Master of the Curlicue I in Canonsburg

Oak Spring Cemetery

In memory of
James R. Sinclair
who departed this life
Jan. the 21, AD 1843.
aged 5 months.

Two early-settler graveyards at opposite ends of Canonsburg have tombstones inscribed by some of the same local craftsmen. One of them, who worked in the 1830s and 1840s, is very easy to identify by three obvious quirks of his style:

  1. He writes almost exclusively in italic letters.
  2. He begins each inscription with a very distinctive capital I with curlicues.
  3. He makes the abbreviation “AD” into a single character, with the right-hand stroke of the A serving as the left-hand stroke of the D.

In addition, if you paid him well enough, he was capable of some fine decorative folk-art reliefs.

The Giffin family, buried in Speer Spring Cemetery, employed him almost exclusively:

In memory of
ROBERT H. GIFFIN
who departed this life
in the 19 year of his
—age—
April 22 AD 1842

In memory of
ANDREW GIFFIN
who departed this life
in the 53d year of his
—age—
Aug. 12, AD 1841.

In
memory of
Samuel Webster Giffin
who departed this life
Sept. 18th, AD 1838, aged
9 months and 25 days

In
memory of
ELIZABETH McCOY
Consort of Andrew H. Giffin
who departed this life
May the 15th AD 1842, in
the 36th year of her age
— — —

Following his usual method of naming anonymous craftsmen after a distinguishing characteristic of their work, Father Pitt will call this artist the Master of the Curlicue I.

To round out the Giffin family plot, we include one broken tombstone done by a different craftsman:

IN
Memory of
ANDREW RAY
GIFFIN, who—
departed this life,
Febr. 11th, 1836
in the 13th year of
his age.

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