The Clawson Family Stones

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Returning to the A.M.E section for African American History Month.

Shown about are three stones bearing the name Clawson and belonging to members of a single family;  Mary (wife of Robert), John, (son of Robert and Mary), and Robert A. (presumably the son of Mary and the elder Robert), as well as a Charles Ferdinand, a grandson of Robert and Mary.

These stones represent one of the few intact family plots transferred together from their original locations in the State Street Burying Grounds to the Church Grounds.  The stones of most families originally buried together were separated or otherwise lost at some point between the time the transcript of graves was published by the Common Council and the present.  In the Episcopal and other sections of the Church Grounds, it’s possible to find a few stones from a single family laid together, but it is generally not very common.  Some family graves were  moved privately before the mass transfer and are located together elsewhere in the Cemetery, but many  were simply lost (see Without Stones) or mixed with other burials.

Census records for 1850 show a Robert Clawson residing in the household of John Troter, a physician, and was probably employed as a servant of some type.  The census lists him as a black male born around 1790.  The headstone for Robert A. Clawson, likely his son, notes that the young man died of consumption.   Census records from 1855 show the elder Robert Clawson residing at the home of his son-in-law, William P. McIntyre , a barber who had married Robert’s daughter, Mary.

All three stones are marble, modest in size, but with epitaphs.  Mary’s stone notes that she died on June 7, 1846 at age 58 and reads, And Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her.  John’s stone notes that he died at the age of 21 on February 22, 1846 and reads, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.  The stone of the younger Robert notes his cause of death at the age of 23 on May 18, 1853 and the same Biblical text as John’s stone.  Charles Ferdinand shares as stone with his uncle, having died just a month later on June 21, 1853 at the age of 4.  His epitaph reads, Suffer the little children to come unto me.

There is, unfortunately, no stone here for the elder Robert Clawson.  The Common Council’s report does not list him.  He may have been buried elsewhere, buried without a stone, or his stone may have been lost prior to the 1868 inventory.

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