Lunenburg’s historic old North Cemetery
The Old North Cemetery, at the corner of Holman and Highland streets, is a typical colonial-era early American cemetery and quite picturesque.
An editorial by the Lunenburg Historical Commission and Richard McGrath
Did you know...
The Old North Cemetery, at the corner of Holman and Highland streets, is a typical colonial-era early American cemetery. It offers a vista that has changed little since the mid 19th century.
The rolling landscape, surrounding stone wall, and front hedge, support and protect the early, west-facing slates. Established in 1770, this cemetery was Lunenburg's second. It is situated on two hills with slate markers dating from 1770 to the early 1800's. The earliest graves are located at the rear of the cemetery and time progresses forward with the later dates nearer the street. Sarah Dunsmore was the first to be buried here on April 21, 1770. Her stone still stands today.
Walking forward from the rear of this time capsule, one can see the engravings on the tombstones change with the passage of time. As the dates progress, the stone markings evolve from the stark realities of the winged skulls carved into black slates to the urn and willow carved in purple or green slates. Also, white marble gravestones appeared as religious views and beliefs changed.
Walking forward, one can glimpse at the lives of the prosperous men with their tall, quality slates and fine carvings and the more commonplace folk with their simpler stones. Veterans of the Revolution, merchants and farmers, wives and children, are buried here, a small, early American community. The engraved dates reveal lives both long and short, and spark curiosity about those who are at rest here, those who have given their names to many area streets and places.
Walking amongst the stones, one would notice names such as Holman, Gilchrest, Marshall, Jones, Pierce, Cushing, Sterns, Whitney, Dunsmore, and Stickney, names which are familiar to the area today.
As one travels through time, the North Cemetery embodies the lives, loves, beliefs, and hopes of those who lived, worked and walked in Lunenburg from 1770 to the present.
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