Haight-Hinman Family Memorial

Rhys Glennon ’22 (Winter 2021)

This object is a memorial, commemorating five members of the Hinman family who lived in New Haven, Vermont through the middle of the 19th century.

Photo of a page containing text, images, and pieces of hair.
Haight-Hinman Family Memorial, circa 1855. Henry Sheldon Museum, 1985.306.

Labeled as “Our Grandmother” in the memorial, Catharine Haight was born Keturah Baker in 1738. She married William Robblee of Lanesborough, MA. around 1755 and had at least 12 children, before many of them eventually moved north to New Haven, Vermont; after Robblee’s death, Catharine remarried, wedding Stephen Haight around the turn of the 19th century.

An image of the gravestone of Catharine Haight.
“Catharine Widow of Stephen Haight, Died Dec. 5, 1835 A.E. 97 yrs.& 5 days.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT. FindAGrave link
An image of the reverse of the gravestone of Catharine Haight
“The deceased in early life married William Rublee of Lanesborough Mass. by whom she had 12 children. She lived to see the fifth generation and at her death had left more than 300 descendants.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT.

Catharine’s youngest daughter, Sarah Rublee, married John Hinman in 1799, and had seven children, including John Hinman Jr. and Erastus Hinman. Erastus married Caroline Newkirk in 1851. 

“John Hinman, Died July 26, 1850, Aged 77 Years.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT. FindAGrave link.
An image of the gravestone of Sarah Hinman
“Sarah Hinman, Wife of John Hinman, Died July 3, 1845, AE. 68.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT. FindAGrave link.
“John Hinman, Born May 26, 1800. Died Mar. 21, 1855.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT. FindAGrave link.
“Caroline, Wife of E.S. Hinman, Born June 14, 1812. Died Mar. 22, 1854.” Evergreen Cemetery, New Haven, VT. FindAGrave link.

All five individuals represented in this memorial—Catharine Haight, John Hinman, Sarah Hinman, John Hinman Jr, and Caroline Hinman—died within 20 years of one another, from 1835 to 1855. The memorial consists of five squares of paper, on which are written the name of the deceased, their date and age of death, and a small illustrated card onto which has been tied a lock of the person’s hair. This could imply that this memorial was created gradually, with the hair and cards being compiled when each individual died, to be collected in this memorial at a later time. It seems likely that this might have once been part of a larger album or scrapbook, from which it has been separated and framed.

Unlike the complex techniques of hairwork apparent in other works, here the loved one’s hair is merely looped several times and tied to the backing card with string or ribbon. This choice prominently displays the hair in its natural state without requiring the skill or time of gimpwork or tablework. Of note also is the length of the hair attributed to John Hinman and John Hinman Jr—nearly a foot long, unusual for men of the time. 

Hair attributed to Caroline Newkirk Hinman. Note fading on right side where hair has been lost.
Hair attributed to John Hinman—unusually long for the time.

The five white cards are what is known as calling cards or visiting cards. Mass-produced in the 19th century, these cards would be used as a reminder of social visits paid to another’s house and would usually be signed or personalized in some way. Unlike many extant calling cards, the cards in this piece show no signs of being written on, indicating that they may have been purchased for this memorial, or else purchased but never used for their original intent. The slogans adorning the cards do not refer specifically to grief or mourning but more generally to remembrance and friendship, perhaps indicating an optimistic turn in the outlook of this particular memorial. 

Haight-Hinman Family Memorial, Detail, “Time is on the wing.”
Engraved calling card, “Time is on the wing,” circa. 1840. Note traces of a signature below. Source.

No information could be found regarding the engraved image in the top left of the piece—it seems to depict three individuals grieving before two graves, while two angels, perhaps their parents, ascend above them.

Along with the images and strands of hair, the memorial also contains five small clippings of verses, from poems or hymns. One is the final stanza from Psalm 15 as adapted by the English hymnist Isaac Watts. Two are verses from the same hymn, an obscure text titled “A Brother is Dead” in most appearances. One is the final stanza from an 1845 poem by Anna Cora Mowatt, “Oh Wear For Me No Sable Hue.” The only extant record of the last piece is from “The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal” of 1847, which states “The following lines, written for the occasion, were sung at the funeral” of four sailors who died in a storm off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. 

An image of an unknown engraving depicting two angels.
Haight-Hinman Family Memorial, Detail, engraving of two angels, and verse 4 of Psalm 15 by Isaac Watts.
Who Shall Ascend Thy Heavenly Place,” text by Isaac Watts, tune of “Rockingham” by Lowell Mason, sung by Rhys Glennon.

Verse 5 of “Hark, what is that note so mournful and slow,” also known as “A Brother is Dead.”
Verse 2 of “Hark, what is that note so mournful and slow,” also known as “A Brother is Dead.”
Hark, what is that note so mournful and slow,” author unknown, tune of “Wareham” by William Knapp, sung by Rhys Glennon.
Stanza 6 of “Oh, Wear For Me No Sable Hue” by Anna Cora Mowatt, published in Columbian Magazine, 1845. Note the pasted “she” over a presumed “he.”
“Oh, Wear For Me No Sable Hue” by Anna Cora Mowatt,” read by Kelly S. Taylor for LibriVox.org
Verse 5 of “Rest, strangers, rest! though far away,” attribution unknown.
“Rest, strangers, rest,” author unknown, tune of “Dundee” by Thomas Ravenscroft, sung by Rhys Glennon.

Though it is possible that these verses were clipped from the periodicals or hymnals described above, it is also likely that some or all of these stanzas would have been commonly used and reprinted as epitaphs without attribution. Of particular interest is the final line of “Oh, Wear For Me No Sable Hue,” which originally appeared in Columbian Magazine with “she” pronouns in the final line. This poem seems to have been often plagiarized or misattributed, with the pronouns frequently changed to “he” to suit the deceased. It appears that in the Hinman family memorial, the pronouns were originally “he,” but “she” has been carefully pasted over in all three instances. This clipping currently appears between the names of John Hinman and John Hinman Jr, but the deliberate and careful change in pronouns may imply that the poem was originally located closer to Sarah or Caroline Hinman, and was later dislodged or relocated on the work.

Given the inscription of “Our Grandmother” above Catharine Haight, as well as the use of the hymn text “A Brother is Dead” to refer to John Hinman Jr, it is likely that this memorial was created by three of the four surviving Hinman siblings: Ardelia Hinman Cook, Erasmus “Eli” Hinman, and Laura Catharine Hinman. According to the 1850 census, these three siblings (and their brother John) lived under the same roof in New Haven, Vermont, suggesting a close-knit family whose proximity in life echoed the lasting closeness evoked by this memorial collage.

Detail of United States Census, 1850, New Haven, Vermont. “Eli S. Hinman,” listed as head of household that also includes “Adelia,” “Laura C.,” and “John.” Eli and John’s professions are both listed as “Farmer,” and the value of their property is given as $2,000.

– Rhys Glennon, Class of 2022

Detail, hairwork and charm in form of a book
Detail, Hairwork chain with charm in the form of a book, n.d. Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History, Middlebury, VT. Gift of Mrs. Frances A. Waite, 1968, 68.20.b.

Cite this essay: Rhys Glennon, “Haight-Hinman Family Memorial” in Perspectives on Hairwork, ed. Ellery Foutch (Winter 2021): https://elleryfoutch.middcreate.net/hairwork/haight-hinman-family-memorial/ [date accessed]

Works Cited:

“Caroline Newkirk Hinman (1812-1854).” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/130699973/caroline-hinman.

H, Christine. “Time Is on the Wing – Birds in Advertising – Part 2.” The Daily Postcard, 5 Nov. 2012, http://postcardparadise.blogspot.com/2012/11/time-is-on-wing-birds-in-advertising.html.

“Hark, What Is That Note So Mournful and Slow.” Hymnary.Org, https://hymnary.org/text/hark_what_is_that_note_so_mournful_and_s.

“John Hinman (1773-1850).” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/116841292/john-hinman.

“John Hinman (1800-1855).” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/130697897/john-hinman.

“Keturah ‘Catharine’ Baker Rublee Haight.” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/94800006/keturah-haight.

Mowatt, Anna Cora. “Oh, Wear For Me No Sable Hue.” The Columbian Magazine, vol. III, July 1845, p. 10.

Raison, L. W. Light of the Soul, Broadway Publishing Company, 1913, p. 87.

“The Sailor’s Last Prayer.” The Sailor’s Magazine and Naval Journal, vol. XIX, Aug. 1847, pp. 167–68.

“Sarah Rublee Hinman (1777-1845).” Find A Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/116841518/sarah-hinman.

“Short Poetry Collection 201.” LibriVox, https://librivox.org/short-poetry-collection-201-by-various/.

“Tune: DUNDEE (Ravenscroft).” Hymnary.Org, https://hymnary.org/tune/dundee_ravenscroft.

“Tune: ROCKINGHAM (Mason).” Hymnary.Org, https://hymnary.org/tune/rockingham_mason.

“Tune: WAREHAM (Knapp).” Hymnary.Org, https://hymnary.org/tune/wareham_knapp.

United States Census, 1850; New Haven, VT. 1850, https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DZ8Q-XQP?i=31&cc=1401638&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AMC2W-XDX.

“Who Shall Ascend Thy Heavenly Place.” Hymnary.Org, https://hymnary.org/text/who_shall_ascend_thy_heavenly_place.