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321Oldest Tombstone Germantown, Phila.

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  • Eugene Glenn Stackhouse
    Jul 27, 2007
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      From "GERMANTOWN: Journal of the Site and Relict Society", October
      1, 1921
      In 1918, when the reorganization of the Board of Trustees of Hoods
      Cemetery Company was effected and the work of restoration commenced,
      efforts were made to find the gravestone of Joseph Coulston, said to
      be the oldest in Germantown. It was supposed to have been buried
      with a lot of broken and mutilated stones. Mr. Albanus Logan
      informed the committee having the matter in charge, that he
      understood it had been kept in the old toolhouse. Formerly there was
      a wooden toolhouse near the side gate, the predecessor of the
      present brick tool house. All efforts to find the stone failed,
      although all known places of buried stones were dug into and the
      old, wooden floor of the toolhouse removed and replaced by concrete.
      March 15, 1919, the committee published the names of thirty-eight
      lot holders in the Germantown Guide. This list was taken from the
      chart of 1876. It was there stated that the committee desired to
      meet any named in the list, or their descendants to arrange for the
      care of their lots, resetting of stones, removing rails and cutting
      off corner posts, etc.
      Among the names on the list was that of George Apple. Mrs. Robert
      Hales, a granddaughter, then living in Collingswood. N. J. saw the
      name of her grandfather on the list, and with her sister, Miss
      Elizabeth Myrtitus, called on the committee stating that they had
      difficulty in getting things done satisfactorily, and that the
      sexton changed the lock on the front gate nearly every year,
      necessitating the purchase of a new key, and that they had given up
      in disgust efforts to keep the lot in order. It is the purpose of
      the present ad-ministration of the Cemetery to keep the front gate
      unlocked, and the Cemetery accessible to lot holders and visitors,
      as long as this privilege is not abused.
      Mrs. Hales and her sister were advised to remove the rails, cut off
      the corner posts, and to lower the heavy headstones which were in
      three sections and very high, and had blown over against the railing
      which prevented them from falling to the ground and breaking.
      The ladies readily agreed to have the work done as suggested by the
      committee. When the workmen removed the foundations of the stones to
      carry out these suggestions, they found under one stone half of an
      old tombstone, and under another, the second half. The two halves
      cleaned and brought together contained the following inscription:
      "Here lyeth the body of Samuel, son of Joseph and Margaret Coulson,
      who died Oct. the 28, 1707, aged 9 weeks."
      This was a veritable find, as the long sought-for stone of Joseph
      Coulson was dated February 1707-8, and was supposed to be the oldest
      stone in Germantown. (The oldest stone in the Upper Burying Ground
      is to Cornelius Tison, 1716.) At the time of these burials England
      and her colonies reckoned their time from the first of March, the
      year beginning with March. Little Samuel died October, 1707, so
      Samuel died before his father, and in this find we have the oldest
      gravestone in Germantown.
      The two pieces of the stone were fastened together, a concrete have
      added, and it was then placed in its original position in the grave
      yard, an old resident having pointed out the place. It is near the
      front to the left of the main entrance.
      Efforts are being made to raise enough money at the annual Coulson
      reunion to purchase a new stone for Joseph Coulson, containing the
      original inscription, and also to endow the lot for perpetual care.