Presented At The Annual Fall Meeting
Friends of the Old Burying Ground
November 14, 2010

Good afternoon. I am Frances Shedd Fisher, speaking today for Friends of the Old Burying Ground. The image on the screen is, of course, a view of the Old Burying Ground on Walnut Street.

The Hamlet of Muddy River separated from Boston to form the Town of Brookline in 1705. The petition contained thirty-two signatures, but only fifteen family names, so others have speculated that the population of Brookline or Brooklyn - many spellings were used - was about forty or fifty families. At the first meeting of the residents of the new town in 1706, the first business transacted, after the choice of town officers, was a vote to buy "a spot of land in Mr. Cotton's farm if it could be attained" for a burying ground. Mr. Cotton was the Rev. John Cotton, the second minister of Boston; his farm was an allotment granted in 1635.

Well, they apparently did not come to agreement with Mr. Cotton because it wasn't until 1717 that the Town ended up buying half an acre for a burying ground from Samuel Clark, land previously part of Mr. Cotton's farm. They paid Mr. Clark £8 and agreed that he could have the herbage, or hay, if he would generally maintain the place. The land for the Old Burying Ground was near the site of the first meeting house on Walnut Street, at that time called Sherborne Rd. (one of the oldest roads in the Commonwealth).

Samuel Clark was a farmer and the carpenter who had built the meeting house in 1714 where he served as one of its first Deacons. Before the building of a meeting house in Brookline, residents had worshipped in Roxbury and were buried there as well. The original church building on Walnut Street has since burned and has been replaced.
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