31 Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470. Phone: 203-426-5937.
NEWTOWN HISTORICAL SOCIETY WHISTLES PAST THE GRAVEYARD--Perhaps the earliest American folk art was represented by the carvings on the head and foot stones of our earliest cemeteries. In addition to the aesthetic, the carvings tell us a great deal about the culture of our ancestors. On January 14, 7.30 PM, in the Meeting House, 31 Main Street (route 25, at the Flag Pole), the Newtown Historical Society will examine that aesthetic and culture by hosting Town Historian Dan Cruson's annual lecture, entitled This Old Cemetery. Our forebears tended to be a serious lot, and they took their religion very seriously. Descended from the Puritan tradition of the earliest settlement of New England, by the 18th century thoughts about life and death, God and religion, had matured, and that maturity was reflected not only in stone carvings but in the layout of the cemetery and the customs of burial and mourning. Cruson will examine headstone styles of the 18th and early 19th centuries, concentrating on who carved the stones and how the styles changed over time. He will look at how cemetery design reflected Puritan thought, and how trade patterns are reflected in where the stones came from, based on the type of stone. These points will be illustrated by selections from his personal slide collection amassed over twenty years Modern technology will not be left out either. Cruson will show how the use of Ground Penetrating Radar can be used to determine much about what lies buried and may be long forgotten. In one case, he was able discover an old cemetery in the Riverside area, lost to our view and awareness long ago, by the use of this relatively new technology. Daniel Cruson is a former teacher of anthropology and local history at Joel Barlow High School. He is presently President of the Connecticut Archeological Society, and has collaborated with the archeology program at Western Connecticut on several occasions. As Town Historian, he has also researched and written extensively about Newtown and Fairfield County. He is a past president of the Newtown Historical Society, and currently serves as a trustee. Cruson will use this talk as a preliminary for a tour of the Village Cemetery that he will lead this coming June. All Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Due to the overflow audience at Dan's talk last January, please note that this presentation has been moved to the Meeting House to accommodate a larger crowd. Because the Meeting House does not allow refreshments to be served in the main hall, the Society will forego its usual amenities.