The Hosea Fisk monument is a small headstone second from the left in a series of five headstones, right next to the very small headstone showing a sleeping child.

We don’t know anything about Hosea Fisk personally, but his wonderful headstone tells us something about him and his family. Fisk bought the family lot in 1855 when his little daughter Harriet died; he died just three years later in 1858. His wife probably chose the headstone, since you can still faintly read the inscription “To my husband.” The stone that Mrs. Fisk chose is modest, so she might have been trying to convey that her husband was also a modest man. But most of all, it seems that Mrs. Fisk wanted to emphasize that domesticity and respectability were important qualities she and her husband shared.

Displaying textiles and upholstery, even on a gravestone, was one of the most common ways to do this. In the mid-nineteenth century, improvements in manufacturing made textiles and upholstery increasingly available to the large middle classes. In a time of rapid urbanization and industrialization, the home was considered a refuge and a haven from the outside world; women in particular were considered the stabilizing force inside the home.

Women were also responsible for the decoration of their homes. The ideal middle-class family was best represented by a well appointed home in which one’s family lived a comfortable, happy life. Respectable homes often had two “parlors”: the “best” parlor was the most elaborately decorated room in the Victorian home, for it was where the family would receive guests, and show off their best furnishings. Having lots of tufted chairs, elaborate drapes at the windows, fringe, trim and tassels was an effective way to let visitors know that one’s family was fashionable, tasteful, educated, and part of polite society. Often, a second parlor, less fancy but still containing lots of comfortable chairs and drapes, was the center of family life in the Victorian home (what today we call the “living room”). It was the room where the family gathered after dinner to read, sing along to music on the piano or organ, play games or do needlework, and where the fire or woodstove kept everyone warm during cold winter nights.

So is this a parlor window? You be the judge. You might want to consider Hosea Fisk’s headstone as a kind of parlor window and curtain that lets you “look” into Mrs. Fisk’s home as she wanted you to see it: as a place that had both a proper middle-class parlor and a more informal, comfortable, cozy family setting. Another possible interpretation is to think of the curtain as a kind of theatre curtain, with the implication that the curtain is going down on Hosea’s life, or perhaps going up on his new life in Heaven.

The next stop is a pair of lots--the Nathaniel Tucker and Ariel Low lots, directly across from each other.