Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1707, son of Josiah Franklin (1657-1745), tallow chandler, and his second wife, Abiah (Folger) (1667-1752). After his parent's deaths, Franklin created a modest memorial to them with an inscription which said:Josiah Franklin
Abiah his wife
lie here interred
They lived lovingly together in wedlock
and without an estate or any gainful employment
by constant labor and honest industry
maintained a large family comfortably
and brought up thirteen children and seven
From this instance reader,
be encouraged to diligence in thy calling
and distrust not providence.
He was a pious and prudent man;
she a discreet and virtuous woman.
Their youngest son,
in filial regard to their memory, places this stone.
By the 1820s the inscription was so worn that in 1827 the City of Boston replaced the memorial with the current obelisk made of Quincy granite.
Although Benjamin Franklin was recognized by his parents and teachers as being of extraordinary intelligence, he only had two years of formal schooling. He was taken out of school at the age of 10 to work in his father's business, making soap and candles. The work was hot, dirty, and backbreaking and young Franklin desired to take up another profession. At the age of 12 he was apprenticed to his older brother, James, a printer, who later published a local newspaper, the New England Courant. This trade was much more in line with his love of books and ideas and his first article was published anonymously in 1721. Benjamin Franklin left Boston in 1723 after a serious quarrel with his brother.
Records of Women and Children
Many gravestones in the Granary Burial Ground are the only historical record of an ancient Bostonian, especially a woman or child. Infants often did not survive the first year of life in the harsh conditions of colonial Boston and numerous women died in childbirth. A small gravestone set in the ground to the right of the Franklin Obelisk memorializes Josiah Franklin's first wife, Anne (Child) Franklin (d. 1689), and three of her seven children. Mary (Hayfield) Cobham (ca. 1618-1688) is buried next to her daughter-in-law, Deborah (ca. 1642-1688), and her son, Moses Cobham (1645-1678). Other women outlived their husbands, remarried (often more than once), and took over their husband's business. Hannah (Adams) Holbrook Dyer (ca. 1684-1760) survived both her first husband, Samuel Holbrook (1690-1721), cordwainer, and her second husband, Henry Dyer (1676-1742). After Henry's death she took his job as overseer of the almshouse next to the burying ground.
Tories and Patriots
Richard Draper (1727-1774), grandson of Bartholomew Green and son of Deborah Draper (1706-1736), was the Tory printer of the Boston Newsletter. After his death in 1774, his wife Margaret continued to publish the paper until she left Boston with the British troops in March 1776.
Captain Nicholas Gardner (1749-1782) fought in the American Revolution and was mortally wounded by the enemy at age 33.
Gershom Flagg (1705-1771), housewright, moved to Harvard, Massachusetts, in the late 1760s and died in 1771. His family chose to bury him at Granary and erected an ornate gravestone with a carved urn.
Elisha Brown (1720-1785) lived across the street from the burying ground in what was then the manufactory building. His epitaph describes his defiance of British troops 1769:
who on Octr 1769, during 17 days,
inspired with a generous zeal for
bravely and successfully
opposed a whole British Regt.
in the violent attempt to force him
from his (legal habitation)
Happy Citizen to be called singley
to be a Barrier to the Liberties
(of a Continent)