Interpretive Sign Installed in The Old Burying Ground
The Watertown Historical Commission announces the unveiling of a new interpretive sign at the Old Burial Ground, also known as the Arlington Street Cemetery, to take place on Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a brief cemetery tour. The rain/snow date is January 26, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.
The sign was installed by the Town of Watertown and generously underwritten by Tufts Health Plan, which neighbors the cemetery. Over the past few years, Tufts has demonstrated an important stewardship of the cemetery by having its employees mow and landscape the cemetery as well as painting its wrought iron fence. With this latest gift, Tufts is continuing this stewardship.
The addition of this sign will enable members of the public to have more information about the history of the cemetery and those buried there as well as being able to locate a number of important burial sites on their own. The sign will bring the cemetery back into more active use.
The Old Burial Ground was established soon after the Town’s founding in 1630 and was first mentioned in town records in 1642. The oldest known burial is of Mehetable (Hawkins) Gearfield and dates to 1675. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge came to the cemetery to visit the grave of his ancestors. The last burial here was in 1887.
The condition of many of the slate markers is excellent considering several are more than 300 years old. However, several are broken and many have fallen over and are visible just above the surface of the ground. Some early colonial markers were field stones or wooden boards which have not survived. Interestingly, other stones have sunk below the surface.
Special thanks are due to members of the Historical Commission Subcommittee, who worked on the content of the sign: David Russo, Joyce Kelly, Marilynne Roach and Clare Murphy, who will also be conducting the short tour after the unveiling.