Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 72

Today was hot in more ways than one. I perspired my way through the entire day and was zooming around on caffeine (Diet Coke and iced tea) trying to stay hydrated. I finally saw a thermometer at 5pm - 97 degrees. OK, it was hot.

The day was also hot in terms of discoveries and accomplishments. I started by visiting Scituate harbor and walking the rocks near the lighthouse. The ocean was a bit rough but smelled of salt and seaweed. I would have stayed longer but, you guessed it, it was hot.

I found the Men of Kent cemetery in Scituate (early settlers were from Kent, England). Here was the grave of Rev. Jeremiah Cushing (7gg), one of Scituate's early ministers. He graduated from Harvard in 1676 (the college was established to provide the new world with ministers). His wife was located across the cemetery nex to her second husband. Her stone reads: "Here lyes the body of Hannah Barker wife to John Barker formerly the wife of Mr. Jeremiah Cushing, departed this life May the 30th 1710 in the 46th year of her age." This is very typical wording. At least she was called wife and not "relict" as many of the women are.

I then drove to Hingham, MA. In Hingham 60 years ago, my father asked for my mother's hand in marriage. If only he would have realized he had the support (albeit in the ground) from 8 generations of Cushings and Lorings in Hingham, he might have been less nervous. I made my way to the historical society where they had a fabulous history of the town with many of the early settler genealogies. The Cushing and Loring lines now go back 9-10 generations with their voyages to America in 1634 and 1638. In addition, several Cushing and Loring homes still exist. The town placed plaques on the homes with the name of the original inhabitant and the date built. They then provide a map so you can locate the homes. For us, this included Daniel Cushing's home at 209 Main Street, built in 1690. The homes are wonderfully care for and you can picture what the town must have looked like 325 years ago.

Then it was on to Attleboro, MA (just outside Providence, RI). I had two cemeteries to find - one huge and one tiny. I couldn't find either. Fiona (the GPS lady) gave up in Attleboro, spending the afternoon in total confusion muttering to herself. I finally asked a policeman who was sitting outside a cemetery in which I had no interest. He informed me that I was in S. Attleboro. He gave me directions to N. Attleboro and the large cemetery. He had never heard of the small one. I arrived at Mt. Hope Cemetery about 3:30 and was overwhelmed. This facility is 20-30 acres and more than 4,000 graves. I was looking for 2 - Oliver and Mary Blackinton. What I did know was that the stones had been moved from the Old Kirk Cemetery in the mid-1800s to make room for train tracks. My assumption was that there would be a grouping of the old stones that had been moved, distinctive in shape and material from newer ones. I was right. There were groups of old stones - all over the cemetery mixed in with all the new ones. Finally on the west fence, I found our gggggg grandparents. I also found their son Oliver Jr. who died one year before his father. As it turns out (revisiting the wills and probate records), Oliver Jr was the insolvent one noted in the blog a few days ago. It was his father who left everyone with generous legacies (both estates were probated at nearly the same time). Oliver Jr's untimely death and lack of solvency may explain why Oliver Sr. made such specific legacies to grandchildren. Some were probably Oliver Jr's children.

OK - 4 graves down, 2 to do. Examining the paper map, I figured I had nothing to lose so headed north looking for a particular confluence of streets. Suddenly, there was the Old Hatch Burying ground on a small peninsula of land three steps up from the sidewalk. This cemetery only had about 40 graves - including Pentecost Blackinton and his wife Rebeccah (parents of Oliver) and Penecost's mother Mary. It is amazing how long lived many of our relatives were - 78, 88,93.

A side note - Pam Baker asked me about the stones since some seem so well preserved. Most of the gravestones are, amazingly, original. Slate provides the best engraving surface and are very durable but it has a tendency to split over the years. Most of the stones from the 1600s and 1700s are slate so survive. Granite is the most durable but didn't come into common use until the 1800s. Forget marble - the engraving just washes away. That being said, today it appeared that Oliver's stone was probably original but his wife's was definitely a replacement (not the high quality carving). The original was probably damaged when the stones were moved. Pentecost, Mary, Rebeccah, Jeremiah, and Hannah's stones were obviously original and worn around the edges.

Finally, I drove through (and around via Fiona) Providence, RI during rush hour, making Mystic, CT about 6:30. I am tired but it was a good day. Probably off to Stonington tomorrow morning before conference calls with clients in the afternoon.

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