AUTUMN AT PROSPECT HILL – HISTORIC UXBRIDGE

Photos by Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

Uxbridge is an old village, one of the oldest in the area.

From BlackstoneDaily.com:

uxbridge-map-cemeteryThe Uxbridge area was originally known as Waucantuck or Waucantaug from the Indian word Waentug meaning “place near the waters”. On April 22, 1662, a large parcel of Nipmuc Indian land was purchased for 24 pounds from Indian Great John.

This parcel included land that is now known as Milford, Mendon and Uxbridge with the Village of Waentug located in the Ironstone Village area of South Uxbridge. In fact, this was one of the 14 Indian Praying Towns established by Christian missionary John Eliot who translated the Bible into the Indian language.

Another village was apparently located between the West and Mumford Rivers, but in 1676 these settlements joined Indian Chief Metacomet, aka Philip, in burning the village of Mendon as King Philip’s War permeated the region. By 1700, the tribe was lost due to intermarriage, war, and sickness. In 1727, the early English settlers separated from Mendon. The Town was incorporated as Uxbridge, probably after its sister city, Uxbridge, England.


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The oldest still intact building in the village is the John Cornet Farnum House, built around 1710, where the first Uxbridge Town Meeting was held on July 25, 1727. It’s directly across from the Prospect Hill Cemetery where Garry and I found ourselves and our cameras on a beautiful day in early October.

Farnum House, 1710

Farnum House, 1710

On the other side of the cemetery are the remains of Bernat Mills, a huge wooden mill complex which burned down six years ago.

The Prospect Hill Cemetery predates the Revolutionary war and many of Uxbridge’s soldiers from that war are buried there.

There has been vandalism in the cemetery which I totally don’t understand. I have always hated vandals, but cemetery vandalism to me is the worse kind of mindless destruction. In this case, you are not merely disrespecting the dead, but destroying history. Why would anyone do that? It’s generally assumed the vandals were drunk.

I’ve been drunk. I’ve been stoned. At no time ever did I consider destroying some tombstones for any reason. It never crossed my mind — or the minds of anyone I know.

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The leaves are still changing. We have at least one more glorious week. With a little luck, several.

19 thoughts on “AUTUMN AT PROSPECT HILL – HISTORIC UXBRIDGE

  1. An interesting piece of history, accompanied by great photos! I only recently learned of the woolen mills (from a previous post of yours), and am fascinated to know that all that wool I used came from your neck of the woods and not from the Southeast! Could some of the damage to the headstones be a matter of the seasons, with freezing temps in the winters and hot in the summers?

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    • Some damage is time, but not that kind of breakage. Time wears stone down. It doesn’t snap it into pieces.

      We had woolen mills. Stanley is probably the most famous, but cotton mills were the primary production. I don’t think any of them are still functioning. First, they all moved south … then more recently, to the far east. India is the major cotton producer now. The nail in the coffin of our cotton industry was banning Mexican workers in Mississippi and other southern states. Turns out, Americans really don’t want to pick cotton. And aren’t good at it when they try.

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      • I still don’t get the cemetery as a place to “make out”. I know it’s been popularized in movies like “In The Heat of The Night” (description only by the young Southern teenage skank) and “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon”.
        I guess it’s hinky sensuality.

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  2. Yes, there is an Uxbridge in England, although I have never been there. Although America does not go as far back as European places, at least you can actually live with the history and see it on walks. We have to start building to discover that you are actually living on a burial ground. Our place is built on the local gallows and a few body remains have been discovered when it was being built.

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    • England’s Uxbridge is our “sister” city. We ‘paired’ with them about 10 years ago.

      Surprisingly, even though our history is more recent, they keep finding burial sites and remains of encampments every time they start new construction. And of course, Native American sites are not marked — and no one seems to think they need to ask them where the burial sites are. It’s not as different as you might think.

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  3. This is very fascinating, Marilyn. The photos have a disturbing resonance. These days I find myself feeling quite haunted by the notion of early British settlers in the US. I’m not sure why, though suspect a part of it is the overlaying of British values/attitudes on a landscape that was only understood by its indigenous population, and whose existence – apart from surviving names here and there, has largely gone – along with their landscape. This was first brought home to me when we were in London, Ontario at their ‘Pioneer Village’ and the docent in the Printing Shop spoke of the ‘great trees’ that were once there. And of course when you look at South Ontario now – there are no great trees. It made me feel most unexpectedly sad.

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    • Most of the northeastern/New England area’s big trees were felled to use as the masts of ships. To be fair, that’s where their European cousins went, too.

      For the most part, the British immigrants came here, then acted the same way they had in England. Both for the good and bad. What’s weird is that so many came here to get away from religious persecution and proceeded to persecute other people in the name of religion. We got a lot of your really dour sects, now forever part of our rather priggish “American character”. A Calvinist-Puritan heritage is not anyone’s idea of a fun group. Those early settlers were grim and humorless. Oh, and self-righteous. That too, has lingered on, especially in New England.

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      • I call it the picket fence paradox. On the one hand these colonists appeared to have had great courage (or maybe it was no imagination) to go out into the unknown – to faraway lands and wildernesses. On the other hand, they appeared to be astonishingly intractable (read small minded) when it came to everything and everyone that did adhere to their mindset. The far horizons they discovered had to be contained, and squashed, and knocked into shape with an ever narrowing field of view. But then I guess being so certain that you are being led to the promised land, and then finding it full of bears and undressed humans has a diminishing effect on some folks 🙂

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        • Some of them were really okay. Especially the Quakers who at least made an effort to get along with Natives and not cut down every single tree or shoot every living animal. But the Puritans and Calvinists? They were hated in England for good reason. So lucky us, we got’em. And their mindset is still with us today. A lot of that fundamentalism you hear about started with them. You would think that those fleeing religious oppression would not immediate take up cudgels to oppress others, but that’s what they did. As if they came here just so they could flip the coin and be the self-righteous enforcers of “god’s laws.”

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  4. Your cemetery reminds me of the country cemetery where we have some 4 plots in Caledon East, Ontario. When my mother passed she was out of the country and we felt we needed a place for her so we bought these plots where a lot of our family is buried. (it came in a lot of 4) It’s really beautiful there and very much like your last picture.
    Leslie

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