Sometimes Serendipity happens. After I found a few sections of Reverend Ebenezer’s published diary online, I understood the importance of having access to all available diary entries. By following his ministrations throughout his tenure [which included the years the Brigham Street Old Burial Ground was active], I theorized that I might find more clues about who was buried there as he would have officiated at the funerals. The repository to use is the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester), which holds most of the surviving original diary volumes. More investigating revealed that the society published a transcription of their holdings in 1974, which included an Introduction jam-packed with historical fact gems.
No stranger to online bargain hunting, I looked up what was available through online booksellers of rare and used books. And there it was on eBay. Among listings for the price as high as $380 was a copy containing 3 volumes of Rev. Parkman’s diary for $4. Really, I kid you not. For the total price of about $8 with shipping, I received in the mail today the most valuable resource imagined for this particular research project.
And the surprises just kept on coming. I opened up to a random page, only to find Rev. Parkman visiting with Hezekiah Howe, one of the unidentified burials I found last week. Hezekiah was alive and well, waiting to tell us his story. On the same page was a funeral and conversations about 3 children recently buried in the northern “side of town” as well. Time to clean my new glasses and get reading from page 1.
LESSON LEARNED: A book reseller in Arizona has absolutely no clue about the historical value of a first-person account of early colonial life in Massachusetts. In other words, the significance of an eyewitness reporting events as they happenis absolutely huge. And I have the genealogical equivalent of gold sitting right here on my desk.
Parkman, Ebenezer. The Diary of Ebenezer Parkman (1703-1782): First Part, Three Volumes in One (1719-1755). Edited by Francis G. Walett. Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 1974.
Beth Finch McCarthy