Franklin’s Grave Site, Over Time

I see why I didn’t notice the plaque about Francis till yesterday – it wasn’t there till recently.

I would appreciate actual facts, but here are photos of the gravesite at various times. Clicking and opening each image will display it full-sized.

I consider Find A Grave photos more reliable than others, and photos I took personally, or find in published form more reliable.

Image from Find A Grave, added 8/10/2001.

No perimiter markers above the main headstone.

Virtual Tourist: Benjamin Franklin Grave
Image from Virtual Tourist: I think this is from the entry by smschley written Feb 3, 2005.

Certainly no marble perimeter. Two plaques above the main headstone in the bricks.

The marble perimeter now clearly visible, with Emma Mary Bache visible in the picture.
Image from Find A Grave, added 8/18/2008.

Looking at the full image, the plaques in the brick seem to be gone.

I do not see the carving for John Read and Francis. Perhaps the perimiter was worked in over time.

2012?: Image dated 9/23/2012,
Virtual Tourist.
Image from Find A Grave, added 5/22/2013.

This is the marble perimiter above the main headstone, with Francis F.F. and John Read clearly visible. The number of days is questionable: see the separate post.

* Find A Grave

* Find A Grave

Francis Folger Franklin’s Grave Marker

I noticed something yesterday at Christ Church Burial Ground that I had overlooked before. The epitaph for Francis Folger Franklin reads

“FRANCIS F. Son of
Benjamin and Deborah Franklin
Deceased Novr 21st 1736
Aged 4 years 1 month, and 4 days
The delight of all that knew him”

Here is a photograph, from yesterday:

Francis Folger Franklin's Current Epitaph
Francis Folger Franklin’s Grave Marker

This conflicted with my recollection in the number of days (I recalled “1 day” rather than “4 days”) and the birth date implied (I thought it was October 20th, not the 17th). I checked this morning and found the following:

* James Parton, Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (writing in 1861, published Boston 1882, vol. 1): the original tombstone described as reading:

Son of Benjamin and Deborah
Deceased, Nov. 21, 1736,
Aged 4 years, 1 month, and 1 day,
The delight of all that knew him.”

Parton describes the tomb being repaired a few years before 1861 (when the aperture in the wall was made), and Francis’ stone being set up more properly. This was still, of course, the original upright stone.

* Carl Van Doren, Franklin (1938): Francis was born [page 106] October 20, 1732, and [page 126] died 21 November 1736.

* in the Papers of Benjamin Franklin Franklin, volume II (Yale, 1960), p. 154, n.2:
describes Francis as born October 20, 1732 [and] died November 21, 1736. The the genealogy in vol I has the same dates (page lxiii).

So my questions at this point are

1) When was this flat stone put into place? My current understanding is that the grave site was stabilized in preparation for the Bicentennial in 1976.

2) Do we know what happened to the original upright stone? Several years ago, I discussed this with the current historian at Christ Church, who did not know, but had the nice theory that it was done when the grave site was stabilized, and maybe the Francis stone was “folded into the grave.”

3) If the “4 days” specification was a change on purpose, on what evidence?

4) If the “4 days” specification was not on purpose, has this been pointed out or discussed before?

I’ve sent these to the current historian of Christ Church of Philadelphia, and will update this posting as more information arrives.

Virtual Tourist: Benjamin Franklin Grave

Virtual Tourist photo

Image from Virutal Tourist, May 2013
I think this is from the entry by smschley writted Feb 3, 2005

Image from Find A Grave, added 5/22/2013.

Image dated 9/23/2013

Comments are welcome by email to

Mileposts in Bethlehem

A nice report on the Mileposts near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is online at

Here is an excerpt:

I was reminded of all this today when we went on a hunt in Woodbury and Bethlehem for Benjamin Franklin milestones. My wife is working on a research project regarding these mile markers, which were first set up when Franklin was postmaster general for the colonies.

There’s no evidence that Franklin himself actually set the milestones; apparently he developed the system and it was the local selectmen’s responsibility to mark and protect them, as they do with infrastructure today.

The Woodbury Public Library has a copy of a Bicentennial report that Hope Huntington Wilson and Charlotte H. Isham prepared in 1976 for the Old Woodbury Historical Society detailing each of the eight milestones they could find. It’s a little like reading my creative writing assignment. You can follow the directions, but the landmarks may not be quite the same.

Even the milestones themselves have sometimes been moved or altered over the years. All are on the west side of what once was the main road to Litchfield, the county seat. Today we know the route as Route 6 in Woodbury, Flanders Road between Woodbury and Bethlehem, and Main Street in Bethlehem.

The 1976 report says that “the newly formed real estate agency, Adams and Adams, alerted by Bethlehem historians, has rescued a stone and set it near their driveway.” Don’t look for Adams and Adams there today. The milestone, though, is where it always was, just north of the Painted Pony in Bethlehem. It marks eight miles from Litchfield.

The nine-mile stone is, according to the report, “in a safe position, a few feet south of Roden’s driveway.” Today, Bethlehem’s assessor lists five Roden properties, although only one is on Flanders Road, at 166. We found a stone near there, marked L X M — Latin for 10 miles to Litchfield — even though the 1976 report said that was the home of LIXM, and that they couldn’t find milestone 10.

Milestone 11 is, according to the report, “just below the driveway to Bethwood,” which is now marked as a road. We found it there.

We were not able to find marker 12, which in 1976 was “just south of the mail box on the Jason Parker property,” or 13, which was missing even then.

Milestone 14 is easy to find, in front of North Congregational Church. So is 15, “on the Bicentennial Common (almost opposite the Soldier’s Monument).” So, too, is 16, “by the Milestone Motel, opposite the A&W in Middle Quarter.” The eponymous motel is now the renovated Milestone Inn. Don’t go looking for the A&W, though; it has been gone for years.

That leaves the easiest: L XVII M, milestone 17, “in the wall near the Woodbury-Southbury Town Line (at Merryvale).” It’s still there; Merryvale isn’t. Today the sign on the ancient inn says Longwood.

I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear of the Benjamin Franklin milestones. Someone out there knows where they all are (or should be) and who has been caring for them over the years. Someone will share some anecdotes.

Meanwhile, though, it was fun to see how landmarks change with the times and even the milestones we think are immovable really aren’t.

Howard Fielding ( lives in Southbury.
From the Republican-American