William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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a few others whose names are not easily ascertainable.

Among the well-known citizens of other days whose graves
are here may be mentioned those of E. J. W. Morse, Solomon
W. Morse, Elijah Howard, Dr. Caleb Swan, Capt. Barzillai
Dean, Larnard Williams, Capt. Milo Williams, Col. John Torrey,
and John Bisbee, the latter well deserving the inscription upon
his tombstone, " An honest man ; the noblest work of God."

Among inscriptions worth copying is the following : —

God doeth all things well ;
And so long as I think so,
I am content with what his hand brings forth.

An epitaph upon the gravestone of a lad of nine years, who
was drowned by breaking through the ice, bears evident marks
of being original : —


Bright, cheerful, and gay, o'er the ice did I play,
Not aware of the dangerous road ;
When sudden as thought my life's thread was cut,
And straight I ascended to God.

One notices here with interest the graves of several soldiers
who served in the War of the Rebellion, some of them dying
far from home, on battle-field, in hospitals, or in Rebel prisons.
Among these are Sergt. George Davis, who died at Annapolis
from disease contracted in the Salisbury (N. C.) prison ; Sergt.
Charles A. Morse, died at Falmouth, Va. ; D. Jackson, wounded
at luka, Miss. ; and Linton Waldron, J. F. Clapp, C. H. Willis,
and Joseph Heath.

There have been some removals from this cemetery, among
which were the remains of several members of the Ames fam-
ilies. The family lot of Edward N. Morse is beautifully laid
out, and adorned with an excellent and appropriate statue in
the centre.


On the 7th of September, 1857, the Rev. Thomas B. McNulty,
who then conducted Roman Catholic services in North Easton,
purchased of Ohver Ames & Sons about two acres of land to be
used by the Roman Catholics for a burying-ground. This land
is on the north side of Canton Street, just west of the old Fer-
guson place, and is very pleasantly situated, sloping up from the
road and extending over the crest of the hill. The cemetery was
dedicated by Father McNulty, and shortly afterward occurred
the first interment, — that of a child of Patrick Hefferman.
There are now about three hundred and forty graves here, of
which over two hundred are unmarked. The first monument
was erected by Michael O'Beirne. With one exception there is
probably no cemetery in Easton where the headstones and monu-
ments average so costly as here. This yard is divided into small
lots, most of them having room for only two graves. The lots
have nearly all been taken, and an addition of another piece of
land will soon be needed. A strong handsome wall was built on
the street side in 1881, and a good deal has lately been done in
the way of improving the premises. The site of this burying-
ground is pleasant, and by the planting of trees and by sufficient



care it may be made a beautiful spot. It is to be regretted that
the lots are raised considerably above the general level. It is
very difficult to keep such raised lots in good order, as the ter-
races are continually wearing down ; and they detract from,
rather than add to, the beauty of a cemetery. There are twenty
soldiers' graves here, of which a record will be found in the
account given further on of the G. A. R. Post of Easton.


The Village Cemetery of North Easton was begun in Sep-
tember, 1875, — a month after the dedication of Unity Church,
near which this cemetery is located. The ground it occu-
pies was then crowded with stones and bowlders, and a large
force of men was engaged for about a year in digging out
and removing them. The expense of this work was borne by
Oliver Ames, the donor of the church, by F. L. Ames, Oakes
A, Ames, and Oliver Ames, 2d. It contains about five acres,
and is nearly surrounded by a stone-wall which is about four feet
thick at the base, and has an average height of seven feet. It
is carefully laid out in drives and walks, and contains one hun-
dred and fifty-three lots. There is an excellent tomb here for
the temporary deposit of the remains of the dead. A large ledge
of sienite, which is the underlying rock at this place, crowns
the highest part of the cemetery. East of this is the Ames
family lot. It is a noteworthy and affecting fact that the first
burial-service held here was at the grave of Oliver Ames, under
whose lead this cemetery was laid out and prepared. The only
remains that were deposited here previous to this were those
removed from another burying-ground. Near by the grave of
Oliver Ames repose the ashes of his father and his brother
Oakes, and of other members of the family ; and just beside his
own grave is that of his daughter, Helen Angier Ames, who
died suddenly in the prime of a life of thoughtful and generous
service, deeply honored, loved, and lamented by all who knew
her. A tall granite shaft records the names of Oakes Ames, and
of his wife and his son Henry. Large granite sarcophagi stand
on the lots of the first and second Oliver Ames and of E. W.
Gilmore. There are now (October, 1886) ninety-three graves
in this cemetery, twenty-six of them being as yet unmarked.


Most of the latter are the graves recently made, and some of
them will in due time be provided with tombstones. Forty-four
of the graves are of those whose remains have been removed
from other cemeteries.

The management of this cemetery is in the hands of the
Village Cemetery Corporation, which was incorporated in 1878,
and of which all proprietors of lots are members. A printed set
of by-laws prescribes the rules according to which the cemetery
is managed. Among these it is provided that no one shall build
therein any fence, hedge, or curbing. This excellent rule pre-
vents the burying-ground from being cut up into numerous
small enclosures, and gives it an open, lawn-like appearance,
which is much more agreeable to the eye. A fund of ten thou-
sand dollars, bequeathed by Oliver Ames, who died in 1877,
provides for the perpetual care of this cemetery. Those who
have an interest in this beautiful spot have the satisfaction of
knowing that it will always be neatly kept, and not be allowed
to run to the dreary, neglected waste that is the fate of many of
our country burying-grounds.

In addition to the burying-grounds now noticed, there were
at least two others that have been not only abandoned, but that
have left no trace of their former uses behind them. One of
them was just west of a large bowlder on the Alonzo Marshall
(now O. A. Day) place, not far east of the railroad-track. It
contains three Manley graves, one of a child of Peter Bartlett,
and three other graves. All are now indistinguishable.

There was also a graveyard in the field owned by E. W. Gil-
more, near where his hinge-factory stands. About fifteen graves
were here. Among them were those of the Rev. Eseck Carr
and wife, Caleb Carr, Sr., and wife, whose remains were removed
by their son Caleb when the factory was built, and deposited
in the Washington Street Cemetery. The remains of Capt.
Elisha Harvey and his wife still lie in the field alluded to, and
are only a few feet from the northwest corner of the factory.
It is due to the memory of this old hero that his and his wife's
remains should be disinterred and deposited elsewhere, with
some fitting gravestones to mark the spot and perpetuate their
memory. The others whose remains were buried in this place


were Elizabeth Simmons, John Simmons, and Jeremiah his
son ; an old Mrs. Packard ; John and Tiley Carr, children of
Caleb, Sr. ; Horatio Packard, and also his mother, who was wife
of Jedediah Packard. Two of her children were buried here.
Elizabeth Simmons died as early as the Revolutionary War, and
hers was the first burial in this yard. She was the daughter of
Mrs. Eseck Carr by her first husband.

One notices in reading the inscriptions upon the tombstones
in some of our burying-grounds a strange confusion of thought
concerning the condition of the soul after death. This results
from the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. The spiritual
imagination of most persons is feeble. It is difficult to conceive
of the spirit as separate from the body ; and the belief that the
body was to be raised up again at the last day made it quite
natural to think that the dead really were slumbering in the
grave in a state of unconsciousness, from which the last trump
would wake them. For example : —

Kind angels watch the sleeping dust
Till Jesus comes to raise the just.
Then may he wake with sweet surprise,
And in his Saviour's image rise.

In this stanza, found on one of our tombstones, it is plainly
implied that the just man, whom this stone commemorates, is
sleeping below the sod.

On another stone we read : —

Underneath this stone doth lie
As much virtue as could die.^

1 This couplet was doubtless suggested by the famous " Epitaph on Elizabeth
L. H.," written by Ben Jonson, a part of which reads as follows : —

" Underneath this stone doth lye
As much beauty as could dye ;
Which in life did harbour give
To more virtue than doth live."

To the couplet quoted above in the text two original lines were added, and they
make the whole stanza upon the tombstone a medley at which old Ben Jonson
would have stood aghast. The stanza is as follows : —

" Underneath this stone doth lie
As much virtue as could die ;
With earnest prayer they sought to God
To wash them in Christ Jesus' blood."



Another inscription begins : —

Housed in the dust my partner lies.

There are many inscriptions of like tenor, all plainly teaching
that the persons over whose graves they are written are really
sleeping beneath.

There are some of a different kind, which seem to fluctuate
between the idea of personal unconsciousness in the grave and
that of the soul's present existence in heaven. For example :

Sleep on, dear child, and take thy rest ;
God called thee home, — He thought it best.

In the first line of this couplet the child is thought of as sleep-
ing quietly in the grave, while in the second the words " God
called thee home " would suggest the contrary supposition, —
that the child is now living with God in heaven. Thus the
doctrine of the physical resurrection confuses the thought, and
tends to hold it down to the grave in expectation of the time
when the body shall rise again. But on the later tombstones
we find that the resurrection of the body is more seldom alluded
to. The inscriptions now are, as a rule, those that suggest, not
a future, but an immediate rising to God.

It is difficult to conjecture by what principle people were
sometimes guided in their selections of Scripture or poetry for
inscriptions upon the tombstones of their friends. These often
show poor judgment as well as wretched taste. What, for in-
stance, could induce one to choose a stanza like the following,
which is carved upon the headstone of a young man well
known in his time : —

In the cold grave this frame must rest,
And worms shall feed on this poor breast ;
These hands will then be useless grown,
And I, alas ! no more be known.

It is a dishonor to the departed to represent them as uttering
any such shocking and comfortless doggerel as this.

How, too, shall we account for the selection of the following
passage of Scripture for the motto upon the tombstone of one
whom the writer is informed was an excellent woman : —

" It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."



Probably those who chose this considered it the right thing to
have some Scripture on the gravestone, and were careless about
the inevitable suggestions of this passage.

The burying-ground gives us painful illustrations of the weak-
nesses of human nature. One of them is an amiable weakness, —
that of the over-praise of the dead, as shown by the inscriptions
the living cause to be carved upon the headstones of deceased
friends. It is no wonder that Charles Lamb, walking when a
boy with his sister in a graveyard, and noticing the saintly char-
acters given to the dead by these inscriptions, asked, " Sister,
where are the (5

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 47 of 78)