“Cemeteries are living history museums. You can walk through that gate at any moment in time and be transported back to two, three, in some cases four hundred years.” – Brenda Sullivan
Gravestone Girl Brenda Sullivan presented “Welcome to the Graveyard,” a virtual tour of Bristol’s cemeteries at the Bristol Statehouse on February 24, 2019.
Using photographs taken in burying places around the Town, Brenda chronicled nearly 400 years of cemetery and gravestone art and symbolism.
“The darker slate stone colonials that are common in old New England graveyards are Sullivan’s favorite. ‘Images on them are primitive. They can be particularly brutal, but they are meant to speak to the population about their mortality and morality in a very direct way,’ she explained. [From GravestoneGirls.com ]
Brenda spoke with Sowams Heritage Area Project Coordinator Dave Weed following the program. The Project features 17th century burials and gravestones, including those at the First Congregational Church in Bristol.
The 1690 gravestone for Deacon Nathaniel Bosworth is located next to the Congregational Church, though he was buried in the Town Common. The only 17th century burial at the North Burial Ground in Bristol is of Richard Smith from 1696.
The 1689 East Burial Ground across from the Town Common contains the gravestones but not the graves of those buried in the Common but moved in 1930.
“Cemeteries found across the country are not only places of burial, but they also provide a vivid record of community history. Whether large or small, well maintained or neglected, historic cemeteries are an important part of our cultural landscape.” [National Park Service}