Barton Stone, end of an era

Barton Stone and Monuments on Brown Square,  was the oldest business in Ipswich . A.J. Barton & Son Inc. was started in 1889 by August Barton Sr., and continued under his son Augustus Barton Jr., known as “Gus.”

Gordon Player, Phillip Lepage and Scott Kershaw  each owned the company in later years, and the company expanded into tile and granite counter-top sales and services for all of New England. The company made perhaps three quarters of the older gravestones in our area, and acquired its materials from as far away as North Dakota.

The company’s record books, one for each year, dating back to the beginning. Each page of each book has a sketch and proposal for a gravestone, and states the location, the price and the purchaser. They were donated on February 12, 2015 to the Ipswich Museum.


Joshuah Woodman Jr., died 1706, 35 years of age

Occasionally people asked Barton Stone to produce a replica of an original stone that had deteriorated beyond repair. Last year I was asked for help finding the original location of two very deteriorated slate tombstones that were still lying back in a dusty corner of Barton Stone after they were replicated. Using the site FindaGrave, it didn’t take long to match the old tombstones with the replacement stones, one in Rowley and the other nearby in Byfield.

The first stone is that of Joshuah Woodman Jr who died in 1706 at 35 years of age, Byfield Parish cemetery. His father was the first male child born in Newbury. Read more about Joshuah Woodman Jr.

Joshua Woodman’s replacement tombstone at the cemetery in Byfield MA was made by Barton Stone

Hannah Payson’s replacement stone

The second stone was for Hannah Payson, daughter of Rev. Mr. Eduard Payson, who died in 1725 at age 27 years. This grave is located in the Rowley cemetery.

Eduard Payson was the fourth minister of the church in Rowley, and his name is included in the tricentennial marker in front of the cemetery. I delivered the original stones to the Newbury and Rowley Historical Societies.

Colonial gravestones are seen today as valued expressions of art that define the professionals who carved them.

The stones for John Woodman and Hannah Payson may well be the work of John Hartshorn or the Mullicken family, all from Haverhill, MA.

Hannah Payson’s original tombstone

Laurel Gabel suggests that the Hannah Payson stone was carved by Ezekiel Leighton and the Joshuah Woodman Jr. stone by John Hartshorn(e), adding that they appear fairly typical of these two carvers.

Read more about the tombstones of Essex County at the site.

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