Inside the Gates

Inside the Gates focuses on historical and/or anecdotal articles about our old cemeteries.  

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  • 01 Jun 2014 3:43 PM | Debi Curry (Administrator)

    To carry out the ancient custom of having a cemetery in close proximity to the meeting house, the town voted, in 1806, to "appropriate and relinquish for a "Burying ground" a portion of the land given by Lady Temple, on which the church stood. The lot as bounded lay east of the town house. Later it was voted to change the location to the present site, on account of the wet condition of the land. Several bodies which had been buried in the low land were taken up and re-interred, near the street, in the new cemetery.

    The first victim that the "grim messenger" selected from among the settlers was a child of Thomas Gray. It was buried on Gray's land, near the Wales line, and surrounding its grave quite a plot was set aside as a burying lot. From twenty-five to thirty bodies were interred there; but as the drift of population extended northward, it became necessary to have a cemetery more centrally located.

    A spot on the east side of the Wales road, nearly opposite the residence of George L. King, was selected. The land was owned by General Dearborn, and, from an article found in the records of an adjourned meeting held April 23, 1787, to the effect that "Benjamin Dearborn be overseer to keep the obligation that shall be drawn and signed to fence and clear the burying-ground, and to see that the work is done," we are led to infer that he gave the land to the town, inasmuch as a committee was chosen, at the meeting held twenty-one days earlier, "to consult Col. Dearborn in relation to the burying-place." Not far from one hundred bodies were buried on the spot. Some of these were re-interred in the new cemetery at the Center, but many still lie beneath the soil that is now put to a common use.

    On Monmouth Neck, on the south side of the highway, opposite the school house, several bodies were buried. These graves have been ploughed over time and again.

    On Norris Hill is a burying lot where many of the Kimballs, Ballous and others of the early inhabitants of that section were laid to rest. A large portion of these graves are marked by substantial headstones.

    Cemeteries were established at a comparatively early date on the Ridge, at North and South Monmouth, on Pease hill, Stevens hill, the Neck, in the Lyon district and in the Richardson district, north of the academy.

    The one on Stevins hill, which for many years was allowed to run wild, was cleared of its scrub growth a few years ago and the graves of many of the first settlers of Blaketown brought to light. For a number of years the cemeteries on the outskirts of the town have been sadly neglected.

    Illustrated History of Kennebec County, Harry Hayman Cochrane
    Edited by Henry D. Kingsbury and Simeon L. Deyo, 1892, p. 775

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