Category Archives: Hiland Cemetery

The large churchyard of the Hiland Presbyterian Church just north of West View. Many early settlers are buried here, going back to the first decade of the 1800s. Their stones are scattered throughout the cemetery, showing that the churchyard was planned to be large from the beginning.

Master of the Italic Dates

Father Pitt is being a little facetious in bestowing the title “master” on this particular craftsman. He is not exceptionally good. We name him, as usual, from a readily identified feature of his style: he always carves the date in italic letters. And it is interesting to see his work in two different cemeteries, fairly far apart. Above, John Frew’s tombstone in the St. Clair Cemetery, Mount Lebanon. The unusual inset name is unique in what Father Pitt has seen of this craftsman’s work, and he suspects it represents, not an aesthetic decision, but an embarrassing correction of the deceased’s name. William Frew‘s, below, is more typical.

Now here are several tombstones in Hiland Cemetery, north of West View. Note that the name “Richey” or “Ritchey” is spelled two different ways, suggesting that John Frew’s tombstone is not the only one in his career where our artist misspelled a name.


Rebecca Ritchey Tombstone, Hiland Cemetery

departed this life,
December 27, 1838.
Aged 42 years 11 months
& 4 days.

Here is a work by a stonecutter whom we shall call the Master of the Italic Months, from one of the most distinctive features of his style. He also writes the name of the deceased in all capitals (not small capitals), and he places a comma after the words “departed this life.” He adds an ornamental dash below the inscription. His lettering is not nearly as neat as that of the Master of the Erratic Centering, who also cut many stones in the Hiland Cemetery; but, on the other hand, his centering is a bit better.

Jane and William Dickson Tombstones, Hiland Cemetery

These two stones are immense, the largest vertical stones of their era that Father Pitt has seen. Indeed, he wonders whether they were originally meant to lie flat, and later set up like this. —Addendum: Comparing these to other “ledger” stones of the same era, old Pa Pitt is almost completely convinced that these were ledger stones, meant to lie flat. Compare, for example, the Moses Coulter stone, and note the almost identical beveling. These have been much better preserved by raising them perpendicular to the ground.

consort of
departed this life July 13th 1828
Aged 90 years

Jane Dickson, “consort” of William Dickson, lived to the fine old age of ninety. She thus outlived her husband by three years, but only because she was eight years younger.

who departed this life
october 31st 1825
Aged 101 years

As you can see, outliving William Dickson was a considerable feat for anybody, and Jane is to be commended for an outstanding effort.

Father Pitt is inclined to attribute both these stones to our friend the Master of the Erratic Centering. He is sure about William’s stone: note the avoidance of capitalization (“october”), the spelling of the deceased’s name in large and small capitals, and the trademark erratic centering. Old Pa Pitt is only slightly less sure about Jane’s: the letters are in the same style, and though the work looks very slightly neater, we are inclined to attribute that to the stonecutter’s being slightly more experienced or slightly less drunk.

Nancy and Samuel Owens Tombstones, Hiland Cemetery

who departed this life
july 31st 1824,
aegd 19 years

Two more works of the stonecutter we identify as the Master of the Erratic Centering, whose erratic centering and aversion to capitalization are both on display here. Both Nancy and Samuel died as young adults. Were they a young married couple, or were they brother and sister?

who departed this life august 2nd
1827 aged 28 years