Hannah Lovering Monument


Within the Lovering family lot are a row of headstones. The first monument on the left is that for little Hannah Lovering. Hannah died in 1850 at the age of two years and 3 months. She was the first burial in the family lot. We don’t know why Hannah died, but child mortality was extremely high in the 19th century. More than one-third of all deaths every year in nineteenth century Boston were children 5 years or younger. Today such a figure seems staggering. In a time before advances in medical research, though, contagious diseases such as diphtheria spread quickly, killing the most vulnerable beings, usually children. Most children grew up having lost at least one brother or sister, or a childhood friend.

The death of a child was always, of course, tragic. The terrible reality of losing a child, however, could be softened by taking comfort in the thought that a child had simply fallen asleep, or was with the angels, waiting for the inevitable reunion in Heaven. For her gravesite, Hannah’s parents chose an Italian sculpture showing a sweet and chubby little baby fast asleep. If you look on the front of Hannah’s monument, you will see what Hannah’s parents wanted you to know about their baby: “She is not dead, but sleepeth.” The sculpture was considered very fine in its early days; it was protected by a fancy glass conservatory box, which is now long gone.

Before you take leave of Hannah Lovering, notice another child on the other end of the row of headstones. “Cheney’s” stone shows a lily-of-the-valley (symbol of purity or sweetness), a common motif especially for children and women. And in the family lot next to Hannah’s, a little lamb, a very popular theme for children’s graves—referring to innocence, purity, and to a “lamb of God”—sits on top of yet another child’s stone.

Proceed to The Barnard Dog.