The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visiting with the Alsops, your humble narrator finds fancy in the notion that he is sitting in a place which is theoretically unique upon this earth.

A Protestant graveyard which dates back to the days of the Dutch colonial decadence, The Alsop plot is entirely enveloped by the coils of First Calvary Cemetery, which is a Catholic institution. Modern minds forgot the fires of the Reformation, wherein our modern world of the west was forged, but such mingling of creeds still draws ire and derision from the faithful.

While in Calvary, and when the light is right, one makes an effort to photograph these centuried stone markers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lost in my pursuits, sudden realization that I wasn’t alone washed over. One of the famed Groundling Burrowers appeared. The Lagomorphs are famed as messengers between the underworld and our own, and often have I consulted with this oracular population that exists within Laurel Hill. No question burned in my mind, as before, and I wondered what it had come to tell me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Stoic, the beast gave no indication.

It fixed me with an unblinking glassy stare. A blossom of terror unfolded in me, becoming a yawning maelstrom of chaos- of the sort described by Poe himself- which threatened to consume my very mind and plunge me into that dark blessing which is the ignorance engendered by madness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Monstrous silence crushed down upon me, and this thing which had grown haughty and mature in some subterranean pocket of the cemetery continued to glare. The hidden paths known only to its kind, leading to unguessable sorts of ghoulish destinations and nitre choked cathedrals of sorrow below ground, carry these Groundling Burrowers into contact with that which cannot possibly exist down there and broad is their experience.

The beast twitched its ear to the east, and then I drossly noticed what it wanted me to see.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A stone monument, buried except for a small patch of its face. Had the Burrowers purposefully excavated a section, hoping it would be noticed by Grounds Staff or idle passerby?

The creature bounded off, disappearing into a thicket of grass following the fence which cordons off the Alsop ground from the larger cemetery surrounding it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The visible section of the exposed monument says Richard Alsop, aged 1 month.

The Alsops engaged in an annoying multigenerational habit- the naming all of their male children Richard or Thomas- which confuses me. According to the Alsop genealogy folks a Richard Alsop aged 1 month died and was buried here in an interval between seven year old Hannah and a four year old also named Richard- that would correspond to a period sometime between 1772 and 1777.

Thanks Mr. Rabbit, you Groundling Burrower you.


Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show presented by the Obscura Society NYC is back on at Observatory. 

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.


7 Responses

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  1. “Among the graves…in the gloom and gleam,
    Content to dwell where the dead men dream”
    Frank Lebby Stanton


    January 25, 2013 at 12:26 am

  2. Thank you! enjoyed this post very much, as I do most all of your writing.

    one nit – pick
    “ignorance” induced by or from mental illness is one case where “ignorance is bliss” does not hold.
    The romantic style notion that madness would supply relief, to which I think you hinted (correct me if I’m wrong), – is just from folks who do not know better.

    I look forward to your mystery walk.
    I’m glad you have apparently never walked the way of madness to which there is no return.

    Marg Uerite

    January 25, 2013 at 10:16 am

  3. Mitch, the opening photo shows Hannah Alsop’s marker with weathered sunken lettering. The Richard Alsop remnant seems to be of a cleaner, more recent vintage with raised lettering. What’s going on?


    January 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

    • I shoot em as I find em. Can’t tell ya. The buried stone is in great shape, at least the visible section is, and not a hint of orange patina.

      Mitch Waxman

      January 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm

  4. […] be one of the least walked stretches of pavement in the entire metropolitan zone. It’s where the Alsops, Brutnells, and Wandells chose to locate their farming operations in the Colonial era and just up the hill from where a few […]

  5. My mother’s side of the family is buried right beside the ivy covered wall—which also cordons off the Alsop Cemetery—in order to have a prime location (Alsops would agree) with a nice, beautiful (since cut down) tree nearby providing shade. Thanks for the article, Father Joseph Musco

    Father Joseph Musco

    August 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm

  6. Thank you for these photos! 🙂

    Daphne Maddox

    May 15, 2015 at 9:28 pm

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