Beyond the Gates: A Cemetery Explorer’s Guide to Walton Cemetery in Pepperell, Massachusetts

December 7, 2020

Beyond the Gates: A Cemetery Explorer’s Guide is a blog hosted by The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery written and researched by Corinne Elicone and Zoë G. Burnett. Our intention for this blog is to rediscover the out of the way and obscure graveyards that surround us, as well as to uncover new histories among the more well-trod grounds of prominent burial places. With this blog as a guide, visitors can experience cemeteries in a new way. As important landmarks of cultural heritage, our hope is that interest in these quiet places will help to preserve and educate us about our past and, ultimately, everyone’s shared future.


Next to the expanded Pepperell Cemetery is the first burial ground of Pepperell, Massachusetts, known as Walton Cemetery. North of the original Parish Meetinghouse, facing private homes from the period and the local Odd Fellows’ Lodge, it was established in 1746 with the earliest death date in 1750. Just off the main road, on a quiet day it’s possible to imagine how the town used to look, freed of telephone wires and traffic lights.

Familiar surnames such as Shattuck and the ubiquitous Blood family can be found amongst the graves, with lunette styles varying often in the same decade. The earliest graves show fearsome skulls with eye sockets bored deep, and soon ornate winged skulls give way to infant-like craniums flanked with crossbones and odd, swaddled faces. Many are ornate, bearing references to citizens who had relocated from Boston and its environs.

Andrew Kull noted the “vogue for the graphic description of accidental death” in his Collector’s Guide (1975), including Deacon David Blood, “who was struck dead in the 70th year of his age, by an overturn of his cart” in 1787. Kull did not mention or did not notice, which is easy enough to do amongst moss and deterioration, the stone of Blood’s son Jonathan. In 1763, he “received a Wound by a Cart Wheels going over him at Concord… of which he died in a few hours in the 21st year of his age.” Not an odd coincidence or uncommon occurrence for the time, but still sad.

“Here lies the Body of Jonathan Blood the Son of Deacon David and Mrs. Abigail Blood who received a Wound by a Cart Wheels going over him at Concord July 10th 1763 of which he died in a few Hours in the 21st Year of his age.”


Z.G. Burnett is a writer and editor with a background in early American history and material culture. She has been published by The Attic on Eighth, Ivy-Style, and The Vintage Woman Magazine. Combining her passion for the paranormal and everything pink, Z.G. is currently working on her first personal style guide.

If you are a representative of a cemetery or a cemetery historian and would like to see your cemetery featured in this blog please email Corinne Elicone at

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