William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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whether this or the one just described is the older. The land
was originally owned by John Williams, of Taunton, whose son
Lieutenant John, as he came to be called, inherited this part
of the estate, living where Daniel Wheaton now resides. De-
cember 16, 1739, his infant daughter, Abigail, a year old, died,
and he then no doubt first set apart this little spot of land
upon a gently sloping mound beneath the pine-trees. It is
certain that this was the first interment at this place. It was
followed the next year by the burial of the remains of a son
John, five years old. A large portion of the burials in this grave-
yard were of members of the Williams families. It is a plot of land
containing about fifty square rods. Some of the gravestones
have disappeared, but doubtless there were originally over fifty,
which is about the number of graves that can now be counted.
Some of the stones were moved to prevent being injured, when
the trees that had grown up among them were cut down a few
years ago. These stones need replacing ; and this should be
done while there are those living who know where they belong.
One of the most interesting of these graves is that of Margaret
Miller, the last slave of Easton, who is spoken of in another
chapter. One notes here the graves of two captains, father and
son, both named Benjamin Williams, — the father dying in 1775,
and the son in 1776. It is sad to think of the affliction that
visited the family of Lieut. John Williams, in which, as the
record of the tombstones shows, there occurred four deaths in
the month of October, 1756, and another in the next month.

1 See Bristol County Deeds, book Ixxxiii. p. 2S6.


Conspicuous among the old and dilapidated slate-stones in
this graveyard may be seen a beautiful marble tombstone, which
was erected in memory of a young woman whose last days were
spent in a house near by, and about whose closing life there
hung the shadow of some inconsolable sorrow, disappointment,
and perhaps tragedy. Fading away under that shadow, she
wished for nothing so much as for death, which alone she felt
could bring her rest. The following is the inscription upon her
tombstone, the first sentence being her own words of sorrow and
despair : —

Bury me among the Pines. Their
sighs will soothe my troubled spirits.


Emma A. 'Griggs.


August 19,


Aged 31 Years.

Peace ! Peace ! Peace I


At the foot of the lane leading to the Picker field in North
Easton village, close by the stream and upon a small natural
mound, there is a cemetery now over one hundred and twenty
years old. It owes its origin to the fact that John Ferguson, the
son of George and Katherine, who lived in the so-called Ferguson
house, died in 1764 of small-pox ; and as at that time it was not
allowable to carry the body of one who had died of small-pox
past a dwelling-house, George Ferguson selected this spot for
the grave of his son, it being close by his mill. The next in-
terment here was that of the body of " Jane, ye wife of James
Woodside, Esq., who died July 20, 1775, in the 78th year of her
age." A strong stone marks this grave, at the top of which
may be seen the familiar inscription, Sic transit gloria viiindi.
Two other stones record the fact that George Ferguson and his
wife Katherine died, the first in 1787, the second in 1794, aged
respectively seventy-eight and eighty-seven years. A tomb was
built here by George Ferguson, Jr., and David Manley. A marble
slab was once attached to it bearing the words, " George Fer-
guson and David Manley's Tomb: 1801." This slab has been



torn away and broken by brutal hands. Besides this tomb, there
are nine or ten graves. Here is the grave of Ziba Randall,
who died Aug. lO, 1843, and others of his family. But the con-
dition of these graves and of their headstones is such as to
excite the indignation and disgust of all persons of right feeling.
An entrance has been forced into the tomb, and its contents
disturbed. The headstones were of slate of the best quality and
nicest finish, but they have been broken and smashed in a most
outrageous manner by unfeeling scoundrels. The writer first
saw this place in 1880, and the indications then were that this
gross and sacrilegious outrage had been recently perpetrated.
He carefully gathered the fragments together, fitting them to
place, and copied the inscriptions of such as could be deci-
phered. One is at loss to understand the state of mind and
heart that can find pleasure in such desecration of the sacred
memorials of the dead.


Previous to 1772 several interments had been made on the
undivided land on the east side of the Bay road just south of
Joseph Randall's place. December 22, 1772, at a meeting of the
North-Purchase Company, it was voted by the proprietors " that
a piece of land sixteen rods square shall be laid out in Easton, on
the easterly side of the road that leads towards Boston on Crook-
horn Plain, where several people have been buried already, for a
perpetual burying-place forever hereafter." ^

The same company, May 26, 1788, " voted to enlarge the
burying-ground on Crookhorn Plain, so called, in Easton, so as
to make it in the whole twenty rods square." ^ The addition
was made on the north and east sides, and the bounds, both of
the original grant and of the addition just named, are preserved
to-day, and ought to be carefully perpetuated.

The Bay road was straightened in 1797, and in the laying-out
of it, as reported in the town records under date of June 16,
1797, occurs the following: " A straight line to the northwest
corner heap of stones of the burying-place, thence south six
degrees east on the west line of said burying-place 21 rods and
1 Taunton North-Purchase Book of Votes, p. 96. - Ibid., p. 118.


lo links to the southwest corner heap of stones of said burying-
place." The extra rod and ten links were thrown in perhaps to
make a generous measure, land then being very cheap. It is
impossible to discover exactly how many interments were made
in this ancient cemetery. About one hundred and twenty-five
graves are visible there now, and probably others once existed
all signs of which have disappeared. There were originally here
a good number of headstones, but they have been smashed to
fragments by the villanous vandalism of low-minded fellows.
Some of this outrageous desecration, it is said, was done by
certain recruits enlisted in 1 8 13 at Captain Hodges's tavern (now
the Sheperd place), just above, who were inflamed by the liquor
which gave them the courage to enlist. No stone in this ceme-
tery is uninjured, and only two are standing in such shape as to
leave the inscription legible. One of them is as follows: —

Erected in Memory
OF Mrs Abigal, the wife of
Mr Joshua Shaw, who died
April the 8, A.D. 1801,
IN the 71 st year of her age.

Housed in the dust my partner lies.

Secure from mortal strife ;
Released from all the cares and ties

Of this distracted life.

Another stone is —

In memory of Sarah,

Wife of Mr. Joseph Tinkham,

who died Feb. 27TH, 1796,


Stop, kind reader ! drop a tear.
Think on the dust that slumbers here ;
My tender years and life's Gay flower
From death would not exempt one hour.

There are two rough flat stones over two other graves, — one
marked " 1789, A.r.S. ;" the other, " A.n.S." These were over
the graves of Archippus Selee and his half-sister Annie, children
of Nathan, — one of whom died in 1789, and the other in 1809.

The writer was able to collect the fragments of another stone,

which was in memory of Nathan Harvey, who died 4th,

1797, eighty-four years old. A foot-stone of another grave was




lettered " F. H." These are the sum-total of all the inscriptions at
this cemetery. This was the burial-place of the Harveys, Shaws,
and others living in this section. There was once a tomb here,
which has now fallen to ruin. Eliphalet Shaw and his wife and
two of their sons, Ezra and Silas, were buried in this yard.
Here the body of Captain Samuel Hodges was laid ; but it was
afterward exhumed and carried to Stoughton. Here also the
town's poor who died at Alby Willis's poor-house (the Sheperd
place), and who died too fast there, were brought for burial.

A comparatively small portion of the old cemetery is occupied
by graves ; and it is not very likely to be used again for this pur-
pose. The graves are on the front part of it near the road, and
the whole place was until recently a mass of crowded scrub-oak ;
but in obedience to the vote of the town passed in 1885 it has
been cleared, and the enclosure surrounded by a wire fence, with
iron rods for posts, — wood being likely to be burned by brush
fires, which are constantly occurring in this vicinity.


Not many rods east of the Asa R. Howard place and on the
south side of the road is a burying-ground, fifty by eighty feet
in dimensions. It was carefully made, and is on a level with
the top of the front stone-wall. The land was given by Elijah
Howard, Esq., the first of that name. The first interment was
that of Elijah, a son of Mr. Howard, who died October 5, 1775,
aged 2 years. The grave of this son as well of some other chil-
dren is unmarked. The first adult whose remains were placed
there was Abiah Randall, who died November 20, 18 15, ']^
years old. Most of the graves are of connections of the Elijah
Howard family, Elijah himself dying and being buried in 183 1,
aged 86 years, and his wife Keziah in 1836, aged 85 years.
There seem to be twenty-six graves in all in the yard ; one of
them has the G. A. R. soldier's stick, marked E. Hudson.


January 4, 1796, Joseph Hay ward presented to the inhabitants
of Easton forty-two rods of land " to be occupied by them as a
burying-field," they to " keep the same well fenced," etc. The
land had probably been devoted to this purpose a little earlier,


as we find there the grave of John Howard, who died February
27, 1795- This was the first interment. John was father of
Roland Howard. A strong old-fashioned headstone marks the
grave, and on it is an inscription beginning thus : " In memory
of Mr. John Howard, in whom Prudence, Economy, Benevo-
lence, & Generosity were happily united."

September 24, 1858, H. M. Pool and twelve others organized
the Pine-Grove Cemetery Corporation, and on the 2d of Oc-
tober the cemetery was extended by purchasing land on the
northwest side from George W. Hayward, and on the east from
H. M. Pool. The present area of the cemetery is 274 feet by
177 feet, or about one acre and eighteen rods. E. R. Hayward
has charge of it at present.

There are two hundred graves in this yard, of which thirty-
nine are without inscribed headstones ; but nearly all the latter
have a small marble stone upon which is chiselled a number ; this
number corresponds to a record made in a book by the secretary
of the Cemetery Corporation, which gives the name of the per-
sons over whose graves these numbered stones stand. This is
an excellent arrangement, inexpensive and simple, and deserves
to be adopted by the managers of all the other cemeteries in
town. One of the most noticeable inscriptions in this yard is
that on the gravestone of Israel Alger, which gives a condensed
biography of his life. On the inscribed gravestones we meet
the name of Pratt twenty-four times ; Howard, nineteen ; Pool,
seventeen ; Hayward, thirteen ; Alger, twelve ; Ripley, ten ; and
Randall, Gilmore, and Williams, nine times each. Among those
whose graves are in this yard may be mentioned Joshua Gil-
more, Dea. Samuel Pool (who lived to be ninety-four years old),
Roland Howard, Asa R. Howard, Joseph Hayward (who gave
the original lot to the town), George W. Hayward, Lieut. Jona-
than Pratt and his son Capt. Jonathan, John Pool, and Horace
M. Pool.


It has already been stated that the land upon which the
Methodist church on Washington Street stands, and also that
now included in the old part of the cemetery, was purchased of
Thomas Drake, October 13, 1795, by the trustees of the Metho-


dist Society. Part of it was set apart very soon afterward for
a burying-ground. This cemetery contained, before the addition
to it was made by Jason Tinkham, over one hundred and twenty
square rods ; but some of it was cut off on the east side by a
change in the running of the road. It was and is under the
control of the trustees of the Methodist Society. The first
interment was that of Isaac Stokes, who died April 19, 1796;
his grave is in the extreme southeast corner of the yard. The
gravestone is inscribed with an epitaph which was written by
the Rev. Joshua Randall, who married a granddaughter of Mr.
Stokes. It is as follows : —

Buried in this Yard.

Here Isaac Stokes doth Lay.

The time he died is fix'd
In April the twentieth Day,

Seventeen Hundred ninety-six,
Seventy-ninth year of his age.

He went his trial through,
So left this mortal stage,

And bid the world adieu.
You that are now in health,

And puting far a way
The solemn hour of Death

And the great Judgment day,
Consider this I pray.

That soon or late you must
God's solemn word obey,

And strait return to Dust.

This burying-ground contains the graves of many persons
who were prominent citizens of Easton, among whom may be
named Capt. David Wade, James Dickerman, the Bartletts, and
Thomas Drake. The mortal remains of several clergymen here
find their resting-place. One was the Rev. John Tinkham,
who died January 29, 1824. His tombstone has the follow-
ing epitaph : —

My message I declared.

My pilgrimage is o'er;

I cannot stay,

I must away

To Canaan's happy shore.


This stone may just remind
That such a man did live,
And now lies here.
Then drop one tear,
For I have none to give.

Another clergyman's grave is that of the Rev. John B. Hunt.
A monument erected over his grave has the following inscrip-
tion : —



John B. Hunt

Left Earth for Heaven

Oct. 10, 1858,

aged 39.

Servant of God, well done !

Tiiy glorious warfare 's past ;

The battle 's fought, the race is won,

Thou art crowned at last.

This monument was once overthrown by a man who was said
to have been incensed at the refusal of the widow of Mr. Hunt
to receive any attentions from him ! It was subsequently re-
placed, but shows the damage caused by its fall.

The old portion of this cemetery contains also the remains of
the Rev. Ephraim Randall, — Uncle Ephraim as he was famil-
iarly called. An excellent marble headstone marks the spot
where his ashes rest. Had he foreseen its costliness he would
have made a desperate effort to live ; for he left orders that his
coffin should not cost over ten dollars.

There is a tomb in this yard built by E. Bartlett and H.
Crooker, which is in rather a dilapidated condition at present.
As the old yard was about full, in May, 1868, Jason Tinkham
made an addition of sixty-four square rods on the west side.
Most of the lots in this new part are now taken.


On Purchase Street, near the corner by Joseph Towne's, is a
burying-ground whose dimensions are on the front one hundred




id twenty-one feet, on the back line one hundred and seven-
:en feet, on the east line sixty-two feet, and on the west line
xty-seven feet. This land was owned by Isaac Lothrop and his
rother John, and was set apart by them as a graveyard in 1796

doubt, as that was the date of the first burial here, which
as of Ruth, daughter of Isaac Lothrop, who died March 23,
796. Isaac Lothrop's grave is here ; he died suddenly while in
le field ploughing. May 11, 18 14. In this cemetery are about
;venty graves. Among those without headstones is that of
ohn Lothrop, which is marked only by a stake of the G. A. R.
Lmong the other unmarked graves, Joshua Towne remembers
!aleb Lothrop and wife, Mrs. Simeon Leach, Leonard Ayers,
)ren Packard, Michael Egan, the wife of a son of Samuel
.othrop, a Mr. Gleason and wife, a Mr. Drake from the Alms-
ouse, and others. When Jarvis Lothrop bid off the town's poor,
t a time when they were left to the care of the lowest bidder, he
uried in one corner of this yard such as died while with him.

Among the noticeable inscriptions here may be mentioned that
n Jotham Ames's tombstone, an inscription which traces his
enealogy back to the first comer, William Ames, who settled

1 Brain tree in 1640.

In this yard lie the remains also of several members of Lothrop
amilies. Here are the tombstones of Dea. Abijah Reed, Rufus
^mes, Simeon Leach, Enoch P. Towne, and others well known
1 their day.


On the north side of Prospect Street, nearly opposite the old
Villiams graveyard, is another small cemetery. At first sight
ine might suppose it to be an extension of the older cemetery
pposite, and that the street had been cut directly through,
eparating these two parts. In fact, however, an old cart-path
.nciently ran where the road is now located, and the burying-
Tound on the north side was never connected with the one on
he south. The land was originally set apart for burial uses by
"ol. John Williams, son of Silas ; it has been somewhat enlarged
ince, and is now controlled by his grandchildren. It contains
it present about twenty square rods. There are over sixty
graves in it, and there have been apparently several removals.


The oldest gravestone here is that of Marcy, wife of Samuel
Kimball, she having died January 12, 1797. Possibly there may
have been a few even older graves, the stones of which have
perished. This yard contains the remains of Capt. Tisdale God-
frey and other Godfreys, besides a number of the descendants of
Col. John Williams. It is much to be regretted that on the east
side of this yard a gravel bank has been opened, for this serious-
ly injures the looks of the place. A fence once, in part at least,
enclosed this burial-ground, and it ought to be replaced.


The land first set apart for burial purposes south of the Pratt
homestead in South Easton on the east side of the road, was
the gift of Lieut. Seth Pratt. It was given most probably in
1800, for the first interment was in March, 1801 ; this was of
Martin, a son of Samuel Guild, Esq., who died at the age of
fourteen years. In 1865 an addition was made to this burying-
ground by Isaac L. Pratt, who now controls it, selling lots for
his remuneration; the business is in the charge of Dea. Harri-
son T. Mitchell. This yard now contains about one hundred
and forty square rods. There are as many as two hundred and
fourteen graves here, one hundred and twenty-four of which have
headstones ; and ninety, or over one-third of the whole, are un-
marked, which is much to be regretted. There are probably a
few other unmarked graves, all signs of which have now disap-
peared. Among the graves with headstones there are twenty
with the name of Randall, ten of Mitchell, nine of Howard, eight
of Pratt and of Wild, and seven of Brett. Among well-known
persons whose remains lie here may be mentioned Daniel Ran-
dall, Seth Pratt, Sever Pratt, Samuel Guild, Lyman Wheelock,
Col. Abial Mitchell, Richard and Martin Wild, Calvin Brett,
and Solomon Stone.

It seems desirable that the names of persons buried in un-
marked graves should not be forgotten, and the following partial
list has been furnished the writer by Dea. H. T. Mitchell : Mary,
wife of William Randall, Polly Randall, and Eva, daughter of Levi
C. Randall ; Nathaniel Guild, and Harriet, his wife ; Jonathan
Drake, and his wife Hannah ; Eleazar Clark, and his wife Susan ;
Mrs. Lizzie Ludden ; Charles Howard ; Kate, the wife of Peter


Lunn ; Solomon Stone and wife, Chester Stone, Solomon Stone,
Jr., Georgiana, Albert, Harland, and Vesta Stone. Grave-
stones may yet be placed over a few of these graves. There
are besides these nearly fourscore, perhaps more, that will soon
be numbered among the myriads of forgotten graves, every trace
of which will soon be lost forever. In the southeast corner of
this cemetery the Swedes of Easton have been accustomed to
bury their dead.

There is one inscription in this yard which perhaps deserves
record here. It is that on the gravestone of Dr. Seth Pratt,
and is as follows : —

One eye on death and one full fix'd on heaven,
Becomes a mortal and immortal man.


The cemetery north of the Centre dates back to April, 1803.
Its origin is thus described by Seth Reed, of Baltimore : —

"The first person there buried was Mrs. [Bethuel] Drake, the
grandmother of Charles Henry Reed. When she died, a grave was
being dug to place her remains in, in a field on the south side of a
wood-lot close to the fence. When it became known to Uncle Bates
where the deceased was to be buried, he said, ' Bury the deceased in
my field.' This was the beginning of the Centre Cemetery."

The "Uncle Bates" referred to was Benjamin Bates, who
built and lived in the Sheldon house at the Centre. He gave
a small piece of land for burial purposes, which forms the older
part of the present cemetery. Mrs. Drake, whose body was the
first to be buried there, died April 17, 1803. In 1854 the yard
was about full, and twenty persons petitioned William Reed to
call a meeting for the purpose of organizing a cemetery corpo-
ration. The meeting was held April i, 1854, and a corporation
was organized under the name of the Central Cemetery Corpo-
ration, They bought additional pieces of land on the north,
west, and south sides of the old cemetery, making the whole
area an acre and a half. Soon after these additions were made
there were several removals of remains to this place from other
cemeteries. Joseph Drake's remains were removed from the
oldest burying-ground. The remains of Jacob Reed and of an-


Other Reed were taken from a field west of Morse's factory on
the old Bela Reed place and reinterred here. The remahis of
the infant daughter of the Rev. William Reed were taken from
under a walnut-tree which stood between the house once used
as the Unitarian parsonage and the road, and placed beside those
of her father, who was buried in the front part of the old yard.
When the yard was enlarged, the remains of the Rev. Mr. Reed
and of his wife and daughter and others were removed to the
new ground. The remains of the Rev. Matthew Short were
taken from the first cemetery of Easton and brought here, to
secure the grave from the abuse which befell the graves in that
neglected spot ; the original gravestone may be seen in the
Central Cemetery. When the removal was made, William Reed
who took charge of it found that the hair of the old minister
was perfectly preserved, although this was over one hundred and
twenty years after his death. He took some of it and sent it to
the Rev. Wm. R Lunt, Unitarian minister of Quincy, who was
a descendant of the Rev. Mr. Short. The remains from the
graves in the Howard Lothrop lot in this yard have been re-
moved tc the Village Cemetery in North Easton.

There are over two hundred and seventy graves in the Central
Cemetery, of which ninety-five are unmarked. There are no
very striking epitaphs in this yard, the most interesting one
perhaps being that for Wade and Ruth Dailey, —

United on earth for 60 years, reunited in heaven for eternity.

On the south side of Short Street, east of the railroad track,
there is a small family cemetery which was laid out in 1803 by
Oliver Howard. It is in the shape of a trapezoid, being about
one hundred feet on the front, forty feet on the rear, seventy-
five feet on the east side, and sixty feet on the other, and is
surrounded by a stone-wall. The first interment here was that
of an infant child of Oliver and Rebecca Howard, which died
unnamed November 22, 1803, five days old. There appear to be
eighteen graves in the yard, all but four of which have headstones
with inscriptions. Buried here are the remains of Oliver How-
ard, who died December 27, 1835, eighty years old ; of Rebecca


his wife, who died August 17, 1825, sixty-five years old; also
of Asaph, Marza, Amasa, Thomas and Oliver Howard, the latter
twenty-two years, and of others mainly children of the Howards.

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 45 of 78)