Monday, June 8, 2020

Faith Flaherty: Gone But Not Forgotten

"During the COVID-19 quarantine, I have been walking for exercise. It may seem strange, but my favorite places to walk are cemeteries. I find it interesting to walk through the cemeteries in Franklin. 

The Union St. cemetery has grave stones from the 1700s. There are some very recognizable names:
  • Oliver Dean, who founded Dean College
  • Fletcher family, there’s a softball field named after the family
  • Ray family, funded Franklin Library - the first library in the country
Then there’s the Beaver Street Cemetery. It is really called St. Mary’s Cemetery because the parishioners of St. Mary’s purchased the land in 1864 because Catholics weren’t allowed to be buried in the Union St. cemetery. But that was then and this is now. Now anyone can be buried in either the Union St. or Beaver St. cemetery. I found it interesting to notice the Irish and Italian names on the St. Mary’s grave stones in contrast to the English names on the Union St. cemetery tombstones.

Cemeteries hold the history of civilization. These two cemeteries reflect the mindset of our Puritan ancestors who left England for freedom to practice their own religion and then in turn didn’t practice what they preached. In St. Mary’s cemetery we see the oldest gravestones engraved with Irish surnames, reflecting the Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine in the mid-1800s. Soon overwhelming the Irish names are Italian names. Names that only Franklinites could pronounce:
  • Mucciarone
  • Bucchanio
  • D’Aniello
St. Mary’s cemetery has a beautiful memorial garden and a columbarium. A columbarium is a wall of vaults containing the cremated remains of the deceased. It is a peaceful area for respectful reflection. 

There’s one more cemetery that is perhaps the most interesting of all, albeit the smallest one. It is on Green St., Franklin. The official name is the City Mills Historical Cemetery. That area is part of the City Mills section of Norfolk/Franklin, hence the name. Some of the people buried there:
  • Samuel Allen 15 Mar 1778 Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA - 14 Jan 1866
  • Edward Gay Jr 2 Jul 1696 Wrentham, Suffolk, Province of Massachusetts Bay - 28 Feb 1758
  • Timothy Hawes 21 Jul 1722 Wrentham, Suffolk, Province of Massachusetts Bay - 8 Mar 1772
  • Rhoda (Mason) Allen abt 1795 Dedham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, USA - 15 Apr 1862
  • James Shepardson 24 Jul 1789 Wrentham, Norfolk, Massachusetts, United States - 8 Mar 1863
There are other reasons to enjoy walking in these cemeteries besides historical interest. There’s the peace and quiet. The roads are paved so one can wholly concentrate on their reflections. The epitaphs on the gravestones are interesting and some are funny. (That will be a future story.) The architecture, material, and choice of design offer imaginative stories about people’s lives. It certainly makes you wonder what happened between birth date - death date. Just imagine! An entire life is represented by a dash! 

Soon many more graves and cremains will be added to our cemeteries, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A walk through the cemeteries will put your priorities in order. What will your legacy be?"

Faith Flaherty

Union St cemetary
Union St cemetery

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