Memorial Day: Focus on Cemeteries and Monuments in Bedford

Veteran's Row at Shawsheen Cemetery - Image (c) Dennis Freeman, Bedford DPW, 2016 all rights reserved
Veteran’s Row at Shawsheen Cemetery – Image (c) Dennis Freeman, Bedford DPW, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

Compiled by The Bedford Citizen

Bedford’s two cemeteries, the Old Burying Ground on Springs Road and Shawsheen Cemetery at the corner of Shawsheen Avenue and The Great Road,  along with Veteran’s Memorial Park, the World War memorial on Bedford Common, and the Patriot sculpture will come into sharp focus as Memorial Day observances begin on Monday.

To mark the holiday, the Department of Public Works’ Grounds Division has placed more than 700 flags to honor veterans from all military conflicts.

Both of Bedford’s cemeteries are maintained by the Cemeteries Division of the Department of Public Works. According to its mission, the Town seeks  “to preserve the historical heritage and serene atmospheres for families and loved ones while also providing professional burial services for present and future generations.”

Bedford’s Old Burying Ground

Marker commemorating Bedford's freed slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
Marker commemorating Bedford’s freed slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
Old-Burying-Ground-plaque
Bedford’s heroes of the American Revolution interred in the Old Burying Ground – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

The Old Burying Ground, is located within the Old Bedford Center National Historic District. On October 23, 1729, Israel Putnam, a local deacon, sold an acre of land to the Town of Bedford to serve as its cemetery. The Old Burying Ground is the final resting place for Bedford Minutemen and Militiamen who fought at Concord and along Battle Road on April 19, 1775 as well as several freed slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War. There are 386 headstones, 284 footstones, 6 monuments and 14 mound tombs, which record the names of approximately 496 individuals. The cemetery remained open until 1849, when the Shawsheen Cemetery was opened.

Shawsheen Cemetery

Soldiers-Memorial
The Soldiers’ Memorial at Shawsheen Cemetery – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

Shawsheen Cemetery was established in 1849. It is nondenominational, and its lots and graves are sold only to residents of the Town of Bedford. Shawsheen Cemetery  currently has 6,075 burials.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, the cemetery has grown over the years to its present size thanks to gifts from residents after Albert Bacon gave the 10-acre original plot. Judge Elihu and Marian Loomis (1894); James Spredby (1896) and Abram English Brown (1903); Charles W. Jenks (1927); Sarah J.F. Brown (1928 and 1945); and Edward and Margaret Lear (1959); and a descendant of Herbert Loomis (1961) have all added sections to the cemetery.

In an effort to plan for future needs, the Department of Public Wo1928rks recently completed a new burial section at the Cemetery. It is located behind the Joseph Williams section and consists of two lots and a perimeter roadway. Over the past few months, the Grounds Division cleared, graded and finished the plot with 350 cubic yards of loam from its compost facility.  This project will provide approximately 300 new burial plots, all of which will have flush markers.  Benches have been set for reflection, and trees will be planted in the fall.  The new section is expected to open in the spring of 2017.

Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans-Memorial-Park
Veterans Memorial Park, located along Great Road – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016, all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full size.

Established in 1950 to honor Bedford citizens who served during World War II, the park’s purpose has been expanded to honor all Veterans.

Bedford’s Patriot

Patriot-Looks-Back-to-Veterans-Memorial-Park
Bedford’s Patriot looks back toward Veterans Memorial Park – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

On Bedford Common

Image (c) Don Marshall, 2016 all rights reserved - Click image to see it at full resolution
A Memorial to The Men of Bedford who served in the World War, the plaque also lists several women. Image (c) Don Marshall, 2016 all rights reserved – Click image to see it at full resolution

Editor’s Note: The Bedford Citizen thanks the DPW and their Cemeteries Division as well as Don Marshall, Don Corey and the Bedford Historical Society for their help with this story.


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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