Artifact in Nineteenth- Century America


Artifactin Nineteenth- Century America

Artifactin Nineteenth- Century America

TheTerrill Cemetery is an archaeological site which dates in thenineteenth century, and where various artifacts and archival records,for example, garment and other personal items. This family cemeteryis found on a ridge top in Richmond in Madison County in Kentucky.Eighteen buried bodies were excavated by archaeologists who came fromthe Kentucky Archaeological Survey in the preparation for theincrease of Richmond industrial park. The associated hardware andcoffin or caskets showed that the Terrill Cemetery was used as earlyas 1804 or 1805. The research done showed that the skeletal remainswere not preserved well, and observation was made that the Terrillfamily’s took part in the nineteenth-century movement“Beautification of Death.” The artifacts found in this cemeteryshowed that these people mostly died back in 1830 and 1876, andaccording to the research eight members of the family were adult andten were children.

Theanalysis carried out on the artifacts found in the Terrill Cemeterycontributed to the understanding of early to the late nineteenthcentury rural cemeteries and mortuary patterns. Some of the artifactsdiscovered in the Terrill Cemetery are coffin hardware, personalartifacts and non-mortuary related artifacts.


Inthe early nineteenth century, the practice of burial within anenclosed container became the preferred method. There was a shiftfrom wooden boxes to a more aesthetically crafted device in themiddle of the nineteenth century. The design and the price of thecoffin / casket varied throughout the eighteenth century and into thenineteenth century depending on the social status and wealth. Williamone of the members of Terrill family, was buried in a more elaboratecoffin with a glass plate and six metal handles fashioned thatresembled a metal. This expensive coffin design showed that Terrillfamily was from a high standard status. When dealing with funeralassemblage, the term coffin and caskets are mostly confused. Coffinrefers to a six sided burial box while casket refers to a four sidedburial box with parallel sides. According to Habenstein and Lamer(1995), in the 19thcentury the hexagonal coffins were common in the United States andwere replaced by the four sided caskets.

Severalexception have been noted by Davidson that the shape for burial boxwasn’t reliable end post qualm. The confusion was added by theresearch done that coffins can have six sides or four sided. In theTerrill cemetery, seventeen individuals were buried in four-sided orsix-sided wooden burial coffin while the remaining one individual wasburied in a metallic burial coffin. The metallic burial coffinartifact and four and six-sided coffin artifact are analyzed below

MetallicBurial Coffin Artifact

Metallicburial coffin were made and used between the mid to the latenineteenth century, and stayed popular in the early twentiethcentury. Almond Fisk was given his first patent for his metallicburial coffin in 1884. He came up with two other designs in1854.First two model designs were that of a sarcophagus which wasdecorated with ornaments and floral patterns. He was granted a thirdpatent in 1854, and the coffin was shaped like a torpedo, with thegaudy ornamentation that used to be there removed. John Terrill, whowas a family member of Terrill family, was buried in a metal coffinwhich has the same design as Fisk’s model. The only difference wasthat the coffin had a small name plate over the chest, and it washighly decorated. The coffin that Terrill used does not appear in theCrane, Breed, and company catalogs that were produced for inspection.

Inthe Terrill Cemetery, metal handles were recovered, and the handledated from the mid – to late nineteenth century, and the conclusionwas based on material and the style that the handles of the coffinwere made of. In 1865, study shows that to produce a mass of coffinhardware white metal was used. Accompanying the handle was a glassviewing plate that suggested that the Terrill family came from a highlevel of social and economic status.

Inconclusion, artifacts associated with death, for example, gravediggers and coffins makers, became elaborated by incorporatingChristian sign of beauty and peace. During this period, coffins werenot only seen as the preservation for the dead but also a way ofpresenting the dead. The beautification of the death movement is wellillustrated by the viewing glass plate found with the William Towel’scoffin and the weeping willow that symbolized Zereldas’s headstone.

Inaddition to the changes observed in coffin design and relatedhardware, Terrill Cemetery reflected the nineteenth-centurytransformation from a simpler to more elaborate burial practices. Thebeautification of the death is a practice that was associated with anincrease in expenses that were carried out in the death ritual. Theresearch done on the Terrill Cemetery has added more information tothe increasing body of data on the nineteenth-century mortuaryresearch in Kentucky region.


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KENTUCKYDEATHS. (NEWS)(Obituary). (2001, June 18). TheCincinnati Post,p. 24.

Klaiber,T. L. (20042006). BoydCounty, Kentucky monographs(special ed.). Rush, Kentucky: Family Lineage Investigations.

TerrillCemetery (Philadelphia, Marion County, Missouri).(1982). Salt Lake City, Utah: Filmed by the Genealogical Society ofUtah.