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Abstract

Stonecutting in Adams county followed all the general developmental trends and stages exhibited by the craft in other parts of Pennsylvania. Adams county, nonetheless, evolved its unique approach to gravestone art, for rural early American stonecutters were by and large highly unique artistic individuals.

The earliest prominent stonecutters maintained high artistic standards as well as exhibiting a high degree of creativity. These were craftsmen of the Scots-Irish Bigham family of Marsh Creek and the Pennsylvania-German Meals family, centered at Bender's Cemetery, Butler township. A third outstanding Adams county stonecutter was the predecessor of Barnet Hildebrand of East Berlin. This artist carved both in German script and in English and possessed a fine flowing style with an unusual German eye for proportion and spacing. In 1805, most Adams county residents were still being buried with rough red fieldstone to mark head and foot. Yet by 1805, members of these three prominent stonecutting groups had established a standard for Adams county stone-craving excellence. Their influence continued to shape the character of the county's gravestones until granite became the medium of choice. [excerpt]

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