This post took a bit to pull off.
Originally @ suggested I check out this particular graveyard and I was so excited that (without much thought) I found a day were I had enough time to make the drive, grabbed my camera and popped off in the car.
Only to discover that the weather was less than hospitable… and by less than hospitable I mean my phone was screeching emergency warnings about flash flooding on my way down. Here’s a video I took once I got somewhere safely off the road:
Looks like my plans have changed… pic.twitter.com/v0JXTIHfNI
— Horror Made (@horror_made) September 10, 2015
So yesterday it was sunny and warm so I hopped in my car with my camera again to make
the journey while listening to “It” on audiobook.
And guess what.
I made it!!!
I made it all the way to the Wequetequock burial ground in Stonington CT!
Wequetequock Burial Ground
Why this is cool: It’s the oldest graveyard in Stonington, CT, USA and was established in 1650.
A little history
The burial ground dwells next to the land of, William Chesebrough, the first white settler in the town of Stonington. By the sounds of it he was a rebellious fellow and I feel like I would have enjoyed kicking back a few while hearing some stories from him.
In his biography I found out that the 1st act of the General Assembly of CT was to make selling firearms and ammunition to Native Americans illegal. Mr. Chesebrough apparently got on the wrong side of “certain parties” in the Plymouth Colony so when he moved to Stonington and immediately let the court know he did so precisely to sell firearms to Native Americans.
Whereupon the Court, in November, 1649, issued a warrant “to the constable of Pequot to repair forthwith to Chesebrough of Long Island, and to let him understand that the government of Connecticut “doth dislike and distaste the way he is in and trade he doth drive among the Indians, and that they do require him to desist therefrom immediately.” Mr. Chesebrough at first disregarded this order, claiming that his new home was within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, but subsequently, acting under the advice and assurance of […] friends at Pequot, he […] yielded to the authorities of Connecticut […] to appear at the General Court at Hartford in March, I65I.
When he did speak to the court it was basically “JK, I totally wasn’t breaking any laws, I promise my religious opinions aren’t wack-a-doo, and I’m working on getting other folks to live out in the woods with me. Scout’s honor.” So the court (retuctantly) let him stay and so the history of this graveyard began.
The Earliest Gravestones are lost to History
because the first markers in the cemetery were probably carved out of wood. But the stones that do exist are absolutely fascinating.
Many of the stones are incredibly well preserved and you can still read most of the words and see much of the detail in the engravings.
Which is a rare treat, because many colonial gravestones in New England were carved out of sandstone and have badly eroded over the years.
I couldn’t believe how sharp and clear many of the engravings were in this graveyard.
Ever heard of a Wolfstone?
In case you haven’t, a wolfstone is a massive slab of granite placed over the body to protect it from marauding animals.
The oldest graves in this cemetery are the ones protected by wolfstones. Like this big one and the hunk of rough-looking ledge above it.
The rough chunk of ledge is the wolfstone covering Thomas Minor and the little upright stone to his left reportedly his wife’s final resting place.
Now, Why I love the main wolfstone in that photo is because of the stunning engraving on it. I’ve not seen a 1700s one with such clear cravings before. This stone, belonging to the Reverend James Noyes read
“In Expectation of a Joyful Resurrection to Eternal Life Here Lyeth Interred Ye Body of the Reved Mr James Noyer, Aged 80 Years. Who after the Faithful Serving of the Church of Christ In This Place, For More Than: 55 Years Deceased Decbre ye 30: 1719 Majesty, Meekness and Humility here meet in one glorious charity”
Check out these close-ups:
Fun/Morbid Fact: The first burial in this cemetery was John Chesebrough, the 18 yr old son of William Chesebrough. He died from a scythe wound in 1650.
I may revisit the history of this particular group of early American settlers, but for now I’ll leave you with these pictures and ask a question, What interesting graveyards do you live by?