Cemetery W A L K
The friends of the Windham NH Historic Commission will be hosting a cemetery walk to benefit Searles School and Chapel on October 11th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Local residents will play the roles of those buried beneath the ground. Among those portrayed will be David Greg who was killed by Indians near Golden Brook in 1740 when he was just nine years old. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3 for children under 18. Why not come and find out who lays slumbering in the dust in the Cemetery on the Plain in Windham NH.
For those of you who plan upon your death to have your body placed in the cold, still, earth rather than the more free spirited spreading of ashes, the question becomes how will you mark your grave? Today people have their faces and their Harley's etched on their head stones. In the past, the historic stones have reflected the inevitability of death and how best to approach it.
Many years ago, before I was married, my wife and her cousin Sue Alosky stopped by my house after they had just walked through the "old" Cemetery on the Plain. They recited the following epitaph to me.
"As you pass by remember me, As you are now so once was I, As I am now so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me."
A few weeks ago, my wife and I walked through the "old" cemetery again and found the stone and the epitaph. This particular verse is very popular and is found on several grave stones in town. We also noticed that many of the stones are becoming very difficult to read which is sad because they have stories to tell. Take the stone of Hannah Campbell who died in March of 1789. On the stone with her are the names of four of her children who died before the age of four and of another infant who was still born. Her epitaph reads:
"Tis God that lifts our comforts high, Or sinks them in the grave, He gives and blessed be his name, He takes but what he gave."
The epitaph on the stone of Lieutenant Jeremiah Hills sums up the eternal question; Why am I here, what is the meaning of life, is there a God and if there is a God am I a part of an eternal future beyond death. People who live to find out often leave with more questions than answers. Lieutenant Hills epitaph:
Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought, Do I love the Lord or no, Am I his or not?"
Many of the stones reflect the belief in the resurrection of the body. Jennet Park who died at 81 in 1830's has on her grave,:
"These ashes poor, this little dust, Our father care shall keep, Till the last angel rise and break the long and dreary sleep."
Mary Meeker who died in March of 1836 at the age of 19 indicated that her spirit will be in heaven to be rejoined later by her body:
"Let all who now behold me here, be faithful till the Lord appears, Farewell dear friends, a short farewell, Till we shall meet again above, I go from you to heaven to dwell, To realize a Saviors love. Though friends and kindred weep around, my body slumbers in the ground, Till the last trumpet shall bid it rise, To meet the Savior in the sky."
Nancy, the wife of Isaac Cochran, who died in 1826 has a stone that states:
"From husband torn for friends and family dear, At life's bright moon of death laid her body here, So let it rest from joys and sorrows driven, Till Christ shall call her sleeping dust to heaven."
Deacon Samuel Morrison who died in 1816 at 69 has an epitaph that reads:
"Forgive, blest shade, the tributary tear that mourns thy exit from a world like this, Forgive the wish that would have kept thee here, And stayed thy progress to the seats of bliss"
NEW DATE!!!!! So see you on October 11th...there is no telling what you might find among the stones.