Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

May 18, 2008

Ye Olde Cemetery

Sandwich is the oldest towns on Cape Cod, established in 1637, so one of the oldest cemeteries on the Cape is in Sandwich Village. The stones date back to the late 1600's, although many of the really old ones are covered with lichen or all of the writing has worn off. This cemetery has suffered the ravages of time and vandals, with many stones having been purposely broken off or even tossed into the adjoining pond. In the 1970's, the town used the cemetery as the launch point for the July 4th fireworks till it was discontinued in 1978.

Still, it's a fascinating trip through time to wander through and read names of the town's founding families, such as Dillingham, Nye, Crocker, Fessenden, Pope, Freeman, etc.

Boating is just another part of every day life on Cape Cod, and it's not at all unusual to find small boats on the shores of ponds, even in a cemetery.This is Lower Shawme Pond, aka The Mill Pond aka The Duck Pond. Steeple of the First Church of Christ, aka "The Christopher Wren".
"In Memory of Sally Dillingham she died April 19, 1799..."

I bought a gravestone rubbing kit prior to my trip and decided to try it out. I was really pleased with the results, considering it was my first time. You use a synthetic rice paper, and rub black wax over the design. I think I would have had a much easier time with a second pair of hands to help tape the paper over the stones, but overall, I am really pleased.

(Note to Axe: I made an extra rubbing of the bottom one, Micah Blackwell's stone, for you)

"In memory of Micah Blackwell who departed this Life, Lords Day Sep 30 AD 1781." It made me also wonder how many local men were involved in the planning of, or battles in, the Revolutionary War.

This is the design from Abigail Dillingham's stone. She died in 1851, at age 54.

George Crocker's (upper), Sarah Fessenden's (middle) & Zenas Nye's stones (willow). Poor Mr. Nye - he buried a 17 year old son in Jan., 1805, a 19 year old son also in Jan., 1805, and a 25 year old son in 1824. Zenas Nye died in 1828.

"In memory of Mr. George Crocker who died July 6, 1793, age 34".

"In memory of Sarah Fessenden". I thought I got the whole stone w/ her date of death but I didn't.

This stone fascinated me so I did a rubbing of the entire thing, not just the design. It reads:

"Here Lyeth the Body of Capt. Peter Adolph of New Yorke Aged 48 Years Who Dyed by Shipwrack in this Bay the 16th of March 1702 & was Washed on Shoare 3 Miles Below this Towne".

Moving on to St. Peter's Cemetery, aka "The Catholic Cemetery", which is down Pine Street a bit from the old cemetery.
I did a rubbing of my dad's stone and was pleased at how well it came out.

That's my dad's grave with the planted flowers. Then mom's; she already had her stone picked out and pre-dated w/ her birthdate. See that space between her plot and the tree? That's my grave. Seriously. When my cousin Skipper was killed in 1966, my aunt begged my parents to buy the plots adjoining theirs and Skipper's so that we could all be together, so my parents bought 3 plots. And no, it's not weird or depressing to me to know where my grave is, because it's just been a part of my life and I've never known anything different. However, since I plan to be cremated and flung off the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Marin Headlands, this plot shall go unused.

An ornate stone at St. Peter's.

Skipper is buried right behind this Crucifix, as is his mom, my Aunt Evelyn. There are plots for my late cousin Dickie, although his cremains haven't been interred yet, as well as a plot for my Uncle Dick. My parents' plots are next to those. Going to this part of the cemetery to visit Skipper's grave was, again, part of my very young life.

So when my dad gave my mom this Hummel one year, my little girl's imagination and frame of reference made me think that the Hummel was created from the St. Peter's cemetery crucifix, split rail fence and everything. Of course it wasn't. When I pointed it out to my mom not too long ago, how I thought it looked like St. Peter's, she told me that she'd never made that connection before but yes, I was right.

These next 3 pics are from the Bayview Cemetery on Rte. 130.


  1. wow, how cool is all of that! it's nice to know that you DO have a place, even if you never use it. the rubbings are just beautiful; you'd probably love savannah, ga...tons of really old cemeteries. and the hummel is lovely; it is eerie how similar it is to the crucifix in the cemetery.

  2. Beautiful cemeteries! I, too, already own my own burial plot in the family cemetery. I've told my kids that I want a winged death's head on my marker (just like in your pictures here!), if, for no other reason, than to freak out the cemetery custodians. Unfortunately, I don't know if they'll get away with it. Modern cemeteries are becoming so much like home owners' associations with whole volumes of rules and regulations. What a shame.

  3. I guess some would find your post morbid, but cemeteries are so steeped in history. When we were choosing the stone for my father, I asked my mother to pick what she liked as they would be matching, so she might as well have had what she wanted. I often go round the cemetery telling my kids what I like... i.e. a nice grey marble

  4. I love graveyards. I plan to be buried in a cardboard or bamboo coffin in a natural cemetery, without any chemical preservation, and with no headstone (not allowed in a natural burial). I was going to be cremated, but it's not environmentally friendly enough. And as I live near 3 natural burial plots, it seems silly not to go for it.

  5. Anonymous3:35 PM

    If you ever get to Paris, take a trip to Pere LaChaise cemetary. It's like a small town!

    Beautiful pix Jojo, I especially like the sentiments on the last one.

  6. Honey, my birthday is AUGUST 9th....**Hint, hint, nudge, nudge**

    HAHAHA....I wish we had such old cemetaries here and that the gravestones were so original and creepy.

  7. aww, that last one is so sweet.

  8. Lizzzard7:17 PM

    I've told the kids if I go to cremate me and mix the ashes with water in my Wedgewood coffee pot and water the garden with me. No stone please- if I am not in peoples' hearts already, what good is a stone?
    But in reality, I would like my ashes to be with hubby's for all of eternity.
    Beautiful blog, Jojo.