Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Exploring Tewksbury, Massachusetts Old Center Burial Ground

I was reading a manuscript by Jan Koso of the MACE family genealogy, and delighted to learn that a branch of the Mace family left the Isles of Shoals and relocated to Tewksbury, Massachusetts.  My daughter married a young man from Tewksbury, and they now live there.

According to the Find A Grave website some members of the Mace family were buried at the Old Center Burial Ground in Tewksbury.  I knew that my daughter lived two houses away from a cemetery, and after consulting some maps I found the Old Center Burial Ground across the street from the larger cemetery. I waited until the spring weather arrived to check it out.  Early spring is a lovely time to explore cemeteries - before the poison ivy appears, before the snakes come out to bask, no autumn leaves obscuring the ground, and before the grass grows too long to hide the ticks. 

I brought my granddaughter along to explore with me.  She had walked through the larger, newer cemetery to walk her dogs with her Dad, but had never explored the tombstones.  We discussed the fact that some "old" family members were buried there (which brought up a lot of questions in her five year old mind), and she told me she could help find the gravestones because she knew the letter "M".  We were off to a good start!

We discussed the names on the stones we found, and the engravings.  My granddaughter was particularly interested in the engravings. We discussed the soul's head effigies (they looked like the skull heads in the Disney "Coco" movie), the weeping willows, and the portraits inside the little coffin shapes on these New England gravestones dating from the 1700s to the early 1800s.  It was difficult to read some of the inscriptions, especially for a 5 year old, so the next time we go cemetery exploring we will try the burial ground across the street which dates from the 1800s to today (burials are still taking place there).  The inscriptions will be easier to read.

A neighbor to this cemetery saw us exploring, and he kept his "social distance" by shouting to us about the Thomas Marshall buried in the corner of the cemetery with his three wives.  Of course we just had to run over and check out this interesting little plot!  My granddaughter was fascinated with the idea of someone having THREE wives!  We found that the tombstones for Mary and Phebe were labeled "2d wife of Mr. Thomas Marshall" and "3d wife of Mr. Thomas Marshall" but we never found wife #1.  My granddaughter thought maybe wife #1 ran away!  We'll have to look into this family history!

Memento mori
In Memory of
Mrs. Mary Marshall
2d wife of Mr.
Thomas Marshall
who died July
7th 1770
. In
the 47th year 
of her age.

I asked my granddaughter what was her favorite part of exploring the cemetery that day.  She said she loved all of it, but her favorite tombstone at the burial ground was the only one with flowers.  We thought that someone must have loved that one special person very much to have planted flowers (crocus bulbs) that lasted almost 200 years later.  She also said that the broken tombstones made her sad, because no one could read them anymore.  Although this is a very old burial ground, we only saw two broken tombstones.  

And we found the Mace family, too, after all this exploring. 


To Cite/Link to this post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Exploring Tewksbury, Massachusetts Old Center Burial Ground", Nutfield Genealogy, posted April 27, 2021, ( https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2021/04/exploring-tewksbury-massachusetts-old.html: accessed [access date]). 

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