The Old Burying Ground

I love history.  It’s the stories, and understanding life way back when, that is deeply important – to me.  When those lives are on hallowed ground, in the beauty of fall, history comes alive.

Groton’s Old Burying Ground is simply wonderful.  My school had a fundraiser, a scavenger hunt throughout the town today.  I volunteered at the Old Burying Ground.  First, let me show you how beautiful it was today:

Groton’s first settlers chose the corner of Hollis and School Street for their second Meeting House in 1678.  While the location of the church was changed in 1714, the Old Burial Ground remained at the original site and was the sole public place of burial in the town until 1847.

The most important part, of course, are the headstones.  When we first moved to Massachusetts in 1984, I visited the old cemetery.  I was shocked at what I saw – the headstones had beautiful, intricate  carvings.  The words and carvings were not worn.  They were crystal clear, on the headstones that were made of slate.


They also told stories.  I had never seen anything but names and dates on headstones.  This was a whole new world, full of stories of real people and their lives.

Mrs Abigail Kendrick Widow of Capt Caleb Kendrick left her pleasant habitation in Newton & come to her Daughter Dana’s in Groton on account of ye civil War & Sept 5 1775  E 70 was removed by a dysentery, to that place where ye wicked cease to from troubling and ye weary are at rest.

Oh, my!  What a story.  Most of the headstones have a story, or a few words that give you a glimpse into the life of the person buried below.  A double head stone typically meant siblings who died on the same day.

I can’t gloss over this, because the people are right there.  Walking the paths, stopping to look at the headstones, I think of the stone carvers.  They carved beauty and sadness.  I stop at clusters of stones, because often they are a family with children who all died.  There is a family whose children died of throat distemper (my pediatrician told me that was diphtheria.)  The beautiful art and writing preserve these people and their families.

I am drawn to art, writing, history, and the beauty of nature.  This place has it all.

I told the many people who stopped by today to look for the stories.

Thank you, Groton, for preserving your founding fathers and their lives.  Thank you, Mother Nature, for making this special place of history beautiful and welcoming.

“Stories help us remember what we never want to forget.” –Emory R. Frie-


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in America, art, Death and dying, Expressing words and feelings, geography, history, Inspiration, Mother Nature, Nature, The Arts, wonder and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

100 Responses to The Old Burying Ground

  1. Ritu says:

    Absolutely fascinating 💜💜💜

  2. beth says:

    thank you for sharing this beautiful place with us, I also love to meander through and read headstones and try to imagine the stories left untold. I’ve noticed that when there is a little lamb on a gravestone, it is a sign of the loss of a young child.

  3. GP Cox says:

    This is beautiful, Jennie. I spent the longest time in a cemetery in central Florida photographing old tombstones back in 2017. I guess I don’t have to tell you that I love History, eh? haha

  4. Darlene says:

    I love old cemeteries like this one. I too enjoy reading the words on gravestones as they give us an idea of the person. Even as a child, I prefered visiting a cemetery rather than playing sports. There are so many stories there. The setting for this one is perfect too. Thanks for sharing.

  5. What a beautiful final resting place for the founding families of your town to ensure they will be remembered.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    I love walking through old cemeteries, Jennie. The stories are often sad and sometimes fascinating. Thanks for sharing these.

  7. John Kraft says:

    Wonderful. Only in the small towns do you find such stories.

  8. Opher says:

    It looks such a beautiful place Jennie – so many tales.

  9. quiall says:

    Immortality is all around us if we are wise enough to look. Beautiful.

  10. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this wonderful post!

  11. These stories will live on…I am envious of their access to affordable stonecutters!!!!
    The vid is gorgeous, thanks, Jennie.

  12. Wow, Jennie, these headstones are wonderful. I often visit cemeteries in the UK, but not so much here in SA. The UK has wonderful and interesting cemeteries like yours.

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I have treasured finding the stones of my forebears since we moved to New England.(As one of our daughters once said “I know about the three bears, but who are the four bears?”)

  14. This is a beautiful post, Jennie. I much prefer this view of a cemetery to the way the commercialized Halloween attitude has made cemeteries a scary place. People we love are buried there. I think it’s awful to turn the cemeteries into places of horror.

  15. So lovely and thought-provoking, Jennie.

  16. Beautiful video Jennie! Growing up and living most of my life in Danvers (Salem Village), I was fascinated by the headstones in our town’s cemeteries and the stories they told. Many of them went back to the first settlers!

  17. Reblogged this on By Hook Or By Book and commented:
    A beautiful post from Jennie that illustrates the fascinating aspects of cemeteries.

  18. Don Ostertag says:

    Oh, such a beautiful post, Jennie. Makes me want to go to the cemetery where my people are buried.

  19. Thank you for sharing this with us, Jennie.

  20. I too love the history to be found in cemeteries, this one looks so cool, I’d love to see it one day.

    • Jennie says:

      This is right up your alley, FR. History and art and stories, all on hallowed ground. If you ever get to Massachusetts, I will be thrilled to take you there. Yes, it is so cool. Thank you!

  21. Thanks for sharing, Jennie… We live near a local cemetery where my grandchildren and I walked shared many hours when they were young.

  22. petespringerauthor says:

    It’s remarkable to think that something from hundreds of years ago is so well-preserved.

  23. TanGental says:

    The stories are fascinating, the trees beautiful

  24. beetleypete says:

    Many of us are drawn to the history of old graveyards and cemeteries. I always try to find the oldest grave. Sadly, many headstones here are badly worn away, with no family left to have them renewed.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      It is a lovely piece of history. The headstones that are made of concrete or stone are often worn. The slate ones maintain their carvings. Since those buried here are England’s direct descendants, I was curious if the carvings look similar to headstones in England. Best to you, Pete.

  25. it is always interesting to see how things change over time and this is yet another example of those changes.

  26. Mae Clair says:

    Hello! I hopped over from Kim’s blog. I’ve had a fascination with old cemeteries since I was a kid. My father is responsible for helping me develop that appreciation. I love history and pausing to imagine the lives of the people who lived before me. The old tombstones you’ve shared are amazing.

    In my area we have stones dating back to the Revolutionary War. There is also an Indian Princess named White Feather, buried in our local cemetery. I’m currently reading a book about the pilgrims, so your post is timely in that respect as well. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Jennie says:

      That is wonderful, Mae. Thank you for your story. Yes, pausing to imagine those lives makes history come alive. Where is this cemetery where White Feather is buried? Massachusetts?

      • Mae Clair says:

        Hi, Jennie. It’s a very old cemetery in Linglestown, Pennsylvania at the church of St. Thomas. They have an amazing online website as well, with the history of the church, cemetery and many of those buried there.

      • Jennie says:

        I love Pennsylvania. My husband and his family are from York. I will ask him if he knows Linglestown. How wonderful that they have an online website!

      • Mae Clair says:

        York is about 45 minutes to 1 hour from Linglestown (originally called The Village of St. Thomas). Lots of history in that little town. I would love to get to Massachusetts again. I was there many years ago, but didn’t get to do the proper exploring I would like to.

      • Jennie says:

        My husband knows the town! I hope you get up here to Massachusetts one day. There is great exploring to do.

      • Mae Clair says:

        That’s awesome that your husband knows the town! And yes, I hope I get back to your state again. It has such great history!

  27. Nice visit and wonderful history. Thanks, Jennie.

  28. Pingback: The Old Burying Ground ~ Jennie Fitzkee | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  29. Akriti Jain says:

    Beautifully written Jennie 🙂

    Stories really are so powerful… How a few words put together describe the whole life of a person – this is what you have shown so wonderfully in this post.

  30. I agree with you about the importance of history. We must remember.

  31. I’ve never spent much time in a cemetery but that one is beautiful with the mature trees. I have not encountered headstones with stories on them either. Thanks for opening up my world a bit more.

    • Jennie says:

      I think these are only in New England. I had never seen headstones like this until I moved here. It is art, isn’t it? Glad you enjoyed it, Marlene.

  32. Cemetries and burying grounds are so interesting, for getting knowledge about the real past. How may the settlers have felt, after reaching this new world? Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Its a great work, preserving this for the future too. Michael

  33. The history is absolutely remarkable and intriguing!

  34. justakygirl says:

    Beautiful place, beautiful history.

  35. Pingback: The Old Burying Ground – The Art Voyage

  36. willedare says:

    Thank you for this golden post about Groton’s cemetery. I have been walking a lot in a cemetery near the heart of Arlington which looks very modest from the street and then becomes quite large — extending all the way to a crest overlooking Mystic Lake on the Winchester border. And there is also a lovely stream (covered as it flows through much of the town) along one edge AND a small town wetlands through which the stream runs before emptying into Mystic Lake. I shall see if I can find any slate headstones, although my sense is that the folks buried here tend to be more recently alive… So far I have found one magnificent rose quartz (I am guessing) gravestone in the form of a boulder with an attached plaque! Cemeteries are a blessing for the living and the dead.

    • Jennie says:

      How wonderful! Your discovery adventure must have made you feel like an explorer finding treasure. Such beauty! That rose quartz- wow! Yes, I do believe cemeteries are a blessing for both the living and the dead.

  37. srbottch says:

    Wonderful story and video, Jennie. I seem to be coming to it a bit late and enjoying the fall colors. Mt. Hope cemetery is just down the road from me and there you’ll find the graves of Susan B Anthony and Frederick Douglas. Quite amazing. Thanks for this beautiful moment, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m glad you liked it, Steve, especially the video. It was a glorious fall day at the Old Burying Ground. Does your Mr. Hope cemetery have the same carved granite headstones? Pretty cool to have some famous people buried there.

      • srbottch says:

        It’s been awhile since I toured it so I can’t say if they do. But, it’s a beautiful cemetery with some magnificent monuments over graves. Have you seen Paul Revere’s monument in the Boston cemetery on the historical walk? It’s a tiny upright. Would have thought he had something more notable.

      • Jennie says:

        I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston years ago, but they don’t allow you to go into the cemetery, just alongside it. I was surprised at how nondescript many were.

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