Arts and Culture
Food and Wine
People and Places
Science and Nature
Travel and Lodging
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
Home » HISTORY in VT » VERMONT (all topics) » New England Cemeteries
Lethe Waters     BY: Emery Roth II
New England Cemeteries

By Michael F. Bisceglia, Jr. | August 30, 2010

Michael F Biscelglia, Jr. discover's humor in the most unlikliest of places - New England cemetries!

Why are New England cemeteries surrounded by stonewalls or iron fences? Because people are dying to get in there.   Okay, bad joke.   Truth is, New England does have lots of cemeteries.   After all, our heritage that goes back to 1620.   I'm not advocating packing the kids in the car and trundling off to the one closest to you; I'm saying some of the very old cemeteries in the region are worth your time if you care to visit.   They're fascinating.

It doesn't happen with every walk in the woods, but quite frequently someone will trip over a rock in an overgrown area only to find it is a long-forgotten cemetery.   Many of these areas hold only a few dozen graves.   In some cases, cemeteries have been discovered when construction crews began a new project.   Along Route 1, just south of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, graves in a very small cemetery are located only a few feet from the curb.

Older cemeteries were not necessarily in prominent locations in urban centers of the time.   Many were located behind the local churches.   In more rural areas, lineages may be traced through the position of headstones in family plots on family homesteads.   Often, the granite headstones will do much more than delineate the name and dates of birth and death of the deceased.   They may indicate what caused the individual's death, and possibly include a short epitaph of or by that individual. Call it my grave sense of humor, but I do enjoy a chuckle at the wit carved into some of these stones.   Here's one from Enosburg, Vermont:

Anna Hepewell:

"Here lies the body of our Anna Done to death by a banana It wasn't the fruit that laid her low But the skin of the thing that made her go!"

Here's another from Hatfield, Massachusetts:

Arabella Young - 1771:

"Here lies as silent clay Miss Arabella Young. Who on the 21st of May Began to hold her tongue."

A wanderer among the old headstones may wish to take along some butcher paper and a few charcoal pencils to make a rubbings of some of the more intriguing stones.   There are some very intriguing stones.   Remember, New England has a very colorful history.   Sea captains, accused witches, patriots, slaves, and British soldiers are resting beneath its soil.

Some folks, however, don't want to be recognized even in death.   Such is the case of someone from Stowe, Vermont:

I was somebody. Who, is no business Of yours.

So there.

Share |
ONE is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.