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my ancestor, my neighbor: Benjamin Allen of Rehoboth

In the previous post I figured out that my ancestor, Benjamin Allen of Salisbury and Rehoboth, was actually my neighbor for ten years when I lived by the Newman Cemetery in Rehoboth (now Rumford, RI)β€”and his gravestone may be extant, though misidentified in the RI Cemetery Database. On a sunny day last month I was able to find and photograph it. The headstone is split and flaked, almost completely gone, and no legible inscription remains on it (just a fragment of verse from well below the information on Benjamin himself). But the footstone, deeply incised, does survive:

Below the name is (as is the style from the good stones from the 1720s surviving in this ground) simply the year of death. The footstone is now split, though, and only the first half of the year remains: “1 7″; the “2 3″ are now gone as well (it is the “1723″ which was misread as “1793″ in the transcription which is now in the RI Cemetery database, but the head and footstone are obviously of a style of the 1720s, not the end of the century). As with many of the stones in this section of the ground, the footstone has long ago been moved so it is up against the headstone. Here are the two stones in situ:

And here is a close-up of the front of the headstone, bearing the remaining visible fragment of verse inscription, and a tiny bit of what must have been a handsome floreate border flanking the inscription. This is seen on a couple of other stones in this yard which I had admired for years β€” never thinking my own ancestor may have had a similar stone nearby:

I am glad finally to meet my ancestor and my neighbor! I have not yet found the deeds by which he came to own land bordering the Runnins River at Nockum Hill in Barrington, but I am getting closer, now that we have access to the 17th-century Swansea Town Records on microfilm. But the answer to this may lie in Rehoboth town records – that is our next target.

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