Grave Matters

As I’ve noted before, I have an affinity for cemeteries and graves, particularly medieval and 17th/18th century burial grounds.  Our recent trip to New England was a gold mine for the latter.  The first one I ran across was the Central Burying Ground on the Boston Common, across the street from our hotel.  Unfortunately it was gated and locked, but it really exhibits what I like about 18th century cemeteries – a randomness…not the uniform rows of later grave yards.  Of course, that same randomness plays havoc with us genealogists, so it’s a trade off.

Boston Common Cemetery1
Central Burying Ground – Boston Common

The following day, we did a genealogy research trip around the Boston area looking for my Franklin, Smith and Ayers ancestors.  I didn’t find anything new but did happen upon some interesting graves.  The first stop was Hingham, Massachusetts where my 8th great grandmother, Sarah Smith was born in 1646.  I was hoping to find some Smiths there, particularly my 9th great grandparents, John Smith and Sarah Woodward.  No such luck, but the Hingham Cemetery is fantastic, even more so on the crisp fall day we were there.  Here are some examples:

Gravestone in the Hingham, MA Cemetery
Gravestone of Mary Lincoln, Hingham, MA Cemetery

These two stones show outstanding examples of the death’s head motif.  A death’s head, often with wings and/or crossed bones, was a stylized skull – one of the more prominent  gravestone icons to be seen in late 17th, early 18th stones.

Gravestone of Thomas and Sarah Gill, Hingham MA Cemetery

After Hingham, we drove the short distance to Hull.  This was slightly out of order, chronologically.  Sarah Smith married Jonathan Franklin, my 8th great grandfather in Boston about 1686.  They stayed in Boston for a time and then repaired to Haverhill on the New Hampshire border.  Jonathan was killed by Indians in 1693 in Haverhill.  Sarah then married John Fields and with her children, including my 7th great grandfather, David Franklin, moved to Hull where David learned the trade of a seaman.

After Hull, we schlepped up to Haverhill.  I really wanted to find the Pentucket Cemetery, but it was a lost cause, sending the GPS in the rent-a-car into apoplectic fits.  There are alot of Ayer(s) there; my 7th great grandmother, wife of David Franklin, was Elizabeth Ayers.

Anyroad, we were back in Boston three days later as part of our tour on the Queen Mary 2.  That day, we spent some time in Boston’s Granary Burying Grounds.  Several famous folks are buried there; Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin’s parents, etc.  These are some of my favorite examples from there.

Boston Cemetery
Gravestone of Elizabeth Hurd, Granary Burying Ground, Boston
Boston Cemetery1
Gravestone of Nathan Hurd, Granary Burying Ground, Boston
Boston Cemetery3
Gravestone, Granary Burying Ground, Boston

(The preceding three seem to have ‘death’s head’ down a little too grimly…)

Boston Cemetery2
Gravestone of Hannah Franklin, Granary Burying Ground, Boston

And while probably not true, the local legend is that this is the grave of Mother Goose.

Mother Goose
Gravestone of Mary Goose, Granary Burying Grounds, Boston

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