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Bay Path Cemetery

Bay Path Cemetery aka The Charlton Centre Yard

Established in 1764, part of this cemetery was given by Ebenezer Mackintire. It was expanded in 1812. The remains of many of Charlton's noble citizens are buried here, including Boston Tea Party participant, John Spurr; spiritualist, Hiram Marble and John Capen Adams, mountain man known as Grizzly Adams.

From a vote found in the town records of March 12th 1764, it was decided to accept an acre of ground "a little south-east of Ebenezer McIntire's barn," for a yard for the district to bury therein their dead. This yard was needed. This hill was declared by a commission selected by the town to be the centre of the town; and the citizens thought it proper to have a place in close proximity to bury their dead. The other yards were too far distant. Mr. McIntire had previously given land for the town church; and now again he was prompt in being generous. He gave land at the outset on the road leading west to Rev. Warrant Fiske's, just in the rear of the residence of Wm. A. Weld. The first grave was dug for a little child, a baby brother of Joel Parker, who died some years since quite aged. When the time came to bury the child, the grave was filled with water; and on consultation it was thought advisable to change the location; thereupon, Mr. McIntire offered another acre of land on the east side of the road, the present north-west corner of the yard. This account of the first grave and change of locations came to the author, from Mr. Albert McKinstry of Southbridge, who received it from one, who received it from Mrs. Madden a sister of Ebenezer McIntire. This first thought of plot of ground is still quite springy, and damp though cultivation has improved it much.

The original acre of the present cemetery was soon filled with graves, and in 1810 or '12 an enlargement was needed. The original road from Oxford came directly up the hill, near the road from Dudley to the road leading west from the Congregational Church, hence the house of Mrs. Clarissa Case was on one of the four corners. On the north-west corner of these four, stood the tavern of Ebenezer McIntire, which was the great resort for all the citizens. For some reason, prior to this century, this road from the east was changed, bearing to the south-west, and entering the highway leading south near the plain entrance of the present cemetery. To enlarge the cemetery required a change in this road once more, therefore the road was closed from the present lower entrance, and the highway was made the north boundary of the original acre, as it is today. The cemetery was enlarged on the south and east side the south boundary being near the main front entrance. The remains of this highway through the cemetery are quite visible today. To the original acre, there were two entrances, one midway in front, and the lower one just back of the first tomb. At the time of this enlargement, there must have been quite an interest in the yard. At this time Daniel Alexander erected a tomb for his wife, who had died two or three years previous. This was the first tomb, and is nearest the road. Mr. Alexander died in 1831 aged 89. The tomb now is in the care of Mrs. Joshua Vinton of Dudley. In 1812 Mr. Rufus Wakefield, a brother in law of Gibbs Dodge, Esq., took a contract to build eight tombs for prominent citizens in town. They were built altogether and in the same manner with the exception of two or three doors. These tombs belonged to Salem Towne; Wm. S. Welds; Gen. John Spurr; John Stevens; John Rich; and two other families whose names were not inscribed upon the doors. A few yeas later on the death of his wife in 1819, Mr. Gibbs Dodge, built another tomb, which makes the full complement of tombs. That one owned by Wm. S. Welds was sold to Harvlin Towne, in part, for the entombing of his father and mother, though he, as we have stated built for himself a tomb near the depot.

The old families buried in the yard at the Centre are numerous. They are among the upright ones of the town, We can name the Phillips, the Nichols, the Harwoods, the McIntires, the Townes, and Welds, the marbles, the Ryders, the Wards, The Burde (missing text here) and Lamsons. There are many more whom we might notice but whose families are not so numerous.

Rev. Caleb Courtis the first town minister is buried in this yard. He was settled over this town from 1762 to 1776. He was quite an active, public spirited man, and in those spirited times often came in contact with the minds of others. After the dismissal from the pastorate he remained a citizen of the town until his death in 1802. During the Shay rebellion he took a zealous part, and we understand offered a brief imprisonment in consequences. He represented the town in the provincial congress at Watertown in 1775.

One fact is strange that after the generous deeds of Ebenezer McIntire, we who are enjoying the blessings of our common and other gifts of his are not permitted to know the whereabouts of his resting place. The tradition among his descendants was that it was in the first tier of graves fronting the road leading to the south, acting upon this, his descendants have staked out some unmarked graves and an unclaimed lot, as the one most probably which belonged to the Ebenezer McIntire family. And after this warning has been give for a sufficient time, and the plot is not claimed positively by any one else, we learn that a monument will be erected to the memory of the donor of the cemetery and the common.

Source: This text is an excerpt from a compilation of Charlton Cemeteries by Reverend Anson Titus.
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