SITE VISIT IMPRESSIONS
Today's weather? No snow on the ground, ground dry, skies sunny...a perfect day to walk the Brigham Street Burial Ground since beginning this project. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to visit the site, armed with a sketch of its history and of who may be interred there. With the objectivity of a researcher, but my personal curiosity of getting a new impression of the place, I headed over and started walking a grid.
And that is where the experience got tricky.
Having read about burial customs of the times, having found a witness's documentation of more burials in addition to the 4 still there, and understanding the family and neighbor relationships that existed about 1730, I "saw" so much more in that patch of land than I ever would have thought.
The parcel was cleaned up and cleared before the winter, so the ground was completely exposed and easily walked. The Holloway/Wheeler family members are still where I remembered, of course. Each of the parallel and west-facing graves is still well-marked with head and footstone, the roughly 5ft by 2ft mound between the stones smattered with large rocks among the moss. This time, however, I stood back away from that small section in order to really observe the larger area nearby with a new perspective. And that is when it struck me. There are even more groupings of parallel patches of stones, some mounded and some sunken. There are even a few parallel sunken spots near the rear of the parcel. All these are not news, of course, as the observations have been made by others in the past. For me, however, to have a researched to date a count of close to 20 possible burials and to be able to count at least that number of visible marked spots left me stunned, frankly. I was also saddened by the understanding that they have been long since forgotten, except by those who maintain the property to keep it clean and mowed.
There have been several efforts in the past to identify those buried there. My very non-scientific hope is that the advances made in technology over the last several decades, coupled with the advances of the information age, can shed new light on just what the story is in this interesting old place. And which of the brave founding families should be remembered and honored.
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Beth Finch McCarthy