There has been a great deal of discussion recently about the Brigham Street Burial Ground in Northboro. While the improvements are already impressive, we should not lose sight of those who rest there. We know the names of those with headstones and have identified many others through historical records, yet there is no discussion about the plague that caused the burial ground to quickly reach capacity and force the creation of a new cemetery at the church yard on Howard Street, or how many souls lost in one winter.
In 1749, Northborough had about 40 families and a total population of 300 people. A “great sickness”, no one knows for sure what it was, reached our area and it was devastating, especially to children. It killed quickly, and we lost 60 children in the winter of 1749-1750. That’s 20% of the population; between half and all the children in town. The old burial ground was quickly overwhelmed.
In the spirit of Halloween, those buried in unmarked graves don’t rest in peace. Having twenty percent of a town’s population as adolescents roaming a town looking to possess the vulnerable can’t be good. Disturbing their graves can only make it worse!
Since the disturbance, we’ve certainly noticed a great deal of adolescent behavior with citizens (myself included) and former officials. We’ve argued over mascots and every trivial matter conceivable. We’ve treated the neglect of the White Cliffs with further neglect. We’ve argued over the best way to improve our town, until we are deadlocked and do nothing. We’ve argued over the rights of kids to parade in costume. We have truly been possessed by adolescents.
Halloween is based on the pagan holiday Samhain which marks the end of summer and the harvest. It is the day where lost souls can ascend should they be made whole, or else, cause mischief. For the love of all that is good, can we commit to erecting a monument to the children that perished that winter? Can we mark their graves, say their names, exercise their demons? They need to move on.