Bean Puzzle Tombstone
It took over 100 years to decode this enigmatic epitaph for two buried brides.
In rural Rushes Cemetery, one headstone stands out from the rest. Rather than the usual RIP, the Bean grave marker is etched with a crossword code. A message below the code urges, “Reader meet us in heaven.”
Dr. Samuel Bean’s first wife, Henrietta, died just seven months after the two were married. His second wife, Susanna, also met her untimely end after only a few months of marital bliss. Bean buried his two loves side by side, erected the mysterious tombstone above them and didn’t tell a soul what it meant. He took that secret to his watery grave when he was lost overboard from a boat heading to Cuba.
The epitaph drew curious visitors attempting to break the code to the little town of Wellesley over the following century. So many people came to make rubbings of the headstone that by the 1980s it was entirely illegible and had to be replaced with a replica. The cemetery groundskeeper claimed he had cracked it in the 1940s, but never revealed the answer. In the 1970s a 94-year-old woman solved the code and told what Dr. Bean had written for his two wives (read no farther if you would rather solve the code yourself.)
Beginning on the seventh character of the seventh row down and reading in a spiral fashion, the inscription reads: “In memoriam Henrietta, Ist wife of S. Bean, M.D. who died 27th Sep. 1865, aged 23 years, 2 months and 17 days and Susanna his 2nd wife who died 27th April, 1867, aged 26 years, 10 months and 15 days, 2 better wives 1 man never had, they were gifts from God but are now in Heaven. May God help me, S.B., to meet them there.”
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