Saturday, June 28, 2008

Old Burial Ground, Arlington, Mass.

Old Burial Ground
Pleasant St.
Arlington, Mass.
Just behind the Unitarian church, on the corner of Mass. Ave. and Pleasant St. in Arlington, lies the old Menotomy burial ground. Established in 1732, headstones for many members of Menotomy's most prominent families, as well as a number of Revolutionary War veterans, can be found here. (As of today's date these latter graves are marked with American flags).

Jason Russell was buried here in a mass grave along with eleven members of the colonial militia killed in the fighting on April 19, 1775. Russell was killed on the grounds of his family home, which is not far from here. The site of some the most brutal fighting of that day, ten members of the militia, including seven men from the town of Danvers, died at the Russell homestead. Two British soldiers were also killed at that site. (The men from Danvers were buried back in their home town).

In 1842 an 19-foot white marble obelisk, surrounded by a short metal fence, was erected in the cemetery. The remains of Jason Russell and the others were removed from the original grave and reinterred here under the obelisk. The original inscription reads:

"Erected by the Inhabitants of West Cambridge, A.D. 1848, over the common grave of Jason Russell, Jason Winship, Jabez Wyman and nine others, who were slain in this town by the British Troops on their retreat from the Battles of Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775. Being among the first to lay down their lives in the struggle for American Independence."

Just behind the obelisk can be found the original headstone that marks Jason Russell's final resting spot. The faded inscription on the slate headstone is as follows: "Mr. Jason Russell was barbarously murdered in his own house by Gage's bloody troops, on the 19th of April, 1775, aetatis 59. His body is quietly resting in this grave with Eleven of our friends, who in like manner, with many others, were cruelly slain, on that fatal day. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Right beside Jason's headstone is his wife's, Elizabeth Russell. She died in 1786 at the age of 65.

Next to a stone wall that borders the cemetery there is a solitary British flag. This marks the presumed burial spot of British soldiers killed in the fighting of April 19. The soldiers were placed in unmarked graves in an area reserved for the burial of slaves. It is entirely possible that the two British soldiers killed at the Jason Russell house are also buried at this location - just a stones toss from the men they died fighting.

No comments: