Puritan Funeral Customs

Earlier in the 17th century, Puritan funerals were very simple and solemn, little more than a simple prayer, if that, and a silent burial.  They were well acquainted with death, since roughly one in ten rural-born babies died in their first year, and as many as three in ten within more populated centers.  Only just over half could be expected to reach adulthood. Beginning in the mid 1650s, Puritan funerals started becoming more elaborate.  There was normally a funeral procession, and gloves were given out as invitations, as mentioned in the story.  By this time, it was likely that words would be spoken at the grave site, and a feast would be offered afterward to those in attendance.  Again, this was incorporated into the plot.  As far as I understand, the idea that they would have left a newly occupied grave open, if they expected another person to die soon, is also accurate. Though, in A Trusting Heart, I tried to make many of the funeral details realistic for the era and in keeping with the Puritan customs, I did stretch things a bit.  For example, I doubt that a man of Joe’s standing would have been given the honor of helping to carry Caleb’s coffin.  That was normally done by respected, older men of the community and of the Puritan faith.  However, I thought it a nice touch to have him involved in this manner.