the face is very unusual on eastern Long Island. This is one of only two such stones in this cemetery.
The stone of Jasper Griffing, died 1718, is another example of the slate death head style. Note the vine border.
The stone of Susanna Hommedieu represents an evolution of style with the winged spirit replacing the death head. This stone is one of the largest in this cemetery for the late eighteenth/early nineteenth century time period. She is the sister of Mr. William Floyd, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence from New York.
This very unusual spirit carving is extremely rare and may represent some German influence. Many of the gravestones of the Pennsylvania Dutch have similar images minus any inscription related to the individual.