[Transcribed by Dale H. Cook]
The Old-Grave Yard, near the Unitarian Church, was the first burying-place in the South Precinct, now Bridgewater. The land, one acre, is a part of two acres given to the "Inhabitants of the Southerly Precinct," by John Washburn, "to build a Meeting House on," by deed dated April 6, 1719, recorded June 20, 1722, in Plymouth Registry, book 16, page 61, and also recorded in the third book of Parish Records of the South Precinct, now the First Congregational Society in Bridgewater, pages 197-8. The premises conveyed by that deed were twenty rods north and south, and sixteen rods east and west, on which a meeting-house, 38 X 43, was commenced in 1716, finished and dedicated June 14, 1717. It stood on the spot where the present meeting-house stands, and fronted south, was enlarged, 1747, sixteen feet in the middle and taken down 1760.
There is no allusion to any burial in the above deed of John Washburn, nor in the Parish Records for many years after.
John Washburn, the donor, died in 1719, and his wife, Rebecca, in 1717, and both were buried here, in the southwest part, on the high ground which was first used for burial, and the ground first appropriated for burial was afterwards enlarged by the parish. The late Capt. Abram Washburn, about 1843, set up new grave-stones at their graves in place of the old natural stones removed, and in 1850 planted the two larch trees, now standing and growing over their graves, in the presence of the writer, and always claimed that said Rebecca, wife of the donor of the ground, was the first person buried in the yard, it being so written on her grave-stone, and there is no evidence, written, printed or otherwise, of this ground being used for burial prior to 1716.
Where were those people buried who lived and died in this part of old Bridgewater prior to 1716?
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