Around the Village: Graveyard Edition

I thought it was about time I devoted an edition of "around the village" (you can see the other posts here and here) to our beautiful old graveyard, the Old Burial Ground. What better excuse would I have then this is October, after all! Halloween. Ghosts. Spooks. And all that.

The Old Burying Ground in Amherst was opened and first put into use in 1735. Most of the original grave markers no longer exist, since they generally used wood or simple fieldstone to mark a burial.

Autumn has found its way to the old burying grounds.

In the graveyard, looking toward Town Hall.

The old burying ground is behind what is now town hall. Town hall used to serve as the county courthouse since this was the shire town for Hillsborough county for over a hundred years, until the county seat moved to Nashua in 1879.

Looking from outside the graveyard wall.

In 2003, during a remodel of town hall, bones were discovered under the foundation. After work was brought to a stop and specialists were brought in, it was determined that the bones belonged to a young woman and a child of African descent, and they lived here during the mid-1700's. There was a reburial for the unnamed bones in the graveyard. This story makes me so curious. What was their story? Were they slaves? Who was this child? What did they die from?  They were both so young.  There were slaves in New England at that time, and I can only assume that they probably were as well. Very sad and tragic.

When we were looking for a town to live in, wanting to be closer to Boston, but also wanting to be far enough away for a bucolic New England setting, we came to this town and the first thing I did was walk into the graveyard. It was icy and snowy at the time, so I didn't get far, but I was struck with its beauty. I love nothing more than a very old graveyard, filled with mossy stones and surrounded by looming trees. This is exactly what I wanted! This was so New England. And now I only live a block away from this little gem of the New England countryside.

Three children from one family

Though I don't find old graveyards scary, I love them mainly for their mix of history, art, and story, I still am not above trying to scare my kids as we walk by this place at night. During a walk home from my son's open house at school a few weeks ago, we started to talk about zombies (to be honest, I started the conversation) and then I began singing the chorus of "Thriller" as we passed the old burying ground.  I have never seen them run so fast to get home, or laugh so hard once we got there.  But a good laugh is worth a bit of emotional scarring, right?


  1. I love this, Alyson! It is so beautiful there. I love the old folk art on the tombstones, the names, the idea that everyone there had a story and a life. I think cemeteries are fascinating. I'd love to ramble through one like this!

  2. I too have a curious fascination with old cemeteries--very interesting places indeed. I have a post coming up before Halloween about cemeteries also. Your photos are great.

  3. Very beautiful... I used to live in Goffstown so not too far away.

  4. I love it! It's so neat how much history you have learned about your town. It's so fun to read. I totally understand why you moved into the heart of the village. We had to live in the heart of our village...one block from the green, and could walk to the small events, the dock, the library, the cemetaries ets. I have to be in the heart of it all, able to walk and feel a part of place. When we went to amherst a year ago in the late fall we sat on the steps of the town hall and looked out while the kids played. There was a sign about a Christmas thing and it sounded so sweet in that small little town but we never did make it back for it because there were so many things going on in our town at the same time. I never noticed the cemetary right there! Pictures are gorgeous, thanks!

  5. Emily - thank you, dear!

    Heather - I am so the same way. I am fascinated by their lives, their stories, and the smalltown art, the folk art, etched into the stone. It's so beautiful! You really, really need to come out to New England! I think you belong here.

  6. Julie - Can't wait to see it! I've always been in love with old cemeteries, and when I moved to New England I was so happy to see that old cemeteries are everywhere! I'd never seen anything like it before I moved here.

    Pattianne - Oh wow, Goffstown is a great little town! My favorite antique store is there! :)

    Megan - Since I am obsessed with old graveyards, it was the first thing I noticed! :) Yes, they do a tree lighting at Christmas. I love it! It reminds me of Stars Hollow! :) I hope you are able to move back soon! New England is truly the best!

  7. Simply beautiful, what a lovely time of year in New England... before the snows come ! Hope you are well, it's been a little while...

  8. New England the graveyards and the fall season are a perfect mix for nostalgia photography. The pictures are awesome Alyson. I just miss the blue umbrella…

  9. That is an awesome, classic graveyard. I should know, I've been there! :) I'd love to live right near all that history!

  10. I LOVE walking through graveyards! It's like a time capsule with stories just waiting to be discovered.

    You probably already know this, but it used to be common to bury black people just outside the cemetery. Segregation even in death, I suppose. A bit of poetic justice that the woman and child were eventually buried properly after all.