William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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This yard was pleasantly located, but its surroundings have been
rendered unpleasant because of the gravel-bank opened on the
west side of it, which leaves exposed a rough and unsightly
mass of stones and bowlders. When the farm here was sold,
a reservation was made of this' burying-ground, which is still
the property of the descendants of Oliver Howard.


In the extreme northwest corner of the town, on the farm-land
of Peter McDermott, and about fifty rods northeast of his house,
is a small graveyard thirty by seventy feet in area, walled in
on three sides. On the west side there is an excavation where
apparently it was the purpose to build a tomb ; but the attempt
was abandoned and the wall was not finished, so that the little
enclosure is open to the incursion of cattle from the surrounding
pasture. It contains three graves, one of a child which has
no inscribed headstone. Of the other two, which have strong
and well made headstones, one is in memory of " Mrs. Bessey,
wife of Mr. George Wilbur, who died May the 3d, a. d. 1807, in
the forty-ninth year of her age," having upon it the following
couplet : —

Death is a debt to Nature due :
As I have paid it, so must you.

The other stone is " in memory of Mr. George Wilbar. He
died June 11, 18 13, in his fifty-sixth year."

Depart my friends, wipe off your tears,
Here I must lie till Christ appears.

It will be observed that the name is spelled differently upon
the two gravestones, and Mitchell, in his " History of Bridge-
water," spells it Wilbor, differing from both these inscriptions.
This George Wilbur moved into town just a century ago, and
built the house now the property and home of Peter McDer-
mott. He was father of Joseph Wilbur, who was for many
years Register of Deeds at Taunton, and whose son, Joseph E.
Wilbur, now holds the same position.



This cemetery is just south of Thomas Keith's, and a little
distance north of Beaver Street, on the east side of the Bay road.
It was first laid out in 1 812 by Eleazer Keith, on his own land.
It was afterward enlarged by the Dunbars, Mr. Keith giving
additional land on condition that they would extend the front
wall. Two sides of the yard are as yet not walled in. No deed
of the land has been given to any one, and it is therefore the
property of the heirs of Mr. Keith. The dimensions of this
cemetery are five rods on the front by six rods deep, and it con-
tains about sixty graves. The first interment was that of the
body of Mrs. Sally Keith, wife of Eleazer, who died September
17, 1 812, aged twenty-nine years. The graves of two other
wives of Mr. Keith are there, and his own tombstone records
the fact of his death May 6, 1863, aged eighty-two years, eleven
months, and twenty-four days.

The grave of Ebenezer Randall is also there, he dying June 9,
1850, aged eighty-four. His wife's grave is unmarked, as also
those of Joseph Randall and his wife and daughter, and others.
Here is the grave of Henry James and some of his children, as
also of Alfred Gibbs and two children, and Galen Randall, seve-
ral Crocketts, and others, all unmarked save by rough round
stones. Here too are the graves of several Littlefield families,
all with inscribed headstones, except that of Ebenezer Little-
field, Sr., who provided for the erection of one for his own grave,
but which provision has never been carried out. In this ceme-
tery are the graves of Kingmans and Dunbars. One headstone
records the fact that Jesse Dunbar, who died in Boston Septem-
ber 28, 1834, aged twenty-one years, was first officer of the brig
" Pandora."


Opposite the Archippus Buck place in Poquanticut is a small
cemetery, fifty by eighty feet in dimensions, which is well laid
out and carefully walled in. It now contains twenty-eight graves,
some removals having been made from it. The land was given
by William Dean. The first interment was that of the remains
of Nathan Selee, who died in 181 5, which gives us the date of


the laying-out of this burying-ground. Nathan Selee's remains
were subsequently removed to the new cemetery which his son
John Selee laid out.

Here are the remains of Benjamin Buck, who died in 1852,
ninety-one years old, and of his wife Milly, who died fifteen years
later, being a century old lacking ten months. Capt. Archippus
Buck's remains also lie here ; and those of his wife, familiarly
known as Aunt Sylva, were recently placed beside her husband's.
On the stone over the grave of Cynthia B. Dean, a child seven
years old, is this inscription: —

Cropp'd as a bud from yonder tree ;
From death's arrest no age is free.

On the stone dedicated to William Dean and Keziah his wife
are the words : " They always made home happy."


On a gravelly knoll at the Furnace Village, just south of the
schoolhouse and on the south side of the road, is a burying-
ground with a front of about two hundred and seventy-five feet
and a width of one hundred feet, a parallelogram in shape. The
land was given originally by Dr. Edward Dean, and an addi-
tion on the west end of it was subsequently made by Edward
Williams. In this yard there are two hundred and fourteen
graves that have headstones with inscriptions, and there are
others unmarked save by some rough stones or a mound of
earth. It is a noteworthy fact that the first interment at this
place was that of the body of Dr. Dean, who made the gift of
the land for the cemetery. He died September 26, 18 16. Two
other physicians. Dr. Samuel Guild, and Dr. Seth Pratt, had died
in Easton the same year, and two in the neighboring towns, —
Dr. Godfrey of Taunton, and Dr. Bryant of Bridgewater. These
facts are alluded to in the inscription upon the stone at the head
of Dr. Dean's grave. It is as follows : —

Erected to the memory of
Who died Sept. 26, 1816,
Aged 68 years.

The tliird physician Easton ever lost.
Those Guild and Pratt not five months past.


A short time since we lived as friends, —

Godfrey, Guild, Pratt, Bryant too.

Physicians, all our labor ends,

We 've bid the world adieu ;

To brighter worlds our spirits rise,

And view at distance there

The vain results of busy Man,

And smile at human care.

The first person buried in this yard.

There are the remains of persons buried here who died earlier
than Dr. Dean, but they were removed from other places. Thus
when Albert Hayward built his house opposite the old site of
the Hayward carriage-shop, he removed the remains of Jonathan
Hayward and his wives Rebecca and Mary, which had been
buried where he desired to build his house. Other similar re-
movals were of the remains of Dr. Samuel Deans and his wife
Hannah LeBaron, of Daniel Wheaton, Esq., Rebecca and Thomas
Kimball, and a few others. One stone here is in memory of
Capt. Nathaniel Perry, who died June 15, 1756, in Nova Scotia,
while serving in the French and Indian War. In this yard is
the grave of the eccentric George Washington Drake, who so
long lived a hermit's life, and who died March i, 1883, over
eighty-three years old. It deserves to be recorded that his
relative, Hiram P. Drake, has erected over his grave a beautiful
and substantial headstone, as he has done in the case of other
relatives, whose graves but for his thoughtful kindness might
soon have been nameless and forgotten.

Among the noticeable inscriptions on the headstones of graves
in this cemetery several deserve, for one reason or another, to be
recorded here. On the gravestone of an infant which died at
the age of seven months is the inscription, —

Joyless sojourner was I,
Only bom to weep and die.

Of Simeon Woodward, who died in 1865, at the age of three-
score years and ten, and who had mourned the death of his wife
for thirteen years, it is said : —

The lids he so seldom could close,
By sorrow forbidden to sleep.
Sealed up in a lengthy repose.
Have now forgotten to weep.



Sometimes a little theology gets carved in the marble, as in
this case : —

Ten thousand talents I did owe,
But Jesus Christ hath paid tlie debt ;
Believe, and sure you '11 find
To glory Death is but a step.

The writer's observations lead him to think that regard for
rhythm and poetry is better shown by selected than by origi-
nal inscriptions. The following seems to be a combination of
original and selected lines : —

Friends and physicians could not save
Her mortal body from the grave ;
Sleep, dear Harriet, in thy peaceful tomb.
We hope to meet thee in the world to come.

On another stone we read the words, —

An angel's arm could n't save me from the grave ;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.

Of a little boy eleven years old the simple but expressive
praise is given, —

Always so pleasant.

A widow who had parted in turn from two husbands is repre-
sented on her tombstone as saying with suggestive ambiguity, —
I go to them that are at rest.

In this cemetery are the graves of Capt. James Perry, Dr.
James Perry, Daniel Wheaton, Esq., Lewis Williams, Isaac
Kimball, Gen. Sheperd Leach, and other well known citizens of


South of the old Copeland place on the Bay road, just opposite
the end of Beaver Street and some distance from the road, is a
small family graveyard containing four graves. One of them is
of Elijah Copeland, who died September 8, 18 17, seventy-eight
years old ; another is of Rhoda his wife, who died October 5,
1825, aged eighty-two years. The remains of Martin Copeland's
wife, who died in 1835, lie in an unmarked grave in the same
place, and also the remains of one of his children. This burying-


ground is but twenty feet square, and is enclosed by chains
stretched from eight stone-posts.


Just north of the Horace Howard place is a cemetery which
was set apart by Nehemiah Howard as early as 1818. It con-
tains about twelve square rods, and is surrounded by a neat and
substantial fence of iron railings. It contains thirteen graves
with headstones ; and there are two, perhaps more, unmarked
graves. The first interment was that of Olive W., daughter of
Asa Howard, who died November 25, 18 18, two years and two
months old. The remains of Nehemiah Howard, who died in
1825, and of his wife, who died in 1820, lie here. There is an
excellent granite monument near the centre of the yard, about
twelve feet high, erected in memory of Horace D. Howard,
which serves as his family monument.


In the southeast corner of the field, next south of the Sheperd
house on the Bay road, is a small cemetery which seems to have
been entirely devoted to a branch of the Willis family. It is
about forty feet wide and fifty feet deep, well walled, and with
an open gateway in front about six feet wide. It has in it ten
or twelve graves. Only two of them have regular gravestones,
the rest being marked by round headstones and footstones.
One of the two stones alluded to has this inscription : " In mem-
ory of Capt. Jedediah Willis, who died January 30, 1820, in his
seventy-seventh year." The other records the fact that " Mrs.
Susanna Willis, wife of Capt. Jedediah Willis, died November
22, 181 8, in her sixty-third year." Both the poetical selections
carved upon these stones reflect the strange belief that the per-
sons whose names these stones perpetuate lie sleeping beneath
the sod, waiting there for the final resurrection.


On the north side of Maple Street, in the extreme southwest
corner of the town, there is a small private burying-ground care-
fully enclosed and well cared for. There are but two tombstones
in it. One records the fact that Asa Newcomb died January 27,



1827, aged sixty-seven years ; and the other that Sally, his wife,
died April 3, 1836, sixty-five years old. It is pleasant to notice
that small and isolated as this little enclosure is, it does not
suffer from the neglect of forgetful relatives and friends, but is
always kept in good order, and presents an example worthy of


On the west side of Pine Street, a short distance south of
High Street, is a small cemetery containing about five hundred
square yards of land. It was set apart by Asaph Howard at
the time of the death of his infant son, who died April 9, 1831,
twelve days old. There is, it is true, an older stone here over
the grave of Charles T., son of Thomas and Hannah Dunbar,
which is dated September 16, 1824 ; but this was a removal from
the small yard just over the line of West Bridgewater. The
remains of Thomas Dunbar, Jr., were brought from the same
place. The grave marked only by a soldier's post and flag is
that of old Thomas Dunbar, who was known far and near as
"the old fifer," and was called into service in the War of 18 12.
There are ten graves here with headstones, among them being
several members of the Asaph Howard and Thomas Dunbar
families. There are also three or four unmarked graves, two of
them being the graves of Abijah Knapp and Chloe his wife.


About fifty rods south of the Littlefield road, now named
Summer Street, and a little west of Abiel Littlefield's, there is a
small burying-ground. It is a few rods south of the old home-
stead place of Apollos Clark, who had a house, barn, and nailers'
shop there, only the cellar being now visible. This burying-
ground is thirty feet square, surrounded by a shallow trench
filled with stones, the intention evidently having been to build a
wall ; but this was not done. There are two good headstones
there, — one over the remains of Apollos Clark, who died Jan-
uary 2, 1832, aged sixty-one years. He fell from his team when
out in the woods, and was run over and killed. Capt. Ziba Ran-
dall's record had it as follows : " Apolous Clark, Killd with a
wheel January 4, aged sixty-one." The date here given is two



days too late. When the body of Mr. Clark was found, his dog
was faithfully watching and guarding it. The other gravestone
mentioned is sacred to the memory of Phoebe, the wife of Caleb
Gifford, who died January 12, 1835, aged twenty- four years, six
months, and eight days. There are four other graves here that
are unmarked save by small uncut stones, — one being the grave
of a child, one of a youth, and the other two apparently of adults.


On the street running west from Macey Record's is a small
cemetery, which was originally intended, no doubt, for the Record
family only. It is a little east of Josiah Woodbury's house, and
on the north side of the road. The oldest gravestone is that
of Fanny D., daughter of Macey and Mary Record, who died
January 13, 1834, nearly eleven years old. On the headstone of
Macey Record, who died in 1856, is the inscription, "May we
meet again ! " and on the headstone of his wife, who died in
1869, is the happy response, "We meet again." There are
eighteen or nineteen graves here, half of them having no carved
headstones. The yard is sixty feet square, neatly laid out, and
surrounded by a stone-wall.


The above-named burying-ground is on the west side of Mill
Street, a few rods from Rockland Street. It is about one hun-
dred and fifteen by one hundred and fifty feet in size. The
land was given by John Selee, son of Nathan, and father of John
A. Selee ; the right of ownership in lots is now conferred by the
last-named person. The first burial in this yard was that of the
body of Joseph Ward, who was probably the Ward dying in
1836 ; his grave has no stone over it. That year seems to be
the date of the setting apart of this land for burial purposes.
There are now about ninety graves in it, thirty-five of which
are unmarked. The remains of Nathan Selee and of his wife
Sabrina, which were once in the William Dean yard near by,
were reinterred here ; and there were also two or three other
removals. The unmarked graves are of Mrs. Catherine S. Willis
and three children ; an infant child of N. P. Selee ; Zeno, Har-
riet, Jane, Thankful, and Ruth Buck ; Susan, Floyer, Frank,



and Charles Britton ; Joseph Ward, Eben Allen and wife Helen,
Mrs. Laban Drake, Ida and Charles Johnson ; a child of Azel
Snow, and Joseph Washburn, wife, and child ; two children of
Wesley Smith, three of Martin Williams, and four grandchil-
dren of James and Rachel Reed ; Lewis Lane, Edwin West,
James Reed, G. A. Boodry, and the soldier B. F. Boodry. Suf-
ficient pains has not been taken in this cemetery to keep the
lots distinct ; where there are many unmarked graves there is
always danger of the boundary lines being obliterated, and lots


On the north side of Depot Street, west of the old Silas Phillips
place, is a small burying-ground about fifty by eighty feet in area,
which was set apart by Silas Phillips, Jr., in 1842. The first inter-
ment in this yard was of the remains of Miss Louise Phillips, a
sister of Silas, Jr., who died July 11, 1842, sixty-four years old.
The remains of Silas Phillips, Sr., who died in 182 1, were removed
to this place from the old cemetery near by. On his gravestone
are the words, " He was a soldier of the Revolution." His grave
deserves special honor, because he was one of the very few
Easton men who were in service through the terrible winter of
1 777-1 778 at Valley Forge. He was at that time a sergeant in
Capt. Ephraim Burr's company. Amasa and Asa Phillips were
with him, — Amasa dying in service in June, 1778. This yard
was intended for use as a Phillips family cemetery; but in 1848
Capt. Barsillai Dean bought it, and began to build upon it a
family tomb. As it is level ground there was but little excava-
tion, the tomb being mostly above ground. On the 29th day of
June, 1848, Captain Dean was at work in the tomb, when one of
the cross-stones at the top gave way and fell upon him, causing
his death. His remains were deposited in this yard ; but when
the tomb was finished, — which was about two months after-
ward, — his body was placed in it, and remained there about
fifteen years. It was then removed to the Easton cemetery on
Washington Street.

In this Silas Phillips cemetery there appear to be eight graves.
One of them is unmarked, and one has a soldier's stake with the
name of J. Legrow. The yard has a stone-wall upon two sides,


and a fence upon the other two. A few beautiful pines grow in
and near it, and the wind through their branches makes a peace-
ful requiem over this home of the dead. It is now the property
of the heirs of Silas Phillips.


It frequently happens that inmates of the Almshouse, before
dying, express some wish as to burial, — perhaps desiring that
their bodies may lie near the graves of relatives or friends.
These wishes are generally respected, and the town's poor have
been buried in different cemeteries. But there are cases in
which no such wish is expressed, the dying poor having no rela-
tives or friends here. It was therefore desirable that some
special burial-place should be provided by the town for such
cases. This was done some years after the purchase of the
present Almshouse property. A lot of land sixty by forty-five
feet was laid out three hundred yards southwest of the present
site of the Almshouse. It is surrounded by a good stone-wall,
is shaded by fir-trees, and is neatly kept. There are nineteen or
twenty graves in it, all of which are unmarked. Would it not
be well for the town to provide inexpensive but substantial
headstones, upon which the names and dates of birth and death
might be inscribed ?

One of these graves — that of old Mrs. Rebecca Allen, who
died in 1881, aged eighty — deserves this consideration. The
writer once observed a funeral procession approach the Central
Cemetery, and this poor demented lady, seeing a fallen branch of
a tree obstructing its entrance, thoughtfully removed it, and then
stood at the gate, like the figure of Old Mortality, bowed in re-
spectful and reverent courtesy, while the procession passed in.
It was an act as good in its way, and as gracefully done, as that
of Sir Walter Raleigh when he spread his cloak in the mud for
the Queen to walk upon.


In the year 1849 Lincoln Drake gave to Daniel Belcher and
others a piece of land on the east side of South Street in the
Furnace Village, four hundred and twenty-nine feet long by one
hundred and fifty-two wide. This they were to manage for



burial purposes for the benefit of the village. No corporation
has at this date (1886) been formed, though one is contem-
plated. It is at present under the management of Daniel
Belcher. The yard is surrounded by arbor-vitae trees, whose
perpetual evergreen may well symbolize our immortality. An
addition of the same length as the old yard, and of one hundred
feet in width, has just been made upon the south side by Daniel
Belcher. The first interment in the yard was that of Charles
Francis, son of Lincoln and Caroline Drake, who died July 16,
1849. There appear to be one hundred and forty graves here,
of which forty-three are unmarked. Among once well-known
citizens whose remains are buried in this yard may be men-
tioned Lincoln Drake, Tisdale Harlow, Emory Goward, Nahum
Williams, Francis and Dwelly Goward, Albert A. Rotch, Henry
Hamilton, and Greenfield Williams. One notices here the
graves of John Gardiner and Catherine his wife, who Feb. i,
1880, were burned in their house from an accident caused by
two fiery fluids, — rum and kerosene. And those familiar with
the place will look at another grave with tragic interest, for they
will remember the suspicious circumstances of a woman's death,
— the investigation ordered, the exhuming of the body, the dis-
covery of poison in the stomach, the flight of the husband, the
reinterment of the body, and its being afterward stolen from the
grave. Though the law was foiled, however, justice will yet be
done. No man can escape that conscience whose retributive
lash will sooner or later wield heavier and sharper strokes than
legal justice can possibly inflict. This dreadful affair was not
the only instance in which poison was employed by the guilty
parties, though in the other instances known to the writer the
poison was given to animals as a means of revenge against their


Under date of September 4, 1S50, Jason G. Howard and eleven
others made application to Joseph Barrows, Esq., to issue a war-
rant to call a meeting for the purpose of organizing a corpora-
tion to be known as the Easton Cemetery Corporation. The
organization was accomplished September 11, 1850, Elijah How-
ard being chosen president. The first purchase of land was made



of Dr. Caleb Swan and David L. Pratt in 1850, consisting of two
acres and one rod, and costing $86. In 1875 ^ purchase of
thirty-two acres was made of Palmer Newton, for 1^350. Only a
small part of this latter purchase has been fenced in.

This cemetery is situated above South Easton village on the
west side of Washington Street. It is a level tract of light
sandy soil, has been planted with evergreen trees, and is neatly
kept. The first interment here was that of Catherine Lothrop,
wife of Thomas J. Johnson, "who died at Newtonville, together
with an infant son," May 27, 185 1, thirty-five years of age. At
the date of this writing (November, 1885) there can be counted
two hundred and seventy-one graves, forty-four of which are
unmarked ; of these latter, however, many are new graves, to
which headstones will probably be supplied. The following are
names of most of those buried in these unmarked graves : Dean
Ramsdell, Lizzie Ramsdell, and Emma, wife of Dean Ramsdell,
Jr. ; Joseph Heath, a soldier, and Fred H. Greenleaf ; a child
of Fred Clapp, also one of Lucius Darling, of James Willis,
of H. Y. Mitchell, of Fred C. Thayer, and of Warren Jones ; two
children of Eugene Willis and others of Martin Willis ; Mrs.
Carrie Kilburn and child ; Rosanna, wife of Thomas James ; Re-
becca, wife of John Bailey, and the wife of John Bailey, Jr. ; Ella,
wife of F. C. Thayer ; Tyler F. Clapp, a soldier ; Hattie Bosworth,
Caleb S. Lothrop, Frank Nelson, and Asa Packard. There are

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 46 of 78)