Bixby Monument


This beautiful and very fancy stone memorializes Lucy Bixby, a 45-year-old woman who died in 1864. The headstone required extremely skilled carving and therefore would have been quite expensive. It was probably made in the Boston area, since Mrs. Bixby’s husband likely chose the different elements, and might even have provided a photograph or image of his wife so that her portrait could be carved in marble. Portraits in marble, especially of persons who were not famous or celebrated in any way, are relatively unusual, which is one of the reasons this headstone is quite special.

Lucy Bixby is memorialized here as a woman who was virtuous and pious. She is shown receiving a crown, a sign of resurrection, the highest award possible for a departed soul. Crowns as symbols of resurrection, like other motifs you have seen today (such as angels and allegorical figures), have a long history in Christian and European traditions.

Ivy (symbol of fidelity and marriage), roses (love), and lilies (resurrection and purity) surround the face. In the 19th century, middle-class women in particular were expected to adhere to the highest moral standards of society; their deaths often left fathers, husbands, and children without the one person who was most central to their lives. We don’t know the exact circumstances of Lucy Bixby’s death or what she died of, but looking at her headstone we can be sure that her husband and her family were devastated at losing her, and wanted to make sure she would be remembered as they knew her--as a good Christian wife and mother.

Proceed to the next stop, where you will see a Lamb and Sleeping Child.