Wednesday’s Child: Wisconsin Baby in a Shell

The first “baby in a shell” headstone I had ever seen was in a large garden cemetery known for a somewhat elite clientele.

In October, I encountered another example of this artistic style of carved stone in a small cemetery in rural Wisconsin.


The epitaph reads “here lies at rest Emely Skoba born 3 august 1893 died 29 december 1894”. Emely rests in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Mauston Wisconsin.

According to Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, this type of headstone “appeared in cemeteries from the east coast to the west during a fifty-year period from the 1870s to World War I.”

The article goes on to mention, “By 1908 Sears, Roebuck and Company had a contract with a Vermont marble producer to sell it [shell headstone] by mail order.”

Where have you seen shell-shaped monuments? What do you think about this type of headstone?

Emely’s headstone was one of 68 I photographed for Find A Grave in St Patrick’s Cemetery on October 11th. As I drafted this post there were 883 memorials; only 51% of those memorials’ headstones have been photographed.

Please consider taking pictures in your local cemetery. It’s so important that we document this part of our local and/or family history.

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