My name is Jeffrey Bingham Mead. I was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut USA. I also add the Asia-Pacific region -based in Hawaii- as my home, too. I've been an historian and author my entire adult life. This blog site is where many of my article and pre-blog writing will be posted. This is a work-in-progress, to check in from time to time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Burial Ground Rich In Greenwich History (1993)

This is the view of the cemetery as seen from the steeple of the Second Congregational Church

by Jeffrey Bingham Mead
Greenwich Time, Greenwich, Connecticut USA
July 18, 1993

A group of Greenwich residents met 160 years ago this month to organize what would eventually become one of the town’s most historic places: The New Burial Grounds Cemetery.

Mistakenly thought by many to be bound to the Second Congregational Church next door, the 1.5 acre parcel was purchased by the original proprietors from Solomon Mead. Plots were publicly sold without regard to religious affiliation. The sum of $440 was dispersed for improvements. 

Gravestones here very from humble to elaborately carved, featuring a fine assortment of engraved art and intriguing epitaphs.

Some of Greenwich is prime examples of gravestone folk art can be viewed here. Carved weeping willow's symbolizing nature’s lament are found in the memorials of Whitman Sackett, Captain Daniel Merritt, Prudence Mead and others. Some feature twin willow's evocative of the old custom of planting marriage trees upon the exchange of vows. 

The monument for Sophia, daughter of Isaac and Julia Peck, features a dove and a rear sample of a flying hourglass -an emblem of the flight of time. Caleb Husted, a child who died in 1857, has a stone carved with flowers.

Some markers are adorned with Masonic symbolism -the crossed compass and square on a Bible. The gravestone of Civil War soldier Elnathan Husted, who died in battle, features some superior illustrations of military motifs. 

This cemetery contains a “Who’s Who” of names from Greenwich history. There's Judge Frederick Hubbard, who penned many memories of New England papers, authored “Other Days in Greenwich” and is considered one of Greenwich’s more prominent judges. There's also Judge George Brush, who for 25 years served as justice of the peace; during his tenure none of his decisions were ever overturned or appealed.

Dr. Darius Mead, founder of Greenwich Academy, is buried here. His wife, Lydia, was the daughter of another physician, Dr. Elisha Belcher. Philander Button was a prominent principal at Greenwich Academy for 22 years, closing the school only once -in 1848 so that students could witness the arrival of the railroad in town.

A number of soldiers are buried here. Sgt. Caleb Holmes was killed in battle and part of his epitaph quotes a letter from his mother. Jared Finch, who died in 1939, was the first Greenwich man to sign up for the Civil War and the last local veteran of the conflict to die. 

Maj. Daniel Merritt Mead wrote the first history of Greenwich and died of typhoid while on sick leave after the Battle of New Bern in North Carolina. 

Dr. Amos Mead, a soldier in the Revolutionary War, represented Greenwich in Hartford in ratifying the Constitution. 

If you famed ministers also rest here. They include the Rev. Rufus Putney,  who was pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church for 37 years. The Rev. Oliver Huckel of the Second Congregational Church was a faint author of more than 30 books and lecturer on variety of subjects. During his tenure the church celebrated its 225th year. 

Another pastor of this church, Dr. Joe Lindsley, was a past president of Marietta College.

The New Burial Ground Cemetery is still maintained and managed my plot holders and descendants of the original proprietors. It is a hallowed place steeped in history and worth a visit.

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