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EPITAPHS IN THE OLD BURIAL PLACE, DEDHAM, MASS.
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EPITAPHS IN THE OLD BURIAL PLACE, DEDHAM, MASS. Copied and arranged by Rev. Carlos Slafter, A. M. Softcover, (1888), 2010, 52 pp.
In every old Massachusetts town, one of the most popular visitors' sites is the early settlers' cemetery. Consecrated anew year after year by the tears of love and sorrow, it becomes hallowed ground; and as we bend over the low headstone and decipher its quaint inscription, we are reminded of the affection which erected it, and which still commends it to our respect and care. We are told by the humblest stone that a loved one had died, and that loving ones survived who desired to honor, and preserve, the memory of the dead. It is indeed a brief story; but it is a story which we love to read, though its age may be reckoned in centuries. So our old cemetery is a record of human affection well fitted to improve the heart and stir the imagination. It is not necessarily a gloomy spot. It speaks rather of rest and peace after the labors and turmoil of life are ended.
For whatever reason, be it historical or familial, there is a fascination with cemeteries, their tombstones, and the people interned. Of interest to many, is an answer to the question, When was the first person buried in this ground? Though the earliest death mentioned in Dedham records occurred in 1637, probably the first year of the settlement, which was in 1635, did not pass before some succumbed to the hardships to which they were exposed, and were buried in that ground. It would be reasonable to assume that the death rate, especially among children, was large, because of a lack of necessary care and comforts. The boundaries of Dedham's "Old Burial Place" included an area of approximately one acre and, for a period of one hundred years, was the only place of burial in the town. Where a stone was not set up, the place of interment was soon forgotten, and so received another occupant, and, needless to say, that some parts of it were dug over several times to furnish graves for successive generations. I think we should be surprised to know how many bodies were buried in that one acre of land.