Thursday, January 31, 2013


One of the things my visits to the cemeteries and graveyards of Plymouth
County over last summer brought home to me was the importance of the
sea in 18th and 19th century New England. Most people think of Boston,
Salem and other towns in the northeastern part of Massachusetts when
they think of the era of the "Yankee Clippers". But some of the earliest
ships were built along the North Riverand they were owned and manned
by crews from the surrounding towns.

I found an example of one Plympton family's coonection to the sea when
I visited Hillcrest Cemetery last April. There's a large square monument
at the front of the cemetery close to the roadside which memorializes
the family of William Marshall Bisbee and his wife Catherine Warren
Harrub. Bisbee men sailed and died upon the sea in the 19th century
and one had an illustrious career with a foreign government.

The front, facing west, simply gives the family name:

On the North Side (on the left had side as you stand in front), the
inscriptions read:
Capt. William Marshall
Died January 1859 in his 54th year
in command of the ship Eceria, bound to China
And was buried off the N.W. Coast of Australia.

Catherine Warren Harrub, his wife
died August 1887 in her 80th year.

Their children
William Wallace, died Sept. 1834  in his 2nd year.
Rachel Magoun, died Feb.1846 in her first year.

Then on the South Side (right hand side):
Felicia Hemans, died March 1847 in her 3rd year.

William Wallace, Lost overboard from the ship Esther May
of which he was Second Mate off the Cape of Good Hope,
homeward bound from Manilla , December 1859 in his 21st year.

Capt. Aelius Marcellus, died in Shanghai, China, Sept 7, 1901
                              in his 60th year.
Late Harbour Master and Coast Inspector at Shanghai;
He served in the Imperial Maratime Customs Service
                          For over 30 years.

Finally on the East Side (the back of the monument):
Eva Bisbee born April 16, 1851 Died March 13, 1938
Ida M. Riehl(Eva's  Bosom Friend)
But whether they die on the seas or shore
Or lie under the water, or sand, or sod,
Christ give them the rest he keeps in store
and anchor their souls in the Harbours of God

The story of this family caught my imagination. I was especially
struck by Catherine enduring the deaths of  her husband and four of her six
children. Her husband and one son died on opposite sides of the world, and
she probably never saw her only surviving son again after he went to sea.

And how did Aelius Marcellus Bisbee from Plympton, Massachusetts in the
United States become the Harbour Master in Shanghai, China?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Hillcrest Cemetery is located in Plympton, Ma. on Route 58 directly across
from the police station. The first burial took place in 1706. The sign by the
cemetery entrance tells of its historical importance:

"The work of local stone carvers represented here is considered quite
noteworthy. Because of its great age and continuous use, this burial
ground is recognized as having one of the finest assortments of carved
grave markers in southeaster Massachusetts.

The carvings and inscriptions represent  the work of several generations
of 18th century stone carvers and their descendants and successors, most
notably Nathaniel Fuller and the Soule family. The stones and markers
also illustrate the evolution of mortuary art and memorial styles
throughout the 18th and 19th century."

But Hillcrest has personal significance for me because some of my Barrows
and Ellis family cousins are interred here.  

It's a beautiful cemetery but time has ravaged some headstones.

Looking across Rte 58 towards the First Congregationalist Church

A Soule family tomb

A rusted fence around a family plot

Monday, January 28, 2013


Mt. Prospect Cemetery in Bridgewater, Ma. is, appropriately enough, on
Mt. Prospect Street opposite the Bridgewater Middle School. The
cemetery is situated on a large hill and I visited it on a windy cool day.
Walking up and down a few steep inclines wore me out quickly so
I didn't spend as much time there as I have at some other locations.
I did however notice a large number of gravestones belonging to the
 Keith and Fobes families who are my cousins

This gives an idea of how steep a hill the cemetery is on.

I wish I had remembered to see whose monument this was.

Some of my Keith cousins.

Looking downhill at the late lamented Ping the Wonder Car.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The Hingham Cemetery contains the graves of some prominent figures in
the history of Massachusetts. One is Benjamin Lincoln, the Revolutionary War
general who accepted Lord Cornwallis' sword at the British surrender at
Yorktown.His grave is located directly behind the church but I wasn't aware
of it being there that day so I didn't get a picture of it.

There were however two other monuments I happened to take photos of
while I walking through the cemetery.

"John Davis Long
Born in Buckfield, Maine
October 27 1838

Died in Hingham, Massachusetts
Died August 28 1915

Governor of Massachusetts

Member of Congress

      Secretary of 
The United States Navy

John Davis Long was Secretary of the Navy during the Spanish-American
War when America became a maritime power.

The second monument is this one of  John Albion Andrews, also governor
of Massachusetts from 1861 to 1866 during the Civil War. Gov. Andrews
was a strong Abolitionist, working with among others Frederick Douglass,
and gave the authorization for two regiments of volunteer African American
infantry, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiments.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Hingham Cemetery is located at 40 Water St in Hingham, Ma. on a hill near
Hingham Center. It was established in 1672 and is behind the Old Ship Church.
The cemetery grounds is itself hilly and has a tiered landscape. I have some
ancestors buried here. I have to say this is one of the most beautiful cemeteries
in Plymouth County.

Friday, January 11, 2013


During my visit last year to the Union Cemetery in Brockton, Ma. I came
upon this headstone:

"Carrie, beloved daughter
of Bradford and Caroline
Blanchard, scalded to death
on board steamer Bay State
on her passage from
New York to Fall River
Dec 31 1845-Oct 31 1856
Darling we part
to meet forever."

This piqued my curiosity. How was a little girl scalded to death on a ship? Had
it been a fire at sea or explosion?  I googled for information this morning and
found this account at the California Digital Newspaper Collection:

"Sacramento Daily Union, Volume 12, Number 1775, 3 December 1856 —

Fatal Disaster on Long Island Sound.— steamer Bay State, Capt. Jewett, !e!t
New York for Fall River at the usual hour on Friday evening, Oct 3Ist, says
the Boston Traveller, with about 150 passengers. At a little alter six o'clock,
when the steamer was off Huntington, a terrible crash was heard. A few
moments before, the passengers had left the supper table. The ladies for
the most part had gone into their saloon, and the gentlemen were
distributed about the boat

The crash was in consequence of the great iron walking-beam, weighing
from twelve to fourteen tons, having suddenly snapped in two in the center,
crashing through the hurricane deck, the saloon deck, the saloon stairs to
the gentlemen's cabin. It also broke the main after-guard beam, a very heavy
piece of timber. This broke the blow and saved the hull from injury, or
otherwise the great mass of iron might have gone through the bottom of the
boat. Of course, this startling accident created great confusion among the
passengers, and it was certainly fortunate that it did not recur a few moments
before, when large numbers of passengers were ascending the stairs from
the supper table. 

Some of the male passengers, in their fright, crowded into the boats banging
upon the cranes, which were soon filled with people, but they wero immediately
ordered out again by the officers of the boat. The ladies, at first, were a good
deal alarmed, but on the whole, behaved with commendable coolness.

The most serious result of the accident was in consequence of a fragment of
the walking-beam as it went up tearing off the top of the cylinder, which caused
the steam to escape in large quantities into the forward saloon. In this saloon
was seen sitting, just previous to the accident, a girl of nine years, named
Blanchard, daughter of Mr. Blanchard, shoe dealer, of Brooklyn, N. Y. She was,
apparently, looking at the machinery of the engine. As the escaped steam
rushed in, she, probably, in her fright, inhaled it in large quantities, causing
almost instant death from internal burns. Her face and hands were also badly
disfigured with the steam. Medical aid was procured as soon as possible, but
she was beyond their help.
- California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic 
Studies and  Research, University of California, Riverside, 

Notice that this is from a Sacramento California newspaper. The story even
showed up in a few lines within a newspaper in Ireland! 

Remarkably, although there were several other people scalded their injuries
weren't fatal. Even more remarkably, although the ship did take on 7 feet of
water it didn't sink and was salvaged.

Carrie's father Bradford Blanchard is mentioned as being a shoe dealer from
Brooklyn, NY, but probably was originally from Brockton, which at that time
was part of this area's booming shoe business. In fact there were several shoe
and boot manufacturing companies owned by Blanchards. The family perhaps
was taking the steamer to Fall River as part of a visit back to Brockton.

Whatever the reason, it was probably a trip they wished they'd never embarked on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Union Cemetery is located on the east side of Brockton, Ma. between
Center (Rte123) and Lyman Streets overlooking the George G Snow Park.
It's laid out in the Mt.Auburn Cemetery style popular in the mid to late
19th century, and like many cemeteries from that era an urban neighborhood
has sprung up around it in the 20th century. There are many Packards, Keiths,
and Dunhams buried here who probably are my distant cousins.