The Brackett Family

In Section V, Lot 7 of Mount Hope Cemetery is an artistic plot where multiple members of the Brackett family now lie. As I was meandering around the cemetery, looking for interesting stones, a beautiful angel from this site caught my eye. Moving closer, I realized that she was part of an eleven person plot which included eleven individual stones and a family monument. These stones display nicknames and Biblical verses, while the family marker tea us full names along with birth and death dates. This monument also includes a number of religious passages, and verses as well as various religious symbols.

The family monument stands ~20' high, and is about 55 1/4" wide. Four columns, of about 44 1/2" stand on a 5' 8" base. Within these four columns we find a woman leaning on a cross which is draped in a shroud. This statue is about 401, high. At the base of the cross there lies a small wreath, and the top of the columns are adorned with lilies. From the columns, a four-sided Gothic steeple covering protects this statue, and atop this steeple one can find a beautiful cross. On the outside of this covering are several floral ornaments and atop of each of each side is a decoration that resembles a torch. On all four sides of this steeple there are four different verses along with the symbol for the Divine Trinity accompanied by additional symbols. On the inside of this "chapel" is a star over the woman's head. It is five pointed and this sometimes stands for the five wounds of Christ. The names and dates as well as relationships are engraved on each of the four sides of the base. The following shows each side;

Side 1

    James Brackett

Born January 24, 1818

Died March 7, 1904

    Mary Adams Wife of

        James Brackett

Born August 18, 1823

Died January 11, 1882

Verse along steeple -

    "At evening time it shall be night"

Symbol -

    Trinity symbol, Chi Rho symbol


Side 2

    A.J Brackett

Born February 14, 1815

Died January 22, 1862

    Sarah W. Wife of

        Andrew J. Brackett

Born June 18, 1818

Died July 13, 1870

Verse along steeple -

    "My flesh also shall rest in hope"

Symbol -

    Trinity symbol, Greek letters HIS for Jesus



Side 3

Children of A.J and S.W. Brackett

    Sarah Louise

Born March 28,1856

Died September 10, 1857

    Frances Augusta

Born July 28, 1841

Died March 23, 1858

    Henry Whitehouse

Born February 1, 1856

Died September 14, 1863

Verse along steeple -

    "In the world to come Eternal life"

Symbol -

    Trinity symbol, six-pointed star with cross


Side 4

    Ellen Louisa Brackett

         Wife of William Barkeley

Born October 28, 1841

Died January 29, 1869

    Charles Adams Brackett

Born August 31, 1843

Died May 1, 1865

Verse along steeple

    "They are not lost but gone before."


    Trinity symbol, Greek letters; Alpha and Omega



The woman leaning on the cross symbolizes repentance as well as faith in the Lord and is commonly thought to be Mary Magdalene. The shroud draped on the cross not only symbolizes mourning, but also the Passion of Christ. Lilies are a symbol of purity, heavenly bliss and immortality. The wreath is a symbol of eternity and celebration and stands for the Resurrection as well. The four columns are a symbol of steadfastness, power and honor. Columns also symbolize the connection between heaven and earth. The torches, if that is in fact what they are, stand for eternal life. The three connected circles symbolize the Divine Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. On the front side of the monument, there is the Chi-Rho symbol, which stands for Christ, as Chi and Rho are the first two Greek letters of "Christ." The symbol on the second side, IHS, is an abbreviation of Jesus's name in Greek, "Ihsus," 'Ihsoys," or "Ihcuc." The symbol on the third side is a six-pointed star enclosing a cross. This star may stand for the human soul for good against evil, for the natural and the supernatural, and could be a good luck symbol. It is thought that each point stands for the six days of creation as well. The Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, signify the beginning and the end; the creation and destruction of Christ. These letters are the symbol on the fourth side (Olderr).

The individual stones personalize the plot. On these stones we find nicknames and individual Biblical verses as well as a two non-Biblical passages. Each of the names are followed by a period, which signifies the end of life, but the verses suggest life after death. Through these writings we become familiar with the closeness of the families. Starting on the back side of the family marker, there is a row of six stones, belonging to the family of A.J. and Sarah Brackett. The first stone on the left belongs to A.J. and contains the Biblical verse,

"The dead in Christ shall rise first,"

taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The entire verse reads,

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first."

I interpreted this to mean that AJ. had lived a fife of service to God, and therefore lived on in Heaven. Another interpretation would be that A.J. believed that those who followed Christ would have eternal life, even if he necessarily did not lead the perfect religious life. A.J.'s obituary was found in the Democrat and Chronicle and reads, "On the 22nd, Andrew J. Brackett, aged 47 years. Funeral tomorrow at 10 1/2 o'clock, from Christ Church, East Avenue." Andrew died of heart disease.

The next stone belongs to A.J.'s wife, Sarah W., who died of consumption. The verse on her stone reads,

"So he giveth his beloved sleep,"

taken from Psalm 127:02. The full passage reads,

"It is vain for you to rise up early, sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep."

At first, I found this verse meaningless. I could not grasp its significance. After looking it up in the Bible, I read the whole verse, and still was unsure of the meaning. Finally I came to a few conclusions. The first is that it is a message to all of us, saying that it is silly to worry about the little things, that we should have faith and things will work out. The next idea I had was that since Sarah was not only left a widow, but with no children and dying of consumption as well, she probably spent the last of her years "eating the bread of sorrows," for she was all alone. Finally, He gave her sleep. Her obituary reads, "Of lingering consumption, Sarah W, Brackett, widow of the late A.J. Brackett. Funeral from Christ Church this Friday afternoon, at 2 1/2 o'clock P.M. Friends of the family are invited to attend." This obituary appeared in the July 15th issue.

The third stone reads, "Fanny." I found this to be very touching as it added a personal, family touch. She died at the young age of 16 of consumption. Her gravestone reads, "Them also which live in Jesus will ..with him." Because this passage was partly illegible, I did the best I could at finding where it exactly came from. John 14:19 reads,

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live."

Though this may not be the exact verse, I think it strongly corresponds to the verse from Fanny's stone. Fanny's obituary reads, "On the 23rd, Frances Augusta, eldest daughter of Andrew J. and Sarah W. Brackett, aged 16 years and 8 months. The funeral services will be at Christ Church Chapel, East Avenue, on Thursday, the 25th at 3 P.M. Friends of the family are invited to attend."

The fourth stone belongs to little Sarah Louise who died at the age of one year and five months from dysentery. Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestine that causes painful diarrhea and stools containing blood and mucus ( Some symptoms are a high fever and diarrhea. In the 1800's, many children died of this horrible disease. Her obituary states, "in Troy, this morning September 10, Loulie, youngest daughter of Andrew J. and Sarah W. Brackett, of this city." Her stone reads, "Loulie," which like that of her sister's, personalizes the little girl. Unfortunately the verse on Sarah's stone is illegible.

To the right of Louisa lies her brother Henry. Like his mother and older sister, Henry died of consumption. Henry's stone reads,

"He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life."

This passage is taken from John 3:16 and reads,

"For God so loved the world that Re gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Henry's obituary reads, "On the 14th, Henry Whitehouse, eldest son of Sarah W. and the late Andrew Brackett, in the 18th year of his life. Friends are invited to attend the funeral from Christ church, this wed. afternoon, at 3 o'clock." At first I did not notice the fact that his obituary and the record in the cemetery office report that he died at the age of eighteen, whereas the family marker reports that he died at the age of seven. The gravestone reads, "Born Feb. 1, 1856 Died Sept. 14, 1863. This birthdate indicates that he was born in the same year as his younger sister, Loulie. However, she was born on March 28th, so they could not have been twins. Because I was able to find his obituary, and his name in the books at the office, I can conclude that the date of death from the stone is correct. However, the birthdate would have to be in the year of 1845 for him to be 18 when he died. I therefore conclude that there is a mistake on his marker.

After this stone, there is a 3' space until the next stone which reads, "Sarah L.". Under this name we find, "aged 33 years." Although the name Sarah Louise appears on the family marker, we already know that Sarah to be the little girl, Loulie. The only information I could find on this woman was in the Mount Hope plot books which notes her name and age at death. Perhaps this second Sarah may be a relative, a friend or neighbor.

Moving on to the stones in front of the family marker, are the sites of A.J.'s younger brother, James Brackett, and his family His stone appears on the far left and reads "Father." Under this is the passage,

"Behold the upright. For the end of that man is peace."

This passage is taken from Psalm 37:37 which reads,

"Consider the blameless, observe the upright; there is a future for the man of peace."

His obituary reads, "In this city, on Monday, March 7, 1904, James Brackett, aged 86 years. Funeral services will be held at St. Luke's Church Thursday at 2:30 P.M. Burial will be private. Kindly omit flowers." Further, the Democrat and Chronicle published a long notice of his accomplishments entitled, "The Death of Colonel Brackett."

James Brackett became a resident of Rochester at the age of 20, and throughout his life he was very active in the Rochester community. While serving as mayor of Rochester for one term in 1864, he also held positions at the Rochester Savings Bank, which included director and later president. He was also a director of the Rochester City Hospital in 1862 and in 1870 he was made a vestryman at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. However, why he was named "Colonel" Brackett, was still unknown, and this intrigued me.

I continued my research in the Department of Rare Books of the University of Rochester, and found many other interesting things about Mr. James Brackett. As we see from above, Mr. Brackett was obviously a very active man in the Rochester community. He came to Rochester to establish the wholesale firm of Brackett, Averill, and Co. In 1850, he married Mazy, and in 1852 he joined and rose to lieutenant in the Rochester Cavalry. Among his many accomplishments, he was an alderman for the Whig party and later for the Democrats, he was director of the Rochester and Genesee Valley Railroad in 1865, President of the Pennsylvania Tubing and Transportation Company in 1865, director of the Lake Shore Railway in the early 70's, was a trustee and later the vice president in the Bank of Monroe, President of the Rochester Savings Bank in 1890, made a small fortune in the oil industry and also had shares in the salt mining business. In 1863 he traded investments for Lawrence Hotel in Rochester and renamed it the Brackett House which overlooked Central Station on Mill Street. Much to my dismay, I was unable to find a picture of this Brackett House. After all that, I found out that he was also a part of a group called the City Dragoons. It was because of this group that he was named "Colonel" in 1854. A picture of him as mayor serves as an attachment. Colonel Brackett died of the grippe, which is another term for influenza, a highly contagious respiratory infection.

His wife Mary A. Brackett lies by his side. She died of heart complications while residing on Fitzhugh Street. Her gravestone reads, "Mother.," and under this, is the verse,

"Asleep in Jesus.

Peaceful rest."

This is one of the two gravestones in this plot that does not contain a verse from the Bible. It does, however, imply belief in God and gives those who read it a sense of peace. Her obituary reads, "On the morning of the 11th Mary A. wife of James Brackett in the 58th year of her age. By her request the funeral will be private and no flowers."

The son of Mary and James lies in the next plot. Charles Adams died at the age of 31 due to brain fever. He was the first to die in his immediate family and was residing on Fitzhugh Street at the time of his death. His obituary reads, "In this city at 7 3/4 o'clock on the morning of May 1st, Charles Adams, only son of James and Mary A. Brackett, aged 31 years and 8 months. Funeral from St. Luke's Church, tomorrow (Wed) afternoon at 3 1/2 o'clock." His grave bears the following verse;

"Be ye also ready."

This verse is taken from Matthew 24:44, where the whole passage reads,

"So ye also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. "

This passage warns the viewer to be ready for the coming of the Lord, for no one knows when the Judgment day will come. Charlie's grave is the only one in this section that has anything on the back, and his reads, "Brackett."

Ellen Louise is the last of the immediate Brackett family who appears on the family marker. While all the other gravestones depict common types of headstones, Ellen's marker is a beautiful angel standing tall, wings outspread. The angel faces away from the family plot, as does the marker for her husband, who lies next to her. However, her parents and brother face towards the family marker. On the back of the base of the angel we see her nickname, "Nellie." I had never realized that "Nellie" was such a common nickname for those named "Ellen," but it is almost, after all, "Ellen" spelled backwards. Also on the back we find the passage,

"I go to prepare a place for you."

This passage is taken from John 14:02, which reads,

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. A nd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. "

This passage not only implies life after death, and therefore can be connected to Lifton's theories of immortality through religion, but since Ellen died before her husband, one may feel she is speaking directly to him Here she states that although she has left life on earth, she has gone to the Father's house, and there she waits for him so that they may be reunited. It is a very meaningful and beautiful passage and suggests the strong connection between Ellen and her husband, William. On the front of the base are the words, "Wife of Wm. Barkeley." At the time of her death, Ellen and William were residing in New Jersey, so I was unable to find her obituary in the local papers. She died of a fever.

The final grave in this plot is that of William Barkeley. His marker is the other that does not contain a Biblical verse. His marker is a column with a shroud draped over the top. As stated before, the broken column is the symbol of life cut off, and the shroud stands for mourning as well. as honor and steadfastness. William's marker contains two verses. The first one, located at the right side of the base is as follows;

"A light is from our household gone,

A voice we loved is still.

A place is vacant at our home

Which time can never fill."

The second verse on the stone mentions his role as a husband, son, and brother, but not father.

"A loving husband, a dutiful son, and affectionate brother.

With sorrow we commit him to the dust. "

This epitaph suggests that William had great influence on the members of his family, and his memory will live on. While I could not find his obituary, I came across a short article, "Two More Men Crushed to Death." "Passaic, New Jersey, December 4 - City Councilman George McLean, and William Barkeley, formerly a druggist in NYC, were found completely crushed in the ruins of Spear's building." This closely relates to the broken column which serves as his marker.

This plot exemplifies Lifton's theory of immortality in several instances. This theory discusses people's belief in life after death. According to this theory, there are five different ways that people feel they achieve everlasting life. Two of these are displayed in the verses on the stones in this plot. The first is the religious theory stating people five on through faith, released of the burdens of life on earth. "The dead in Christ shall rise first," is one example of religious immortality. This is inscribed on A.J.'s stone and is taken from the Bible in the book of I Thessalonians, 4:16. This shows the belief that life continues after death and can be achieved through faith in Christ,

The inscription on Fanny's stone, as well as the one on Henry's stone, also display this belief They both describe eternal life with Jesus. On Fanny's stone, we read, "Because I live, you also will live." Henry's stone reads, "He that believeth in the Son hath everlasting life." Here, it is obvious that there was a strong religious belief in eternal life. Therefore, this plot strongly supports Lifton's second theory of immortality, which is eternal life through faith.

The third way in which people feel eternal fife is achieved is creatively. This theory states that people believe it possible to live on through personal accomplishments and influence on other people. The verse on William Barkeley's stone reads, "A loving husband, a dutiful son, and affectionate brother. With sorrow we commit him to the dust." This shows that William had a strong influence on his family members and for this they will always remember him. Although he is physically gone, his memory lives on, and this is why this verse supports Lifton's third theory of immortality.

And there you have it; the story of the lives of the Brackett Family. I think that this plot is a good example of the meaning and symbolism of many aspects of fife and death that numerous families have. This group obviously had strong religious and family ties, and desired that this be known to everyone, even after their death. I think this plot is beautiful, and I had the most exciting time researching it.

Researcher: Nellie Coats
University of Rochester

Back to the Speaking Stones Main Site


Democrat and Chronicle. Microfiche. Rush Rhees Library. 1857,1858,1862,1863, 1865,1869,1870,1873,1882,1904.

Ellison, John. Nelson's Complete Concordance of the Revised Standard Version Bible, 1957.

Holy Bible. New International Version, Zondervan Corporation. 1984.

Keister, Douglas. American Cemetery "The Story in the Stone'. October 1999, pp 24-35

McKelvey, Blake. Rochester History.Volume 27-28. 1966.

Olderr, Steven. Symbolism A Comprehensive Dictionary. 1986