Friday, August 31, 2012

Claypit Burying Ground

Lowell, MA (formerly Dracut)

Claypit is a sad tale of neglect, and of towns refusing to take responsibility. This small historical burial ground originally was in Dracut, prior to the land annexation in 1874 which made this part of Lowell. It contains historical figures central to Dracut's founding and development, as well as Revolutionary war soldiers, and a prominent African-American, and dates to at least 1700. It's also been known as the Pierce/Coburn Cemetery, the Clay Pit Cemetery, and the Old Burying Ground.

 2008 photo, Rebecca Duda

Several attempts in past decades have been made to clean up and maintain this area, but without cooperation from either town, these few efforts have ended up as one-time cleanup attempts that soon vanish under the encroachment of nature and vandals. Property record searches still leave a question as to who the actual owners are; Lowell assessor lists Dracut as the owner, Dracut denies it, and since Claypit was originally private, it's true ownership could belong to the descendants of those buried here; who have never come forward.
The vandalism has been terrible; most remaining stones have been smashed, there was at least one attempt at grave robbery in 1991 by teenagers too stupid to know that nothing would remain in a grave 200+ years old; nonetheless, they dug the grave out to a depth of four feet, and then pushed the headstone into it. Many more stones may still be buried under the centuries of organic material.

Luckily, in 1904 a woman named P. Hildreth Parker took inventory of the inscriptions extant in her time (although Claypit was in disarray even by then), and at least those records have been preserved. Whether Dracut maintains a burial list of this cemetery in it's town records is unknown.

Clay Pit Cemetery Epitaphs, 1904
P. Hildreth Parker - compiled from her handwritten journal

In Memory of Aaron Coburn Son of Mr Eleazer & Mrs. Bridget Coburn, who was suddenly killed by the fall of a tree, on the 13th day of Jan' 1789 in the 21st year of his Age

Hannah M. Died Oct. 30, 1815 Age 19 mo's  Cornelia Died Mar. 12, 1822 Age 2 y'rs 1 mo. Children of Dea. Nathaniel B. & Hannah Coburn

In memory of Coburn Pierce son of Mr. Phillip & Mrs. Marcy Pierce Died Janry 14 1820 Aged 3 yrs  2 Mos & 17 days

Laverta daughter of Phillip & Marcy Pierce Died July 6, 1831 age 2yrs 8 mos

Phillip Pierce Died Dec. 29, 1863 age 79  Marcy B. his wife Died Apr. 23, 1834, age 47

Mary Carkin, wife of Asa Carkin, died Dec. 25th, 1836 age 53

In Memory of Leah, wife of Moses B. Colburn Died Apr. 27, 1837 Age 73

In Memory of Moses B. Colburn died Sep. 26, 1838 Age 80 He was a soldier of the Revolution

In Memory of Alfred Coburn who died Jan. 16, 1845 Age 43

In memory of Rhoda Brown who died May 20,1845 age 90

In Memory of Mr. Elexis Pierce who died Feb. 18, 1847 age 36 y'rs 5 mons.

Sacred to the memory of Miss Eloisa Pierce who died April 8, 1847 age 25 y'rs, 5 mo's

Dea. Nathaniel B. Coburn Died Apr. 12, 1854 Aged 68

Asa Carkin died May 29, 1854

Moses B. Coburn Jr. Died Sept. 30, 1857 age 59 y's 6 mo's

Hannah Wife of Dea. Nath'l B. Coburn died Dec. 23, 1868 Aged 78

Surviving stones:

Aaron Coburn 1789
Rhoda Brown, 1845

Moses B. Coburn Jr. 1857

 Moses B. Colburn, 1838 Soldier of the Revolution

Dea. Nathaniel B. Coburn,1854
Elexis Pierce, 1847 & Eloisa Pierce,1847

Images from the 2010 cleanup of the site:

The above images are all from the wonderful Corey Sciuoto, during his assistance in the May, 2010 cleanup. See his blog entry on Claypit here.

Below are various photos of Claypit from 2008, from Rebecca Duda, whose efforts to save Claypit fell on the deaf ears of both the Lowell & Dracut town officials. See her article here.


"Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid 
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; 
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd, 
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre."
-Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard,  Thomas Gray

1 comment:

  1. Wondeerful post. Such a shame that it's slowling being lost ot nature and vandals. Poor Aaron, killed by a falling tree and so many young children.

    Thank you for the link back. I have linked to you over at my blog.

    Beneath Thy Feet