A tour bus stopped just outside Varney Cemetery’s fence. Though no sports were being played on that sunny weekday, I thought surely the riders who disembarked would walk to the nearby Bowdoin football field.
Instead they headed directly to a large headstone that had obviously split in half and been repaired by the application of a marble backing. They had come to the final resting place of George Cobb (1794-1843, 1882).
The front of his stone is heavily engraved, headed by the fourth commandment, his birth in 1794, death in 1843, then death again in 1882, ending with the nineteenth psalm. A careful reading of Cobb’s tombstone shows a period after the year 1843.
The 1840 federal census of Brunswick, Maine, showed Cobb as the head of a household of eleven. In 1850 he was listed as a mason and head of a family of eight. Gerald Wheeler writes that Cobb was the “rough, swearing” foreman of a stone crushing and hauling operation that was building the railroad just north of Freeport.
One of his laborers was James White (1821-1881), an ordained minister in the “Christian Church.” “Christians” relied on the Bible to guide their lives. White and others evolved into early Sabbath-keepers, now known as Seventh-day Adventists.
Cobb was one of White’s early converts. On July 22,1842, Cobb and four other members were dismissed from the First Free-Will Baptist Society at Growstown in west Brunswick to organize the Christian Church in Brunswick and Freeport.
It would seem that Cobb found fulfillment in his new church, for on Nov. 10, 1843, Cobb experienced a spiritual death and rebirth. His physical self would thrive nearly 40 years more, until he “fell asleep in the Lord.”
The tourists who visited Cobb’s grave that day were Seventh-day Adventists who had come to see the burial site of the man they name as one of their very first members.
Where’s George Cobb? Varney Cemetery, Pine Street, Brunswick: down aisle 5, on the right, past the Freeman obelisk
- The Seventh-Day Adventists: a history, Jordan, Anne Devereaux. New York: Hippocrene Books, c1988
- The seventh day: the story of the Seventh-Day Adventists, Herndon, Booton. New York: McGraw Hill, c1960
- James White: Innovator and Overcomer, Wheeler, Gerald. Hagerstown:Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2003
- The History of Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell: including the Ancient Territory Known as Pejepscot, Wheeler, George Augustus, M.D. and Henry Warren Wheeler. Brunswick, A Mudge & Sons, Printers, 1878