The old salt marsh in Brunswick lies off the beaten path, and not many people visit it anymore. Salt marsh flies are not that popular, after all, but there is another reason. It lies just adjacent to the old Marsh Cemetery, established in 1755. I doubt it was named “Marsh” in those days, but I don’t doubt its cemetery-ness. It is a classic, old, long-forgotten boneyard. Many of its residents were subjects of King George III of England.
|Thomas Berrey, died April 10, 1755, age 38, the first resident.|
It’s a controversial thing to do, you know—to go visiting, or perhaps lurking, in old boneyards. It’s something I’m famous for. Some of my readers enjoy my writings about it. Many let me know in no uncertain terms that they feel very squeamish about such things. Consorting with the dead? Very squeamish, indeed.
Today I was drawn there. I had driven by with no intention of visiting, but 10 minutes later, a nagging voice in my mind told me to turn the car around and go back, and so I did. I go to the old boneyards for many reasons. First and foremost, it’s because I am a history buff. I love reading the old tombstones and wondering about the individuals, how they lived, how they worked, how they loved. I can’t help it. The more I learn about them, the more I want to learn, and somehow in the process I learn a little bit about myself, too.
|Col. Charles Thomas, died February 16, 1842, age 84, another hero.|
There’s the peacefulness. That’s another reason. No one bothers you in a boneyard, although if someone happens to see you wandering through it, you might get an odd stare. There’s also conversation. It’s completely one-sided, of course, carried out by yours truly (although sometimes I swear I get the “feeling” of an answer). I walk through and talk to them. Usually it’s just about boring things I’m doing. Sometimes it’s about current events and what’s happening in the world now and how lucky they are to have lived in a real society and not a simulated one.
|John Cornish, died October 10, 1842, age 88, another hero.|
I don’t always cry when I go to the old boneyards. In fact, I rarely do, but today was one of the days I did. I’m not sure why. But I think it might be because no one else will cry for them anymore. Some might say that’s as it should be. Why call upon the dead after all these years? But, you see, I think they need to be remembered and missed, even if we never knew them. We might have liked them if we had known them, and a life is still a life.
|Capt. Samuel Gross, died January 27, 1821, age 76.|
Still, it makes many people uncomfortable. They don’t want to think about the dead because then they might think about their own eventual death. If you think about your own eventual death, you are forced to think about how you are currently living your own life right now. Would you be able to say, like so many of the old tombstones do, that you “lived a good life and are now in a better place”? Or would you be filled with regret for the things you have done—or even worse, the things you have not done?
The sun was shining gaily upon the old crumbling graves, with dancing shadows from the leaves of the trees. Earlier I had been wondering what I would make for dinner. Now I had an overwhelming desire to make bread. I could actually smell it. So when I got home, even though it was later than the time I usually start making a loaf of bread, I mixed up some dough. After it bakes, I will pull up some lettuce from the garden and have a salad with it, along with a glass of wine. Maybe two. It will be a good dinner.
I don’t know what I will have for dinner tomorrow, but I will worry about that tomorrow.
|Aaron Hinkley Gross, son of Capt. Samuel Gross and his wife Mary, died August 31, 1799, age 17 months and 17 days.|
Capt. Samuel Snow, died June 21,1791, age 46, and his wife Abigail, died January 12,1836, age 87.
|Samuel Harding died November 9, 1802, age 27.|
|A scattering of old forgotten headstones.|
|Joseph Coombs, died April 24, 1835, age 78, Revolutionary War hero.|
|Beulah, his wife, died July 18, 1829, age 75.|
|Nathaniel Larrabee, died May 27, 1803, age 74.|
|Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Larrabee, he died in 1809, Sarah died in 1826. He was a Revolutionary War hero.|
|Mr. and Mrs. John Curtis, he died in 1853, Thankfull died in 1826.|
|Mary Curtis, wife of Capt. James Curtis, died April 23, 1792, age 47.|
|Marked only with “G” and a faint date in the 1700s. The tree is a newcomer.|
|Susannah, wife of William Thomas, died May 15, 1825, age 99 years, 11 months, 5 days.|