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

Tombstones for Martha and Isaac Adams
Early Brookline has had its share of eccentrics.

This slide shows the gravestones for Isaac Adams and his wife Martha Washington Hill. The stones are in the lower left of the picture. Adams came to Brookline in 1815 and was one of the first schoolmasters in the old brick school house on Walnut Street.

Quoting from Harriet Woods' Historical Sketches of Brookline, published in 1874,
"The history of Master Adams and his methods is a chapter which will shed much light on the progress of Brookline during the last forty years." She ends by saying "Requiescat in pace, Master Adams. We trust thou hast found the Great Master more lenient with thee, than thou wert to his little ones." After his wife's death, Adams did a curious thing: he had her name incorporated into his own by act of legislature, but he jumbled the letters of Martha Washington so that it was unpronounceable. He became Isaac Mahtra Wanshongtri Adams. On his gravestone you see Isaac M. W. Adams.

In 1840, 123 years after the founding of the Old Burying Ground, an additional three-quarters acre was purchased to increase the size of the Burying Ground. The land, still in the Clark family, was purchased from Caleb Clark, one of the descendants of Deacon Samuel Clark. At that time a committee was formed to oversee the improvements, for, according to early minutes,

Little, if any, attention, had been paid to its care, and its condition and appearance could well be described in these lines from a poem by Whittier: --

A winding wall of mossy stone
Frost-flung and broken, lines
A lonesome acre thinly grown
With grass and wandering vines.

The chair of the improvement committee was Samuel Philbrick, a man of wealth and influence, best remembered as an abolitionist whose house on Walnut Street was a station on the Underground Railroad.
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