Halloween is the season to ponder ghosts and the spiritual realm. While the lives of many hundreds of former residents buried in Hopkinton’s cemeteries are a mystery, more than a few of the graves have interesting stories behind them. And the inscriptions on the aged slate headstones speak of times when life was shorter and more brutal.
Hopkinton has a total of eight cemeteries: the Main Street Cemetery on Main Street; Mt. Auburn cemetery, located at the end of Mt. Auburn Street; Evergreen Cemetery in Woodville, just north of the boat landing on Rte. 135; “The Tombs,” a private and now-abandoned cemetery located behind One Ash Street; the Bear Hill Cemetery on Pond Street near Jamie Lane; East Hopkinton Cemetery on Clinton Street; the Granite Street Cemetery on Granite Street; and even a former horse cemetery, located near what is now 57 Ash Street. Only the Mt. Auburn and Evergreen cemeteries have plots left, available to Hopkinton residents through the Cemetery Commission.
Here are some noteworthy plots to help guide your Halloween walking tour:
The Indian Grave
In a corner near the stone wall of Mt. Auburn Cemetery – built by workers who served under the Emergency Recovery Act during the Great Depression -- is the grave of the Native American Ahwenetunk, a 25-year-old circus performer who became ill while traveling through Hopkinton in 1866. Resident Everett Washburn tried in vain to nurse him back to health. When he died, townspeople chipped in to buy him a grave and a stone marker. Ahwenetunk’s marker reads “Pure in life, in death is called. Erected by his friend, E.S. Washburn.”
Near the Ghost Town
The Bear Hill cemetery is where many soldiers killed in the French and Indian war of 1765 are buried. According to legend, several Native Americans are also buried there in unmarked graves. According to former Hopkinton historian Gordon Hopper, the headstone from one of the Native American graves was poached and used as a tabletop somewhere in Hopkinton. Not far from this cemetery are the remains of a neighborhood that was demolished many years ago and is known as Hopkinton’s only “ghost town.”
Oldest Family Plots
Evergreen Cemetery is where many of Hopkinton’s oldest families are buried – the Wood, Morse, Fecteau, Cunningham, Gassett and Rice families. It was formerly named Woodville Cemetery and renamed in 1918. One monument also pays homage to the Wood family members who were buried in other towns. Evergreen is also the site of the beautiful Comey Memorial Chapel. Dedicated in 1919, the Chapel was built with funds from the Woodville Old Home Association and from Captain Henry N. Comey of Danvers, who named the chapel for his deceased wife. The building, restored a few years ago by Paul and Claire Wright of Hopkinton, also has a plaque that includes the names of all the Hopkinton soldiers who died during the Civil War. Its dedication plaque reads: “In memory of Augusta Wood Comey. None named her but to praise.”
An area behind One Ash Street, a former Episcopal Parish House, was once a private cemetery known as The Tombs. The first person buried there, in 1799, was a young child of Major Willis Price. The major followed his son to the grave in 1802 and requested that a volley fired over him after he was entombed. Just before his death Major Price shut himself up in his tomb and asked a militia to fire a volley outside. Through the ages other Hopkinton people have called this site the Valentine Cemetery, since several members of the Valentine family were buried there. Other families burying some of their dead in the Tombs included the Bixbys, Walkers, Prentisses, Holbrooks and Claflins.
The Main Street Cemetery, across from the town common, includes many of the town’s oldest graves. Several poignant small markers for children who died young from disease are nestled next to the larger markers of their parents. One man, Aaron Smith, who died in 1860, is buried next to his three wives, who died in 1810, 1820 and 1878. Other members of the Smith and Claflin families are also buried there.
Horses’ Final Resting Place
The Granite Street cemetery, not far from the intersection with Rte. 85, is located across the street from the now-abandoned cutting yard for granite excavated by the Norcross Brothers. And behind 57 Ash Street is an area that served as a horse burial ground in the 1920s. The property owner, Arthur Crooks, would bury the horses free of charge. While most of the horses had no names, one was called “Old Tom.”
Evergreen Cemetery contains some of the most entertaining inscriptions on the grave markers, including:
“Affliction sore, long time bore, Physicians were in vain. Till God did please with death to seize and ease me from my pain.”
“Farewell Mother, thy race is run, All thy duties carefully done.”
“Weep not for me for here you see, my trials have been great. But to you I bid an adieu, and change my mortal state.”