Old Burial Ground Analysis

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The cemetery I have chosen is known as the Old Burial Ground, which is located in Cambridge, MA. It is situated on the corner of Garden St. and Massachusetts Avenue, and is in the neighborhood we know today as Harvard Square. Cambridge began as a settled community then known as Newtown in 1631 by some of the first puritans. It was an area that early on allowed for people to have a house with some area for harvesting crops. The town consisted of mostly farmers, and artisans until the middle of the 18th century. Harvard University was also introduced very early on in Cambridge at around 1636 found by ministers and the namesake of the school John Harvard. This led to more distinguished people being introduced into the community, some becoming…show more content…
According to Dethlefsen and Deetz (1966) headstone styles, such as cherub designs on headstone particularly in Cambridge around the 17th and 18th were a sign of wealth or of a prominent figure. They describe people such as “ High officials, a Governor’s daughter, or Harvard College Presidents and their wives.” (p. 507-508). While not mentioned In the article, I would also suggest that headstones with a larger size of both height, width and thickness would have been an indication of someone with greater wealth, as simple cost and handling of larger material would have been greater. While materials that were more common to New England such as granite, limestone, and sandstone may indicate those persons or families who were not as prosperous. In the portion of cemetery I will be researching, I will also take into account headstones or grave markers with a date, but lacking a name, as this may have been another sign of those who may have been poorer. Lastly, along with design, size, and shape I want to take a close look at the depth of the carvings on each stone. As this would have required more intensive labor, thus equating to higher cost for the individual or family. I will take a very close look at all these factors collectively along with the dates of the deceased when trying to corroborate my…show more content…
For instance there were approximately six headstones with cherub designs, and only one was of a larger height, and more valuable material. The others, while having a considerable width did not show reasonable height all coming in around 1foot or so. This could have been from a settling or sinking into the ground over time. There was also one headstone that really stood out having a more ornate cherub, along with a candle inscribed at the top. This particular one also had very intricate lettering, and very deep detailed carving for the inscription. Among these particular headstones the ages varied from eighteen to seventy two years old, and one had no name inscribed into it. As stated by Harrison Hill (2012) there were also two people worth noting in the cemetery they were Susanna, and Deacon Aaron Hill who was Deacon of the First Church, and played an important role in the Revolutionary war. However he and his wife Susanna both perished from the measles in 1792 (p. 6). The remaining headstones stood between around two to three feet in height, and one to two feet wide. Most of the headstones reflected the deaths head or urn/willow design that is common in New England. I also discovered a factor that I did not think about when creating my hypothesis, and that was footstones. I would have assumed with more material and labor involved this would have meant a greater cost involved. However, among the
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