The Stevens Family of Gravestone Carvers
Rhode Island did not have a resident gravestone carver until John Stevens
(1647-1736) moved his family from Boston and set up his shop in Newport,
RI in 1704. This commenced the longest business in continual operation
in the United States. Until John Stevens arrived most graves were marked
with wooden boards or unmarked fieldstones. The few graves that were marked
with professionally carved stones had to be ordered from and shipped from
gravestone carvers from Boston like William Mumford.
John Stevens I (Photo by John Sterling)
Picture number one is typical of the early work of John
Stevens I. It
is a skull motif done in a scratch type of carving in slate. The skull
is shaped like a baker's cap.
Picture number two is typical of the work of his two sons John Stevens
II (1702-1778) and William Stevens (1710-?). The cherub at the top is moon
faced and bald.
Picture number three is the work of John Stevens III (1753-1817), the
third generation of Stevens carvers and probably the most talented.
John II/William Stevens(Photo by John Sterling)
Gravestones made at the Stevens shop on Thames Street in Newport are found
throughout Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut.
Stones were shipped to many trading ports up and down the east coast including,
New London, CT, Elizabeth, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC, Savannah,
GA and even the Bahamas.
John Stevens III (Photo by John Sterling)
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