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Levi Lincoln Thaxter Grave

Levi Thaxter and son/ Randall PublishersTHE GRAVE SITE
Levi Lincoln Thaxter, Roland, John & karl Thaxter, Rosamund
Thaxter (Kittery Point, Maine)

Look carefully to find the simple stone that marks the grave of Levi Thaxter. He lived and died in the shadow of this artistic wife Celia whom he met when she was barely 12. Today the "Island poet" is buried at the Isles of Shoals. But her husband and children's  graves are 10 miles away off a winding seaside road in Kittery, Maine.



Though they never divorced, the separate lives of artist Celia Thaxter (1835 -1894) and Levi Thaxter intrigue us even today. Raised in the isolation of White Island at the Isles of Shoals Celia married Levi Lincoln Thaxter (1824 - 1884) when she was 16 and he 30. Levi has been her tutor for four years and had, it seems, had romantic interests from the start. He also became a business partner to Celia’s father Thomas Laighton at this time, arranging for the loan of money to build the original Appledore House.

Levia Thaxter/ courtesy PERpublisher.comBut ultimately they were from two different worlds. Levi tired of the Shoals and Celia tired of being the family breadwinner without relief from the burdens of housework and child-rearing. There is no photograph of the two together. They took separate vacations, spending more time apart until, ultimately, they were apart, then and forever.

Celia is buried with her parents and two brothers, Oscar and Cedric, in the family plot on Appledore the island where she spent much of her adult life. Levi and their three sons -- John Rolland and Karl -- are buried at Kittery Point in Maine. By the time they purchased the 186-acre Champernowne property at Kittery Point, Celia and Levi had largely gone their separate ways, emotionally at least. She had become one of the nation' most popular poets. Levi, always in search of a career, was best known for his readings of poetry by Robert Browning.

Levi Thaxter died in 1884, ten years before his wife. In tribute, Robert Browning reportedly penned an original epitaph. After dozens of visits to Celia's famous Isles, we finally made our way to Levi's resting-place. The burying ground of the First Congregational Church stands at a 90-degree turn in Pepperrell Road that hugs the river. The old Thaxter home, the church and the well known Lady Pepperell House are still here.

BrowningLevi, Karl and Roland are buried under overhanging trees in an area toward the river, their stones now broken and difficult to read. The Browning epitaph has been reprinted into a bronze tablet affixed to Levi Thaxter's tombstone. The poem reads:


"Thou whom these eyes saw never:
Say friends true who say my soul,
Helped onward by my song,
Thou all unwittingly, has helped thee too.
I gave ofbut the little that I knew:
How were the gift required,
While along life's path I race.
Coulldst Thou make weakness strong:
Help me with knowledge --
For life's old, death's new."

Pepperrell Road, Kittery Point, Maine

First congregational Church, Kittery Point /

Old Burying Ground, Kittery Point, ME (c)

Grave of Levi Lincoln Thaxter with Browning poem /

Levi Thaxter and son John / PER Publisher

CONTINUE tour for SONS of Celia & Levi Thaxter 


Gravestones of Karl Thaxter and Roland Thaxter, Kittery, Maine /

All three of the Thaxter children lie in the Old Burying Ground in Kittery, ME. Roland and Karl's headstones are small and worn. John's is near that of daughter Rosamund Thaxter who was the author of "Sandpiper" about her grandmother Celia Thaxter, who she never met.

Karl Thaxter and freind from Sandpiper/ Peter Randall Publisher
Karl Thaxter

Roland THaxter from
Roland Thaxter

John Thaxter from
John Thaxter

CONTINUE tour for Rosamund Thaxter

 ROSAMUND THAXTER  (continued)

Rosamund Thaxter grave, Kittery, ME /

Celia and Levi's granddaughter they never met became their best known biographer. Rosamund's book "Sandpiper" remains an excellent introduction to the history of the Thaxter and Laighton families at the Isles of Shoals. Ms. Thaxter kept a cottage on Smuttynose Island that is still used by stranded  off-season sailors and a scenic spit of land at Crescent Beach and Seapoint Beach in Kittery, Maine is dedicated in her honor.

Rosamund Thaxter from  
Rosamund Thaxter (1895 - 1989)

Black and white images from "sandpiper" by Rosamund Thaxter courtesy Peter E. Randall, Publisher. Color photos (c) This article first appeared online in 2001.




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