April 13, 2011: Lancaster Wanderings III – Old Settlers Cemetery

Researching the Old Settlers Cemetery was not easy.  It is not that well marked and all say it is behind the Middle Cemetery.  Well sort of, more like a little north east of the Middle Cemetery. I did see a photo online that showed the entrance to the cemetery which was bounded by trees on either side.  That photo sort of clued me that it was going to be an interesting discovery. 

I walked the north and back boundaries of the Middle Cemetery and could not see the other tombstones in the distance.  Of course, I was not looking northerly.  It is more of a like look at an intersection diagonally across!

This is how you find it.  The trail leading to the Old Settlers Cemetery is on the north east corner of the cemetery.  Currently a pine tree limb has fallen in front of the entrance to the pathway.  The pathway is narrow and you almost don’t believe it is there.  You walk down to the the railroad tracks.  Once at the railroad tracks look north and you can spot a orange and gray painted pole on the left side of the railroad tracks and it is probably a snow measuring stick.  There is a cement block on the right with some funny letters on it.  Do not go to them but look to the right and you will then see another path but you do have to cross the railroad tracks. Be careful! Once you start walking north on the tracks and looking to the right (east) you can easily spot the tombstones in the distance.  From that point you should have no trouble finding the path down to the Old Settlers Cemetery.  The tombstones are in an open area surrounded by woods. The path is a little steep but not to hard to walk down.  It is also but wider than the other one. To get back to the Middle Cemetery note in the photo below (first) the railroad ties that point to the side.  There is a red old metal can that is near the entrance that you cannot see here.

Looking back to the path up to Middle Cemetery before crossing the tracks

Looking down into the the Old Settlers Cemetery

There is a tombstone as you enter in a very dark charcoal and it announces: 

Erected 1924
The cemetery is wedged in between forest on the left and on the back and water on the right or is that marsh land?  I would say it runs west to east. It is in fairly good shape for the age of the cemetery, much better kept than the Old Common Burial Ground.  There is still evidence of buried stones, breakage and moss. I studied every stone I could decipher and couldn’t find Philip.  I need help!!! I did find John Prescott’s Memorial Stone and it is not hard to find and relatively new. I was becoming tired and frustrated.  I worried  as to whether I was going to find the tombstone of Philip Goss 1698?  I was wet even with the slicker and very cold. Water was accumulating in the pockets so that made it difficult to put things into the pockets.
At the front of the Old Settlers

Looking towards the back of the Old Settlers

It is very peaceful in this cemetery except for the forest sounds.  It extends back to the trees with two big flat stones like the table top tombstones but no legs that look new and shiny.  They are under the trees.

Source:  History of the town of Lancaster, Massachusetts From the First Settlement to the Present Time 1643-1879, Rev. Abijah Perkins Marvin, Published by the Town, 1879. This book is at Google Books but the map of the Old Settlers Burying Ground is totally unreadable as are other pages?  I found a copy of the history in the Thayer Library and made copies of the map or rather a nice helpful young man showed me.  The inscriptions from the cemetery are there and I believe they are complete so you can at least get an idea.  I will try scanning when I return home a copy of the map.  There are numbers assigned to the inscriptions and those are indicated on the map.  I had identified where Philip Goss’s grave was!!!


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