Old Cemeteries in New England

Fall in New England is beautiful in color.  Groton’s old cemetery is lush with ancient trees and headstones that date back to the 1600’s.  Most of the headstones are made of slate, so they retain their carvings.  A walk through the cemetery is perfect, especially with Halloween right around the corner.  Fellow blogger John at https://johnrieber.com/ reminded me how much he would love to see an old New England cemetery.

I felt the same way when I moved here in 1984.  Hubby and I had many walks, reading the headstones and relishing in  history.  We were on hallowed ground.  There are clusters of children in families.  One that struck me were children who died of ‘throat distemper’.  I asked our family doctor, and he said throat distemper was diphtheria.

Carvings in the old cemetery tell a story.  They talk about husbands and wives, military service, diseases, and more.  One headstone is carved by the father of his son who died, and he is angry.  Yes, they all tell a story.

Note the winged angel, a popular carving.
This dates to 1775.

There are many children within a family who died.

The architecture in this headstone is remarkable.

Such beautiful pathways to walk.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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109 Responses to Old Cemeteries in New England

  1. joylennick says:

    Such a peaceful, beautiful place – a shame the occupiers can’t see it…Wouldn’t that be something! xx

  2. K.L. Hale says:

    There’s such beauty and peace in old cemeteries where stories are beautifully buried. I’ve always been fascinated by them; and often wonder of the lives, stories, and history. The fall is absolutely beautiful there, Jennie. Thank you for sharing. 💛💛💛

  3. How lovely, I’ve always wanted to see New England in the Autumn. Great graves too!

  4. willedare says:

    Lovely color, lovely light, and lovely respect for the folks who came before us — their lives and their deaths. Thank you, Jennie!

  5. beth says:

    I am fascinated by the stories the stones tell. Beautiful post

  6. Norah says:

    Beautiful. I am so happy to live in a time when medical advancements have improved the life outcomes for many children.

    • Jennie says:

      I am, too. I remember my mother saying she was lucky to have all six of her children live. Best to you, Norah.

      • Norah says:

        I didn’t know, or have forgotten, that you were one of six, Jennie. Are all your siblings still with you? Best to you as well.

      • Jennie says:

        The ‘bookends’ are gone. We try to get together every summer, a sister reunion, which is always wonderful. My surgery put that on hold last summer. Next summer! 🙂

      • Norah says:

        We’ve lost the two middle ones from our ten. There’s no telling in what order we’ll leave, is there? I hope you are recovering well from your surgery. It will be good to meet up with your sisters next summer. 💖

      • Jennie says:

        Ten?? My goodness, how wonderful. You’re right that we have no idea the order we will go. Are the eight of you close by? Recovery is going very well. I had my all-day one month follow-up recently. Talk about crossing every T and dotting every I. And, the technology was like something from Star Wars. I am fine. Fingers crossed for a sisters’ reunion in the summer. Best to you, Norah.

      • Norah says:

        I am pleased you are making good progress, Jennie. That’s such good news. I guess the eight of us are all fairly close in distance (everyone is in Queensland, spread from north to south) but, sadly, we’re not all close. Maybe the rifts will mend one day. I can only hope.

      • Jennie says:

        Oh, I hate those rifts. I hope they mend. The good news is that you are close in distance. Best to you, Norah.

  7. Bridgette says:

    Stunning and interesting photos!

  8. did you see a headless horseman galloping about?

  9. Darlene says:

    What an amazing old cemetery, made even more beautiful by the fall colours. Thanks for sharing it with us. I do love wandering around old cemeteries and wondering about the lives of those buried there.

    • Jennie says:

      You can imagine how I felt the first time I went through the cemetery. Yes, it is amazing, and the fall colors are a beautiful backdrop. Like you, I love wandering, reading headstones, and wondering about the lives of those families. BTW, it’s called the Old Burying Ground. I should have included that in the post. Many old cemeteries, such as the one in Boston, are off limits to pedestrians. We are lucky.

  10. Such a peaceful scene, Jennie. The video was terrific.

  11. beetleypete says:

    That’s a beautiful cemetery, Jennie. You are lucky to have the slate headstones. Most very old ones here can no longer be read. The names and details have worn away because the stone used was too soft.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Pete. Yes, we are very lucky to have slate headstones. The tiny detail in the carving is as well preserved as the wording. Now I know why slate roofs are the very best! People use what is on hand- marble, granite and slate are native to New England. Bricks (because of the clay) are native to the south. I’m guessing that slate in not in England?

      • beetleypete says:

        We have slate from Wales, and it is widely used on roofs here. It has become expensive now, and in the past it would not have been practical to use for gravestones in England. Imported Marble was used by well-off people, but soft stone had to do for most.

  12. Pictures and video portray a very nice, serene, quiet place to honor those who have passed on. I am one of those folks who recognizes and acknowledges the tradition and symbolism cemeteries represent for many people. Great post.

  13. wrookieschu says:

    What a beautiful graveyard. The colours definitely make it.

  14. quiall says:

    I’ve always seen a beautiful cemetery as a place of comfort, a place of history and a place of hope. Hope for the future that the people who rest here helped to create.

  15. Ritu says:

    I love the photos, Jennie, and I have to say I do love a bit of tombstone reading!

  16. The video really helps to show the large setting for those interesting stones. Diphtheria was so terrible for families then. Interesting and beautiful autumnal post.

  17. That’s a lovely old cemetary. I find such places peaceful and comforting.

  18. So sad but lovely all the same 🥰🥰

  19. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you for this wonderful post!

  20. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Please enjoy this wonderful post from Jennie!

  21. Poignant memories of old.. Lovely view of the pathway lined with leaves… Reminding us we all fall back to earth in the cycle of life. ❤
    Have a good weekend Jennie x ❤

  22. Elizabeth says:

    My genealogy research has taken me to a number of New England and New York cemeteries. I appreciate reflecting on the generations before me. Sadly my parents both chose to be literally scattered to the winds. Common now I guess, but I appreciate connecting with the physical reminders of those who have gone.

  23. Lovely colors! I love old cemeteries, so much history to be absorbed in those types of spaces.

  24. cindy knoke says:

    These are such beautifully evocative captures Jennie. Just wonderful!

  25. A beautiful remembrance. Graveyards always gives an insight to the earlier communities and their living.Thanks for sharing, Jennie! xx Michael

  26. Brian Bixby says:

    Nice to see my hometown’s cemetery again.

    • Jennie says:

      Brian, I’m so glad you saw this. We moved to Groton in ’84. I’ve been a preschool teacher here in town ever since. How long did you live here, and where are you now? The Old Burying Ground is a treasure of history, but you already know that. 🙂

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Presumably you’re teaching at the Boutwell School, which puts you almost right across from the old cemetery. And not far from where I grew up on Champney Street. We overlapped for 3-4 years, as I didn’t leave until ’88, ending up in Cambridge. But I wasn’t around much in those years. We likely never closed paths then.

        A little story. There was a list of veterans’ graves for the old cemetery, divided into quadrants, to make it easier to ensure that every grave got a flag for Memorial Day. For years this was my father’s responsibility, and he had us three kids do the work, which was great fun. But there was one grave we could not find, year after year. I became determined to find it one year, and began reading every headstone in the quadrant. And, lo, I found it! Turned out the headstone was for two people, the mother listed first, and then her veteran son.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        And that should be “crossed paths,” not “closed paths.” My apologies.

      • Jennie says:

        No worries, I knew what you meant. 🙂

      • Jennie says:

        Hi Brian, that is a wonderful story! Lucky you to have had that time in the cemetery with your dad. I never realized the veterans’ graves were divided into quadrants. Thank you for telling me! I do not teach at Boutwell, I teach at Groton Community School, the preschool which was built in ’84. At that time Forcino’s country store was right on Rt 119, and my school was built beside it, but far back from the road. I’ve been teaching there since the building was built. Do you remember the old house beside the Mobil gas station on 119? That’s where we lived back in the day. Do you ever get back to Groton? You won’t believe the new music center that Indian Hill has built on the corner of Old Ayer Road and Peabody. The grocery store you could have walked to from Champney is gone, and Emerson Hospital is building a new facility there. Lots of changes and growth.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        Ah, my mistake about Boutwell School. Easy to forget the GCS, tucked away as it is (though I recall seeing it from the post office and CVS). I found your picture on the website after reading this. I attended the school for a year of kindergarten back when the school was housed in the Parish Church.
        The death of my parents (who lived in the area) and the advent of COVID meant that my visits to Groton have been infrequent of late, though I was up there just this June.
        I am indeed surprised by the new music center, especially how large it appears to be from the road. I’m beginning to feel like my father did, who, whenever we passed some spot in Groton, would say, “So-and-so used to be/lived there.”

      • Jennie says:

        Yes, GCS was originally housed in the Parish Church. Was Adelaide Luca your teacher? She was the first, and GCS has quite a tribute to her. We have a wonderful photo of her students, and you might be there in the photo. I am 72, and may I ask how old you are? From the church, GCS moved to Prescott School, and then the school was built in 1984. I know what you mean about feeling like your father. The Groton Herald this week has a photo of the class of ’57 reunion.
        Our first first friend and neighbor is in that photo (Gerry Gingras). And yes, the music center is huge, but set back, and they are very community minded. If you get back to Groton, please let me know. Best to you, Brian.

      • Brian Bixby says:

        No, I did not know Adelaide Luca. Ellen Ripley taught the year I was there, in 1963-64, and then herself became a public school 1st grade teacher the next year, so some pupils had her two years running (though I was not one of them). And a member of the class of ’57 as your neighbor — he would have been a classmate of my cousin Beryl.
        As for my own age, no secret there: 64. I get to apply for Medicare soon, which I will do with mixed feelings.
        I will keep you in mind should I travel to town. Maybe even tell you and your pupils the story of the cow that got caught in the railroad track, a story of my father in his boyhood in West Groton that is now over a century old.

      • Jennie says:

        Thank you for telling me about teacher Ellen, and your cousin. Adelaide was probably 10 or 15 years ahead of you. Yes, it’s depressing to apply for Medicare, but the benefits quickly outweigh that ‘feeling old’ thing. I would love, love for you to visit school and tell my students your father’s old Groton stories. That would be wonderful! Yes, please let me know when you get to Groton again. Best to you, Brian.

  27. Dan Antion says:

    These are great photos, Jennie. I love walking through the old cemeteries in New England. There are stories of love, tragedy, a faith in god.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Dan. I feel the same way. When you visit, we’ll walk the cemetery – the Old Burying Ground – together. The stories are remarkable.

  28. Prior... says:

    so much history here and the fall colors were amazing – wow

  29. RAZIF ISMAIL says:

    The cemeteries is so historical

  30. Pingback: Old Cemeteries in New England – MobsterTiger

  31. saeedshakeel says:

    Damm it’s like so much fascinating cemetery

  32. Oh you’ve gotta come see Greenwood

  33. Pingback: Old Cemeteries in New England – Rsvpasap Reviews

  34. Did one of those headstones in your photo say “depofited”? Am I reading that wrong or is that an old word I’ve never heard of?

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