BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 24, 1906
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Read before the Society, December 18, 1901, by E. W. Baker
FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING.
At the town meeting November 20th, 1901, the town adopted a by-law by which the powers and duties of the Trustees of Walnut Hills Cemetery shall also embrace and pertain to the old Town Burying Ground on Walnut street. This action was the outcome of a petition presented to the Selectmen which was accompanied by the following memorandum: -
"It is respectfully submitted that the Old Burying Ground is practically a public heirloom. In many instances, the descendants of the original proprietors have moved out of town, or are extinct, and the lots no longer receive the proper individual attention. In consideration of its venerable relics, its natural beauties, and its beneficial influence upon future generations, systematic and skillful control should be now inaugurated. The natural and obvious custodians seem to be the Trustees of the new cemetery of Walnut Hills."
This memorandum states the facts clearly and concisely and it has seemed fitting, at this time, when the question of the control and care of the old burying ground is before the town, that the Brookline Historical Society should interest itself in the matter.
The Old Burying Ground, or, as we know it, "The Brookline Cemetery on Walnut street," contains a great store of information for those interested in the history of Brookline and its families, too great indeed, to be exhausted without much time and careful search.
Serving as it did as the only burial ground of the town for over 150 years, or from 1717 to 1875, when Walnut Hills Cemetery was opened, in it have reposed the representatives of nearly if not quite all of the old families of the town both humble and prominent.
It is the present purpose to sketch the history of the burying ground itself rather than bring together a collection of names, dates and epitaphs, or to attempt to give any detailed account of any particular individual or family whose name may appear on tomb or stone. In regard to some of such names we have reliable historical information of great interest, but of many more it can only be said -
"Their memories are overgrown
As graves with grasses are, and at the head
The stone with moss and lichens so o'erspread
Nothing is visible but the name alone."
The petition of the freeholders of the Hamlet of Muddy River for separation from Boston, which resulted in the incorporation of the town of Brookline, November 13th, 1705, contains thirty-two signatures, but only fifteen family names; which warrants the statement that the population at that time did not exceed forty or fifty families. To meet the needs of this small population, at the first meeting of the inhabitants of the new town, March, 1706, the first business transacted after the choice of town officers was-
"Voted, That there should be a Burying place in this town of Brookline."
"Voted, That the Burying place should be on a spot of Land on the south side of the Hill in Mr. Cotton's farm pointing between the two Roads if it can be so attained."
To Rev. John Cotton, the second minister of Boston, there was granted in 1635, a "sufficient allotment for a farm" in Muddy River. This allotment is described as follows: -
"All the ground lying between the two brooks, next to Mr. Colbournes allotment, and so to the other end, unto the shortest cutting over beyond the hill towards the northwest, containing two hundred and fifty acres (be it more or less), bounded on the north by the said fresh brook, on the west by John Cramme and George Baytes, on the South by a fresh brook running between him and Mr. Leveritt, and on the East by Muddy River."
This allotment, probably, would approximate the area bounded by the brook running along the B. & A. R. R., the parkway, the brook (now covered) through the land of T. B. Griggs and along the valley between School street and Harvard avenue, and following the direction of Aspinwall avenue into what was formerly Muddy River, and the hill "toward the northwest " was probably what is now known as Aspinwall Hill.
The Cotton Allotment descended to the two sons. Rowland Cotton and Thomas Cotton, the dividing line between whose estates was a road, laid out in 1719, and described as follows: - "It begins at wattertown road & so runs between ye farms of Mr. Rowland Cotton & Mr. Thomas Cotton, all ye way in said Thomas Cottons land & so to ye land of Caleb Gardner late of Brooklyn &c to Sherborn road."
This road was named Cypress street in 1841 but for the previous 130 years it was called the "new lane." The town allowed land damages for this "new lane," according to the following: -
"Voted, To allow Mr. Thomas Cotton 20 pounds for a way across his land for ye north end inhabitants to goe to ye meeting to be an open road for ye towns use."
It is a far cry from the present population of Coolidge's Corner, Babcock Hill, Corey Hill and the Boulevard, to the "north end inhabitants " of two hundred years ago.
The two roads referred to (in the vote of 1706) were the Sherborn Road (now Walnut street) and the Newtown or Watertown Road (now Washington street) both of which appear on a map of the town made in 1728; but the site described as "the north side of the hill pointing between the two roads " is difficult to identify.
The particular site so described was not secured from Mr. Cotton, and nothing further appears to have been done in relation to any other site for seven years, or until the town meeting of December 2, 1713, when it was, -
"Voted, That Mr. Samuel Sewall, Junr., Mr. John Winchester Senr. and Mr. Samuel Aspinwall, be a Com'te for the town to agree with Mr. Cotton for a burying place."
"Voted, That Mr. Samuel Sewall & Mr. Peter Boylston should Procure a Pall or Burying Cloth to Cover the Corps, at the Towns Cost, and that six Pounds be added to and Collected with the rate of twenty pounds Granted by the Town to be Levied on the Inhabitants in this present yeare 1713, for the defraying the charge of sd cloth."
The committee failed to make any agreement with Mr. Cotton and the attempt to secure the desired site was abandoned, as appears from the action four years later at the town meeting of November 17, 1717: -
"Voted, That whereas at a meeting of the inhabitants of Brooklyn Legally Assembled on the Thirtieth of April 1717 at which meeting a committee was chosen viz: Erosaman Drew John Druce Josiah Winchester sen'r Benj White jun'r Caleb Gardner Samuel Clark sen'r and Wm Sharp to procure a burying place to Inter the dead in.
"Accordingly brought their report that they had agreed with Samuel Clark Jun'r for half an acre of his land near the meeting house for eight pounds to be paid by the town for sd half an acre of land. Also agreed with sd Clark that he should have the herbage of sd land provided he maintain the front fence against it, but in case the town see cause to fence the sd burying place intire, sd Clark shall be quit from any charge of fencing about sd land either front or division."
Until the building of the first meeting house in 1714 the Brookline people worshipped in Roxbury under Rev. Nehemiah Walter, as set forth in the petition of the Selectmen, November 2, 1710, to "His Excellency Joseph Dudley," asking further time for the erection of the meeting house.
This petition recites, "And there are none of our people now complaining for want of a Minister or Meeting House in Our Town nor the Inhabitants of Roxbury of Our being burthensome to them. Our most remote family resorting to the new Meeting house lately erected at the south end of the town of Roxbury aforesaid where they were entertained without any inconvenience to the Church who are few in number at present and willing to receive them."
The burial place of the Roxbury Church was therefore the natural accommodation of Brookline until 1717, when, according to the vote already quoted, the "half acre " was purchased of Samuel Clark, Jun'r.
Samuel Clark was the carpenter who built the Meeting House in 1713-1714 and was afterward one of the first deacons of the Church, and when, in 1840, 123 years afterwards, additional land was purchased to increase the area of the Burying Ground, it was from Caleb Clark, one of the descendants of Deacon Samuel Clark.
The burial ground having been purchased on the conditions stated, it is further mentioned in the old records from time to time, some of the references indicating that "perpetual care" did not, in those days, appear to be so important a factor in cemetery management as it is today, although probably Samuel Clark took the herbage, as nothing shows that the town fenced the place entire.
In 1717 Thomas Lee was appointed grave digger.
Samuel White, Henry Sewall, Capt. Robert Sharp, and Mr. Isaac Winchester, by vote of the town in 1752, were given liberty to build tombs for themselves and families.
That the grounds did not lack attention altogether, and that some attempt was made to beautify them, we learn from the vote passed at the town meeting of 1762:-
"That the Selectmen Shall hire help to pull up the Barbary bushes that are in the Burying place."
It is to be noticed that this agricutural
attention to the burying ground comes forty-five years after the land was set apart for the purpose, and this improvement is coincident with another improvement fully as great, if not greater, as, in this same year, by vote of the town, the Selectmen were appointed a committee to buy a Black Velvet Pall. Presumably the Burying Cloth authorized in 1713 at a cost of six pounds had served its usefulness.
In 1768 Deacon Ebenezer Davis and Mr. Thomas Aspinwall were voted liberty to build tombs, and in the next year, 1769, similar liberty was voted to Capt. Benjamin White, but only " provided he digs at a proper distance from any tomb or grave so as not to do them any harm."
Mrs. Mary Craft desired the same privilege for herself in 1772 but the town meeting for some reason had a little hesitation, and voted her the desired permission only under the inspection of a committee consisting of Deacon Davis, Deacon White and Capt. Benjamin White
A public sentiment appears to have been aroused this same year, 1772, that the burying place had become not altogether a credit to the town in its appearance,- although probably the barberry bushes had been pulled up as authorized ten years previously; - and, that the work of improvement might be properly carried out and suitably supervised by a sufficiently large committee, the fol lowing vote was passed: -
"Voted, To Choose a Committee of Seven persons to View the Buerying Yard & to see what is proper to be don as to Fencing & Removing the Incumbrances in said Yard & make a Report at the adjournment of sd meeting. Then made Choice of the following Persons, V. Isaac Gardner, Esq'r, Deacon Ebenezer Davis, Capt'n Elisha Gardner, Capt'n Benjamin White, Deacon Jos White, Mr. Joshua Boylston and Mr. John Goddard."
Although this committee was instructed to report at an adjourned meeting, the records do not contain any reference to such a report, and it is not improbable that the stirring times of the next decade absorbed the thoughts of the community in issues of supreme importance to the living, to the exclusion of thought of care for the resting place of the dead. In any event, the fence if erected at this time must have completely decayed in the next twenty-four years, so that the boundary of the original half acre purchased of Samuel Clark in 1717 became uncertain; therefore the town at the meeting of March 14, 1796, -
"Voted, To fence the Burying Ground." Mr. John Goddard, Capt'n Samuel Croft and Mr. Samuel Clark were chosen a Committee to fence the Burying Ground - and authorized to agree with Samuel Clark in regard to the line where said fence ought to be set.
The building of the fence, however, did not keep out the bushes, and it became necessary in 1799 for the town again to instruct the Selectmen to clear them from the burying ground, which is the last time, so far as recorded, that any public care was given to the grounds for another forty years, or until 1840.
Liberty to build a tomb was given in 1801 to Rev. John Pierce, in 1807 to Capt. Timothy Corey and Elijah Corey, and the last similar vote recorded was in 1808 to Capt. Joseph Goddard.
No further reference to the burying ground is made in the town records until the year 1840. During this time the "half acre " was the last resting place of the Brookline families and from what was learned later became much overcrowded. Little, if any attention, was probably paid to its care, and its condition and appearance no doubt could well be described in these lines of Whittier: -
Our vales are sweet with fern and rose,
Our hills are maple crowned
But not from them our fathers chose
The village burying ground.
The dreariest spot in all the land
To death they set apart
With scanty grace from Nature's hand
And none from that of Art.
A winding wall of mossy stone
Frost-flung and broken, lines
A lonesome acre thinly grown
With grass and wandering vines.
For thus our fathers testified
That he might read who ran,
The emptiness of human pride,
The nothingness of man.
The question of enlarging and improving the burial ground came before the town in the Spring of 1840 and the result, after a few years, was the cemetery in practically its present condition; but there was much bitter controversy in regard to these improvements as planned and carried out by the committee, and there is not much doubt that the burial rights of preceding generations were but little observed in the laying out of new avenues and regrading the grounds.
The early records of deaths in the Town Clerk's office are incomplete, and no parish records of deaths have been found previous to 1760 in the ministry of Rev. Joseph Jackson. Even after 1760 it is necessary to supplement the one record with the other in order to make anything like a complete list of the deaths in Brookline.
There are today some stones in the old burying ground which give information which cannot be found in either town or parish record, and we must most deeply regret that the committee in charge of the improvements in 1840 did not realize the importance of making a complete record of the old stones then in the grounds, many of which were without doubt disturbed and broken, and which may have been the only record existing at that time and now lost forever.
At the town meeting of April 6, 1840, the following vote was passed: -
"Voted, That Dr. Shurtleff, Ebenezer Heath, Samuel Philbrick, Thomas Tilden, Thomas Griggs, Charles Stearns, Jr., and Daniel Sanderson, be a committee to examine the state of the burial ground and the land adjacent suitable to enlarge it, and report to an adjourned meeting on the first Monday in May at four o'clock in the afternoon."
The report of this committee presented to the town meeting of May 4, 1840, was rejected, but this meeting was attended by a very few voters and did not express the real sentiment of the town. A petition was immediately drawn up calling for another town meeting and was presented to the Selectmen, as follows: -
To the Selectmen of the Town of Brookline:
You are requested by the undersigned freeholders in the town of Brookline, to notify and warn the legal voters in said town to meet as soon as practicable to see what order the town will take in relation to enlarging and ornamenting the burial ground and attend to such other business as may legally come before them.
S. A. Shurtleff,
Jabez Fisher, 2nd,
Brookline, May 4, 1840.
In response to a petition a town meeting was called for May 18, 1840, "to see what the town will do relative to enlarging and improving the Cemetery of the town," and the record of this meeting gives in full the report of the committee which a previous meeting had rejected. At this meeting, in brief, a committee previously appointed recommended the purchase of about three quarters of an acre from Caleb Clark, adjoining the old burial ground on its western, southern and southeastern borders, because, although the price asked, $500.00, was considered very high, it seemed desirable that the burial accommodations of the town should be in one enclosure. The committee suggested improvements such as fencing and new avenues and recommended the appointment of a committee to carry into effect "other improvements and embellishments as they in connexion and with the advice of the Board of Health may deem expedient, not exceeding four hundred dollars."
Further, it was recommended that the committee to be appointed be authorized to sell lots for interments or for the erection of tombs, and the report "in each and all the provisions and recommendations" meeting with approval, the following vote was passed: -
"Voted, That in accordance with the report from the Committee on the Burial Ground this day presented - Samuel Philbrick, Charles Wild, S. A. Shurtleff, Isaac Cooke and Thomas Griggs be now appointed a Cemetery Committee who shall continue in the office until dismissed or another committee shall be appointed in their place and who with the advice and assistance of the Board of Health are hereby authorized and empowered to execute and carry into effect each and all the provisions and recommendations contained in said report, and that the sum of four hundred dollars be hereby appropriated and placed at their disposal for the purposes specified in said report, which sum shall be supplied from any money in our treasury not otherwise appropriated, and that our Treasurer be hereby authorized to give his note in behalf of the Town for Five hundred dollars to purchase said land in accordance with the recommendation of said report whenever a title can be obtained satisfactory to said committee and Board of Health. "
In the Brookline Alcove at the Public Library is the manuscript book of Mr. S. Philbrick containing the records of the doings of this committee for the next few years, and the annual reports of the committee to the town are embodied in full in the Town Clerk's record of the meetings at which they were presented.
From these sources it is learned that the committee sold the lot of land adjoining the town house (now Pierce Hall, Walnut street) on the eastern side to Silas Pierce for $500, which was the exact amount paid Caleb Clark for the three quarters of an acre for burial purposes.
A survey was made and a plan drawn by E. F. Woodward of Newton and after grading the principal avenue a public auction was held June 15, 1840, and by vote of the committee a printed notification of this sale was to be left at each house. Eight lots were sold at this auction and the following were the purchasers:
Lot No. 1 By Isaac Cook, at $57.50 for choice.
Lot No. 21 By John Howe, at $10.00 for choice.
Lot No. 20 By S. Philbrick, at $6.00 for choice.
Lot No. 3 By S. Craft for D. R. Griggs, at $1.00 for choice.
Lot No. 22 By B. B. Davis and S. T. Thayer, par.
Lot No. 23 By Michael Mellen, par.
Lot No. 10 By Dr. Charles Wild, at $5.00 for choice.
The par price for the lots had been fixed at $25.00 each.
A permanent stone wall laid in mortar was built in front, and later capped by hammered stone; the gate was moved from about the middle of the frontage on Walnut street to the northwestern corner, and the grounds surrounded by a cedar post and picket fence. Ornamental trees were planted in 1840 and succeeding years, many of which, however, were lost on account of dry seasons, and a row of elms outside the front wall was set out in 1842, After the new avenues were laid out, the executive committee was authorized, in 1842, to give names to all the avenues in the grounds and have the same entered on the plan. The committee took it upon themselves to supervise the erection of all grave stones and monuments, and established an order requiring tombs to be sunk below the surface level of the ground. Also it was decided (1846) that no lot in the cemetery should be sold to a non-resident. In 1843 the Selectmen were instructed to furnish the Congregational and Baptist societies in town each with a gratuitous deed of a lot for the families of the then pastors, their successors or their friends, provided the societies would enclose the lots and ornament them with trees, turf or shrubbery in a manner satisfactory to the committee, and by the report in 1846 it appears the selection was made by the three different parishes in town and deeds were prepared for delivery when the conditions as to ornamentation should be complied with.
The original plan by Woodward in 1842 (on file in the Town Clerk's office) shows eighty-nine family lots marked by bound posts, but this includes only a few lots in the old "half acre " originally purchased in 1717.
Rev. John Pierce, in 1845, referring to the cemetery said, "the whole ground is now in a state of improvement worthy our highest ambition," but this condition was not arrived at without bitter opposition on the part of many at whose instigation the following article was inserted in the warrant for the town meeting of March 6, 1843: -
"To see what the town will do relative to the alleged grievances of several individuals in connection with the cemetery."
Under this article a committee consisting of Timothy Corey, Marshal Stearns and Harrison Fay was appointed, and it was stipulated that the alleged grievances should be presented to the committee in writing. To this committee were added, at a later meeting, Samuel A. Walker, Dea. Thomas Kendall, Moses Jones and James Bartlett. George Griggs, Esq., was substituted November 13, 1843, for Deacon Kendall, who asked to be excused.
These grievances alleged that tomb stones had been used for building purposes, for covering drains, and filling for avenues, etc. Evidently, from the records of the town meeting of April 6, 1843. the matter aroused a good deal of feeling, so much that an investigating committee was appointed. There is nothing in the records to show when this committee reported, but in the Town Clerk's office there is on file the written report signed by Timothy Corey, Chairman, in which the Cemetery Committee is found to be free from any serious blame, and the alleged grievances to have been largely imaginary.
At the town meeting March 4, 1850, the committee presented its usual annual report, which report shows that there was a balance on hand of $398.41 and that there were eight lots unsold in the cemetery. This report was accepted and the following vote was passed by the town: -
"Voted, That the funds in the hands of the Cemetery Committee be paid into the Treasury of the Town, and that the Committee be authorized to make the annual improvements in the grounds, and draw upon the Treasury for the funds to meet such expenditures, and that hereafter the proceeds from the sales of all Cemetery lots shall be paid into the Treasury, so that for the future the Auditors' Report will show the receipts and expenditures for that object."
Following this action of the town, the committee evidently did as instructed and the final report of said committee was presented at the annual meeting of March 14, 1853.
Nothing later is to be found in the records to conflict with the vote of the town previously quoted passed at the meeting of 1850, and the intent of the town expressed in said vote has been carried out by electing annually a cemetery committee and making a small appropriation for the care of the cemetery.
The Cemetery Committees since 1850 have been as follows: -
1850 to 1851, Samuel Philbrick, Jesse Bird, Marshall Stearns.
1852, Samuel Philbrick, Jesse Bird, H. M. Sanborn.
1853 to 1856, Samuel Philbrick, Jesse Bird, Harrison Fay.
1857, Samuel Philbrick, William Dearborn, Thomas S. Pettingill.
1858, William Dearborn, John Dustin.
1859, John Dustin, R. A. Chace.
1860 to 1862, John Dustin.
1863 to 1881, Thomas S. Pettingill.
1882 to 1890, Joseph D. Gutterson.
1891 to 1898, Henry S. Hatch.
1899 to 1900, Willard Y. Gross.
1901, John C. Barthelmes.
As has already been stated, there exists no complete record of the burials in the old ground, but from the records available a tabulation has been made of those families identified with the burying ground and prominent in the history of the town previous to 1840.
This list contains the following family names: -
Ackers, Aspinwall, Boylston, Brewer, Celfe, Child, Clark, Craft, Corey, Dana, Davis, Gardner, Goddard, Griggs, Holden, Hancock, Harris, Heath, Hammond, Jackson, Jones, Murdock, Robinson, Stedman, Sewall, Sharp, Seaver, Stearns, Tolman. White (or Whyte), Woodward, Winchester, Withington.
These families appear in the records through two or more successive generations. There may be other families which should be included which have been identified for equal periods through female descendants under a different name by marriage, but the necessary genealogical data to complete such a list is not available at this time.
Other families, better known to the present generation, became identified with the burying ground after 1840, among which should be mentioned the names of Andem, Atkinson, Barnard, Bird, Cook, Davenport, Fay, Foster, Haynes, Howe, Kendall, Newell, Penniman, Pierce, Philbrick, Seaverns, Sanderson, Shurtleff, Stoddard, Stone, Ward, Warren, and others.
While the town records show liberty to build family tombs given to only twelve persons, more tombs were actually built, probably under authority granted by the Selectmen and not brought before a town meeting.
It is to be hoped that the histories of these families will receive further and careful attention from the Brookline Historical Society, but present mention of a few individual representatives of some of them may be interesting. Permission to build tombs in the old burying ground on Walnut street was voted in 1752 to Samuel White, Henry Sewall, Capt. Robert Sharp, and Isaac Winchester.
Samuel White, who died in 1760 at the age of 76, was the son of Joseph White, one of the petitioners in 1704. He was an important factor in the affairs of the town and church, and held nearly all the different important town offices, as well as that of Representative.
He gave to the town a wood-lot of 20 acres in Needham "to supply the minister or ministers that may be settled in the town from time to time." This deed was witnessed, and probably was drawn by Jeremy Gridley, the eminent lawyer, who was a resident of Brookline and died here September 10th, 1767. Samuel White married Ann Drew, of whom it is said that she made her Sunday morning toilet over a pail of water in place of a looking glass before walking to Roxbury for a long day's service.
Samuel White's daughter, Ann, married Henry Sewall, grandson of Chief Justice Sewall, August 18th, 1743.
Henry Sewall also was given permission to build a family tomb in 1752. He was born in Brookline in 1719, and died in 1771. His name first appears in the town records as chosen Hogreve in 1742, in 1746 he was Town Clerk and Town Treasurer, and in later years he held many town and church positions, including membership on the committee that had the care of the estate of Edward Devotion. Henry Sewall was a man of wealth by inheritance, and owned a large part of the tract which his grandfather, the Chief Justice, acquired by marriage with Hannah, daughter of Mint Master John Hull. The original tract was about 150 acres, including what we now call Longwood, bounded by what is now Pleasant street. Harvard street and the Aspinwall estate on Aspinwall avenue, taking in all the area to the Charles river, and furnishing the site for the fort on Sewall's Point.
He was evidently not willing to pay more than his just proportion of the town's expenses, as in 1754 the Assessors of the previous year are instructed to stand a trial with Henry Sewall, Esq., before the sessions for abatements of part of his rates.
The estate passed to his son Samuel, who became a refugee and died abroad. The property was confiscated and sold by order of the government.
The tomb bears the inscription, "Sewall-Walcott, 1770." (Edward Kitchen Walcott married the daughter of Henry Sewall.) Capt. Robert Sharp died in 1765, thirteen years after the vote of 1752 giving permission to build the family tomb. He was 77 years old, the son of Lieut. Robert Sharp, who lost his life in the campaign against the Indians in 1690, and nephew of William Sharp, who signed the petition of 1704, but left Brookline and settled in Pomfret, Conn.
Capt. Robert Sharp was a thrifty man of business and by purchase from those into whose possession it had come by descent from his great-grandfather, he recovered a considerable portion of the original tract of Brookline territory which, consisting of 150 acres, was acquired by Robert Sharp and Peter Aspinwall by purchase from William Colborn in 1650. Capt. Robert Sharp was a man of wealth for those days, and among other property left his widow was a negro slave, "Jane," and the silver tankard which was presented to the First Church in 1770.
Isaac Winchester, who died in 1771, was the son of old Capt. John Winchester. He formerly owned and occupied a house on Washington street on the right above Beacon, later owned by Corey, James Bartlett, and lastly by Jordan.
The Aspinwall and Davis families were so long and completely identified with the town's early history that members of the families were probably interred in the old burying ground many years previous to 1768, when permission to build family tombs was granted to Deacon Ebenezer Davis and Mr. Thomas Aspinwall.
There were three generations of Ebenezer Davis. The first came from Roxbury and purchased of Deacon Thomas Cotton the farm bounded by Harvard and Walnut streets and on the west by School and Cypress streets. The Davis family from the first Ebenezer to the present day has been prominent in Brookline.
Thomas Aspinwall Davis (the son of Ebenezer Davis, 3rd), born in 1798 in the old Davis house on what is now Kent street, formerly Harrison place, was perhaps the most distinguished representative of the family. He became Mayor of Boston in 1845, but died the same year and followed five generations of his ancestors in the family tomb in the old burying ground.
Mr. Thomas Aspinwall, mentioned in the vote of 1769, was born in 1733, the son of Lieutenant Thomas Aspinwall and Johanna Gardner and great-grandson of Peter Aspinwall, who built the house on Aspinwall avenue in 1660. Thomas Aspinwall was a colonel in the Continental Army and commanded the Brookline fort at Sewall's Point, which mounted six guns and prevented the British from ascending Charles River. Colonel Aspinwall died in 1799.
The Colonel's brother, William Aspinwall, born in 1743, became the celebrated physician and surgeon during the Revolutionary war. For many years he conducted a hospital in Brookline for inoculation against small-pox. He built in 1803 the fine mansion on the hill (now Gardner road), only recently demolished. Dr. Aspinwall was a man of eminent qualifications in political as well as professional life, and was Representative from Brookline and Senator from the district.
He died in 1823, aged 80 years, and was buried in the old burying ground.
In 1727 Samuel Aspinwall, aged 65, was drowned in Charles River and was buried in the old burying ground, where a small stone still marks the place, with the name and date perfectly legible. Samuel Aspinwall was a lieutenant in the expedition of Sir William Phipps in 1690. He was the grandfather of the colonel and doctor already referred to.
Mrs. Mary Craft, mentioned in the vote of May, 1772, as given permission to build a tomb under the inspection of a committee, was probably the widow of Capt. Samuel Craft, who was born in 1700, and died in 1771, and formerly owned the land on Washington street between Bethany Church and Park street. Mrs. Mary Craft died in November, 1772. The old brick tomb built under the vote of 1801 in favor of the Rev. John Pierce is occupied by members of his family and that of his beloved associate, Deacon John Robinson.
The Rev. John Pierce was minister of the First Parish from 1796 to 1847, in which year his death occurred. The story of his life and what he did for parish and town is too well known to require further words in this connection. Deacon John Robinson was born in 1763 and came to Brookline, with Enos Withington, about 1790, and located a tannery on Washington street not far from where Fairbanks street is now located. Mr. Robinson married Enos Withington's sister. Deacon Robinson held his office of deacon for fifty-seven years, from 1797 to 1854, and was presented with a silver goblet by the church on the fifty-seventh anniversary of his appointment, May 14th, 1854.
Deacon Robinson was overseer of the poor and selectman for thirty years, and also represented the town in the Legislature. He died January 13th, 1855, aged 91 years 6 months.
The slab on the face of the tomb gives the names of many of the Robinson family.
Shortly after 1771, Capt. Timothy Corey, who had married Elizabeth Griggs of Brookline, purchased the house and land formerly of Isaac Winchester, in the vicinity of the corner of Washington and Beacon streets. From this family, the "great hill " took its present name of Corey Hill. Capt. Timothy Corey was active in the Revolutionary War and experienced much severe service. In his house there was often preaching by the ministers of the "New Lights " and as a result of this his sons became "Deacon Timothy Corey" and "Deacon Elijah Corey," so prominent in the Baptist Church formed in 1828.
Capt. Timothy Corey in his old age joined the Freemasons, and tradition has it that he gave his reason for so doing that his son Elijah had joined and "that no son of his should know more than he did." He died in 1811, three years after the vote granting the permit to build the family tomb.
John Goddard was a commissary general for Washington's army in the vicinity of Boston, and had charge of a certain part of the work of fortifying Dorchester Heights in 1779. The references to him in the records are many, and valuable manuscripts bearing his signature or address are among the town and family archives. He was one of the most prominent citizens of the town, holding many important positions, including that of Representative for several terms. He died in 1811. His first wife, Sarah , died in January, 1756, in the twenty-fifth year of her age. One daughter was born to this marriage, Sarah Goddard, April 26th, 1754. He married later "Hannah Seaver, a most excellent, energetic and highly esteemed woman," whose descendants of today possess many of her characteristic traits. The old tomb bears the inscription -
(Joseph & Benjamin Goddard)
Joseph Goddard, a son of the general, was born in 1761 and was a boy driving one of the teams under his father's charge during the construction of the fortifications in 1779. He became a most useful and honored citizen of the town, and was made a captain of militia, which title he bears in the vote of 1808 under which the tomb was built.
Benjamin Goddard, another of the sixteen children of John and Hannah, was born in 1763, and lived to be ninety-five years of age. He was a man of wealth and prominence in the community, but never held public office. He lived on Boylston street opposite the reservoir, near Sumner road.
There are some tombs now visible, and no doubt others covered up, for which no vote was passed, so far as recorded. The most important of these is the Gardner tomb, located very near the Sewall tomb. The slab over the Gardner tomb bears many names, only a few of which it is possible to mention.
The names of five "Gardners" were on the petition of 1704. Thomas Gardner, the first deacon of the first church, was born in 1676. During the earUest town records he is referred to as Lieutenant Gardner. He built the old house on Boylston street, in 1718, which was afterwards sold by his grandson, Deacon Elisha Gardner, to Capt. John Goddard, father of Benjamin Goddard, already referred to.
Isaac Gardner, who was a grandson of Deacon Thomas Gardner, and son of Isaac Gardner who died in 1767 aged eighty three years, was a graduate of Harvard and one of the foremost men of the town. His resting place is the old family tomb marked by the flag which decorated the graves of those who have fallen in defense of their country. To quote the original entry in the town records: -
April 19th, 1775. "Isaac Gardner, Esq., lost his life at Cambridge fighting for the Liberties of his Country as the British Troops were on their Retreat from the battle of Concord (Aged 49 years)."
The resting places of three other soldiers of the Revolution are marked by three old gray stones: -
Lieutenant Amos Wardsworth of Farmington, Ct., 1775.
Sergt. Daniel Wilcox of Middletown, Ct., 1776.
Robert Abell of Rehobeth.
These men belonged to the Continental Army and probably died at the barracks or at some of the houses in which they were quartered. Further information is no doubt already in the possession of some of the local chapters of the D. A. R.
A stone in the old ground bears the name of Edward Devotion, who died in 1744 leaving to the town a fund for school purposes which we are so familiar with as the "Devotion Fund," and for the preservation of whose house on Harvard street the town has given some attention and money and should give more in order to complete the work already begun.
In 1766, as appears by his epitaph, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, who was born in Brookline in 1679 and became a very famous physician, passed away in his native town. Dr. Boylston was the brother of Peter Boylston, who signed the Muddy River petition. He was the first to introduce inoculation against small-pox, in 1721, and met with wonderful success. In 1725 he went to England, where he received great attention. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and for many years remained an eminent authority in his profession. His wife, Jerusha, lies in the same tomb with her distinguished husband. Among others we should not overlook the old slate markers showing that in the original "half acre " repose the remains of Rev. James Allen, the first minister of the First Church, who died in 1747, and Rev. Cotton Brown, the second minister, who died in 1751. Both were Harvard graduates; Mr. Allen in 1710, ordained in 1718, and Mr. Brown in 1743, ordained in 1748. There is also another stone, " Sacred to the memory of Anna Mather, widow of Rev. Increase Mather, formerly the wife of Rev. John Cotton of Hampton," who died in 1737.
The Brookline records show she was living in Brookline (probably with Dea. Thos. Cotton) when she married Increase Mather, in 1715.
In addition to the claim which the old burying ground has on the present generation through its antiquity and family history, it has the further claim that on every thirtieth day of May flowers must be placed on the graves of eight soldiers of the Revolution and thirteen of the Civil War.
This is enough to warrant the belief that after March, 1902, when the control and care of the grounds passes to the Trustees of Walnut Hills Cemetery, the town will provide liberally for the perpetual care and improvement of that one spot so completely identified with its history for the almost two hundred years of its existence as an independent municipality.