The gravestone carvings of Gershom Bartlett are among the most bizarre and strikingly original of any produced during the eighteenth century. His stones are easily recognized by the bulbous noses, turned down mouths, row of vestigial teeth at the bottom of the face, raised eyebrows, usually a four-lobed crown, three curved wings of curls beside the face, or sometimes large puffy mushroom-like protuberances from the sides of the head. The finials are most frequently pinwheels or four-leafed clovers, and the border panels are in the form of double anchors. Frequently a small heart is present near the bottom of the stone. Bartlett is often called the "hook-and-eye man." Bartlett footstones usually have three or four diamonds cut into the stone surface. He most often worked in granite, although a few of his early stones are in red sandstone. Examples of these may be seen in the Edwards burying ground (S. Windsor) and in Ellington, Somers and Enfield. In the Oneco and Plainfield yards are several Bartlett stones carved on a white stone common in the area. He was a native of Bolton, Connecticut, the son of Samuel and Sarah Bartlett who came from Northampton, Massachusetts. During one period of his early carving career, he apparently lived in Windsor and possibly also in East Windsor. Bartlett stones are found throughout eastern Connecticut but are most common west of Mansfield and become very scarce in the northeast and in coastal communities. They continue until 1772 when Bartlett moved to Pompanoosuc, Vermont, where he continued to carve (but on slate) until late in the eighteenth century. He was a Revolutionary War soldier and is buried in the Pompanoosuc burying ground. There are no known signed Connecticut stones. Probate records exist for Isaac Bigelow (1751) and Abner Kellogg (1755) of Colchester and Abraham Pease (1750) of Enfield.
From: Slater, James A. The Colonial Burying Grounds of
Eastern Connecticut and the Men Who Made Them. Memoirs of the
Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, vol. 21. Hamden,
Connecticut: Archon Books, 1987.
*Homer Babbidge Library call number f/Q/11/C85/v.21