Dr. Henry Bond's Graveyards of Watertown

Prepared by Stephen M. Lawson

The full title of the magnificent volume of Watertown genealogy by Henry Bond includes the following:

The Early History of the Town.
Illustrations, Maps and Notes.

The History section of 101 pages is Appendix I, and includes much information concerning the land distributions and later land transfers between Watertown residents. Dr. Bond included a section on the history of Watertowns Graveyards, the first being the Arlington Street Burying Ground. The "Westerly Burying-place" of the Middle Meeting-house, as described in Article 158, is now known as Grove Hill Cemetery, 290 Main Street, Waltham, MA.


§157. The earliest mention of a burying-place, in the town records, is July 5, 1642, when it was "ordered, that Hugh Mason, Thomas Hastings, and John Sherman, are appointed to set up a sufficient [fence] about The Burying-place, with a five foot pale, and two rails well nailed, by the 15th of 2d [ ? 7th] month, and the town to pay them  for it."  The next December 20th, a rate was ordered, and one item was, "for fencing the burying-place, £6 10s." Its location is not described; but it was doubtless what is now known as The Old Graveyard of Watertown. It is at the S. E. corner of Mount Auburn Street [Mill St., or Camb. Road] and Grove Street. It is about half a mile west of Mount Auburn Cemetery. The terms of the above order imply that it was then in use, and well known as the burying-place, and it is probable that it had been used for sepulture from the first planting of the town. If any other lot was used for the same purpose before it, it must have fallen into disuse very soon, leaving no vestige or tradition of its existence. There can be only extremely few, if any, older graveyards in New England, and it was the only one in the town (then including Waltham and Weston) for more than seventy years. In it repose the remains of the Puritan progenitors and kindred of hundreds of thousands of people, not only of those who have lived, or are living, in almost every town and village of New England, but of very many who are dispersed throughout North America.  Some evidence of this may be found in the preceding genealogies.

§158. The origin of the two next graveyards are of the same date. At a town meeting, Jan. 1, 1702-3, it was "voted that they give liberty to the Society belonging to the Middle Meeting-house [Mr. Angier's], and the Society belonging to the Farmers' Meeting-house, to choose and appoint some convenient place for each Society for burying-places to bury their dead in, or for any others belonging to said town, and make return of their doings therein. 2d. Voted that if the said burying-place or burying-places cannot be procured without paying for them, the inhabitants will pay for them, as they can agree, or as they shall be valued by independent inhabitants mutually chosen." At a town meeting, Oct. 23, 1704, it was "voted, that the town will give Richard Blois three pounds in money, and all the land lying between Capt. Benjamin Garfield's field, Beaver Brook, and the Country Road, and the road leading over Beaver Plain to be four. rods wide through said land, the said Blois giving to the town treasurer a deed of the land, as it is already laid out, for the use of the town forever for a burying-place for the middle part of the said town." This land of Blois's was probably the 4 A. lot of upland in the hither plain, granted to his father, Edmund Blois, bounded N. by the highway; W. by common land [i. e. not yet granted]; E. by John Loveran.  This land,* conveyed to Blois in exchange for the burying-ground, afterwards belonged to Daniel Flagg, and at a town meeting, Mar. 6, 1720-1, "liberty was granted Daniel Flagg to fence in the Westerly Burying-place in Watertown, making a gate."  At a town meeting, Jan. 3, 1722-3, it was "voted to accept of the highway laid out by Daniel Flagg, near Beaver Brook, which is on the side hill, instead of going through the low land, where it was formerly." This is now called Grove Street. This continued to be the only graveyard of Waltham for more than one hundred years.  Other lots have of late been appropriated to the same use.  We find nothing further in the town records respecting the burying-place of the Farmers (Weston); but it appears by the Mid. Reg. of Deeds, that, previous to May 3, 1704, Mary Sherman (wid. of Rev. John S.) and James Sherman, of Sudbury (ex'rs of Rev. John Sherman) had sold part of a 4 A. lot, near the Farmers' Meeting-house, for a burying-place.

*This lot was the residence of the late John Bright, Esq., and it is now occupied by his heirs.

§159. The second graveyard, within the present limits of Watertown, is situated at the intersection of Mount Auburn and Common Streets, on the N. side.  The date of the appropriation of the land to this purpose has not been ascertained; but it was probably about 1754, when a meeting-house was built there.  Since this lot was opened, there have been comparatively few interments in the old, or lower graveyard.

§160. Within the present century other graveyards have been laid out, one of which is renowned for its extent, its natural beauties, and all the additional attractions, which wealth and refined taste can give it. But, although Mount Auburn Cemetery is within the limits of Watertown, it cannot, with propriety, be deemed one of its graveyards.  It is the burial-place of the wealthy and distinguished of the metropolis of New England, and of a wide region around it. It is situated in the midst of that region of small lots where the first planters of the town first settled, and as it contains more than 100 acres, it probably includes a very considerable number of those ancient homestalls; but their exact localities are not sufficiently well ascertained to determine who were the original grantees of the lands. Deacon Simon Stone had a grant of 12 A. of upland, supposed to be the southern border of the cemetery, and previous to 1644, he had purchased several other adjoining lots, so that, at this date, his homestall contained 50 acres, and probably much of it is embraced within this cemetery.  Much of the land in the cemetery is not adapted to tillage, and it long bore the name of Stone's Woods.

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Modified: 3/14/04