Halloween in Graveyards

On my recent family history trip to New England, I visited several Massachusetts graveyards that are permanent home to some of my Puritan ancestors.  Since I was tromping over the grass in broad daylight, the surroundings were not as spooky as you might imagine, but I find them endlessly interesting.

The Old Rutland Burial Grounds,

In the old Rutland Cemetery, stones stretch back into the woods.

The oldest graveyard that I visited is the Rutland Old Cemetery, where burials ceased in the early 1800s. The cemetery is located on the north side of Massachusetts 122A, the main road through Rutland Massachusetts (Cradle of Ohio), beside the library.

These two stones seem to be huddled together for comfort.

Rutland Cemetery--Leaning together

Rutland Cemetery–Leaning together

The first Rutland Cemetery was laid out in 1717, and 18th and early 19th century stones are in amazingly good shape. If you can’t read an inscription, you can turn to Monumental Inscriptions in the Old Cemetery in Rutland, Worchester County, Massachusetts, published in 1902.

Some are covered by lichen, or worn by age, or have sunk into the ground.

Marker for Moses How

Here lies the body of Moses How, Esq. Born at Sudbury Aug 17th A.D. 1691 Departed this Life __Rutland Feb 16th A. D. 1749-50 in the 53th year of his age.

Some have unfamiliar language. “relict” in this case means “widow”.

Hannah Howe, widow of Moses

Erected in the memory of Hannah Howe, Relict of Moses Howe Esq who departed this life June he 7, 176_ in ye 61 year of her life. Behold….

Another very old cemetery shelters early settlers of Sudbury Massachusetts. The  North Cemetery has graves going back to the 1600s. The Cemetery lies along Sudbury Road in Wayland (which was  East Sudbury until 1835). This is the site of the 2nd Sudbury Meeting House, includes a cemetery for Indians, and a gate connects it to one of Sudbury’s Jewish cemeteries.

These two have been joined together by the tree that grew up between them, and enfolded one of them in its ridges.

Old North Cemetery

Old North Cemetery, Sudbury Tree grown into tombstones

Many tombstones in Sudbury and Rutland have the simple line drawing of a face that you can see on the ones above. Others have slightly more elaborate illustrations of urns with decorative leaves and flowers.  But my favorite thing is reading the poetry.

Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Lieut Calvin How, who died March 24th 1800 in he 24th year of her age. "Retire my friend Dry up your tears Here I must lie til Christ appears." Rutland Old Cemetery

Erected in memory of Mrs. Sarah How wife of Lieut Calvin How, who died March 24th 1800 in he 24th year of her age. “Retire my friend Dry up your tears Here I must lie til Christ appears.” Rutland Old Cemetery

Happy Halloween. Why not spend your Halloween in Graveyards?

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