Whether you are a history buff or not, a tromp through the Old Town Burial Ground is an interesting and quite scenic experience. Located on the shore of Shawme Pond in the heart of Sandwich Village, this is a lovely and tranquil spot.
Once used as the town burial site, this cemetery is a historic record of the first families to settle the oldest village on Cape Cod. The earliest grave in the cemetery dates back to the first interment in 1639. Town records show that the remains of over 1,600 past residents have been buried here.
There are both headstones and footstones throughout the cemetery commemorating the passing of individuals and families. They are constructed of a variety of materials including brownstone, granite, marble, slate, zinc, concrete, and some are a combination of these. With names like Fessenden, Nye, Tupper, Freeman, Basset, Chipman, Hall, Burgess, Dillingham, and Pope, this burial ground represents a “who’s who” of the people responsible for the establishment of the village of Sandwich. You will find on the centuries-old gravestones, old-world given names that you don’t usually find on modern-day head stones; names like Mehitable, Remember, Experience, and Keziah for women and Micah, Silus, Titus, Lemmuel, Ebenezer, and Elisha for men.
Buried here are soldiers from the revolutionary war and the civil war. On certain holidays, the burial sites of soldiers will bear an American flag placed there by volunteers. It is quite a moving sight watching the flags flutter in the breeze as a reminder of the sacrifices made to insure the freedoms that we enjoy today.
In 2012, a restoration process began at the cemetery to preserve this treasure for future generations. Some of the first stones selected for restoration are those commemorating the lives of Benjamin Fessenden, Edward Pope, and Joanna Foster. If you are in the Village of Sandwich, be sure to visit this burial ground and take a walk through history.