See icons at the bottom of the page for individual entries from Robert Severy's guide. The introduction follows here.
Guide to Section 5
Cedar Grove Cemetery
Compiled by Robert Bayard Severy
Secretary and Historian of the
Dorchester Historical Society, 2010.
Cedar Grove Cemetery was planned by the Selectmen of the Town of Dorchester in 1867 as part of the national trend of garden cemeteries started at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and Watertown in 1831 and emulated at Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain in 1848. It was a farsighted move as the Dorchester North Burying Place in Upham's Corner, the South Burying Ground on Dorchester Avenue in Dorchester Lower Hills, and other cemeteries in Dorchester would not in the future provide for Dorchester's growing population after the Civil War. Luther Briggs, Jr., the most prolific architect in Dorchester in the early Victorian period, created the plan of meandering avenues that are still followed today. Architect Briggs also helped in the design of Mt. Wollaston Cemetery in the Town of Quincy. Rachel Marie Winsor of Neponset, who died in childbirth, became the first person to be interred in the new Cedar Grove Cemetery in Section 10 on February 24, 1870.
In 1989 and 1990 I took about 200 color slides of stones in the cemetery for a lecture at the Dorchester Historical Society entitled “Cedar Grove and Cedar Grove Cemetery” that was presented to an enthusiastic audience at the annual meeting of the society at the William Clapp House in May of 1990. In the audience was the Secretary-Treasurer of the cemetery, Simon “Sam” Sawtelle. He did not speak to me at that time but later told the President of the Dorchester Historical Society, Joseph A. Langis, that the trustees of the cemetery wanted me to write a guide to the cemetery. I came to the cemetery office for the first time later in that year and thus began years of research into the history of those interred at Cedar Grove Cemetery. In May of 1995 I gave a talk at the William Clapp House of the Dorchester Historical Society on just Cedar Grove Cemetery. In the audience were Mr. Sawtelle and Mr. & Mrs. John P. Biagiotti who enjoyed the lecture immensely. John P. Biagiotti was interred at Cedar Grove Cemetery in 1997, Joseph A. Langis in 2000, and Simon “Sam” Sawtelle in 2003. Recently a granite bench across from the cemetery on Adams Street and Milton Street was dedicated in memory of Mr. Sawtelle.
Section 5 contains both old areas and more recent ones. Its most prominent feature is the lot of the Parish of the Church of the Advent, High Church Episcopal, on Mt. Vernon Street and Brimmer Street in Boston. Here are the stones of Matilda Catherine Schoolcraft, the niece of President Zachary Taylor, and his grandnephew, Luke Schoolcraft, a Comedian, with the statue in marble of the Lord on top. The level stone with a cross marks the grave of Rev. William Barroll Frisby, Rector of the church from 1888 to 1902, who completed the building of the Gothic church which was consecrated in 1894. Nasra Odeh, from Palestine, was also interred in this lot.
Next to the Church of the Advent lot is that of one of two resting places at Cedar Grove Cemetery of the Sisters of St. Margaret, an Episcopal Order, whose convent for many years was at 17 Louisburg Square on Beacon Hill in Boston. Both lots had crosses placed by Charles G. Blake Co. of Chicago, Illinois that were damaged by the Hurricane of September 21, 1938. Around 1960, F. P. Davis Monumental Works, Inc. at 3800 Washington Street in Roslindale placed a new cross at this site on Beech Avenue.
Others interred in Section 5 include Daniel Ozro Smith Lowell, headmaster of the Roxbury Latin School; William F. Reed, the first truant officer in Boston; and George Dodsworth, a native of Yorkshire in England, who twice enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Years ago a Boston University professor and his wife drove me to Kenmore Square after he gave a lecture about the opening chapter of the American Revolution in Massachusetts at the Brighton Historical Society. One quoted a relative who said about history: “How do you know — were you there?” An example of this is the quote in stone at Battle Green in Lexington that Capt. John Parker is said to have said to his Company of Minutemen on April 19, 1775: “Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon. But if they mean to have a war let it begin here.” There are several accounts of what actually happened that fateful day at the Battle of Lexington and some later claimed that he never uttered those words. Capt. John Parker was in ill health at the time and died on September 17, 177. His grandson, Jonathan Parker (1797-1871), was re-interred in Lot 243 on Pine Avenue in Section 9 on April 18, 1876, from Forest Hills Cemetery.
I would like to thank Julie Helen Otto, Rhonda R. McClure, Marie Daly, and Jade Luongo at the New England Historic Genealogical Society at 101 Newbury Street in the Back Bay of Boston for all their help in researching the records. The N.E.H.G.S. is to be commended for collecting vital records since 1845 and having them in their computers and copies of the Boston Transcript up to 1910 on microfilm. As William Fowler of the Massachusetts Historical Society once said “No paper, no history,” and therefore one can say “No paper, microfilm, newspapers, computers, no genealogy.”
The office staff have helped me for twenty years and they are past and present: Simon “Sam” Sawtelle, Robert Sawtelle, Virginia Biagiotti, Joan Loughlin, Maryann O'Brien, Gina McLaughlin, Richard Crooker, and James Feeney.
The work crew at Cedar Grove Cemetery is to be commended for all their hard work in all kinds of weather. They are the Foreman Harland “Rusty” White, Candido Ortiz, Adam Trzcinski, Gerald Gomez and his brother Quintino Gomez, Jorge Montero, Jose Soto, Sean Connaughton, Michael Feeney and James Toner.
The Trustees of 2010 who meet quarterly and who guide the future of Cedar Grove Cemetery with foresight are Edward Forry, Stephen Hughes, Charles Tevnan, Loretta Philbrick, John O'Toole, and John Scannell.
I would also like to remember my neighbor, Walter P. Leavey, who was part of the work crew decades ago who passed away this year and who enjoyed reading the earlier guides to the cemetery.
The lots in this guide are arranged alphabetically.
I will always be grateful to my friends at Cedar Grove Cemetery who helped me become a published author of local history. Hopefully this guide will add to the reader's knowledge of American history and of those who years ago built up this area of our country.
Robert Bayard Severy Office, Cedar Grove Cemetery 920 Adams Street Dorchester, Massachusetts September 29, 2010