Cemetery Tour Reveals Lives of Well Lived Residents

Cosponsored by Easton 17th and Cemetery Committees

The Easton Cemetery Committee hosted its second cemetery tour, led by committee member and local historian Frank Pagliaro. The May 15 tour was one of several dodransbicentennial (175 years) events co-organized by the Easton 175 Committee, which is winding up its year-long celebration.

Reading the messages on headstones during the Center Street Cemetery Tour. — Deirdra Preis Photo

Discussion topics on the tour included death, funeral, and burial practices in 19th Century Easton. The tour also recounted some of the lives of the permanent residents of the town, where and how they lived and died, and how their lives shaped the community we call home. Throughout the tour, Pagliaro presented the interred not just as deceased, but as people who would have been our friends and neighbors.

Center Street Cemetery, located on present-day Black Rock Turnpike, was established in 1861 because neighboring Gilbertown Cemetery had reached its capacity after a hundred years of use. Center Street is transitional in style, exhibiting some of the mid-19th Century landscape ideas of carefully laid-out lots along two carriageways while continuing earlier cemetery practices, such as headstones and footstones aligned west to east.

About 500 people have been buried in Center Street, including some in a Potter’s Field, which is identified by a ground plaque. Those interred also include the first Town Clerk of Easton; one of the owners of the large mill that spanned the Aspetuck River at Old Redding Road and Westport Road; and members of founding families such as the Wheelers, Fantons, Wakemans, and Bradleys. Except for one member, the entire Bradley family (of the Historical Society of Easton’s Bradley-Hubbell House) is buried in Center.

The Center Street tour was preceded by a display at the Easton Library that showcased the burial practices, stone styles, and stories of some of the residents interred in five of Easton’s cemeteries. The Easton Cemetery Committee is planning to hold additional cemetery tours; keep an eye out for future tour dates.

Even though the Easton 175 Committee is finishing up its anniversary celebration, it will continue to be a presence in town by consolidating information on local events and places and promoting the same. Visit the Easton 175 Committee’s Web site at https://www.easton175.com.

The Easton Cemetery Committee, which is charged with maintaining four of the town’s historic graveyards, holds occasional cemetery workdays at which volunteers can learn more about Easton’s history while helping to preserve it. In addition, the Committee is seeking to add another member. Contact Chairperson Nanette DeWester at eastonctcemetery@yahoo.com for more information.

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