Adjacent to the schoolhouse is the town's first burial ground, with stones ranging in date from 1708 to 1888 which provide an excellent overview of early New England gravestone styles and are useful in comparing gravestone art in Essex (which until 1819 was the Chebacco Parish of Ipswich) to patterns found in other early New England towns. It is also a valuable genealogical resource and the Museum maintains an inventory detailing the names and epitaphs on all gravestones.
More than 2,000 persons are buried there including veterans of the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The first schoolmaster rests there along with many of the town’s shipbuilders and the first three pastors of the village church. The first pastor, Rev. John Wise, is buried in the center of the yard under the table-like stone. He was a widely read author who protested taxation without representation as early as 1687. When copies of his essays were reprinted and distributed throughout the colonies in 1772, his words set the tone for the American Revolution. Gravestone art shows examples of typical 18th and 19th century styles.
The Hearse House was built around 1840 and is one of only two known remaining in New England and contains original Victorian hearses: an old sleigh hearse and a dome hearse that was purchased secondhand by the town on December 14, 1861, from a Mr. Lock of Braintree, MA. There are also two holding boxes that predate the practice of embalming and used block ice to preserve the body of the deceased. Window-glass permitted viewing of the face from the front and in profile.
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