The inscription on Capt. Charles Sandgran’s headstone is now obliterated. But, a century ago, it was possible to read this terrible pronouncement: “the earth and the sea shall give up their dead.”
A large obelisk commemorating the life Capt. Robert Rae stands in the Gloria Dei churchyard. Rae was “lost at sea” somewhere along the River Nuñez in 1839.
Capt. Henry Sharp was “lost at sea” while on a voyage to Africa in 1836. What caused his demise? We may never know but many seamen of the time died from exposure to tropical diseases like malaria.
The words “lost at sea” are the most melancholy, and often the most mysterious, inscriptions on gravestones at Gloria Dei. In those cases, the stones are merely markers for a person who never came home and never saw their loved ones again.
The Rectorship of Mr. Simes holds a unique place in the record of the Gloria Dei Church’s ministry. During his long tenure, the congregation grew, developed and prospered. He was the spiritual guide of more than a generation of affectionate parishioners.
Sampson Harvey was born in Cornwall, England, on March 14, 1731. He was master of a number of merchant vessels in the 1760s and often sailed to the West Indies.
Members of the Stewart family, buried in the churchyard of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’ Church), had a long relationship with another important Philadelphia landmark—Carpenters’ Hall.
Caleb Cushing’s sea passages took him across the Atlantic as well as to the West Indies. His family traces its lineage in America back to Matthew Cushing, who had emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1638.
In 1865, Rhoda McCoy, almost 90 years old, was buried in the Gloria Dei Churchyard. Rhoda must have had a strong constitution — she died of “old age” rather than an ailment or disease.
Lavinia Sheed never married and died at age 65 from rheumatism. She is buried near her father and several of her siblings in the Gloria Dei Churchyard.
This stone commemorates Bernard Ulrick Dahlgren, although his body no longer rests here. His remains, with those of his wife Martha and their infant son Washington, now lie in West Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Descendants of Isaac V. Culin trace their lineage to Johan van Cöln, an early European settler who arrived on the Delaware around 1662. For most of his adult life, Issac made his living as a tailor, residing and working in the neighborhood of Southwark.
Henry Bennett, age 39, died of a heart attack on Jan. 5, 1847, while on his job at an ice cream parlor on Queen Street. Bennett was a mariner by trade.
Born Feb. 24, 1752, Sophia Fisler was a younger unmarried sister of Hannah Collin. She lived with her sister and husband as a housekeeper and appears in church records as early as 1793.
Born in 1837, Lizzie Martin was only 20 years old at her death. She had probably caught the eye of many a young man, but remained unmarried at her death and was still living at home with her parents.
The inscription on Catharine Cruses’s gravestone leaves a message for her “dearest man.” This message in stone might reflect the final words that Catharine would have liked to say to her husband if he had been with her at the end.
Best known as a portrait miniaturist and fruit still-life painter, James Peale (1749-1831) also made oil portraits, history paintings, and landscapes.
William Irvine (1741-1804) graduated from Dublin University, became a physician, and served as a surgeon in the British Navy before immigrating to Pennsylvania in 1763. He resumed practicing medicine and was a Delegate to Pennsylvania’s anti-Stamp Act conventions in 1764 and 1766. Irvine also took part in Pennsylvania’s conventions held to consider independence in 1774 and 1775.
Jacob Jackson, whose body rests near those of his wife Catharine and several of their children, was a U.S. Navy veteran of the War of 1812. He was an active supporter of Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) Church, elected as a member of the vestry in 1842.