GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

November 2, 2012

History comes alive at Essex burial ground

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — ESSEX — The old burial ground in Essex came back to life last Sunday.

People visited the burial ground and learned about life in the 1700s and early 1900s through the eyes of several of that era’s prominent citizens — including some notorious ones.

Buried on the grounds are members of the community, including veterans of the colonial wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Guests also toured the Hearse House, built more than 170 years ago.

The Hearse House holds the original Victorian sleigh and wooden wheel hearses that were purchased by the town in 1861, as well as two holding boxes that predate the practice of embalming, when block ice was used to preserve the body of the deceased.

The tour also included stops at some of the 374 headstones, with the oldest stone dating to around 1708 or 1709.

Some of the citizens represented in the re-enactments were: Rev. Robert Crowell, Dr. Thomas Sewall, one of his patients, Sally Andrews, Rev. John Cleveland and Rev. Wise.

Wesley Burnham, who fought in the Revolutionary War, was captured by the English and held at Mill Prison also spoke. While serving on the gunship Preston he contracted smallpox and was left for dead in a hospital in Jamaica, but recovered and sailed back to Boston.

From Boston, he walked all the way back to Chebacco. It was reported that: “On that night, all of Chebacco was at the house to see ‘one who had risen from the dead.”