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Born in Billerica in 1751 to Nathan and Mercy Benjamin Munroe, 5GGM Hepzibah Munroe Wheeler links us to an amazing variety of pioneering New Englanders. Not only to the Munroes of Lexington, but also to John Benjamin, the first constable and largest landowner in what would later become Cambridge.

Mrs.
Hepizeth, wife of
OLIVER WHEELER
Died Nov. 4, 1829
Æ 78 years.


By the time she died in 1829, aged 78, it was no longer stylish to bear quite so aggressively Old Testamentish a name as hers. Her stone, accordingly, calls her “Hepizeth.” Even half a century earlier in 1776, as a young bride in her native Carlisle (then Billerica), she signed her name “Hepzibeth” — see the illustration.

The original Hebrew name, by the way, means “In her is my delight” — cf. Isaiah 62. Note also that by the 1820s, the winged death’s head of Puritan tombstones had softened, in keeping with social and doctrinal evolution in the Congregational and Unitarian worlds, to urns and willows.

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