Ebenezer Tinney’s Curious Tombstone Inscription

What’s carved in stone is baffling: “Virtue lies beyond the grave, My glass is rum.” Was it a stonecutter’s error, or was the Tinney tombstone toasting spirits to make light of a grave matter?

By JAMES PYLANT
© 2016 | Posted 18 February 2016

The 200-year-old grave marker in Middletown Cemetery in Grafton, Vermont, has stood the test of time with an elegantly carved inscription that’s still legible. It states:

In Memory
of Mr Ebenezer Tinn-
ey who Died March
12. 1813 aged 81 years
Virtue lies beyond the grave
My glass is rum

But it’s that last line that is baffling. Was Mr. Tinney making a toast with his favorite spirits beyond the grave? In Tombstones of Your Ancestors,* Louis S. Schafer called it an error on part of the stone cutter, explaining that the inscription was meant to read, “My Glass is Run.” That was a common expression said by our ancestors when they measured time by using an hourglass. “Hence, symbolically speaking, a person’s life ended when the sands of time had run their course,” wrote Schafer.

Photo: Courtesy of James Bianco

Ebenezer Tinney's tombstone in Grafton, Vermont (Courtesy of James Bianco)

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