Matthew Fountain and his wife, Elizabeth Hoyt Fountain, were not among the earliest settlers of Bedford, but they moved here from nearby Connecticut sometime after their marriage in 1752. The Fountain house and farm still exist today on Succabone Rd in Bedford.
Records indicate that Matthew Fountain had nine children; the older of these children were from a previous marriage. Divided loyalties within families was a common struggle for many early Bedford families. Fountain’s son Stephen was arrested for aiding the enemy. Tried, found guilty, and imprisoned, he escaped and joined the British forces. In December 1780 Matthew was forced to pay a tax for his son’s service –about 3% of his estate. Fountain’s four oldest children (Aaron, Stephen, John & Elizabeth Fountain) must have all been Loyalists as they ended up in Nova Scotia after the Revolutionary War. Matthew Fountain and his younger sons, fought for the Patriot cause. Samuel, James, Ezra, and Matthew are all listed in the Bedford Historical Records as Soldiers of the Revolution.
In 1798, the Baptist Society was formed, and the First Particular Baptist Church of Bedford was built on the green that is now marked by the Bedford Cross. The first minister of the Church was none other than Ezra Fountain (b.1763 d.1840), who served in that post from 1802 to 1837. Reverend Ezra Fountain’s grave is located in Buxton Cemetery on Bedford Center Road. On his headstone is the inscription:
A dying preacher I have been
To dying sinners such as you;
A dying preacher I remain,
To all who come my grave to view.
Rev. Ezra Fountain (1763 – 1840)
This headstone is broken and in dire need of conservation. The iron straps are evidence of an early repair. There is no marker at Ezra’s grave as to his Revolutionary War Service; he served in the year 1790, documented in Town Of Bedford Historical Records.
Next to Rev. Fountain’s headstone is that of his wife, Jerusha (b. 1767 d. 1848) who lived to the age of 81. This headstone has survived the ravages of time well. Her stone is inscribed, “Consort to the Reverend Fountain”.
In the early to middle nineteenth century, it was not uncommon to refer to the wife of a clergyman as a “Consort”. The word did not have the same connotation of today; in fact, it was considered quite proper.
Ezra and Jerusha’s son, Hosea Fountain (b. 1796 – d.1814), died at the age of 18 and is buried next to his parents. On his headstone is inscribed a beautiful but sorrowful poem:
Ah death couldst thou not spare his youthful bloom
But summon him so early to the tomb
The lovely youth, his parents hope is gone
The beauteous flower is nip’t before its blown
Tears trickle down his tender parents cheeks
Their inward sighs and agonies bespeak
Weeping brothers and sisters feel the pain
A loss that they can ne’er regain
Next to Hosea lies the grave of his sister, Matilda (born c. 1798), who at a young age married a man named Daniel Woolsey. Matilda & Daniel had a son in June of 1819 whom they named Aaron. A second son was born in December of 1820, and he was named Cardinal (in tribute to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey of Henry VIII’s English Court). Sadly, the Woolsey family had only a short time together; young Cardinal died in February 1822 at age 1 year, 2 months, and 0 days. Nine months later, mother Matilda died in November of 1822 at the age of 23.
A most poignant part of the story is that the headstones and footstones of Matilda and Cardinal were placed directly against each other, touching.
We see lots of babies and young children buried next to their parents in Bedford cemeteries, but the positioning of these stones is something quite unusual. The Fountain family thought it appropriate to bury this young mother and her baby together. Both died too young, and only months apart.
The Friends Of Bedford Burying Grounds are working to preserve and restore Bedford’s historic cemeteries. In the course of their work, they often come across interesting stones with fascinating stories, which they hope to share with the public on a regular basis.