Adventist Logo Adventist Logo Adventist Logo

Mission

James Nix, center, director of the Ellen G. White Estate, showing George Cobb’s tombstone to a General Conference tour group in a cemetery in Brunswick, Maine, on Sept. 13, 2018. (Clinton Wahlen)

​Man Who Died Twice Offers Testimony From Grave

Adventist leaders visit an unusual Maine tombstone during a church heritage tour.

By Andrew McChesney

George Cobb is the man who died twice.

Little is actually known about Cobb, and no photos of him are known to exist.

But his grave has attracted attention for decades because his tombstone in a cemetery in Brunswick in the U.S. state of Maine bears a birthdate and two death dates. It reads:

Born June 10, 1794
Died Nov. 10, 1848
Fell asleep May 9, 1882

In fact, Cobb was baptized on Nov. 10, 1848, and he asked that the date of his conversion be carved on his tombstone after he was laid to rest in the grave on May 9, 1882, at the age of 88, said James Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate.

“This is one of the interesting examples again of the faith and the willingness and the determination of our pioneers to share their faith in whatever means possible, including having something engraved on your tombstone that will share your faith after you have fallen asleep,” Nix told a tour group of about 75 church leaders and spouses from the General Conference, the administrative body of the Seventh-day Adventist world church.

Nix showed the tombstone — which includes text from the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” — to the group on Sept. 13, halfway through a six-day church heritage tour in the U.S. Northeast. The trip aims to give church leaders a better understanding of Jesus’ leading in the past as they seek to proclaim Jesus’ soon coming to the world. Among the other stops on Sept. 13 were Gorham and Portland, cities where church cofounder Ellen G. White once lived, and the grave of White’s twin sister, Elizabeth.

Read Day One: Green Suits and Worn Knees as Church Leaders Kick Off Heritage Tour

Read Day Two: Church Leaders Tour 276-Year-Old ‘Center of Influence’ in U.S.

Nix said he has sought to find a photograph of Cobb and to track down his descendants, but without success.

“I have looked high and low for a picture of Cobb,” he said. “I have asked up here, ‘Are their descendants of Cobb?’ I would like to know about this man who cared that much to leave instructions and money to carve all that extra text on his tombstone.”

Tour participants were visibly touched by Cobb’s unique witness from the grave.

“He recognized that he needed to die to self and then he truly could become alive,” said General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson. “So he lived his life in a beautiful demonstration of the contrast between living a life for himself and dying to the old self and becoming a new creature in Christ. What a privilege to see his tombstone.”

Karen Glassford, a third-generation Adventist missionary who works as education and communication coordinator at the Institute of World Mission, said that when she initially saw the tombstone she suspected that the first death date might refer to Cobb’s baptism.

“His tombstone has become such a witness to other people,” she said. “It has made them curious, ‘Why did he die twice?’ I’m sure there will be people in heaven because of that man’s tombstone.”

  • A closeup view of George Cobb’s tombstone with two death dates in a cemetery in Brunswick, Maine. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

  • The only house where Ellen G. White once lived that is still standing in her birthplace of Gorham, Maine. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

  • Karen Glassford, left, education and communication coordinator at the Institute of World Mission, taking a picture of a historical marker recognizing Gorham, Maine, as the birthplace of Ellen G. White. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)

  • Merlin Burt, professor of church history and director of the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University, showing a photo of Ellen White, standing, with her twin sister, Elizabeth, at Elizabeth's grave in Gorham, Maine. (Andrew McChesney / Adventist Mission)


Next Story

​Church Leaders Tour 276-Year-Old ‘Center of Influence’ in U.S. Joseph Bates’ childhood home is teaching people about the Sabbath.

Previous Story

Youth Set Church on Fire Tokyo is the world’s largest metropolitan area with almost 40 million people. The challenge of reaching a city of this size might seem impossible, but God can use anyone, even someone on the other side of the world, to spark change.

More Recent News

Miracle Bananas From Man in White Hood Little Albert wanted bananas, but Mother didn't have the money. The First Step While the religions of the East are in many ways different from Christian religions of the West, Christians share a lot in common with Buddhists and those of Taoist, Shinto and Confucian backgrounds. Learn how to build bridges of understanding with Greg a The Adventist Dog The village's best hunting dog, Dolby, refused to work on Saturday or eat wild pig anymore. Find out how God used him as an example to the rest of the villagers. 1.3 Million Patients per Surgeon When Dr. Hayton arrived in Malawi there were only 12 surgeons for some 17 million people. He finds purpose in serving as a medical missionary doctor there. A Buffalo and a Bible Worker Church planting in the Baltics, Global Mission in Southeast Asia and medical professionals making a difference in Africa. 25 Years of Frontline Mission So much has happened since Global Mission started 25 years ago. Reaching India’s New Middle Class India has become one of the global leaders in technology. With their new wealth, many of these young people are asking questions about life’s purpose and meaning. A Pioneer Life for Me A Global Mission pioneer in Botswana tells his story.