Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visions: The Old Burying Ground at Clapboard Ridge, Greenwich

Nestled atop a hillside overlooking Rockwood Lake along Butternut Hollow Road is this ancient public cemetery. Its numerous fieldstone markers conceal forever the identities of those interred here centuries ago. 

Tranquil and mysterious, the Old Burying Ground at Clapboard Ridge beckons visitors to contemplate its secrets. I first encountered this site in the late 1980s as Greenwich was counting down towards its 350th year celebrations in 1990. 

At that time the Greenwich Historical Society had created at my request and Burial Grounds Committee. As a member of the Board -and one of its youngest ever- we discovered that many of the town's historic cemetery sites were in poor condition. Our committee teamed up with local Scout troops, homeowners associations, literally anyone willing to spend time and energy to clean up these sites. Based on what I saw here today, it's apparent that our efforts paid off. 

This is the soul effigy of Garrot Schotler, whose identity is a mystery. His gravestone features one of the few soul effigies found on any gravestones in Greenwich. You'll find these in one two other places: Tomac Cemetery in Old Greenwich and the Old Burying Ground at Cos Cob on Strickland Road. 

This is a broken-off section of a gravestone for Lincoln Mead, whose farm was nearby. 

A few select fieldstone markers like this one feature a mere initial or two of those whose burials are marked. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Charles Henry Peck & Eunice E. Peck: Peck Family Burying Ground at Pecksland

Chances are you've driven by this small cemetery site more times than you can recall. If that's true you have plenty of company. 

This is one of three small Peck Family cemetery sites in Greenwich. Located on the western side of Round Hill Road -and just north of the intersection with Pecksland Road- this family plot has been in use since circa 1777. The final burial here was in 1896.

Three generations of members of this branch of the Peck family with the name Theophilus are interred here. Theophilus I (died in 1783, aged 82 years) was the grandson of Rev. Jeremiah Peck, one of the original Patentees of the Town of Greenwich. 

Pecksland was a deed gift from Samuel Peck, the son of Rev. Jeremiah Peck. In 1756 he served on the Pecksland School District Committee and served the cause of the American Revolution in the First Battalion, Wadsworth's Brigade, which was stationed in New York under General Putnam. They engaged the British at the Battle of White Plains in Westchester County, New York.

Theophilus II died in 1812, aged 83 years. Theophilus III died in 1777, aged 18 years. It is interesting to note that he and his grandmother buried nearby died within 10 days of each other.

The gravemarker I share today is that of Charles Henry and Eunice Peck, the earliest carved gravestone located here:

Charles Henry was the son of Gideon and Phebe W. Peck. He was only four years old and 5 months when he died on March 20, 1820. 

One day later his sister, Eunice E. Peck, died on March 21. She was one year and 11 months old. 

Their epitaph reads:

These lovely buds so young and fair
Call'd hence by early doom            
Just came to show how sweet a flower
In Paradise would bloom.

Note the inscription with the name of the stone carver, W. Hale (William Hale) -something that is quite rare on Greenwich tombstones.

Other members of the Peck's buried here who are noteworthy include Arod Peck, a Private in Capt. Seth Mead's Company during the War of 1812. 

Rev. David Peck is buried here as well. He assisted Rev. Nathaniel Finch, first Pastor of the King Street Baptist Society Church, in the latter days of Rev. Finch's pastorate.  

A large, plain fieldstone marker most likely marks the grave of Gilbert Peck. His home, known as The Fincherie, was built in 1763 around the corner on Round Hill Road. 

It was for many years the home of Ernest Thompson Seton, writer, naturalist and a founder of the Boy Scouts of America. He named it after the Finch's, another old family who lived there. 

The house was demolished without warning in early January 1990, just as Greenwich kicked off its 350th year celebrations.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

John Mills (1802); Martha Mills (1848), and the Mills Family Cemetery in Clapboard Ridge

Mills Family Cemetery, interior image. August 19, 2015. 

I first met Carol Wister here in Greenwich 25 years or so ago. In this days I was on the board of the Greenwich Historical Society and the Greenwich 350th celebrations in 1990. Like so many descendants of the Founders of Greenwich, Connecticut we found that our genealogies crisscrossed each other. 

Carol is also the niece of local artist the late Roger Selchow. His creative illustrated maps of the town are treasured. (Click here) 

Here is a close-up of Mr. Selchow's map showing the Mills Cemetery:

In those days I was also immersed in working with the Greenwich Historical Society and others in locating and documenting the town's many scattered burying grounds. 

This is Spencer P. Mead's listing of those buried here with inscribed grave markers. There are additional burials marked with plain field stones. 

The cemetery is located in front of the house and off the driveway at #29 Hope Farm Road. 

This is what I saw at the entrance to the cemetery. 

It was on this occasion that Carol introduced me to the Mills Family Burying Ground in Clapboard Ridge. 

Last night Carol contacted me via Facebook Messenger with a request. She asked me to stop by the Mills Plot, capture a few images and take a look at the overall condition of the cemetery. I am staying close enough by where this was no problem at all. 

The Mills Family Burying Ground is located at the terminus of Hope Farm Road, a private residential street off Lake Avenue south of the Merritt Parkway. I had not been by to see this plot in over 20 years. 

The land around the cemetery was subdivided into smaller residential lots many years ago. At one time the Mills family owned a substantial area. In fact, 'Hope Farm' was the name of the Mills family place. The family home burned down many years ago. But the cemetery still survives. 

This cemetery is one of the oldest in the Town of Greenwich. It is bordered by rustic stonewalls that have withstood the tests of weather and time. When I visited today I was that the carpet or myrtle or periwinkle ground covering plants were gone, but that site was not overgrown. 

Internments have taken place here from circa 1802 until 1848. The markers here are unpretentious. They are mostly carved from brownstone and white marble. There are a few plain fieldstone markers without carvings on them. 

On stone without an epitaph is that of Samuel Mills. He died January 22, 1841, aged 89 years, was a soldier in the American Revolution. He served as a private in Captain Matthew Mead's Company of Horseneck, 9th regiment, 4th Brigade, Connecticut Militia. 

The John Mills stone -died October 10, 1802 -in the 40th year of his life is the oldest carved stone here:
Reader behold as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you must be
Prepare for death and follow me.

Nearby is the gravestone for Martha, wife of Samuel Mills, Jr., who died March 18, 1848, aged 61 years, 8 months and 5 days. Here is her epitaph:

Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.

One gravestone with an eight-line epitaph belongs to Sarah H., the wife of Major Lockwood. 'Major' was his name, not his military rank. I hope to go back some time soon to record the text of this epitaph.


Jeffrey Bingham Mead,
Greenwich, Connecticut USA
August 19, 2015