496 pp., 8.25 x 10, 234 halftones, 2 maps, notes, bibl., index
Richard Hampton Jenrette Series in Architecture and the Decorative Arts
Gravestone Art and the Culture of Scotch Irish Settlers in the Pennsylvania and Carolina Backcountry
A thousand unique gravestones cluster around old Presbyterian churches in the piedmont of the two Carolinas and in central Pennsylvania. Most are the vulnerable legacy of three generations of the Bigham family, Scotch Irish stonecutters whose workshop near Charlotte created the earliest surviving art of British settlers in the region. In The True Image, Daniel Patterson documents the craftsmanship of this group and the current appearance of the stones. In two hundred of his photographs, he records these stones for future generations and compares their iconography and inscriptions with those of other early monuments in the United States, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.
Combining his reading of the stones with historical records, previous scholarship, and rich oral lore, Patterson throws new light on the complex culture and experience of the Scotch Irish in America. In so doing, he explores the bright and the dark sides of how they coped with challenges such as backwoods conditions, religious upheavals, war, political conflicts, slavery, and land speculation. He shows that headstones, resting quietly in old graveyards, can reveal fresh insights into the character and history of an influential immigrant group.
"Decades of intensive field work and digging into archives and little-used manuscripts have produced a book that not only examines the unique Bigham headstones made before and after the American Revolution, but a vanished pioneer culture."
--Charlotte News & Observer
"This book delves into the rich tradition of headstone-related iconography. . . . The symbology and inscriptions on these stone structures prove that they are as much works of art as they are portals back in time."
--Art & Antiques
"Describes with clarity a great tradition, sets it in historical context, and accomplishes an historical ethnography of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Patterson has done a tremendous job in bringing this fascinating story and these important works of art to light.”
--Henry Glassie, Indiana University
"Seamlessly weaves together a catalog of the tombstones with a social history of their makers. . . . Illuminates the ways these immigrants and their descendants drew on their cultural heritage as they adapted to life on a dynamic frontier."
--Richard MacMaster, co-director of the Center for Scotch-Irish Studies, University of Florida
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
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