Graveyard Visit – Old First Cemetery

My second (and unfortunately final stop due to the rain) in Upton was the Old First Cemetery.  Established in 1735 near the site of the original meeting house, the graveyard is now up a dead-end street between some farms and a paintball course, just as the colonists would have wanted.

First off, some links – Findagrave; Macris; and the Farber Gravestone Collection.

Towns are not as permanent as we imagine.  The ‘gravity’ that draws people to certain spots fades or is overwhelmed by the pull of a stronger spot.  Graves, without human help, do not care about the vagaries of logistics, economics, rail roads, or urban development and stay put.  This leads to places like the Old First Cemetery in Upton, which once sat next to the heart of the community but now is in a forgotten, out-of-the-way corner.  While it is not the most poorly kept-up cemetery I have seen, it is definitely in need of some help.  Like with Bradish Cemetery, it was raining during my visit, necessitating speed on my part, causing some less than ideal quality photos.  My apologies.  Even under ideal conditions (when will I learn to have a light and mirror stored in the car?) the stones here would be a challenge.  Moss and lichen covers many stones; in some cases this is compounded by fallen leaves or even whole branches.  While a wall lines the yard, brush is encroaching the gravestones in several places, especially the southern portion where whole gravestones are all but buried in downed branches and knee-high growth.

Additionally there has been damage to a small but significant number of stones and I worry that vandalism or even theft has been going on.  While I could find the battered but intact stone for Rev. Fish, I couldn’t spot his wife Hannah’s (I didn’t double check since the rain really picked up by the end of my visit- to see both, click the link to the Farber database.)

As for sculptors, there are good number of those from James New, a several among the older stones a mix of winged skulls and abstract plant designes from Joseph Barber (in the somewhat overgrown section towards the back wall on the slope).  The most notable of these are the two portrait stones previously mentioned.  I believe at least the Rev’s stone appeared in Forbes “Gravestones and the Men Who Made Them”.  I’ll check my copy and update to confirm.

Hopefully the next time I come back this way it will not be raining (so I can finally explore the Upton Chamber) and someone will have begun to restore this historic graveyard.

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