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Vincent F. Luti

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which is exactly where his stones most occur. Jeremiah Fisher, a trader, lived not far away in the south precinct of Wrentham and had married a Rehoboth woman.20 An itinerant middleman, Fisher possibly brought orders to George Jr. for finished stones and, at times, ordered design carved blanks, as well, to be filled in with epitaphs by other local carvers, of which there were many as Fisher peddled his wares further north in his travels. This theory would account for the diversity of lettering on Allen-like skull stones or Allen lettering on a diversity of others’ skull stones. After all, he was just at the age of an apprentice/journeyman. Of course, it is also possible that George Jr. was traveling around and taking orders too or selling pre-carved blanks to other carvers to fill in data as needed. Until recent years this aspect of carver networking has not been given all the attention due it. James Blachowicz’s work is a model of this approach. The wide distribution of George Allen Jr. stones also raises some questions. Only seven of the effigies and skulls appear in the Rehoboth/ Providence area; the bulk are scattered piecemeal in the interior towns north of Providence/ Rehoboth, especially in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in the east central part of the state. At least one is in New Jersey and one in North Carolina. These small numbers are significant because only about thirty-six stones can be unquestionably attributed to George Allen Jr. in their entirety. The body of work grows to about fifty if collaborative stones are included. Borderline work and/or imitations form a halo around his coherent, central body of work, creating an even larger casting of the net.21 Fine tuning this documented corpus of work awaits further research on the whole upper Narragansett Basin carving network—and I emphasize network—in which Allen Jr. was enmeshed. This need for this research is becoming more urgent as these priceless treasures deteriorate with age, becoming illegible. In any case, the distribution question still remains. Fortunately, Forbes had found the probate payment (but not the stone) in Worcester County records to George Allen Jr., which helps in part confirm his presence there. This northern area of central Massachusetts has some local generic Boston-type, round-eyed skulls with a singular border design, possibly by James Wilder and Samuel Fisher or their imitators. Although these stones may appear to be Allen’s work, untangling the differences is beyond the scope of this study. The densest clustering of authentic George Allen Jr. stones (plus a few tentative ones) radiates out from Wrentham, Massachusetts, to the surrounding towns in this area southwest of Boston. The next density distribution is in the old towns forming an arc northeast of Worcester. Last is Providence, Rhode Island, with only six stones, all authentic. In the towns radiating out from Providence, where George Allen Sr.’s work is dominant, I have found no Allen Jr. stones at all. This distribution pattern leaves a gap between the Providence area and the Wrentham area, and a second gap between the Wrentham area and the Worcester arc. The large number

Profile for Chris Davis

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Markers XXVII  

Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies

Profile for cvdavis
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