Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday ~ Old Dunstable Cemetery (Old South), Nashua, New Hampshire


The Old Dunstable Cemetery is also known as Old South Cemetery, and sometimes even known as Little's Station Cemetery.  This last name was popular when there was a train station nearby, because there was a tavern next door to the cemetery, owned by a John Little.   It’s the oldest cemetery in Nashua, dating from when this land was once part of Massachusetts.  You can find it on Daniel Webster Highway, near the entrance to Royal Ridge Mall, at the traffic lights. The earliest burial dates from 1687, and the most recent is 1966.  There are about 250 graves here with lots of early Dunstable and Nashua names such as Abbot, Bancroft, Blanchard, Colburn, Lovewell, Roby/Robie, and Smith.





Inscription reads:
NEAR THIS SPOT IN 1684
THE SETTLERS OF DUNSTABLE
BUILT THEIR
SECOND MEETING HOUSE
REV. THOMAS WELD, MINISTER
THIS MEMORIAL ERECTED BY
MATTHEW THORNTON CHAPTER, D.A.R.
NASHUA, NH AD 1900

Also located inside the cemetery walls is the Suburban School No. 1.  It was built in 1841 and restored in 1976.   This historic brick schoolhouse is a popular field trip with fourth grade students in Nashua.  In New Hampshire the fourth grade curriculum is the year that students study local and state history.  The Kings Daughters Benevolent Association hosts the visits to the school, and recreates the 19th century experience for the children. The schoolmarm teaches penmanship (with dip ink pens), arithmetic on slates, writing and recitation during a two hour session straight out of 1842.  Students are encouraged to dress in long skirts and overalls, and to bring a cold lunch in a pail.




Why is the schoolhouse next to the cemetery?  According to the website for the school, the land was cheap!  The town paid only $75 for the lot where it still stands now, surrounded by malls, parking lots and chain stores.

An interesting slideshow of all the “winged skulls” and portraits on the top of the headstones in the Old Dunstable Cemetery:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/markturek/sets/72157625300823148/

Genealogical information on the families interred at the Old Dunstable Cemetery can be found in the book Early Generations of the Founders of Old Dunstable: Thirty Families, by Ezra S. Stearns, Boston: George Littlefield Publishers, 1911

Also see the book History of the Old Township of Dunstable: Including Nashua, Nashville, Hollis, Hudson, Litchfield and Merrimac, NH,  by Charles James Fox, 1846. 

Website for District #1 Schoolhouse in Nashua http://nashuaschoolhouse.com/

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Copyright 2013, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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