Memento mori...Nathaniel Brown Palmer, et al.

Episode: 47. Site Numbers: 251, 253 & 257. Date Posted: 21 June 1997. Location: Stonington, Connecticut, & Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Site Type: Graves.

Episode 12 dealt with two Stonington, Connecticut, sites associated with Capt Nathaniel Brown Palmer: his birthplace and his mansion, now the home of the Stonington Historical Society. This episode focuses on the final resting places of Palmer and two of his crew. The sloop Hero had a complement of five on its historic voyage in 1820-21: Palmer (master), Phineas Wilcox (mate) Richard Fanning Loper (second mate), Stanton L. Burdick and Peter Harvey. The graves of the last two are not known to me but might be found with some digging (not literally, of course). Harvey's would be particularly interesting to pursue; he may very well have been the first black man to venture to such a high southern latitude.

Palmer's Gravestone       Captain Nat is buried in the Palmer plot in the lovely Evergreen Cemetery situated less than a mile from his house. The reddish granite family marker reads: "Capt N. B. Palmer | Aug. 8 1799 - June 21 1877 | His Wife | Eliza T. Babcock | Feb. 13 1810 - Apr. 12, 1872 | Nathaniel B. Palmer 2nd. | Nov. 6 1840 - May 16 1877." On the verso appears inscriptions for Alexander S. Palmer and his wife, Priscilla D. Dixon, Alexander S. Palmer Jr. and Louis Lambert Palmer. (Nathaniel B. Palmer 2nd was Captain Nat's nephew.)(257) Wilcox's Gravestone

      A mile or so to the west in Quiambaug off US Route 1 is the less picturesque Miner Burying Ground, the final resting spot of Phineas Wilcox. His marker, alas, lies forlornly on the ground, pushed or fallen over. It reads: "Phineas Wilcox | Died at sea | Sept. 14, 1839. | Aged 43 years. | Mercy, | widow of | Phineas Wilcox. | Died Dec. 11, 1857. | Aged 63 years."(253)

      Our third final resting spot is many miles south in Philadelphia. Richard Fanning Loper (born in Stonington in 1799) died in Brooklyn, NY on the 7th of November 1880. He was buried, however, in a family vault at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Third Street below Walnut. Today, the church--deconsecrated and renovated--is the office building for the Episcopal Community Service. The flat marker in the foreground is Loper's. (251) [See also Episode 52.]
     My thanks to Mary M. Thacher of Stonington for many of these details.

Loper's Gravestone

UPDATE: Mary Thacher e-mailed on January 20, 2006 to say: "My curiosity was piqued by your remark in the 'where are they now?' about the fate of Stanton Burdick, crew member at 16 on the famous trip of the Hero, N.B. Palmer master. He was not in the usual Stonington databases, but I found a Stanton S. Burdick in The Stonington Baptist Records, who was given a letter of recommendation from that church in Stonington Borough and recommended as someone qualified to be licensed to teach the Gospel dated 28 March 1826. The following year, on 25 July 1827, he is recommended to the 'Baptist Church of Christ in South Carolina.' On page 400 of The Descendants of Robert Burdick, he is the son of Oliver Burdick and Olive Brown, born in Westerly 4 January 1804, he died in New Orleans LA on 6 September 1852. In 1828 he married Sophronia M. Fort of Sumpterville SC, his children were born in Spartansburg SC, 3 daughters and one son. After his marriage he chose to be known as Burnett, believing that Burdick was a corruption of that name. In 1846 he went to Lafayette Parish, New Orleans, where he was a member of the city council before Lafayette was incorporated into New Orleans. He was a Baptist minister, and the author of a hymn book The Baptist Harmony, published in Philadelphia in 1834. He was a 'distinguished member of the Sons of Temperance, Odd Fellows, and Masonic Orders, which were well represented at his funeral.' He died at his home on Eighth Street between Camp and Chestnut Streets, Fourth district (late Lafayette). Nothing is said about where he was buried, but it is surely to be found in the New Orleans Picayune Bee. Neither is there a mention that he was part of the crew of the Hero. However his father bought property on Main Street in 1815, he would have been 16 in 1820, and seems a good candidate."
--Thanks to Mary Thacher
(23 January 2006)