Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jamaica Plain's Lost Revolutionary War Cemeteries

This excerpt immediately follows the previous one in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. It tells the story of the three estates that were used as hospitals during the Revolutionary War, and where soldiers were buried. It seems as if the Hallowell property was also used as a cemetery by local people.

This article by the late Walter Marx suggests that the caskets from all three sites were reburied at Walter street, where a small number of headstones can be seen at the edge of the Arboretum. It seems unlikely to me that they would have been able to find all the graves without markers, so I suspect, as I said in the previous entry, that some might have been left behind. That's pure speculation, of course, but not unreasonable.

"There are three other places within the limits of Jamaica Plain where burials have been made.

In the summer of 1775, one or more regiments were stationed on the Plain, and many of the soldiers quartered in different houses, upon the inhabitants. (See Dr. Gray's Half Century Sermon.)

Three estates in the place were confiscated, and the houses standing on the used as hospitals; viz., Commodore Loring's Governor Bernard's and Capt. Benjamin Hallowell's. The Commodore's house, built in 1760, on the corner made by the intersection of Austin [Centre] and South streets, after having weathered the storms of 95 years, is at this day, taken in connection with its surroundings, hardly exceeded by any modern built mansion in its neighborhood. About a quarter of a mile back of this then hospital, the soldiers who died within its walls were buried.

Col. Henly, who had some charge over Burgoyne's captive army while at Cambridge, is recollected to have occupied the Loring house at that time.

It came next into the possession of widow Ann (Hough) Doane, who, in 1784, married David Stoddard Greenough, Esq. Their son, and only child, Col. David Stoddard Greenough, Esq, owned it on the death of his father. Col. David Stoddard Greenough, of the third generation, now owns and occupies it; he also having a son David Stoddard.

It is credible to the Greenough family that, through their several ownerships and occupancies, no violation of the graves of the revolutionary soldiers, on their grounds, has yet been allowed. The number of burials made cannot now be ascertained, from the mounds having become levelled by the rains of so many years, and by the tread of cattle feeding over them. But from the number of rude stones, probably taken from walls or picked up in the fields, and set up as head and foot stones, they may be estimated at thirty - or more.

The following inscription, pretty well executed for the time, was taken from the only headstone showing the mark of the graver's tool;

"Here lies ye Body of serg't Danl Niles of Easton, who Died Novr, ye 2nd A.D. 1775. Aged 41 years."

The Governor Bernard estate was situated on the westerly side of Jamaica Pond, having thereon a considerable extent of shore and a liberal share of front on Pond street. After the removal of the soldiers from the premises, the first remembered occupant was Martin Brimmer, Esq., who, after a long residence, died there in 1804. Capt. John Prince bought the estate in 1806, and in 1809 took down and removed the old house, a part of which had stood 141 years; and in which no doubt many bumpers of good wine had been drunk to the health of the several sovereigns of Great Britain, who had flourished during that period.

Some few years before his decease, Capt. Prince procured a road to be laid out and made through the premises, from Pond street to Perkins street; after the accomplishment of which, he divided the whole into good sized building lots, on several of which beautiful houses have since been erected.

The burial ground on the Bernard estate was near a small fish pond, on elevated ground, at some distance back from the buildings. The spot was ploughed many years ago; and it is said some of the coffins were disturbed in the operation. No one in the neighborhood remembers to have seen the ground before the ploughing, and therefore no estimate can be made of the number buried.

The Hallowell house, built about 1738, stands on a corner made by the intersection of Austin [Centre] and Boylston streets. It has lately been purchased by Dr. B.F. Wing, who has thoroughly repaired it, and, by the addition of one or more wings, has given it something more of quaintness than it previously exhibited.

Capt. Hallowell married a Boylston, and in the right of his wife held the above property; but his sympathies happening to be with the Royalist party, he left Roxbury in some haste for Boston in 1775, and thence took passage from England, where he passed the remainder of his life. While the Hallowell house was used as a hospital, the burials from it were made near the road, about forty rods [220 yards] from the house, on the way to Boylston street depot.

An octogenarian pair noted for their accurate recollections, who were born and have always lived near the Hallowell house, think the first occupant of the place, after the term of its hospital-ity, was a Frenchman, whose name was Fefabre; and that it was he who, to the astonishment and universal indignation of the neighbors, ploughed over and obliterated all marks of the graves. They likewise say that people who had set up marks whereby to distinguish the graves of their friends of kinsmen, and came after to remove them, returned home disappointed and in sorrow.

About the year 1789, Dr. Leprilete bought the premises and kept possession till after the decease of Capt Hallowell, when a son of his assumed the name of his mother's family - Boylston. This son, Ward Nicholas Boylston, presuming, or being advised, that the confiscation could hold no longer than his father's lifetime, came over, and in the name and right of his mother, laid claim to, and by process of law obtained the property, about the year 1800. It now belongs to Mr. Thomas Boylston, by the will of his grandfather, the late Ward Nicholas Boylston, Esq. "

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