Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Tombstone Posting

I took this picture a long time ago in a cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. It's a tombstone for Walter Meiggs Bush (1873-1928) and his wife Anne Rainsford French (1878?-1962?). The name of Anne Rainsford French is followed by this sentence:

First woman licensed to drive an automobile in America.

She may not have been the very first licensed female driver in America, but she certainly was one among the first group:

Miss Anne Rainsford French of Washington, D.C., whose father was a noted physician in the capital city, was awarded her "Steam Engineeer's License, Locomobile Class," on March 22, 1900. She was one of the earliest licensed women drivers in the United States. Mrs. John Howell Phillips of Chicago is said to have been licensed two months prior to Miss French, however. In the same year, 13-year-old Jeanette Lindstrom received license No. 322 and it was claimed that she had already been driving for two years.

Fascinating, isn't it?

Anne Rainsford French's name in the tombstone is smaller than the name of her husband. This could be caused by the need to add that extra sentence below the name. It would be interesting to study old tombstones to see if the wives got smaller letters than the husbands. I'm pretty sure that the husband's name is always above the wife's name, even if she died earlier.