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TO SECTION 6
CEDAR GROVE CEMETERY
COMPILED BY ROBERT BAYARD SEVERY
SECRETARY AND HISTORIAN OF THE
DORCHESTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Cedar Grove cemetery was acquired by the Town of Dorchester in 1667 when much of the community was open space and Dorchester still had many farms and cows and horses were still a major form of transportation. Luther Briggs, Jr., a prolific Dorchester architect, was employed to create the meandering plan of paths and avenues for the cemetery. Perhaps he also drew the sketch for the granite posts for the entrance to the cemetery on Adams Street. Mr. Briggs also helped to plan Mt. Wollaston Cemetery in the nearby Town of Quincy.
In 1989 and 1990 I took color slides of stones at Cedar Grove Cemetery for a lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Dorchester Historical Society entitled “Cedar Grove and Cedar Grove Cemetery” on May 17, 1990. The lecture was very well attended and in the audience was Simon “Sam” Sawtelle who was Secretary and Treasurer of the cemetery. He related to the President of the Dorchester Historical Society, Joseph Adrian Langis, that the Trustees of Cedar Grove Cemetery wanted me to write a guide to the cemetery. Finally in 2007 a guide to Section 7 was printed after both Joseph Langis and Sam Sawtolle were interred at Cedar Grove Cemetery.
Mr. Sawtelle told me that about 25 % of the lots could be considered abandoned property. One thing about genealogy is that it is a constantly correcting discipline. The Massachusetts Vital Records state that Elmira E. Smith of Lot 613 on Oak Avenue, Rear in Section 6 was Almira E. Smith as does her office card, but a letter she wrote in her file in the office safe correctly states that her first name was Elmira! Her name on her stone is inscribed as Myra which was her nickname. A Genealogist I met at Massachusetts Vital Records when it was in the basement of 150 Tremont Street in Boston told me that about 80 % of the information was correct and about 20% was not. I once sent copies of death certificates to my first cousin, once removed, Ernestine Hale Bellamy Firth, and she wrote back to me that all of them had an error! She stated that how could you believe vital records! My history teacher at English High School in my senior year in 1961 and 1962, Kenneth A. Johnson, once told his students that he believed nothing that he read and only half of what he saw and heard! One time at the Massachusetts Vital Records on Tremont Street I asked a lady what the departed would think if they knew that the living would look up their vital records. She replied that they would either laugh or be angry!
Section 6 is the most visited section of Cedar Grove Cemetery on account of Lot 53 on Linden Avenue at Cedar Avenue being the site of the Benjamin Stone Jr. Post 68 of the Grand Army of the Republic resting place with its statue of a Civil War soldier which was the gift of Thomas F. Temple who was interred on Linden Avenue in Section 10 in 1907. Benjamin Stone, Jr., was interred in the Dorchester North Burying Place in Upham's Corner. Every Memorial Day this is the location of a service by the veterans' posts of Dorchester with many elected officials present which included Governor Mitt Romney on a rainy day in 2003.
Nathan Carruth who named Ashmont and helped to develop the area for a growing Dorchester population and Robert Ball Hughes who was one of America's greatest nineteenth century sculptors were interred near each other on Linden Avenue. Before he moved to School Street in Dorchester, Mr. Hughes lived nearby on Adams Street and would often come to this area of the cemetery before he passed away in 1868 two years before the first interment in 1870. Office records do not state where he was first interred. A now vanished stand of cedar trees in the cemetery gave it its name and the area of Dorchester which at one time was referred to as “New Dorchester.”
I would like to thank the staff of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston's Back Bay for their support. They are Jade Luongo, Marie Daly, Rhonda R. McClure and Julie Helen Otto. The staffs at Massachusetts Vital Records on Mt. Vernon Street in Dorchester, the Bostonian Society at 15 State Street in Boston, and my friends at the Boston Athenaeum at the National Landmark at 10 ˝ Beacon Street on Boston's Beacon Hill who have been ny friends for decades have all helped with moral support.
The staff at the office at 920 Adams Street have been my good friends since 1990. They are and were Simon “Sam” Sawtelle, Richard Crooker, Janes Feeney, Virginia Biagiotti, Harland “Rusty” White, Joan Loughlin, Maryann O'Brien, Loretta Philbrick, Robert Sawtelle, and Irene Jadowski.
The work crew at Cedar Grove Cemetery work six days a week in all kinds of weather to bury the departed, cut the grass and rake the leaves. They are to be commanded for their dedication and they are Candido Ortiz, Gerald Gomez and his brother Quintino Gomez, James McNicholas, Jorge Montero, Jose Soto, Sean Connaughton, James Toner, and Michael Feeney.
Gina McLoughiln volunteers in the office on Saturday.
The Trustees of 2009 who faithfully guide the cemetery into the future are Janes T. Feeney, Edward Forry, Stephen Hughes, Charles Tevnan, Loretta Philbrick, John O'Toole, and John Scannell.
I hope the reader of this guide to Section 6 and Section 2 of Cedar Grove Cemetery will enjoy learning more about local history and Dorchester's slice of Americana.
Robert Bayard Severy
Office, Cedar Grove Cemetery
920 Adams Street Dorchester, Massachusetts July 13, 2009